Where the big kids play. 

It’s Saturday morning and we are on a mooring here in Sag Harbor, “the” harbor in The Hamptons, where the big money plays and play they do.

Sag Harbor has been off limits to us or many years as the harbor has the distinction of being the most expensive place on the east coast to get a mooring, even more expensive than Nantucket.  The moorings here are $2/ft per day.  So, for Pandora’s 47’, that would be close to $100 per night and we’d still have to make your way ashore in a rubber dink.  Horrifying.

However all is not lost.  Essex Yacht Club maintains two moorings here in the harbor so we can camp out here for a few days and we don’t have to pay anything for the privilege of being here.   Well, we don’t have to pay till we go ashore at least as nothing is free in this town.

However, I think it’s safe to assume that we are about the ONLY ones not paying, and I am sure that they are plenty happy to pay big for the privilege of “being seen” among the “glitterati”, the “who’s who” of New York Society and entertainment.

The local “rag” Dan’s Papers, lists benefit events being held and there are literally dozens each month, offering many opportunities for the 1% set to show that while they don’t pay taxes, they are willing and able to support any number of causes and happy to be seen doing it.  I’ll bet that this area is the ONLY one in the U.S. where there is a local paper that actually lists the top billionaires that keep a home here, include their picture, the name of their “current” wife, note what they paid for their home and how much they are worth.

Want to know who’s the “fairest” of them all?  Well, it’s Mayor Bloomberg at a cool, make that a very cool, $48.3 billion and his home here is a 22,000 sq/ft on 35 acres.  You should feel sorry for Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, as he’s only worth a paltry $1.1 billion.  Poor Lloyd.

Anyway, no shortage of folks with plenty of green to spend and spend it they do. Poor little Pandora among the big kids.  And, some of the “kids” look pretty grown up to me.

How about this one?  She carries her own Mini, complete with the name of the yacht, Indiscretion on the side.  8-27-16a 007I’ll bet that it’s safe to say that their dink has more HP than the Mini.  “Honey?” “Yes, Buffy, what is it?”  “Oh, I think that our Mini looks just adorable aboard Indiscretion but I just don’t feel comfortable as it was your ex that chose the color”.  “That’s nice honey but can we talk about it when I’m finished reading Baron’s?”

And the “dinks” on some of these “megas” are quite impressive. If Darth Vader wanted one I’ll bet that he’d pick this.8-26-16a 041How about this lovely? She’s well into the “mega” range and yet has the lines of a small sport boat.  Note the crew on the bow.  They look totally teeny tiny up there.  I’ll bet her “carbon footprint” could squash a billionaire like a gnat. 8-27-16a 013However, all the yachts here aren’t “mega”.  How about the latest in a line of beauties owned by Billy Joel, Argos.  I recognized the guy who takes care of Billy’s boats from an article I saw a few years ago in Soundings, a boating newspaper.  Billy has very nice taste in boats. 8-27-16a 010From any angle.
8-26-16a 061Scout, which I have seen in Newport, is a beauty.   Yes, I’d enjoy a G&T aboard her.8-27-16a 011And, if you can’t afford MEGA you can always put mega HP on your micro yacht.  This one has 1,400hp.  I’ll bet that she can outrun all but the fastest 1%.8-26-16a 073In the parking lot near the marina there are some very nice cars that fit just fine in the neighborhood.  Love these two, the Aston Martin and the beachy thing.  Note the mega hydrangea behind them.  It seems that flowers love the climate here too. 8-26-16a 062The florist in town was getting ready for the weekend.  All of these phalaenopsis orchids were in a room that said “all the flowers in this room are sold”.  White sells well here.8-26-16a 064Not to worry, there were plenty still ready for you to take home.  8-26-16a 065The staff had to work out on the front lawn to arrange all the flowers that had been ordered.  There were many dozens of red rose arrangements being prepared for just one Friday night party.

I don’t know anywhere else that celebrates white like the Hamptons.  We saw a number of stores that only had white.  It’s tough to be a “mega consumer” so one less decision about color is a big time-saver.   8-26-16b 032While it wasn’t white, a very nice mega planter in downtown Sag Harbor.  I wonder what the statue guy thinks of what Sag has become?   I’ll bet that he wishes he had held onto the property he owned longer so he could afford something mega himself.  8-26-16a 069Nice view down main street for him though.  8-26-16a 067And speaking of flowers, which I sort of was, we rented a car and drove around and visited some wineries.  Along the way we spied this amazing field of sunflowers.  I nearly rear-ended someone who had stopped to take a photo too. 8-26-16a 057No, we hadn’t had too many tastings, not yet anyway.   I’ll admit that we visited our first winery before noon.  But, it was only a very little taste.  Ok, it was just a little tastes of five different lovely whites.  Just five or was it ten sips? Whatever… Besides, we had to be absolutely certain that we liked it.

It was also good to confirm that the wines were made in a very clean winery.  Love the stainless. 8-26-16b 027No dirty wooden barrels in sight.   8-26-16b 026What a relief.  We only drink hygienically made wine, of course.

“Look Brenda, I’ll bet these are wine grapes!”8-26-16a 049We drove along the south fork, up the north fork,  took two ferries across Shelter Island and back to Sag Harbor. 8-26-16b 030Let me tell you, it’s the most expensive per mile of any ferry that you will ever take.  Each ride takes less than ten minutes, including docking.  Total, one way,  $30

Impressive?  Don’t forget “if you have to ask what it costs, you can’t afford it”.  Well, I can for one day.  After that, not so sure.   We stopped for yet another glass of wine at this lovely hotel on Shelter.  What a spot.  8-26-16b 028Can’t recall the name but where else can you have two glasses of wine on a lovely afternoon and spend $40, with tip of course?  However, if you are willing to have sparking water, it’s only $10++.  Such a deal.

Yes, Sag Harbor is a very nice spot indeed and it’s fun to be here hanging out with the big kids even if we only sort of fit in because EYC maintains a mooring here.   Well, I expect that there are plenty of others that only look like they fit in.

Tonight, dinner at the American Hotel.  In the garden room…of course. 8-26-16a 072After that, well, we’ll be out of money and have to head home.   Yes, this is indeed the playground of the “big kids” and I while I have more in common with the “little people” I do have a boat.  Besides, my mom has always told me that I’m big and not even a little bit grey.

Thanks mom…

A job I could never have. Lighthouse keeper in Uruguay.

Those that know me would probably agree that there is no job that I would be more ill suited for than that of a lighthouse keeper.  By definition, lighthouses are located in remote, hard to get to areas and while most have been automated, some still require the constant attention of someone who lives on site to be sure that everything is in working order.  And, any mariner would agree that it’s a really good thing when lighthouses are working as they are supposed to.

To that point, the Bahamas are famous or lights on charts that haven’t worked, often for decades.  Not so, it seems, in Uruguay.

I subscribe to a daily (I think I get it daily) e-mail newsletter from Soundings, a terrific boating publication that I worked for as a sales rep for short time years ago.  However, that was a long time ago and is a story for another time perhaps.

Anyway, this newsletter titled “Soundings Dispatches” is free and is worth signing up for.  Of course, some of the videos that they feature, and they send a lot out in the course of a year.  Yes, some are pretty lame but once in a while a real gem shows up in my inbox and today was one of those days.   To be fair, it’s probably not too easy to come up with really good daily videos.  Trust me on that as it sometimes takes me hours to wade through many clips to find something worth sharing.

So, back to my story…  The joke in our family, well at least I think it’s pretty funny, is that “dad doesn’t EVER want to be alone, except perhaps when he’s going in the bathroom, and that assumes that it’s a quick trip”.  Ok, ok, perhaps it’s my joke but it’s pretty much true.

So, today’s piece from Soundings, and it’s only a bit longer than 3 minutes, is a real gem.   The editor of the newsletter describes the short documentary…

“To the south of Brazil is Uruguay, a relatively small country on South America’s eastern coast that experiences heavy ship traffic along its 410-mile shoreline.

Twenty-three active lighthouses protect ships along Uruguay’s ocean borders, all built between the late 1800s and the early 1900s. They are owned and operated by Uruguay’s navy, the Armada Nacional.

Cabo Polonio Faro (faro is the Spanish word for lighthouse) was built in 1881 on a remote peninsula on Uruguay’s eastern shore. Leonardo da Costa is one of two keepers who alternate two-week-long shifts manning the lighthouse.

Like any lighthouse, Cabo Polonio Faro requires daily maintenance. When Costa is on duty he is solely responsible for repairs and for operating the lighthouse manually if it loses power.

Costa’s neighbors are few. Seal colonies live on nearby islands, and the remote village of Cabo Polonio, about a half-mile away to the west, is home to fewer than 100 people. Solar panels and wind turbines power their homes, and they lack running water.

Cabo Polonio can only be reached by walking or by using four-wheel-drive trucks to cross dunes of sand to the road nearest the village; no public roads reach the lighthouse or the village. Life on the secluded cape is quiet and solitary.”

There isn’t a single word spoken in the documentary which I suppose is the point, actually.For sure, I just can’t imagine a job that I would be more ill-suited for. However, I thought that the piece was just mesmerizing and hope that you agree.

The group that produced this video has a number of other short documentaries on YouTube including this charming piece about bikes in Cuba.   It’s in Spanish but it has subtitles.

We visited Cuba for two months aboard Pandora last winter I am compelled to share this one too.  It provides a very good feel for the resourcefulness of the Cuban people and the story would be pretty much the same with regards to cars as well as bikes.  Make do with what you have.  That’s the rule in Cuba.   Amazon Prime?  Not likely. So, there you have it, two really nice short pieces that made my day.  I hope you enjoyed them too.

I guess that it’s time to move along with my day and get something done or Brenda will ship me off to some remote lighthouse.

The “honey do list” isn’t getting any shorter.

A visit to Hinckley Yachts

During my recent cruise in Maine I was fortunate to go with members of The Corinthians on a tour of the Hinckley boat building company a “marque” long seen as defining the ultimate in fine boat building.

It was interesting that our guide, the director of sales, told us “we don’t do tours”.  I expect that this comment was designed to telegraph that “we don’t do tours unless we think that someone in your group might buy a Hinckley”.  The Corinthians are a pretty well heeled group and I expect that’s why they decided to make an exception, just this once…

The factory, more of a large, shop, gave us a good first hand understanding for the kind of quality that sets Hinckley apart from other production boat manufacturers.

The front of the building is certainly more understated than the products that they produce. 8-4-16a 025There is an amazing amount of hand labor that goes into one of their boats.   Each little piece of fiberglass is hand cut and put into place. 8-4-16a 003Interestingly, they don’t steam bend any materials, even the most complex curves.  This was our guide explaining the way that they form the most demanding shapes using very thin veneer type “flitches” with glue between each “slice” and then they clamp the glued up part into a special form and left there until the epoxy sets.  Don’t try this at home.   Well, you could actually.  The concept is simple, but like much in life, complicated to do when you get right down to it. 8-4-16a 004Many of the most complex assemblies are cut out on a computer controlled milling machine.  This is a remarkable piece of work, the dashboard to go into a Picnic Boat.
8-4-16a 006And, speaking of Picnic Boats, and they coined the name, even Martha Stewart has one.  Reportedly, this is a shot of her cockpit.  martha stewart's picnic boatHer boat is a lovely tasteful light green.  Would you expect anything less from the “queen of style”?  Personally, I was hoping for a more “stylish” photo from Martha herself.  I snagged this from a 2010 post on a blog that she keeps.  I wonder if she employs someone to write her blog.   martha stewart picnic boat 2Anyway, I digress.   Back to how they make these beautiful boats.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, about making parts with a computer controlled milling machine.  As I was saying, even parts with very complicated compound curves are possible.  It would take days to carve something like this out by hand.   And they can make a shape like this out of most any material, granite, plastic and metal along with wood. 8-4-16a 012These are port hole trim pieces.  There is no way that an owner would be capable of maintaining a boat with this much wood unless they never used the boat and kept it under cover all of the time.  Even then, I doubt that anyone would be willing to take the time to keep it just so.
8-4-16a 011Even keeping the cabin sole in this sort of perfect condition would be tough.
8-4-16a 020I don’t know how many coats of varnish they use.  Our guide described the number of coats of varnish needed as “enough”.  These doors clearly don’t have enough quite yet. 8-4-16a 007Notice the sign on this boat under construction.. “no shoes on board”.    For some reason, even when I ask, most guests aboard Pandora seem to forget that street shoes are for streets.  To me, boat shoes don’t belong on Pandora if they have been worn on shore.   Perhaps Pandora just doesn’t look yachty enough.   This one clearly does or at least the Hinckley folks think so.  I expect part of it is that if things get messed up they have to fix it themselves.  Perhaps I should hand a vacuum cleaner to anyone that tries to come aboard with shoes. 8-4-16a 018Each job has to begin somewhere.  The interior panels are composite materials to keep weight low.  Pandora’s interior is constructed in the very same way.  It makes a very sturdy, light but very expensive boat.
8-4-16a 010Then all of the interior is put together and finished prior to the deck being put on.  That makes sense as it makes moving things around much easier than having to cram everything in through the cabin door or through a hatch.    They also make sure that there is a way to get every piece of equipment out of the boat for repair down the road.  I recall trying to get an old water heater out of my Tartan 37 and having to cut the tank up to get it through the aft hatch.  Ditto for fixing a leaky water tank.  I had to cut the bunk open with a saw.  Not a very elegant process on a “yacht”.
8-4-16a 015They swear by the water jet propulsion system.  It’s a hallmark of Hinckley.   Certainly in Maine, with all those lobster pot buoys, it’s good to avoid the exposed propeller.  Their “jet” propulsion is made by Hamilton Standard.  I can only imagine what these cost.
8-4-16a 014Curious how one of these pumps work?   Hamilton Standard, the author of this video, is happy to share.   The entire video may be more than you want to know?  It’s probably better for inquiring minds, like mine. Some remarkably beautiful engineering goes into the boats.  I don’t know how this swim platform/boat lift, works but it sure looks complicated.   I think it folds onto the upper platform with the steps in the inset section.   You tell me.
8-4-16a 017When it’s all done and finished with it’s sea trials, the boat goes back into the shop for a final “million dollar paint job” as they call it.  I wonder how long it takes for a new owner to give it a first scratch.  Alas, not to worry, if you can afford a Hinkley, you can afford to have it fixed.

And if you want your boat to always look like this, where you can see your face in her paint, fix you must…8-4-16a 024On the last night of our cruise, we enjoyed a jacket and tie affair.  I was ready to go and sporting one of my favorite bow ties as documented by my crew Rodney.  Don’t I look like a guy who should have a Hinckley?  Never mind, Pandora can outrun most any of them.    IMG_1941Well, not every one.  This new Hinckley 50 design would certainly leave me in her wake.   Hinckley-B50-Watermark-hi-res-1024x683Sadly, in spite of many boats under construction at the shop, every last one was a powerboat.

Oh well, sail or power, I guess that I’ll just have to be satisfied with Pandora for now.  Besides, her interior is nicer and I am sticking with that.

Don’t worry Brenda, Pandora’s good enough for me.  And, not exterior varnish work, ever.

That makes her a keeper.

And, speaking of keepers, I had better break and get to work on the bathroom.  Time’s speeding by.  I’m on it.   Well, will be soon…

A bit of the Caribbean in Blue Hill Maine

When I was on the Corinthians Cruise in Maine a few weeks ago the fleet visited Blue Hill Maine and were treated to a concert by a steel drum band called Flash in the Pans.  It seems that the band’s founder and current leader, Carl Chase did some sailing in the Eastern Caribbean back in the early 70s and was entranced by the sound of the steel drum music that he heard.  Interestingly, steel drum instruments were first developed in Trinidad in the 40s, shortly after WWII. Who knew?

Legend has it that Carl was given a copy of a book written by Pete Seeger, the folk singer, Steel Drums: How to Make Them and Play Them, published in the mid 50s.   Some credit Seeger with popularizing the instrument in the U.S.   Amazingly, the book, long out of print, is still available from Amazon.

Don’t worry Brenda, I have enough on my plate right now so I’ll hold off on ordering a copy.

Carl, was inspired to learn how to make these instruments, made one and well, that lead to another and another.

And, here they are, the Flash in The Pans, performing on a beautiful evening in Blue Hill.  It seems that they are an institution in those parts and steel drums have become a vital part of the local school band program. While the band was on break, I had a nice chat with Diane, the lady in pink playing to the far right hand side of the frame, not to put too fine a point on it.  It was clear from her enthusiasm that she, like many others, get quite a kick out of being in the band. The band has some 40 people who play regularly, ranging in age from teens to well, older folks like me. This short on minute video I took that night will give you an idea of what a great group they are.  Don’t they look like they are having fun?  The audience was too and there were hundreds outside of the tent dancing with abandon to the beat. What an experience.

Pete Seeger, along with writing a book about how to make steel drums, also did a short film, exploring steel drums and how they were made in Trinidad.  It’s worth watching and is an excellent example of what can be accomplished with the simplest tools given enough time and effort.
As a contrast, this clip from the Discovery Channel, explores how these same instruments are now created in high tech factories.  There is no end to man’s ability to complicate things I guess.
One way or the other, steel drums sound great.  When we were in Cuba last winter we were struck by the resourcefulness of the Cuban people who seemed able to make great things with the minimum of materials available to them.   However, while the music scene is quite vibrant in Cuba, we did not see any steel drum bands when we visited.

As we plan our trip to the Eastern Caribbean next winter, I am looking forward to hearing some steel bands.   The first time I was exposed to these instruments was when I was in my early teens and our parents took me on a family vacation to Jamaica.  I heard “Yellow Bird” played at the resort where we were playing and can still remember the sound after all these years.  I also clearly recall the painful blistering sunburn that I got while enjoying the beach but that’s a story for another day.

Perhaps I’ll close with this video of pan player David Hubbard, playing my old time favorite.
Hearing this makes me think of a margarita or at least some sort of drink with a tiny umbrella.   Can’t wait.

Who would have thought that a visit to Blue Hill would bring back memories from so long ago.   Thinking of all of this makes me even more excited about visiting the Caribbean this coming winter aboard Pandora.  Perhaps I’ll even hear Yellow Bird again which would bring things full circle.  Yes, that would be nice.

However, CT is so beautiful in the summer, I am happy to be here for a bit longer.  Besides, the bathroom isn’t finished yet.

You know how it goes, “happy wife, happy life”.  I have to keep reminding myself of that.  Yes Brenda, the bathroom will be done soon, I promise… I hope.

 

 

 

Havana nights. Sharing memories of Cuba.

Last evening Brenda and I were guests of the CT River Museum and spoke at fund raiser event “Havana Nights”.  The event was dreamed up by Chris Dobbs, the Executive Director of the museum.  He’s a creative guy and came up with the dinner idea after hearing me talk at an SSCA Seven seas Cruising Association event that I held at the museum in June.   It was an intimate gathering of supporters of the museum with attendance limited to about 30.

The event, appropriately, was held on the hottest evening yet of the summer on the deck overlooking the beautiful CT River and what a wonderful evening it was.

I brought Pandora to their docks for the evening and decked her out in her finest. It was fun to show the guests the very Pandora that carried me and Brenda on our adventure.   I have to admit that getting her into the slip with current and wind opposing, took a few tries.  However, “no loss of life” and a successful landing. 8-14-16b 028The table was set up banquet style and was beautifully appointed with decorations evoking Cuba.  8-14-16b 037What a lovely view. 8-14-16b 027Pandora wasn’t alone looking fabulous in the sunset glow.   I just love this lovely yawl.   However, I can’t say that I have ever seen her off of her mooring.  She’s a looker to be sure. 8-14-16b 034It was an intimate gathering and everyone seemed to have a great time.  I was touched that they paid a “pretty penny” to raise funds for the museum and came out on a sultry summer night to hear our story. 8-14-16b 038All and all it was a perfect evening and one that Brenda and I were honored to be a part of it.  Oh yeah, and nobody fell asleep during my talk.  Whew!

It was indeed a Havana night moment and brought back so many memories of our trip.

The level of interest in visiting Cuba is amazing and the opportunity to share our voyage with others is very rewarding.  Amazingly, I have ten talks scheduled with three under my belt so far but none will rival the intimacy of the moment that we shared last night.

In the many posts that I wrote while visiting Cuba, I tried to capture the “essence” of the country and our experiences.  When I was back home I wrote this post in an attempt to sum up what it was like to be there.

Last night was a ton of fun and we were so pleased to be a part of such an extraordinary evening and to be able to share our visit to such an extraordinary country.

Cuba is great, you should go too.   Don’t delay.  Go now.

Sailing Pandora:  It takes a village.

Well, that does it, nobody on board but me.  I dropped Barry off in tiny Sakonnet Harbor RI this morning.  As I write this I am passing the “gold coast” of Newport.  There are many cities that have a section that they proudly refer to as The Gold Coast but this one is, for sure, the granddaddy of all gold coasts.   The mansions here are so high end that even the hedge fund guys can’t afford the kind of homes that their robber baron ancestors referred to as “cottages”  It’s hard to believe that those mammoth homes were only occupied for a few weeks each summer.

I’d guess that the main reason that these homes stood vacant for nearly the entire year was because their owners were working hard to make even more money so that they not only had a huge mansion but that theirs was the “most hugest of all”, vacant or not.

All of this makes me remember all those years that I schlepped my boats to Maine and back each summer with the very limited vacation time I had.  Back in those days it took a “crowd” or perhaps better stated, a “village” for me to take my vacation.  With a crew to head up, and I always had at least four on board, to the crew heading back home, one summer it took a total of 15 people to make it possible for me to move my boat north, find a place to keep her when I wasn’t aboard and then to coordinate all crew and logistics for the run home a few weeks later.  For a number of years I resorted to lending my boat to friends with the agreement that they could use the boat for two weeks if they brought her home.    This worked well for a few years until I lent the boat to someone who turned out to have a problem with “adult beverages” and crashed the boat into another boat and ran her up on a rock ledge, both in one day.  That’s a very tough way to start the day.

And, of course, with that many people involved and the reality of weather to contend with, it was a logistical nightmare, crashes excepted.

These days, in my “retired life” it’s a lot simpler but heading back to Maine this time was certainly more like “the good old days” with crew coming and going and last minute “adjustments” to well laid plans. Back then, it just wouldn’t do to tell my boss “I’d love to be at work today, after two weeks away, but the weather, well it was just too windy to get back”.   Yeah right.

I expect that the response would have been something like the old Account Temps radio commercials.  “Don’t worry, Bob from Account Temps is here. Take as long as you want to get back.  EVERYTHING is under control.  We are doing just fine without you.”  Oh great.

Anyway, I digress but all the rushing around and crew changes this time have certainly brought back memories of my “past life”.

As I write this I am sailing along with the big Code Zero sail out on a nice easy broad reach.  It’s very pleasant indeed.

We finally made it through the Cape Cod Canal at around dark last night. However, the wind, while less than 10kts, was right on the nose for the last few hours.  That combined with a flood tide made for a very slow run down Buzzard’s Bay.

We decided to spend the night in Cuttyhunk bight and picked our way in to drop the hook a bit after midnight.  I set the alarm for 05:00 this morning (now that hurt) and sailed the rest of the way to Sakonnett where I dropped off Barry.  He has a summer home there.

The harbor is very tiny and really packed with moorings.  We picked up one of the two town moorings and within moments the harbor master stopped by to see if we were staying the night.  We explained our “touch and go” plans and he very nicely offered to take Barry to shore.  Very neighborly.

What a pretty harbor. 8-8-16a 002They seem to take their commercial fishing seriously.  8-8-16a 004Sorry no obligatory shot of today’s sunrise although it was a stunner.

I guess I’ll close with a shot of Pandora sailing.  No bone in her teeth today.  Just an easy sail back to home waters and “real life”.8-8-16a 006And, the light at Pt Judith.  Back in home waters.8-8-16b 002Did I mention that the lawn needs cutting?  Oh yeah, and there’s a bathroom to finish remodeling.

Welcome home Bob.  If it wasn’t for the fact that Brenda’s there, well, I’d be tempted to just keep going.

One last thing, thanks for helping me Barry.  Life was going to be a LOT more complicated without you.  Yes, indeed, sailing, it takes a village and I am blessed to be a member of a particularly good tribe.

 

 

Heading home. Done with Maine, for now.

As I begin this post it’s Sunday morning and I am in the middle of the Gulf of Maine sailing toward the Cape Cod Canal.  I expect that we will arrive before dark and in time to catch the ebb tide for an easy run through to Buzzard’s Bay.

A few minutes ago, after not seeing another boat for hours, this sword fisherman steamed by.  I can only imagine what it must feel like to be perched up on top of that tall tower in a seaway.  Boy, would Brenda love that.  The drill is that when they spot a swordfish swimming along the surface nearby, one of them will head out onto the bow pulpit and attempt to spear the fish.

“Listen Rodrigues, get your elbow out of my ribs.  I was up here first and I’m standing in the middle.   Stop looking at me like you don’t remember that I am captain today.   I won the coin toss, fair and square.”8-7-16c 008I left Camden last evening  to make the 175 mile run to the canal, after spending much of the day making my way from NE Harbor after my crew from the Corinthians cruise left to head back home.

Originally, the plan was to have one of them stay aboard with me for the return trip but his toe was hurting and it was clear that he wanted to head home.  While this wasn’t good newsl, I didn’t want to press him to stay as it wouldn’t have been good for either one of us.

With one day to find a replacement crew, I was sort of stuck and didn’t really know what I was going to do.  Frankly, I wasn’t ready to leave Maine but to stick around for another week until the weather turned in my favor again wasn’t very appealing.   I also considered leaving the boat in Maine and renting a car but that was very complicated and I have so much on my plate in the coming weeks, that didn’t seem like a good idea.  I also thought about taking Pandora home alone but being out overnight by myself by myself wasn’t something that I was particularly looking forward to.  However, having a crew member aboard that wasn’t happy to be there was an even worse idea.  Time to be flexible.

I made a few calls and amazingly, with one day notice, my friend Barry offered to crew for me even though he was scheduled to crew for someone else already.    I was very touched that Larry, the skipper of the boat he was on, who I hardly know, was so quick to offer one of his crew without hesitation.   Problem solved and a good weather window to boot according to Chris Parker, the weather router.

All and all, it will be very nice to be home again with Brenda.  So after feeling sorry for myself after scrambling to find crew I got a good night sleep, compliments of Barry.   Now, fully recovered and “adjusted”, I am looking forward to being home.  I’ll admit that it helps that I am romping along at about 7kts on a close reach in 10-13kts apparent.  With the big code zero sail out it’s pretty amazing how fast the boat can go.  At this rate we will reach the canal a lot sooner than expected and make it through with a strong ebb tide pushing us along.

Camden is one of my favorite spots in Maine and after motoring all day to get there while dodging thousands of lobster pots, it killed me to leave immediately after taking on fuel and crew.  It would have been nice to have dinner ashore but I was pretty tired and needed a rest.  It also gave Barry an opportunity to settle in aboard Pandora.  I wish that I had been able to take on more fuel as diesel is less than $2/gal there as compared to nearly $3/gal in CT.  Love those CT taxes.   At least it’s still less expensive than in Cuba where it was nearly $6/gal.

After waking up at 04:00 yesterday, thinking about next steps, I was so bushed when we left that Barry took pity on me and stood an extra-long watch when I headed down below to sleep after midnight.  When I woke up the sun was high above the horizon and Barry was clearly ready for a nap.  Thanks Barry.

The time I spent in Maine with the Corinthians was a whirlwind but good fun.  All that we did is now a blur so I am glad that I took the time to do some posts along the way.

I spent the last few days in NE Harbor, one of my favorite spots.  There are two formal gardens there managed by The Garden Preserve and I couldn’t let a visit go by without seeing them both.  Craig, one of my crew, loves gardens  too and we toured both together.

Thuya gardens is up the hill near the harbor with a commanding view of the boats from one of the observation spots. 8-7-16b 007What a view.8-7-16b 003Pandora on her floating dock. 8-7-16b 004This shot of the gardens doesn’t begin to do justice to the wonderful work that the five gardeners do to keep everything in top shape.8-7-16b 015These flowers are huge.  I have only seen dahlias like this in Victoria BC gardens. 8-7-16b 029The entire garden was beautifully scented by huge lilies. 8-7-16b 030Lots of life in the garden including plenty of butterflies.8-7-16b 019The other gardens are Asticou, a formal Japanese garden and they are lovely.  I only had a short time there.  A very serene spot.8-7-16a 035Well, it was a fairly quick but fun visit to Maine and I am very happy that the run back has turned out to be a pleasant trip.

This visit was my 16th to Maine by boat and I couldn’t help to wonder what sort of memories this little girl that I saw picking and eating blueberries on top of Blue Hill earlier in the week will recall many years from now.  I expect that she too will have many fond memories of this wonderful place.   For now, her mother will have to work to get the blueberry stains out of her dress.  8-2-16a 012I for one have just love visiting this beautiful part of the world.  I can’t wait to go back.

Oh yeah, one more thing.   Saw a bunch of whales… again (stifles a yawn).8-7-16d 005

 

An eagle, a snake, a loon, a frog and lots of rocks.

Everywhere you look in Maine there are rocks, rocks as big as a mountain,medium sized boulders or as pint sized as a pebble and about every size in between.  You’d think that with all of the rocks milling around together would also spawn some sand.  Alas, no sand but many, many rocks.

So, the other day we packed a lunch and decided to head out and see how many rocks we could climb over.  Well, that’s not exactly what we had as a goal but that’s more or less what we ended up doing.

The plan was to climb up a a really big rock and visit, well,  “bubble rock”.  I have to say that I had no idea what exactly was meant by “bubble rock”.   My first thought was that the “bubble” was the mountain.  I was wrong.  This is the “bubble” on top of a sort of bubble mountain.   8-5-16a 010It’s way bigger than it looks.  Craig stood next to it and try as he might, he couldn’t budge it.   8-5-16a 006Where is “hulk” when you need him?  “Arnold?  Can you help me out here?”

I claimed the peak, of course.  More rocks. 8-5-16a 023The view of Jordan Pond from Bubble rock was spectacular.  There is a restaurant at the other end of the pond, in the clearing to the right at the far end to put a fine point on it.  That’s where we began and ended our hike.  They are known for their popovers.   We “knew” some popovers after our walk.   Pretty good. 8-5-16a 019 The view from “lake level” to where we climbed. 8-5-16a 032OK, so about that title.  I saw an eagle carrying a snake.   Perhaps not a happy snake at that.   “Weee!!!  Take me higher!8-5-16a 031I also got a shot of a loon.  Check.   He was pretty busy fishing so kept ducking, or would that be “looning”, under the water and popping up somewhere else.   I had a tough time getting a good shot.  As many times as I told him “look at me loon”, no luck. 8-5-16a 038The water was impossibly clear.  What a view.8-5-16a 049And finally, a frog in water, not so clear. 8-5-16a 051So, rocks of many sizes, an eagle, a snake if an unhappy one at that, a loon and a frog plus a popover or two for me and ten thousand steps.   Good day.

Is there anything more Maine than Schooners?

Arguably, there’s nothing more “Maine” than wooden schooners and I had a generous “helping” of them a few days ago in Somes Sound on Mt Desert Island.

As is the case with so much of life’s experiences, it’s all about being in the right place at the right time.   And, as luck would have it, we were as 2016 is the 100th year of the founding of Acadia National Park and the organizer of the Corinthians Cruise found a way for our fleet to participate in a parade of schooners up Somes Sound.  And, as if that’s not enough, we were to lead the parade up one of the most beautiful pieces of water in all of Maine.

And it gets even better.  To make the sight even more of a spectacle for the thousands that watched from shore, about 35 of our member’s boats dressed ship with signal flags galore.

We waited at the mouth of Somes Sound for the schooners to approach as they emerged from the summer afternoon haze.  Well, actually, there wasn’t much of a haze but I liked the sound of that.  8-2-16a 045As the schooners assembled to begin their run up the sound they tacked back and forth.   This one came pretty close to Pandora’s bow.  8-2-16a 038Our fleet began to head up the sound ahead of the schooners in single file. Well, sort of single file.  Then the word came from the Master of the Corinthians, “hurry up, they are going to pass us”.   And hurry we did.8-2-16a 072Things got a bit chaotic after a while and we ended up in more of a clump than single file.  Chaos or not, it was a joyous sight.  My friends Alice and Andy have a cute little tug called Loon.  It was fun to see her chugging along with the fleet. 8-2-16a 059Many local boats got into the act including this lovely little red sloop making her way with the fleet.8-2-16a 070After reaching the head of the sound, The Corinthians turned to face the schooners and watched them sail by.8-2-16a 034What a sight as the schooners passed by and saluted the spectators on shore with cannon fire.8-2-16a 065Love the fine lines of the stern.  Hard to believe that something this big can be so sleek.8-2-16a 067As the schooners passed, the perspective changed and the afternoon breeze freshened.

The schooners turned to short tack back down the sound into the wind.  It was impressive to see them maneuver in so tight a space.8-2-16a 124Our Master Leigh was aboard “All that Jazz”, leading the fleet.  To see the largest schooner in the fleet tack in front of his boat was quite a sight and a fitting way to finish up the parade. 8-2-16a 131We all scrambled to the local boat yard to pick up moorings for the evening.  Like the rest of the day, and to use a phrase that my late father loved, it was “organized chaos”.  Yes Dad, and what joyous chaos it was.

This trip is my 16th to Maine and I have to say that to be in a parade with these magnificent schooner was one of the highlights of those many  years.

What a day.  I was blessed to be a part of such an iconic spectacle that makes Maine, well, Maine.

 

The Small Boats of Maine.

Anyone who’s cruised to Maine, and certainly those who love wooden boats, have made the pilgrimage to the Wooden Boat School and the headquarters for Wooden Boat Magazine.    So, yesterday the cruise headed there from SW Harbor, a distance just short of 20 miles.

As we made our way there yesterday were we passed the iconic Bass Harbor Light.  I believe that this is the most photographed light in Maine.   You can certainly see why.  She’s a beauty.7-31-16a 021Of course, that’s not the only one to feast your eyes on.  How about this one?  It’s still active but unlike the Bass light, this one is someone’s home.  I wonder how well they sleep when the fog horn is blasting away.8-1-16a 030Unfortunately, we weren’t able to sail yesterday or again today as the wind was just too light.  That’s one of the downsides of club cruises as the meals and stops are all planned in advance.  When Brenda and I cruise, we wait to move when there is wind and therefore spend a lot more time sailing.

Let’s hope that by the time the fleet heads back toward NE Harbor in a few days, that we won’t have to beat our heads against the wall to head east. Uncharacteristically, the wind is forecast to be out of an easterly direction for the next few days so we’ll have to wait and see.

So, back to the Wooden Boat School, a place that is a must stop for anyone that admires beautiful wooden boats.  Many credit Jon Wilson, founder of Wooden Boat magazine, with the revival of wooden boat restoration and modern construction.  It takes someone like that to galvanize interest in a dying art.  Clearly the tide has turned and wooden boats are a vital part of the boating community these days.

Speaking of lovely craft, I took a turn around the harbor and photographed some of the lovely craft that are moored there.

This is a sweet canoe stern launch.  Very elegant lines.7-31-16a 029How about the stern on this beauty?7-31-16a 024I loved the detail work on this Friendship Sloop.  Great trail boards.7-31-16a 046I think that this is a Herreshoff 12½ or perhaps a Haven 12½ designed by Joel White as centerboard takeoff on that classic design.   The varnish work is perfect.7-31-16a 033I think that these are International One Designs and may not be wooden.  However, there is a very active fleet in SW Harbor and was racing yesterday afternoon.   Each spinnaker had a unique design and made quite a sight as they raced to the finish line.7-31-16a 008While most of the boats that were moored at the Wooden Boat School are of classic designs, there are plenty of beautiful wooden boats being crafted in Maine of thoroughly modern designs.  How about this wonderful gentleman’s launch that I spied at a marina in SW Harbor?  She’s a real head turner.  They had better never let the varnish work get away from them. 7-31-16a 010I’d say that Pandora takes “modern” to yet another level.  Not a lot of varnish on her.  However, I just love the way she looks and sails.  She looks right at home here in Maine too.7-31-16a 049The sunsets, and I do love sunsets, over the last few days have been spectacular. 8-1-16a 011And a bit later.  Hard to believe that this shot was the same sunset.  8-1-16a 017Perhaps it’s my new camera but this photo actually is better than real life. I guess that’s what they mean when they call it “sunset porn”.   Well, they probably don’t say that but you get the point.   Right?

We are approaching Blue Hill so I’d better finish up for now.   Adios!