Capt. Ray has traced his ancestry back to successful shipbuilding in both England and Scotland as well as to deep water square rig captains of the late 1800's. Perhaps it was salt water in his veins that drew him to the sea at an early age.
Ray and Ann met in college. Shortly after graduation Ann was offered a teaching position in St. Croix. The chance to move to the Virgin Islands was a dream come true. Ann began her career as a kindergarten teacher, and Ray got his start as a professional sailor in the local charter boat fleet. They spent seven years in the Caribbean during which their oldest daughter Allysa was born.
Driven by the desire to sail large traditional vessels, Ray signed aboard a schooner bound for New England. As soon as he stepped ashore, he headed straight for Camden, the "Windjammer Capital of the World." When he saw the beautiful town, the mountains, the sea, and especially the windjammers, he knew this would be their new home.
Ray signed aboard the 100-year-old-schooner Grace Bailey. Shipping out as a deckhand for $60 a week may not seem like a great career opportunity, but it opened the door to a New World of experience that changed their lives and the lives of these vessels. That winter their daughter Kristi was born.
Just a few blocks from the harbor, Ann began teaching at the Elm Street School, then well over 100 years old.
Already a licensed Mariner, Ray quickly moved up the ranks to captain, first on the Schooner Mistress, then on the Mercantile. Four years later, in 1986, the Williamsons purchased Maine Windjammer Cruises®.
During their first five years as owners they completely restored all three of the schooners. It was a massive undertaking for which they received National recognition as preservers of historic vessels. Buying older boats in need of a great deal of work gave Ray the opportunity to experience his two favorite occupations at once: shipbuilding and sailing. Ann continues to teach and cooks aboard in the summertime.
Allysa and Kristi have grown up on the schooners, and their knowledge of sailing would impress even an experienced mariner. Like their parents, they enjoy sharing their skills with passengers, whether it's raising sails, rowing the dinghy, playing their musical instruments, voicing a song, or getting that last bite of delicious meat out of a lobster. They're almost always the first to go for a swim and they're good at persuading others to join them.
Many people refer to sailing aboard the windjammers as "Living the Dream". This certainly describes our memories. We invite you to share this dream aboard our vessels.
Capt. Ray F. Williamson