Sunday, June 27, 2010

First Attempts at Photo Editing

We just returned from a photography sail, in which people payed extra money to come on board and take pictures (as well as take classes from a professional photographer and his assistant). A great trip, with some amazing pictures being taken. Georges, the assistant to Neil (the photographer) gave me a program called Adobe Lightroom, basically a simplified Photoshop I think, and a brief education on it's use. Here are some early attempts at editing photographs (The first and last photos were not edited):

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Between Trips

Angelique has returned yesterday from our first six day trip of the season, which took us as far as Mount Desert Island (the Island on which Acadia National Park is located). We board this afternoon at around 5:00pm and then head out for another six days. A busy summer!

The first day of our last trip, June 14th, we left Camden and sailed east, our destination being Carver Cove and the "Gam". A gam is a traditional 'get-together' of tall ships and this gathering was graced by a total of 10 of Maine's historic windjammers. As we sailed, many of the other boats fell into a long line, and it was pretty amazing to see six or so of us coasting along together. We arrived at Carver Cove second next to Victory Chimes, a massive (170 feet overall) historic landmark, three masted schooner. She is the schooner which graces Maine's state quarter I believe. I think we are the second largest ship in the fleet, and so the two of us formed the center of the raft. By the time all the boats arrived, we had 10 traditional tall ships rafted together, ranging from boats like the Chimes and French built in 1900 and 1871 respectively, to the American Eagle and Angelique, built a century later! As you can imagine, a rather unique experience. The boats were rafted in this order:

Stephen Taber
American Eagle
Victory Chimes
Lewis R. French
Nathaniel Bowditch
J.E. Riggin

The evening ended with the raft breaking apart, and everyone anchoring in Carver Cove for the night, listening to music being played on many different boats.

June 15th arrived full of sun and wind, and we had a relatively lazy morning eating breakfast, polishing brass etc. Hauled anchor and began our trek toward Bass Harbor on Mount Desert Island. Hit 9 knots with everything set, and boy does she move! 9 knots on Angelique feels like nothing! I hear we are the fastest in the fleet, especially upwind because of her full keel. She feels so right when she sails, great movement. We also caught our first lobster trap of the season on the shaft, which happens so often that Mike actually has installed small spinning blades that turn with the shaft to cut the lines.

When we set sail in the morning, it is rare that we ever really know where we will anchor for the evening. This day we knew where we would end up: wherever the Victory Chimes had anchored for the evening. Apparently the Captain of the Chimes is, with Mike, a huge Boston Celtics fan and has a satellite television in his cabin. So while we entertained guests, Mike watched the Celtics with the captains of two other boats. As Captain Dave would say "when you own YOUR own schooner..."

June 16th. Nice day, sunshine and good wind. We beat our way up Blue Hill Bay just for some good sailing, and finished the evening with a lobster bake on a small island near the home of Wooden Boat Magazine.

June 17th. Cloudy, windy, rainy, but a good day. We took trips to shore with Capi, (our 16 person row boat) to experience Wooden Boat. This is a collection of buildings in which people can go to learn traditional boat building and restoration skills. We watched classes on drafting and also bronze casting. Fascinating stuff but I like sailing the boats better!

Loaded up from Wooden Boat and sailed down "The Reach" toward Deer Island, Buck's Harbor direction. Some excitement as we had to lower topmasts in order to get under the Deer Isle bridge. Usually we only have to lower the maintop, as the mizzen can clear, but in this case we approached the bridge at a very high tide. I had to rush up the mizzen at the last minute to take out the fid and chalk (what hold up the topmasts) to lower it about six feet. From where I say on the mizzen top, it did not look like we cleared the bridge by more than five feet. After we had gone under the bridge and lifted both tops back up, the sun came out and we had the most pleasant sail to date, continuing on until about 7pm before dropping anchor in Ruder Cove on the east side of Islesboro Island. We could see the chimney's of one of John Travolta's homes from our anchorage, fun fact.

June 18th. An uneventful and relatively slow sail back to Camden, where we tied up safely to the dock and unloaded passengers the next day. Today I have time off until about 5:00pm when we board a new batch of passengers for our naturalist/photography trip. Should be interesting!

I am content with my life here, as I am still continuously learning and am keeping myself busy with any little project I can find whether it be whippings, splices, fixing black-water pumps with the mate (part of the not-so-glorious aspect of this job) or just enjoying the company of people.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Barefoot Travels

This may be my first actual philosophical post, in which I will attempt to persuade that hiking with bare feet for at least part of an adventure is necessary, especially a difficult hike. Or I may just digress and write about thoughts while hiking.

While scaling the mountains of Camden yesterday I was thinking "why do people hike". I think most people would respond that they go hiking to "experience nature" or perhaps to "escape from reality" in this case reality meaning concrete, steel, cubicles or offices. In one way, a hiking trail like I climbed yesterday is an escape but (and here we begin the philosophy) one is still rather stuck to the trail. One can walk off the trail, into the woods, but if one does not know the area well, it is very easy to get lost. However, neither the path nor being lost in the woods are necessarily the wrong place to be. I suppose many would, when escaping their "real" lives, stick to the path because eventually, one must make it back to the beginning of the hike, so as to escape ones escape and get back to real life. Perhaps being lost in the woods is real life!

The question of "experiencing" nature, or that escape, would be to some empiricists (in the philosophical world) the ability of a person to have sensation associated with hiking. Sensation being the experience of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell of ones environment, in this case being important because it is different than ones normal life, so is that escape. But how many of these senses do we actually experience when hiking? Yesterday I found myself concentrating on reaching the top of the mountain, the summit, and briefly forgetting what was all around me. I was experiencing the sights and sounds and smells, but only in a limited capacity over the sound of my hard breathing from climbing, and my drive to the top. In this regard, I was concentrating much more on the placement of my feet than on the world around me; important so that I would not fall, but not looking up, and so missing other important aspects of life around me. Perhaps if I had just slowed down, not focusing as much on the summit, but more on the walk, I could have noticed more (a classic theme, I know). Perhaps part of this is that those who escape their office lives do not realize that in order to experience these "escapes" to their fullest, it is necessary to reduce the tempo of the walk, "trip", "vacation". Not only does one have to physically be in a new place for this escape, but also must find a way to reduce the pace of their time in the new area.

While walking in an unfamiliar environment, tasting plants etc. to better experience the journey may not be advisable. As such, I will continue by focusing on the last sense, touch. When we hike we have a sense of touch, in that we brush against branches, touch interesting plants, sit on large rocks to eat lunch, but when we are simply walking along a trail it seems that ones sense of touch is lost. Ones shoes are in the way. Many would answer that question "why do we hike" by suggesting that hiking can help us to "better connect to our environment." But if we are never even touching the ground we walk on, are we really experiencing that last sense?

So I got it in my mind yesterday to take off my shoes when I was descending Mt. Battie, headed back to the car. As I think I mentioned in my previous writing, Battie is 780 some feet down, over the course of a half mile. And the trail is all rock. And the squall had just hit, so everything was wet. But, I decided to remove my shoes for the last, and steepest quarter mile. I am glad I did, as it was fascinating to walk and feel at the same time. You can imagine the different feelings while walking, cold rocks, squishy piles of wet leaves, roots, solid roots, sharp stones. While I would not suggest this hiking style at all times, it is worth the attempt. Although I was closer to falling multiple times, I noticed that I had to plan my route down the rocks much more than before, as I no longer had any padding under my feet and I was more able to slip. I did indeed feel much more connected.

So my suggestions when hiking, which could quite possible change if I was to hike more, or more rugged terrain (because it hurts to step on those hidden stones!) is to remove your shoes when about a quarter mile away from ones home. Experience just how hiking FEELS!

A Journey

I realized while on this hike that the title of this blog may need some clarification. It is from perhaps my favorite poem. This poem is found in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and I believe can accurately describe what I hope my life to be.

The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the road has gone,
And I must follow if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then, I cannot say.

The Road goes ever on and on,
Out from the door where it began
Now far ahead the road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening rest and sleep to meet.

My week off progresses, and I can say that I am ready to be back on Angelique sailing. Although Camden is a great place to be, a great place to "hang out" (I have found a fitting coffee shop called "Zoot") it is time to be out on the water again. Yesterday I decided that it was finally time to scale Mt. Battie, the bluff that overlooks Camden and can be seen from miles around out on Penboscot Bay. I had imagined that the views were spectacular, and was not disappointed. The hike up Mt. Battie is not long, only half a mile, but it is also 790 some feet from sea level, making the "hike" more of a climb. I am not in shape. When I got to the top, I realized there was a parking lot and one could actually drive to the top. I prefer the hike.

After I had made it up Mt. Battie, and saw the view from there, I continued up another mountain nearby called Mt. Megunticook. This was another 1.5 mile hike one way, and I first descended into a valley between the two "peaks", then had to again more climb than hike up the second mountain. I am glad I decided to climb, as the views from the top were truly spectacular. The top of Mt. Megunticook is 1385 feet, and there were times in the climb where I was out of breath, as it was almost a free climb up. I met an older gentlemen, perhaps 65, from the Netherlands while eating lunch at the top of this mountain. We walked and talked for a little while, especially about the World Cup. He said his name was Air-ee-on, which I think must be Aaron. Neat old chap! I wished the Netherlands good luck, and he responded saying the United States would probably need more of that than the Dutch!

I had a particularly "neat" experience at the top of Mt. Megunticook, and hopefully this does not get too gushy. While I was just sitting, taking pictures and thinking, I saw a rain squall coming down the valley. My first reaction was to run to cover in the trees but I had my raincoat and so I just sat through it. At 1385 feet in Camden, one is basically in the rain clouds, not below them, and so I witnessed the whole progression of a 10 minute squall come down the valley from the west, pass by me, over Mt. Battie and Camden in the distance, and then disperse out over Penobscot Bay. It was a difficult experience to accurately describe in this blog, but I have some pictures on facebook.

Andrew, the other deckhand on Angelique, has coined a phrase "sense-of-place moments", a short space of time in which one can look out and realize that they are exactly where they are supposed to be. I like this phrase, and experienced my first when napping in Capi (the large rowboat) on our last trip after taking people ashore. There was a warm breeze, we were tied to a dock, I could see the Angelique in the distance and the sun setting nearby. Again, I wish I could better put into words these experiences, but basically, it was perfect.

Those 10 minutes on the top of Mt. Megunticook put things back into perspective for me. It is difficult to maintain a faith, and even a belief in oneself...who exactly we are, when what helped to create ourselves (family, friends, professors, college environment etc.) are left behind. In this sense, our idea of ourselves, or at least myself, was also left behind, and I think it took me until that hike to find that all again, to remember to keep all of those influences with me, instead of being changed by new environments. This is not to say that new places and new places should not have an influence, but one must be careful in quickly adopting these new lifestyles.

"Be true to yourself, and paddle your own canoe"

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Rain in Maine

Just returned from our first trip "on our own", without returning crew volunteers etc. Everything went well, we successfully avoided breaking anything important! This trip was full of two things: rain and fog. Both of which were not a problem, we continue to sail no matter what the weather here it seems. The first day out we had clear skies for the first couple hours, but as we were returning from our lobster bake, the fog set in. Overnight it rained, the next day it continued to rain on and off, with thick fog. I have never been in fog like that, as it was impossible to see 100 yards in any direction at some points. I usually have a decent sense of direction, but I had no idea where we were. Andrew (the other deckhand) and I took turns running the foghorn from the bow as we literally "ghosted" along, there was not much wind. We sailed past the Mary Day, another windjammer, in the fog and it was an eerie sight to first hear her foghorn, and then slowly see her come into view, then slip away. The next day was glorious, probably a steady 15-20 knots and sunshine, and we were tacking up West Penobscot Bay at 7-8 knots, with everything but that missing mizzen-top set (apparently it was just finished, a brand new sail).

We anchored that night in Pulpit Harbor, after some sweet maneuvering by Captain Mike. It's amazing to see how he knows his boat, crew, and the area. We took people in for a shore trip, and had a nice little walk. It was nice to stretch the legs off the boat. The next morning we woke up to thunderstorms, torrential rain, and more fog. It was a quick hour or so long hop to Camden, and we did so under power of the twin diesels, for lack of wind. The only thing more eerie than fog is rain, fog, and lightning. It was amazing to look out from under the hood of my foulies and see the sky flashing. We made it back to Camden safely, disembarked passengers, washed the boat and now are off for a week. I still have no decided what I want to do this week, but I am sure I will come up with something!

I saw Delvon yesterday, as he is currently Engineer on Lynx which is in Rockport for the day (about a 5 minute drive south of Camden). We traded tours of our respective boats, and now he is on his way to the lakes for the tall ships festival.

Life is good, despite the rain!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One Down

We returned yesterday from our first trip, which was a great success. We had a full boat (30 passengers), all of which were fun or kept to themselves. It was a trip that was a bit overwhelming in learning all of the small details of a certain system, but we will get there. We head out on for our next trip tomorrow at 6:30am, because of the tides. Most of the other schooners are centerboard boats, but we have a deep keel (11.5 feet or so) which means we head to weather better, but we have to leave Camden at high tide. We leave for four days and then I believe have a week or so off due to a cancelled trip. I am not sure quite what to do with myself but I might head down to Boston or do some sort of trip, maybe up north!

The trip from which we just returned was amazing, and I can tell this will be an excellent season. The atmosphere on the boat is great, a combination of a chill Captain and Mate, and also an expectation to work by oneself (find things to do). The first day we averaged 6.5 probably, heading northwest up Penobscot Bay on a broad-ish reach. It was very nice, relaxing, and Sarah our cook maid a killer fish chowder. Wow! We then dropped anchor off Pond Island and rowed people ashore for our first lobster bake. I tried the lobster, but I cannot say I am a huge fan, especially because the smell is so permeating! We cleaned up and then headed over to Buck's Harbor for the evening under power. During this time, I had to furl the maintop, which on Manitou was not physically demanding and the hardest part was to make it look nice. Angelique is a different story. It seems like her maintop is the size of all three of Manitou's headsls combined! Its HUGE! It is also brand new this year so the canvas is still stiff. By the time I got back down to deck (probably 30 minutes) I was sweating and exhausted, but it was finally time to drop anchor for the night. The water was glass and we anchored next to one of Maine's oldest windjammers, the Stephen Tabor, built in 1871.

The next day we did more shore trips to the small town in Buck's Harbor, nothing really there but the people could at least get off the boat and stretch their legs if need be. I was on watch so remained on Angelique, completing some mausings and lashings, good little projects. That day we started sailing under four lowers, as we still do not have our mizzen top (still being made). Angelique carries a lot of sail on her main (The main itself, a main top, a HUGE staysail that used to be an inner/outer jib, the jib and a jibtop) so we need that mizzen top for balance I think until we can set everything. We were sailing south, sheeted in pretty tight, and hit 10 knots! My second day sailing, with four lowers, we hit 10. The way Angelique moves however, you would never guess we were going that well. It is amazing to sail around here because on that sail down we were sailing with the Tabor, and then also sailed past the Lewis R. French, saw the Nathaniel Bowditch and Timberwind. So many tall ships! We had to strike the jib at one point, but then, because it is not a two hour day sail, we put it back up again later! We finished the day anchoring in Gilkey Harbor.

The next day we headed back out into West Penobscot Bay, where we passed the French (Another windjammer built in 1871) and then basically raced the Mary Day down the bay toward Camden, averaging 7 knots or so. The Mary Day is a big schooner, the biggest in Camden, and I suppose she is sort of our rival. We are both about 130 feet, carry a similar amount of passengers, and can move. She is a centerboard boat and so has an advantage downwind, but was having trouble with her staysl, so I think we "beat" them.

That about sums up the first trip, sorry I have no photos. More to come soon!