Camden windjammer Mercantile begins dinner cruises

By Susan Mustapich | Jul 11, 2018
Courtesy of: Maine Windjammer Cruises A new dinner cruise on the Mercantile offers an authentic half-day windjammer experience in Camden Harbor.

CAMDEN — A new sailing option comes to Camden Harbor when historic schooner Mercantile begins four-hour dinner cruises July 12.

The schooner will leave Camden Harbor at 4 p.m., and return at 8 p.m.. Captain Ray Williamson is offering a classic windjammer surf and turf dinner, with hors d'oeuvres, salads and desserts.

For decades, the Mercantile has carried passengers on three- and four-day cruises on the Penobscot Bay. The schooner was built in 1916 and is 115 feet long overall, with 80 feet on deck.

While the longer cruises remain the mainstay of the business, the Mercantile will offer visitors and locals a taste of the windjammer experience, when the weather is good and the schooner is in Camden Harbor for a few days, according to Williamson.

Williamson and his wife Ann have been sailing a fleet of three historic windjammers from Camden Harbor since the 1980s. They observed that bookings for longer cruises are down, and came up the idea of offering dinner cruises on one of their authentic windjammers.

A discount of 30 percent is offered to Camden residents, off the introductory $99 cost of the dinner cruise. A second four-hour cruise will be offered July 14, weather permitting, Williamson said.

In May, the town's Select Board approved a significant change to the licenses of windjammers berthed at the town floats in Camden Harbor, increasing the number of day-sails per season from three to 15, and allowing windjammers to advertise the day-sails. Harbormaster Steve Pixley and Williamson presented the request. The change to the long-standing rules restricting windjammer day-sails stirred up controversy among owners of daysailer boats and other windjammers berthed at town-owned facilities, but will remain in place during the current sailing season.

For reservations and information about the Mercantile dinner cruises, call Maine Windjammer Cruises at 236-2938 or 800-736-7981.


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