It’s one thing to talk to people who sailed on the Levin J Marvel, listening to their stories of sailing aboard a three-masted schooner in a stiff breeze. It is quite another to experience the heft of the lines, the smell of old wood, the taste of warm coffee in the pouring rain on the deck of her sister ship. What luck that the Victory Chimes is still sailing passengers on cruises from Rockland , Maine, and how lucky the researcher who gets to ride along with Capt. Sam Sikkema in his first season as the vessel’s owner!
The Victory Chimes was built in the same shipyard, for the same owner, for the same service, just after the Marvel, in 1900. The boats were two sides of the same coin, as it would happen. In the flip of that coin, the Marvel lost.
The ships are not identical, the Victory Chimes (christened Edwin & Maud) was a little better looking, with a little more shear and was maintained better after her cargo hauling days. The Edwin & Maud left the Chesapeake for Maine in 1954 and took her name from newspaper headlines on Armistice Day “Victory Chimes!” In 1957, Frederick Boyd Guild took her helm for the next three decades. Under his command, the Victory Chimes was dubbed the “Queen of the Windjammer Fleet.”
The ship left Maine for a Great Lakes sojourn then returned as a corporate yacht of Dominoes Pizza, renamed Domino Effect. She was meticulously restored in Boothbay Harbor at Sample’s Shipyard. But in 1987, the Pizza Magnate, Tom Monaghan, was ready to sell the ship to a Japanese group that planned to convert it to a sushi restaurant far from Maine. The Domino’s fleet captain, Paul DeGaeta and her captain, Kip Files couldn’t bear to see the vessel go to Japan, so they purchased it.
By the ship’s one-hundredth anniversary, Victory Chimes was on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. Sailing passengers around Penobscot Bay whose parents had come aboard as children.
After 28 years, Files and DeGaeta found themselves ready to sell. With a price tag of $1.5 million, and a million things to go wrong and need replacing on the 118 year old ship, there were no takers. Once again, a young captain, worried that it would end up as a restaurant, took a chance.
Sam Sikkema, had sailed with Capt. Files on the final voyage of a New England whaler and started filling in on the Chimes. He freely admits to falling in love with the ship. His enthusiasm and plans to bring a new audience to the Chimes with music, yoga and whiskey tastings, convinced the bank in nearby Camden to make him a mortgage loan.
Once again, the old girl won the coin toss, by landing tails, where the Victory Chimes appears on the Maine State Quarter.