Just a Whiff of One of My Favorite People

For years, a visit to the rustic fishing village of Stonington, Maine required a walk down Main Street to the Purple Fish, a little publicized, but revered little gallery run by Jan and Evelyn Kok.  When we shared with our guests the not-to-miss sites of Stonington, these two people and their gallery were always top of the list.  We described Jan and Evelyn as the oldest kids we knew.  With their heads of hair that had turned fully white and their backs bending to the weight of gravity a little more each year, the vitality and energy of this couple dimmed not one bit.

I say that when I grow up, I want to be like them.  As a couple.  As a person.  I always left the Purple Fish feeling as if I had my priorities straight.  Life is about good music, harmony, joy, stories, laughter, love, sharing… the important things.

Evelyn has now left us, but today in the mail I received a whiff of her essence in the form of her artwork.  Christina Ships, owner of Inn on the Harbor in Stonington and also niece to these incredible human beings, has taken on the project of sorting through Evelyn’s artwork and turning them into cards and stationary.   (We’ll be selling these in the ship’s store this summer.  Let us know if you’d like us to send you a set:  6 packs are $20 plus shipping for either of the Riggin shots or a collection of the sea shells.)

So for a moment, Evelyn was alive again, stories of her wafting across the screen of my mind leaving me with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart.

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Annie
Thank you Christina

What Should We Name Her?

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Our new wood stove, assembled, cleaned up, and ready to go into the galley.

Last fall, the wood stove that we inherited when we bought the Riggin 18 years ago, died.  Admittedly, it was a slow death, complete with many repairs and upgrades, but once the stove was out of position, like a soldier out of step with the rest of his/her unit, the flaws became more evident.  The first one being, no one should be able to look from the outside wall of the fire box and see through a crack to the grate inside.  No one.  Ever.

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The baking space, water tank, and stove space all waiting for Lucy.

But before we were able to get a good look at the stove from all angles, we had to get it out of the space it had occupied for almost 40 years.  (Remember that we inherited the stove with the Riggin.  The original installation would have been some time in 1977.)  To get the stove out required a feat of engineering, as with most anything involving schooners where everything is heavy and nothing is square.  The trick to getting the stove out had to include no one getting hurt, so just getting a bunch of crew muckled onto the thing and muscling it out of the space wasn’t going to work.  We’ve tried to fit more than three people in my galley space and trust me, there’s no room to maneuver a single thing, much less a several-hundred pound stove.

This would require the largest muscle of all – the brain.  Often in the schooner world, heavy objects are moved by rolling them over logs or poles rather than sheer brute strength.  This concept applied to the stove worked brilliantly.  Several oblong fenders were placed on the sole in front of the stove where I usually stand.  The stove was then carefully tilted on end to rest on top of the fenders and then rolled out of the galley space to in front of the stairs.  Then fenders were placed on the backside of the stairs and with a pulley system rigged to the boom, rolled up and out of the galley.  From there, the boom was able to swing the stove off the deck and onto the dock.

Once the stove was in the back of the truck, Cap. took it to be repaired at Bryant Stove Works, a well-known stove repair company in our area.  The sad news came when the owner of the store suggested that she had cooked her last meal and the best use for her was a 21-gun salute.  Good bye, old friend.

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Justin making it pretty.

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Lucy installed in her new home!

Hello, new friend, with your shiny chrome, your curlicues and your warming shelves.  Welcome to my galley.  I’m thinking her name should be Lucy.  It’s an old-fashioned name and a wood stove on a 1927-built schooner should have an old-fashioned name.  Plus, if some goes wrong I’ll be able to say, “Luuucy, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do.”  I hope we will become fast friends, Lucy.

Annie
Making new friends

Happy Chinese New Year – The Year of the Ram and, well, Fiber

We are feeling sheepish – but not in the bashful sense, rather in the fiber way.  In celebration of the wonderful sheep that give us fiber for all of our knitting projects, the Schooner J. & E. Riggin launches a year-long giveaway of gorgeous yarn.  It’s the year of the ram (or the goat or the sheep depending on who you are talking to) and in honor of the Chinese zodiac (yang) and it’s Lunar New Year, 52 Skeins and our Maine Knitting Cruises will be giving away one skein of yarn from small, hand-crafted vendors.  Some are our favorites and some are new to us, but no less lovely.

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Each week, the yarn will be featured on our Maine Knitting Cruise page, on Facebook, and all the other social media places you might expect (Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest).  To enter to win head on over to the Maine Knitting Cruises Facebook page and do the following – a) leave a comment, b) tag a friend (for an extra entry) and/or c) share the post (for an extra entry). Enter each week.  At the end of the year, we will draw one name from all 52 weekly winners. This lucky person will win a 52 skein stash of yarn (valued at over $1,300).

As it turns out, the hardest part of this giveaway might be on our wallets here at home.  All of this yarn is so gorgeous, that we will not be able to resist making purchases of our own.

Good luck to you all.  And may the best sharer win!

Annie
We believe in ewe.

We kick off Week 1 of 52 Skeins with locally (to MidCoast Maine) spun and dyed ontheround yarn! To know more about ontheround and where to find her fabulous yarn and details on the whole 52 Skeins giveaway visit the Maine Knitting Cruises page on our website.

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Remember the Time… – Race Week Fun 2014

The actual race started out well and then drifted to a lumpy sea at the end, but man did we have fun. The entertainment began the night before with the small boat races.

There were two categories- rowing and sailing.  Oh, and a prize for the crew members who made the biggest fools of themselves.  Justin, Ella, Toni and Cassie got right into the spirit of things and dressed the part of pirates and… a moose?

In any event, Cassie and Toni, entered into the rowing race, had their oars pilfered at one point and were firing day old biscuits at competitors. Ella and Justin, the sailing contingent, resorted to using a bilge scoop to paddle the chamberlin failing enough wind and managed to both stay in their boat.  Unlike Cassie and Toni who ended up attempting to swim and tow the peapod.

Once back on board, the night ended perfectly with a collective round of Mingulay Boat Song and we went to our bunks with the harmony of the music still reverberating in our chests.

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Annie
So much laughter!

Hey Gang!  Come join us for a taste of Maine, some good fun and a lobster or three!

Photo credit: Susan Land

Canning Pear Nectar

This fall, I was the surprised recipient of a beautiful bushel of pears from what we think is a Seckle Pear tree. That gift, however, did not come co-bundled with an abundance of time. I was determined that this gift would not sit too long while I put it off until the pears were passed perfectly ripe and had moved into “uh oh.”

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To hustle along, I decided to not can them as whole pears, but as nectar. Making nectar is a much easier process than canning whole fruit, as it does not require peeling. It begins with making a loose pear sauce much the same way one would apple sauce by bringing to a simmer pear quarters and water and cooking until the pears are either tender or falling apart. Pear varieties will differ in whether they stay together once they are fully cooked or fall apart – just like apples.

With the addition of lemon juice and sugar plus a hot pack canning process, pear nectar emerges. I’ll use it all winter long in smoothies instead of honey, as a juice for brunch, a foundation for mixed drinks, combined with ginger ale for a special drink for the girls and, well, I let you know what else I come up with!

Annie
Thank you, friend Glen. I’m glad we are both good at sharing.

Sailing Our Tiny Schooner

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Getting ready to go. Lugsails are easy to rig.
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Chloe hanging out and manning the foresail sheet.
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Papa and Ella steering.
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Focus. Focus.
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Happy sailing campers!

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.

However, a small boat with no galley? Pretty fun!

Annie
I fell in love with sailing all over again.

Welcome to Our Fleet, Schooner Timberwind!

Merry Christmas to us!

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!

Schooner Timberwind by Rocky Coast Photograhy

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Annie
Our fleet expands yet again

Eco-Friendly, Green and Local – What’s Next?

As a food writer and business owner I’m constantly challenged by what the next new idea is. It used to be that we were on the leading edge of things. We were one of the first 50 businesses in Maine to receive the Leadership in Hospitality award from the Department of Environmental Protection. Our “It’s All About the Food Cruises,” where 90% of our food came from within 100 miles of us, were the first of their kind in our area. Even composting and recycling on the boat — which trust me, took some effort to figure out — are places where we led the way.

But now that everyone and every business is “green” — or at least they say they are — where do we go from here to be a leader? Likewise, everyone is talking about how local they are. Now that we buy entire sides of local beef and pork, raise nearly half of our veggies in the garden and buy almost all the rest from a CSA, what’s next? Raising our own animals? On 0.6 acres of land? That’s “zero point six” acres, not 6 acres. Not likely. Perhaps we should have hens on the boat like they used to do on the ships that sailed around the world; from the beginning of the voyage those early sailors carried many of the animals that would become their sustenance.

Then my mind wanders to what prompted us to go green, local and sustainable to begin with. At the core, it was about providing a clean environment and healthy food for our family. In the end, the business received the benefit as well, but initially, all I wanted was to avoid hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, and chemicals in our food.

We began with the goal of healthy food for our family and in the process created a healthy food experience for our guests and for our schooner business.  Do we relish being a leader? Definitely. And will we keep looking for the next new good things for our family…AND for our schooner?  Absolutely.  And, in the meantime, we can also bask in the enjoyment of what we’ve created.  To love walking in the gardens early in the morning with a cup of coffee and deciding what is to be harvested for the next trip.  To know that the bulk of what we are serving and eating is full of that which is good for us.  And to enjoy the literal and figurative fruits of our creations.

I can be satisfied with that.  Absolutely.

 

Chloe Harvesting Sailing Morning

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