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The Breathtaking windjammers celebrate in Camden, Maine

by Sail-World Cruising round-up on 4 Sep 2011
Windjammers - nothing more breathtaking SW

There's nothing more breathtaking than the sight of a traditional windjammer under sail, and these days, at a special time of year, there's no place like Maine in the USA to see them.

At one weekend every summer, and this year it's this weekend, 2nd - 4th September, thousands flock to the Camden Windjammer Festival to watch the grand old ladies parade and join in the festivities.

Locals, of course, are used to the sight and, instead, watch the watchers watching.

'If you look at it through the eyes of someone else who's come for the first time, to see just one victorian sailing ship is amazing so to see 14 to 20 of them in the harbor at the same time and the skills that go in to keeping them in the water is mindblowingly wonderful,' Dan Bookham, Executive Director at the Penobscot Bay Chamber of Commerce, told WABI.TV.

The windjammers represent a piece of Maine maritime history. The tradition dates back to the 1930's.

'75 years ago right here in Camden harbor a captain called Frank Swift took 3 commercial, basically 18-wheelers of the sea and he turned them into passenger vessels,' explained Bookham.


People like Captain Jim Sharp keep this tradition alive. He was in the windjammer business for decades and now runs the Sail, Power and Steam Museum in South Rockland. He comes to the Windjammer festival for a reason.

'Spread the word to people about this windjammer fleet and what a wonderful experience it is,' said Captain Sharp.

Both locals and tourists can have a windjammer experience any time during the summer months, but the added fun of the festival brings people out in big numbers.

'We see between 7 to 8 to 9,000 people a year come through town this weekend in addition to the local residents,' said Bookham.

While 2011 marks 75 years of windjamming in Maine, the business doesn't seem to be going anywhere soon. The Maine Windjammer Association has a fleet of 14, helping to keep this piece of nautical history a part of today for whoever comes to enjoy it.

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