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The Future of Windjammer Trips in Maine: Wisdom from Maine Windjammer Captains

The scenes surrounding us may have changed; more masks and a few more feet between us,  but we’re still the same Maine windjammers you know, love, and (in many cases) miss. With a season like no other now under our belt, the Maine Windjammer Association fleet is looking toward 2021 with anticipation and optimism. We can’t thank our readers and guests enough for the support throughout a very difficult season. It’s been our lifeblood as most of us had to watch from ashore while a few of us sailed off during the second part of the summer.

The Maine Windjammer Association spends the winter planning for the next season.  Without knowing what’s in store, we can only hope that travelers will seek the kind of outdoor, nature-filled, safe eco-experience that our Maine windjammers can offer.  Far from the politics, news and uncertainties we’ve faced this  year, the captains of the Maine Windjammer Association are betting that travelers will seek the wind-on-your-face, star-filled nights, scratch cooked meals, let-the-wind-guide-us trips that they offer.

We asked the captains of the Maine Windjammer Association how they foresee the future of windjammer trips in Maine, and their answers will provide some real insight into your trip  planning for next summer.

Noah and Jane BarnesFrom Captain Noah and Jane Barnes of the Schooner Stephen Taber & co-owners of Schooner Ladona:

“As the only members of the Maine Windjammer Association to operate in 2020, we proved that it’s possible to sail, and enjoy the fresh breeze while keeping guests happy, well fed and safe. Our biggest takeaway: What we offer is an exceptional value. To be able to experience firsthand the enthusiasm and gratitude of our guests was humbling. We have never been more confident in the quality of the product we offer.

We predict that these qualities will grow in appeal for those seeking an alternative to standard vacation options. 2020 proved to us that operating is both enjoyable and practicable. It is more costly and takes more effort to pull off- but it is worthwhile. While large capacity cruise ships remain mothballed, we predict micro cruises like our vessels will be the best option for next summer.”

Lewis R. French owners and familyFrom Captain Garth Wells and Jenny Tobin of the Schooner Lewis R. French:

“Windjamming can happen safely – two boats did it successfully this year with a limited number of guests. Requiring people to get tested worked! Requiring negative Covid tests and  masks worn at times are also both very doable. Everybody is used to wearing masks now so although that seemed  too restrictive before, we’re all so used to it now. And the testing is quicker and more available now. We can do this in 2021!”

From John Foss, Captain of the American Eagle:

John Foss, American EagleWe have always kept the American Eagle cleaner than she ever was during her first half century career as a New England fishing schooner. Running water, fans and reading lights in every cabin, comfortable foc’sle and main cabin for gathering, room on deck for people and boats, small boats for sailing in harbors or exploring ashore are all part of our experience and can still be accomplished.  Our food is scratch made on board and served on deck as often as possible.  Small group sailing will be the real deal in 2021,  meeting the challenges of the new reality of post Covid safeguards. We need to do this for all our sakes!”

From Captain Dennis Gallant and Candace Kuchinski, of the windjammer Angelique:

“We would like nothing more than a return to how we were sailing a year ago, and we do think we will, eventually, but no one knows if that will be possible for next season.  This pandemic has taught us to be flexible and take things day by day.  We hear a lot about the “new normal”, and we are beginning to see this concept taking hold as wearing a mask is now commonplace, hand sanitizer is available everywhere, and people are getting comfortable with such precautions, making travel reasonably safe again. 

Dennis and CandaceThankfully, we put in the work this year to establish safety protocols for overnight windjammers, and we will use these protocols to guide us into next season, if we are still living with COVID by summer.  These protocols include plated meals instead of buffet style, wearing a mask when social distancing cannot be maintained like in the small boats and down below, having hand sanitizer and wash stations readily available, and enhanced cleaning during and in between trips. 

If the virus is not under control in this country by the time we sail next year, we would take safety a step further and require negative COVID tests of all guests regardless of where they are from, as well as testing the crew regularly.  We are hopeful that effective rapid testing will make this easy for guests to do.  By next summer, we do think we will be able to visit all of the villages, harbors, and remote places we usually like to visit because we now know we can keep the residents safe by wearing a mask and maintaining social distance. 

One day we will return to windjamming as we knew it, but if that is not meant to be in the near future, we are ready to be flexible, put safety protocols in place, and let people know that we offer an outside, airy, remote, small group, escape-from-the-world vacation for them, when they are ready.” 

All of the Maine Windjammer Association fleet are planning to be in the water with a full schedule of cruises for 2021.  All schedules are online at each of the windjammers’ websites.  Be sure to book directly with the boat you’re planning to sail on next summer.

Maine Windjammer Association, America’s largest windjammer fleet

American Eagle: 1-800-648-4544

Special Events for 2021Angelique: 1-800-282-9989

Heritage: 1-800-648-4544

Lewis R. French: 1-800-469-4635

Mary Day: 1-800-992-2218

Stephen Taber & Ladona: 1-800-999-7352

Victory Chimes: 1-800-745-5651

Photos by:

Bob Trapani, Capt Bob Tassi, Marjorie Gallant, courtesy of Schooner Lewis R French and Schooner Stephen Taber

Categories: Cruises, Maine Windjammers


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