About 250 lucky guests of the Tall Ships Ball got to enjoy cocktails on El Galeon Andalucia, a replica of a 16th-century Spanish galleon—and for a good cause. All proceeds from the $100-a-person evening will further the community sailing programs at SailMaine.

“SailMaine gives kids from all over the Casco Bay affordable area access to the water and a chance to learn to sail,” said Stephen Tall, a SailMaine board member. “And grownups are welcome too. SailMaine gives everybody a chance to experience the joys of sailing and to form friendships out there.”

“It gives kids another way to get on the water, and gives them experience to go out of their comfort zones and to grow,” said Maggie Robinson, team parent of the Falmouth High School sailing team. “Sailing is fun because it’s unpredictable. You have to continually adjust to the conditions.”

“It’s an absolutely phenomenal program,” said Anne Tall, whose son was on the Cape Elizabeth High School sailing team. “There’s a code of ethics on the water, and they develop their communications and leadership skills.”

“For my son, Seth, I think it changed his life. It’s his passion,” said Lydia Atwood of South Portland, adding that her 14-year-old daughter Grace is an apprentice instructor this summer. “It’s really good for them. They’re learning leadership.”

The ball was the evening before tens of thousands of people came to Casco Bay to see the tall ships last weekend. “Portland has a great maritime heritage,” said Willy Ritch a Tall Ships Portland organizer. “There’s a lot of other things going on now, and sometimes we forget about our maritime traditions.”

For the ball guests, the opportunity to not only tour the El Galeon but to do so leisurely, cocktail in hand, to the tunes of the Rhythm Kings, was savored.

“This was an amazing ship to see,” said Jim Houle of Scarborough. “It gives me a sense of the type of boat my ancestors came over on from France so many centuries ago.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

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