Season Finale

It is pretty quiet at Mount Desert Campground  tonight.  I am the only one left, and tomorrow I will finish packing and head to Georgetown, ME,  three hours down route 1 where my wife and I will settle into our new jobs as farm care takers..   We are excited about the opportunity to live and work on a beautiful piece of land and to remain in Maine full time, but we are also a bit sad to see this, our final season at the campground come to an end.   Five days ago, every site was occupied for the Columbus Day Weekend holiday.. How quickly things change!   The squirrels have already begun to take over until May of 2018 when workampers return, energized, and ready to prepare the campground for another season.

I thought I would share some photos from the past few days …

a pointI paused to take this photo as we were cleaning sites on the “A” point at the beginning of the week.. the tide is out and there is some color showing near the tree that holds an active eagle’s nest which we observed throughout the season.

albino deer I caught this albino deer venturing across the road leading down into the campground… she has been a constant resident since we arrived for our first season, but we don’t see much of her once the campers arrive.

six hour canoethe boat project that the campground owner’s son and I have been working on… I put what i hope is the final coat of epoxy on  this week..  I will return later in the fall to help fit the gunnels, and then it will be time to test it out!

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Sunny, our cat, waiting under the covers till i got home for lunch… my wife left early, and I am now the  cat caretaker…  he tolerates me just fine as long as a refresh his food and water and clean his litter box…

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Site B7, just across the road from us… how nice when it happens to be vacant… the view is wonderful!  But we do enjoy the company of the campers, and it is a bit lonely to drive down there now with out a single neighbor..

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Today was my final sail aboard the Margarett Todd… it was a beautiful day, but the wind let us down.   I did the last two trips of the day..  It was a lot of fun to get back on the schooner these past few weeks.. it has been a neat opportunity to sail aboard a 4 masted schooner… surely the fulfillment of a boyhood dream of mine…

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Tomorrow, I will winterize our trailer, pack the remaining bags in my truck and say good bye to Mount Desert Island.  We have been blessed in so many ways these past three seasons.. enjoying working with great people,  exploring Acadia National Park, living in a beautiful setting, meeting interesting people…  but as this chapter draws to an end, we are also eager to begin a new one in an equally stunning part of Maine, taking on new responsibilities,  learning new skills, making new friends…  stay tuned!

 

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Sunsets in Bar Harbor

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The past month or so, I have had the opportunity to fill in as a deck hand on the Margaret Todd, sailing out of Bar Harbor.  Most of the trips that I have been on have been the 2 hour ( more like an hour and a half at this time of the year)  sunset cruises.

A musician joins the crew for these trips, and the passengers are often treated to beautiful sunsets ( when the fog does not roll in) …  this post is simply a small collection of some photos I took during the last few cruises.

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taken from my position, tending the fore sail sheet…

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passenger taking part in the sing along part of the evening.. hope she turns around to enjoy the view!

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sails have been lowered, dock lines secured, and the last passenger has disembarked.. another beautiful evening on Frenchman Bay…

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Summer 2016 (where did it go?) part 2 – working as a crew member on the Margaret Todd

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One of the neat things about being off 3 days a week is that time is created to pursue other interests.   Ever since I was a boy, I dreamed of working on a ship..  it took a long time ( I am about to celebrate my 57th birthday), but I finally turned that dream into reality.   On a bit of a whim, I wrote a nice letter to Down East Windjammer Cruise Lines  soon after arriving on MDI in late April.   My hope was that they might need  a part time crew member on the Margaret Todd, a 4 masted schooner, sailing out of Bar Harbor.   I was somewhat surprised when I got a favorable response, and, within a few weeks, I was invited to an interview sail on the Bailey Louise Todd.    In the picture above, the BLT is in the foreground, and the MLT is behind her.   This was taken one of the first mornings that I arrived in Bar Harbor as an official member of the crew.

 

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It was pretty chilly the first few weeks on Frenchman Bay… The first thing I learned is that I had a lot to learn!   But, I found that my fellow crew mates were very supportive, and that was, and continued to be, a huge positive part of the job.

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This is  a shot of folks boarding for the evening cruise.   In the foreground is the friendship sloop Chrissy.  She is over 100 years old and was used for trips for small groups of 6 or less.

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A couple of shots that I took at the conclusion of the sunset cruises..  these tended to be quite popular trips…mt-8

There were lots of things to get done after the passengers left…  it was usually dark before we were able to call it a day…

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we were treated to some spectacular sunsets!

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on the 4th of july, we encouraged the passengers to remain on board for the fire works after we returned to the dock.  That was a popular option..  we certainly had great seats!

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fellow crew mates,  Amanda and Greg, backing the jib during a tack.   The passengers enjoyed watching us tend to sailing duties, and especially enjoyed engaging in conversation…   I found it a bit challenging to maintain a watchful eye, while also carrying on a discussion with passengers..   i really like to talk 🙂

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Janet and I had the opportunity to ride the ferry to Schoodic Peninsula …  we took our bikes and had a great day.  on the way back, we got pretty close to the Margaret Todd under sail.

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one of my goals for the summer was to get a chance to climb the rigging – not something that we did on a routine basis – but one morning there was a job to be performed at the top of the main mast on the BLT , and I quickly jumped at the chance..   this is a pic taken from the top of the mast..   it never seems that high from the deck!

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I did not get my phone out in time to get a good shot of this rainbow, but it is still there – if you squint and use your imagination 🙂    It was a beautiful evening, and we certainly did not expect a rainbow, but there it was…

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the routine is that we show up at 8 am  and perform some maintenance tasks aboard the boats and then prepare for the 10 am cruise.    This was taken recently, early in the morning..   I am going to miss this part of the job – and lots of other things as well.   Halfway through the summer I decided that I should set a goal for trying to get through an entire day without making a stupid mistake..      soon after that  prepared to raise the sail on the foremast when there was no sail to be raised!   When one of the crew members pointed that out with a smile..  I told him ” my goal is to get through a day with no stupid mistakes… i guess today will not be that day”  🙂      in fact,  last week i kind of made it through the day… one minor goof – up..    Tomorrow is my last day on the boat..  so, one more chance!

new job!

schooners in the morning

The one down side of spending half the year in Maine is that we have not yet figured out a way to bring our sailboat along with us.  So, I decided to become creative and see if I could land a part time job as crew on the local schooner… and it worked!   (somewhat to my surprise)   I happen to have spent at least 3 more decades on this earth compared with the rest of the crew – but so far, despite me looking dumbfounded on more than one occasion,  my crew mates have been gracious and forgiving!

One of the challenges is that I am only spending one day a week aboard  the Margaret Todd –  and even though we generally make three trips a day,  I could stand a little more repetition 🙂    … there is a lot to learn.. but it is a real pleasure to be on the water again.

boarding for a sunset sail

Here we are, boarding for a sunset cruise .. until last evening,   I needed at least 3 layers to be comfortable.. this particular night, I had 4 layers on, and I felt bad for the guy who was only wearing a t shirt!

foggy evening

Ran into a little fog on this particular cruise..   another chilly one, but it was beautiful despite the lack of a sunset ….    so now, in addition to living and working at the most beautiful campground ( mt desert campground)  ever,   I also get to sail on the only working 4 masted schooner in New England..  life is pretty good  🙂      jt

cp23_1983@yahoo.com

 

Angry Ocean

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A long weekend  in October that just happened to coincide with my birthday –  wonderful timing for a trip to the ocean!    Earlier in the week I got the bill from the Marina for hauling the boat  so it appeared that an added benefit would include being able to cover the boat with the help of my wife… what more could a guy ask for??    We arrived at Ocean Grove  a little after 8 pm on Friday evening.  After checking in to our Bed and Breakfast, we walked to the beach.   It was rather windy, and apparent, even in the dark, that the surf was rough.   We enjoyed a stroll on the sand  up to the north end and then ventured a little way into Asbury Park.   It was pretty quiet except for one venue in Asbury Park that appeared to be a hang-out spot for the younger crowd.  Back to the B&B for a cup of tea and some reading before turning in for the evening.  

Saturday morning we enjoyed a cup of tea on the porch before joining a young couple for breakfast.   They happened to hail from an area in the Poconos, not too distant from our home.  After a lovely conversation with them, we headed into town where a fall festival was taking shape.   Janet found a nice pair of earrings which made a great birthday present… wait a minute.. it is my birthday weekend!   Well, every guy understands that true joy stems from a happy wife 🙂   and the earrings look great!   There were lots of nice items at the fair, but nothing that we absolutely had to have.   However,  a little girl’s  dress that was 60% off at the April Cornell store caught our eyes..   it is so much fun to shop for little girls, but  my little girl is now 26,  and my youngest step daughter is 16…   what about the grandchildren that we don’t yet have.. surely there will be a grand daughter at some point…..    how silly to plan that far ahead..  we moved on.     ( but, in a weak moment.. we returned and picked it up – I told Janet that I would build her a hope chest where we could store things like this!)

Early in the afternoon, we decided to make the 40 min trip to the boat to complete the task of covering it so that we could get back to Ocean Grove in time for an early dinner.    Upon arriving at the marina,  it soon became apparent that I had made the erroneous assumption that getting the bill for hauling the boat meant that the boat was, indeed, on land.  Nope- there she sat in her slip 😦    We made the best of the situation, removing the sails, the engine, and other items for storage at home.   It looks like one more trip to Jersey this fall!  

By the time we returned to Ocean Grove, the festival was winding down..  no more butternut squash  soup – bummer,  but we enjoyed pizza  and then bought an ice cream cone at Nagle’s, along with a cup of tea and headed to the boardwalk.    The wind had increased, and the ocean was really whipped up.   Later I found that it was blowing  25-30.    The picture above was taken at what used to be the fishing pier prior to Hurricane Sandy last fall.   There were no boats on the ocean,  and even the surfers seemed to have the good sense to stay out of the water.   We lasted about 10 minutes on the boardwalk before surrendering and returning to the B and B  where we sat and read in the living room.   We greeted a number of couples who came in, but one couple, Bonnie and Mike, stuck around and chatted for a while before we all called it an early evening. 

We enjoyed breakfast with Bonnie and Mike this morning and then continued our conversation on the front porch – invited them to attend the Apple Festival at the orchard next weekend.    The wind was still steady and strong this morning – bad news for the couple that was planning on being married on the beach later in the day.    A visit to the bakery – a sweet and another cup of tea to take with us on one last trip to the boardwalk…   it turned out that it was still too windy to really enjoy sitting there.

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So we decided to walk in town, along side streets where we could enjoy the Victorian  architecture for which the town is known.     Before heading home, we opted to have lunch at  Starving Artists at Day’s..   this happened to be a spot that I took Janet to  on our first real date years ago..  We were fortunate to be able to sit outside this afternoon – what a nice way to bring the weekend to a close..    except, there is more.. but we will address that in the next entry!

 

Barnegat Bay Bash 2013

Perhaps Bash is a bit misleading – Given the average age of the attendees,  I prefer to call it a gathering!Image

Here is Adagio, leaving her slip and just about to pick up the dinghy that we borrowed for the weekend.   ImageThat is me… one of the younger attendees of the gathering..  we have the dinghy secured, and we are heading out into Toms River.     We motored down the river with Janet at the helm.  After entering the bay, we turned south  and took advantage of the favorable winds for the trip to Tice’s Shoals.    Total distance is just around 9 nautical miles.   There were plenty of boats  on the bay and lots to see.   We decided to stick to the ICW  on the way down.   That gave Janet a chance to  look at the chart and observe the day marks along the way..   heading south..   red-right-return…   i learned that earlier this summer 🙂Image

Navigation is really the secondary purpose of the day marks..  what they are really about is providing a safe place for osprey nests!

We were the first to arrive  at Tice’s Shoals..   So it was our duty to pick a suitable spot to anchor..    It is safe to say that there were 150-200 boats there already.      So we headed towards the southern end of the throng and found a relatively quiet spot..    Our new friend,  Allen from NY, was the next to arrive, followed  by Bob23 – the organizer of the event.     Typically, Bob would have been there on Friday night, but lightening and engine problems led to a slow trip.   In retrospect,  amidst all of the fun that we had, it seems that nearly everyone experienced some difficulty or another, but more on that in a bit.

We all clambered aboard Allen’s boat  and enjoyed lunch, and snacks and conversation.  It was readily apparent that we were going to enjoy the time spent together.    All in all, we we expecting around 8 boats to join our group.    I was a bit worried that Marty had not yet made it to our destination,  and my cell phone was back on Adagio, so Janet and I headed back to the boat to try to touch base with him.   No sooner did we climb on board than we heard his friendly, but tired voice hail us.   Janet was below when Marty came along side..   we were focused on securing his boat when, all of a sudden, Marty asked ” Why is there smoke coming from your boat”?   Sure enough..  there was smoke at the transom.  It was obvious from the smell that the issue was electrical in nature..  I opened the hatch containing the battery to find smoke there as well.   After yelling to Janet to get out of the boat, I reached for the fire extinguisher  and was able to effectively put out the fire.     We opened up all of the hatches and portholes and let the smoke dissipate.    I then reached down and undid all of the wiring from the battery.   

We spent the next hour cleaning the boat.   It was somewhat coincidental when Janet picked up my book on marine wiring to wipe off the dust from the extinguisher!   in fact, the cause of the issue was the line connecting the battery to the generator on the outboard.    A few weeks ago it had pulled apart when I raised the engine.   I later told my wife that I would never dream of leaving an exposed wire in the house – why I did not recognize that this was a similar situation – I can’t explain..  shame on me!

I also find it interesting that this all came to a head just as we returned to the boat..   that was nothing less than a blessing, because I doubt that we would have made it back to the boat in time, had we noticed the issue from Allen’s boat.   

After catching our breath and cleaning up the mess, we headed to the beach..  Janet and I rowed the dinghy in to shore, and Allen joined us in the kayak that he had brought along.   The water in the bay was quite warm.   The water in the ocean was refreshingly cool!   Allen and I stayed in long enough to get used to it..  janet headed back to the beach after a short time.  

Marty’s friend, Alex, joined our group.   He sails a Bristol 24.. close enough to a Compac to allow him to join the fold!   We picked him and Allen  in our dinghy.   Later, Bob and Marty joined us in the cockpit of Adagio for dinner and an evening  of conversation.    We shared dinner, and cookies and lots of laughs before, one by one,  our friends returned to their boats to turn in .    Marty was the last to leave.    After a long hard day which included a difficult launching in the morning, he spent considerable time and effort getting comfortable on his  cp 16.     The wind picked up, and I was a bit concerned about how Janet would react to spending her first night at anchor, rocking and rolling..  She did quite well.   It took both of us a little while to settle in, but once sleep came, it was wonderful.   Image

Sunset on Barnegat Bay

We awoke early on Sunday morning.  The wind was still blowing, although not quite as strong.  I heard what I thought was our dinghy knocking against the boat.   Something did not totally make sense – with the wind still blowing, the dinghy should have been 15 feet behind us, but I did not waste a lot of energy thinking about it.   Then we heard Marty  declare that the sun was about to rise.   I looked outside and realized that it was Marty’s boat that was knocking on our hull!   His anchor dragged, and the wind shifted, and  we happened to be right in line with him!    I let out scope to try to correct the situation, but  in no time, he was upon us again.   In an attempt to reset his anchor, Marty ended up visiting most of the boats in our fleet before finally coming to rest about 100 yards downwind of us! 

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Having a bimini makes our cockpit rather comfortable, so we all gathered for breakfast and more conversation.   Well, maybe not all of us – Alex is a late sleeper, so he missed the morning gathering.    We  speculated as to why the other boats did not join us, but, having no information to the contrary, assumed that they simply had a change of plans.    In fact,  Bob’s engine problem , and our electrical issue were not the only problems experienced by com pac sailors this weekend!   We later found out the two of the boats  were headed towards us  when they decided to take diverging courses to the shoals.   One ran aground and could not start his engine.   He  called the other ( his uncle)  to come back to assist.   They ended up heading back to the marina, uncle towing nephew..  

The third skipper had actually talked with Marty at the marina .  He headed out into the bay just as the wind died on Saturday.    Concerned about not having enough fuel to make the trip out and back under power,  he headed back to the marina as well. 

With a 3  plus hour drive home  in front of us,  we sadly  bid our friends, old and new,  adieu  and pulled our anchor.     The wind was not favorable, so we ended up returning under power.    This time  we decided to cut some of the corners  in the channel –  not a particularly risky course of action since we really only draw about 3 feet with the rudder down.  Of course, having disconnected everything from the battery, we did not have our depth finder available, but that was not a big concern.     The trip went smoothly for us, but we did observe a Pearson 33  run aground about  100 yards from us.    I was watching the boat,  sailing  on a course that was perpendicular to ours when all of a sudden, the jib started flapping.   One of the crew ran up to the bow and started to try to rock the boat from side to side..    Then it dawned on me what had happened..     we watched for a time as we left them in our wake.   There was nothing that we could do for them with our  6hp outboard engine!      I listened for a call to  the tow boat, but did not hear one.   They may have had the good fortune of making it off on their own!

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Janet spent a lot of time at the helm.   She was still smiling when we got back to the marina.  🙂    I dropped her off in the dingy and brought Adagio into her slip while she rowed the dingy to the beach.    We loaded the car and said good bye to the boat.   We may or may not get to sail again this season.   We will see how hectic the beginning of school is.   I am hoping that we will get to return for one more trip during September. 

Not wanting to bring the weekend adventure to a close too quickly, we stopped in Quakertown ( my hometown)  for dinner at a Chinese restaurant that we like.            

What a wonderful way to  spend a weekend –  with your wife,  and with friends, on a boat, a beautiful sunset and sunrise,  snickerdoodles..    who could ask for more 🙂

Time to prepare for a sailing trip!

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Later this afternoon my wife and I will be headed to Barnegat Bay to spend the weekend on the boat..   A good sailing trip  depends on preparation!   And, nothing makes for a happy trip like snickerdoodles..   This was my job this morning.    We are especially looking forward to this trip because we will be meeting up to 8 other owners of Com-Pac sailboats  for a rendezvous   at Tice’s Shoals.    I hope that they all make it, because I baked a double batch of cookies :).    Last year we had a small gathering, and my wife was not able to attend.   If all goes well, this will be her first night on the boat at anchor.    Although we awoke to grey, rainy skies , the sun promises to be out tomorrow.. at least for a bit.      Hopefully, I will have some pics and a great report on Monday!