A 3-Day Tall Ship Cruise in Camden, Maine

Sunset and the schooner Mary Day

Sunset and the schooner Mary Day

For our 26th anniversary, my husband Cam and I returned to our favorite tall ship: the Mary Day, one of nine in the fleet of Maine Windjammers. This was my third time with Captain Barry King and crew, and Cam’s second time. Once again, we had the experience of a lifetime, reliving the way the world was before cell phones and electricity (although our cabins had battery-operated lights for reading in our cozy head-to-head bunks). The galley crew (truly amazing!), head chef Leslie Cook and mess mate Maija cooked all our meals, including homemade bread on a wood stove. Leslie gained her experience at the Four Seasons in Hawaii and also worked the push boat.

25% off this summer:
For the rest of this summer (through August), Captains Barry and Jen are offering a 25% discount on three- and four-day cruises aboard the
Mary Day. Just use the code JohnnyJet25.

 

Cam rowing on the rowboat from the schooner Mary Day

Cam rowing on the rowboat from the schooner Mary Day

The huge ice chest towards the stern was stocked with ice and the guests’ favorite beer, soft drinks and wine, and the deck is set with green director’s chairs ready for the smooth sailing ahead. (As I write this, my “sea legs” have returned!) I love love love being on the open sea aboard a ship with a captain and crew I fully trust. Our only job was to relax, forget about the cell phone, and help hoist and bring down the sails twice a day. I can’t explain the feeling of total relaxation because I don’t experience it very often.

We opted for the three-day sail, which was a perfect way to get a taste of it, but it really wasn’t enough for me. As we entered Camden Harbor to return to the real world, I practically begged Captain Barry to turn around and go back out in the open sea (really Penobscot Bay).

Cam and Saphrona on the sails

Cam and Saphrona on the sails

I was actually a little disappointed that we didn’t get the rain predicted. There’s something very exciting about being exposed to the elements of nature, yet feeling secure in a wooden vessel, too. The weather was ideal, with great wind. My days were spent enjoying the views of the islands, reading a book and even taking a turn on the wheel under the precise tutelage of the captain (and even his 16-year-old daughter Courtney—”Nadie”—who sailed on our first trip 11 years ago). The nights were spent under the orange canvas awning or in the saloon playing a board game with other passengers. Sometimes we were treated to music as most of the crew played the guitar or some other instrument. Maija played a Norwegian hardanger fiddle.

The trip

Top bunk in Cabin 6

Top bunk in Cabin 6

Our first night onboard the Mary Day was spent docked in the idyllic and quiet harbor of Camden. This was a time to get acquainted with the guests that we would get to know quite well sharing meals and a boat with for the next 72 hours. We met Jen, Captain Barry’s better half and a captain as well. There were hors d’ oeuvres and mocktails and then time for the old “car-park,” a caravan of cars to be securely stowed in a boat warehouse while we were off sailing.

Rhumb Line's rum punch

Rhumb Line’s rum punch

The first night Cam and I had dinner at a new restaurant in town on the dock called the Rhumb Line, named after a sailing term used for navigation. It’s a casual and popular spot where lobsters, mussels, fish chowder, and a killer rum punch are served. It was a great way to start our vacation.

Schooner Mary Day

Schooner Mary Day

Back on the dock in homeport we got ready for bed, grabbed books and headed to our cozy cabin. It was already a very different night than our usual one back home with TVs and computers, not to mention a dog and cats. I did miss the critters!

Mate Paul rowing Rosey

Mate Paul rowing Rosey

In the morning we were greeted with coffee and tea served atop the vessel as we quietly awoke to the sounds of seabirds and the town waking up. Soon we would be on our way, but we had one more chance to peruse Camden to get last-minute provisions (sunscreen, bottle water, beer, a rain hat?). Cam and I actually attempted to do the town hike of Mount Battie, but turned around halfway as we didn’t want to “miss the boat”!

Looking out from the schooner Mary Day

Looking out from the schooner Mary Day

Our crew was so friendly and helpful. All aboard were willing to teach us anything we wanted to learn about sailing or our wooden schooner, which was built in 1962. And of course they really appreciated any assistance we offered, like using our muscles to pull up sails, make ice, coil ropes, and even do dishes.

What a tribute to the captain to have returning crew and the majority of the passengers as returning guests. This sort of trip attracts laid-back people who enjoy being in nature and community.

Kitchen staff cook Leslie and mess mate Maija

Kitchen staff cook Leslie and mess mate Maija

Breakfast, lunch and dinner were introduced by beautiful Maija singing a Norwegian song and announcing each upcoming meal before we descended the graduated steps to the galley. The guests (on this cruise there were 15 guests, but the Mary Day can hold 28) took their places around one of three tables, eating home-cooked meals served in a family style. Dinner on the second night was an abundance of roasted vegetables including summer squash, garlic scapes, zucchini, onions, beets, mashed potatoes, prime rib, salad with mustard seed vinaigrette, and homemade whole grain bread. Dessert was homemade ice cream hand-churned by the guests—including my husband Cam.

Friends on a Mary Day rowboat

Friends on a Mary Day rowboat

Breakfasts were also feasts: egg strata, bacon, blueberry muffins, granola and yogurt, and fresh fruit. Coffee and tea were available during the sail.

Lobster Island

Lobster bake a la schooner Mary Day

Lobster bake a la schooner Mary Day

The most memorable meal was the lobster bake, where we sailed to “Lobster Island” (Captain Barry’s secret uninhabited spot). Here we all carefully climbed down the rope ladder into the Rosey and Ana, rowboats that fit 6-8 guests each—including a rower in mates Saphrona, Paul or Tony. (As it turns out, Saphrona was with us on our first Mary Day cruise 11-years ago!)

A perfect sailing day

A perfect sailing day

Once at the island we “made camp” by putting down a beach towel and then going off to explore. I found sea urchins abandoned by seagulls or eagles and mussel shells covering the moss-laden interior. In this quiet place, we spotted a bald eagle and a seal eyeing us from the water. How cool!

Sea urchin, mussel shell and pine cone on moss on Lobster Island

Sea urchin, mussel shell and pine cone on moss on Lobster Island

Back on the beach, Captain Barry and his crew were busy making and tending the pots filled with potatoes, corn, seaweed from the beach, and of course the lobsters. As if that weren’t enough, they also provided hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, cheese and crackers, and watermelon.

Coffee atop the Mary Day

Coffee atop the Mary Day

We were encouraged to eat lots of lobsters, and some guests actually put down three. We were told the record was 12! (With melted butter, eating these lobsters really wasn’t that difficult of a task.) After iced spice cake, we somehow got back in the boats and gradually left the island to get our sail underway as the sun began to set. Captain Barry and the crew sailed us to a secluded cove where we all helped to furl the sails and help put up the orange awning. The crew then lit gas lamps and we either sat on deck and drank our favorite beverages or went down below to the galley to play cards and listen to the crew play guitar. Some went back to their cabins to curl up with books as the rolling ship lulled everybody to sleep.

The trip ends…

Cam and I celebrating our anniversary

Cam and I celebrating our anniversary

The next morning, Cam and I went for a row and finally plunged into the chilly Maine water for a quick swim and shower on deck. Life is good on the Mary Day!

Sunset on the Mary Day

Sunset on the Mary Day

As we began the end of our 73-mile voyage, I realized that there’s nothing more peaceful to me than being under full sail with nothing at all to do but relax and recharge my body and soul. Each day had a different flavor, depending on what Mother Nature gave us, and each day was met by the same enthusiasm and excitement by the crew and guests.

I can’t wait to go back I’d even like to go back this year, but I’ll most likely have to wait until next!

Booking a trip

Fun times on the Mary Day

Fun times on the Mary Day

Most people book the next summer before they leave the boat, guaranteeing the cabin they want. There are also special sailing weeks, like Great Schooner Race week, Naturalist week and Fall Foliage week. The Mary Day sails from May 24 through September 30, and there are heating vents in the cabins for cooler weather (a wood stove makes the cabins toasty). There are single cabins and double-bed cabins along with the majority of bunkbed cabins (some of which have three bunks! Prices start at $675 for three, and more for the four- and six-day sails. 

25% off this summer:
For the rest of this summer (through August), Captains Barry and Jen are offering a 25% discount on three- and four-day cruises aboard the
Mary Day. Just use the code JohnnyJet25.

 


For more on sailing the Mary Day, visit schoonermaryday.com.

 

Georgie Jet

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About the Author

Georgie Jet
Hi, I'm Georgette, a writer and artist based in Connecticut and Vermont. I'm also Johnny Jet’s older sister, who quite possibly ignited his first spark of interest in traveling to exotic places, when at the impressionable age of 14, he saw my two-week trip to Australia last four years! Whether skiing in the mountains, snorkeling in the tropics, or exploring faraway cities, I'm always game for traveling and the privilege of writing for my baby brother's website JohnnyJet.com. Of course, coming home to my husband Cam, our dog Baci, and my two cats Ace and Chammy is great, too! Check out my site on pet-friendly travel at dogandcatfriendlytravel.com and my art at georgettepaintings.com.

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