New London — The Amistad will be docked this summer at the Custom House Pier in New London, where it will be on hand for maritime festivals and participate in educational programs, under a plan proposed by the schooner’s court-appointed receiver and approved by a Superior Court judge.
The arrangement would be in stark contrast to what occurred last summer, when Gov. Dannel P. Malloy urged the ship’s financially troubled owner, Amistad America, to get the ship to New London for Sailfest or face the loss of $400,000 in annual state funding. The ship arrived in time for the festival after originally saying it was canceling its visit, in part because of The Day’s coverage of how the organization has spent more than $8 million in state funding.
This summer’s plans for the ship are contained in a report prepared for the court by receiver Katharine Sacks. She reported that the ship’s four-person crew has spent the winter at Mystic Seaport addressing a host of necessary and labor-intensive projects such as servicing the rigging and sails, resealing deck seams and repairing toilets, the generator and main engine bilge.
The receiver’s contract for dockage at the Seaport, which is still owed $45,000 by Amistad America, expires at the end of April. Sacks wrote that because of limited finances, it would have been natural for the ship to return to its homeport of New Haven, which does not charge docking fees. But its slip at Long Wharf Pier has silted in, and the ship sits in the mud at low tide, exposing it to damage. While New Haven has hired a consultant to study the need for dredging, it still has to find funding for the work before it can hire a contractor. Sacks said the process will take at least six months.