Because we Mainers are constantly surrounded by all the awesomeness our state has to offer it’s easy to forget about some of the fun, cool, touristy things that get visitors jazzed about a stay here. Many of those things have to do with the beauty of Casco Bay.
But looking out at the water from a dock along Portland’s Commercial Street doesn’t really cut it. Boarding an authentic wooden schooner does.
A two-hour sail on Portland Schooner Company’s 49-passenger Bagheera was a darn good choice to wrap up a recent hot and sticky Sunday. After sweating out the afternoon on land, the temp dropped significantly as soon as we left the dock at Maine State Pier and aimed for Bug Light in South Portland on the 6 p.m. “Sunset Cruise.” And it was, quite literally, smooth sailing as we all settled in to enjoy some beverages, snacks and the impressive views. (Portland Schooner Company encourages folks to bring along coolers – with adult drinks if you so choose – and snacks for the ride.)
The crew aboard Bagheera works hard to offer the best sailing experience possible. But sometimes they want a little help. When it was time to hoist the sails, they asked for volunteers and a few hearty souls joined in. Those of us who chose to just relax and enjoy the ride – whether powered by the engine or the wind in the sails – realized pretty quickly that being part of the crew wasn’t as easy as the volunteers may have hoped. Those are some pretty big sails and it takes plenty of pulling on the ropes to get ’em raised.
For those of us content to remain seated, there was plenty to see: Bug Light and Spring Point Ledge Light in South Portland, Portland Headlight and Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, House Island, Peaks Island, Fort Gorgeous and terrific views of the Portland waterfront both going and returning.
The point of this cruise was to witness one of Maine’s amazing sunsets. The clouds didn’t exactly cooperate but the sun did make enough of an appearance to glimmer across the water for a bit before heading behind the Portland cityscape.
In addition to sunset sails 6 to 8 p.m.), Portland Schooner Company also offers two-hour cruises beginning at 10:30 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. aboard the Bagheera and Wendameen. (Times change after Labor Day). Prices are $39 for adults, $15 for children age 12 and under (under 3 sail free). Those who want a sailing experience that lasts a bit longer can book an overnight windjammer excursion for $250 per person. The ship sails at 2:30 p.m. and returns at 10 a.m.