The 567-foot guided-missile cruiser, built at Bath Iron Works and launched in 1987, will provide a stark contrast with the schooners and other traditional watercraft that are celebrated at the festival. Tours of the ship will be available from the town landing.
The Normandy’s home port is Norfolk, Va. The ship received the Navy Unit Commendation, the National Defense Service Medal and the Southwest Asia Service Medal (with two bronze stars) for its efforts in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Along with the 1998 title “Most Tomahawks shot by a U.S. Navy cruiser,” the Normandy holds three Battle “E” Awards for overall shipwide excellence in performance.
The real stars of the festival, though, are the traditional wooden schooners. Fourteen historic rigged vessels still working in a commercial capacity will be in the harbor.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, schooners were derisively nicknamed “windjammers” by the growing steamship businesses. But when the last schooners were replaced, rather than being scrapped for wood, many were lovingly restored. Those boats found a second life carrying passengers from scenic harbors such as Rockland, Rockport and Camden. Schooners began being part of the tourism economy in Camden in the 1930s.
Festival visitors will be able to explore onboard many of the windjammers as well as travel back through time to try their hand at land-based nautical activities. On Sunday, the “Pirates of the Dark Rose” will stage their annual attack on Camden, although visitors need not worry about losing any silver or gold. There also will be sailing excursions, historic walks and skills demonstrations on hand.
Musical performances also are a big part of the festival, with acts steeped in nautical themes.
The full schedule of events is available at: http://www.camdenwindjammerfestival.com/events.
“This festival has so many things to offer all of our visitors,” Penobscot Bay Chamber of Commerce executive director Dan Bookham said, “from couples who are looking for romance at sea to dog lovers who fancy seeing Rover dressed up as a sailor, to families who want to build and race their own makeshift boats on Camden harbor. Watching the fleet arrive is an event in itself as all the ships with full sails come into the harbor makes for a spectacular sight.”
Travel and lodging packages are available. For more information, visit mainedreamvacation.com or call 800-223-5459.