The Cruise

For years it was my dream to take a sailing cruise. I won’t do big cruise ships. They kill whales and dolphins and mess up small ports where they stop. So how to cruise? Sail!

I was turning seventy and decided that now was the time, so I booked on Schooner American Eagle out of Portland, Maine, during the fall color season.

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Boarding

And I invited girlfriends to join me.

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Barbara, Jill, me and Kathy

We motored away from the dock in Rockland a little after ten am on Wednesday. It was a glorious sunny Maine morning, not even cool enough to be called “crisp.”  Everyone was on deck to watch town slip away.

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Soon almost all on board had taken seasickness medicine or put on our pressure point cuffs designed to prevent seasickness. Due to the smooth sailing, however, none of that was necessary. By day two I’d taken off my cuffs, never to put them on again.

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Protected (from noting) with my anti-nausea cuffs

We headed north, staying near the coastline, searching for the elusive fall colors. Maine had enjoyed a long warm fall, and that meant the leaves were just starting to change.

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But change they did! In just the few days we were sailing there was a noticeable difference.

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A few things about the cruise as a whole, starting with the not good. The only, ONLY not good was the lack of wind, and that certainly was not the fault of Captain John or the crew. It meant, however, that we had to motor rather than sail for a good part of the trip.

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Buoys mark lobster traps in a calm sea

That said, everything else was as close to perfect as one can imagine. The four-person crew and the captain were experienced, friendly and helpful, and they all had a good sense of humor.

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Captain John explains some of the basics.

Though there was no wind, shortly after we left groups lined up to help tug the ropes and hoist the sails. We knew we would find wind eventually.

The weather was beautiful, perfect, even the last day when we were totally fogged in. After warm days, blue skies and lots of sun (and some mild sunburn), the fog was a treat.

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Taken a few hours after rising when the fog was finally burning off

The food was amazing, and there was so much of it! Beautiful salads, plenty of fruit, and everything was homemade. Each meal had breads, biscuits, cookies or pies – all baked in the schooner’s wood stove oven.

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Lunch set out on deck

We stopped the last full day, Friday, on Wreck Island for a lobster boil Matthew the cook had even roasted eggplants and made fresh baba ganoush.

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That along with good crackers, fresh veggies and several kinds of cheese proved the perfect appetizer. Then as we ate on the beach, one of the crew came around with wine.

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I ate two lobsters, by the way.

We went ashore each day and two crew members, Chris and Justin, organized us into rowers and supervisors for the trip.

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We roamed two small towns, one on an island, and visited another tiny island where we hiked through the woods to a lighthouse.

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Everywhere we stopped the towns or islands were beautiful, full of vibrant fall colors, and where we saw people they were friendly and welcoming.

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Church in Castine, Maine

One stop was long, and the four of us went separate ways but soon enough we had all slipped into a local pub for a glass of wine. Justin and Chris were there, just finishing a beer, so Jill quickly bought them another round to ensure we’d have enough time to leisurely sip our wine.

One bit of excitement was when we got attacked by a pirate ship.

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The Pirate Ship!!

I was on deck, lazing in the sun and gazing out to shore, paying no attention to a cluster of people on the other side of the ship. Suddenly, BOOM!!! We’d been fired upon!

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Justin’s fancy earplugs

The crowd on the other side of the boat was laughing and pointing at Justin. He had pulled a tiny cannon out of a box and stuffed paper towels into his ears as earplugs. Soon he lit a fuse and there came another BOOM and a puff of smoke.

This was followed by the folks on both schooners laughing and waving at one another. A few BOOMS. The only breaks to the lovely quiet on the water.

For three full days we glided between islands, sometimes at full sail when we picked up some wind.

Pumpkin Island

When the breeze was cool I slipped into my cabin to read, but otherwise I was on deck soaking in the beauty and the clear salt air.

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Similar to my cabin, but mine was smaller!

I really cannot say enough about how good this trip was! We met people aboard who were on their fifth sail with Captain John on the Schooner American Eagle. They said they’d tried other sails but this was the best. Although we had no other experience on schooners, we all agreed it could not have been better. Five star rating!

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32 Comments

  1. Emilie, thank you for sharing your fabulous and fun trip! love the details , the photos! Definitely a 5 stars! You have enough material to write a children’s book! pirates wow!

    Reply

  2. Thank you Emilie for the great travel log. Wish I could have been there with you, but reading all about it is the second Best. I’m glad that you let me book this for you as your travel agent . 🙂 Angelika

    Reply

  3. Lovely trip! Looks like you were fired upon by the Stephen Taber? My wife and I went this year in July and also sailed out of Rockland, but on the Victory Chimes. We had an amazing trip as well. It looks like the fall brought some stunning color to already beautiful scenery. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Reply

    1. Thanks, Scott.
      I will,be posting another piece on Maine in a few days if you want to see the photos and such. Just go back to the blog site.
      Glad you and your wife had the opportunity for the cruise. Such a wonderful experience!

      Reply

  4. Wow, Emilie! What an amazing trip! A wonderful way to explore Maine & celebrate 70, too. Here’s to many more adventures!

    Reply

  5. Fabulous!!! So happy for you and your very special 70th!
    I was surprised to see the group — how many altogether on the boat?
    I bet you slept well. Nothing like that gentle rocking.
    A dream fulfilled. xoxo

    Reply

  6. This sounds like an amazing trip! I also avoid big ship cruises, bot for the reasons you mentioned (as I was not aware of them!) but because it is just to many people and to much stress:) How many days was your you trip? And I understand you had smooth sailing – but have you ever tried the anti-nausea cuffs in bad weather, do they work?

    Reply

    1. Inger,
      I have only had very short sailing experiences before this. I have crossed from San Diego to Catalina Island and sailed along the coast of Mexico for under two hours. No experience with the cuffs except for this trip when they weren’t necessary. However, I do hear they work.
      This trip was 3-1/2 days. Just perfect!

      Reply

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