ELLSWORTH, Maine – Fox News host and TV personality Geraldo Rivera has donated his 68-foot sailboat to the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine.
“Not a sailboat, the sailboat, ”Rivera said of Voyager in a telephone interview from his Fox News office in New York.
The aluminum ketch, which Rivera considers almost a member of her family, will be used to train MMA students in the operation and maintenance of small vessels, said Jennifer DeJoy, director of university relations.
Rivera sailed the boat to Maine this month and spent the night at MMA on Tuesday, where the school hosted a reception for him and his family.
Rivera said parting with Voyager was a decision he made three or four times. He fondly recalled sailing with his family to Tonga, near the international deadline of December 31, 1999, where they were among the first to live the new millennium. He also sailed the Voyager on the Amazon River, a trip that was featured on Travel Channel.
A demanding professional life made it difficult for Rivera to use the boat, so he decided to give it up.
“It was like selling a member of my family, so I couldn’t do that. So I wanted to find a suitable beneficiary, ”he said. A friend suggested the Maine Maritime Academy, an idea Rivera liked because he had spent a fair amount of time cruising the boat in Maine.
“I met so many cadets and staff there,” he said of his trip to MMA. “They were so enthusiastic and enthusiastic and so good sailors. It was a bittersweet moment, but it just seems like the right thing.
MMA student Hollister Poole said: “We hope to make Newport to Bermuda [distance sailing race] on the boat this summer.
“Geraldo has made a tremendous donation to a great school,” she added.
Rivera said he was especially encouraged by MMA’s success in placing graduates into jobs.
“We are honored that Geraldo Rivera felt that Maine Maritime Academy would be a good home for Voyager and that our students can provide the care and use of the boat they deserve,” said DeJoy.
The sailboat will be used to help train students enrolled in MMA’s Vessel Operating Technology Program and Small Vessel Operations Program, Assistant Professor Rick Miller said. Students will earn hours at sea and the training time they need to receive a limited Coast Guard license and earn a bachelor’s degree. When these students graduate, they will be able to operate vessels such as tugs and boats that provide wind power and oil rigs, Miller said. He added that some students have already been on Voyager for a sailing course.
The Maine Maritime Academy has 60 training ships, according to the school’s website. Another of MMA’s well-known boats is the Bowdoin schooner, which takes cadets on a month-long training trip to the Arctic.
Voyager was designed by naval architect and yacht brokerage firm Sparkman and Stephens and built in 1972 for Thomas Watson Jr., the former president of IBM, Rivera said. Watson spent part of the year in North Haven where his family had a dealership, which also appealed to Rivera as he feels the boat has come full circle.
“It was just one of those things where you feel karma,” he said.