Logo   Life Aboard a Maine Windjammer
A Maine windjammer sloop or schooner is not a cruise ship. In fact, it's just the opposite.




What comes to mind when you hear "Maine windjammer cruise"? A large, elegant, commodious vessel with ample staff and all the comforts?

Think again!

A Maine windjammer sloop or schooner is just the opposite of your typical cruise ship:

— Main motive power is by sail, with an auxiliary engine for calm days. The wind really does move you along, and if there's no wind you go slow, or anchor until the wind rises.

— By shore or cruise ship standards, all spaces on board are tiny! The cabins, the common areas, the galley (kitchen), the heads (toilets)—tiny!. There is just enough room for every function, with no space wasted. When you first come aboard, you may feel a bit of claustrophobia, but after a few hours you'll get used to it and wonder "why did I think I needed more space?" You'll come to admire the economy and ingenuity of a trim vessel's design and construction.

Few windjammers have standard 120-volt, 60 Hz electrical current. Most have a low-voltage system to power low-wattage lights, ship-to-shore radios and navigational instruments, but you won't be able to plug in an appliance such as an electric razor or hair dryer. Some vessels may have a 12-volt auto-type "cigarette lighter" outlet or two. Lighting may include oil lamps on deck.

— The crew takes care of most shipboard tasks, but voyagers may be asked to help hoist, lower and furl the sails and other simple tasks requiring many hands. There are usually plenty of hands, and you needn't help if you don't care to. You may try other tasks if you like: swabbing the decks, polishing brasswork, even taking the helm and playing captain for awhile. It's up to you.

— Except for mealtimes when everyone comes together, your time is your own. Read, chat, nap, play games, shoot photos, look for birds.... If your vessel is anchored, lower a rowboat and go for a row, or take the tender (boat) to shore for a walk. A windjammer voyage is active at times, passive at times, mostly as you choose.

— If you make a noise—any noise—someone else, perhaps everyone else, will hear it. When under sail, a blissful quiet reigns, with only the occasional creak of a line, luff of a sail, patter of rain on deck, or the gentle ripple of water along the sides. When motoring, the thrum of the diesel engine may cover other sounds, but if you're lucky the diesel won't be running much.

— Most cruises include a shore dinner, when crew and voyagers tender to an island beach, spread out appetizers and salads, then boil up a few dozen lobsters. Sit on the beach, the rocks or a piece of driftwood, pull your lobster apart with your hands and enjoy!

(All litter—including the lobster shells—goes back to your vessel for proper disposal.)

Next: When to Cruise

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Maine windjammer cabin area

Fore cabin area of a Maine windjammer.

Maine Windjammer shore party

Taking the tender from a Maine windjammer to shore for an island picnic.

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