Monthly Archives: October 2007

Following the Geese


Good morning everyone. I sat in the door yard yesterday and watched the last of the geese heading south. The crew have departed and life is beginning to settle in to a winter routine (if you will call it that). This morning I leave for a very busy 10 days windjamming in Texas aboard the barque Elissa. The ship will be sailing to Corpus Christi with a stop in Port Aransas. To feel the roll of the ship under my feet will be pleasing, no doubt. But it is bittersweet. I will miss the two little cherubs upstairs asleep in their beds. And I will miss Jen. So be patient with the blog for next 10 days. I will do my best to send along the news. I will not have a camera so Jen will have to fill in the blanks and she will keep you informed of schooner doings here in Maine. It feels like we have scarcely had time to slow down since we stopped sailing and to be leaving this morning seems crazy. Such is the hectic pace of our lives but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. While I am in Texas I will be greeting the first arriving geese that summered here in Camden. I will be looking north to the pole star knowing that Jen and the kids will be doing the same. While geese have wings we have hearts that will easily span the distance.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Only one more day,me Johnnies


Good morning everyone. We had a very busy and productive day yesterday. The spars received a coat of varnish and they look awesome. Only 2 more coats to go. The crew finished sanding the bulwarks and the some final adjustments were made to the winter mooring lines. I dove on (or should I say under) the schooner to change the sacrificial zincs that protect all the underwater metal work. I also inspected the chains that the mooring lines are attached to. It all looks good. Just as I got out of the water the trailer supply store called to tell me the springs were in, so once again, we sped home, changed the springs like an Indy pit crew, and sped back to the harbor to pull Arno on the top of the tide. We left the boat in Camden so we could get a chance to winterize and pressure wash the bottom.

Today is the final day for Sara and Hannah. This is always a sad day for me. These are good people and I am lucky to know them and work with them. They have given so much to the boat, way beyond the call of duty at times. Hannah, I will miss your smile and laughter. Sara is off to have fun on the left coast and work towards her CG masters license. We have not seen the last of Sara. I wish them both fair winds and great adventures.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Sweet Success


Good morning everyone. Well with a little patience and perserverance at least one yawl boat trailer has been put back to rights. I pulled out “Chadwick’s” trailer yesterday to discover yet another set of sprung springs. Thankfully the trailer parts store had those in stock. So after changing mooring lines in the morning on the bottom of the tide, with the help of the harbor master, I ran off to get the new springs. I remembered all the parts I would need and drove home quick as a wink.

How hard can this be I thought. I was about to find out. My cutting torch made quick work of the old rusty nuts and bolts. The new springs slid right into place. I quickly began bolting… oh boo! The new heavier springs were just a half inch thicker than the old ones which meant the u-bolts which hold the entire assembly to the trailer were a half inch too short. The joke is “but only on one end.” I managed to attach the trailer to the axle well enough to get back to the trailer supply store a half hour from my house. Surely they would have what I needed and I would make high tide with minutes to spare. Not so much… The u-bolts they gave me were the longest made. I just sat down on the trailer and cried for a minute. The manager suggested wrapping some pre-threaded rod around the axle and making my own u-bolts. And that is just what I did. I had gone this far through the day without throwing a tool. Why start now?

I was like a man possessed. The hardware store had just what I needed. I drove the trailer down to the park and lay in the driveway and bent steel like Superman. Old bolts off…new bolts on…nutted… torqued…etc. Ready to roll. Working together Jen and I managed to get Chadwick hauled on the top of the tide. A run through the pressure washer on the way home and under cover by dark. Sometimes it does all click. Sometimes. Thank goodness.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Schooners Happen

“Mom, driving a boat is alot easier than this!”
Good morning everyone. OK, just so you don’t get the impression that every plan works, we had one of those days. I was supposed to be down at the harbor at 0800 to switch out our summer mooring lines for our winter mooring lines. I was also planning to winterize and haul yawl boat “ARNO”. I pulled ARNO’s trailer out and began greasing bearings and checking tire pressure only to discover that the leaf springs on one side were “pooched”. That means “not so much”, which also means it ain’t gonna happen with out a big push. I loaded my truck with all the necessary implements of destruction and headed for the local trailer supply store (we actually have one of those here).

So went my plans to be at the harbor at 0800 and after a good half hour of “I love people like you at the trailer supply store it was 0930 before I reached the harbor. It is true that time and tide don’t hang on long for anyone. So I missed that tide in addition to having to wait a couple days to get new springs. On the way home the bracket which holds the leaf springs (which is now a little loose) decided to drift back 1″ on the frame. What is 1” you ask? Since I can’t see out of the rear of my truck cap I check my mirrors frequently and quickly noticed the left trailer tire smoking as the tire rubbed against the wheel fender. Oy Vey!! What a sailor can’t fix with a piece of line probably can’t be fixed. Thus goes the life of a windjammer captain some days of the week. Push though I may there are some that keep coming up “not so much.”

Sara has been great at organizing the crew and getting lots done. The bulwarks continue to get sanded. The mast heads are now painted and the main rig is tarred. Hannah and Elisa spent the better part of the day tarring. I love the smell of pine tar. Mary spent the day prepping varnish in the galley. The spars are ready for varnishing and paint tomorrow. Thank goodness the crew are getting something done.

Jen’s day (yesterday was her birthday…did I mention dropping the cake I bought right on the floor at the check out counter with a line of onlookers staring in disbelief???) was salvaged only by the kids taking a horse back riding lesson at a local farm here in our little town. The kids loved it.
We decided that the best present we can give each other is the gift of time so giving Jen a chance to see the kids shine on horseback was the best birthday present of all.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Sailing Northward…Baxter Bound


Good Fall Morning to all! It’s great to be back home, back by the sea and yet it was great to be in Maine’s North Woods away from it all! Annie & I have just finished our 4 day camping trip with 19 middle school students to Baxter State Park. One of the many amazing moments of the trip was making the connection of land and sea…


My first day of the trip was filled with canoeing on Ambajejus Lake to learn about Maine’s logging industry of the past. The Boom House Museum, set out on an island on the lake used to house 11 fellows who’s job was to gather the cut logs as they came down the river to the lake into a large circle, or rather a “boom” that was held together by chained logs. It’s very similar to how fisherman work a seine’s fishing net to gather herring. Once the boom was filled, a towboat would then hitch up to it and tow it down the river system of northern Maine to Millinocket or Bangor to the sawmills. In Bangor sawn boards were then loaded on schooners and taken to sea via the Penobscot River and delivered all over the world. It was so interesting to be in the middle of the state of Maine, camping alongside the Penobscot River and learning about the logs being driven down the river and having spent the whole summer sailing on the schooner at the other end of the river (at Fort Point). It was a cool connection to make.

We were even fortunate enough to spend time with a fellow who was a deckhand on the towboats and worked the last river drive in 1971. He now care takes the Boom House and builds birch bark canoes, which were awesome! They are still heavily logging Northern Maine, only to be witnessed by the droves of logging trucks barreling down the roads, loaded way too high & driving way too fast! Long gone are the river drives & booms being towed.

Another day was spent hiking up Sentinel Mountain, which Mt. Katahdin looks down upon. We were in search of moose and only came upon their great gift to the earth…

One of the class teachers had hiked this very mountain trail about 15-20 years prior and told the class his tale of meeting a thru hiker on the Appalachian Trail which passes thru the area. The hiker had started in Georgia and was completing the trek with just his dog, his Seeing Eye dog at that. This gentleman had somehow managed to make the journey all while being blind. It totally amazed us all at hearing this tale and so we made a point along our journey upward at taking turns being the blind hiker and being the seeing eye dog. How that gentleman did it was more than we could fathom! Our hike up the brightly fall colored trail ended in a cloud of mist with a brief glimpse of the valley below. Katahdin came out and greeted us as we descended…an awesome sight worthy of a long pause in the hike.

The woods were peaceful, the lake graceful and being there with a group of exceptional students was the icing on the cake. It was a sweet ending for the long summer for Annie & I. And as Thoreau once said, “We need the tonic of wildness…we can never have enough of nature…”.
Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Sailing Family Harvest


Good morning everyone. Just 31 degrees here at 0530 this morning. We had fun playing this weekend and getting a few projects done. The garden has given up its last fruits of the season. We still have some warm days in front of us but the last of the peppers are in and I am thinking we should till soon.

As a young adult I spent time with my grandfather working in his garden. I will never forget driving the tractor around, planting peas, cutting out potato eyes,and finally sitting on the edge of Swayze’s field across the street and watching the turkeys (they were just making a come back in NH then) come out at dusk. I suppose that is where I get my love for the woods and all things rural. When I grow up I want to be a farmer. Now this might seem to be a long ways from our windjammer sailing family life but the two are quite connected. Both farmers and sailors live and die by the weather and that closeness to the elements is something that makes me feel so alive. As I watch Sawyer stalking wildlife each day in the woods I know it is innate. He is always excited when he returns from his walks, having seen a chipmunk or not.

So I hope you had a chance to get out and enjoy a little chilly fall weather this weekend. The harvest is not just about fruits and vegetables. The harvest of good feelings that come from being outdoors is as nourishing as any food I can think of. I see this happen for guests every week that we sail all summer long.

Have a great day. be well. Do good.

Windjammer Weekend


Good morning everyone. After a rainy week we are enjoying a weekend at home with the kids. As you may recall Jen was gone all week camping, canoeing, and hiking with a school group up at Baxter State Park, home of Mt Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak. I’ll let Jen tell you about that trip herself. Mr Mom survived the week in fine style with only a few transgressions (OK, I admit it, we watched a movie on a school night!). The kids sure were happy to see Mrs. Mom. What is wrong with my cooking I ask. “I thought you guys loved baked beans.” We also had some great bike rides with the most colorful foliage coming on strong. The kids love to stop to feed our neighbor’s goats.

At any rate, back at the schooner, the crew worked all through the rains that poured down from the heavens on Friday. It was toad soaker worth a couple of inches. Mary finished putting the galley to bed while Hannah, Sara, and Elisa started sanding covering boards and bulwarks. One of the things the crew has discovered is that hand sanding works just as well machine sanding. We had several discussions about the virtues of each method. As I tell them, any tool can be the right tool in the right hands. Because of all the ins and outs of the bulwarks hand sanding really does a great job and takes no longer than a machine. Thoreau would love this. We had a few breaks of sun on Thursday allowing Sara and Elisa to sand and prime the main mast head. This next week we look forward to finishing up the outdoor work, winterizing and hauling the yawl boats, painting mast heads, and tarring the rig.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Wet and Wild


Good morning everyone. I will have to make this one quick. The weather is apparently going towards the wet side of things and strong NE winds are forecast for the next couple of days as a strong low passes through the Gulf of Maine. This will be the day we get our winter lines aboard. The winter lines are doubled up and chains are run to the beach alongside the bow lines. The chains will have to wait until next week to get mid-day low tides. The new moon drives the high tides towards noon.

Yesterday the crew primed the varnish and paint on the spars in the morning and began sanding the bulwarks in the afternoon. At lunch time we had a birthday cake for Elisa in the park and the sugar buzz got us through the afternoon. Mary has finished packing up the galley and was busy winterizing the woodstoves. Putting a windjammer to bed takes as much energy as getting her ready. Already we are making lists (that mess mate sink drain has a leak I have been avoiding for a couple of weeks). The lists grow longer.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Sanding Spars

Good morning everyone. The crew spent yesterday sanding spars under the cover. We try to get a few coats of varnish on each fall so that when the cover comes off in the spring the spars are ready to send up (the topmasts) or hang (the gaffs). Even the jibboom comes in for the winter to get a few coats of varnish. The topmasts get scraped up quite a bit from all the raising and lowering while sailing to get under the Deer Isle Bridge. The spars get a big hand rub with 120 grit and a random orbital sander hooked up to a vacuum makes quick work of fairing in the scraped varnish. That all gets primed with thinned varnish, and then get 2 coats of our favorite Epifanes.

I spent the first part of yesterday helping get Jen and Annie out the door on their way to the North woods. Jen called from Millinocket to say that all was well and that Katahdin was just beautiful in the peaking foliage. Pictures to follow. The National Weather Service forecast a chance of snow flurries up North on Saturday. Winter is not far off now.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Fall Fit-Out Begins

Good morning everyone. And so it begins, fall fit-out. After a good weekend at home we are ready to get back to work getting ready for next year. It is hard to believe but already we are feeling the crunch to get everything painted in time for sailing next Memorial Day Weekend. I drove in to Camden yesterday to grab a few things off the boat and noticed that the fall colors are finally coming around, a good week late, but coming around beautifully just the same.

Jen is off on her camping trip with the 6th and 7th graders from the small school our children attend. We had a hectic time pulling all our camping stuff together. So much for the relaxing weekend we had planned. It has been years since we unrolled the tent (it smelled like it too!). First aid kits needed revamping, boots needed oiling, food needed to be organized. Annie and Jen are leading this trip together so there were frequent phone calls to discuss last minute details. And then we were up late last night taking care of final office details. So Mr. Mom is in charge now. Good thing the kids like pizza. Courtney is in charge of feeding the cat. The next few days should be interesting.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.