Monthly Archives: March 2007

Sail Training

Good Morning Everyone. Unsettled weather here in the Northeast for the next few days. The sap flow has slowed down here the last few days, a curious thing since it has been so warm.

The crew has survived their first few days of fit-out. They seem willing to tackle anything despite the bumps and bruises and nervousness, mine and theirs. I read about sail training programs and the skills they will teach you but as one crew member and I talked about at the end of yesterday, this whole crew thing is as much about mutual respect as it is hard skills. While I appreciate a competent sailor I also appreciate the human element that makes the difference between good and great. So in this picture is a great sailor in the making. Jennie is willing to tackle head first whatever it is that needs doing, including slushing the mast with grease, as you can see here. I told her she would get a raise. She assumed I was talking about money. But money can’t pay anyone for what it takes to be a great crew member. I value most that rare quality, a discipline of sorts, that allows a crew member to consider the needs of their fellow crew members and the schooner before their own. If you ever want to try being a crew member our Wooden Boat Course may be just the ticket.

Most of the emphasis of mainstream media advertising seems to me to focus our attention on how we can be more comfortable and independent people. The fanciest rain gear in the world doesn’t come with the mental toughness that a deckhand needs to stand all day in the fog and rain straining to identify potential perils. Aboard a schooner there are numerous physical and emotional challenges that take the crew way out of a normal range of comfort and that can be most successfully negotiated as a team. And maybe that is what makes windjammer passengers so unique. Windjammers guests seem to be willing to sacrifice the national no tell motel chain for a little closer experience with the elements and with the camaraderie of others. I find these experiences make me feel most alive and the guests who come aboard are certainly a lively group. What a gift for our family to meet all of you. Thank you!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Photo be Jim Dugan…crew member and web guru. Does you mother know where your camera has been?

Workin’ on the chain gang…

Good Morning Everyone. A rainy but warm morning here on the Maine coast and the snow is going fast so get out there and build your last snow fort while you can. The new crew put in a full day yesterday sanding the yawl boat inside and out in the morning and installing new mooring chains on the beach in the afternoon. Moving 125’ of 1 1/4 “ mooring chain across the beach was a good first team building event. And who should appear like magic but Jim Dugan, our web guru, clicking camera in one hand, dragging mooring chain with the other. Thanks Jim, for the hand and the photos.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Fit-Out Begins

Good Morning Everyone. The temperature is threatening to hit 50 degrees today which will be the warmest temperature we have seen in quite sometime. The rest of the crew arrived yesterday. Becki, Becka, and Sara will begin in earnest today to sand and paint anything that isn’t moving. Today they will be sanding the yawl boat and we will go to the harbor at low tide to switch out the bow mooring chains on the beach. From here on out I promise my blogs, on average, will become shorter as life becomes a whole lot busier.

The picture is of ARNO in the barn. We are making a few structural modifications, laminating in new support knees on the thwarts and replacing a plank that was a little iffy. Though the cedar was good there was one spot where the back of the plank had blown out some years ago and has been backed by a block of wood. I am not saying it couldn’t have been asked to serve a little more time but we like to fix things as we can. This also gave the opportunity to reinforce the framing at the hard turn of the bilge.

Have a great day, Be well. Do good

Navigation in the Sea of Life

Good Morning Everyone. Happy Monday morning to you all. OK so the clocks might have changed but my body is going to take a few days to get used to this. Here is the almanac here on the Maine coast for the week. Monday High tides at 0513 and 1803. Low tides at 1147 and 2354. Sunrise at 0700 and sunset at 1844.

I include for your navigational efforts this week a chart of Penobscot Bay just off Camden (the dent in the land on the lower left). While you may think this whole place has been charted accurately, such may not always be the case. As the cartographer said who created this thing…”the prudent mariner will not rely solely on any single aid to navigation” including this chart. So while life may seem clear at times, remember that like this chart, some of the assumptions made about what is out there and where it is are based on very old data from the 1800s. Goodness knows that the winter ice or the congressional knife may have removed even the guideposts we leave for other humans venturing across deep water. So take care out there in the world this week. Print this chart out to guide you on your way. But also pack along your wit and wisdom, a good compass, a coastal pilot book filled with wisdom to help keep your spirits buoyant, glasses for seeing things up close, binoculars for seeing things far away, a good leadline to get a measure for how deep you are getting yourself in to things, an intuitive radar to sense what may there in the fog, and a good crew at your side. If you get lost stop before you hit the rocks. Don’t just do something, sit there. Take a deep breathe, listen carefully, get your bearings, and then continue on. The best navigation in the sea of life is performed with a vigilant heart filled with respect for all the possibilities. We wish your fair winds and following seas. We can’t wait to read your logbook when you return safely to harbor.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Blessing Camden Windjammers

Good Morning Everyone. A rainy last quarter moon morning here as we begin daylight savings time. We returned home late last night (after 9PM) having watched Nadie’s dance recital debut. Best 55 seconds of dancing I have seen in a while. Even Sawyer liked it.

We dedicate this blog to all the new crew members arriving in Maine over the next few weeks. You will never meet Major Floyd S. Chadwick, USAF (ret.) but he will touch your life. The major was a fixture here in Camden for many years, always encouraging crew (and owners too) to keep a stiff upper lip in the face of adversity and “be a friend on the side of the road” to everyone you meet. Major first came to Camden to sail aboard Mary Day and adopted the place and alll its windjammers. The Major eventually became the Camden Harbor Monitor helping the harbor master with his daily rounds and even filling in after hours to help the lost get found, his voice crackling out over VHF channel 11. He blessed every schooner that came and went. He knew secrets many of us “young bucks” hadn’t yet discovered. You see, he had been dead twice on the operating table and I figured that gave him a certain credibility. The morning cannon at the Camden Yacht Club signaling 0800 and colors seldom happened without the Major’s morning blessing, sage advice to us all.

Major’s Morning Blessing

Ohhhhhhh, Let the daaaaay begin!
The Lord is in His Heaven, all’s quiet in the world.
Pray your way through the day,
Ask the Lord to show you the way,
He hears every word you say when you pray.
Oh harbor of a thousand faces,
What strange and wondrous fate will befall us today?
Give us a sign, show us the way.
Stay in deep water, keep a good DR,
Pay attention to wind and tide.
Stay away from the lee shore.
Listen to the wee small voice.
Boats are made for water, rocks are made for scotch.
If you’re towing a dinghy, keep a long floating painter.
Thank you Jesus for this abundance.
For give us for our sins and gluttany.
Thus endeth the reading of the scriptures.
And as General MacArthur said aboard the
USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on August 15, 1945 –

“These proceedings are closed.”
et cetera, et cetera, et cetera
Pass the bread, meat and ‘taters!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Warm thoughts-Lobster Dip

Good Morning Everyone. It is 30 degrees warmer here this morning than it was yesterday at this time. Sawyer and I set out the last of the maple taps yesterday and we are expecting a busy week here with warmer temperatures in the forecast. I am hoping to boil our first run of sap next Friday before I leave for Texas for 12 days. But that is a whole story in and of itself. Becki Newcum, one of our deckhands, arrived yesterday after a 20 hour drive from Indiana (if you had seen how much she had packed in that little Honda, like the clown car at the circus, you would know why it took her 20 hours). Big day for Nadie, her first dance recital is tonight with a reception afterwards….which makes me think about food…ahh…Mary’s lobster dip would be good right about now….

Hot “Lobstah” Dip

1 cup cooked lobster, chopped
8 oz. cream cheese
¼ tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. mustard
2 tsp. dry white wine
1 tsp. Seasonal
¬Ω cup mayo
1 tsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. minced onion

Mix all together. Heat in a pan, stirring often until hot and bubbly. Be sure to not overheat! Serve hot with crackers. Share with a friend (maybe). Enjoy!

This recipe is not in Mary’s cookbook, “Ring That Bell”. Lobster dip photo by Jim Dugan.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Schooner Yoga

Good Morning Everyone. Brrrr….not that 10 degrees below zero is cold outside….its just climbing out of bed when your bare feet hit the 50 degree hardwood floor that you really start to notice it. Better than coffee to pop your eyes wide open. Once again the arctic air is here with meaning. We have four woodstoves to feed as of today as new crew begin to arrive.

We had a particularly busy day yesterday and the forecast for today is much the same so I will be brief this morning. The kids were home sick, I and another captain had an unexpected meeting with representatives from Senator Snowe‚Äôs office (remember my ADA blog), Jen spent half her day running errands for the school auction committee, I had a couple fire department meetings, the planer needed new knives installed (only one trip to the hardware store), the woodstove in the barn needed a new section of stove pipe and damper, (back to the hardware store, Courtney had rehearsal for this weeknd’s big dance debut (all 55 seconds of it) ’til 7 o’clock last night, and all the office demands to boot. One of our guests finally got through our busy phone line yesterday and commented that he thought this was our slow time of year; not so much I say. But that is OK really. As I told him, we cram into our 5 months off the schooner what everyone else has the entire year to do. There is a certain sense of job security here and not everyone can say that. I just have to remember to keep breathing. I look forward to yoga on a warm sunny beach.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Schooner Cats and Heros

Good Morning Everyone. Many of you who have sailed with us know we have a cat aboard. The schooner Mary Day has a long history of cats. The Hawkins family had at least one cat we have seen a picture of, Stump. And we have had 2 cats. The first, Chakra, came to town on a catamaran (it really did) and lived with us for many years aboard several boats. Chakra chased ducks into the harbor, literally in to the harbor. She swam like a dog and often came home soaking wet.

Our current cat, Gus Hodgkins, is Chakra’s alter ego. She is not a big fan of water though her namesake was a rescuer at the Hunnewell’s Beach Lifesaving Station, built in 1883, at the west end of the Kennebec River. Legend has it that Mr. Hodgkins, after finishing saving a group from a schooner stranded on the ledges at the end of the river, rowed back out to the vessel because he thought he heard the ship’s cat yowling over the howling. This compassionate man rowed back out through the tempest and chased that cat from stem to stern until he reportedly cornered it. With the cat stuffed in his coat he rowed back to the beach and the cat, soon to be known as Hunney, took up residence there for the rest its days. Because we are intrigued by the history of lighthouses and lifesaving stations we thought it was only fitting that we name our cat in honor of this hero. Gussie does share one thing in common with all the other cats that have been aboard the schooner, and this is no tale…none of them have had tails.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Hangin’ On

Good Morning Everyone. Hang on tight…winter surely is. One last (we hope) blast of arctic air is funneling in to the Northeast. 4 below here in the dooryard, no wind chill factor yet, but the National Weather Service promises heavy freezing spray on the bay in a westerly breeze.

This morning’s temperatures and this picture inspired me to think about hanging on and letting go. We are not really ready to let go of winter. The trip to the barn to stoke the fire brought that familiar sound of sub-zero snow under foot sounding much like a Styrofoam cooler does when you put the lid on. Squeak…squeak…squeak. I will miss that soon as much as I will welcome spring. The frozen darkness appeals to something in my reptilian brain as much as the coming season. The barred owls were hooting in the woods outside our bedroom window this morning, welcoming spring I imagine. They know it is coming, sooner or later.

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday and I know he was off sailing in the warmer climates of heaven. He had a firm policy not to step foot polewise of 20 degrees North before the 4th of July. He also had this saying that pretty much sums up the balance between hanging on and letting go… Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift…and that is why we call it the Present.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Photo by Jim Dugan.

Tappin’ Maples

Good Morning Everyone. We finally had a chance to tap the maples yesterday. The kids and I went down the west facing drive to tap red maples that have historically done well for us. I mentioned the other day that neighbors have been tapping around us but that conditions have been quite slow. Given yesterday’s weather and the snow squalls that were pouring from the sky off and on I didn’t believe anything would be moving. But there it was flowing like…well, like water.

The kids and I were equally delighted by the moment. They live to suck the sap straight from the tree, nursing at the spiles as if they were starving for the barest essence of the maple’s life affirming sugar. Carefully spacing our new taps a fair distance from older tap scars we drilled new holes with brace and bit, by hand. Sawyer would carefully tap a spile into its hole and wait. On the first hole he stuck his finger in and out flowed sap. Like Midas he made sure he pressed his finger deep into each spile thereafter. A dozen buckets was all we had time to put out in the cold wind and snow but hearing the tell tale tink…tink…tink in the metal buckets as we walked back up the drive warmed our hearts. We will get some more taps out in a few days.

I celebrate tappin’ maples perhaps like some may celebrate Easter, when nature is discovered to be rising again from the death of winter. All is not lost, and though March is a long month here in New England, the maples let us know that this too shall pass and life is full of sweetness. You just got to work a little to find it and sometimes having someone with the right touch helps too.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.