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Sailing

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Volvo Ocean Sailing Race Returns to Newport in May

The Volvo Ocean Race, the world's premiere ocean sailing race that began back in 1973 as the Whitbread Round-the-World Race, returns to Newport May 8-20. The 2014-15 edition of the race attracted over 125,000 fans during the 12-day stopover in Newport and quickly became one of the biggest sporting events of the year in New England. This year's Race Village opens on May 8th and is a free, family-friendly event that features music, interactive displays, food and, of course, viewing the state-of-the-art racing yachts. The in-port race takes place May 19th before the competitors sail off on their next leg to Cardiff, Wales. Come join the festivities in Newport, a town known for welcoming sailors, having hosted the America's Cup for over 50 years. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/17/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Sail the BVIs

We had considered canceling our sailing trip to the BVIs earlier this month, but were grateful we pushed ahead. Classic sailing bars like Foxy’s (where we watched the Super Bowl), Soggy Dollar, Pirates on Norman Island, and Setting Point Reef Hotel on Anegada (known for their classic lobster dinner) were all open and grateful for our business. Taxi drivers, servers, and store owners all thanked us for coming so they can continue to work. Yet, everywhere you look, you find devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Upon arrival in Tortola, boats were capsized in the harbor, roofs were ripped off houses, and locals were driving cars with broken windows. The horrific aftermath of Irma would follow us throughout the trip—classic resorts like Bitter End and Peter Island in tatters, large tankers beached, homes destroyed wherever you looked. That’s why it’s important for sailors and boaters to return and thankfully they did. Over the next 2 years, it will be the sailors who can live aboard their boats that will greatly enhance the recovery of this classic cruising ground. 
 
We chose to rent a 41-foot monohull from the Tortola sailing charter, Horizon Yacht Charters. We also made the wise move of hiring a Captain, “Boss,” a 51-year old grandfather of 4 who grew up on Tortola sailing boats and ferries for a living when he wasn’t tending to his goats and sheep. Boss exuded an heir of confidence and calm aboard Island Karma, even during 27-knot winds in the open sea, when the rain and swells left us soaked. We would spend the week sailing to Jost Von Dyke, Virgin Gorda, and Anegada, which was worth the long sail over. We savored the chance to dine barefoot on lobster and conch fritters and making our way to both beaches on the island, Cow Wreck and the equally enticing Loblolly, stopping to see a large flock of flamingoes in the distance. We ended with stops at Cooper Island and Peter Island, before one last Dark and Stormy on Norman Island. A memorable trip that we’re happy to recreate for ActiveTravels clients upon request. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/20/18 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, February 15, 2018

This Summer, Book a Maine Windjammer Sail

With early spring weather in Boston this week, I’m already thinking of booking another windjammer sail in Maine this summer. A question I’m always asked is where does a travel writer/advisor go for downtime? For me, I’ll jump on one of these historic schooners any chance I get. Two summers ago, I made the wise choice to sail on the Schooner Mary Day with my daughter, Melanie, before she left for her first year of college at Indiana University. We had a glorious trip dining on all the lobster we could stomach on a deserted island off the mid-Maine coast, spotting harbor porpoises, lonely lighthouses, and making new friends around the country as we hoisted sails and sucked in as much salty air as necessary. This comes on the heels of two memorable sails aboard the Grace Bailey with my dad and his wife Ginny. A memory I won’t soon forget is my father taking the wheel of the Grace Bailey and sailing for a good hour or two. 

 
Do yourself a favor and book a sail. It’s the best way to see the rugged shoreline and tall timbers of the Maine coast. New themed cruises include a watercolor workshop aboard the American Eagle and bar craft and cocktail making aboard Ladona. Back by popular demand: Beer and Bluegrass (Ladona), Foodie Cruises (Stephen Taber), Kayaking Tours (Lewis R. French), Wine Tasting (Stephen Taber, Angelique), and Knitting (Isaac H. Evans). Prices start at $525 for a 2-night cruise. 3-day trips range from $595 to $1,428; 6-day cruises from $935 to $1,938. Average price per night is $220 per person, including all meals, lodging, and activities like the signature all-you-can-eat lobster feast. For more information contact the Maine Windjammer Association
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/15/18 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Come Sail Away

Friday, Lisa and I join our colleague Amy and her husband Josh in Tortola, after a brief stop in Puerto Rico to see firsthand how San Juan is doing after the devastating hurricane. Tortola was also greatly affected by hurricanes but we’re happy to support the people of the British and US Virgin Islands as we sail on 41-foot sailboat called Island Karma provided by Horizon Yacht Charters. St. John, St. Thomas, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and many other islands in this region are busy rebuilding their infrastructure, schools, homes, and resorts. We’ll get a good look at their progress while anchoring just offshore. We’ll be back the week of February 12th to report on the region. Amy has also just returned from Berlin and she’s ready to discuss that vibrant city later in February, along with her experience flying WOW Air. Be well and keep active! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/31/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, May 05, 2017

Greece Week with Heritage Tours: A Sunset Cruise on the Santorini Caldera

All trips to Greece should end with a sunset cruise aboard a private boat in the sublime Santorini caldera, a mesmerizing mix of aquamarine waters, jagged volcanic islands, and the whitewashed houses on the island clinging precariously to the cliffs. Add the reddish/orange/pink orb of a sun melting into the sea, shading this scene with the full spectrum of color, paired with a glass of crisp Santorini wine, and you have a fitting ending to a memorable trip. It took me 25 years to return to Greece and I hope I don’t make that mistake again. In the meantime, I’ll certainly be selling the experience with passion to the members of ActiveTravels. I want to thank John Cagle at Heritage Tours for designing an ambitious itinerary. We packed a lot into a one-week trip.  

 
Have a great weekend and keep active! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/05/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, March 27, 2017

This Summer, Book a Maine Windjammer Sail

Last summer, I made the wise choice to sail on the Schooner Mary Day with my daughter, Melanie, before she left for her first year of college at Indiana University. We had a glorious trip dining on all the lobster we could stomach on a deserted island off the mid-Maine coast, spotting harbor porpoises, lonely lighthouses, and making new friends around the country as we hoisted sails and sucked in as much salty air as necessary. This comes on the heels of two memorable sails aboard the Grace Bailey with my dad and his wife Ginny. 

A question I’m always asked is where does a travel writer go for downtime? For me, I’ll jump on one of these historic schooners any chance I get. The Maine Windjammer Association is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Do yourself a favor and book a sail. It’s the best way to see the rugged shoreline and tall timbers of the Maine coast. New themed cruises include Sail Boston Tall Ship Festival (American Eagle & Angelique), Yoga and Wellness (Victory Chimes & Angelique), Beers of the Maine Coast (Mary Day), and Acadia National Park Cruises (Isaac H. Evans & Heritage). Back by popular demand: Beer and Bluegrass (Ladona), Foodie Cruises (Ladona & Stephen Taber), Kayaking Tours (Lewis R. French), Wine Tasting (Stephen Taber, Ladona, Angelique), and Knitting (Isaac H. Evans). 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/27/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, August 05, 2016

Book a Last-Minute Sail on a Maine Windjammer

Sad to be leaving the Schooner Mary Day and heading back to civilization. I tried to convince Captain Barry to sail straight through Election Day but he had other commitments. The good news for you is that the Maine windjammer season runs all the way to mid-October. This year’s Camden Windjammer Festival takes place in the harbor on September 2nd and 3rd. Festivities include a parade of sail, live music, dancing, and fireworks. On Tuesday, September 13, the fleet gathers in Brooklin for a day of live music and tours at the WoodenBoat Sail-In. Also don’t forget the full moon sail over August 18th and the fall foliage sails in late September/early October. The windjammer Angelique is featuring a 4-night Wine and Foliage sail October 2-6. The schooner Ladona has a 4-day wine cruise with wine expert and consultant Michael Green August 26-30. Stephen Taber has a 6-day Photo & Lighthouse Cruise with photographer John Shipman September 4-10. With a 9-ship fleet, you’re bound to find a sail on a Maine Windjammer that fits your schedule. Take it from an expert, you won’t regret it. 

I want to thank Meg Maiden at the Maine Windjammer Association for helping to arrange this week’s trip and special thanks to Captain Barry King for creating a memorable 3-night itinerary. Have a great weekend! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/05/16 at 05:30 AM
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Thursday, August 04, 2016

Another Relaxing Day on the Schooner Mary Day

We wake up to blinding sunshine at Buck’s Harbor in South Brooksville, best known as the spot where children’s book author and illustrator Robert McCloskey (“Make Way for Ducklings,” “Blueberries for Sal”) summered. FDR would also stop here on his way to Campobello Island for a short ice cream break. We found some of those famous wild Maine blueberries in our pancakes that morning before hoisting the sails and setting a course for that hump atop Big Spruce Island. Each one of these Penobscot Bay harbors and islands has a legacy and Big Spruce Island is no different. This is the place where artist Fairfield Porter and his brother, photographer Eliot Porter, would spend their summers and there’s still a working artists’ community on the island today.

We sailed close to an 8-knot clip passing a gray seal who popped his head out of the water like a periscope, stocky razorbill auks, and more porpoises. Pulpit Harbor on North Haven was far too congested for Captain Barry so we continued on to Islesboro, the ridge of mountains on the mainland not far off. We anchored in a placid harbor where there were no other boats. 
       “What do you call this place?” I asked Captain Barry. 
       “Snug, beautiful harbor,” he said.
       “You’re not going to tell me the real name, are you?”
        “Nope,” Captain Barry said. Then he reached for his guitar and started to sing a Woody Guthrie tune as we watched another magical sunset. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/04/16 at 05:30 AM
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Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The Lobster Bake Aboard a Maine Windjammer

Aside from 11 year-old Mary Beth, who loved swimming and paddleboarding in the Atlantic, the highlight for most of us aboard the Schooner Mary Day was the first night lobster bake. Captain Barry anchored near a quiet beach with no other boats in sight and proceeded to row us over to the shore. The crew built a fire, then placed two massive pots brimming over with lobsters, corn on the cob, potatoes, onions, and a healthy top layer of seaweed. We swam and drank wine as the pots boiled, anticipating the feast. When ready, Captain Barry threw off the layer of seaweed and grabbed his tongs to place all the lobsters and fixins in a circular design. We each grabbed our lobster and plopped it on a tray, next to hot butter, corn, potatoes, and found a spot on the beach to dine. 

The lobster opened easily without the need for crackers, as large pieces of tender claw meat was soon dipped into the butter, washed down with a nice, dry sauvignon blanc. Sublime. After polishing off the tail and leaving a puddle of water on my shirt and bathing suit, I could start all over again. See, the best part of a lobster bake aboard a Maine windjammer is that you can eat as many lobsters as you want. Captain Barry tells me that his record is a college student who devoured 13 lobsters in one sitting. Content with my big 2-pounder, I was happy to make the first of several s’mores over the hot wood. Quite sated, four of us decided to swim back to the schooner instead of rowing. A wise decision. The water was clean, cool, refreshing. The dinner far more memorable than all those James Beard-award winning restaurants I dined at this year. 
 
(Photo by Melanie Jermanok)
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/03/16 at 05:50 AM
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Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Sailing on the Schooner Mary Day

There’s a renewal of spirit as soon as we set sail on the Schooner Mary Day. The smell of wood mixes with the salty air as we glide out of that postcard-perfect Camden Harbor, gently crawling by the other historic schooners and yachts in the early morning fog. Goodbye mainland and the endless barrage of bad news, hello loons, anonymous pine-studded islands, and wide open water to bathe away all woes of modernity. I take deep gulps of the crisp air and breathe deeply.  

There’s 6 crew and 25 passengers from across America on our 3-night voyage, all under the more than capable helm of hirsute Captain Barry King. We’re asked to participate as much or as little as we like. My daughter and I jump at the opportunity to pull on the halyards of the main, joining many others in the group. The large sail rises, linked to a massive mast that still stands from the original 1962 design. With all sails up, the 90' Mary Day is a beauty, as evidenced by all the motorboats that come by our side during the trip to take photos. We sail by the first of many lighthouses as Captain Barry bellows, “Porpoises on the starboard side,” only to watch the fins of their small gracefully arched backs break the water’s surface. 
 
Maine’s vast shoreline is best appreciated from the water. The Camden Hills rise above the mainland, island upon island form a welcome mat to the sea, rimmed with granite and topped with pine. Often we pass islands where one fortunate soul owns the lone house, sailboat docked, ready for service whenever he or she pleases. But today, there are more porpoises, seals, and bald eagles flying overhead than boats on the water. I breathe in more of that heavenly air, lie down and look up at the sails. Life is good. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/02/16 at 06:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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