December 2011 MAINE COASTAL NEWS Page 5. PASSED OVER THE BAR: CORLISS HOLLAND
BELFAST – The coast of Maine has lost another one of its truly great people, Corliss Holland of Belfast on 16 November. Corliss was born 23 October 1923 to James and Daisy (Stockbridge) Holland of Stonington where he spent much of his life. His father followed the sea being a skipper of lobster smacks running from Canada to the market in Boston. Corliss followed the same path and did a little lobstering and also running lobster smacks from Maine to New York.
During World War II Corliss enlisted in the Navy and headed to the Pacific theater. One of the vessels he was on was the USS CANBERRA, which was a heavy cruiser. Following the war he returned home and went back lobstering and running smacks. Corliss worked on board the tugs out of Belfast. One was SECURITY, which was originally built as a minesweeper in Damariscotta in 1942. Her dimensions were 92.5 feet length, beam 23.5 feet, depth 11.4 feet and displaced 196 gross tons. She was powered by a 450-hp Fairbanks Morse direct drive diesel and would move along at about 10 knots. Following World War II she was converted to a tug by Sample’s Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor. She was purchased by Eastern Maine Towage Company in 1948
and was the only ocean going tug between Boston and New Brunswick, Canada. Holland joined her in the late 1950s when he moved to Belfast. Captain George Jennings was her skipper and they were running gypsum from Waltham, Nova Scotia to Rockland. Holland went as deck hand. Holland said, “I decked on her for a while and then worked in the engine room for a while, went as cook for a while and then went as mate and I finally took over as captain.” The best story was when he took her south with a barge to Block Island, Rhode Island. He said, “We was towing a barge out of Boston for Block Island with a crane on it. Whoever was on watch that night wasn’t looking behind them too good because those fellows were sinking back there. They were lighting oil cloths or something and waving them trying to get their attention. Well, they never did get their attention. I came on watch in the morning and I looked back at them and there they were waving their oil jackets around. So, we shortened the hawser and went back. She had torn a plank off her bow so what I did I went down along the side of her took the hawser off the bow and put it on the stern and towed her backwards. This also towed the water out of her.”
Lecture: Educational Passages’ Blue Water Mini-Sailboats
Join The Apprenticeshop and volunteers from Educational Passages on Thursday, December 8 at 7pm for a presentation about GPS-equipped 5-foot sailboats that free-sail the Atlantic, gathering and sending oceanographic data to local school children and civic groups. Belfast resident Dick Baldwin, after completing his lifelong dream of a sailing solo, launched this project to educate youngsters about the sciences of the world’s oceans. It started in 2008 with small satellite transceivers mounted on the deck of miniature sailboats designed to journey with the ocean winds and currents. Since then it has grown with new boat designs and engaged many school children. There are now people of all ages tracking the boats and involved in various stages of launch, recovery, and outreach. A recent partnership with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association was formed to track tagged Atlantic salmon in Penobscot Bay using the mini-boats.
“When one of these little boats is launched, we never know where it will end up and what it will encounter on its voyage. To date there have been 13 launches with one
boat on its second voyage. Exciting…you bet!” quips Baldwin. His intention is to provide knowledge and adventure to the next generation of sailors, while also creating a thought-provoking exercise to budding mathematicians, meteorologists, marine scientists, boatbuilders, naval architects, informational technologists and anyone else interested.
The presentation is part of The Apprenticeshop’s monthly program series Second Thursdays at The Apprenticeshop. The Apprenticeshop is a school for traditional boatbuilding and seamanship located at 643 Main Street in Rockland. After the talk, a tour of current boat projects is available. Projects under construction include a 12’ Barnegat Bay duck boat, a replica of a 15’ Maine Light Station peapod, the restoration of a 20’ Alden Indian-class sloop, a 17’ work skiff designed by Mark Fitzgerald and 2 Susan skiffs. All six of these boats will launch on Friday, December 16 at noon. The public is invited to watch from The Apprenticeshop’s pier at 1:00 p.m. that day. For more information, visit www.apprenticeshop.org
or call (207)594-1800.
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Corliss and his son Glenn began building boats in the mid 1970s. First they finished off hulls from other builders and then they introduced the Holland 30, which later became the 32. A lot of people got to know Corliss when he began lobster boat racing around 1980. He and Glenn started in the MARGUERITE G., which had already made a name for herself winning a number of races for Jimmy Preston of Rogues Bluff. When they launched the RED BARON in 1981 more people began knowing who the Hollands were, but especially Corliss and his Downeast humour. People still talk about the races where they competed with the Young Brothers of Corea and Richard Duffy of Brooklin. They won their share of races, they made lots of friends, probably an enemy or two, and the sold lots of boats.
In 1995 Corliss and his wife Lillian took RED BARON to the America’s Cup in San Diego. He became their weather man, taking the RED BARON out on to the course to check the weather and sea conditions. He also sparred with the Bayliners, who ran security on the course, but they were no match for a Maine lobster fisherman and a fast boat. He then got into a drinking contest with a sailmaker. He wanted to mix it the rum, but Corliss said no, straight. When the booze ran down the luge his competitor spit and coughed with his first mouthful. Corliss just kept going for three or four gulps. Who gets into a drinking contest with a Maine lobster fisherman?
He also got to sail on board one of the trial horses, which he really enjoyed. When the Cup was won by New Zealand, Corliss was already to go, but Lillian did not warm up
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to a trip across the Pacific. When Corliss returned to Belfast he competed in a couple of the Maine Retired Skipper’s Races and had a good time. But still his true love was lobster boat racing.
Lobster boat racing had gotten pretty expensive and when I met up with the Hollands they were racing in the diesel class. In the early ‘90s they went back to the gasoline classes and began winning again. Some of the best races were between Corliss and Benny Beal of Jonesport; Sid Eaton of Stonington; and Andy Gove of Stonington. Sometimes he won, sometimes he lost, but it was always a great show for the spectators. Corliss was pleased when his grandson caught the racing disease. Unfortunately he will not be here to see the famed RED BARON out on the course winning again, but he will be there in spirit.
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