Windjamming Along the Coast of Maine – the Perfect Eco-Vacation
For those seeking a sustainable, responsible and ultimately memorable vacation, look no further than Maine Windjammer Association cruises
Midcoast Maine – Maine Windjammer Association (MWA) is the largest fleet of working windjammers in America. These vessels and their captains take pride in representing the longest-running eco-tourism industry on the coast. Travel by sail is without question a superior way to enjoy the natural bounty of Maine, and the eight member windjammers are proud of cruising Maine’s pristine coast without relying heavily upon fossil fuels. Association members go out of their way to support eco-friendly business practices, including weekly coastal cleanups, Leave No Trace certification and a commitment to protect Maine’s natural resources. In addition, each of these vessels are independently owned with a voracious commitment to historical preservation in all the physical details of the boats and the experience they offer. All of the MWA Captains have personally restored and maintain (or even built!) their own windjammers, generously passing along their knowledge and sharing resources amongst the fleet. Collectively, MWA captains maintain and sail the country’s largest fleet of historic sailing vessels, making them eco-entrepreneurs and small business owners all in one, not to mention stalwart marine historians too.
When it comes to shrinking the carbon footprint for vacationers, the Maine Windjammer Association prides itself on providing one of the most eco-friendly modes of transportation you can use to see and experience the iconic Maine coast. When you set sail on a windjammer, each traveler will consume less energy on their vacation than they have all year long. By harnessing the power of the wind, guests are smoothly transported along by this clean and quiet form of energy. While all of the association’s vessels do have either a diesel engine or yawl boat to help push them along, they rely primarily on wind power while cruising Maine’s coast. Propelled by this force of nature, you’ll experience the coast of Maine in the most relaxing yet invigorating way possible on a Maine Windjammer Association cruise.
By using wind power, the vessels’ average fuel consumption is only about one gallon per person per week of travel. As for electricity, a week-long windjammer cruise consumes about the same amount of energy that you’d use if you left a 60-watt porch light on for the week. Wondering how your delicious meals are cooked? Well, there aren’t any gas ranges or full ovens aboard. Galley kitchens are equipped with wood-burning or kerosene stoves, which also heat all the hot water for the vessel. Can you imagine cooking three meals a day for 20+ people without electricity? Our captains and their first mates are masters of this! A story in and of itself! (recipes included!)
Leave-No-Trace principles are taught to each guest and captains always leave the beaches cleaner than they found them by removing trash that washed ashore. They even bring their own firewood for their beachside lobster bakes.
“The guests participate in an ‘island clean-up’ as the crew prepares the lobster bake,” tells Captain Linda Lee of the schooner Heritage. “It’s not a bad trade-off in their minds – all-you-can-eat lobster in return for performing a good deed. It makes people feel they have helped keep Maine a special place – and they have.”
The eight Maine Windjammer Association vessels use alternative and renewable energy to accomplish tasks most people would consider unrealistic.
Specially themed Cruises
Nearly all of the themed cruises fit into the eco-tourism category. From whale watching to learning the history of Maine Lighthouses, each of our specialty cruises offers an eco-angle, with the wind an ever-present lesson in the force of nature in addition. Yet, here are some of the 2020 themed cruises that might be of particular interest to eco-travelers:
More than 40 iconic Maine lighthouses dot the coastline, islands, and peninsulas of Penobscot Bay. These Lighthouse Cruises take you to the harbors and past coastlines where lighthouses offer beautiful photo opportunities and stories of yesteryear when sailors depended upon these beautiful structures and their lightkeepers to help navigate the way home. No matter which vessel you sail on you are guaranteed to see one, if not more, of Maine’s lighthouses on your windjammer cruise. A couple of the vessels take lighthouse sightseeing to a more competitive level and attempt to bring you to as many as Mother Nature will permit.
All cruise dates take place during the 2020 sailing season:
- Angelique: Aug. 23 – 26 (3 nights), Sept. 27 – Oct. 1 (4 nights).
- Heritage: Aug. 20 – 24 (4 nights).
- Ladona: Aug. 29 – Sept. 1 (3 nights).
- Lewis R. French: Jun. 14 – 18 (4 nights).
- Mary Day: Jun. 16 – 20 (4 nights); Sept. 8 – 12 (4 nights).
- Stephen Taber: Sept. 6 – 12 (6 nights).
Body, Mind and Soul
Whether you hope to limber up your body, stretch your mind or reconnect with the soul of the sea, one of these cruises are perfect for you. As if relaxing on a windjammer for three to ten days wasn’t “zen” enough, some of the vessels of the fleet are offering yoga cruises this season that focus on yoga exercise, meditation, and soul-refreshing accompanied by healthy and supportive meals to help bring body, mind and soul back to center. All ages are encouraged to participate. Hiking and kayaking also contribute to wellness, and so we have them listed here, too!
- Angelique: Aug. 18 – 22 (4 nights).
- Lewis R. French: Jun. 2 – 6 (Hiking – 4 nights), Jun. 21 – 25 (4 nights), Aug. 19 – 24 (Kayaking – 5 nights).
- Victory Chimes: Aug 14-19 (5 night cruise with full moon first night).
Perseid Meteor Showers / Star Gazing
Not only will you connect with the sea and marine life that surrounds you on a windjammer, but these cruises allow the chance to try your hand at stargazing in skies unfettered with city lights. The maximum of the Perseid activity in 2020 is expected during the night of the 12th August 2020, with plenty of activity for days on both sides of that date. All eight vessels of the Maine Windjammer Association have cruises during this time. The vessels with the Perseids on their calendars are:
Wildlife and Naturalist Cruises
No one can guarantee a whale or puffin’s whereabouts, but schooner captains have a knack for finding humpback and minke whales and other fascinating sea and birdlife. Add in a naturalist to some of these cruises and you’ve got a living learning opportunity! From osprey and puffins, to seals and porpoises and sunfish to hundreds of uninhabited islands, a windjammer cruise with any of the eight vessels in the Maine Windjammer Association fleet offers ample opportunity for wildlife sightings and exploration. A few of the vessels have cruises dedicated to this aspect of sailing the Maine coast:
Learn the Adventure of Windjamming & Seamanship
Some of the most frequent questions we get are “Can I help drive the boat?”, “Can I take a turn at the helm?”, and “Will I bug the captain or first mate if I ask too many questions?” The answers are yes, yes, and no. All of the vessels will permit you to help sail the boat, conditions and time permitting, and the captains are ever-ready to answer any question you have about windjamming. A couple of the vessels in the fleet, however, make the educational aspect of sailing a core theme, going further in-depth to offer passengers the skills to one day walk in the captain’s shoes.
The 2020 Maine Windjammer Association season runs from mid-May to mid-October and each windjammer carries 20 to 40 guests. For more information about seeing Maine from the sea aboard a Maine Windjammer Association vessel visit Sailmainecoast.com. There are plenty of fabulous photos available for your review and use. You can start by looking at our online photo and video galleries. To be considered for a Maine Windjammer Association press trip, please contact Marti Mayne, PR Manager at 207-846-6331 or Marti@SailMaineCoast.com.