The J & E Riggin: A Culinary Adventure at Sea

Sailing on a Maine Windjammer Cruise is something I look forward to every summer. I have been lucky to have the opportunity to sail on several different schooners over the years. While most windjammer voyages are similar, the individual ships have their own history, distinct characteristics, and rhythm to their days. The ships vary in size and the number of passengers they can accommodate. However, no matter which one you choose you can count on a consistently wonderful experience.

Schooner J & E Riggin

Most recently I sailed on the J.& E. Riggin, a family-owned historic schooner built in 1927. At the helm is Captain Jon and in the galley, you’ll find his wife and Co-Captain Annie. She’s also the head chef, with over 30 years’ experience in the food industry and the author of several cookbooks. If you are lucky, you will also have one of their daughters on your trip. They often work on the ship.

What sets each Maine Windjammer apart though is the food. While it is all fabulous, what comes out of Chef Annie’s tiny galley kitchen on the J & Riggin each day is nothing short of extraordinary. The variety and caliber of dishes she makes are simply astonishing.

A Maine Windjammer Breakfast

As you rise to greet the day on the Schooner J & E Riggin you will smell freshly brewed Riggin Blend coffee waiting for you on deck. Usually, there will also be some type of sweet like sticky buns, coffee cake or muffins to tide you over until the main event.

Note: Mornings on deck can be chilly even in the summer. Be sure to pack sweaters and sweatshirts to keep you warm.

The morning meal will have wholesome choices that range from stacks of buttermilk pancakes to eggs and bacon or frittatas. There is always yogurt, fresh fruits, homemade granola, and oatmeal available as well.

Schooner Lunches

Lunch is usually served buffet style up on deck as long as the weather is good. Otherwise, there is plenty of seating in the galley below to accommodate all of the passengers. In addition to the main dish, there will be a variety of salads and desserts. Hearty soups, chowders, chili or stews are always accompanied by freshly baked bread or biscuits.

My absolute favorite meal Chef Annie serves is the Vietnamese style bowls with fresh vegetables, kimchi, harvest slaw, gochujang sauce, and noodles.

J & E Riggin’s Cocktail Hour

You will find that not much time elapses in between meals. As soon as the J & E Riggin drops anchor in the Penobscot Bay for the night, the appetizers come out. It could be anything from a beautiful charcuterie board with local cheeses and homemade spreads, fresh Maine oysters or caprese and crostini.

Note: Cocktails, wine, and beer are BYO. You are more than welcome to bring your favorite beverages with you for your windjammer cruise. There is a large cooler on the deck where you can keep them for the duration of your voyage.

Dinner on the J & E Riggin

Dinner, which is always served family-style, is equally amazing. The cuisine ranges from beef tenderloin to roasted chicken or fresh salmon served with sauteed greens and a myriad of vegetables and salads.

Freshly baked bread or rolls always accompany each meal. Dinner will likely end with a decadent dessert such as a chocolate tart, Crème Brûlée, or peach shortcake.

The Lobster Bake

The highlight of any windjammer cruise is a traditional Maine lobster bake! One evening on the shores of a secluded island, passengers are treated to an all-you-can-eat lobster feast. The crew steams lobsters and corn in seaweed over an open fire. When they are done, they will lay the lobsters out on the beach and serve them with butter and baked potatoes.

No meal on the J & E Riggin is without dessert, not even when passengers are dining on the beach. The lobster bake concludes with traditional s’mores along with every type of topping you can imagine.

Chef Annie Mahle’s Cookbooks

As you can tell, you won’t ever go hungry on this Maine windjammer cruise and luckily Chef Annie has written three cookbooks, Home at Sea and The Sugar & Salt series, so you can recreate the delicious recipes she makes on the Schooner J & E Riggin at home. Also, be sure to follow her blog for daily culinary inspiration.

Disclosure: Complimentary accommodations, meals, and activities were provided by the J. & E. Riggin. No other compensation was received for this review. This post reflects the honest opinion of my experience without outside influence.

Commenting area

  1. Oh my, I must try a windjammer cruise on a historic schooner…but in Maine. That lobster bake on a secluded island is a to-die-for experience. All you can eat Main Lobster! Plus all-toppings s’mores for dessert! Can’t think of anything better.

  2. Ok, I want to do this NOW! Your experience looks amazing and the food looks very lush. I kept a note of the company and when I am back in New England, I am so doing this!

  3. This looks like an amazing experience. Love that fresh food combined with an incredible voyage, wonderful landscapes and that lobster bake on the island too. So cool and so tasty too! What better place to enjoy that!

  4. I think I am going to have to have a FAT Day on the Schooner JE Riggin cause those food spreads are amazing! I would even suffer the cold mornings knowing that I would have a cocktail hour with oysters followed by that epic Lobster Bake! That looks crazy fun with all those lobsters for sure!
    So besides eating, did you have to actually do any rigging of the sails?

    • Dana Freeman October 15, 2019 at 4:07 pm · · Reply

      You are always welcome to help raise the sails if you would like. It is not required, but the crew can always use a helping hand!

  5. Oh Chef Annie has cookbooks. Totally not surprising because that food looks amazing! I love Vietnamese bowls too by the way. And lobster bakes and Maine in general. Penobscot Bay is really cool. Thinking I might have to have an experience with the Schooner J&E Riggin!

  6. Wow, that’s a lot of food! The lobster bake looks amazing. The seaweed would give the lobster a fantastic taste and it’s such a nice communal thing to do. I would definitely try that, only need to get a whole lot of lobsters!

  7. Having lived in New England many years ago and visited numerous times since, there is NOTHING quite so delicious and decadent as an authentic and traditional Maine Lobster Bake. How many days and nights were you out? I have done fair amount of sailing, but usually as crew. Might be nice to switch that up on a Windjammer and be served for a change. 😉

    • Dana Freeman October 16, 2019 at 8:09 pm · · Reply

      This cruise was 4 days/3 nights. Sailing on a Maine Windjammer Cruise is a happy medium. You can participate if you would like by helping to raise the sails or if the Captain allows you can take a turn at the wheel. Or you can just sit back and relax.

  8. So nice when the whole family comes together to conduct the trip, you already know it will be good journey. The spread looks absolutely delicious, especially the tenderloins. Would love to experience all of this first hand on a Windjammer. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. I’ve never heard of windjammer cruises before. This looks amazing!! Such an incredible experience and to have such wonderful food for each and every meal is amazing especially since it’s made on the boat. I do love the idea of also having a lobster bake though!

  10. I am on board for ANY adventure that includes good food! I love to travel via my stomach and I love exploring and experiencing foods in different experiences – I would be totally up for this trip!

  11. Michael Pitts April 23, 2020 at 2:00 pm · · Reply

    As a frequent guest on the JE Riggin (we are known as Riggin Relics) I can attest to the loveing care and safety that each trip on the Riggin provides. Captains Jon and Annie are just spectacular at what they do. While there are certainly other Windjammer experiences in my mind the JE Riggin stands out. Capt \Chef Annie is a consummate kitchen goddess. She even consented to baking my favorite cake on a trip that i fell in love with. The crew and all the staff are just great. You can’t go wrong with them.

    • Dana Freeman April 23, 2020 at 3:30 pm · · Reply

      We met a few Riggin Relics on our trip! I couldn’t agree more with you about Captains Jon and Annie. They are absolutely wonderful and Annie’s food is unbelievable. Some of the best I have had on a cruise (big or small).

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