Posts Tagged ‘Maine Windjammers’

Setting Sail on Victory Chimes for Maine Windjammers Association’s 37th Annual Great Schooner Race, July 5

June 28, 2013
A memorable "Schooner Gam" - meeting of nearly a dozen tall ships of the Maine Windjammer Fleet - and "raft up" where passengers get to visit the other ships (© 2013 Karen Rubin/

A memorable “Schooner Gam” – meeting of nearly a dozen tall ships of the Maine Windjammer Fleet – and “raft up” where passengers get to visit the other ships (© 2013 Karen Rubin/

So excited. I’m heading out to sail aboard the Victory Chimes for the Maine Windjammers Association’s 37th Annual Great Schooner Race, July 5, in Penobscot Bay.

Our Maine windjammer cruise leaves from Rockland harbor this Sunday, June 29, and we participate in all the things that make this experience so unique – lobster bake on a secluded beach, visiting small fishing villages, scanning the sea for seal and dolphin. It’s a folksy, Americana sort of trip that is basically unique and makes for a very special experience, whether for a family, a couple, a gal-getaway, multi-generational getaway, reunion or groups of friends who want an atmosphere that promotes camaraderie.

You can help sail the ship or just enjoy the cruise.

The Schooner Race is just one of the special events the windjammers  – most of which are historic sailing vessels – host during the summer.  There always seem to be a reason to party:

July 6 & 7   Open Schooner Tours

Stop by and tour Maine’s legendary windjammers at their docks each afternoon from 2:00-4:00 pm. The participating windjammers can be found at North End Shipyard and Windjammer Wharf (off Tillson Ave) in Rockland; the Public Landing in Rockport; and at the head of the inner harbor in Camden. Hope you can join us!

July 12      Maine Windjammer Parade

The entire fleet participates in an afternoon Parade of Sail past the mile-long Rockland Breakwater, providing spectators with stunning, close-up views of Maine’s fleet of tall ships.

August 5   Sweet Chariot Music Festival

More than a dozen groups perform traditional music of the sea on Swans Island, with live shipboard performances as well.

Aug 30-Sept 1     Camden Windjammer Festival

Festivities include a parade of sail, maritime heritage fair, contra dance, fireworks, lobster crate race, chowder challenge, free concerts, schooner crew talent show, family scavenger hunt, outdoor movies and more.

September 10    WoodenBoat Sail-in

The fall gathering of the fleet takes place in Brooklin, Maine, headquarters of WoodenBoat Magazine and WoodenBoat School. Live music, local refreshments, boatschool tours.

The different ships also hold theme cruises – reflecting the interest and personality of the captain – from photography to bird-watching. Victory Chimes has scheduled its inaugural four-day “Maine Story & Humor Cruise” for July 14-18. and a four-day Maine Geology Cruise Aug. 16-20.

The fleet of 10 ships includes numerous historic rigged vessels, many which have been named National Historic Landmarks, fully restored and beautifully maintained with the many comforts of home for today’s savvy traveler. A trip aboard one of these schooners is a great way to experience Maine and its coastal towns, with true working waterfronts satisfying those with a taste for life on the sea.

Each ship has a distinct personality and character – largely because of the captain but the architecture and the “story” of each of the vessels, as well. And each cruise is always different based on the serendipitous confluence of who the other passengers are – an esprit de corps forms during the sail – the weather, and myriad other factors that can never be anticipated or planned.

Aside from the Great Schooner Race, while aboard one of the schooners, guests spend about six hours each day under sail, meandering through the waters of mid-coast Maine, and every afternoon drop anchor in the safe, snug harbor off a quiet fishing village, or at an uninhabited island where they can go ashore and explore.

The Maine Windjammer Association is comprised of the largest fleet of traditional sailing schooners in North America. Built in the USA, all 10 Windjammers are individually owned by U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captains who work together to ensure the highest standards of safety, comfort and professionalism. The windjammer fleet hails from ports of Rockland, Rockport and Camden, located in the mid-coast region of Maine. Each windjammer carried between 20 and 40 guests and 3-10 crew members. Windjammer cruises are for people of all ages.

For brochures and DVD, or for information, contact the Maine Windjammer Association at 800-807-WIND; or visit

See: Maine Windjammer American Eagle Sails to a Schooner Gam

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Registration opens for Inaugural Penobscot Bay Rendezvous Power and Sail Regatta in Maine, Aug 18

May 4, 2011
Maine Windjammers

A memorable "Schooner Gam" - meeting of nearly a dozen tall ships of the Maine Windjammer Fleet - and "raft up" (© 2011 Karen Rubin/

CAMDEN, Maine (May 04, 2011) –

Celebrating boating and boatbuilding, the new Penobscot Bay Rendezvous Regatta is a 4-day premier boating event, filled with daily races, Poker Run and Photo Pursuit events, lobster bakes, fireworks and so much more on August 18-24, 2011.

The Penobscot Bay Rendezvous Power and Sail Regatta, takes place August 18-24, 2011, at  Penobscot Bay and Camden Harbor, Maine.  The all-inclusive fee of $360 covers all events and racing for 2 people. $180 for each additional person. Mooring, dockage and launch service is extra. There is a limit of 500 people for this event; registration can be done online at

The  Rendezvous will feature daily races for both power and sail boats, on-water spectator yachts, BBQ, lobster bakes, fireworks, and more. A full schedule of events can be found here: The local Windjammers are also expected to participate and will be arriving in Camden and Rockland harbors that weekend as well.

Super yachts, classic yachts, performance racers, picnic boats and lobster yachts are all invited to enter and compete in this inaugural event. Course information and regulations can be found here:

“Maine’s vast coast, scenery, and boating enthusiasm makes it the perfect place for an event of this kind and the Mid Coast Region of the state is the ideal location with its Windjammer history, boating culture and spectacular viewing spots,” says Dan Bookham, Executive Director of the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce who are assisting with the logistics of the weekend.

With the geographic layout of the area, event spectators will be able to see all of the action from the land or can catch spectator-assigned yachts to see the races from the sea.

Sponsors include Wayfarer Marine in Camden, ME and Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding in Thomaston, ME. More sponsorship opportunities are available:

More information on the Regatta can be found on their website, or the Facebook page at

The Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit membership association that seeks to promote the interests of business and encourage economic development. For more information visit the Chamber at or email

See also:

Maine Windjammer American Eagle Sails to a Schooner Gam
Gathering of the Fleet makes you forget what century you are in

Sailing on the American Eagle Among the Islands of Penobscot Bay
–What’s Old is Good Again

Windjamming on the Nathaniel Bowditch: Sailing a Historic Ship on Maine’s Penobscot Bay is a Voyage

A Schooner Gam on the American Eagle, historic Maine Windjammer

June 18, 2010

Gathering of the Fleet: nearly a dozen of the Maine Windjammers raft up making an incredible spectacle © 2010 Karen Rubin/

It is one of those truly memorable experiences that travel affords: a  Gathering of the Fleet of Maine’s Windjammers, a collection of about a dozen tall ships, most of which are National Historic Landmarks, which sail in the Penobscot Bay (and some, further on).

 This is the “Schooner Gam,” which kicked off this summer’s season, and encompassed just about the entire fleet, highlighted by a Raft-Up – where all the boats tie up together.

 As we sail from Swans Island where we spent the night anchored in a cove, we see them far on the horizon, like leviathans gliding on the water. The  ships come from various directions, closer and closer, and gradually, we start to form a parade of sorts as we tacked into a cove for the gathering.

 They are majestic, magnificent, graceful and powerful and proud.

 The ships (or rather the captains and crew) do this marvelously choreographed, painstaking maneuver to slowly come along side each other, “raft up” – tie up with one another.

 Our ship, the American Eagle, captained by its owner, John Foss, who is one of the most senior of the Windjammer captains with 35 years (25 years with this ship which he restored, and 10 years with his first ship, the Lewis R. French, built in 1871), eases along side the Victory Chimes.

 As the majestic ships, most of them more than a century old, fill the cove, you forget what century you are in.

 Then the party starts, and all of us passengers can climb from one ship to the other, visiting and greeting, tasting the appetizers that have been set out.

 For the captains and the crews, it is a chance to meet up with old friends and colleagues.

For the passengers, many of whom had just set out on their journey that morning, it is the rarest opportunity to meet others who hail from all parts of the country, and even from abroad, so different, yet sharing this desire to experience a form of travel and a kind of life that has all but disappeared.

 On our port side, music breaks out on the Mercantile, a National Historic Landmark, built in 1916 to carry fish, barrel staves and firewood, reconfigured to its new career to carry 29 guests. This sailing has two family reunions on board.

 On our starboard side is the Victory Chimes. Built in 1900, it is the largest passenger schooner in America and one of the only three-masted schooners left. On board is the great-grandson of George K Phillips, whose shipyard built the Victory Chimes (he was also on the 2000 sailing to mark the 100th anniversary of the ship) and 30 others like it (the Victory Chimes is one of only a few surviving). The chef breaks out the lobster pot to begin preparing their evening’s dinner – the fresh-caught lobster bake that is a tradition of every windjammer cruise.

 We traipse across to the Angelique, rare in that it was purpose-built for windjamming in 1980 and patterned after the 19th century sailing ships that fished off the coast of England. It has a deckhouse salon with a piano, and is being used for this trip by Exploritas (formerly Elderhostel), and there is a board listing activities that include various lectures and discussions.

 Each of the dozen ships in the fleet is unique in its structure and its “story”, and has its own personality largely formed by the Captain and crew. Each sailing aboard a Maine Windjammer is uniquely formed by the weather and wind and the particular combination of passengers – as the many passengers we meet who were repeat cruisers attest. A windjammer cruise is the essence of serendipity.

 Alec, our first mate, has put on a fancy jacket that looks like an English hunting jacket but makes him look like a World War I soldier, a shirt and tie decorated with schooners, khaki pants and no shoes, prompting “oohs” and “ahs” from his colleagues on the other boats.

 It drizzles while we have dinner, so we go below in the American Eagle galley, but after dinner, the sun breaks through casting this fabulous golden light. We have our freshly churned ice cream on deck and the mingling with the other passengers and crews of the other boats begins anew.

 Captain Foss gives the order to pull around the rowboat so we can get to the water line to row around all the boats to witness the full spectacle and take pictures.

 It is a spectacular sight – you sense what treasures these ships are, and are so grateful for the captains and crew who give these ships – which in a former life hauled timber, granite, fish –  a new working life and an economic basis.

 As the sun sets, several of the captains, including Captain Foss, fire off a cannon and bring down their flags.

 Three of the ships fall away from the group – taking some of the passengers that belong on another ship, prompting enormous laughter (no matter, a rowboat returns them to the right ship), and we gently separate and motor a short distance away.

 Gradually, all the boats separate and find their own little patch of the cove to weigh anchor, as the sky deepens in color – yellow to pink to red at the horizon, azure to royal blue higher in the sky. A crescent moon with Venus shining brightly above. Several of us stay on deck to sit around and chat in the light of kerosene lanterns, then go below where Alec is playing a guitar and singing humorous songs.

 That’s the other hallmark of windjamming: the camaraderie that forms when you have only conversation, story-telling and song as distractions.

 There are other opportunities throughout the season for gatherings of the fleet – for races or rendezvous.

 Windjammer Days, June 23, there is a grand sail parade through picturesque Boothbay Harbor.

 The 34th anniversary of the Great Schooner Race, North America’s largest annual gathering of tall ships, takes place the week of July 5, when more than two dozen tall ships gather for an all-day race in which guests may participate. This is another Raft-Up opportunity.

 The Maine Windjammer Parade is scheduled for Friday, July 16, when the entire fleet joins an afternoon Parade of Sail past the mile-long Rockland Breakwater.

 Many windjammers gather during the week of August 2 for the Sweet Chariot Music Festival on Swans Island.

 The fleet gathers in pictures Camden Harbor on Sept. 3-4, for the Camden Windjammer Festival, reminiscent of the days when hundreds of coastal schooners lined the waterfront. This is another Raft-Up opportunity.

 The WoodenBoat Sail-In takes place Tuesday, Sept 14, in Brooklin, Maine. This fall gathering of the fleet is in its 24th year, and there are refreshments, live music, tours and a harbor full of historic schooners.

 The Maine Windjammer Association includes 12 traditional tall ships, ranging in size from 46 to 132 feet on deck. Seven of them are National Historic Landmarks. They carry between 6 and 40 guests and 2-10 crew members They offer a variety of special interest cruises including wine tasting, pirate adventure, art and photography, festival, lighthouses, whale-bird and naturalist, knitters’ weekend, music and story-telling, plus family and kids getaways; there are also “Fairwinds and Fairways” golf and cruise packages; land and sea packages with Historic Inns of Rockland, and an Air & Sea Package with Cape Air from flying from Boston to Rockland. (800-807-WIND,

 Our schooner, the American Eagle, sails 4 and 6 night cruises, plus a 13-night voyage to Nova Scotia, attending the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival. Capt. Foss is also the only Maine schooner racing for the historic Esperanto Cup in Gloucester, Massachusetts, every Labor Day weekend (he won 8 out of 21 tries, including 2009) (Schooner American Eagle, 207-594-8007, 800-648-4544,,

 For more about our voyage aboard the American Eagle and the Maine Windjammers and more photos, visit

 –Karen Rubin