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.
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.
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.