Article from MAINE WINDJAMMER ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER ()
July 24, 2013
Windjammer of the Month: Stephen Taber!

credit: Courtesy Stephen Taber
Captain Noah accompanies a fiddler one summer night aboard Stephen Taber.

 

When he was only six, Captain Noah Barnes’ parents bought and restored the Stephen Taber and built an extremely successful windjamming venture while raising their children. Noah says, “I know for me it was an absolutely magical playground. I have vivid memories of walks on the beach and convincing passengers to play Yahtzee with me. I’m the only resident schooner brat who actually stuck it out. I sailed with my parents more or less straight through my early teens. At which point I realized I did not want to spend all summer long with my parents. Not that they’re not terrific people…It’s just that I knew they’d be gone and there was this house and I knew I would be unsupervised!”

Then, Noah went away for 12 years and tried his hand at various office jobs and executive positions, but he longed to come home. “Windjamming on Maine’s coast definitely gets at my need to do something physical. I’m the type of person who needs serious outdoor time. At the same time, I love to entertain. My favorite thing to do has always been to throw a dinner party. Now I get to throw a dinner party that lasts 6 days. I love it.”

credit: Courtesy Stephen Taber
A lucky passenger hangs out on the bowsprit during a gorgeous day sailing on Penobscot Bay.

One of the things he loves most about windjamming is that it’s completely unscripted. “It’s sort of impossible to come up with an idea of how you want it to turn out. Although many things stay the same, you have to react to the ocean and the weather and that really keeps you on your toes. And that makes every week dramatically fresh. We host 500 people a year and each week we have a different weather setting and a thousand different anchorages to choose from. You can do 10 different remarkable things one week and the very next week it can be a completely different set of 10 remarkable things. It’s perfect for me.”

During the off-season, Captain Noah works in his shop fixing and rebuilding everything. The rest of his time is taken up by his 4-year-old son who is learning to ski and a rock-n-roll band he’s in with a couple other captains. “The defining feature of winter is no set schedule. I can take a walk, play tennis, just hang out with my wife and son and relax.”

credit: Courtesy Stephen Taber
Noah's parents, Captains Ken and Ellen Barnes, first restored the Taber when Noah was only 6 years old.

Captain Noah is thrilled to be the steward of the Taber, having taken over from his parents. Built in 1871, she’s one of the two oldest schooners in the fleet, and Captain Noah notes that she has a real personality. “The Taber is known as the ‘good luck ship’ and you can feel it when you come on board. We call her the Queen Latifah of the windjammer fleet – big, but sexy and very soulful. She sails like a witch, tacks in a heartbeat and I think she’s the perfect entertaining platform. The truth is, I’ve had a crush on the Taber since I was six.”

2013 marks Captain Noah’s 10th anniversary at the helm. He says, “Being 10 years in is a bit of a shocker. You think you’re just taking people on vacation, but this trip is important for a lot of people – it’s a transformative vacation. It’s not just something you did for a week. A lot of these passengers come back year after year. Some of them have moved to the area. Some of them we visit during the winter. This is something that’s important to folks. For us, it can be easy to minimize what we do on a day-to-day basis, but it turns out to be a seminal moment in some people’s lives. It sounds strange to say that out loud, but this is a kind of heavy experience for some people. If you’re going to do something using your talents, if you’re helping people, you couldn’t really ask for more.”

Visit our website to learn more about Captain Noah and the Stephen Taber.


Published by Maine Windjammer Association
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