Wednesday, January 25, 2012

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Golden Windjammer Anniversary

Happy Birthday Mary Day!

50 years ago today Mary Day slid out of the shed at the Harvey F. Gamage
Shipyard in South Bristol, Maine marking the beginning of a whole new chapter in the history of the windjammer fleet. The Gamage yard had not launched a schooner since 1933 and Mary Day was the first commercial coasting schooner launched since 1938. That also makes her the first commercial coasting schooner launched in the second half of the 20th century and the first schooner ever launched for the windjammer passenger trade. There may be a few more firsts in there but that doesn't really matter.

What is most important about this celebration is the fact that Mary Day was launched today and began her career touching the lives of thousands of people. This schooner was built by people, for people and has never done anything else but bring joy to peoples lives. She has become a legendary windjammer here along the Maine coast as part of the largest fleet of commercial coasting schooners in the world.
As Jen and I reflect on our almost 20 years of sailing in Mary Day we cannot think of a better way to have spent our time. We can't begin to sum up all of the joys, the challenges, the moments of inspiration, the unfathomable quality of life that you all have given us. This isn't our schooner. This schooner belongs to every captain,mate, deckhand, cook, guest and lover of the Maine windjammer fleet. Were it not for Frank Swift's original vision of schooners finding a new purpose building Mary Day might never have been necessary. We stand humbly in the shadows of all of those who have come before us, who literally paved the way.

Thanks to everyone who has been such an amazing part of our lives. Where ever you may be please raise a toast to a very special schooner, Mary Day.

Be well. Do good.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Marketing Successes and Challenges for Historic Maine Windjammer

Monday Maine Maven

Happy Monday! Today’s Maine Maven is Captain Barry King, co-captain of the beautiful schooner Mary Day in Camden with his wife Captain Jennifer Martin.

Barry and Jen are both Coast Guard licensed masters and have extensive sailing and educational backgrounds. Barry has voyaged to Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and along the Canadian maritimes to Newfoundland. Jen’s sailing career took her to Florida and the Bahamas before becoming captain of Figaro IV, a classic ocean racing yacht, here on the Maine coast.

Barry is a Registered Maine Guide, and a Nationally Registered Wilderness EMT. He also sails as an officer aboard the 1877 barque Elissa. Jen is a nationally certified Wilderness First Responder.

Jen and Barry met as students with the Audubon Society’s Expedition Institute while earning master degrees in experiential environmental education. This program gave them in-depth experience in a diversity of human and natural communities ranging from a sub-artic fishing village in Labrador to the native American desert southwest.

Captains Barry and Jen with their children Sawyer and Courtney aboard the schooner Mary Day

Barry and Jen were married aboard Mary Day and live year round in Maine with their children Sawyer and Courtney.

Combining their enthusiasm for people, wilderness, and beautiful traditional sailing vessels, Barry, Jen, Sawyer and Courtney will be happy to welcome you aboard.

1.) Barry, what differentiates Mary Day from other schooners in Maine?

Celebrating her 50th anniversary this year Mary Day was the first schooner built for the windjammer trade. She was built by people, for people and and has never done anything else.

With graduate degrees in education, our passion is to see our guests get involved to whatever extent they feel comfortable.

The cabins were built with passenger comfort in mind and feature skylights, 9′ of head room and a unique wood-fired heating system that keeps the accommodations warm and dry on those occasionally chilly evenings late in the sailing season. The main cabin features a fireplace and a 19th century parlor organ.

On deck Mary Day has large uncluttered decks with plenty of places to relax and cabin houses for laying in the sun with a good book. Unique to Mary Day is the big rocking chair back by the wheel which has become her symbol of the relaxation and comfort that we hope all guests find while they are aboard.

2.) What have you found is the largest obstacle to marketing schooner vacation trips and how do you address it?

The schooner Mary Day. Photo credit to Shannon Gallagher.

Unfortunately we are one of Maine’s best kept secrets.

In this day and age, an all -inclusive overnight adventure vacation like this is competing against the media hype surrounding large cruise ships, theme parks and well known shopping experiences with advertising budgets that we can only dream of.

Word of mouth advertising is our largest source of new guests and our highest compliment from the many returning guests we see every year.

New guests often wonder why they hadn’t heard of us sooner when they realize that there is this incredibly personal vacation aboard a historic schooner with the breathtaking scenery of the Maine coast only a short drive from several major population centers.

Like a good camping trip, we get people away from their cars and cares ashore back to a simpler way of life well off the beaten path but with some nice creature comforts, great home cooked meals and no leaky tent!

3.) What marketing tools do you utilize to spread the word about Mary Day? Does social media play a role in your work?

Frankly, we are living these dual lives with feet in two different centuries a hundred years apart.

Advertising through social media seems foreign to us when you consider that we spend a fair amount of our year on a 19th century sailing vessel. We are coming to realize that in order to compete with all of the other vacation opportunities out there that we have to let people know we exist through whatever outlets have our guests’ attention.

I started a blog back in 2007, the first year of which is still online, that gives a wonderful view into the lives of our family, our business, and the kind of experience we provide. At the time I didn’t know how to turn that into an advertising mechanism. It was mostly a chance to stay in touch with the guests we already had.

By opening ourselves up to today’s opportunities we can share our lives with our guests and they can share it with their friends who can pass it along to others.

We still don’t know how to make the most of the internet but that is why we work with Nancy Marshall and her talented staff. We have tried pay-per-click advertising and paying for links. Those certainly seem to have some rewards.

It seems odd that we, in a business that is all about sharing with people, haven’t embraced social media opportunities sooner that seem to need more creative attention than big wads of cash. You can find us on Facebook.

Unfortunately, we are just Mom and Pop raising two beautiful children and taking care of a historic schooner. Maintaining a balance is akin to the spinning plates in the Chinese circus. We run to the plate that seems to be wobbling the most and give it a whir before we run to the next one. We have found a whole new meaning for the word “breathtaking.”

Thanks so much to Nancy Marshall and her talented staff.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Huck Fin Meets Indonesian Proa

Good morning everyone. I found this photo while cleaning up some folders in my computer and I just had to laugh. How cool is it that a kid gets to grow up along the Maine coast building boats out of scraps of foam laying on the beach? Answer: VERY! Sawyer actually paddled this thing back out to the schooner anchored a hundreds off the beach. This was during a noon time picnic at Pickering Island and you can see the afternoon storm clouds building in the distance. I remember being antsy about wanting to get off this exposed beach and underway. I had one of the crew follow close by during this epic voyage. Silly, I know, but that is my job. Wearing his Tallship Elissa t-shirt and oblivious to the weather, Sawyer paddled serenely back out to the schooner's boarding ladder. He wasn't worried at all. What could possible go wrong?

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Working and Sailing the Mary Day

If you haven't seen this check it out! Alabama Ed has done a wonderful job putting together some compelling images and fun music. Thank you Ed! It has been a while since I have seen this and I forgot how much I enjoy it especially from the dead of winter.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A First Time Guest's Perspective

Good morning everyone. I do not often get a chance to see our cruises through the eyes of a first time sailor. Chelle Walton and her husband Rob sailed with us. As a travel writer she is no newbie to travel and leisure. She has seen a fair amount of different vacation opportunities. So any words of praise from her feel good. Of course I don't know what those folks who had a lousy time have to say but let's start the new year with a positive outlook. Check it out.

Jen, Sawyer, Courtney and I wish you all the best in the year ahead. Of course tomorrow will not
be any different than today really but I like the the idea of starting anew with resolutions firmly in mind. Every new day is really the same. Don't you think? I don't know why I wait for December 31st to make my resolutions. So here is my resolution: To treat everyday like December 31st, all year long. Oh yeah, if you don't mind me saying, I also resolve to go sailing as much as possible next summer. How about you? Anyone else up for a cruise? As my Dad always said,"it ain't a dress rehearsal here folks."

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Beautiful Sight

During one of our 6 day cruises in July 2010 I was up early one morning and caught a neat reflection of this good looking schooner in Great Cove off Brooklin, Maine. It is one of the loveliest schooners with a graceful sweeping sheer that goes on forever and lovely douglas fir spars that receive a good scraping and slushing every fall. I am a sucker for a beautiful windjammer.

OK, you schooner experts out there. Which windjammer is it?

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.