Monthly Archives: July 2007

Hot water and Cool Air

Good morning everyone. Yesterday was a day of extremes. We left
Camden in a thick of fog only to find things cleared right off as
soon as we reached Mark I. From there we caught a very light
southerly breeze that carried us up towards Egg Rock. For about an
hour we drifted lazily in the heat and humidity. At last I just
could not take it any more with the temperature hovering around 80 in
the hot sun.
The pool was opened and half of us jumped in for swim.
The water was the warmest I have felt in years. The precision
hardware store thermometer indicated the water temperature was 70
degrees, at least the top 12 inches.

The swim call ended when the wind came onshore and we caught a nice
breeze for the rest of the afternoon. The breeze brought 65 degree
temperature air in off the ocean and with it came the fog again. So
we received a second chance to cool off reaching for wind breakers
and sweaters. We had a great sail and beat our way in to anchor here
in Carvers Cove.

The herring fisherman have queued their seine nets
in dories here in anticipation of the evening when the herring shoal
up at the head of the cove. Herring makes great lobster bait and,
when packed in a can, wonderful sardines. I do love a good sardine

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

The Final Exam

Good morning everyone. The final exam occurred yesterday and the
grades are in. The class has passed with flying colors. We had our
challenges and those we overcame. The wind was light onshore in the
morning and came stronger with the turn of the tide in the
afternoon. There were moments when obtaining a fix was very
difficult. The importance of the bow watch, the eyes and ears of the
ship, was reinforced. Ditty bags were finished with some fancy knot

The ground rules were simple. Keep a constant DR plot with 6, 12, &
18 minute projections. Keep a minimum of 2 people on bow watch at
all times, keep Mary, our beloved cook happy, and make certain that
everyone gets to "taste a slice of the pie." In other words, get
everyone involved so that they feel good about their participation in
the team.

There is no question that everyone has learned something this week.
Everyone will take something different away with them. Some one
asked me why no one else does what we do up here. There are many
sail training programs around the world. But not many vessels cater
to older adults and try to do in one week what it is we do. Learning
to be a crew member aboard a schooner along the Maine coast is a long
process. As we have discovered there is more to being a crew member
than just setting and furling sails. Sailing 96 tons along the
abruptly changing geography of the Maine coast without the benefit of
an engine is not necessarily extraordinary around here but there is
no place else on Earth where this kind of thing happens. Imagine
that. No where else in the world is there a collection of
traditional pure sailing vessels like we have here in Maine. That is
very cool.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.
Photos by Tom Haraden.

Training Hard

Good morning everyone. The past few days have been fog-free. We had
a great sail yesterday with WSW winds piping right up. We spent the
morning touring the Wooden Boat School. We sailed off the anchor at
1100 and beat our way out of Jericho Bay with some help from the
tide. A few tacks carried us through the Merchant Row past all the
islands we missed in Tuesday's fog. Once again the southerly breeze
under Isle Au Haut was humming as we plowed along at 9+ knots,
upwind! We reeled off 10+ knots as we scampered down the bay on a
broad reach to our anchorage here in Holbrook Harbor.

Watch groups have continued to focus on the basics. Steering a
schooner in a straight line is not as easy as it may appear.
Steering by compass is really hard. The bow watch has explored sail
theory as well as anchor theory. Navigators worked on position
fixing to confirm DR plots and our favorite 6 minute rule. Hand
crafted ditty bags and fancy knots were started in the marlinspike
watch. Getting going, staying going, and stopping going at the day's
end is all it takes to sail a boat, right? After sailing off the
anchor yesterday morning we sailed onto the anchor with all sails
flying 'til the end. Quite a dramatic sight and great practice for
the crew following commands with alacrity.

Here is a wonderful weather forecast as reported by the Green Team
yesterday morning:

This is your weather report, recorded for your log,
Feel free to add it to your blog,
Today is going to be sunny and hot,
Don't forget your sun block.

The winds re 10-15 from the west,
For sailing we think this is best,
We might run into some patchy fog,
Not to be confused with the LA smog.

The waves today are 2-4 feet,
but Mary Day won't skip a beat,
This is your weather report and all we have to say,
Have a great day sailing the Mary Day.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.
Photos by Tom Haraden.

More Maine Windjammer Magic

Yesterday I was hoping the helm watch would have another day of steering by line of sight but given the fog we were forced to steer by compass. The navigators were thrown headlong into dead reckoning and the bow watch sounded the foghorn at 2 minute intervals. The marlinspike station had the crew learning the ropes, ticking them off as they walked about the vessel.Gybing several times as we sailed down wind was our tacking drill for the day.

>A few bald eagles graced us with their hunting displays to the dismay of the gull colonies on Southern Mark Island. But the real thrill of the day was being overtaken by a seal pup. Late in the afternoon I heard a flapping sound under the transom. I figured we had hooked a lobster trap somehow and was pondering how to avoid the small yachts on the radar in front of us and shed this gear dragging behind us. Honestly it sounded like a cormorant beating it wings on the water…flap, flap flap…flap, flap, flap. I dreaded what I would see but peered over the transom just the same and there was a seal pup. Back to the wheel in a hurry to avoid gybing and the oncoming yachts I got the blow by blow from the guests gathered at the transom who said the pup was swimming alongside the rudder and under the yawl boat towing astern. And then it was gone without a trace or any explanation. How cool (and magical) is that?

Have a great day. Be well. Do Good.

Photos by Tom Haraden.

Polishing the Brass of Life

I know pride is suppose to be a two edged sword but polishing brass puts pride in perspective. Imagine polishing brass that makes the boat look so beautiful when you know you the elements will laugh and tarnish your hard work and you are just going to have to polish again the next day. Now the “smart” person would lacquer the polished brass, right? The experienced person knows that lacquer chips eventually and once applied is a bear to remove.
We have been criticized by some for putting too much energy in to things that guests will never see. Fair enough. I am no doubt trying to make up for some hole in my psyche but there is also a part of me that knows when I have done my best and when I have let myself slide by with my second best. We each make choices every day about how much energy we can put into our lives. Some days more, some days less. These days we seem so busy that taking the time to “do it right” gives way to “git ‘er done”. It is all a balancing act but I particularly admire folks who take the extra step to make their worlds a little better with out fanfare or anyone else looking on. The lobsterman in the fog hauls only his own gear even though no one can see because it feels right. That is the polished brass of life. Honest, simple, wonderful, heart warming.
Have a great day. Be well. Do Good.

Photo by Tom Haraden.

Sail Training aboard a Maine Windjammer

Good morning everyone. We were working down at the boat on Saturday with the usual gaggle of visitors checking out the boat. One young woman in particular was lingering and looking at the boats extra carefully. I asked her if she was interested in them and she informed me she worked on a similar vessel from the Chesapeake. She was on a short break before having to return to meet the schooner in Gloucester. We talked about the windjammers and all the Maine coast and she commented that almost every captain she had sailed with had cut their teeth here in the Maine windjammer fleet.

That is an amazing commentary. As owners hiring crew we never know where our young charges will go with what skills we teach them. This week is our annual Wooden Boat School week. We are giving a whole group of people from all over the US and Canada the chance to play deckhand and learn the ropes. In conjunction with the Wooden Boat School we will be offering folks the chance to learn the soup to nuts of sail handling, marlinspike seamanship, coastal navigation and piloting, and so much more. There is more here than one can learn in a week but we will certainly see a good chunk of the big picture. So stay tuned as we head off for another special week of exploring the coast.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

A Windjammer Family

Good afternoon everyone. Another great week of weather, wildlife and people.There just isn’t enough time to spend with each and everyone and we’re grateful for those who keep coming back to be able to share yet another laugh, tear, or a photo from a far away destination recently traveled. We love it, can’t get enough, actually look forward to it as we see those names on the boarding list. As you all know people are a huge part of this business. We wouldn’t be here without you. Our Mary Day family just keeps growing and growing and still we are saddened with those we loose as well. Several family members have called this year to postpone their reservations due to illnesses. We are deeply saddened to hear this and keep their spirits with us aboard as we know they’ll be back, to share those peaceful sunsets and spray of the ocean breezes. We’ll be here with the eagles and osprey waiting for them.

Crew become our “Mary Day Family” as well as passengers. Over the past 14 years with the Mary Day (we can’t believe it’s been that long!)we have been blessed with many young, strong spirited individuals struggling to figure out life (aren’t we all?). They arrive at our doorstep with an eagerness in their eyes to sail, to learn, to give all they got, to pull to they bleed, as we say. We take them in, share all we can and give them the chance to feel the breeze of life and to help them find the next path in life. It’s amazing how much they give back to us and not just through work….but in lessons of life.

We have an amazing crew this year that not has only taken it upon themselves to learn the schooner and the enormous work load that comes with it, but have had to share their personal life crisis’ with us as well. We have had two crew members loose two very dear family members while sailing and one off recovering from knee surgery. It moments like these that have brought our crew family closer. It’s amazing to see a team of young people jump in when and where needed and just ask how high and not when…We have yet to sail with just our “normal crew”. It’s taken a team of many to make this season work and somehow we’re managing to do it with fun. So we feel a small portion of their pain as they grieve and will share in the happiness of being back aboard and working side by side through another long hard day’s of sailing when everyone has returned. Life is short and each moment counts. Family is a large part of it, and with family at our side we can make it through each and every day. We hope Jake that you get a chance to be with your family this week and we look forward to your return. Sara get stronger, those topsails are waiting for you to furl ’em!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Whirlwind Week

Good morning evryone. Well this has been a truly whirlwind week. We enjoyed two 3-day cruises back to back, a couple of teasers if you will. And once again the decks were full of great folks. We thoroughly enjoyed everyone and only wished for more time with them. A quick turn around to board again on Wednesday went more smoothly than I can ever remember.

The 3-day cruises are a chance for folks who have a little hesitation to try windjamming on for size. And by the reservations we received as people were climbing off I would say the fit was a good one. The sailing weather was quiet this week, unlike a year ago when a micro burst hit us square in the anchorage. Some of our returning guests had been aboard for that one and remembered it well.

The upcoming week is our sail training cruise that we offer in conjunction with the Wooden Boat School. Jen and the kids will be off visiting Grandma. I will do my best to get back into my blogging routine as the cell signal and time allow. Forgive my intermission this week.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Sailing & Basking in the Sun

Good Morning everyone. A quiet Sunday morning here in Appleton after a wonderful week on the bay. For all the “iffy” nature of the forecast Monday we had some great weather and good sailing.

The frontal passage Thursday morning helped clear away the fog which was just lovely in the early morning. To see the waves of cold and warm air hanging so low to the water was just amazing. Jen was able to catch close up look at a seal swimming quite close to the schooner.

The breeze finally came onshore late in the day and we enjoyed some good tacking upwind in Jericho Bay finally anchoring near Stonington. The kids went on their first solo journey rowing ashore to Hells Half Acre, a small, uninhabited rock with a small forest in search of this week’s “island treasure”. Passengers wondered how we could let them go so far alone. Our response was give them five minutes on the island and they’ll realize their alone, they’ll be back in a jif, and sure enough they were, with treasure in tow! Sawyer and Nadie we’re pleased as punch to tow home yet another island log as they declare, “could be a navigational hazard to boats Dad!” Yep, another artifact for our lawn….

To be honest we’re not a big fan of busy towns and Stonington is one island town with much going on. But we were glad to see fisherman finally getting a chance to put some gear out. We hear that the lobsters have started to shed and am happy that the lobsterman might be catching a few at last. Their season has been absolutely discouraging up until now. As Stonington was bustling with activity folks enjoyed a chance to get ashore and visit the Granite museum and with Jon and Evelyn Kok at the Sign of the Purple Fish Gallery where Evelyn makes beautiful bookmarks and Jon makes beautiful music.

After a good visit in Stonington the wind came up just as we got underway and we had the best sail of the week. We were blessed with one last look at the locals as they bask in the sun….just enjoying another great day on the bay as we were.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Great Cove, again.

Good morning everyone. We sit quietly at anchor here at Great Cove in
Blue Hill Bay. There is not a breathe of air stirring and the fog
that crept in overnight is dripping from the rig onto the awning.
Wait a minute here folks. Didn't he write that yesterday? Yes, I
did. Place names here on the Maine are so good that they get used
again and again.

For every bay there is at least two or three islands or ledges that
share the same name as an island or ledge in the next bay over. We
picnicked on Hog Island just 7 miles from another Hog Island. Hog
Island is just across from White Island of which I know of one other
down by Boothbay. Not far away was Mark Island. Goodness knows you
can't have a bay without some kind of "mark" in it. And around the
corner was Eagle Island, Blue Hill Bay, not to be confused with Eagle
Island in Penobscot Bay, or Eagle Island in Casco Bay. Egg Rocks?
Lots of them. "Seal" something or others? Too many to count. And on
it goes. Recycling was invented in Maine not because it was a
socially wonderful thing to do but because folks were so busy trying
to survive that they did not have time to go guessing at what names
were already taken.

The place names around here have filled numerous pages in many books.
And I can't even begin to touch on the corruption of French or Native
place names. I am guessing there is only one Burnt Coat Harbor in
the world. But I will hazard to offer that place names tell us about
the universal consciousness of the times. What could have been more
important than a safe place to keep livestock, gather eggs, or find a
safe harbor? Some things never change. What would we name these
islands today if we were to find them anew?

Have a great day. Be well. Do Good.