“When people ask us what we do during the winter I often wonder if they envision us sitting by the fire reading good books and drinking tea while the snow gently falls in the woods. Not so much.” So writes Captain Barry King of the Schooner Mary Day in his blog. There’s plenty of regular maintenance to be done over the winter months, and often large rebuild projects as well, for all of the members of the Maine Windjammer Fleet. Maintaining the block and tackle gear is a yearly chore for the schooners; it involves taking apart the inner workings of each block, cleaning and greasing the patent bearings—perhaps replacing a few—and sanding and painting or varnishing the cheeks and edges of each block—and there are a lot of blocks!
This year while holding their annual “blockfest,” Captain Barry’s memories of the 2009 sailing season seem to dwell mostly on sandy beaches. Says Barry, “I am reminded of a few island picnic spots we visit that do have beautiful sand beaches and how nice it is to be with everyone on a hot summer day enjoying good food and swimming.” As they look forward to more island picnics in 2010, Captains Barry and Jen are thoughtfully planning a new specialty cruise to add to their schedule: in conjunction with local vintner Cellar Door Winery, the Mary Day will be hosting her first Wine Appreciation Cruise this September 20-23. Abby Stocks, Tasting Room Specialist from Cellar Door, will be aboard for the 4-day trip to talk about wine pairings and such terms as “aroma,” “bouquet,” “palate,” and “tannins.” There will also be a special evening of wine and chocolate (truffles anyone?). After the cruise, shipmates are invited to Cellar Door Winery, in nearby Lincolnville, where Abby will conduct a tour which will include luncheon and, of course, wine.
There’s lots of maintenance activity this winter on the Victory Chimes in addition to their “block parties”; while rebuilding portions of the Chimes’ starboard side with new planking and frames, Captains Kip Files and Paul DeGaeta are steeped in twenty-years’ worth of memories of bright blue skies and warm sunny days; 2010 marks their twentieth anniversary as owners of the three-masted schooner. Captain Kip has also been getting over to Sugarloaf once a week this winter to broadcast live on WSKI TV. If you don’t have cable access, you can see his smiling face on your computer monitor when the show streams live on Monday mornings between 7:30 and 9:30, at www.wskitv.com. He and Captain Paul are planning a couple of new ideas for themed cruises in 2010, one of which is sure to lift uproarious laughter from the decks of the Victory Chimes to the starry skies above. Talented Down East humorist Gary Crocker will be sailing aboard the Chimes on their new Maine Story Telling Cruise August 4-7. With evenings of entertaining comedy, and stories told in that inimitably wry and ribald, pun-intended style that is particular to Mainahs, this cruise promises to be a “laugh-a-minute” and a highlight of the season.
For Owen and Cathie Dorr, a favorite memory from the Nathaniel Bowditch’s 2009 season is of their Perseids Meteor Showers Cruise. Cathie recalls that the nights on that particular cruise passed in a wonderfully intimate sharing of quiet murmurs and oohs and ahhs, with as many as 18 or 20 guests cuddled in their sleeping bags, lying on deck and counting the meteors and stars shooting across the heavens above. (Read more about star-gazing in this issue.) New to the Bowditch for 2010 is an Oktoberfest Cruise. Teaming up with local breweries, Captain Owen and Cathie Dorr plan to offer a cruise at the end of the 2010 season (October 6-10) that will feature beer tastings. In similar fashion to wine tastings, guests will be encouraged to savor lagers, pilsners, and ales, and to thoughtfully compare the flavors of each. Chef Paul Dorr is planning menus evocative of Bavarian-style cuisine, with flavors that pair well with the various brews to be featured. What’s the difference between a porter and a stout? Sail on this cruise to find out! Cathie Dorr has memories not only of the past sailing season, but of the winter of 2009 when she attended bee-keeping school. Cathie acquired hives in the late spring of 2009 and two of them thrived through these recent winter months. The results? A sweet addition to the Bowditch cuisine for 2010—their own, home-produced honey!
With three boats in their fleet-within-a-fleet, Captains Ray Williamson and JR Braugh have scores of memories of great sailing aboard the Grace Bailey, the Mercantile, and the Mistress—and plenty of repairs and refurbishing—and blocks!—to keep them occupied through the winter months. In 2009 the Grace Bailey introduced a Health and Wellness Cruise that featured nutritious cuisine, morning yoga exercises, hiking, music, meditation, and more, facilitated by Kristi Williamson, CYT. Guests that sailed on the Grace Bailey with Kristi surely are remembering the ultimate relaxing vacation experience.
According to Captain Ray, “Here at Maine Windjammer Cruises, our favorite memories and our most exciting memories to come are one in the same. We are proud to be giving our passengers the same genuine traditional sailing experience today, as we have since 1936. The pure windjammer experience is in itself a very special thing. People of all ages with various backgrounds come together to experience the simplicity and camaraderie of an earlier time and the power of nature as she moves our century-old vessels across the water. Each trip is uniquely shaped by the winds and tides and the passengers themselves.”