Sunday, December 29, 2013

BEST OF 2013: Tall Ships and Warm Breezes

HMS Bounty just days before it sailed south into history.

Tall Ships and Warm Breezes
On A Cold Winters Day
By Doug Mills
RCN America Network
Victory Chimes, "The mother ship"

In the midst of a long cold winters day
I will fly on the wings of my memories
To a place with warm breezes
Filling the sails in the warm summer sun
And I will sail on my dreams
Till I am refreshed and ready to face
The day ahead.

    I have tried several times to write this story, but I think I needed to get a little further down the road first.  As a child I grew up around the historic sailing fleet on the coast of Maine.  I would watch the three masted schooner Victory Chimes and dream of sailing away on her.
    As a child I planned on being an artist when I grew up.  Upon finishing high school it was nearly impossible to break into the art world.  It was not till I was 55 that I was able to realize that dream.  Little did I know that accomplishing one dream in my life would lead to the accomplishing of the other of my lifelong dreams to sail the on the Victory Chimes and many other of these historic ships.
    This past year of sailing was a bittersweet year.  It started early with such an early spring the boats started being hauled out early.  One by one the boats were brought to the North End Shipyard in Rockland and brought ashore for inspection, maintenance and a new coat of paint.  By Memorial Day many of the boats were starting their sailing season.
Pilot schooner Timberwind haul out.
    July is the busiest time for me starting with my annual photo workshop onboard the Victory Chimes.  This past sail was an amazing week.  The weather was perfect and the moon was full.  I will never forget the spectacular scenes that unfolded as the full moon rose over Burnt Coat Harbor in Swans Island, and the following evening as the fleet anchored in Wooden Boat Cove under the full Moon!  The end of the week the
Historic schooners before The Great Schooner race.

 whole fleet assembled in Rockland Harbor for The Great Schooner Race.  What an amazing site to see and be a part of this kind of history.  Many of the boats involved in the race were over 100 years old and two were 141 years old.  The race itself took about three and a half to four hours and the Victory Chimes was the overall winner this year!
Getting underway for The Great Schooner Race.
    The following weekend I sailed aboard the Angelique “The Angel of Penobscot Bay” ,out of Camden, for the Maine Windjammer Parade in Rockland.  Again the whole fleet was assembled along with others ,like the Harvey Gamage, for the parade of classic tall ships which the Maine Windjammer Association hosts each year in Rockland.  I remember it was so warm and the sky and ocean were the deepest blue you can imagine.
Timberwind coming across the bow of Angelique.

Harvey Gamage under full sail.
Following the Bowditch into port.
    It was just a few days later that I came to meet Captain Robin Walbridge and the HMS Bounty for the first time.  The day was warm and the lines were long to have a chance to board the HMS Bounty.  I had setup the interview with Captain Walbridge weeks in advance.  I am not sure what I was expecting but found Captain Robin to be very easy to talk with.  I was left with the impression that here was a man I would like to get to know much better.  I thought this would be my only chance to see this legend, but I was to find out that our paths would cross again.
Friendship Sloop Days in Rockland, Maine

    Next came the Friendship Sloop Days.  The Friendship Sloop seems to be a miniature version of the schooners I love so much.  It was again a perfect weekend for sailing, sun and warm breezes.  There are no more beautiful sailing grounds then Penobscot Bay.  During the summer other of the tall ships would slip into Rockland,  Amistad and the Pride of Baltimore 2.
A Maine Coast Sunrise
The schooner Amistad at Rockland.

It was in September that HMS Bounty again became part of my experience.  I was able to shoot her as  she was hauled out for maintenance at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard.  This has only happened a few times that the Bounty was hauled out of the water and I was able to be on the railway to document the occasion.  Little did I know that this would be the last time that the Bounty would ever be hauled out.  A month later I was back for her relaunch.  What a site to see that great ship slip back into the Atlantic.  I remember the sense of sadness as I had to leave her that day thinking that it would be some time till I would see her again.  A few days later she sailed south into history.

HMS Bounty on the railway.

My last view of the HMS Bounty, taken only days before she sailed into history.

The year may have ended on a sad note, but life goes on.  It is up to us to hold and treasure all that is good and to bring those warm memories back to mind to help us through the cold and icy times in our lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment