Monthly Archives: May 2008

Sailing Once Again

Good morning everyone. The roll of the vessel under foot once again
does feel good. We had a great Memorial Day Weekend shakedown
cruise. The weather was just fantastic and the guests were awesome.
We left the harbor with a stiff northwest wind that carried us across
to Merchant Row and our first lobster picnic of the season. A sunny
beach, a warm fire, and more than enough lobster finished out a
perfect first day. We all had big eyes as we short tacked Mary Day
up into the anchorage in Pulpit Harbor on Sunday. I wish I could
have been onshore watching. Camden was too close and Monday came too

Our turn around was quick as we greeted a school group from
Connecticut on Tuesday and off we sailed again in a stiff northwest
wind. The crew has been truly amazing teaching all day and standing
their watches by night. This is not the most relaxed way to start a
season and they deserve all the kudos for hustling and keeping their
young charges moving as well. Yesterday we sailed in a stiff
southwest wind that blew up to 30 knots as we short tacked through
the Merchant Row. With a deep reef in the main and just the staysail
and foresail the boat balanced beautifully. The kids steered us all
the way through the rock strewn waters with confidence and ease. The
boat actually sailed itself without a hand at the wheel for most of

So we are pleased with our start to the season. Jen and I are
thankful for a hard working and cheerful crew. We should have a few
days between cruises and the crew will get a well deserved break. 24
hours may not seem like much but it is an eternity when the bay and
islands are calling us to come sailing once again.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Spring Fitout Finally Coming to an End

Good Morning!

Springtime along the Maine coast is a wondrous time of year. After 6 snowy months under cover the windjammer fleet begins to emerge from its winter slumber and one by one the boats emerge from their cocoons.

Crews put in long days getting the vessels in shape. People stop us along the street to compliment how beautiful the boats look with fresh coats of paint and varnish. The shipyards and chandleries are bustling with activity.

And after all the topmasts are rigged and block and halyards are run aloft the sails finally come aboard. Ours are coming straight from the sail maker’s loft where they have spent the winter having every inch of seam and every cringle inspected.

Watching the mainsail carried down the dock like a caterpillar and finally bent on to the wooden mast hoops is a little humorous as the floats sink under the weight of thousands of square feet of canvas all rolled up like a sausage.

Staysails and jibs are bent on to traditional steel hanks with marline that lends a particular pine tar perfume to the air and the callused hands of the crew. Like an insect pheromone the pine tar lets our bodies know it is time to go sailing soon…. very soon.

About now the vessels are getting ready for the annual rigorous Coast Guard inspection. Hours of training and hard work will be put to the test. We will work through the weekends sprucing up the cabins, making beds, polishing the brass, double-checking the life jackets and charts. We run through emergency drills time and time again. When the Coast Guard arrives we welcome the opportunity to “show our stuff”.

Guests will be arriving soon and the cycle will be complete. Summer officially starts when we cast off the mooring lines and leave the harbor behind… destination unknown.
And now you know a little more about how much goes on behind the scenes. Here along the Maine coast traditional sailing vessels and the crews who keep them alive are as much a part of the season as spring peepers and robins.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Midnite Oil

Good morning everyone. Here at the global headquarters we have discovered a new fuel supply that we are tapping into with wild abandon. It is an energy source that is renewable on a daily basis and seems to have no limits when put under pressure. Midnight oil is what I am speaking of course and we are burning it in great quantities. As the saying goes… we will have plenty of time to sleep when we’re dead.

The crew is really stepping up to the plate getting everything ready. We have Coast Guard deck inspection on Monday and many details to take care of before then. The passenger cabins and companionways are all getting a makeover with new paint and varnish. Just when the crew thought they were done sanding we are once again tackling a major painting project.

During this past weekend we began a new electrical installation that will allow us to supply 110 power to all of the cabins. The new inverter/charger will supply a very limited (read No Hair Dryers!) amount of electricity to the passenger cabins for folks with sleep apneia who need a positive pressure ventilator called a CPAP machine to keep ticking through the night. These are appearing more and more frequently and the portable inverter we have does not fit the bill any longer. The battery bank that supplies power to the navigation electronics is being replaced as well. Each battery weighs in at 165 lbs. and let me tell you that getting them up out of the bilges is not fun.

Training is also big on the menu these last few weeks. As you can see the crew learned to prime the pump and we ran through some fire drills reviewing appropriate tactics for large wooden vessels. I am fairly confident that they don‚Äôt have time to read this but don‚Äôt be surprised if I spring a drill on them today. Prevention is the key of course and by the time the crew is done there will not be one area of the boat that they have not seen intimately. Next week we bend on sails and by Friday we will be ready to go… I think.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Paint and Tar and Elbow Grease

Good morning everyone. The weather here in Maine continues to hold for us. The blackflies have appeared inland at our home and drive us to the coast where the cool sea breeze makes life more tolerable. Temperatures inland threaten to reach the 70-degree mark. Yeeeesh! Let’s go sailing.

Our schedule is currently driven by our annual Coast Guard deck inspection on the 19th of the month. With most of the rigging finished we now turn our attention to passenger accommodations. We will brighten things up with new paint on the overheads and in the companionways. In the past these have been painted off-white. We are going to try a bright eggshell white this year. Some of the bright work needs renewing with a hand rubbed effect varnish. The whole combination feels bright and cozy all at the same time. Not that any of us spends much time in our cabins but we do think the little touches make a huge difference.

Our last crew member Molly has finally joined us. She is currently attending the Maine Maritime Academy where she specializes in small vessel operations. She was thrown straight to the masthead where she sat for the better part of a day hooking up all of the wires that support the foretopmast. From the photos you can see that she can eye splice with the best of them. You can also see that rigging a schooner sometimes takes a few schematics to accurately describe how the rigging should be lead. Every boat is rigged just a little bit differently and every year I change one or two things. There is nothing static about these boats.

Jen and Alex spent yesterday prepping and painting the green accent on the stern. There are some folks in this world that can‚Äôt paint a straight line working right side up on hard ground (I know… I am one them!). Imagine painting an ellipse on a bouncing paint float upside down. Once again my amazing wife proves that defying gravity is not all that difficult. At least she makes it look easy. Alex learned not to paint with his mouth open. Of course Dad does what he does best.. stay out of the way. As you can see it did not take much bait to lure him and Sawyer off the schooner. There is something about men in plaid.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Thanks to Professor Jim Dugan for grabbing our camera during his lunch break and taking these photos.

Happy May Day!

Good Morning! It’s a beautiful one at that! We’re still enjoying the sunny days, cool, but at least they are sunny. Ice on the decks in the morning makes for the first trip to the heads an exciting one! The crew have been “itchy” to rig and rightfully so. They have been sanding and painting for months now with the end of painting in sight. Rigging takes their jobs to a whole new dimension. Each block is hawled up and shackeled and moused in place. Lines are rove in a certain direction (sometimes taking more than once to get it right). Topmasts are ever so carefully lifted up and attached to their heel ropes. The crew are using these rigging days to “learn the ropes” as they say. Pins are in place on the pinrails now to hold their respective lines. Today they will be placing the jibboom back out for the head rig to go up. That funny piece they painted and smirked at this winter called the martingale (this is a test for Ed & Al) will finally make some sense for them. What a great day it is when it all comes into place.

After the rigging goes up, the schooner takes on a new look and feel, beginning to come alive. She seems as though she’s sitting at the dock, tugging on her mooring lines, ready to be released. Patience, we say, sails will be bent on soon and passengers will arrive soon (21 days and counting!). It’s hard to believe, but it only takes two days to rig the vessel…two very long days at that!

So it seems only fitting to share this photo of Alex on the masthead on May Day…as Sawyer and Nadie are preparing for their May Pole dance at school…It’s amazing that May Day traditionally divides the year in half…can that be???

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

P.S. To those who have commented since this was published,

According to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, striking dolphins is clearly criminal activity. Now we won’t judge what you do in your spare time but we here at the global headquarters of the schooner Mary Day protect the rights of all dolphins to swim the oceans freely without fear of being stricken by a piece of varnished wood. What did they do to deserve such poor treatment at the hands of maniacal schoonermen and square riggers alike, arm chair or otherwise, as they gracefully swim in the bow waves bringing joy to the hearts of many? On the other hand the term martingale speaks of beauty and grace. In that spirit we have chosen the more sensitive and graceful term to describe such a beautiful object. I reference, of course, Van Nostrands 1922 ” Standard Seamanship for the Merchant Service”, second edition, sixth printing, authored by Felix Riesenberg, C. E. (credits and accolades too long to list) where on pages 182, 192, and 194 he refers to the dolphin striker and martingale as one and the same.

Besides which, we just wanted to see if you were paying attention. By the reports of brown outs throughout the Alabama power grid it is clear that you were paying very close attention. On behalf of all of us here at the global headquarters… thank you… we are glad someone is reading this thing.

Jen and Barry