Doctor Killed After 150-Year-Old Ship Mast Snaps

On Monday morning, a tragic incident unfolded aboard a 150-year-old schooner off the coast of Maine, resulting in the loss of a doctor’s life. The unfortunate event occurred when the schooner, the Grace Bailey, returned from a four-day voyage with 33 passengers on board. While under sail, the vessel’s mainmast suddenly shattered, collapsing onto the deck.

Emily Mecklenburg, a 40-year-old doctor from Rockland, was among those on board and tragically lost her life in the incident. Three other individuals sustained serious injuries, including head, spine, and crush injuries. At the scene, a towing service responded swiftly, finding individuals performing CPR on one victim, and they also discovered someone trapped beneath the fallen mast.

Charlie Weidman, the owner of Charlie’s Marine Service, was the first to reach the schooner after the accident. He towed the vessel into Rockland Harbor, where one of the injured individuals was airlifted for medical attention. The cause of the mast’s breakage is under investigation despite the prevailing weather conditions at the time of the accident.

On Monday, the Coast Guard announced its intention to initiate a formal investigation into the incident, intending to identify the contributing factors and prevent similar accidents in the future.

Captain Amy Florentino, who commands the Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, stated in a press release, “The Coast Guard is fully committed to conducting a comprehensive investigation to ascertain the root causes of this incident, with the ultimate goal of implementing measures to prevent its recurrence.”

The unfortunate incident occurred as the Grace Bailey returned from a four-day excursion near Rockland Harbor.

According to Coast Guard records, the vessel, which dates back to 1882, had been involved in three previous incidents in 2022 and 2019. However, it had successfully passed an inspection on May 31.

The Grace Bailey, dating back to 1882, had undergone numerous refurbishments, with most of its wooden planks replaced. According to Nicole Jacques, a spokesperson for the vessel, the fractured mast was not the original one. The schooner’s owners expressed their bewilderment at the incident, stating they had no prior knowledge or indication of why the mast failed.

Captain Sam Sikkema, who helmed the Grace Bailey, expressed his devastation over the accident, emphasizing that the safety of their guests had always been their paramount concern. Dr. Mecklenburg, who tragically lost her life in the incident, had been employed within the MaineHealth system, primarily working out of the Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockland.