Sunday, January 24, 2010

sorting through my yarn and looking forward to knitting cruises this summer

I have a daily knitting calendar. It's filled with little tid-bits, quotes, tips, and ideas. I really liked a recent idea to create your own personalized Sock-of-the-Month Club. If you're like me (okay, like most knitters), you have a huge stash of yarn, needles, and patterns. All you have to do is choose 12 sock patterns from your collection and pair them up with 12 yarns from your stash, and toss each set into a Ziploc bag. Then put all of those little kits into a bigger bag (the calendar suggests using a pillowcase so you can’t see what’s inside), and at the beginning of each month, pull a bag at random and start knitting! It’s a fun way to surprise yourself, it helps you stay on track with a plan, and at the end of the year, you’ll have at least 12 new pairs of socks. I'm not likely to manage a pair of socks each month, but I do like the idea.

This cool idea came to me while I'm sorting through and organizing my yarn stash AND while Unique One Sweater and Yarn Shop is having their 20% off yarn sale. Are the knitting gods trying to tell me something?

This is only part of my "stash".

If you are in Maine, you should definitely check out Beth's shop and take advantage of the sale (ends January 31st). Her store hours (and a blog post about availability of bulky weight alpaca) are listed here:

And while, I'm thinking about knitting...I'll let you know that we still have some room on two of our knitting cruises this summer. The September 7th cruise is already full but you can still join us on June 27th or July 29th. Visit our web site for more details!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Set Sail Along Maine's Mid-Coast

By Becky Garrison

Isaac H. Evans (Annie Higbee)
Isaac H. Evans (Annie Higbee)
As a crewmember aboard the Pioneer, an 1885 two-masted topsail schooner based in New York City, I enjoyed the camaraderie I had developed among my fellow sailors. So, it was with great pleasure that on September 11, 2005, I joined Captain Brenda Walker and her crew aboard the Isaac H. Evans, an 1886 wooden Maine windjammer and a national historic landmark based in Rockland, Maine.

Each cabin aboard the Isaac H. Evans features amenities like chocolate coins, shampoo, body lotion, coffee cups, and an embroidered mainsail balsam pillow air freshener handcrafted by Capt. Brenda natural air freshener. While these cabins are not luxurious suites they were more comfortable and private than some other accommodations I’ve experienced aboard other historic schooners. Also, features like hot showers and electric heads makes this outdoors experience definitely more comfortable than camping outdoors.

During the week, our group read and relaxed, as we feasted on a hearty New England dishes cooked on a classic wood-burning stove. Our meals featured New England delicacies such as Maine scallops L’orange, Boston baked bread, and blueberry pancakes with Maine blueberry syrup. Our snacks included Maine favorites Jack’s zesty toe jam (spicy halapeno) or sweet red pepper jam (Maine) and cream cheese with crackers. Other afternoon snacks included a special sushi buffet featuring uni (sea urchin roe), mackerel, and scallops that guests caught diving or fishing and steamed crabs caught in the boat’s lobster pot. Through the schooner’s arrangements with the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, guests are guaranteed the freshest fruits and vegetables.

Hauling (Jeff Greenberg)
Hauling (Jeff Greenberg)
After we anchored for the evening, rowboats, kayaks, and a sailing skiff and fishing rods were around for those that wished to partake of these activities. While a few brave souls went swimming, I chose not to venture in, as the water was clearly less than sixty degrees and no one stayed in for more than a few minutes. Sing-a-longs, poker games and storytelling sessions rounded out the evening’s activities.

While pets are not permitted aboard the Isaac H. Evans, the boat does have a pet goldfish. As Capt. Brenda says, no one is allergic or afraid of fish. Other “pets” include the boat’s collection of rubber duckies and a giant stuffed lobster that a guest found washed up on the shore.

One of the trip’s highlight’s was the annual Wooden Boat Sail-in. Our group rowed over to the town of South Brooklin, where we were treated to steamed mussels, the sounds of a steel drummed band, and self-guided tours of the WoodenBoat School. Later Capt. Brenda took some of us on the yawl boat named appropriately Tug ‘n’ Grunt for a tour of the other Maine windjammers that were docked for the celebrations.

Later that week, we rowed over to Buckle Island, a mystical moss covered island for a late afternoon lobster bake. As the crew prepares the lobster bake, we participate in an ‘island clean-up”; a fair trade-off all you can eat lobster for helping keep Maine pure and pristine. All guests on Maine Windjammer cruises are instructed on the “leave no traces” behind policy that is intended to minimize the environmental impact on our visits to these isolated islands. After our feast, I hiked along the unspoiled, hiking trail, where I stumbled upon fairy houses; small shell, bark and moss huts where supposedly the fairies live.

Sunset (Fred LeBlanc)
Sunset (Fred LeBlanc)
After the boat docked and we all said our good-byes, every guest had a gigantic smile...

For the complete article:

Windjamming Along the Coast of Maine - digging deep into the archives for an article from a trip in 2000

by Aad Struijk

As I wrote before, the first primary destination during my trip through New England was the Maine coast. Better said: it was the town of Rockland, a busy fishing village where my girl-friend and I (as well as 20 other guests) embarked on the schooner Isaac H. Evans. Owner and Captain Brenda G. Walker, also on behalf of the other crew members Megan, Carrie and Nathaniel, welcomed us on board. She showed us our cabin, conducted a short tour of the ship and informed us about the provisions on board of this wooden sail boat which was build in 1886.

For a week we sailed with the Isaac H. Evans along the rugged coast of Maine without any concrete travel plans, as Captain Brenda stated emphatically at the start of the trip. Nobody expressed any concerns about that, but after a few days, people started to wonder about the destination at the end of the day. Not because anyone doubted the capability of Captain Brenda and feared whether the boat was sailing in the direction of Iceland, but because the supply of liquor needed replenishment. Therefor, anchoring the boat near a village proved satisfactory to most passengers.

Sailing without any specific target contributes heavily to the complete loss of several conceptions which are normally an important ingredient of daily life: realization of time and place. After only a few days of floating in the fresh sea-air, most of the passengers left their watches in the cabins. The sun and the ship bell took over the tasks of the timepieces. Even seasoned night-revellers turned in before 10 o'clock with the exception of the night of the full moon when Captain Brenda treated us to a night-sail. Well before the ringing of the bell for breakfast, most everybody was usually on deck; a mug with hot coffee between both hands to keep warm in the chilly morning air.

The Isaac H. Evans is member of the Maine Windjammer Association, a fleet consisting of 13 traditional tall ships, ranging in size from 64 to 132 feet on deck. Some of the ships have been build specifically for the windjamming trade as this kind of sailing for tourists came to be known, but most of them are original schooners dating back to the second half of the 19th or the first half of the 20th century. Invented in America in the 1700s, schooners were easily handled by a small crew. They were fast and served America's economy for two hundred years, transporting granite, ice and other cargo.

The Isaac H. Evans was built in 1886 in New Jersey and served for 85 years in the Delaware Bay as an oyster boat. Because the Evans remained basically in original condition (it is one of the few vessels in the fleet without an engine and is, with the exception of some support by a motor sloop, entirely dependent upon sails) the ship was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Accommodations on board of a windjammer are good, but simple, consisting of single, double and triple cabins. The size of those cabins (and specially the height) asks for improvisation skills and adaptability from the passengers, but is more than sufficient. A small basin with hot and cold running water is present and on deck there are bathrooms and a cabin for showers, shared by all the passengers.
To be honest, the simple provisions fits perfectly in the sphere of cruises like these. Just as the joint meals, which are enjoyed on deck weather permitting. When the weather is not very pleasant, there is (more or less) room for all the passengers in the galley. The meals are prepared by the crew and are good. The smell of freshly baked bread and cookies coming from the galley is one of the many pleasant memories I shall hold about the cruise. Similarly, I also look back with much pleasure to the 'lobster-bake' which was featured during the trip.

For the lobster-bake our boat dropped anchor in a cove of an uninhabited island. With the sloops, the passengers were brought ashore, where the crew built a camp fire on the beach using dead wood. On top of the fire a huge pan was placed, filled with sea-water. As soon as the water was boiling, a large number of lobsters went in and the pan was covered with seaweed. By the time the passengers came back from their exploration of the island, it was dinner time. The pan, to which clams, mussels and corn-on-the-cob were added as well, was turned over on the beach, revealing the fiery red Maine-lobsters.

With a plate full of mussels, clams, corn and lobster everyone found a rock to sit on. Bottles of wine and 'champagne' were uncorked. Flames of the fire lighted the beach. Full of delight everybody attacked the steamy hot lobsters. Fairly quickly, I helped myself to a second helping of the mouthwatering seafood. There were more then enough lobsters for those who wanted to get a third or even a fourth one. Despite the divine taste two were the limit for me.

The entire cruise took place in the vast Penobscot Bay, which is characterized by the presence of more than 3,000 (inhabited and uninhabited) islands. Except for the buying of fresh lobsters at the fish auction in Stonington and the replenishment of beer, wine and ice at Bear Harbor, we only visited one other harbor during the week of the cruise: that of Brooklin where that day the Wooden Boat Sail-In was organized. This event is a gathering of all the tall ships of the Maine Windjammer Association. A local steelband took care of the upbeat music and hungry stomachs could be filled with steamed mussels.

Aad is from the Netherlands and his trip continued on to Bar Harbor. Click the link to read more:

Another Article About Our Sailing Adventures!

Theresa Russell joined us in 2003 and wrote this article.

She includes some good tips on questions to ask when reserving as well as pointing out that, although the cabins were even smaller than she expected, "the cabin is really just the place to sleep so you don't need that much space and soon realize that this is just part of the windjamming experience."

One of the smaller-than-expected cabins.

Next to the bed is an area to stand and, in this cabin there is a storage area for bags (lower left where you see the corner of a black duffel here). There is also a large storage area under the bed. You can see there is a small shelf next to the bed. There are reading lights above the pillows as well as a light over the standing area. In the lower right corner of the photo you see just the edge of the sink (fresh pressurized hot and cold water).

I love Theresa's last paragraph "The scenery is spectacular and the company is good. Remember that your fellow guests are as adventurous as you are, so you already have something in common." So true!

Thank you Theresa!

A detailed description of our sailing adventure...from a guest perspective!

Here's a link to a 3-page article by Dominique Gaherty. Dominique sailed with us in 2003 on a knitting cruise. She details everything from traveling to Rockland, her first impression of the schooner ( she writes: "I was pleasantly surprised to see that the toilets were real toilets and very clean."), food, knitting, the crew, the guests, and life on board.

Thank you, Dominique, for sharing your experience on the Evans with the world!

Dominique writes: "Captain Brenda admits freely that the knitting cruise is one of her favorite trips because Dick comes along (his wife knits) and does most of the steering while she sits back and knits, calling out the occasional order to the crew."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

2006 Hot-Dip Galvanizing Excellence Awards

Eileen W. and Joe B. survey parts of the fore mast as the dismantling begins in the shipyard parking lot.

I spend a fair amount of time surfing the internet to find out links to information about the Evans that we did not create or publish. The problem is that I find something, write the link on a random piece of paper or bookmark it, and then never visit it again or do anything with it. From now on, I think what I'll do is just blog about it! So here's one that I found a long time ago and just revisited this morning. Back in 2004 we took our masts out of the schooner for routine maintenance. Visit this link to see more pictures of that process:

We took all of the cross trees and hardware off the masts, stripped and repainted the mast heads, and replaced the fore shrouds and the jib stay. While all the hardware was off we shipped it off to V&S Galvanizing to be hot-dip galvanized and they submitted the project to the American Galvanizer's Association for consideration in their annual excellence awards. Here is the text from the announcement of winners:

category: Civic Contribution

Schooner Isaac H. Evans
Historical Vessel
Rockland, ME

American Galvanizers Association

The Schooner Isaac H. Evans was built in Mauricetown, NJ in 1886 to carry oysters in the Delaware Bay. At the time, oystering was the largest segment of the fishing industry in America, and the schooner spent many years in service. In the early 1970's, the Isaac H. Evans was rebuilt, and in 1991 was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Parks Service of the US Department of the Interior.

Since 1973, the vessel has been carrying groups of people on 3, 4, or 6-day sailing vacations on Penobscot Bay in Maine. During the winter of 2004, the schooner's captain, Brenda Walker, noticed some rot in the fore cross trees when she was performing some routine
maintenance. The captain stripped numerous layers of paint from the pieces, and consulted other schooner owners about how to preserve the custom pieces.

After receiving input from another captain and a nearby galvanizer, Captain Walker decided the best way to preserve the existing fittings, improve their appearance, and prevent
corrosion, was to hot-dip galvanize the pieces. The metal bands, futtock shrouds (angled pieces that support the cross trees on each mast), and other small pieces were galvanized for corrosion protection in the oceanic environment. Many of the original parts were galvanized, and still exhibited corrosion-protective zinc, but after more than 100 years of ocean use, were in need of a new galvanized coating which will last another 100 years. Using galvanized steel on the custom pieces helped restore the historic vessel to its original luster and strength. The hot-dip galvanized coating will be able to withstand the corrosive
elements from the ocean and extreme climates of Maine, ensuring the Schooner Isaac H. Evans will set sail for many years to come.

Captain Brenda G. Walker
Rockland, ME

View all of the awards here:

Keep in mind that not all the parts that were galvanized were original. Actually, when I bought the boat I was told that only about 10% of her was original; the steering gear and the windlass as well as "some frames and planks". I've replaced a lot of the ol' girl during my stewardship so there's really no telling at this point what is original and what is not, except the steering gear and parts of the windlass as I did have to finally replace the drums.

This is ironwork from the top of the topmast that was removed, stripped, and hot-dip galvanized. Great care needs to be taken in the future to not sand through the galvanizing layer that protects the iron underneath. When that protective layer is breached, air and salt get in and corrosion starts.

In any case, we're doing all we can to keep her alive and replace, restore, rebuild, and preserve as time and money allow.

The "naked" main mast stripped and waiting to be primed and painted.
That's the main boom to the left.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A very special Isaac H. Evans quilt.

In June 2007, Allison Roberts and Erik Streed were married on the Schooner Isaac H. Evans while under sail just outside Rockland Harbor. The couple's friends and family participated in the ceremony in many ways, making it a special day for all. One part of the wedding was a traditional Irish handfasting ceremony where the bride and groom's hands are tied with many colored ribbons.

The day following the wedding, Allison and Erik and their friends departed on a four day sail on the Isaac Evans. Debra Donahue, another friend, waited on the breakwater and took this photo of the schooner departing Rockland Harbor:

Erik's mom wanted to create a special gift and, with Allison's help, designed and made a quilt to capture the spirit of the wedding day and friends' sail. The center panel of the quilt is adapted from Debra's photo:

A Celtic braid representing the ribbons used in the handfasting ceremony surrounds the quilt's center. A gold Celtic knot is in the upper sky with star charts of northern and southern hemisphere navigational stars. Just like real stars, the ones on the quilt are not easily seen. Surrounding it all are Mariner's Compasses to complete the nautical theme and capture the couple's love of travel. The quilt's unusual shape was specially designed to fit on Erik and Allison's four poster bed.

Pam Streed (Erik's mom) is pictured holding a special edition Schooner Isaac H. Evans mug.

I understand that the quilt was a Christmas gift and is now being enjoyed by the happy couple!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Yummy Brunch!

This brunch buffet was so long I needed three pictures to really show you all the yummy stuff! And the greatest news is...

..the cook that prepared this awesome spread is going to be our cook this summer!

sticky buns
three different kinds of quiche
sauteed onions, peppers, and kielbasa
deviled eggs
olives and marinated feta
fruit salad
lobster rolls
assorted cereal
granola and yogurt
orange juice
grape juice

Join us on the Evans this summer. Sail with our singing cook Margi. You'll have fun and you definitely won't go hungry!