Thanks to Argia Mystic Cruises, visitors to Mystic, Connecticut, can get a taste of what many in this seafaring community did in the 18th and 19th centuries — sail on a wooden sailing ship.
The Argia, a two-masted gaff topsail schooner that carries 49 passengers, sails out of downtown Mystic from May 1 to mid-October.
“This town was one of the three biggest ship-building towns in the Northeast back in the day when we were building sailing ships,” said Captain Amy Blumberg. “Our Mystic Seaport Museum basically preserves that flavor. The schooner Argia, the sailing ship our company runs, is the only way in town for somebody to actually be able to go out on the water on one of these traditional sailing ships.”
Mystic’s location makes sailing easy for those not used to traveling on water, Blumberg said.
Fishers Island, a kind of a geological extension of Long Island, provides protection in the waters outside the harbor, Blumberg said.
“We’re very, very protected so on windy days we don’t get much in the way of waves, which is terrific for visitors, but we’re also surrounded by islands and lighthouses and gorgeous homes,” she said. “Instead of having open ocean to look at or the shore, you’re actually surrounded by all kinds of really beautiful scenery.”
People who work on old sailing ships are “kind of a special breed,” Blumberg said. “They live the life — they’re sanding, varnishing and maintaining the boat and they’re usually really enthusiastic about what they do,” she said. “They love to tell our passengers all about it. They tell people a lot about what the lifestyle is like and what sailing on the ship is like.”
Passengers can bring their wine and beer on board, and the company provides cups and napkins, and serves snacks.
Motorcoaches can park in a lot near the Argia for a nominal charge. While groups can purchase tickets for public sailings, it’s usually cheaper to schedule a two-hour private charter at a flat rate, Blumberg said.
For more information on Argia Mystic Cruises call 860-536-0416 or go to argiamystic.com.
Article by Kathie Sutin