A Friend of a Friend

schooner Mary Day, maine windjammer, windjammer cruises in maineA friend of a friend snapped this image of Mary Day passing by the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse during a recent lighthouse tour. The light in the sails is particularly pleasing to me eyes. The creation of “Oceanus” synthetic canvas by Nat Wilson and North Sails has had a dramatic effect on how the windjammer fleet is portrayed. These sails are not only lighter, stronger and more powerful they have created a new way of imaging Maine windjammers. “In the old days” light didn’t filter through cotton canvas quite the same way. I know the magic of digital imaging has changed the way we portray reality but just the same, as our imaging guru Jim Dugan would point out, light can make a huge difference in any image. Backlighting sails didn’t exist until 20 or so years ago. And now that they are here we have a whole new range of imaging possibilities. How cool is that? So there you have it. The law of unintended consequences, the law of unforeseen collateral damage so to speak, is proven out by the friend of a friend. Thanks Nat. Thanks North Sails. Thanks Sheri. And thanks to her friend whose name we don’t know but whose eye we surely do appreciate.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

 

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Miserable Beauty

Saddleback Ledge Lighthouse, windjammer, schooner Mary Day,  lighthouse tours in Maine Saddleback Ledge Light as seen from the schooner Mary Day during a recent windjammer lighthouse tour in Maine.

Good morning everyone. I am back ashore for the winter. The schooner is under wraps (more on that later). Autumn is descending on the Camden Hills in all its glory. And now I have a few moments to sift through my laptop folder titled “Unedited Images”. Most of it is junk but the memories stirred of one of the best summers of my life will keep me warm all winter.

Pictured above is the present day Saddleback Ledge Light built in 1839 and automated in 1954. At the outer edge of Isle Au Haut Bay in eastern Penobscot Bay this rock and its lighthouse have always captured my imagination. How miserable a place to be stationed  and at the same time how awesome and beautiful it must have been to live and work there. Imagine the energy of the entire North Atlantic knocking on the door in a southeasterly gale. Imagine a family of nine living in such cramped quarters. And you thought the schooner cabins were a little tight? The image below shows the vastly expanded living quarters added on to Saddelback Ledge Light at a later date.

lighthouse tours in Maine, windjammer cruises, lighthouse history, Maine lighthouses

Pharologist Jeremy D’Entremont has some great information about the Saddleback Ledge Lighthouse that is fun to look at.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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Breaking Patterns

maine windjammer, windjammer cruises, schooner Mary DayGood morning everyone. It is easy to get into routine patterns with any job even when one drives a schooner to work. Not that all patterns are necessarily bad as you can see in this beautiful piece of driftwood. But there is nothing I enjoy more than trying to see each trip as a new adventure…which, by the way, it is. You would think that after 30 years of poking around the coast I would have seen most everything. Not yet! Breaking patterns is not always easy or even intentional but as these few photos may suggest it is well worth the effort.

maine geology, maine windjammer, windjammer cruises, schooner Mary Day

As you can see, even patterns in the rocks sometime experience abrupt changes.


We discovered yet another very cool beach for a lobster picnic at an island I have been to many times. I don’t know why I never saw this beach before.It was like I saw this little hole in the wall cove for the first time. Of course the wind was from a direction I had never experienced at this particular island which makes everything look completely different. I have bushwhacked across

maine windjammer at anchor, maine schooner, schooner Mary Day, schooner cruises, windjammer cruisesthis island on a few occasions and to find a trail through the woods I never knew existed was a huge surprise and quite the bonus. Will wonders never cease!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

 

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Double Eagle

aine windjammer, working vessels in Maine, sardine carrier, windjammer cruisesGood morning everyone. There are some working vessels along the coast that turn heads. Double Eagle is one of them. Loaded down with herring (I presume) and steaming hard to get fresh bait to the lobstermen Capt. Glen has her digging quite the hole with the power and grace that only a sardine carrier can pull off. Look at that wave along her side that stretches almost bow to stern. She is one of my favorites working boats out here.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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Teeming with Life

minke whale, whale watching, maine windjammer, windjammer cruises, schooner Mary Day
Good morning everyone. The Maine coast is teeming with life these days. There is something about a beautiful day in mid-July that brings all creatures, great and small, to the surface to feed. There is so much going on that just getting out of Camden is an ordeal. We gave our usual security call before departing our berth. Evidently the captain of the sailing yacht “Prevail” hailing from Buzzards Bay doesn’t feel the need to communicate with the rest of the world maintaining radio incommunicado. While we frantically tried to stop the schooner from running up his quarterdeck he blithely cut in front of us and proceeded to start and stop in the channel oblivious to the VHF radio and a series of 5 rapid blasts of the horn (3X none the less!). Our days end was met with just the opposite, a yacht club rendezvous with 20+ boats from Boothbay hooting and hollering in what is normally one of the quietest anchorages along the Maine coast.

The “intermission” between yesterday’s start and stop was filled with a very different kind of life. I can’t remember the last time I saw as much wildlife feeding as we did yesterday. Terns, puffins, auks, gannets and shearwaters were hovering and diving on small silver fish, herring I assume, where the swirling currents of Isle Au Haut Bay and Jericho Bay meet. By the hundreds, pelagic birds could be seen flying back to nearby Seal I with bits of silver in their beaks to feed hungry fledgling chicks. And as if that were not enough excitement we were all startled by the breath of surfacing minke whale just yards astern of us.schooner Mary Day, common tern with fish, maine coast seabirds, maine windjammer, windjammer cruises

And then this conversation dawned on me. Whale: Goodness it must be July…they are back. Humans gawking and picture taking. Paying no attention to where they are going. Disturbing the fish. Getting in the way of me swimming and feeding. Yeesh. Tern: What. You never seen a bird with a fish in its beak before? Stop scaring the fish will ya! Me: Sorry folks. Your home is beautiful and we are just a little bit curious about your lives. We are in awe of what you might consider your everyday ordinary lives. By the way, what do you do during the winter?

Have a great day. be well. Do good.

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Looking Into the Sun

maine windjammer, schooner cruises, sunrise at Isle Au Haut, schooner vacations
Good morning everyone and a very happy 4th of July to you all. We are anchored here in one of my favorite little hidey holes. From where we sit it would appear that the cool damp weather has moved offshore and that we are in for a couple of warm sunny days more typical of this time of year. Sunrise this morning was shrouded in a foggy mist diffusing the light as it peaked over Bowditch Mt in to our anchorage. It is a fitting 4th of July reminder; working boats along the Maine coast bathed in golden sunlight. No different than a tractor in field of wheat waiting for another day’s work. Nothing can take away from the honesty created by wresting a living from land or sea. This “hands to work and hearts to God” approach to life is the single most important piece of America that I hold closest to my heart.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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Interview with Capt. Barry King

Maine windjammer sailing vacations, windjammer cruises in maineI was recently interviewed by Everett Potter, travel writer, of the New York Times. Here are some of the answers to the questions he had for me.

 

Everett: Let’s start at the beginning: what is a “windjammer” and how did they become so closely associated with the Maine coast?

Barry: The term “windjammer” was originally a derogatory term used by sailors in steamships when they referred to those sailing vessels that, instead of sailing straight up wind had to tack back and forth sailing as close to the wind as possible to go places. Due to its lack of access by other means during the late 19th and early 20th centuries commercial sailing vessels were still in existence along the Maine coast. The first windjammer cruises were offered aboard some of these schooners whose captains were happy to have a new “cargo”. Nowadays the term windjammer refers to any of the traditional sailing vessels offering over night sailing cruises along the Maine coast.

Everett: Historically, when did Maine windjammers begin offering passage to paying customers?

Barry: Windjammer cruises in Maine began in 1936. A gentleman by the name of Frank Swift saw a potential market for folks from urban and suburban areas enjoying time aboard a traditional Maine coast schooner. Given the popularity of these cruises it seems like he was right.

Everett: Tell us about your ship, the Schooner Mary Day. Is it a vintage working ship or a later version of a windjammer?

Barry: Mary Day was the first commercial sailing vessel purpose built for windjammer cruises. She was built at the Harvey Gamage Shipyard in South Bristol from an original design by Capt Havilah Hawkins who had formerly owned and operated the schooners Stephen Taber and Alice Wentworth. Is she vintage or a later version of a windjammer? Well she was the first schooner ever launched just to be a windjammer. As a commercial sailing vessel she was designed for a different purpose than any of the other vessels at the time but she was none the less a commercial sailing, the first schooner launched along the coast of Maine since 1938. Capt Hawkins design reflected the best examples of his experiences aboard older schooners and added his own well-founded ideas about how to make a schooner more comfortable and easier to maintain. In essence she is a coasting schooner like all the rest, just launched a little later with a new cargo in mind. 51 years later I think he got a lot of things just right.

Everett: What are the classic reasons that a tourist would enjoy a trip on a Maine windjammer?

Barry: Have you ever met someone who didn’t really like to relax and couldn’t enjoy spending a few days poking around the coast of Maine? Windjammer cruises take folks away from the daily cares ashore. No cell phones, no computers, no radios or television telling us what the latest crisis in the news might be. Who doesn’t need a chance to leave “it” all behind. There are some folks who don’t want to let go and that is fine. There are some folks who get seasick looking at a picture of a boat so this type of vacation experience isn’t for everyone. But I can promise this, if anyone wants a chance to relax deeply, to see a still wild part of the coast, to enjoy the thrill of 100 tons of boat being propelled by nothing more than the wind, doesn’t need the constant hustle and bustle and can enjoy the company of others…well then this might just do all of that and more. I have yet to meet the person who doesn’t get just a tinge of excitement when they get a chance to take the wheel or see a seal pup and its mother lying in the sun on an exposed ledge or see porpoise or a bald eagle or the granite shores of an unspoiled spruce covered island.

Everett: What are the ports of call you might visit?

Barry: We have no itinerary. It is that simple. No schedule, no place to be. I like to think that we get guests off the beaten path. You can’t imagine that we could hide a big schooner like Mary Day but Maine is so full of islands and remote little coves it really isn’t that hard. Ports of call? Name any big town along the Maine coast and we don’t go there. A secluded beach, a small island community with a one room school house, a remote part of Acadia National Park that can only be accessed by boat, a small village where lobster boats far out number yachts. That doesn’t give you the names of any specific towns I know but then again most people wouldn’t have a clue where the fishing village of East Brookshaven on Little Long Island in Seal Bay is.

Everett: You belong to the Maine Windjammer Association – do you meet up with other windjammers in the course of one of your voyages?

Barry: Yes we do! The Maine Windjammer Association is a group of 10 owner/operators working cooperatively to insure the quality of the windjammer experience. The Association host several events during the season when the fleet has a chance to meet up for a “gam”, have a fun day racing around the bay or have a shoreside shindig with music and dancing. As the last and largest working fleet of traditional sailing vessels we can’t help but see and admire the other boats.

Everett: How about families –is this a trip that families might enjoy?

Barry: Families are more than welcome aboard the schooners. We have hosted family reunions, weddings and small families that just want a chance to spend some quality time together without having to worry about who is doing the cooking or the cleaning. Some of schooners have a suggested age limit and some specialize in families with younger children. We suggest an age limit of 12 but we make exceptions for families with kids who are mature enough to understand the nature of the sailing experience and can communicate well with adults.

Everett As a passenger, can I participate in the work life of the ship, helping to hoist sails, say?

Barry: You bet! That is what we do best. These windjammers are a fabulous place to learn about sailing, traditional rigging, knots and navigation. Aboard Mary Day we actually offer sail training cruises for school groups and for adults looking for an exciting active experiential vacation that doesn’t require great physical conditioning or special equipment. We also offer a host of other cruises with themes that include folk music, natural history, lighthouses and this year, a beer tasting cruise that features craft beers from Maine.

Everett: Tell us a bit about the food and your chef.

Barry: Hearty New England fare…that is what we offer. Breakfasts such as blueberry pancakes with Maine maple syrup, scrambled eggs (from our own chickens) and sausage made by a local farmer who lives just down the road from us. Fresh fruit and plenty of hot coffee and tea along with homemade cranberry scones. Lunches are usually hearty soups with fresh garden salads with home made dressings along with fresh bread and something just a little sweet like almond chocolate chip cookies. Dinner entrees include fresh fish with lemon and capers, baked boneless chicken breasts with an orange marmalade glaze, or a southern pulled pork made from Boston butt (again from our neighbor farmer down the road) slow cooked in the wood cookstove. Every cruises includes an all-you-can-eat lobster dinner. Fresh pies from local fruits in season, a wicked moist chocolate cake with mocha frosting or a strawberry shortcake with light homemade biscuits, hand whipped cream and organic strawberries. Should I mention hand cranked home made ice cream?

Everett: And the cost – these are pretty reasonable trips, aren’t they?

Barry: Trips cost on average $175/person/day depending on the length of the cruise and the time of season desired. I have had more than a few folks tell us we don’t charge enough. We keep our rates as low as possible and the great thing, unlike other cruise experiences, there are no surcharges or shore visit fees or chances that the engine (in our case the wind) will break down. Our trips are an all-inclusive get-away package that gets you out of your car and answers the question “What are we going to do today?” during your Maine vacation. Between shopping, gas, meals, entertainment and room fees for staying at one of the local B&Bs we are a bargain. I think just knowing that you are doing something extraordinary, seeing the Maine coast from a whole new perspective instead of searching for a parking space from your car is worth the price of admission. The Maine windjammer sailing experience is something you just can’t find anywhere else in the world.

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A Spring Walk

Good morning everyone. Spring is theoretically here although the other day we awoke to a very thin white blanket of “poor mans fertilizer”. Believe it or not the temperatures did rebound clear up into the 40s; good enough for painting aboard the schooner. I am so impressed with the crew and how hard they have been working. They took a day off yesterday. The forecast for tomorrow looks promising for pushing more paint. As excited as I get about painting the schooner, I really enjoy a morning walk in the woods with the dogs; a grand tour of nature awakening in spring. The first flowering plant of the year is present in the swamp. Its brilliant red flower covers poking up through the snow and ice due to its very unique ability to generate heat. Do you know what it is?skunk cabbage emerging in spring The familiar call of spring peepers can be heard in the early evenings and this morning I heard a hermit thrush. The song of the hermit thrush is soul food.

Vernal Pool w:Ice

Other sure signs of spring, the cover came off the schooner on Thursday. Wow! Daylight and fresh air at last. We are waiting for the call from the shipyard. This is obviously a big time of year and the yard period is always the busiest. So if you happen to be in Rockland, Maine next week stop on by. We won’t really have any time to talk but I guarantee we’ll put a scraper and putty knife in your hands and put you to work.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.maine windjammer, wooden boat maintenance, signs of spring, windjammer cruises,

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What A Character

Characters of CamdenGood morning everyone. Do you know any characters, folks who you just can’t forget? Let’s see, a few characters that I will never forget: Major Floyd S Chadwick, USAF Ret., our dearly beloved Camden “Harbor Monitor” Now that man had a quip for everything and I must use a “majorism”, one of his often used witty explanations for life, everyday. Then there is Mary, Sweet Mary, who learned her baking craft from Josephine Day who ran the Trailing Ewe for many, many years before she called it quits at somewhere close to the age of 90. Mary learned how to do a days work in her 25 summers at the Ewe. Mary could do anything in the world without complaining and with a smile on her face. Everyone felt warmed by Mary’s goodness just by standing in the same room with her. My Dad had his moments, walking into the local yacht club like he owned the place. I didn’t find out until I was an adult that we used the launch service for years without actually possessing a membership card. Not a very good role model but he had a certain nerve you kinda had to admire and probably helped him stride confidently (wether he was confident or not) into many difficult situations. And then there is Bruce, as honest as the day is long, as forgiving as the clouds are high and as full of funny stories that redefine the word “embellishment” as the ocean is deep. Many of Bruce’s stories start with, “One day, down at the plant….” There are more characters I could name but you get the point. Undoubtedly you know a few yourself.
cool-summer-job aboard a tallship
Character is earned through hard work and very challenging life experiences. When the Major came out of the Battle of the Bulge during WW II alive he had earned a few stripes, literally and figuratively. No one who ever worked for Josephine Day at the “Ewe” ever left the same as when they arrived. More often than not character is formed, tempered if you will, “under fire”. So that begs the question, how will the up and coming generations find their character. I have been in many sail training situations aboard the schooner with college students and younger adults. More recently I have wondered if young men in particular were going through the moves, looking right for the part but not really grabbing life by the horns and shaking it for all they could. Without having had too much stress in their lives why would they? Finding crew for the schooner is a huge challenge these days and the best crew more often than not come from what I consider the strongest families or in the opposite extreme the hardest family situations from which by the grace of God they have emerged self-reliant. Do you know how many 19 year olds we have had arrive at the boat who have never cooked, cleaned, shopped for food, done their own laundry or otherwise had to fend for themselves emotionally, financially or physically?
working aloft  a tall ship as a seasonal employment
Someone decided to call this Generation Y or “Millenials.” Sociologists have put a pile of labels on these folks. Goodness knows I lacked all sorts of emotional maturity during my 20s, 30s and 40s. Most people wonder about me today. I don’t like labels but what I will say, based on my own experience, is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find young adults with the strength of character to go the unnoticed extra mile, to stand behind their word when making difficult choices, to put in a long days work without having to stop every half hour for a water break or check their Facebook page. And what is up with young men with bad backs?
Don’t get me started!Oooops, too late.
working on a tallship for a seasonal job
At any rate, I am probably sounding like an old geezer by now. That’s OK with me. The point is this. We are looking for a few good men and women who are not afraid of a long days work where back muscles actually get sore, where strength of character is pushed while standing bow watch in the pouring rain, where perseverance is challenged when standing next to a hot wood stove kneading bread in a moving boat with no visible horizon. Crewing on a windjammer is not the easiest summer job but it is the coolest. So if you know someone full of the energy and idealism of youth with a strength of character tested by life experience please send them our way. Applications are available online.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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A Very Sweet Idea

maine windjammer, maine maple syrup, good deal of windjammer cruises, free maple syrup

Liquid gold flows from the trees here in Maine. A free pint to the first 8 reservations we receive for a May or June cruise. (1 per family)

Good morning everyone. The past month has been the usual whirlwind of activity here. The tension of fit-out is upon us. I use the word tension with the idea that tension is not always a bad thing but does help me realize where the balance is. Tension, like a spring, keeps things cushioned.

One of this past month’s projects has been tapping the maples and getting some syrup in for the year ahead. The flow of sap from the red maples we tap had one of those off and on years. Tink, tink, tink; the sound sap makes when it drips into an empty bucket on a warm spring day but only after we have had a good freeze through the night. The nights have been getting progressively a little warmer and the sap has pretty much run its course. We finished boiling this weekend. The product is one of the most beautiful amber colored liquids I have seen since the last time we boiled down sap.

So for the first 8 reservations we receive for a May or June cruise we offer a free pint of our version of liquid gold made by yours truly from our own maples. How could anyone resist? Hope to see you during one of our glorious early season cruises.

Click here for the complete schedule. Have you heard about our new beer tasting cruise, the Craft of Ale Sail?

Have a great day. Be well Do good.

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