Windjammer Cruising

| July 10, 2009

Since the demise of Windjammer Barefoot Cruises a gap for sailing adventure is slowly being filled by other companies.

Windjammer Barefoot Cruises was the company that made the name "Windjammer" famous for small sail-ship cruising. But it wasn't just the ships that made WBJC famous; it was the crew and the onboard atmosphere of fun. When WJBC was still in operation they had a wild following of "Jammers" who were dedicated to the carefree, laidback and always fun style of cruising offered on the line's small ships.

Unfortunately, the line went down in flames in 2007 with a spate of family disputes resulting in seemingly irresolvable lawsuits. The father, Michael Burke Sr., had built the company from scratch but could only sit by in awe as his five spawn took over and ran it into the ground, or sea, as the case may be. They fought over every detail and borrowed every penny they could find for themselves. So much money was taken out of the company there was nothing left to maintain the ships in even near working condition. Soon the ships all rotted at sea until they were reclaimed by creditors or auctioned off for pennies on the dollar.

And so the line went out of business. But left behind were thousands of "Jammers" who still want the Windjammer Barefoot Cruises experience; cheap tropical cruises on slow ships sailing to out of the way places with all the rum swizzles and silly pastimes they can handle.

What many people don't realize is that the word "Windjammer" is a type of sailing vessel, not just a cool word that Michael Burke had invented. And so today there are still cruise companies called "Windjammer," one of them in Maine that has been in business for decades and never had anything to do with the Burke family, and two others which are actually single small boat operations independently operated by former captains from the original Windjammer Barefoot Cruises company.

The main thing to remember about the original Windjammer Barefoot Cruises experience is that it was all about "party time" at sea. They gave away wine with dinner and had a "rum swizzles" happy hour daily. At one point they had as many as five ships in operation ranging up to passenger capacities as large as 120 guests. They were a viable company generating a lot of cash flow from cruise sales at one time. Unfortunately, those sales didn't exactly translate into long-term profits.

Windjammer Adventures Cruises The first of the two companies that are offshoots of the original Barefoot Cruises company is Windjammer Adventures, being run by a man the Jammers know as Captain Neil. The small ship, SV Diamante was purchased in Ecuador. After extensive renovations and reportedly a mountain of red tape, he has sailed it through the Panama Canal and is ready to start taking guests on week-long cruises originating in the Grenadines, beginning June 29.

NOTE: We have received word as of Oct 15, 2009, that Windjammer Adventures has been struggling financially. Some cruises went unfulfilled and the customers were not contacted - they lost money. The original sailing ship, The Diamante, has been lost and now the company is sailing on a catamaran. The general consensus of people who know - at "The Flotilla Message Board" at is that things do not look good with the captain, Neil Carmichael. Buyer Beware.

Their rum swizzles recipe is ready and so is the Diamante. The entire story in just the last three months has been like a lifetime for Captain Neil. You can read all about it in his Captain's Log at the company web site:

The Diamante has just six cabins; the crew is two captains, the chef, a bosun and finally the bartender-room steward-salsa instructor. There are also two women onboard, Jackie and Gale, although we are not sure what their jobs are.

The prices on Windjammer Adventures are certainly in keeping with the original Barefoot Cruising concept. All cruises originate in the Grenadine Islands. "Low season" (summer months) it is just $1300 per person for a 7-day cruise. Winter months (Dec-May) it is $1500 per person. I have really enjoyed reading their adventures in the weekly newsletter called The Scuttlebutt. You can see all editions at the web site:

Continue Article >> Sail Oasis Charters (Part 2)

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