During this special two-and-a-half hour cruise, facilitator George Brandenburg will provide an overview of navigation as practiced in the early 19th century by Salem's legendary Nathaniel Bowditch.
Sextants and handouts will be provided. Everyone will get a chance to practice working a sextant and taking sights. No previous navigation experience is required.
What better way to learn the intricacies of celestial navigation than on board a traditional gaff-rigged schooner?
What Is Not Included?
- Food and beverages are not included, but are for sale on board at reasonable prices. We offer beer, wine, soft drinks, water and assorted snacks.
- Guests are encouraged to bring their own snacks and sandwiches, but no alcohol can be brought on board due to state regulations.
- Do I have to purchase tickets in advance?
- Advance purchase is recommended. Tickets can be purchased in advance with a Visa, Mastercard or American Express.
- Is there an age limit for these sails?
- No, everyone can sail, but this particular trip is not recommended for toddlers or infants. All passengers regardless of age must purchase a ticket.
- Do you really raise the sails and turn the motor off?
- YES! Giving our passengers the experience of living in the Age of Sail is what we're all about. We only use the engine for about five minutes at each end of the trip, to help us get into and out of our slip.
- What is a sextant?
- A sextant is a traditional navigation instrument that allows you to determine your position from measuring the relative positions of celestial objects.
- What will we see during the sail?
- In order to get a clear horizon under the sun, we'll be heading out toward Marblehead and Cat Island You can count on seeing Salem and Marblehead, the square-rigger Friendship, and Fort Pickering from the water, anywhere from three to six lighthouses, and any number of islands and handsome waterfront homes.
- What happens if the weather doesn't cooperate?
- If we can't see the sun well enough to take sights, the trip will be cancelled. You can either reschedule your trip (subject to availability) or receive a credit for a future event on board the schooner.
- What happens if it rains during the sail?
- You get wet! This happens very rarely, now that our captains can view radar images on their cell phones, but keep in mind that this is a schooner, not a cruise ship! There is limited space below decks and you will be out in the weather. So dress accordingly — on sunny days, bring a hat & sunscreen; on cool days, bring a sweatshirt; if there's a chance of rain, bring a hat and a rainslicker.
- Is the sail narrated?
- For this trip we have engaged a facilitator who will be talking about the history and practice of celestial navigation as well as walking passengers through the handling of sextants and the taking of sights. Also, you can expect the captain to give a talk about the exploits of the original Schooner Fame. The crew will also point out places of interest as we sail past. Our crew are very knowledgeable about the history of Salem and Schooner Fame, and several of them actually helped to build the schooner. If you let them know you're interested, they'll talk your ear off! But if you prefer to relax and enjoy the view, we're not going to put a bullhorn in your ear.
- Is there a bathroom on board?
- Yes. It is below decks, accessible by descending a short ladder, so those with limited mobility may wish to do their business ashore before coming aboard. As on most traditional vessels, our bathroom uses a marine head, which is a bit different than a conventional toilet. Instructions are posted, but the crew will be happy to explain its operation.
- Is the schooner wheelchair accessible?
- We regularly accommodate people in wheelchairs on our sails, but please note the wheelchair cannot wheel directly onto the vessel. In order to get from the dock onto the boat and comfortably into your seat, our staff will need to assist you. If you have a wheelchair that folds or is light, we can actually seat you in your chair on board. For those with heavy electric wheelchairs, you will need to leave it on the dock. If you have any specific questions or concerns, please click on the "Contact SchoonerFame" for more information.
- Are food and drinks available during the sails?
- Food and drinks are not included in the ticket price but can be purchased on board. Snacks ($1), water and soda ($2), and beer and wine ($5) are available for purchase. Passengers are also welcome to bring their own food and soft drinks. However, coolers and alcoholic beverages may NOT be brought aboard. Please note that only cash is accepted on the boat.
- What should I wear?
- It's cooler out on the water, so bring a sweatshirt or windbreaker. High heels or dress shoes will be uncomfortable and potentially unsafe — we recommend sneakers, sandals, or boat shoes. It's also a good idea to bring your cameras, sunglasses and sunscreen.
- Where can we park?
- There is free two-hour parking in the Pickering Wharf complex; metered parking on Derby Street; a municipal garage on the corner of Derby & Congress Streets; and an open lot for Pickering Wharf customers off Congress Street. In short, there is plenty of parking, but don't count on finding a spot right in front of our ticket booth. Allow time to find a parking space. Dropping off passengers at the ticket booth is often a good idea.
- Am I going to get seasick?
- Seasickness is rarely a problem on beamy schooners like Schooner Fame operating in protected waters close to shore. Nobody has ever gotten sick during one of our sails on the Salem Sound. However, those prone to motion sickness may wish to take precautions before boarding. We cannot officially advise you to take any medication, however!
- Can pregnant women attend the sail?
- Yes, expecting mothers are welcome to sail with us.
- Can I bring a pet?
- Sorry, not on this trip.
- Can I stow anything (eg, my backpack) during the sail?
- Unfortunately, there is limited storage space on board the boat, so we cannot store larger items for you. If you are bringing a snack, please note that coolers are not allowed.
- Is there shade on the boat?
- Once raised, the sails will definitely provide shade to one side of the boat at all times, but there is no covered section of the boat.
- Are gift certificates available?
- Yes, gift certificates are available and make a great gifts for any occasion! Please click “Contact SchoonerFame” if you’re interested in purchasing a gift certificate.
- Can I book a private charter sail?
- Yes, private sails are available. If you're interested in a private charter, please click “Contact SchoonerFame” to the left of the page to make a request!
- Non-refundable, cannot be rescheduled.
- Once purchased, tickets cannot be refunded and cannot be rescheduled because your space is being guaranteed at the event.
- Activity may be cancelled due to severe weather.
- The activity usually runs in light rain and other moderate weather conditions, but the seller may cancel the activity up to an hour before the start time in the event of severe or unsafe weather conditions. If the seller cancels the event, ticket-holders will be allowed to reschedule tickets (subject to availability) or receive credit for a future event.
- All participants are required to have tickets for this event.
- Our boat is United States Coast Guard documented for a certain amount of passengers and we cannot exceed the capacity. This means that all passengers including infants and toddlers must have a ticket.
Launched in June 2003 from the H. A. Burnham Boatyard in Essex, MA, our new Schooner Fame offers public sails on historic Salem Sound, where pirates, privateers, East Indiamen and men of war have been making history for 400 years. The Schooner Fame sails up to three times daily from Memorial Day through September and then weekends only through Halloween from Pickering Wharf Marina in downtown Salem.
The Schooner Fame also offers summer camp sessions and is available for private charters. For more information about private charters, our camp programs, or to purchase Schooner Fame merchandise, please click on the "Contact SchoonerFame" link.