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UNCLE JACK'S WEBLOG
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Winding down. Saturday October 27, 2007

     Camden harbor is becoming a watery ghost town as one boat after the other is plucked from the water by the Wayfarer Marine traveling crane and is trundled off to winter storage in Wayfarer's nearby sheds and parking lots.


     And thereby hangs a tale.  The current owners of the boatyard want the town of Camden to change the zoning of their four-acre storage yard from commercial to residential so they can build houses (the word "condos" is never mentioned except by opponents of the plan) where the storage buildings now stand. The owners claim that they need to do this to raise money to improve the boatyard so they can not only survive but double their workforce in years to come.


     The proposed plan has its skeptics. Many public meetings have been held to discuss the issues and more will be held before the matter goes to a vote on election day.  The boatyard owners have mounted an impressive propaganda campaign with many full-page ads in the local newspapers and presumably TV ads as well although Uncle Jack does not have a TV so he's not sure.


     Opponents of the plan have responded with letters to the newspapers and have scheduled one more "open meeting" next Monday evening to make their case to the public. This is probably the most important decision the people of Camden will make in the foreseeable future and Uncle Jack can hardly wait to see what they decide.  


     He regrets to report that this will be his last blog entry until he and Mrs. U.J. get back home in a couple of weeks.  He has to return the cable modem to Time-Warner on Monday and then they will be subject to the vagaries of internet connectivity during their leisurely trip down 95 with stops in Portland, Maine, Baltimore, Seaside Heights, N.J., Rehoboth Beach and who knows where else.


     He urges that you take this opportunity to read a good book and then check in again around the 9th of November and look for the familiar "Sunrise in Sonag" heading.  Thank you all for hanging in there during Uncle Jack's longest absence from the Outer Banks in nearly forty years. 



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Uncle Jack's neighbor, the beautiful racing yacht "Too Elusive", departed for the Caribbean yesterday with owner Kitt Watson at the helm and a crew of four. His mother, Mrs. Stuart Symington,(in blue) waves good bye from the dock.

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Meanwhile, across the harbor, Mrs. Symington's lovely yacht "Anjacaa" is hauled for winter storage at Wayfarer. Blue would appear to be her favorite color.

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Here she is up on blocks in the storage yard, ready for shrinkwrapping.

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Boo.

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Last night's full moon was spectacular. The lovely yacht in the foreground is "Dragonera", designed and built by Joel White, E.B. White's son, in Brooklin, Maine a few years ago.

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This sign is attached to the wall of a church that has been converted into condos.

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The leaves have passed their peak but Camden harbor still looks mighty pretty.The six shrinkwrapped windjammers will stay where they are all winter.

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This was yesterday's sunrise. The fog moved in this morning and blotted out everything. Note the paucity of boats in the harbor.

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"Too Elusive" sets sail for Newport, Rhode Island where she will board a giant yacht-carrying boat for her trip to the Caribbean.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:50 AM

Comments [12]



Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Bath, Maine: Home of the Ghost Ship, Wed. Oct. 24, 2007

     Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. have been wanting all summer to spend a day in Bath and today they did it.  Bath is the major shipbuilding town in Maine, home of the Bath Iron Works which built the destroyer (Allen M. Sumner, DD692) on which Uncle Jack spent three happy years  during the Korean war.  It is also home to the Maine Maritime Museum which is one of the finest museums of its kind on the planet. It's an easy one hour drive south of Camden on Route 1.


     The MMM is located right next door to the mammoth Bath Iron Works on land which once housed three smaller shipyards.  Several of the original buildings of these older yards are preserved as "living museums" filled with the machinery and tools that were used in building countless wooden merchant vessels, some of them the largest ever to ply the seas.


    One of these ships, the five-masted Carroll A. Deering, was launched in 1919 only to run aground on the treacherous Diamond Shoals off Cape Hatteras two years later.  She is now known, of course, as the "Ghost Ship of the Outer Banks" because when found her crew had vanished. Click on the link below the pictures for more info about the Carroll A. Deering if you are not familiar with the story.


      The Maine Maritime Museum is nothing short of fabulous and it's very much worth a visit if you ever get to Maine.


     


   



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In this scale model of the shipyards that once stood on the present location of the MMM the Carroll A. Deering is shown at the right, a week before she was launched in 1919 from the Deering shipyard.

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The Bath Iron Works employs over 6000 workers who have built one of every four destroyers in the U.S. Navy, including Uncle Jack's.

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This oversize painting is of the "W.R. Grace", named for the owner of the eponymous shipping line, built in Bath in 1873. She was lost in a hurricane in 1889.

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The two white steel constructions are the bow and stern of what will be a full-size outline of the "Wyoming", the largest wooden ship ever to fly the American flag. She was 426 feet long and carried 6000 tons of coal.

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The tiny tourist gives an idea of how large the Wyoming was, and how massive the steel sculpture will be when finished.

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The museum houses a large collection of vintage lobster boats.

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Lobsters, 3 for a dollar. Those were the days.

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This shallow draft "bateau" once carried lumbermen up and down the rivers.

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In this "mould loft" the patterns for the large ships were laid out on the floor.

link: http://www.bermuda-triangle.org/html/carroll_a__deering.html

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:37 PM

Comments [5]



Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Sunrise in Camden, Tuesday October 23, 2007

       Mother Nature keeps producing spectacular sunrises which reward Uncle Jack for being an early riser. (He even got Mrs. U.J. up at 6:45 to see this one at its peak). This may turn out to be the high point of the day, though, because the weatherman says it's going to rain later. They could use it a lot more in Southern California right now.


     Yesterday (Monday) was summery again---perfect for wandering around in the Wayfarer boatyard where we watched a young lady rigger at work  preparing a mast for removal from a sailboat that is going into winter storage. She does this several times a day and she's very good at it. (This used to be called "man's work").



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6:30 Tuesday morning.

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6:40

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6:50

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6:55

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Even the clouds in the west were lit up this morning.

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By the time the sun arrived it was all over. Note the paucity of boats in the outer harbor. Soon they will all be gone. (And so will we).

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It took her about ten seconds to shinny up to this point.

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No place for an acrophobic like Uncle Jack.

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A rarity. Two Fife-designed ketches nested together. Sumurun (right) was built in 1915 and Belle Adventure (1928) in Airlie, Scotland. Two of the most beautiful classic yachts in existence.

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Dog is his copilot.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:06 AM

Comments [2]



Monday, October 22, 2007
Sunrise in Camden, Monday October 22, 2007

      Indian Summer returned to Camden this weekend giving natives and visitors alike one more chance to enjoy the outdoor activities of their choice. Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. entertained friends from New Orleans over the weekend which meant one more trip to the top of Mt. Battie and one last cruise into          Penobscot Bay on the windjammer "Appledore".  Pictures tomorrow.


     Today promises to be a clone of yesterday which calls for a long walk through the Wayfarer boat yard where some interesting new boats arrived over the weekend.  The day has dawned bright and beautiful and Uncle Jack was up early enough to photograph the various stages of what turned out to be a magnificent sunrise. 


        One of his pictures from a couple of weeks ago has been featured in Down East magazine for the past few days. You can see which one by clicking on the link below.  (Ansel who?)



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6:30 a.m. Monday.

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Five minutes later.

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Ditto.

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Ditto.

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Ditto.

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Ditto.

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Ditto.

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7 a.m. Almost an anti-climax but worth waiting for.

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Meanwhile at the other end of the harbor the leaves are reaching their peak.

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Camden harbor from Mt. Battie.

link: http://www.downeast.com/Articles-2007/Seaside-Scenics/

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:10 AM

Comments [9]



Thursday, October 18, 2007
Another golden day in Camden, Thursday October 18, 2007
    Thursday was just too nice to stay inside and sit in front of a computer so Uncle Jack will substitute a few pictures from this morning's walk (each worth a thousand words) for his usual bloviation. He and Mrs. U.J. have only two weeks left in this leafy, watery paradise so they have to make the most of every minute.


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"Belle" of Newport, a restored 1929 launch, 77' feet of polished elegance, arrived yesterday and is tied up at the yacht club. She is a "time share" boat owned by the McMillen Yacht Company of Newport.

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Several wealthy folks pitched in to help pay for Belle's restoration so they get special privileges from the yacht company.

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"Excelsior" of Rockland passes by with a load of kids on a school outing. Even the teachers enjoy this kind of field trip.

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The hillside beyond the harbor keeps getting prettier and prettier with each passing day.

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This unpretentious little eaterie called "Francine" is listed in the October Gourmet Magazine as one of the top 100 "farm to table" restaurants in the U.S. It's a block from our apartment. Great food.

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"Cuiliaun" from the Isle of Guernsey will spend the winter in Camden. She was built in Scotland in 1970 and has won many classic yacht races.

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Hauling these big yachts to the storage barns is a tricky, nerve-wracking business for the Wayfarer Marine workers. That's several million dollars worth of boat on the trailer.

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Lots of twists and turns and backing up along the way.

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Halloween is the theme in our neighborhood these days.

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Camden's fiercest watchdog.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:32 PM

Comments [4]



Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Exploring Fernald's Neck, Tuesday October 16, 2007

    It's another magnificent fall day in mid-coast Maine.  After a quick trip to the dump Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. once again headed for the countryside this morning to explore a local scenic treasure whose location was divulged to them by a kindly local person at dinner last evening. (Thanks Holly).


     Fernald's Neck Preserve is on a peninsula which juts out into Lake Megunticook just a few miles west of Camden.  It is watched over by the Nature Conservancy and it has to be one of the most serenely beautiful spots on the planet, especially at this time of the year.  They spent two hours wandering the network of pathways through the preserve and came away with many pictures of which the following bunch is a small sample.



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Approaching Fernald's Neck through a farmer's field with the Camden Hills in the background.

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Intrepid tourist plunges into the forest primeval.

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Balance Rock. Geologists believe this huge boulder was deposited here 13,000 years ago. The fearless tourist assumed that it wouldn't tip over on her if she stood here for a few seconds.

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A view of Lake Megunticook from the shore near Balance Rock.

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Ditto.

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Ditto again.

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A fern grows in the forest. Thousands of them actually.

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This critter was sunning himself in our path and convincingly played dead for several minutes.

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A tree on the trail leading out of Fernald's Neck.

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A nice "Welcome Home".

posted by Uncle Jack at 3:49 PM

Comments [3]



Sunday, October 14, 2007
Fall Feast for the Eyes, Sunday October 14, 2007
    Uncle Jack is pleased to report that he and Mrs. U.J. finally got out into the countryside yesterday to ogle the leaves.  They started with a session of apple-picking at the Hope orchards and then continued into the hilly country west and south of Hope.  It was a glorious fall day without a cloud in the sky and the air was exceptionally clear after Friday's rain.  He will let the pictures speak for themselves.


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The apple orchard was surrounded by colorful trees. Excellent working conditions for the pickers.

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There were miles and miles of vistas like this.

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And many individual spectaculars like this.

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And this.

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This 46 acre tract with 350 feet of shoreline on Sennebec Pond is for sale. The $800,000 price includes a beautifully restored and immaculate 1800 house and barn. Compare that with the million dollar particle board palaces in South Nags Head.

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Mrs. U.J. said it was like driving through a kaleidoscope sometimes.

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Shirttail Point is a little public park on the Megunticook river right outside of Camden. It was deserted yesterday but must be busy at the height of summer when it's warm enough to swim.

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Uncle Jack got several shots of this eagle soaring overhead near Sennebec Pond. Awesome sight.

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Cormorants and gulls are taking over the empty floats in the harbor. Soon the floats themselves will be hauled out and stacked on shore for the winter.

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This is what greeted Uncle Jack when he came into the living room at 6:45 this morning. 'Nuf said.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:37 PM

Comments [4]



Friday, October 12, 2007
Didn't it rain...Friday October 12, 2007

     Without a doubt this has been the most dismal day since Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. arrived in Camden back in early June.  It rained and blew all last night and it is still raining and blowing at five in the afternoon.  Neither of them has set foot outside all day so he has no new pictures to post either.


    His "silver lining" today was that he had plenty of time to read which made it possible for him to finish one of the most interesting and informative books he has ever read.  It's called "The Prize" by Daniel Yergin and was first published back in 1991 around the time Saddam Hussein provoked the first Gulf war by invading Kuwait.  "The Prize" is an exhaustive history of man's involvement with oil from the early discoveries in Pennsylvania almost to the present day and it is totally fascinating.


     It's a doorstop of a book and Uncle Jack has been absorbed in it for weeks. As a background for trying to understand what is going on in the Middle East (and everywhere else oil is found and used) it is without peer. He cannot recommend it too highly to anyone who has the time to tackle it. You will be richly rewarded.


    It did remind Uncle Jack that he, too, once made a contribution to the burgeoning literature of oil and inasmuch as he doesn't have anything else to write about today he is reprinting it here.  There could be a few folks out there who haven't read it two or three times already.


                    Drilling for Dollars



Dear Uncle Jack,


I read in the paper where the Chevron oil company wants to drill for oil about 40 miles out in the ocean off Hatteras. They say there is hardly any chance they will find anything but they are willing to spend a few million dollars to find out. Are those people nuts or what, Uncle Jack?


Incredulous


Avon



Dear Incredulous,


When he first read about this plan to drill for oil out in the ocean Uncle Jack thought it was pretty crazy, too, but then he started thinking about the other places they have gone looking for oil and it didn't seem so strange any more.


For one thing they found oil way up in the northern part of Alaska by the Arctic Circle and then they had to build a pipeline about a thousand miles long to carry it down to the nearest seaport which was a little fishing village called Valdez which you may remember reading about a couple of years ago when the tanker ran aground and spilled a zillion gallons of Valdez oil into the ocean up there.


Drilling a well off Hatteras would be a piece of cake compared to drilling wells on the Arctic Circle and if they did find oil they would only need a 40 mile long pipeline to pump it into the nearest fishing village. With a little luck Wanchese could be just as famous as Valdez some day.


If you ask Uncle Jack you have to give the oil companies credit for what they are trying to do which is to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. It is very scary to think that something like 70% of all the oil we burn up in our cars and trucks and airplanes---and most important our 4WD recreational vehicles---comes from unstable places like the Middle East and South America and Africa.


It is entirely possible that if Chevron brings in a big gusher or two out by the Gulf Stream America could reduce its dependence on foreign oil from 70% to maybe 69% for a couple of years before it runs out and they have to drill someplace else---like maybe off the end of Jennette's pier. By that time there could be so much oil on the beaches around here that nobody would care. Anyway Uncle Jack is glad that there are selfless, patriotic oil companies like Chevron who are willing to risk millions of dollars in what could well be a futile effort to free us from the specter of oil deprivation at the hands of greedy middle eastern potentates, some of whom probably do not even believe in the Bible.


Testily,


Uncle Jack




 


 


posted by Uncle Jack at 5:13 PM

Comments [7]



Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Foggy day in Camden Town, Wednesday October 10, 2007

    Not a good day to drive out into the country to observe and photograph nature's fall splendor as Uncle Jack had planned.  The entire Camden area is blanketed in fog and drenched in drizzle and nothing much is visible from more than 50 yards away.


   Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. did manage to find their way to the town dump, however, which is always exciting because one never knows what might turn up in the "Pick of the Litter Swap Shop" which is operated by a doughty group of volunteers out of a small building on the premises.  It is an eBay seller's paradise because of the many collectible treasures which find their way to the Swap Shop where everything is free for the taking.


    Camden and Rockport together operate an efficient and relatively inexpensive trash removal system which requires the cooperation of all the citizens to make it work.  The "dump" is located on a large tract of land near the center of town which once housed a granite quarry. It is divided into several sections for construction debris, tree detritus which is chipped and given away, two recycling areas for collecting every kind of recyclable material, and a transfer station for household garbage.  The latter is disposed of in large yellow bags which citizens buy from the dump for $1 each---the profits from which pay for the whole operation.


    The Camden-Rockport dump is (or should be) a great source of civic pride because it is probably the neatest, best organized and least smelly institution of its kind in the country.  Uncle Jack has never seen anything to equal it and he has been around.


     He and Mrs. U.J. drove to Jess's fish market in Rockland yesterday and along the way took pictures of some of the spectacular in-town foliage.  Maybe tomorrow they will be able to get out into the country.  Stay tuned.



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A tree glows in Rockport.

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This one is across the street from the Willow Bakery in Rockland, producers of some of the best donuts on the planet since 1945.

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This one is in Camden's Harbor Park.

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This one is on Chestnut street.

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The schooner "Angelique" is in the process of acquiring her winter skin. The ribs come first, then the plastic covering.

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Mighty "Meteor" is still bobbing around out in the harbor. The owners, who could afford to be anywhere, must like Camden.

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Slowly but surely Mount Battie is beginning to change color.

posted by Uncle Jack at 5:58 PM

Comments [4]



Tuesday, October 9, 2007
"Meteor" is a star. Tuesday, October 9, 2007

    Just when Uncle Jack thought the season for super yachts was over in Camden harbor "Meteor" arrived. He didn't know anything about this incredible vessel until he Googled it but he knows now that it's one of the most distinguished visitors of a summer in which a lot of jaw-dropping boats have turned up in this little harbor.  It was built in Holland earlier this year and apparently will spend most of its time cruising in New England waters.  If you're interested in how the other half lives you can read the whole story of "Meteor" by clicking on the link below the pictures. 


      At long last summer seems to have fled the Camden area.  The high yesterday was in the mid-50's and more of the same is forecast for the rest of the week with a scattering of rain showers to boot.  Fine bracing weather. Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. are planning a Mini trip out into the hinterlands to admire the leaves tomorrow so look for pictures in a day or so.


     


   



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6:30 a.m. That's "Meteor" with her two huge masts silhouetted just to the left of the long skinny cloud. She is over 155 feet of pure decadence.

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Here she is in the daylight. At night her masts are lit up like Christmas trees.

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"Sumurun", one of the most beautiful and historically significant yachts in the pantheon, returned to Camden yesterday. Rumor has it that unlike Uncle Jack she will spend the winter here in Camden.

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A number of eccentric rich folks have converted tugboats into unusual but quite comfortable yachts. This is "Sir Teady" which has been in and out of the harbor for the past couple of weeks. Cute.

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Sumurum rounds the bend with Harbor Park in the background. The cocoon-like object is "Mary Day", all wrapped up for winter. Eat your heart out Christo.

link: http://www.superyachttimes.com/editorial/3/article/id/698

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:44 AM

Comments [3]



Sunday, October 7, 2007
Sandbagging the public (redux) Sunday Oct. 7, 2007
 The more things change the more they stay the same, the wise man said. Uncle Jack read in the paper yesterday that North Carolina government officials have announced that they will begin to enforce regulations governing the use of sandbags beginning in May of next year.  He recalls that in May 2005 he wrote a column about this very same subject which he has resurrected and presents below as a reminder to those optimists out there who think that anything is actually going to come of this most recent pronouncement.

     In the intervening 18 months or so additional hundreds of sandbags have been added to the existing piles in South Nags Head.  The only sandbags removed during that period that Uncle Jack knows about were those placed in front of the late Surfside Drive by the Town of Nags Head.  Mother Nature did most of the removal work and the Town cleaned up the remaining mess.


   And so it goes.


    Many years ago when Uncle Jack was a fledgling reporter for the Outer Banks Current he would often be assigned to cover meetings of the Coastal Resources Commission (CRC). The CRC is a regulatory body created to help carry out the goals of the North Carolina Coastal Management Act which goes way back to the 1970's. Even that long ago wise people recognized that the North Carolina coast was in serious trouble and that something had to be done to try to control development at the water's edge. Using knowledge gained from the experiences of older coastal communities in states like New Jersey and New York where many of the beaches are similar to ours, the CRC developed a number of regulations aimed at keeping people from doing really stupid things like building too close to the beach or building bulkheads or solid walls to protect their buildings when the ocean encroached on them. He remembers one rule that said new houses could not be built closer than 30 times the annual erosion rate from the first line of vegetation. There were, of course, a lot of problems with trying to establish an "annual rate of erosion", especially when a hurricane would come along and do ten years worth of erosion in one day. Their hearts were in the right place, though, and the CRC folks deserve credit for at least trying. Another very sensible rule had to do with "hardened structures" like breakwaters and groins and bulkheads and seawalls which property owners often reverted to when their buildings were threatened. This was common practice in New Jersey where the beaches eventually became littered with the wreckage of such futile activities. Hardened structures have been banned from the beaches of N.C. for many years and that is a very good thing for everybody who loves a natural, uncluttered beach. Then came the invention of the monster sandbag which has all the characteristics of a hardened structure except that they are not banned. Under the current rules sandbags may be used for a limited time to protect structures and their septic tanks and drainfields while arrangements are made either to move or demolish such buildings. Unfortunately a mockery has been made of this provision by many owners of threatened property who have been permitted to surround their buildings with huge sandbag walls which has enabled them to keep them in rentable condition for many years. Apparently "waiting for beach replenishment" is now an acceptable reason for leaving the bags in place indefinitely. The results of this unfortunate development can be plainly seen in South Nags Head where dozens of houses that should have been removed years ago have been allowed to encroach on the public beach to the point that they constitute an inconvenience and even a hazard to beach walkers, bathers and rescue personnel whose vehicles cannot get around them. If our lawmakers are serious about "saving the beaches" and not just keeping property on the tax rolls no matter what, they might start by taking another look at what uncontrolled use of sandbags is doing to the public beach. End of sermon.



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Uncle Jack went to Portland (a two-hour drive) to pick up Mrs. U.J. at the airport. He had some time to kill so he drove down to the waterfront and looked around. This is the old custom house on Commercial Street.

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This cruise ship from England was carrying a bunch of Brits around on a 30-day cruise. The exchange rate is great these days----for them.

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A wharf full of colorful excursion boats.

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The usual 5-mile-long weekend traffic tie-up on route 1 in Wiscasset. Fortunately it affected only the northbound lane or Uncle Jack would have missed the plane.

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Pre-sunrise Saturday morning. An early high-flying jet did the skywriting.

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:46 AM

Comments [4]



Friday, October 5, 2007
How long can it last? Friday September 5, 2007

     Mother Nature has the residents of mid-coast Maine walking around in a state of perpetual confusion as she serves up one gorgeous summer day after another long after the official beginning of fall. Uncle Jack made the mistake of wearing long trousers and a flannel shirt on his walk this morning when the temperature hit 75 before 11 a.m.  This did give him an excellent excuse to down a bottle of Molson's Golden Ale with lunch (replacement of essential bodily fluids is an important part of his heart-healthy regimen after all) but when he went out again in the afternoon it was in shorts and a T-shirt.


     Unseasonably warm weather notwithstanding, the usual preparations for a long, hard Maine winter are well underway.  Uncle Jack's favorite windjammer, the Mary Day,  has begun her winter cocoonization and yesterday "Beluga", one of Camden's most beloved and historic yachts, was hauled out of the water and transported to winter storage by the Wayfarer Marine crew. (Pictures below).


     Today is supposed to be a clone of yesterday weatherwise so Uncle Jack plans to take the Mini to the carwash for a long overdue bath.  He hopes he can stand the excitement. Pictures at 11.


     P.S.  Uncle Jack read in the Sentinel yesterday that the county commissioners have hired somebody to be the assistant county manager and  county lawyer at the munificent salary of $225,000 per year.  Could somebody out there reassure him that this is some kind of joke?  Or is this the commissioners way of getting even with the taxpayers for rejecting the sand tax?


         



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Sunrise over Camden harbor, 6:40 a.m. Thursday September 4, 2007.

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Mary Day is the prettiest of all the Camden windjammers in Uncle Jack's eyes. Today her crew started installing the ribs over which her winter covering will be stretched.

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At this stage she looks a bit like the skeleton of a beached whale.

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"Beluga" the beautiful wooden "commuter yacht" that once carried financier John Jay "Jock" Whitney to his office in Wall Street from his Long Island home, went to storage yesterday.

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Moving a boat the size of Beluga is no small feat, especially when the tow truck has to weave through traffic and climb a steep curved hill.

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Up she goes. Needless to say Beluga is now owned by another Wall Street financier. Who else could afford the storage charges?

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This heron was hunting at low tide at the head of the harbor when Uncle Jack walked by this morning.

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Later he turned up on the empty float in front of Uncle Jack's deck. There are eight unoccupied floats in the inner harbor now. Before too much longer they will almost all be empty as the sailing season winds down.

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This truckload of wood parked on the side of the street near Uncle Jack's apartment is a harbinger of cold weather to come. With home heating oil near $3.00 per gallon this load of hardwood doesn't look too bad at $175.

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The lovely "Anjacaa" returns to her berth in front of Uncle Jack's deck after an afternoon sail. She is owned by Mrs. Stuart Symington, widow of the late Senator from Missouri who takes her out (often taking the wheel at age 89)almost every day.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:06 AM

Comments [2]



Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Yachts not a luxury, Wednesday October 3, 2007

  Uncle Jack has spent a lot of time this summer ogling the jaw-dropping yachts that have come and gone in Camden harbor. Only a few dozen have visited this small, somewhat remote New England outpost but he knows from extensive Googling that there are literally thousands of them floating around out there in every watery part of the world from the Persian Gulf to Albemarle Sound.


     He has often wondered why there are so many of these floating palaces but now, thanks to an article in yesterday's New York Times, he knows the answer.  In certain social circles the yacht is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Read on for further explication: 


MONACO — Massimo Vilardi, an executive with Eurocopter, came to this year’s Monaco yacht show to sell helicopters.



Helicopters? At a boat show?


Yacht sales have increased 10 to 15 percent a year worldwide in the last few years, and this year has been no exception. Many among the rich or famous want a yacht, and what buyers want most now, naturally, are accessories: minisubmarines and helicopters.


“Today, a megayacht is indispensable,” said Olivier Milliex, head of yacht finance at the Dutch bank ING. “It’s not like 15 years ago, when a yacht was a luxury item.”


Stock markets may be volatile and the price of oil rising, but none of that dampened the mood here last month at the boating fair in Monaco. Europeans often watch boat fairs to judge the overall health of their economies. But Monaco may not be the best bellwether — if other boating fairs are prêt-à-porter, Monaco is haute couture.


The annual event, is hardly the largest in a series of fairs that run from Cannes, France, to Genoa, Italy, to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at the end of October. The Monaco fair, which ran from Sept. 19 to Sept. 22, limits the number of exhibitors to about 500; moreover, many yacht builders do not even show yachts. Their customers do not want off-the-rack yachts; they want custom-built boats that will not be replicated.


“Our motto is, ‘To create what money can’t buy,’” said Mr. Vilardi, head of marketing in the business and private market segment of Eurocopter, a unit of the EADS aerospace group. “You’re looking at a global offer: a car, a yacht, a helicopter, maybe a plane.”


One bauble that more yacht buyers are asking for is a helicopter. Of course, that means adding a pilot and a mechanic to the yacht’s crew, but for the people who buy these yachts, that is hardly a concern.


So Mr. Vilardi has linked up with the British yacht brokers Edmiston to meet their wishes. At Monaco this year, Edmiston showed a 200-foot yacht with Eurocopter’s smallest helicopter, which sells for about $2 million, perched atop.


Across the fair from Edmiston, the Dutch company U-Boat Worx showed its colorful two-seater submarine — whose bulbous shape made it look like something Mickey and Minnie Mouse would drive — with a list price of $246,000. The minisub, said Erik Hasselman, U-Boat Worx’s head of sales and marketing, is ideal for stowing on a yacht, but for safety reasons can dive only to about 160 feet, where there is still surface light. “It’s only for recreation,” he said.


The bankers at the trade fair, said Mr. Milliex of ING, were doing cross-selling: offering tax and finance advice to the same people whom they serve as private banking clients. Some wealthy customers, for instance, prefer a mortgage for their yacht, taking advantage of low interest rates, rather than tying up cash in a yacht purchase.


Others need advice on creating a corporate entity to buy their yacht, rather than purchase it directly, to save on taxes, or on registering their boat in a foreign country to enable them to pay lower Social Security contributions for crew members. Many of the yachts moored here were registered in George Town, in the Cayman Islands.


“Anyone who is in the oil business, naturally, is going to be motivated to build a yacht,” said Hans-Erik Henze, senior vice president for yachts of Blohm & Voss, a division of the German steel maker Thyssen-Krupp. “And that’s where we do a lot of our business.”


Blohm & Voss had the largest yacht at the show, the 345-foot Lady Moura, but it was moored offshore and not available for visiting by the crowd since it was too large to navigate Monaco’s narrow harbor. Mr. Henze said the company’s three yards had 15 yachts under construction.


“Once, 100 meters was thought big,” he said, or 328 feet. “Now we have several projects above that.”


With yachts of this size and cost, many of the yards are dependent on the whims of their customers. Lürssen Yachts of Germany showed no boat this year because the owner of the yacht they wanted to display declined. ”He said he’d prefer to go cruising in Greece,” said Sylke auf dem Graben, Lurssen’s marketing manager. “But he promised we can have it for Fort Lauderdale, at the end of October.”


Despite the ostentation of Monaco’s yacht shoppers, some bargain hunters come here, and they, in turn, attract shipbuilders from low-cost countries. One of those was Timmerman Yachts, a Russian-Polish enterprise with yards in Moscow.


The yards build yachts in five sizes, from 85 to 155 feet, and there are 12 under construction. Asked why someone in Monaco would buy a Russian yacht, Irina Bogatyreva, a company official, replied unabashedly, “The price is cheaper, and the quality is the same as in other countries.”


Indeed, some of the biggest yachts are owned by Russians. Roman A. Abramovich, the tycoon, owns at least three, and has another under construction, the 540-foot Eclipse, which according to Monaco newspapers will be outfitted with twin helicopter landing pads and a submarine.


The high price of oil, whose byproduct diesel oil is used in yachts, did not seem to worry anyone in this rarefied crowd. “I would say this market can withstand a lot of fluctuations as the economy worsens,” said Diane M. Byrd, executive editor of Power & Motoryacht, the trade publication. “It’s a small group of owners, a handful of people, and it’s still growing.”


Nor did the anemic United States dollar appear to be having much influence on the flow of orders. Westport Yachts of Seattle, Wash., which showed a 164-foot, $29 million yacht, said that of five 112-foot yachts it would build next year, all have been sold. Of five 130-foot-yachts, three were sold.


It may even be helping, since foreign buyers can now more easily afford a purchase with their stronger currency. Scott Sirach, a company official, said of the 130-foot boats that one was for delivery to South America, two to Europe and one was on its way to Dubai. “We’re on time and on budget,” he said. “Most companies cannot do that.”


What did seem to be creeping into the business is an awareness of the environment. In a narrow display area, Lance Sheppard offered a foam and fiberglass product that replicates wood like teak, hence sparing the forests. “These days it’s hard to get all types of veneers,” said Mr. Sheppard, marketing director of Digital Veneer, a unit of the SMI Group, a Whangarei, New Zealand, company. “A lot of teak is illegally lumbered, some by the Chinese, in Burma and Nepal.”


But the boat that dripped green, in spirit if not color, was a 164-foot yacht built by the Italian yard Mondo Marine. Renato Polo, a company official, listed the yacht’s environmental assets: devices to recuperate its used water, filters on its twin diesel engines to capture particles from the exhaust, a hull covering that is benign to its marine environment, filtered glass to diminish the heat on board and hence reduce the need for air-conditioning.


The $34 million yacht was built for Luciano Benetton, of the clothing chain whose ads have promoted social causes, and Mr. Benetton named it Tribù (Italian for tribe), for his large family. Mr. Benetton gave the yacht five spacious bedrooms, each with its own bath, plus two exercise rooms and a sauna. The master bedroom features a baby grand piano, since Mr. Benetton’s companion is a pianist. The galley, with Mr. Benetton’s wine cellar next to it, would probably suffice for a small restaurant.


Asked how much the environmental features would add to the bill for such a boat, Mr. Polo replied, “On a boat of this size, the difference in cost is laughable.”




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Meanwhile life goes on among the yachtless who must settle for such simple pleasures as a sunrise. It doesn't look any better from the stern of a 112 foot yacht than it does from Uncle Jack's deck.

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Workmen cleared the brush from around an old boatshed at the head of the harbor yesterday revealing this old apparatus once used to haul boats up a track into the building. They won't need it in the coming condo.

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The windjammer cruise season is over. Owners of the "Mary Day" have started preparing her for winter storage. Risky business obviously.

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The Wayfarer boatyard has become Uncle Jack's favorite hangout. There is always something interesting going on.

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"Obrigado" costs about $60,000 a week to rent. It has been tied to the dock at Wayfarer for the past week. For a peasant like Uncle Jack this does not compute.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:43 AM

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Except for short hiatus in Baltimore Uncle Jack has lived in Nags Head for over 45 years. He was a columnist for the Outer Banks Current and its successor, the Outer Banks Sentinel, for 20 years. A collection of his columns is available from Amazon Kindle under the title Uncle Jack's Outer Banks. He and Mrs. Uncle Jack, aka Sue, live in South Nags Head whence he observes and sometimes comments on the passing parade.
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