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The Rocketeer Saves Three Sailors

Billy Campbell at the helm of his new Lunenburg Schooner, Martha Seabury, which he named after his grandmother.

Martha Seabury
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Film and television actor Billy Campbell, perhaps best known for playing the title role in the ’91 film The Rocketeer, is officially a hero for helping to save the lives of three sailors earlier this month. On September 10, Campbell and his crew were on the maiden voyage of his new 50-ft David Westergard-designed wooden schooner Martha Seabury, which had been launched in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, in August. They were bound for the Newport Boat Show and were about four miles off Cuttyhunk Island in Massachusetts when, around 7:30 p.m., a crewmember spotted three men clinging to an overturned 15-ft sailing dinghy. Skipper Michael Moreland doused sail, started the engine and went to their aid. 

"The three victims were in their 20s," he said in a report. "Two were in PFDs but one was not. It was quickly apparent that all three were hypothermic and low on strength and energy." After the crew pulled the three men, who were apparently out for a daysail, from the water, they wrapped them in wool and sleeping bags. They were later transferred to a Coast Guard cutter and are reportedly no worse for wear.

The traditional 50-ft schooner is a beauty.

Martha Seabury
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As for the schooner, she was conceived as a collaboration between Lunenburg master shipwrights. According to their site, the New Lunenburg Schooners — Martha and her ‘twin sister’ — were "built in the tried and true, time-tested way with stout wooden planks on heavy double-sawn frames, the same techniques that created the famous ‘Fast and Able’ North Atlantic fishing schooners Bluenose and Bluenose II of Lunenburg and the great schooners of Gloucester, but using only the very best materials and finest durable timbers sourced from around the world." 

For his part, Campbell says he’s thrilled with Martha‘s performance. "She’s a dream . . . better than I ever imagined or hoped for."

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