Monthly Archives: April 2007

Launching Chadwick

Good morning everyone. Well as you can see Sunday was not a day of rest here. We launched the yawl boat Chadwick in the rain. She fired right off with out a hitch. The bilge pump was running for the first few hours but by late afternoon her planks had tightened up considerably. What a pleasure to be underway in the harbor once again.

Today the cover comes off!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Sailing through boundaries

Good morning everyone. Pitter pat, pitter pat… a rainy morning here in Appleton. A great morning to sleep in, to rise slowly from our slumber and have a cup of coffee, just stare out the window. The view in to the woods is one I cherish. The woods surround us like a cocoon and make us feel secure here. I have been thinking about boundaries over the last few days, personal, communal, national…. The old saying about good fences making good neighbors has a grain of truth to it. I have been wondering about the balance of boundaries.

I think about sailing on the schooner and what makes that so unique in this day and age. Many times I have seen our boundaries break down quickly when we sail together, eat together, swim together, laugh together, sing together. The ocean itself has no boundaries. It is always trying to get aboard. It is limitless and surrounds us all the time. Ecologically speaking we are just discovering how unlimited this lack of boundaries is. So I wonder when we sail in the big limitless ocean how much that influences our psyches. Does our little schooner community become limitless as well? Do we sense the spaciousness of the ocean and does that help us open to each other?

It is my opinion that during the course of any week many of us begin to mimic the natural communities we are sailing in. Like the seals basking on the ledges we take a break from our daily hunting activities to rest in the sun. Like the island spruce we stand close together, sometimes holding each other up when the winds blow. That is part of the magic we feel as we depart each week. We have broken through our everyday boundaries and refreshed the natural rhythms within ourselves.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Counting the days

Good morning everyone. The rain here yesterday did not slow things down at all. The crew worked diligently in the barn and in the shop to put some finishing touches on the small boats and the varnish work. Mary and Jen, the varnish divas, sanded and put a fresh coat of varnish on the wheel and multiple other items in the loft of the barn. Sara and Becki puttied the seams and painted the yawl boat bottom. It all looks beautiful and puts us one day closer to sailing, not that we are counting the days or anything like that.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Powerful Beings

Good morning everyone. We were able to get another coat of oil on the deck yesterday morning and it had kicked off nicely by afternoon. Meanwhile back on the farm, Becki, Sara, and Jen were able to sand, prime, putty, paint (topsides and bottom) and varnish the exterior of our harbor “tug” Chadwick. That was very long day for the three of them. We hope to get her launched on Sunday morning. Chadwick is named for our dear departed friend Major Floyd S. Chadwick (USAF Ret), the Camden harbor monitor, and friend to all water related folks on the shoreline. His daily blessing was featured in this blog back in March. It is only fitting that we should name an influential boat after such an influential person.

Why a second yawl boat, you ask? There are times when a schooner without an engine needs an extra little push getting in on really windy days. A gusty northwest wind is the most challenging in Camden when coming to the dock. There have been times when we have had to enter Camden the night before our intended return date because of forecasted winds. Having the option of a little nudge from the bow gives us control of our speed and helps keep the bow “up” into the wind. The bow of Mary Day is quite high without the benefit of much under the water to keep it from being blown “off”. And heaven forbid, should our regular yawl boat Arno ever fail we have a spare. Remember we do not leave the harbor without a yawl boat so Chadwick actually becomes quite a cheap insurance policy should we ever need it. Chadwick will come on our trip to the shipyard next week.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Holystoning the decks

Good morning everyone. OK…so we have to talk. Both readers have written in to ask if we are “holystoning” the decks. We are delighted that you care so much about your schooner and how we are caretaking her. For any other readers out there that happen to stumble across this blog a) I apologize and hope you have had your first cup of coffee and 2) I will explain what a holystone is.

Holystones were fairly soft flat rocks that were used once upon a time to scour, and thus whiten, the wooden decks of ships. The US Navy used them right up until the early 1930s until they were banned. They were called holystones because they were traditionally used on Sundays and on ones hands and knees, like good prayer ought to be. Now Jen was smart enough to use a pair of knee pads these last few days. I on the other hand am way to masculine to fall prey to these creature comforts. Being a good New England puritan I toughed it out without too much whining just to have the bragging rights later on. There is nothing that can save the back though and 2, 6-8 hour, days later we can both have something to brag about. We do some scraping to get the initial layer of oil off the wood but we chased that with an 8” sander with 120 grit. You would be surprised how little wood gets removed but how smooth and bright things do get. The sanders we use have dust extractors attached that are so effective that we also varnished the spars and hatches yesterday with no ill affect. The oil we use helps fill the pores of the wood to make it more resistant to the wear and tear of the seasons.

Traditional white pine decks are very soft and were we to use traditional holystones once a week we would have the chance to replace our traditional deck in the traditional fashion in a very short amount of time. And that is why the Navy banned holystones a long time ago. Holystoning is nothing more than a fancy way of saying sanding and makes decks bright by removing the top oxidized and dirt encrusted layer of wood. My point is this, while we are sailing traditional schooners the human condition seems geared towards efficiency and economy. Were Nelson sailing today he would take a pretty close look at some of the new fangled stuff we have. There are some “tried and trues” out there and we use them but we also try to use technology appropriately to get more bang for your buck and our efforts.

Enjoy Jen’s completely retouched photo where you can see the difference between oiled and not. We are having fun with this blog so keep your comments coming.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Paint Crazy

Good morning everyone. The last 24 hours have been fast and furious. We gave the crew a day off yesterday so Jen and I could take the opportunity to scrape and sand the decks. We are half way there and will finish today, we hope. It is just beautiful. The cover comes off Monday, we guess. We were up late last nite putting a new plank in the yawl which will be launched on Sunday, we pray. Jen spent last nite varnishing and painting Rosey, one of our row boats. She is good…. but most of you know that already.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Sailing the Distance

Good morning everyone. OK…so I am a year older as of yesterday. Birthdays do have a way of making one think about time. Everybody gets excited about time, sooner or later, but yesterday actually got me thinking more about distance.

Now distance, there is something to ponder. Distance traveled is very important when one is sailing. Of course distance traveled is a function of speed and, yes, time. But because of known and unknown forces at work in the sailing universe distance traveled is not just a straight-line linear process. (Hope you see th elife parrallel here.) Distance makes all the difference when approaching a rocky shore. Sometime rocks and other ships “loom” up visibly on the horizon at one distance and then disappear for a short time as you approach only to appear again when you get closer.

I was reminded as I was talking with Karla, one of our passengers, on the phone that I have this new found need to hold things just a little further away than I used to read them. Jen went through this same thing last fall. The young optometrist she went to see guessed that she was just getting in to her 40s and that the local drug store had plenty of fashionable reading glasses that would help correct her problem. I have been vainly holding off all winter but alas as 40 get further and further away I find myself holding books further and further away as well. (Ok…enough giggling out there in cyberland!)
So here is where I had to laugh. This distance thing is actually good. No I am not excited about going to get my distinguished look at the drug store but I am struck by the realization that as I hold books further away so do I hold my life’s experiences and in both cases I begin to see, with distance, things with a little more clarity than I did just a few years ago.

Photo by Jim Dugan.

Have a great day. Be well. Do Good.


Good morning everyone. The crew did a great job this weekend painting the cabin houses, the covering boards, and tarring the rig. They put in some long days and everything looks beautiful. The weather appears to be cooperating as well giving us a few days to let the paint “kick” and harden.

Today we celebrate the feast of St George, the fearless knight that battled the fire breathing dragon when all others had failed and prevailed to save the city. The story is a favorite of our kids. Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned knight who looks danger in the eye and goes headlong in to battle despite their fears? The story could well be as much about perseverance as well as it is about courage. I think this crew has found some of the spirit of St George as they have worked through the challenges of the last month and the shining paintwork is there to prove it.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Roll and Tip

Good morning everyone. The paint is flowing fast and furious here. Becki and Sara enjoyed the opportunity to get out from under the cover and get aloft in the rig on the main mast to do some tarring. Jen and Mary, as you can see, lovingly applied the beige with roller and brush. Today we paint the white cabin houses.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

A Sappy Schooner

Good morning everyone. “Oh what a beautiful morning….” The sun is rising through the trees. The robin red breast will have a sore throat if it keeps up its present vocal pace. The hairy woodpecker has got to have a headache by now. Nature is going crazy out there. And so are we!

I pulled in the maple taps for the season yesterday and am boiling down the last of the sap as I write. The finale of the sap run makes dark cooking grade syrup but no less delicious than the early amber syrup. I am sad at the thought of seeing this annual ritual end. It is as sweet to my soul as it is to my taste buds.

We spent yesterday painting, as advertised, and the crew did a tremendous job. Today we paint the beige tops of the cabin houses and start tarring the rig. The smell of tar is another one of those annual rites that stirs my soul. Just the smell of pine tar somehow triggers the innate nautical creature in all of us here. Just think of the sailors that for hundreds of years have been preserving their vessels, the rigging, and their lives with the boiled sap of pine tree stumps (that is an over simplification but you get the point). Pine tar is good for dandruff too. My guess is that by days end the crew will have healthy scalps and we will all be enjoying a healthy rig.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Photo by the death defying Jim Dugan. We love you Jim!