Editor's note: This story was originally published Oct. 23, 2002.
The fishing vessel Lady Grace — used by Hollywood to tell the story of the lost swordfishing boat Andrea Gail — may soon become a platform to study New England fisheries.
Legal Sea Foods, the Boston-based restaurant company that bought the Lady Grace in an on-line auction in July 2000, has given the 72-foot boat to the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center. The company also agreed to give the heritage center $25,000 a year for three years, to pay for the boat's maintenance and dockage. The center is discussing a possible partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to use the vessel for research, according to Harriet Webster, the center's executive director.
The project, she added, would involve fishermen.
The Legal Sea Foods Foundation, the company's charitable arm, is also helping plan how the Lady Grace will be used.
The vessel, officially transferred on Sept. 27, will not have to move far. It has been berthed in Gloucester, and at the heritage center's Harbor Loop wharves, for much of the time it has been owned by Legal Sea Foods.
The Lady Grace has been a tourist attraction, especially among those searching for local landmarks from the movie "The Perfect Storm." Geoffrey Richon, the Maritime Heritage Center's president, noted it has "a certain amount of star appeal."
"That's not particularly interesting to us," said Richon, who added that the center is instead focused on the boat's practical uses.
"We're working on putting it back to work. That boat is not going to be a stagnant display," he said. "I don't expect that boat to be tied to the dock." Built in Ocean City, Md., in 1978, the Lady Grace was an ideal stand-in for the Andrea Gail because the two were built together.