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Mystic schooner organization to miss deadline for state aid

By Joe Wojtas

Publication: The Day

Published May 07. 2013 4:00AM
Only $2,090 of $100,000 raised, but efforts to continue

Mystic - The organization trying to buy the schooner Mystic for use as an educational vessel for at-risk urban children announced Monday that it will not be able to raise the $100,000 needed to qualify for $400,000 in state funding by today's deadline.

The $500,000 would have been used as a down payment on the purchase of the $1.8 million vessel this month. The plan was that the rest of the cost would have been paid off over the next five years, using income from trips made by the ship.

But Chris German, the founder and CEO of Connecticut Community Boating, said the effort to raise the money will continue.

The state Department of Economic and Community Development was slated today to vote on the $400,000 in funding, but German said he expected the agency to postpone that vote until his organization can show it has the $100,000 in hand.

As of Monday afternoon, the organization had raised $2,090 from 29 donors, according to the website Gofundme.com, through which it has been raising the money.

German said an undisclosed donor has pledged to donate $50,000 once the organization is able to buy the schooner, but that is predicated on raising $100,000 and getting the state funding.

German said that even though "there is significant interest from other buyers, we have not been made aware of any offers as of yet on the Mystic, and since she is closest to home and the most beautiful of vessels, we will continue to endeavor to persevere."

If the schooner is purchased by another group, he said his organization would not abandon the idea of creating a school ship.

He added that "there are several other vessels internationally that could serve the same function, and while those would require transport to Long Island Sound and other assorted costs, the sticker price for the other vessels could justify those incurred costs."

He said his organization would wait to discuss obtaining other vessels until he knows what will happen with the Mystic, which he called the organization's first choice.

German's plan is to bring at-risk kids from Connecticut cities to go on week-long sailing trips aboard the 171-foot-long schooner.

The three-masted schooner has been for sale since 2009, when no one bid on it during a foreclosure auction. At that point, Lignum Vitae LLC, the local group that holds the mortgage on the boat, took ownership.

Lignum Vitae foreclosed on the mortgage to Mystic Schooner Line LLC, which was unable to pay off the remaining $2.9 million in mortgage, interest and fees. The Mystic was built in 2007 in Florida and began operating day sails, evening cruises and multiday trips as part of Voyager Cruises on Holmes Street.

German has said he would like to continue to base the Mystic in southeastern Connecticut.

Contributions can be made at Gofundme.com or www.ctcommunityboating.org.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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