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VIDEO: Faith in an ill-fated ship

The story of RawFaith, an amateur-built 100-foot (LOA) three-masted galleon with a passionate man of faith behind it, seemed like made-for-movie material — right up to its sinking 166 miles off Massachusetts in 2010.

And now it is.

“RawFaith: A Family Saga” is a new documentary that chronicles the story of the ship — how it began with a mission to offer handicapped-accessible sailing and the family behind its creation.

“The story is 10 years in the telling,” says Greg Roscoe, the film’s producer. The documentary premiered at the Maine International Film Festival in July and will screen Sept. 21 at the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival.

Click play for the trailer.

“Everybody has an opinion about the man and the boat,” Roscoe says of George McKay, who built RawFaith with family and friends during a four-year period and launched the wooden ship in August 2003. It was conceived to offer people with disabilities — including his daughter, Elizabeth, who has Marfan syndrome — a chance to get out on the water.

But twice in as many years the ship required assistance from the Coast Guard. In November 2004, it had to be towed back to port in a storm, and in May 2006 it lost all three masts in a gale and again was towed back to port. After that incident, the ship was ordered not to sail until repairs were inspected by the Coast Guard.

In 2010, McKay and a crewmember were plucked from the sea when RawFaith began taking on water in heavy seas and sank off Cape Cod.

Soundings covered the saga in three stories:

“RawFaith: sound vessel or ‘sitting duck’?”
“Another setback for RawFaith”
“Seas end voyage of ‘RawFaith’ ”

The documentary is available for purchase as a DVD for $15 or as a high-definition download for $12.99 through

Click here for a film review by the Portland Press Herald.