Monthly Archives: June 2009

Puffins, Auks, and a Big Surprise

Good morning everyone. Well just when we thought it couldn’t get any better it has. This week is one of two 6-day naturalist cruises we offer each June and we are off to a great start. We left Camden after breakfast yesterday morning and pushed out of the bay to the southward. I had a hankering to get offshore and after the last 2 days of NW winds I suspected that the ocean swell would be knocked down some. After an hour’s push with the yawl boat, during which we saw a red phalarope, we caught a SSW wind and away we went sailing outside the islands that guard the south end of Vinalhaven.
Just after lunch we reached Seal I about 20 miles from Camden and a known nesting spot for Atlantic puffins and razor billed auks. I was a little nervous when just a mile from the island I wasn’t seeing much in the way of pelagic species. And then they came. A gannet soared across the bow and then the alcids began to appear. I don’t think I have seen so many puffins and auks as we did yesterday. The place was teeming with them. We also had a surprise guest that even naturalists Mike and Margi Shannon had never witnessed, a white tailed tropic bird. Usually seen no further north than the Virginia coast here were, not just one, but two of these magnificent long tailed species. This photo was taken by passenger Elaine Cundiff. The wind stayed fair as we sailed wing and wing all the way to our anchorage at Burnt Coat Harbor on Swan’s Island. I am still shaking my head at the extraordinary luck we had. Just amazing!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

More Cool Lighthouses

Good morning everyone. We sailed off the anchor yesterday morning after breakfast and enjoyed a light onshore breeze all day long. Once again sunny skies were the rule. Eider ducks are everywhere. I love seeing the males skittering across the water as we approach the ledges.We sailed through the dozens of islands in Merchant Row and ran down the East Bay passing very close to the Deer Isle Light, Eagle I Light and Dice Head at Castine. We had a distant glimpse of Pumpkin I light which marks the west entrance of the Eggemmoggin Reach. We finished our day with walks ashore at Fort Point State Park. Ranger Terry Cole welcomed guests with tours of the tower and the original 4th order fresnel lens. How cool is that!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

As Good As It Gets

Good morning everyone. Well yesterday was about as good as it gets in our neck of the woods (or should I say bay). We left the dock at 10 o’clock and with all sail set and the yawl boat hauled we tacked our way up the bay towards Rockland on the ouitgoing tide. This being a 4 day lighthouse cruise we were able to view the lights at Curtis I, Indian I, Rockland Breakwater and Owls Head… all before lunch! We snuck through the Fox I Thorofare and across to the Deer I Thorofare, a route which gave us views of Browns Head, Goose Rocks and the Deer I Thorofare Light on Mark I.

Dinner time found us anchored next to a delightful small island where we feasted on lobster and enjoyed a spectacular sunset. Guests exploring the rocky outcroppings discovered a small seal pup hauled up on a ledge. Keeping a respectful distance we all enjoyed a sight that is common along the coast during the spring but rarely witnessed by guests at a beach during a lobster picnic. How lucky we are.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Sail Training with the Hartsbrook Waldorf School

Good morning everyone. We are off and sprinting in very fine fashion. The crew is doing a tremendous job of pulling everything together. We just finished a very soggy cruise with a group of young adults from the Hartsbrook Waldorf School. I was so impressed by their maturity in the face of adversity. We had three straight days of rain, which I would call adversity for 8th graders, but these folks stood their watches in the rain without a whimper or a complaint.

Our sail training program introduces all the elements of watch standing including standing a bow watch, sail handling and trim, knots and nomenclature, and steering. The domestic chores, galley duty and cleaning heads, are also a piece of the puzzle of shipboard life. The pictures here are from the last day when the sun finally came out and we had every kind of weather imaginable… sun, wind, fog… and even an afternoon thunderstorm. The students had sails down and the vessel secured in minutes and the storm tracked just to the north of us quite uneventfully. I could not have asked for a better drill to reinforce the importance of knowing every line on the schooner. Back in Camden we laughed as the vessels we built raced across our small cove to the proud budding naval architects waiting on the beach. Congratulations to all of the students for a job well done!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.