The Governor Stone embarks on a new journey
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The St. Andrews community witnessed history in the making Sunday afternoon.
The Governor Stone had her ribbon cutting ceremony at St. Andrew School along Bayview Ave. in Panama City.
The ceremony served as the starting point for the schooner’s reconstruction efforts.
This historic vessel holds a special place in the Gulf Coast community.
“The Governor Stone is a 145-year-old sailing schooner,” said Colleen Reilly, President of the Friends of The Governor Stone, Inc. “She’s unique to the Gulf Coast area as there were only five built, and this is the last one in existence.”
Hurricane Michael destroyed most of the historic vessel.
The Friends of The Governor Stone were determined to get the funds and a qualified ship builder to rebuild her.
Reilly said it wasn’t easy.
“At one point we wondered, do we just turn the hull into a national maritime museum,” Reilly said. “Do we donate it to another maritime museum, and the members said no. The community needs this. There’s enough people in the community who want this rebuilt.”
The stars eventually aligned.
The Stone Loft Boat Shop out of St. Andrews agreed to take on the project.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of boat building projects in the past but this has more momentum and more help, and more support than everything I’ve ever done,” said Capt. Anderson Barnes, the CEO and head ship builder of the Stone Loft Boat Shop.
Officials said the process of rebuilding The Governor Stone was carefully thought out.
“The reconstruction will happen in three phases,” Reilly said. “The first phase like Anderson said is going to be taking this hull apart, and then remeasuring it, and then literally rebuilding the other new boat.”
Reilly said she hopes for the project to be completed by Fall of 2023.
She also said the plan is to get The Governor Stone back out and operating on the water once she’s rebuilt.
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