Thursday, August 6, 2015

Maine: The Schooner Heritage (5/5)

     Welcome back to the Schooner Heritage.  This is day 5 of a 5 day series - if you have not read the first four articles I suggest you do.  For #1 Click Here, for #2 Click Here, for #3 Click Here and for #4 Click Here.

     We awaken in a place called the "Little Thorofare" so we can explore another town tomorrow.  Doug decides it is time for a swim.

     The water temperature is:

     Now, I can't have an old schoolmaster out-do me, can I?

     The water is bracing - it feels great AFTER you get out.  The crew readies the boat to pull into harbor of the nearby town.

     Pulleys give the mechanical advantage needed to move heavy objects.  Pulling Superman up on the stern is harder than hoisting the sails.

     The crew lowers the boats and anyone who wants to heads into town.

     This is a town called Stonington Maine.

     I opt not to go ashore so I can chat with Doug and Linda.  One point of interest in the harbor is a small island with a stone hut built on it. 

     AT&T is real spotty for cell service in Maine - I have not had any service for a couple of weeks.  I had not looked at my phone on the trip, but decided to walk down to get it out of the duffel bag.  It was 11:11 and I had a chance to catch up on calls.  

    This town sits atop an area with very desirable granite.  Black powder and dynamite used to quarry the granite was kept on a little stone island in the harbor so that if it blew up it wouldn't level the town.  You can see the little structure they built atop it.

     Early settlers here fished during the summer and cut out granite paving stones in the winter.  They were paid 2 cents a stone.  The remains of their efforts can be seen cascading from the hills of neighboring islands.

     For a small town it has a very popular opera house.  I have heard people from all over Maine talk about attending events here.

     It must have a lot of interesting shops because it seems that everyone who goes ashore comes back with a bag of trinkets.  

     We cruise for the afternoon, and anchor in a small bay with three other schooners from the Maine Windjammer fleet.

     The Heritage is the newest schooner built, and the oldest commercial schooner in the United States is here with us.

     It is the Louis French, built in 1871.  This is one of the boats that Doug and Linda rescued and rebuilt before they built the Heritage.  There are three other boats that they did the same with.

     Tonight is "funny hat night."  The old time passengers have brought wild hats, and Linda has a grab bag with a few for folks that don't have one.

     At sunset the other schooners shoot off their cannons.  Doug waits a while, then loads the cannon on the Heritage.

     KAAABLOOMM!!   Doug has the biggest gun - the report reverberates off of the hills.  None of the other boats answer - Doug has had the last word on cannon firing for tonight.

     Annie and Doug play taps on kazoos while Linda and Rico hum along and dance to taps - how do you dance to taps?

     And before you know it, the sun rises on Friday - our last full day on the boat.

     Rico runs up the signal flags - he tells me they say 1 2 GO, signifying it is our last day out.

     Doug always has a few stories and jokes for the crowd at breakfast.

     The wind picks up strong.  We are off and running early, and move rapidly under brisk winds for the entire day.  Doug takes us out into the Gulf of Maine where we find some decent sized swells.

    Like any piece of equipment that has been well designed and built for a specific task, the Heritage seems to come to life and attack the waves.  This is what she was built for, and she seems to want more of it.

     I find out why the bar that hangs down to provide leverage to the stays is called a "dolphin striker."

     Dolphins often ride the bow wakes of boats, and more than once this post dug into waves.  We pass a couple more lighthouses, the first called the "Two Bush Lighthouse" because before there was a structure here there were merely two bushes on the island.

     And the Whitehead Lighthouse, built in 1852.

    My favorite spot is up on the bow - the ride rivals that of any amusement park. I am not sitting so casually when we are out today though.

     You can feel that it is the last day - everyone is enjoying it and no one is in a hurry to leave.

    I take a nap for a couple of hours - and sleep deeper than I have in a long time.  My bunk is in the bow, and as I rest by head against the wall the waves crash and gurgle as though I am right in among them.

     We cover a lot of territory, and pull into a spot called the Muscle Ridge Channel.  The moon rises - it seems fuller tonight than it did last night.

     I had this romantic notion about sleeping on the deck, so I decide I should.  I lay out a bunch of seat cushions, snuggle up in a bunch of blankets and watch the moon slide across the sky.

      Well, every time I would fall asleep the cushions would shift and part of me would get wedged.  Dew falling out of the sky made sure I was properly damp.  Sleeping on the deck turned out to be a lot sexier in theory than in practicality.

     Saturday morning is here and we head back into Rockland.  A  buffet brunch is served on deck.

     We round the ridge where Owls Head Lighthouse guards the approach.

     And just like that the week is done.  It has all moved so fast - I am not sure if it seems real at this point.

     We only got to connect with about half of the guests and really only learned a little about them.  We covered a couple hundred miles and yet it seems we just got started.  I can see now why so many come back year after year.  And you spend less on this trip than the average vacationer pays just for a week's hotel stay.

     I cannot help but be impressed with Doug and Linda.  They are a team in the truest sense.  Time after time in their lives they have chosen to act in spite of their fears and create a beautiful life that they can share with others.  And, by extension of their efforts, other folks have embraced the lifestyle and have brought numerous old boats back to life that would otherwise be rotting on the bottom of the sea.  This is in addition to all the young people that they "hire" - adopt is a better description.   I told them a few times that I respected what they do - but words don't seem to be able to capture it.  They are so intuitive of each other and the boat.  

     As we pull into the harbor we slide past a large naval ship.  It is here because this is Rockland's big Lobster Festival weekend.

     We aren't the biggest ship in the harbor this day.  The parade is underway, and even with all the goings-on the paparazzi is still waiting for us.

    Back at North End Shipyard we meet the other two Heritage employees.

    Adam McKinlay along with his wife and young child holds down the fort while the ship is at sea.

     And he is assisted by Shary Fellows who handles all the administrative work for the company.  If you want to book, you need to talk to Shary.

     You can contact her through the website by Clicking Here or by calling the office at 207.594.8007

    It is low tide, so the crew hauls out a set of steps for us to use.

     We pose for a group photo.

     And the week is over.  The crew is right to work cleaning and packing in a new batch of ice.  Linda heads right out to get provisions.  

     Soon another group of folks will show up - a whole new week with completely different people and personalities.  It is time for us to move along though - much territory remains to be covered.     

     Today's "Faces in the Crowd" is Peter doing his "Captain Doug" impersonation.

     I think Peter might do Captain Doug better than Doug does.

     And today's parting shot, from a book in the galley:

Click Here  if you can contribute a few dollars to this effort and Click Here to email me.

Make it a great day !!

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.