Eastern Shipbuilding Group launched the historic Gloucester Fishing Schooner, Columbia, in Panama City, Florida on 23 August 2014. The sailing yacht has been a product of passion from the shipyard’s owner, Brian D’Isernia, who was reportedly fascinated with the rich history of the original. Although the 2014 version of the boat has been constructed with a steel hull as opposed to the traditional wooden hull, the shipyard has painstakingly and successfully replicated the once proud and infamous Columbia.
She was originally built in 1923 by A.D. Story shipyard of Essex, Massachusetts, to a design by Burgess. Columbia is famous for her near win against Bluenose, one of Canada’s most legendary sailing yachts, which even after her sinking in 1946, remains an icon of Nova Scotia. The International Fisherman’s Cup Races in the year of her launch saw Columbia race nose to nose with Bluenose, and was only narrowly defeated. Her career tragically came to end in 1927. Whilst sailing in the notorious ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic’, she was hit by two gales and was lost with all hands off Sable Island.
After discovering the original lines plan of Columbia in the Essex Shipbuilding Museum in Massachusetts, D’Isernia took the opportunity to restore a celebrated piece of maritime history. Columbia is built to the exact offsets of the original besides the addition of an engine room and staterooms.
The company’s involved in the reconstruction of the iconic boat were chosen carefully, and primarily hailed from Nova Scotia. Covey Island Boatworks of Lunenburg Nova Scotia built the rigging and spars, blocks were fabricated by A. Dauphinee & Sons, and the sails were constructed by Michelle Stevens Sailloft, Ltd.
Work on the first Columbia replica went so well, that the shipyard quickly begun to build an additional second replica, which is yet to be completed. She will now undertake sea trials and testing, and will be on display at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show in October.