It’s a colorful glimpse into Maine’s nautical past.
One day a year, the 13 schooners of Maine’s windjammer fleet come together, along with a few other such vessels, for the Maine Windjammer Parade along Rockland’s breakwater. This year’s eighth annual event will be held 2-4 p.m., Friday, July 13.
What’s it like being on board a ship in the midst of this spectacle?
“It’s really exhilarating, when you’re so close to other windjammers,” explained Meg Maiden, marketing director for the Maine Windjammer Association, the event’s sponsor. “There’s a thrill being on a really large schooner, with the wind propelling it along really fast, and the people cheering on the breakwater. It’s really exciting.”
The parade has its origins in the annual Great Schooner Race.
“About 15 years ago, the race used to end in Rockland, and people would line the breakwater to see the entire fleet,” Maiden explained. “About seven years ago, members of the association decided to have a parade along the breakwater so that people can see the whole fleet.”
(Ironically, this year’s 36th Annual Great Schooner Race will start along the Rockland breakwater at 11 a.m. Friday, July 6, and end in Camden, giving area residents another opportunity to see the fleet together.)
A new wrinkle was added last summer, when association members invited Jim Sharp, a former schooner captain who is now the curator of the Sail, Power & Steam Museum in Rockland, to serve as announcer for the event, stationed at the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse.
“He’s very knowledgeable about the history of the boats, and funny, so the event has really lively emceeing now,” Maiden said.
Since parking near the breakwater can be, in Maiden’s words, “a challenge,” she encourages parade viewers to park at Harbor Plaza, behind Machias Savings Bank, and take the free shuttle to the breakwater.”
There they can find themselves transported back to another time.
For more information about Maine windjammers, visit http://sailmainecoast.com or call (207) 374-2993.