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 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!
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!
A 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.
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.
Good afternoon everybody. So as you can see I have a new toy, a GoPro camera so get yourselves ready for some new perspectives on windjamming. The 170 degree field of view is fun and certainly gives folks the big picture. The movie mode is awesome. Don’t think you won’t be seeing some cool footage from the bow while we are out sailing. Of course there are quite a few pixels in this tiny little box so it will take some gezhuntering to get it right. It is fun to see the world through the lens of a new camera. As Jim Dugan always preaches on our Nature/Photography Cruises some of the coolest pictures are those that are taken from perspectives from which we do not normally see life. And isn’t that just a great message for the day, eh?
Enjoy these. The smiling glasses gal is Morgan, deckhand extraordinaire aboard Mary Day this summer. The figure head would be Brendan who is helping fit-out the Lewis R French. And Amber is hanging cat like on the cat head painting that cute little star. Nice touch!