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Maine Windjamming - What Is It?

Unlike sea kayaking or whitewater rafting, the term windjamming doesn't readily describe what it is. In a nutshell, windjamming is sailing, but it's also so much more than just a sailing adventure. It's the real deal - historic schooners retracing sailing routes of yesteryear all with a serious Yankee flair.

Windjamming is a sailing adventure, but we aren't talking about propelling your body through space at experimental speeds or the need to be in top physical shape to survive a week of so called vacation. Windjamming is about thrilling at the wind on your face and the feel of the boat under your feet, hauling up immense stretches of canvas and at the end of the day watching the glorious sun set behind the rugged mountains. The reason these trips are an adventure is that they are a unique, outdoor trip best described as soft camping on the water. They aren't party boat cruises either, we're talking Maine Windjammer, a special fleet of boats unique to Maine, many of whom had a past life as a cargo vessel carrying supplies up and down the East Coast and beyond.

So what do you do on a windjammer? Well, you get involved in every aspect of the running of the boat (unless you don't want to), soak up the pristine beauty of the Coast of Maine and feast on the best of hearty, earthy fare. Everyone to be a part of the operation of the boat from coiling lines to raising sails, from helping in the galley to taking a turn at the wheel. After the excitement of getting underway and the decks are tidied, all settle in. Some start that book they've been itching to read, others a needlepoint project, more are seen back on the quarter-deck, learning a bit of navigation or listening to a story of the Captain's many adventures at sea. Others still are found with binoculars, watching the marine and bird life and hoping to see a whale.

We sail where the wind and tide take us and experience freedom from everyday noises and distractions. We throw itineraries to the wind, anchoring in a different harbor every night and one evening enjoying a traditional lobster bake on the beach, Maine-style! Winding our way through the islands of Penobscot Bay, the cacophony of our home and work places slip away and enjoyment in a simpler life takes it's place. The sight of lighthouses, pink-granite islands and colorful sunrises, the smell of fresh bread just out of the oven or freshly brewed coffee from the wood stove, all are part of your trip on a windjammer.

At the risk of sounding like a Maxwell House International Coffee commercial, here are a few experiences to encounter during a week of windjamming:

  • The anticipation of an exciting day's sail and the quiet rest after an exciting day's sail
  • The movement of the boat through the water.
  • The smells: the sea and salt and pine spruce trees and rugosa roses.
  • The thrill of watching an eagle in flight (even if we've seen it a hundred times).
  • Sounds of laughter and music and nature.
  • Rosy cheeks from sun and wind. Warm cozy sweaters and caramelized apple tarts.
  • Watching the fog roll in at the end of the day.
  • Stillness... morning and evening. Quiet like you never hear in urban and suburban environs. Ripples on the water in an otherwise glass calm harbor.
  • Nostalgia; romance; kerosene lanterns; varnished pine and rich, hearty, earthy food.
  • No dressing for dinner, no rush, no computers, no in your face vacation, no traffic, no concrete, no deals, no need to impress.

Many of the boats in the Maine windjammer fleet are family run businesses.

Most are husband and wife teams and some even raise their families on board. Over half of the fleet are National Historic Landmarks. And a few, built in the 1800's are about to head into their third century. From May to October groups of people join us as our guests for a week of sailing, sight-seeing and nature-watching. Our quiet adventures travel from Boothbay, Maine to Bar Harbor, Maine. The accommodations are simple and your meals, the best of new and old-world styles, are prepared by a trained chef.

Contributed By: Schooner J. & E. Riggin

Schooner J. & E. Riggin" Windjamming Cruises.

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