Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best of 2012: Maine's Tall Ships Gather At Rockland

By Maine Author Doug Mills
Mary Day
Once again I find myself on one of the tall ships of the Maine Windjammer Association.  Today I will sail on Angelique from Camden to the 2012 Windjammer Parade in Rockland Maine.  As we push off from the dock and head out into Penobscot Bay we pass the Mercantile and the Grace Bailey, two of the original windjammers.  Here in Rockland and Camden we tend to take these grand old sailing ships for granted.  All summer long they sail in and out of the islands of Penobscot Bay. But, if it had not been for the efforts of one man most of these historic boats would be nothing more than a fond memory in the minds of a few old men
“Summer "windjamming" on the Maine coast began in the 1930s when Frank Swift of Bucksport observed the rapidly vanishing sailing coasting trade and conceived the idea of carrying passengers for hire during the summer months. It was a concept similar to the "dude ranch" concept in the American west and was the first time "the concept of operating, adaptive use of a historic vessel was applied to maritime preservation."[48]

By the time Swift began his operations with the 1881 schooner Annie F. Kimball, sail on the Maine coast had "all but lost its commercial viability,"[49] but by 1939 Swift had a waiting list for his fleet of three schooners and by 1948 had nine vessels operating out of Camden.[50] In the late thirties he advertised one or two week cruises:
These schooners are not yachts--just picturesque down-east sailing vessels, clipper-bowed and able, with billowing sails and hempen rigging. Each Monday, from July 4th until September 10th, the Annie Kimball and the Lydia Webster will sail from Camden, Maine for a week's cruise-- not to follow an exact itinerary but to use the winds and tides to make the cruise most interesting.[51]
Maine Windjammer Association Windjammer Parade 2012
There are now some eighteen schooners operating in Maine waters during the summer months. Seven of these have been designated National Historic Landmarks, and like Victory Chimes and a few other historic vessels, are an "adaptive re-use" of a vessel. Some, like the schooner Heritage, built in Rockland in 1983, are a modern version of a traditional type, carrying "the only cargo that loads and unloads itself." [Schooner Victory Chimes National Historic Landmark Study by Nicholas Dean and edited by Kevin J. Foster, 1997 Designated September 25, 1997]

Front row seats for all.

 Today was a day to celebrate Frank Swift and the legacy that he has left us.  Today the industry that Frank Swift started in 1935 is not only still around but a thriving industry!  Oh that Frank could see what has become of his idea.  Today nearly 20 of these graceful ships met and preformed a ballet like no other!  Words can not do this event justice, so, enjoy this photo gallery.
Heritage and Nathaniel Bowditch
Nathaniel Bowditch off the bow.

Harvey Gamage


Always lots of great food onboard these ships!


Keeping our sailing heritage alive and well into the future!

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