Dragons & Windjammers

On sea glass mornings, the mist rises between tree and sky, white plumes of white against the surrounding jade of the spruces. From a distance one could image those mists to be the breath of dragons. That is certainly true in misty places on the far shores of the world – Japan and China – where the natural world is freighted with imagination.

What, you might wonder does this have to do with Boothbay?

One might ask the keepers of the Boothbay Historical Society, who would tell you about Andrew Hogan, a merchant mariner from East Boothbay who shipped out on a tea clipper for China in 1877. Having waited for the best-paying gig (well, triple-master, actually) he wrote to his father in July, “I have shipted in the Golden State of New York going to Shanghai in China. She is one of the tea clippers trading between New York and China. I suppose we shall be about one year over the voyage.” As it happened, Andrew never made it back to Boothbay. After falling ill in Shanghai in December 1878, he was laid to rest there with a stone, according to the ship’s Captain Delano “paid for by his brother officers.”

Late spring mornings facing the sea conjure the storied images of sailing ships, life on the oceans and joyful homecomings (tinged with echoes of adventuring seafarers who did not — the Golden State returned to Maine, if without Andrew Hogan and wrecked off Cape Elizabeth in 1886.) 

As if on cue, the soft grey curtain rises to reveal the fleet of Windjammers gathering off Spruce Point for Windjammer Days, a week of celebrating Maine’s maritime history and the Mainers who form memories on the ocean as well as here on shore. Seventeen schooners alight around Boothbay, including the Ardelle a special friend of Spruce Point Inn.

Each schooner recalls the days of Andrew Hogan’s Golden State and other tall-masted sea-borne spruces who carried their stories out in the world on a silken thread made of wind connecting them back to home.

And yes, as the image suggests, what comes of the showery days in this “secret season” of June are those threads made visible in arcing rainbows. Transformed by their passage through misty mornings and afternoons in Boothbay, they reveal the thousand shades of oceanside memories made in Maine.