Posts Tagged ‘Friendship sloop gathering’

Late Summer sail

February 15, 2019

It is a snowy February afternoon and I thought I would post this video of one of our last sails of 2018 taken by the woman who will willingly get up in the middle of the night and stand an anchor watch.

When she is trimmed properly, the boat pretty much sails herself, as is perhaps obvious since I am clearly more interested in the gaffer I have spotted in the distance than where we are going.

You can see the moment when we are hit by the wake of a powerboat by the shaking of the video. The filming was done with a basic iPad, and I have since bought the woman who will willingly get up in the middle of the night and stand an anchor watch a waterproof GoPro.

Where have I been?

July 24, 2014

My loyal readers (both of you) may have been wondering what happened to this blog, since I have not posted much in the last year. The truth is I have been writing a lot, but just not on this site.

A lot of my time during the last two years (perhaps too much of my time) has been devoted to bringing out a new book.

Lasting Friendships, a Century of Friendship Sloops has been in the pipeline since November of 2012. It has been produced and Published by the Friendship Sloop Society, and I have been spearheading the project.

Part of the reason that I agreed to head the group that was putting this book together (aside from a love of Friendship sloops and their history) was an opportunity to work with Ralph W. Stanley.

Ralph has been recognized as a master boatbuilder and is an NEA National Heritage Fellow, but he is also an excellent writer and historian. Without his help the book project would have been much less interesting the finished book much less impressive.

The book also allowed me to meet and briefly work with Maynard Bray, who wrote the introduction for the book. Maynard has a long history with WoodenBoat Magazine and with Mystic Seaport. He is also one of the key figures between Off Center Harbor, a video website and collection of blog posts from some of the more influential sailors, writers, and boatbuilders from this part of the world.

When I took on this project, I did not realize how confused some of our own records at the Friendship Sloop Society were, nor did I fully appreciate how entwined the history of these sloops is with the local history of small towns up and down the Maine coast. We had terrific and generous help from Ben Fuller and Kevin Johnson at the Penobscot Marine Museum. Frankly, without their help I am not sure we would have ever untangled the origins of certain photographs. But we also had help from librarians, town historians, and many members of the Friendship Sloop Society. Without their help this book would not have been possible.

I am very relieved to have this project off my desk and am looking forward to getting some of my life back, and I might even have some time to devote to this blog too.

The book is available in soft cover from Amazon, and in hardcover exclusively from the Friendship Sloop Society.



Summer Cruise in Maine

August 4, 2011

We just returned from a cruise on the Maine coast. The woman who will willingly get up in the middle of the night and stand an anchor watch, and I set out for a nine-day trip. Our excursions took us first from Boothbay Harbor to Rockland It took just under seven hours to make Rockland and we entered the harbor as the second day of Friendship sloop races was finishing up, a very pretty sight, and it was fun to come in with the tail end of the fleet and tie up. Our Friendship sloop, the Black Star was berthed just forward of Banshee, this years overall winner of the races, and Salatia and just inboard of Gaivota, the Vice-Commodore’s sloop; very good company. What followed was a delightful several hours of socializing with many, many old friends and a few new ones too.  Seventeen Friendships this year gathered on the docks at Rockland, we missed a few friends who had already come and gone, but there is always next year.

Friendships in Rockland

The next day was the last of the Friendship sloop gathering. We woke late and spent most of the day visiting and trying to recover from the trip up. Dinner that night was the annual Friendship Sloop Awards dinner, which was very funny and full of good cheer. A wonderful sing along which defies description was lead by the crew of Eden.

The next morning we took on last minute provisions and cast off, following out Banshee, Gaivota and Hegira, who were bound for Cape Cod, and Phoenix who was headed east. Halfway across West Penobscot Bay, we were still not sure what our destination should be. We had all lowers and uppers set in light air and finally decided that the winds were directing us through the Fox Island Thorofare, so that is where we went. The thorofare is narrow and winding, and typically has a lot of boat traffic. It was a challenging sail, and one we were probably over-canvassed for, but we headed in anyway. By the time we were off North Haven proper I had struck the jib-topsail, and fifteen minutes later I was striking the main topsail too.  By the time we cleared the Eastern entrance to the thorofare we were moving more comfortably but it was getting on towards late afternoon, so we made for Seal Bay between Burnt and Hay Islands.

An exquisite night, quiet, and cool, fantastic sleeping weather and classic summer-in-Maine scenery, we did spend some time remembering the last time we were here with our lovely ships-wolf, Saxon, now gone, which added just a touch of sadness to an otherwise perfect evening.

The next morning we set out for Isle Au Haut under all sail. We had a delightful if languid sail across to the island, a special place for me since I first visited the island in 1974. I have been back many times since and we looked to make sure that the flag was not flying at the house of friends (no flag means no visitors) before heading by. I can remember my first stay at that house as a child after a long cruise on an Alden Caravel, and sitting on the porch overlooking the Isle Au Haut thorofare, a porch where the then owner had become somewhat legendary among cruising circles for hailing friends in passing boats and inviting them ashore for “hot water and cold Gin”.

We ducked behind Merchant and Harbor Islands in Merchants Row and ran into a 180 degree wind shift, which we decided was going to mean work, so instead we turned back north and west to McGlathery Island where we anchored and went ashore. While on McGlatherly we saw two friendships headed east through the Stonington thorofare, we decided they had to be Salatia and Eden heading home to MDI. McGlatherly is a lovely spot and we enjoyed stretching our legs, but we were still seeing a building south-easterly wind, which made me uncomfortable, so we motored around the corner to Camp Island for the night. We were in very good company since the schooner Nathanial Bowditch was already anchored there and the Lewis R. French came in as we did and anchored as well. We felt much more sheltered and ended up spending another quiet and restful night.

the Bowditch

Lewis R. French

In the morning there was overcast and winds still out of the south-east so we worked our way to windward into Jericho Bay and the entrance to the Eggemoggin Reach and spent most of the day running downwind along the reach under the mainsail with one reef and the jib-topsail. We were straining to see if the Concordia 41 owned by a friend was in Center Harbor as we passed, but were never sure if she was there or not. We saw another Friendship off Center Harbor, but she was too far away to identify.

Passing under the Deer Island Bridge is always exciting and as we passed through the western entrance to the Reach, the J&E Riggin was entering on an opposite tack. This was particularly exciting because the woman who will willingly get up in the middle of the night and stand an anchor watch worked on the schooner Riggin for four years in the 1980s.

We spent the night in Smith Cove off of Castine. We wanted a quiet night so we went quite far into Smith Cove where there was the most shelter, passing two schooners at the dock in Castine, the Bowdoin and the Grace O’Malley, and yet a third, Timberwind, also at anchor in Smith Cove. The training ship State of Maine was also at the docks of Maine Maritime Academy, quite hard to miss.

Another quiet night and in the morning a rough headwind up around Turtle Head at the northern end of Islesboro and then one long starboard tack almost twenty miles long to Owls Head where we picked up a mooring. Wonderful sailing. Owls Head can be an exposed anchorage, but the forecast was for westerly’s, which would give us good shelter. We rowed ashore to pay for the mooring and bought lobster and made preparations for classic Maine dinner. When we returned to the boat we were joined by yet another schooner, the Stephen Taber. We sat down to a delightful meal on a beautiful summer evening in Maine.

Stephen Taber

It does not get much better than this.

It took us several more days to work our way back to Boothbay, we even did a side trip and motored though Friendship harbor where we saw the Friendship Gladiator on her mooring.  Further along after anchoring in Oars Island Cove we saw the Friendship Sarah Mead out for a sail in brisk winds.

Oars Island Cove. There was a time when I used to sometimes run the Snowgoose I.

We still had to negotiate fog and headwinds before returning to Boothbay, but it would not be cruising in Maine without headwinds and the “F” word.

On the way into Boothbay to pick up our mooring we saw two classic motor yachts headed out,

and two more Friendships the Mary Ann, which we had seen in Rockland was on a mooring in front of the yacht club, and Bay Lady, out for a sail with clients. It was a terrific end to a terrific cruise.

Among Friendships

July 21, 2011

We will be heading out for Rockland shortly to participate in the annual Friendship Sloop Gathering. If you are going to be anywhere near Rockland I would encourage you to come down to the town docks and check out the boats, and chat with the skippers and crews. Beautiful boats, friendly people, if you are lucky you might see some dramatic racing or just some beautiful boats under sail, and it is free…what more could you want?

Friendship Sloop Days July 21-23

Rockland town docks,

Rockland Maine

The 2010 Friendship sloop races

Town docks in Rockland
Photos by Calef Heininger

50th Gathering of Friendships

July 30, 2010

Last Thursday Friday and Saturday was the 50th gathering of the Friendship Sloop Society. The woman who will voluntarily get up in the middle of a stormy night and stand an anchor watch, Saxon, the ship’s wolf and I managed to get our boat first to Pulpit Harbor on North Haven Island for an informal rendezvous Tuesday night, and then to the docks in Rockland on Wednesday, fantastic to see so many members and so many boats, some I had never seen before.

Echo and company

Black Star, Gaivota, Hegira, and Banshee.



On any given day there were between 28 and 30 boats tied up at the Rockland docks. We saw so many old friends and made many new friends as well, it was worth getting together for that alone. There was racing on all three days, despite winds that were uneven and gusty. We participated in the first race, and even though we were trying to take up the rear where it was safer, we found the experience a bit overwhelming. So on the second day we went with three other boats on a short day cruise that was fantastic. Beautiful weather, great sailing, a beach to swim off of, and the comradeship of fellow friendship sloop sailors, the day was a delight. The third day we did go out for the parade of sail, but were frankly so worn out that we returned to the dock and got the boat squared away and socialized with other members of the Friendship Sloop Society and many of the interested visitors to the town docks in Rockland.

Gaivota and Gail O


Parade of sail

The awards dinner was terrific fun on Saturday night, and the fog lifted on Sunday long enough to see us on our way. So many beautiful boats, such welcoming people in such a relaxed atmosphere, we are already talking about next year.

Gathering of Friendship Sloops

July 8, 2010

If you are going to be even near Rockland, Maine anytime between the 21st and the 24th of July, you are going to want to come down to the town dock and see the gathering of Friendship sloops. The goal is to have 50 Friendship sloops on display to commemorate the Friendship Sloop Society turning fifty. I certainly don’t know if we can get 50 sloops to attend, but I have seen 22, and I can tell you it is a sight to gladden the heart.

Friendship Sloops at the Rockland Town Dock

There will be three afternoon races (weather dependant) in Rockland harbor on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. In addition there will be a “parade of sloops” past the breakwater on Saturday morning at 11:30, a great opportunity to see these vessels up close under sail. On Thursday and Friday afternoon the public is invited to come down onto the town docks in Rockland and see the sloops close up, to chat with the crews, masters, and owners after the racing. If you have ever wanted to get a look at these traditional Maine boats, you won’t get a much better opportunity.