As the Shore Coordinator for the Timberwind, I get the pleasure of speaking with many of our passengers and potential passengers through e-mails and on the phone. I often get asked about daily activities and itineraries for our cruises. We discuss swimming, hiking, fishing, rowing the peapod, helping to sail the boat, and even polishing brass and coiling rope, among other things. These however are daylight activities. Rarely do I get asked about night and evening activities. I believe this is because everyone assumes that once the light is gone our bunks call to our bodies, worn from hours of sun and salt air and everyone hits the sack early to rest for another day of adventure to come. True enough. It is a rare passenger who is up on deck beyond 10pm, but then, maybe you are one of our adventurous souls whom, like myself, value the idea of spending the night below the stars on deck in your sleeping bag.
If that were you, what might you expect? Quietly resting all snuggled in your sleeping bag on a cabin top, the gentle salt breeze tugs at your hair relaxing ever fiber of your body and soul. You hear the soft sound of the water gently lapping at the hull of the boat and feel the corresponding shifting of the schooner’s mass beneath you. As you gorge yourself on the simple pleasure of the sheer peace and quiet of this beautiful summer night, you raise your eyes to the sky. Before you are more stars than you have ever seen in your life. The contrast of their tiny lights is clear and sharp against the deep black of the night sky and you witness a depth perception among the different celestial bodies that you have never before noticed. The Milky Way is as clearly defined as you have ever seen it and you begin looking for familiar shapes such as the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt. What else might you expect to see? Meteors maybe? If your timing is right you will!
Star gazing from the deck of the schooner is truly a must for anyone who has a strong enough constitution to not be knocked out cold in his or her bunk once evening falls. Let’s not forget the romantic value of this as well for those couples coming on board. How about a nice glass of wine under the stars? Out on the Bay you escape the majority of the sources of light pollution and being out in the open on the water provides a nearly unobstructed view of the heavens for miles around. It is conceivable that you would be able to witness a star or a planet rise on one side of the night sky and see it’s setting on the other. On the occasion of meteor showers, eclipses or other celestial events, barring inclement weather, you would have a nearly perfect view.
Listed below are the celestial events for our 2009 sailing season, which you will be able to witness from Penobscot Bay, and are listed by which cruise they correspond with. Passengers are welcome to bring their binoculars or smaller hand held telescopes for star gazing enhancement. I look forward to seeing you by moonlight!
Friday, June 19th – Sunday, June 21 – 3 Day Weekend Getaway – June 21st – Summer Solstice – This will be the longest day of the year and the official first day of Summer. Come celebrate with us!
Monday, July 6- Thursday, July 9 – 4 Day Easy Escape - July 7th - Penumbral Lunar Eclipse – This eclipse is a darkening of the moon but not a partial or complete eclipse. The moon falls into the shadow of the earth and goes darker for a while before getting brighter again. This one will be best viewed from The Americas, the Pacific Ocean and Australia.
Monday, July 27 – Thursday, July 30th – 4 Day Easy Escape – July 28th and 29th – Southern Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower. Usually produces around 20 meteors per hour peak time. Peak this year will be July 28th and 29th. Meteors will, however occur from July 18th to August 18th. The moon will be early in its phases and will set early giving a great deal of time for excellent viewing. Looking east after midnight will provide optimal chance for witnessing the phenomenon.
Friday, August 7th – Sunday, August 9th – 3 Day Weekend Getaway – August 6th - Penumbral Lunar Eclipse – Same as listed above for July 7th, though this one should be a little easier to view as it will be closer, over Europe, the Americas, Africa and Western Asia. This one you will be watching from our homeport as this is Thursday night (Boarding night) and you will not depart for sailing adventures until the morning.
Monday, August 10th – Thursday, August 13th – 4 Day Easy Escape – There are two events for this trip! The first is the beginning of the time period when you will be able to view Saturn Without Rings! From August 10th – September 4th, Saturn will have turned on her axis in such a way that her rings will be in direct line with the Earth making them impossible to see. The second event is the Perseids Meteor Shower, which takes place on August 12th and 13th. This meteor shower produces up to 60 meteors per hour at peak time. The full event is from July 23rd to August 22nd but peak is the 12th and 13th. Look to the Northeast just after midnight for optimal viewing.
Friday, August 14th –Sunday, August 16th – 3 Day Weekend Getaway – August 14th -Jupiter at Opposition – When a planet is at “opposition” it is when it is at its closest to the earth for its cycle. August 14th will be the best day to view and take photos of Jupiter and its moons.
Monday, August 17th – Thursday, August 20th – 4 Day Easy Escape – August 17th – Neptune at Opposition – Neptune will be at it’s closest, however, because it is so far away, even then it will just be a brighter blue twinkle in a good telescope.
Monday, August 31st – Saturday, September 5th – 6 day Windjammer Weekend Cruise – September 2nd and 3rd – Jupiter Without Moons! – Not only is this one of our best cruises as it culminates in a celebration of the whole Windjammer Fleet with live music, festivities and fireworks in beautiful Camden Harbor, it is also your opportunity to witness a very rare celestial event! For approximately 2 hours you will have the opportunity to witness Jupiter with all of her moons hidden away. This is best viewed from the Western Hemisphere so we are in luck!
Monday, September 21st – Thursday, September 24th – 4 Day Easy Escape/Fall Colors Cruise – September 22nd – Close Conjunction of Mercury and Saturn. Early in the morning over North America Mercury and Saturn will be extremely close together appearing to be only .3 degrees apart. This is also the date of the Autumnal Equinox giving equal time to both night and day, and the first day of Fall.
For more information on the availability of our cruises you can call us at 1-800-759-9250 or go to our website at www.schoonertimberwind.com to see our schedule or make a reservation.
I look forward to seeing you under the stars this summer!