Course Number



July 11, 2023 - July 25, 2023

Maine Coast Sailing expeditions explore the rugged shoreline, intricate rivers and granite, spruce-studded islands of the eastern seaboard’s wildest region. This 15-day journey is an opportunity for those seeking a fresh challenge in a unique marine environment and an intense team setting.

Our 30-foot open sailboat serves as both home and classroom. In a phased teaching progression, instructors will introduce beginning, intermediate and advanced skills in chart and compass navigation, small boat seamanship, weather observation, and anchoring. Regular group discussions allow for reflection on each day’s progress, and ensure that leadership and onboard responsibilities are shared so that every crew member is integral to planning the next day. Through living and working closely together, students learn far more than seamanship. The habits learned and strengthened through this sailing expedition will serve students for life, and for whatever challenge is next.

Your course will begin at the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School’s Sea Program base camp located at Wheeler Bay in Spruce Head, Maine. Here you will get your first introduction to your boat, essential briefings on emergency procedures, and then you will cast off lines and begin your adventure on the water. All courses are “expedition- based,” which means that you will leave the base camp on the first or second day of your course and not return to it until the end of your course. You will row or sail nearly every day, developing skills as you travel along your planned route. On board you will carry all you need: stoves, shelters, food and water, etc. Bathing occurs daily with an ocean swim. No boating experience is necessary.

We will teach you everything you need to know: sail handling, steering, anchoring, navigating using chart and compass, and living comfortably aboard a small open boat. Arriving physically fit will enhance your experience and ability to do well on the course and ultimately allow you to take full advantage of the expedition.

Course Skills

Expedition Skills

  • Emergency preparedness
  • Safety management and basic first aid
  • Campsite selection & Route finding
  • Shelter construction
  • Outdoor cooking
  • Conservation practices
  • Ropes and knots
  • Stove use and maintenance
  • Leave No Trace wilderness ethics
  • Nutrition and ration planning
  • Navigation using map/chart & compass

Group Dynamics

  • Leadership and decision making
  • Followership and expedition behavior
  • Communication & Conflict Resolution
  • Individual and group goal setting

Rock Climbing (weather dependent)

  • Belaying and rope handling 
  • System safety
  • Climbing technique 
  • Rappelling

Open Boat Sailing Skills

  • Boat handling skills, sailing and seamanship  
  • Live aboard skills
  • Tides, currents, and weather forecasting 
  • Anchoring 
  • Marlinespike seamanship
Course Area

Your course area along the coast of Maine, with its intricate and indented shoreline, is a unique segment of the North Atlantic seaboard. It is renowned among sailors for its picturesque beauty, iconic lighthouses, abundant bays and harbors, rocky islands, and quiet coves. Our cruising area covers nearly 200 miles of the Maine coast, with countless rivers, bays, and islands to explore. The rocky, spruce-covered islands are the summits of a prehistoric mountain range; many generations of inhabitants have made their livelihoods here. Evidence left behind on the islands reveals the historic presence of indigenous Abenaki camps, pre-colonial fishing communities, post-colonial timber and farming operations, and early 20th-century granite quarries. Cold, nutrient-rich waters flow from the Canadian Maritimes and make the Gulf of Maine home to a wide range of sea birds, seals, porpoises, and whales.

The Maine course area regions are the ancestral lands of the Wabanaki Confederacy, which includes Abenaki/Abénaquis, W∂last∂kwiyik (Maliseet), Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy nations.

Course Progression

The essential goal of any Outward Bound course is for the students to learn autonomy. Our expedition curriculum supports this happening in a progressive way. During the first third of a course (a phase called “training expedition”), the instructors are very present in the group. They teach outdoor skills, the technical aspects of the activities and guide the students as they form a team. In the middle third of the course (what we call the “main expedition”), the instructors take a step back so students may step forward. Students begin to teach what they’ve already learned to each other, and experiment with applying basic skills to bigger challenges. The instructors continue to coach and support as the students practice leadership roles. When the group meets a particular situation, environment or activity they haven’t learned about before, the instructors jump back in and teach. Each time this happens, the group reaches competency more quickly. By the last third of the course (the “final expedition”), students are the stars of the show. They are applying what they know, leading each other, setting goals, and solving problems collaboratively. The instructors are close by and ready to step back in to prevent a safety issue from occurring but will let students find their own resiliency when they make mistakes, and ensure they feel the full spotlight of success when they meet their goals.

Course Activities
Rock Climbing

During your course you may spend a day rock climbing on one of this area’s many granite cliffs or on our ropes course at the Outward Bound basecamp. You will learn to use climbing equipment, tie knots, climb and belay each other, while instructors provide overall supervision of the site. Climbing gives you a chance to practice your balance, coordination, and flexibility as well as the group’s ability to trust and encourage each other.


The solo experience is a standard element of Outward Bound courses. With sufficient food and equipment, you will set up camp at a site on your own. The solo will last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the length of your course. Your solo site is chosen to offer as much solitude as possible, yet be within hearing distance of other group members. You will not travel during this time alone, and your instructors will check on you occasionally. The solitude and break from the fast pace of your expedition allows for rest and personal reflection, which is necessary to make the most of your experience.


Service is an integral part of the Outward Bound curriculum. We encourage service to the environment in the form of practicing Leave No Trace ethics throughout the course. We coordinate service projects with local land managers (US Forest Service, Maine Bureau of Public Lands, Dept. of Conservation, local land trusts, etc.) as well as with select social service agencies (nursing homes, hospitals, etc.). During your course, you will have the opportunity to participate in at least one service project.

Personal Challenge Event 

Our courses end with a Personal Challenge Event, an individual final physical push. These events might take the form of a running, rowing or swimming activity, or it may be a combination of the three.  This event is a chance to finish your Outward Bound Experience with a true personal challenge where you can own all of your decisions and efforts in contrast to the time you have spent operating within an expedition team.


The 30-foot open sailboat is your home and classroom. These seaworthy boats are rigged to take full advantage of the power of Maine coastal winds, and when the winds do not cooperate, the boats can be rowed by two or four people pulling on oars. At night the boat will be configured as a sleeping platform and you and your watch mates will take turns at anchor watch under brilliant night skies. Underway, you will learn to set your sails properly for sailing at different angles to the wind, and to anticipate and respond to changes in weather. As you practice rowing, you will discover that by coordinating all of the rower’s movements so that the oars splash as one, you halve the effort it takes to travel on windless days. You will learn to navigate using a chart and compass across open water and among the bold granite islands, concentrating on the environment around you.

Program Outcomes

On your HIOBS program, you will learn four important Outward Bound Core Values:

  • Compassion
  • Integrity
  • Excellence
  • Inclusion and Diversity

Some of the most important lessons you take home are learning about yourself and your community while acquiring backcountry skills and having an adventure. As you will be traveling through wild places on your expedition, you’ll also learn to protect and appreciate the unique, unspoiled environments through which you travel.

Youth Courses (ages 14-16)

Students entering the first few years of high school are in an exciting time of life. They naturally seek freedoms, though they are often just learning to shoulder the responsibilities that go along with becoming an adult. Our Youth Courses are specifically designed for this age group. Younger teens represent a diverse group. For some students, Outward Bound is their first time away from home; others are veteran travelers who may have attended Outward Bound before.

While students need to be physically fit and motivated to learn and work together, no previous travel or outdoor experience is necessary—all wilderness and leadership skills are taught from the beginning, taking into account younger teens’ shorter attention spans and need to really engage with a skill to understand it. Through more structured days, time to explore, and clear expectations, these courses are designed to show younger teens that there is so much in them than they know.