Thursday, September 25, 2008
and here is the view we were enjoying....
The other things I couldn't capture on film was the cry of the loon nearby, the osprey landing in a tree of a neighboring island, the taste of perfectly cooked lobster dipped in melted butter, and the warmth of the campfire as we all roasted marshmallows for s'mores. Simply heaven....
Sunday, September 21, 2008
One island that we pass that catches everyone's attention because of the activity that is going on there is Crotch Island just south of Stonington, Deer Isle, and the top photo was taken recently as we sailed by. Toward the center of the photo you can see the derrick and to the left of that is something that looks like a large rectangular building. But it's not....it's a huge solid chunk of granite. And that's pretty amazing when you think about how long this island has been quarried! All along the shore is piles of scree; discarded granite blocks. We see these piles of scree along the shore of many of the islands nearby, too.
Granite is a common component of the earth's crust and takes on many different appearances, each reflective of its origin. There is some debate as to just how granite was formed. Some are clearly igneous while others show evidence of a melting of metamorphic rock. The different granites get their distinctive patterns from unique mixtures of feldspar, hornblende, biotite, mica and quartz. The pink and white colors are derived from the feldspar component while the intense black is hornblende and biotite.
Granite has been an integral part of the colorful history of Deer Isle for over a century. The quarrying business began in the late 1860's with the recognition of the granite's quality and accessibility to transportation. It was started at Green's Landing by Job Goss Sr. although several other companies soon joined this growing industry. Operations expanded to include several other islands with Crotch Island, just across the Deer Isle Thoroughfare from Stonington, becoming the most prominent. Today this island is devoted to quarrying, the last remaining, isolated island quarry on the New England coast. So important was the granite industry to Deer Isle that the town of Green's Landing changed its name to Stonington, which remains one of the most picturesque villages on the coast of Maine.
The first uses for Deer Isle granite were as construction materials. The Harvard bridge across the Charles River in Boston was one of the first sites incorporating this famous stone. You may have even seen it at the Tri-borough bridge in New York City or the breakwater in New Orleans without recognizing it. Several other sites have incorporated the stone in a more visible fashion. From chiseled Deer Isle granite, the Isaiah Wall at the United Nations speaks of peace.
You may recognize Deer Isle granite while visiting many of our most beautiful monuments and buildings across the nation, from the Statue of Liberty and Rockefeller Center in New York to the Security Trust & Savings Bank in Los Angeles. One of the more interesting applications is the so-called Rockefeller Bowl, the largest fountain bowl ever produced. It was made from a single piece of granite weighing over 200 tons and whose fabrication and transport to its home at the Rockefeller estate in Tarrytown, NY, was a monumental task in itself. Perhaps the most famous example of Deer Isle granite, however, is President John F. Kennedy's memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Here one can read several of President Kennedy's most well known quotes, all hand carved by stone cutting craftsmen, several of whom still live on Deer Isle. Mrs. Kennedy's visit to the island to select the stone is still fondly remembered. While reinforced concrete has commonly replaced granite as a construction material, it can never match it for beauty. Although the quarrying industry has gone through a number of contractions, it remains alive today through many new and creative products. Some of the more prominent new uses include kitchen counter tops and a variety of elegant furniture pieces.
Aiden is our 13-year-old apprentice (one of three apprentices this season) and she missed the first two weeks of school to continue sailing with us. She ended up a bit behind in her school work but did manage to find some time to do a little between her on board responsibilities. Here she is studying the names, location, and spelling of all the states just prior to her daily test. After just a few days she could easily locate and label all 50 states with only a few names misspelled. Massachusetts wasn't one of them....she's got that one down cold! We hope to have Aiden back for one more week before the end of the season.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Monday, September 08, 2008
We saw a Northern Gannet on our most recent trip! Although I'm not a fanatical birder, I have become an amateur one simply because of the time I spend on the water and because they are just so wonderful to watch. A guest was at the wheel on Friday as we were drifting about in West Penobscot Bay when he pointed out a fairly large bird with black tipped wings. I guessed that it was some type of gull and went to grab our Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds. We learned that it was the gannet and, with a 6.5 foot wingspan, that it's the largest seabird that breeds in Canadian waters.
Northern Gannets (the largest booby) feed primarily on surface-dwelling fish, such as herring and mackerel. To catch them, a gannet will dive from heights up to about 141 feet, plummeting into the water at great speed and with considerable force. The bird's skull is especially strong, and a system of air sacs also helps to absorb the shock of these plunges.
Northern Gannets nest on steep cliffs on islands off Canada's east coast and Europe's west coasts. The nests are large, between 1 and 2 feet high. They are made from a mixture of vegetation, seaweed, feathers and earth, and may be cemented with guano.
The North American gannets winter at sea, from Virginia to southern Florida, and return to their breeding grounds in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador in early April. So I'm not sure why this bird was in Penobscot Bay nor how rare that really is but I'm glad to add it to my mental life list of birds I've seen. That, in addition to the multiple eagle and osprey and the two puffins we've seen this summer, has made for a fun bird-watching season aboard the Evans!
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Beth owns Unique One Yarn Shop in Camden and was the ring-leader for the project. Apparently there was a flurry of emails to start the project and then everyone mailed or delivered their squares to Beth who joined them all together and crocheted the edge. It is beautiful and one of our favorite gifts. We've had it on our bed on the boat all summer long and it warms us both from the inside (our hearts!) and out.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
The schooner will be considerably more quiet this month. Kids are back in school and we only have a few signed up for the remainder of the season. The timing is good though, as our toy box is nearly depleted of all the eye patches, gold earrings, and glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces we stocked back in June!