BROOKLIN — With September well under way, captains in Maine’s schooner fleet must start thinking about the long winter ahead with no passengers to entertain and some time to enjoy the woodstove.
Before they can turn their attention to the endless list of chores that comes with maintaining big, old wooden sailboats, the skippers have one more formal obligation, though it can’t be too onerous: the annual Maine Windjammers Association Sail-in at the WoodenBoat School at the eastern end of Eggemoggin Reach.
Last Wednesday, members of the Maine Windjammer Association, the two-masted schooners Heritage, Lewis R. French, Ladona, Mary Day and Stephen Taber, Victory Chimes, the only three-masted schooner in the fleet, and the topsail ketch Angelique all sailed into WoodenBoat Harbor to celebrate the final formal get-together of the season.
They were joined by the schooners J&E Riggin, Grace Bailey, Mercantile and Mistress.
The sail-in, and the barbecue at WoodenBoat, were postponed a day because of Tuesday’s torrential rains. The shoreside component enjoyed by the schooner passengers and crew featured a “captain’s jam” led by Angelique’s captain, Dennis Gallant, and the new owner and skipper of Victory Chimes, Sam Sikkema. His presence was the big news of the day.
Earlier this month, Captain Kip Files announced that, after 29 years at the helm, he and his partner, Captain Paul DeGaeta, had sold the historic schooner to Sikkema. He will take over at the beginning of the 2019 sailing season.
Sikkema certainly has the credentials. Among his other accomplishments, he has sailed as chief mate on Mystic Seaport’s whaling vessel Charles W. Morgan, and sailed as master of the three-masted, square-rigged barque Picton Castle. Before sailing as the Morgan’s mate, he sailed aboard the Norwegian ship Sørlandet on a sail-training cruise that took the vessel to Southern Europe, Africa and the Caribbean.
He has also sailed on the historic replica of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s brig Niagara and aboard the replica of the HMS Bounty.
Victory Chimes is a unique vessel.
Built at Bethel, Del., in 1900, she sailed out of Annapolis under the name Edwin and Maud carrying, according to her listing documents in the National Historic Register, “sawn lumber, grain, soft coal and fertilizer” until 1945.
Converted to carry passengers, the schooner was purchased by Maine owners in 1954 and rechristened Victory Chimes. Three years later, Captain Frederick Boyd Guild bought her and put her to work as the “Queen of the Windjammer Fleet” until he retired in 1985.
After a stint sailing on the Great Lakes, the vessel was purchased by Domino’s Pizza owner Thomas Monaghan in 1988 and renamed Domino Effect. Files and DeGaeta bought the boat in 1990 after a major restoration at Sample’s Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor and renamed her Victory Chimes.