|credit: Tanya M. McGray Bormet
The Maine Windjammer Association caught up with Captain Brenda of the Schooner Isaac H. Evans to talk about the upcoming season, how she started and what she loves most about windjamming.
Maine Windjammer Association: How did you get started in windjamming?
Captain Brenda: I came to windjamming from the corporate world. Pantyhose, high heels, permed hair, the whole thing. Then, I transitioned from that to being allowed one duffle bag only and having to decide what to take with me. I started as a cook, but Ive held every position on my boat.
MWA: You welcome children ages 6+. Thats younger than most of the other boats.
Captain Brenda: We experience considerably younger passengers. In June and September, we have fewer kids because theyre all in school, although we have had people come who have taken their kids out of school. But we get a great age range - we see people in their mid 30s, 40s, 50s, teenagers. We have lots of grandparents traveling with their kids.
|Kids 6 and up are invited on every Schooner Isaac H. Evans cruise.
MWA: Do the younger passengers participate?
Captain Brenda: Oh yes! We let kids do everything including raising and furling the sails, raising the anchor, and steering like everybody else. They probably polish more brass than the older passengers. If theyre willing, we turn them into junior deck hands. Kids really want to be part of the crew. They do things like wash dishes in the galley and their parents almost always say they dont do this at home. We turn it into team work and they get to feel like theyre really part of it. And I want to emphasize, we dont just accept having kids on board, we like having kids on board. All the time people tell me that it was so much fun with the kids on board. Ive never seen a group of kids not come together and parents always comment about that. They say it was such a great vacation because there were kids on board.
MWA: Do you have lots of repeat passengers?
Captain Brenda: Yes! I think its because windjamming is really less about sailing its a guest house that happens to sail. And I think the people who do come over and over have found a sense of community and belonging. We dont follow a script or agenda and so every trip is different. I do pay particular attention to make sure that repeat passengers have a different experience every time they sail. I look at my log book and make sure Im making an effort to visit different anchorages and theyre sailing different routes. My passengers often become friends. I even have people in Alaska who send Christmas gifts to my kids. I dont think a lot of business owners get that from their customers. The thing is, I dont think of them as customers. First and foremost, they are guests, and they often turn into friends.
MWA: Tell us about the lobster bake.
Captain Brenda: Thats my favorite part of any trip. Theres a lot of work that goes into it but its always so great and I often hear from people that the bake is the highlight of their trip. For some people its once in a lifetime: sitting on beach, looking out at a beautiful boat thats also a National Historic Landmark, eating a delicious meal. And we create this for them. Its great.
MWA: Anything else?
Captain Brenda: Theres so much to windjamming. I just love it. But I guess I will mention the amazing opportunity to see the stars or meteor showers. I have a particular interest in celestial events. I have had amazing experiences watching shooting stars with all passengers. We try to keep track of who saw the most. You know, when the sun sets, theres a whole new kind of entertainment starting when youre on a windjammer.
For more information about the Isaac H. Evans and other historic vessels belonging to the Maine Windjammer Association, visit www.sailmainecoast.com.