Imagine sailing on a historic ship off the mid-coast of Maine. All around you are white clapboard houses, tiny islands and tall Maine pines setting the scene. You relax on the schooner, taking in the soft morning breezes of Penobscot Bay with your hands wrapped around a steaming cup of coffee. It’s time for another beautiful day at sea. Welcome aboard the Victory Chimes…this is living history!
Built in 1900 in Bethel, Delaware as a shipping vessel, today Victory Chimes is a National Historic Landmark, part of the Maine Windjammer Association and the largest in the fleet. This grand dame can carry up to 41 guests with a hard-working crew of 8 and departs out of Rockland, Maine, a picturesque two-hour ride from Portland.
Sailing aboard the Victory Chimes at sunset. Photo courtesy of Victory Chimes
Choose from 3 – 6-night sails with various musical, wellness and entertainment themes like the Great Schooner Race Week, Comedy at Sea, Camden Windjammer Festival and Fall Color sailings to enhance your cruising experience.
Sail on a piece of History
Captain Sam Sikkema steers the Victory Chimes. Photo by Mira Temkin.
“The Victory Chimes has been the most successful 3-masted boat in history,” said owner Captain Sam Sikkema. “It’s the only one of its kind still in operation. When you sail on Victory Chimes, you’re sailing on a piece of American history.”
“The most challenging part of sailing,” says Captain Sikkema, “is working through the elements like the winds, water currents and tides, none of which you control. We go where the wind takes us.”
Captain Sikkema continued, “Guests sail with us for a sense of peace and relaxation. It’s a chance to connect to the natural world from the water and unwind, unplug and let go of their responsibilities. What always amazes me is that you put a group of strangers together on the boat and a few days later, they’re all close friends. Some even plan to sail together again the next summer.”
See the coast of Maine with all of its many charming little islands. The boat anchors at several quaint stops like Isle Au Hait, Vinalhaven and North Haven, one of Maine’s 14 unbridged communities. Passengers hop on the small motorboats and go ashore to hike the trails. Each place is different with small boutiques, galleries and gift shops.
Post Office in Vinalhaven, Maine. Photo by Mira Temkin
Begin with wellness, end with Irish Music
I chose the Wellness and Irish Music Cruise, and let the sounds of mandolins, fiddle, flute and guitar fill my soul, led by the Wells Farm Band out of Rhode Island. Each night, they played traditional and contemporary Irish music. Their bawdy ballads and folk songs matched the sounds of the breezes gently blowing. It was beyond perfect. Each morning, instructor Kristy Otterbach led the group in a series of yoga poses, movement and meditative classes to begin our day with a sense of purpose and enlightenment.
Adventure on the High Seas
Captain Sikkema charts our course. Photo by Mira Temkin.
Whether you’re a sailor or not, guests are encouraged to help with hoisting the sails, bringing up the anchor, maybe even steer. Port or starboard, you’ll learn what traditional commands like “heave” and “ready on the peak” really mean as you work together with the crew. The sails are up and then we’re off to sail the coast of Maine, parts unknown. The ship takes in the gentle breezes as the passengers gaze out into the calm sea. Then the gusts pick up and the crew must adjust the sails to catch the wind. Late in the afternoon, Captain Sam pulls out the map and shows us how far and where we sailed that day.
Ready to jump ship?
Diving off the Victory Chimes. Photo courtesy of Eric Washburn.
One of the coolest things you can do is dive off the side of the boat into the refreshing waters below. Don’t worry…there’s a ladder to help you get back up!
Gastronomy to the Max!
Guests look forward to the gourmet, chef-inspired meals. A sumptuous breakfast is served at 8 a.m. down in the salon with everything from wild blueberry pancakes to eggs, breakfast meats and the yummiest fruit I’ve ever tasted. The lunch buffet up on the deck features salad, chicken, shrimp, pasta and always a fabulous dessert, all while staring at the picture-perfect scenes. Before you know it, Chef Adam brings out appetizers before dinner and then announces tonight’s fare. Will it be fresh seafood? Or an ethnic choice? No matter what, it’s guaranteed to be delectable! For those who are vegetarian, gluten-free or have other dietary restrictions, the chef makes every effort to serve his guests according to their regimen.
The main culinary event onboard is the lobster bake, served with all the trimmings including corn-on-the cob, slaw and of course, fresh lobster boiled on deck.
Perhaps the best testament to the popularity of the Victory Chimes is the number of guests who return to experience it, summer after summer. For many of my fellow passengers, this was a repeat sail. I’m hoping to be among them.
Photo courtesy of Eric Washburn
The season runs from June – September. For more information, contact 800.745.5651, email@example.com or visit victorychimes.com.