Article from MAINE WINDJAMMER ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER ()
March 27, 2013
Windjammer of the Month: Nathaniel Bowditch

courtesy of Nathaniel Bowditch  
 
Captain Owen prepares a scrumptious lobster bake for his guests.  
“It’s thick in my blood, as one might say,” said Captain Owen who recently took some time out from the local ski slope to talk about being a windjammer captain. With a great-grandfather and a great-great-grandfather as schooner captains and parents who loved windjamming as newlyweds, it’s no wonder Captain Owen feels that windjamming is in his blood. He says, “It was a destiny for me.”

As a child, Owen Dorr spent summers on Vinalhaven – an island off Rockland – where his family has a summer place. There, Captain Owen spent most of his time on the water sailing or fishing for lobsters. When he became an adult, he had plans to spend more time behind a desk, but that didn’t last long. “I applied to yacht designing school in Maine. My plan was to sail on the windjammers for one season before going to yacht design school. I did one year and said, ‘Well, maybe I’ll do it one more year.’ I never did make it to yacht design school.”

photo: Amy Wilton
Captain Owen and Cathie Dorr have owned and operated the Nathaniel Bowditch since 2003.

Captain Owen worked as deck hand and mate, learning the skills required to captain a commercial sailing vessel of this size. “I’ve worked on most of the boats in the fleet. It just seemed like such a great lifestyle. I really liked that some of the boats had their families on board, with the kids. And so, here I am – I’m very happy with the choice I made.”

photo: Jim Abst
Nathaniel Bowditch enjoying a great day of sailing on Penobscot Bay.

During his apprenticeship, Captain Owen set his sights on the Nathaniel Bowditch. “I consider myself very lucky that I am able to own this boat.” He’s quick to note that not all schooners are created equal. “That’s like saying the VW Bug and the Lamborghini are the same because they’re both cars.” Every ship has her own build, handles differently and has different appeal. Captain Owen loves the Bowditch for her sleek design, among other things.

courtesy of Nathaniel Bowditch
The Bowditch was built in 1922 as a racing yacht.

Built in Maine and designed by the world-famous yacht designer William Hand, the Bowditch is simply a great boat to sail. And then, there’s her valiant history: “She was looking for submarines off NYC during World War II. She received two awards from the Coast Guard for being so seaworthy – she was the only one that would stay out during bad weather.”

At the end of the day, it’s the passengers who make it all worthwhile for Captain Owen. “I love the magic of it all – it’s when you see people coming from all parts of the country and the world, to show them the beauty of this area, in such a relaxing environment. It’s a great feeling to see folks unwinding and enjoying it. And the camaraderie – getting these folks together who don’t know each other, and they walk off best friends, exchanging addresses and getting together in the off-season. Not to mention that keeping this tradition alive, these vessels are part of history and when the passengers are on board, hoisting the sails, they become a part of that history. They’re not museum pieces behind glass, the passengers get to be a part of it.”

Check out Captain Owen’s website for details about his 2013 season, or visit our Fleet page for more information about all ten vessels in the Maine Windjammer Association.


Published by Maine Windjammer Association
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