The sun is out, the wind is up, the days are long, and it’s time to go sailing. With less than a week before we board, our army of workers is steadily and happily working towards getting out there on the bay. Orders of food are arriving daily and the garden is nearly completely planted for the season with protective hoops and plastic for the basil, tomatoes and peppers. This can be a very hectic time of year. I am trying to write all of my columns and blog posts for the summer before we leave the dock in addition to organizing the end of the girls’ school year. With all of this going on, we have to remind ourselves to take deep breaths of warm air, to lift our un-scarved faces to the sun, and to take our lunch in the grass or on the deck.
Soon the view out of my “office” will be granite-studded islands and wide expanses of water. We are all so looking forward to being out there…. You should come too!
One calm Sunday in April, the crew of the Riggin and the Timberwind moved our new pretty schooner up Penobscot Bay to her new home in Belfast, Maine. The day started calm and then picked up to a feisty 25 knots of breeze on the beam, but for a spring day in Maine, this is still a fairly low key day on the bay. As the sun was closing out the day, our crews celebrated their efforts. To top it all off, the Bangor Daily News was kind enough to highlight the Timberwind‘s new life.
Because our fall was so incredibly warm, we were able to take Iolaire, our cute new schooner, out for a test drive before we put her away for the winter. The day was our last gorgeous, warm, fall day. At first when she heeled, I had this instinctive reaction of a little clench in my gut, thinking what’s on the stove, what’s on the tables, where are the flowers? And then? I REMEMBERED, I’m not on the big schooner and nothing is on the tables because there are no tables. I enjoyed the sailing just for the sailing. I watched the day go by and it was blissful.
It was the first time in 24 years that I’ve been on a sail boat without the responsibility of cooking a single thing. Not coffee. Not muffins. Not dinner. Nothing. I gotta tell ya, it’s different. Now I know why so many of you like sailing with us so much! It’s FUN!
Perhaps this sounds odd coming from someone who sails all summer long, but as one of our apprentices this summer put it, “It’s such a bummer that what makes [working on] deck awesome is the same thing that makes [working in the] galley insane.” Imagine the schooner heeling over as she catches a southwest summer breeze to windward – the wind in your face and the sound of the hull as she powers through the water. Then imagine the galley, nothing on the tables or counters and everything completely stowed (because if it’s not, it will launch itself onto the sole). Imagine trying to bake a cake or pie when the boat is heeled that much, or cook a stew when it’s sliding across the top of the stove. Yup, you get why great sailing days are not always the greatest galley days. And even with all of that, any day on a boat, whether it’s in the galley or not, is a good day.
All summer long Jon and I could see the Schooner Timberwind from the deck of the Riggin. We would say to each other that someone should buy that boat. She’s so pretty. She deserves a new life. But when we said “someone” we were NOT meaning us.
However, life had other plans and within a short time after our season ended, we found ourselves on another schooner adventure as the owner of not one, but two Maine windjammers! We are the proud owners of the Schooner Timberwind.
There is still a lot to figure out, but we do know that she’ll be run as a daysailer from a Midcoast town by our former Mate, Lance Meadows. The rest is yet to be confirmed and we’ll look forward to sharing more, when we, ourselves, discover it!
We’d like to introduce you to the newest boat in our fleet. Meet Iolaire (pronounced yawl’-a-rah), which means “eagle” in Gaelic. She is a Scottish sixern, a Shetland Island fishing boat. The sixern is descended from the Norse seksæring, meaning six-oared boat – ancestor of the schooner.
Iolaire only has four oars and is a standing lug-rigged schooner. Her masts are nearly equal in height and both are removable for easy storage.
Built in 1984 for Dr. Kenneth Leighton, author of Oar and Sail (Creekstone Press, 1999), she was also once owned by Maynard Bray’s grandson. We found her in Vermont and she made her way to us this fall.
Our hope is that she’ll be a more stable small boat that we can launch once the big schooner is at anchor – for those who didn’t get enough sailing during the day.
This has been an amazing couple of weeks for wildlife which has reminded me how much affection I have for sailing during the month of June.
The eider ducks have hatched and the non-descript brown feathered mama ducks are leading their flocks of five to seven identical hued ducklings wiggling and scurrying around behind her. In comparison, the showy tuxedo-garbed black and white males are now seen in small bachelor rafts of their own.
Rafts of razor bills, members of the Auk family and related to puffins, have been a common sighting as well. One not seen as often as the eiders, but more than in previous years.
The osprey on the Pulpit Rock nest have hatched and Mama and Papa are diligent sentries warning passing schooners to keep their distance with their piercing warning calls to us and each other. It’s hard to see how many are in the nest , but this pair usually hatches two (sometimes three, but the third one rarely makes it).
Loons are also back and calling their haunting songs early in the dawn and late in the glooming hours of dusk. Mostly, we are seeing males as the pairs are still keeping close to their shore side nests – often on nearby lakes.
The jellyfish – both moon and lions mane are also coming alongside to say their good wishes and delight us with their undulating movement. The moon jelly fish always seem a happy sort if one can attribute emotion to a jelly fish. Maybe it’s just my emotion as I watch them as I know they don’t have a sting of any consequence.
Baby seals with their little heads poking out of the water have come to great us in numbers this month and they get a little closer to the schooner when we are at anchor than their parent because they can’t resist the pull of curiosity.
The winds have been strong and have made for exciting sailing days. The moon has been out and peeking at me in the early morning before the sun is fully up. The daylight hours are long and welcome us to the bay with a wide open embrace.
June, it turns out, is my favorite time to sail. I’d forgotten just how much wildlife is active this time of year. You should come join us!
Before they came to us to sail for 4 days, bloggers Joy Wilson of Joy the Baker and Jen Yu of use real butter ate at El Rayo, Ten Apple Farm, In Good Company and last but not least, Fore Street. They cook, they write recipes, they write books, they blog about food and they were coming to sail with us. And taste my food. Cooked on a wood stove. In the middle of Penobscot Bay. At a heal. Sometimes in the rain. I prayed that after having Sam’s food (Fore Street) that they would recognize how little space, refrigeration, staff, time and precision I have in my little galley and love my food for what it is. Made with good heart, excellent ingredients and and attention and love for the craft and art of cooking while taking advantage of what I do have and letting the rest go.
I need not have worried. They got it alright and I feel blessed to know these two wonderful women who write about food like I do with their own flare and style. Thank you both for your kind words. I was sort of speechless before you came, chattered away with you while you were here, and now I’m again speechless from both of your posts. Thank you. Joy Baker (Joy Wilson) on the Riggin and use real butter (Jen Yu) on the Riggin.