55th Windjammer Days Festival on its way

This year’s dates: June 25-July 1
Posted:  Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - 9:45am

First off, Friends of Windjammer Days has a new website for the Windjammer Days Festival – www.boothbayharborwindjammerdays.org. Write it down, bookmark it … just remember that web address for all the up-to-the-minute details about the Boothbay region's longest running festival.

Said Friends of Windjammer Days Board President Pete Ripley, “We're very grateful to Atomic Studios (of Boothbay Harbor) for all they did for us with our first website three years ago. The new website is just more in-house based.”

Sailing in for the 55th Windjammer Days, June 25 through July 1, are the following 11 confirmed schooners: Adventure (New Gloucester, Massachusetts), American Eagle (Rockland), Alert (Bailey Island), the pink schooner Ardelle (Gloucester, Massachusetts), Ernestina-Morrissey (New Bedford, Massachusetts), Eastwind (Boothbay Harbor), Heritage (Rockland), Lazy Jack (Boothbay Harbor), Lynx (Portsmouth, New Hampshire), Lewis H. Story (Essex, Massachusetts) and True North (built at Goudy & Stevens).

Ripley, also the Friends' liasion to the visiting (and home-based) ship captains, said everyone's really happy about the number of ships already set to sail. Cap'n Pete began networking (as he does) at events like last year's Sailing Rendezvous in Castine, and the Tall Ships event in Portand a few years ago.

Ardelle confirmed last summer for 2017. Adventure's been trying to get back to Maine for a while, but she needed some love, which kept her in Massachusetts,” Ripley said. “The only one we need to confirm the actual dates in harbor for is Harvey Gamage – yeah, we're happy.”

The ships are, sails down, the main attraction, the very inspiration for the festival, but before, during and after their appearance, much activity is afoot in Boothbay Harbor – and that's not just because the Pirates of the Dark Rose will be stirrin' up some mischief!

There's the Blessing of the Fleet – fishing, excursion and Coast Guard, the Windjammer golf tournament (now on Thursday); and the battle for bragging rights in the Tug of War across the Harbor resumes with teams gloved up and ready for action.

Competitions include One Design boat races; a lobster-eating contest, oyster shucking, a codfish relay race, a lighted boat parade, the Rocky Coast Road Race, the street parade and the kinda-still-new Miss Windjammer Pageant, year two.

Tours range from behind the scenes looks at the Department of Marine Resources and U. S. Coast Guard Station in West Boothbay Harbor to haunted history walking tours (for the rest of the story). Brand new in this category for 2017: tours of the Sail Loft in East Boothbay where internationally known sailmaker Nat Wilson and crew sew sails for modern and historic vessels.

And, speaking of historic vessels, the antique boat parade is a must for all boat admirers and owners. Watch as history sails — and motors — by.

Events for kids (that don't involve those nefarious visiting pirates) include arts and crafts at Maine State Aquarium, the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library (Windjammers for Wee Mateys), and Kids' Alley (where games and crafts abound).

Art lovers will lose themselves in the worlds within Artists' Alley (at a new location: 11 Howard Street) where they can observe local and visiting artists at work or peruse art for sale. Those of you who attend the artist's reception will know most of them before the Alley opens. Art not quite your bag? Check out the huge craft fair up to the Boothbay Common for two days.

Live music by local and regional acts will be wafting on the warm, salty breezes until that much anticipated evening midweek when the colors and sounds of fireworks fill the night sky.

While attendance numbers have continued to grow over the past three years, Friends of Windjammer Days is looking forward to this fourth year at the helm.

Treasurer Dianne Gimbel said Friends members work tirelessly, collectively brainstorming on ways to attract more visitors to Windjammer Days and the region.

“We are very grateful for the continued sponsorship and support we receive from the community, and for the incredible volunteers that make it all happen,” Gimbel said.

The Friends of Windjammer Days group meets the second Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m. at Boat House Bistro on the By-Way in Boothbay Harbor. If you're interested in volunteering, but aren't quite sure what aspect of the festival floats your boat, here's a list of committees and chairs: Tug of War Across the Harbor/Sponsorship - Mark Gimbel; Antique Boat Parade – Doug Goldhirsch and Bruce White; Artists' Alley – Janet Brennan and Sandy Wheeler; Blessing of the Fleet - local clergy; Cod Fish Races - Chris Gleason & Rusty Court; Entertainment – Bill Bailey; Food – Jackie Barnicourt; Footbridge Lighting - Nancy McEvoy; Kids Alley – Trish Warren and Lori Bailey; Lighted Boat Parade -Kim Gillies; Rocky Coast Road Race – YMCA; Street Parade – Stephanie Hawke; and Whale Park – Kris Ward.

Questions? Friends of Windjammer Days: windjammerdays@ gmail.com.

In addition to the new website, visit the Friends of Windjammer Days on Facebook.