Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Celebrate Independence on a Maine Schooner Race

One of the year's most exciting races at sea takes place each July 4th weekend off the coast of Rockland, Maine, during the Maine Windjammer Association's annual Great Schooner Race.

Book your cruise now, and you and your kids are invited to participate in this informal, friendly competition that includes a multi-day “training” cruise to help new crewmembers learn the ropes before the big event.

Then picture yourself  largest annual gathering of historic schooners in America.  For windjammer guests, the fun starts on Thursday, July 4, 2013 when each schooner's captain will conduct friendly maritime competitions off the island of Islesboro, in Gilkey Harbor, as a precursor to the headline event.  Independence Day fireworks will cap the evening.

Victory Chimes
The next morning, race day will begin with a captains’ meeting aboard Maine’s largest windjammer: the Victory Chimes, where they will set the day’s course and classes.

Many of the participating schooners are National Historic Landmarks, while others were built in the last century specifically for the windjamming trade. All of them are beautifully maintained maritime treasures.

Starting at 11 am, dozens of schooners will race across Maine’s Penobscot Bay, from Islesboro to the Rockland Breakwater, where their dramatic mid-afternoon arrival will be reminiscent of the days when cargo-laden schooners raced to be the first to port so they might capture the best market prices.

Remind your kids that, like the Domino's Pizza Guy, a century ago, every schooner trip was a race against time and a captain’s profits depended heavily on his crew’s sailing skills. Immediately following the Race, an awards ceremony for participants (including each schooners’ guests) will be held at the Sail, Power and Steam Museum in Rockland.

For Captain Brenda Thomas, owner of the 127-year-old Schooner Isaac H. Evans, "The appeal of the Race is getting the boats all together and recreating a scene that people might have seen a hundred years ago." Fortunately, the Isaac H. Evans is proud to count young deckhands among its crew all season long, as you can see by this review of a schooner cruise from Captain Brenda adds, "There’s no other place I know of where guests can take part in such an exciting sailing event."

On Race Weekend, as on other cruises, guests spend about 6 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. A day of sailing might culminate with a beachside lobster bake, some folk music or storytelling on deck, or a game of Scrabble around the wood stove.

On Saturday and Sunday, July 6 and 7, the members of the Maine Windjammer Association (800/807-WIND) will host Open Schooner Tours at their docks from 2 to 4 pm each day. Visitors may stop by for a free deck tour of the Angelique, Lewis R. French and Mary Day in Camden; the Timberwind in Rockport; the American Eagle, Heritage and Isaac H. Evans at Rockland’s North End Shipyard, and the Nathaniel Bowditch and Stephen Taber at Windjammer Wharf on Tillson Avenue in Rockland. Do come for a preview.

If you can't make it over July 4th, when 4-day cruises start at $760 per person, inclusive of all meals, accommodations, activities and race participation, come back later in the summer.   You won't regret it.

No comments:

Post a Comment