Monthly Archives: June 2008

Leaving the Nest


Good morning everyone. We just finished another wonderful week. The combination of natural history and photography is just great. I was amazed to see all the photos everyone had taken during the week. To see the coast from such diverse perspectives is inspiring. Sailing with our Audubon naturalists Erika and Ethan and photographer Jim Dugan is such a joy. They ply their craft with skill and passion. Jim will post some of his photos.

This was a fairly amazing week all around. Lots of laughter, some very exciting sailing and lots of it, and beautiful weather despite the doom and gloom forecasts. While all of that was very heartening I was touched by the sight of a fledgling leaving the nest for his first solo flight. After a couple trips together Sawyer sailed off while we were anchored in Pulpit Harbor Friday evening. I was excited for him and remembered my first solo trips and how liberating they were. He got a little spook on one jibe when the rail dipped down. Nature commanded his respect from the start. But now he is now free to roam the oceans and I am certain he will learn just how big and beautiful the world can be.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Hardship and Deprivation


Good morning everyone. Al and I were talking back by the wheel yesterday about the hardship and deprivation associated with a windjammer vacation. I think it takes a very special person to endure the kind of treatment one is subjected to out here. Yesterday morning the captain did not let us get ashore. Instead we had to go sailing under the majestic 600 foot cliffs of Somes Sound, the only fjord on the East coast of the US. The captain is a little bit of a whacko. He enjoyed sailing right up to the edge of the cliffs and marveling at how deep the water remained. I guess that is one good thing about a fjord. We did not know which way to turn our heads for all the natural beauty around us and many had stiff necks from looking up. I wish they would get some new birds up here. All we ever see are bald eagles.

Then the “old man” made us haul the yawl boat and sail out into the open ocean. He had all the sails set once again and the westerly breeze took us quickly offshore to see the Great Duck Light. Even the loom of Mt Desert Rock was seen by the time we tacked back in shore. I don’t know what the hurry was but we were going 9 knots the whole way. I wish they would do something about this sun. I am going to run out of sunblock soon. Poor Al had to hide under his shirt in the rocking chair for any relief. He looked like camel rider from the Sahara and claims to have learned the trick from a dear friend back home who knows about these things. My hair was a mess by the end of a day of sitting out in all that wind. I don’t mean to whine but the Captain is a lazy man. He makes his guests steer the boat.

Last evening was the final straw. The “whacko” at the wheel parked us off this beach out in the middle of nowhere and forced us to sit on the beach and eat lobster. The cook had to walk around and force the last few lobsters upon us. Aren’t there laws about this kind of treatment. No malls, no stores, no nothing. The sunset made the rocky hills of Mt Dessert all golden colored. Of course, Cap had to park that darned schooner in the foreground spoiling the picture. Several folks went swimming and claimed that the water was really warm. You can’t fool me. Finally, the crew rowed us back and we got rid of the last of the cookies. Those things are dangerously addictive. I don’t know if we will ever be the same after a week of this hardship and deprivation. Ed, Al may be a little fragile when he gets back to the office so just humor him with the thousands of pictures he is taking with his new camera.

Have a great day! Be well. Do Good.

Clearing away the Fog

Good morning everyone. Lots to report to you this week. We have had a very busy last few weeks as you might guess combined with a lack of technology to get the blog out to you. Thanks for your patience. Working backwards… we are presently anchored here in Southwest Harbor. Yesterday was just about the best sail of the season. A westerly wind carried us under the bridge and easterly through the Eggemmoggin Reach. The topmast cleared by just a few feet… quite exciting. The onshore breeze carried us across lower Blue Hill Bay and across the Bass Harbor Bar past the lighthouse with full sail set. The cameras were pointed in both directions as the scenery was just amazing. Having any scenery at all is a wonder after Monday’s fog which followed a very foggy last week.
Some of you know we have been the platform for a sailing leadership academy for the fraternity Delta Tau Delta for the past 5 years. I am so pleased to be associated with these fine men and to see a fraternity so committed to bringing out the best in these young adults is very heartening. These guys worked their tails off all week long learning the ins and outs of life in these close quarters. Never did we lack for enthusiasm or for volunteers to get the job done. Each morning broke with yet another shade of fog and drizzle, a run ashore and then a dip in the invigorating waters of the chilly North Atlantic. I challenged them to grab the week by the horns and discover what it had to offer and what they were made of. On Friday they brought the schooner home to Camden with precision and care. They certainly left the schooner better than they found it and touched my heart with hope for these young men. That these men overcame the coldest foggiest week of the season and did it with alacrity is a credit to the strength in their hearts.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Not Half Bad


Good morning everyone. We had quite the ride out of Blue Hill Bay
yesterday. With the apparent wind around 35 knots steady we were
thankful for the the deep reef in the main sail. We were just flying
at 10.6 knots with the few sails we had set. In no time at all we
were anchored in the village at Isle Au Haut.

Isle Au Haut is one of my favorites. Sharing that anchorage with
guests feels like real privilege.
We had a couple hours to hike in the park and explore the village.
The church there high above the harbor overlooks the Camden Hills.
Inspiration is not difficult to find in the simple hardwood pews and
stained glass windows. Coyotes have made their presence know there
recently. Last Fall we saw one swim across the Thorofare. The deer
are actually a sub-species of white tail that are genetically smaller
from having evolved to the limited food supply the island affords. I
have camped on Isle Au Haut many nights and cherish my sense of the
place. Of course I feel that way about all of the Maine coast but
some spots just sit a little closer to my heart.

Yesterday we sailed off shore to see the puffins at Seal Island.
They were there but not nearly as numerous as in past years. We
wondered whether scheduling a puffin cruise while the puffins were
nesting was such a good idea. You see… they nest in burrows
underground. You need real specially binoculars to see through the
granite ledge. Still we got our fill of puffins and many terns and
auks. The northerly wind that carried us offshore so effortlessly
came onshore just as we reached the Seal Island and carried us right
back in to the light at Owls Head. Not half bad I say… not half bad!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Fitful Sailing


Good morning everyone. We are snuggled up here in a great cove just
off of one of my favorite islands. We had a wonderful picnic here
last evening after, what I can only call, a fitful day of sailing.
The wind was all over the compass rose. At one point in the afternoon
we were becalmed when only a hundred feet away we could see and hear
the rush of the wind on the waves where it was blowing 20 knots. The
schooner must have skidded a boat length sideways when the wind first
hit and off we went at well over 9 knots like a race car that finally
found fuel. And just as quickly we sailed out of it and had to push
with the yawl boat again. So went our day, sail a little, push a
little.

Last nite we ate Mary's blueberry pie, read poetry by Ruth Moore and
tried to find the North star, the cares of the day far astern. Today
we appear to be blessed with lots of sun and a brisk northwest wind
that promises to carry us out of Blue Hill Bay. We shall leave the
mountains of Acadia on the quarter and head off to who knows where.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Keepers of the Light

Good morning everyone. Wow what a couple of days we have had.
Monday we left Camden and the heat behind. It was clear up into the
70s here in town and 80s further inland. This captain was more than
happy to leave the humidity on shore. Something peculiar was in the
air for everyone including the wildlife. I don't know if I will ever
see it again but we sighted 18 razor billed auks and a puffin without
leaving the bay. Generally these birds are seen offshore outside of
the bay. Now I have seen one or two razor bills inside the bay but
never this many with such consistency. The winds were light all day
so we sailed right through dinner. The light was just phenomenal at
sunset.

Tuesday we enjoyed a very lively sail with the wind southeast which
blew us back through Merchant Row and up here to the head of
Eggemoggin Reach. Fog was thick so we may have to get back to
Merchant Row to enjoy it in the clearer weather but the fog does lend
a certain mystical whimsie to the spruce and granite shores.
Thunderstorms were looming here in Maine so we headed for the
anchorage at 9.6 knots with all sail flying and managed to get a walk
ashore before supper. We were up for a good part of the night as the
wind gusted from passing storm cells. It was all quite thrilling.

During this Audubon naturalist cruise we are looking for new
connections between us and nature. One not need look far but the
example set by the first Audubon wardens here in Maine is of special
interest. The lighthouse keepers at Matinicus Rock, Great Duck Light
and Eagle Island Light, just to name a few, assured that the puffin
and auks we saw on Monday were not just an accident. I can hear a
bald eagle chirping outside my cabin in the pines onshore. Its call
reminding me that wildness still stirs my heart and that saving
threatened species, large or small, is a good thing to do.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Other Plans


Good morning everyone, We are anchored up here in Mackerel Cove,
Swan's I for the first time this year. We arrived to see the "Earl
of Swan's" standing on his porch waving. I had sent him a packet
this winter and never heard back so I was a little nervous about the
possibilities. Just 26 days shy of his 91st birthday I don't believe
Earl plans very far ahead. He was quite pleased to see us and
granted his permission to let us anchor in his sunset view. He sent
a very full bouquet of lilacs back for Mary. Guests that visited
Earl with me found him as charming as could be and left him with big
hugs from the ladies. Earl just grinned.

So this is a lighthouse cruise short though it may be. With a toad
soaker of a forecast for Wednesday we were very surprised to see the
wall of rain pass north and south but leave us largely alone until
the days end. With the wind easterly all this time we have been
hard pressed to see too many lighthouses. Curtis, Eagle, Pumpkin,
Blue Hill and a distant glimpse of Bass Harbor Head are all that we
have noted. Tomorrow we will set out in earnest to bag a whole bunch
more. Seems as though the wind has had other plans for us. I used
to fight the wind more than I do these days. It is sometimes
difficult for this captain to appreciate the mystery. I can only say
that we are delivering exactly what we advertised…"see lighthouses
from the decks of a traditional schooner just as they would have many
years ago". Well the wind was no more or less "cooperative" then
than it is now.

Yesterday was also a big day as we made our first transit under the
Deer Isle bridge and the crew was some impressive. We cleared with
inches to spare on the top of a spring tide. Molly and Rob rode the
mastheads. A big cheer for the crew. Sara says.. hey Mama! She is
doing a great job as chief mate.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.