Mic check…

8 Jan

Test one. two.

This thing still on? Where’d the time go? Maine is but a memory as I sit here in Great Harbor, Peter Island, B.V.I looking back over the past…year and a half? Has it been that long? It’s the same story. Another boat, another job, another destination.

Maybe there will be more to come later but, for now, I’m going to enjoy what’s in front of me.

– CC


A Picture Post

19 Jul

 Pics to accompany yesterday’s post.

– CC

At the helm on Bowdoin


East River headed toward Hell Gate


The South Street Seaport


Statue of Liberty


Hauling the Mast.  Yours truly up there on the foremast.


Out she comes


Again, hauling the mainmast.


Dropping her down on deck


Douglas Fir all the way from Port Townsend


Laying it up in the vice


Another shot gluing the sacrificials on the sides


Plasma torch!


Out near Dyce Head Light for a hike

20140628_194849Surferman Hairdo


We interrupt this broadcast…

18 Jul

You’re probably wondering what is going on.  God knows I am!

So it’s been a lot of hush hush lately…PR departments to consult, quotes to receive and experts to question, but here it is; We’re back in Castine, and have been for about three weeks now.  We were in Boothbay for Schooner Days, and Eric spotted a check in the mast.  The short version is that ultimately it turned out that the mast is shot, a victim of heart rot.  Best we can tell, the mast is roughly as old as I am, original to the last rebuild and constructed to replace a temporary steel spar that served the Bowdoin for a brief stint with Outward Bound.  We’re ecstatic in that the mast didn’t fail, as in snap in half and come crashing down.  It is unfortunate that we had to cut our trip short, but alas, safety of the students first.

Our shipwright is hard at work building a brand new one.  It will be a record project…the wood was shipped across country from Port Townsend, Washington, and we have a little less than a month to get it together and shaped before our next set of students goes to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Things are up in the air pretty much all around.  Will I stay in Maine?  Will I return to Virginia?  Will I stay in the United States?  Will I stay in tall ships?  So many questions, and I’m learning for the first time what it truly means to go with the flow.

As it stands now, I’m here until 31 August.  I may be on the trip to Halifax.  I may not.  Time will tell, and I’m spending mine re-wiring ship systems and knocking off our very deep list of engineering projects.  I’m still running in the meantime, although I have no music.  It baffles me that someone that is so music-driven managed to leave Virginia without a music player or headphones.  No matter…the situation has been rectified and an Ipod (preloaded, I might add) and a set of headphones are on their way from Ebay.  I’ve still got the Spartan on the books for August, with a Tough Mudder and another Rugged Maniac in October.  Dates may change due to scheduling, but I’m still having a blast and doing what I can to stay sane.  I’ll get some pics up tomorrow…no cam/tab handy for transfer at the moment.  Fair winds!


– CC 

Charles W. Morgan

12 Jun

Pics below.  In Long Island Sound now, we met up with the whaling ship Charkes W. Morgan today as she sailed out of New London Harbor.  I’m just off watch and turning in for the night.  On again at 0400 as we make the approach to shoot through Hells Gate on our way to NYC.

– CC




Day 1

5 Jun

Some shots this morning.




Summer ’14

31 May

So I’ve been markedly absent.  Perhaps you noticed, but maybe you didn’t.

  We made it back to the states safely, and immediately got busy turning our world cruising schooner back in to a day sailing schooner.  Safety gear came aboard.  Snorkel gear went ashore.  Cupboards were unpacked, cabins moved out of, and the grind started all over again. 

Meanwhile, the blog fell to the wayside.  No facebook, no twitter, no emails even.  Spending so much time down south, unplugged from everything to the extent that we were, it was hard to come back and assimilate with the constant connectivity, the chaos and the machine.  Being borderline reclusive has its advantages, though.  The shower is done at the house.  Things are where they belong.  I’m much better centered, and have had some great opportunities to focus on what’s important to me.  I started running, too.  The Rugged Maniac came and went, and it was a total blast.  I enjoy pushing myself but, truth be told, it was pretty easy.  So I signed up for the Tough Mudder and the Spartan Race.  Sadly, I’ll have to reschedule on the Mudder as, once again, I’m headed back out to sea. 

Day sailing is fun and all, but you can only learn so much when you’re trying to keep the captain happy, keep up sail trim, serve lunches, keep the bar stocked, keep the boat up AND entertain passengers.  There’s not a lot of time for stopping to talk sailing.  I had intended to stay put for the summer, but a job came up on the billet bank, and I applied.  Before I could hear anything, I got a call from an old shipmate (Hi Jules!) that the Bowdoin was in need of a second.  Did I want the job?  Of course.  In the past week, I’ve gone from the day sail grind to gearing up for a 04:00 flight on Monday. Right now, I’m in Hampton at the Blackbeard Pirate Festival aboard Serenity.  Monday I fly to Philly before carrying on to Portland, Maine.  I’m there for six hours before the bus arrives to carry me to Searsport where, finally, the school will have sent a car to collect me and deliver me to the ship in Castine.  The plan is to head out Tuesday.  New York?  Cape Breton?  We’re not really sure yet, but it will be fun no matter which way we head.  I’m on until 15 August.  The last trip will be up to Halifax and back. 

Here’s a pic of Bowdoin

Pic is from Bangor Daily News @ http://bangordailynews.com/community/harraseeket-heritage-day-harborside-gala/

Bowdoin is a beast.  She was built in ’21 for exploration in the Arctic Circle.  She was designed to be completely frozen into the ice pack without crushing, and she’s done just that, four times over.  Lots of history in this boat; lots of sea stories.  Here are the specs and some more info on her.  Also, the more astute of you may have noticed the “Track Bowdoin” link in the menu bar up top.  She carries an Iboattrack and, while it isn’t active at the moment, we’ll be using it once we get underway.  Unlike the Spot, you don’t have to wait for someone to push a button and send a position.  The Iboattrack updates automatically, complete with boat speed and nearest port.  Internet access should be great this trip, as much of the trip will be coastal hops.  At least, I hope that’s the case, as I’ve got schoolwork of my own to work on. 

Tomorrow is my last day in Virginia.  I’m here at the festival for the ever tricky “raft up” between Sinbad’s Meka II & Serenity.  Once she’s safely alongside, I’m free to go, putting on hold a two-year jaunt aboard the Yorktown schooners.  (It’s on with the right foot and off with the left, right?)  Tomorrow will be a whirlwind of packing, organizing, cleaning and filing.  Things left undone will have to be delegated or put on hold.  Friends to see, family to visit…and I still need to move the pics from this winter over from Facebook to Flickr, for those of you without FB access.  Catch you guys from Maine, wish me luck!

The Road to Cangandi

22 Feb

So…the trip with Bredio. The Kuna islands are a chain of 365 islands strung out on the coast of the indigenous region of Panamanian jungle which stretches from the canal zone to the Colombian border. There is a mountain range that runs down the coast of Panama, separating the indigenous jungle from the civilized side of Panama.


We found ourselves in the very Western portion of Kuna Yala, crammed up against the Panamanian coast in the Robeson Islands. The Kuna indian lifestyle is split between the island villages down in the sea, and the thatched villages high in the mountains. The Kuna split their time between the villages of each province and, each day, Kuna from the sea make their way in dugout canoes, called ulus, to the mainland to gather fresh water, wild produce and building materials such as roof thatching. The island villages are quite accessible to visitors, known as “touristas” locally, and the islanders are therefor used to the bombardment by “gringos.” Surprisingly, Americans are not the most common visitors to the province any more. The local tourists are often mainland Panamanians from the other side of the mountains, as well as Colombians, French and Italians. We have also crossed the paths of Argentians, Brazilians, Australians and Germans.



 Islas Robesons

The last time Greg & Laura were here, they had made the acquaintance of Justino, one of the Kuna from Robeson. It was still early on in the trip, so we weren’t sure if people would remember the Alliance or not but, within ten minutes of dropping the anchor, an ulu came alongside with a message written in Spanish that translated “Hi Greg and Laura! I’m working now, but will come by at 5 when I get done. – Justino” Obviously, they had remembered the big green Colvin from Virginia!


The Cangandi river, working our way up to the cayuco landing.

The Cangandi river, working our way up to the cayuco landing.


Justino came by as promised and, after visiting with him and his family, we arranged a trip up the Cangandi (SP) River to see one of the mainland villages. This very awesome bit of legwork involved a trip to the Saila, the chief of Isla Gertie, to pay anchorage fees as well as ask permission to use the PANGA, one of the larger, communal boats. A trip was also made to a different island to secure an outboard engine to power the PANGA for the trip upriver, and the plan was for two groups of five to trek into the mountains, as we still had volunteer crew aboard from the delivery.


The guys headed upriverBold explorers headed into the jungle


The next day, Justino’s brother in law, Bredio, showed up instead and took us up the river Cangandi. I was in the second group, so after spending the morning tooling around Alliance, we boarded the panga around one pm and headed in.


The old banana docks, circa 1940The banana docks, circa 1940


As soon as we came around the mouth of the river, we started to see signs of ruined enterprise. The pic above shows the old pilings of a substantial wharf. As we continued up river, we saw more signs of a past civilization, inlcluding a narrow gauge railway and an overgrown runway. In fact, the majority of the path that we were to hike to get to the village in the mountains was the old rail bed. Although my Spanish is quite rusty, I have been able to communicate with the Kuna, and Bredio told me that in the early part of the past century, an American corporation came to Kuna Yala and set up banana farms. They hired the Kuna and tried to teach them how to farm the land. This lasted just long enough for the Kuna to figure out they didn’t like the modern way of life, and they no longer had any interest. Some time around 1940, the banana farms were abandoned. The American corporation pulled out; the runway and railway has been left for reclamation.


The old airport officeThe old airport office

Bredio on the old runwayBredio on the abandoned runway


The old narrow gauge railwayThe old narrow gauge railway over a creek


The endeavor was not completely lost however. The leaf cutter ants still use the narrow gauge railway in order to cross a stream that feeds the river.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALeafcutter ants using the old narrow gauge as a bridge crossing


So off into the jungle we trekked. Past the narrow gauge. Past the leafcutter ants. Past the unnamed lake we called Lago Bredio. Past the 4000′ runway. By the way, it is incredibly handy to have an army ranger candidate around if you ever need to know the length of a random runway in the Panamanian jungle. Two hours we hiked, along the old railbed, before we finally made a turn and headed up a hill. Almost to the crest, we stopped. We were warned; pics of the village and the view, okay. Pics of the people, not cool. We had reached Cangandi. All of a sudden, I had walked onto a National Geographic set. Thatched huts on a mountain top, overlooking terraced gardens. While they do have solar power and, subsequently, radio and tv now, the villages are very primitive. We met the Saili of Cangandi and he allowed us to enter the Congreso to take a break. The Congreso is the communal meeting hall which the Kuna use for special meetings and gatherings. No pictures were allowed inside the Congreso, but below are the pics of the village itself.


The two trees lashed together make a press. A Kuna man will bounce up and down on the extended, top tree. In turn, it bounces up and down on the lower branch wedged in the tree. Two Kuna women will then feed sugar cane through the gap between the two trees, squeezing all of the cane juice from the plant. This liquid is used for lots of different beverages but, most importantly, they ferment the sugar cane into the chicha beer that they use for special ceremonies. The Kuna society is a matriarchal society, meaning that everything is dominated by women. The women handle the money and the day to day affairs. One of the biggest reasons to celebrate in the Kuna society is when a young Kuna girl reaches puberty. It is at this point that the girl chooses between modern way of life, long hair, blue jeans and such, or cutting her hair and wearing the traditional garb.


Here are the village pics;


The view from Cangandi




The Cangandi River




The Congreso, or communal gathering hut



The chicha press



Some of the Kuna huts



Bredio on the chicha press



Bredio in the village



Alex on the Cangandi



Alex again on the Cangandi river





New home construction in Cangandi village


That was it.  That last shot was us headed back out of the village, and back to the boat.  I’m sorry for the curtailed end of the description…time is short for me here.  We are now in Portobelo.  I have a limited amount of time here at Captain Jack’s (Awesome, by the way) in order to blog, make phone calls and download the weatherfax data for the upcoming trip to Providencia.  We arrived here Thursday.  We haul back and head for Providencia Monday.  It’s a Columbian island off the coast of Nicaragua, 250 miles to the North.  It is also the third largest barrier reef in the world.  A couple of weeks of diving there, and then it is off to Honduras and then the states.  I’ve got a ton more photos and info to post….Portobelo is awesome.  Francis Drake is buried here.  We’re going diving tomorrow…I’m finishing my burger and then headed to Panama Divers to arrange the trip.  There are old forts and ruins.  Portobelo was the primary port for the export of Inca gold back to Spain, and was once captured and held by the pirate, Henry Morgan.  More on that later, though.  I hope you enjoyed the pics and update.  Ciao for now!


– CC



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