Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Latitude and Longitude

What better to do on a cold winter day in Maine but stay inside and clean the basement? Well, that's what I've been up to and as the basement is getting cleaner, the garbage cans are filling is the box of yard sale items. I simply must find the time this spring to have a yard sale!

Anyway, I found a scrap of paper from February 1, 1998 with a latitude and longitude and the note "set Hannukah schooner free, 4:46 pm central time". For giggles I entered the coordinates (9 15".623N, 85 09.578W) here:

and got to relive the moment years ago when I was aboard the schooner Bill of Rights heading for Los Angeles and I set a little menorah free miles off the western coast of Costa Rica. We had departed from Norfolk, VA on Christmas Day (a big no-no if you believe in superstitions) and my boyfriend at the time had sent me off on my adventure with my gifts. One was a hand-made wooden schooner menorah and he instructed me to set it free after I used it so I wouldn't have to cart it around. I wrote on the bottom and sealed the entire thing with a thin layer of wax and hoped to hear from someone whenever it washed ashore. I, sadly, have never heard from anyone that found my little boat. I wonder if it washed ashore somewhere or simply disintegrated at sea.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Festival of Lights

I light a menorah every year. I adhere to the "light from the right" method and you can see from the pictures that for the first five nights I sat on the couch to light the menorah and then took the photo from the other side of the coffee table. For the remaining three nights, I lit the candles and took the pictures from the same side. The varnished box that the menorah is sitting on is our compass from the Isaac H. Evans! It comes home every winter for safe-keeping. It's from 1918 after all and I'm not interested in replacing it! And the beautiful quilt on our couch with the compass rose pattern in the center was a hand-crafted wedding gift from a guest, Shirley H. Our home is filled with light and love this holiday season!

Christmas Lights on the Isaac H. Evans!

We put our Christmas lights up on the schooner in November when it was still relatively warm and plugged them in (with a timer) in December. We've been doing the schooner outline with white lights for several years after doing a star on the main mast for a few years. I really like the lights and see that another schooner in the harbor has done theirs like ours for the first time, too. Others must agree that it's really pretty!

Our neighbors at the shipyard put Christmas trees on their masts.

And this is the door to our part of the dock building.

Even though this isn't a great picture, I thought I'd include Rockland's lobster trap Christmas tree because I've just learned that there's some controversy as to whether the Rockland tree is as nice as a lobster trap tree in Gloucester. Unfortunately, I'm not sure where they got the picture of the Rockland tree because their picture doesn't look anything like the tree we have. Perhaps it was another year? Check it out here (but don't send your kids to other posts on their main blog if you don't want them to see foul language):

I'm guessing (hoping?) that a lot of this is tongue-in-cheek.

I like our Rockland tree. It was constructed by volunteers out of real, new wire traps that are raffled off as a fund-raiser. There are something like 200 traps and some lucky person will get them and probably end up fishing with them! And the buoys are real working buoys donated by local lobsterman. I even had one of my Elmo buoys on the tree one year but someone liked it so much they stole it! Despite what the Gloucester guys say about the 4 foot lobster on the is not paper mache but fiberglass. A few years ago the chamber did a fund-raising event where artists painted a bunch of these lobsters in different themes. I think the lobsters were made locally. They were displayed all over town and then auctioned off. I think the tree topper is perfect for the lobster trap's our "angel", complete with a star!

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 18, 2009

2010 Calendars Now Available!

The 2010 Schooner Isaac H. Evans calendar is hot off the presses! We just received them Wednesday evening and we are frantically signing and stamping them for delivery to our repeat guests. Hopefully everyone will get them before Christmas and certainly most (except those out of the country probably) will get them before the end of the year. Email us if you have not sailed with us before (don't forget to include your mailing address) if you'd like us to send you one, too. Free, of course!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life...and the Schooner Isaac H. Evans knitting cruises are #9!

Knitting and sailing may seem like a strange pairing. But, we've been offering knitting cruises on the Isaac H. Evans since 1999, word has spread, and now they are very popular. (Our Sept 7th knitting cruise for 2010 is already full!) We were featured in Cooking Light Magazine a while ago and we are included as #9 in "The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life". It's a long link but check out page 37!

Our knitting trips even have their own Facebook page:

And, we were recently asked for information and pictures from our knitting trips for another very large, well-known magazine publisher (we'll spill the beans if/when we learn we're being included in the article).

Our knitting trips aren't possible (and wouldn't be nearly as fun as they are!) without our partnership with Beth Collins, owner of Unique One Sweaters & Yarns in Camden.

Find her here:
(Yes, that's me on the home page wearing the "Windjammer" sweater. I love that sweater!)

And you definitely should check out her blog too:

Knitting and sailing? Carol's smile says it all!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

You Learn Something New Every Day

I've always been interested in astronomy. As a matter of fact, I used to want to be an astronaut when I was a kid. I'd still love the opportunity to go to Space Camp just to briefly experience what life might have been like if I had pursued that path.

Yesterday's word of the day was "crescent". Of course, I immediately thought of those beautiful crescent shapes in the sky, Concordia yawls (with their crescent moon and star cove stripe), and the Pillsbury Dough Boy (buttery crescent rolls). But the definition is what threw me and the details on the back of the page were equally interesting. First, the definition for this adjective reads "marked by an increase". The sentence they included as an example said something about "The crescent sound of footsteps..." And on the back I learn that these days "crescent" is "generally used to refer to either a waxing or waning moon, but this wasn't always the case. Originally it referred only to the increasing illumination phase that immediately follows the new moon - a meaning that nicely reflects the meaning of the word's Latin ancestor "crescere", "to grow"."

So, although I've always referred to a sliver of moon as a crescent, technically, a crescent moon is only a waxing moon and "waning crescent" is an oxymoron. I guess that makes "waxing crescent" redundant. Who knew?!?

I can't wait for our new Geology & Astronomy Cruise! Phil has given many tours of the night sky over the years, and it makes stargazing on the schooner even more fun each time I learn something new. If you love astronomy and stargazing, you won't want to miss it!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Holiday Baking Tips- Save Time and Your Sanity!

We've had our first snow fall here in Rockland and Christmas is right around the corner. I'm working on making kissing balls to decorate our porch and a wreath to put on our front door but I'm also thinking about holiday baking! I love to bake and over the years I've learned that a pinch of know-how combined with a dash of preparation can make for successful, easy, and stress-free baking every holiday season!

Minimize Clean-up. Eliminate the need to grease your baking sheets and wash them later by lining them with parchment paper. Parchment paper can be re-used several times and gives excellent results.

Freeze and Bake. Roll cookie dough into 1-1.5 inch balls and place in the freezer. When you're ready to enjoy some cookies, take out as many as you need and bake them from frozen. Or roll the whole batch of dough into a "log" and freeze it that way. When you're ready for cookies, just slice and bake. I find this is a great way to keep myself from overindulging with too many cookies sitting around! If kept frozen, cookie dough will last for months.

Think long term. Make sweets that are good keepers, like biscotti, fudge, brittle, no-bake cookies and even chocolate chip cookies.

Slice Small. Cut brownies, cakes, fudge, or other sweet treats into bite-sized pieces. They are the perfect size for guests at a holiday party to enjoy during conversations. Mini-sweets are also great for after a mega-meal. Take two, they're small!

Stockpile Pie Crusts. Make the crusts, fit into pie plates, freeze, and bake straight from the freezer. I've even been known to buy a pre-made pie crust (from the grocer's refrigerated section) to save time but definitely try to keep your own on hand in the freezer.

Put Meringues on the Menu. They're easy to make, low in fat and calories, and everyone can eat them; they're nut-, gluten-, and dairy-free.

Bake in Style! Make a mess in the kitchen but not on yourself. Wear an apron. Not everyone owns an apron these days (a throw-back from another time when moms spent hours cooking dinner each night?) but aprons save time and your clothes. Our Isaac H. Evans aprons are available from our Ship's Store for only $20! Email or call toll free (877) 238-1325 to order one for yourself or someone on your gift list.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Our Guests Are Superheroes!

The last trip of the season each year is always bittersweet. Our season is short but intense with little time off. The cook starts the count down of how many more meals to cook, the mate starts the count down of how many more times to clean the heads, the mess mate counts down how many more dishes need to be washed, and I start worrying about what the weather will be on the morning that we return from our last sail. We're anxious for time ashore, the days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting cooler, but we don't want to give up the sailing.

This year we wrapped things up with a 6-night cruise packed with guests that have sailed on the Evans many times...some over twenty times! I wanted to do something special for this group on the last night and although I didn't have a totally clear plan before we left I grabbed every craft material I could get my hands on in the hopes that a plan would become clear to me through-out the week. This group has heard plenty of last-night poems over the years and I wanted to do something different.

By the end of the week, the idea had materialized, and with the help of 1st Mate John, costumes had materialized as well. Friday night came and everyone knew something was "up". I had said earlier in the week that I was sure they didn't want another one my poems but after dinner I heard someone mention the "festivities" and I knew they were ready. The idea formulated around the fact that one guest, cartoonist Rob Lalli, spends most of his week observing each guest and drawing special cartoons and "Evvie" awards for our "festivities" on Friday evening. He creates fun depictions of people based on different things they do during the week or things that happen and he does them all in Sharpie.

I've known these people for many years and I decided that they are all Superheroes! So I wrote a poem (one verse for each guest describing their superhero talent) and we issued everyone their capes.

"You're all pretty special,
Not one a "zero"
As a matter of fact,
You're all Superheroes!

So let's all suit up
One at a time
You'll get your cape
When you hear your rhyme"

(That's just two of the 22 verses!)

We started with each woman....Wonder Women, of course! Each received their tulle cape with colored duct tape "W", feather boa trim, and shiny bead ties. Very fancy indeed! The guys were everything from "Mr. Incredible" to "Aquaman" (Levi went swimming almost every day!), to "Mr. Fix-It", "Superman", "Camera Man","Gentle Giant", and more. Rob was "Sharpie Man" and I made his costume look as much like a black Sharpie (complete with felt pen cap!) as I could.

Cartoonist Rob Lalli as "Sharpie Man".

One of my O-Fish-L "Evvie" Arrrwards from our Friday night fun.

A drawing of our mate one year.

A cartoon about lobstermen and their often gruff exterior
(this one did actually swear at us while his young daughter stood by.)
We try to stay out of the way of these working vessels
and buy over half a ton of lobsters for our guests every year.