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UNCLE JACK'S WEBLOG
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Rockland Rocks--Saturday June 30, 2007

    What better way to enjoy a stupefyingly beautiful day than by taking a walk on the Rockland breakwater?  This engineering marvel is a nearly mile-long pile of huge, flat-topped granite blocks with a lighthouse at the end that offers locals and visitors alike one of the most enjoyable walking  experiences to be found anywhere.


    The breakwater was built back in the late 19th century to protect Rockland harbor from the worst ravages of storms that periodically lash the Maine coast.  It took 18 years to complete the job and the lighthouse dates to the final year of construction, 1888. There is an attractive public park at the base of the breakwater and it has become one of Rockland's major attractions along with the Farnsworth art museum and Jess's Fishmarket. It is so much fun that Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. plan to do the walk several more times during their stay in Camden.


     In the afternoon they strolled over to the other side of Camden harbor to see a huge sailboat that had just backed up to the Wayfarer's gas pumps.  It turned out to be the Sarita, the English-flagged mega-yacht that recently spent a couple of weeks in the Wayfarer yard being refurbished. The vast motor yacht "Lady Gayle Marie" from New Orleans is still attached to the Wayfarer dock but the even bigger one that anchored in the outer harbor on Thursday has departed before Uncle Jack could find out what it was. Actually he is probably better off not knowing lest he come down with a bad case of yacht-envy.



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The Rockland breakwater and light. Seven-eighths of a mile of granite that has stood up to the worst that Mother Nature could throw at it for over a century.

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Intrepid tourist from North Carolina is one of the first to walk to the lighthouse today. She won't be the last.

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Constant vigilance is required. It's supposed to be bad luck to step on cracks but on this sidewalk it's even worse luck to fall into one.

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The lighthouse takes a terrible beating every year but it has held together pretty well since 1888.

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This will be a great vantage point from which to watch the parade of windjammers next month. Many of the larger ones operate out of Rockland.

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The sea urchin was nearly fished to death to satisfy the Japanese craving for urchin roe but it's making a comeback according to a local fisherman. The breakwater doubles as a fine fishing pier. No fee and no license required.

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Meanwhile back in Camden harbor the Lazy Jack heads for the bay with the "Lady Gayle Marie" visible in the background.

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The Sarita backs up to the gas pumps. Note the size difference between the two mega-yachts.

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A peek inside the big barn at Wayfarer where several masts are being refurbished. The yacht "Aeolian" will soon move in to undergo a four-month overhaul.

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Longtime readers of Uncle Jack's blog will know why this is his favorite yacht.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:44 AM

Comments [7]



Friday, June 29, 2007
Sunrise in Camden, Maine, Friday June 29,2007

     Several days of stifling heat and humidity ended last night and seasonably cool weather has returned to Camden.  Uncle Jack spent the first few minutes of this morning shutting all the windows he had left open last night lest he freeze to death before breakfast. You can believe him when he says he is not complaining about this. He came to Camden in hopes of escaping the enervating summer climate of North Carolina and he wasn't expecting this week's heat wave. Anyway it's over and he and Mrs. U.J. can resume their aerobic power walks around this beautiful city.


    The harbor was busy again yesterday and presented a few unusual sights.  At one point the schooner Appledore passed by their deck under sail which was a glorious sight and quite unusual inasmuch as she and the other schooners almost always leave the crowded harbor under power.  Uncle Jack made a short video which you can see by clicking on the YouTube link below the pictures.


     A few minutes later the magnificent old schooner "Mercantile" passed by under their deck carrying a load of happy passengers out into the bay.  It was the first time they had seen Mercantile which is one of the most colorful in the local fleet. She was built in Deer Isle in 1916 by the Billings family and spent many years hauling cargo up and down the coast before switching to the passenger trade after World War II.


     The colossal motor yacht "Lady Gayle Marie" is still moored at the Wayfarer dock this morning and late yesterday afternoon an even larger yacht (which may actually be a cruise ship from the size of it) anchored just outside the inner harbor.  Uncle Jack will try to find out more about it today. 


    


 



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Sunrise over Camden harbor, 4:45 a.m. Friday, June 29, 2007. The penultimate sunrise of June.

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Appledore leaves the town dock under sail. Not an everyday occurrence.

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Mercantile leaves the inner harbor propelled by her yawl. She is engine-less.

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A large tanker reflects the late afternoon sun as it crosses the bay possibly en route to Belfast a few miles up the coast.

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Right in line with the tanker's bow is the huge mystery yacht that anchored in the outer harbor late yesterday. That's the Olad near it with one sail hoisted.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMLkCOJhJqQ

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:04 AM

Comments [5]



Thursday, June 28, 2007
Camden Harbor arrivals, Thursday June 28, 2007

     Big doings in the harbor these days. The magnificent British-flagged yacht "Aeolian" tied up at the Wayfarer Marine docks yesterday and will shortly begin a four-month overhaul. The enormous mast will be removed and then the yacht will be hauled into Wayfarer's hangar-like workshop by the big blue traveler.  That should be exciting to watch and Uncle Jack will try to be there when it happens.


    Aeolian was built in Holland in 1998 and is available for charter at $33,500 a month or thereabouts which seems fairly reasonable when compared with the rentals on some of the houses north of Duck.  Google has a lot of information about this remarkable toy if you would like to learn more.  Click on      http://www.charterworld.com/index.html?sub=yacht-charter&charter=sailing-yacht-aeolian-835


     This morning (Thursday) the motor yacht "Lady Gayle Marie" loomed out of the fog and drizzle and tied up at the south end of the Wayfarer  dock.  It is now the biggest boat in the harbor by far as the pictures suggest.  Uncle Jack is not sure why this stupendous yacht is in Camden at the moment.  It might be just to refuel as it is tied up near the gas pumps.  To paraphrase Commodore Vanderbilt, if you have to ask how much the gas costs you can't afford it.


    Uncle Jack does know (through the miracle of Google) that the yacht belongs to the corporation that also owns the New Orleans Saints football team and it normally operates out of New Orleans. Katrina tore up its usual mooring place so it is now wandering.


    When the huge yacht was purchased by the Saints organization a few years ago it became a cause celebre in Louisiana because the Saints had just milked the state treasury for over a hundred million dollars, ostensibly to keep the team in New Orleans.  Among other things the Saints' owner, a wealthy car dealer named Tom Benson, uses the boat to entertain during the football season.  Much more info about this controversy is accessible at http://bbs.buccaneers.com/showthread.php?t=87126


You may have to look around a bit on this web page but it's all there if you click on the correct link.


    Never a dull moment in Camden harbor, or New Orleans for that matter. 


     



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Midships of the Aeolian. She's too big to get into one frame from this angle.

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The Lady Gayle Marie, reputed to be about the 170th largest motor yacht in the world. Better to own a few oil wells than a football team apparently.

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This large fiberglass hull successfuly negotiated the streets of Camden this morning en route to a shipyard somewhere where it will be fitted out.

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With the help of a police escort it got through the world's worst intersection with no trouble at all.

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This exquisite antique wooden-hulled yacht was built in 1914 and is presently tied up at the Wayfarer dock.

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The 150 year old Camden Inn reopened a couple of days ago after extensive renovations. Mrs. U.J. treated U.J. to a birthday dinner there last night and they were both very impressed. The view of the harbor is magnificent and the food outstanding.

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:17 AM

Comments [3]



Wednesday, June 27, 2007
News from Camden, Wednesday June 27, 2007

One of Camden’s unique landmarks is the Camden/Rockport arch which has straddled Union Street at the dividing line between the two towns since 1926. A lumber truck tore the top off the arch in 1984 and it was rebuilt by the Camden Women’s Club in 1985. More recently it was discovered to be in dreadful condition due to rot and was taken down to be rebuilt. A group of volunteers took several months to fashion the replacement and yesterday it was installed. Your reporter was there and the pictures below tell the tale.



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The new arch. Camden side.

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Rockport side.

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The world would be a lesser place without frontloaders.

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Mobile cranes, too. The whole operation went off without a hitch in about a half hour.

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Recycling is mandatory in Camden. The "Pick of the Litter" Swap Shop at the recycling center is a wonderful source of free stuff and it's cheaper than Wal-Mart.

posted by Uncle Jack at 12:55 PM

Comments [2]



Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Beautiful Camden, Tuesday June 26, 2007

   Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. have spent most of the past two days in further pedestrian exploration of the town in which they are extremely happy to be spending the summer.  After several days of wandering through one lovely residential neighborhood after another they have concluded that Camden, Maine is the most beautiful town they have ever been lucky enough to visit.  Mendocino, California, the fake "Cabot Cove, Maine" in the TV series "Murder She Wrote" must now move to second place in their personal Baedeker. Why they didn't film the show in Camden shall remain a mystery.


     While Camden is home (or at least summer home) to a substantial number of the filthy rich it is not primarily their magnificent waterfront mansions that give the town its character.  Even the most modest neighborhoods where doublewide trailers and tiny bungalows mingle there is great pride of place reflected in the well-kept lawns, dazzling flower gardens and fresh paint.  This is a community that anyone would be proud to live in and it shows.


    The biggest single event of yesterday took place in the Wayfarer Marine Company's boatyard across the harbor. A huge sailing yacht named the Sarita has been up on blocks in the yard for the past several weeks getting its hull repainted.  We have wondered how Wayfarer's big blue "traveler" could possibly transport a boat that size and yesterday we found out.


      Uncle Jack interrupted his breakfast to race around the harbor and try to make a video of the event.  He got there in time but in his haste pushed the wrong button on the camera and succeeded only in getting a couple of stills.  You can take his word that it was an awe-inspiring sight to see that huge yacht picked up and plopped into the water like it was a bathtub toy.  The folks at Wayfarer Marine are a lot more competent than Uncle Jack and that's for sure.


    He was sitting on the deck when his summer neighbor, the gorgeous yacht "Anjacaa", returned from a spin in Penobscot Bay yesterday afternoon and he did succeed in making a short video of it docking.  Click on the YouTube link under the pictures to see it. 



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The yacht Sarita, owner unknown at the moment, in the slings of the Wayfarer's traveler en route slowly and carefully to the waters of Penobscot Bay.

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A not atypical front yard of a modest home not far from Uncle Jack's apartment in Camden.

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Some 25 year old condos on the waterfront, once the site of the Bean Boatyard, builder of a six-masted schooner, the largest ever built in Maine.

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What is left of the Bean Yard has been used for boat storage for years. The present owners want to build condos on this land, too. Who could blame them?

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A view across the harbor from the Bean Yard. Priceless. Some of Camden's most magnificent "old money" cottages are in this picture.

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Another well-kept domicile near the Bean Yard.

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Hanging flower baskets like these are everywhere in Camden.

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This crumbling red barn at the head of the harbor is for sale. Uncle Jack didn't ask how much it costs.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0LWLWNx9Nc

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:06 AM

Comments [4]



Sunday, June 24, 2007
Sunrise in Camden, Maine, Sunday June 24, 2007

     It was downright chilly yesterday---not conducive to deck-sitting but ideal for walking.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. explored another Camden neighborhood on foot and got plenty of aerobic exercise in the doing. Camden has its ups and downs but very little level ground to walk on. It's ideal for skateboarders of all ages as we discovered on our walk.


    The slightly inclement weather sent Uncle Jack back to the book he has been reading off and on for the past couple of weeks, namely "River Horse" by William Least Heat-Moon.  It's an exciting account of his travels from New York City to the mouth of the Columbia River by boat. Like all his books it's a great read (and a long one) and Uncle Jack recommends it to all armchair adventurers like himself.


    One of his favorite sports is looking up unusual words that Heat-Moon uses in his books.  Here's a small sample from "River Horse": alluvion, tumuli, embrangled, catenation, recrements, divagation, numilous, boscage, albescent, ataraxia, lacustrine.  If any of these words turn up in Uncle Jack's weblog one day you will know who to blame.



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Sunrise over Camden harbor, Sunday June 24, 2007. 5:30 a.m.

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Sunset over Mt. Battie Saturday night 6/23

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Some kids never grow up. There's a nice downhill about two blocks long in front of the school which is a popular hangout for boarders.

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Camden Middle School has a mural at the front entrance made of tiles crafted by students. Art is very big in the schools here.

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All the tiles depict local activities or scenes. They are very well done.

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Some really nasty looking clouds rolled in Saturday afternoon but they passed by Camden without leaving any rain. Many man hours of bailing were thus averted.

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Old Man Megunticook just keeps rolling along, right through the city and into the harbor.

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One never knows what will turn up in Camden Harbor. This is the excursion boat "Monhegan" that passed through at sunset last night carrying a bunch of hard-partying folks from Rockland.

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Uncle Jack could have reached out and grabbed a beer at one point, they were so close. He wouldn't want to be on this boat when it had its full complement of 250 inebriated passengers.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:46 AM

Comments [5]



Saturday, June 23, 2007
Lazy Jack meets Lazy Jack--6/22/07

     After several aborted attempts Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. finally went to sea yesterday on the schooner Lazy Jack. They left the Camden town dock at 10:15 a.m. and returned two hours later after a delightful cruise among some of the nearby islands of Penobscot Bay.


    The Lazy Jack is one of a half-dozen similar boats that offer trips into the bay from Camden harbor.  He picked it for the way its name resonated with Uncle Jack's lifestyle these days and also because the owner-builder-skipper, a remarkable young man named Sean O'Connor, came highly recommended as a knowledgeable and articulate guide to the wonders of sailing in coastal Maine.


    They were not disappointed.  The boat was comfortable and uncrowded, the view of Camden and the surrounding hills and islands was magnificent, Sean was an engaging and informative host for his half-dozen passengers and Uncle Jack's only complaint was that the splendid excursion ended too soon. 


      Today he is going to redeem all his wine and beer bottles and see if he has enough money to do it all over again.


   



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Sunrise over Camden harbor, Friday June 22, 2007, 5 a.m.

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Captain Sean O'Connor at the wheel as the Lazy Jacks (both of them) glide into Penobscot Bay under sail. He built the boat himself in 1988. It's a two-masted schooner about 40 feet long.

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Picturesque Camden harbor recedes into the distance as the schooner moves out into the bay under power.

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When there is a breeze, as there was this morning, the bay fills up with sailboats of all kinds. Penobscot Bay attracts sailors from all over the world because of its deep water and fabulous scenery.

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One of the more than 500 islands in Penobscot Bay. This one is a sanctuary for bald eagles and osprey and is owned by the Nature Conservancy.

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This one is home to a bunch of fat and happy harbor seals. Uncle Jack's kind of people.

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This small island next door is home to a dozen different kinds of birds, all of whom keep wary eyes on the bald eagle who rules the roost and thinks of his fellow occupants as prospective meals.

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Lazy Jack heads for port. Too hot on the Outer Banks? Not a problem in Camden as you can see.

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The 65 foot schooner Appledore joined the cruising fleet in Camden harbor yesterday. She has sailed around the world and can accommodate 25 passengers on overnight trips. A beauty.

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Sunset over Mt. Battie, 6/22/07. The cloud formations over the hills are often quite stunning.

posted by Uncle Jack at 6:58 AM

Comments [1]



Thursday, June 21, 2007
Uncle Jack meets the Humble Farmer, 6/21/2007

     Uncle Jack first heard the radio show called "The Humble Farmer"  last September when he and Mrs. U.J. visited Camden for the first time.  It's a simple show consisting of one hour of what Humble calls "old fashioned music" interspersed with his commentaries, which he calls "rants", on whatever comes to his well stocked mind---all delivered in an authentic Maine accent which he comes by naturally having lived in St. George, Maine all his life.


    When Uncle Jack first heard the show he thought it was one of the funniest programs he had ever heard in his life and having listened to dozens more in the past few months he has no reason to change his opinion.  The Humble Farmer, aka Robert Skoglund, is a very funny man who also has exquisite taste in jazz music of the 20's and 30's which also happens to be Uncle Jack's favorite kind.


     Humble has been entertaining New Englanders (Uncle Jack's daughter Emily listened to him faithfully when she lived in Massachusetts twenty years ago) on Maine Public Radio for nearly three decades.  He has a huge following in these parts who were devastated a week ago when the arch-conservative idiots who currently run Maine Public Radio unceremoniously booted him off the air for making unacceptable (to them) political comments.


     Fortunately for his listeners he continues to produce his program each week which can be heard through his website www.humblefarmer.com until such time that the right wing poobahs at MPR can be made to see the error of their ways.


    Uncle Jack's birthday dawned bright and beautiful this morning and he could not think of a better way to celebrate it than by driving down to St. George in the Mini and saying hello to Humble and his wife, Marsha, whom he calls "the almost perfect woman".  He also wanted to present Humble with a gift he imported from Minnesota, namely a cap inscribed "It's Hard to be Humble When You're Swedish", which Robert Skoglund, like U.J., happens to be.


     Even though we were unexpected visitors the Skoglunds greeted us like we were old friends and by the time we left an hour later, staggering under armloads of fresh rhubarb and pieces of blueberry cake baked by Marsha this morning, we actually felt like old friends.


    If you like to laugh by all means check out the Humble Farmer's website which is a hoot in itself.  www.humblefarmer.com


   Unless you are a very strange person you will be glad you did. 


    



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The Humble Farmer with visitors from Outer Space.

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Camden harbor is too small to accommodate cruise ships but this one, the American Eagle, anchored in the Outer Harbor yesterday and disgorged many wallet-wielding visitors into the shops of Camden.

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Camden is full of incredibly charming houses, of which this is one. On average they cost half what a similar house would command on the Outer Banks.

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Here's another.

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Our friend Tom Siske, the furniture maker, moved his boat/house from its winter mooring at the town docks out to its summer anchorage in the outer harbor yesterday. The boat has no engine so he pushed it out with his outboard.

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This magnificent house and grounds overlooking the harbor is for sale for not much more than a much smaller oceanfront house in South Nags Head. The winters are tough, though.

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This impressive old structure is both a college and the public library in Thomaston, a small town next door to Rockland. In a lot of places it would have been torn down years ago and replaced by condominiums.

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The lovely blue boat in the foreground is the Anjacaa, owned by the Symingtons who have a home nearby. Anybody remember Stuart Symington who was one of the few senators with the cojones to stand up to Joe McCarthy back in the bad old days.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:14 PM

Comments [11]



Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Sunrise in Camden, Wednesday June 20, 2007

     Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. had planned to take a two-hour windjammer cruise in Penobscot Bay yesterday but they got bumped at the last minute in a reservations mix-up. So they went to Plan B which was to check out the Camden Area History Center which is housed in a 19th century sea captain's house a short walk from their apartment in Camden.


     What a pleasant surprise! To be honest they weren't expecting much because previous visits to underfunded local museums operated by "historical societies" in other communities have often been disappointing.  Not so the Camden Area History Center.  It's only open three days a week but it's an absolutely first rate operation in every way.


    The "Camden area", which includes nearby Rockport and Lincolnville, has a long history going back to the days of Captain John Smith of Pocahontas fame who was an early visitor.  Anything you could possibly want to know about what happened around here in the past 400 years you will find in the History Center. The collections are comprehensive and beautifully organized and the staff is knowledgeable and helpful.  It's the kind of place that makes history buffs like Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. hope for lots of rainy days during their stay in Camden. 


     It was a busy day in the harbor again yesterday with conditions ideal for sailing.  The magnificent yacht "Too Elusive" which docks right below their apartment returned from a cruise late yesterday afternoon while Uncle Jack was enjoying a libation on the deck so he made a short video of the docking process.  You can see it by clicking on the YouTube link below the pictures.


     They are signed up for another windjammer cruise this morning so weather permitting he will have pictures of that for tomorrow's blog. The schooner's name is the Lazy Jack and what could be more appropriate than that? 


      



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Sunrise over Camden harbor, 5:15 a.m. Wednesday June 20. The bird, if you can see it, is one of the two ospreys that were out looking for breakfast at sun-up.

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The Camden Area History Center at 4 Union Street in Camden. You won't find a better museum of its kind anywhere in Uncle Jack's estimation.

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The "Conway Stone", a memorial to a Civil War hero, is a short walk from the History Center. It weighs 30 tons and took some doing to move it into place. Read about it at the Center.

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The Camden area seems to be a hotbed of collectors of old and/or unusual cars. This "Stutz Bearcat" was parked near Uncle Jack's apartment yesterday.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nOhQqWWUt4

posted by Uncle Jack at 6:47 AM

Comments [5]



Monday, June 18, 2007
Mount Battie Redux--Monday June 18, 2007

     Inspired by John McPhee's trek through the Maine wilderness Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J.  hit the trail again this morning.  It took an hour to climb Mount Battie by the so-called "Nature Trail"---one of several available to hikers thanks to to the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 30's---but only a half-hour to return to the bottom. As aerobic exercise goes it surely beats walking on a treadmill at the Y.


     On the way back down the mountain they met a couple coming up who were from Corry, Pennsylvania, a small town in the woods north of Pittsburgh.  They said they usually vacation on the Outer Banks but decided to come to Maine this summer.  Wonder where they got that idea.


     The harbor continues to fill up with boats of all kinds.  At times it is like watching the bumper cars at the carnival as the yachts maneuver for places to tie up. Considering that the season doesn't really get underway for another couple of weeks it should get pretty exciting out there by mid-July.


 


    



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Sunrise over Camden harbor, Monday June 18 at 5 a.m.

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Mt. Battie is 780 feet, Mt. Megunticook 1350 feet. Guess which path Uncle Jack chose.

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Recent rain has produced a few wet spots on the trail which the CCC boys anticipated.

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This upturned tree displays a well-developed root system. Unfortunately the roots cannot penetrate very far into the granite substructure.

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In places the granite has veins of what looks like marble running through it. It must have been pretty hot around here a few hundred million years ago.

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Slightly winded senior citizen rests before descending Mt. Battie.

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The Mary Day looks like an old-timer but was built for the passenger trade in 1962. She is 90 feet long and carries 28 passengers and a crew of five on cruises among the Gulf of Maine islands.

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The Angelique, berthed at the same pier as Mary Day, is 95 feet long and is one of the few windjammers with a steel hull. She carries 31 passengers and a crew of 5. She was built in Thomaston, Maine, just down the road from Camden, in 1981.

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There were 11 hatchlings in this group in the inner harbor, all being fussed over by their nervous parents as a little girl advanced on them with a stick.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:34 PM

Comments [4]



Sunday, June 17, 2007
Camden, Sunday June 17, 2007

     Saturday fulfilled the weatherman's promise of a winner and all the day's scheduled cultural events came off without a hitch.  The Peyton Place parade of vintage cars was short enough not to create havoc on route 1, the Farmers' Market was filled with vendors and crowded with buyers, and the clearance sale at Down East magazine was even better than expected.


    Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. bought a bunch of books that had been marked down from over $20 to the $1 to $3 range and he has spent most of his waking hours since then reading one of them.  "The Survival of the Bark Canoe" does not sound like much of a page-turner but when you know that it was written by John McPhee you know it will be a treat.


     The harbor is filling up rapidly with new boats now that  warmer weather has arrived.  One very large windjammer tied up in the inner harbor yesterday which will necessitate a walk over to examine it today before it sets sail again.  It's another glorious day in Camden so walking around the harbor will hardly be a chore.


    Have a lovely Sunday wherever you are.



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This is the mystery ship that arrived yesterday. It's half again as large as any other windjammer in the harbor at the moment.

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Most of the cars in the parade were old Caddies owned by Camden residents.

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The owners had a grand time waving to us plebes.

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The Farmers' Market is getting up to speed. We bought a free-range chicken, two bags of greens and a dozen home-made raviolis with home-made ricotta cheese. Delectable.

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In 1957 this building was the Camden movie theater where the premiere of "Peyton Place" was shown. Today it's a clothing store. And so it goes.

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Everywhere one turns in Camden there is a flower garden. People up here lavish attention on their gardens and yards much to the enjoyment of people like Uncle Jack who are too lazy to mow their own lawns.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:03 AM

Comments [5]



Saturday, June 16, 2007
A Visit to Rockport Harbor, Saturday June 16, 2007

     Uncle Jack is pleased to report that he now has wireless broadband service in his Camden apartment after two weeks of less-than-patient waiting for the Time-Warner company to get off the dime.  The process of hooking up was not pretty but it was effective in the end.  A cable guy arrived at 8:30 a.m. as promised and spent most of the next three hours running up and down the stairs as he tried without success to find the correct combination of connections to make the broadband modem work.  He was joined at 11:30 by his supervisor who spent another hour doing essentially the same thing after which he concluded the problem was somewhere outside of his purview.  He promised that the glitch would be corrected that afternoon and he was as good as his word.  At 6 p.m. Uncle Jack tried once more to connect to the internet and voila!  There it was.


    Now he can surf to his heart's content from the comfort of his living room, distracted only by the 194 channels of TV fare which came with his TV-broadband package.  Will it be 194 channels with nothing to watch?  Stay tuned.


    Friday was another in a series of perfect days mid-coast Maine has been enjoying.  After the cable guys departed we visited the pretty harbor in Rockport, Camden's next door neighbor.  For many years Rockport was part of Camden and there doesn't seem to be any good reason why it shouldn't be today but now it has its own fire department, police department, government, etc. etc. just like Camden.  Any similarity between them and Nags Head-KDH is purely coincidental. Pictures below.


    Today will be fun-packed for sure.  Camden is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the filming of the scandalous movie "Peyton Place" here with a parade down Route 1 (imagine the traffic jam that will ensue from that on a Saturday morning!) at 10 a.m. replete with vintage cars that were used in the movie and a few surviving members of the cast propped up in them. Pictures tomorrow.


     Saturday morning is also Farmers' Market time in Camden where all kinds of locally produced goodies are available at reasonable prices, e.g. free-range organic chickens, home-made cheese and sausages, artisan breads, and fruits and vegetables in season (which hasn't arrived yet).


    Camden is the home of "Down East" magazine, a slick and very successful monthly paean of praise to the beauty of Maine.  This afternoon they are throwing their annual "clean out the warehouse" sale on books and other stuff from their gift shop.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. will be there for sure.



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Sunrise in Camden 5:30 a.m. this morning. Another gorgeous day is predicted with a high temperature of 73.

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A windjammer moored in Rockport harbor. One of two that make day trips into Penobscot Bay.

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Rockport's inner harbor looking toward Camden. The red building is Rockport Marine, a shipbuilding and boat service company well over a century old.

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This is where the replica of "Discovery", one of the three Jamestown ships, was built last year.

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The ruins of a 19th century lime kiln are preserved in Rockport harbor. Rockport was a major producer and exporter of lime in those days. Limekiln Road is one of the major streets to this day.

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This steam engine hauled limestone to the kiln from mines in the area. The engine and kilns are located in a lovely park that fronts the harbor.

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Rockport harbor from another angle. It will rapidly fill up with boats as the weather continues to warm.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:22 AM

Comments [4]



Thursday, June 14, 2007
Cool Camden, Thursday June 14, 2007
    

It has been cloudy and cold in Camden for the past couple of days so Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. have eschewed sitting on their deck overlooking the harbor in favor of exploring the countryside and going to the nearby big city of Rockland in search of culture. (Rockland has not only a Wal-Mart, a Home Depot and a McDonald’s but the magnificent Farnsworth Art Museum as well).


On Tuesday they drove out to the Village of Hope about six miles west of Camden in search of information about a rumored jazz festival that was supposed to take place there sometime this summer. To their astonishment the rumor was substantiated at the Hope General Store where they purchased tickets for the affair which is scheduled for Saturday, August 18. Obviously the sponsors must hope to draw music lovers from far and wide because Hope itself is just a wide place in the road to nowhere. The roster of musicians includes a world-class jazz piano player named Glenn Jenks who lives in Camden when he is not on the road. This could be fun.


Yesterday they combined a trip to the Farnsworth with a stop at Jess’s Market in Rockland which is the best fish store they have found in the area so far. Mrs. U.J. picked up three pounds of excellent mussels which she steamed for dinner last night in the style of Julia Child. Along with a loaf of crunchy French bread she baked yesterday afternoon this was gourmet dining at its finest that would have cost $75 or more at the fancy French restaurant across the street which doesn‘t even have a harbor view. Uncle Jack is an incredibl lucky person.


Along with its magnificent collection of Andrew Wyeth paintings (he lived and worked in this area for many years and is now 90) the Farnsworth has several special shows going including a fascinating set of 26 large aerial photographs called “The American Made Alphabet” by a photographer named Margot Balboni. All the pictures were taken from a helicopter hovering at about 1000 feet and every one of them is a stunner. Each records a human activity or construction of some kind, e.g. a copper mine in Arizona, a magnificent mansion plopped down in the middle of a California desert, the “big dig” in Boston. A genuinely thought-provoking collection.


Uncle Jack learned some more yesterday about the posh yacht that is moored in front of their apartment. It’s called the “Too Elusive” and it is quite famous in yacht-racing circles. It will be parked where it is all summer except when it goes out several times to participate in races. The boat has a very impressive website which yacht lovers can peruse by Googling “Too Elusive”. Uncle Jack is going to start to hang around on the dock and see if he can ingratiate himself enough to wangle an invitation to go aboard. He has no pride.


He forgot to mention an amusing thing that happened when they were on Islesboro Island the other day. They had pulled the Mini over to the side of the road to consult their map when a car pulled up alongside and one of the passengers yelled “I want to buy your car”. Needless to say this never happened once in all the years they drove Plymouth Voyagers. No wonder Chrysler is in such deep doo-doo.


Tomorrow morning the Time-Warner cable guy will come (?) and install wireless broadband in Uncle Jack’s apartment and then it will be the best of all possible worlds. Stay tuned.




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Unusual sunset in Camden, Wednesday June 13.

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The Megunticook river flows through Camden. It powered many a mill until recently when all the work went to China.

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Biggest of them all was the Knox Woollen Mill. It remains to be seen if the new condos will fly. They are heart-stoppingly expensive.

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The modest main entrance to the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. It's much more impressive on the inside where photography is verboten.

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One of the Farnsworth's outdoor sculptures. Is this by Jim Dine? It wasn't labeled.

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The only cat we have seen in Camden Harbor so far.

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This patient pooch deserves a treat when his master returns.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:14 AM

Comments [12]



Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Trip to Islesboro Island, June 12, 2007

Penobscot Bay contains many islands, some of which are inhabited year-round and are served by the Maine State Ferry System. Unlike North Carolina’s, Maine’s ferries are not free but they are not so expensive as to totally discourage impecunious tourists like Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. from visiting. The round-trip tariff for a Mini convertible and two passengers to Islesboro Island, for example, is $25.75 which they learned yesterday when they went there to spend the day.


Islesboro is the most accessible of all the islands in the bay from Camden. The ferry takes 20 minutes one-way from Lincolnville Beach which is ten minutes north of Camden on Route 1. It carries only about 30 vehicles, however, which can result in some very long waits at both terminals during the season. It is not unusual for visitors to be trapped on the island overnight when they wait too long to return to the mainland. This is not the worst thing that can happen to a person, however, as there is an excellent snack bar at the ferry dock.


Monday was a perfect day to explore Islesboro; sunny and warm. Actually “warm” in Maine would be called “cool” or even “cold” on the Outer Banks but Uncle Jack is not complaining. The island is about 14 miles long, heavily wooded, and very reminiscent of the part of northern Wisconsin where he grew up. A few hundred hardy souls live on Islesboro year-round but most of the houses, some of which are truly spectacular, belong to summer people. Property values have escalated to the point where it is almost impossible for young people to buy or build on the island given the kinds of jobs that are available to them. “Affordable housing” is as much an oxymoron here as it is on the Outer Banks.


The commercial infrastructure is rather meager, even more so than Ocracoke. There are a couple of small general stores and a handful of shops catering to tourists’ souvenir requirements but Islesboro is delightfully free of the kind of rampant commercialism that has overrun the Outer Banks. Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. were surprised and delighted to discover a truly first rate bookstore which reminded them very much of Manteo Booksellers because of the quality of the inventory and the general ambience of the place.


It’s called Artisan Books and Bindery and is presided over by a bright and personable young man named Craig Olson who not only knows his books but is also a highly skilled bookbinder, a vanishing craft that helps to occupy the long winter months. It came as no surprise to Uncle Jack to learn that the estimable Mr. Olson grew up in Wisconsin and was educated there, just as he was. Where there is high culture there are Scandinavians from Wisconsin, it seems.


In the unlikely event that readers should find themselves on Islesboro Island, Maine any time in the near future a visit to the Artisan Bookstore and Bindery should be at the top of your list of things to see and do. Uncle Jack found a copy of William Least Heat-Moon’s “River-Horse” in excellent condition at a remarkably reasonable price that will entertain and enlighten him for weeks. Heat-Moon does not fool around when he writes a book as readers know if they have tackled the likes of his “Prairy Erth” or “Blue Highways“. We thoroughly enjoyed our day on Islesboro and would love to do it again if for no other reason than to visit Artisan Books.


Today we plan to visit the tiny village of Hope about six miles from Camden where it is rumored that a jazz festival will take place sometime this summer. This seems so completely unlikely yet so tantalizing that we thought it deserved checking out. Stay tuned for further information.


The countdown to broadband in our apartment is now down to three days. The cable guy had better show up on Friday morning or Uncle Jack will set one of the newly unemployed Sopranos on him.



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Sunrise over Camden Harbor, Tuesday June 12, 2007, 5 a.m.

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Islesboro lighthouse, next door to the ferry landing.

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Tourist inspects Pendleton "beach" at the south tip of Islesboro Island. Lots of wonderful stones and shells. No sand.

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Some of the residents appear to be druids who leave stone totems everywhere. Here's a sample at Pendleton Beach.

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Here's another. Wounded Knee should appreciate these.

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The sea has carved the shoreline rock into strange and wonderful shapes. The pools in the rocks collect interesting assortments of shells and creatures.

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Back in Camden harbor. Here comes the bride on her way to her wedding at the Yacht Club nearby.

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:26 AM

Comments [11]



Monday, June 11, 2007
Cool Camden, Monday June 11, 2007

Uncle Jack eschewed a sunrise photo this morning because the scene was too dazzling to capture with his unfiltered Sony Cyber-Shot. He knows because Sunday’s sunrise was equally blinding and resulted in a digital wipeout. The “adjust brightness” feature of his photo manipulation program can only do so much and it was not up to the task of dumbing down a full-bore Camden Harbor sunrise.


The rest of Sunday was equally spectacular and the brilliant weather stimulated every manner of outdoor activity in the populace. Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. put the Mini’s top down and took a spin to the top of Mt. Battie which looms over Camden and provides astounding views of Penobscot Bay and its many islands as well as Camden itself.


Thanks to some farsighted (no pun intended) conservationists who bought up much of Mount Battie back in the 1920’s and gave it to the state, locals and tourists alike can now enjoy Mount Battie State Park with its many miles of hiking trails, campgrounds, and picnic areas. While CCC workers were building dunes on the Outer Banks during the depression of the 1930’s their counterparts in Camden were building the infrastructure of the park and doing it so well that their works are still in use today. Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. explored a couple of the trails on Sunday and will no doubt return several times during their stay here.


    The high will be 74 today.




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Camden Harbor from Mount Battie.

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N.C. tourist hits the trail on Mt. Battie.

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Penobscot Bay from Mt. Battie.

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Camden is under the major flyway for jets going to Europe from NYC. Hence the contrails at certain times.

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The harbor from the library.

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The windjammer Angelique arrives after a four-day cruise among the islands.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:54 PM

Comments [5]



Saturday, June 9, 2007
Sunrise in Camden, Saturday June 9, 2007

The local Chamber of Commerce refers to Camden as the “Jewel of the Maine Coast” and justifiably so. It is a gem of a town in almost every respect. It does have one major flaw, however, which is never mentioned in the tourist brochures but is quickly discovered by everyone who visits Camden or attempts to drive through it. It is one of the major traffic bottlenecks of the Maine coast or for that matter, the world.


“Where the Mountains Meet the Sea” is another C of C slogan describing the Camden area and therein lies the rub. The mountains are so close to the sea that there is room for only one two-lane highway on which all the north-south traffic of U.S. Highway 1 must move. Think Duck on Saturday or Sunday mornings to imagine what the main road through Camden is like every day of the week in the summer.


Compounding the traffic nightmare is an intersection the likes of which Uncle Jack has never encountered anywhere else in his extensive travels. Four city streets converge on U.S. 1 from different angles at one spot in the heart of downtown. There is no traffic signal because nobody has figured out how to make one that would work in this situation. The problem for drivers is further complicated by four pedestrian crosswalks in which foot travelers have the right of way over vehicles at all times.


The gridlock that often develops at this incredible intersection can be hilarious for onlookers who can stand back and watch the carnage from a safe distance but for pedestrians and drivers alike it can be a nerve-wracking and dangerous business, particularly when a couple of eighteen-wheelers turn up at the same time and attempt to make left turns. Negotiating the bypass in August is child’s play compared to getting through Camden on Route 1 at almost any time.


The YMCA boat auction has come and gone but Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. are still boatless. There were too many bidders who valued the little dinghy they had their eyes on much more highly than they did so they will continue the hunt.


   They went for a stroll in the neighborhood yesterday and what a neighborhood it is. Pictures below.




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5:30 a.m. Saturday

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The world's craziest intersection in downtown Camden on a slow day.

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The Yellow House Gallery in Rockport. No kidding.

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When the sun shines the water in Camden Harbor turns brilliant blue.

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Waterfront development in Camden started a couple of hundred years ago and a lot of it is quite elegant. Not much resemblance to South Nags Head.

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Any Outer Banks developer could figure out how to cram upwards of 80 condos into this space.

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Camden's swimming beach. Pebbles, driftwood, seaweed and freezing water. Well, you can't have everything.

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The lobster is the blue crab of Maine. Revered by all.

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The great annual YMCA boat auction raises about $30,000 a year to send kids to summer camp. Unfortunately everybody wanted Uncle Jack's dinghy.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:17 PM

Comments [6]



Thursday, June 7, 2007
Sunrise in Camden, Thursday June 7, 2007

Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. have been in Camden for almost a week now and this morning the sun rose into a cloudless sky for the first time. The light reflecting from the glassy calm water in the harbor was already dazzling at 5 a.m. and it looks like it’s going to be a perfect day for sitting on the deck and watching the boats go by. Uncle Jack has already decided that this is the kind of work he was put on this earth to do.


It’s sure to be another busy day at the Wayfarer boatyard across the harbor from his apartment where dozens of yachts are in various stages of preparation for the summer sailing season. The centerpiece of the yard is an enormous blue-painted, rubber-tired “traveler” which is employed to lift boats out of the water and put them back in. This is a fascinating operation to watch for a landlubber like Uncle Jack and yesterday it was repeated at least a half-dozen times with as many different kinds of boats---one of which was enormous. The owners of the boatyard are hoping to get permission to convert part of it into condominiums which will surely not be as much fun to watch.


They continued their search for a small rowboat yesterday, which quest has taken them to several places where they have met some very interesting people who were eager to help. They first queried a gent in the harbor who was painting a small boat exactly like what they were looking for. He wouldn’t part with his own dinghy which he will need very soon to ferry himself in and out of the harbor to the two-masted schooner he lives on but he gave us some tips. During the off season he is allowed to park his schooner-home at the town docks but when the season begins he has to move to the anchorage in the outer harbor where he spends the summer.


We chatted with Tom for a while before heading out to the boatworks he suggested as a possible source of a small boat for us. He told us that he built the boat he lives on himself over a period of ten years and that his major source of income is the furniture he makes on his boat. He showed us a Windsor chair he had recently finished which was truly a work of art. A very interesting man whom we hope we will get to know better during our stay in Camden.


The boat search will continue today when we examine the many boats that are now sitting in a vacant lot next to the YMCA in preparation for a fund-raising auction on Saturday. Numerous persons have told us that it is possible to get lucky at this auction and pick up a boat for a fraction of what it would cost otherwise. We shall see.




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5 a.m. Sunrise over the harbor. Dazzling.

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Tom's homemade yacht. Tom is hiding behind the mast.

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The Wayfarer boatyard's traveler drops another boat into the water. This is the busiest time of the year in a boatyard. They work from dawn to dark.

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A fog bank is heading in from the ocean.

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Ten minutes later it arrives. The boatyard is only a hundred yards away but you wouldn't know it.

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The "Olad" is one of a half-dozen converted schooners that take sightseers out among the islands in Penobscot Bay. Pretty boat.

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This lobsterman has been parked in front of the apartment for two days. He won't catch anything this way.

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At the other end of the scale is this dinghy which scooted around the harbor for an hour yesterday afternoon.

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Yesterday's parade included this exquisite two-masted wooden boat.

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And this snazzy fiberglass job on the way to the yard to get its mast installed.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:31 AM

Comments [6]



Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Sunrise in Camden, Tuesday June 5, 2007

After three days of wind and rain the sun is once again visible in Camden, Maine. How long it will stay is anybody’s guess but it’s a welcome sight nonetheless. The harbor is glassy calm again and the boats moored therein have stopped rocking and rolling for the present. Uncle Jack has become accustomed to a new sound which has replaced the surf noises he is accustomed to hearing at home. It is the quiet bumping and thumping of scores of boats as they rub against their moorings whenever wind and waves build enough to start them bouncing. Not unpleasant but not exactly soothing either.


The fabulous yacht that has been tied up right below his apartment departed suddenly yesterday evening during the windiest, rainiest hour of the day. He doesn’t know if they went to sea or just moved to a more sheltered mooring but this morning it returned and tied up in the same place.


Camden is still not quite up to speed for the summer. Only one of the several “windjammers” that will carry sightseers on cruises among the islands in Penobscot Bay is operating and many of the mooring floats in the harbor are still without renters. The windjammers are old working sailboats that have been rescued from oblivion and converted into passenger vessels that can give landlubbers like Uncle Jack a mild taste of life at sea in the age of sail. Needless to say they don’t go out in storms.


Now that the rain has apparently subsided he and Mrs. Uncle Jack will resume their search for a small boat to row around in the harbor this summer. The town provides mooring space for dinghies and rowboats in the inner harbor so all they have to do is find one they can buy, borrow or steal for the duration. Shooting baskets in the summer does not appeal to Uncle Jack but rowing looks like it could be a splendid substitute if he can keep from being run over.



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What passed for sunrise this morning. The sun actually made an appearance later on.

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The top of Mt. Battie has been obscured by fog for three days.

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Uncle Jack's neighbor departed precipitously just before dark on Sunday night.

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But this morning it returned. It carries a crew of three and its home port is Wilmington, Delaware. Maybe a DuPont?

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This robin's egg blue beauty tied up right in front of it a few minutes later. It belongs to somebody in Camden.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:58 AM

Comments [8]



Saturday, June 2, 2007
Greetings from Camden, Maine

     Uncle Jack is happy to report that he and Mrs. U.J. are safely ensconced in their new home away from home on the harbor in Camden, Maine.  He will have to wait two weeks to get a broadband connection in their apartment but lucky for him the Camden Public Library nearby offers free wireless broadband, hence this abbreviated blog entry.


     He woke up at 4:30 this morning which was a good thing because that's when the sunrise begins up here.  He can't promise a sunrise every morning but today's was pretty enough to encourage him to get up really early once in a while.


    Camden is beginning to awaken from a long, cold winter.  The harbor is filling up with boats of all kinds from the magnificent yacht moored beneath their apartment to the little "peapod" rowboats that skitter around among the biggies. 


     While shopping in Hannaford's supermarket this morning Uncle Jack encountered a lady wearing an Outer Banks T-shirt.  She was just back in Camden after two weeks in her timeshare at Seascape in Kitty Hawk. Small world.


     He looks forward to blogging from Camden because there is so much going on right outside his window at all times.  Look for another entry in a few days and keep him posted on that tropical storm.  He won't have TV for a couple of weeks either.



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4:30 a.m. Morning twilight from Camden harbor.

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The sun remained hidden behind thick clouds but it did come out later before it disappeared for good around 3 p.m.

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It's convenient to be able to watch the morning show without having to walk a block to the beach. Not the same, though.

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This flag flies from the fabulous yacht moored in front of Uncle Jack's apartment, no doubt signifying the way dollars fly away when you own a boat like this.

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This is the two-masted yacht, the name of which he has forgotten. It's too cute to remember.

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The view across the harbor to the Wayfarer Marine complex, the owners of which want to convert some of it to condos. The battle will continue through the summer as local citizens dig in their heels.

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Looking east toward Penobscot Bay from our deck. It's full of islands, some of which are occupied all year round.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:15 PM

Comments [10]




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Uncle Jack lived in Nags Head for 35 years before he moved to Baltimore a couple of years ago. He still has a house in South Nags Head which he and Mrs. U.J. visit every chance they get.
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