Wooden schooners have graced the waters of coastal Maine for more than 100 years. Built for the coasting trade in 1900 the Victory Chimes is one of only two surviving Chesapeake Ram Schooners. Based in Rockland, she can show you this rugged sailing ground of mountains, woods and inside passages. Whether you are anchoring in an unspoilt bay, rowing ashore or crossing bowsprits with other historic schooners, this is the most evocative way of understanding the maritime culture and natural beauty of Maine.
- Length overall: 127ft (39 m)
- Beam: 23ft (7 m)
- Year built: 1900
- Vessel type: gaff schooner
- 40 Guest berths:
- 8-9 Crew berths:
Authenticity on an Epic Scale
At 127ft Victory Chimes is the largest of the historic schooners that still sail, but she only takes 40 guest crew, which is a lot of space per guest. Cabins have 6ft 7 inch celings and the deck space is large enough for evening music concerts. Traditionally these ships carried deck cargo too so Victory Chimes makes quite an outdoor viewing platform to stride about on during your journey through West Penobscot Bay, Eggmoggin Reach, Isle de Haut Bay and many other famous wild sailing grounds. Her cabins are comfortable and anything but standard, with portholes, sinks and a wide choice of bed options.
This 208 ton ship has no engine, so sailing everywhere is what she has always done and considered normal. There is a push boat with an engine to nudge you into port, but otherwise you set your sails to depart and to hang onto your impressive spread of canvas until the last possible minute. Her Captain and owner Sam Sikemma was formerly Captain on globe-trotting barque Picton Castle. Debbie from Classic Sailing sailed with him in Nova Scotia and we short tacked a square rigger into Rose Bay, so he is no slouch at sail handling.
If the weather goes light on you there is always somewhere to explore ashore, or take one of the ship's small boats out for a row or a sail. If you are a bit unsure about taking a boat out on your own, the deckhands are super keen to escape with you and give you a hand.
Share the Dream - We Bought the Boat!
Some people dream big! It takes a pretty special couple to take on a National Landmark like Victory Chimes. Maintaining a 208 ton of wooden sailing ship built in 1900 requires a certain amount of dedication and skill. Luckily Captain Sam has a lifetime of experience as ship's captain, mate, rigger and carpenter. He knew what he was looking for when it was time to buy his own charter vessel, That vision was shaped by his partner Cara and her musical friends and contacts.
Cara ran off to sea at 17, working 4 seasons on Maine schooner Stephen Taber. A lady with a lot of wanderlust, she travelled with her fiddle on her back, travelling and living in over thirty countries in the last 10 years, playing and touring throughout Europe, South and Central America, the Middle East and South Pacific. However, there came a point that she “just missed home,” so she packed her bags and returned to the states where she has now become involved in running the VICTORY CHIMES.
Sam and Cara have managed to weave all their favourite pastimes into their voyages. It is obvious from the customer feedback and social media images of their first season in 2019 that they have already breathed new life into this legendary Chesapeake schooner. We can't think of a more engaging couple to give you a flavour of Maine, its maritime history, its music and introduce you to the many friends they have made through their energy and smiles.
Evenings are for Chilling & Acoustic Music
Sam and Cara both love playing music and they have numerous cruises featuring fine acoustic musicians that travel on the ship for the whole cruise and play for guests on select evenings after dinner. They even have a summer concert series on a series of voyages called 'Sea Great Music.'
The performances are intimate and wonderful. Each is an hour or so, often longer because folks keep asking for more, but you can just as easily fall asleep to it from your cabin if you like. Either way, it's a lovely way to end your day after a sail and a completely unique way to get to know an artist.
There are voyages without music theme too. Victory Chimes is large enough for everyone on board to dip into the social gatherings or find their own space for chilling out, reading a book or writing in a sea journal.
The craggy coast of Maine offers up all sorts of wide bays to explore in the day and cozy coves to anchor down in for the night. Even then, you can keep exploring by taking out one of the ship's small boats. The Victory Chimes owner's ethos echos our passion at Classic Sailing for travelling by sail as much as possible and finding time to also explore ashore. There is over 3000 miles of coastline and the new owners of Victory Chimes aim to show you the tucked away spots of Maine: those spots and sights that you just can't see any other way.
Learning about the rig and how to set the sails is part of the everyday activity but these trips are more about soaking up the essence of Maine than a sailing course. Based out of Rockland, the ship has one of the best cruising grounds in the world on her doorstep. set more sail as you cross the island-dotted Penobscot Bay, and, from there can head north to Jericho Bay, Isle au Haut bay, Mt Desert Narrow, perhaps going ashore in an island town, like Stonington or south to Muscongus Bay, skirting the numerous, scenic working harbors and idyllic seaside towns.
The bays of Maine are gentle, and the Midcoast sailing season is ripe with fair-weather days. Any fog is typically poetic and we can skirt rain-showers or hunker down cozily in a cove as real storms go through.
The sails are big and set using blocks and tackles. You have a first and second mate a 2-3 deckhands to help everyone work as a team. As the ship has no engine, you do have to earn your next meal by helping hoist the 'push boat' on its davits, after you have manoeuvered out of harbour. Victory Chimes is a stately lady and it takes quite a blow to get her really blasting. If winds are light to moderate and you are champing for more action, she does have a couple of secret weapons if you want to try more 'seat of the pants' sailing.
The ship carries a rowing boat and a sailing dory to go off exploring in the evenings, or whenever the ship is anchored somewhere tempting. The ships crew are usually up for a sail with you if you are not so sure about venturing off in a small boat on your own.
Life on Board
We have to say that food on board is a pretty major part of the experience. The dinner bell is much anticipated, especially once you have sampled the first delights from the galley. There is quite a fleet of Maine schooners so rivalry to have the best meals and chefs is rife. Sam and Cara have chosen well for their chef and galley assistant. Read the crew profile to learn more about the very experienced chef Geoffery Miller.
The Captain has spent years on sail training ships where everyone has to be kept busy, so on his own vessel he makes sure guests can do the exact opposite in the evenings. Taking relaxed downtime is part of the attraction and a chance to slow down from frantic modern lives. Enjoy a cool beer, the sunset and often an impromptu music session. There is a giant 'cooler' fridge on deck, so you can even stock up on your favourite drink before you join and keep it cool to toast those magic moments. The restless types could try a before breakfast swim around the boat or go for a row.
Sweet Suites and Neat Retreats
Victory Chimes is the largest passenger sailing vessel under the USA flag, yet she accommodates just 40 guests. Repeat guests have a slight advantage in choosing cabins as they already have their favourites to request when booking.
Victory Chimes has quite a choice of accommodation and we love their querky descriptions of each cabin type. What all cabins have in common are 6'7" deckheads (ceilings), refined bedding, hot showers (outside the cabin - not in individual rooms).
Where it gets interesting is when you start to look at the possible cabin choices.
Standard Cabins at Base Price
The base price quoted is for one bunk in standard double cabin. The majority of rooms at this price are similar and with two bunks. If you are travelling solo and the vessel is full you will probably end up sharing with someone from the same sex.
Below describes rooms 1,4,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,14,16,& 18
With ceilings of 6'7", a cozy pair of comfy bunk beds, a sink and cheery, glowing porthole to peek out at the morning light or open in the afternoon to nap to the music of the wind and sea, these rooms are anything but standard.
Cabin 2 - Twin berths instead of bunks - base price
This room sleeps two, not in stacked bunks though, but in adjacent twins. If you like to jump on the bed, or you like an airy feeling to your pillow fights, then Room 2 is a great choice.
Like all rooms, the ceilings are 6'7" (be impressed), it has a nice sink, fluffy bedding and a cheery porthole to glow the room or let in the music of the wind and sea.
Room 5 - cabin for 4 friends - all bunk berths - base price
This room is a “double-double,” that is, it has two sets of bunk beds. For friends into a summer camp vibe where you tell stories from your bunks at night and get into laughing fits, this is the perfect, cozy clubhouse. Complete with a sink and fluffed, soft bedding, you may not get out of bed very easily in the morning, but at least you’ll have three friends nearby to help wake you up.
Private Single Cabins - Only two of these - additional price
Cabins 19 and 21 each only have one bunk so solo travellers can enjoy your own private cabin without having to share. See individual voyage descriptions for extra cabin costs, which vary with length of voyage.
You still get the high ceilings (6'7"), the cheery portal and the fluffy bedding and great mattresses that all the other cabins get so you won't feel like a stowaway at all.
Double Bed with Ensuite Restroom - additional price
There is a different price band for these ensuite cabins with double beds and their own bathroom (or restroom as the Americans like to call it). See individual voyage descriptions for costs, which vary with length of voyage.
Admirals Suite - Double bed - ensuite
This Suite sleeps the same number of people as a regular room, but here - you’ll get to sleep side-by-side, cozy style, on a nice, full-size bed. Complete with its own restroom (WC), a convenient sink and a cheery porthole for peeking at the scenery or enjoying the music of the sea.
Governors Suite - Queen size double bed - ensuite
Special treat? With a comfy, Queen-sized bed (!), it’s own bathroom, bookshelf and dressing area, even the captain will be jealous when you stroll into breakfast from the glow of the finest room aboard.
'Yin and Yan' Double bed -ensuite Cabins 15 and 17
Each of these suites has, in addition to a convenient sink and charming porthole like the other rooms, it’s own restroom and a real, full-sized bed. They are a bit cheaper than Admirals and Governor suite.
Victory Chimes - Ship's dimensions and history
|length overall (sparred length)||127.5ft||m|
|Sail rig||gaff schooner|
|Engine||no engine||yawl boat 135hp|
History of Victory Chimes
Victory Chimes (official number 136784) is a three-masted, gaff-rigged Chesapeake Ram schooner. She was launched in April 1900 from the Bethel, Delaware yard of George K. Phillips Co. as the 'Edwin And Maud', named for two children of her first captain, Robert Riggin. Her home port back then was the same as it is now - Rockland, Maine. Originally designed for and used as a cargo carrying schooner, she was converted to a charter vessel as early as 1946.
Victory Chimes not only exemplifies the nineteenth and early twentieth century development of large American wooden schooners intended primarily, though not exclusively, for the coasting trade on both east and west coasts, but she is the only surviving example of the "Chesapeake ram" type and one of only two surviving examples of a three masted schooner in the United States.
Victory Chimes' She was slightly larger than the average "ram," and today she is the largest member of Maine's fleet of windjammers, which carry passengers along the coast during summer months.
Restoration & Originality
She is constructed with an oak keel, double sawn frames and deck timbers and Georgia pine planking. In 1988 she was extensively repaired at Sample's Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor, Maine while owned by Domino's Pizza. Traditional working methods and materials were used to replace rotten areas in-kind. Despite an active working life in a harsh environment and required changes for passenger safety, Victory Chimes is estimated to retain about 70 percent of her original fabric.
The traditional "ram" rig was a standing jib, flying jib, staysail (also called a forestaysail), foresail, mainsail and spanker (or mizzen), which Victory Chimes carries today. The heads of the fore, main and mizzen sails are supported by gaffs and the feet are laced to booms. The present masts of Oregon Douglas fir are over eighty feet in height. The mizzenmast was replaced in 1976, the main in 1988, and the fore in 1989. "A straight tree 110 feet tall is required to get the necessary length a full twenty-one inches in diameter."
The original wooden bowsprit was replaced by one of steel to the same dimensions in 1965. The standing rigging is steel wire. Standing rigging was minimal on rams, to enable deck cargo to be stowed on uncluttered decks. Each mast is supported by three shrouds on each side. The foremast has three stays and springstays run from its masthead to the main and mizzen masts.
Still an engineless Sailing Ship today
Just as when Victory Chimes was built, the schooner does not carry an engine. Maneuvering assistance is provided by a nineteen foot wooden yawlboat which pushes against the stern. When not in use it is towed astern. The current yawlboat was built in 1991 by then Captain Kip Files and George Alien to enable the vessel to compete with other vessels in the passenger schooner trade which have been modified to carry engines. The yawlboat is, said Kip, "probably a bit bigger than would have originally been used."7 It is powered by a 135 horsepower Ford diesel engine. Three other boats are carried on davits.
Captain Sam Sikkema
Debbie from Classic Sailing met Sam when he was onboard Picton Castle, where he was clearly revelling in being Captain of this famous tall ship in home waters during the Rendezvous 2017 Tall Ships Race. Seeing Captain Sam orchestrate us as motley crew into short tacking this 56 metre square rigger into Lunenburg was one of the highlights.
Capt Sam Sikkema fell in love with the water early in his life. Sailing dinghies on Lake Michigan as a kid with his father, he quickly grew up to sailing larger and larger boats. When in High School he joined the Sea Scouts and had the opportunity to start sailing large traditional sailing vessels around his home waters in the Great Lakes.
When Sam left school he turned to seaward and never looked back, launching into a maritime career that has taken him around the world and sailed on all of the world's oceans in Schooners, Square Riggers, Training Ships, Yachts, Fishing Vessels, Commercial Vessels and work with Maritime Museums and Shipyards as a Carpenter and a Rigger.
Over the years he has sailed as crew in Niagara, Bounty, Sørlandet, Denis Sullivan, Californian, Red Witch, Nina, Robert C Seamans, Spirit of Bermuda, Alabama, Highlander Sea, Columbia, and the 1841 Whaling Ship Charles W Morgan. He has also been in command of Friends Good Will, Lynx, Tole Mour, Harvey Gamage, Lettie G Howard, Roseway, Victory Chimes and the ocean voyaging barque Picton Castle.
Capt Sikkema, along with many certifications, holds a US Coast Guard Masters License for vessels up to 1600 tons upon Oceans and 3rd Mate unlimited. He is licensed internationally to be Master of vessels of up to 3000 tons and mate of any vessel worldwide. He also holds the Nautical Institute International Sail Endorsement for Square Rig and Fore & Aft Rig.
Along with his passion for being on the water Sam has always enjoyed playing music and is a student of History and Marine Preservation. When he is not at sea you can find him between Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and Rockland, Maine playing music and building boats with his friends.
Cara Lauzon was a born and bred a farm girl in upstate New York and took to the seas when she was 17, moving to Maine to work on the local vessel Schooner Stephen Taber. Caught by wanderlust she worked for 4 years seasonally on the Stephen Taber and took off in the winters traveling Europe and South America and the Southern States. Playing Violin since she was seven, her wish to travel soon became insatiable and she set out to travel with her fiddle on her back traveling and living in over thirty countries in the last 10 years, playing and touring throughout Europe, South and Central America, the Middle East, the South Pacific and other continents of our globe.
Her love of the sea was never quite lost and she had several sailing adventures in the South Pacific and other warmer climes.
Most recently she was living in Israel studying Turkish music, playing Indie Rock and living by the sea. However, there came a point that she “just missed home,” so she packed her bags and returned to the states where she has now become involved in running the VICTORY CHIMES. She is very excited to bring her knowledge of the world and her connections to the musical world to breathe new life into this historic vessel's journey.
Chef - Jeffery Miller
VICTORY CHIMES has an 'engine'. Yes, the secret is out. It is the cooking of our Chef, Chef Jeffery Miller that drives us. Below deck, in the galley, is what fills our trips with enjoyment as much as the wind fills our sails.
He is always sailing or cooking and has lived on sailboats for the last 20 years. Being aboard VICTORY CHIMES allows him to be immersed in his two favorite passions: sailing and cooking. He grew up in a home with a commercial stove; the house was literally built around it: a Garland, 8 burner burner commercial stove, so big that the walls couldn’t be put up until stove was installed.
His mother studied with Patricia Wells in Provence Italy and Jeff picked up the passion from his grandmother who has a widely known Appalachian culinary flair for simple brilliance, and a dramatic style of hospitality. At thanksgiving she would surprise each guest with their favorite entree; each individually prepared for them.
In school, Jeffery worked in kitchens around marinas and he cooked his way through college, fully paying his tuition as he went. He moved to Florida to upgrade his Captain’s license by adding offshore time.
He somehow - he has a thousand stories and so we’re only touching on the peaks of his anecdotal mountain range - ends up working shoulder to shoulder with a renowned Hungarian Chef - Lazlo Bevardi, who at 9 was chosen as the only person in the country allowed to cross to West Germany to attend a renowned culinary institute.
After years in the trad sailing world, Capt Sam has picked his crew well.
Nicola Morse - Galley Hand 2019
Nicole’s history with the ‘Chimes is more than most peoples. Her great grandfather, Fredrick Boyd Guild, owned and captained the Victory Chimes and her aunt worked in the galley when she was in her early 20’s. She grew up sailing in Casco Bay, Maine and previously taught sailing in the Falmouth and Portland areas. Nicole is currently studying at Maine Maritime Academy working on a dual major program in Marine Biology and Small Vessel Operations. She just finished her first year and will be heading back at the end of the summer for her sophomore year.
Yoko Bowen: First Mate
Yoko's parents started a marine science summer camp, so she spent summers on Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick.If you’re always around boats, you sail out to watch whales, and all your father’s friends are fishermen, then you just might fall in love with the sea.
Yoko went to the College of the Atlantic with a focus on marine studies. When the chance came up to live on one of the most remote islands of Maine, Mt. Desert she lept at it and many other outdoor adventures. She was also stationed on Great Duck Island, researching the ecology of herring gulls that had her living intimately among them.
Ever since her first day at college though, her counsellor had tried to convince Yoko to take a semester at sea versus so much time on land, collecting data. She eventually relented and took part In the Sea Education Association’s program (SEA). This was the pivotal experience that set Yoko on her course to us. At the end of her stint at sea, the moment she hit the dock, she realized that as much as collecting data put her intimate to the natural world she’d loved since childhood, the lengthy follow-up time spent analyzing data, would habitually keep her from it for much longer.
She changed course and a week later she was hired as educator on a boat called Quinnipiack. Two years later she found VICTORY CHIMES. Within three years , she went from deckhand to first mate and is the first ever female to hold that position on this ship.
As much as she’s a brainy, brawny badass, Yoko is also an endearing goof. This season, the crew is all about the movie “A Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,” so, of course she knit everyone red caps to wear, just like Bill Murray wears in the movie.
Sherman Brewer: Second Mate
The Brewer family has lived on the island of Southport since the 1600s, so Sherman’s love of the sea and nearly innate seamanship is nearly hereditary and seemingly inevitable. A sailor since he was 9, working aboard ships at 15, his official training was at the Northeast Maritime institute in Fair Haven, MA which transitioned him from deckhand positions to ship’s officer. When the opportunity to work on the ‘Chimes came up, he gladly took it. This is his second year and we hope just the beginning.
For a bio steeped in history and devotion, Sherm’s may seem aloof in its brevity, but such quiet humility is a Sherm trademark. Just beneath his taciturn reserve though, is a dry humor, simmering wit and beaming smile. He’s an old soul, conscious and quietly proud of his family’s long local, maritime history. Like the best sailors, he snaps to duty and awareness in an instant, doesn’t suffer fools well and is deeply knowledgeable of safety, process and teamwork.
A nod from Sherm' is as good as a cheer from most others. He wears his seamanship with reserve, but he’s a lovable, loyal and a darn fun complement to the long, proud history of our ship.
In 2019 season there were two deckhands and one deck apprentice. Very handy if you want to take out one of the ships sailing dories and need some company.