Seaborne adventures

It doesn’t get any better than a sunny day on the water.

Cutting through the waves with a cool breeze whipping through my hair as salt spray glazes my cheeks. Ah, the scent of sea air. White sails gleaming, puffed by the wind.

Some of my fondest childhood memories were aboard a family friend’s old oyster schooner in the Delaware Bay. Everybody else was busy catching bluefish and wearies. I was reveling in the antiquity of the great wooden vessel, watching how it skimmed the waves, imagining the generations of men making their living pulling in shellfish. All the storms and near misses the boat must have survived.

I must have been a seafarer in a previous life.

You can have your own seaborne adventures aboard New Jersey’s official tall ship, the A.J. Meerwald, as it launches its 2012 season (See my story about the Bayshore Discovery Project LINK URGO STORY 2-12-2012). The Meerwald, which has been restored by the nonprofit group, was built in a Dorchester shipyard in 1928 as an oyster schooner.

Between April 16 and May 2, the Meerwald is offering an ambitious schedule of public sails and private charters in the Philadelphia and Burlington County area, including a free open house April 16 in Philadelphia, where you can tour the vessel and meet the crew — but not sail.

On scheduled sails — where reservations are highly recommended — you can take a 2∏-hour sail along the Delaware River and help the crew haul lines and raise the sails. A special four-hour sail will take place  April 27 when the Meerwald moves from the Philadelphia Seaport to the Riverfront Promenade in Burlington.

Prices for the sails vary according to length and dates. For options and reservations, call 856-785-2060.