For a spectacular view of the Maine Windjammer Association (MWA) Fleet, find a spot on the Rockland Breakwater on Friday, July 13, to watch the seventh annual Maine Windjammer Parade. See the schooners up close as they sail within yards of the breakwater. The following day, visitors may tour several of the schooners at the North End Shipyard and Windjammer Wharf. Numerous windjammer events take place all summer long in Midcoast Maine, thanks to the MWA.by Elisa Hawkes
Coastal Journal staff
ROCKLAND — The Maine Windjammer Association will host the seventh annual Maine Windjammer Parade past the Rockland Breakwater on Friday, July 13, providing onlookers with spectacular views of the fleet’s schooners.
The mile-long breakwater leading to the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse will be lined with spectators watching these majestic ships sail within yards of the stone walkway. The event is not just for viewers, however. Windjammers will have guests aboard to enjoy the sailing experience.
Following the parade, many of the windjammers anchor inside Rockland Harbor, where visitors can again view the ships in close proximity. On the following day, the Rockland windjammers will host Open Schooner Tours from 2 to 4 p.m. The North End Shipyard and Windjammer Wharf (off Tilson Avenue) will host dockside tours of the American Eagle, Heritage, Isaac H. Evans, Nathaniel Bowditch, and Stephen Taber.
The Maine Windjammer Association (MWA) was founded in 1977. It represents the largest fleet of traditional sailing schooners in North America. The MWA fleet consists of 13 ships, all individually owned and operated by U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captains.
The association captains and members “work together to ensure the highest standards of safety, comfort, and professionalism,” according to the MWA. Many of the vessels are used for chartered sailing vacations along the coast of Maine.
The fleet is comprised of the following ships listed in order by the year each was built. All claim either Rockland or Camden as their home ports. The Fleet: Lewis R. French, 1871, 64 feet; Stephen Taber, 1871, 68 feet; Grace Bailey, 1882, 80 feet; Isaac H. Evans, 1886, 65 feet; Victory Chimes, 1900, 132 feet; Mercantile, 1916, 78 feet; Nathaniel Bowdich, 1922, 82 feet; American Eagle, 1930, 92 feet; Timberwind, 1931, 70 feet; Mistress, 1960, 46 feet; Mary Day, 1962, 90 feet; Angelique, 1980, 95 feet; and Heritage, 1983, 95 feet.
The ships of the fleet have interesting histories associated with them. The Lewis R. French and Stephen Taber are America’s two oldest working coasting schooners. The Angelique and the Heritage, the newest ships of the fleet, were built specifically for windjamming.
MWA is sponsoring eight events this summer. The “Schooner Gam” took place during the week of June 11, and kicked off the season with an informal gathering of the entire fleet. The 50th Annual Windjammer Days is held in Boothbay Harbor during the week of June 25, boasting a grand sail parade and shore side activities including music, fireworks, vendors and food.
Next up is the 36th Great Schooner Race the week of July 2, when more than two dozen tall ships gather for an exciting all-day race. The Maine Windjammer Parade in Rockland happens on July 13, followed by Open Schooner Tours on July 14. The week of August 6 brings the Sweet Chariot Music Festival to Swan’s Island, where more than a dozen groups perform traditional music of the sea. The fleet gathers Friday night for live shipboard performances of sea chanteys, story telling and more. The Camden Windjammer Festival will take place on September 1 and 2. Camden Harbor will return to the golden age of sail with a parade of sail, flag raising ceremonies, live music, dancing, and fireworks. The season will wind down in Brooklin, the headquarters of WoodenBoat Magazine and WoodenBoat School, with a fall gathering of the fleet. This 26th celebration is set for September 11 and will include refreshments, live music, tours, and many historic schooners for visitors to gaze upon.
MWA provides opportunities to come down to the sea and ships for seamen and visitors alike, and be taken back to the historic days of traditional schooner sail. For more information, visit www.sailmainecoast.com, email
, or call 374-2993.