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UNCLE JACK'S WEBLOG
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Camden the Beautiful, Tuesday July 31, 2007

     As it turned out the weatherman was much too pessimistic about yesterday. The fog more or less went away before noon and a lovely day resulted.  With temperatures in the mid-70's it was perfect for a long aerobic walk through one of Camden's lovely residential areas. The frequent showers of the past couple of months have stimulated a bumper crop of flowers of all kinds which add a colorful note to the lush lawns and magnificent old trees.


    Rockport received a distinguished visitor yesterday with the arrival at Penobscot Medical Center of Chief Justice Roberts of the Supreme Court who apparently suffered a seizure at his summer home on an island near here.  Uncle Jack didn't hear about it until he read the New York Times on line this morning.  It was comforting to read in the Times that the local hospital is considered first rate in case any of his various geriatric ailments flares up in the next few months.


    The fog was thick at 6 this morning but two hours later it has almost completely disappeared.  Another cool, comfortable day is predicted which makes Uncle Jack's heart go out to his suffering brother out in northern Minnesota where they are expecting yet another day in the high-90's and where it hasn't rained for weeks. It's so hot he has cut back to only 18 holes of golf a day. (Yesterday he "shot his age" which is 75.  How Uncle Jack and his brother could have come from the same gene pool is one of the great mysteries of biology).


    The exquisite antique motor yacht "Black Knight" left its customary place at the Wayfarer Marine dock this morning and passed by Uncle Jack's perch on its way out to the bay.  He made a short video which you can see by clicking on the YouTube link below the pictures. You won't see anything like this at Pirate's Cove.



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A typical Camden house and garden. Many of the houses in the harbor area date to the early 1800's and some to the late 18th century.

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Camdenites seem to be indefatigable gardeners. This backyard is typical of many others, most of which seem to be tended by their owners.

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This bed and breakfast was a sea captain's house 150 years ago. There are literally dozens of them in Camden.

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More flowers, this time a front yard.

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A window-washer apparently designed this house to provide full employment.

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An unusual condo conversion now called "The Steeples". Imagine having a stained glass window 20 feet tall in your dining room.

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And then there are rock gardens. This one is under construction across from Uncle Jack's apartment by a company called "Rockers".

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"Anjacaa's" caretaker shinnied up 40 feet of mast in his bare feet yesterday to remove this racing pennant. Uncle Jack watched in amazement from his deck chair a few feet away.

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A local singer-songwriter-guitarist named Nat Hussey and his band gave a free concert at the Bok Amphitheatre last evening with Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. in attendance. Great band. Free.

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This morning's fog at 6 a.m. Gone by 8.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xr2B2ap6HY8

posted by Uncle Jack at 12:17 PM

Comments [7]



Monday, July 30, 2007
Never a dull moment, Camden, July 30, 2007

     The penultimate day of July has dawned slightly foggy and quite cool with the possibility of thunderstorms in the offing.  Yesterday the thick fog of morning burned off by noon and the rest of the day was sunny, cool and delightful but it doesn't look like that will happen again today. Good day to spend in the library. 


     With the lifting of the fog yesterday the harbor literally exploded into action with boats of all kinds coming in and going out. Uncle Jack had a great view of all this activity from his perch overlooking the harbor and managed to put down his Sunday New York Times long enough to take a few pictures from time to time.


     He also made a short video of the return of "Too Elusive" from the Camden-Castine race which started Saturday morning and ended yesterday afternoon.  Click on the YouTube link under the pictures to see it. 


    Enjoy your day if at all possible. If not, Uncle Jack will enjoy it for you.



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Uncle Jack learned yesterday that the beautiful yacht "Sumurun" has returned to Wayfarer Marine for repairs after ramming and sinking another yacht in a race off Newport R.I. on Saturday. There were no injuries except to boats and egos.

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Uncle Jack looked up from his newspaper just in time to see the "Impetus" go by. She was built in Brazil a couple of years ago. 95 feet long with a 9100 gallon gas tank. She returned later and is docked at the town wharf.

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Shortly after "Too Elusive" tied up the "Anjacaa" came by and the crew started hurling water-balloons. Better than ramming it I suppose.

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There must have been a gathering of Corvette owners in Camden yesterday. These were parked on Chestnut Street for several hours.

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

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:00 AM

Comments [8]



Sunday, July 29, 2007
The Great Race, Sunday July 29, 2007

      Yesterday was the first day of the annual Camden to Castine (and back) sailboat race in which some 20 of the fastest boats in the area participate. Preparations have been going on all week, some of which Uncle Jack has been able to watch close up because two of the racers were parked right in front of his apartment.


     When the time came for the boats to depart for Penobscot Bay where the race would take place the fog had rolled in and greatly reduced visibility but it didn't seem to faze any of the skippers or their crews.  All their boats are equipped with the latest radars and computer-driven navigation systems so the race could go on fog or no fog. After a big dinner and dance at the yacht club last night the racers will return this afternoon, some with bragging rights for another year.


     In their relentless pursuit of culture Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. attended the Grange Fair at the Penobscot Grange Hall on Route 1 yesterday.  The Fair turned out to be basically an indoor yard sale with some amazing bargains.  Among other treasures they bought a bagfull of excellent books, about a dozen of them, for $1.00. Their small apartment is beginning to resemble the Collier mansion.


     A number of interesting boats have come and gone in the past couple of days, pictures of which will be found below.   Enjoy your weekend wherever you are. 



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Race preparations for the "Anjacaa" included checking the blocks at the top of the mast.

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"Too Elusive" with full racing crew aboard heads out into the fog.

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Too Elusive's racing pennant seems quite appropriate. The skipper/owner is the grandson of the founder of IBM.

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"Anjacaa" with full racing crew follows Too Elusive into the fog.

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This small yacht,the "Manawa Nui" presently visiting Rockport harbor has an interesting history dating back to World War II in the Pacific. Read about it at http://www.cv6.org/1942/guadalcanal/manawa-nui.htm

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The three-masted schooner "Spirit of Bermuda" was built a few feet away at Rockport Marine a year or so ago. She is used as a training ship for young sailors by an organization in Bermuda.

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"Fishtales", a Hatteras-built sportfishing boat from Morehead City departs after a couple of days in Camden. Almost made Uncle Jack homesick for a couple of nanoseconds.

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"Sumurun", one of the most beautiful and historically significant yachts in the world, returns after an absence of a couple of weeks. She was built in Scotland in 1914 and is owned by a NYC investment banker named Robert Towbin who can afford to keep her.

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Looking across the harbor Saturday morning. Now you see it......

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....and now you don't. (Sunday morning)

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:30 AM

Comments [1]



Friday, July 27, 2007
Hot time in the Old Town, Friday July 27, 2007

      It was a scorcher yesterday by Maine standards---all the way up to 80 degrees before the wind changed to the north at noon and cooled things off a bit. Air conditioning is not ubiquitous up here because it is so seldom needed but there are some convenient escape hatches.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. spent a cool hour in the public library yesterday morning until the shade returned to their naturally air-conditioned deck around noon.


    Wednesday was a cool and sunny, perfect for a stroll around the waterfront of Rockport, Camden's sister city. Pictures below show some of the highlights of this delightful area which is far less populated than the bustling Camden harbor.


    More big and/or beautiful boats have passed by under their deck in the past couple of days.  Two more super-giant yachts anchored out in the outer harbor late yesterday but Uncle Jack doesn't know yet who owns them or where they came from.  One sports its own helicopter so you can imagine how big it is.



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Rockport harbor is lovely in its own right but far less busy than Camden. The terrain prevents much in the way of commercial activity and a large park claims most of the shore.

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A tiny bathing beach is tucked into one corner. It's ideal for small children.

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Only two small windjammers operate out of Rockport compared to the ten or so in Camden.

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The "Iwalani" was built by a young Maine couple who sailed it around the world. It's now home to a feisty young woman who hopped aboard and took off while we were admiring her home.

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Off she goes, threading her way through the dozens of boats in the harbor.

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On the way home from Rockport we checked out Camden's bathing beach. No riptide problem here.

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"Phantasma" of Vail, Colorado is presently taking up 94 feet of space at Wayfarer Marine. She was built in Tacoma, WA and needed all the gas in her 4250 gallon tank to get here.

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This sport-fisherman looks very much like a Buddy Davis product. What it's doing in Camden among the sailboats is anybody's guess.

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"Erica" of Camden is breathtakingly beautiful. She is what you get when you tell a highly skilled designer "Build me a perfect boat and don't worry about how much it costs". She was built nearby in Belfast, Maine.

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Meanwhile, back at the antique "Ticonderoga of Greenwich" it's polish, polish and more polish to keep that 71-year-old teak gleaming.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:29 AM

Comments [4]



Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Boats and More Boats, Wednesday July 24, 2007

     Summer in Camden is all about boats.  Peak season is here but except for the proliferation of water craft in the harbor you would never know it.  The compact downtown shopping area never seems crowded, except for slow downs on two-lane Route 1 the traffic doesn't seem out of the ordinary and the many restaurants seem to be handling the summer traffic without stress.  Tourism is definitely the major industry here these days but it doesn't seem to have much of an impact on the way the town functions.


     The most obvious sign that the summer season is in full swing is in the harbor where every docking space is full every night and boats of all kinds are in constant motion from daybreak to dark---fog or no fog. Every day sees the arrival of a new set of yachts from everywhere around the globe and the departure of those that arrived a day or two ago.


    To have a viewing platform right in the midst of all this activity is great fun---like seats in the reviewing platform at a Mardi Gras parade sometimes. Uncle Jack has never really paid much attention to boats before but in Camden in the summer they are in one's face to a degree that attention must be paid.


    Perhaps the most beautiful and historic of the yachts in the harbor right now is "Ticonderoga of Greenwich", a sleek "ketch" (don't ask him what a ketch is) built in 1936 after a design by the legendary L. Francis Herreshoff. It's 72 feet of sheer beauty that looks like it just came off the ways even though it's almost as old as Uncle Jack. It is reported to have won 24 of the first 37 races it took part in spite of the fact that it wasn't designed to be a racer.


    There will probably be more like her in the harbor next week-end when a major gathering of yachts from all over is supposed to take place here.  Uncle Jack can hardly wait.



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Ticonderoga of Greenwich from the back.

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And from the front. The woodwork is exquisite.

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The "Lady J" of St. Vincent in the Grenadines passed by en route to the town dock. At 104 feet she's a floating hotel that rents for $32,000 per week with a crew of four.

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It would cost over $15,000 just to fill her 5284 gallon gas tank so maybe $32,000 a week isn't too outrageous.

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"Pyewacket" of Norfolk, Virginia is only 81 feet long but also resembles a floating hotel. Her gas tank holds only 3000 gallons so she's cheaper to rent.

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This is one way to spend your severance pay.

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Imagine yourself out in the middle of the Pacific on this little thang.

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"Danuq" is the second Tortola-registered yacht this week. Must be a tax haven of some kind.

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"Morning Star" is from just up the road a piece in St. John, New Brunswick.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:48 AM

Comments [4]



Monday, July 23, 2007
Drizzly Monday, July 23, 2007

    July is marching on and mid-coast Maine is still waiting for summer to arrive and stay for a while.  The weekend was sunny but cool and today we are back to fog and drizzle again.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. are not complaining but they feel sorry for the folks who operate the windjammers that carry people out into the bay several times a day.  This is their time to make all the money they are going to make for the whole year and they're struggling.


    One of the little amenities of the Camden library is the magazine exchange whereby people leave the periodicals they have finished reading in a designated place for other readers to help themselves.  Uncle Jack picked up a glossy copy of "Yachting World" the other day because it had a cover story on Davis Yachts of Wanchese, North Carolina.  Much to his surprise he learned that the company had been sold to a plastic surgeon from New Jersey back in 2003.  Either he was out of town when this happened or the local papers missed a big story.  Anyway it was a very laudatory article and the folks who build Davis yachts in Wanchese can be very proud.


     The gorgeous yacht "Too Elusive" which parks right under Uncle Jack's deck when it's in town came into the harbor under sail yesterday afternoon. He watched in fascination as this high-tech racing boat wound in its foresail like a window shade as it approached the dock.  You, too, can watch the short video he made by clicking on the YouTube link below the pictures. 



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This fuzzy pooch was one of many elegant dogs attending the arts and crafts fair this weekend. Uncle Jack hasn't seen a pit bull since he got to Camden.

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In crowded Camden harbor every boat needs a pilot.

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The Grace Bailey prepares to offload passengers Sunday afternoon. This morning she departed with another load of masochists who enjoy sleeping four to a room in a space roughly 8 feet by 8 feet.

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"Dark Swan" is an elegant old motor yacht that passed by yesterday afternoon.

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"Too Elusive" glides into the harbor Sunday afternoon. "Spring Time", the mega-yacht behind her left this morning for parts unknown after a two-day visit.

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This imaginative insect was one of many crafted from junk metal by one of the artists in the park this weekend.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwpe4vPEHac

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:53 PM

Comments [2]



Sunday, July 22, 2007
Pretty Day in Camden, Sunday July 22, 2007
     The sunny warm day predicted by the weather people didn't arrive until late afternoon yesterday but it was worth waiting for. The arts and crafts fair drew a big crowd and the harbor was bustling with activity as boats of every size and description came and went from dawn 'til dark.  Here are a few pictures from Saturday.


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Maine probably has more artists and craftspeople per square mile than any other state. Many of them are here in Harbor Park this weekend.

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Who could blame them with a setting like this to work in? This magnificent public space on the harbor is perhaps Camden's outstanding amenity.

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Flower beds like this are everywhere.

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The Megunticook River pours into the harbor at one edge of the park.

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Another view of the harbor from Harbor Park at high tide.

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The mega-yacht "Spring Time" is taking up a lot of space at the Wayfarer Marine dock this week-end.

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Not everybody in Camden needs a monster yacht to have fun on the water.

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"Corisande" is not huge but she's elegant and unique. She's from Hobe Sound, Florida but her owner has a summer house on one of the islands in Penobscot Bay. He parked it all by himself yesterday---quite a feat of seamanship.

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The harbor at dusk, looking toward Mt. Battie and Harbor Park.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:57 AM

Comments [0]



Saturday, July 21, 2007
Sunrise in Camden, Saturday July 21, 2007

     A spate of fog and drizzle ended yesterday afternoon in the Camden area and the weatherman is predicting flawless weather for the week-end.  It's a good thing, too, because there are so many cultural activities going on around here today and tomorrow that Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. hardly know where to turn.


    The annual outdoor arts and crafts fair will lure thousands to Harbor Park, many of whom will also duck into the Camden Library for the annual book sale.  Many will find time for the annual monster antique show at Camden high school while others may prefer to take in the third day of the annual Friendship Sloop regatta in Rockland harbor.  Saturday morning, as always, will start for many with a visit to the Farmers' Market where local farmers and food artisans offer their luscious wares at lower-than-store prices. What a week-end.


    Uncle Jack can report that he experienced a musical epiphany last Thursday night.  He and Mrs. U.J., who have been devoted jazz fans for many years, went to a bluegrass concert in Rockland that has opened their ears and minds to an exciting form of music that had almost completely escaped their attention heretofore.


    The band is called Banjo Dan and the Mid-Nite Plowboys, five consummate musicians from Vermont who have been playing together for 25 years.  They produce a brand of bluegrass that made us forget all about jazz for two hours. Uncle Jack made a short video of one of their instrumental numbers which you can see and hear by clicking on the YouTube link below the pictures. His little Sony's sound system can't do them justice but the video may convey at least some of their energy and skill. What a band.


     Yesterday afternoon they went to the Rockland breakwater to watch the start of the Friendship sloop race.  The boats were beautiful but unfortunately the almost complete absence of wind made the race something less than gripping. Perhaps they will have better luck today. If you don't know what a Friendship sloop is it's worth Googling the Friendship Sloop Society's web site. 



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Sunrise in Camden, 5:20 a.m. Saturday June 21.

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Harbor Park is all set up for the big arts and crafts fair this week-end. Looks a bit like the New World Festival in downtown Manteo.

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Getting to the starting line is a problem when there's no wind. Those dots in the water are lobster pot markers.

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Friendships are beautiful to look at even when there is no wind.

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Some folks came to fish. Mackerel have arrived in local waters just in the past week and the mile-long Rockland breakwater is a favorite place to catch them.

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The mega-yacht "Frozen Assets" of Boca Raton, Florida left yesterday after a couple of days at the town docks. It carries the Haagen-Dazs logo but Uncle Jack is not sure what the connection might be. Ben and Jerry probably have a bigger one anyway.

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Banjo Dan and friends hold forth at the Lincoln Center (no kidding) in Rockland. If you like good bluegrass check out the video.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-RaycYwe1E

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:58 AM

Comments [4]



Thursday, July 19, 2007
More boats, Camden Thursday July 19, 2007

     Thick fog yesterday did not prevent the arrival of some interesting and unusual yachts in Camden Harbor. Winner of the "Mine is bigger than yours" competition was the motor yacht "Just J's" pictured below.  Uncle Jack has no idea who "J" is but he must be doing o.k.  Being surrounded by all these incredible examples of conspicuous consumption all the time has not so far raised his envy quotient because he was lucky enough to read an article a while back about just how tough things can be for the very wealthy. You may remember it:


            It’s Tough to be Rich. Really



This was a good week for Uncle Jack because he learned something he didn’t know before. This does not happen very often any more because he has lived so long and learned so much that it is not unusual for him to go for weeks or even months during which he does not learn anything he did not already know. Most days he probably forgets about 10 times more than he learns.


Anyway he has been puzzled ever since our new president took office as to why his number one priority seems to a huge tax cut which will mostly benefit rich people. Uncle Jack knows that there are millions of children in this country who are growing up in poverty, living in crumbling, rat-infested homes without adequate health care. Some of them live right here in Dare County.


He also knows there are millions of people who are working two minimum-wage jobs and still not making enough money to feed, house and clothe their families. Some of them live right here in Dare County, too.


He knows there are millions of old people who cannot afford to buy the medicines they need to stay alive. Some of them live right here in Dare County and at the rate the price of his asthma inhalers keeps going up Uncle Jack will be one of them before long.


Knowing all these things he could not help wondering why President Bush’s number one domestic priority was a huge tax cut, the vast majority of which would go to the people who need it the least. Call him a “bleeding heart liberal” if you will, but he had actually been losing sleep over this.


But no more. Once again it was the New York Times to the rescue with the information he needed to understand what was motivating President Bush to be so kind to the rich when so many poor people would seem to need his help more.


The information he needed was in an advertisement for the financial services offered to rich people by a company called “U.S. Trust” from which he will quote:


“The burden of wealth is something few understand unless it actually rests on their shoulders. How do you explain to people that your children might never need to work? Or the incredible pressure of trying to protect a lifetime’s worth of missed weekends and vacations. And then, of course, who would believe that all that money could be anything other than a blessing?”


Imagine how bad Uncle Jack felt when he read that and how much worse he felt when he read this: “Everyone thinks we lead this charmed life,” you sigh, “great jobs, a wonderful house, private schools. They don’t see the flip side. The long conversations about how the money will impact our lives, the lives of our kids and, maybe one day, their kids, too.”


All Uncle Jack can say is that he is sorry. He never knew how much rich people suffer under the burden of their wealth, and he will never say another harsh word about President Bush’s tax-cut proposals.


(And if you think these quotes are too incredible to believe he refers you to page seven of the New York Times Magazine for May 13, 2001. It’s all there and more. Read it and weep).




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At first we thought Darth Vader had slipped in under cover of fog. Further investigation revealed that this is "Just J's", 105 feet of sexy fiberglass registered in Tortola, B.W.I.

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Here she is up close. Built last year by Sunseeker Yachts in Poole, England of all places. U.J. and Mrs. U.J. passed through Poole on the train a couple of years ago and they would never have guessed it could produce something like this.

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"Coconut" drifted all the way to Maine from Nelson, New Zealand.

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"Mother Ocean" hails from Richmond, Virginia. One wonders how she made it down the James.

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Bob Stuart is a popular local folk singer. He gave a free concert at the Camden library last evening. Excellent. Especially the sea chanty's of which he knows many.

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Front view of the Camden Public Library. One of the very best community libraries Uncle Jack has ever encountered.

posted by Uncle Jack at 5:38 PM

Comments [14]



Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Convenient Camden, Wednesday July 18, 2007

Uncle Jack’s broadband woes seem to be over for the moment. The Time-Warner tech rep who showed up on time yesterday explained that the problem was not his alone but rather it affected many subscribers in Camden but it had been located and corrected through diligent effort on his part. He revealed that Time-Warner was engaged in numerous activities to “upgrade” their services and that these “improvements” were being effected by several sub-contractors simultaneously, a procedure which often results in the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. In any case he is connected again and all is right with the world.


He and Mrs. U.J. have been living in Camden for nearly seven weeks now and their love affair with this beautiful town continues to deepen with every passing day. They have rediscovered the delights of living in a place where they can walk to 90% of the places they need or want to visit on a quotidian basis. Within a five minute walk they have access to a first rate grocery store with excellent meat, fish and deli departments; a huge Rite-Aid drug store that sells everything from toothpaste to fishing tackle; a department store called Renys that is like a dollar store on steroids; four book stores, two used and two new, all excellent; the post office, an art deco gem; three banks; at least ten restaurants, no two alike; three coffee shops, none of which is a Starbuck’s: two bakeries and a bagel shop; and at least two dozen other specialty stores selling just about anything imaginative consumers like Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. could possibly want.


Even more important than the proximity of commercial establishments is the nearness of the wonderful Camden Public Library. The library, they have learned, is much more than a repository of books. It is the locus of a never-ending series of free cultural events that take place either outside in the delightful Bok amphitheater or inside in the so-called Picker Room which is equipped with excellent lighting and a bewildering assortment of sound equipment---too sophisticated even for the performers sometimes.


In the past week alone they have heard concerts by two very talented musical groups, a travelogue by a remarkable young couple who built a boat and spent three years circumnavigating the globe in it, and a delightful illustrated talk by a Camden native, Captain Jim Sharp, about the filming of the 1977 TV movie version of “Captains Courageous” starring Karl Malden, Ricardo Montalban, Neville Brand and a host of others. One of Captain Sharp’s schooners, “Adventure”, was used in the filming which took place in and around Camden. His telling of the behind-the-scenes story of the filming was hilarious.


The library is a gem but for sheer entertainment there is nothing like having a major yacht-repair yard within viewing distance of your front porch. The daily doings at Wayfarer Marine are a constant source of wonder verging on awe at times. The celebrated yacht “Black Knight” which arrived yesterday was only the latest in a procession of jaw-dropping vessels that have visited Camden harbor in the past few weeks. Doubtless there will be many more as the summer progresses.


Sometimes Uncle Jack misses the hustle and bustle of the bypass in summer but to tell you the truth, not very often.



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"Black Knight" arrives Tuesday afternoon. It is ostensibly here on behalf of the New York Yacht Club to make preparations for NYYC's 151st annual "Cruise" that will bring a plethora of yachts to Penobscot Bay in early August.

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This unique 83 foot boat was built in East Boothbay, Maine in 1968 for a private owner. It is now owned by a trust and is available for charter at $20,000 per week with a crew of three. The New York Yacht Club uses it a lot for official functions.

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Captain Jim Sharp, an authentic Camden legend, entertains a capacity crowd with his witty description of the filming of "Captains Courageous" in Camden in 1977.

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His schooner "Adventure" is now a National Historic Landmark and is on display in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

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"Anjacaa" returns to her regular mooring right under Uncle Jack's deck. She is owned by Mrs. Ann Symington, widow of the late Senator Stuart Symington who has a home in Camden.

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The spectacular yacht "Moon River" of George Town (Barbados?) maneuvers through heavy traffic to the gas pumps at Wayfarer Marine. See a short video by clicking on the YouTube link under the pictures.

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All this and a lovely sunset, too.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUTppVfg9YU

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:35 AM

Comments [9]



Monday, July 16, 2007
Technical difficulties, Monday July 16, 2007

Uncle Jack started to lose his broadband connection in the afternoon of Friday the 13th (to which he attaches no paranormal significance) but three days later he is still has no communication with the Time-Warner servers which he had been led to believe were the fastest and most reliable in the Mid-Coast region of Maine. They lied.


When he finished working his way through Time-Warner’s automated oxymoronic “customer service” telephone maze and finally reached what he believes was a human being (possibly speaking to him from somewhere in the western hemisphere) he got the bad news. The first available date for a technician to come to his apartment and make things right again was August 13, exactly one month away.


Uncle Jack spluttered in disbelief for several seconds after which conversation with the distant “customer service representative” resumed. He expressed his great unhappiness at being without broadband service for an entire month. She informed him that Time-Warner felt just as badly about this as he did. He said he didn’t think that was possible and he suggested that it might be time for Time Warner to hire more techies to deal with problems like his. She said Time Warner has been trying to do that without notable success. (Uncle Jack surmises that they have not yet found a way to outsource this part of their business to low-cost operatives in India).


At this point she suggested that Uncle Jack might like to be put on the waiting list for a possible cancellation---presumably from a customer who was fed up with Time-Warner’s lackadaisical approach to customer service and had switched to another provider. She could guarantee nothing of course but if Uncle Jack were willing to stay close to home for the indefinite future it might be possible to deal with his problem a bit sooner.


This suggestion elicited a series of peculiar noises from the vicinity of Uncle Jack’s epiglottis which she must have found frightening because she asked him if he would mind holding for a moment. She returned in 30 seconds to inform Uncle Jack that a techie would be at his door on Tuesday afternoon, July 17.


Unless she was kidding Uncle Jack should have a new web log posting on the way by Wednesday morning.


posted by Uncle Jack at 1:15 PM

Comments [6]



Friday, July 13, 2007
Big, beautiful boats. Camden Friday July 13, 2007

     The fog has cleared, the sun is shining and Friday the 13th has been the busiest day in Camden harbor since Uncle Jack arrived six weeks ago. He even gave up his nap so he wouldn't miss any of the action and that says a lot.


     The "Mine is bigger than yours" competition among the macho yacht owners has intensified in recent days as the season gets into high gear.  It must be a downer, though, for the owners of mere 92 foot yachts, no matter how elegant, to have to pass by the 117 foot, three-story "Arcadia" that has been anchored at the entrance to the harbor for over a week. Arcadia is very far from the biggest yacht in the world but it dwarfs everything in Camden at the moment.


    Uncle Jack has been snapping pictures as they pass by his deck and then googling to see what he can find out about each boat. This has yielded some interesting results such as the fact that the sleek motor yacht "I. Lorraine" pictured below belongs to the I. Lorraine Thomas Trust.  I. Lorraine Thomas was the wife (for 47 years) of the late Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's.  It is very hard for Uncle Jack to square this raffish boat with the somewhat oafish persona so carefully cultivated by Mr. Thomas in his 800 TV commercials for Wendy's.  Chances are he was so busy making commercials that he never set foot on it.



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"CAVU" of Pompano Beach, Florida is one of several large boats by that name so Uncle Jack could not pin it down. Apparently "CAVU" is an acronym for something. Anybody know what it is?

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The "I. Lorraine" is from Fort Lauderdale where Dave Thomas lived until he succumbed to cancer a few years ago.

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"Indra", another very classy yacht from Connecticut arrived shortly after I. Lorraine. Both are dwarfed by Arcadia which can be seen farther out in the harbor.

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Indra from the front. There must be a hundred yachts with this name so Uncle Jack couldn't learn much about it.

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"Annalu" was built at the Hinckley yard in Southwest Harbor, Maine. It is a connoisseur's yacht---not the biggest, just the best.

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The harbor is filling up.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:34 PM

Comments [3]



Thursday, July 12, 2007
The Camden Opera House, Thursday July 12, 2007

Yet another foggy morning in Camden. It’s supposed to burn off by noon which will make it possible for Uncle Jack to drive to Rockland and turn in his TV cable box at the Time-Warner office there. He made the mistake of signing up for cable TV at the same time he got his broadband connection because they enticed him with the promise of 180 channels, one of which was called “BBC America”. It took only a few days to discover that there was almost nothing worth watching on those 180 channels that would justify the exorbitant cost and it was especially disappointing to learn that BBC America offers nothing but the worst dreck ever produced by that august broadcaster.


Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. are going to a meeting tonight at the nearby Camden Opera House  where there will be a public hearing on a proposal by Wayfarer Marine to convert part of their waterfront property into condominiums.


It’s a controversial issue and it is getting a lot of careful scrutiny by the town government as well as the townspeople. Tonight’s meeting, one of a long series that began months ago, is devoted entirely to comments and questions from residents. It should be a good show, better than anything that might have been on TV in the same time slot tonight.


He will try to get some pictures of the Opera House which is not only the town’s meeting room but a venue for other entertainments of a non-political nature as well. It was built in 1894 and lovingly refurbished in 1993 for its 100th anniversary. Mae West, Lillian Gish, Tallulah Bankhead and Edward Everett Horton have all trod the boards here along with (in modern times) Wynton Marsalis and Buckwheat Zydeco. The building also houses the town offices which are very modest by Outer Banks standards.


     Pictures at 11.



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The Wayfarer's traveler was able to find the 74 foot long yacht Dragonera in the fog yesterday morning.

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After a delicate journey of 50 yards or so the Dragonera is now perched on blocks outdoors where it will be prepped for painting.

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This sign on the door of Jess's fishmarket in Rockland never fails to amuse.

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The Camden planning board hears arguments from the public regarding one of the most important decisions the town will face in this century. Give up a big chunk of waterfront land for condos or keep it for boatbuilding.

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The Camden Opera House is a great venue for town meetings and a goodly crowd came out in spite of the fog and drizzle.

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A pretty proscenium.

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A launch full of damp tourists from the cruise ship American Eagle heads for the fogbound souvenir shops of downtown Camden.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:27 AM

Comments [5]



Monday, July 9, 2007
Goodby Zopilote, Hello Dragonera, Monday July 9, 2007

   Spirit of Zopilote was gone from the harbor when Uncle Jack got up this morning but a few minutes later a very sleek and distinguished looking yacht glided in and tied up to the Wayfarer boatyard dock directly across from his apartment.  After breakfast he and Mrs. U.J. strolled over to find out what it was and they were not disappointed.


    They talked with a Wayfarer worker who said it was named the Dragonera after an island in the Mediterranean but that's all he knew.  He did say that the boat had just come over from Rockport Marine where it had undergone a major overhaul including new teak decks and added that it was scheduled to be dismasted and hauled before painting at Wayfarer.


     Uncle Jack was sufficiently intrigued by the name "Dragonera" and the distinctive design of the boat to do a bit of Googling and this is what he learned: Dragonera is in fact an uninhabited island near Mallorca.  The boat was designed by one Joel White and built at his boatyard in Brooklin, Maine in 1994. Further investigation revealed that Joel White is the son of the great writer E.B. White, author of the children's classic "Charlotte's Web" and co-author of "The Elements of Style" which Uncle Jack nearly memorized while writing his dissertation a half-century ago.


    E.B. White maintained his association with the New Yorker magazine for many years while living on his farm near Brooklin, Maine.  He went into New York City as seldom as possible and who could blame him if he could live in mid-coast Maine instead.


   The high temperature in Camden today was 65 degrees.  Sorry.


    



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Dragonera from across the harbor. She is 74 feet long and every inch a beauty. All wood.

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Dragonera close up. The masts may come off tomorrow.

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An empty tanker makes her way south through Penobscot Bay this morning. No fog and drizzle for a change.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:46 PM

Comments [9]



Sunday, July 8, 2007
Sunrise in Camden, Sunday July 8, 2007

     Uncle Jack is taking the weekend off from serious blogging. Grandson Andy and wife Liz have been visiting for a couple of days and plying him with imported Wachusett beer (imported from Massachusetts, that is) and this morning he has to drive to Portland again to retrieve Mrs. Uncle Jack from the airport.  All his neighbors who are locals have told him to stay off Route 1 and take a slightly longer but much less stressful path to Portland so he is going to try that.


     One interesting yacht tied up at the town dock yesterday.  It's called the Spirit of Zopilote and it's the wandering home of a veteran Hollywood director, now retired, and his former actress wife.  After circumnavigating the globe in their first yacht named Zopilote, they ran into an uncharted reef off Ketchikan, Alaska and the boat sank.  They had a new one built and named it Spirit of Zopilote  and it has become very well known in yachting circles. How long it will be in Camden is anybody's guess but while it's here it has a commanding presence at the town docks.



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Sunrise over Camden harbor, Saturday July 7, 2007.

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Uncle Jack's picture of Andy (in the black shirt)taking a picture of him as Liz waves while the "Surprise" passes by on the way to the bay.

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Spirit of Zopilote has attracted a lot of lookers at the town dock. Most large yachts tie up at the Wayfarer yard on the other side of the harbor which is less accessible to foot traffic.

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SoZ as the owner's call it is 64 feet long and built on a typical Alaskan trawler hull. They live on it 8 or 9 months of the year so it does have a few more creature comforts than the average trawler.

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Last evening's rainbow following a brief shower.

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Which was followed by last night's unusual sunset. Never a dull moment weatherwise up here on the Maine coast.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:12 AM

Comments [9]



Friday, July 6, 2007
Foggy day in Camden Town, Friday July 6, 2007

    Camden harbor is socked in again this morning.  The thick fog kept most of the windjammers at their moorings all day yesterday except for the ancient "Mercantile" which left the harbor in the afternoon with a load of damp passengers for a two or three day excursion into the Bay of Maine. What they will see out there is anybody's guess but these cruises are arranged far in advance and they go no matter what the weather.


     Windjammer fans might enjoy watching a short video Uncle Jack made the other day of the Lewis R. French leaving the harbor on a sunny day earlier this week.  The Lewis R. is one of the larger old-timers like Mercantile (she was built in 1871) which takes passengers on multi-day cruises out of Camden. Click on the YouTube link below the pictures to see her in action.



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Mt. Battie is over there somewhere. 5:30 a.m. Friday.

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Wayfarer boatyard, less than 100 yards away, is barely visible.

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ditto for the outer harbor.

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Intrepid old "Mercantile" has seen a lot of fogs in the past century. She got a push from her yawl into the fog yesterday afternoon carrying a load of equally intrepid passengers.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYtW3ZtsJqw

posted by Uncle Jack at 6:31 AM

Comments [4]



Thursday, July 5, 2007
The Great 4th of July Dinghy parade, 7/5/07

For Uncle Jack one of the greatest delights of living on the waterfront in Camden harbor is that he never knows what he is going to see next. It might be a windjammer heading out to sea or a lobster boat loaded with traps or some millionaire’s mega-yacht tying up at the Wayfarer boatyard across the way. Or on rare occasions like the Fourth of July he might see something as wacky as the Great Dinghy Parade which started out from the Yacht Club and circled the harbor twice yesterday morning.


He has seen a lot of parades in his 77 years but never one quite like this. He made a short video of it from his deck with his little Sony Cyber-Shot camera which he uploaded to YouTube. Click on the YouTube link below the pictures to see it.  You'll be glad you did.


 It's a totally dreadful day in Camden--rainy and wet.  More of the same forecast for tomorrow.  It was painful for Uncle Jack to read the weather report from the Outer Banks this morning. But this, too, shall pass as he well knows.



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Here comes the dinghy parade, with Mt. Battie as a backdrop. You have to watch the film to get the full experience.

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The Coast Guard cutter out of Rockland was not part of the dinghy parade but it did add some color to the Fourth. These guys have done some incredible rescue work in the Gulf of Maine, especially in the winter when it's nasty up here.

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This is one of the bigger boy-toys in the harbor at the moment. It's "Medallion", a private yacht registered in Bikini Island somewhere in the South Pacific. Uncle Jack didn't think there was anything left of Bikini after the bomb testing.

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Even bigger is the "Julianne" out of Longboat Key, Florida. It gets one mile per gallon of fuel and rents for $12,000 per week. Only 64 feet long but very roomy.

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"Mine is bigger than yours". This is the "Arcadian", a private yacht so big there was no place for it in the inner harbor last week. It has departed but probably will be back.

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The Bok Amphitheater next door to the library. A lovely setting for musical events and weddings. Overlooks the harbor. Except for Mrs. Bok's generosity it might have been condos.

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A flotilla of kayakers returns from a two-hour expedition into the outer harbor. Kitty Hawk Kites does not have the concession here as far as Uncle Jack knows.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjvREAHYP-I

posted by Uncle Jack at 6:44 AM

Comments [2]



Wednesday, July 4, 2007
"Aeolian" gets a lift at Wayfarer Marine. 7/4/07

    As promised Uncle Jack forewent his nap yesterday afternoon to be present when Wayfarer Marine's giant traveling crane plucked the mega-yacht "Aeolian" from the waters of Camden harbor. (Removal of Aeolian's mast was covered in yesterday's posting). Taking boats out of the water and putting them back in is an everyday occurrence at Wayfarer but it isn't every day that a boat like Aeolian comes along.


     She is 92 feet long for one thing and 22 feet wide so as the pictures show she barely fits into Wayfarer's slip. She was built in Holland in 1998 and is due for a complete overhaul which Wayfarer Marine will carry out over the next four or five months.


     Aeolian is owned by a Dutch couple who offer it for charter (with a crew of four) in season for $33,500 a week---a bargain at today's fuel prices. 


    To view a short video of the big blue traveler and its mighty cargo click on the YouTube link below the pictures.


     And have a Fun Fourth wherever you are.



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Sunrise over Camden harbor, 4:55 a.m. July 4.

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Ditto, 20 minutes later. A perfect day is predicted for the 4th.

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Backing in.

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A tight squeeze.

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Upsy daisy.

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Like a whale out of water.

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Aeolian gets a rinse before entering the big barn where she will spend the next several months. Skipper Bruno Herregods (in black shirt) and crew head for home after a nerve-wracking day.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gLmuyx30Jc

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:17 AM

Comments [7]



Tuesday, July 3, 2007
"Aeolian" dismasted--Tuesday June 3, 2007

     The magnificent yacht "Aeolian" has been docked across the harbor from Uncle Jack's apartment for the past several weeks. He has been keeping an eye on it because he knows it is scheduled to be hauled out of the water for an overhaul by the Wayfarer Marine company of Camden that will take four months to complete.


     This morning he noticed that Wayfarer's huge crane had been moved into position to pull the mast which had to be done before the boat could be hauled.  Inasmuch as the 33 meter mast  is taller than the 28 meter boat is long, this was going to be no small undertaking.  


     Uncle Jack trotted over to Wayfarer toot sweet and took pictures of the operation and also made a short video of the actual pulling of the mast which can be seen by clicking on the YouTube link below the pictures.


     The next step is hauling the boat itself which may happen this afternoon. He will be happy to miss his nap to watch and film this amazing operation.  


 



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Uncle Jack got there a little too late to watch a rigger climb the mast and attach the crane's hook to it.

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An unflappable young man named Rob Buchanan directed a crew from Pro Riggers in Portsmouth, R.I. in doing the demasting which went off without a hitch.

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It took nearly an hour to get to this point. All the guy wires and electrical wiring had to be disconnected before the crane guy could do his thing.

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The base of the mast is placed in a little cart that rolls backwards as it is lowered to the ground. Not exactly high tech but it worked.

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Down she comes gently as a bed of padded sawhorses in prepared for her.

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All done. According to Rob the mast will now be completely disassembled and the parts taken to Rhode Island for refurbishment. The mast itself will stay at Wayfarer and get a new coat of paint.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOj_PdoZiu0

posted by Uncle Jack at 12:06 PM

Comments [2]



Monday, July 2, 2007
Sunday in the Park With Uncle Jack, Camden 7/1/07

Sunday was a perfect day for the pre-Fourth of July celebration in Camden. The Rotary Club picked up the tab for an afternoon of live music in the open-air amphitheater overlooking the harbor. Uncle Jack missed the first part of the show because his heartless cardiologist makes him take a nap after lunch every day but he did get to hear the Maine Army National Guard band play and he can tell you they were very good. They played a lot of different kinds of music including numerous patriotic tunes such as America the Beautiful and the Star Spangled Banner. Uncle Jack’s favorite was their rendering of “Jailhouse Rock” which they probably did in honor of Elvis Presley, the most famous army private of all time even though he never fired a shot in anger as far as anybody knows.


Anyway the Rotary Club can be very proud for putting on this wonderful afternoon of entertainment in the Camden amphitheater which has to be one of the most beautiful outdoor venues for music or anything else for that matter in the world. Uncle Jack took some pictures but they can’t really do justice to the entire scene. He also made a short video of the band playing “Jailhouse Rock” which readers can see by clicking on the YouTube link below the pictures.


    Uncle Jack took Mrs. U.J. to the airport in Portland yesterday morning with fear and trembling.  He was afraid that  Putin might be landing in Portland en route to his meeting with President Bush in Kennebunkport.  He still remembers with horror the day he and Mrs. U.J. arrived in New Orleans at the same time as both Bush senior and Bill Clinton who were campaigning at the time, and that was long before 9/11.  It took a week to unsnarl the traffic jams on that occasion and he was afraid the same thing might happen in Portland.  Lucky for them Putin's jet went to Portsmouth, New Hampshire and the traffic on Route 1 was no worse than usual, which is to say it was just awful instead of totally gridlocked.



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The Maine Army National Guard Band plays to a large and appreciative audience in the Bok amphitheater in Camden Sunday afternoon. This is the rock 'n roll sub-group rendering "Jailhouse Rock".

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Visitors got a good look at several of the large windjammers in port on Sunday. Left to right: the Lewis R. French, the Angelique, and the Mary Day, gunwale to gunwale.

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And at the next dock the Mercantile (l) and the Grace Bailey, two of the really old timers in the Camden windjammer fleet.

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The setting sun on Saturday illumates the lovely yacht "Sumurun", built in Scotland in 1914. Arguably the prettiest boat in Camden harbor right now.

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Uncle Jack had to pass through Wiscasset on his way back from the Portland airport Sunday. Wiscasset calls itself "The prettiest town in Maine" and in the summer travelers have plenty of time to check it out as they creep through on U.S. 1.

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Some day Uncle Jack is going to stop at Red's in Wiscasset and find out what he's serving. There is a line like this in front of the place at all times.

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Sunrise over Camden harbor, 5 a.m. Monday, July 2.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bKX7-HTXgE

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:02 AM

Comments [3]




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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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