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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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Monday, August 01, 2016

Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of Maine Windjammers

In 1936, an artist from rural Maine named Frank Swift had the wild and crazy idea of reinventing the American merchant sailing ship. Once essential in transporting lumber and granite along the Eastern Seaboard, fish from the Georges Banks, and fruit from the West Indies, these vessels were becoming obsolete by the 1930s. Swift knew full well that Maine’s 2500-mile stretch of jagged coastline, where long inlets form sheltered bays, was tailor-made for sailing. No other sport gives you the freedom to anchor in a pristine cove, hike on an untrammeled island, and sleep with a lighthouse beacon as your nightlight. So he went on a shopping spree, buying up old schooners with a vision offering travelers a new type of experience, windjamming. The business flourished and today there are now 9 ships in the Maine Windjammer Association fleet.

Writing about Maine this past quarter-century, the opportunity to hop on one of these vessels, smell the salty air, eat lobster to my stomach’s content, and spend precious time with loved ones is an unparalleled joy. One image in particular, my father taking the wheel of the Grace Bailey and sailing for at least an hour, is forever etched in my memory. Now I get the chance to sail with my daughter, Melanie, before she leaves for college. This week, I’ll be reporting from the Schooner Mary Day, the first windjammer built specifically to carry passengers. Please join me this week and come sail away. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/01/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, March 10, 2016

America’s Cup Comes to Bermuda June 2017

Just had lunch yesterday in Boston with the Bermuda Tourism team who are already getting the word out on next summer’s America’s Cup coming to the island. Crews, like the winning one from Oracle Team USA, are already at the Royal Naval Shipyard trying out the course they’ll take next May when the qualifiers begin. Needless to say, it’s going to be an exciting time to be on the island. These newfangled hydrofoil sailboats reach speeds over 30 knots so don’t expect a leisurely sail amongst friends on the water. It’s going to be a highly competitive competition that could very well lead to a rematch between Team USA and Team New Zealand. If at all interested, don’t wait too long to find lodging and flights. Properties will sell out quickly. Our clients love The Reefs, Fairmont Southampton, and the newly refurbished Hamilton Princess, which underwent a $90 million renovation. I also like the all-inclusive beach resort, Grotto Bay, for families. ActiveTravels is here to help select a property that’s right for you! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/10/16 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, March 07, 2016

Sail the British Virgin Islands on Your Own Luxury Catamaran

Sailors know the British Virgin Islands as legendary cruising grounds. Here, in places like Virgin Gorda, Peter’s Island, and Tortola, you’ll find sheltered marinas where you can dock or throw down your anchor, shopping, restaurants, and small hotels that are popular with yachters. Even better, you can sail to these various islands without going outside the reefs into the open ocean. But you won’t have to worry about navigational charts on Festiva Sailing Vacations 7-night night cruise around the BVIs, because a skipper comes with you. Their 45-foot Lagoon 450 catamarans, which sleeps 8 passengers in 4 guest cabins with private bathrooms, also comes with a chef and liquor to make this the ideal all-inclusive package. The weeklong jaunt starts in Tortola and includes snorkeling with sting rays in The Baths of Virgin Gorda, a stop at Cane Garden to listen to the steel band play at Stanley’s, and a night anchored off Norman Island, the treasure island author Robert Louis Stevenson made famous in his book. Cost of the trip starts at $3595 per couple, including meals, a berth onboard, and, of course, transportation. They still have one berth available on the March 19-26, April 9-16, and April 16-23 sailings. Please contact ActiveTravels and we’ll be happy to make the booking. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/07/16 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Boothbay Harbor’s Linekin Bay Under New Ownership

For the first time in its 106-year history, Linekin Bay Resort will have new owners. I first visited the resort in 2012 with my family, penning a story for The Boston Globe after a memorable weekend. Located on one of the many inlets that form the landscape of midcoast Maine, Linekin Bay has one of the finest locales in New England to sail and sea kayak. Spend your day with the family boating, hiking with a naturalist, and swimming. Then dine communal style on Maine specialties like a lobster clambake and blueberry pie in the main lodge. The new owners, both local Mainers, have already begun to rehab the aging buildings, creating 14 new rooms in the new Linwood Lodge. They still aim to retain the rustic charm of this classic retreat, the only all-inclusive sailing resort in the Northeast. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/20/16 at 05:59 AM
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about us
photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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