Nothing defines the Maine coastal experience more than a sailing trip on a windjammer. Windjammers were built all along the East Coast in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Designed primarily to carry cargo, these iron- or steel-hulled beauties have a rich past—the Nathaniel Bowditch served in World War II, while others plied the waters in the lumbering and oystering trades. They vary in size but could be as small as 40 feet and hold 6 passengers (plus a couple of crew members) or more than 130 feet and hold 40 passengers and 10 crew members. During a windjammer excursion passengers are usually able to participate in the navigation, be it hoisting a sail or playing captain at the wheel.
The majority of windjammers are berthed in Rockland, Rockport, or Camden. You can get information on the fleets by contacting one of two windjammer organizations:
Maine Windjammer Association. 800/807-9463. www.sailmainecoast.com.
Maine Windjammer Cruises. 207/236-2938 or 800/736-7981. www.mainewindjammercruises.com.
Cruises can be anywhere from one to eight days. The price, ranging from nearly $200 to $900, depending on length of trip, includes all meals. Trips leave from Camden, Rockland, and Rockport.
Here is a selection of some of the best windjammer cruises in the area.
CAMDEN-ROCKPORT: Angelique (207/785-6036). Appledore, which can take you out for just a day sail (207/236-8353). Mary Day, Coastal Cruises (207/785-5670). Olad, Downeast Windjammer Packet Co. (207/236-2323); Schooner Heron (207/236-8605 or 800/599-8605).
ROCKLAND: American Eagle and Schooner Heritage, North End Shipyard (207/594-8007 www.schoonerheritage.com). Nathaniel Bowditch (800/288-4098). Summertime (207/563-1605 or 800/562-8290).
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