Being St. Paul born and raised, a sailing adventure on the Atlantic can cause a bit of trepidation, but for this guy from the 651 it turned out to be an epic adventure of a lifetime.
When a Boston based travel journalist colleague of mine presented me with the opportunity to fill his spot sailing the Atlantic for 5 days on a 125ft windjammer, I jumped at the chance. My journey began with a flight from Minneapolis to Boston, for an overnight stay in the wonderful and historic “City on the Hill”. It had been a number of years since I explored the streets of Beantown, so I put on my walking shoes and set out to be a sightseeing tourist for 24 hours. During my quick visit I hit the city highlights on a “Hop on Hop off” tour. I indulged in New England clam chowder and an order of fish and chips at the infamous circa 1826 Union Oyster House, and tipped back a Guinness at “The Bell in Hand Tavern,” one of the oldest bars in the city.
My schooner sailing trip was scheduled to depart out of Rockland, ME. After tackling everyway known to man on how to get to my destination in Rockland, I decided to be a frugal traveler and depart Boston by bus. My $67.00 round trip decision on Concord Coach Lines, was the right call. I relaxed and enjoyed the beauty of the New England coast on my 5-hour trip to Rockland. The comfortable coach included free WIFI, water, snacks and movies. When I arrived in Rockland I was pleased to discover that the bus terminal was walking distance to the boat…. convenience my friends!
The Heritage Schooner would be my home for the next 5 days, with husband and wife team captain Doug and Linda as my hosts. The duo have been sailing the Coast of Maine together for over 30 years. Sailing on the Heritage is an authentic experience from bow to stern. The Heritage doesn’t even have an inboard motor for those – “just in case moments.” An interesting side note about the Heritage: Doug and Linda, along with a few neighboring sailors, built every inch of the Heritage with their own
hands. When I arrived, I was greeted by the captain and the crew, given a tour of the boat, and was pleasantly escorted to my small but sufficient cabin. The vessel is equipped with two single cabins and 14 double cabins. The cozy quarters all have a sink with hot and cold running water, electric lighting, a reading lamp, and a wall outlet for charging devices like a cell phone. The schooner is also equipped with a freshwater shower on deck. Surprisingly the shower facilities did not seem to get much use…that would include me – perhaps it’s the sea salt air but showering just didn’t seem necessary. This would be a far cry from this city kid that often times will be under the shower head twice a day.
The Heritage doesn’t even have an inboard motor for those “just in case moments”
After a dockside restful night sleep, we all gathered for a hearty breakfast and a chat, as we prepared to set-sail on the Atlantic Ocean. The experience onboard the Heritage is yours to create. Passengers can choose to spend time as you wish while sailing the Atlantic. You may decide to leisurely enjoy the scenery of the lighthouses and Islands while resting on the deck keeping an eye out for eagles, seals and whales. I decided to take a more active approach. I spent my days at sea pitching in assisting the captains and the crew by tending to the sails, learning different knots, and becoming educated in all that needs to happen when adjusting for the wind and the weather. My goal was to learn as much as possible about the schooner…and sailing during my 5-day adventure. However, if helping on deck isn’t your thing, passengers are also welcome to help out in the galley. There always seemed to be dishes to wash, potatoes to peel, bread to be made or ice cream to be churned. Dining on the ship is a step back in time, with everything being made from scratch. I certainly did not see one Nabisco label or frozen food entree in the freezer or the pantry.
One of the many highlights, of the 5 days at sea aboard the Heritage, was the classic shore lunch. The captain dropped the anchor and we all headed to shore for an amazing lobster cookout. The days on the water were relaxing as well as exhilarating. The captains regularly kept us intrigued, and mystified by finding interesting remote fishing villages for us to spend time exploring.
My week sailing the Atlantic Ocean was a tremendous experience of growth, learning and adventure. If you are planning a spring / summer travel adventure consider sailing the Atlantic on a Windjammer Schooner. We may be the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but there is nothing like the open ocean.