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Marco Polo project well underway
Construction of the 27-metre long replica ship will cost an estimated $300,000

Peter Walsh/Telegraph-Journal Barry Odgen, left, president of the Marco Polo Project Inc., and Bob Coos, project manager, pose with the middle ribs of the Marco Polo II replica ship.

BY DAVID SHIPLEY
Telegraph-Journal

    It has taken almost 20 years, but Barry Ogden's dogged determination to recreate a piece of Saint John's history has finally paid off.
   A four-metre high wooden rib, along with two smaller ribs which will form the frame of the Marco Polo II, were on display, fittingly, in the Marco Polo room of the Saint John Trade and Convention Centre on Thursday.
   They're the first tangible signs that construction is well underway to build a r eplica of the famous sailing ship. Built in 1851 as a cargo ship, the Marco Polo was refitted in 1852 as a luxurious passenger vessel. During its time as a passenger vessel it became renowned as the fastest ship in the world, circumnavigating the globe in just six months. The Marco Polo completed the return leg of that voyage, from Liverpool to Australia, in just 76 days. Previous voyages had taken 100 to 120 days.
   Dozens of citizens, along with city politicians, were at the press conference on Thursday during which it was announced that all 92 ribs that will form the frame of the replica ship have been completed.
   "When people come together and make things happen, it's a great feeling," said Mr. Ogden, president of the Marco Polo Project Inc.
   Students at Simonds High School helped build the ribs with the supervision and assistance of shop teacher Mike Boyle and Marco Polo II project manager Bob Coes.
   The scaled down replica will be built at the Pugsley "C" terminal and is 40 per cent the size of the original. The non-sailing, 27-metre long version, with an 18-metre main mast, will have a flat bottom and will rest on land.
   It's expected to cost roughly $300,000.
   Spectators will be able to watch it being built and when it's completed a cargo door on the side of the hull will allow them to explore inside. Inside the ship two replica cabins will be set up.
   "If the opportunity presents itself we would like to assemble the ship in an area more accessible to the general public," said Tom Creamer, master of ceremonies at the press conference.
   The project will take at least two more years to complete, said Mr. ; Coes.
   Before it can be completed $100,000 either in cash or through in kind donations of materials and labour will be needed.
   The Marco Polo II project has been , touted as a potential way to draw more tourists to the city.
   With projects such as Marco Polo II I and Harbour Passage, Saint John has developed a positive momentum, said Mr. Ogden.
   "I think right now Saint John is on the cusp of something big. With all the things that are happening, that the community is just about to take off," said Mr. Ogden. "You really sense that people in Saint John are working together."

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