Monthly Archives: March 2020

Lighthouses = Maine

Lighthouses. Maine. Can anyone separate the two? They are synonymous. We see lighthouses on every one of our cruises. But during one of our cruises, we invite Pharologist Ted Panyatoff (has written 2 books about Maine Lighthouses and the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse) to entertain us with stories about the people that brought life to and protected life from these coastal sentinels.

lighthouse tours, windjammer cruises, Maine sailing vacations

The lighthouse shown here is the Eagle Island Lighthouse here in Maine. It is one of my favorites. Full disclosure: They are all my favorites. They all have stories. They all have human qualities that I admire. They were built, manned and maintained by real people. They are as authentic a piece of the history of New England as anyone can point at. Without the people behind these lighthouses, commercial sail in New England would not hold nearly the historic significance that it does. Schooners like Mary Day were the tractor-trailer trucks of the 19th century and the ocean was the highway. Imagine for a moment approaching the Maine coast from Boston at night or in a thick o’ fog. As we celebrate Maine’s bicentennial, this summer is a great time to reflect on the role that lighthouses played and continue to play in our maritime world.

Eagle Island Light was constructed of rubble stone and activated in September of 1838. Eagle I. encompasses 258 acres which means a keeper could keep livestock, a garden, go for hikes and cut firewood. Wages were $350 annually for the first keeper, John Spear who was far less than impressed by the construction of the light tower and keepers house. “Owing to the use of bad mortar, and want of care in the erection, the tower leaks in every direction – the whole inside being covered with ice during winter, and the stairs dangerous to ascend. The deck has been thrown up by the frost; and the arch supporting it has settled several inches by the yielding of the abutting walls. The whole tower is a rough and defective piece of work.” The attached keeper’s house wasn’t much better.

I can only imagine being a keeper at Eagle I. was not as bad as some stations given the “populated” nature of the island. Beginning in 1870 a one-roomed schoolhouse was established on the island where the keeper’s children could attend classes. That schoolhouse stands empty today. Supplies could be obtained at Deer Isle only a two-mile row; a weather-dependent endeavor for certain. Other populated islands, now summer residences only, were a stone’s throw away.

Then, as now, Maine’s island lighthouses remain pretty far away from the rest of the world. Their history captures my imagination. Maybe yours too? Join us this June 16th for a 4-day Lighthouse tour: https://schoonermaryday.com/lighthouse-cruises/

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Close to Home, Closer to Heaven

Just a day’s drive from your doorstep.

There is an old Bert and I story that tells the tale of Camden Pierce who won a trip to New York City. Upon his arrival home, he was asked about how he liked New York. His response was that there was so much goin’ on at the depot he never did get to see the village.

It is odd to me that people fly around the world looking for “Shangri-La” and arrive back home exhausted. Guests often ask us what we do in the winter. Do we go on vacation? Do we take the schooner to the Caribbean or Florida? Nope. We stay right here. There is so much going on here in Maine (it is Vacationland after all) why go anywhere else?

And the best part about Maine is that many folks live within driving distance. As I like to say, “Close to home, closer to heaven.” Driving here can be a real headache if you try the Maine Turnpike at 6:00 PM on a Friday afternoon. Timing is everything. A little prior planning can be the difference between exploring our out of the way wonders and sitting in traffic with hundreds of new-found neighbors and friends who aren’t afraid to tell you (if you know sign language) that you’re # 1.

We have compiled a list of some of our favorite things to do within a short drive of Camden. If you are here for one of our quick get-aways you have time on either end of your precious week to check out a few more local wonders. These are the things we think about doing on our very few occasional quiet moments. So join us for a 3 or 4-day cruise and savor our quaint little villages. This is probably about as close to heaven as I’ll ever get.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Capt. Barry