Labor Day Weekend
Due to the ongoing pandemic situation in Maine and beyond, the 2021 Camden Windjammer Festival has been cancelled.
Every day is a day to celebrate Maine’s windjammers and schooners and we look forward to celebrating their heritage on Camden’s waterfront Labor Day weekend 2022.
Most importantly, we hope you will join us in welcoming them back on Penobscot Bay this summer, as they venture out to sail once again and welcome guests to join them. For more information, check out the information below.
Story telling from captains and sailors
Tales of boats and the seas
Every Labor Day weekend during Camden Windjammer Festival, command of the harbormaster’s favorite deck chair is turned over to nautical historian Capt. Jim Sharp (co-founder of the Sail, Power and Steam Museum), from which he announces and narrates the arrival of the fleet. The roster includes a vessel built to ply the Arctic, grand schooners built specifically for the tourist trade and windjammers on the National Historic Register launched to sail goods from far and wide to America more than 100 years ago. Capt. Sharp knows them all well. If he didn’t crew aboard them at one time, he charted their courses, taught knots and winds to their captains or was friends with the old salts who designed and built them.
Like the vessels he knows and loves, Capt. Sharp was held captive ashore for the summer of 2020 while a pandemic ravaged the globe. With salt permanently flowing through his veins and always eager to tell stories and talk about seafaring escapades, he embraced technology and emceed his own “Zoom-cast” series beginning Dec. 15, 2020. Joined by captains and others long-connected to windjamming in Midcoast Maine and the annual Camden Windjammer Festival, they kept the glory of our local schooners alive with their tales during the fleet’s extended hibernation.
In all, 10 vessels have been featured so far, including schooners Stephen Taber (launched in 1871), Adventure (1926), Bowdoin (1921), Roseway (1925), Mary Day (1962), Victory Chimes (1900), American Eagle (1930), Lewis R. French (1871), J&E Riggin (1929), and Windjammer Angelique (1980). On May 4, Capt. Sharp will be joined by the captains of the schooners Grace Bailey (1882) and Mercantile (1916) for another evening of online reminiscing.
Most of the featured vessels are venturing back into the waters this summer – and welcoming tourists – with modified sailing schedules and Covid-careful plans. When you visit Camden this summer, be sure to give a wave as they glide around the harbor, and maybe join a sail too!
Captains’ Quarters: Grab your dram of rum (or glass of wine or cup of tea), settle into the comfort of your own boat or home, fire up the woodstove, and join Capt. Jim Sharp (co-founder of the Sail, Power and Steam Museum) as he chats with fellow captains, sailors and other generally interesting folk.
Schooner Stephen Taber (1871)
Capt. Jim Sharp is joined by Noah Barnes (second generation owner/captain of the Taber), Ken and Ellen Barns (Noah’s parents and former owners of the Taber) and passengers. Launched in 1871, the Stephen Taber epitomizes the classic coasting schooner. Built in an era when highly skilled shipwrights built fine vessels to be aesthetically beautiful as well as functional, she stands as a proud tribute to American craftsmanship. She is today the oldest documented sailing vessel in continuous service in the United States, and is a National Historic Landmark.
Schooner Bowdoin (1921)
During the Bowdoin’s maiden voyage, over-wintering at Baffin Island in 1921-22, the design of the ship proved to be perfect for Donald B. MacMillan’s Arctic work, and he sailed the Bowdoin more than 300,000 miles over 26 voyages through the frozen North in exploration and scientific studies. The two-masted auxiliary schooner Bowdoin was invaluable to Arctic research. Today, after stints as a museum vessel at Mystic Seaport and as a charter ship, the Bowdoin is used at the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, Maine, for training runs to Labrador and Greenland. Once again, the Bowdoin sails the icy seas of the frozen North!
Schooner Roseway (1925)
Long a familiar site on Penobscot Bay, her dark red (tanbark) sails were easily distinguishable on a horizon spotted with white canvas. Roseway started life as a schooner yacht, became a pilot vessel in Boston Harbor at the beginning of World War II, moved on to a career as a Camden home-ported windjammer along the coast of Maine, and now travels the world as the World Ocean School.
Schooner American Eagle (1930)
Launched in June of 1930 in Gloucester, Mass., she was originally named Andrew and Rosalie and was the last of the Gloucester fishing schooners. Renamed American Eagle by new owner Ben Pine in 1941, she fished until 1983, when she was purchased by current owner and captain, John Foss. Arriving in Rockland in 1984, Foss led her multi-year restoration at the North End Shipyard. She was relaunched in 1986 to begin carrying passengers along the coast of Maine. This talk includes wonderful photos of the Pine family and stories of the boats that filled the life of Capt. Foss.
Schooner J&E Riggin (1929)
Captains Justin Schaffer, Jocelyn Schmidt, John Finger and Dave Allen join to talk about the National Historic Landmark, the J&E Riggin. Built on the Maurice River in Dorchester, N.J., in 1927 she was destined for Charles Riggin’s dredging oyster schooner fleet. She was named after his two sons, Jacob and Edward. Known as a quick, light air vessel, her speed was proven in 1929 when she won the only official Oyster Dredging Race in the Delaware Bay.
Schooner Adventure (1926)
From record breaking fishing vessel to sailing as a windjammer for passenger cruising along the coast of Maine to returning to her home as the Flagship of Gloucester, Mass., she’s had an “adventurous” life. Her grace, beauty and prowess as a sailing vessel earned her the nickname “Queen of the Windjammers.” Capt. Jim Sharp, who had owned Adventure since 1965, donated Adventure to the people of Gloucester, Mass., by way of The Gloucester Adventure Inc., a nonprofit organization formed to be steward of this historic vessel.
Schooner Victory Chimes (1900)
Well known along the coast of Maine for her three masted configuration, “The Chimes” was originally named the Edwin and Maude and home ported in Seaford, Del. She spent much of her career as a freighter out of Baltimore, hauling corn and wheat. In 1946, she started carrying passengers in the Chesapeake until she was purchased and brought to Maine in 1954. In 1991, under the ownership of Captains Kip Files and Paul DeGaeta, she was renamed Victory Chimes and the State of Maine recognized her as one of the premier vessels in the American Windjammer Fleet. She is the only Maine windjammer to be honored with this distinction and currently sails across the U.S. State of Maine quarter.
Windjammer Angelique (1980)
Unique in the Maine Windjammer fleet, Angelique was built as a traditionally styled vessel whose design was adapted specifically for the windjammer trade. She differs from the other so called “windjammers” as she is rigged as a gaff topsail ketch rather than a schooner. And with her plumb bow and tan bark (red) sails, Angelique is easily identified while sailing around on Maine’s coastal waters.
Schooner Mary Day (1962)
Sailing on a legacy of nearly three centuries of maritime tradition, Mary Day is a child of the times. Unlike her predecessors that carried cargoes of lumber, granite and fish, Mary Day was the first coaster built for the windjammer trade, and the first sailing passenger vessel built in the 20th century. Captains and passengers share photos, history, and stories of the vessel and her beloved builder and first captain, Havilah “Buds” Hawkins. To Buds, windjamming was about the people, the music and the comaraderie.
Schooner Lewis R. French (1871)
Built by the French brothers and named for their father, the Lewis R. French was launched in April 1871 in Christmas Cove, Maine. She has carried an assortment of cargoes (bricks, lumber, firewood, granite, fish, lime, canning supplies, Christmas trees, and now people) around the Northeast and celebrates 150 years this summer.