Class of 2015: Bath grad sails into gap year aboard his own boat

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BATH — Before Perry Chase starts college, he’s taking a one-year detour on the sea.

The 18-year-old Bath resident, who will graduate from Morse High School on Sunday, will set sail later this year on a 26-foot Nordic Folk Boat that he’s rebuilt.

Chase said he planned for a while to take a “gap year” and travel, but had nowhere specific in mind. Then, last summer, he saw the boat, sitting next to his great-uncle’s boat shop.

“I found out the boat was up for grabs,” he recalled, “and that’s when my dream began to grow, to take the boat, rebuild it, and take off sailing during my gap year.”

The vessel was built in the 1950s in Denmark, and was purchased by a friend of Chase’s great-uncle. Years later, the great-uncle found the abandoned craft in a boat yard, soon to be scrapped. He paid $1,000 for it and took it home to his boat shop, where it sat for 16 years, waiting for someone to come along and rebuild it.

Waiting, as it turned out, for Chase.

“I hope to sail the boat around Nova Scotia in the fall of 2015 and possibly down south to Bermuda or Florida as it gets colder,” Chase said. “I have no certain plan for where or for how long, because it depends on when I finish rebuilding. I will be by myself unless I take any long trips and then it would be smart to take another person.”

Chase first sailed at the age of 4, and he has sailed at the Bucks Harbor Yacht Club in Brooksville since he was 10. He teaches youth sailing at the club, and has experience sailing for days at a time.

“I love the freedom to be able to sail wherever and explore new islands along the Maine coast,” he noted. “I have always been intrigued by how on a sailboat you can sail for miles and miles without using any resources other than wind, and how sailing is a one of the few forms of travel that causes no harm to the environment.”

Chase will enroll at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he hopes to study physics or engineering, as well as music.

At Morse, he said, “(t)he most important thing I’ve learned is you never know what’s around the next corner and what new interests you’ll have, or events you’ll encounter, or opportunities you’ll come upon.”

His seafaring adventure should offer more of the same.

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

Sidebar Elements

Perry Chase, who graduates from Morse High School this weekend, is rebuilding a 26-foot Nordic Folk Boat, which he plans to sail during a “gap year” before starting college.

Morse High School graduation

Morse High School commencmenet exercises will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 14, on McMann Field. The ceremony will be in the gym at Bath Middle School in case of rain.

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.