Press Release


Maine windjammer, iconic symbol of MidCoast’s working waterfront, chosen as first project.

(ROCKLAND, MAINE) – Save America’s Treasures, a part of the National Park Service, has awarded the Association for Maritime Preservation (AMP) a $300,000 matching grant to restore/refurbish the Schooner J. & E. Riggin, National Historic Landmark, now providing historic, multi-day sailing adventures out of Rockland, Maine.

Just as with old houses, where roofs, porches, electrical or plumbing need updating or replacing, every wooden vessel needs major attention every 30 to 40 years. The Riggin was built in 1927 and her first major work was in the 70’s when she received only a partial rebuild. She is long overdue for a major rebuild and while the proverbial roof has not yet fallen in, we don’t want to wait until its such a crisis. For future generations to enjoy her as she is now, a rebuild is essential.

The total cost of a full rebuild is 1.2 million which will cover the needed replacement of all framing, fastenings, planking and decking. It will employ close to 50 craftsmen from the local area. As the grant is matching, Association for Maritime Preservation must raise another $300,000 to secure the funding.

The Schooner J. & E. Riggin is one of only four remaining sail-powered oyster-dredgers from the Golden Age of sail. Experiential learning is the crux of what the Riggin does: pulling on a line rigged in a traditional 1920′s style can literally pull you back to a time when schooner travel carved out a nation’s artery of commerce.

 “While our names are on the mortgage papers, we don’t actually consider ourselves owners but stewards of a piece of American history. This grant goes a long way to ensuring that we pass the Riggin onto the next generation healthy and secure,” says Captain Finger. When asked about the award, Anne Mahle, the Riggin’s co-steward and Finger’s wife said, “We are so grateful for the chance to make a difference by preserving history in this way. All of us in the Maine windjammer community have an abiding love for these majestic schooners and we’d hate to see them die out due to lack of care.”

The Riggin’s economic impact in the State of Maine is significant, totaling approximately $300,000 annually. Thanks to seven remaining windjammers that sail from this city’s port, Rockland currently boasts the title, “Windjammer Capital of the World.” The Rockland windjammers bring an average of 3,500 guests to the city every year, 35.2% of whom continue their stay in the state. The businesses and their passengers collectively have an impact of over $5.3 million state-wide and $2.5 million in Rockland. The Riggin was one of the first 50 businesses to be awarded Leadership in Environmental Hospitality by the State of Maine. Through eco-tourism she provides an experience of our natural and historic worlds.

The grants, administered by the National Park Service, the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, are extremely competitive. This year over 420 applications were received and only 44 grants awarded.

“Not only do Maine windjammers like the J and E Riggin play an important role in our economy by bringing visitors to our state, they are also part of a unique chapter of Maine history,” said Chellie Pingree, U.S. Congresswoman. “ It’s important to me that we preserve these beautiful vessels so they can continue to work the Maine coast.”

About the Association for Maritime Preservation:
The Association for Maritime Preservation is a non-profit created for learning about and preserving living history and nautical artifacts including sailing vessels, places and equipment. For more information please visit

About the Schooner J. & E. Riggin:
The J. & E. Riggin was originally built in 1927 in Dorchester, New Jersey as an oystering schooner. Now family owned, the traditional two-masted schooner was converted to a passenger vessel in 1974 to accommodate 24 passengers. The boat sails between Boothbay to the southwest and Bar Harbor to the east just like they did a hundred years ago, with the wind and tide to determine the course and destination; they have no set itinerary. The experience gives passengers a taste of what life was like aboard these ships centuries ago.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sharon Kitchens 207.542.3723