The MaineSail Journal
Camden Windjammer Festival
By Doug Mills
It's 1936 and the world is reeling from the great depression. If necessity is the mother of invention than hard times must be the father. A young man by the name of Frank Swift moved to Maine in 1935 with his new bride. Things were hard and they barely made ends meet that first winter. Through that long cold winter Frank worked on an idea. In the spring he leased a schooner and converted it to carry passengers on week long sailing trips much like the "dude ranches" in the west. By the start of the third season he was sailing three schooners and "windjamming" on the coast of Maine was taking off. His love of sailing and the call of the sea had created a whole new industry that 75 years later is still thriving! This weekend nearly 20 schooners met in Camden, Maine to celebrate the industry the industry that Frank Swift had created during the dark days of the great depression. Over 1200 years of sailing heritage in the harbor where it all started, Camden, Maine.
A full weekend of celebration began on Friday with the arrival of the fleet, tall ships ranging in age from 25 to 141 years of sailing. The weekends events include: Maritime Heritage Fair: Booths and displays of maritime history, traditions and skills, a lobster crate race, water rescue demonstrations, open house on the historic schooners and of course pirates. There was a wedding onboard the schooner Mary Day which celebrated her 50th year of sailing this weekend. A little rain on Sunday, but it cleared for the fireworks over the harbor.