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UNCLE JACK'S WEBLOG
Monday, September 29, 2008
What storm? Monday September 29, 2008

     As everybody probably knows by now Kyle took a turn to the east and came ashore up in Canada somewhere, sparing mid-coast Maine from anything even slightly resembling a storm.  It rained a little bit yesterday but the clouds cleared late in the evening and the wind never exceeded 10 knots.  Lots of mighty preparations went for naught but Uncle Jack does not expect to hear anybody complaining about it.


     The sunrise this morning was on the spectacular side as the pictures show and a sunny, albeit brisk, day is forecast.  Perfect for putting the furniture back out on the deck and Mini Too back in the water. A cheerful outlook for the penultimate day of September.


    



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Sunrise this morning, Monday, stage 1.

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Stage two. About 6:20 a.m.

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Nearly the whole sky was involved at one point.

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The sun showed up about 6:30.

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Worth getting up for, for sure.

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The windjammer "Angelique" returned yesterday morning with a load of miserable looking passengers.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:05 AM

Comments [2]



Saturday, September 27, 2008
Calm before the storm? Saturday September 27, 2008

     Kyle is chugging steadily northward on a direct line with Maine which has set off a flurry of activity among boat owners in Camden, including Uncle Jack.  Knowing the effects of the relatively minor blow associated with Hurricane Hanna a few weeks ago he decided to move Mini Too out of her usual space at the town dock and seek  shelter elsewhere.


     The harbor master told him it would be o.k. to haul her out of the water and onto a float right in front of his office which is what Uncle Jack set out to do this morning.  After bailing out yesterday's accumulation of rainwater he tried to get Mini out of her corner mooring, pushing against a strong current from the Megunticook river which empties into the harbor nearby.  In the process he dropped an oar which floated away rapidly, lodging in the propellor of a nearby rubber boat.  He was unable to reach the submerged oar from Mini so he paddled clumsily with his remaining oar until he could tie up again in a protected place while he went back and retrieved the runaway.


     It was smooth sailing from that point  until he reached the harbor master's float where he tried for several minutes to maneuver Mini into position so he could hop out onto the dock.  A gentleman who was pumping out his own rubber boat nearby took pity on doddering old Uncle Jack and came over to help.  He singlehandedly pulled Mini onto the dock, turned her over and fastened her securely to the float,  for which Uncle Jack offered profuse thanks, eternal gratitude, etc.


     In the subsequent conversation he told his savior that he lived in Nags Head on the Outer Banks to which he responded "My uncle Charles lives there!"  Turns out that Uncle Charles is none other than Charles Rocknak of Seagull Drive in South Nags Head whom Uncle Jack has known for at least 20 years. Who says it isn't a small world? (His rescuer turned out to be W. Scott Rocknak of Rocknak's Yacht Sales in Rockport whose services Uncle Jack highly recommends next time you're in the market for a yacht).


     At any rate Mini Too is as safe as she is going to get and now Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. can watch the proceedings in the harbor for the next day or so without worrying too much about her.  Boat owners are scurrying about the harbor in the rain, moving their boats or doubling down on mooring lines.  Even "Anjacaa", the beautiful yacht that usually parks right in front of Uncle Jack's apartment, has been moved to a safer spot deep in the inner harbor. According to an ominous article in the Village Soup previous storms of this nature have wreaked havoc on boats moored in the outer harbor and have knocked down many of the town's ancient trees.  Power outages are not unusual so this may be Uncle Jack's last blog for a while.


     Then again it might not.  Weather forecasting being the inexact science that it is the whole thing may go somewhere else which would be fine with Uncle Jack.



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Looking toward Wayfarer Marine directly across the harbor at noon Saturday.

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Looking toward the inner harbor, noon Saturday.

posted by Uncle Jack at 12:16 PM

Comments [6]



Friday, September 26, 2008
Rain in Maine, Friday September 26, 2008

       Our spectacularly beautiful fall weather had to end sometime and it looks like today is the day.  At 6 a.m. it is already obvious that there will be no visible sunrise today and the weatherman assures us of precipitation.


      Whatever today's weather turns out to be it certainly won't be as interesting as what the Outer Banks has been experiencing the past few days.   Uncle Jack loves a good nor'easter when great photo ops are a dime a dozen and he hated to miss this one.  He is grateful to his pal Ray Midgett for sending him some marvelous pictures, a couple of which he has reprinted below with Ray's permission.  If any other readers have post-storm pictures of any part of South Nags Head he would love to see them.  Please send to yelnag@charter.net    Thanks.


    



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Sunrise Thursday morning. The sun is moving steadily south each day which is exactly what it is supposed to do. The stock market seems to be doing the same thing which is exactly what it is not supposed to do.

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Looks like Uncle Jack won't get to see the inside of "Sincerity" after all. Instead of going back into the water she will sit right here until somebody buys her according to a Wayfarer employee Uncle Jack talked with yesterday.

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Uncle Jack did a lot of shrinkwrapping when he was in the picture-framing business but he never tackled anything like this.

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Sumurun (left) and Whitehawk, two of the most beautiful yachts on the planet, together at the Wayfarer Marine dock.

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"Meteor", launched last year, is a true super-yacht. She spent the day at anchor in the outer harbor and then took off. Click on the link below the pictures for a closer look at this truly magnificent sailing machine.

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A little harbinger of things to come in the leaf department.

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A fool and his Chevy are soon parted. South Nags Head yesterday. Ray Midgett photos.

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Aargh.

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Depreciation will be a little more rapid than usual for this unfortunate vehicle.

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

posted by Uncle Jack at 6:35 AM

Comments [8]



Thursday, September 25, 2008
Sunrise in Camden, Thursday September 25, 2008

         Uncle Jack has been too busy the last couple of days to attend to his blogging so he is going to fall back on his old trick of pulling something out of deep storage and hoping that not too many readers remember it.  This harangue about smoking goes way back and he was reminded of it by a visiting friend who is addicted to smoking cigars and who coughs constantly as a result.  Uncle Jack is too reticent to suggest to his friend that he should think about what his cigar smoking is doing to his health but maybe he will read this blog after he gets back home and get the hint .


    In the meantime the weather in Camden is stupefyingly beautiful and he hopes to find more time to enjoy it before it's gone again.  Stay tuned.


           Proud to be a Quitter


       Uncle Jack read in the paper where Americans are smoking fewer cigarettes than ever before which makes him very happy but he finds it hard to believe when he sees all the cigarette butts in his parking lot every day. It seems like most of the people who are still smoking still think the world is their ashtray just like Uncle Jack did when he was a smoker.
    The paper said that even though the cigarette companies spend over a billion dollars a year on advertising they have only managed to hook about one out of every three grown-ups on cigarettes. That is pretty amazing when you consider how many of those dollars are aimed at trying to convince children that they are never going to amount to much if they do not have at least one cigarette going at all times.
    Most of the people who don't smoke must have a hard time understanding why smokers smoke when even the dumb smokers who never finished high school must have heard by now that smoking is bad for their health.
    Some of the non-smokers probably tried to learn how to smoke when they were young but it made them sick right off the bat instead of having to wait thirty years to get lung cancer. They were lucky.
    Uncle Jack does not smoke but it isn't hard for him to understand why people do smoke even though they know it makes them cough and it stinks up their clothes and it is costing them a fortune.Uncle Jack knows why they smoke because a long time ago he used to smoke, too, and he can still remember what it was like. For ten years he started every day with a cigarette and ended every day with a cigarette and in between he smoked at least twenty more, two or three of which he really enjoyed.
    This is not something Uncle Jack is proud of. It is not easy to admit that he was a slave but for ten years Uncle Jack belonged to the Marlboro Man. He crawled along in the dust  behind the Marlboro Man all those years and the Marlboro Man would never even let him ride his horse, much less introduce him to any pretty girls.
     One day Uncle Jack really got fed up with the Marlboro Man and he decided he would never smoke a cigarette again. He knows exactly when this was because it was on the very day his only begotten son was born. (Uncle Jack has always had a flair for the dramatic).
    Actually Uncle Jack had tried to quit smoking many times before but the Marlboro Man wouldn't let him. This time, though, Uncle Jack had help from Bob Newhart.
    Back in the old days before he got rich and famous doing TV sitcoms Bob Newhart was a stand-up comedian who did funny skits where he would pretend he was talking on the phone to somebody. In one of those skits he pretended to be a high pressure salesman in England who was talking to Sir Walter Raleigh.
   Raleigh has just discovered tobacco in America and he is trying to convince this salesman that there is big money to be made in something called "cigarettes". He tries to describe over the phone what tobacco is and how you make cigarettes and what you are supposed to do with them and it goes something like this:
    "So you take this weed and you let it dry out and then you crumble it up and wrap it in a little paper tube," the salesman says. "O.K. Walt, baby, I follow you so far but then what?"
    "You put the little tube of tobacco in your mouth and set fire to it?" he says, beginning to laugh uncontrollably. After he recovers he says, "And then what do you do, Walt?"
    "You ...you...breathe the smoke into your lungs?!! Walt, baby, you've got to be kidding!!"
    Anyway Uncle Jack has not smoked a cigarette since November 2, l96l and he cannot even begin to figure out how much money he has not spent on cigarettes in that time but it must have
been enough to pay for all the bourbon he has consumed in the same period. We are talking real money here.
    He would like to conclude by saying that he would be happy to serve as an inspiration to anybody who would would like to quit smoking but doesn't think he can. If somebody as inherently spineless as Uncle Jack can quit, he is sure that anybody can.
    And if all else fails he will let you borrow his Bob Newhart record.



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Pre-sunrise this morning. Uncle Jack is not too busy to look out the window when the sun comes up.

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One good thing about rowing is that it's hard to smoke cigars while you're doing it.

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"Appledore" spreads her wings off Curtis Island on an almost windless day. Not too thrilling for her paying customers.

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This young man has found a new way to zip around the harbor.

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Retaining wall fans will be gratified to see that progress is being made. Just about all that remains to be done is construction of a new barrier to keep people from falling over the edge.

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The magnifent yacht "Whitehawk" is back in town and will shortly be hauled out of the water by the Wayfarer traveling crane. That is an event that Uncle Jack does not want to miss.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:38 AM

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008
"Whisper" makes noise, Tuesday September 23, 2008

     Camden hosts a lot of distinguished sailing yachts in the course of a season but a few of them do stand out,  like "Sumurun" and "Islandia" and "Whitehawk".  To that list of paragons Uncle Jack can now add "Whisper", a 117-foot, Dutch-built sloop that spent the better part of Monday tied up to the town dock near Mini Two.  She is apparently in the area to take part in a big race that is either coming up or has already taken place.


     "Whisper's" five-man crew alerted the entire mid-coast region to her departure Monday afternoon by firing off her cannon a couple of times and letting go a blast on her formidable horn.  Consequently Uncle Jack was able to get to his deck in time to take a few pictures as she went by.


     To get a real understanding of just how special this yacht is you will have to go to one of the many websites devoted to it, most of which are posted by the yacht charter companies who would be happy to hook you up with "Whisper" for a week or two at $80,000 per.  Click on the link below Uncle Jack's pictures to connect with one of the better ones.



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Sunrise this morning.

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Whisper up close at the town dock.

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Bow.

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Midships.

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Stern.

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The whole shebang, heading for Penobscot Bay.

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With the daysailer "Appledore" in hot pursuit.

link: http://www.charterworld.com/index.html?sub=yacht-charter&charter=sy-whisper-1261

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:15 AM

Comments [3]



Monday, September 22, 2008
Odds and ends, Monday September 22, 2008

     The Camden Public Library is a wonderful institution for many reasons, not the least of which is its policy of giving away its back issues of the many periodicals to which it subscribes.  Every time he visits the library Uncle Jack checks out the giveaway table for recent issues of magazines like the Economist, Forbes, Newsweek, the Nation, and others from across the whole spectrum of opinion.  He takes them home and puts them in the throne room where they become his major source of  episodic reading about the arcane worlds of finance and politics.


       One of the most interesting and revealing aspects of this kind of reading is that it tells him what important people were saying at some time in the past and allows him to compare it with what they are saying now.  He was amused, for example, by a Business Week stock analyst who only six months ago put a "strong buy" rating on shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac only to watch those stocks go into a tailspin almost immediately. (Who knows, though. With the forthcoming bailout they may shoot back up to unprecedented heights before long).


    Yesterday he read in a May issue of Forbes magazine a direct quotation from a speech made by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in Chicago back in February of this year, to wit: "I'm not interested in bailing out investors, lenders, and speculators.  I'm focused on solutions targeted at struggling homeowners who want to keep their homes".


     Well times change obviously but how much confidence should we put in Paulson's judgement now that a few months later he has completely reversed his position on bailing out "investors, lenders and speculators"  and is now urging Congress to let him hand over $700 billion direct from the Federal printing presses to those same people, no strings attached?   It's enough to make a person want to stop reading altogether.


     On another topic, have you ever wondered who gets to cavort on those fabulous yachts Uncle Jack has been photographing for the past few months? Would you guess John McCain, the newly minted Republican populist candidate for president?  You would be correct as the picture below shows.


     Two years ago he was invited to celebrate his 70th birthday on the rented yacht of a gentleman named Rafaello Follieri who was then the boyfriend of an American actress named Anne Hathaway. Today Mr. Follieri languishes in prison having been convicted of perpetrating a scheme in which he bilked gullible investors out of millions of dollars by falsely representing himself as an agent of the Vatican.  If it is true that one is known by the company he keeps Mr. McCain should be in trouble, especially when one remembers that he once cavorted on yachts with the likes of his dear friend Charles Keating of the savings and loan debacle.   Obama's Reverend Wright sounds almost wholesome by comparison.   


     Camden is enjoying a spate of magnificent weather and Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. are trying to make the most of it.  They rowed out to Curtis Island again yesterday on glassy water and enjoyed strolling through the woods and fields of this most wonderful city park. Pictures below.


    


   


   



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John McCain (in baseball cap) boarding the yacht of convicted felon and con man Rafaello Follieri in Montenegro in August 2006 where he celebrated his 70th birthday in fine style. The gent in the blue jacket is one of McCain's advisors.

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Another view of that classy speedboat docked at Wayfarer Marine.

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"Isbjornen" means "Polar Bear" in Swedish. Seems appropriate.

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The newest crop of wildflowers on Curtis Island. Don't know what they are.

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But they're all over the place.

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The forest primeval is only a 30 minute row from Uncle Jack's apartment

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The tree in the center seems to be growing out of solid rock. How it could do that he does not know.

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Looking out into Penobscot Bay from Curtis Island. Sailboats were having a tough time yesterday morning because of the absence of wind.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:24 AM

Comments [266]



Sunday, September 21, 2008
Winding down, Sunday September 21, 2008

     If Uncle Jack is not mistaken today is the official first day of fall and it is nice to see the calendar catching up with facts on the ground as they say in the military.  It has been unofficial fall here for a week or more with morning temperatures down in the 30's and numerous trees beginning to shed their leaves.  (Facts on the ground?)


     The annual "Common Ground Fair" is underway this weekend in a little town called Unity about an hour's drive from Camden.  This is a gathering of organic farmers and gardeners from all over Maine and New England which started small over 30 years ago but now attracts over 60,000 people, most of them wearing bib overalls, for three days of confab on subjects dear to the hearts of the hard-working folks who bring the rest of us the tastiest, healthiest fruit and vegetables available on the planet.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. didn't go this year but from all reports this is the best-attended fair in history in spite of the high cost of gasoline.


     The heretofore congested inner harbor is beginning to thin out.  All the big stinkpots have departed and only the majestic sailboat "Islandia" remains among the smaller boats in the outer harbor.  It won't be long before the turning leaves will replace the boats as the major source of visual excitement around here.  It's already starting.


      The weatherman predicts five straight days of nothing but sunshine this week.  What more could a person ask?



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Sunrise Saturday morning. Looks like rain in the offing but it never happened.

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Pre-sunrise this morning about 6 a.m. An osprey flew by at eye level with a fish in his claws while Uncle Jack was taking this picture. He missed it.

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Old Sol finally shows up around 6:20. Note the empty floats in the harbor. There will soon be many more as owners put their boats in storage for the winter.

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Optical zoom brings the sun a few inches closer. Uncle Jack watched a harbor seal cavorting (actually hunting breakfast) right off the end of the Wayfarer dock while this was going on.

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A huge stinkpot called "Namoh" threaded its way out of the inner harbor yesterday afternoon while Uncle Jack was watching.

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This overgrown bathtub toy takes up most of the channel in front of Uncle Jack's apartment.

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At this point it's too close to fit in the frame.

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Good riddance. Namoh (the owner's name, Homan, spelled backwards) will probably not be back this year. She was built in China and certainly did not help our balance of payments problem.

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The F.A.R.T. cars hung around for another day. These two are approaching the world's craziest intersection in Camden. They made it through intact.

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An artistic view of the outer harbor. Eat your heart out Ansel Adams.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:41 AM

Comments [4]



Friday, September 19, 2008
Global woes, Friday September 19, 2007

     Uncle Jack has been somewhat remiss in his blogging duties for the past couple of days but he has an excuse. He has spent most of his waking hours lately conversing with computer technicians scattered across the globe from India to the Philippines while attempting to hook up two new pieces of equipment to his computer network.


    The first is a simple ethernet router which he needed in order to hook up the second which is a Vonage VOIP gadget which will make it possible for him to make telephone calls over the internet at vastly less expense than his cellular phone.


    Connecting the ethernet router required that he know his IP address which presented a challenge because he didn't know what an IP address is much less his own.  This information was said to be available from his Internet Service Provider,  Time-Warner Cable, by calling an 800 number, which he did. After working his way through the usual robotic choice mechanism he wound up talking with a young lady whose English was only fractionally better than Uncle Jack's Spanish.  Consequently it took an inordinate amount of time to discover that what she was telling him was that he would have to call the Linksys company, makers of his new router, to get the information he needed.


     A call to Linksys eventually brought him into voice contact with a gentleman in New Delhi whose English was far superior to Uncle Jack's Hindi but was not sufficiently accomplished to facilitate instant comprehension on Uncle Jack's part.  Both he and Mohab were, however, infinitely patient and in spite of numerous software failures he was able (in something less than an hour) to connect his new router to the internet.  Uncle Jack promised to look Mohab up and buy him a drink the next time he is in New Delhi and then began to tackle the installation of his new Vonage phone.


    Much to his astonishment what he thought would be the most challenging part of the whole enterprise turned out to be a piece of cake. In less than five glitchless minutes he had the phone connected and made a successful test call to his own cell phone.  Mirabile dictu! Henceforth he will be able to make unlimited long distance and local calls for the very reasonable price of $24.99 a month.  If you do a lot of LD calling and you don't yet have VOIP you might want to check it out. Be prepared to be patient, though.


     While all this was going on the weather outside was spectacularly beautiful and he and Mrs. U.J. did manage to get out in  Mini Two once and they did do some walking in the neighborhood so he is not complaining. The pictures tell the story.



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A reverse sunset a couple of nights ago.

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Sunrise Thursday morning.

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Full moon rises Wednesday night. That's "Arioso" in the foreground. It hasn't moved an inch in a week which makes Uncle Jack wonder why anyone would pay over $100,000 to charter this thing and then sit at the pier.

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That's "Illusion" looming up over Mrs. U.J.'s head. Her tender is a large Zodiac rubber boat called "Reality".

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A woman's work is never done. The Lewis French gets a good scrubbing after returning from a windjammer cruise.

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Lovely "Kemmuna" from Scotland will spend the next 6 months right here undergoing a total refit. Then it's off to the Pacific and the Galapagos Islands next spring. What a life.

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Howdja like to get behind the wheel of this baby for a couple of hours? Could you afford it with gas a $4.00 a gallon?

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Shrinkwrapping season has begun. "Pilgrim" was the first to go under cover in the Wayfarer yard.

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The deck on this new house is almost as inviting as Uncle Jack's.

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Retaining wall fans---this is where we were as of yesterday afternoon. The fill comes next. Stay tuned.

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:00 AM

Comments [6]



Tuesday, September 16, 2008
F.A.R.T.-continued, Tuesday September 16, 2008
     Careful readers will recall that Uncle Jack was unable to upload the pictures of antique automobiles that should have accompanied his previous blog entry about the Friends of Ancient Road Transportation (F.A.R.T.).  He has now mastered the intricacies of Will's Magical Picture Shrinker and presents herewith the pictures in depixelated form.  Enjoy. 


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This one's a Cadillac of uncertain vintage. That's the driver's dust coat draped over the door.

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This one had a label affixed to the radiator branding it as an "American". He believes the American has gone the way of the Studebaker and the Hudson, both of which were still around when he was a kid.

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An early Buick. Nearly a hundred years later they're still making them.

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In those days a Rolls Royce didn't look any snazzier than a Buick but the shipping charges must have been significant.

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This is a Duryea. Not exactly a household word any more.

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Another Caddy---still the dream car for lots of Americans and a profitable brand for General Motors since time immemorial.

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Uncle Jack never could figure out what this one is.

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Ah yes, a Packard. Uncle Jack's college roommate had a Packard with a rumble seat in which he often rumbled (and rambled).

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:08 PM

Comments [6]



Tuesday, September 16, 2008
F.A.R.T. Tuesday September 16, 2008

     It's a magnificent summer day in Camden---too windy to go rowing but otherwise perfect.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. walked to the library this morning to do their weekly stint of volunteering and on the way were treated to a show of antique cars, the likes of which they had not seen since the London to Brighton old car rally in London a couple of years ago. The cars are in Camden for the day for a meeting of the Friends of Ancient Road Transportation (F.A.R.T.) who seem to come from all parts of New England judging from the license plates. The cars were a delightful change from the usual gaudy stinkpots in the harbor and some of them must have cost about as much. 


     Unfortunately the pictures he took of these amazing cars were over-pixelated and he was not able to upload them.  He hopes to overcome this problem with the help of Will's Magic Picture Shrinker but up to now he hasn't been able to make it work.  As soon as he does he will do another supplementary blog entry with just the pictures.  In the meantime here's a hot breaking news story from the Village Soup online newspaper:


    Man charged with pooper-scooper assault




















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WARREN (Sep 15): A Warren man was taken to Knox County Jail on Sunday after he assaulted another man with a pooper-scooper, according to police.

Advertisement

Deputy Danielle Welch responded to an assault at 207 Tolman Road in Warren on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

Perry A. Gieseman, 53, was arrested after he allegedly hit a man in the head with a small metal shovel used to scoop dog waste. Gieseman was having an argument with the other man, police said.

Gieseman was charged with aggravated assault, said Chief Deputy Ernie McIntosh of the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

The alleged victim was treated at the scene by Warren Rescue but refused transportation to a hospital, McIntosh said.



















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Sunday, 8 a.m. on Bayview Street in Camden. Not a creature is stirring except Uncle Jack who is on his way to French and Brawn at the top of the street to get the Sunday Times.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:18 AM

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Sunday, September 14, 2008
Foggy Sunday, September 14, 2008

     Once again Uncle Jack thanks his lucky stars that he doesn't live anywhere near the Gulf coast.  He just got through looking at a video of what Ike did to a little town west (or is it south?) of Galveston called Surfside Beach which he and Mrs. U.J. visited back in 2005 just a couple of months after Katrina. They remarked at the time how much Surfside Beach reminded them of Nags Head back in the 60's and 70's before progress set in.  It had escaped the worst of Katrina which came ashore many miles to the east (or was it north?)but Ike was not so kind as the video showed.  Residents of Surfside Beach will be talking about Ike for a long time.


     Meanwhile it was quiet again in Camden with only the comings and goings of decadent motor yachts to disturb the harbor's tranquility.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. took advantage of the windless morning yesterday to go for a row in Mini Too---always a rejuvenating experience.  If the fog (which is the first in weeks) goes away they may do it again today. 



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"Moon River" glides past Uncle Jack's deck on the way to Penobscot Bay after a couple of days at the town dock. She was too big to fit into one picture. No connection with Andy Williams as far as Uncle Jack knows.

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Uncle Jack mentioned last time that "Valkyrie" was the world's most opulent sportfishing boat. Here's a close-up of her raison d'etre--the fighting chair on the fantail.

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Only a couple of hours after "Valkyrie" rode off her place at the Wayfarer dock was taken by "Arioso", an even bigger and more opulent stinkpot. She's a real bargain at only $85,000 a week. Probably has chrome fixtures instead of the usual gold.

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Uncle Jack couldn't get the name of this pretty boat when it went by but it did light up the harbor for a few minutes.

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These flowers adorn the front of Uncle Jack's apartment building. He doesn't have to go far to stop and smell the flowers.

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A progress report on Uncle Jack's new retaining wall. Construction will resume on Monday, weather permitting. Stay tuned.

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Another mammoth stinkpot called "Twilight" departed yesterday along with "Moon River" and "Valkyrie". Musical stinkpots they call it.

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"Twilight's" tender tagged along behind, burning up her own fuel allotment.

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The Yacht Club's small boat float has been taken over by seagulls and cormorants who are using it to produce valuable guano which the local organic farmers scrape up from time-to-time.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:31 AM

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Friday, September 12, 2008
Sunrise in Camden, Friday September 12, 2008

     It's 45 degrees in Camden at 7 a.m. and Uncle Jack is giving serious thought to turning on the heat for the first time in several months.  It gives him no comfort to know, as he learned in the Village Soup this morning, that the money he sends each month to Central Maine Power will soon end up in Spain. It seems that a giant Spanish power company called Iberdrola is about to snap up CMP's corporate parent for something over $6 billion---and who can blame them when a dollar is worth so much less than a euro.  It's bargain time in the USA for European shoppers, that's for sure.


     Uncle Jack was very happy to learn that Nags Head will soon have another large Food Lion shopping center.  It's a pity that one of the last remaining tracts of greenery on the bypass will have to be paved over but what the heck.  Progress is progress. Too bad the big winner will be the European corporation that owns Food Lion along with the out-of-town construction company that will no doubt be brought in to throw it up as quickly as possible.  With any luck at least the asphalt will be local. 


     Every cloud has an asphalt lining?


     P.S.  If Uncle Jack sounds unusually grumpy this morning blame it on the Republicans.


    



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5:45 a.m. today. Hardly a cloud in the sky.

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30 minutes later---completely overcast.

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"Moon River" is a frequent visitor to Camden and would be the biggest stinkpot in town at the moment except for.....

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"Valkyrie"---billed as the world's largest and most luxurious sport-fishing boat. It's 120 feet long and has outriggers and a fighting chair. It's worth a Google if you enjoy contemplating the excesses that wealth can produce.

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Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. walked to Reny's department store yesterday to check out the snowshoes and along the way they stopped to smell the flowers.

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On Union street.

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Ditto.

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Uncle Jack has absolutely no idea what these are but they certainly are pretty.

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As are these.

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This backhoe outside Uncle Jack's bedroom window was not conducive to productive napping yesterday afternoon. A new retaining wall will soon appear according to the workmen.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:44 AM

Comments [15]



Thursday, September 11, 2008
It could be worse, Thursday September 11, 2008






    9/11  Lest we forget.


 


     It has been a quiet couple of days in Lake Wobegon, er, Camden, which is not good because it has given Uncle Jack too much time to think about the current presidential campaign.  This is the 16th one of his adult life (which he dates back to 1948 when he could legally drink beer for the first time) and he has to say it is the most depressing and disgusting one so far.  He had allowed himself to think that maybe with Karl Rove on the sidelines and the "reformist" John McCain heading the ticket the Republican campaign would be at least a little more civil than it has been the last couple of times around.  He was wrong, obviously, and he has to confess that the whole mess has become almost too painful to watch. Lucky for him the columnist Gail Collins of the New York Times wrote about this topic yesterday and what she had to say has cheered Uncle Jack up a little bit.  Perhaps it will do the same for you---unless, of course, it makes you angry in which case you are probably a Republican.


 


    By GAIL COLLINS


Published: September 10, 2008


It has come to our attention that a large number of Democrats have gone completely nuts about Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.



Skip to next paragraph
 

He’s going to lose! Sarah Palin is getting all the attention! The Republicans are so mean! Why isn’t he tougher?

They’re calling each other up to discuss how doomed they are, vowing to move to Canada as soon as the election is over and the inevitable worst has occurred. Really, we evacuated several hurricane-prone states with more cheer and optimism.


Cheer up, Obama-ites. You’re overreacting. I’ll answer all your questions as long as you promise to take deep breaths into this nice paper bag.


Have you seen the polls? He should be talking more about the economy! Why isn’t his campaign working harder?


If the Obama brain trust seems relatively serene compared with its seething base, it’s because they live in the Electoral College world, where the presidential race only takes place in a third of the country. They don’t care about national polls — a concept as quaint as measuring one’s wealth by caribou pelts. They worry about the undecided vote in Minnesota and Ohio and run their TV ads (about the economy) in places like Colorado and Michigan and Florida. If you live in California or New York or Texas, you don’t really have much of a feel for their level of effort because as far as they’re concerned, you’ve already voted.


I’m beginning to think we should have gone with Hillary Clinton.


Hillary now lives in a golden alternative universe. As soon as the Democrats had actually nominated Obama, they decided that Clinton was by far the better candidate and that they had destroyed their chances by not choosing her. This is the nature of the party. If she had not been in the race, the Democrats would probably be bemoaning the fact that they hadn’t stuck with John Edwards and nailed down the critical swing-state philanderer vote.


Obama seems to be disappearing from the news compared with Sarah Palin!


One of the great things about this campaign is that both sides are convinced they’re going to lose. Remember how nuts all the Obama people went when Hillary refused to concede? How suicidal the Republicans were when Obama was knocking them dead in Europe while McCain was tooling around in a golf cart with the president’s father? We still have nearly two months to go. The people who haven’t decided who they want to vote for by now aren’t going to make up their minds until the last minute. Just chill for a few weeks until the debates start and let the Sarah Palin thing play itself out.


But the vice president isn’t supposed to get any attention, and all people can talk about is Palin, Palin, Palin!


True. I think that’s because she’s from Alaska. It’s got that frontier aura that we’ve missed since all the cowboy television series were canceled a generation ago. Plus, it gives us the opportunity to talk a lot about moose, which are a funny animal no matter how you slice it. If Palin had been a deer-hunting mom from New Jersey, John McCain would have gotten no post-convention bump whatsoever.


McCain, by the way, is the Republican nominee for president. You may remember him from the Sarah Palin convention in Minneapolis, where he gave a speech and was congratulated by Sarah Palin.


Have you seen that Republican lipstick video? They’re trying to say Obama called her a pig!


Obama simply brought up the old saw about how “you can put lipstick on a pig; it’s still a pig.” The Republicans seem to be assuming that since Palin has a joke about how hockey moms are pit bulls with lipstick, all references to mammals wearing lip rouge are about her.


If you really want to see a strange line of attack, take a look at the wolf ad. It cuts from Palin’s face to Obama’s to packs of wolves prowling through the forest, presumably in search of vice-presidential prey. Then comes the text claiming that as Barack drops in the polls, “he’ll try to destroy her.” Given Palin’s affection for shooting wolves from airplanes with high-powered rifles, it’d be more appropriate to have them cowering in their dens while she aims her machine gun from a diving Cessna.


You don’t seem to appreciate how critical this election is.


Well, I definitely appreciate how long this election is. Time only seems short because these people have already been running for a year. Calm down. Remember, that 17-mile-long Swiss particle collider that people were afraid would create a black hole that swallows the Earth? It started operation this week. And so far, no planet-eating black holes. So you see, things could be worse.



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Sunrise this morning at 6:10. Not a cloud in the sky for the second day in a row.

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The super-stinkpot "Muse" departed Camden yesterday. It's so big Uncle Jack had to wait for it to pass by before he could get it all in one picture.

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At least some folks don't have to worry about their next mortgage payment. This floating hotel rents for $98,000 per week.

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"Maggie May" came in while "Muse" was departing. She looks like the yacht equivalent of a travel trailer by comparison.

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It was too cold and windy to row yesterday so Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. went for a walk in the neighborhood. Always a pleasure.

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Sibelius-lovers will recognize the name of this boat---"Kalevala". Uncle Jack learned yesterday that she was built in Finland, hence the name.

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"Sincerity", the 1925 Italian beauty built for Signor Agnelli, founder of FIAT, will be wintering in Camden. There is a good possibility that Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. will get a tour of the inside one of these days if they hang around enough.

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An excellent example of "lobstah aht". (Linda Bean is a member of the L.L. Bean family of sporting goods fame).

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:03 AM

Comments [15]



Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Sunrise in Camden, Tuesday September 9, 2008

      Uncle Jack got up at 5:30 this morning for the same reason he always does but instead of going back to bed he decided to stay up and watch the sunrise.  There was a sliver of red along the eastern horizon that looked like it might develop into something special.


     He usually turns on his computer at this point and reads the New York Times so he can get caught up on all the bad news from all over the world before breakfast but this morning he just sat in his chair overlooking the harbor and gave his full attention to the sunrise as it developed over the next 45 minutes.  He is glad he did because it put him in a much better frame of mind than reading about the latest atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq and Washington, D.C.  Every five minutes or so he would get up and take pictures, a sample of which he presents herewith.


    He should do this more often. It's good for the soul.



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5:30 a.m.

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5:40

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5:45 (with a little zoom added)

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5:50 The higher clouds start to turn pink.

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6:00 And more pink.

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Actual sunrise, at 6:08, was a bit of an anti-climax inasmuch as the sun was nowhere to be seen.

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6:15 Still no sign of the sun but the day looks promising. (In Camden if nowhere else).

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:07 AM

Comments [5]



Monday, September 8, 2008
Mini Too vs. Hanna, Monday September 8, 2008

     Little did Uncle Jack think that Hanna would have enough oomph left by the time she reached Maine to do any damage but he underestimated her.  She passed through sometime in the early hours of Sunday dumping rain and blowing just hard enough to shake up all the small boats tied up at the town dock----including Mini Too.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. were astonished to find her upside down and partially submerged when they checked her out Sunday afternoon.  Many of the other boats in her cohort were in similar straits and it took some doing to extricate her from the pile and get her rightside up again but after bailing her out it appears that no real damage was done.  One of her oarlocks disappeared in the fracas which meant a trip to Hamilton Marine in Rockland this morning but at least it gave Uncle Jack a chance to stop at the Willow Bakery and snag a couple of molasses donuts on the way.


     All's well that ends well, the wise man said.


   



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Mini Too after the storm. She needs a good scrubbing at this point but that's all. The Old Town canoe next to her nearly sank from accumulated rain.

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"Muse" is the current heavyweight among the visiting stinkpots. She is about 124 feet long and charters for $98,000 per week at peak season. Google "Yacht Muse" if you want to make a reservation.

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This one arrived from Baton Rouge, Louisiana yesterday. Uncle Jack is not sure if they evacuated to escape Gustav or not but in any case if Ike follows Gustav's path these folks will be in good shape.

posted by Uncle Jack at 12:47 PM

Comments [6]



Saturday, September 6, 2008
Waiting for Hanna, Saturday September 6, 2008

     Fog has rolled in this morning and rain won't be far behind but yesterday was something else.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. spent two hours in Mini Too in the morning, rowing in glassy calm water under a sunny sky.  He worked up a powerful thirst on the return trip from Curtis Island which included a lengthy detour to get close to the magnificent yacht "Islandia" which anchored in the outer harbor at about 11 a.m.  Lucky for him the Rite Aid uses Pilsner Urquell as a loss leader so he replenished his bodily fluids in fine fashion while Mrs. U.J. assembled tomato sandwiches on Pepperidge Farm  bread for lunch. All in all it was a very satisfactory day.


      He is happy to see from the weather reports that Hanna is apparently not going to amount to much as she passes by Nags Head today.  Her remnants are expected to arrive in Camden tomorrow in the form of showers and a little more wind than usual.  A good day to stay in and finish reading Barack Obama's "Dreams from My Father", a fascinating book by the man Uncle Jack hopes will be our next president. He is one impressive dude---except for Bill Bradley he is probably the only presidential aspirant we have ever had who could outshoot Uncle Jack at the free-throw line.


    



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At 120 feet "Islandia" is the queen of the hill in Camden harbor right now.

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She was built by Jongert in Holland and has a hull of steel and an aluminum superstructure. Very highly thought of in yachting circles. Readers may remember that she visited Camden earlier this year.

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It was extreme low tide when Mini Too arrived at Curtis Island. When they returned a half-hour later she was floating. They had the island all to themselves yesterday morning.

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Some kind of wildflower is always in bloom on the island. Flower fans may recognize these.

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This pretty red boat is anchored near Islandia.

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This regal osprey has been using a mast in front of their apartment as an observation post for the past couple of days. He's not easy to clean up after.

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Islandia and island juxtaposed.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:35 AM

Comments [8]



Thursday, September 4, 2008
Life among the stinkpots, Thursday September 4, 2008

     For some reason or other Mother Nature has decided to present mid-coast Maine with a whole week of warm, summery weather now that September is here.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. have been making the most of it by making numerous forays into the harbor in Mini Too when they weren't soaking up rays on the deck and watching the comings and goings of this week's super-yachts.


    Uncle Jack mentioned one of them, "My Iris", in his last blog and he happened to be watching when that behemoth left the Wayfarer dock yesterday morning and threaded its way cautiously out of the crowded harbor.  Maneuvering 150 feet of sculptured aluminum in close quarters is quite a feat which you can watch by going to YouTube and putting "My Iris" in the search bar.


    "My Iris" had hardly left the harbor when "Star Ship" arrived to take first place in the never-ending "mine is bigger than yours" competition.  Actually "Star Ship" is a few feet shorter than "Iris" but you would never notice because of the helicopter she carries on her afterdeck.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. started to row out to take pictures of her but the ocean swells were too much for Mini Too to handle so they had to turn back short of their goal.  They did get a long-range shot of the helicopter landing (see below) which was a thrill to watch. For more about "Star Ship" click  http://www.charterworld.com/index.html?sub=yacht-charter&charter=luxury-motor-yacht-starship-844


 


     They continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Hanna and have their fingers crossed.  According to the five-day tracking forecast she should arrive in Maine next Sunday in the form of scattered rain showers.  Could be worse.



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"My Iris" heads out of Camden harbor into the rising sun. Check the YouTube video to watch her skipper do the hard part.

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This is as close as Mini Too could get to "Star Ship". Google her to see some spectacular shots of her exterior and interior.

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Here's the helicopter making its approach.

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For those who don't fancy flying in helicopters there is always the "Star Ship" launch which is bigger than most of the privately owned motor yachts in the harbor. They are returning to the ship after buying groceries at French and Brawn downtown.

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The yacht Carmella's hull has what could be called a mirror finish.

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"Anjacaa" and "Too Elusive" parked in front of Uncle Jack's apartment which is in the building with the white chimney.

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This funky boat is parked near Mini Too at the town dock. Guess which of the three boats is not owned by an heir to the Watson IBM fortune.

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"Cuilan" is back. One of the prettiest boats in the world in Uncle Jack's estimation.

link: http://www.charterworld.com/index.html?sub=yacht-charter&charter=luxury-motor-yacht-starship-844

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:12 PM

Comments [2]



Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Biggest Stinkpot Arrives, Tuesday September 2, 2008

     Windjammer Weekend is over.  The last of the visiting schooners has departed along with the USS Whidbey Island and something resembling normality has settled upon Camden harbor.


     Luckily there was plenty of room at the Wayfarer Marine Company's dock this morning when "My Iris" arrived because at 150 feet she is the biggest motor yacht to enter the inner harbor this summer.  She is a product of the Trinity Yacht Company which has shipyards in Gulfport, Mississippi and New Orleans, both of which were badly battered by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The company survived somehow but from early reports it sounds like the New Orleans yard took another hit from Gustav.  If you have time to read it there is a fascinating story about "Katrina vs. the Super Yachts" reachable by clicking on the link below the pictures.


     The other big event of the day was the emergence of "Sincerity" from the Wayfarer paint shop where she has been sequestered for the past couple of months.  She is the exquisite yacht built back in 1925 for the Agnellis who own FIAT in Italy and with a lustrous new paint job she looks terrific again.


     Uncle Jack must confess that his thoughts have turned toward the Outer Banks more often than usual today as Hurricane Hanna wobbles around down in the Caribbean.  It's hard to watch from afar.



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Sunrise Tuesday morning, ushering in another brilliant fall day. Uncle Jack could get used to this.

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The vast hulk of "My Iris" looms over the harbor.

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She can accommodate ten Republicans and charters for $165,000 to $190,000 per week including a crew of ten. Phil Gramm's kind of boat---nothing to whine about here.

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"Sincerity" looks like a million bucks (actually two million but who's counting) after her new paint job.

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The Wayfarer's traveling crane had a big morning, removing "Sincerity" from the paint shop and replacing her with this large motor yacht.

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This 1829 house is getting an addition. Note the differences in the building materials used then and now.

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"Beluga" is back in town. One of Uncle Jack's favorite antique boats.

link: http://www.trinityyachts.com/YachtingNov05TY.htm

posted by Uncle Jack at 6:47 PM

Comments [0]



Monday, September 1, 2008
Labor Day in Camden, September 1, 2008

     Uncle Jack's body is in Camden, Maine this Labor Day but what is left of his mind is in New Orleans where several of his good friends are hunkered down waiting for Gustav to arrive.  These same friends rode out Katrina safely in their homes in the French Quarter and he is hoping  they will have the same luck again this time.  What makes it particularly nerve-wracking is that the power is likely to go out just as it did during Katrina when it was several days before they could report on their whereabouts. Needless to say Uncle Jack will be spending a lot of time today searching for news on the web.


    The weather in Camden could not have been better for the third and final day of Windjammer Weekend. Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. and their guests watched the frenetic activity in the harbor from their deck and after lunching on fresh organic sweet corn on the cob and luscious local organic tomatoes they went for a long stroll through the neighborhood admiring the many flower gardens and shrubs that are still in glorious bloom. What a beautiful town this is.



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Sunrise this morning at 6 a.m. Looks like another fabulous day in store.

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"Erica" passed by Sunday afternoon. She is a local yacht and one of the prettiest in the harbor with her varnished hull.

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Uncle Jack was disappointed to miss the home-made boat race which had to start a half-hour before its scheduled time because so many of the boats had begun to sink. This was the tail end of the event.

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These contestants won points for creativity of design but unfortunately they finished last. The paddle wheels created a lot of drag.

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Some of the visiting windjammers. "Nathaniel Bowditch", the boat in the foreground, has an interesting history that you can read about by clicking the link below the pictures.

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One lucky driver came to the festivities in his antique Austin-Healey---a distant relative of the Mini. (Very distant and very relative).

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Uncle Jack is happy that not everybody shares his distaste for gardening.

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Ditto.

link: http://www.sailingshipadventures.com/index.cfm?event=GetVesselDetails&VesselID=107

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:17 AM

Comments [4]




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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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