Choosing your transportation well is an important part of greening your vacation. On a Maine windjammer trip, the transportation—a historic, wind-powered schooner—isthe vacation. As you sail past quaint lighthouses and pristine, rocky islands in Penobscot Bay, you’ll feel like a sailor of yesteryear, traveling by sea without creating carbon emissions.
Through the Maine Windjammer Association you can book one- to six-night sails aboard 13 historic tall ships. Some cruises have a special focus—lighthouses, pirate adventures, photography, knitting, stargazing, food and wine, family trips.
But regardless of the type of trip, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the views and feel the breeze without a noisy engine or gasoline fumes to spoil the experience. (However, schooners have motor-powered yawl boats to push the ship on windless days.)
My husband and I sailed for four nights aboard the 126-year-old ship Isaac H. Evans, now a National Historic Landmark. We arrived, settled into our cabin—teensy but cozy—and Captain Brenda Thomas and her crew oriented us 18 passengers to life aboard a ship. When we set sail, we glided along like magic. No worries about seasickness here.
A schooner trip is a little like camping on water—no need for fancy clothes, just a mix of foul-weather gear for rain and a swimsuit for hot days when you feel like diving into the clear ocean water.
Here are just a few excellent reasons to sign aboard one of these beautiful sailing ships for a unique Maine getaway:
- Be the captain. Take the helm and learn how to steer the ship.
- Kids have a blast. Regardless of your age, you’ll learn something about maritime history and be enchanted by life at sea. (Not all ships take children; the Isaac H. Evans specializes in family trips.)
- Help hoist the sails: Lend a hand with the sails and anchor.
- Learn sailor lingo. After a day or two, you’ll be throwing around terms like “fore,” “aft,” “bow,” “stern,” and “jib” like a pro.
- Be entertained as porpoises and seals frolic around the boat.
- Feast on fresh-baked lobster on the beach.
- Sit on deck and watch as the pine-covered islands drift by.
- Row ashore small islands and explore them on foot.
- Explore picturesque fishing villages.
- Eat heartily. Menu highlights include blueberry pancakes, fish chowder and cornbread, crab-stuffed haddock, fresh green salads, homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie.
- Enjoy the peace and quiet of traveling “unplugged.” No TVs, phones or computers on this vacation!
- Master the art of coiling lines so they don’t tangle.
- Ask the captain to tell some sailor’s tales. Captain Brenda Thomas can recount stories of notorious female pirates!
- Spot loons, gulls, osprey and other sea birds through the ship’s binoculars.
- Watch the moon rise over the water as the ship is anchored in a quiet cove.
P.S. The crew of the wind-powered Isaac H. Evans is eco-conscious. They recycle everything, collect food scraps and give them to a local pig farmer, and practice Leave No Trace principles when visiting islands. They even encourage guests to collect any trash they see, leaving islands cleaner than when they came. When you spend as much time outdoors as these sailors do, you learn to appreciate and protect nature.
—Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor