Article from Maine Windjammer Association August 2018 Newsletter ()
March 28, 2015
Songs of the Sea and a Whole Lot More!

credit: Captain Kip Files
The Irish Music Cruise came about by chance several years ago, when a group of friends from Rhode Island came out on the Victory Chimes with instruments in tow. The group did informal jam sessions throughout the trip, and by doing so inspired a specialty cruise.

The hypnotic sounds of the sea have inspired people since time began. The rhythmic lull of the waves, the lonely call of the gulls, the sudden splashes of fish and porpoises and seals are all perfect companions to traditional music written at shores edge for a thousand years or more. From Irish jigs and Scottish ballads to old fishermen’s shanties first sung on the decks of New England whalers, the subject is vast and moving.

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to end a spectacular day sailing the pristine waters of Penobscot Bay aboard a Maine windjammer with someone strumming gorgeous songs on their guitar by lamplight and sharing melodies with new friends. This year, to cater to guests who like to hear or even make music, the captains of the Maine Windjammer Association are offering special cruises where passengers can enjoy music to their hearts’ content.

Schooner Gam: gospel to blue grass: The first gathering of the fleet is the Schooner Gam on June 8th and to celebrate, there’s an evening Jam. The Gam includes a raft up where all of Maine’s historic vessels tie together side by side enabling guests to tour all of the different vessels as well as enjoy an evening of music ranging from sea shanties and blues to blue grass and gospel. For the seventh year in a row, the Stephen Taber’s house band, The Noble Charlies, will be headlining an acoustic set during the Schooner Gam, with soulful slide guitar, spicy Cajun accordion, sweet blues harmonica, and a full rhythm section to hold down the low end and put some swank in your plank. This is always a big-hearted ramble through the American roots lexicon; anyone with skills is welcome! The Noble Charlies will play a nightly post-dinner concert on the Taber all week, with informal guitar and dobro lessons during the day (June 6-10; $698). That same week, the American Eagle is hosting CastleBay, a duo that has “been musically weaving together the heritage of New England and the Celtic lands since 1987.” This is a unique opportunity, not only to enjoy intimate performances and their extraordinary musicianship, but also to share the experience of sailing, exploring the coast and spending a few evenings and break bread in the company of these talented musicians. (June 7–11; $795)

Folk: The Sweet Chariot Music Festival has been celebrating folk music of all nations and storytelling on Swan’s Island for more than 20 years. This extraordinary event, inspired by the Mystic Seaport Music Festival, has attracted visitors from around the world and may be one of the only music festivals in the world that’s only accessible by boat. Be part of the thrill when musicians let loose on a Maine island. The Lewis R. French will attend this year (August 2–8; $1010).

Guests aboard the Stephen Taber can enjoy a Summer Solstice cruise with songwriters Jenn Schott and Melissa Peirce.

Country: Captain Noah of the Stephen Taber welcomes back songwriters Jenn Schott and Melissa Pierce on a four-day Summer Solstice Music Cruise. Having written songs for the likes of Lonestar, LeAnn Rimes and Carrie Underwood, these talented women know how to create a memorable cruise. Each night ends with an informal concert featuring their chart-topping songs and gorgeous harmonies (June 15-19; $698).

Celtic: Captain Kip of the Victory Chimes will again be offering a mid-August four-day Irish Music cruise. The Celtic Cruise came about by chance several years ago, when a group of friends from Rhode Island came out on the Victory Chimes with instruments in tow. The group did informal jam sessions throughout the trip, and by doing so inspired a specialty cruise. Guests are encouraged to show their Celtic pride on this lively, foot-stomping cruise. Passengers aren't required to know how to play the whistle or bodhran, as guests with any musical ability – or none at all – are more than welcome to come aboard. Guests gather on deck in the evenings to enjoy a pint, play favorite Irish tunes, and tell favorite Irish tales, all in the company of friends new and old. Music and schooners have a long history together, and the Celtic Cruise is a perfect opportunity to enjoy both (July 17-21; $860).

credit: Robert Dennis

Steel Drums: Capping the season, the WoodenBoat Sail-In on September 15th will attract the entire fleet to the WoodenBoat Waterfront in Brooklin, Maine for tours, dancing, scrumptious local food and festivities that include the acclaimed steel drum band, Flash in the Pans. Known for their ability to get people dancing, Flash in the Pans is one of the largest community steelbands in the United States and is in high demand throughout New England. Guests can tour the WoodenBoat School and Campus, enjoy local steamed mussels.

credit: Theresa Stutzman
On any given day, it’s not unlikely that music will happen spontaneously. Here, Captain Garth and crew from the Schooner Lewis R. French pull out their instruments and enjoy an impromptu jam session.

It’s important to note that, for the 150 other windjammer cruises that don't specifically feature music as a theme, live music and storytelling happen spontaneously on most trips. If they’re inclined, guests are welcome to jump in with vocals or acoustic instruments. Captain Garth of the Lewis R. French says his crew keeps their banjo, trumpet, guitar and mandolin handy for playing anything from Johnny Cash and Jimmy Cliff to sea shanties and blue grass, and guests are encouraged to bring their small, acoustic instruments along. You never know… one of your fellow passengers may be an opera singer! It’s happened before!

For more information about music cruises, visit

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