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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Maine Lighhouses, Eagle I lighthouse, lighthouse tours, maine windjammer, windjammer cruises
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.

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.

Connections

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Good morning everyone. We are off and running for Mary Day’s 53rd season. Though not without a few bumps and bruises the crew is beginning to see what all that hard work was about during April and May. Mary Day herself is just beautiful. The simplicity, complexity and symmetry of the rigging is a wonder to behold.

I know I just used the words complexity and simplicity side by each but they both hold true. There is a complex physics behind the connections between each and every string and wire. There is a simplicity in the final result which allows 4 (or sometimes fewer) people to pass the sails from one tack to another. I believe it was Buckminster Fuller, designer of the geodesic dome and a Maine island rusticator, who coined the term “synergy,” the idea that the individual parts create a much larger whole.

The same holds true for our beautiful guests. A complex group of human beings come together every week and by trip’s end are one community bound by the strength of their unique experience. The connections made share that same unique quality and can never be replicated in quite the same way. Like the evolution of the schooner rig the basic simplicity of the experience doesn’t change but the synergistic result is inspiring. Remove any piece of rigging and the experience changes completely. Enough philosophical ramblings for one blog. Get out there and try to recognize for yourself the rigging that holds your life together. Try to notice, without judgement, and imagine how the connections keep you stayed allowing you to sail smoothly through life. Be the schooner!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

 

Teeming with Life

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Good morning everyone. The Maine coast is teeming with life these days. There is something about a beautiful day in mid-July that brings all creatures, great and small, to the surface to feed.┬áThere is so much going on that just getting out of Camden is an ordeal. We gave our usual security call before departing our berth. Evidently the captain of the sailing yacht “Prevail” hailing from Buzzards Bay doesn’t feel the need to communicate with the rest of the world maintaining radio incommunicado. While we frantically tried to stop the schooner from running up his quarterdeck he blithely cut in front of us and proceeded to start and stop in the channel oblivious to the VHF radio and a series of 5 rapid blasts of the horn (3X none the less!). Our days end was met with just the opposite, a yacht club rendezvous with 20+ boats from Boothbay hooting and hollering in what is normally one of the quietest anchorages along the Maine coast.

The “intermission” between yesterday’s start and stop was filled with a very different kind of life. I can’t remember the last time I saw as much wildlife feeding as we did yesterday. Terns, puffins, auks, gannets and shearwaters were hovering and diving on small silver fish, herring I assume, where the swirling currents of Isle Au Haut Bay and Jericho Bay meet. By the hundreds, pelagic birds could be seen flying back to nearby Seal I with bits of silver in their beaks to feed hungry fledgling chicks. And as if that were not enough excitement we were all startled by the breath of surfacing minke whale just yards astern of us.schooner Mary Day, common tern with fish, maine coast seabirds, maine windjammer, windjammer cruises

And then this conversation dawned on me. Whale: Goodness it must be July…they are back. Humans gawking and picture taking. Paying no attention to where they are going. Disturbing the fish. Getting in the way of me swimming and feeding. Yeesh. Tern: What. You never seen a bird with a fish in its beak before? Stop scaring the fish will ya! Me: Sorry folks. Your home is beautiful and we are just a little bit curious about your lives. We are in awe of what you might consider your everyday ordinary lives. By the way, what do you do during the winter?

Have a great day. be well. Do good.

Looking Into the Sun

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Good morning everyone and a very happy 4th of July to you all. We are anchored here in one of my favorite little hidey holes. From where we sit it would appear that the cool damp weather has moved offshore and that we are in for a couple of warm sunny days more typical of this time of year. Sunrise this morning was shrouded in a foggy mist diffusing the light as it peaked over Bowditch Mt in to our anchorage. It is a fitting 4th of July reminder; working boats along the Maine coast bathed in golden sunlight. No different than a tractor in field of wheat waiting for another day’s work. Nothing can take away from the honesty created by wresting a living from land or sea. This “hands to work and hearts to God” approach to life is the single most important piece of America that I hold closest to my heart.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

A Spring Walk

Good morning everyone. Spring is theoretically here although the other day we awoke to a very thin white blanket of “poor mans fertilizer”. Believe it or not the temperatures did rebound clear up into the 40s; good enough for painting aboard the schooner. I am so impressed with the crew and how hard they have been working. They took a day off yesterday. The forecast for tomorrow looks promising for pushing more paint. As excited as I get about painting the schooner, I really enjoy a morning walk in the woods with the dogs; a grand tour of nature awakening in spring. The first flowering plant of the year is present in the swamp. Its brilliant red flower covers poking up through the snow and ice due to its very unique ability to generate heat. Do you know what it is?skunk cabbage emerging in spring The familiar call of spring peepers can be heard in the early evenings and this morning I heard a hermit thrush. The song of the hermit thrush is soul food.

Vernal Pool w:Ice

Other sure signs of spring, the cover came off the schooner on Thursday. Wow! Daylight and fresh air at last. We are waiting for the call from the shipyard. This is obviously a big time of year and the yard period is always the busiest. So if you happen to be in Rockland, Maine next week stop on by. We won’t really have any time to talk but I guarantee we’ll put a scraper and putty knife in your hands and put you to work.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.maine windjammer, wooden boat maintenance, signs of spring, windjammer cruises,

A Very Sweet Idea

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Liquid gold flows from the trees here in Maine. A free pint to the first 8 reservations we receive for a May or June cruise. (1 per family)

Good morning everyone. The past month has been the usual whirlwind of activity here. The tension of fit-out is upon us. I use the word tension with the idea that tension is not always a bad thing but does help me realize where the balance is. Tension, like a spring, keeps things cushioned.

One of this past month’s projects has been tapping the maples and getting some syrup in for the year ahead. The flow of sap from the red maples we tap had one of those off and on years. Tink, tink, tink; the sound sap makes when it drips into an empty bucket on a warm spring day but only after we have had a good freeze through the night. The nights have been getting progressively a little warmer and the sap has pretty much run its course. We finished boiling this weekend. The product is one of the most beautiful amber colored liquids I have seen since the last time we boiled down sap.

So for the first 8 reservations we receive for a May or June cruise we offer a free pint of our version of liquid gold made by yours truly from our own maples. How could anyone resist? Hope to see you during one of our glorious early season cruises.

Click here for the complete schedule. Have you heard about our new beer tasting cruise, the Craft of Ale Sail?

Have a great day. Be well Do good.

Camden’s Christmas by the Sea

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Good morning everyone. Christmas by the Sea in Camden is the start of the holiday celebration season in the midcoast. Festivities around town bring folks out in force. Wreathes are hung on each lamp post. Storefronts are beautifully decorated. And the star on Mt Battie can be seen from miles away. Santa arrives by lobster boat. And atop the schooner’s mainmast the crew has placed one gi-normous Christmas tree complete with star on top. unique holiday ornament, Christmas by the Sea in camden, Maine, windjammer schooner Mary Day celebrates the holidayThis year’s tree has a little more of the Charlie Brown feel to it but it is no less a symbol of hope and a natural celebration of the solstice soon to be upon us. When I put the elf hat on I am carried to a place I hold in my heart all the year long. OK, lights may or may not be a little bit of a challenge for me. Never fear, Katie, Jennie and Jim saved me from myself by unplugging the strand when they saw my predicament.

Be well. Do good.

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Making Repairs

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Capt. Barry King repairing a cracked oar underway with the materials at hand.

Good morning everyone. The deck crew are getting stronger everyday and maybe a little too proficient at their rowing skills. Holy cow but they don’t know their own strength. So underway repairs were necessary before we could get ashore for this week’s lobster picnic. As you can see necessity was the mother of invention in this scenario. With some wood glue and a bit of fine black seine twine applied with a serving mallet we were able to affect repairs in an hours time. Needless to say the oar is stronger than ever. We did use it to get to the picnic that evening so I guess it works. The serving mallet helps the seine twine get pinging tight by adding just a little stretch to it acting like a clamp. We could see the wood glue squeezing through the serving. Leather was reapplied over the repair and this oar is ready for another few years, at least.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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Using a serving mallet to lightly stretch the seine twine while repairing a cracked oar.

Leaving Camden Astern

windjammer cruises vacationsGood morning everyone! We are off the dock and we are overjoyed to be out here on the bay. I think this is the first time I have ever left the dock with shorts and sandals and a wool sweater. Silly I know but summer is here and we intend to soak up every last inch of it. The crew is already comparing watch strap tans.

Here a few shots from yesterday. Got reservations??? If the first day is any indicator we are in for a good season.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.maine adventure sailing vacations

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Leaving Camden Astern