Maine Windjammer Association fleet starts 2020 season with caution
It’s been an unprecedented and long fit-out season for the Maine Windjammer Association, the largest fleet in America. Yet at long last, all the pieces are in place for the fleet to consider setting sail during the summer of 2020. We’ve got the “yellow light” on the season – meaning a slow, careful and incredibly conscientious start. While Maine has a relatively low rate of COVID-19 incidence, the Governor is moving forward with guidance favoring public safety of both residents and visitors to the state. Maine’s restrictions combined with a deep concern for guests on board our windjammers is fueling vigilance as the Maine Windjammer Association prepares to set sail. Don’t get us wrong, all eight of the Maine Windjammer captains and crews are excited as can be about the prospect of getting out on the water again, and offering up just the kind of open-air, unscripted adventure that windjammers can singularly offer. Without guests, these boats are living museums. With guests, they are wonderful little worlds unto themselves, offering an unplugged sanctuary filled with nature, ocean breezes, exploration, fine food and friendship. Anyone who’s sailed on board a Maine Windjammer knows this concept, and yearns for it.
Out of an abundance of caution, a number of the Maine Windjammer Association fleet have cancelled July cruises and are now looking toward August and September while assessing interest from guests. Others are moving ahead with plans to sail starting mid-July, and still others simply don’t know yet what the season will bring. It’s always best to check with the boat of your choice for up-to-date schedules, as they are constantly shifting, especially this year.
Recently, Maine’s Governor Mills issued a “Keep Maine Healthy” plan as part of the re-opening process. Designed to protect the health of Maine residents and out-of-state visitors from the risk of COVID-19, it requires out-of-state visitors to attest to a negative COVID-19 test result within 72-hours of travel or to quarantine in Maine for 14 days prior to staying in a hotel or boarding a windjammer. The plan exempts visitors from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont from the testing and quarantine directive because it’s understood those two states have similar low virus incidence rates. However, it’s possible that some windjammer captains may require guests from all states to equally attest to a negative COVID-19 test, just to insure the safety of all on board.
We don’t know how long this testing requirement will be in place. We do know that that it is tough for the majority of people trying to get tested, get results, then drive to Maine to board our boats. Part of the Keep Maine Healthy plan includes setting up “swab and send” testing sites throughout Maine where anyone can be tested. We’re simply not sure when these sites will be fully functional, and guests are required to quarantine until test results come back (estimated at 24-48 hours) before coming on board.
Does this make it hard to plan and come aboard a Maine Windjammer Association cruise? Yes. We agree, it does. Is it impossible? No. As testing ramps up in Maine and in all states around the country, this process will get easier.
We’ve heard from many dedicated windjammer guests that they’ll do what is necessary to go sailing. We tip our captains hats to everyone willing to jump on board this summer. They’re part of a special team to keep working windjammers alive. As the largest fleet of working windjammers in America, those who sail with the Maine Windjammer Association fleet in 2020 are members of a movement with a deep appreciation for the preservation of not only maritime history but also environmentally sustainable adventure at sea. We’re grateful to all who chose to sail with us.
The Maine Windjammer Association has been in high gear researching the best practices in sanitization, cleanliness, food service and passenger safety in light of the havoc the pandemic has wrought for public health. Nothing is more important to the association’s captains than the health and welfare of their passengers and crew. With this in mind, the Maine Windjammer Association has created a set of standards to insure wellbeing of guests and crew; the Maine Windjammer Association Promise.
The Maine Windjammer Association Promise
Operating under both Coast Guard and Governor of Maine’s requirements, the Maine Windjammer Association has developed a standard of operation that prioritizes guest well-being and safety assurance. Thus, the Maine Windjammer Association promise offered to all those sailing on our ships this summer includes multiple levels of principles of protection. To read the Maine Windjammer Association’s promise to all passengers, click here. These assurances will be practiced on all Maine Windjammer Association vessels, and offers insight into the “new normal” on board our windjammers.
Don’t forget to check with the individual boat you’ll be sailing on for their guidelines for sailing this summer and their most up-to-date schedules. Most of all, thank you for your interest, commitment to windjammer sailing and willingness to continue to support Maine windjammer sailing.
Photos credits (in order of appearance): Tracy Sheppard, John Williams, Maine Windjammer Association, Bob Trapani