April 27, 2018
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Windjammer cruises may alter a life’s path

Photo courtesy of The Maine Windjammer Association
Photo courtesy of The Maine Windjammer Association
The schooner Angelique slips through Penobscot Bay on a fine summer day.
By Jesse Groening, Special to the Midcoast Beacon

Maine is known for its breathtaking rocky coast, its thousands of bays and islands, its hospitable people and rich maritime history. Oh yeah — and lobsters.

Some 6,000 people experience all of this from Memorial Day to early October aboard the 13 schooners that make up the Windjammers Association of overnight cruises. Families and couples can charter Windjammers in Camden, Rockport and Rockland harbors. The boats range in charter size from carrying six guests, on the Mistress, to carrying 20 or 40 which is consistent with the other 12 in the fleet. “People can pretty much find exactly what they are looking for in any one of the boats in the fleet,” said Bob Tassi, captain of the Timberwind.

“We even offer specialty cruises that play to the captains’ and crew of the boats’ other strengths and talents,” said Meg Maiden, marketing director of Maine Windjammer Association. Specialty cruises range from beer, wine and chocolate tasting on the Stephen Taber, Mary Day and Isaac H. Evans, to knitting cruises on the Nathaniel Bowditch and Stephen Taber.

All boats offer a unique experience, personality, vacation and sometimes eye-opening epiphanies.

“After four unbelievable days out on the water [on the Timberwind] with people who really love and live wholeheartedly what they do, made me think about what I am doing and if it is a passion for me,” said Ralf Kuegler, who was on vacation with his wife and daughter from Germany.

Capt. Bob Tassi said that hearing this from Ralf was not too out of the ordinary. “My introduction to schooners and becoming a captain of the Timberwind was spurred on by a life-changing cruise that my wife and I took on the Stephen Taber 13 years ago,” he said. Tassi was a successful audio engineer working for Warner Records who walked away from it to become a deckhand on the Stephen Taber for three years before becoming captain of the Timberwind.

“I think it’s a combination, of being out on the water, seeing wildlife up close, learning about the boats, half of which are national historic landmarks, and becoming close to the people around you who are all working together, eating together and becoming part of this great Maine tradition that makes the Windjammer Association such a memorable vacation,” said Maiden. She went on to say that families often get so close with boat, captain, crew and experience that they come back year after year, in some cases in a tradition that has lasted up to 20 years.

“I was a little worried that the kids would get bored out on the water for four days, but captain and crew were great with all of us, right down to the cook playing with and entertaining our daughter. It was just a fantastic time all over. Always something fresh and delicious to eat every day, being surrounded by wildlife that the crew always took time to point out and talk about, all under an atmosphere that you felt comfortable to ask questions and help with the sail. If we lived here I would definitely come back and do it again,” said Ulli Hees of Frankfurt, Germany.

To make reservations for a schooner excursion, call 374- 2993 or visit http://www.sailmainecoast.com.

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