Thursday, August 10, 2006

Rendezvous in Searsport

Searsport Harbor, N 44 26.982 W 68 55.290

Thursday, August 10 2006

Did you know that the little town of Searsport was once home to 10% of the sailing ship captains in the USA? We learned that today at the Penobscot Maritime Museum. A fine museum she is too. It is a collection of homes and churches on one block of one street that was at one time the home of wealthy captains. Today, Searsport appears to be a small place with less than 1000 people.

Being captain of a merchant ship in the 19th century could be a very profitable profession. The ones who came back alive were able to live very comfortable lives. The built and furnished fine homes that are still in excellent shape today 150 or more years later. They also built a magnificent church with stunningly beautiful stained glass windows and, since 1902, sheathed with ornamental tin from ceiling to floor. The tin preserved the building much better than plaster so that even today, the First Congregational Church stands in mint condition.

The museum's buildings are full of great artifacts and exhibits. Libby and I both learned much about history and about seafaring at the museum. On a scale of 1 to 10 I rate the New York State Museum, built with unlimited millions, as 5. The Jamestown Settlement, which also appears to have unlimited millions behind it, I rate at 6. The Herreshoff Museum, done with private money, as 7. The Penobscot Maritime Museum, obviously done with much less money, a 9. If you are ever up in this region, visit it.

At lunchtime we returned to Tarwathie to rendezvous with Don on his Westsail 32, Heron. We learned about Don on the Westsail Owners Association web site, and we promised to meet with him when we got to Maine. Don and his wife Margaret are on the verge of retirement and looking forward to the cruising life. Don has been working on Heron for two years. He did a wonderful job. Heron is one of the finest Westsails we've seen, second only to Tarwathie. Don said that when he bought her, she didn't look good. Kudos to Don for a fine restoration job. We'll be meeting Don again before leaving Maine.

After our lunch with Don, we went back to the museum to study and learn still more.

We're also enjoying the natural beauty of Penobscot Bay. It makes us realize how much we've missed seeing mountains near the shore. That's a sight we haven't seen since leaving the Hudson River last years. The southern states are so flat that there is very little visible from the water.

Another enjoyable thing about Maine sailing is seeing so many classical schooners, and fine old wooden yachts. There seems to be far too many of them to all be tourist day sail cruisers. They are beautiful to behold with all their sails up.

The weather in Maine has been splendid. Cool air and low humidity have prevailed on most days. We're expecting some storms tonight as a front passes but after that, the forecast is for several more sunny days with moderate breezes, low humidity and high temperatures around 68F (19C). We're hoping to see some of the numerous seals that inhabit the bay too.
The lobster fishing must be good here too. We've been observing the lobster boats hauing out the traps and we can see them pulling out the lobsters. The other day we heard a burst of hooting, whooping and yelling from a nearby lobster boat. They must have found the mother lode of lobster giants.

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