Set Sail this Summer with the Schooner FAME

When planning summertime adventures in New England, visions of ships and the sea often come to mind. A staple of Salem’s harbor during the warmer months is the Schooner FAME. 

FAME is a full-scale representation of a famous privateer that sailed from Salem during the War of 1812 and captured 20 ships. FAME sails up to five times a day between May and October based out of Pickering Wharf Marina in downtown Salem. Their dock (and iconic harborside ticket booth) is located right outside the Finz restaurant.

The Schooner FAME is a wonderful experience for those looking to mix outdoor fun with historic maritime themes. A little history to know before you plan to set sail is that FAME was built right here in Essex County by 11th-generation boatbuilder Harold Burnham in 2003. She is a locally-owned, award-winning business that works with the National Park Service, Essex Heritage, the Salem Public Schools and other local organizations to promote Salem’s maritime history and traditions.

We know what you’re thinking… and yes, they really do SAIL the traditional wooden schooner during your cruise. The welcoming and kind staff of the Schooner FAME love the reaction they get when guests realize that the wind alone is powering the schooner’s progress through Salem Sound! 

“Welcome to the 19th century!” 

As long as the weather is reasonable, guests are welcome to take a turn at the tiller and feel the pressure of the water on the rudder as FAME sails along. The schooner’s eight-foot-long locust tiller is a thing of beauty, but a challenge to handle on a windy day! Are you up for it?

What will you see out in Salem Sound? Well, generally patrons can expect to see five or six lighthouses on a typical trip. The Derby Wharf and Hospital Point lighthouses are usually quite close up, as they are right in Salem Harbor. After passing the two it’s all about where the wind will take you. Each trip route is determined by the direction that the wind is coming from. 

Folks will also get a good look at some of the many islands in Salem Sound, each with its own unique story!

The competent, experienced, personable crew aboard the Schooner FAME are there to answer your questions, make sure you’re comfortable, mix you a Dark‘n’Stormy, and tell you more about lighthouses, islands, forts and beautiful waterfront homes as you float by. A staple of any sail aboard the Schooner FAME is the call for volunteers to raise the sails and take the tiller. They’ll explain how the vessel works and how our ancestors used wooden sailing ships to explore the known world, trade with distant lands, chase the valuable shoals of codfish and mackerel, and in FAME’s case, hunt down and capture enemy vessels in times of war! 

Not only will the crew look to get your involved, but they are also wonderful sources of historical information and local knowledge — don’t hesitate to ask them questions. They may even explain how the cannon works — and give you a live-firing demonstration! 

To learn more and to find a full schedule of the FAME’s sailing times click the link HERE and get ready to cast off!

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