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Music to Your Ears: Windjammers Feature Songs of the Sea and a Whole Lot More

Music and the sea go hand in hand. The lull of the waves and the call of the gulls are music in and of themselves, inspiring people since time immemorial – from Irish ballads longing for home to Hawaiian lullabies promising tranquility, the subject is rich and deep.

Here in Maine, a gorgeous day sailing the pristine waters of Penobscot Bay aboard a Maine windjammer will often end with someone picking out beautiful melodies on their guitar by lamplight or singing along with new friends. This year, to cater to guests who like to hear or even make music, the captains of the Maine Windjammer Association are offering special cruises where passengers can enjoy music to their heart’s content.

Schooner Gam: gospel to blue grass: To kick of the 2014 sailing season, there’s an evening Jam that takes place during the Schooner Gam on June 9th. Half a dozen historic windjammers will raft together at the end of the day so guests can tour all of the different vessels as well as enjoy an evening of music ranging from blues and rock to blue grass and gospel.

Joining in the festivities during the Gam, musical guest Shanna Underwood will be sailing aboard the Lewis R. French during their Schooner Gam Cruise. Shanna has been performing throughout Maine, mesmerizing audiences with her bluesy voice and alt-country music. She’ll be on for the full four-day cruise ((June 8-12; $660).

And once again, the Noble Charlies will be headlining an acoustic set from the deck of the Stephen Taber during the Schooner Gam, with soulful slide guitar, spicy Cajun accordion, sweet blues harmonica, and a full rhythm section to hold down the low end and put some swank in your plank. This is always a big-hearted ramble through the American roots lexicon; if you have the chops, bring your ax! The Noble Charlies will play a nightly post-dinner concert on the Taber all week, with informal guitar and dobro lessons during the day for those who want to sharpen their skills (June 6-11; $788).

Country: One week later, Captain Noah of the Stephen Taber will welcome back songwriters Jenn Schott and Melissa Peirce on a four-day Summer Solstice Music Cruise. Having written songs for the likes of Lonestar, LeAnn Rimes and Carrie Underwood, these talented women know how to create a memorable cruise. Each night will end with an informal concert featuring their chart-topping songs and utterly charming harmonies (June 16-20; $638).

Celtic: Captain Kip of the Victory Chimes will again be offering a mid-August four-day Irish Music cruise. The Celtic Cruise came about by chance several years ago, when a group of friends from Rhode Island came out on the Victory Chimes with instruments in tow. The group did informal jam sessions throughout the trip, and by doing so inspired a specialty cruise.

Guests are encouraged to show their Celtic pride on this lively, foot-stomping cruise. Passengers aren’t required to know how to play the whistle or bodhran, as guests with any musical ability – or none at all – are more than welcome to come aboard. Guests gather on deck in the evenings to enjoy a pint, play favorite Irish tunes, and tell favorite Irish tales, all in the company of friends new and old. Music and schooners have a long history together, and the Celtic Cruise is a perfect opportunity to enjoy both (August 16-20; $825).

Folk: Also in August, the Isaac H. Evans welcomes Hank Cramer, one of the Pacific Northwest’s best-loved folksingers. Armed with a booming bass voice, a slat-top guitar and a keen sense of humor, Hank has recorded 20 CDs and several music videos. Sea music is his special love. Given the popularity of Hank’s cruise last season, Captain Brenda looks forward to sharing him with guests again this summer (August 21-25; $760).

Steel Drums: Capping the season, the WoodenBoat Sail-In on September 9th will attract the entire fleet to Brooklin for festivities that include the acclaimed steel drum band, Flash in the Pans. Known for their ability to get people dancing, Flash in the Pans is one of the largest community steelbands in the United States and is in high demand throughout New England. Guests can tour the WoodenBoat School and Campus, enjoy steamed mussels and other snacks and dance to the tunes of Boomps, One O’Clock Jump and Jab Jab.

For the 150 other trips that don’t specifically feature music as a theme, guests can rest assured that live music and storytelling happen spontaneously on most trips. Guests jump in with vocals, if they’re inclined. Captain Garth of the Lewis R. French says his crew keeps their banjo, trumpet, guitar and mandolin handy for playing anything from Johnny Cash and Jimmy Cliff to sea shanties and blue grass, and guests are encouraged to bring their small, acoustic instruments along. In 2013 alone, we counted 28 different instruments plus a professional opera singer!

For more information about music cruises, visit

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