Breaking News
More () »

She had a dream job aboard a Maine windjammer. Here’s why she’s not going back.

“You guys have been working 40 hours a week your entire lives. Now we’ve had a taste of it.”

ROCKLAND, Maine — For two decades Annie Mahle and Jon Finger owned and operated the windjammer J & E Riggin, taking paying guests from all over the world on trips along the coast and islands of Penobscot Bay. It was a wonderful way to make a living, one they loved, but also one they never planned to do for their entire careers.

2020 was to be their last year on the water. After that season, they had a buyer ready to purchase the schooner, and Jon and Annie would step away to a new life.

Then came the pandemic, which delayed the sale of the Riggin and wiped out the 2022 season. Their plans, lovingly conceived and almost ready to be carried out, had been snatched away by fate. More pressingly, their financial outlook was growing bleaker by the week.

“The money was flowing in absolutely the wrong direction,” Mahle remembered. “So I said to Jon, ‘I’m going out for a run. I’ve got to get out of here. I’ve got to consider what we’re going to do here, our life choices here now.’”

As she was out on that run, a car went by, stopped, and backed up. Inside was the owner of Georges River Canvas in Rockland, a maker of canvas products (awnings, cushion covers, patio enclosures, and more) where in years past Mahle had done some sewing projects of her own during the winter. The owner, looking for help in the shop, asked if she needed a job.

“Yes, I need a job,” Mahle said.

She started work the next day. Three months later, she bought the company.

Most of the work is custom. And even though Georges River Canvas doesn’t advertise, it has a three-month backlog of work. One of the perks is going out regularly on boats to take measurements and create designs.

For Mahle, it has all worked out better than she could have imagined. 

“I feel really lucky,” she said. “Really lucky.”

Leaving sailing behind wasn’t easy, but that life, which Jon and Annie lived for many years, could be all-consuming. People frequently ask if they miss the boat, and Annie tells them of course they do.

“And then they ask, ‘Would you like to go back?’ I say: 'No! No way! You guys have been working 40 hours a week for your entire lives. And now we’ve had a taste of it. We’re not going back, man.'”

She laughs and then makes the point again: “Not going back!”

Before You Leave, Check This Out