While all of our weeks are special and take their own shape and character, Race Week is one that rises to the top every year. Nowhere else in North America can you see this sort of gathering of traditional Maine windjammers majestically making their way in company across Penobscot Bay.
Our tall ship fleet gathers for the exciting Great Schooner Race from Islesboro to Rockland the week of July 4th. This exhilarating day of collegial racing is followed by a festive awards ceremony and party with live music and treats from all of the chefs in the fleet. This year marks the 42nd anniversary of the Great Schooner Race and includes pre-race festivities such as a fireworks display and zany small boat races by the crews of all the vessels, complete with themes and costumes.
This festive day is one of our few fleet gatherings of the summer and one of the biggest days of our season. Hosted every summer since 1977, The Great Schooner Race is hailed as the largest annual gathering of traditional schooners in America, this year at least twenty schooners are expected to participate in the race. The dates of this special trip are July 2nd to the 7th this year.
Signs of spring are happening, and by that we mean it’s haulout time, where for a few days the Riggin is pulled out of the water which allows access to the whole hull. This is the time to inspect the hull; wash and paint the bottom; and change the zincs. Routine maintenance is also coupled with tending to anything that needs mending or replacing under the water line while we have access to these spots. The shipyard can be a satisfying time because it really starts to feel as if we truly will be sailing soon. It’s also a time when stories are made – like the year we shoveled snow off the rail way before hauling in mid-April (and that wasn’t this year!). And doing projects late into the night by the light of the truck headlights to get off the railway as quickly as possible.
The Riggin is now back in the water – bottom painted and inspected, hull sanded and partially painted, and a couple of little things taken care of under the water. Now she waits for a couple of coats of paint and her sails to go on so that she can once again sail Penobscot Bay with all of us.
The Timberwind, our other vessel, is in Belfast not Rockland. She came out of the water yesterday in a completely different way. Front Street Shipyard, instead of a railway, uses a large travel lift which picks her up out of the water and transfers her to the yard where she rests with a number of other large vessels. She is supported “on the hard” with jack stands placed strategically all around her hull. You’ll see from the photo that the foremast is un-stepped. We’ll work on the top part of the foremast, an area tough to get to while it’s in place, replace the servings around the shrouds and be ready for the mast to be stepped right after the boat goes back into the water later this week.
When both are back in the water, we’ll be that much closer to sailing with you all!
Schooner J&E Riggin
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