You might say Doug Lee was born into the windjamming trade. A tried and true Mainer, he grew up in West Bath, Maine and followed his father to visit rundown windjammers with the dream of one day restoring and owning one. As a young boy on trips to Rockland with his Dad, he spied windjammer
Last winter, Doug and Linda Lee – captains of the Schooner Heritage – were on cloud nine. They had just announced the imminent sale of the windjammer and were excited about their swan song 2020 season. After decades of successful windjamming, Doug and Linda were going to sail off into retirement after a nostolgic final season. Then came March, and the Coronavirus pandemic put the brakes on sailing aboard Schooner Heritage or any other windjammer in Maine this spring, just as summer vacation plans began to formulate among passengers. Joining their fellow captains at the Maine Windjammer Association – America’s largest fleet of working windjammers – Doug and Linda are navigating the COVID-19 hurricane of stormy seas in the challenge of their lifetimes with colleagues who collectively represent centuries of maritime experience. Normally friendly competitors, this stalwart fleet of captains is dedicated to salvaging their sailing season by working together to develop new standards for this unique industry in Maine.
Just as the currents and tides ebb and flow, so does the news of the day. However, unlike nature’s balance on the seas, the news has tended to flow in all one direction lately. One thing we know with all the certainty is that the tides will change and someday the present fear of viruses will wane. We also know with equal certainty that once it’s safe to travel again, a windjammer vacation will be exactly what eco-travelers will carve. The chance to surround yourself with nature’s beauty, fresh food and the feeling of movement across the bay with boat and wind in balance will be the most soothing experience imaginable.
Normally at this time the buzz in the air wouldn’t be solely from the sanders and crews painting and building, but also a quieter energy of anticipation and the joy of starting another sailing season for the Maine Windjammer Association fleet. Yet, the vibe is quite different this year, as captains and crews find themselves distancing six feet apart to varnish, epoxy and paint. The anticipation of the 2020 sailing season feels wholly different this year as the members of the Maine Windjammer Association find themselves in the grip of the pandemic that faces our nation and the world this spring.