Its true that we love every trip on the Riggin, but there’s just something extra magical about Race Week. The majesty of our Maine windjammer fleet sailing in company with all the canvas and flags flying and looking spectacular is unrivaled. Coming together to share a day of friendly racing can only be seen in our very own Penobscot Bay from some sort of boat. Best, of course, experienced from the Riggin, this 6-day trip culminates in race day, when the games truly begin.
But before that there are shenanigans.
And Forth of July.
And our traditional lobster bake on an uninhabited island.
And time for simply relaxing in the sun while the crew hones their craft of sail so that we can be in the running for the win!
The fleet gathers, usually in beautiful and spacious Gilkey’s Harbor, off Islesboro. The first order of business after our usual feast of appetizers, dinner, and dessert is the crew small boat races. Only open to crew and guests of the vessels (no captains allowed) the flotilla of small boats are either sailed, rowed, or paddled around the anchored fleet with prizes for the most creative costumes and the fastest time around the course. Our gang routinely gets into the spirit of things and as you can see below, dresses for the occasion. As the races come to an end, we are always treated to the most amazing sunset from this vantage point.
As race day dawns and the sun begins to kiss the cabin houses of our historic vessels, the captains rise and gather for coffee and some shop talk. There they decide what the race course is for the day based on the weather conditions. One by one, the vessels raise anchor and head to the starting line which is an invisible line from a buoy to a point of land. The boats are split into classes based on their size and speed and one by one, the slowest to the fastest classes are given their 5 minute warning cannon and then their start cannon and the races begin!
How everyone does is based on the wind and tide, their specific vessels, and how the captains accommodate for both. Winning take both luck and skill and we’ve had our share of both over the years. For the Riggin, who doesn’t have topsails, the best weather conditions are 18 to 20 knots where the advantage of that extra sail area begins to become a disadvantage. Last year we were proud to come in second in both our class and the fleet over all. Quite an accomplishment and with the most exciting finish we can remember in years.
At the end of the day, the whole fleet gathers on shore for music, awards, and a little bite of something sweet. When we all head back to our respective schooners, it’s with joy and satisfaction for a day well done.
We hope this year’s race brings all this and more! Let’s see if we can rival last year’s Maine windjammer race, it was one for the captain’s log for sure.
Photos by Susan Land (guest extraordinaire and long time Riggin Relic)