For about 10 years Jen and I had the honor of hosting a Leadership Academy for a group of fraternity brothers from across the country. Each year Delta Tau Delta held several of these academies at different locations for chapter members from across the country. A couple days ago I received an email from one of the brothers who asked about a poem I recited each morning after I woke them up with a song. That poem was the Sanskrit Salutation to the Dawn. I first heard Tim Ellis recite this at every Sunday service beneath the towering “wolf” pine at Camp Chewonki. Tim’s version added a thought about the splendor of achievement; the idea of setting a goal for yourself each day.
Look to this Day!
For it is Life, the very Life of Life.
In its brief course lie all the
Verities and Realities of your Existence;
The Bliss of Growth,
The Glory of Action,
The Splendor of Beauty;
For Yesterday is but a Dream,
And Tomorrow is only a Vision;
But Today well lived makes every
Yesterday a Dream of Happiness, and every
Tomorrow a Vision of Hope.
Look well therefore to this Day!
I wake up everyday like a little kid. Hope fills my heart. Even though yesterday was incredibly challenging and just about wore me down to a nub I greet today with optimism. As my young “Delt’s” email reminded me, you never know how you will touch someone else’s life in the few brief moments you touch each other. Who knew that 20 years later he would still be thinking about how to live each day with heart, courage, compassion and authenticity because of a poem.
So as you venture out into the craziness carry this poem in your heart. Be the best you there is. Be the faith you wish everyone would keep. Practice making others smile and laugh. Dole out compliments to people you don’t know and see how they respond.
“And in the end, the love you take, is equal to, the love you make.” Lennon/McCartney, ’69
Good morning…. I believe I look a little haggard but the Jen couldn’t resist the “golden light” streaming in through the window. Even a sow’s ear looks pretty good if you put enough ketchup on it. I am feeling tired right about now. Preparing for any sailing season (fit-out) is a monumental task. This year with the coronavirus restrictions is especially difficult. Everyone is asking whether we will be able to run cruises this summer.
Here’s what I know: The captains of the Maine Windjammer Association are working harder than ever to rise to this challenge. We are creating operational guidelines for proposal to the powers that be allowing us to board guests and get underway with all due regard to the Governor’s 14 day quarantine requirement. The entire process is going to require patience and perseverance. You think you have questions?
If we are successful creating a plan in concert with the state, we then need “buy-in” from you, our guests. I can’t count the number of times I have said to our guests, “We are only here because of you.” This has never been truer than right now. Hang in there with us. Be patient and help us get through these crazy times. Help us by working with whatever guidance is created. We are shooting for the beginning of Phase II (July 1) “Don’t give up the ship!” As soon as we have something in hand you’ll be the first to know. Hang in there everybody.
Be good to yourselves. Be good to each other. Be safe. Be well. Do good. P.S. Remember Shaggy from Scooby-doo? Anyone out there cut hair? And my nails? Egads!
There is a phenomenon here along the Maine coast that I have observed over and over again. Weather comes with the tides. When I say weather I mean weather for which adequate clothing is a challenge. As they say, there is no such thing as bad weather. Just a bad choice of clothing. Take that with a grain of salt from the guy whose favorite summer challenge is to wear shorts from the first day we leave the dock to the day we take the sails off.
Today’s forecast for Penobscot Bay includes a storm warning with wind gusts up to 55 knots. I should explain: knots means nautical miles per hour. A nautical mile is about 6,076 feet; about 15% longer than a land mile. That same wind measured onland would be 63 miles an hour. Strong enough to blow the melted butter off a biscuit! Hurricane force winds start at 64 knots. Thank goodness we won’t have a hurricane in Maine today. Actually we seldom do have hurricanes here because of the Gulf of Maine’s cold water temperatures.
So the part of all of this that fascinates me is how the weather along the Maine coast moves with the tides. Take a look at the hourly forecast for Camden. It is readily apparent that the peak of the rain and wind occurs at about 6 o’clock tonite. Guess what time the high tide is?
The peak of today’s “weather” and the high tide coincide quite closely. Were it not for daylight saving time (DST) the synchronicity would be even more apparent. Evidently, the weather doesn’t observe DST.
I can’t tell you how often this happens. Like all the time. In with the tide, out with the tide; meaning that most weather events here along the coast only last about 12 hours. The onshore breeze in the summer works the same way more often than not. If you had a birds-eye view of Penobscot Bay on a hot summer day (yes, we have days when the temperatures soar into the 70s) you could see the wind roll up the bay from Owls Head to Castine. Do you know how frustrating it is to be sitting becalmed for hours off the north end of North Haven and see a schooner “bringing the wind” with it blow by just as the wind line gets to you? I have had to start the yawl and burn dinosaur bones to push through the Oak I. Passage on more than one occasion. Hauling the yawl boat before you clear North Haven is sometimes a dicey proposition. Once up, no captain ever wants to put the yawl boat back down. No sooner do you put the boat down and then the wind is blowing 20. Sometimes just shaking the yawl boat falls can fool the wind into picking up.
So why does all of this work the way it does? I am no meteorologist but my best guess is water temperature. Every change of the tidal currents that flush water in and out of Penobscot Bay at 1-2 knots, depending on the phase of the moon and where you are in the bay, mixes things up. Cooler water and the air just above it from offshore gets carried into the bay on the tide. Warmer air aloft heads offshore to replace the cooler air being carried in in the tide. Warmer water inshore gets mixed with cooler water from offshore. Cooler water down deep mixes with warmer water near the surface (in the summer). Sometimes you can physically see the place where they meet.
And what creates the tides? The largest part is created by the gravitational pull of our moon. Do you suppose that the same gravitational force moves moisture, and the heat associated with it, that is stored in the atmosphere? The entire atmosphere is kinda like the ocean with currents circulating north and south, east and west, up and down. To think about it in 3-D is mind-boggling.
So I am going to leave this natural phenomenon right there. Again, I am not a scientist. I am only an observer and not an especially keen one at that. But I have seen these patterns repeat themselves so many times and yet it never ceases to amaze my child-like sense of wonder. I kinda like not knowing the full scientific explanation. I have amassed enough nickel knowledge to be dangerous. But there is still a lot in this world that goes on without any explanation whatsoever. Some things are best left to my favorite explanation… PFM (pure freakin’ magic).
Have a great day, Be well. Do good. And wash your hands when you’re finished.
I have photographed this piece of granite a thousand times. I captured this image on the last cruise of the 2019 season knowing for sure that the winter ice and cold temperatures would most likely roll this over the edge. I have been thinking this for the last 40 years since I first saw this rock.
I can’t be the only one who marvels at how precariously this rock is perched. There it is…seemingly all alone. And that is where this story gets interesting during these times of social distancing. We could quickly label this a glacial erratic but it isn’t really an erratic in the truest sense of the term. The boulder, while undoubtedly deposited during a period of glacial activity sometime before last Tuesday, is composed of the same granite as the surrounding landscape. Often the term erratic is used to describe glacially transported rocks of different composition than the surrounding landscape. There is an excellent example on the southeast side of Mark I off of Camden. I wish I had a picture of that to share. But don’t take my word for it. Come sailing so I can show it to you.
Fasten your seatbelts and hang with me for another moment. The beauty of the times we are living in is our ability to stay connected electronically. The challenge is to stay connected physically, emotionally, spiritually. Electronic communication is woefully inadequate as we strive for the fulfilling soul food of physical, emotional, and spiritual connection. It is all too easy to find ourselves feeling alone when in truth we are being supported by the very bedrock from which we derive our psychological existence. My heart aches when I think of how social distancing is making us feel isolated, maybe even unloved. Reaching out through email and text may be the best we can do for the moment. So I want you to print out my picture. When you look at this picture I want you to remember that you are loved and supported by the basic bedrock of your friends, family, and community.
So there you have it. If windjamming does nothing else, it allows me to unplug and take a moment to re-connect with the natural world. Ultimately I am actually re-connecting with my friends and neighbors. Friendships forged aboard the schooner while watching sunsets and bald eagles and beautiful scenery last a long time. So many of our guests keep coming back to see each other. They stay connected through the 51 weeks of the year they are not aboard. Take a moment today to shoot a very quick email or text or postcard to someone, anyone. Be the bedrock that supports the delicate balance in which we find ourselves living.
Have a great day. You are not alone. Be safe. Be well. Do good.
I was pawing through some images from last summer and found this one of Eagle I. Lighthouse. Being the keeper of a lighthouse was no easy feat during the 1800s. The pay was minimal, food was not included and the seclusion of some lights meant homeschooling, if a keeper’s family could be together, was a necessity. Many keepers fished, kept gardens, really lucky ones might have a milk cow and basically lived off the land and sea with only a few chances to get provisions like flour and lard. That a few keepers, like Howard Ball at the Eagle I lighthouse, managed all of this and also acted as Audubon wardens is admirable to say the least.
First lit in 1838 with oil lamps and reflectors this light happens to be atop a large cliff (80’+/-) and lies at a tight little passage where Isle Au Haut Bay meets East Penobscot Bay. The tidal current really hums between Eagle and the largely inaccessible Hardhead I. It wasn’t until 1858 that a fourth order Fresnel lens was installed in the lantern atop the rubble stone tower. Today the light flashes white every 4 seconds with a luminous range of 9 miles.
Keeper Howard Ball, an Audubon warden, who served the light from 1898 to 1913 is quoted twice in the 1909 ornithological journal The Auk:
Keeper Ball’s brief notes are interesting to see given what was already on his very full plate. I can only guess that he must have made these observations while tending lobster traps since both Channel Rock and Sloop I Ledge are on the opposite side of Eagle I than the lighthouse. I have noticed abundant terns around neighboring Grass Ledge over the past several summers which makes me wonder if the terns hop from one nesting place to another to avoid overuse of particular nesting sites.
Eagle I. with its year round community would have been a more socially forgiving place to tend a light. The one room school house still stands on Eagle I. The east facing meadow around the light would have provided some garden space although the larger south facing meadows around the neighboring Quinn house would have been more suitable. As I have been working these past few weeks getting in firewood I am amazed by the challenge it must have been for Keeper Ball to keep his family warm and fed through the long winter months in addition to the many other responsibilities he would have had to manage. I have no complaints in comparison.
The herring carrier Jacob Pike as seen passing Mary Day, a Maine windjammer.
Good morning everyone from the global headquarters of the schooner Mary Day. It is a blustery rainy morning outside. The power is out, again, so I write this thanks to a small generator humming away in the woodshed. Times like these make me think of warm summer days on the bay. This image is of the Jacob Pike, now a lobster smack working the Maine coast under the ownership of J&J Lobster out of Rockland. These folks have been putting her to work buying lobster in distant harbors and bringing them into Rockland at the end of the day. I believe I have seen her sitting in the Fox Island Thorofare just off North Haven village buying lobster. You can see the derrick with its boom for getting 100 pound crates of lobster aboard. She has a pile of lobster crates on deck at the ready to receive the days catch just forward of the main hatch.
Built in 1949 by Newbert and Wallace in Thomaston she carried herring to the sardine factories in the day. Later on she carried herring for use as lobster bait. Just 80′ on deck she can carry up to 90 tons of cargo and still slip along along at 12 knots which suggests a streamlined hull form and a strong diesel power plant. Folks often wonder why the “pinked” stern. I have been told that a double ended hull allowed such a vessel to back right up to a fish weir’s gate for ease of loading herring. It also allows the stern to split a following sea which may be more to point since having the stern get lifted up and tossed about by the swells certainly wouldn’t help her handling. You can see that she hardly leaves a wake as she steams along.
Anyway, she is a handsome vessel, no matter how you slice it. If I ever grow up I could imagine spending my days cruising the coast in a boat like the Jacob Pike, although that is not what she was meant to do. She is a classy working vessel and ought to stay that way as long as she makes her owners a living. I just love seeing her out there.
Good morning everyone. We are off and running for Mary Day’s 53rd season. Though not without a few bumps and bruises the crew is beginning to see what all that hard work was about during April and May. Mary Day herself is just beautiful. The simplicity, complexity and symmetry of the rigging is a wonder to behold.
I know I just used the words complexity and simplicity side by each but they both hold true. There is a complex physics behind the connections between each and every string and wire. There is a simplicity in the final result which allows 4 (or sometimes fewer) people to pass the sails from one tack to another. I believe it was Buckminster Fuller, designer of the geodesic dome and a Maine island rusticator, who coined the term “synergy,” the idea that the individual parts create a much larger whole.
The same holds true for our beautiful guests. A complex group of human beings come together every week and by trip’s end are one community bound by the strength of their unique experience. The connections made share that same unique quality and can never be replicated in quite the same way. Like the evolution of the schooner rig the basic simplicity of the experience doesn’t change but the synergistic result is inspiring. Remove any piece of rigging and the experience changes completely. Enough philosophical ramblings for one blog. Get out there and try to recognize for yourself the rigging that holds your life together. Try to notice, without judgement, and imagine how the connections keep you stayed allowing you to sail smoothly through life. Be the schooner!
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.
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?
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.
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? 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.
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.