It’s a considerable drive through Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to the Atlantic coast. Fortunately, I had company – my friend Bea – who helped me pass the hours and keep me awake. Siri, the pleasant voice in the dashboard, led us through quiet back roads and eventually brought us to Augusta. Shortly after, as we entered Rockland, we saw masts sticking up above the trees and traffic. Not just the aluminum masts of weekend cruisers. but the tall, sturdy masts of the schooners moored to the jetty. We stopped at a spot on the private pier.

We were early – the captain’s orientation would be at 5 o’clock – so we piled our bags at the front of the gangway and silently thanked all the powers that had gotten us here safely. Within minutes the captain and crew began to arrive, along with the first of our shipmates for the week ahead.

We always wonder, when we register for a period in an enclosed space with strangers, if the group will be sympatico. The name of our ship, American Eagle, made me wonder if it could attract some outspoken Trumpies; so, to even things out if that were to happen, I packed a small bottle of Vermont maple syrup in my Dopp kit. If someone on our side of the ship who shared our head — there were nine of us there — proved unbearable, I would very carefully spread some syrup on the front seat just before the politician got up for the ride. ‘utilize. I slide the vial aside, wash my hands thoroughly, go back to bed and wait for the explosion.

I didn’t need to worry. The other passengers were, after all, self-selected and, like us, just wanted to get away from the drumbeat of disaster. Breakfast was the first meal served on board; so most of us went out to eat. We found a clam shack with a long queue and a very pleasant couple behind us.

Sleep comes easily near or on the sea, even in a cabin so cozy that only one of us at a time could take off our shoes; and if you wanted to change your mind, you had to go out into the lobby. The first time I sat on the edge of the bunk, I leaned back and banged my head hard against an oak deck beam. I didn’t do it again for the rest of the week; the head is always sore. Coffee was ready in a large urn on deck at 7 a.m. – the crackle of the crew’s bare feet on the deck above was a soothing wake-up call. I’ll tell you: if the captain and crew are still as welcoming and helpful and pleasant at the end of the season as they are at the beginning, they should receive a Nobel Prize for hospitality.

With rain in sight for the second day, we cooked the promised lobster on the beach at the end of the first day of sailing. This is where my age caught up with me. My slowly weakening legs were no match for swinging over the rampart and descending a three-step rope ladder into a floating seine boat a few feet below. I counted four pairs of strong hands and half a dozen encouraging directions until I was safely in my seat in the boat. Six shipmates rowed us ashore.

The announced rain came during the night, pattering on the deck above the berth. A perfect day for rain suits, eating in the hot kitchen (wood stove), reading and chatting. The captain took us to the sheltered Pulpit Harbor and anchored there out of the wind. Another schooner, the Angélique, dropped anchor not far away and her crew rowed in to chat. We slept like logs again and in the morning Angelique was almost invisible in the fog.

It was the day we sailed and anchored for a few hours at Hurricane Island, with more next week. It was something I had hardly dared to hope we would do. The gang somehow lowered me off the boarding ladder, and we landed (on a float this time! no more weed and barnacle encrusted vertical ladder) amidst myriad memories.

We had a graduate historian with us who lectured us each evening on the history of Penobscot Bay from the Ice Ages to recent. He had a tough audience: Not that we were rude or rowdy; we were ready for bed. Bea and I looked at each other and pushed the snoozer or let them nod.

The Eagle may be old, but it’s been brought back to solid shine. Slipping drowsily into woolen blankets as a sea breeze blows up the companionway is about as good as living.

Willem Lange is a regular contributor to Weekend magazine. He lives in Montpellier East.

Willem Lange is a regular contributor to Weekend Magazine. He lives in Montpellier East.