Sail and paint aboard an historic windjammer


There are many painting workshops on the Maine coast, but The Age of Sail promises to be the most unusual. It’s the brainchild of teacher Carol Douglas and veteran windjammer Captain John Foss of the schooner American Eagle.

From June 10-14, a select group of painting students will set out on a four-day cruise of Penobscot Bay. While Captain Foss navigates the bay’s beautiful islands and harbors, Douglas will teach plein air painting to passengers.


Is it even possible to paint from a moving boat? “It’s different from painting on land—quicker, more immediate, and more fleeting,” said Douglas, who is known for her paintings of the spring fit-out at North End Shipyard. “I’ve painted from the deck of the American Eagle twice now,” she noted. “Last fall, I started sharing my materials spontaneously with other passengers, and the idea for a sailing workshop was born.”

The watery landscape changes minute-by-minute, noted Douglas. “The water might be quicksilver in one direction and deep indigo looking another way. The shore is different depending on the tides. And the skies are always changing over the ocean.”


The American Eagle was launched in 1930, the last wooden fishing schooner built in Gloucester, MA. She was purchased in 1984 by Captain Foss, who restored her for the windjammer trade. “She’s a beautiful, comfortable boat, and her crew is kind and welcoming,” said Douglas. The boat is a relic of the age of sail, but it’s been updated with comfortable berths, fresh linens, modern heads and a fresh-water shower.


The trip lasts four days and includes an evening “gam,” a raft-up of the great schooner fleet of the mid-coast region. “That will be an opportunity to sketch or photograph the boats as they come in,” said Douglas. Lighthouses, wildlife, and unspoiled scenery are part of every trip. “That’s puffin season,” noted Douglas.


Painters will concentrate on water media—watercolor and gouache—said Douglas. All levels of experience are welcome. “It’s a small, focused class, so it will be one-on-one instruction rather than group lectures,” said Douglas. All materials, tools, accommodations and meals are included in the fee of $1020.

For more information, contact American Eagle at 1-800-648-4544, or visit

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