Life, Liberté and the pursuit of happiness
Cape Cod Life / August 2018 / People & Businesses, Recreation & Activities
Writer: Allyson Plessner / Photographer: Teagan Anne
Based in Falmouth, the Liberté offers an impressive sailing experience
It’s commonly known that the part of Cape Cod closest to the mainland is colloquially referred to as the “Upper Cape,” and as one travels through the region, they pass through the “Mid Cape,” “Lower Cape” and “Outer Cape,” respectively. But the origin of such terms is often up for debate.
Chris Tietje, captain of the 77-foot schooner Liberté, likes to share his version with guests aboard his vessel. Those who have ever sailed on Cape Cod, like Chris, know that the prevailing winds are normally out of the southwest. As he explains, to sail along the coast of the Cape to the west would mean tacking back and forth upwind, and to the east would mean sailing downwind—hence the term “Upper Cape” refers to the region of the Cape that sailors must tack “up” toward. “Down East,” according to Chris, was derived to refer to areas of coastal New England and Canada that involve sailing northeast, with the prevailing wind at your back, or downwind. It’s just one of the many fun facts that Chris likes to share about the region he loves so dearly and the activity he’s built his life around—sailing.
Chris’s nautical know-how doesn’t end with colloquial terminology. His passion lies with the sea, and he and his wife Jane have made a home on the ocean. The couple built the schooner Liberté in 2001 to their own set of specifications, and haven’t looked back since.
After a vast history in the sailing world, including trips across Europe and South America, Chris purchased the first Liberté in 1990. It was a traditionally rigged replica of an 1850s Pinky Schooner, which gets its name from having a narrow, or “pinked,” stern. Years of memories on this boat and a family with “the lovely Miss Jane,” as he refers to his wife, led to Chris trading in the original Liberté for the vessel he now owns, one that is a bit larger to comfortably accommodate the couple and their family. Today, that family includes all who come aboard the schooner to enjoy a pleasant trip around Vineyard Sound.
The Liberté was designed to be, as Chris puts it, POSH. “POSH stands for power, offshore, sailing, house,” he explains. Under these guidelines, he and Jane set out to create a vessel that met the demands of being a sleek, offshore sailboat while still offering a livable space and being manageable for one person under both power and sail. There is ample seating room aboard and enough space for a table amidship to hold dinner parties or enjoy a cocktail. Below deck, there are three cabins as well as a galley and great room—everything a man of the sea needs to enjoy his days with his beloved wife.
With the completed vessel, Chris and Jane can easily travel the world in style, and they have the best porch view in town. For now, though, the couple is content splitting their time between Annapolis, Maryland in the winters and Falmouth in the summers, where they offer the Liberté’s many admirers everything from sunset cruises with delightful music and a cash bar to open daysails and private charters.
Weighing 40 tons, the original hull design of the Liberté is a Hout Bay 70, designed by Dudley Dix and built by Howdy Bailey. A three-masted, staysail rigged schooner, the Liberté has a draft of 7 feet. Stepping aboard is truly like stepping back in time, into a world where the simple joy of a day spent off the shores of Cape Cod is all one needs to appreciate the region. The Liberté can comfortably hold up to 49 passengers, and Captain Chris—affectionately referred to by crew members as “Cap”—is more than happy to share his love of the seas and knowledge of the Cape with everyone aboard.
“Chris loves to sail and be his own boss,” says Jane about why the pair decided to start their business with Patriot Boats. “He has a flair for theater as well, and the boat makes a great platform for that.” When the Liberté first started giving tours, Patriot Boats already had a market for fishing boats. What Chris and Jane offer is a much different experience—a chance for visitors to be a part of everything this couple loves. The Liberté offers three daily cruises all week long, weather permitting. The ship is also perfect for private charters with a full service bar and room for catering, making for exciting birthday parties, weddings, company outings, reunions and more. At least two dedicated crew members are always onboard to make sure guests are comfortable and drinks are full.
“Cape Cod has incredible sailing,” Jane says about how the location makes each trip aboard the Liberté all the more special. “The breezes are great, the water is clean, and the views are fantastic.”
Kenneth Graham once wrote of the joys of sailing in his famed novel, “The Wind in the Willows.” “One morning I shall wake to the song and tramp of the sailors, the clink of the capstan, and the rattle of the anchor-chain coming merrily in,” he writes. “We shall break out the jib and the foresail, the white houses on the harbor side will glide slowly past us as she gathers steering-way, and voyage will have begun!” Graham’s character, the Sea Rat, is talking about the joys of sailing south, but nevertheless, the excitement he feels at savoring the wind in his face and listening to the bustle of the crew is akin to the type of experience that Captain Chris and Jane create aboard the Liberté.
“We like people to know that we’re fun and easy to work with,” says Jane. “People ask us all the time if we’re going to put up the sails. Well, of course! We go sailing! We want every trip to be awesome and a sail on the Liberté to be the best day off.”
In “The Wind in the Willows,” Graham also writes, “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” It’s a mantra that Captain Chris and Jane fully embody, and one that the Liberté will continue to demonstrate to her lucky guests for years to come.