Monthly Archives: August 2008

The Buoy Tree

Good morning everyone. We are anchored here at Isle Au Haut, one of my very favorite places. Seems I have been saying that a lot this week. There is so much going on aboard the schooner. I will try to get you up to speed. The weather has turned considerably drier in the last few weeks and that has brought a turn in the seasons as well. Autumn seems to be knocking on the door and Orion is above the eastern horizon by 3 AM. A few maples have decided to call it a summer and our adorned in modest hues of red and orange.

For the crew these last few weeks have been a re-emphasis of basic details. After a few months of building new skills we have circled back to the basics that keep this big sailing critter going, not that we ever forget them but a healthy review is always good. Molly, Jennie, and Madeline have all headed back to school despite my best advice. Peggy has joined us as the new assistant cook and is doing great. Rob, formerly in the messmate position, has moved up on deck and is turning to with great alacrity. The jump from galley to deck can be over-whelming but he is transitioning with grace. Sara and Curtis have been coaching him along through all the nuances and details he never had a chance to see. We have combed every square inch of the rig checking every nut, bolt and screw. Seizings and mousings have been renewed where necessary and no piece of the rig is taken for granted. This is the time of our season when the winds get feisty once again so the crew’s skills and the rig will be tested. Basic details, basic details… that is the name of the game. The fancy sailing stuff will fall into place when the time comes.

We passed a very interesting tree yesterday that appears to be filled with fruits of a strange variety. We have often wondered where the lobsterman get all their wonderfully colored trap buoys. A buoy tree of course!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

A Different Shade of Gray

Good morning everyone. Maine has received it fair share of precipitation these last few weeks like much of the rest of New England. Folks inland must be sprouting gills by now. We have been quite lucky managing to avoid the bulk of the rain. The Earl of Sawn’s tells me his garden has failed from too much of a good thing. He passed us by in a motorboat as we were headed for the “Bar” and he waved us to come visit his home overlooking Mackerel Cove but the hills of Acadia were calling.

We had a noontime picnic yesterday on lovely Pond Island (one of several in this area). The wind came onshore as advertised and we had a lovely sail across lower Blue Hill Bay and our by the Duck Is. It was a gloriously sunny day… one to be savored. Last night at sunset the first wisps of fog came rolling in over Cadillac Mt and the signs were quite plain that fog would settling in upon us. Here aboard the schooner we enjoyed good music and the gentle patter of moisture being strained form the atmosphere by the fog. I went for a run this morning and one old timer ashore acknowledged the good morning with his only misgiving being the fog the has once again limited the senses. I call this a Cranberry fog.

Fog comes in a variety of shades: pearl gray, mist gray, battleship gray. The skiffs tied up at the dock presented a variety of colors that made me think this was a Cranberry gray. Here at Ilseford on Little Cranberry Island the colorful skiffs captured my delight making me wish I had brought my camera. I had I been ashore at any other island the skiffs would have been painted with a different brush, if they were painted at all, sometimes dependent on the color of the clapboards ashore. The fog doesn’t limit my senses. As a matter of fact it enhances senses dulled by the over-stimulated sunshine of yesterday. The spiders webs on the lawns predict that this too fade with the brightening warmth of the day.

Well, folks are coming back from walks ashore. I can hear the chatter on deck, comparisons of who saw what and who met whom. Little girls selling lemonade become roadside celebrities. Summer artists create works that we all want to bring home. Lobster traps along the pier and the smell of bait wafting from the fisherman’s co-op are all the art I need. It is all the good stuff of islandness.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

How Warm Is It

Good morning everyone. Greetings from a secluded little cove just east of Stonington. We experienced an incredibly hot day yesterday with lots of sun and light winds all day long. The end of the afternoon was punctuated by a series of rain showers and shifting winds that made us quite happy to be on the hook and hunkered under the awnings. Sunset was just crazy with deep blues and golden greens (if you ever saw a spruce clad island lit by the setting sun you will know what I am talking about). The low scudding clouds were everywhere keeping our heads spinning in all directions. Thin ribbons of clouds hovered close to the water at times and were blown in undulating waves as they skittered across the cove. All very enchanting indeed.

Some of us took advantage of the opportunity to swim and rinse off the cares of the day. Folks often ask me how cold the water is and I respond in my usual fashion by suggesting that the question be rephrased. Wouldn’t it be better to ask how “warm” the water is. At least the thinking would be headed in the right direction. The former phrasing suggests a certain assumption that the water is freezing, which it just might be. But if one were to phrase the question relating the idea of warmth to the situation it might ease the process of easing in to Maine’s fabulously refreshing waters. Now I am not trying to fool anyone here. There are folks who make it their badge of honor not to swim in Maine. Just fine I say. I merely suggest that if we are a product of the language we use then what harm can come from adopting the positive approach. And those folks who are asking are often the ones looking for permission to go for it. I know that by days end I was tired of being hot and sweaty and the water was positively the tonic I needed.

And then there is the issue of temperature. I will preach to my dying day that the numbers on a thermometer are an artificial reflection of human temperament that we all too often allow to set the boundaries of our lives. Maybe that is why we here in the US have not adopted the Celsius equivalent. Imagine having to wrap our minds around going to the beach on a day when a thermometer only reads 27 degrees! I encourage guests to chose quality over quantity every time (unless of course I am trying to shamelessly sell that last dozen lobsters at the picnic). Besides, who among us does not enjoy the bragging rights that come with telling your neighbor back home that you swam in Maine. Great stories of adventure don’t come free. In the story over the back yard fence back home I am pretty sure we had to cut a hole in the ice at the bottom of the swim ladder.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

The Second Mouse

Good morning everyone. Greetings from Smith Cove, just across from
the lovely town of Castine where stately elms line the streets.
Wednesday, Castine was bustling with activity. The schooner Bowdoin
just arrived home from a 5,000 mile voyage and a fleet of classic
wooden racing yachts were gathered for the race to Camden that
happened yesterday. We had a sleepy day yesterday with rain showers
off and on during the afternoon and not much shut-eye from having
stayed up 'til midnight at the Sweet Chariot Folk Festival which by
all accounts was great. We even had the extra bonus of the Sweet
Charioteers coming aboard Mary Day Wednesday afternoon and sharing a
bonus performance as the Hollywood cameras were rolling. Naps were
welcomed whole-heartedly yesterday afternoon. It really was a perfect
day in many ways… not too hard on the senses, a light south easterly
wind, and gentle sailing down the Eggemmoggin Reach.

In the back of my mind I figured we might get to Buck's Harbor for
the night. The showers were just ending around 4 o'clock and several
other boats were anchoring up in the east side of the harbor. I took
a turn in with anchor ready to drop. Things just felt too tight for
me so at the last minute and I decided to head off for parts
unknown. It was about that time that the sun brightened the skies
and we enjoyed a lovely motor sail around to where we are presently
parked for the night. The beautiful part is that Smith Cove is quite
empty at a time of summer when I would expect many yachts holed up
here. Even Castine is relatively empty today. The yachts are back in
full force here on the Maine coast driving some of us crazy. The
radio is a constant cacophony of banter representing a wide variety
of skill and etiquette. But none of that is here today. Just
quiet. Our dear mentor the Major used to say that the lord works in
strange and mysterious ways. I have to constantly remind myself of
this. My heart sank in Buck's Harbor yesterday only to be filled
with joy to have found Smith Cove empty and as lovely as ever.
Porpoise have been circling close in around the boat this morning
showing us their dorsal fins. We can hear them breathing as the
surface, a light fog lying low on the water. It is difficult to
remember sometimes that while the early bird may get the worm it is
the second mouse that gets the cheese.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.