Set Sail Along Maine’s Mid-Coast

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By Becky Garrison

Isaac H. Evans (Annie Higbee)
Isaac H. Evans (Annie Higbee)
As a crewmember aboard the Pioneer, an 1885 two-masted topsail schooner based in New York City, I enjoyed the camaraderie I had developed among my fellow sailors. So, it was with great pleasure that on September 11, 2005, I joined Captain Brenda Walker and her crew aboard the Isaac H. Evans, an 1886 wooden Maine windjammer and a national historic landmark based in Rockland, Maine. Captain Brenda is one of the five captains in the Maine Windjammer Association’s 13-member fleet and the only woman to own and operate her own windjammer.

Under Captain Brenda’s expertise, she used the wind and tide to plot out a course for each day and supervised her three-person crew, as she guided us through the vacation of a lifetime. In addition to helping to hoist the sails every morning, I took my turn at the wheel, gave morning hellos to porpoises and harbor seals, and climbed aloft the boat’s rigging for a literal bird’s eye view of Penobscot Bay.

Each cabin aboard the Isaac H. Evans features amenities like chocolate coins, shampoo, body lotion, coffee cups, and an embroidered mainsail balsam pillow air freshener handcrafted by Capt. Brenda natural air freshener. While these cabins are not luxurious suites they were more comfortable and private than some other accommodations I’ve experienced aboard other historic schooners. Also, features like hot showers and electric heads makes this outdoors experience definitely more comfortable than camping outdoors. I’m generally not a sound sleeper on trips but after the first night, I was able to doze off for 6 hours of sleep. Even though I’m a committed night owl, I found myself hitting the hay by 11 p.m. at the very latest and rising up at 6 a.m. to catch the misty sunrise.

During the week, our group read and relaxed, as we feasted on a hearty New England dishes cooked on a classic wood-burning stove. Our meals featured New England delicacies such as Maine scallops L’orange, Boston baked bread, and blueberry pancakes with Maine blueberry syrup. Our snacks included Maine favorites Jack’s zesty toe jam (spicy halapeno) or sweet red pepper jam (Maine) and cream cheese with crackers. Other afternoon snacks included a special sushi buffet featuring uni (sea urchin roe), mackerel, and scallops that guests caught diving or fishing and steamed crabs caught in the boat’s lobster pot. Through the schooner’s arrangements with the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, guests are guaranteed the freshest fruits and vegetables.

Hauling (Jeff Greenberg)
Hauling (Jeff Greenberg)
After we anchored for the evening, rowboats, kayaks, and a sailing skiff and fishing rods were around for those that wished to partake of these activities. While a few brave souls went swimming, I chose not to venture in, as the water was clearly less than sixty degrees and no one stayed in for more than a few minutes. Sing-a-longs, poker games and storytelling sessions rounded out the evening’s activities.

While pets are not permitted aboard the Isaac H. Evans, the boat does have a pet goldfish. As Capt. Brenda says, no one is allergic or afraid of fish. Other “pets” include the boat’s collection of rubber duckies and a giant stuffed lobster that a guest found washed up on the shore.

One of the trip’s highlight’s was the annual Wooden Boat Sail-in. Our group rowed over to the town of South Brooklin, where we were treated to steamed mussels, the sounds of a steel drummed band, and self-guided tours of the WoodenBoat School. Later Capt. Brenda took some of us on the yawl boat named appropriately Tug ‘n’ Grunt for a tour of the other Maine windjammers that were docked for the celebrations.

Later that week, we rowed over to Buckle Island, a mystical moss covered island for a late afternoon lobster bake. As the crew prepares the lobster bake, we participate in an ‘island clean-up” — a fair trade-off all you can eat lobster for helping keep Maine pure and pristine. All guests on Maine Windjammer cruises are instructed on the “leave no traces” behind policy that is intended to minimize the environmental impact on our visits to these isolated islands. After our feast, I hiked along the unspoiled, hiking trail, where I stumbled upon fairy houses — small shell, bark and moss huts where supposedly the fairies live.

Sunset (Fred LeBlanc)
Sunset (Fred LeBlanc)
After the boat docked and we all said our good-byes, every guest had a gigantic smile on our faces as by now we tend to just “be.’ As the group consisted of couples and single, I never felt like the third wheel in a world of couples. While there were no children on my particular trip as school was in session, the Isaac H. Evans is a family friendly schooner and is one of the three schooners in the fleet to allow children on board. As each Maine Windjammer is independently owned and operated check with each captain for their policies regarding children, pets and other pertinent matters.

For more information, contact the Maine Windjammer Association at P.O. Box 1144P, Blue Hill, Maine 04614, 1-800-807-WIND or check out the website at

Following is an example of the type of delicacies Queen Eileen serves during a Windjammer cruise.

Eileen’s Peach Cobbler
Approximately 8 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced
2 or 3 1/2 pints of blackberries. Strew fruit in well buttered 13″x9″ pan

Stir together and then sprinkle on top of fruit:
1/2 to 2/3 C sugar, depending on sweetness desired
1/4 C flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix together and spoon atop fruit and sugar the following dough:
1 3/4 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 C sugar
4 to 6 Tbsp shortening or butter (or a combination). Cut into flour mixture, biscuit method
1 C milk added and stirred into above.

Bake at 425 degrees for approximately 1/2 hour or until fruit bubbles and biscuit topping is browned.

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