The Maine Windjammer Association is proud to count among its members the two oldest active sailing vessels in America: the Lewis R. French and the Stephen Taber. For both schooners, this year marks their 140th Anniversary and they’re not letting the big event go by without a party!
Long before anyone had dreamed up the automobile or the trucking industry, these windjammers were built to haul cargo. Since then, they’ve been converted to serve as one of the top travel attractions and destinations in New England. With the magnificent coast and islands of Maine as their backdrop, passengers experience an authentic sailing adventure aboard a National Historic Landmark. And though the world has changed dramatically since they first slid down the ways, these gorgeous schooners are still busy earning their keep.
This June, the Lewis R. French and Stephen Taber will celebrate with a schooner match-race, reception and awards ceremony where you can meet with past owners, captains and crew as well as enjoy public tours and a daysail.
The main event is the 1871 Schooner Showdown. The Schooners Lewis R. French and the Stephen Taber—both built in 1871—will go head to head in a race from Maine’s Camden Harbor to the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. The race will be followed by an awards ceremony and cocktail reception at The Pearl. The ships will be dockside for public tours, and on June 18th, both will be offering day sails.
Even though the French and the Taber are the nation’s two oldest sailing ships in service, this is not a gentle parade of delicate old-timers. According to Captain Garth Wells of the Lewis R. French, “I won’t downplay how seriously we race these schooners. This might be the only setting that encourages you to take a 140-year-old National Landmark out and push it to the limit. I love my job – and I can’t wait to beat the Taber!”
The Schooners Lewis R. French and Stephen Taber operate 3,4 and 6 day trips off the coast of Maine. They carry 21-22 passengers overnight. Both were built in 1871, are National Historic Landmarks and members of the Maine Windjammer Association. For more information about the event, visit www.windjammerbirthdays.com.