Article from Maine Windjammer Association August 2018 Newsletter ()
September 24, 2013
Windjammer of the Month: Lewis R. French!

   credit: Courtesy Schooner Lewis R. French
   Captain Garth loves getting to know people from all over the world and showing them the ins and outs of traditional sailing.

Captain Garth stepped aboard the Lewis R. French at 23 when he signed on as a crew member. After returning every summer for 6 years, the captain approached him about the possibility of taking over the helm of the French. And all these years later, Captain Garth hasn’t looked back. “It’s a pretty simply thing. I love being out on the water and sailing. I love getting to meet people, showing them the boat and this little corner of the world. And you get such a wide range of guests. I’ve had guests who have sailed across the ocean and people who’ve never seen the ocean before. Just being able to show them the coast and the schooner - there’s nothing else like it in the world.”

credit: Courtesy Schooner Lewis R. French
The Lewis R. French catches a breeze on Penobscot Bay.

Captain Garth knows that to really experience Maine, you have to get off the beaten track. “It’s not something you can see from your car. I like to get people immersed in the experience so that when they leave they say, I had no idea this existed.”

And that was certainly true for Naomi from Florida, a Lewis R. French passenger who had a tough time naming her favorite part of the experience. She said, “You know, it was all so wonderful, from the minute you get up to the minute you go to sleep, you never know what you’re going to encounter. Changes in the wind will bring you 30 degrees to another course. I just love the adventure. And Captain Garth is a terrific captain – he’s fun to be around. The whole crew was fun and the food was terrific. So much so that I’m going back on the French next year!”

credit: Fred LeBlanc
Aboard the Lewis R. French, guests are welcome to sightsee, help sail the vessel or settle down with a good book on deck.

People often ask Captain Garth how he spends the off-season. For the first few months, it’s all about maintenance. Like most captains, Captain Garth has a real understanding of every system on his boat and enjoys the maintenance, building and repairing that owning an historic vessel requires. “There’s a new thing to figure out and fine tune every year. This year we re-did the galley to make it more efficient. Such a little thing, but we get really excited to do it. It’s what makes this job really cool – every year it’s a whole different set of challenges to tackle.”

Captains Garth Wells and Jenny Tobin (and Gus) take great pride in owning such a wonderful vessel as the Lewis R. French.

Now that he’s been working with the French for so many years, Captain Garth can confidently say that she is truly special. “She was built in 1871 in Maine and she’s always been home-ported in Maine. She’s got a deep connection to this coast. We still meet people who come to the dock and say, ‘My dad worked on this boat carrying cargo out of Brooksville or Lubec.’ She’s fun to sail and she’s the perfect size – she carries 21 passengers, not too many, but enough to keep things lively.” 

Visit our website to learn more about Captain Garth and the Lewis R. French.

Published by Maine Windjammer Association
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