Maritime Explorers: Bruce and Maureen Kinsey
The 61st annual Windjammer Days will take place Sunday, June 25 through Saturday, July 1, 2023. This year the Friends of Windjammer Days is celebrating our rich population of Maritime Explorers. Those featured have traveled extensively on different bodies of waters either for work, pleasure or both.
Bruce and Maureen Kinsey first met the summer of 1972, during college break while working at the Rocktide Inn Restaurant on the east side of Boothbay Harbor. Little did Maureen know their future would include many maritime adventures, most notably an annual voyage on their sailboat from September to May for seven years. Bruce first learned to sail as a child, spending summer vacations in East Boothbay while visiting his grandparents. Maureen on the other hand, first experienced boating on one of Boothbay Harbor’s tour boats.
Work at Sheepscot Machine intervened in Bruce’s dream to go cruising, but after retirement he spent six years restoring a 42-foot sailboat. Their first trip was down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), to the Bahamas. The ICW is chain of channels linked together to provide passage along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts. The following years took them down the Caribbean Chain to Trinidad, then around Venezuela to Cartagena, Columbia and on to the San Blas Islands of Panama, then to Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica and back to Maine.
As fate would have it, they met another couple and their puppy in St. Martin who had the same itinerary that year. They ended up sailing together for the next five years. Throughout their travels, Bruce and Maureen concentrated on meeting and making friends wherever they went. They lived like the locals, shopping, doing laundry and hiking around the areas they visited. They kept bikes on their stern to get around on land.
One of their most notable memories was attending a kite festival in Guatemala. During this festival, it is believed that the dead rise up to heaven on Nov. 1, All Souls Day, and they celebrate by flying beautiful kites made of heavy colored paper, including some non-flying ones as large as 20-feet high. The people gather in a big field to view the kites and buy food and crafts from vendors. In the afternoon, they fly the smaller kites. They also once spent the week of Easter in Antigua, Guatemala, watching the daily somber processions through the streets with up to 80 men carrying on their shoulders huge floats depicting the Crucifixion. These depictions are so heavy, that on every block there are different men lined up to take others’ places going forward. The townsfolk lay down flowers and colored sawdust in the streets to create beautiful carpets for the processions, and after it goes by, they are swept up and others are created for the next day.
Cuba was another never to be forgotten experience where they witnessed extreme poverty, but met so many joyful, generous, smart and inventive people! They were advised to take along gifts such as baseballs, baseball cards, jewelry, clothing, toiletries, etc. to share with the people they met along the way. When they gave these things away, they most often were gifted something in return, such as eggs, lobster, vegetables, even once a birthday cake!
In all, it was 10,000 miles of adventure and fun! Bruce and Maureen’s daughter Gretchen has also caught the sailing bug, but she and her family prefer sailboat racing to their slower pace of cruising and exploring.