Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Maine: The Schooner Heritage (4/5)

     Welcome back to the Schooner Heritage.  This is the fourth article of a five article series - I suggest you read the previous articles for context.  For #1 Click Here, #2 Click Here and #3 Click Here.

     We are celebrating Rico and Peg's 11th anniversary, heading out to a little island that the captain claims is named "Lobstah Island," but further investigation reveals is "Shivers Island."

    Sean serves lunch on deck - fish chowder with sandwiches.

     It will take us a couple of hours to sail to the island, so we have a chance to talk with a few more folks.  Meet Joe Merritt.

     Joe is here with his wife of 52 years - Joan.  Joe is also retired CIA, but he and Dick didn't know each other before meeting on the Heritage.  This is their 24th cruise on this ship.  Early most mornings Joe can be found out rowing one of the dinghies - and he will stay out rowing for hours until we are getting ready to leave.  One morning there were three other sailboats in the same harbor, and he came back to report to us what each crew was serving for breakfast.  I would have been impressed with samples.

     Joe served on the USS Yorktown before she was retired and now is used as a museum in Charleston SC.  Back then he was working in naval intelligence - mostly handling search and rescue operations for downed pilots.

     Joe tells a couple of stories - one about a time when the CIA built a building for photo and map readers inside an old warehouse.  Somewhere along the way the press figured it out, and as they broke the story about the secret headquarters they interviewed an old wino who hung out across the street.  The wino was on national tv talking about how he didn't want to mess with those CIA guys because they would kill you dead.  Joe laughs that they were all basically pencil pushers who were analyzing aerial photos of other countries military sites.  Another story is the time a senate aide came in and tried to embarrass them by claiming in front of a senator that they had been fooled by a balloon decoy the Soviets had put out to appear as a submarine.  He informed the aide that the guy from Kodak who developed the film had said it was the first submarine he had seen that had a bend in it - before any CIA analysts had even seen the shot.

     I asked Joe the same question about 911 as I asked Dick.  Joe responded the same - he didn't say there wasn't any collusion, but he said he didn't know how it could be kept secret.  Things always get out he said.  

     Also along for the trip are Paul and Anne Murphy.

     They retired after 30 some years serving in the Methodist Church.  Paul was a pastor, and we talked at length about how the hierarchy in the church is organized and about trends in attendance.  Paul is one of those ministers that actually follows the intuitive voice - he refers to it as the "Holy Spirit."  He has much wisdom about following the voice of God and was a pleasure to talk to.  You rarely see Anne without a smile on her face.  They both say that they are glad to be retired because they can now do service work more anonymously.

     And so we arrive at our dinner destination.  You notice the dinghy was towing the lobsters in their crate.

     The island has a beach that connects two elevated granite sections.

     As are so many places in Maine, it is a beautiful spot.  We are all able to wander for a couple of hours while we wait for the crew to cook up the dinner.

     We meet Stephen and Tina Branton of Erie Pennsylvania,both on their first schooner trip.

     They met at a Christian Fellowship a few years back and are on this trip to celebrate their first anniversary.  Last year when they vacationed Tina found a lobster buoy - and she bought one at a gift shop.  She found another wedged in a crack in the granite here.  She is a lot more enthused about her find than Stephen is.

     On the first day, as we were just pulling out of the harbor at Rockland Tina asked me what my expectations were for this trip.  I told her that I am usually pretty comfortable in my own skin and thus don't really set expectations on things.  She laughed and said they didn't really have any either.

     We never had any extended conversations, but they were fun to share observations with as we cruised along.

    Passing by us was a family lobster operation.

     Now that is a quintessential "mom and pop" business if I ever saw one.

     A little girl in the bow of a boat approaches, and can be seen lecturing her dog as they near us.

     As soon as they get close she goes to the bow and starts waving.

     Perhaps she was giving the dog waving lessons.  Another boat passes by with a dog in a life jacket.

     The shout goes up that dinner is ready, and the crew pour the lobster into a bed of seaweed.  I am having trouble generating saliva without a bell ringing.

     But, before dinner is served they do the "Hokey Pokey" for us.  Sean has spent too much time in the galley - he was a half click behind.

     Interesting thing how things change.  The early settlers here called lobster "mud roaches."  Maine passed a law that prisoners were only allowed to be fed lobster once a week - more than that was deemed "cruel and unusual punishment."  Indians and early settlers found them so plentiful that they were used to fertilize fields.

     We all spread out and enjoy the lobster followed by s'mores.  But we can't tarry long - the tide is coming in fast.

     It soon reaches the fire, and the crew begins packing up the gear.

     That stretch to the next island - that was all beach when we arrived.  That atoll is where I took the photos off of the "cliff" that appeared early in this article.

     It takes a couple of trips to get all the gear and people off the island.  One woman gets panicky with the rising water, but everyone else seemed to take it in stride.

     Back on the boat Linda is waiting with buckets of water for everyone to wash their shoes and feet.

     As the sun sets the crew brings back the remaining guests.

     The full moon rises just as we board the boat.

     This is a blue moon - something that has different meanings to different folks.  The second full moon in a single month is common today - so we'll use that.  The old saying "once in a blue moon" means about once every two years.

     Sunrise comes early - ouch.  That is as bad as "It was a dark and stormy night" for those prose purists among you.

    It is a thick fog, and navigation is slow.  Doug made the pointer that he keeps on a map by the helm so folks can look to see where we are at any given time.

     Perhaps prosthetics are in Doug's future?

    Anton draws foghorn duties.

     Ben points and calls out obstacles such as marker buoys and other boats.

     I love cruising in the fog - it doesn't feel like we are moving - it just appears that occasional obstacles materialize out of the haze, drift by and dissolve back into the mist.

     Later in the day the fog begins to lift, we get to see Mark Island Lighthouse.  

     This was built in 1857 to mark the Deer Isle Thorofare.

     One thing I have not covered is the anchoring system the boat has.  An old 1921 one cylinder engine powers them up and down.

     Doug likes this motor because it generates its own spark and can run in the rain.  It hauls up the chains and can be used to run the sails up when needed.  It is called a "donkey" because a real live donkey used to be kept on ships to handle this work.

     There are two anchors up on the bow; only one is used except in real rough weather.

     There are four pulleys - one for each anchor and one on each side for sail hoisting.

     And lots of chain.  

     That brings us to today's "Faces in the Crowd - which today is related to the "Parting Shot."  Someone painted a picture of a walrus as the captain of the boat.

     I have no idea where they got such a notion.

Click Here for more information on Heritage cruises, Click Here if you can contribute help myefforts, and Click Here to email me.

Make it a great day !!

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