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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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Monday, March 17, 2014

Maine Windjammer Week, Introducing the Fleet

Don’t fret. While still under the beastly spell of winter here in New England, the Maine windjammers will soon take to the waters for another memorable season. This week I’m excited to delve into the history of these tall schooners that ply the waters of Penobscot Bay, the activities including specialty cruises, the food highlighting the quintessential lobster bake, and the majestic scenery found along the mid-Maine coast. I’ve been fortunate to go on three Maine Windjammer cruises, all with my dad and his wife Ginny, and I’ll never forget the smile on my father’s face when asked to take the wheel by the Captain and sail that big boy. It’s a memory I cherish.

The 8 tall ships in the Maine Windjammer Association start plying the waters of the Maine coast in late May. Spring features ideal winds, quiet harbors, and the lowest rates of the season, averaging $140 per person per day, including berth, food (an all-you-can-eat lobster bake!), and activities. It’s hard to go wrong with any of these historic vessels, so choose whatever’s available. 
Each boat has a story to tell. The Victory Chimeswas built in 1900 in Bethel, Delaware, to carry lumber within Chesapeake Bay. Today, she’s the only remaining three-masted schooner on the East Coast. The 92-foot American Eagle was built in 1930 as part of the Gloucester fishing fleet. It was revamped in 1984 and, along with Victory Chimes, Lewis R. French, Stephen Taber, and the Isaac H. Evans, a historic Delaware oyster boat built in 1886, are all National Historic Landmarks. The red sails on Angelique are similar to the sails used by fishing trawlers in the 1880s to fish the North Sea. Heritage might be one of the latest schooners, launched in 1983, yet it also gives a nod to tradition by using an authentic 1921 deck engine. Launched in 1962, the 90-foot Mary Day was the first windjammer built specifically to take guests on overnight cruises. 
If you want an authentic Maine experience, where you can breathe in the fresh salty air dusted with the scent of pine, grab a berth on any of these schooners. You can follow me all week on Twitter @ActiveTravels to hear about some of the specialty themed cruises being offered in 2014, the source of an upcoming story for The Boston Globe. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/17/14 at 10:54 AM
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Monday, September 09, 2013

Sail Newport With Your Own Captain

With the America’s Cup currently being held in San Francisco, celebrate its origins by taking a sail on Narragansett Bay in Newport. September is a glorious time to sail the bay, with the waters still relatively warm and boat traffic reduced to a minimum. Home to the smoky sou’wester, a prevailing wind with average speeds in the 10 to 20 knot range, Narragansett Bay deserves its reputation as one of the finest cruising grounds in the northeast. Yet, you don’t have to be an America’s Cup sailor to sample the sport. At Sightsailing, located at Newport’s Bowen’s Wharf, Captain Ed Early skippers the 34-foot O’Day called Starlight. A former instructor for Offshore Sailing School, Early has been sailing for over 30 years. He’ll guide you past Fort Adams, Hammersmith Farm, where JFK and Jackie O held their wedding reception, and Clingstone, a good name for the house that clings precariously to the rocks. Sweet talk Early and he might even let you take the wheel. Starlight can accommodate 2 to 6 guests. Cost is $270 for a private 2-hour sail, $495 for a 4-hour sail. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/09/13 at 10:00 AM
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Thursday, May 02, 2013

Maine Schooner Mary Day Offers Six-Day Sail for Beer Lovers

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. Dolphins, seals, bald eagles, lighthouses and lobstermen at work are all part of the scenery. Help hoist the sails, read a good thick book, or partake in your hobby of choice. Last summer, I wrote about the popular knitting cruises aboard the circa-1927 J. & E. Riggin for The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. Now I’d like to tell you about the Camden schooner Mary Day and its inaugural six-day Maine Craft Beers and Home Brewing Cruise set for June 16-22. Passengers will have complimentary samples of Maine beers, and local brews will be paired with each evening meal (baked haddock, ham dinner, chili, chowder, roast turkey etc.). The Mary Day will make a stop at Marshall Wharf Brewing Co. in Belfast for a tour and tasting. Captain Barry King will brew and bottle a batch of his own nut brown ale during the trip, and passengers will go home with a few bottles. 

This will be the first craft beer themed cruise in the 76-year history of windjammer vacations on the Maine coast. The all-inclusive trip includes three galley-cooked meals from the wood-fired stove and snacks daily, an island lobster bake, and cozy accommodations with a skylight, window, heat and running water. The 90-foot Mary Day is a wooden two-masted schooner with berths for 28 passengers. She was launched in 1962 as the first coasting schooner ever designed specifically for windjammer vacations. Cost is $955 per person. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/02/13 at 12:00 PM
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Lovely Linekin Bay

I’ve been writing about New England since 1994, even authoring a book titled New England Seacoast Adventures, so it’s rare when I find out about a classic resort on the New England coast I’ve never visited. But that was exactly the case this past weekend when I brought my family to Linekin Bay Resort on the Maine coast. Linekin Bay might be a five-minute drive from the tourist hub of Boothbay Harbor, but once you arrive, it feels a world away. A former girls camp when it opened over a century ago, you spend the night in lodges with grand stone chimneys and cabins perched on a bluff overlooking the ocean water. In the morning, you wake up to lobster boats pulling up their traps and then wander over to the main lodge for a breakfast of wild blueberry crepes, French toast topped with strawberries, eggs benedict, and hot-out-of-the-oven scones. All meals are included in the price, including the Tuesday lobster bake that’s held on the outdoor deck with live music. Other nights, the food is surprisingly good and includes swordfish, hangar steak, and roasted chicken. 

The main draw of Linekin Bay is its fleet of Rhodes 19 sailboats. With a southerly wind averaging ten knots, this bay was meant for sailing. I went out with one of the instructors and cruised around Cabbage Island, peering at seals lounging on rocks and osprey flying overhead. As we tacked towards the mouth of the bay, you could see the Burnt Island lighthouse and a three-masted schooner sailing along the horizon. Another morning, I went sea kayaking with the family and did the loop around the island. The resort will also offer stand-up paddleboarding this summer. And don’t miss the opportunity to walk with Rupert, a man who’s dedicated most of his life to land conservation in the region and is more than happy to show you his favorite routes. If you want to drop out of the rat race and spend much-needed quality time with loved ones, this is the place. The reason why families return summer after summer. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/22/12 at 12:00 PM
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Friday, May 27, 2011

Sail Maine and Stay at the 102 Year-Old Linekin Bay Resort

Maine’s 2,500-mile stretch of granite coast is custom-made for sailing. No other sport gives you the freedom to anchor in a pristine cove, hike on an anonymous island, and sleep with seals by your window. Some 2,000-plus pine-studded islands, more than in the Caribbean or Polynesian archipelago, welcome sailors from around the globe. If you’re feeling a wee bit intimidated to tackle the sport in these salty waters, take a refresher course at Boothbay Harbor’s Linekin Bay Resort. The 20-acre oceanfront property has been a family retreat for over a century. Known for their all-inclusive rates in the summer months, Linekin Bay also features a full fleet of Rhodes 19 sailboats and a staff of sailing instructors. Other activities include tennis, walking trails, Kids Camp programs, and swimming in a heated saltwater pool.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend! I’ll be back on Tuesday.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/27/11 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Sailing on 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 boats 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, crew assignments are designated by the captain. You could be chosen to be primary grinders (grinding a winch as fast as possible so that the foresail can change direction), timekeepers, or handlers of the mainsheet or rope. Simulating the America’s Cup, you sail against one other boat 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 03/01/11 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Sail Chesapeake Bay, Maryland

Founded in 1982 in Newport, Rhode Island, J World has since added teaching facilities in San Diego, Annapolis, the Keys, and Sweden. The Annapolis-based franchise is owned by Jahn Tihansky, a former sailmaker and instructor with US Sailing. Tihansky’s philosophy of “more time on the water, less time in the classroom” will turn any landlubber into a sailing aficionado. You’ll learn how to set the sails, practice your knots, stop and start under sail, tack, jibe (controlled, of course), and anchor. More advanced courses will teach salty dogs how to put up a spinnaker, navigate, and moor. Learn to Sail 5-day courses cost $995 per person.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/16/10 at 01:00 PM
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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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