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Is This Luxury Schooner Not the Best Way to Enjoy the Maine Coast and Its Attractions?

Is This Luxury Schooner Not the Best Way to Enjoy the Maine Coast and Its Attractions?

As I descended the gangway in the direction of Ladona, I was greeted by the whistling chirp of the osprey that made its home on the wharf. On the surface of the murky water, a rippled pattern formed in the reflection of the ship's hull, which was spotless and cream colored. The sun's rays from the late afternoon poured golden pools onto super mario bros  the deck. Everything shone brightly, from the polished cast-brass wheel to the long mahogany deck table, the massive Douglas fir bowsprit, and the gilded letters engraved on the bow of the ship. I had seen photographs of the ship when it was in its most decrepit state during the process of its restoration. It was nothing short of a miracle how things turned out.

It was late September when I arrived in Maine for a five-night excursion on board Ladona, one of the nine traditionally rigged sailing vessels that make up the Maine Windjammer Association, the largest fleet of historic ships in North America. During my time on board, we sailed the coasts of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Each schooner in the MWA fleet transports between 17 and 40 passengers along the 100-mile stretch of coast that runs between Boothbay Harbor and Bar Harbor, departing from their home ports in Rockland and Camden, respectively. More than 2,000 craggy islands pounded by the wind can be found just off the jagged coast of this region. There are hidden coves and snug fishing ports that provide peaceful overnight anchorages along the coast, and there are lighthouses perched on the rocky outcrops.

My first experience with Maine windjamming was in 2015, when I went on a cruise with two of my daughters, who were eight and ten years old at the time. The cruise was themed around knitting. In between hoisting sails, searching for harbor seals and porpoises in the ocean, and beachcombing along rocky shorelines, my girls and I spent the course of four days perfecting our stockinette stitch. After those two years had passed, my husband and I went on a trip aboard the Victory Chimes, which is one of the few remaining three-masted schooners in the United States; its image is featured on the reverse side of the Maine state quarter.

At that point, I had already developed a strong affection for these stunningly beautiful old boats due to the manner in which they had developed into such a natural part of Maine's coastal aesthetic, the maritime heritage that they preserved, and the peaceful magic that occurred when they harnessed the wind and skimmed over the ocean. However, the experiences I've had up to this point have been rough around the edges; windjamming is often referred to as "camping at sea."

After that, I became aware of Ladona, a windjamming vessel that had recently undergone a comprehensive refurbishment with the intention of producing a more refined overall experience. Because I was intrigued, I decided to set sail the previous fall and join a trip that included a gathering of the entire Maine windjammer fleet in Brooklin Harbor, which is the location of the renowned WoodenBoat magazine and a boatbuilding school.

A century ago, the cherished family yacht of American industrialist Homer Loring was the forerunner of what is now known as Ladona. The illustrious naval architect William H. Hand Jr. was responsible for the boat's design, which earned it first place in its category at the 1923 Bermuda Cup. The boat's graceful profile and billowing sails contributed to the boat's success. In later years, the ship was used to search for German submarines outside of New York Harbor during World War II. After that, it was put to use as a fishing dragger in Stonington, Connecticut, before being repurposed as a training vessel and given the name Nathaniel Bowditch, after the man credited with being the father of modern maritime navigation. The Bowditch was a passenger schooner that was part of Maine's windjammer fleet from 1976 until February 2014, when it was put up for auction due to financial difficulties. It had been a part of the fleet since 1976.

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