Article from MAINE WINDJAMMER ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER ()
May 27, 2016
These guests keeping coming back – find out why!

credit: Sonia DeMellier
Coming almost every year, Edward has sailed aboard Schooner Mary Day 15 times.


Some people might hesitate to hop aboard a traditional sailing ship for a week with 16 – 40 other people they may or may not know. That was certainly true for Ed DeMellier of Alabama. He says, “As I sat on the deck of the Mary Day that first evening, I kept thinking ‘I'm going to hate this. There's no one here I know and I'm shy.’ Well around 10 am the next morning, the call came to help raise the sails. This was something I had wanted to do for my whole life and here I was at 57 finally getting to do it.

“Then, I was back by the wheel and Captain Barry asked me if I wanted to drive. I said sure. He stayed near so I wouldn't mess up too badly. A little later he asked if I could see a little speck on the horizon and I said yes. The instructions were to point the bow in that direction. For the next 45 minutes or so I had the wheel while we sailed briskly to Mt. Desert. I was hooked. The week went by much too fast and suddenly it was Saturday morning and we had to leave.

“That first experience was so wonderful, I wanted to repeat it. I was very interested in the upkeep and maintenance of the schooner, so the following year I went on the cruise now known as the ‘Tallship Sailing and Seamanship’ course. I learned so much about sailing – everything from navigation to knot tying, to steering by the compass, and more. I have now been back aboard the Mary Day almost every year – 15 times. In fact, my wife Sonia and I were married aboard during Sonia's first sail. One year, Sonia said, “We should only go on the schooner every other year,” but at the end of the week she said, "I want to come back next year!”
 

credit: David Emch
Peg and Rico enjoy a beach walk during last season’s lobster bake.


Being a windjammer captain requires a certain skill set: part expert mariner, part mechanic, part storyteller, and 100% people person. According to Peg Hagar and Rick “Rico” Byam from Cincinnati, Captains Doug and Linda Lee of the Heritage have it all. Peg and Rico met and married aboard the Heritage and have returned yearly – a total of 20 trips – with a core group of friends they also met on board. “It’s wonderful! You’re really in nature. It’s like camping on the water. The food is delicious and the people are so interesting, from all walks of life. We’ve met a welder from Indiana, a cop from New Hampshire, PhD’s from all over the country and the thing everyone has in common is a sense of adventure.” While most captains offer shorter cruises to give passengers a taste of the windjamming experience, Rico and Peg recommend the longer trips. “What happens on shorter trips is that you don’t have enough time to get to know people and by the time you realize what a great trip it is, it’s over.”
 

Carol-Ann Warner and Capt. John Foss have sailed together 30 times so far. She’s looking forward to taking two more trips this season!


Carol-Ann Warner from New York will enjoy her 31st and 32nd trips aboard American Eagle this year. She says, “Captain John is just the greatest. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s got so much experience that everyone enjoys themselves. For people who haven’t sailed much, he calms them down immediately. He has a skill of hiring wonderful people to help him to keep everybody happy. We always do fun things at night. We will gather down in the galley and he reads stories. It brings back memories of when you were a kid and having a story read. Then off to bed and dream for the next day. It’s a wonderful experience to sail with him because he’s so competent and cool.”

Carol-Ann’s first trip with Captain John sailed all the way to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. “I had always wanted to go there and see that wonderful community. When there was an opportunity to go by sailboat – even better!

“This summer, I’m going on two adventures with Captain John including one that’s sailing all the way to Stellwagen Bank to see the whales! Some people choose to go sailing for only 2-3 days but I don’t think you get the full feel of what windjamming has to offer. I’m a long distance trip sailor and I’ve met many, many wonderful people.

“Once you get out on the water, it’s you and Mother Nature with the water, the weather, the maritime animals, and the birds. To me, there’s such a freedom in leaving the land behind and going on an adventure.”

For more information about cruising aboard the nine vessels belonging to the Maine Windjammer Association, click here.

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