Jon and I hope this finds you all well, learning new skills, practicing kindness in as many moments as you can, and sitting with acceptance of where we all find ourselves. We too are practicing the same, sometimes with grace and sometimes… not.
On April 28th, Governor Mills issued her four-phase plan for reopening the State of Maine. Here are a few links should you wish more detail here and here. The basic gist is that we are not allowed to operate until July 1st and even then with strong restrictions. At this point, although this is still subject to change, even after July 1st, those coming from out-of-state must quarantine for 14 days before they are able to move about the state freely. This effectively negates our season unless the restrictions lift ahead of schedule.
Jon and I had been holding out hope that the circumstances would be different, but that is not to be. As of this notice, we are rebooking all trips through July 18th to either later in the summer or the 2021 season. We are not ready to throw in the towel for the entire season and the governor has repeatedly said should things improve more rapidly, the restrictions will be lifted sooner.
We are so deeply saddened to not be able to celebrate our last season with at least some of you. Again, we are not ready to make a decision about the season after July 18th. Equally distressing is that, as you can imagine, not being able to operate for at least half a season is a huge hit financially to a business that is already a labor of love above profit.
If you are booked with us for the 2020 season, please reach out so that we might have a personal conversation or email with you about your trip. We only have two phone lines and can only have one conversation at a time. When we are talking with you, we want to be fully present with you. We will do our best to connect with you all as quickly as we can.
After anchoring near an undisturbed island in the early afternoon, the yawl boat (our launch and tugboat) ferries us ashore and we hop across granite rocks to the beach. Everyone wanders off in different directions – exploring inland for blueberries, combing the shore for beach glass, or taking a refreshing swim from the water’s edge. One of the highlights of the week for many of you on our windjammer is a traditional Maine lobster bake – a feature of all our trips. It’s an all-you-can-eat feast with all the fixin’s. Seven lobsters eaten by one person in one sitting is our record, although we wouldn’t recommend it (she seemed pretty uncomfortable afterward!).
The crew has already rowed ashore to the island with everything we need for our feast and we all work to put the meal together for you. A fire is lit, corn is shucked, and various goodies are put out to tide us over until the lobster is ready. Once the fire is really going, the lobster pot – a huge galvanized tub – is filled with 2 to 3 inches of salt water and set on the fire to boil. While we wait for the water to come to a boil, several armloads of seaweed are gathered (being careful to leave some seaweed at each spot so that more can grow back in its place). Once the water is boiling we layer the lobsters, corn, mussels, and clams in the pot, cover it with a “lid” of seaweed, wait for it to come to a boil, and rotate the pot (for even cooking on the fire). When the water comes to second boil we’ll pull some of the seaweed aside and check to see that the lobsters are red all over. When the lobsters are done, the tub is carried away from the fire, the seaweed is arranged on a flat rock, and everything is placed on the seaweed bed – ready to eat!
While we are on an island for our lobster bake, we operate under a Leave No Trace policy. Whatever we take onto the island, we take off. Often we leave with more than we came with, as picking up litter while exploring an island is our contribution to leaving an island better than we found it. Our fires are built below the high tide line in a fire pan to protect the beach rocks from any scarring or cracking; five minutes after we’ve left an island, you can’t tell we’ve been there.
We feast on lobster, mussels, clams, corn on the cob, potatoes and more, all while sitting on a granite-studded island and taking in the pristine and wide-lens vista of the Maine coast. It’s a moment of magic to be sure.
Once everyone has had their fill of lobster, the watermelon is sliced and the makings for S’mores are laid out. There’s always a lively discussion over how to make the best S’more and the proper way to roast a marshmallow. Eventually, the magic must transition back to the schooner and as the sun sinks lower in the sky, we make our way across the water to our home on the ocean leaving only our footprints in the sand as evidence that we were ever on the island at all.
While the main cabin house is getting it’s makeover, the navigation station is also getting a total renovation. Those of you who have sailed with us for a while will remember Mouse, a long-time crew member who has, over the years, become a skilled carpenter and shipwright. He’s back in school for naval architecture and on the weekends we get his good, smart self in our shop. This beautiful nav. station will grace our cabin house this summer! Capt. will get to look at all summer long as he stands back by the wheel. Here’s some photos of the progress. We’ll post when it’s all on board and installed too.
It started with a discussion about re-caulking the main cabin house. It journeyed past replacing some cabin planks and lots of layers of varnish. It ended with a completely new main cabin house. Just like replacing a stove in a house which turns into entire kitchen renovation. Exactly like that.
Every year we choose a different area of the Riggin upon which to focus. That’s just how owning a schooner built in 1927 goes. This year, the main cabin house got our attention and we had a number of crew members working on the project. Here are some process photos from start to almost finish. And an hilarious short clip of the guys having fun. We aren’t quite to the final coat of paint or the re-installation of the skylight or nav. station but we’ll post those when that happens shortly.
For those of you who don’t live in Maine or New England, this in print issue of Yankee Magazine might be hard to come by, but if you can get your hands on a copy, do it! Amy Traverso, accomplished writer, has given the Riggin wonderful kudos and Mark Flemming, photographer extraordinaire, adds a lovely balance to her words.
Recipes included in the article are Pecan Sticky Buns, Cornish Game Hens with Smoked Shrimp and Brandy Stuffing, Zucchini Gratin, and Lime Pie Jars. You can also find these recipes in At Home. At Sea – The Red Book, 2nd Edition.
No matter whether you call it a knitting retreat, a knitting cruise, or a knitting vacation, all of our knitting adventures are special. Taught by fabulous instructors who have been with us for years, these trips are a hoot from start to finish. Right from the beginning, everyone starts out sharing needles, stories, and patterns – even before we even set sail. Add the sailing and the delectable meals that emerge like clockwork out of Annie’s galley and you’ve got a recipe for success.
While this article is about kids and the benefits of being outside for our kids, we would suggest that adults need the outdoors, exercise, and adventure just as much, if not more. After all, a good life is about balance. If the bulk of our days are spent inside and on a computer, then the balance to that is to get outside and breathe unfiltered, fresh air in wide-open spaces surrounded by the the sounds, sights, and smells of nature. Unplugged from our phones and completely plugged in to our natural world. Might we suggest that the Riggin is the perfect place for this outside adventure?
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.
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