CUMBERLAND — Writing does not come easily to Julia Maine. She’s a good student, but prefers science to English. She’s also a hands-on person, and feels comfortable articulating her emotions through the visual arts.

“That’s why I like painting,” says Maine. “I find it easier to express my ideas with my hands instead of my words.”

Maine must be one heck of a painter, because she’s an accomplished writer — and now has the prize to prove it.

The 17-year-old from Chebeague Island is among a trio of winners in “A Journey Into Writing,” an annual writing contest for Maine high school juniors.

A panel of judges recognized Maine for her essay titled “Lost in a Fog.” She relates an experience when she and friends sailed in the Bates Island race in Casco Bay. It was a foggy, misty morning. Race organizers predicted the fog would lift, and the race went on as scheduled.

But the fog did not lift. Out at sea, Maine and her sailing pals found themselves isolated from their peers in other boats. It was Maine’s first time sailing without radar. She and her mates used a chart and compass to pick their way among the islands.

She writes, “The effect was chilling. It wasn’t long before we lost our sailing counterparts to the fog. It was odd, we could hear everybody, but we couldn’t see them. After awhile the girls’ voices drifted away and the chug, chug of the powerboats faded into the distance. We were completely and totally alone.”

The adventure included a near-catastrophe, avoided when the friend piloting her sailboat kept her wits and steered clear of a ledge just up ahead. The experience thrilled and invigorated Maine, even if it left her unnerved.

She wrote the essay as a freshman, because the outing made such an impact on her life. “I wanted to share it with people,” she said, explaining her motive for committing her adventure to paper. “It was such a vivid experience for me, which made it easy to write a vivid story. My mom and my teachers who read it said they could picture the scene.”

Maine lives an active life. She plays field hockey and runs both indoor and outdoor track at Greely. She used to play ice hockey, but had to give that up because of the challenge of making it to practices while living on an island.

As part of her prize, she received a check for $2,500. Her Latin teacher is taking students to Italy next year, and Maine plans to use the money to fund her trip.