Sailing on a Maine Windjammer is not an ordinary cruise. The wind and weather determine the course. You will rarely find shops at a port of call and on-board activities are strictly BYO. But for us and for teen-aged Mary, our week on the Angelique was a great adventure
After boarding in Camden, Maine, we dropped our gear in our cabins. Fortunately, our duffel bags fit at the foot of our bunk beds, because these tiny compartments below the deck had no storage space, just a few hooks on the wall. But we didn’t plan to do anything but sleep there, and the bunks were really comfortable.
Before we headed back up on deck, Mary, seldom seen without her phone, made a final Facebook scan, switched it off and dropped it into her duffel, “I don’t expect I’ll have WiFi out there,” she laughed, “and I’d hate to drop it overboard.” So much for my worries about her being disconnected.
Life on a sailing ship quickly takes on its own pleasant rhythms, and we all found our favorite spots to read, talk with other passengers or just watch the shore and islands slide past. We spent most of our time on deck. When sails needed attention, we gave the crew a hand hauling lines. Mary’s favorite job was standing on the flat roof of the deckhouse, furling Angelique’s red sails — a job she became quite skilled at.
There were two other teens on board, and the three played rummy occasionally, but for the most part everyone hung out with their own families, which seemed why people had chosen a Windjammer cruise.
Meals on Board
It didn’t take Mary long to make friends with the cook, and she was soon helping chop potatoes for chowder and making salads in the dining room, where we ate family-style breakfast and dinner. Meals were plentiful and tasty, made from locally produced meats, vegetables and seafood — Angelique supports local farms and fishermen in provisioning for its cruises.
Buffet lunches were served on deck: creamy fish chowder and hot biscuits, hearty salads, grilled chicken and sausages, smoked salmon, cheeses, fresh fruit and fresh-baked cookies and bars. As we passed the window of the tiny galley we wondered how all this bounty could be prepared in such a tight space.
Each day brought a new landfall: an island village with a few crafts studios and an ice cream stand, EB White’s boathouse where he wrote his books and the beach of an uninhabited island where we spent an evening eating lobster around a campfire. An island clambake is a staple feature of almost all Windjammer cruises, an idyllic long summer evening with a glorious sunset.
Shore stops, however, are not the main events. Sailing is. There is nothing like flying along the water under full sail, no engine sounds, just the wind in the sails and the slap of waves. The romance of that hooked us all, from the teens to the great-grandparents on board.
What to Expect
There are few frills on a Windjammer. You won’t need dressy clothes — jeans, shorts and T-shirts, with a sweatshirt and rain gear, are the standard dress. Hats and sunscreen, because there’s not much shade on deck, rubber-soled shoes and something warm to sleep in pretty much does it for clothes. Bring reading material, games (there are some on board already) and your own travelers’ tales to share with other passengers. Angelique is one of only a few Windjammers that welcome younger teens or children. The Isaac H. Evans is another exception, and welcomes families with young children, as well. Some Windjammers set aside certain sailings as family cruises. You can get information on these and others from the Maine Windjammer Association.
As the new year quickly approaches, family travelers are busy making lots of plans for a year of great travel and a healthier 2024. And what better way to combine the two than with a beautiful hike through nature at one of California’s most beloved state parks?
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If you haven’t heard of Light & Nine, you’ve been missing out on great travel gear designed by a mom with kids in mind. The line of duffels with side shoe compartments, roller bags, backpacks and garment bags come in fun colors including Blossom Pink and Bistro Green. Made from easy-to-care-for perforated materials, they also come with Nimix characters and motifs, so your small travelers can customize their travel gear with movable/removable icons ranging from race cars to rocket ships, skateboards to paper dolls, rainbows to unicorns.