What do I need to know about coming to Maine & sailing season 2020? Your questions answered
As of July 1 Maine’s Governor Janet Mills will allow overnight cruises to begin. Windjammers throughout Maine had to await the outset of Stage 3 in Maine’s re-opening plan, plus guidance/checklists from the Dept of Marine Resources specifically for windjammers and Dept of Economic Development for restaurants and lodging (yes, we are required to follow all three!) in order to proceed with the 2020 summer season. Now, with those key elements in place, the Maine Windjammer Association can begin its season, moving ahead with caution, new standards and procedures for cleaning, and most of all with care for the wellness of passengers and crew. Six of the Maine Windjammer Association boats have opted to sit the season out, awaiting a COVID-19 vaccine. Only the Schooner Stephen Taber and Schooner Ladona are sailing in 2020. All of the Maine Windjammer Association fleet have 2021 schedules posted on their own websites and on the cruise search tool located on the home page of SailMaineCoast.com.
Most importantly, the Maine Windjammer Association simply must insist that anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should stay at home and reschedule their Maine Windjammer Association trip. Captains will work with you to find alternative dates.
Of course, with new requirements come questions from our visitors about what’ll change and what they need to do in order to be allowed to travel to Maine. The Maine Windjammer Association has received many questions about what “the new normal” will look like. We’ll do our best to answer questions you might have below.
What are the requirements for out of state travelers to come to Maine?
Recently, Maine’s Governor Mills issued a “Keep Maine Healthy” plan as part of the re-opening process. Designed to protect the health of Maine residents and out-of-state visitors from the risk of COVID-19, it requires out-of-state visitors to attest to a negative COVID-19 test result within 72-hours of travel or to quarantine in Maine for 14 days prior to staying in a hotel or boarding a windjammer. The plan initially exempted visitors from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont from the testing and quarantine then added Connecticut, New York and New Jersey to the list of states that are exempt from the testing and quarantine list at the end of June, after this bog was written. However, out of an abundance of caution, the captains of the Stephen Taber and Ladona are asking all passengers sailing this summer to attest to a negative COVID-19 test, just to ensure the safety of all on board. The captain and crew will be testing on a regular basis too.
How do I get a COVID-19 test?
The guidance from the Governor’s office strongly suggests that out-of-state visitors should be tested and get results in their own home states within 72 hours of their arrival in Maine. Governor Janet Mills suggests that testing is ramping up throughout the United States, so it’s getting easier and easier to be tested. Yet, to facilitate testing, the state of Maine has added “Swab and Send” testing sites throughout Maine where anyone will be able to be tested without a doctor’s order. Click here for a complete list of testing sites with a standing order for Maine’s visitors.
Please note that if you get tested in your home state but have not yet received results before leaving for Maine, you can still come, but you will need to quarantine in a Maine lodging property until you can attest to a negative COVID-19 test result.
In addition, also note with your planning that you will need to make an appointment at all testing sites and that results may take anywhere from 24 hours to a number of days.
If visitors are tested in Maine, they will be required to quarantine in Maine until results are received. Once a negative result is received, they may attest to the result and board the windjammers. Thus, if windjammer passengers chose to be tested in Maine, the timing for getting results will need to be considered when planning arrival dates.
Visitors may quarantine in a Maine lodging property but may not visit any shared spaces within the lodging property or other public buildings. The Hawthorn Inn, a beautiful property in Camden Maine located within steps of the harbor and the windjammers docks, has offered Maine Windjammer Association passengers a 20% “quarantine discount” while they await results. In addition, Ted and Lisa, the Hawthorn Inn innkeepers will serve guests’ breakfast in their rooms and will happily deliver take-out meals to comply with the quarantine requirements. Simply identify yourself as a Maine Windjammer Association passenger and which boat you’ll be sailing on or add the coupon code “WIND” if booking online when you make your reservation at https://camdenhawthorn.com.
Is there an alternative to testing for me to sail this summer?
As an alternative, out-of-state visitors may choose to quarantine in Maine for 14 days prior to visiting any public places. This essentially means visitors must stay in their own home or a friend/family members’ home for two weeks prior to visiting any public places or windjammers in Maine. Attesting to either a negative COVID-19 test or the 14 day quarantine is the only way visitors will be allowed to stay in Maine until further notice.
What happens once I get my test results? Do you need to see it?
Visitors need only attest that they have a negative COVID-19 test when they arrive to stay in Maine. Visitors will be asked to print and present the Certificate of Compliance for Maine Visitors before boarding the windjammer. Captains are required to keep these forms on file for 30 days. Due to HIPAA laws, you will not be required to show the actual test results to the captain and crew; simply attest that you have received the result. Should contact tracing or other reasons to see the test become necessary, the CDC or other agencies have the right to request the actual test results. An inability to show the test result if asked is considered a violation of the executive order and is punishable by a fine and possibly time in jail. That’s not anything we’d wish for our windjammer passengers.
Will everyone on board be tested?
The Keep Maine Healthy Plan stipulates that Maine residents, along with visitors from New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Vermont are exempt from the testing and quarantine requirement. However, out of an abundance of caution this summer, Captain Noah Barnes and J.R. Braugh are requiring all passengers to attest to a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival. This is one way to best ensure safety for all passengers and crew, and to reassure everyone on board that windjammer cruises will be safe this summer.
What are the windjammers doing to insure cleanliness and safety on board?
The Maine Windjammer Association fleet, along with all windjammers in Maine are required to follow the state-mandated guidelines from the Dept of Economic Development for lodging and also for restaurants. Additionally, the Dept of Marine Resources has also issued a checklist specifically for windjammers. Maine Windjammer Association boats will be meeting all three requirements in addition to the Coast Guard regulations the boats are licensed to follow. As you can imagine, these checklists and rules and regs have taken an already high standard for windjammers to an even higher ground. Cleaning protocols have been stepped up in cabins, on board, in shared spaces, in galleys and throughout the ship. Expect heads and showers, railings, stairways and more to be cleaned often throughout the day. In addition, extra hand washing sinks are being added, hand sanitizer will be available throughout the ship and some captains are even considering everything from ultra-violet light cleaning to use of ozone generators. This will vary from boat to boat, but all of the ships in the fleet will be complying with the stepped up guidelines from the CDC and state. To encourage social distancing, you might expect to enjoy dining on deck more often. In addition, look forward to being served meals rather than passing dishes family style and sharing utensils, condiments, and more.
The Maine Windjammer Association promise was developed to reassure passengers of fleet-wide safety and cleanliness standards and dedication to the wellness of our guests and crews. It also outlines many of the new protocols. Read about the promise made to keep windjammer passengers safe and additional information on the Maine Windjammer Association COVID-19 page here.
Also, please note that each boat has developed a plan in the event that any crew or passenger starts to show symptoms of COVID-19 while underway. That person would be immediately quarantined in a cabin held for such purposes and then immediately transported to land for medical care.
What about masks? Do we need them?
The guidelines stipulate that masks are required to be worn in common areas below deck when social distancing is not possible. You can expect to be asked to wear masks when riding in small boats ashore, perhaps in galleys when not eating, or when gathered as a group with other passengers on the dock. Expect to also see crews and captains wearing masks alongside their passengers when social distancing can’t be maintained.
Fear not! Your days will still be spent sailing from one beautiful anchorage to another. Captains will shy away from coastal towns this summer, opting instead for stunning uninhabited islands to hike and explore. Most importantly, the traditional lobster bakes you’ve come to know, and love will still happen on each trip. (Photo by Georges Kahy)
Are all the boats in the fleet sailing this summer? When will they start their trips?
Out of an abundance of caution, six of the Maine Windjammer Association fleet have cancelled their 2020 sailing season. The Stephen Taber and Ladona will be sailing this summer. Be sure to check with the boat of your choice for up-to-date schedules, for 2020 and even 2021 as they are constantly shifting, especially this year.
What will you do to maintain the traditional windjammer sailing joy?
We want to assure you that all of the comradery, fabulous food, gorgeous scenery, swimming, small boat experiences and starlit nights have not been impacted by the pandemic. Everything you love most about windjammer trips – from unscripted itineraries to spotting seals, porpoises and the occasional whale will still be part of your trip. You will still help to raise and lower sails, yawl boats and awnings – you just may be 6-feet from the next passenger or crew member. We may add an ocassional mask to the windjammer experience, but you can’t take the thrill of a 15-knot wind or the sighting of a whale out of the experience. Maine windjammers have survived through world wars, flu pandemics, recessions and more. They’ve had to reinvent themselves from cargo to passenger ships. Windjammer captains are a clever and very industrious lot. The Maine Windjammer Association fleet will weather this pandemic and continue to offer one of the most unique unplugged travel experiences available.
Feel free to contact info@SailMaineCoast.com if there are additional questions that have not been answered here. We look forward to sailing with you this summer or next. Be sure to contact the windjammer of your choice to make reservations.
Maine Windjammer Association, America’s largest windjammer fleet
American Eagle: 1-800-648-4544
Lewis R. French: 1-800-469-4635
Mary Day: 1-800-992-2218
Victory Chimes: 1-800-745-5651
(Photo by Richard Ball)