Tuesday, December 31, 2013

BEST OF 2013: The Ultimate Tall Ship Photo Safari

Story and photos By
 Doug Mills
Maritime Editor
RCN America Network

Since I was a little boy I have dreamed of sailing on the Victory Chimes. I would watch her sail in and out of the harbor year after year and dream.
Never give up on your dreams! On July 4th 2011 the Victory Chimes sailed from Rockland, Maine to participate in the Great Schooner Race, the largest annual gathering of tall ships in North America. I  was on board, with my son,that week to host the ultimate tall ship photography cruise.
This this was our chance to see and photograph these tall ships put through their paces at the Great Schooner Race. We got to experience firsthand the romance of sailing these historic ships.

   This was not my first trip out on the “Big Boats”,but it would be my first full week sailing, my first time participating in The Great Schooner Race and my first time leading a photography workshop.
   We boarded the Victory chimes on Sunday after supper and spent the evening getting settled into our cabins and getting to know the rest of the passengers and crew.
Day 1
   We sailed after breakfast with a heavy fog on the bay.  Passing North Haven in the fog we turned up the bay toward Cape Rosier and Castine.  By noon the fog had been replaced by bright sun.  As we sailed into Castine harbor the afternoon sun became clouded by oncoming thunderheads.
   Through the late afternoon the fleet assembled in Smith’s Cove just east of Castine.  What a sight to see all this history anchored in one cove.  Many of these historic boats were over 100 years old!
   Lobster dinner and a spectacular sunset and it is time to turn in.

Day 2
   What an amazing sight, to come up on deck and find the water like glass with the last of the morning fog still clinging to the water and the morning sun bright overhead.
   Today is race day!  This morning all the captains meet on board the Victory Chimes to determine the final course for The Great Schooner Race of 2011.  After breakfast all the boats make sail and head out through Castine harbor toward the starting line.
   The race starts at 11;00 AM in spite of a lack of wind.  The wind did pick up by mid-afternoon with the Mary Day crossing the finish line first.
   The fleet anchored East of Stonington with fireworks and another great sunset to end the day.

Day 3
   After breakfast we sailed into Stonington Harbor in the morning fog.  What an amazing town.  Once a busy port shipping Maine granite all  over the world, now it is a busy fishing village.  The harbor is filled with colorful lobster boats and the shops were like stepping back in time to the 50’s.  Everywhere you turned there was another exciting picture!  By noon we were back on the boat and sailing east.
   Our destination for the night would be Wooden Boat Cove, a place that attracts sailors of wooden boats like honey attracts bears.  This little cove in Brooklin, Maine is the home of The Wooden Boat School and Wooden Boat Magazine.  This is a place that is very close to the heart of the sailing industry, a place almost sacred to those who sail these old wooden boats.
  Thunder showers at sunset set us up for some spectacular photographs to end the day.

Day 4
   Today we went ashore to visit a place were sailing and the wooden boat traditions are not only upheld but passed on from generation to generation through the Wooden Boat School and The Wooden Boat Magazine.
   After our trip ashore we headed up the Eggemoggin Reach toward the Deer Isle Bridge and a stop in South Brooksville, immortalized in the children's book by Robert McCluskey “One Morning In Maine”.
   A quick trip ashore and it is time to raise anchor and set sail for…what…OH!
Not good!
   The Victory Chimes uses an antique donkey engine to raise it’s 1000 lb anchor.  Just as the anchor is up and secure the engine fails!  We make sail and head for Rockland where we will meet with someone who can repair the antique engine in the morning.
   We arrived in Rockland harbor just before sunset and what a sunset it was!  The color spread across the whole sky from west to east, painting it in red and gold and yellow.

Day 5
   While we ate breakfast a specialist operates on the elderly donkey engine.  In the end the engine was fixed with a shim cut out of a tin can from the galley.
   By mid morning we were back under sail and headed for the Fox Island Thorofare.  After spending some shore time on north Haven we sailed on to Kent’s Cove and the Goose Rocks Lighthouse, Where my great grandfather served as keeper for more than 20 years!

Day 6
Headed back to Rockland in a rain shower, the only bad weather we have seen during the entire trip.  The rain was gone and replaced by bright sun by the time we reached our birth at Journey’s End Marine.

   There is no way to sum up this week or to convey all the emotions that we have experienced.  Not to be overly dramatic, but, it was a life changing experience.  I can’t wait to do it again next year.

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