They were charming, cheap and lovely to sail. In 1936 Frank Swift of Bucksport began Maine Windjammer Cruises. GRACE BAILEY is from the fleet of that original windjammer business! Windjamming is the best way to vacation in Maine. You'll have a front row seat to the best of Maine - and - you'll be vacationing in an environmentally conscious way. Some History: It is 1936. The Great Depression is finally coming to an end, but in Maine, so is something else: the era of the sailing ship. Not many years before, coastal Maine had been one of the country's top boatbuilding regions, when sail craft had been the world's workhorses of commerce and transportation. The first decades of the 20th century changed that, with steamships supplanting sail for long-distance transit and trucks taking over wherever a road could be built. By the mid-1930s, the great sailing ships had either been scrapped or were in danger of simply rotting away from despair and disuse. Then, in 1936, Maine mariner Frank Swift had a big idea: Take one of the old vessels, convert it for passenger use, and sell pleasure cruises to people eager to escape the hurry of modern life and return to a quieter time. Swift offered his first cruise in 1936 aboard a 55-year-old schooner named Mabel. As he later recalled, "We had only three lady passengers from Boston" on that first weeklong trip, and each of them paid only $35. "The next time, I believe, we took off without any passengers." But Swift didn't give up, and his business grew slowly. Over the next 25 years, under the trade name Maine Windjammer Cruises, he operated more than a dozen classic vessels, scooping them up as their owners deserted the sail business -- and, in the process, Swift helped preserve a vital piece of history.
Windjamming is vacation sailing along the coast of Maine aboard traditional sailing vessels once used for cargo. It is a way to keep alive the spirit, ships and tradition of the Golden Age of Sail.
Repurposing these grand schooners keeps history and appreciation alive. There is no other connection as intimate and lively as windjamming. These boats were built robust for hard work. When they were no longer economical for cargo transport, they still had a lot of life left.