Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Maine Windjammers

Day sails and week-long cruises on windjammers are popular in Maine. You can see why when you look at some of the beautiful ships we’ve seen.

Castine, Maine

We spent a lovely day walking around the town of Castine, on the Bagaduce River.  Elegant old houses and buildings dating to the 1700 and 1800s line the streets, many with beautiful gardens and river views.  You can pick up a town map that identifies each one and provides information on the original owner/use.  For example, The Manor Inn (1895) is the former summer cottage of Commodore Fuller of the South Boston Yacht Club.  The steeple of the Unitarian church (1790) was designed by Charles Bulfinch, who also designed the Massachusetts state house and Boston Common (two of many of his well-known projects); the church bell was made by Paul Revere.  This beautiful archway and gate led to an interesting house; the pyramidal roof peak was glass.  We stopped at the Wilson Museum, which houses the collections of a local geologist with interests in archeology and anthropology.  The artifacts were collected from around the world, and range from rocks to ancient tools to American Indian crafts of the 1800s.  There were some terrific pieces, including plant and shell fossils that looked like beautiful engravings on the stone.  We listened to a speaker give a presentation on some of the firearms in the collection.  Castine is also the site of the Marine Maritime Academy.  We were anchored in Smith Cove, a large inlet across the river from Castine.  We were joined one night by a couple of windjammers—beautiful ships.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wooden Boat School

At the eastern end of Eggemoggin Reach, tucked into a little cove, is the site of the Wooden Boat School, run by the folks who publish Wooden Boat magazine.  We stopped to visit, picking up one of the guest moorings that the school maintains just off of their dock.  The facilities are beautiful, encompassing several buildings on a sixty-acre site that originally was a private estate.  The main house overlooks the bay, and houses the publishing offices and a library.  The library is open to the public, and has books on all aspects of boat building, fisheries, seafood cookbooks, cruising (including the Pardey cruising books, Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series, and world-wide cruising guides), boat handling, navigation, racing, and more; if it’s related to boats, it’s probably here.  We browsed for nearly an hour, but could have spent all day here.  We wandered through the apple orchard to the red-brick stable, where the hands-on classes are held.  We watched people sanding half-boat models, screwing planks onto a dory, shaping wooden oars, and lofting (building scale models of boat frames from blue prints to ensure that the full-size measurements will be accurate; see picture).  The school offers dozens of courses on seamanship (learning to sail and navigate on boats from daysailers to windjammers, kayaking, and yacht routine), boat building (you name it, they offer it), and related crafts (painting, photography, boat inspection, rigging, and diesel mechanics).  Students are housed in the beautiful old farmhouse adjacent to the stable.  We also visited the shop (for selling, not building), which had hundreds of titles on all things nautical, model-boat plans and completed model boats, knot crafts, boat-building tools, and, of course, hats and t-shirts with the Wooden Boat logo.  This place is well worth a visit by land or sea.

Puffin Quest

Destination:       Machias Seal Island
                        44° 30.5′ north latitude 67° 05.8′ west longitude
                        Less than two miles from the Canadian border (at sea)

We’ve been hanging around with our friends, Steve and Lynn, on Celebration, while here in MaineLynn wanted to see puffins, and Anne heartily concurred.  We staged at Roque Island, a lovely place (when you can see it through the fog) with well-protected anchorages on both the north (Shorey Cove; see Celebration at sunrise) and south (Great Beach) sides.  Machias Seal Island is about 15 miles east-southeast of Roque Island, basically out in the middle of nowhere.  And boy, are there puffins!  Puffins flying, puffins swimming, puffins lined up along the roof of the Canadian coast guard buildings.  (The island is claimed by both the U.S. and Canada, but maintained by the Canadians.)  In addition to the puffins, we also saw lots of gulls and guillimots, and two razorbills, our first sighting of this species.  At the non-puffin end of the island, seals bobbed in the water and sprawled on the rocks.  It was a wonderful day for nature-viewing, and we were back at Roque Island in time to go for a walk on the beautiful mile-long sand beach.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Treats on the Trail

We’ve had some great hikes on trails and walks on carriage roads here in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island.  One trail wound through forests and up and down three mountains, and was quite challenging, but fun.  In the rocky areas atop the mountains, we found wild blueberries to munch on – tiny but tasty!  The views were fantastic, and we had a bald eagle buzz us at eye level as we started our descent from Acadia Mountain.  We walked an ocean-side trail in Bar Harbor with Steve and Lynn from Celebration on a perfect day – clear and sunny.  We lucked out because the day before it rained all day, and the day after it was so foggy you couldn’t see any kind of view.  Again, beautiful views as we walked atop the cliffs; we even saw some black guillemots nesting on the rock crags.  A third day we walked the carriage roads, which are car-free and cross some beautiful stone bridges.  Although horse-drawn carriage rides are available, we figured we got better exercise by walking ourselves. 


We’ve been in Maine about a week now.  We left the Merrimac River in company with Celebration, and motor-sailed to Mount Desert (pronounced “dessert”) Island.  We saw whales en route, and harbor seals when we arrived.  The weather has ranged from fog to rain to brilliant sunshine – they’re all great.  We traveled up Somes Sound, the only real fjord on the eastern seaboard.  Deep water beneath us, and tall hills and mountains beside us.  We saw some of the huge “cottages” along the shore as we travelled the sound – I can’t even imagine the kind of money it takes to have a place like one of these.  But we were quite happy with our anchorage in Somes Harbor, at the northern end of the sound, which was really protected and beautiful.  Here is Celebration at anchor on the calm yet chilly water of the harbor.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A North Dock Reunion in New England

From Quincy we travelled north to the Merrimac River, where our friends Gary and Alex live. They spend winters on the North Dock at the St. Pete Municipal Marina in their boat Rhapsody in Blue, and their summers up here—ideal. Also visiting were other friends from the North Dock: Steve and Lynn on Celebration, and Rob on Cosmos Mariner. First Gary and Lynn welcomed us with a fly-by in Gary’s plane as we entered the river, then we all met for dinner at the house: lobster, corn on the cob, homegrown salad, and homemade bread. Here are pictures of Alex and Lynn shucking corn on the deck, while Gary gives Rob a lesson in preparing a lobster. We also celebrated the Fourth of July holiday here, ending the day with a dip in the chilly river. It was great to see everyone.

A Bright Welcome Home

We passed Boston Light on our way into Quincy—Anne’ home town—after stopping for a couple of nights in Provencetown, then in Scitutate for a few days to visit Anne’s brother, Frannie, who owns the Cedar Point launch service in Scituate Harbor. We visited family in Quincy for about a week and had a terrific time. Unfortunately, Anne gets so caught up in everything, she forgets to take any pictures. We’ll get some from Anne’s sisters and post them later.