Article from Maine Windjammer Association August 2018 Newsletter ()
February 20, 2014
Maine Windjammers Offer Free Excursions on Every Cruise!

The fishing village of Stonington is one of the more beloved and often frequented stops on many windjammer cruises. Some of the schooners visit Stonington on almost every trip during their season. Because there is a lobster cooperative in town, it is a popular spot to purchase lobsters just before sailing to an island for a beach-side lobster bake.

Travelers with big-ship cruise experience know that every excursion comes with a price. What starts out sounding like a reasonable all-inclusive vacation can quickly mushroom into a trip that costs twice as much. Cruises aboard Maine Windjammer Association vessels, however, never charge extra for anything!

Shipboard life on a traditional Maine windjammer is entirely unstructured. Typically, windjammers will sail for six hours or so, making the most of the day’s wind and tide, leaving time for an afternoon visit ashore. Since there are more than 3,000 islands dotting the coast of Maine, there are unlimited overnight anchorages. Once the sails are down, guests are free to go ashore if the setting is right. Here’s a random sampling of typical “excursions” that might take place on a week-long windjammer cruise:

Stonington Shoretrip: spend a few hours touring one of the busiest fishing villages in Maine. Check out boutiques and art galleries. Poke your head into the Granite Museum and learn about Maine’s famous quarries—blocks of Stonington’s distinctive granite, some of it shipped by the fleet’s very own windjammers, were used in New York’s Rockefeller Center, approaches to the Manhattan and George Washington Bridges and the John F. Kennedy Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.

Beachside Lobster Bake: Come ashore for a traditional lobster bake with all the fixin’s on a pristine island beach. While dinner’s cooking, stretch your legs with a hike, practice your stone-skipping or take a dip in Maine’s crystal clear waters. You’ll never know what you’ll find on your island adventure…a herd of sheep, a piece of perfectly worn seaglass, ruins of an 1800s “cellar hole” or perhaps the most peaceful spot on Earth to savor a sunset.

credit: Jane Struble
With a distinctive plumb bow, champagne transom and majogany and cherry wood, the Stephen Taber's wherry is a very fine-looking boat that guests love to take for a sail at the end of the day. Captain Noah built the wherry in 2008; he hopes to build another so guests and crew can enjoy match races.

Small-Boat Exploration: Every windjammer comes with 2-3 small boats that are available for use once the vessel is at anchor. Take a moonlit row in a classic Whitehall; bone up on your sailing skills aboard a six-person salmon wherry; explore Maine’s nooks and crannies in a skiff. With plenty of time each morning and night, you can discover for yourself why Ratty said, “There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

credit: Diane Henning
Offering courses designed around the arts of sailing, seamanship, boatbuilding and related crafts, the WoodenBoat School encourages students to learn by doing, each at their own pace, in a truly inspiring environment.

WoodenBoat School: Stop ashore at the world-famous WoodenBoat School in Brooklin for a peek at what’s going on in the latest boatbuilding classes. This beautiful 64-acre “saltwater campus” provides inspiration to anyone who’s ever aspired to build a boat, plus guests can stretch their legs, shop at the WoodenBoat Store or take a longer stroll into Brooklin Village, where there are shops, galleries and an old-fashioned general store.

credit: Captain Barry King
Burnt Coat Harbor Light Station, also called Hockamock Head Lighthouse, is a popular stop for windjammer guests.

Hockamock Lighthouse Tour: Burnt Coat Harbor on Swan’s Island is an especially appealing anchorage: not only is the harbor well protected and picturesque, passengers also have a chance to stretch their legs with a short walk to the Burnt Coat Light Station on Hockamock Head. Windjammer guests are treated to many lighthouse views during their cruises, but this lighthouse is especially attractive because it’s accessible, there are miles of trails surrounding the headland, and guests can walk right up to the 142-year-old lighthouse where they can get a real sense of its historical significance and authenticity. During the summer, the 8-room Keeper’s House is open to the public and features art and history exhibits.

credit: John Shipman
At the southern tip of Isle au Haut, passengers from the Stephen Taber enjoy a chance to stretch their legs with a climb up Duck Harbor Mountain. At an elevation of 300 feet, the views of Penobscot Bay are exquisite.

National Park Visit: Hikes on offshore Isle au Haut promise spectacular views and an aerobic workout to the summit of Duck Harbor Mountain. The island’s 18 miles of trails make it easy for guests to burn off the calories they might consume at the island’s renowned Black Dinah’s Chocolatiers Café! Some windjammers also make visits at Acadia National Park.

And the cost for enjoying these excursions? Absolutely nothing! Maine’s windjammer vacations include all meals, accommodations and activities, starting at $475 per person for a three-day cruise.

Being on a windjammer is so relaxing that sometimes guests choose to skip the shoretrips altogether, although for passengers who want to take in the local sights, there are excursions of one sort or another offered every day.

The Maine Windjammer Association includes 8 traditional sailing vessels that offer 3- to 6-day adventures out of Camden and Rockland, Maine, from May to October. For more information about windjamming, visit

Published by Maine Windjammer Association
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