|Best Maine Windjammer Sailing Cruises|
|A cruise on a Maine coastal schooner is one of New England's great adventures. Here are the best windjammers on which to cruise.|
You love the spectacular Maine coast, and the sea, and the idea of sailing along the coast and among the islands for a few days, with the scent of the sea, the breeze filling the sails, the quiet rush of water as your vessel makes way.
You want to go to bed and be gently rocked to sleep by the sea, and wake to a morning misty or bright, but always delightful.
You enjoy the society of other voyagers, the home-style meals cooked on a galley stove, the afternoons on deck or relaxing in your cabin, the evenings sharing the day's observations with your mates. If there are special programs—music, yoga, nature lore—you can participate or not, as you wish.
But which Maine windjammer to choose?
List of Maine Windjammers
Here's a list of some of the finest boats, all members of the Maine Windjammers Association:
Captain John Foss skippers 3- to 11-day cruises along the coast, as far north as Campobello Island, and south to Gloucester, Massachusetts, for up to 26 passengers on this 92-foot historic vessel.
Captain Dennis Gallant & Candace Kuchinski offer 3-, 4-, 5- and 6-night cruises, some with special themes, from Memorial Day to early October on the 130-foot vessel built to a traditional English design in 1980. Seven crew care for the ship and its 29 passengers in 15 cabins.
Captains Doug & Linda Lee skipper the 95-foot-long Heritage built in 1983 to a traditional Maine schooner design. The 16 cabins accommodate 30 passengers.
Captain J.R. Braugh will take you on 3- to 7-night cruises June through October. Built in 1922 as a private yacht, renovated in 1971 and again just a few years ago, Ladona has had an eventful history, and now provides a variety of high-comfort cruises for 17 passengersin nine cabins.
Captains Garth Wells and Jenny Tobin pilot this historic 65-foot Maine schooner launched in Christmas Cove in 1871. The French carried cargo along the coast for a century, then was rebuilt for passengers in 1971. Her 13 cabins include five singles for which no single supplement is charged.
Captains Barry King & Jennifer Martin boast that the Mary Day is "the first schooner built for passenger comfort," with 14 cabins including two singles and two triples, nine feet of headroom in most, plus windows and skylights that open for air and light.
Captain Noah & Jane Barnes command the Taber, launched in 1871 and claimed to be the oldest documented sailing vessel in continuous service in the USA—a National Historic Landmark. Rebuilt in the early 1980s, she has 12 cabins for 22 voyagers: 6 with twin beds, 4 with doubles, and two singles. The captains pride themselves on the quality of their cuisine and wines.
Captain Sam Sikkema commands this 127.5-foot long, 23.8-foot wide former freighter launched in 1900. Converted to passenger service in 1946 and extensively renovated in 1988, this largest of Maine windjammers accommodates up to 40 passengers in 22 cabins and suites that are the most spacious among the fleet. More...
Gam was the 19th-century whalers' term for a gathering of whales. The term carried over to a gathering of ships: when two or more whaling ships encountered one another during their long voyages, it was customary to anchor and tie up together so the crews could socialize.
The custom survives among Maine windjammers to this day. Early in the sailing season (usually June), most or all of the windjammers described above will meet at an anchorage in Penobscot Bay for a gam: they tie together, serve grog, set up a band, and have a party on the water.
Voyagers on any of the windjammers can climb to the others for a look around, a chat, and an evening's enjoyment.
Check the individual windjammers' summer cruising programs to see when the gam will occur. It's a real treat! More...
—by Tom Brosnahan