A look back at 2019 and a look forward to 2020
While the 2019 Maine Windjammer Association season is still underway, with plenty of opportunities for fabulous fall sailing through mid-October, we’ve wrapped up the fleet-wide events for the season. From the Gam to the WoodenBoat Sail-In, the fleet gathered from Carter Cove to Camden and ports in-between for raft-ups and races. It’s not too early to reserve your spot at these events in 2020. Many of these fleet-wide events are popular and sell out, so make your plans and reservations early for these fabulous events in 2020. Reserve ahead directly with your favorite windjammer.
The Maine Windjammer Association is the largest fleet of working windjammers in America. When they gather for fleet-wide events participants and spectators are treated to a slice of history that’s simply unmatched anywhere else. Watching these lovely vessels sail in and then gather into a “mass of masts” with all the rigging and flags is a sight to behold. Those who are lucky enough to participate or spectate are often awed by the historic significance of so many national historic landmarks gathering in one place. From the oldest windjammers in America, to the only working three-masted windjammer and the newer windjammers too, looking up at all that rigging is impressive.
The toast offered during the annual Gam raft-up creates a positive omen for the season. This year, the toast was followed by an evening musical jam with the Stephen Taber Band, aka the Charlie Nobles joined by musicians from all the boats. We like to call this a “gam jam”.
Not too long after the Gam, the crew gathered over July 4th weekend for the annual Great Schooner Race. This year a number of new boats joined the race, including the impressive Columbia from Florida. The Great Schooner Race is always kicked off with the annual wacky Small Boat Races, filled with zaniness and costumes, and this year was followed by a beautiful sunset. On race day, the Great Schooner Race started out in light wind, but ended in a nail-biter of a finish, with the Schooner Mary Day squeaking out a first place win over Columbia on corrected time.
Winners of the “Best Spirit” award for their costumes to celebrate July 4th in the Small Boat Races. Andy Castillo/GoNomad.com photo.
Captain Jim Sharp congratulates Schooner Mary Day captain, Barry King, on his first place in at the 2019 Great Schooner Race. Maine Windjammer Association photo.
Unfortunately, rainy weather caused the annual Parade of Sail to be cancelled this year. Sadly, Mother Nature shrouded Rockland Harbor in a blanket of fog and rain, making it too difficult for people to walk on the Breakwater and impossible to see the boats. We look forward to sunnier weather in 2020 for this impressive gathering of windjammers from throughout Penobscot Bay.
Moving forward through the season, the next gathering of the fleet was in Camden Harbor during the Annual Camden Windjammer Festival. A celebration of windjammer history, this event traditionally attracts thousands of people to enjoy a parade of sail, the annual windjammer dinner auction, talent show and fireworks over the harbor. The mass of rigging seen over Camden Harbor is so impressive! For those who love windjammers and nautical history, this is a fabulous event. Captain Jim Sharp, windjammer expert, narrates the parade of the boats into the harbor with such entertaining stories.
Friday night fireworks over Camden Harbor during the Camden Windjammer Festival with Schooner Mary Day in the foreground. Photo by Jim Dugan.
The final fleet-wide of the year always takes place on the second Tuesday in September. It’s a sail-in when windjammers gather at WoodenBoat School in Brooklin to enjoy mussels, hor d’oeuvres and the calypso tunes of the Flash in the Pans Steel Drum Band. We were blessed with great weather this year and beautiful views of the Maine Windjammer Association ships sailing into the harbor in Brooklin.
Onlookers are treated to a view of the entire Maine Windjammer Association fleet, gathering for the WoodenBoat Sail-In at WoodenBoat School. Maine Windjammer Association photo.
Captain Linda Lee of the Schooner Heritage takes a break to enjoy steamed mussels and hors d’oeuvres, along with music provided by Flash in the Pans Steel Drum Band. Maine Windjammer Association photo.
That concludes our armchair journey through the fleet events of 2019. Aren’t you ready to be a part of one or more of these events in 2020? You’ll find each vessel’s 2020 cruise schedule on their individual websites or on the search tool found on the SailMaineCoast.com’s home page (click on 2020 cruises).
You can visit each of the Maine Windjammer Association’s individual vessels online at their websites by clicking below.