Monthly Archives: March 2007

Welcome Home

Good Morning Everyone. Home at last…and it feels good. I had a great time in Texas. The hearts of Texans are as big as the state they live in. Many fond farewells were exchanged as I left the ship. Once again, this experience showed me how much the ship is her crew, not just the sails.

Spring has absolutely sprung here. I am amazed at the transformation that happened while I was gone. Two hawks, broad winged I believe, were calling as they spent the afternoon soaring over the woods behind our house. Robins are in the field. I scared a woodcock from the field’s edge while collecting sap. The funny part of spring is that now we can find all the lost items that were buried under the snow banks, a mitten here, a screwdriver there, a muffler hanger down the driveway. More importantly, we find a renewed sense of energy. We’ll need it for the next few months of craziness getting the boat ready.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

“Simple Gifts of Maine”

“Tis a gift to be simple
‘Tis a gift to be free
“Tis a gift to come down
Where we ought to be

And when we find ourselves
In that place just right
We will be in the valley
Of love and delight.

Simple Gifts – A Shaker song

One of the many questions we get every summer is “what ever happened to last year’s crew, where are they now?” There is a pattern that we see which is the crew tend to spend one or two years with us (except Mary….we won’t let her go!) and then move on to other vessels that tend to go farther into the horizon, or they do what’s right and go back to college. A few have moved on to real careers and fewer have gotten married and now have children. It’s always amazing to hear from them. One such person, Annie Nixon as many of you know who still sails with us off and on as adjunct facility, has moved on to working for the Ashwood Waldorf School where our children attend. She has spent several years teaching there and this winter has taken on the role of annual auction coordinator/director. (Yes she and Carob finally got married!) I’ve worked with Annie both on the boat and now on the auction and have to say, it’s amazing at how the two worlds are similar. Lots of organizing and following thru with the 6P’s. Both worlds giving the simple gifts of Maine.

The event “Simple Gifts of Maine” is the one and only large chance for the school to raise money to then give to the families in need for tuition assistance. The logo is called “Seeds” and is fitting as we are trying to give the simple gift of the chance to attend the school for a child, to plant the seed of the Waldorf education within them, all for the outcome of a brighter future for the child and for the world around us. Annie has done (and still is, it’s not over yet!) an amazing job of orchestrating this seed planting. I’ve been proud to work with her and delighted to see how one crew member can go from climbing the rigging one day, taking care of 28 passengers and maintaining the schooner to taking charge of her own “ship” and sailing it thru another year, past the horizon that was sailed last year. This event will be a huge success to Annie and all those involved in it and all those who will be helping us to give the simple gift. If you have a chance, take a look at the auction website (and feel free to make a bid!)

Have a great day! Do well. Give a simple gift today, smile at someone!

Harvesting “Liquid Gold”

Good morning everyone‚Ķ it’s been a busy weekend‚Ķ.Maine Maple Syrup weekend! ‚ÄòTis the time to boil and boy did we boil! The kids and I pulled a wagon loaded with a trash can plus a 5 gal bucket of sap all in one run on Saturday. We set up the funky homemade sap evaporator and set to boiling. We boiled for two days and have rejoiced in the harvesting of our ‚Äúliquid gold‚Äù. It seems to be a right of passage for us here in Maine. The snow is still all around our house as we live in the woods. The driveway is ankle deep in mud ,the songbirds are showing up at the feeder, ole man porky pine has taken up residence in one of the kids climbing trees and the sap is flowing‚Ķ.it‚Äôs these signs we get rejuvenated from. Knowing that winter has officially passed and spring is all around us. Most folks look for flowers‚Ķ.well ours will surface months from now‚Ķ.the sap gives us hope to hold us to the daffodils.

Another tradition we have here is pancake Sunday. Sawyer wanted to share with all you one of his favorite rccipes to go along with your choice of “liquid gold”…enjoy

Banana Cakes

Makes approx. twelve 4’ cakes

6 T. Butter
1 ¬Ω c. flour
2 T. sugar
2 ¬Ω t. baking powder
¼ t. salt
1 very ripe banana, peeled
1 c. milk
2 eggs
¬Ω t. vanilla
liquid gold of your choice, for serving

Cut the butter into 3 equal parts. Melt two of the pieces in a pan and save the third part for cooking the pancakes. Mix in a bowl the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Mash the banana in a different bowl. Add the milk, eggs and vanilla to the banana. Then mix the dry mix to the banana mix. Batter should be a little lumpy. Spoon batter on griddle and cook until a few holes form on top of each pancake and flip. They should rise a little and turn golden brown. Serve hot with warm “liquid gold” syrup.

Have a great day! Be well. Do good. Happy Sap Day!

Sailing South, Dreaming North

Good Morning Everyone. Well my time here in Texas is almost through and as much as this is a special place to be I do miss home, Jen and the kids, the smell of the woods in spring, the schooner. Elissa is an incredibly special vessel, made more special by the people who volunteer thousands of hours a year to keep her is sailing condition. There are very few museums in the country that understand that the preservation of something like a ship has value only when it is used for what it was intended for. Sure there are trade offs and compromises to keep an Elissa or Mary Day inspected by the Coast Guard but without these concessions to the future the past would be sitting idle on one side of the surface or the other. We will be sailing overnight off the Texas coast tomorrow in to Wednesday before we fly home Thursday. I will be sleeping in the cabin that some other mate slept in 130 years ago excited about the adventure but dreaming of home as well. Yards will be braced by volunteers who are living and making history.

I saw this Canada goose swimming in the channel a few days ago and projected my anthropocentric thoughts in to the scene. I wondered when she would be heading home to the North, how alone she might feel, and what a long journey lay ahead. I know how you feel Ms. Goose, a little out of place against a backdrop of oil rigs but enjoying the moment none the less. Have a safe flight…I will see you on the other end.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Becoming a block head…

Greetings everyone. Sorry we missed a day. Life sometimes spins faster than we can uphold. As you all know the crew are here sanding and painting, sanding and painting, and sanding and painting again. Fit out…a wonderous time of the year. The list of items is literally hundreds long all needing someone’s attention in one way or another. So it’s week two and the 70+ blocks will be finished today of being disassembled, , sanded, primed, sanded and painted then rebuilt & greased. During coffee break the other day, the “red fit out book” was being checked over and the question that every new crew member asks at some point during the fit out season, “so tell me why are we doing this?” was finally aired.
It’s more than a labor of love I tried to explain. Because we love to sail these old vessels and share the beautiful Maine coast with folks from away who may have never have ~ seen a seal upclose, heard an eagle cry, feel the foggy dew on their skin, seen a shooting star, or a full moon rising over the water, or a colorful sunset at the end of a beautiful day, walked thru a fern field, felt a starfish wiggle in their hands, or pet a lobster as well as eat one. It’s the evening of a long row while seals are barking in the distance, the morning of a quiet sunrise with a hot cup of coffee while watching the wildlife all scurry about, the afternoons of the winds caressing the sails as the water splashes against the hull, hearing the bell ring for meals, ahh, Mary’s homemade cooking, breads from scratch everyday, hot soups, salads, and wonderful pies, cakes… It’s the people….sharing stories, laughter and working together to sail a beautiful ship experiencing this all together to carry us thru to another year….that’s was my answer. Heads shook quietly, and with a shrug of agreement, we all went back to the brushes, anxiously waiting for those dock lines to be cast off…..

Have a good day! Be well, Do good and don’t forget to check for drips & holidays!
Sunset photo by Steven Latici

Square Riggers and Schooners

Good Morning Everyone. Amazing how Jen was just talking about Irving Johnson sailing aboard a square rigger and here I am in Texas aboard another square rigger. So, for those of you who haven’t heard the term, these vessels are named for the way the sails are set from the masts, square to fore and aft centerline. They do not go up wind nearly the way a schooner does. A schooner, like Mary Day, is fore and aft rigged. There are a few fore and aft rigged sails aboard a square rigger but don’t let that confuse you. Elissa has 3 masts. 2 of these are square rigged, the main and the fore. The after mast is called a mizzen and it is fore and aft rigged. This combination makes Elissa a barque, as opposed to a full rigged ship (square rigged on all 3 masts), or a brig (a 2 masted square rigged vessel). Half way in between are vessels rigged as barquentines and brigantines. It can all be confusing. The schooners in the windjammer fleet were all designed for coasting (sailing relatively near shore) and were designed for shorthanded maneuvering. Elissa sailed across the ocean with a crew of 12. Mary Day would have sailed coastwise with a crew of 2, or 3 if they had a cabin boy.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Sailing Cape Horn

Good evening…we’ve survived the storm. The 6 p’s of preparation worked. We had to shovel and plow. Plowing was amazing. I’ve never plowed snow and walls of water before. The ground is still frozen and all the rain on top of 9” of snowfall made mucking about the grounds difficult. Our boots were just tall enough to reach the barn and still stay dry. Roads have been flooded out in our area and the fog as thick as the soup we sail thru in the early part of the season. While driving yesterday I found myself secretly wishing for the schooner’s compass and GPS.

Looking thru old photos on hand, this photo reminds me of the time Irving Johnson made his voyage aboard the Peking. The other evening we showed the crew the Irving Johnson film, Around Cape Horn. Which I’m sure many of you know about. It’s a wonderful classic that we show the crew every year with the disclaimer “this is what you won’t be doing in the rigging” as it shows Irving coming down one of edges of the sails pinching it between his fingers only, all while the Peking was underway!

If you haven’t heard of Irving Johnson here’s a tidbit for your morning coffee:

Irving Johnson was born in 1905 in Hadley, MA and had always dreamed of sailing from reading many seastories as a youth. Being far from the sea he had to come up with a way of preparing himself to become a sailor. Doing a headstand ontop of a rotton telephone poll and making it swing from side to side was one of his many interesting training techniques.

In late November, 1929 Johnson joined the crew of the 377(LOA) foot 4 masted barque Peking for a voyage around Cape Horn. Johnson had always dreamed of such an adventure. Little did he know the adventure it would become. He was lucky enough to bring a camera and film a home movie to capture this historic event. Irving was able to capture the crew’s daily life & activities and amazing images of a (typical) dangerous storm as the Peking sailed the tretcherous waters of Cape Horn. Some of his footage was shot from up in the rigging! Johnson narrates the video which makes the movie a well worth event. The Mystic Seaport Shop has the video available at:

Today the Peking can now be visited at the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City.

So we leave our crew for the evening with great thoughts of historic sailing adventures that have been made and thoughts of ones that lay ahead of us this summer…

Have a great day! Be well. Do good. And hang on tight! (“Why would you let go” as one wise captain would say.)

Bigger in Texas

Good Morning Everyone. Well they say everything is bigger in Texas and they aren’t kidding, at least when it comes to sailboats. As regular followers know I am down here to sail aboard the 1877 barque Elissa. She is a beautiful three masted vessel with square sails on the forward 2 masts and a mizzen mast that looks similar to what you might see on a fore and aft rigged schooner. The staff and volunteers at the Texas Seaport Museum keep this piece of history alive and well. I am lucky enough to sail aboard her as one of her officers. Click here to learn more about Elissa and the Texas Seaport Museum. I will keep you posted on what we are doing here as time permits.

Have a great day. Be Well. Do Good.

A taste of Winter & Spring

Good morning everyone! Barry has or is still trying to reach Galveston. A bit of a rough day getting flights out ahead of the storm. Late last night he was still in St. Louis waiting…He thinks if they start walking, they may get there faster.

The crew and I spent a good portion of Friday preparing for the storm, learning the 6 P‚Äôs of sailing: Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. This planning technique included groceries, wood, putting the plow on the truck, setting up projects to last several days‚Ķ We knew we wouldn‚Äôt be going anywhere for a few days. Two of the crew have never experienced a New England snowstorm. They were awed by the beauty of a graceful snowflake coming down (that was last night at the beginning of the storm). They have yet to show their faces today to see the accumulated 7‚Äù of snow and ice that are present and still coming down. We are expected to see this all day long. Today‚Äôs lesson: shoveling, plowing, building a snowman, snow angels. We also hope to get a few blocks painted in between all the winter fun. “The mice will play while the Captain is away!”

As a treat for the crew last night, the kids and I shared one of our favorites for a spring snow when the trees are tapped and we’re thinking ahead of spring yet faced with one last bit of winter. We hope this brings back a great deal of childhood memories for many of you.

Maple Snow

Boil some maple syrup in a pan until it reaches around 230’-240’ degrees. We use a candy thermometer for help with this. It will bubble up and make a great mess on your stove so stay with it and stir. It smells terrific! Take a bowl and pack snow into it and leave it outside while your boiling your syrup. When syrup is ready pour it in a thin layer over the top of the snow. It will melt the top layer of the snow and the bottom of the bowl should be still fresh snow. The syrup will cool quickly and make a sticky layer on top. It’s ready! Grab a spoon (or fork) and enjoy the last taste of winter and the first taste of spring! Note: for those of you in the south, try making this with crushed ice. Enjoy!

Have a great day! Be good. Do well. And remember to bend your legs while shoveling snow!

I’m a leavin’ on a jet plane….

Good afternoon everyone! Afternoon….just crazy. Well I am on the road today traveling to Texas (I think) to sail aboard the barque Elissa. I will write more on that later but needless to say this blog will be a little more intermittent over the next few weeks. I tried to write this morning just like I tried to fly from Portland to New York. In the end we booked flights from Manchester, NH so here we sit waiting with fingers crossed as the snow begins to fall. So hang in there and be patient. We will keep you updated on goings on with the schooner and I will post photos of Elissa under sail.

Photo by Dudley Bierau

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.