By Karen Rubin
Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
Two of the eight members of the historic Maine Windjammers fleet have opted to meet the stringent standards in wake of the COVID-19 health emergency and have begun sailing this season: the Stephen Tabor and the Ladona.
To sail in 2020, the overnight windjammer trips need to meet guidelines for lodging, restaurants and windjammers on top of the rigorous Coast Guard licensing requirements.
No sector of the tourism industry is required to meet such stringent guidelines, yet for Capt. Noah Barnes of the Schooner Stephen Taber and the Ladona, the guidelines ensure that passengers will be safe.
“We’ve taken it one step further than the already stringent protocols and are asking every guest who comes sailing with us to attest to a negative COVID-19 test,” said Noah. “This is one way we can safeguard the guests and crew on board this summer.” In addition, stringent sanitization and cleaning, social distancing and safety protocols will be in place for those sailing this summer. Detailed information on COVID-19 safety procedures and protocols aboard Schooners Ladona and Stephen Taber is available.
(Residents of New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut may travel to Maine without restrictions. Everyone else needs to complete a Certificate of Compliance (visitmaine.com) indicating you have either received a negative COVID-19 test or agree to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or the length of your visit, if less.)
The Schooner Ladona was the first to set sail this season July 18. Schooner Stephen Taber’s first trip departed July 23 with live entertainment provided by the Charlie Nobles Band.
“We’re doing everything we can do to help people get out and enjoy a sailing vacation on board a beautiful windjammer this summer,” said Noah. “We’ve put safety measures and cleaning protocols in place and changed itineraries to visit more remote uninhabited islands to give plenty of room for social distancing while ashore.
“Will it be the same kind of windjammer cruise everyone knows and loves? Hey, you can’t take the beauty of the Maine coast or the freedom of sailing by wind power away. The rush of jumping off the bowsprit into refreshing Maine harbors and knuckling down on a lobster baked on the beach will still be ingredients of your windjammer trips this summer,” he said.
The Ladona, captained by Noah Barnes and J.R. Braugh, was formerly the Nathaniel Bowditch (which I fondly remember from having sailed on it some years ago), and sails out of Rockland (an absolutely delightful village where you need to allocate time to visit the famous Farnsworth Art Museum, which has reopened, farnsworthmuseum.org, and the Maine Lighthouse Museum, mainelighthousemuseum.org).
The Ladona, commissioned by Homer Loring as a private yacht and designed by William Hand, has been known for her beauty, swiftness and strength since she was christened in 1922 and took first place in her class in the 1923 Bermuda Cup. The schooner served as a patrol vessel during World War II with the U.S. Navy out of New York Harbor. Restored to her original yachting glory, she accommodates 17 guests. (800-999-7352, 207-594-4723, [email protected], www.schoonerladona.com).
“We’ve had some huge hurdles to overcome in order to leave the dock this week,” said Braugh, captain of the Schooner Ladona. “We’re glad that we’re going to be able to offer guests the ideal summer vacation in Maine – sailing aboard a beautifully restored wind-driven schooner taking in Maine scenery and allowing Mother Nature to soothe stressed bodies, minds and souls in the perfect unplugged vacation.”
Launched in 1871, The Stephen Tabor, captained by Noah and Jane Barnes, is reportedly the oldest documented sailing vessel in continuous service in the United States, and is a National Historic Landmark. It was built in an era when highly skilled shipwrights designed fine vessels to be aesthetically beautiful as well as functional. In keeping with its heritage, the Stephen Taber has no inboard engine but relies on Babe, a trusty yawl boat, for a hefty push when the wind doesn’t cooperate. The schooner offers 12 cabins. (800-999-7352, [email protected], stephentabor.com)
Six of the Maine Windjammer Association fleet captains have opted to cancel trips this season but have already created 2021 schedules, available on SailMaineCoast.com.
In addition, Maine Windjammer Cruises, which has three ships in its fleet (the Mercantile, the Grace Bailey and the Mistress), is taking reservations this season for the Mistress, the smallest in the fleet, a blend of a traditional schooner and private yacht, 60-feet long, that accommodates six passengers and a crew of two (207- 236-2938, 800-736-7981, mainewindjammercruises.com)
Each of the ships in the Maine Windjammers is unique in its structure and its story and has its own personality largely formed by the captain and crew. And no matter how many windjammer cruises you have taken (and we meet many repeat cruisers on the Maine windjammer cruises we have taken), each sailing aboard a Maine Windjammer is uniquely formed by the weather, the wind and the particular combination of passengers. A windjammer cruise is the essence of serendipity.
For schedules for 2020 and 2021 sailing seasons and to learn more about the Maine Windjammer Association fleet, visit https://SailMaineCoast.com.
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