Visits to coastal farmers markets, a private tour of a sustainable island farm, and meals prepared from locally sourced foods will highlight three farm-to-galley cruises being offered by Maine Windjammer Cruises this summer.
The new specialty cruises are part of a company-wide initiative to celebrate and respect the local environment.
“The green boats are going even greener,” Kristi Williamson declares, referencing the distinctive green topsides of her family’s fleet. “We are seeking out more and more local foods to serve not just on the farm-to-galley cruises, but on all of our cruises. We’re using products made from recycled materials, and exploring ways to do even more recycling than we already do. We’re making every effort to be as eco-friendly as possible.”
Based in Camden, Maine Windjammer Cruises has been dedicated to sharing Maine’s sailing heritage with countless passengers for nearly 80 years. Now, the company is strengthening its connection to time-honored shore-side traditions as well.
“In the old days, when our schooners carried cargo along the coast, routines were dictated by nature, the weather, and the seasons,” says Williamson. “Those same natural elements played an important role ashore, where farmers and food artisans were an integral part of life on the coast. Everyone ate local in those days. People relied on one another.”
On three five-day cruises—one each in July, August, and September—the itinerary will include stops at farmers markets in Bucks Harbor and Castine to pick up provisions, and a visit to North Haven’s Turner Farm to learn about island farming. An expert on local food production will also be on board. Throughout each cruise, meals will feature bounty from a variety of local purveyors. Among them will be Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman’s Four Season Farm in Harborside, a nationally recognized model of small-scale sustainable agriculture.
“Ever since my family bought Maine Windjammer Cruises 30 years ago, we’ve partnered with nearby food providers as much as possible,” Williamson continues. “Now we’re proud to be cultivating relationships with even more local businesses.”
For years, some of the company’s provisions have come from Bowden Egg Farm in Waldoboro, State of Maine Cheese Company in Rockport, Curtis Custom Meats in Warren, and Jess’s Fish Market in Rockland. That list is growing fast, with recent additions including the Dooryard Farm in Camden as well as Turner Farm on North Haven.
Bill Giordano is the fleet’s local-food coordinator. Having worked as a Maine farmer and artisanal baker, as well as having based his master’s-degree studies on village-scale economies while at the University of Maine, he is an enthusiastic proponent of small farms and local food producers.
“It’s a real honor to have our schooners working even more closely with local farms,” says Giordano. “An old schooner is a lot like a farm. They both help to define Maine’s cultural legacies and ensure a vibrant relevance for our traditional, down-to-earth industries.”
The cook on Maine Windjammer Cruises’ schooner Grace Bailey is equally excited about the fleet’s new farm-to-galley focus. Pam Parseghian, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, cooking teacher, and freelance food writer, says, “It’s difficult to make really good food without fresh ingredients—and the freshest ingredients typically come from local food purveyors. Building relationships with farmers, cheese makers, and others selling local delicacies is the best way to find terrific ingredients and use them to prepare wonderful meals for our guests. It’s also a huge pleasure to support the local, Maine, economy.”
Depending on the season, Parseghian might choose rhubarb, tomatoes, blueberries, or other fresh produce from the farmers markets. “It will be terrific fun to take passengers with me to see what’s at its best in the market on a given day, and then go back to the boat to make something delicious with our purchases,” she says.
Founded in 1936 by Captain Frank Swift, Maine Windjammer Cruises offers a variety of five-day and shorter cruises every week from mid May through early October. The five-day, farm-to-galley cruises will set sail from Camden on July 20, August 10, and September 14. This summer’s sailing schedule also lists specialty cruises featuring seamanship skills, local musicians singing traditional and original songs of life on the Maine coast, and daily hikes in waterside preserves.
The company’s fleet includes three historic schooners: the 123-foot Grace Bailey, the 115-foot Mercantile, and the 60-foot Mistress. Joining them this year is the 52-foot pinky schooner Summertime, which will sail on several daily two-hour trips from Lincolnville Beach. She will also be available for overnight cruises by reservation. Also recently added to the fleet is the classic, 27-foot wooden lobster boat Sally, built in East Boothbay in 1941. Back in her home state after a complete restoration by the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, Rhode Island, Sally will be used as a launch when needed, and also carry guests to Warren Island State Park for lobster picnics.
For more information, visit mainewindjammercruises.com or call 207-236-2938 or 800-736-7981.