>It’s Sunday morning and we are here in Islesboro in Penobscot Bay Maine. It’s raining and the day looks like it isn’t going to be one of those crisp clear days that we have been having so many of lately. Yesterday was great fun as we joined in at the 20 something annual Islesboro Gam for the Seven Seas Cruising Association, a worldwide group of cruisers and liveaboards. While we have only been members for a few years, we have begun to really enjoy the group and members that we have met. To spend time with “regular” women who cruise great distances has given Brenda a lot more confidence and helped her see the positives of a life afloat. There is definitely a different mentality with these folks and what their lifestyle means to them compared with the Yacht Club Set that we have hung out with for so many years. Both groups are great fun but this group is much more low key and mostly of very modest means. While many of them have retired early, they live simply because it allows them to spend more time doing what they want to and it seems that they are more focused on accumulating experiences and less on gathering stuff.
That’s not to say that they aren’t voyaging in impressive boats but they still seem like simple folks and are really quite welcoming and unassuming.
This is only the second year that we have joined in at the gam which was held at the summer home of a cruising couple who have been here in Islesboro for many years. Their home is modest but wonderfully maintained and is set up in a way that they can shut it down, water and electricity OFF, for the long cold Maine winter while they head south to enjoy warm weather cruising. They drain their water, board up the windows and just lock the door. The heating system is filled with antifreeze so they can just walk away. Sounds great as I have been wondering what it would be like to be several thousand miles away when an ice storm hits and the power is out for a week with know one to check on things. Not a pleasant thought.
On Friday night we participated in a really fun event, a dingy raft-up for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The way that this works, given the need to accommodate crew on the nearly 40 boats in attendance, was to have everyone tie up to the stern of a host boat in a big floating mass, meet, greet and pass their offerings from boat to boat. Half of the fun is swapping plates of nibbles between bobbing dinks while talking to everyone tied up to you. What was particularly amusing is that the winds really piped up so this floating cocktail party was bobbing and pitching all the while trying to balance drinks and snacks. Relaxing isn’t the word that comes to mind, more like great fun.
As we were in the thick of the group, this shot doesn’t begin to show how many boats, nearly 40 in all, were tied together.
In the mix we met some of the most interesting people including a couple who’s home port was Anacortes Washington. Interested, I asked them if they went through the Panama Canal. They reply was “not yet”. Clearly enjoying the questioning, there was a moment while they watched me try to process this answer. After a generous pregnant pause, they volunteered a bit more information letting me know that they had crossed the Pacific and made their way through the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal. After spending several years in the Med they were continuing their journey and had decided to visit Maine and participate in the Gam. All and all, they had been underway for some 9 years and after Maine would be headed south for winter in the Caribbean prior to finally transiting the Canal, the Panama one. Hearing that, I asked if they were then going home to Washington only to learn that they still had lots to explore going up the west coast and that it would likely be a long time till they “swallowed the anchor” and moved ashore. This is just one example of the really interesting folks that we have met through the SSCA and you can see why they are a group that we are enjoying.
Part of the tradition of this Gam is to invite a speaker to give a talk and this year’s was particularly enjoyable. Their speaker was an author of some 18 books and what a terrific speaker he was. James Nelson the author of several works of fiction, has also written many historical non-fiction books including his most recent title, George Washington’s Great Gamble: And the sea battle that won the American Revolution. I won’t detail his talk here but it’s sufficient to say that he is a very engaging speaker and the book sounds just terrific.