Monday, September 28, 2015

Lobstering With The Grandson,,Catchin' Bugs

It was a beautiful afternoon to get out on the bay with my grandson Dustin and my nephew Bryan, along with his wife Rebecca and daughter Hailey.  It was Dustin's first experience with the intricate art of catching lobsters. . Bryan, who learned the art of catching those spiny, delicacies from his grandfather, DJ,  met us with, in fact, his grand dads old boat, at the Belfast Public Landing. 

Well actually it is a new "old" boat as  Bryan has immensely improved it from the old DJ days. Anyways,  soon we were off The Battery to the first buoy, floating upright as if at attention. Much easier to "latch" onto nowadays as compared to old floating warp,  gaff days..

Quickly Bryan had the pot warp engaged in the knee activated hauler and even more quickly the trap was revealed from the shallow waters and was on the working shelf to the immense interest of Dustin and Hailey.
And just like that we had our first lobster.... except..
it was a notched female laden with eggs. And after the quick inspection by our curious crew, she was over the side, the lobster, not Hailey.

Now we were on to the next set of traps, with the process repeating itself.. and with Hailey and Dustin anticipating the haul..

This time a different eggs..but to my experienced eye, honed to a sharpness from those long ago days of lobstering with my old man,  this particular bug looked a bit undersized to me. However with an expert check on the guage, and after a mild rebuke directed toward me from Bryan..

 the next thing I saw was the claw bands slipping over the crusher and pincer. Another upgrade from the days of the sharpened wooden, flat sided pegs that we used to insert behind the moving portion of the claws in order to immobilize them. 
(And by the way..check out the lovely bucket of bait that was supplied to Bryan by a professional fisherman, Brad. Anyways, I digress..)

And quick as Jack flew over the candlestick, our lobster landed in the bottom of the bucket..our first keeper..or should I say keepa'?

Of course Dustin, now having deemed himself a bonafide deckhand,  had to make sure all was in order and that the creature had settled in.

(Oh and Hailey? She said her Dad looked like a princess in his white fishing bibs.)

Dustin was curious about the trap and buoy set up and found a way to help by tossing the buoy back into the water after the trap was reset.  However he wasn't all that enthusiastic about the bait bucket, sorry Brad.  Who knows, maybe there is a future stern man in the making?

After hauling about a third of Bryan's traps we were as close to the marina as we were going to get, so we decided to head back so poor Bryan could get the rest of this traps tended before dark. 

On the way back we came across a pair of harbor seals basking in the late summer sun.

It was a fabulous couple of hours on the bay with my nephew Bryan and grandson Dustin and niece Becca and grand niece Hailey. 

And to top it all off? 

To be back in my Dad's old boat,  very fond memories of the old days washing over me.. with DJ and Uncle Oscar..haulin' traps..catchin' bugs...

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Boating The Bagaduce River, Check..

We finally checked off another check off square from our Check Off List.  Castine has been one of our go to spots and when we visit we almost always tell one another that someday we really have-to explore The Bagaduce River.

So leaving Castine harbor in our wake..


and with our bow pointing up river..


we began our inland voyage...


 Of course as with any exploration of new waters one must be aware at all times of positioning and potential hazards. And so with the chart in the hands of a very competent navigator and our vigilant lookout stationed on the bow to alert us of impending danger


  we enjoyed smooth sailing on the broad waters with "The Narrows" looming ahead of us. 


 However our tranquil voyage would soon be interrupted with the eddys and and strong currents that quickly appeared. Strong enough to nearly submerge a green can. 


 But  just as quickly as they appeared, they disappeared, returning us to flat water, with our destination coming into view


 and looming ever larger, the Town of Penobscot,  nestled on the shoreline of Northern Bay.


 Even though we were some distance from the shore the river bottom was quickly closing the gap between us and it. And with the tide now receding we came about and worked our way down river, soon finding ourselves back in familiar waters of Castine harbor.


 A "pitstop" on Holbrook Island with it's convenient dockage was now in order...


 And so another check off from our Check Off List and another great day on the bay.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Lubec .. Campobello .. Beals Island ..A Bit of Maine and More...

And back to our Downeast Maine trip....
In my post of August 8th I delved into the charms of Eastport. Well I'm happy to say that there are lots of other "charming" spots on the Downeast coast of Maine. Charming may not be the term to describe those areas if you're a resident and trying to scratch out a living but to most of us who are traveling thru the word accurately describes Lubec  and Beals Island.   I don't know if Campobello Island fits into the same "trying to scratch out a living" category as the other two but it definitely fits into the charming category.
I've lived in Maine my entire life but up until 3 weeks ago have never visited these areas even though Campobello has always been on my bucket list.  And since I married into the Bailey family with their roots firmly entrenched into the hardscrabble Calais soil, I have been joyfully exploring Downeast Maine with my wife and her two brothers expertly guiding me through this "other Maine".
On our way back home to Belfast, we turned off Rt. 1 and soon found ourselves dodging all the traffic in downtown Lubec.
It's charm is evident in it's architecture and waterfront buildings
which harken back to better days of fishing and boat building. However even now it has it's draws,  such as West Quoddy Head and being  the gateway to Campobello. There are of course fishermen in the town who I'm guessing bring to market a good amount of lobster.
Living in Belfast, I've always been amazed at the power and influences of the tides particularly the difference between high and low in our area of the mid-coast. But our tides don't stack up at all to those in the Eastport - Lubec areas.  I'm not sure if the photo above was taken at the low water mark or not but it will surely give you an indication of what their tides are like. They would definitely take some getting used to.

After our tour of Lubec we crossed the International Bridge onto Campobello Island and my first visit to the Roosevelt International Park. Simply awe inspiring..
So much history of a fascinating family and era..
Cottage and grounds..
Beach and wharf..
View of Lubec from the island...
Moving on we next took a quick tour of Beals Island
a lobster fishing enclave if I ever saw one..
And one thing , among many, that struck me was that there were so few recreational boats. Spending most of my time in salt water of Belfast , Searsport and Camden I am used to seeing harbors jammed up with all sorts of boats dedicated to fun and tourists.  Perhaps I wasn't looking in the right spots but Eastport , Lubec and Jonesport Beals salt water dedication seems to me to be  directed toward making a living and not frivolity.  It was nice to see that part of Maine's heritage still exists.
Maine Matters will definitely return to the Washington County's portion of The Bold Coast to explore and report..until then..

Friday, August 14, 2015

It's a Harbor Happening..

In order to kick off this years Belfast Harbor Fest, the town received some visitors, who it seems to me,  puts us on the yachting world map.

The tide was low but spirits high as we strolled past the boat ramp..

With pennants flying against a beautiful blue sky,

The New York Yacht Club had arrived..

A good contingency had tied up or moored in Belfast Bay, consequently making the Public Landing a very busy spot to be..

A happening...

Motor yachts, sailboats, dories and dinghies, all contributed to the hustle and bustle of a very busy waterfront...

What a change from the "Smaltz Port" notoriety that was Belfast's reputation years ago when the bay was used for convenient disposal of raw sewerage and chicken offal.

But those days are long gone and now Belfast has become A Destination for cruise ships, boats and yachts of all shapes and sizes..

And it is so very nice to see..

Monday, August 10, 2015

Lovin' Eastport..

Last weekend my family and I traveled Downeast to Eastport for a memorial of a family friend. 

Eastport has been down trodden for a lot of years and I remember it to be a town of plywood covered windows, with the atmosphere of a dying community.  But I am extremely happy to report that on our visit those images and feelings no longer seem to apply. We happened to be there during the dedication and festivities of the bronze sculpture of a mermaid which adorns the lovely harbor walk.

The next day on an early Sunday morning I took a stroll around the still sleepy town, just after a beautiful downeast  sunrise.

The breakwater which partially collapsed last December is being rebuilt and to me symbolizes the "rebuilding" of the town itself.


As well as the fishing fleet there are of course a few anchor businesses in town that have seen it all.  Including The Waco Diner. Established in 1924 and a staple of downtown , and some say the oldest diner in Maine, 
Looking down (or up)...

 or up (or down)..I guess it depends if you are an uptown person or a downtown person..

or from the water,
you can see and sense the pride and love that it's citizens have for their community reflected by the storefronts and it's upbeat atmosphere. 
It truly is a gem of a Maine place to visit and we are sure to be back. You should too.
Good going Eastport!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Moving On..without Ray

THE day that all pet lovers dread arrived at our home in June.

The decision had to be made to let our loving, kindhearted, sweet boy Ray move on. And even though that day was some six weeks ago, I sit here still stunned and heart broken but eternally grateful for the 11 plus years that we were blessed with him in our lives.

Ray was a once in a lifetime dog, as my wife Pat often said, "A one in a million dog." I've never known a dog with such a kind heart and loving soul, and I've had many dogs in my life. Although I have loved them all,  there was something very exceptional about Ray, a combination of intelligence, a total willingness to please and most importantly to emanate love. 

He touched everyone he met.

There will be other dogs..Andre and Kiwi are with us now. Andre is a Guiding Eyes For The Blind program puppy and will be going on to "college" in 4 or 5 months and we will miss him.  Kiwi is our new, forever pup, a medical release from GEB and a very sweet girl and is integrating nicely into our family life.  We are so happy to have them here with us but there will never be another Ray.

This picture of him blissing out in the summer sun on Penobscot Bay, taken by Pat, so sums up Ray. 


"He spoke through tears of 15 years how his dog and him traveled about The dog up and died, he up and died And after 20 years he still grieves" -Mr Bojangles by Jerry Jeff Walker 

We are going to miss him so very much...

Monday, July 13, 2015

Stunned and Hearbroken..

maine-matters has been terribly quiet as of late..

My life has been struck with  tragedy...

Just 3 weeks ago we had to put down our wonderful, once in a lifetime companion Big Ray.

He was almost 12 years old and had stomach cancer.  I know "it" was the right thing to do for him but that is of little condolence for the heart break that we feel.

Even now as I write this short post, I weep for him..

As time moves on and I gather myself I will be writing an appropriate eulogy for our beautiful, loving yellow boy..

How can it be?