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Boating is one thing (and its great!) but sailing is quite another. And with summer slipping away (say it isn’t so!) there’s no better time than this very weekend to get out there for a sail, be it your first or your last of the season. The weather forecast looks great and if we really must part with the warmth and sunshine, sailing is a quintessential New England way to send summer off into the proverbial and literal, sunset. Whether you consider yourself a seasoned sailor or a first-timer seafarer, there’s something for everyone aboard these North Shore ships.

Fame of Salem

One of Salem’s most popular ways to take in the sea is aboard a replica of the 1812 privateer Fame. This one hour and 45-minute outing takes place from May through October and is an amazing way to see Salem from the water. Passengers are invited to relax and take in the sights or learn a little bit about sailing and even help out the crew. Whatever you choose, you will enjoy your time aboard this breathtaking vessel. History buffs will love the historical facts about the ship and the War of 1812—and the crew prides itself on delivering an experience that’s as fun as it is educational. With days and times (and availability this weekend!)—don’t delay. schooner

Lannon of Gloucester

Built in Essex in 1997, the schooner Thomas E. Lannon offers two-hour sails (both public and private) from May through October. Experience for yourself what life was like on a fishing schooner in Gloucester Harbor one hundred years ago – certainly not an opportunity you get every day. Owned and operated by the Ellis family, you’re sure to meet a family member (or two or three) during the course of planning your sail. Every question you might have about one of their excursions is likely to be answered via the FAQ section of their website, which is as humorous as it is informative.

When and If of Salem

Celebrating 80 years this year, the When and If was built for General George Patton in 1939 and is open for public sailing. With all of its history and beauty, every sailing enthusiast should step aboard this vessel at least once. The schooner underwent an extensive two-year restoration in 2012 and has never looked better – so good in fact that this is one ship you’ll want to plan ahead before boarding – she is popular for private parties and other special events. And with a city with a maritime history as rich as Salem, its hard to ask for a better place to be on a sailboat.

Yankee Clipper

If you want to be out on the water this weekend and have little ones in tow, check the specific vessels above for their policies. Children are generally welcome, with a helpful word of caution – in most cases this is a two-hour boat ride, with nowhere for kids to go if they are unhappy. In which case, you might want to ease them into an on-the-water experience with an inaugural (and shorter ride) aboard a smaller boat like the Yankee Clipper which docks out of Newburyport.

Before you sail away, there are a few key items you’ll want to bring, including: Comfortable, sensible shoes, sunscreen, a hat and/or sunglasses, a light jacket or sweatshirt, binoculars and/or a camera. Food and beverages can be purchased aboard most ships, and in most cases alcohol cannot be carried on by passengers. Be sure to check your ship’s website for details.