30 December, 2009

This Started It All

A good friend of ours, Judy from Ohio, sent us this link to some really strong memories. http://www.tropicalsails.com/wjmovie.wmv It's a pretty big file (171 Mb), so I recommend downloading it before you watch it.
Beach Crab - Antigua
Sailing with Windjammer Barefoot Cruises  was, in large part, directly responsible for us ending up here in Belize. Of course, Windjammer no longer exists and that is too bad, because it was a way of cruising that just doesn't exist anymore.

Watching the video was very emotional for us. Judy warned us in her email. She said
"Warning...Watch at your own risk. May cause sadness and longing for what we can no longer have."
How right she was. After Dianna and I watched it and both of us had a good cry, I just knew we had to share this link with you.

We were fortunate to have been able to sail with Windjammer and aboard the S/V Mandalay three separate times, each better than the last. We made friends aboard Mandalay that will last a lifetime - Judy is just one. Judy's husband George, Lori and Dean from Boston, and Pam and Roy from England. Informally, we call the group the 'Eternal Eight'. Now, how's that for making friends from a cruising experience?

I hope you enjoy the video. Even though it was created originally as a PR piece, I think it captured the Windjammer experience pretty well.

There are, to be sure, some other grand sailing experiences to be had, but few, if any, could capture an essence and an idea, and make it so personal for each participant. Partly, it was the small sizes involved. The Mandalay could carry around 72 passengers.
S/V Mandalay
The first time we sailed on her (over New Year's 1999/2000) we only had 40 passengers. For two weeks. It was glorious. We sailed from St. George's, Grenada, north to St. John's, Antigua, hitting just about every island in between. Some trips you sailed north, some, you sailed south.

Some of the former Windjammer crews have gotten together and recreated a bit of the 'Jammer experience. You can find more information at: http://www.islandwindjammers.com/default.aspx. We haven't sailed with them yet, but you can bet we're thinking of it.

8 comments:

  1. Having sailed with Island Windjammers I can say that they do have the "old spirit" (playing Amazing Grace when the sails go up, swizzles at 5:00 PM, etc.). The company was started by former passangers of WJBFC and some of the old crew are employed on their ship the Diamant.

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  2. It is sad that Windjammer Barefoot Cruises no longer exists but you can still experience windjamming! Here's a link to a video showing a little bit of the Maine windjammer experience:

    http://sailmainecoast.com/the_experience/video.htm

    If you watch it, you'll see that there are some major differences between Caribbean windjamming and Maine windjamming (smaller ships, BYOB-you'd have to make your own swizzles at 5pm, cooler water (no snorkeling, sailing during the day and anchoring overnight, lobster bake on an uninhabited island, etc.) but if you're longing for a sailing adventure, it's certainly worth a look!

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  3. Interesting post... we have another common interest it seems. We spent an incredible week on the old Flying Cloud out of Roadtown back in the 80's. We sailed all around the BVI, stopping at deserted islands, having crab races on the deck, toga parties.. and my last sight leaving the ship was the Captain and First Mate at the wheel -- mooning us!!

    Great memories -- I cannot, to this day, hear Amazing Grace without a chill down my spine - watching those huge sails fly up as we marched off with the lines. It is a real pity that they are gone... we actually sailed a day with the the old four-master, Fantome , which went down will all the crew in the Hurricane some years ago. That night we rowed over and had supper on their deck. It was a beautiful time..

    You wouldn't know the fate of the Flying Cloud , would you?

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  4. Anonymous,
    That's good to hear. Thanks for the update.
    Dave

    Capt. Brenda,
    I've heard some good things about Maine Windjamming. That might be a fun experience for folks to try.
    Thanks,
    Dave

    JR,
    Here's what I've been able to find out from some 'Jammer' friends:

    from 2004 - Greetings from Trinidad - Seadog Harriet and I are at the south end of our Amazing Grace cruise and can see the Flying Cloud at anchor off our stern. She is a little dirty but still floating proudly.

    and an '03 entry - As I understand it, WJ owns a shipyard in Trinidad (somebody correct me if I get it wrong) where they provide service for all the ships in the fleet - much more cost effective if they do it themselves. When I sailed on the Cloud in August of 2001, the whispers were that the ship wasn't seaworthy enough to make the trip to St. Martin (85 nm), never mind all the way to Trinidad (700-ish nm). That, combined with a certain event about a month later which put something of a crimp on the travel industry and WJ's cash flow, probably spelled the end of F/C.

    Doesn't sound promising for F/C.
    Thanks Everybody,
    Dave

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  5. Thanks, Dave.

    Well, our voyage was a while ago, but I agree that your story doesn't look like it will have a happy ending for the F/C.

    Thanks for the update...

    and HAPPY NEW YEAR

    Boy, you know you're getting old when you end up playing cards on New Year's Eve. However -- two things: 1) we played until 2 am. and 2) the guys WON!

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  6. JR - Playing cards counts. You did better than we did. We went to to parties, one a house warming for Sherry. Moving in on New Year's Eve would be tough. Great party though. Then we went to Tony's for dinner and drinks. There was about 12 or 14 of us there.
    Thankfully we only had to drive about 1/3rd of a mile to our place.
    We were in bed by 9:45 PM.
    We did get fireworks at midnight, so we wished each other a happy new year and drifted off to sleep once again, while the bar music (from over 1/2 mile away) serenaded us till 5:15 AM.
    Hey, it's New Year's and it's Belize!

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  7. Anonymous5/1/10 18:32

    And I was fortunate to sail with y'all on your first Windjammer on the Mandalay. Wish we could have sailed together again. Love keeping up with you here. Tell Ms. Dianna hi.

    Ramona

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  8. Hey Ramona,

    I'm glad we got to sail with you to. What memories. We've been staying in touch ever since. Come on down to Belize. It's like the islands, Mon.

    Cheers,
    Dave

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