Meet the J. & E. Riggin & Her Captain’s Justin Schaefer & Jocelyn Schmidt

5th April, 2021 / Fleet, Maine Windjammers

The Schooner J. & E. Riggin was built in 1927 as an oyster dredger for Charles Riggin in Dorchester, New Jersey, and is one of the very few vessels of this kind that still sail today. Her name, J. & E., comes from the names of Mr. Riggin’s two sons, Jacob and Edward. 

This special windjammer has enjoyed the reputation of being able and fast and lays claim to having won the only official oyster schooner race ever held in 1929 on the Delaware Bay. After being rebuilt and re-rigged as a passenger vessel, the Riggin has sailed Penobscot Bay since 1977. She was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991. Her captains, Justin Schaefer and Jocelyn Schmidt, recently bought the vessel and are the youngest captains among the entire MWA fleet.

Captain Justin Schaefer has been sailing since he was old enough to stand and that is no exaggeration. A Long Island native, he grew up sailing on the Great South Bay with his father, Chris, nearly every day there was wind. Justin always wanted to sail as a profession, but that dream wasn’t fully realized until his parents took him on a Kids & Family Cruise on the Schooner J. & E. Riggin when he was 12 years old. For Justin, the experience was life-altering and he was determined to return as one of the crew members he so admired. He would go on to sail as a guest, and apprentice for countless trips throughout the next 6 summers, a deckhand for 1 season, and finally, as the mate in 2015.

Captain Jocelyn Schmidt grew up in Kent, Ohio. She went to Hiram College with ambitions of becoming a history teacher or an archivist, but a study abroad on SSV ­Harvey Gamage in 2012 opened her eyes to a world of adventure available to educators, unlike anything she had ever known. After that, she spent every summer sailing and teaching. She graduated from Hiram College in 2015 with a degree in History and Educational Studies and applied that knowledge throughout her career on sail training vessels and windjammers alike. Jocelyn has sailed the full length of the East Coast and around the Caribbean on schooners earning her a 100-ton captain’s license, but her real passion lies in sharing with guests of all ages, her love, and stewardship of this historic landmark. She hopes to “share [her] knowledge of the art of sailing with learners of all ages and to inspire the next generation of youth sailors like Justin, with adventures on J. & E. Riggin.”

When they aren’t on the boat, J & J enjoy taking their dog, Odin, to the park, hiking, and crafting cocktails with local ingredients, some from their own small garden.

Justin and Jocelyn’s enthusiasm for windjamming is contagious and they look forward to getting their guests actively involved in the experience of sailing an authentic 19th-century schooner.  They also look forward to being a part of the Maine Windjammer Association.

“In joining the Maine Windjammer Association, we are most excited to be a part of a team of people who provided us with formative experiences on these historic vessels that shaped our lives. Those leaders now become our colleagues and we are privileged to have the chance to work with them to bring these opportunities to the next generation of the crew who might one day join us as members/owners.”

 Learn about all the boats in the Maine Windjammer Association fleet by visiting their websites.

Schooner Stephen Taber

The Victory Chimes

Schooner American Eagle

Schooner Heritage

Schooner Mary Day

Windjammer Angelique

Schooner Lewis R. French

Schooner Ladona                                                                           

Photo credits: Douglas Merriam Photography and the J. & E. Riggin.