From the Edge of the Bay

Maine IslandsGood morning everyone. Finally we have received a little bit of meaningful rainfall here in Maine. This has been one of the driest summers I can remember so Monday’s rain felt quite welcome. I call Monday an “appreciation day.” After so many months without rain we could all appreciate a little moisture falling from the heavens.

Since I seem to be on the “perspective” kick in recent blogs I thought I would throw one more in for good measure. (Probably not the last.) Last week we had the chance to visit and hike one of my most “favoritest” islands out on the edge of the bay. I don’t believe anyone has ever come back from that island the same as they arrived. It is truly one of the highlights of sailing in Maine, viewing the bay from the top of an island that would better fit into the Shetlands than Penobscot Bay. To hold one of its soft storm tossed stones in your hand is to understand how time and tide work their magic. How can a rock be described as soft? I guess it takes about 400 million years to earn that distinction. Maybe people react the same way to the time and tides of our short life span? Boots please. It is getting deep around here.

Anyhoo…. I certainly am in awe of any experience that helps me see myself a little more humbly and my world as a little more beautiful. That my friends is what we hope happens for guests on every cruise. Windjamming is a chance to gain a little perspective on the world from which we arrive. Maybe we go home a little softer on the outside, maybe a little more determined on the inside or maybe just a little bit more relaxed and rejuvenated from living to the rhythm of wind and tide.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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Filters

Schooner Mary Day BlogGood morning everyone! Autumn has made its first appearance here on the Maine coast. A cold front passed over the state yesterday bringing with it a lovely northwest wind. The air was crisp at sunset last night and we all enjoyed music and stories in the main cabin around the warmth of the fireplace.
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All rightee folks, this morning I am in a philosophical mood so click off line here or be prepared for profundity Friday from the quarterdeck. A photographer friend of mine has been aboard this week and he took the time to introduce me to the photo editing software Adobe Lightroom. It has been on my laptop all this time but I had no idea what to do with it. What I find most interesting is how much information exists in a digital image. As I played around with the myriad filters I realized how much life is a lot like Lightroom. Each of us has an infinite choice of filters and which ones we chose to use is completely up to us.
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We can take any situation, frame it anyway we chose, color it how we wish, even look at things in black and white. All of the information is there for us to adjust any way we see fit. All we need to do is access our inner Lightroom and decide how it is we want to focus, frame and color our worlds. Of course Lightroom takes a ton of patience and practice and experimentation. You have to be willing to see things in a new and different perspective.
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So there is my challenge to all of you today. If life is feeling a bit overwhelming or lacking in color open up your inner Lightroom. Or maybe open up a friend’s version of Lightroom and check out their perspective. Refocus, reframe, recolor your life and open yourself up to a world of possibilities.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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Do You See The Light?

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(Warning: Do not bother clicking the above image unless, and only unless, you think the Blues Brothers is one of the finest cinematic events of all time. I apologize if you are subjected to any advertisements posted by YouTube.)

Pharologists Ted and Jo Panyatoff are back aboard so you can be certain we are seeing lighthouses this week. Yesterday we saw Curtis I Light, Indian I Light and the Rockland Breakwater Light before crossing the bay to the Fox Island Thorofare to see Browns Head Light and the “Spark Plug” at Goose Rocks. Most of this was in the fog so those lighthouses proved especially reassuring. We never did see the Owls Head Light. Conspicuously absent from several of those lights were their fog horns which the Coast Guard has taken one step further into obsolescence. The Coast Guard’s new MRASS system has been put into effect requiring the mariner to key the microphone on their VHF radio 5 times on channel 83A to start the horn sounding. I have yet to figure out why this was necessary but someone in the Coast Guard brain trust down in D.C. thought it was a good idea. I have always said that GPS chart plotters and VHF radios are one twenty five cent fuse away from quitting at any moment. Then what? We keep a 50 lb. sack of spuds on the foredeck just for such an occasion. A deckhand with a strong arm and a well calibrated Aroostook Kennebec can sound the way ahead at least 100′. Plenty of time to hear whether the potato makes a splash or a thud. “Thud….ready about?” You get my point (if there is one). Sometimes the old tried and true is hard to beat. And that is why lighthouses are so important to keep alive. And besides that the preservation of lighthouses brings all kinds of people together and that kind of light is the finest kind.

I hope you have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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Moisturizer

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Ground spider nests on a Maine island

Good morning everyone. I think we will finally get some rain this afternoon and over the weekend that we need badly. I apologize to those who are here for a weekend getaway but the stream that our dogs like to wade in is all dried up making it very tough for them to cool off.
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A ground spider nest seen up close.


Yesterday morning we awoke to a very thick fog. We could barely see any of the boats around us making it difficult to find shore. I knew the fog would burn off as the sunny blue skies overhead warmed the air temperature above the dew point. I have also learned to look for the signs that nature gives us. One of those signs are the ground spider nests and yesterday they were out in full force. People ask me questions all the time about this, that and the next thing. I can usually pull out (make up) an answer that sounds good out of somewhere. But why ground spider webs… I really don’t know. Does any one out there have any good wild a#@ guesses?? All I really know is that nature’s signs seldom fail me and that the Nile river pilots are often a great source of weather wisdom. “Fog at seven, gone by eleven,” they used to say. Well yesterday the fog didn’t actually clear until 1116. Fog on the Nile must behave a little differently.

I hope you all have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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Unusual Summer

Auks

Good morning everyone! Summer is half way there here along the Maine coast. If you haven’t been “down east” for a visit you really owe it to yourself to get here. This has been quite an unusual summer. “Drier ‘an a boot” as some would say. The weather has just been spectacular. I feel for the folks in the cities where the temperatures and high humidities are just sweltering. That heat has reached the Maine coast as well but only to warm the waters enough for very comfortable swimming. Funny how every harbor we go to is the “harbor of warm waters.” We have had lots of swim calls.

Another unusual occurrence here along the coast has been the prevalence of wildlife. Nature seems to be putting on quite the show for us this summer. Up in the bay we have seen numerous razor billed auks, something we don’t normally see. Auks being pelagic birds are usually found outside the bays in the open ocean. My guess is that there must be something to feed on. “Tinker” mackerel are in abundance but they would seem to be a little big for an auk to choke down. I don’t really know what they are feeding on but the herring gulls are right there with the auks instead of hanging out at the local landfills. We fondly call these gulls “dump ducks.” Porpoise seem to be all around as well. I wonder if they feed on the same thing the auks are eating. I have been doing a lot of my photography with my iPhone but the wildlife have me reaching for my trusty old camera once again. My advice: grab your camera and come on “down east” for the greatest show on earth. You won’t be sorry.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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Multi-Tasking

lighthouse tours, windjammer cruises, Maine sailing vacationsI was pawing through some images from last summer and found this one of Eagle I. Lighthouse. Being the keeper of a lighthouse was no easy feat during the 1800s. The pay was minimal, food was not included and the seclusion of some lights meant homeschooling, if a keeper’s family could be together, was a necessity. Many keepers fished, kept gardens, really lucky ones might have a milk cow and basically lived off the land and sea with only a few chances to get provisions like flour and lard. That a few keepers, like Howard Ball at the Eagle I lighthouse, managed all of this and also acted as Audubon wardens is admirable to say the least.

First lit in 1838 with oil lamps and reflectors this light happens to be atop a large cliff (80’+/-) and lies at a tight little passage where Isle Au Haut Bay meets East Penobscot Bay. The tidal current really hums between Eagle and the largely inaccessible Hardhead I. It wasn’t until 1858 that a fourth order Fresnel lens was installed in the lantern atop the rubble stone tower. Today the light flashes white every 4 seconds with a luminous range of 9 miles.

Keeper Howard Ball, an Audubon warden, who served the light from 1898 to 1913 is quoted twice in the 1909 ornithological journal The Auk:
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Keeper Ball’s brief notes are interesting to see given what was already on his very full plate. I can only guess that he must have made these observations while tending lobster traps since both Channel Rock and Sloop I Ledge are on the opposite side of Eagle I than the lighthouse. I have noticed abundant terns around neighboring Grass Ledge over the past several summers which makes me wonder if the terns hop from one nesting place to another to avoid overuse of particular nesting sites.

Eagle I. with its year round community would have been a more socially forgiving place to tend a light. The one room school house still stands on Eagle I. The east facing meadow around the light would have provided some garden space although the larger south facing meadows around the neighboring Quinn house would have been more suitable. As I have been working these past few weeks getting in firewood I am amazed by the challenge it must have been for Keeper Ball to keep his family warm and fed through the long winter months in addition to the many other responsibilities he would have had to manage. I have no complaints in comparison.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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Jacob Pike

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The herring carrier Jacob Pike as seen passing Mary Day, a Maine windjammer.

Good morning everyone from the global headquarters of the schooner Mary Day. It is a blustery rainy morning outside. The power is out, again, so I write this thanks to a small generator humming away in the woodshed. Times like these make me think of warm summer days on the bay. This image is of the Jacob Pike, now a lobster smack working the Maine coast under the ownership of J&J Lobster out of Rockland. These folks have been putting her to work buying lobster in distant harbors and bringing them into Rockland at the end of the day. I believe I have seen her sitting in the Fox Island Thorofare just off North Haven village buying lobster. You can see the derrick with its boom for getting 100 pound crates of lobster aboard. She has a pile of lobster crates on deck at the ready to receive the days catch just forward of the main hatch.

Built in 1949 by Newbert and Wallace in Thomaston she carried herring to the sardine factories in the day. Later on she carried herring for use as lobster bait. Just 80′ on deck she can carry up to 90 tons of cargo and still slip along along at 12 knots which suggests a streamlined hull form and a strong diesel power plant. Folks often wonder why the “pinked” stern. I have been told that a double ended hull allowed such a vessel to back right up to a fish weir’s gate for ease of loading herring. It also allows the stern to split a following sea which may be more to point since having the stern get lifted up and tossed about by the swells certainly wouldn’t help her handling. You can see that she hardly leaves a wake as she steams along.

Anyway, she is a handsome vessel, no matter how you slice it. If I ever grow up I could imagine spending my days cruising the coast in a boat like the Jacob Pike, although that is not what she was meant to do. She is a classy working vessel and ought to stay that way as long as she makes her owners a living. I just love seeing her out there.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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Pulling the Rig

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Pulling the foremast of the schooner Mary Day, a Maine windjammer offering scenic vacation cruises along the coast of Maine.

Good morning everyone. Pulling the rig? What the heck is that? Well, in a nutshell, it involves pulling both masts and the bowsprit and its associated rigging, deadeyes and lanyards. The process involves a crane, moving the schooner to where a crane can reach the masts and casting off the rope lanyards that hold the mast rigging to the schooner. There are 3 sets of lanyards for each side of each mast. We also have to disconnect the head stay and the spring stay, that cable which connects the two mast heads. Oh, and then there is the part about lifting the mast out of the schooner without taking out all of the interior decorating. The masts are not plucked out by their mastheads but instead by their bases…or somewhere close to the base. In our case we use the saddles which are securely fastened to mast. As you can see from the picture above the line (big, strong line) leads from the saddle to a hitch taken around the mast just above the mast’s balance point. Simple, right? Nerve wracking…yes.

The masts, as you can imagine, are quite heavy. The 68′ main mast weighs in at 4900 lbs and the 65′ foremast just 300 lbs. less, 4600 lbs. The bowsprit is surprisingly heavy weighing in just shy of a ton at 1700 lbs. As you will see in the accompanying video (By JimDugan.com) the bowsprit is such a tight fit that we had to do a lot of wiggling to get it out. So enjoy the video, 2 hours compacted into 1 minute, 11 seconds.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

 

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Umami

windjammer cruises in maine, Beeers of the Maine Coast, Schooner Mary DayGood morning everyone. What a beautiful stretch of weather we are enjoying here in the Great State of Maine. We are out and about exploring the coast again this week with Maine Master Naturalist Erika Rhile and Photography and Web-Guru JimDugan.com. But I am getting ahead of myself.

As many of you know last week was our annual Beers of the Maine Coast Cruise. Last week was a hoot but not in the way many of you might imagine. No, it was not a drunk-fest. We really did learn to savor and appreciate the many complexities and nuances of beer. Whoda thunk it? Right?

Our human taste buds, as it turns out, allow us to enjoy bitter and sweet,  salty and sour. But have you heard of umami? Deliciousness is the best translation of this Japanese term that has been around for longer than we westerners have acknowledged. Someone back in 2000 figured out that umami is an actual savory genetic taste recognized by a particular receptor in our taste buds. I like this word umami. What a nice way to describe beer or anything else for that matter. Folks may not appreciate a beer that is too sweet or too bitter but everyone found at least one of the 45 beers we sampled to have deliciousness.  I was shocked how much I enjoyed fermented cider, a beverage I had written off long ago.

Cider is not a beer of course but the point is that umami is more than just a taste. Deliciousness is a feeling as well. I like to use the word delicious when describing good naps. Or anything else that brings me the warm fuzzy feelings of relaxation. What tastes of umami for you?

 

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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Grateful to be Livin’ Large

windjammer cruises in maine, maine sailing vacations, maine windjammers, schooner Mary DayGood morning everyone.This image caught my eye in the sunset last evening as we lay at anchor in Northeast Harbor. For those of you who have not had a chance to travel here let’s just say that folks here are living large in their summer homes. By the way that means they have winter homes too. Maybe they even have spring and autumn homes. That’s OK but for those of us sitting aboard the schooner last evening watching guillemots dive and crows chasing bald eagles in the sunset we were witnessing a beautiful world while most shoreside estates stood empty. Richness was ours to enjoy. But before I start getting cynical about folks I don’t even know (some of whom made Acadia National Park possible) I just want to say “thank you.” I am grateful for this beautiful place we call home and all of you folks who have sacrificed to allow us to enjoy the simple riches. Relaxing at sunset, sailing the coast of Maine, astounding views of Acadia National Park rising from the ocean, enjoying stories shared by folks who were strangers three days ago and now share a story that is still unfolding. Thank you one and all.

Have a grateful day. Be well. Do good.

 

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