A 16-year-old and three 14-year-old boys have been charged after the attempted theft of a wooden sailboat from Halifax harbour early Thursday morning.

A security guard at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic told Halifax Regional Police he spotted the boat — called the Dorothea — making its way towards Dartmouth around 3:15 a.m. The boat had previously been tied up on the Halifax side of the harbour.

The boat was intercepted by a fire crew in the harbour. Once on land, four teens were arrested and charged with theft over $5,000, possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000 and taking a vessel without consent.

One of the 14-year-old boys also faces an extra charge of breaching court orders.

The Nova Scotia Sea School, which owns the Dorothea, said the boat has a few scrapes but it could've been worse.

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Four teenagers have been charged after the attempted theft of a sailboat from Halifax harbour. (Courtesy: novascotiawebcams.com)

"They didn't have any night navigational lights," said Heather Kelday, the executive director of the Nova Scotia Sea School.

"There are rules of the road on the harbour. It's hard to predict what could have happened."

The Dorothea, a 30-feet spritsail, ketch-rigged pulling boat, was modelled on the Sable Island surfboats that used to transport people and gear from tall ships to the shores of Sable Island.

It was built by 15 teenagers in the 1990s and continues to be used to train young people how to sail.

"That is, in a lot of ways, why it is such an interesting piece to us. It was teenagers — teenagers that we would want to come in our program," said Kelday.

Tracy Oakley, a security supervisor on the Halifax waterfront, said boats are irresistible for some troublemakers.

"Bit of daredevil thing, I think. Someone wants that thrill, middle of the night," she said.

The Dorothea is now secured to the dock with a padlock.