Monthly Archives: June 2007

Cool in the Islands

Good morning everyone. You are not really going to want to hear
this. While most folks ashore are enjoying(?) hazy, hot, and humid
conditions we are out on the bay surrounded by islands with a cool
breeze. I am terrible in heat and humidity. I wilt like a delicate
flower. We could actually see the heat rising off the land and every
time we sailed in to the lee of the land the heat was just
oppressive. So I was thankful for the opportunity to don a wind breaker.

Life in the islands is very good. The heat rising from the land
yesterday generated a vigorous onshore breeze. We were tearing along
at better the 9 knots at times yesterday. Tacking through the Pond
Island Passage between Blue Hill and Jericho Bays was just awesome.

We are seeing tons of jellyfish these days. Burnt Coat Harbor was
teaming with them and the anchorage here in Brooklin has numerous
jellies drifting and swimming along in the tide. The kids are
fascinated by the tiny babies. While most of the jellyfish are
harmless Moon jellies we managed to snag a red Lion's Mane, the sting
of which can really smart. They can grow to be really big, the
largest around here for sure and we do catch a fascinating glimpse of
one every once in a while .

We are going to take advantage of the calm this morning to explore
one of the local islands and have our lobster picnic at noon. I
think I over-bought on lobster again. Darn. Good thing I don't mind
eating leftovers.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Puffins, Razorbills, and a Whale

Good morning everyone. We are currently anchored in Burnt Coat Harbor on Swan’s Island. We left Camden yesterday morning, performed under way drills with the Coast Guard aboard, and tacked out of the bay to see the alcids gathered around Seal Island for the second of our 2 annual Maine Audubon trips.

The southwest wind was just perfect after 2 days of northwest. The ocean was quite flat and the sun was warm. Seal Island is where nesting puffins have been re-established and they were out in full force along with numerous razor bills (as seen in this photo by Jen), and guillemots. Roseate, arctic and common terns by the thousands protect the nesting alcids from predators like gulls and at one moment we saw them rise from the island in a swarm. Like little kids we just were so excited to be witness to this annual ritual when the puffins come ashore to nest in burrows.

The down wind run to Swan’s Island was marked by sighting many immature gannets. A few greater shearwaters, and a (?) sooty shearwater passed by as well. The question mark indicates that our eyes may have been strained by hopeful thoughts as much as by the binoculars. Wilson’s storm petrels were also too numerous to count.
While gazing at the bold eastern shore of Isle au Haut, deckhand Annie had a minke whale surface right in the field of her binoculars. The whale surface half a dozen times and we all had quite a show before it made its terminal dive out of sight. Two bald eagles, one mature in an island spruce and one immature that flew directly overhead at sunset as we anchored welcomed us to Swan’s Island. How are we ever going to top this?

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Well Done

Good morning everyone. What a week. What a great week. The impressive gentlemen of Delta Tau Delta are home by now, hopefully getting a little rest.

Thursday we had a great sail in a light NW wind that built some as the day went by so that we were taking in topsails by days end. Part of the days plan was to sail up to a local fisherman to buy their dinner straight from the boat. We celebrated with a lobster picnic on the beach and another round of schooner Olympics, the rowing challenge.

The rowing challenge puts new meaning to the phrase, “we are all in the same boat together.” Six guys rowing a boat is an exercise in teamwork. There is no practicing, no coaching, no training. The team has a few minutes to solve the problem of coordinating 4 rowers. Communication under the gun is difficult. But they did it.

Final exam day was a challenge for everyone, including me. Thunderstorms, some of which were quite strong, were close at times. Black clouds and rain smothered Belfast and passed over just 3 miles north of us while another cell passed over Rockland just 3 miles south of us. And then the wind just died and we pushed our way back in to Camden. Despite the weather the Delts kept great watches through the day and did an amazing job of tackling the task of getting the schooner back to Camden.

Each Delt will take something different home from this experience. I can’t begin to tell you about all the positive energy I saw each of these gentleman pour into the week. Each person made small choices that added up to a big week for everyone, a week I hope they will not soon forget. My hope for them is that each individual will continue to make healthy life choices. My hope for them is that they will bring some of this energy back to their chapters and positively touch the lives of their brothers at home.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Changes in the Wind

Good morning everyone. As I have been describing the last few days we are asking a group of diverse brothers from fraternity Delta Tau Delta to come together this week and stretch themselves beyond their normal limits. Everyone of them is a great human being but the when all of their strengths are combined in one place at one time the outcome is as extraordinary as can be. These guys are willing to jump in, as you can see, to whatever needs to be done.

Sara and Becki were in awe (and quite proud) yesterday as one watch group tacked the fore topsail, which has more than just a few strings attached, without their having to say a word. We practiced tacking and gibing several times throughout the day. Back at the wheel our objective was to learn to steer by the compass. Nature cooperated perfectly by providing a good blanket of fog and hiding the islands from view. The marlinspike station focused on the pin rails and nomenclature. The navigation station started in on the rudiments of dead reckoning with speed, distance, time calculations and a few simple fixes. In the leadership watch conversation centered around the characteristics that participants thought were holding them back in their home chapters: procrastination, lack of clear direction, or whatever it may be. Clearly this is more than just about sailing. The wind is coming NW behind a departing cold front that triggered showers, a signal that changes are occurring.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Schooner Olympics

Good morning everyone. What a beautiful day on the Maine coast we had yesterday. We sailed the live long day from Pulpit Harbor through the Merchant Row and down Jericho Bay to Swans Island to anchor here in Mackerel Cove. The Delts experienced some great weather and great sailing. The crew ran them through 5 watch stations: bow watch, marlinspike skills, navigation skills, and helm/galley as well as their leadership station. It is amazing to me to see these guys from all over the country come together so quickly to make this boat move.

Each evening we present the Delts with a “schooner Olympics” event that challenges their teamwork as well as reinforces skills they have learned during the day. Last night we held the knot tying competition with the groups evenly divided across the board. Test yourself to see how quickly you can tie a square knot, bowline, figure eight or clove hitch. These guys moved like lightning and coached each other supportively as they sometimes struggled to remember all they had been asked to learn. I am inspired that these guys have taken on such a big challenge and that they do so with such enthusiasm.
They took the day by the horns and shook it some good.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Team Building and Leadership

Good morning everyone. We have a very unique adventure in the making this week. Some of you have noticed that this week does not actually appear on our schedule. We have aboard 26 young men along with 2 staff representing the college fraternity Delta Tau Delta, a fraternity that backs up its motto, “Leading lives of excellence.” These 26 young men competed for the chance to be a part of this leadership academy. The staff of the schooner will don their professors’ hats and teach these young men the soup to nuts of sailing a schooner and being an effective crewmember.

I told these fellas as we gathered on the lawn in the park Sunday evening; this week is more about self-discovery and teamwork than it is about sailing. At least that is my goal. Sailing the schooner will be the vehicle but they will be the engines. It will be up to them to chose to grab this week by the horns and shake it for all that they are worth.

The Delts spent yesterday at a challenge course nearby before we got underway late this afternoon. They very much appreciated Mary‚Äôs haddock parmesan with knotted garlic bread, broccoli, parsley noodles, all topped off with strawberry shortcake for dessert. We had a beautiful sunset for colors. This morning we wake up with a run ashore and a dip in the “pool”.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Magical Nature

Good morning everyone. After an overcast and chilly early week we end with brilliant sunshine and warmer temperatures and great wind. We sailed off the hook yesterday after exploring Holbrook Island Preserve. We saw several new species of sparrows in the fields and a kingfisher along the shore. The total species count for the week was 47 including puffins and razor bills.

While counting species and putting names to creatures we have never seen before is important the week is also about the excitement each of us finds in the natural world. We come closer to ourselves by watching nature and feeling the joy in sighting our first chipping sparrow or bald eagle. The seals never cease to amaze me. As we passed under the bridge the other day a pod of porpoise rolled close to the boat so that we could see the whites of their bellies. The crew aloft in the crosstrees could see them clear as a bell from their vantage point. Everyone stood breathless for just a few moments before gleefully pointing at the spectacle.

All of us this week have smiled more than once at something that nature has shown us. Those are the smiles of the yet undisturbed parts of our own nature. We are joyous by nature; just watch children. Adversity toughens us over time just as the weather toughens a spruce tree growing on the island‚Äôs edge but the spruce tree keeps growing and waving flexibly in the wind. I hope that each of us finds something that reminds us of our joy and that each of us can keep growing and waving as well. The people, the sailing, and the Maine coast… they help me grow. Today I will wave goodbye to another wonderful group of human beings who have touched my life with their joy. We called this cruise Pelagic Magic and we certainly found that at every turn of the wheel.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Sailing the Reach

Good morning everyone. Another day of easterly winds yesterday. We spent some time ashore at Wooden Boat before getting under way. We have seen at least 17 bald eagles this week and tons of seals, including seal pups.

We sailed off the hook to the delight of the crew. They are getting good at sail handling which is the only reason we can pull this off. We sail off the hook yesterday as well but set the sails in “reverse” order giving the crew the idea that there are many ways to skin this cat, which is what makes schooners so cool. We sailed dead down wind out of Pretty Marsh just on jib alone. I did not have to worry about jibing the main in a 20-knot puff and the lee of Dogfish Point on Bartlett I gave us a few minutes of flat calm to get sail set easily. These rigs are quite versatile.

Yesterday we sailed up Eggemoggin Reach. Many think this passage between Jericho and Penobscot Bays is one of the loveliest on the planet. In a southwest wind one can sail in both directions on a beam reach with relative ease. We had the northeast wind today which meant the same thing on the opposite tack. This was the crew’s first time passing under the 85’ fixed bridge requiring us to lower the topmasts. It was close but we made it and enjoyed a wonderful sail for the rest of the afternoon. Late in the day the wind eased up and came onshore. We drifted in to anchor on the last of the breeze with the wind from the east on the fore and the west on the main. The flags were literally pointing in opposite directions. We all went ashore for a lobster picnic before a bedtime reading of Ruth Moore’s poetry from the Maine coast.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Wooden Boat

Good morning everyone. We had a delightful and lively sail yesterday around Blue Hill Bay. We were tearing along on 4 lower sails, no topsails, at 8+ knots all day quite comfortably. And then with the turn of the tide the wind just died…completely flat. So we lowered the yawl boat and pushed the last hour in to anchor here in Brooklin at the home of the Wooden Boat School. We saw numerous bald eagles yesterday as well as seals and the unspoiled islands of Blue Hill Bay.

This is one of my favorite stops. This week in particular, as we examine how we impact nature and how nature impacts us, it seems appropriate to come to a place where wood and water come together in the form of hand crafted boat. The environment sculpts the people that sculpt the boats which sculpt the culture which sculpts the environment and round and round we go. The students here come from all over, just like our windjammer guests, looking for a little reprieve from the modern hurry up world. Many of you know the schooner Mary Day is a part of the Wooden Boat School each summer when we offer guests the chance to be the crew. (2 spots just opened up for this year!) So we went ashore for walks this morning and are getting ready to get under way.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Pelagic Magic

Good morning everyone. We are nestled in to the protected cove of Pretty Marsh this morning. The wind has been NE for the past few days of this our first Maine Audubon cruise.

We left Camden Monday on a light Nly that carried us, with the tide, out around Vinalhaven to Seal Island. Seal Island is one of several islands where puffin colonies have been re-established. And puffins we saw. There were the usual individuals and pairs flying by and paddling along the shoreline. We also witnessed a raft of puffins 30 strong by one guest’s count on the north shore diving in the surf along the edge. The swell was not big. As a matter of fact the wind died completely so we just drifted slowly with the yawl boat giving a gently nudge. Terns by the thousands were rising in waves above the rocky island. And razor bills were about as well.

We pushed all the way back in to anchor in Moore’s Harbor in Isle Au Haut. I had been there years ago in open pulling boats but never in the schooner. We enjoyed a fantastic sunset with a double rainbow that reflected in the water as brilliantly as it soared into the sky.

Yesterday we enjoyed more sunshine with a few passing showers. The wind really piped up in the afternoon and we had a heck of a sail through the Merchant Row and up Blue Hill Bay. At 10 knots or better we were boiling with just four lowers in 20+ knots of wind. The crew did a great job of getting in topsails in a hurry as the wind built. Nestled in the calm of the anchorage we all went ashore to hike in this remote part of Acadia.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.