I have had a love affair with ships and the sea since reading “20,000,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and “Treasure Island” as a child. Later came Conrad, Melville, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Coleridge and so many more. I’m up to my scuppers with these adventures. I dreamed that one day I would sail on a real tall ship visiting new ports but never thought I could actually live that dream. But, Ah, mates. Sometimes dreams come true. It happened this July.
Maine is an uncharted sea to me. I always wanted to go there but it was out of reach for my 25 ft. Whaler or my 17 ft. catboat. You learn in life that you never know when an opportunity will knock you on the head with a belaying pin. One day my grandson Nate’s parents called and posed a question -“Would you like to sail the coast of Maine with just Nate on a tall ship called the Angelique out of Camden, Maine and explore Penobscot Bay for five days.” They already knew what my answer would be. “When do we board”!
Camden, Maine is the epicenter of tall ships that can be charted for groups and individuals. It is a VERY salty town and the waterfront is a museum of restored working boats, yachts and down east pleasure boats. No go-fast boats with quadruple outboards on transoms or Euro-trash boats here.
We didn’t spot one Jet Ski all the time we were in port or sailing. Maybe Jet Ski sales people are an undesirable species up there?
As Nate and I viewed Angelique from afar, amongst all the other tall ships, she looked magnificent. She was on the larger side and her hull was dark green. Her decks and bright work seemed to shine in the sun, which was even more incredible since it was fully socked in by clouds and fog.
Far away looks can be deceiving so as we mounted the gangway with all our gear I figured that below decks could be worse than the galley ships rowed by Jean Val Jean in “Les Miserable”. We were ushered down a companionway and shown to our “Accommodations”. We were happily surprised. I was ready for below deck hammocks strung amongst barrels of salted beef and hardtack. Instead, we received our own room with nice bunks, varnished bead board walls, a private sink with potable drinking water, storage and lighting to read by over both bunks. Above was a skylight that provided great North Atlantic ventilation. There was a shared bath for the five cabins in the midship area and a total of 16 cabins and additional heads either forward or aft. What amazed us was that the rooms, the head, the decks, kitchens, deckhouse and below decks dining area were impeccably clean. Everything above and below decks was in tip-top shape. This is a much-loved vessel. You see it in Captain Dennis Gallant’s face as he moves about. The Captain, his wife Candice, and the crew take their ship, guests, fun and adventure very seriously.
The first night all 29 guests mingled on board and were treated to epicurean delights prepared on board by both the ships chef and master baker. The entire trip these two produced amazing dishes, afternoon teas, appetizers, homemade fresh breads, entrees, etc. Everyone slept tight and the next morning we left port assisted by the harbormaster and Angelique’s motor launch piloted by the first mate Justin, a real salty young man who hails from Long Island. Justin has the incredible ability to be everywhere at once. Projecting Captain Dennis’s orders to the crew and instinctively knowing what to do. We left in a deep fog that seemed to have no effect on the Captain or the crew. Once out of the harbor the launch was taken aboard and the sails unfurled. They were impressive red canvas that was graphically dramatic against the dark green hull. As the fog burned off midmorning, we began to see islands covered with cliffs and pinewoods. For a while porpoises accompanied us. The winds picked up and we began to heel. The rush you feel is incredible.
On board was the adventure director, Susan, who supplied programs related to the sea and bay environment but nothing so serious as to be less than enjoyable. In addition, there were ample opportunities to help raise and lower sails, row the tender to shore, help in the galley if you desired, or do absolutely nothing but read, sun yourself, draw, paint, write, and explore any of the destinations we anchored at every night. Nate was always busy pulling lines, learning knots, and standing by the Captain in total awe of his knowledge. Finally, he was asked to take the wheel. His intermittent smiling and serious face says it all. Nate is not new to sailing as he is quite the sailor for his age but for a half hour he felt he was “Master and Commander” as Captain Dennis stood watch right behind him giving guidance.
Nights we were graced with a nearly full moon sparkling on the waters and accentuated by stars you never see in our light polluted mid-Atlantic area. To describe every beautiful port of call and anchorage is something to be experienced yourself. Words cannot do justice to this journey. I will say this though, whether you take a voyage on Angelique or any schooner you choose such as preserved local sloops such as the Christeen and Priscilla on Long Island, or vessels out of Mystic and other ports of call, the wonderment of a voyage under sail will remain with you. We should be thankful there are devoted people like Captain Dennis and Candice, first mate Justin and the entire crew of Angelique who believe in preserving our nautical heritage while making a job creating business out of it.
Safe seas and pleasant winds to all.
You can contact Angelique and other historic vessels that offer tours and voyages with the following information below:
Windjammer “Angelique” Camden, Maine-“sailangelique.com”
Ph. # 1 800-242-9989
Oyster Sloop “Priscilla”- Sayville, Long Island-“fareharbor.com”
Ph. # 631-494-9888
Sloop “Christeen”-Oyster Bay, Long Island-‘’ center.org”
Ph. # 516-922-7245
Sloop “Clear Water’’- Beacon N.Y. – ‘’clearwater.org”
Ph. # 845-265-8080
1885 Schooner “Pioneer” - NYC Harbor –South Street Sea Port Museum-“southstreetseaportmuseum.org”
Ph. # 646-315-4478
Schooner ‘’Brilliant”- Mystic Seaport Museum-Mystic, Conn. “Mysticseaport.org”
Ph. # 860-572-5341