Family Fun: Sailing Vacation in Maine

Sailing in Maine - Linekin Bay Resort
Learning to sail is part of this unusual family vacation.

It had been a hard year. There’d been changes in our family, a new house and so much else to adjust to. The kids and I needed to get away and spend some quality time together.

But money was tight and I didn’t want the usual Disney World vacation anyway. I wanted a destination where we could play, try new things and experience a different side of life. Children are young for such a short time and I hoped this vacation would create some unique family memories.

We decided on a trip to Linekin Bay Resort in Boothbay Harbor, ME. The all-inclusive resort promised a “Down East vacation” that was perfect for families.

The resort was a little hard to find at first, tucked away as it is on a secluded section of the coast. But once we arrived, we felt relaxed and at home. The unassuming property feels like the family camps of yesteryear. It has been serving generations for decades.

Small cottages dotted the forested grounds. An old fashioned lodge overlooked the bay, accompanied by a lush green lawn lined with tidy white chairs. A wooden pier pushed out into the bay, where dozens of sailboats bobbed in the water.
Eager to explore, we trooped along the fern-lined path to our two-bedroom cottage. Simple and basic, it was just the right home for our week in Maine.

Guests have free use of the facilities at Linekin Bay Resort and there’s plenty to do. We found kayaks, tennis courts and a game room with ancient ping pong and air hockey tables. The kids couldn’t wait to get into the salt-water pool or try the fishing poles, which are available for the asking.

With the exception of a kids’ camp program, there were no planned activities or entertainment so our schedule was all our own. The kids, for their part, didn’t know quite where to begin. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the game room and exploring the shoreline.

Then the dinner bell rang and folks began making their way to the dining room. Meals are served family-style at the resort and the food is hearty and tasty. Local Maine produce and fresh seafood are frequent finds on the menu.

The meals soon became a highlight of our visit. We laughed and talked over seafood chowders, Maine blueberry pie and rich pasta. One night, the resort moved all the tables onto the lawn and had a lobster cookout, with each guest receiving a whole Maine lobster and fresh corn-on-the-cob.

My landlocked family had a few problems figuring out how to eat the lobster but with a little local insight, we happily enjoyed our dinner.

The author’s son sits at the back of the boat with the rudder, calling commands to his crew under the instructor’s watchful eyes. Photo by Janna Grabe
The author’s son sits at the back of the boat with the rudder, calling commands to his crew under the instructor’s watchful eyes. Photo by Janna Graber

The weather was warm and sunny all week, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s, so we spent most of our time outside. After a hot breakfast each morning, we’d head down to the pier, where we’d meet our sailing instructor, Kirsten.

At first, the kids had resisted the sailing lessons. However, the sport is an integral part of Linekin Bay, so I dragged them to the pier.

A teacher during the school year, Kirsten was the perfect instructor. She immediately had the kids’ attention as she explained the different parts of a sailboat. She showed us how to make various knots, then had us try it on our own.

The resort has a fleet of twenty Rhodes 19’s. The sailboats were small enough for beginners to learn on, yet large enough for a group of five or six.

Everyone worked as a team and no one was allowed to sit by while others did the work.
From the beginning, we had to work as a team. No one was allowed to sit by while others did the work.

Kirsten gave each of us a job, then showed us how to do it. During our first lesson, my 14-year-old daughter rigged the mainsail, while my 10-year-old son dropped the keel. When all was ready, my 17-year-old daughter released us from the anchor buoy and we were off.

We took turns at various tasks but my son, Matthew, soon become our de facto captain. He sat at the back of the boat with the rudder, calling commands to his crew under our instructor’s watchful eyes.

At first, we were an awkward lot and our sailboat zigged strangely in the water. At times, the boat stalled completely, as we lost the wind. Once, the jib knocked one of the kids in the head, an occurrence that led to a few disgruntled passengers.

Everyone worked as a team and no one was allowed to sit by while others did the work. Photo by Janna Graber
Everyone worked as a team and no one was allowed to sit by while others did the work. Photo by Janna Graber

Each morning, Kirsten gave us more instruction and more responsibility. By day three, we were sailing on our own. What a feeling of accomplishment that was!

As we sailed, we watched lobstermen checking their traps, sailing past the colorful lobster buoys, which dotted the water like Skittles candy. The kids watched for other sailboats, exclaiming with glee when we saw some wooden tall ships, their towering masts reaching for the skies.

After sailing, we’d return for a hearty lunch and a relaxing afternoon. Sometimes I’d read by the pool while the kids swam or we’d try our hand at fishing. One afternoon, we drove into the picturesque town of Boothbay Harbor, a Norman Rockwell village if there ever was one. We went to the small aquarium, ate ice cream by the water and shopped till our feet were tired.

In the evenings, we’d watch the daily “movie,” a video shown in the lodge main room, or play a game of ping pong. With each passing day, I could feel the tension of the past year slipping away as we laughed and enjoyed our time together.

The highlight of each week at Linekin Bay Resort is the Sailing Regatta, a race around the harbor. Most of the participants are seasoned sailors, guests who have been coming to the resort for years.

But Kirsten, our sailing instructor, encouraged us to enter the race. At first, we thought she was crazy. We had just learned what a “bow” and a “stern” are. How would we know enough to complete a race? But she thought we could do it, so we hesitantly put our names in.

When the gun went off to begin the race, we got off our anchor buoy smoothly. However, the pressure of the race made us nervous and our teamwork was sorely lacking. The boat made it to the first turn and then lost the wind. We floated listlessly in the water.

We each began barking orders, forgetting that 10-year-old Matthew was supposed to be the captain. Our lack of cooperation meant that nothing got done.

Despite their novice status, the family entered, and finished, their first sailing regatta. Photo courtesy Janna Graber
Despite their novice status, the family entered, and finished, their first sailing regatta. Photo courtesy Janna Graber

Then we caught a bit of wind. Yes! The sails filled and we were back in the race. This time, we worked as a team. True, the other sailboats passed us, but we were following the course, making the correct turns.

And then we did it! We sailed to our anchor buoy and completed the race.

That night at dinner, the race awards were given out. As usual, the ribbons went to seasoned sailors. But then one last certificate was handed out — an award for a Colorado-family that had only learned to sail a few days ago, yet had just completed their first regatta.

The grins on my children’s faces were a mile wide as we went up to accept the award. It was the kind of family memory that money can’t buy.

By the end of the week, we were talking about coming back. And indeed we will. Summers in Maine are something quite special – and this tiny part of the northeastern coast had become part of this family’s treasured history.

If You Go

Linekin Bay Resort
www.linekinbayresort.com

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