It was smooth sailing for the Friends of Windjammer Days, the non-profit volunteer group behind this year’s Windjammer Days Festival. The 56th annual event marked the group’s fifth year at the helm.
“This year went the smoothest yet,” said Dianne Gimbel. “I have to say that its success was due to our incredible group of committed volunteers dedicated to the festival – they are a small army – and the community’s support and love of Windjammer Days.”
Dianne and her husband Mark Gimbel received great feedback from visitors, residents and businesses. And all you need do is visit the Friends of Windjammer Days on Facebook and read the posts to know it!
Cody Mitchell’s drones off Burnt Island provided footage of the 15 schooners before they sailed into the harbor. Seventeen schooners were expected, but the Boyd Sheppard and Actress had to turn back due to mechanical difficulties.
Images of the schooners under full sail in the outer harbor before the Gathering of the Fleet began were projected onto a ginormous LED screen streaming live footage. Doug Gimbel narrated over a PA system what the Whale Park crowd was seeing on the screen relating the details and history of all the schooners. There were also logos and commercials produced by Festival sponsors on the screen.
Mark says his goal is to bring 20 schooners to the 2019 Windjammer Days - and he’s already been working on it.
The Lighted Boat Parade drew rave reviews from spectators and participants. And the awards went to … Best In Show – Blown Budget, Capt. Nick Upham; Most Patriotic – Island Mode, Oceanside Resort/Capt. Craig; Most Elegant – Flying Cloud, Capt. Tom Woodin; Most Spirited – Casey Anne, Capt. Eben Court; Most Colorful – Breakaway III, Capt. Pete Ripley; Classic Beauty – Osprey, Capt. Rob Wheeler; Fleet Favorite – Nor Wester, Capt. Andrew Hawke; Windjammer Delights – Andiamo, Capt. Laura Russell; Capitol Punishment, Capt. Frank Fassett; Look Out, Capt. Rusty Brewer.
Eighteen teams of four signed up for the Codfish Relay Races – the highest number of teams to date. Among them were several participants in Down East Magazine’s 2018 Great Maine Scavenger Hunt. The Hunt featured several categories, including three codfish relay races. The other two were in Eastport and Mibridge.
“Peter Southwick took great pictures of these teams racing and gave the team members some photos for the contest,” said Mark.
Still talking relay races, Mark noted Jack Herger’s addition to its subcommittee. “Jack came on board to help Chris Gleason and Rusty Court with the races. He came up with a new starting line with lobster traps and signs.” And Herger’s commentary, for spectators who had attended Fishermen’s Festivals, rivaled Andrew Morley’s as emcee of the races during the former late April fest.
The Tug of War Across the Harbor ended up being pushed back to 3 p.m. from 1 p.m., yet still drew a large crowd. New champs: Clear Stream Construction over Marden Home Builders and a third team of spectators created on the spot! Members or this team, “The Winners,” hailed from Mississippi, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Florida and Auburn.
Visitors and a few locals signed on for the lobster eating contest Doug Gimbel emceed. Sewall Maddocks Jr., pirate for the day, was declared the winner and promptly donated the $100 cash prize back to the Festival/Friends of Windjammer Days.
The Ernestina-Morrissey reception/fundraiser at Bristol Marine Shipyard, formerly Boothbay Harbor Shipyard, drew 50 attendees.
“It was really cool,” said Mark. “The shipyard crew were working outside the ship on scaffolding while Ross Branch talked to the people at the event about the work being done. It was awesome.”
Lots of folks took advantage of the tours aboard Adventure and Harvey Gamage at the Carousel Marina/Whale’s Tale, much to the delight of the ships’ crews. Other schooners offering tours included Lynx and the pirate ship Must Roos. The local windjammers, Eastwind and Lazy Jack, and boat trip companies were taking visitors out on the water to see the visiting windjammers. Seeing those gorgeous ships glide across the water, sails billowing, is a moving experience, not to mention fantastic photo opp!
Artist’s Alley was moved to the Whale Park this year and, said Dianne, “Who knew it would be the best place to hold it?”
The Miss Windjammer Pageant of 2017 morphed into Boothbay’s Got Talent, a talent show for girls and boys competing for the Miss Windjammer and King of the Harbor titles. First ever king was Spencer Pottle. Sarah Harris and Sophia Mansfield tied to become Miss Windjammers.
The Blessing of the Fleet, One Design boat races, tours of the U.S. Coast Guard Station, the Antique Boat Parade, haunted history tours, the Rocky Coast Road Race, the activities for kids at Maine State Aquarium, Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library, the Boothbay Region Land Trust tent, Kids Alley and the Boothbay Sea and Science Center, the visiting schooners, pirates of the Dark Rose, fireworks and music … what a festival it is!
Music ranging from Americana to rock ‘n roll, to country, to blues delighted festival goers – and several were local musicians: Junction 27, Amber Jones and Paul Johnson, Don Brewer Blues Project, the Spaceheaters; Dyer Neck Gang, Work Trucks, Capitol, The Soul Sensations, Delta Knights Duo … a rockin’ good time all around.
According to the Gimbels, no new events are planned for the 57th Annual Windjammer Days Festival, but there will be a few time changes:
*The street parade will move back to its former 5 p.m. start time in response to businesses and people who’ve found it hard to participate in it or attend it in its recent 4 p.m. time slot.
*The Tug of War Across the Harbor will have a new time and day: It moves from its traditional Saturday spot to the Thursday of Windjammer week with a start time of 5 p.m. Changing the day of the week will make it easier for festival sponsor teams to participate.
The 57th annual Windjammer Days Festival will be held June 23-29, 2019.