Sailing on Schooner J&E Riggin

The last week of September 22 was a great time to sail on the historic schooner J&E Riggin out of Rockland, Maine. Captains John and Annie and their wonderful crew made sure we were safe, well-fed, and entertained.

This was the first time I’d gone sailing where Julie was on the crew, and it was a pleasure seeing her in her element, crawling along bow sprits, raising sails and hauling anchor with crewmates Moxie and Erica.

The crew encouraged us to help out if we wanted to, and patiently answered our questions. This trip I got to help raise the various sails, and to bring in the jib and staysail a couple times when we tacked. Lots of great fun.

Meals on the Riggin were hearty and delicious, cooked by Erica and Annie on the wood stove in the galley. Everything was homemade and “from scratch”, from the breads and soups and even the incredible chicken pot pies we had for one of the lunches! On Thursday we dropped anchor at the Eggemoggin Reach and had a lobster bake right on the beach. Amazingly enough with all that great food I only gained 3 pounds on the six-day sail.

This was my third sail on a schooner, and I’m already looking forward to the next time. If you’re considering a sail, I would highly recommend it!

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Schooner Stephen Taber

Robin and I just got back from a four day wine tasting cruise on the Stephen Taber, an 18th century schooner out of Rockland, Maine. It was great being back on the Taber again with Captain Noah and his top-notch crew; last fall I sailed on the Taber with Julie and loved it so much I vowed then and there to come back with Robin for their wine cruise.

The evening before we headed out we got to spend a little time with Julie in the galley of the J&E Riggin where she works as galley hand and deck hand. It was great to see Jules in her element, and only wish we could have had more time together. We’ll just have to go back to see her soon 😉

Each day on the Taber started with hot coffee on deck, with breakfast served at 8:30. Hannah treated us to hearty breakfasts of French Toast, eggs and sausage, grits, and even some delicious scones.

After breakfast, we would raise sails and anchor, and Captain Noah would take us to someplace new. Since there are 4,000 islands or so off the Rockland coast, there is no shortage of destinations! One day we sailed to Deer Isle where we walked around in the town of Stonington (famous for its granite quarries) and shopped for gifts. Another day we explored the lighthouse at Owl’s Head, a small town south of Rockland. There were lots of sights and sounds, from beautiful island homes to various lighthouses, islands (inhabited and not), other schooners, seals sunning themselves on warm rocks, and even a few porpoises!

Every evening we dropped anchor in a different harbor, and Jane led the wine tasting. Each night she introduced us to different selection of wines, starting with some that were light and sparkling, followed by some tasty whites (my favorite), and finishing with to some delicious, mouth-filling reds. One night she ended with a port and a madeira to round things out.

Noah and Jane compare notes during the wine tasting

After the wine tasting Hannah served up dinner on deck. On the night Jane served wines from Italy we had osso buco; another night we had a classic Maine lobster bake.

Thee food on the Taber is first rate. Cook Hannah, assisted by Cara and Sarah, all worked tirelessly in the galley preparing one tasty meal after another. Amazingly enough, all cooking is done on an old fashioned wood stove.

The weather was exceptionally fine, adding to the perfect sail. First Mate Phil let me help out with the jibs when the ship came about, and showed us how to do a “long splice,” where he seamlessly joined two shorter lines into longer one. Deck hands Super Dave and the sprite-like Sarah had brass-polishing competitions in between hoisting sails and anchors and keeping things running smoothly. The amazing Cara (a dear friend of Julie’s) helped Hannah in the galley, where they churned out one delicious meal after another. These kids did an amazing job, and it was inspiring to watch them and learn from them.

Our fellow passengers were delightful, a fun-loving bunch that enjoyed wine, fine food, and sailing just as much as we did. We bonded over stories and laughter, food and wine, and the incredible shared experience of sailing on the beautiful ship that is the Taber.

Each evening, after the wine tasting and dinner, the captain and crew brought out their instruments and entertained us with a wide variety of music, from the captain’s blues and Phil’s touching rendition of the Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers” to Cara and Sarah’s “Amazing Grace” duet, and Cara’s playing Swedish and Norwegian folk songs on her fiddle. The perfect ending to each perfect day.

The hospitality of the captain and crew really made us feel welcome and pampered, and their skill and professionalism made us feel safe and at home.

The Maine Trip

Last Saturday Calvin and I took the dogs on a long trek to Maine. Driving with the dogs went pretty smoothly this time around, they pretty much slept most of the way. We waded around in a cool stream by the side of the road in Crawford Notch, NH, but otherwise didn’t make many stops. We arrived at Tom and Pam’s by mid-afternoon, swam a lot, had a great dinner, laughed a lot, and tried a few local brews. On Sunday they took us out on their party boat for a day-long tour the lake, and we checked out lots of shoreline and a few coves, and got to see some incredible houses and beautiful scenery. Tom took us to the big rock he used to jump off of as a kid, and we got to climb it ourselves, taking a running jump into the water down below. Great stuff! And afterwards, another great cookout and more Maine beers…

We all headed out early Monday morning; Tom and Pam going back to Vermont and us heading further up the coast to visit Julie and Dan. At first the car acted funky, sputtering and running on too-few cylinders, but by the time we reached the main road it was OK except for the Check Engine light being on. The drive to Rockland took a couple hours, and our first stop was to visit Julie at work. We were happy to see her, and got to try some of her wonderful baking: peanut butter pie, a chocolate brownie, and a cookie. Yum! We left to meet up with Dan at their house, and for supper we had tasty cookout and got to meet Dan’s mom, and his brother Brian, and Max (she of the amazing yellow and orange hair). Frisbee and good food ensued, and I even got to try more Maine beer. I really enjoyed myself, and I could get used to this!

Tuesday I had a local shop look at the car, and since the day was so hot we all went to a dam for a swim, and we hung out there for a good long time and the dogs swam and chased sticks. From there we checked out a few cool stores in Belfast, then continued on to Rockland where the dogs got to swim in the ocean, and we devoured Mexican food. On Wednesday we got the car back (running much better after they replaced the coil and spark plug wires), and headed back to Vermont after lunch. Ten minutes after we left I realized I’d forgotten the PSP, so of course we had to go back and get it. And six hours later we got back home.

It was a great trip, so good to see Tom and Pam in their Maine house that we’d heard so much about (it’s as nice as they say!) and to hang out with them on the lake. And it was great seeing Julie and Dan after so long, and seeing their house and being with them. The dogs were really well-behaved, altho we were as tired of leashing them as they were of being leashed. Calvin helped a lot with the dogs and keeping things running smoothly, and I’m pretty sure he had a good time on the trip as well (a challenge on road trips with your parents when you’re 13).

It was a fun trip and I’m glad we did it, and I’m happy to be back home. The dogs are so much easier to take care of here, and they’re happy to run free and be in a place where they don’t need leashes. With all the swimming they’ve done they’re cleaner than they’ve been in a long time, but now that we’re back by the pond that’s only gonna last so long…