Details in the galley. Details on deck. Details in the cabins. Some years we’ve got big projects which cause the little projects to be relegated to the bottom of the usually long list. We’ve had a couple of those winters in a row, so things like peapod repair, settee cushions, and new navigation stations have taken a back seat to the big stuff that most people don’t see, but is part of being good stewards of a National Historic Landmark. These would be things like planking and framing, iron work, rig replacement, new sails, etc. When these big projects are part of our budget in a year, they matter. It just means that the other (usually more visible things) need to take their turn and wait a little longer. This is the year of details.
Among the many details being tended to over the course of this winter are the cabins. The little details in the cabins which make your home for a week (or 4-days) nicer, a little more special. This year all of the cabins are getting a going over – new paint, new varnish… new sink skirts.
In cabins 1 to 4, these beautiful skirts hide the plumbing to the sinks and add to the charm of the cabins. This beautiful craftsmanship was done by Tyler King with an assist by Chloe Finger.
While the barn is abuzz with activity and woodworking, there are other folks who are also engaged and actively planning for another fantastic summer on the water with the Riggin. E (Elizabeth) is taking reservations at a rapid pace. And Annie is, among other things, sewing. Curtains, settee cushions, deck cushions, engine box covers, and so on. The list of projects is getting longer by the day!
What began as a “simple” slipcover for the house turned into the list above, which keeps getting additions by the second as Annie gets more comfortable with the work. Annie is lucky enough to have a friend with several industrial sewing machines and she’s always offered to teach Annie how to use them. This is that winter. When Annie isn’t on a horse, or cooking in the kitchen, she can these days be found behind the needle of a sewing machine.
And a powerful one at that. These machines are not your grandmother’s Singer, although they are just as dependable. They are finger-eating, strong-engined machines for which Annie has found some serious respect. They can sew through canvas, sail material, or 4 layers of upholstery material without straining. Magic and terror all wrapped up in one tidy package.
Cast on and sail away? Get hooked at sea? Sail and stitch?
We’ve got four of them. Each one is different. Each one is pure fun. They are our knitting cruises and our slow sewing trip. While we didn’t set out to create a niche in the crafting cruise department, they are among our most popular trips and for good reason. PLUS, if you are a non-knitter, no worries, you are just guaranteed to be around a hilarious, joyous group of fantastic people who happen to be doing things with sticks and yarn and fabric and thread. Men and spouses are totally welcome (Capt. Jon says, please!).
It’s hard to believe that this is our 15th consecutive year of Maine Knitting Cruises. All our instructors are as happy as we are to have them return for another year on the Riggin.
This year, with Mim Bird, you will learn where silk originates, how it’s made into a knittable product, and knit with a hand-dyed silk mawata. With Bill Huntington, you’ll learn the history and uses of gansey and then put into practice that same style in smaller projects like hats, mittens, and of course sweaters too. Margaret Radcliffe will have you playing with different types of fiber, learning how they behave, and how to make the best of them in your knitting. Find your Maine Knitting Cruise here.
If you are looking for more of a packaged trip, give Mary Penxa with Sawmill Creek Fiber Events a call as she has two knitting trips with the fabulous Casapinka leading her trips. Begin your Sawmill Creek Fiber adventure here.
Rhea Butler will guide you on the English Paper Piecing, fussy cutting and, Lucy Boston methods. Learn this popular quilting technique and see how addicting it is! This style of sewing is perfect for the novice, the experienced, and those in between. Start your Maine Slow Sewing/Quilting trip here.
Back for a second year is 207 Creatives with a rug hooking trip. Did you know that rug hooking as it’s known today was developed along our own Eastern Seaboard? Join this rug hooking/fiber art class by accomplished fiber artist, author, and hooker, Susan L. Feller of Artwools. You’ll be using modern linen foundation (instead of burlap) and a variety of materials, including 100% wool. Are you ready to “Get Hooked at Sea”? Book your Maine Rug Hooking cruise here.
The barn is abuzz with winter projects. While Louis and Chives prep and sand and scrape and fill, Capt. is busy repairing the peapod. A couple of summers ago she received some structural damage to her mid-section and while she has held up fairly well under the strain, it was time to address her needs.
We carry this sweet little row boat on our davits and lower her all summer long for those who want to do a little harbor exploring or catch a bit of exercise to work off Annie’s meals, so she’s pretty important to our summer operations. In addition, she’s a Jimmy Steele design, one of the many built by the famous boat builder. We are lucky to have such a special little vessel and we are happy to be taking good care of her.
Here’s a little photo journal of the work and care she’s receiving.
While the weather outside fluctuates between spring and the arctic, inside the barn, all is toasty and warm… and busy! Louis and Chives, long-timeRiggin crew, are both ‘on deck’ so to speak and in the barn full-time. Right now, much of their work is about making dust as they sand and scrape all of the surfaces in preparation for their shiny coats.
Photos by Captain Jon Finger and Elizabeth Poisson
Its true that we love every trip on the Riggin, but there’s just something extra magical about Race Week. The majesty of our Maine windjammer fleet sailing in company with all the canvas and flags flying and looking spectacular is unrivaled. Coming together to share a day of friendly racing can only be seen in our very own Penobscot Bay from some sort of boat. Best, of course, experienced from the Riggin, this 6-day trip culminates in race day, when the games truly begin.
But before that there are shenanigans.
And Forth of July.
And our traditional lobster bake on an uninhabited island.
And time for simply relaxing in the sun while the crew hones their craft of sail so that we can be in the running for the win!
The fleet gathers, usually in beautiful and spacious Gilkey’s Harbor, off Islesboro. The first order of business after our usual feast of appetizers, dinner, and dessert is the crew small boat races. Only open to crew and guests of the vessels (no captains allowed) the flotilla of small boats are either sailed, rowed, or paddled around the anchored fleet with prizes for the most creative costumes and the fastest time around the course. Our gang routinely gets into the spirit of things and as you can see below, dresses for the occasion. As the races come to an end, we are always treated to the most amazing sunset from this vantage point.
As race day dawns and the sun begins to kiss the cabin houses of our historic vessels, the captains rise and gather for coffee and some shop talk. There they decide what the race course is for the day based on the weather conditions. One by one, the vessels raise anchor and head to the starting line which is an invisible line from a buoy to a point of land. The boats are split into classes based on their size and speed and one by one, the slowest to the fastest classes are given their 5 minute warning cannon and then their start cannon and the races begin!
How everyone does is based on the wind and tide, their specific vessels, and how the captains accommodate for both. Winning take both luck and skill and we’ve had our share of both over the years. For the Riggin, who doesn’t have topsails, the best weather conditions are 18 to 20 knots where the advantage of that extra sail area begins to become a disadvantage. Last year we were proud to come in second in both our class and the fleet over all. Quite an accomplishment and with the most exciting finish we can remember in years.
At the end of the day, the whole fleet gathers on shore for music, awards, and a little bite of something sweet. When we all head back to our respective schooners, it’s with joy and satisfaction for a day well done.
It was one of the best seasons in our 21 years of owning the Riggin, filled with moments that we want to absorb deeply so that as winter settles in, we can unpack and relive them one by one.
Many of our evenings are spent under the darkening sky scattered with millions of twinkling stars and singing harmony with the girls to Jon’s guitar. One night, after music, someone pointed to this strange color in the night sky. It took us but a second to realize that it was aurora borealis, a phenomenon of electrons and light, which magically lit up the night sky.
So many beautiful lobster bakes were shared while sitting on the beach looking out at pine-studded islands, digging feet into the sand, splashing toes in the chilly briny Maine water and feasting on the freshest Maine lobster ever.
Whales! For the first time in over a decade, we saw whales in Penobscot Bay. For some time, we’ve yearned for sightings like we used to have and were blessed this summer. It gives us hope that the bay is changing for the good….
Every Race Week is special, but this year’s was one for the books. Even as we started the race, we were at the head of the pack. After a full day of tacking and strategizing, we were in the last leg and just under the hills of Rockport off Indian Head Light. The wind had died at this point to a whiff, and we were all yearning for the forecast 15 knots. With only two vessels in front of us, we saw wind begin to skim the surface of the water. Seconds later, they began to heal and then heal hard. And the wind was upon us. The Riggin gently healed over and when the physics of the sails began to dominate, she started to move forward and pick up speed. The wind drove her with such purpose as we went from a relaxed, everyday sail to a thrilling chase that had us pulling ahead of one of the two vessels. The Riggin finished 2nd in her class and overall! What a moment!
As always, it is a blessing to spend our summers with you all. We hope that this letter finds you all in the peak of health, in the throes of happy, and surrounded by the love of your family (chosen or given).
Because we buy locally and seasonally, every week’s menu is as different as the produce and ingredients that come to us. However, we thought it might be fun to give you an idea of what a typical menu might look like in any given day. Needless to say, there is lots of food to choose from. It’s always plentiful, and it’s always delicious.
Breakfast – Savory Dutch baby with leeks, local mushrooms, and Fontina, homemade scones with creme and house-made chai strawberry jam, home fries with smoked paprika, and butchers cut bacon. Granola, yogurt, fruit platter.
Lunch – House-made ramen with local sesame chili pork belly; Annie’s home-raised eggs, Napa cabbage ginger and sesame slaw; cilantro, carrot, and lime salad; blueberry lemon and lime pound cake
Appetizer – local raw oysters with lime and horseradish mignonette, house made stirato with house made butter, sea salt almonds fried in duck fat
Dinner – Roasted Cornish game hens with smoked shrimp and brandy stuffing, leek and carrot gratin; seared clementine and fennel couscous; arugula salad with cranberries, pears, and shaved Parmesan; olive oil, fig and sea salt challah; triple ginger and mango crème brûlée