We are excited to announce that the Schooner J & E Riggin will resume sailing in 2021!
Now, with Maine’s updated COVID-19 requirements and the widespread availability of rapid testing, we are able to update our cleaning and mask wearing procedures, and welcome all of you back aboard for another summer full of fun and adventure.
Musings of a Captain in Times of Transition “Its going to be a challenge to become the person I so admired as a kid for the next kid who comes aboard.”
Justin sometimes just says things like this out of the blue after long quiet pauses. I am always surprised by comments like this from him. He is a truly gifted sailor and thousands of miles of ocean have slipped gracefully beneath the hulls of boats he has sailed. Guests of every boat he has ever worked on have always loved him because he is a genuinely warm person who loves what he does for a living and radiates that joy out to those around him. This role for him as the next steward of this amazing schooner he has loved for so many years just makes sense, but for Justin, this is so much more than just a natural next step in his maritime career; it is an ascension into a role he dreamed of as a child, but somehow couldn’t fathom he would have the opportunity to achieve.
Justin has been sailing since he was old enough to stand and that is no exaggeration. A Long Island native, he grew up sailing on the Great South Bay with his father, Chris, nearly every day there was wind. Justin always wanted to sail as a profession, but that dream wasn’t fully realized until his parents took him on a Kids & Family Cruise on the Schooner J. & E. Riggin when he was 12 years old. “The crew and Capt. Jon and Annie were like rockstars. I followed them everywhere asking if I could try whatever they were doing, asking to coil things, raise flags, and help. I had sailed before many times, but this was different, everything was so big and so old it was magical to me. Captivating.” He said “On the drive home headed out route 17 we got about as far as Chickawaukie Pond [about 5 minutes from the dock] before I was bawling in the backseat.” For Justin, the experience was life-altering and he was determined to return as one of the crew members he so admired. He would go on to sail as a guest, and apprentice for countless trips throughout the next 6 summers, a deckhand for 1 season, and finally, as the mate in 2015.
It was during this season as the mate that Justin made one of his fondest memories of his time on the Riggin. It was Jon’s birthday in August and Justin made plans to surprise Jon by dressing up as him; after all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. He went to the local drugstore and bought some sunglasses which looked like Jon’s. He made plans with Annie for her to smuggle him one of Jon’s shirts. The morning of, Justin patted flour into his beard to give him the effect of greying facial hair while Chloe coiled the main sheet into a cursive Happy Birthday. “I popped down into the galley to see if there was anything I could do to help out and even Annie was confused momentarily despite having given me the shirt. It was really funny!” When Jon came on deck, he did a double take, “I think I made a pretty convincing stunt double.” They took a lot of pictures. Justin told me that he continued to dress as Jon for the rest of the day, but he did rinse the flour out of his beard because as he remembers it was pretty foggy and he didn’t want to “end up with a beard full of pizza dough.” Even now as he talks about it, he can’t help but laugh.
Justin is going to be a great steward of the Schooner J. & E. Riggin. He is right; it will be a challenge. There are big sea boots to fill, but he is passionate about seeing this schooner continue to captivate the next generation of guests the way he was captivated, all while preserving the relationships he has formed with the Riggin Relics who have been sailing her as long as he has. With his hand at the wheel, I am confident that 2021 will mark the first of many happy years aboard the Riggin for our family.
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.