Boothbay Harbor Windjammer Days
What is a windjammer?A windjammer is a very special type of sailing ship! It is a schooner or sloop, that is defined by having multiple masts (generally two, though they can have more,) with the forward mast always being shorter than the rest.
A little historyHistorically, windjammers and other “tall ships” were used for trade. From Maine, they often ran up and down the east coast, all the way to the Caribbean, as well as across the ocean to Europe. They were once the backbone of trade! Nowadays, these windjammers are used for education and recreation: teaching about our coastal history, and providing fantastic experiences for those who sail on them!
One of the biggest traditions of sailing on a windjammer is “passengers as crew” – you may find yourself helping hoist the sails, or even steering the wheel! When you sail on a windjammer, you’re experiencing living history – experiencing something our ancestors have done for generations, as well as enjoying the sights and sounds of being on the water in Boothbay.
What to expect
There’s also a good chance you’ll see some of our local wildlife! Birds, seals, and whales are quite common around Boothbay, and you may find yourself meeting them up close!
There is also a pirate ship that comes in with the windjammers some years – if you see “pirate” anything on the schedule for the week, you can assume they brought their ship! They shoot off a cannon from the boat a few times over the week, including during the battle. It’s not as loud as fireworks, but it can make you jump if you’re not expecting it! They also, on occasion, fire off a response shot to the Yacht Club’s cannon (which they fire as part of colors) around sunset.
Some tips from a localIf you’re touring the Windjammers while they’re at the docks, bring a bag you can zip closed – you’ll be hands-free embarking and disembarking, and you won’t have to worry about dropping anything into the drink! Remember that the walking space below deck is narrow, so you’ll be more comfortable exploring with a smaller bag like a crossbody vs a backpack.
If you go out on a cruise, this is what we recommend bringing in that same zippered bag:
- Sunscreen! Remember that UV rays are reflected off the water, so you get even more sun exposure than if you were on land.
- Sunglasses, and a hat that fits securely on your head: half the fun of being out on a cruise is all the sights!
- An extra layer: once you get out on the water, and you’re moving with the breeze, it can feel a little cooler than it does on land (especially on a sunset cruise!)
- Your phone/camera! Take lots of pictures, and enjoy!
Even if you don’t visit us during Windjammer Days, you can still enjoy a Windjammer cruise! The Schooner Eastwind, Applejack, Tyrone, and Isaac H. Evans all call Boothbay their home port. If you want to see even more of Maine’s history on the water, check out the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath!
Some of the best spots to see the windjammers come into the harbor are restaurant decks! Our favorite views are from the tugboat top deck, fisherman’s inn deck, and the whale park. They parade in from the west side of the harbor (where all the shops are), so if you want to see them first, that’s the best place to be!
If you’re staying on Linekin Bay (like at Quiet Spot, Linekin Log, or CQ,) you’ll also see where the windjammers “bed down” overnight – if you’re home around sunset, or up around sunrise, you can get some gorgeous photos of them!
Photos courtesy of the local community, CCM, and the Windjammer Days Committee.