A Two Hour Cruise on an Old Wooden Schooner

Sounds like the old "Gilligan's Island" theme, doesn't it? The reality is much nicer (and with a better ending, too!).

We've always found so much to do in and around Freeport that we are sometimes a little surprised when someone asks if there is anything to do here. Some aren't even aware of L.L. Bean's flagship store (and the other L.L. Bean stores), or the other 160-plus stores and outlets in town. But the other question is "What else?"

What else is there to do, besides the shopping? Stick with us, as there are really quite a number of things. Today we'll talk about the antique schooners of Portland Schooner Company.

While Portland Schooner has several specialty tours, such as an overnight cruise, an island lobster bake cruise, etc., and they also have special cruises, such as the one we took last year to see the July 4 fireworks, the two hour cruises (both during the day and at sunset) are their bread and butter. When it is time for your cruise, you assemble at the Maine State Pier on Commercial Street in Portland's Old Port. The two John Alden designed boats, Wendameen and Bagheera, were built in East Boothbay, Maine in the early 20th Century. Each has a rich history, as you would expect for vintage wooden schooners.

After climbing aboard one of the beautiful schooners, you find a seat along the deck and before long the order is given to cast off the mooring lines. The captain navigates out of the docks, turns into the wind, and hoists the sails. If there's a breeze, the diesel is shut down, and there is only the sound of the breeze in the sails and the water slipping by the sides of the boat. As the sails fill, the old schooner may heel over just a little as it gathers speed and gently glides away from the dock area and into Casco Bay.

Depending on breezes and weather, you may sail around some of the islands, and out to Portland Head Lighthouse (seeing it from the water is a marvelous view - very different from seeing it on shore), and before you know it, you've turned and begun to make your way back to the port.

The schooner slips past smaller lighthouses marking access to different parts of the bay, and finds its way back to the dock. Can two hours really have passed so quickly? Sign me up to go again!

Oh, and don't forget our Schooners and Lighthouses and Sail Into the Sunset specials at Brewster House, which include a two hour sail with Portland Schooner.