Dennis grew up in the mountains of Maine but fell in love with the ocean when he moved to the coast for college. In 1993 he began work on the Maine windjammers, first on smaller daysailers, then signing on as mate aboard Angelique. He held the position for 10 summers, working as a boat builder during the winter months. After leaving Angelique, Dennis captained both schooners and yachts on the coast of Maine and beyond, racking up offshore miles on three trans-Atlantic trips. For Dennis, owning Angelique is a dream come true.
Candace runs the day-to-day operations of the office and sails the occasional cruise. She too began working on windjammers after sailing on a sail training vessel for a college semester. She and Dennis set down roots in coastal Maine where Candace started a pet care business which she ran successfully for nine years before handing the reigns over to a new owner. They have a black lab and a baby on the way. In the off season, they enjoy winters in Maine and hitting the slopes and the surf as much as possible.
How do the sailing experiences you offer on the Angelique give guests a unique perspective on the history, people or culture of your region?
We offer a “throwback” vacation, if that is even a phrase. Angelique is traditionally rigged and sailed. This vacation is about relaxation, but also offers a unique perspective on a time in our history when sail power was the primary mode of transportation. You have heard of the “Golden Age of Sail”? Well, a windjammer cruise harkens to the days when people and cargo moved with the wind, tides, and weather.
The windjamming industry began in the 1930s and dedicated individuals have been restoring and maintaining large, traditional sailing vessels that continue to “earn their keep” ever since then. Not much has changed in this respect. Today, there is a historic boat being restored that will be placed in the Maine windjamming trade this summer. We have former cargo vessels, pilot schooners, and oyster dredgers dating back to 1871 in the industry. Then, we also have three vessels, Angelique being one, that were built specifically for the windjamming trade with the earliest having been built in the 1960s. Angelique was built in 1980.
Guests are encouraged to help with as much of the daily sailing activities as they wish, and in doing so, will get an even more intimate connection with our history. While Angelique is equipped with many more creature comforts for today’s vacation-goers, sailing this traditional tall ship is still the central theme of all our cruising experiences.
Maine was historically, and still is, a mecca of boatbuilding, sea captains, and making a living on the sea. Guests will see first hand the lobstermen out doing their work and the villages that support sea-based industries.
How have the experiences that you offer evolved since their inception?
The first windjamming experiences were rustic, called “camping at sea”. There were no hot water showers, single bunks for all, and no frills. The only cruise length option was a week. Nonetheless, guests loved the trip and returned year after year. As the American vacationer evolved, windjammers have since added hot water showers, more upscale meals, individual sinks in every cabin, cabins with double beds, and a variety of cruise lengths. While the week long cruise is still our favorite cruise length because guests get the most out of their windjammer experience, and we can see more of the Maine coast, we now offer shorter length cruises to accommodate our guests’ busier schedules.
What is one detail of sailing on the Angelique that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?
We are a very eco-friendly vacation option. Angelique carries 600 or so guests every year and our annual fuel consumption to run our engines and stove is about 800 gallons. That is a little over one gallon per guest! You won’t get that kind of economy on a driving tour of Maine. Choosing a windjammer cruise allows you to explore places in Maine you can’t drive to, and seeing the unspoiled Maine scenery, you’ll feel good that you are helping to keep it that way by taking an eco-friendly vacation.
What do you wish every guest knew as they consider a cruise on the Angelique?
A cruise aboard Angelique is so nourishing for your soul. Unlike very planned, often hectic, vacations, a cruise aboard Angelique takes the planning out of your control and lets you focus on the important things in life – slowing down and renewing your connections to nature, to yourself, your friends and family, and to other people that can very much enhance your vacation experience.
What is one travel trend that really excites you?
We are loving the trend of unplugging when vacationing. People are seeing the value in a vacation that removes all the technology that we are surrounded with in our daily lives. If you have teenagers, this is a great way to ensure wholesome, quality time reconnecting them with you. That is not to say that devices won’t work in our sailing area. In a lot of places they do, but in some places they don’t, and it is exciting to see young people read a book, play a board game with their parents, and learn from our crew how to furl a sail.
What sets a cruise on the Angelique apart from other sailing options?
We offer a full service, all inclusive package. There are no extra charges for shore excursions. You get professional guides showing you around the Maine coast and making more delicious home-cooked food for you than you can imagine. We point out the wildlife, Maine’s famous lighthouses, and prepare a traditional all-you-can-eat lobster bake.
What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?
Stay open-minded and let the cruise unfold as it may. You may be put outside of your comfort zone, but if you go with the flow, you may discover a better you and a very rewarding experience that you won’t ever forget. These cruises have been known to transform people if they can sit back, relax, and become part of our onboard community.
What is one strategy that has helped your business to grow?
Partnering with other organizations with similar philosophies and therefore reaching a wider audience who wouldn’t have found out about windjammers otherwise. For example, we offer a cruise with a professional photographer onboard to teach a workshop. We are co-marketing this particular cruise with a local organization well-known for offering all types of photography workshops all over the world. Their students may never have thought of a windjammer cruise if they hadn’t seen it in their catalog.
What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?
We teach our crew that we are in the customer service business first and foremost and the sailing business second. We always have the customer’s best experience in mind. Often, their experience is enhanced by our crew’s passion for sharing Maine, Angelique, and sailing.
Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.
We had a guest sail with us on a week-long cruise and had her eyes wide opened to this lifestyle of sailing. She went home and researched how to learn more about sailing. She found a small boat sailing course in Florida, which she did. Then, she came back to sail with us THREE times the next summer! She kept in touch with us in the off-season and said she wanted to learn more about maintenance of a vessel Angelique’s size. We invited her up to Maine in April when we are getting the boat ready for the sailing season for a week. She rolled up her sleeves and got dirty painting and varnishing. This summer, she has taken a leave from her job and will spend July-October in Maine taking a tall ship sailing course from the Wooden Boat School and filling in for us aboard Angelique as a working crewmember!
Dennis on Instagram: instagram.com/windjammerangelique
Dennis on Twitter: twitter.com/sailangelique
The Windjammer Angelique on Facebook: facebook.com/windjammerangelique
The Windjammer Angelique on YouTube: youtube.com/channel/UCr-_CHBSFg3lD5sF7twEAGQ