Mar 26, 2018

Traveling on a Windjammer

 Did you ever feel the call of the sea? Or, feel the need to do something different? I did and you can, too.  This is the time of the year to plan your summer adventure.  Think out of the box. 

Somewhere in my distant educational past I had to memorize – and never forgot - the first few lines from John Masefield’s “Sea Fever:” 

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by…

John and I booked a five-day sail on a windjammer. I wanted the experience to be as authentic as possible so I chose the Grace Bailey, a windjammer that is a National Historic Landmark. In Camden, Maine, my husband and I boarded the ship and were shown to our cabin. The double bed took up the most of the room save for a small space by the door. Accommodations were small but then it was just for sleeping. 

“Rattle those pots and pans…” is not from Masefield’s “Sea Fever” but from the song, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll.” It was the first thing that came to mind when I work up at 4:30 a.m. the first morning.  Our cabin was near the kitchen and since the Grace Bailey is true to the era, meals are cooked on a big cast
iron, wood burning stove. All that banging in the kitchen ended up in an excellent, hearty breakfast. After breakfast, with the help of a push boat we put out to sea and learned that passengers are really the crew!  Divided into two groups, we were instructed in the way to raise the sails. “Ready on the Throat. Ready on the Peak. Haul Away. Two-six heave. Two steps toward me. Drop the line.” 

The first night we “rafted up” with other windjammers, which
allowed us to go from boat to boat meeting other “sailors.”  One day we docked at the quaint little town of Stonington.  Gotta’ love Maine humor.  One sign on the dock reads: “Two Hour Birthing Limit…” and the one next to it, “No Sea Sextions.” 

It was a real learning experience. Flushing the toilet was like driving a stick shift car. Foot on the floor pedal and keep shifting!  We got our exercise in the shower by using the floor pump to make the water flow.  Raising and lowering the sails
became a routine part of the day. During the heavy morning fog we took turns blowing the conch shell – the early foghorn. Masefield wrote, “And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.” Sailing in the fog was an ethereal experience.

One evening we anchored near Hen Island and went ashore for the most awesome lobster bake cooked on the beach. Never has lobster and corn on the cob tasted so good.  The days took on a sublime ambiance. No cell phones, no computers, no Internet, no television - just a wonderful sense of freedom and adventure. The days slipped by too fast. We were lucky because the weather was incredible.  There was plenty of time while sailing to
be mesmerized by the sea. Leaving the Grace Bailey I remembered another Masefield line, “I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life…” 

Give it a try, it is only five days.  It will be an adventure you will never forget.