Around the Bay
06 August 2016 | Wooden Boat School, Brooklin, ME
We had a wonderful time in Rockland and then sailed up to Belfast, anchoring in our usual spot, for a visit with Ann and Bob, Molly’s sister and brother-in-law. Belfast is another Maine small town success story, in that they have cleaned up the town and now have a vibrant economy serving the tourist and boating communities, as well as being a center of the local farming community. We had a great visit, ate more lobster and enjoyed Ann and Bob’s company.
Then it was off to Castine, another of our favorite spots, for a visit. It was while we were there that we first got wind of the schooner America coming into town. Further investigation showed that not only America but the famous yawl Dorade would be there and racing in the Castine Classic Yacht Race and would be available for tours. That info decided out itinerary for the next week or so.
We then headed back down underneath Ilesboro Island and to Rockland for the SSCA Gam. The SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association) is a group of sailors dedicated to sharing info, helping each other and keeping the sea and earth clean and healthy. They have get togethers here and there and the Downeast Gam is a long standing tradition although this is the first year it is held in Rockland. Formerly it was held at the residence of Dick and Cathy DeGrass on Ilesboro. The new venue turned out great and we all had a great time. Then it was back up to Castine for the race.
America is a replica of the original schooner which raced against the English in the 1800’s and beat them soundly and had the silver cup that was the award for that race named after her and the rest, as they say, is history. This boat was built to the original design and is very traditional but with modern navigation equipment and sails. We were able to get aboard and have a tour which was a treat.
Dorade was also in attendance. She is a yawl built in 1930 and the first design of then 21 year old Olin Stevens. She was a radical improvement in sailboat design with a Marconi rig and a small area of wetted surface. Another innovation was vertical ventilators on deck which now are seen commonly on sailboats and they are called Dorades, named for the boat originating them. Shortly after her construction Olin and Rod Stevens and crew sailed in the Trans Atlantic race and won with a two day margin. We were also able to board her for a tour and she is a beauty, down to her copper galley sink.
We sailed out on race day into a 25 knot breeze to watch around 50 traditional wooden boats sail down to Camden. There were several starts for the various classes. In Dorade's class were all the larger traditional boats including America. It was a great start with Dorade hitting the line on starboard tack and then coming over to port and taking off like a shot, leading the way down the bay all on their ear in the stiff breeze. All except America, who stood tall in the breeze and headed south, like a train. It was a glorious sight.
We sailed south also but down the Eggemoggin Reach to the Wooded Boat School. We anchored amidst a couple of other visiting boats and the fleet of the small wooden boats moored there. We got off for a visit to the school and a walk, and then later back to the boat to watch the race boats come in from Camden. Yes, this was the second stop in the series and even more boats had joined the race. They just kept coming in under colorful spinnakers, the big boats first and then the smaller boats joining the party. After a while it looked like we were in the middle of a spruce forest, there were so many wooden masts. The sight of so many old traditional boats in the same place was incredible and we are so thankful that the wealthy patrons who preserve them are willing to do so.
Today we head back to Belfast. We have been having trouble with the watermaker and after doing a bunch of things and consulting with the folks in the technical service department, we have determined that the rebuild done this past winter is somehow defective. They are sending a new rebuilt unit and we have to send the old one back. Hopefully that will be the end of that story.
After reinstalling the new rebuild, we plan to head further down east to see what adventures await.