Friday, August 29, 2008

Blogging the Blogger

We just returned from a 4-night Pirate Adventure Cruise and one of our guests was Ben McCanna, a writer from Down East magazine that is sailing aboard all the Maine Windjammer Association vessels this summer. Many people try to do that and it takes them years but Ben gets to do it in just one season!

He has learned a lot about windjammers, the crews, and the guests, and is definitely an extra hand when it comes to raising the sails, cranking the anchor, or tacking. He's also just a nice guy with a quick smile and easy demeanor...not an "in-your-face" reporter type. He mostly just observed, asked a few questions for specifics, and participated.

Here's Ben eating his lobster. Arrrrrghhhh!

And his lobster-shell sculpture (and champagne in a pirate cup...yummmmm!)

We had great weather, good wind, beautiful starry nights, and a fun group so we look forward to reading what he writes about us for his Berth of the Cool: A Maine Windjammer Journal at

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Questions For A Day Off

One of the most common questions we hear is "What do you do in the winter?" Lots of people probably assume that we head south to enjoy frozen drinks while laying about on an island beach but that just isn't the case (although I am looking forward to our honeymoon in October!) We stay here in Maine and work on the boats. It's hard to believe that there is 8 months of prep for 4 months of sailing but, when you consider that the schooner is 122 years old, you realize that trying to stay a step ahead of rot is a full time job and a never-ending cycle; by the time everything is replaced or repaired it's time to start replacing or repairing the thing you started with.

Many guests also ask why we don't take the boat down south and just keep sailing all year. There are many reasons including the time and money it would take to transport her to a southern locale and then get her back to Maine. Insurance costs would be exorbitant and establishing a place to sail from and getting the word out to potential guests would take a lot of time and money. Then you have to factor in the warm water and how that would accelerate the speed of any rot and most likely introduce wood-eating worms. That, on top of removing her hibernation period (rot is "on hold" when the boat is frozen during our cold Maine winters), would reduce her life expectancy. Not to mention that our schedule is very intense and by the time October rolls around, we are ready for a break! Also, I've sailed the east coast all the way down to Trinidad and, as nice as tropical waters are, they simply aren't as exciting and varied as Penobscot Bay and the surrounding areas. On any given day here in Maine I can change my mind several times depending on the wind and tides and still end up nestled in a protected cove near an uninhabited island. I do often wish our season were longer so we didn't have to push so hard when the weather is warm but it all seems to work best for us and for the boat.

So the next question we hear often is "When do you board your next guests." asked as we head back to the dock at the end of a trip. Sometimes the answer is "tonight at 5:00" (a "short' turn-around) and sometimes the answer is "tomorrow night at 5:00" (a "long" turn-around). We do roughly half-and-half short and long turn-arounds and when guests learn that we have a "long" turn-around they say it's great that we get a day off. Day off?!???!?!? There truly is no "day off" during the season although we do look forward to the long turn-around because it allows everyone extra time...Ria doesn't have to get up at 4:30 to start the stove to cook breakfast (she did 16 days in a row this summer because of a series of "short" turn-arounds!), Brian and I get an extra night sleeping in our own bed at home, we get to tend to emails, correspondence, laundry, blog entries, maybe even enjoy dinner or a movie, and tend to boat projects with the crew.

During our last turn-around we varnished some bare wood spots on the yawl boat, painted the heads, slushed the main mast, touched up the blue stripe (thanks Morgan!), touched up the white on the hull and oiled the decks. This turn-around we slushed the fore mast, painted the red all around the foredeck, painted all the margin planks, painted all the king plank, touched up both anchors, and rolled all the gray on the hull. Whew! So much for a day off!

Those projects are, of course, on top of all the regular turn around jobs....provisioning, stowing, restocking wood, refilling water, and cleaning everything for our next guests. It's hard work and yesterday as I was finishing up with the mast and Brian had his brush in the Country Redwood and John has his roller soaked with Seattle Gray a couple rowed by. The gentleman said, "You must be doing something right. She looks better and better every year." Another compliment that makes it all worth it!

Here I am on my "day off"...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Comments like this make it all worth it!

We just returned from a four-night trip with a wonderful family that chartered the Evans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a wonderful couple, Meg and Owen. They were surrounded by two of their three children (one was recently called to duty and couldn't make it), their children's spouses, their grandchildren, and even a few close friends. What a wonderful group of people! We had so much fun and so much connection. The sun even joined us for most of the trip....unusual this summer.

We had our second youngest guest on this trip, 11-month-old Eddy and she was simply wonderful. She smiled and cooed a lot and even ate most of the same food we were eating supplemented by lots of yummy stuff that her mom and dad brought. We were able to have a brief window into how we may do a few things when we are blessed with our own little one and start discovering how to raise him or her (or them!) on the boat. Dawn and Tim are about our age and they were perfect examples of the relaxed parents that we hope to be.

We left the foresail and mainsail up for the lobster bake and the crew took some pictures of the family with the sails in the background. I hope to be able to include a few with this post when they are shared with me.

Everyone had a shirt made especially for the cruise. On the front was a line drawing of the schooner with the date and the schooner's name and "50th Anniversary Cruise". And on the back was a large silk-screened image of a painting of the Evans. Above it was "50 years of smooth sailing..." and below it was "...and living, laughing, and loving." A perfect commemorative shirt!

There were so many highlights from the trip but one that we all commented on was when Kyle, the 8-year-old grandson, told his mom, "This is more funner than a Disney cruise!" Now if that's not the best compliment, I don't know what is!