From the coast of Maine to Key West, from The Pacific Northwest to Antarctica, tall ships offer a unique experience. Sailing vessels of centuries-old designs moved goods all over the world in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; now they enjoy an esteemed place in the minds and hearts of modern men and women.
Tall ships caught the public’s imagination in the 1970s after having been relegated to the history books; everyone alive and conscious during the U.S. 1976 bicentennial remembers the glorious sight of scores of tall ships sailing into New York harbor, past the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan’s skyline. Since then, governments all over the world maintain fleets of tall ships as some sort of maritime ambassadors; and many small private companies have sprung up to offer both short cruises and ones lasting days.
In Maine, the owners of the schooner Mary Kay have been offering windjammer cruises since 1950, long before the tall ships craze hit. The cruises, lasting from three to six days, sail out of Camden, Maine and explore the islands and coastal passages of Maine. Accommodations on this specially designed schooner include a choice of single, double, or triple occupancy cabins and a saloon, featuring a cozy fireplace, offering delicious meals prepared by an experienced chef.
Adventure on the High Seas
If you’re looking for adventure on the high seas, the Liberty Fleet offers a two-week cruise on a gaff-rigged schooner, a replica of the famous nineteenth-century Baltimore clippers, from Key West, Florida to Boston, Massachusetts in May of 2006, with a stop in Charleston, South Carolina and a possible additional stop in on Nantucket or Block Island before arriving at its final destination in Boston. Participants can either relax onboard or be put to work as part of the crew, learning navigation and other maritime skills. In the fall, the ship participates in a series of schooner races and short sails stopping in Provincetown, Baltimore, Norfolk, Virginia, Charleston, and back to Key West; participants can sign on for any leg of the southward journey.
For the most adventurous among us, the bark Europa offers a 22 day voyage from Argentina to Antarctica and back, featuring a full itinerary with many stops along the way to explore the unique natural environment of this remote region of the world, with its unusual animal life, volcanic geological formations, looming ice cliffs, and geo-thermal pools.
Anyone who loves sailing would find one of these adventures – whether a day-long jaunt or a three-week Antarctic tour – the ultimate sailing experience, a voyage tied to centuries of maritime history and offering a unique vantage point on the world. And these three opportunities represent only a fraction of the many seafaring voyages available to every corner of the world.