A Maine Windjammer Cruise
19th-century Style Cruising
By Bill Burnham
Photos by Mary Burnham, copyright 2005
“Two... Six.... HEAVE!”
Twenty-four people yelled the last command in unison while drawing with strained arms and back muscles a rope tied to 5,600 square feet of mainsail.
“Two... Six... HEAVE!”
Again and again, hand over hand, slowly, oh so slowly, rose the sail. Wind from the southeast, earlier a playful tickle upon our necks, now bit into the canvas and into us. The whip-and-snap of passengers’ nylon windbreakers echoed sharp cracks in the billowing sail.
The next command signaled near-completion of our first task as passengers-turned-swabby deck hands. “OK now, let’s giv’er a –“ and then, in a disarming and quite unexpected high-pitched voice: “HEAVE-LET.”
“Two... six... HEAVE” squeaked twenty four passengers, grimaces replaced with ‘aw-shucks’ grins.
Was it only 24 hours prior, each of us carted luggage down a gangway, scaled a Jacob's ladder up the steep-sided schooner, and swung our landlubber legs on deck? Less than 24-hours, indeed, and already folks had settled into life aboard an authentic Maine Windjammer.
Windjammer passengers discover the camaraderie of a week on a wooden ship: Heaping meals served organic and family-style. Sea ballads and puppet shows instead of formal night. Lobster bakes on a windswept island. There’s no itinerary and only one request: leave your cell phone and laptops at home.
The fleet of 14 historic ships are now taking reservations for summer and scenic fall cruises, departing from Camden, Maine. The cost is affordable ($395-875 for three to six days), with the added bonus of learning how to sail, navigate and even cook over a wood-burning stove.