Seasoned schooner operator brings Summertime to the Beach
Lincolnville — Beginning in mid-June, the schooner Summertime will offer day sails from Lincolnville Beach and single overnight trips to Islesboro.
The boat built in 1986 by George Allen and Bill Brown in Brooklin according to a plan they got from the Smithsonian Institution. “It was basically what you call 'backyard-built',” said Capt. Ray Williamson, who has chartered the schooner from Brown for the summer.
Williamson, co-owner of Maine Windjammer Cruises in Camden, has entered into a partnership with his two daughters, Allysa Anderson and Kristi Williamson, both of Lincolnville, to operate the schooner and the lobster boat Sally. The lobster boat will be used as a launch to ferry passengers out to the schooner, which will be moored in the outer harbor, he said. Since the Summertime will be going out for two- and four-hour sails, the Sally will also be used for short harbor tours, lobster picnics to Warren Island, lobstering demonstrations or even as a water taxi, Williamson said.
“To have an investment like that just for a launch wouldn't make sense,” he said.
Recently restored by the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, R.I., the 27-foot Sally was built in the 1940s by Hodgdon Brothers (now Hodgdon Yachts) of Boothbay, he said. It can carry six passengers at a time, while the schooner has a capacity of 18.
Summertime will make three or four trips a day, Williamson said, with the last trip offering the opportunity for an overnight trip to Islesboro, including dinner and breakfast aboard the schooner. The number of overnight trips will depend on demand.
Williamson's daughters spent a lot of their childhood aboard his Camden-based schooners, Mistress, Mercantile and Grace Bailey, he said, becoming well-versed in sailing the picturesque boats. They will be responsible for taking reservations and running the land side of the Lincolnville operation, and he plans to hire captains for the schooner and the launch.
With the restaurants and other businesses in Lincolnville Beach, Williamson believes there is a market for schooner tours there. Similar trips are offered from many other coastal towns in the Midcoast, he pointed out. He first began exploring the possibility of having a day sail operation out of Lincolnville in January, with the encouragement of friends in the town. After talking to some business owners, he approached Harbor Committee Chairman, Shane LaPrade, he said. He presented his idea to a meeting of the Harbor Committee, which was “very supportive.”
He has applied for an outer harbor mooring, and he says Harbor Master Mike Hutchings has assured him that “it's all going to work out” in time for him to start offering tours by mid-June. In the meantime, Whale's Tooth Pub owner Rob Newcomb has agreed to rent his multi-use mooring to Williamson. He will have to upgrade the mooring to make it adequate for the 50-foot schooner.
He said he would consider the first season successful if the operation breaks even, that is, covers harbor fees, salaries, advertising and other expenses.
“If we get to the point where the business is making money, we're into a long-term commitment,” he said.