BUILDING THE OMF ONTARIO
The concept for the Education Through Involvement Program was introduced at the1983 Foundation annual meeting by VP Henry Spang. The building of a schooner to host a program to: (1) Foster an appreciation of our aquatic heritage; (2) Advance the knowledge of the Great Lakes; (3) Enlarge the understanding of Great Lakes resources; and (4) Promote an awareness of the fragile nature of the aquatic ecosystem.
During the summer of 1985 the Canadian brigantine St. Lawrence II was used to run a simulation of the proposed program with OMF youth sailing students as participants
Spring of 1988 a 100-year-old restored ship's wheel presented for use on the schooner.
June 25 1988 -- Keel laying with local, state and national dignitaries taking part.
1988 - Summer-fall -- preliminary framing completed.
1989 - Spring/summer/fall -- bulkheads and beginning of plating
1990 - Pilot education programs begun in two elementary fourth grades
1990 - 1993 hull work continues during construction season
1994 - July 2 -- Hull launched 115 years to the day of the last schooner launched in Oswego -- The Leadville July 2 1879 - - built and launched at the very same place as the OMF schooner -- Goble's ship yard & drydock.
OMF schooner christened and named on launch day. Name determined through a name-the-schooner contest of fourth graders throughout Oswego County. Specially appointed committee did the judging, selecting the name OMF ONTARIO from nearly 100 entries.
Ship was christened by the great-grandson of George Goble, with two grand-nieces also in attendance
1994 - 1998 weekend work continued on the ship:
Deck houses were built
Bulwark caps, chainplates, mooring bits, and tanks constructed
Ballast totaling 20,000 lbs completed - half is lead, and half consists of scale weights from the former Oswego grain elevator scales adding a bit more history to the project.
1998 - On site spar construction began as welders finished their work on the hull. Bow sprit, jib boom, and after lower mast completed.
October 1998 -- ship hauled for final hull work (water intake, exhaust system, prop, tank testing, final painting, etc.
1999 - Main lower mast, both topmasts and main boom completed while other spars were built by individuals and groups off site.
Engine moved aboard during the fall of 1999, and all tank work readied for CG inspection.
1999-2000 winter -- Mahogany wood has been distributed to craftpersons throughout the region to begin work on hatch ways. sky lights and other wood components.
2000 – Tank testing, final spar work and rigging.
2001 – Sandblast exterior of hull, paint bottom and topsides, hull inspection and re-launch
2002 – Install bowsprit and jib boom and rigging
2003 – Install mainmast and foremast, then fabricate temporary rigging
2004 – Final rigging changes completed and work began on running rigging
2005 – Hatches and skylights fitted. Commissioning Ceremony held where the OMF ONTARIO sailed into the harbor to be greeted by the fleet
2006 – Sea trials begin where the crew tests sail handling and modifications are made based on the lessons learned
2007 - Lifelines, rescue craft, topsails fitted and tested
2008 – Inflatable liferaft, bulwark caps, fabric covers for hatches, engine controls. Installed, Schooner sailed to Sodus Bay for haulout, inspection. Serious pitting of hull plates due to microbiologically Induced Corrosion (MIC). Damaged plates will need replacement.
2009 - Work on bottom plates continues, with starboard side replaced and port side removed. Along with plate replacement, plans are underway to replace integral tanks for water, waste and fuel with separate removable tanks to facilitate inspection and servicing. Progress continues on engine controls, decks, hatches and interior.
2010- Bottom plates completed, final welding and inspections continue. Rudder removed and bushings serviced.
2011 - Final welding completed and inspected, fuel tank inspected and installed, bottom sand blasted and coated with epoxy, traditional wood deck fitted and caulked. Engine reset and aligned, rudder reinstalled.
2012* – Painting of entire hull, installing a second 25 person inflatable raft, inspection and recertification of existing inflatable raft, completing safety/electrical/plumbing systems. Inspection as a Dockside Attraction.
Returning to Oswego, install masts, rigging and sails, continue sea trials. Deck tours and sailing for cannon battle with Fort Ontario during Harborfest. Deck tours during Canal Days. Seasonal haulouts to continue.
2013* - Final certification as an Inspected Passenger Vessel under subchapter T. Continuing crew/captain selection and training. On board educational program readied.
2014* - Interior woodwork installed to provide captain/mate/crew quarters, small galley, library and lab area to extend educational service area to other ports.
* tentative timetable – precise times as always depend upon fundraising via grants, donations of cash, in-kind services, and volunteer support. The schooner OMF ONTARIO has always operated and will continue to operate without debt.