Author Archives: Capt. Barry

Barry King and Jennifer Martin own and operate the schooner Mary Day. They are both Coast Guard licensed masters and have extensive sailing and educational backgrounds. Barry has voyaged to Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and along the Canadian maritimes to Newfoundland. Barry is a Registered Maine Guide, and a Nationally Registered Wilderness EMT. During the winter Barry volunteers with his community fire department and ambulance service. Jen's sailing career took her to Florida and the Bahamas before becoming captain of Figaro IV, a classic ocean racing yacht, here on the Maine coast. Jen is a nationally certified Wilderness First Responder. Jen and Barry met as students with the Audubon Society's Expedition Institute while earning master degrees in experiential environmental education. This program gave them in-depth experience in a diversity of human and natural communities ranging from a sub-artic fishing village in Labrador to the native American desert southwest. Barry and Jen were married aboard Mary Day and live year round in Maine with their children Sawyer and Courtney. Combining their enthusiasm for people, wilderness, and beautiful traditional sailing vessels, Barry, Jen, Sawyer and Courtney are living the dream. When not sailing they live in an old timber frame barn in the woods of Appleton, ME USA

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

Tried and True

white pine for use in a schooner
A 63-year-old eastern white pine (pinus strobus).

I am always wary of shiny new inventions that somehow purport to make life simpler. I am a firm believer in less is more, except when it comes to bringing things home from the transfer station, aka the dump. In that instance more is recycling. You see the difference?

using a cant hook

But I digress. This is supposed to be about things tried and true like old boats and the old tools used to keep ’em going. This week during our mid-winter thaw we took the opportunity to get in some firewood and clear space for what eventually will be an addition to the barn. In the process, we set aside several straight, clear sections of pine and oak suitable for the sawmill I just finished repowering. More about that next week.

The tool you see being used to roll the logs out of the way is called a peavey. A variation of the cant hook (a cant is a squared up log). The peavey got its name from its inventor, Joseph Peavey who brilliantly modified the cant hook back in the late 1850s to be far more effective by adding a pick to the end and modifying the pivot for the hook. In the first image, I am teaching McKenzie how to set the 8.5″ hook. Once set, the handle, about 30″ on this one, provides leverage with which to roll the log. These are very small logs hence a small peavey. I have another peavey that has a 48″ handle with a 12″ hook for larger logs.

It didn’t take McKenzie long to get the swing of things. With a chainsaw in one hand and a peavey in the other, she has become a badass woodswoman. I only fear that I will come home from town one day and she and Jen will have cleared the whole 32 acres right back to the early 1900s when most of Appleton was cutover.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

If you want to learn more about Maine’s history, traditional sailing vessels, their construction and care, and how to use the power of the wind to go on an eco-friendly windjammer cruise join us sometime this summer. Check out our schedule of cruise offerings.

schooner cruises

Relax and Reset

I was reading an article recently about the value of 3 day weekends. That third day is the real moneymaker. That 3rd day is the day you sleep in, that you don’t have to answer to anyone, that your time is your own to do with what you will. And that 3rd day makes all the difference between feeling compressed to get everything done in a normal 2 day weekend.

So imagine a 3-day vacation. Imagine that you are a few hour’s drive from leaving everything behind. Could you live without your cell phone ringing for 3 days? Could you allow someone else to do the cooking; serving delicious homemade meals straight from the wood-fired cookstove? Could you handle immersing your senses in a world that has no straight lines, where your hair can be a mess and no one cares, where the smell of the ocean and spruce studded islands fill your nostrils? What would happen if the hardest decision you had to make in 3 days was whether to have another lobster while sitting on a rocky beach in Maine?

These are the questions you can dare dream to answer. With 100s of islands, dozens of hidden anchorages to choose from, 3 days and no itinerary we have an answer for each of those questions. Aboard the schooner Mary Day, that’s what we endeavor to do every time we leave the dock. We aim to really leave it all behind and take you off the beaten path to places where time has largely stood still. With no engine, the wind plays the music that fills our days. Our sails are quite literally the canvas on which we paint each unique adventure. With no street lights on a clear summer night, the stars above remind us of our place in the universe.

Camden, Maine is a pretty cool town to explore before and after the cruise. If you ask us, 3 days is never enough time to spend in Maine. But for most of us, that is about all we get in this crazy busy workaday world. You owe it to yourself to get the heck out of “Dodge” and treat yourself to a little adventurous getaway. We are 3.5 hours from downtown Boston, 7 hours from NY City. Or if you really want to chill we can pick you up at the bus stop a stone’s throw from the harbor. However you get here, use that time to do some deep breathing. Relax your way into the journey. If you allow yourself to turn off the “noise” this quick getaway might just be the best 3 days of your summer!

Check out our schedule of 3 day cruises this summer.

Be well. Do good.

Cheers,

Capt. Barry

Essential Tar

Maine Windjammer

Tony, Maija and Sarah tarred the rig on Monday. The smell of tarred wafted over the harbor bringing the denizens of darkness from off of their barstools out into the sunshine and fresh air. There is something about the smell of tar. It is more of an essence. As in essential. I would suggest that there is something buried deep in our amygdala that is nourished by that rich aroma. Pardon my political insensitivity but I tell the boy crew that tar is a chick magnet. Kinda like plaid. Who can resist tar and plaid? The healing properties of pine tar go far beyond the lonesome heart. Many skin conditions, eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, seborrhoeic dermatitis….pine tar in the right dose has been anecdotally said to work wonders. But I am not telling you anything you didn’t already know.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

What to do? What to do!

schooner Mary Day, maine windjammer, windjammer cruises in maineThings We Love To Do in the Camden Area

We are often asked what we would do if we had a few extra days in Camden. For those of you joining us for a 3 or 4 day trip here is an incomplete list of ideas we think you might enjoy right here in the mostly immediate Camden area. All of these are day experiences you might enjoy after you have seen all of downtown Camden. Experiences in Acadia National Park are awesome and also pretty well documented so we won’t go into that here. Acadia is about an hour and a half from Camden depending on summer traffic. During July and August there will be summer traffic. Book any length cruise with us and we will send you this list with all of the links we think you will need to make it easy to create your own complete custom vacation package. 

Hike the Camden Hills- If you want to get out and stretch your legs you can walk from downtown to the base of the Mt Battie trail. 1.5 miles and 662’ of steep scrambling later you will, on a sunny day, enjoy magnificent views of Penobscot Bay. From there you can hike to Maiden’s Cliff and Megunticook Lake or up to the top of Mt. Megunticook. There are about 22 miles of hiking trails. You can also drive to the top of Mt Battie from the official park entrance for a fee. The park offers great camping with wonderful facilities as well.

LincolnvilleCellar Door Winery- Even if you don’t like wine this is a cool place to just walk around. They offer wine tastings in a beautiful old renovated barn overlooking the vineyard. Visit their website to check out special events happening their throughout the year.

UnionThe Union Fair- held during the third week of August every year this is your good old-fashioned county fair complete with carnival rides, cotton candy and lots of agricultural displays. If you are fascinated by big strong “draft” animals you will enjoy the annual oxen and horse pulling contests. We like the demolition derby where locals get one last gasp out of used cars before they head to the crusher. Too much going on to list here. The Union Fair Grounds are also home to the Moxie Museum. Invented in 1884 by Dr Augustin Thompson Moxie (originally a nerve agent free of cocaine or alcohol) is a taste sensation like nothing else you have ever experienced. Got Moxie?

Savage Oaks Winery- There are several local wineries in the area but this one boasts an annual summer concert that brings in some of the biggest names in folk music in an intimate venue. Lyle Lovett played there last summer. The Indigo Girls the summer before. Visit their webpage to see what is happening.

Belfast– Thirty years ago Belfast was where the hippie back-to-the- land farmers living in rural Waldo County came to town on Saturday night. Locals claim it looked like the circus had rolled in complete with VW microbuses and vintage apparel from the 1800s. Belfast has transformed itself into one of the most happening places along Penobscot Bay. There are a ton of cute little shops and great restaurants. Here are a couple of our favorites.

Parent Gallery- Raised on black and white and living in Technicolor! That is Neal Parent and his beautiful wife Linda. Their little gallery at the cross roads in the middle of town offers some fabulous large format black and white images that capture the essence of Midcoast Maine over the last 40 years. Tell them you sailed on Mary Day. It might not get you a discount but it’s a conversation starter. Who wants cheap art anyway?

Rollies Diner- Used to be that you could get quite the show just sitting at the bar. They have tamed things down a bit but they still serve a wicked good burger and a variety of local microbrews and everyday industrial favorites in a local bar atmosphere. Grab a table. The barstools will most likely be filled.

Marshall Wharf Brewery- With a cool harbor view enjoy this wonderful “nano-brewery.” They like their hops but in the most delicious way you can imagine. Who doesn’t want to try “Ace Hole” Pale Ale, “Wrecking Ball” Porter or “Sexy Chaos” Imperial Stout (11.2% abv). Be careful… you’re likely to wind up “seeing double and feeling single” before you know it. Oh, and the food is good too!

maine windjammer, Jacob Pike, Mary Day

The herring carrier Jacob Pike as seen passing Mary Day, a Maine windjammer.

Rockland Once a rough and tumble industrial fishing community Rockland has transformed itself into an arts mecca. Maine street is full of cool little stores and art galleries.

Jim Dugan- Though you’ll never find it this is where JimDugan.com has his studio. Of all the fabulous artists whose works adorn the walls of the many galleries and the Farnsworth Art Museum Jim Dugan is by far and away our favorite. Visit his webpage to see the fabulous color images he has created many of which include your favorite schooner, Mary Day. If you contact him well ahead of time he might be able to hand sign and deliver a large format image so that you can actually meet the man, the myth, the legend. He can also ship it to you by mail if your heart can’t handle the excitement of meeting him in person.

The Farnsworth- Considered by some to be one of the finest art collections in Maine the Farnsworth Art Museum is a fabulous take. Their Wyeth exhibit, covering 3 generations of one of America’s premier art families, is so comprehensive it has its own building. Tour part of the collection, take a break for lunch in any one of the downtown restaurants and head back in to take in some more.

The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse-  The breakwater is 7/8s of a mile long and built out of granite stones. The walk out here during the early morning for sunrise is pretty cool. Bring your camera. The patterns in the granite, the lighthouse, lobster boats headed out of the harbor, sunrise with just a few clouds above the horizon. Yeah, you might want to take a few pictures. 

The Sail Power and Steam Museum- Located in the South End of Rockland Harbor this nautical museum is a real hidden gem. Run by Jim and his lovely wife Meg Sharp there are all sorts of cool schooner and not-so-schooner related nautical exhibits. Jim has owned a slew of sails boats including a bunch of schooners one of which is the schooner Adventure now sailing out of Gloucester, MA. Bring your guitar on Sundays to the weekly hootenanny open to everybody. Probably the best interactive exhibit is Jim Sharp himself. Tell him you sailed aboard Mary Day and stand by for some colorful stories about the history of the Maine windjammer fleet.

The Owls Head Transportation Museum- Just on the outskirts of Rockland you will find one of the coolest transportation museums in the country. They have examples of every form of motorized transportation you can imagine. Their antique car and plane collection is pretty amazing. And they offer special events all year round.

maine windjammer, schooner cruises, sunrise at Isle Au Haut, schooner vacationsHeaded South from Rockland  Talk about off the beaten path. 

McLoon’s Wharf– If you just want to amble your way around the area by car we recommend grabbing a lobster roll or full lobster dinner at McLoon’s Wharf at the end of the road in Spruce Head. Lots of lobstering going on down here and you can watch the boats coming and going, unloading their catch or baiting up for the next day. This is the no frills, real deal. After lunch you ought to head over to Port Clyde and the Marshall Point Lighthouse to see just where it is Forest Gump ended his marathon run overlooking the Atlantic ocean.

Monhegan Island– This can be a day trip or an overnight visit to one of Maine most scenic island communities. Take the Monhegan Ferry from Port Clyde. This place is bustling during high season so don’t expect to have the island to yourself during the day. Made famous by the numerous artists who summered on the island you’ll find wonderful hiking, a few little artist’s shops, even a microbrewery and more scenery than you can take in. Pack a lunch and everything you think you’ll need for the day. Locals out here fish during the winter. You will have to ask around to figure out why. There are several inns, large and small, if you want to spend the night. The island feels quite different after the day visitors leave. We personally recommend the Trailing Yew where our long time Mary Day cook Mary Barney ran the bake house for 25 summers.

Splittin’ Firewood

Good morning! We hope you enjoyed your weekend. The weather continues to be absolutely gorgeous here in Maine. Isn’t that foliage incredible? Some ol’ colorful! The forecast says we are supposed to get some meaningful rain on Wednesday. We really need it. The swamp out back is drier than a boot. We have been scouting for deer and walking the property lines but haven’t scared up much. The coyotes have been quite close yippin’ away all night long which might account for the lack of deer at the moment. That…and the warm weather.

windjammer cooking

Jen splitting firewood.


Anyhoo…. Maija and Jen have been splitting firewood to beat the band. Maija cranked out the better part of 3 cords early last week and Jen is out there splitting away as I write. I took a couple pictures and made a short movie so you could see a little bit of what it looks like around here. So remember this next summer when the wood stove gets lit at 4:30 in the morning and all that great food comes out of the galley!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Zincs

Caring for a schooner takes way more than ever meets the eye. Schooners are built from wood (oak primarily in the case of Mary Day) and steel (or iron). Mary Day has an 80′ long cast iron ballast keel bolted to the bottom of the wood keel with very large galvanized bolts. In the salt water environment these steel and iron bits get “eaten” up by what amounts to minute electrical currents created in a number of different ways. Preventing that “galvanic action” requires sacrificing “softer” kinds of metal to protect the keel and the keel fastenings. Zinc is a tried and true kind of metal that unselfishly sacrifices itself. Every year we bolt zincs onto the ballast keel and every year we have to renew them as they slowly get eaten away. Zincs aren’t cheap but then again neither are keel bolts.
maine windjammer
I spent yesterday creating a mold and melting down leftover zincs to pour some new ones by recycling leftover bits of zinc. This project was inspired by Captain Doug Lee who started doing this years ago with his forge at the North End Shipyard. I created the mold using 3″ channel stock. The ring burner worked quite well but I have improved on that by making a “smelter” using an old propane tank lined with concrete. You can see I use a cast iron teak kettle that makes pouring the molten zinc quite easy and accurate. In the second image you can see the mold and the finished product. The straps come from used zincs. The holes drilled in the straps fit bolt holes tapped into the cast iron ballast keel on the schooner. In the third image you can see the shiny molten zinc along with two old zincs that were formally bolted to the keel. Watch this video showing a little bit of the process.
maine windjammer zinc mold
We must have 50+ of those used zincs that I have been holding onto for years knowing such an occasion would arrive. New zincs retail for $29/piece. We use 7 each season. That is $210….well more than the $14 cost of the propane used to melt the old zincs. These are the kinds of projects that keep me awake between midnight and 4 AM.

Have a great day. And as always….be well. Do good!

Sign of the Season

xmas-tree-aloft-1-of-1

Good morning everyone! Yesterday morning we took a walk in the woods to find the perfect tree to decorate the mast head of the schooner. We have a number of balsam firs in our woods most of which fit best in a Charlie Brown cartoon. After careful consideration we found one that, after careful trimming, fit the bill. We brought it down to the the harbor on a trailer and proceeded to string it with 250′ of white lights. Oh, don’t forget the bells at the tippity top. I have this image in my mind of someone standing on the town landing and hearing tinkling bells coming from the sky above. Santa must be close by!

Christmas tree, Camden Harbor

“Hey, Jen, I am no rocket surgeon but something isn’t quite right here.”

Rigging a 20′ tall tree at the masthead is not as simple as it might first appear. If I were a fly on a post watching from the town landing I would question the wisdom of sending a tree aloft upside down. But it really is the easiest way to get it off the dock and up aloft with do too much damage. Once the gantline attached to the “throat” of tree is two blocked a second line is used to right the tree. We use three stout seizings to lash the tree in place against the gale force winds that will undoubtedly whistle down through the Camden Hills at some time during the next month.

xmas-tree-lights-1-of-1

As the light continues to fade for the next month we hope that everyone in Camden who sees the tree at the masthead all lit up will pause for just a moment and feel a little bit of joy for the season. We do!! Have yourself a great day. Be well. Do good.

Penobscot Bay Pilots

ship-coming-in-from-offshore-1-of-1Good morning everyone. What a difference a few days make. From sunny, palm trees, 70s, pink flamingoes and white sand beaches we are now sailing in brisk no’west winds. Autumn is finally here and the first few maples are showing the true colors of autumn. We burned 15 gallons of dinosaur bones during the last cruise. I am guessing we will scarcely burn just a few gallons during this cruise. I like it when the yawl boat comes up and we don’t have to put it down for days at a time.

A few weeks ago I spied a big ship coming in off the horizon bound for the cargo terminal at Searsport in Penobscot Bay. In broken English the master of the ship requested the pilot meet him at 0915 at the appointed pilot boarding area just east of Matinicus Island. The pilot responded by confirming the arrival time and requesting a boarding ladder height 1.5 meters above the water, boarding speed 8 knots and a heaving line for the pilots bag. The weather was quite calm, clear and sunny, a day I am sure the pilots must be thankful for. Considering that pilots are available 24/7, 365 days a year you can just imagine the conditions they potentially face at each boarding. Fog, wind, snow, sea smoke so thick you can’t see the ship beneath you.

The Maine Pilotage Commission reported that in 2015 over 13.5 millions tons of product was carried. That cargo includes petroleum products, wood products, sand, salt and gravel and other miscellaneous items like wind turbine blades up to 150’ long. And then there are the thousands of folks who arrive in Maine by cruise ship. That makes Maine the second busiest waters in New England behind Massachusetts. Amazingly the pilots conduct themselves with a steady demeanor at all times, under all conditions including yachting traffic that departs from harbors like Camden and Rockland. By the conversations I hear on the VHF some of these yachts have absolutely no clue about the handling characteristics of large ships. Let’s just say these ships can’t stop on a dime or run up the bay in slalom course fashion. Pilots have to drive defensively at all times. For those of you that have been with me getting out of Camden you know things can get a bit dicey and how excited I can get. But that is for another blog. Thanks to the Penobscot Bay and River Pilots who keep our gas tanks full and our homes warm all winter long.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.