Maritime History

Downwind + Eastward = DownEast. It’s just that easy.
Castine Yatch Club races
Annual Castine Yatch Club races are a popular event.

When ships sailed into the District of Maine—originally part of Massachusetts—from the south, they sailed downwind and eastward with the prevailing winds. Sailor shorthand re-coined it “DownEast.” Today, the term is still used to describe the Maine coast roughly between the Penobscot River and the St. Croix.

Want to learn more? Call at any—or all­—of the 45 stops along the Downeast Fisheries Trail, from the Penobscot River to the Bay of Fundy, that bring to light the long and culturally diverse relationship DownEast Acadia shares with the sea.

Bar Harbor Maritime History
Windjammer Bailey Louise Todd docked in Bar Harbor.

A Seafaring Past. A Maritime Future.

At the heart of Castine, you’ll find Fort Pentagöet, an outpost built and held by the French in the 1630s, then held by the Dutch, British (briefly), and then finally America. Castine holds the unique status of having been under the rule of four separate nations. While you are there, visit the Maine Maritime Academy and see how Maine’s seafaring traditions and training are passed on to future generations of mariners.

Visit Machias during Margaretta Days, held each June to celebrate the first naval battle of the American Revolution. The attack on the British was conceived in Burnham’s Tavern. Townspeople armed with farm implements and muskets captured the British naval vessel Margaretta and fought off the British to control the town. Early structures and earthworks from this battle can still be seen at Fort O’Brien in Machiasport.

Head to Brooklin, where the region’s historic reputation for building swift and sturdy sailing ships lives on. Enroll in a boatbuilding course at the WoodenBoat School or visit the WoodenBoat Store for all manner of sailing gear and gifts for the landlubbers at home.

Visitors don’t have to look far to find a seafaring excursion. Visitors can find a harbor, chat with a mate or captain, and climb aboard one of the dozens of modern sailing ships, original or replica lobster boats, windjammers, or Maine-built schooners.

A Colorful Maritime Heritage in DownEast Acadia

Planning Tools

To help you plan your trip we provide  information on drive time and distances to and around the region. Plus info on other commercial transportation options.

Once you arrive in DownEast Acadia, you will want to access local sources of visitor information, state laws, recreation rules, and road conditions.

To help you pack or plan your day, check out the current weather in the region or learn about year-round averages of temperature and precipitation.

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