Monthly Archives: March 2008

A crazy loon and a Texas Tallship

Good morning everyone. Sailing aboard Elissa here in Texas has been fantastic. The crew of volunteers have once again made this a great experience and their dedication is beyond believable. After completing a series of daysails and an overnight trip offshore we are currently in Houston at the brand new Bayport Cruise Terminal. We brought the ship up the Houston Channel yesterday afternoon, probably the first square rigger in many, many years to sail (well…motor sail) carrying upper and lower topsails, a few staysails and our inner jib. They made a difference giving us another knot and a half of speed along with a helpful push from the incoming tide. The folks here at the Houston Yacht Club have been the best of hosts for Elissa.

Our night offshore was lit by the waning full moon. I took the 12-4 watch and had a crackerjack crew able to tack and ware the ship in the 20 knot breeze. The sloppy 4′ seas created by the shallow Gulf did not make things any easier so we found ourselves motoring dead slow ahead through tacks with our conservative “after dark” rig. Shrimp boats running offshore at night are well lit but do not seem to stand by on any normal VHF channels. Oil platforms are mostly lit… though we saw a few exceptions and some that were not charted accurately. All in all it makes for an exciting night and keeps one on their toes. We will be here for a few days before heading home. I sure do miss Jen and the kids. I know the crew at home are working hard to get as much of the shop work done as possible before we start down on the boat Monday morning. The docks are in and we are ready. I saw a loon swimming and diving near the ship today. Unless he is crazy he should be heading north soon…. real soon. Just like me!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Windjamming in Texas

Good morning y’all. As the accompanying photos will tell you I am in Texas aboard the barque Elissa. I flew down on Wednesday for the beginning of 12 days of sailing in the Gulf. Mostly we will be daysailing from Galveston but there is one overnight passage planned for the middle of this week. I brought my camera and hope you enjoy a few of sights. The dolphins were bow riding yesterday on the way back in the channel. This shot is for Sawyer and Nadie.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.


Good morning everyone. We boiled down the first batch of sap this week, 30 gallons worth. Sawyer dutifully tended the boiler, literally an old boiler that was found living out in our back woods. There was never any reason for that boiler to be there but there it was just the same. The wood for this first firing was 3’ lengths of what were spruce rafters on the shop attached to the house. That roof has for years been leaking clear through the sheet rock and over head light fluorescent fixtures. Our contractor friend Scot gave Alex and I a hand as we stripped the old roof, replaced all 22 rafters and applied a new sheet metal roof. We still have the soffits to finish but it is “good enough” until I get back from Texas in a few weeks.

So I really wanted to tell you about the hardware store and how everybody is somebody if you take a minute to listen. Our local “big box” beater is not vanishing anytime soon from what I can see. It is the place I spend your money because I think you would vote for the little guy in the fight to keep small town America going. Linda Norton works behind the counter. She helps folks find the odd things that little hardware stores have. Like the plastic license plate screw holder that fits in the hole in your Chevy bumper… it is in the box on the back wall next to the ones that fit in the Ford bumper. I am not kidding she helped a women find one the other day. Screw sold separately. Linda also does the custom paint mixing and that, as you will see, is something she does better than most. While the rest of the world sleeps between midnight and 4 AM Linda paints with passion. What you don’t see at first glance is that she is actually a very well known marine artist specializing in sailing vessels. She has been featured in several prominent nautical magazines. She recently painted Jen and Annie in the fore crosstrees furling the topsail. Linda writes, “Two of the ladies of the Mary Day are aloft furling the topsail. Rope, ditty bags, and knives tied to their belts, they work carefully and swiftly in unison. Conversation is unheard from where I stand and I doubt needed. The female crew of the Mary Day are well known and respected for their sailing abilities.” I am pleased to see anyone get credit for hard work but these 2 women have spent the better part of their adult lives practicing their craft and deserve all the admiration that Linda gives them. And, yes, I am just a little bit proud to know them.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

From Sap to Planks

Good morning everyone. We hope you folks had a nice a week as we did. The sun has really been working hard to bring spring to New England. The sap has been rising in the trees and we chose this weekend to tap the maples. We only have 20 taps out at the moment but if the weather holds as predicted we will be boiling very soon. 24 hours after tapping Sawyer and I hauled in 20 gallons of sap just yesterday. The first run of sap usually makes the fancy syrup so I think our timing is just right. I can taste Mary’s pumpkin pancakes now.

Alex and Jebb have had our harbor yawl boat ‚ÄúChadwick‚Äù in the barn this week. The varnish really needed some work and it is really coming along well. Alex is very good with a varnish brush. My neighbor Glen built a new fuel tank from a recycled stainless steel tank to fit under the towing thwart back aft. It is just perfect and will help Chadwick trim more evenly on her waterline. I will spend some time over the next few days plumbing in the new tank and moving the battery to a new location. Working on the yawl boat in a wood heated barn is a real balancing act. We need the heat to dry the paint but it tends to dry the wood as well. We should get that boat out of the barn in the next few days to make sure the planks don‚Äôt dry out too much. We won‚Äôt do any bottom work until just before we launch sometime in mid-April. It’s amazing how much we rely on trees from sap to planks… there’s alot of beauty that comes from those trees.

And for anyone wanting to know….Chadwick is named after “Major Chadwick”,once a dear friend to all, who always had a kind word, a welcoming phrase of the day, and a warm hug to boot. He continues to give us strength. The following photo is the Major aboard the Mary Day back in the 70’s, just when we were still pups.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.


Good morning everyone. You should see the snow banks around here. Another 8″ of snow came down Saturday and the driveway is beginning to take on the tunnel effect. We had a family day today skiing at the Camden Snow Bowl. Sawyer was quite amazed at the view of Penobscot Bay. We could see forever.

Last year I wrote a blog about our cat, Gussie Hodgkins. For those who have sailed with us you have heard the tale of how she was named for the heroic life saving station surfman who rowed out to a schooner on the ledges (no small feat as you can see)and saved not only the people aboard the wreck but rowed a second trip to save the poor the poor cat that had been left behind. Ted Panayatoff, our official Mary Day pharologist (lighthouse expert) on our lighthouse cruises recently unearthed photographs of the wreck of the Joseph Luther and of “Hunney” the actual cat that, after being rescued by our hero, spent the remainder of it days at the Hunnewell Beach Lifesaving Station at the end of the Kennebec River. Ted works as tirelessly as Gussie Hodgkins to keep the history of these lighthouses from fading into a distant memory. His book about the Rockland Breakwater Light, his work at the Maine Lighthouse Museum and the lighthouse cruises that he sails with us are just a few of the ways he shares his wealth of knowledge. I think we’ll name our next cat Ted.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.