Tag Archives: schooner cruises

The Sow’s Ear

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!

Weather Whys

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.

“A bone in her teeth” Image by Neal Parent

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.

See how the wind is predicted to crest at 6 PM?

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?

From 8:00 o’clock this morning.

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.

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