This online document is a means of sharing the adventure of traveling on America's waterways with friends and family. Last Dance is continuing to take her crew to historical, natural, beautiful, and interesting places. Enjoy the ride.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Maine - Castine

The historic town of Castine is on the Bagaduce River, on the eastern shore of Penobscot Bay.   The waterfront is dominated by the docks of the Maine Maritime Academy.  When this photo was taken, the Academy's freighter and large tug were off on cruises with students, leaving the docks with a bare appearance.  The tent near the town dock was being erected to support program events during the visit of the French ship Hermione.  Castine is filled with lovely, old, and architecturally interesting homes.  Two church steeples can be seen peeking above the trees and a small Catholic Church shares the water views with homes along the shore.  A variety of watercraft visit Castine, from kayaks to cruise ships.  Some of the most interesting are the sailing schooners that cruise Penobscot Bay in the summer.  A visit to Castine is shared photographically below.

Castine Light

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hermione in Castine, Maine

Hermione was the French ship that brought Lafayette to America in 1780 to offer George Washington military assistance in his revolutionary fight with the British.  The Hermione has been recreated, a 20-year project undertaken in France.  She was constructed using the same materials and methods, resulting in the most authentic tall ship built in the last 150 years.  The second voyage of Hermione to America was made in 2015.  In the image above, taken by Phil Lewis aboard his Hinkley as a part of the accompanying flotilla, Hermione sails up the Bagaduce River toward Castine.  More information on this ship can be found in the links below:

The 2015 voyage include some large, historic cities such as Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.  Only one small town was on the itinerary, Castine.  This visit was due to the hard work of the community in documenting Hermione's history in Castine in 1780 and effective communication with the French ambassador to the United States.  It was a well-orchestrated and major event for this tiny Maine town.

Led by a three-masted schooner, the square-rigged Hermione seemed to mystically appear from out of the past, as she made the turn to starboard from the Penobscot into the Bagaduce River.

As the fog began to lift, the size of the flotilla became apparent.

Cannons loudly roared as Hermione entered the Castine Harbor.

"Man the sails" has a literal meaning aboard a square-rigged ship.  The crew climbed the masts to strike the sails as the ship approached the dock - a job for the young and nimble.

The event drew many dignitaries, including Maine's controversial governor, Paul LePage.

One guest that brought many aspects of history together was a member of the Penobscot Indian Nation who served as a medic in the WWII invasion at Normandy, France.  He had received medals from both France and the United States for his heroic efforts.

A local artist organized a Hermione event for kids.  Following his design, the kids constructed a float of the Hermione with the bow on wheels, the stern being carried, and a dozen panels making up each side, all individually carried by the children.  Here, a little Lafayette stands proudly by his ship.

The children's Hermione replica parades down Main Street.  It is quite a hill, so down is the appropriate descriptor.

The parade ended at the town dock where Hermione was berthed.  Her arrival drew thousands of people to this small town of 1,300 residents.

In 1780, the 217 foot Hermione carried 330 people.  On the 2015 voyage, there were 73 crew, mostly volunteers in their mid-twenties.

The Maine Maritime Academy is located in Castine.  The school has been training students in operating large ships since the beginning of WWII.  Programs have expanded to degrees in engineering and international business.  MMA participated in the Hermione event in many ways - from providing launch service to get those arriving by boat from an outlying dinghy dock to town, to hosting speakers in their auditorium.  Would be interesting to know how many of the 950 MMA students are counted in the town's population of 1,300.

One of the presentations was by renown expert, Paul Mayewski, Professor of Climate Change, University of Maine.  For the Last Dance crew, Floridians where the governor has forbid state employees from using the term "Climate Change," hearing a detailed presentation was refreshing as well as educational.  Dr. Mayewski demonstrated how a couple degrees of temperature change was responsible for the fall of civilizations of the Incas and Mesopotamians.  He tied climate with the Hermione event.  If the French troops sent as reinforcements to assist George Washington had left just a couple months later, they would not have made it to America.  They would have encountered the largest hurricane ever in the Atlantic Ocean, probably causing the loss of all ships and crew members.  Most historians agree that without the French troop reinforcements, General Washington would not have been successful in defeating the British, bringing independence to the United States.

Just seeing the many, varied, interesting, and beautiful boats that were part of the Hermione flotilla would have been worth the trip to Castine.  This recently restored motor yacht retains her original power plant - a steam engine.  The parade of boats in the flotilla and throughout the event were marvelous to observe.

The Last Dance crew must give thanks and recognition to Jeffery and Karen Siegel, long-time Castine residents and creators of the web-based cruising guide Active Captain, for information of this event, allowing timing of the Maine cruise to coincide with the Hermione voyage.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Maine - Seal Ledge

Up the Bagaduce River from Castine lies a small marina in natural Maine surroundings, populated with friendly, welcoming people.  You will not find postings on marinas in this blog, as the crew finds the pleasures in cruising to be in small coves, interesting towns, and the people along the way. But, this marina is an exceptional experience.

A view of the docks from shore side, looking down the Bagaduce, a seal permanently sitting on the ledge, gives a small glimpse into the tranquil beauty of this spot at the beginning of the river.

There are few docks in Maine, most marinas park boats on mooring balls out in the harbor rather than tying to a dock.

A couple factors create problems in building docks in Maine.  First, the bottom is usually solid rock, so installing pilings to secure the dock is impossible.  A second is that the tides are 12 feet or more.

The lobsterman that works out of Seal Ledge left a crate with 15 pounds of lobster for a lobster roll dock party.

A propane fish cooker quickly boiled a large pot of water and the lobsters turned the red color used to depict lobsters in artwork and advertisements.

Picking the lobsters to extract the meat is a communal event on the aft deck of Mad Hatter.  Lobster rolls on the dock is a participatory affair.

Fred, owner/builder of the marina, long-time Mainer and once lobsterman, chops the lobster and prepares them for filling the New England buns.  One of his tips for enjoying a lobster roll is a side of bread and butter pickles.  A good tip.  The Last Dance crew enjoyed the rolls, but more so the camaraderie and conversation.  A great time.  Willem supervises in this image - a native Mainer who now lives in the winter near Flagler Beach, and a new friend.  Maine 2015 was an experience of people.

Fred and Karen cruise the Maine coast, when work allows a break, in a 60' Hatteras Sportfish.

One of the joys of visiting Seal Ledge was observing Fred's ingenuity, creativity, and talent.  After buying Mad Hatter, the only boatyard with a large enough travel lift to pull the boat for winter storage gave an exorbitant price.  What to do?  Fred's answer was to buy a semi-trailer for the wheels and axles, then design and build a trailer so he could pull his boat out of the water himself.  A substantial boat trailer.

One of Fred's businesses is marine construction.  A barge with a crane was needed.  Fred got out a piece of paper designed the barge and built it.  It is a unique design with a catamaran hull and a retractable deck.  The deck can be closed when the job requires materials stored on deck, retracted so that moorings can be worked from the middle of the barge rather than alongside, and a huge bin can be placed between the hulls to haul gravel and riprap.

Fred may have inherited the creativity gene and the ability to work with his hands from his dad.  The bronze sculpture seal on the ledge and these porpoises are the work of his father, an elevator technician by trade.  A walk through the woods at Seal Ledge can bring many man-made surprises.

One of the long-time slip holders at Seal Ledge bought a new boat this year, a flying one.

Walking docks to admire all the different and interesting boat designs is an activity undertaken for pleasure by many a boater.  This boat is a bit different.  Much faster than the trawler design of Last Dance, but with greatly diminished carrying capacity.

Being on a cove at the beginning of a river provided many interactions with wildlife.  Here a loon swims by after diving for a fish, water beads glistening on its head.

Seal Ledge was an encountering of the beauty of Maine's environment, interacting with fascinating people, and seeing marvelous mechanical machines.  A wonderful experience.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Maine - Boothbay Harbor

The well-known town of Boothbay Harbor is a destination for many road tourists.  It also holds some interest for those arriving by boat.  The above image is the eastern shore of the outer harbor at dusk.

The bright spot on the shore above is the Catholic Church.

One of the interesting aspects of the church is that it was built by the local shipwrights, resulting in its construction techniques differing from traditional methods of the time.

One of the traditional features are the many stained-glass windows.

Cruise ships, albeit small ones, cruise the Maine coast.  Boothbay is one of their stops.  In this image, American Glory lies at anchor in the outer harbor while the passengers tour the town.  American Glory cruises the east coast, finding some of the same waters as Last Dance.  In 2013, American Glory and Last Dance passed while traveling in opposite directions at St. Augustine, Florida, and Albany, New York.  Paths crossed multiple times in the summer of 2015 - here in Boothbay and also in Belfast and Castine.

Boothbay Harbor has multiple harbors.  One of the inner harbors is surrounded by the commercial parts of town with hotels, restaurants, shops, marinas, and moorings.

A second inner harbor, lying to the west, is surrounded by a combination of homes and commercial docks.  The dock on the far side has an old schooner undergoing a restoration process and a new 120+ foot sailing yacht.  Since there are no 65' bridges to have to navigate, many sailboats with masts over 100 feet tall ply the waters here.

Many interesting boats can be viewed in Boothbay.  From antique wooden sailboats like this one, to . . .

. . . over 100 detailed scale models at the Rocktide Inn and Restaurant.  Boothbay has been and continues to be a place where boats and those who enjoy or work on them gather.

The 2015 cruise of the Maine coast has been one of seeing old friends and making new ones.  Shannon is an interesting young entrepreneur with a new business in downtown Boothbay.  Like the crew of Last Dance, she is an educator, a Head Start teacher during the school year.  She found a couple parking places for lease and began the idea of starting a restaurant for a summer job.  After putting together a detailed business plan, winding her way through all the governmental agencies and permit/licensing processes, finding building materials on Craig's List and enlisting help from friends for construction, she opened Shannon's Unshelled.  Her menu is simple - lobster rolls. Her lobster roll is made with the New England top-split bun, grilled on the sides, and filled with butter-coated lobster.  While many argue the appropriate makeup of a true Maine lobster roll, Shannon's is ample and delicious.  Shannon's helper for the day was her mom.

Mouse Island Light