MYSTIC - It's a trip that steamboat Sabino has embarked on many times.
"We're heading south down the Mystic River," says Captain John Kihm who operates the vessel out of Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea. The mission? To show visitors the modern landscape with an old-fashioned perspective. "I’m really just enjoying the ride, just enjoying the ride," says passenger Tom Pepin of West Haven.
But, these days, each excursion feels special because the vessel just recently returned to service, bringing an iconic image back to the river. "It came back from a three year restoration," explains Kihm. "They’d taken the boat apart, rebuilt the boilers, redid some of the main timbers and basically took it apart and built it up so it would be good for the next 30 years."
The vital work preserves the future of a rare, hard-working boat. Sabino was built in 1908 to ferry passengers and cargo between towns in Maine. "It’s a piece of history - a beautiful piece of history because every part of the engine and boiler was handmade," says Kihm.
Now, it's the oldest coal fired vessel in operation. The Engine Room - which welcomes visitors - illustrates a fascinating process. "The coal fire turns the water into steam," explains engineer Ed Crotty. "The steam runs the engine and all the machinery." Mystic Seaport considers Sabino a working exhibit. She is one of four National Historic Landmark vessels operated by the museum.
During tours, the boat cruises by well-known sites like the historic Bascule Bridge.
"I just love the boat," says Charlene Ribera of West Haven. "I like looking out but I’m really interested in the boat." See craftsmanship, hear the past - have an experience that's comfortable and classic. "People love it when it gets cooler out," says Kihm, eager to see the fall foliage during tours on Sabino. "It’s a great place to sit and watch the river go by - watch the world go by."
Mystic Seaport offers three tours a day aboard Sabino - five days a week - through October 9th. Click here for more information.