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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Top 5 Caribbean Adventures, Sail the British Virgin Islands

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 VOYAGE Charters 7-night night cruise around the BVIs, because a skipper comes with you. Their 44 to 60-foot luxury catamarans, which sleeps 8 to 10 guests in queen or king bedded guest cabins with private bathrooms, also comes with a Chef and liquor to make this the ideal all-inclusive package. The catamarans are perfectly suited for 4 or 5 couples or 2 families since the yacht comes equipped with water toys, like kayaks, a dinghy, water skies, tube, floats, and noodles. The weeklong jaunt starts in Tortola and includes snorkeling with sting rays in the caves 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 $4595 per couple, including meals, a berth onboard, and, of course, transportation.  


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/10/15 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Learn to Sail This Winter off Captiva Island

South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island, Florida, (right next door to the better known Sanibel Island) will once again be offering three and five-day Learn to Sail packages for those looking to earn sailing certification while on vacation. Overseen by the renowned Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School, the courses can be taken in a fast-paced three-day curriculum with full eight-hour days or a more relaxed five-day schedule in half-day sessions. We prefer the latter, so you have time to bike through the alligators at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, look for seashells on the spanking white Gulf Coast beaches, and search for manatees in the waters. Rates for the three-day Learn to Sail package start at $1,350 per person including the sailing certification course, resort accommodations, textbooks, Colgate Day Sailing certification, diploma and logbook, based on double occupancy. Courses are open to all skill levels, minimum age seven with adult.


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/29/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Acadia National Park Week: Sailing Out of Northeast Harbor

If you truly want to feel like a local on Mount Desert Island, take a day sail on a Friendship Sloop from Northeast or Southwest Harbor. Sail Acadia offers the opportunity to take a 3-hour guided sail on three Friendship Sloops, vessels that were used during the late 1800s to fish for lobsters along the Frenchman Bay shoreline. We sailed on the Helen Brooks, a replica designed with sailing in mind. Under the skilled guidance of Ryan at the wheel and his sidekick Savannah, we motored past the estates lining the Northeast Harbor shores and a seal that popped his head out of the water. Near the lighthouse perched atop Bear Island, Jeff and I helped hoist the sails. Winds were strong. In fact, there was a small craft advisory in effect, so Ryan had already reefed the mainsail and we chose to use only the staysail instead of the stronger jib. Soon we were gliding at a good 5-knot clip past Great Cranberry Island and the many lobstermen picking up their traps. 

With a 6-foot keel, these sailboats can weather the strong gusts and fog often found along the Maine coast. Edged with spruce wood, the Helen Brooks is also a stylish ride. Near the beach at Manset, we spotted two porpoises gracefully arching their backs in and out of the choppy water. Then we sailed past Southwest Harbor into Somes Sound, Acadia Mountain to the left and Norumbega Mountain to the right, standing tall as gatekeepers to this long inlet. The mix of mountains, offshore islands, and granite-lined shoreline could easily entice the most jaded sailor to buy his own sloop and sail these legendary cruising grounds on a daily basis. Far too quickly, we were back on the docks of Northeast Harbor. Cost of the sail is $75 per person or you can rent the entire vessel for $375. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/09/15 at 05:59 AM
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Thursday, February 05, 2015

Five Favorite Adventures in the Caribbean, Sailing an America’s Cup Yacht in St. Martin

One of the most unique opportunities in the Caribbean is the chance to race aboard authentic America’s Cup yachts used in the actual competition. In the three-hour sailing fantasy camp called the Sint Maarten 12 Metre Challenge, you have the rare opportunity to step into Dennis Conner’s soft-soled shoes. After an introductory talk about the history of the America’s Cup, four captains choose teams and off you go to your respective boats. The boats include the winning Stars & Stripes yacht which Connor used in the 1987 America’s Cup in Fremantle, Australia; his back-up, Stars & Stripes '86; and two Canadian yachts, Canada II and True North IV. Once aboard your boat, the captain designates crew assignments. You could be chosen to be a primary grinder (grinding a winch as fast as possible so that the foresail can change direction), timekeeper, or handler of the mainsheet or rope. Simulating the America’s Cup, you sail against one other yacht around a triangular course, about one-tenth the size of the actual race. Afterwards, you’ve earned your rum punch. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/05/15 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, January 09, 2015

5 Favorite Travel Days in 2014, Biking and Sailing Portland, Maine

To celebrate my 50th birthday, my wife, Lisa, set up a glorious day in Portland, Maine—biking along the shoreline, only to be topped by a private sunset sail with family and close friends. Thankfully, the weather was perfect. Norman Patry, owner of Summer Feet Cycling, led my family of 10 along the scenic shoreline of South Portland and Cape Elizabeth to five lighthouses. They included such picturesque gems as Bug Light, the smallest lighthouse in operation in America, and Portland Head Light, painted by the likes of Edward Hopper. Near Portland Head Light, we bought lobster rolls from a food truck and dined overlooking Portland Harbor. The lobster rolls were excellent, chockful of fresh meat, and you could order them Maine-style (with mayo), Connecticut-style (lightly buttered), spiced with curry (loved it) or wasabi. Washed down with locally made Eli’s Blueberry Soda and topped off with ginger molasses cookies from Standard Bakery in town, it was a perfect Portland meal. The ride ended at Kettle Cove, a small beach, just past Two Lights State Park.

Later that afternoon, we boarded the 74-foot long sloop, Frances, under the confident helm of Captain Megan Jones. On our 3-hour long private charter, we sailed Casco Bay past many of those same lighthouses we saw by land, while dining on locally catered food washed down with good wine and Maine microbrews. Want a memorable birthday celebration away from home? Contact Lisa Leavitt, a travel agent at She comes highly recommended! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/09/15 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, August 29, 2014

Sailing Aboard the Charles W. Morgan

This past May, the historic whaling ship, Charles W. Morgan, left Mystic Seaport for the first time in more than 70 years and sailed to several New England ports of call, giving folks from New London to Provincetown an unprecedented opportunity to explore the ship. Built in New Bedford in 1841, the Morgan is the last remaining wooden whaling ship in the world and the oldest merchant ship in America. In its heyday, the Morgan traveled across the globe in search of whales, the source of oil for illumination and lubrication in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

To commemorate the latest sailing, my longtime colleague, Rob Burbank, had the good fortune to spend 24 hours aboard the ship. Rob’s great-uncle served as a crewmember on the 35th voyage of the Morgan in 1918, and this summer’s sail gave him the opportunity to imagine what life was like on the Morgan nearly a century ago. You can read about that once-in-a-lifetime experience in his recent Boston Globe story. The Morgan is now back at Mystic Seaport and open to the public to tour. For more about visiting Mystic in autumn, see my article in the Boston Globe and definitely make a pitstop at B.F. Clyde's to visit the oldest steam-powered cider mill in America. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/29/14 at 10:00 AM
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Friday, March 21, 2014

Maine Windjammer Week, Special Events

Returning from Acadia National Park one summer with the family, we wisely timed our return drive to coincide with the annual Camden Windjammer Festival the last weekend in August. More than 20 tall ships arrive in the picturesque harbor to take part in the festivities. We enjoyed an all-you-can-eat lobster feast on the deck of a schooner and then watched a talent show as crews sing sea shanties. A firework show tops off the night.
This summer, there will be six gatherings of the schooner fleet. It’s a festive time to be aboard one of the schooners:
June 9 Schooner Gam 
To kick off the summer season, the entire windjammer fleet ties up together in Penobscot Bay to enjoy live music and take walking tours of each vessel. 
The grand sail parade enters picturesque Boothbay Harbor, where you’ll enjoy
concerts, crafts, and fireworks. 
July 4 Great Schooner Race
North America’s largest annual gathering of tall ships race from Islesboro to Rockland. After the award ceremony, enjoy live music. 
July 11 Maine Windjammer Parade
This time the grand parade of sails heads past the mile-long Rockland Breakwater, providing spectators with stunning, close-up views.
Aug 39-31 Camden Windjammer Festival
Festivities include a parade of sail, maritime heritage fair, fireworks, chowder challenge, schooner crew talent show, family scavenger hunt, outdoor movies and more.
September 9 Wooden Boat Sail-in
The last gathering of the fleet takes place in Brooklin, Maine, the headquarters
of WoodenBoat Magazine and WoodenBoat School. Expect live music and boat school tours. 
I want to thank the Maine Windjammer Association for allowing me to rekindle fond memories of past sails this week. I'm excited to return this summer! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/21/14 at 10:00 AM
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Maine Windjammer Week, Food, Glorious Food

A day of salty air and pulling on ropes can build up an appetite. Fortunately, the Windjammers are known for their hearty meals. And if you’re expecting Navy grub, you’ll be surprised to know that Windjammer food is so cherished that no less than three of the boats have already published their own cookbooks. The Captains source local harvested ingredients and often provide their own produce from home, like flowers, syrup, honey and eggs. Fresh baked breads are cooked in a cast-iron wood stove, with stews and salads another staple of the seafaring diet. 

The highlight of every trip, however, is the all-you-can-eat lobster bake, served with steamers and corn. Captain Barry King of the Mary Day once had one young man eat 13 lobsters in one sitting. Talk about getting your money’s worth! Captains know this is the signature meal on the cruise so they strategize carefully, taking the weather into consideration, finding the best beach to dine, arranging to pick up fresh lobster at the last minute from a local fishermen. The side dishes include corn on the cob, steamed clams, salad, potatoes, and often linguica. Hot dogs and hamburgers are also available for those foolish souls who don’t like lobster. 
Dessert is usually served back aboard the schooner. Expect hot pie topped with schooner-cranked ice cream or something more gourmet like butterscotch-topped gingerbread with sautéed apples. Then someone usually pulls out a guitar and banjo and you sing sea shanties under the brilliant night sky. The only way to digest!
The Maine Windjammer Association has dozens of their favorite recipes posted online. Have a look. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/20/14 at 10:00 AM
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Maine Windjammer Week, Specialty Cruises

Aboard an historic schooner sailing the Penobscot Bay islands of Maine’s mid-coast, modernity slows to a more languid pace. Cruising amidst the anonymous pine-topped islands, stopping at the occasional seaside village, you can’t help but relax aboard these yachts of yesteryear. Help hoist the sails, read a good thick book, or partake in an increasingly popular activity aboard a windjammer, photography. Lately, these schooners have been offering specialty cruises that cater to one particular passion.

If you’ve followed me on Twitter @ActiveTravels all week, you’ve learned about some of the specialty cruises. I’ll also be writing an upcoming article for The Boston Globe on the subject. Here is a small sampling of this summer’s offerings. For a full listing, visit the Maine Windjammer Association:

Angelique will offer a 3-day cruise in late May that will allow guests to see newly born seal pups. 
The Isaac H. Evans will night sail during a full moon and the Perseid Meteor Shower with an astronomer on board. 
The Victory Chimes features an Irish Music Cruise in mid-August. Schooner sailing and foot-stomping fiddling go together like lobster and butter. 
Captain Barry King aboard the schooner Mary Day is a passionate brewer of beer. You’ll sample Maine’s best microbrews on this mid-June cruise.
The American Eagle will once again feature professional photographer, Greg Gettens, on their 4-night cruise in June to share his photography tips. 
Stephen Taber is ideally suited to offer wine tasting cruises throughout the summer. Captain Noah Barnes wife, Jane, worked in the wine industry for many years.
Captains Doug and Linda Lee of the Heritage share their wealth of knowledge about Maine’s people, islands, and seafaring history on their two Maritime History cruises this summer. 
Lovers of lighthouses should book the 6-night Lighthouse Cruise on the Lewis R. French. You’ll get close up views of 15-20 historic lighthouses. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/19/14 at 09:59 AM
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Maine Windjammer Week, The Majestic Maine Coastline

“Heave Ho!” went the cry as all hands pulled down on a thick rope to haul up the mainsail. “Heave Ho!” the crew chanted again and the schooner headed upwind, all sails gleaming white against a cloudless blue sky. The Captain took the wheel as the boat quickly gained momentum passing another anonymous island crowned with pines and rimmed with the ubiquitous Maine granite. Behind us was the vast expanse of the Atlantic, dotted with multi-colored lobster buoys and lined with the only mountains on the coast north of Brazil. The crew were passengers from around America and Europe who delighted in the chance to hoist the sails, bilge the pump, even take a turn at the wheel sailing this big boy.

Maine’s 2500-mile stretch of jagged coastline, where long inlets form sheltered bays, is 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. There are more than 30 lighthouses in the Windjammer’s cruising grounds, from Mt. Desert Light and Saddleback Ledge, built in the 1830s, to Pemaquid Point, showcased on the backside of the Maine quarter. At night, you’ll anchor under the stars in the calm waters of Pulpit Harbor on North Haven or perhaps Islesboro’s Dark Harbor. Longer trips might stop under the cliffs of Acadia National Park. There’s no better way to see Cadillac Mountain in the summer than from the water, far away from the maddening crowds. Indeed, the fleet could be scattered anywhere from Boothbay Harbor to Bar Harbor. 
All of the Captains have favorite anchorages. The Lewis R. French’s Captain Garth Wells looks forward to going to Burnt Coat Harbor on Swan’s Island. “I enjoy talking a walk out to the lighthouse. It’s cozy, protected and I love showing people an island where a year-round population lives,” says Wells. Captain Noah Barnes aboard the Stephen Taber loves pulling into the harbor of Somesville on Mount Desert Island, part of Acadia National Park. “To get to Somesville, you have to sail up a fjord and when you get there you feel as though you’ve shown your guests something extraordinary. By the time we get there, we’re pulling in at sunset and it’s just breathtaking,” notes Barnes. Captain Dennis Gallant, at the helm of Angelique, savors Winter Harbor on the island of Vinalhaven. “It’s stunningly beautiful, quiet, peaceful and off-the-beaten path,” says Gallant.
I don’t want to share all their secrets. You’ll simply have to book a cruise and see for yourself

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/18/14 at 10:00 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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