Bath ship replica builders to mark milestone on New Year's Eve

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BATH — The organization building a replica of a pinnace built more than 400 years ago on the shores of the Kennebec River will mark a milestone in the project New Year’s Eve.

The raising of the last frame of the Virginia will be celebrated by Maine’s First Ship at the riverfront side of the Bath Freight Shed, 27 Commercial St., from 6-10 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 31, with a bonfire and champagne toast.

The original Virginia, a 51-foot pinnace built in 1607-1608 by the short-lived Popham Colony, was the first European ship built in New England.

The keel of its replica was laid in 2010, and since then volunteers from the community and Morse High School students have made the longtime vision of rebuilding the historic vessel a 30-ton reality.

The Popham Colony, named for the venture’s financier, Sir John Popham, was a partner endeavor with the better-known Jamestown colony in Virginia.

The Maine community was defeated by Popham’s death and a harsh winter, and only lasted little more than a year. Besides the Virginia, which returned many surviving colonists to England, the colony also built the walled settlement called Fort St. George.

On New Year’s Eve, Earl Bigelow and The Cilantro Trio will perform music inside the Freight Shed, and Henry & Marty’s Restaurant will offer light hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Hot buttered rum will also be featured.

Tickets are $20 per person and available by calling Maine’s First Ship, 443-4242, or purchasing them at the door, or at the Saturday morning Bath Farmer’s Market, held at the Freight Shed.

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Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.