Maine Cruising: Trip Report Aboard Windjammer American Eagle
Our Maine cruising experience was aboard the American Eagle Schooner, which departs from Rockland, Maine. The trip was filled with memories and adventure that we'll never forget.
It was certainly a different sailing trip than we're used to. Life aboard American Eagle was a bit more “campy” with cabins absent of the frills of most cruise ships, including the lack of en suite bathrooms and queen size beds. But sometimes it's best to get rid of the embellishments and upgrades to simply focus on three main things: human connection, the land surrounding us and the sea.
This trip report recounts our Maine cruising adventure over the course of less than 5 days, 4 nights (from Sunday evening to Thursday morning) in mid-June.
Sunday, June 13: Arrival to Our Rockland, Maine Windjammer Cruise
We arrived to the ship at 5:45pm, 15 minutes ahead of boarding time. It’s a quiet marina off of a main road in Rockland, one property over from Claws, a seasonal seafood shack famous for their Maine lobster rolls and lobster dinners, as well as a variety of other seafood items.
Though we were the first to arrive, more people started to slowly show up to the port. Introductions were made between guests, followed by the usual, “Where are you from?” question. It felt like the first day of summer camp.
We were shown our cabin (which was cabin “I,” sandwiched between the doors to at least 5 other cabins) and we settled in only slightly, favoring exploring the ship instead. After a ship tour by a crew member and the captain, which included instructions for the shared “head” (toilet area on the ship) and letting us know the sink in our cabin dispensed drinkable water (which we were surprised by, actually) we went up to the top deck. We figured we'd get to our own space eventually.
Since the arrival times of the 14 other passengers was so staggered and everyone seemed to have their “get settled” priorities not much happened the first night. However, we did write out some American Eagle Schooner postcards that Captain John Foss not only encouraged us to use but joked he had to order about 1,000 of…so write away! Since we love snail mail, we wrote out about six to family and friends.
We went to bed at 9:00pm since there wasn't much to do. We had one of the only cabins whose top bunk expanded to be a double bed, of sorts. But Dan and I decided to sleep bunk bed style because of his height. If he sat up on the top bed he would surely hit his head. Yet if I sat up in the right area, I'd be between two ceiling beams and could clear the top of the room.
I fell asleep by 9:30pm after wondering if I’d either fall off the bunk in the middle of the night or hit my head, or both. I considered only hitting my head once in the night a success.
Monday, June 14: Our First Morning Onboard
Monday Sail Away on the American Eagle Schooner
We woke up at 6:00am. I dozed on and off for another 50 minutes but it was hard to sleep with the closing and clattering of metal, which came from opening and closing locks on doors. (It sounded like slamming from the other guests, not just gentle “closing,” of doors, even if it was unintentional.) Though we've seen ear plugs on packing lists and included them on our own, you need REALLY good ones because the foam ones you get on airplane will not cancel out the sounds. So we were awake bright and early.
We were grateful we went to bed early. Note to self: repeat an early bedtime in the evening so we’re refreshed for another early morning.
I got dressed and immediately put my hair in a ponytail. There was no use in not doing so, knowing the wind would knot my long thin hair in minutes.
By 7:30am we were up on the top deck enjoying hot coffee. Breakfast was ready at 8:00am. We had incredibly delicious blueberry pancakes, fruit and juice. I opted for fresh berry juice, which was also great.
It’s really amazing to know how delicious Matthew's food is and also know the wood stove he’s working with. He must have really learned how to work with it and control it over the course of his five years working on the American Eagle.
We got off the ship around 9:15am to go to the Rockland Post Office to mail postcards I addressed that morning. Rockland is a small town so it was only a 5 minute drive to get there and return to the ship before it left the harbor that morning to begin our Maine cruising.
Sail Away from Rockland
We had our mandatory safety talk around 9:50am (which is like the mandatory muster drill on a bigger cruise ship) before sailing off shortly thereafter. Within minutes we were using the motor on the boat to help sailing away from the shore.
About 30 minutes or so after that (you quickly lose track of time onboard) we were helping hoist the sails. It felt like we were all part of a team raising the massive mainsail and jibs, and enjoying the work.
The wind was immediately strong. And I instantly wish I packed a headband (which is why it's on our recommended Maine Windjammer Cruise packing list).
We continued the trip towards North Haven and Vinalhaven islands. It was fun to spot the “cottages,” which were massive houses (and anything but quaint) along the coast. Captain John explained the history of the area as he used a map to illustrate the lay of the land and water.
Panedmic and Maine Cruising
That morning, we also got into a conversation with the captain about how the pandemic has affected the Maine cruising industry, as the boats are all individually owned and operated. Essentially, each one is a small business.
He shared that at the time of our sailing, the rule was if 95% of the people onboard the cruise were vaccinated we didn't have to wear masks. Which is precisely why no one wore them on the ships. Ahead of our sailing, we were asked to provide proof of vaccination and happily obliged. We liked knowing that this safety measure was taken into account.
Additionally, there were bottles of hand sanitizer in each cabin for our use throughout the trip, and a bottle of hand sanitizer was at the start of a walk through the buffet each time we had a meal so everyone sanitized their hands before touching any shared serving utensils.
Special Event Watercolor Cruise
A few passengers signed up for a watercolor class and were painting next to us. It was one specialty sailing of a few the summer we sailed. My medium of choice was mostly creating photographs with my camera as they painted the landscapes we were passing. I brought some watercolors and would switch to sketching and light painting later.
Lunch was served around 12:20pm. Again, I had no track of time.
Matthew, the chef, announced it was the American Eagle popular “one bowl, two course” meal, which was soup and salad. A chicken and rice soup with leeks and mushrooms, or a salad with bacon, water chestnuts, onions and hard boiled eggs would be your first and second courses. A Catalina style dressing was available to top it off. Matthew made fresh herbed bread that was lovely, and perfect for sopping up every last drop of soup.
Tea, lemonade and water were available for every meal, followed by coffee and tea, and a choice of hot chocolate if you like. We had a homemade cookie for dessert.
A gift from Mother Nature appeared during lunch: a beautiful horizontal rainbow. How picturesque! We felt grateful.
Afterwards I volunteered to dry dishes in the galley along with 2 other guests. It was a change of scenery from being on the top deck, though I admit the rocking motion of the boat very much took getting used to. It was was particularly turbulent that day and it felt worse on the bottom deck than it did on the top deck. But it was nice to get to talk to two crew members and two other passengers while I dried dishes and finished my coffee.
After lunch, we continued sailing (which never stopped). There's no set schedule on a Maine cruising trip with Maine Windjammer Association; we were free to do whatever we wanted onboard. Dan and I realized what we had suspected on Day 1: we would have plenty of free time during the trip.
Maine Windjammer cruises offer unplugged, all-inclusive adventures so we boarded prepared to entertain ourselves in other ways. We were glad to read books on our Kindles, and sketch in our small sketchbooks. You don't get much cell service when you're cruising Maine's coast anyway.
A Sunny (but Windy and Bouncy) Afternoon on the Ocean
My camera lenses were safe and secure in our non-locking room (there was a mutual trust amongst the guests) and you couldn’t really securely have something like a camera bag on the shaky top deck without keeping your eye on it So I went up and down the stairs plenty of times to swap out lenses on my camera. It gave me something to do and enjoy, however, so I was okay with it.
Dan had taken a precautionary non-drowsy Dramamine earlier on and I started to wonder if I should take one too. But I was glad I waited because the rocky boat seemed to steady herself in the water throughout the afternoon.
I sat in our cabin for a little bit to journal and enjoy our skylight as I listened to the sounds of the water hit the ship's against our room's walls. I thought the ocean was politely speaking to us and wondered if the fish were talking to each other too, even though I couldn’t hear them.
GAM Evening and a Harbor Filled with Maine Windjammer Cruise Sailboats
The late afternoon brought the Maine Windjammer Association GAM. We were lucky to be the first or second ship to arrive, which meant we saw the other ships arrive like a race against the wind. Their sails – and surely, their captains – swiftly carried them our way.
Little by little the boats gathered and anchored in the bay; we were in awe of their beauty. I couldn’t resist snapping photo after photo, video after video.
We sat there for hours as the smell of the wood burning stove filled the air. The sun peeked in and out of the clouds, providing moments of warmth when I'd take off my sweatshirt, between layering back up when the sunshine disappeared behind the clouds. It seemed appropriate to crack open beers we brought when the sun came. (The ship has a BYO drinks policy, alcohol included.)
Onboard binoculars came in handy as we watched passengers on the Lewis French jump off the boat into the 55 degree water below. Perhaps it was a right of passage as a guest on a Maine Windjammer Association schooner! Afterwards, we watched as they delighted in blowing bubbles off the aft. And I delighted in photographing it.
I took out my watercolor book and sketched, then painted the Mary Day boat in the distance. Dan sketched a detail of our ship close by to where we were seated. We sat on foldable tailgate chairs under the awning the crew created with sails that folded out like wings of a butterfly overhead. The “roof” they created towards the back of the boat provided shade from the sun and suddenly felt like another “room” aboard the ship.
Matthew and Andre (another wonderful crew member) delighted us with a pre-dinner snack at 5:15pm: a goat cheese roll with herbs, crackers and nuts and a homemade smoked salmon fish dip with vegetables.
Dinner was ready shortly thereafter. It was a feast of bratwurst, potatoes and onions, corn on the cob, root vegetables, and more fresh bread (now a personal favorite at meals) with an optional herbed butter complete and honey mustard sauce for the meat and potatoes. Dessert was a scrumptious bread pudding with raspberries, white chocolate chips and a fresh whipped cream. I poured some Cabernet Sauvignon wine we brought onboard to complement dinner.
After I handed my dish to a crew member who was kind enough to wash it, I sat back in my chair next to Dan to watch the sunset. We asked each other what we thought of the ship so far and agreed it was what we expected, if not a bit better. We were enjoying a change of pace in our day-to-day routine that seems to be “go, go, go” most of the time.
Evening of Our First Complete Day Onboard, Sailing Maine's Coast
The temperature was dropping as the sun continued to sink towards the horizon before our eyes. I went downstairs to put leggings on under my jeans and apply another scarf because it was getting a lot colder than it already was that day. Maybe I would also put on my raincoat that would act as a windbreaker on top of my sweatshirt. (If you're going to Maine in the summer, you have to plan for hot and cold weather. It kind of reminded us of being at Yellowstone National Park during summer in that sense.)
I returned to the top deck to see Dan assisting the crew with a rope for the American Eagle rowboat, filled with crew and some guests, about to start the GAM scavenger hunt. Though we were just supporting cheerleaders who chose to stay onboard, instead of rowing around to other boats to guess the scavenger hunt clue answers, this activity was a blast to witness.
The other ships’ rowboats came to us to answer a scavenger hunt question, with a goal to collect a “token” the captain had onboard given to them after correctly answering a clue. The questions and clues were trivia about the Maine Windjammer Association's fleet of nine ships and American Eagle's token was a small foam fish, because it used to be a fishing boat. The other ships tokens were appropriate to their history as well. Everyone on the boat cheered when we heard over the radio that American Eagle's team was the victor!
We welcomed the team back with cheers and toasted to their success with Grog, an old sailing drink of rum, citrus (like lime juice) simple syrup and water.
As the sun set, Captain John fired a blank shot to the sea for a GAM tradition: a salute to summer. The sound reverberated in the harbor. As dusk began, a small boat with musicians from another ship rowed around our boat to serenade us with a bluegrass version of Joni Michell's, “Big Yellow Taxi.”
We went down to the galley afterwards for story time, where the guests were gathered 'round the captain who was reading a sailing tale. We retired to our cabin around 9:00pm to get ready for bed.
Grog Recipe from Maine Windjammer Association
Grog is an interesting mix of alcohol and citrus. If you want to experience it on a boat or land, here is the recipe, courtesy of Maine Windjammer Association:
- 2 oz. Dark Rum (we love Outer Banks Distilling if their “Kill Devil Rum” available near you and for a twist on this recipe!)
- 0.75 oz lime juice
- 0.5 oz demerara syrup
- 1 oz water
Tuesday, June 15: Our Second Morning Onboard
I woke up to loud sounds of people talking and clanging doors again at 5:45am. (This was just the reality of the noise in the mornings on the ship.) I forced myself to go back to sleep.
My next wake up time was 10 minutes before breakfast, which is everyday at 8:00am. It was 7:50am and I crawled into the bottom bunk with Dan. Sleeping in two separate beds in the same room is foreign to us, as I am sure it is for most couples.
As I mentioned earlier, there was a way to extend our top bunk to a double bed but we decided not to because of Dan's height. Also, the space in the small cabin isn't really conducive to an extended top bed when you still have to climb down to a bottom bunk to safely get out of it.
We were getting dressed as we heard the bell sound, which is how they signal any meal is ready. Fog covered the area that was once visible the evening before, during the GAM. It felt misty yet majestic. (Majestic was a word I thought of a lot during this trip.)
Breakfast Our Second Morning
Steel cut oatmeal and yogurt were for breakfast, along with crumb cake and fixings bar for the bowls. Almonds, pecans, dried blueberries, figs and cranberries, brown sugar and graham cracker crumbs were amongst the oatmeal add-in options.
The boat had more shade cover now; the crew must have extended the wings from the back of the boat forwards, protecting us from any rain drizzling on top of us. (“Does the crew get more than three hours of sleep at a time?,” I wondered.) We ate, sipped coffee and talked to the other guests. Luckily it wasn’t that cold or windy. (Yet.)
Day Two Departure from the Harbor and Maine Cruising Daytime Sail
After breakfast, the awnings came down so the sails could go up in preparation for departure. I went downstairs to add layers as I predicted the temperature would drop. I came back up to find Dan and the crew raising the sails.
We sailed on in the fog. The horns from lighthouses were blowing every so often for safety reasons – when it's zero visibility and you can't see the lighthouse lights, the sound serves its purpose.
It was dizzying below deck. Dan took another non-drowsy Dramamine pill, and I snapped some photos of the ship. We recorded a quick video in our cabin. Though we were freezing, we opted to sit up top, exposed to the wind, because the motion was more bearable than it was below deck.
When it started to rain a bit more we discussed going down to the seating area where there were more cabins and crew beds but a “living room” type of area. We went down and sat on cushioned benches across from another couple. We had a nice conversation about travel and our careers.
When the captain came down to put on his yellow waterproof rain pants and share he was rowing about a mile away to get some new shell lobsters, Dan and I decided to go back to our cabin to rest before lunch.
Exploring Stonington, next to Deer Isle
The boat was anchored and the motion subsided. We walked to the top deck and it was a new world, with boats around, land visible and the fog ever-so-slightly lifted.
Stonington was in the nearby distance, a rowboat ride away. We saw the sun for about an hour that day and I even wore flip flops around town! (One of two times I wore flip flops during our Maine cruising.)
The passengers made it to the island’s dock in two shifts of the rowboat.
Stonington is a small town that was established in 1897, and has thrived on the granite and fishing industries.
Dan and I walked around, taking in the quaint homes with wooden shingles, colorful doors and summer flowers growing on rocky hillside, a characteristic of these islands. I feverishly snapped away with my camera. We found all the great things to do in Stonginton within the hour or so we explored.
Eventually we made our way to the local grocery store to buy water and a coffee drink (even though there was an actual coffee place, 44 North, across the street – we were keeping things “on the go”). We then sat on benches overlooking the water to sketch before the rowboat came back to claim us.
Exploring the Beach of Russ Island
We made it back to American Eagle and continued cruising Maine as we sailed towards Russ Island. The crew anchored our schooner again and gave us the option to row over to the island to explore for an hour. We replied with an emphatic YES! This is what a Maine Windjammer experience is all about! (However, we want to reiterate a Maine Windjamming experience is largely about how you want to spend your time. Far less people went ashore on Russ Island as when we were in Stonington.)
We walked the shore for about 30 minutes then walked back. Dan and I were in heaven for that hour, bouncing between having our heads down looking for shells and other mollusks, and looking into the water like toddlers discovering marine life for the first time. It was also fascinating to look up from the beach towards the horizon at the fog’s ever changing thick-and-thinness in the distance. We could see the nearby schooner. Then we couldn’t. Then we could again.
Dan spotted a lone jellyfish the he called out to me, and I watched as it gracefully pushed the water away to move on its way in the ocean . I was in awe.
We walked into a patch of forest on the island, and suddenly we were like kids seeing moss and lichen for the first time. It was magical and fantastic.
As we walked along Russ Island's pink granite boulders and rocks of varying sizes we were careful to warn each other of slippery spots, which could present a hazard if your feet landed the wrong way. The smell of pine rushed over me as the breeze from the water pushed past us, like it had somewhere to be.
We sat on a rock and snuggled up, looking out into the water. I asked him to name something he could see, touch and smell. I said I could feel the rocks, hear sound of the water, and see the fog. He said he smelled the ocean, heard the lighthouse noises in the distance and saw the house on an island across the way just as the fog lifted a little as he answered.
We walked back and spotted a seagull on a rock, who we passed when we walked the other direction. It was like he was on Schooner watch as we saw our grandiose ship in the distance. Maybe the seagull, with its grey and white feathers and perfectly yellow beak, stood watch over the island like a crew member does on the ship overnight.
An Amazing Lobster Bake Evening, Back Onboard
We rowed back to the boat in time for another evening’s appetizer that Matthew set out. Our chef created a platter of vegetables, cheeses and dip.
The crew took the lobsters out of the water that Captain John had rowed to get from a local lobsterman earlier that day. He turned on the propane tank to start to cook the pounds of soft shell, or “new shell,” lobsters. The way he cooked them onboard reminded us of our times in Charleston, South Carolina, visiting our close friends in the fall to have outdoor oyster roasts. They cook the bushels of oysters the same way.
It took between 20 to 30 minutes to steam them. The sweet smell of lobster started to waft our way as hamburgers and hot dogs were served for the non-crustacean eaters. The hot dogs were neon red. Though no one really knew why they're that color when I asked onboard, I'd later find out it was a marketing ploy to make them stand out on the shelves. There's lots of red food coloring in them.
Dan and I split one to try it. (How could we not? “When in Rome…”) I was reminded why Hebrew National all beef hot dogs are the best. (Sorry, Maine!)
Devouring Our Lobster Dinner
The captain said we could eat whatever we wanted and I joked between the lobster, hamburgers and hot dogs our meal was “surf and turf.” He replied it was, “udder and rudder,” and I laughed. (We absolutely loved Captain John's sense of humor.)
An assembly lined formed between the passengers and crew. We were handed a plate, then a lobster was placed on it. Tiffany, our deckhand, asked if we wanted butter, lemon or both, then placed the containers on our plates and handed us a lobster cracker.
Normally, they would do this lobster bake on the beach but the weather had been rainy all day and it was predicted it would persist throughout the night. It was too risky for the crew to set up dinner on the beach only to get rained out. That was fine with me after our beautiful walk on the beach. Though photos of a lobster bake on the beach may look idyllic, I’ve never loved eating on the beach. A taste of sand has never been a welcomed crunch in any bite. Maybe next sail we’ll try a beach lobster bake! (When you're doing some Maine cruising with any Maine Windjammer Association cruise, a lobster night is always guaranteed.)
Dan and I set up a bench on the top deck as our table for our lobster night. I dug into the claws first, lightly dipped it in butter (if a “light” dip in a vat of melted butter is even possible) and took a bite. Wow. I was blown away.
Tiffany was walking around asking if anyone needed a lesson in eating lobster and taking it apart. I said sure, always curious about the best way to eat one. She showed us the easiest way to break the tail was simply to crack it with your hands and pull out the meat because these were soft shells. I mimicked her actions and did the same. The tail meat was thick and tender with at least four bites worth of meat.
The crew came around pouring white wine as a surprise drink option for guests. (They don't normally offer or serve alcohol. Again, it's BYO drinks onboard.)
How Was the Maine Lobster Onboard our Maine Windjammer Association Ship?
The Maine lobster we had onboard American Eagle was THE BEST lobster we have ever had. And Dan and I don’t go gaga for lobster. We rarely order it if it's on a menu, whether whole or baked in ravioli. But this lobster was insane in the best way possible. If I could be guaranteed lobster would be this good whenever it was an option at a restaurant, I'd order it.
I asked the captain why it was so superior and he kind of laughed it off thinking it was a rhetorical question. Then I said, “I’m being serious! Why is it so good?” He replied that perhaps it was because the lobsters were fresh out of the water that day and really hadn’t been stressed in shipping or anything.
I took my time eating it (the claws, tail and legs are really all there is too a lobster) throwing the shells overboard as instructed. Most people threw out the legs, not thinking the small amount of meat was worth the effort. But I ate them in honor of the lobster sacrificing his or her life. Also in honor of my mother, who would never let an iota of lobster meat go uneaten if she had one in front of her. (She loves lobster!)
I kept eating after others were finished, digging into a second lobster. (Maybe I was slow and the legs took up more time than I realized but I wasn't in a rush. Dan finished two lobsters a lot faster than I did and didn't bother with the legs.) I even went back to the lobster bucket for another claw, eating five claws in total. Captain John was busy cracking meat out of the lobster shell and handed me a good one.
That fifth claw was my last taste before I cleaned my plate (and threw the shells overboard in one last ceremonial farewell and internal mention of “thanks” to the crustaceans), washed my dish and dipped my hands in the bowl of warm lemon water that the crew set up for us to get rid of the fish smell. Then I finished my white wine.
Then the pie came out for dessert! Matthew made pear pies and blueberry pies. Dan and I had a slice each of a blueberry pie. It was delicious.
After Our Lobster Bake, into the Evening
After dinner most people retired to their cabins. But Dan and I stayed up top to have a few more drinks and bond with new friends. We talked about travel and sailing and enjoyed hearing other people’s joyful memories of both.
I said goodnight when it started to get colder and Dan came in shortly after. We snuggled in one small bed, saying three things we were each grateful for before I went back up to the top bunk. I journaled for a little before I got sleepy enough to call it a night.
Wednesday, June 16: Third Full Day on American Eagle Schooner
Morning on Maine's Coastal Waters
I woke up to the loud sounds of everyone actively leaving their cabins at about 6:45am. At 7:00am I knew falling asleep again wasn’t an option, as we heard the sloshing sounds of the crew washing the deck above us, below.
I got dressed and went up to the top deck for coffee. It was cool to wake up to an entirely different scene even though we were in the same spot as the day before, when we were the fog near Russ Island. In the morning light, the skies were blue and islands around us clearly visible. It was a new day!
Asher, the lead deckhand who was on night watch early enough to see the sunrise, told the captain he was watching the lobster boats come out around 2:45am. They shared that it’s easier for the fisherman to find their lobster buoys at that hour because less boats on the water means less waves. Less waves means less water bobbing, which makes it easier to see their lobster buoys.
Breakfast on Wednesday was a delicious mix of eggs with herbs and cheese, diced potatoes, and bacon.
Lunch and Relaxation as We Sailed Towards North Haven
The afternoon brought a few hours of sailing and lots of boat shaking as we cruised.
Lunch was mac ‘n cheese and salad. Bacon reappeared, which was probably leftovers from breakfast’s bacon tray. (Which is a-okay with us. Using leftovers for another meal seemed common as to not waste anything. It was practical, like it would be if you were at home and used leftovers in another dish.)
The cookies Andre (a crew member) made for dessert were a hit.
There is both fresh bread and a dessert item for every lunch and dinner. If there are leftovers, they often reappear during breakfast if anyone wants some.
After lunch, we stayed on the top dock for a while until the abundance of wind got a little repetitive and, dare I say, annoying. At this point I had gotten into the habit of either putting my hair in a bun or a braided ponytail to help with the knots as a result of the wind.
I went downstairs and ended up laying down in our cabin to enjoy the sun and to make the rocking a little more manageable. Dan came in and we ended up napping then laying perpendicular to the beds with our feet against the wall, talking for a while.
When I heard someone singing to the sounds of a guitar I went upstairs to see if the two guests onboard who are musicians and singers were doing an impromptu performance. Turned out one of them was in her cabin singing so no public show….this time. (But there would be later on!)
Afternoon Arrival at North Haven
Luckily we were now in the bay of North Haven, ready to anchor before bringing down the sails down.
The water in the bay was calm and the boat leveled out. Dan joined the crew and guests to help furl the sails, which is a way of neatly guiding them down in nice folds.
Walking Around North Haven, a Coastal Community
The crew asked if anyone wanted to row to North Haven to walk around the neighborhood. It was only a simple, five minute rowing trip away. We emphatically answered, “yes!”
We had 50 minutes to walk through the charming, slightly rustic suburban area of North Haven. It was full of summer homes with wooden shingles and wildflowers and blackberry shrubs dotting the landscape surrounding the calm harbor. It was a setting you might imagine New England summer homes to be in, much like you'd see in a painting.
Dan and I took photos and talked, walking hand-in-hand half the time, discussing our trip and Moby Dick (one of his favorite books) the other half of the time. It was a gorgeous day with blissful white fluffy clouds and beautiful purple flowers dotting the landscape. White blackberry flowers were in bloom and blackberry fruits were green, about a week or two from ripening.
Our Last Dinner Maine Cruising Aboard American Eagle Schooner
We rowed back and boarded American Eagle to crack open our two last ice cold beers. The sunshine gleamed golden as we drank them on the top deck before dinner was served. (We had brought a pack of 8 16 oz Bud Lights and a small “juice box” sized wine – the equivalent of three glasses – which was perfect for three and a half days.) The aromatic smell of garlic drifted our way from the galley, as the wind swept past us from the bow towards the aft, where we were sitting.
Dinner was served at 6:20pm. Matthew apologized for being 20 minutes late but we never would have known had he not mentioned it. Time is especially abstract on the ship.
He created a smorgasbord of chicken piccata, lobster piccata, Jasmine rice, spaghetti squash topped with tomatoes and feta cheese, and local Swiss chard with asparagus sauteed with garlic and oil. I went back for seconds (maybe thirds) to top Jasmine rice with the lemon sauce from the chicken piccata. It was scrumptious, as usual. Cheesecake with a mixed berry compote was for dessert.
The crew was amazing and insisted on washing our dishes, but I managed to sneak over to the bucket of warm soapy water to do my part. I have to admit the warm water was a welcome temperature.
We added extra layers of clothing at the sun continued to sink beneath the horizon. Two guests brought their guitars up to sing and play tunes. Dan and I were in heaven.
We watched the sky glow orange and pinks and purples as the seagull activity stirred up around us. Maybe they were enjoying the acoustic guitar sing along concert too.
Just before dark, around 8:45pm, we all called it a night. It was, by now, a daily routine: bed by 9:00pm and awake by 7:00am.
Middle of the Night Wake Up, Contemplating the Stars
I happened to have woken up at 1:00am to use the bathroom (or head, rather – we were on a sailboat after all). I contemplated going on deck to see the stars. But I knew I’d be freezing and didn’t want to wake Dan when I got my camera (it definitely would have woken him up because it was right now to him and the camera bag was heavy) so I bypassed it.
Thursday, June 17: Our Last Morning on Our Maine Windjammer Cruise
I opened my eyes and checked my watch for the time. The sun was peeking into our small sized skylight of approximately 6 inches in diameter. It was around 7:00am.
I crawled into bed with Dan to snuggle for a little while but after a few minutes got up, telling him I wanted to make the most of our last morning onboard. I wanted to bring my sketchbook outside for some morning coffee and watercolor time.
When I went above deck, I saw the boat was still in North Haven but repositioned itself overnight, turning about 90 degrees. I quickly reoriented myself.
After pouring coffee I grabbed a small cinnamon roll Matthew and Andre prepared to hold us over until brunch (our last meal onboard. I sat down to sketch three memorable trees I saw in the near distance the day before.
When I looked right to see the captain he said, “Two bald eagles were flying above the trees over there around 4:45am,” as he pointed in a single direction. That hour was very much earlier than I wake up, but I know it’s probably a beautiful time because sunrise is around then during summer in Maine.
I asked about the stars the night before and he said there were lots of them, but added that it was freezing on deck. I said, “I figured. That’s partially why I didn’t come up to see them when I woke up at 1:00am. But I thought about it.” However, I admit I regretted it a tad.
How many other times can you see a night sky with so little light pollution? And on a sailboat, nonetheless. Damn you, early bedtimes. I could have stayed up another hour to see the stars, perhaps. But then again – early wake up calls are inevitable on the ship and I needed sleep too. I returned to my sketchbook.
Dan came upstairs and sat beside me and we discussed my small painting. I love that we can talk about art together.
Helping to Raise the Sails for the Last Time and Mid-Morning Brunch
The crew called for help raising the sails and once again, we were off. We were headed back to Rockland this time, where we first boarded the ship just days ago, even though in some ways it felt weeks ago.
Shortly after, brunch was served (instead of breakfast because we were disembarking at 10:30am and it was a nice meal and farewell to our new friends). The last morning of the cruise brunch is served on paper plates to make it easier for the crew to turnover the ship to the next guests.
We hadn’t really packed yet, but then again we never really unpacked except for a few toiletries, scarves and jackets we hung up on hooks in our room.
Matthew knew everyone loved the macaroni and cheese he made the day before for lunch, so he added to it to our brunch buffet. He also made potatoes, a cake-based donut but baked in muffin tins, fruit (cantaloupe and oranges) and two quiches. He always outdoes himself!
Dan and I tried to run down to the room to strip the sheets and put them into a pillowcase as instructed, and pack a little. But we also wanted to be on the top deck to enjoy each little bit of the beautiful sail that morning. One final hoorah for Maine cruising and our memorable experience. There's a nice peaceful feeling on the ship we were going to miss.
Arrival Back in Rockland after Sailing for just under Five Days and Four Nights
We arrived in port back in Rockland around 10:30am. Captain John said some words about the trip and also housekeeping, like how the luggage would be raised through the top deck bench. The crew would take care of it. (In a “Sailboat Transformers” twist, we learned the seat opened up on the top deck to reveal a passage the bottom deck.)
Once the crew began transferring the luggage this way, Matthew asked, “Who is in Cabin I?” I answered, “Us – we’re delinquent. We didn’t finish packing. But please don't worry about us; we’ll carry our luggage up in a bit.”
After all the group photos were taken on several phone cameras and one Point & Shoot, we said our goodbyes, tipped the crew (which we did via Venmo because we never carry that much cash) and we were off to our rental car in the parking lot at the port. We waved when we passed Asher and Tiffany, our first mate and deckhand, who were already in a pickup truck transporting more firewood to the ship.
No time is wasted and they are nothing if not hardworking and efficient.
Goodbye, American Eagle Sailboat and Our Maine Windjammer Experience
We said one last goodbye to one of the passengers we befriended on the trip and whose company we really enjoyed when we encountered one another in the parking lot. I complimented her original song she sang and played the night before, and wished her and her husband well on their camping trip they were going on with friends for the weekend, following the cruise. Then it was back to Massachusetts for them.
We do hope it’s not the last we’ll hear from them or see them and perhaps we'll meet again on American Eagle. This sweet couple is loyal to American Eagle, after all, having sailed several times in favor of the ease of a Windjammer Cruise instead of sailing their 30’ sailboat in need of some repairs. We hugged her goodbye and got into our car.
The boat quickly disappeared as we drove uphill to turn right onto US-1. We were off to Bar Harbor, two hours north of Rockland for another adventure on our seven day coastal Maine road trip.
Disclosure: We thank Maine Windjammer Association for generously hosting us. We also may make a small commission from affiliate links in this post (at no cost to you) but all opinions are ours and we bring you genuine content with real facts, photos, thoughts and recommendations. Always.
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