As I stood on the edge of the boat, debating whether to jump in, I heard Linda (a fellow passenger) shout “do it for the article!” and Chef Nails, who was already in the water, “Get in here, Wellness!” (his nickname for me) I knew it would be cold, but I didn’t know it would actually take my breath away…literally. In a moment of bravery, I leapt off the Lewis R. French into the water and when I came to the surface I took the deepest breath of air I’ve ever taken in my life. Needless to say, 50 degrees is no joke.
Before stepping foot on the French, I knew a Maine Windjammer cruise would be a memorable experience. Not only would it be my first time sailing and seeing Maine, but I would be setting sail on a national historical landmark and oldest commercial sailing vessel in the US (she’s 150 years old!) And after listening to Captain Garth Wells on my sisters’ podcast, I couldn’t wait to meet Garth and hear his epic stories at sea firsthand.
When we arrived at Camden Harbor, Captain Garth greeted us on the dock and invited us to come aboard to meet the other passengers on the French. When I walked up to the ship, I was immediately captivated by the gorgeous wooden exterior, tall mast and sails. Being from Long Island, I’ve seen my fair share of boats, but seeing a ship with so much history and old-fashioned beauty isn’t something you come across everyday.
Even as a writer, it’s hard to put this type of experience into words. During the trip, there were a handful of times I just stopped to look around, taking mental snapshots to remember each moment. Here were a few of the highlights:
Growing up on Long Island, I’ve always turned to the ocean to calm my mind and escape the stresses of daily life. I knew being out on the water for four days would give me the mind-body reset I needed. Listening to the sound of the waves and feeling the sun on my face is my favorite type of meditation.
Sailing rejuvenates you in a way that most activities can’t: as relaxing as it can be, it also gives you a sense of adventure. Every time you set sail you discover something new and quickly learn the weather, the waves, the wind, everything is subject to change. And that’s the exciting part.
Being able to help with the boat makes you feel like you’re part of a team – a great way to bond with the crew and passengers. Whether it’s bringing up the anchor or raising the sail, getting the ship ready requires all hands on deck. Learning all the terminology was quite an education. But I must have passed the test because by the end of the trip Captain Garth let me steer the ship (with supervision of course)!
When you hike, you’re able to connect to nature in a deeper and more meaningful way. The subtleties that are often overlooked become strikingly apparent – a piece of sea glass among the rocks, light shining through the trees, and even spotting a Poison Ivy patch (thanks Karen!) As I explored, I did my best to take it all in.
Captain Garth chose a new hiking spot every day, so we were able to explore different parts of Maine. I loved that we had each island to ourselves, our own slice of paradise – the peace and quiet, being able to enjoy nature to the fullest and take in all the beauty.
Being in fitness attire the entire trip was also a major plus. Not having to worry about wearing makeup or getting dressed up is quite a treat for this girly girl.
It’s no wonder that writers and artists turn to nature for creative inspiration. After four days of hiking and exploring, I found myself fantasizing about what it would be like to have a waterfront cottage where I could spend hours writing and letting my mind wander.
As someone in the digital media world, getting to disconnect from technology is the definition of a vacation. Admittedly, there were many times I tried to post but there wasn’t any Wifi. And I didn’t mind at all, because as it turns out, being unplugged was exactly what I needed to recharge mentally.
In the wise words of Anne Lamott, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a while, including you.”