Amistad arrives at Sailfest in New London

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) —  The historic schooner the Amistad made it to Sailfest in New London this weekend, after threats from Governor Malloy to cut its funding.

Earlier this week, Gov. Malloy’s office sent a letter to Amistad America, Inc. The letter basically said the ship should be at Sailfest and made available for people to see here in Connecticut. The governor had also threatened to reconsider supporting additional state funding for the Amistad, which is nearly $400,000 in this year’s budget.

The organization that operates the ship had said it would “exhaust every resource” to try to attend Sailfest.

Officials with the Amistad had said the reason they could not go to Sailfest was because of an upcoming Coast Guard inspection and hostile newspaper coverage by The Day of New London over the organization’s finances. The folks with Amistad say the articles regarding its financial issues were inaccurate.

The managing editor of The Day said he didn’t see how the articles were relevant to the decision to attend Sailfest.

A statement released by Amistad America Inc. says if in fact the crew can satisfy maritime safety regulations it will gladly participate in the festival.

It seems that the ship did meet those safety requirements as the Amistad began to make its way to New London around five o’clock Saturday morning.

News 8 asked Executive Director, Hanifa Washington, what happened.

“When you get a letter from the governor saying I would suggest that you reconsider, you kind of have to take action,” said Washington.

Washington wouldn’t disclose what it took either in personnel or finances to meet the governor’s request.

When pressed on the issue she ended News 8’s interview.

Today is the final day of 2014 Sailfest, the festival runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. tonight.

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