Last week I finally sailed on a tall ship, something I’ve been yearning to do for 10 years now. My god it was fantastic!! So authentic, romantic, and exciting all at the same time, nothing compares to it. Except perhaps sailing on an even bigger, older tall ship (something I intend to do). The creaking of the ship, the sound of the wind and ocean (sans motor), the authenticity of the ship and the work needed to power her, the heel under strong winds… it was heavenly. And to top it all off, we even joined a schooner regatta!
My first tall ship adventure was on board the gaff rigged, New England schooner known as the Grace Bailey. She is a National Historic Landmark, built in 1882 for trade, made voyages to the West Indies, and even carried granite to NYC to help with the construction of Grand Central Station. We departed from and returned to Camden, Maine, and sailed around the many islands of Penobscot Bay. We had great weather most of the week with strong enough winds to heel the ship at times.
This adventure was hosted by Captain Ray Williamson, owner of the schooners Grace Bailey, Mercantile, and Mistress, and his fantastic crew. Here is more information on Captain Ray’s company, Maine Windjammer Cruises, including a history of all the ships, a scrapbook, available tours, etc. I should also give a proper plug to Dexter Donham at Sailing Ship Adventures for helping me find Captain Ray. Dexter has a fantastic lineup of ships if you’re interested in tall ship sailing.
Here are some photos and videos of her Grace:
And her fantastic crew (I’m not really part of the crew :P):
The coast of Maine was peaceful and picturesque:
We enjoyed 3 wonderful meals a day, homemade from scratch, cooked in/on a vintage wood-burning cast iron oven/stove. We also enjoyed an authentic lobster bake and “captain’s bar-b-que.” There were so many great meals… these pictures don’t do them justice:
We joined up with the Camden Windjammer Fleet for the Maine Windjammer Association’s Great Schooner Race regatta. The oldest ship in the fleet, and coincidentally the oldest surviving schooner in the United States, is the Lewis R. French, built in 1871. Not only did we get a chance to see every ship in the Camden Windjammer Fleet, but we also cheered for our crew during a small boats race:
Here are some photos of us passengers helping out around the ship:
And it just so happens that Camden, Maine is a charming little town as well: