Article from Maine Windjammer Association August 2018 Newsletter ()
July 27, 2016
Lighting the way – A lighthouse on every cruise!

credit: Courtesy College of the Atlantic
Located 25 miles from Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Rock is one of Captain Barry King’s favorite Lighthouses. Besides being the perfect place for College of the Atlantic to conduct field studies, “The Rock” also affords windjammer guests who make the offshore sail excellent whale and seabird sightings.

Famed for their engineering and beauty, lighthouses have attracted visitors from tourists in ancient Egypt’s Alexandria to modern-day leaf-peepers in New England. Lighthouses are iconic feats of engineering – a welcome reassurance to lonesome sailors of every stripe. Every windjammer cruise includes glimpses of at least one lighthouse on Maine’s coast.

As someone who makes a living on the water, Captain Barry of the Schooner Mary Day says “I just think lighthouses are a really neat connection to the past. Of all navigational aids out there, lighthouses are here to stay. If you’re navigating along with your modern gadgets, you never leave it up to just the gadget. Sure, I use all the latest in technology, but sometimes the low-tech option is the best. It’s like the GPS in the car. Sometimes, it’s better to use a paper map. Every time my sister comes to visit us at our house in rural Maine, she uses the GPS and she gets stuck on some back road. It never fails. Lighthouses, chart navigation, buoys, those are my primary go-to as a captain.”

Captain Barry’s favorite lighthouse can be found on Mount Desert Rock. “It’s so far out there, on the edge of nowhere. It’s a great chance to get offshore, maybe see some whales. It’s one tack all the way out there and one tack all the way back. You can sometimes even see some puffins, shearwaters, gannets, petrels.” The Mary Day hosts at least two lighthouse cruises every summer, bringing along a pharologist (lighthouse expert) to do a slide show for the lucky guests.

credit: Nancy Fleming
Hockamock, otherwise known as Burnt Coat Light, is a favorite of many windjammer captains, including Capt. John of the Schooner American Eagle.

For his part, Captain John Foss of the American Eagle prefers Little River in Cutler and Hockamock Head on Swan’s Island. “You can’t see either of them from the mainland.” Known for traveling further afield than the other windjammers throughout the season, guests aboard the Eagle see plenty of lighthouses and other wondrous sights that are visible only from the decks of a windjammer.


Located at the western entrance to Eggemoggin Reach, Pumpkin Island Light is one of Capt. Garth Well’s favorites.

Captain Garth of the Lewis R French says, “All the lighthouses we pass each have some unique characteristic that makes them interesting. We see somewhere between one and three lighthouses on every trip.” Captain Garth notes that Pumpkin Island is especially interesting. “It’s only a one-acre island so the caretaker’s house and the lighthouse take up almost the whole island.”

For more information about a chance to see and tour lighthouses while aboard one of the Maine Windjammer Association vessels, click here.


Published by Maine Windjammer Association
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