Monthly Archives: November 2007

Frost on the Pumpkin

Good morning everyone. Hope you folks all had a great Thanksgiving surrounded by family and good friends or if you wish spent more quietly without much fanfare. Both have their virtues. The “gift” of the holiday season is upon us and I think Thanksgiving is just a good warm up for the next few weeks. Seems like keeping the expectations in check is the real trick, one I have not yet mastered by any stretch. It is good to see the inlaws and outlaws alike around the holidays but what is it about having family around that triggers all the old stuff? The cold hard truth is that I have yet to gain the maturity to realize that the “old tapes” are just that, old tapes that I can chose or not. Easy enough to say, wicked hard to do.

So we managed Thanksgiving complete with turkey and homemade table (scrap lumber and sawhorses). We did the required stuffing of the bird and then stuffing of ourselves. Good eats! The guests have departed and we begin re-entry into the ‚Äúnormal‚Äù lives we lead. We also celebrated Nadie’s 7th birthday on Thanksgiving Day. Now she is something to give many thanks for.

The full Beaver moon was Saturday night. The frost is hard on the pumpkin and beginning to settle into the earth. I have been spending chilly mornings in the woods looking for deer. Sitting in the darkness listening to the woods come alive as sunrise approaches is nothing short of amazing. Soon enough the solstice will be here and with it the return of the sun. In the meantime we shall enjoy the holiday season with all the hope it brings to us and delight it brings to the kids. I will hear the old tapes playing hard for the next month and with a lot of work and a little help make some new tapes for our kids to enjoy.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Spring Cleaning

Good morning everyone. A whopping 16 degrees here this morning. We had a busy weekend around here and at the boat. Frankly we are feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. We just can’t seem to keep up with it (read our expectations). I spent Saturday down at schooner taking advantage of a few more hours aboard. I am happy to report that the bilges are dry. The cover needed a little tightening in places after all the windy weather we have had. Sawyer and I winterized the miscellaneous gasoline engines by changing the oil, fogging the cylinders, and draining the saltwater intake lines for the fire pump, and putting fuel stabilizer in the tanks. I am trying a new old trick by pouring molasses in a few of the drain lines. I have heard the old timers did this years ago to keep the thru-hull fittings from weeping saltwater back in to the lines. This technique should make our annual overhaul of the thru-hull fittings a little more sweet. We have not seen ice on the harbor yet but it can’t be far off.

We have family descending upon us this week and that means it is time to clean house. One of the things that we as a windjammer family do is spring cleaning in the fall. Our spring is so crazy that we could never tackle these kinds of projects. We literally removed everything (appliances too!)from the kitchen yesterday and spent 8 hours cleaning and scrubbing. See what I mean about expectations. Now who is going to look under the refrigerator? Amazing how many of the kids and cats toys were hiding under the oven. At any rate it is some sort of cathartic process that makes us feel better about house and home.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Winter Comes Knocking

Good morning everyone. Well old man winter came knocking yesterday. The dock hauling was cancelled on account of heavy rain which turned to snow flurries. At the immediate coast there was no visible accumulation but just 5 miles inland from the coast we had a 1/2″ of new snow and up in the mountains even more. Sawyer, of course, was ready to go sledding and tried one warm up run down the drive way. Hope is not reserved for spring.

Even before the snow came we could see the telltale signs. Frost was heavy in the field yesterday and early morning ice has been lingering on the ponds. On the bay you would hardly recogize the guillemots in their winter garb. Each winter we also get a host of ducks that guests normally don’t get a chance to see unless you come on one of our early or late cruises. Golden eyes, pintail, and buffleheads will hang out in the inner harbor all winter long. They are just beautiful and give me thoughts of wilder places farther north where they breed in the summer. But contrast that with 56 degree temperatures just the other day and you can understand why old man winter is just getting to the door. We welcome him with the excitement and anticipation of a child.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

A Whale for the World

Good morning everyone. On this day in 1851 Melville first published Moby Dick. I know here in New England we were pushed through that book by knowing school marms. At the time it looked like just another long book to me, my simple mind just not able to grasp the fullness in the pages. Interestingly I was not alone. Seems as though the readers of Melville’s era had a tough time with its social and personal searchings as well. It wasn’t until the 1920’s, 30 years after his death, that folks began to take a longer look at what Herman Melville had to say. Have you ever felt misunderstood? I guess there is hope after all.

Yesterday we drained down the water lines at the docks and began the process of taking things apart. Mary, Jen, and Elisa made one last big painting push to finish the galley and main cabin. All that is left is the water tank above Mary’s sink and that will be done today. We will be down there again today in the bright sunshine.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

The Home Stretch

Good morning everyone. Finally, I am back from Texas and have survived a weekend at the local EMT seminars. I am ready to get up and stir after three straight days of sitting still. There is no lack of job security here. The kids are back to school after a long weekend. Even Gussie is heading for the vets today for her greatly appreciated annual boosters. The list is endless and now we just race the weather and the removal of the docks. A gentle rain is falling. The thermometer is at 36. High tide is at 1230 in Camden.

As you know, Jen and the crew have been painting out the main cabin and it looks fabulous. We are having to run heaters to keep things warm enough to paint. The nights have been quite chilly so a balmy 55 degrees in the main cabin is good enough for us. Most of the sandtone overheads and walls are done and today the off-white will be painted. This is the home stretch as far as the docks are concerned. Time to launch the winter skiff and begin thinking about the 7 cords of firewood sitting in the driveway. There are leaves to rake, a lawn to mow (have we put off the September mowing long enough?), and a house to clean before the relatives arrive next week. Talk about a home stretch.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Sailing Tallships

Good morning everyone. Barry here, reporting in from Galveston after our trip back from Corpus Christi. With an impending cold front approaching the Texas coast on Tuesday morning and winds forecast to come NE we “beat feet” back to Galveston. I stood the mid to 4 watch. The trip back was largely uneventful. A light southerly tailwind was welcome but the apparent wind was not enough to give us the easting we desired so the 450 hp power plant gave us the boost we needed to keep a 7-8 knot pace through the night.

The big excitement came while traveling in the fairway, the channel that passes 10 or so miles off the coast with occasional intersection leading to major harbors. At 0200 we came across 4 seismic research vessels working cables across the bottom in the fairway. A few radio calls established the idea that small floats across the fairway were connected to the seismic cables with wire rope and that wrapping one of these up in Elissa’s propeller would hinder our progress. These folks working in the oil industry are very good at what they do and managed to guide us on radar through the “mine field” and safely on our way. We had at hand a night vision scope that turned up no sign of buoys but that is not surprising in the 1-2 foot seas. From there on out the shrimp boats and oil platforms (by the dozens) created the usual slalom course encountered in these waters. We missed the full moon we had on the trip down to Corpus so the boat watch was on pins and needles keeping us safe through the night.

I was so gratified and thankful to see how seriously the Elissa volunteers take their jobs. You can’t imagine how hard they work to keep this ship alive and well. Teaching them is a joy. We arrived back in Galveston a day early, a heart wrenching decision in the face of knowing how hard these folks have worked to bring her to life. But that is the nature of sailing and the weather pays no heed to schedules. Tomorrow I fly home. This weekend I will be attending an Emergency Medical Services seminar, from the frying pan into the fire. But I am looking forward to getting back to Jen, the kids, the pace of home life and thinking about all you folks and getting ready for next summer.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

PS Our Canada goose friend was waiting here at the dock to welcome us and make me feel a little more homesick. I like that goose.

Food for the soul

Good Morning. The sanders have finally been put to rest for a short while.It’s been endless days and hours with Mr. Makita. Time for him to take a break and bring out the ole Mrs. Chinabristle to let her play. Today’s the day we start to paint the galley and main saloon. A welcoming job (one of Mary’s favorite places to paint!)as this is our last for this season on the boat. The temps are getting chilly on the boat, only getting up into the 40’s. The shop with the woodstove seems to be calling us from afar…

Every year when I, and I’m sure this goes for Mary as well, work at an endless sanding task (which there are many!) my mind keeps me occupied with flashbacks from the summer. I remember the beautiful sunsets, the whales that graced us with their beauty, the eagles that soared overhead, the smell of the pine forests on shore, the mossy fairy houses found, the list goes on and on. And with the sights I’m seeing I can still hear the laughter ringing throughout the boat, the songs gently making their way from the main saloon to the foc’sle, the funny stories told and the funny games played on the “quarter” deck. The smells from the galley are long gone, but memories of endless mouthwatering desserts that I said no to and ended up eating anyways are still here. And with all that running through my head I see flashes of people, with warm hearts and souls that shared it all with us. So as I sit and sand and sand some more, I’m kept busy and happy throughthout the day. It’s the food for my soul that makes the day complete.

At the end of the long day with very little said to each other, we just coil up our sanding cords, dust ourselves off and head up the dock with a quick, “thanks and see ya tomorrow”. And yet a glance from with a twinkle in her eye lets me know that we both just finished a day of sailing throught the past, not another day of sanding.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Noel’s a Breeze

Good morning everyone. Noel blew through New England last night
reminding us that although the official hurricane season is over
nature minds no calendar. Mary and I were down at the boat putting
on a few extra mooring lines and checking the chafe gear when the
first of the rain and wind came in just after noon time. It’s good to know all the gear and small boats are safe and sound. It amazes me
that the Tropical Prediction Center dropped mention of Noel after 5
PM on Friday. When I checked the Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing
System (aka GoMOOS) website last nite the wind was gusting on
Nantucket at 69 miles per hour with 39.7 foot seas on the Georges
Bank. Here in our modest little neighborhood the Penobscot Bay buoy
recorded gusts at 50 knots.

The cover was still on the schooner last I knew but Jen will have to
give you a more precise report on Tuesday. I am off to Texas once
again this morning. As you may recall we left the tallship Elissa in
Corpus Christi for the week so today we fly back to bring her home.
Windjamming in the Gulf of Mexico only makes next summer seem too far
away. When I return home we will be putting the finishing touches on
the schooner for the winter before heading into the barn and out to
the wood pile. I can't wait.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.