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Sailing The Maine Coast September 21, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Nature, Sustainable Living, Travel & Leisure.
English: Mercantile

English: Mercantile (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For our 20th Wedding Anniversary, we decided to cruise the Maine coast for a few days before heading to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.

As we researched, we learned that the Maine Windjammer Association includes 13 traditional sailing vessels in its fleet.

The windjammers range in length from 46 to 132 feet, and accommodate 6-40 guests.  We selected the Mercantile (pictured above):

The 78′ Mercantile was built in Little Deer Isle, Maine in 1916 to carry salt fish, barrel staves, and firewood. The Mercantile became a cruise schooner in 1942 under the ownership of Frank Swift, the founder of the Maine windjammer trade. Guests: 29.

The largest boat, The Victory Chimes, is featured on the Maine quarter:

Built in 1900 in Bethel, Delaware to carry lumber up and down the shallow bays and rivers of the Chesapeake, the 132′ schooner Victory Chimes is the last three masted schooner on the East coast, and the largest passenger sailing vessel under U.S. flag. Guests: 40.

Riding the wind along the rocky coastline provides an eco-friendly way to enjoy spectacular scenery as well as the opportunity to spot ospreys, eagles, terns, and puffins from the decks.

The schooners also offer delicious meals prepared on board ~ from blueberry pancakes in the morning to sunset lobster bakes.  That’s Anna (above), the cook on our cruise, who made vegetarian versions of everything for us.

Except the lobster . . . which we ate the night of the Schooner Gam while rafted up to several other Windjammers in the fleet.

Meals are served buffet style on deck, weather permitting, starting with a before breakfast snack of fresh-baked blueberry muffins or coffee cake and ending with a sweet treat after dinner.

Between meals, guests kick back and relax . . . or help the crew hoist the sails.

The first day out (mid-June), we froze . . . despite thick layers of  turtleneck, sweatshirt, wool sweater, jacket, hat, scarf and mittens.

Every twenty minutes, I’d head  down to the galley to warm my bones beside the welcoming wood stove used to prepare all meals.

We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner  below decks that day, with choppy seas and swells tossing us around as we tried to carry bowls of piping hot chili from stove to table without sloshing it over board (or bowl).

No mean feat on wobbly sea legs. 

The second day, the sun joined us and we peeled the layers off . . . down to short sleeves and bare feet.

 As did the captain and crew.

Aah . . . that’s better!

For more information:  Sail Maine Coast

For more photos:  Maine Windjammer Cruises ~ Photo Gallery

Related posts:  Brave New Adventures * Revel in Uncertainty * Ascertaining Clarity * A Passage To Peace ~ Sailing the Lorenda (Souldipper) * Afternoon Delight (Flying G’ma’s Blog)


1. Cindy - September 21, 2011

What a special way to celebrate 😀

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

We had a blast. A windjammer cruise for our 20th . . . and buying a villa in FL for our 25th.

Hmm . . . what should we do for our 30th?

I know! A trip to South Africa! 😎

2. Thorny Rose - September 21, 2011

What a beautiful adventure! Congratulations on your anniversary.

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

Thanks, Rose. We celebrated our 27th this year!

Souldipper’s sailing post this week reminded me of our trip through Penobscot Bay and I thought I would share.

3. adeeyoyo - September 21, 2011

Wonderful, Nancy, riding the wind and cresting the waves… Happy Anniversary!

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

The first day was bone chilling . . . but the second and third were delightful ~ magnificent scenery and a breeze (instead of a biting wind).

We celebrated our 27th this past June closer to home ~ with Captain Morgan on Siesta Key. 😎

4. suzicate - September 21, 2011

This sounds both relaxing and fun! What a delightful experience this must have been.

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

Great experience. If we did it again, we would sail the Victory Chimes. We sailed for 3 nights . . . others stayed on board a full week.

Three nights sufficed for us. The closet sized cabins are rather claustrophobic ~ but life on deck . . . spectacular! 😀

5. misswhiplash - September 21, 2011

What a wonderful way to spend your anniversary.
Congratulations on 20 years!

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

Thanks, Patrecia. We try to do something memorable, at least every 5 years:

5th ~ Marco Island, FL
10th ~ Stone Harbor & Spaddafora’s (honeymoon haunts)
15th ~ Concert under the stars with the Moody Blues
20th ~ Windjammer Cruise in Maine
25th ~ Bought our villa in FL

6. ceceliafutch - September 21, 2011

First, congratulations on 20 years together! May you have many many more. Second, wow! Does that ever look like fun!!!! Hmmm, will have to talk to my husband. LOL! Thanks for sharing what appears to have been a wonderful excursion.

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

Thanks, Cecelia . . . we’ve managed to celebrate another 7 years since our 20th!

The 3 night cruises (especially at the beginning of the season) are reasonable . . . and 3 nights was plenty for us.

After debarking, we drove to Bar Harbor and stayed at the Balance Rock Inn on Frenchman’s Bay. Our bathroom at the BRI was larger than our cabin on the boat . . . and the Select-A-Number Mattress was bliss after sleeping on a rather austere mattress on board the boat.

If we did it again, we would sail on the Victory Chimes. It’s enough bigger that the cabins are more like bedrooms and less like postage stamps. 😆

If you have ANY questions after clicking on the links above, let me know. It’s a very fun and exciting way to enjoy the Maine Coast with a bit of sea breeze in your hair.

7. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide - September 21, 2011

Looks like a wonderful time. Great photos, great scenery, great food.

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

Wonderful memories . . . the food was delicious ~ chilis, chowders, lobster, fish, lasagne, fresh baked bread, etc.

And Anna, the chef, and the rest of the crew were FUN!

The Captain had great salty tales to tell . . . like getting struck by lightning (more than once). OUCH!

8. Maggie - September 21, 2011

Happy anniversary! (That sure does look like a fun trip!)

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

Thanks, Maggie. We’ve celebrated 7 more Anniversaries since this one. Still happy after all these years. 😀

Souldipper’s post on her sailing adventure this week brought all the memories to the surface . . . making me want to share.

We’ve been on a mega boat cruise . . . and on this cruise. This one was more FUN. The other was more “comfortable” when sleeping and showering.

9. Tori Nelson - September 21, 2011

This looks like so much fun!

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

It’s a gorgeous way to see the rocky shoreline of Maine. If you go, definitely combine it with a trip to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.

Some people enjoy windjamming so much, they join the Old Salt’s club and go back year after year. We loved it while up on deck . . . didn’t care for the sleeping accomodations. We had to roll into our bunk. Resting on our back, the deck was just 2 inches from our noses ~ rather coffin like.

I wrote a song while on board: I got the Cramped Cabin Blues sailing on Penobscott Bay.

If we did it again, we’d sail on the Victory Chimes ~ a much bigger boat with just a few more passengers. It has staircases (rather than ladders) to get below deck and the cabins are not nearly as claustrophic.

But we wouldn’t have missed the experience for the world.

10. spilledinkguy - September 21, 2011

Congrats on your anniversary!
That sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate, too!
I love historical… um… ‘stuff’ I know very little about ships (and would probably have turned an interesting shade of green) but this still sounds absolutely fascinating!

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

NOT the ideal vacation for someone prone to sea sickness ~ for them, a train trip is a better fit.

Car 54 . . . where are you?

Loved your post today. 😀

11. thirdhandart - September 21, 2011

Congratulations on your anniversary! What a magical way to celebrate.

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

We had a wonderful time . . . for 8 days.

For our 25th, we celebrated by buying our villa in FL and become year-round residents of the Sunshine State . . .

Now we live in a state of perpetual celebration!

12. Judson - September 21, 2011

I always wanted to go to Maine … then I suddenly got the chance to rush up there under some way less than happy circumstances … would dearly love to be able to go again and do what you did.

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

Maine and Vermont are two of my favorite states to visit . . . during the warmer months. Beautiful vistas and wonderful history to explore.

Not to mention the delicious and ubiquitous lobster!

Judson - September 21, 2011

My sister lived in Stowe for a while. We spent a week there when she got married in August a “few” years ago. Wonderful area!

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

My dad grew up in Vermont and his sister and her family are still there in Hartland (just north of Windsor). Love driving around the Green Mountain state . . . with NO billboards to block the vistas.

13. souldipper - September 21, 2011

What a gorgeous looking bunch of boats. The captain’s not too hard to oogle! It is fabulous to have a cook on board. I’ve been on my friend’s West Coast charter trips (not sailing) – a gorgeous old 78 foot wooden boat, called The Argonaut, where we’d arrive at a cove and the meal would be waiting. I love that!!

souldipper - September 21, 2011

p.s. – thanks for the link, Nancy. Is that what people call a “shout out”?

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

It is a “shout out” or a “trackback” or a “ping” (without the “pong”).

Your post inspired me to finish this draft that I started many moons ago . . . and post it before it’s too cold for sailing in the Northern Hemisphere.

My next Windjammer Cruise may be in the Caribbean. Lots of the Maine vessels are “snowbirds” . . . flying south for the winter.

14. Linda - September 21, 2011

Sounds like a wonderful and adventerous trip.

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

Discomfort (with the cold and the austere cabins) gave way to delight with the food, the views, the captain, and crew.

Nevertheless, we were not sad to leave the boat and head to our more luxurious and comfortable accomodations at the Balance Rock Inn. 😉

15. Tokeloshe - September 21, 2011

That is memorable!

Love the photos, I suppose they weren’t easy to take.
Thank you for sharing 😉

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

We ended up with fabulous photos from the trip . . . hard not to when the scenery is so breathtaking.

Most of these photos, I pulled off the website (since I recognized our crew members) . . . easier than pulling apart photo albums to scan photos taken 7 years ago on a pre-historic, non-digital camera. 😉

16. brainrants - September 21, 2011

Okay Nancy, now that is truly a concept that rates an “aah, better.” That vacay looked amazing. Thanks for sharing.

nrhatch - September 21, 2011

Thanks! Definitely a fun way to check out your sea legs!

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18. Tilly Bud - September 22, 2011

Happy anniversary! Looks like fun 🙂

nrhatch - September 22, 2011

We had a blast. And we have a blast every day no matter what we are doing (or not doing) . . . happiness is being married to your best friend.

19. eof737 - September 22, 2011

Wonderful! Love the accompanying pictures too… Again, Happy Anniversary. 🙂

nrhatch - September 22, 2011

Definitely a FUN trip . . . worth putting on your bucket list if you like being on boats sailing over the bounding Maine. 😉

20. CMSmith - September 23, 2011

This looks like sooo much fun. I always wanted to do something like this. Thanks for sharing it with us.

CMSmith - September 23, 2011

I forgot to tell you happy anniversary. Great way to celebrate.

nrhatch - September 23, 2011

For those who enjoy boating, it’s a wonderful way to see the Maine coast ~ the cruises start in May or June and run through the changing of the leaves in the fall.

Definitely a memory-making trip and celebration.

21. Judith - September 24, 2011

Great way to celebrate your anniversary. It’s something I should like to do too. Have to find an adventurous soul to accompany this aging adventurous soul!

nrhatch - September 24, 2011

Several “solos” sailed with us . . . adventurous souls who felt they might find what they needed even as “odd man” out.

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