June 20, 2018
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Factor ships into summer plans


It’s still a little early to be thinking about getting out on Penobscot Bay — even though the windjammer and schooner captains are busy fitting out, and across the harbor from my office Wayfarer Marine is a hive of yacht prep activity. That said, this summer’s sailing season promises to be one of the most action-packed for many years, with a convergence of exciting events coming together that embrace all aspects of sailing, power boating and cruising.

Seventy-five years ago, Capt. Frank Swift of Camden offered the first windjammer cruises from the prettiest harbor in Maine, and the company he founded, Maine Windjammer Cruises, is still going strong and offering special trips this summer. The 75-year-old company now is owned by Capt. Ray and Ann Williamson, who will celebrate their 25th anniversary as owners this year.

The industry as a whole — a score and then some of authentic vessels sailing out of Maine ports,

predominantly out of Camden, Rockport and Rockland — will celebrate, too. To mark this historic milestone, the Maine Windjammer Association, an organization that includes more than a dozen of the windjammers, will host a celebratory raft-up, as well as a windjammer parade and concert open to the public. The Schooner Gam will take place June 13, while the parade and anniversary party, effortlessly carving around Rockland’s breakwater light, will take place July 15. This year’s parade also includes a free concert by Gordon Bok at the Steam, Power and Sail Museum.

Later this summer, there’s an exciting new event we hope still to be celebrating 75 years from now — the Penobscot Bay Rendezvous Power and Sail Regatta. Hosted jointly by local boat yards Wayfarer Marine and Lyman Morse, the rendezvous will draw racers and tourers from all over the ocean to race and relax on some of the best cruising grounds in North America. Registration opens soon, so be sure to visit them at www.penobscotbayrendezvous.com.

Older than all, yet somehow ageless, two of the majestic windjammers that call Penobscot Bay home will turn 140 years old this year. Sailing since the days of President Ulysses S. Grant, the Stephen Taber of Rockland and the Lewis R. French of Camden will have a joint birthday party June 17-18 with open houses, a celebration at the Pearl on Rockland’s public landing, and a bragging rights race that will be a spectacular event to watch from dry land or spectator boat.

Close to my heart — and to my organizer brain — is the Camden Windjammer Festival that will celebrate all things nautical in Camden the weekend of Sept. 2-4. Planning is getting into full swing, but I know that the perennial favorites will be back this year, along with new and exciting activities for the whole family.

There’s about a month to go until the first excursions of the summer head out of the local harbors. Until then, pleasant dreams of messing about in boats to you all.

Dan Bookham is the executive director of the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce. Call 236-4404, email dbookham@camdenme.org, or visit http://www.visitcamden.com for more information.

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