Replica of a 1923 Fishing Schooner Sets Sail

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PANAMA CITY-- A man known for building large commercial vessels has been working on a project a little closer to heart.

He's recreated a classic fishing schooner. It's been a labor of love for everyone in the process.

The crew of the Columbia hoisted it's sails for the first time Wednesday at sea. For many it's a part of history setting sail once again.

"It comes to life, when the sails fill with some wind she'll develop her own personality," said project manager Jacob Stevens.

Owner Brian D'Isernia has been waiting to bring his dream to life ever since high school.

"We copied the original Columbia, which was built in 1923, we copied her exactly, and she was a fishing schooner and went down with all hands in 1927 in a hurricane of Nova Scotia," said Eastern Shipbuilding Group owner Brian D'Isernia.

D'Isernia wanted to keep the new schooner as close to the classic lines as possible.

From the two dories, which include a rowboat and a sailboat, to the traditional rigging and dead eyes.

The only modern modifications are hydraulic winches and state of the art engines.

Michelle Stephens a fourth generation sail maker from Nova Scotia said keeping close to tradition carried all the way down the stitches in the sails.

"The material we used was an Oceania sail cloth, and it's a synthetic, but it's specifically constructed to sort of emulate the Egyptian cotton from years ago," said Head Sail maker Michele Stevens.

Stevens said the hard work has paid off. "Proud to be here and proud to represent our family and our loft in this capacity and honored that we had a chance to be able to do this," said Michele Stevens.

For D'Isernia sailing on the schooner is the ultimate testament to the men that first brought it to life.

"Building this vessel is almost like a memorial to those fisherman who've lost their lives at sea," said D'Isernia.

The crew will continue sea trials this week before Columbia's next stop at the Fort Lauderdale boat show in mid-October.