Essential Tar

Maine Windjammer

Tony, Maija and Sarah tarred the rig on Monday. The smell of tarred wafted over the harbor bringing the denizens of darkness from off of their barstools out into the sunshine and fresh air. There is something about the smell of tar. It is more of an essence. As in essential. I would suggest that there is something buried deep in our amygdala that is nourished by that rich aroma. Pardon my political insensitivity but I tell the boy crew that tar is a chick magnet. Kinda like plaid. Who can resist tar and plaid? The healing properties of pine tar go far beyond the lonesome heart. Many skin conditions, eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, seborrhoeic dermatitis….pine tar in the right dose has been anecdotally said to work wonders. But I am not telling you anything you didn’t already know.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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What to do? What to do!

schooner Mary Day, maine windjammer, windjammer cruises in maineThings We Love To Do in the Camden Area

We are often asked what we would do if we had a few extra days in Camden. For those of you joining us for a 3 or 4 day trip here is an incomplete list of ideas we think you might enjoy right here in the mostly immediate Camden area. All of these are day experiences you might enjoy after you have seen all of downtown Camden. Experiences in Acadia National Park are awesome and also pretty well documented so we won’t go into that here. Acadia is about an hour and a half from Camden depending on summer traffic. During July and August there will be summer traffic. Book any length cruise with us and we will send you this list with all of the links we think you will need to make it easy to create your own complete custom vacation package. 

Hike the Camden Hills- If you want to get out and stretch your legs you can walk from downtown to the base of the Mt Battie trail. 1.5 miles and 662’ of steep scrambling later you will, on a sunny day, enjoy magnificent views of Penobscot Bay. From there you can hike to Maiden’s Cliff and Megunticook Lake or up to the top of Mt. Megunticook. There are about 22 miles of hiking trails. You can also drive to the top of Mt Battie from the official park entrance for a fee. The park offers great camping with wonderful facilities as well.

LincolnvilleCellar Door Winery- Even if you don’t like wine this is a cool place to just walk around. They offer wine tastings in a beautiful old renovated barn overlooking the vineyard. Visit their website to check out special events happening their throughout the year.

UnionThe Union Fair- held during the third week of August every year this is your good old-fashioned county fair complete with carnival rides, cotton candy and lots of agricultural displays. If you are fascinated by big strong “draft” animals you will enjoy the annual oxen and horse pulling contests. We like the demolition derby where locals get one last gasp out of used cars before they head to the crusher. Too much going on to list here. The Union Fair Grounds are also home to the Moxie Museum. Invented in 1884 by Dr Augustin Thompson Moxie (originally a nerve agent free of cocaine or alcohol) is a taste sensation like nothing else you have ever experienced. Got Moxie?

Savage Oaks Winery- There are several local wineries in the area but this one boasts an annual summer concert that brings in some of the biggest names in folk music in an intimate venue. Lyle Lovett played there last summer. The Indigo Girls the summer before. Visit their webpage to see what is happening.

Belfast– Thirty years ago Belfast was where the hippie back-to-the- land farmers living in rural Waldo County came to town on Saturday night. Locals claim it looked like the circus had rolled in complete with VW microbuses and vintage apparel from the 1800s. Belfast has transformed itself into one of the most happening places along Penobscot Bay. There are a ton of cute little shops and great restaurants. Here are a couple of our favorites.

Parent Gallery- Raised on black and white and living in Technicolor! That is Neal Parent and his beautiful wife Linda. Their little gallery at the cross roads in the middle of town offers some fabulous large format black and white images that capture the essence of Midcoast Maine over the last 40 years. Tell them you sailed on Mary Day. It might not get you a discount but it’s a conversation starter. Who wants cheap art anyway?

Rollies Diner- Used to be that you could get quite the show just sitting at the bar. They have tamed things down a bit but they still serve a wicked good burger and a variety of local microbrews and everyday industrial favorites in a local bar atmosphere. Grab a table. The barstools will most likely be filled.

Marshall Wharf Brewery- With a cool harbor view enjoy this wonderful “nano-brewery.” They like their hops but in the most delicious way you can imagine. Who doesn’t want to try “Ace Hole” Pale Ale, “Wrecking Ball” Porter or “Sexy Chaos” Imperial Stout (11.2% abv). Be careful… you’re likely to wind up “seeing double and feeling single” before you know it. Oh, and the food is good too!

maine windjammer, Jacob Pike, Mary Day

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

Rockland Once a rough and tumble industrial fishing community Rockland has transformed itself into an arts mecca. Maine street is full of cool little stores and art galleries.

Jim Dugan- Though you’ll never find it this is where JimDugan.com has his studio. Of all the fabulous artists whose works adorn the walls of the many galleries and the Farnsworth Art Museum Jim Dugan is by far and away our favorite. Visit his webpage to see the fabulous color images he has created many of which include your favorite schooner, Mary Day. If you contact him well ahead of time he might be able to hand sign and deliver a large format image so that you can actually meet the man, the myth, the legend. He can also ship it to you by mail if your heart can’t handle the excitement of meeting him in person.

The Farnsworth- Considered by some to be one of the finest art collections in Maine the Farnsworth Art Museum is a fabulous take. Their Wyeth exhibit, covering 3 generations of one of America’s premier art families, is so comprehensive it has its own building. Tour part of the collection, take a break for lunch in any one of the downtown restaurants and head back in to take in some more.

The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse-  The breakwater is 7/8s of a mile long and built out of granite stones. The walk out here during the early morning for sunrise is pretty cool. Bring your camera. The patterns in the granite, the lighthouse, lobster boats headed out of the harbor, sunrise with just a few clouds above the horizon. Yeah, you might want to take a few pictures. 

The Sail Power and Steam Museum- Located in the South End of Rockland Harbor this nautical museum is a real hidden gem. Run by Jim and his lovely wife Meg Sharp there are all sorts of cool schooner and not-so-schooner related nautical exhibits. Jim has owned a slew of sails boats including a bunch of schooners one of which is the schooner Adventure now sailing out of Gloucester, MA. Bring your guitar on Sundays to the weekly hootenanny open to everybody. Probably the best interactive exhibit is Jim Sharp himself. Tell him you sailed aboard Mary Day and stand by for some colorful stories about the history of the Maine windjammer fleet.

The Owls Head Transportation Museum- Just on the outskirts of Rockland you will find one of the coolest transportation museums in the country. They have examples of every form of motorized transportation you can imagine. Their antique car and plane collection is pretty amazing. And they offer special events all year round.

maine windjammer, schooner cruises, sunrise at Isle Au Haut, schooner vacationsHeaded South from Rockland  Talk about off the beaten path. 

McLoon’s Wharf– If you just want to amble your way around the area by car we recommend grabbing a lobster roll or full lobster dinner at McLoon’s Wharf at the end of the road in Spruce Head. Lots of lobstering going on down here and you can watch the boats coming and going, unloading their catch or baiting up for the next day. This is the no frills, real deal. After lunch you ought to head over to Port Clyde and the Marshall Point Lighthouse to see just where it is Forest Gump ended his marathon run overlooking the Atlantic ocean.

Monhegan Island– This can be a day trip or an overnight visit to one of Maine most scenic island communities. Take the Monhegan Ferry from Port Clyde. This place is bustling during high season so don’t expect to have the island to yourself during the day. Made famous by the numerous artists who summered on the island you’ll find wonderful hiking, a few little artist’s shops, even a microbrewery and more scenery than you can take in. Pack a lunch and everything you think you’ll need for the day. Locals out here fish during the winter. You will have to ask around to figure out why. There are several inns, large and small, if you want to spend the night. The island feels quite different after the day visitors leave. We personally recommend the Trailing Yew where our long time Mary Day cook Mary Barney ran the bake house for 25 summers.

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Splittin’ Firewood

Good morning! We hope you enjoyed your weekend. The weather continues to be absolutely gorgeous here in Maine. Isn’t that foliage incredible? Some ol’ colorful! The forecast says we are supposed to get some meaningful rain on Wednesday. We really need it. The swamp out back is drier than a boot. We have been scouting for deer and walking the property lines but haven’t scared up much. The coyotes have been quite close yippin’ away all night long which might account for the lack of deer at the moment. That…and the warm weather.

windjammer cooking

Jen splitting firewood.


Anyhoo…. Maija and Jen have been splitting firewood to beat the band. Maija cranked out the better part of 3 cords early last week and Jen is out there splitting away as I write. I took a couple pictures and made a short movie so you could see a little bit of what it looks like around here. So remember this next summer when the wood stove gets lit at 4:30 in the morning and all that great food comes out of the galley!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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Zincs

Caring for a schooner takes way more than ever meets the eye. Schooners are built from wood (oak primarily in the case of Mary Day) and steel (or iron). Mary Day has an 80′ long cast iron ballast keel bolted to the bottom of the wood keel with very large galvanized bolts. In the salt water environment these steel and iron bits get “eaten” up by what amounts to minute electrical currents created in a number of different ways. Preventing that “galvanic action” requires sacrificing “softer” kinds of metal to protect the keel and the keel fastenings. Zinc is a tried and true kind of metal that unselfishly sacrifices itself. Every year we bolt zincs onto the ballast keel and every year we have to renew them as they slowly get eaten away. Zincs aren’t cheap but then again neither are keel bolts.
maine windjammer
I spent yesterday creating a mold and melting down leftover zincs to pour some new ones by recycling leftover bits of zinc. This project was inspired by Captain Doug Lee who started doing this years ago with his forge at the North End Shipyard. I created the mold using 3″ channel stock. The ring burner worked quite well but I have improved on that by making a “smelter” using an old propane tank lined with concrete. You can see I use a cast iron teak kettle that makes pouring the molten zinc quite easy and accurate. In the second image you can see the mold and the finished product. The straps come from used zincs. The holes drilled in the straps fit bolt holes tapped into the cast iron ballast keel on the schooner. In the third image you can see the shiny molten zinc along with two old zincs that were formally bolted to the keel. Watch this video showing a little bit of the process.
maine windjammer zinc mold
We must have 50+ of those used zincs that I have been holding onto for years knowing such an occasion would arrive. New zincs retail for $29/piece. We use 7 each season. That is $210….well more than the $14 cost of the propane used to melt the old zincs. These are the kinds of projects that keep me awake between midnight and 4 AM.

Have a great day. And as always….be well. Do good!

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Sign of the Season

xmas-tree-aloft-1-of-1

Good morning everyone! Yesterday morning we took a walk in the woods to find the perfect tree to decorate the mast head of the schooner. We have a number of balsam firs in our woods most of which fit best in a Charlie Brown cartoon. After careful consideration we found one that, after careful trimming, fit the bill. We brought it down to the the harbor on a trailer and proceeded to string it with 250′ of white lights. Oh, don’t forget the bells at the tippity top. I have this image in my mind of someone standing on the town landing and hearing tinkling bells coming from the sky above. Santa must be close by!

Christmas tree, Camden Harbor

“Hey, Jen, I am no rocket surgeon but something isn’t quite right here.”

Rigging a 20′ tall tree at the masthead is not as simple as it might first appear. If I were a fly on a post watching from the town landing I would question the wisdom of sending a tree aloft upside down. But it really is the easiest way to get it off the dock and up aloft with do too much damage. Once the gantline attached to the “throat” of tree is two blocked a second line is used to right the tree. We use three stout seizings to lash the tree in place against the gale force winds that will undoubtedly whistle down through the Camden Hills at some time during the next month.

xmas-tree-lights-1-of-1

As the light continues to fade for the next month we hope that everyone in Camden who sees the tree at the masthead all lit up will pause for just a moment and feel a little bit of joy for the season. We do!! Have yourself a great day. Be well. Do good.

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Penobscot Bay Pilots

ship-coming-in-from-offshore-1-of-1Good morning everyone. What a difference a few days make. From sunny, palm trees, 70s, pink flamingoes and white sand beaches we are now sailing in brisk no’west winds. Autumn is finally here and the first few maples are showing the true colors of autumn. We burned 15 gallons of dinosaur bones during the last cruise. I am guessing we will scarcely burn just a few gallons during this cruise. I like it when the yawl boat comes up and we don’t have to put it down for days at a time.

A few weeks ago I spied a big ship coming in off the horizon bound for the cargo terminal at Searsport in Penobscot Bay. In broken English the master of the ship requested the pilot meet him at 0915 at the appointed pilot boarding area just east of Matinicus Island. The pilot responded by confirming the arrival time and requesting a boarding ladder height 1.5 meters above the water, boarding speed 8 knots and a heaving line for the pilots bag. The weather was quite calm, clear and sunny, a day I am sure the pilots must be thankful for. Considering that pilots are available 24/7, 365 days a year you can just imagine the conditions they potentially face at each boarding. Fog, wind, snow, sea smoke so thick you can’t see the ship beneath you.

The Maine Pilotage Commission reported that in 2015 over 13.5 millions tons of product was carried. That cargo includes petroleum products, wood products, sand, salt and gravel and other miscellaneous items like wind turbine blades up to 150’ long. And then there are the thousands of folks who arrive in Maine by cruise ship. That makes Maine the second busiest waters in New England behind Massachusetts. Amazingly the pilots conduct themselves with a steady demeanor at all times, under all conditions including yachting traffic that departs from harbors like Camden and Rockland. By the conversations I hear on the VHF some of these yachts have absolutely no clue about the handling characteristics of large ships. Let’s just say these ships can’t stop on a dime or run up the bay in slalom course fashion. Pilots have to drive defensively at all times. For those of you that have been with me getting out of Camden you know things can get a bit dicey and how excited I can get. But that is for another blog. Thanks to the Penobscot Bay and River Pilots who keep our gas tanks full and our homes warm all winter long.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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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.
Schooner Mary Day Blog
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.
Schooner Mary Day Blog
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.
Schooner Mary Day Blog
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?

i-see-the-light
(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

nature, maine, windjammer

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.
nature, windjammer, Maine

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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