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The lost art of 'sailing in' is alive and well aboard a few ancient sailboats on the coast of Maine.


Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
The Schooner Stephen Tabor, built-in 1871 had sailed into Pulpit Harbor and was already on her second tack through the harbor when I came up from below decks.

You can see the captain has his eye on a spot ahead and the crew has the port anchor hanging by a lashing ready to deploy. Despite her 47 ton weight, she gains speed quickly in the moderate wind.

ST second tack 1.jpg

68' on deck, the old schooner measures 115' from bowsprit to the end of the mizzen boom, all of which has to be swung through a tack.

ST second tack 2.jpg

Bringing the bow sprit into the wind the sails rattle and luff. The crew calmly wait on deck for commands. I’m thinking they will coast to windward along our starboard decks, and drop anchor.

But the captain is still sailing. I can see, his eye is on another spot. They are coming about, again.

Luffing up_.jpg

The long bow sprit continues turning,...turning, and sails fill again.

Sails filling.jpg

She is off now and gaining speed on a new reach (22'6" beam).

Falling off.jpg

By our stern she goes as sheets are loosened and a few wrinkles show in sails. Soon we see the headsails quickly doused as she heads dead to windward along our port deck.

Reaching by the stern.jpg

Finally, the silence in the harbor is broken by one lone vocal command from the captain followed by the deafening roar of huge links of iron chain racing through a large hawsehole in the bulwark.

The old boat coasts for just a few yards then the pre-measured chain rode goes bar tight as the ancient fisherman anchor fetches up on the bottom. All is suddenly still as the old schooner drifts back and settles to the anchor.

Fetching up.jpg
Sep 22, 2018
Hunter 216 Kingston

Great photos and story as usual.

I would love to see a similar set of photos of their departure. :)

I can imagine that if the wind was up and shifty, the task of getting sufficient sail up, raising the anchor and getting enough speed to gain steerage in a crowded harbour would be even more of a challenge.
Sep 25, 2019
ive seen her berthed in Rockland when I lived in Maine ( back in the last century ) GREAT pictures of her up close and personal under sail, thank you!!!
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Dec 1, 2009
Sabre 402 Southport, CT
Last time we were in Pulpit Harbor, Spirit of Bermuda was anchored there, fresh from a refitting at Rockport Marine. We saw her again getting off the ferry at Dockyard in Bermuda, where we met the cook and got a tour.

We had another schooner come visit our harbor. They didn't sail in. It was a tight fit.
Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
This is an image from a couple of years ago.
It is Lady Washington. She was staged in Port Townsend in front of the Northwest Maritime Center. The crew conducted sailing experiences for the youth of the area. Many a 6/7th grader got together on the line to haul up the sails.

On this day she was vulnerable. I was able in the calm to cross her bow. If I had my guns ready I could have shown her what Nelson did at the battle of Trafalgar. Crossing the T.


IMG_3917.jpeg IMG_3918.jpeg
Aug 10, 2020
Catalina C25 Rocky Mount
very cool. i take pride in not running my kicker. I love unhooking a dock line, grabbing the sheet and being on my way. When the wind is right I can come right back in with the wind. I often sail my little boat to go work on my big boat. By the way they sit, if I can sail off my dock, I can sail into the other dock 3 miles away. It is very satisfying.
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Apr 5, 2009
Catalina '88 C30 tr/bs Oak Harbor, WA
Every year the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain stop in Coupeville in Penn Cove and while there, they give day-sails in the cove which include a mock battle between the two tall ships. One year, their battle ground "happened" to coincide with our weekly buoy race course. I was directly between the two as they were exchanging fire. Such fun!
I also had the pleasure of watching the Lady Washington transit Deception Pass under the bridge. As I was driving across the bridge I saw her coming in from the west so stopped to watch. She was a bit later than slack but I have motored next to her and know that she can make over 6 knots so no problem. It was awesome to see her slowly and sedately slid under the bridge as I stood as mid-span. All was well until she got her nose to the east end of Pass Island when she stopped making any headway. I heard the engine rev and she belched black smoke and made a bit more headway but that was it.
I said to the guy standing next to me "She is not going to make it because the current is sill increasing so she will need to go back and wait in Bowman Bay." He was shocked by that statement and said something about how that big a ship could never turn around it the Pass to which I commented that she would back through. Shortly after that, she throttled back to her normal cruise rev and "backed" under the bridge at about 1-2 knots over the ground while motoring ahead at 4-5 knots, completely under control. It was a two-fer! :dancing::dancing::dancing:
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Sep 11, 2015
Merit 22- Oregon lakes
Jennifer and I went over to Coos Bay a few years back to see the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Cheftain wile they were in port. we took the tour wile at the dock but decided not to go out for the 20 minute "ride". I recall being quite disappointed when we heard the diesel fire up and they putt putted out a mile or so and back with no sail up at all. It was really cool to see them, but when I go sailing I want it to be under sail, so the disappointment of not going out quickly faded ;).