By Peter H. Spectre
Click here to read In The Lee of the Boathouse in past issues and other articles by Peter H. Spectre >>
ACCORDING TO Island Indicators, a report recently published by the Island Institute, residents of Maine’s offshore islands, in comparison to the state’s general population, read a lot of books. The average per capita library circulation in 2005 for all Maine towns with populations under 1,000 was 5.47; for those with populations between 1,000 and 2,499 it was 4.21. Compare that with the average per capita library circulation for these offshore islands: Islesboro, 21.1; Great Cranberry, 23; Islesford, 30.5;Monhegan, 40.6. Which isn’t surprising, considering that educational achievement is higher on the islands than it is among Maine’s general population. According to 2000 census figures, 89 percent of islanders have a high school diploma, compared with 85 percent of Mainers.And 32 percent of islanders have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 23 percent of Mainers. ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL curses these days for the manager of the town dump are the boat owners who prance in with huge wads of shrinkwrap that was used to protect their 50-foot flying- bridge sportfishermen during layup. Now comes a recycler who has come up with what seems like a sane solution. For $15.50 you get a REBAG—a poly bag that will hold up to 600 square feet of shrinkwrap—and a mailing label with prepaid postage.You stuff your stuff, take the whole enchilada to UPS, and it’s gone and you can feel environmentally comfortable with where it went. Information from Dr. Shrink, 315 Washington St., Manistee, MI 49660; 800-968-5147; email@example.com.
We can recycle trash; we can recycle ideas. In recent years several Maine towns provided molded fiberglass sculptures to artists and asked them to attack them with an artistic sensibility. Belfast, for example, did it with bears, Rockland with lobsters, and Portland with lighthouses. The results were put on display on street corners and vacant lots in the various downtowns, then auctioned off to the highest bidder.A variation on this theme was taken up by some organizations, which asked artists to decorate various found objects, such as old canoe paddles and chairs. These were later sold to raise funds, the most spectacular result being the $5,000 gained by Bar Harbor’s Abbe Museum from the sale of a paddle with a seagull motif by Jamie Wyeth. The next in this new genre has been organized by Rockland’s Atlantic Challenge/Apprenticeshop, which has encouraged nearly 50 artists to create works from old rudders, oars, half-hull models, bits of sail, etc. The results will be sold at auction on August 16, 2007, at Knight Marine in Rockland. And the next after that will come on October 13, 2007, when the Maine Maritime Museum will raise funds by auctioning off artist-decorated sea chests. IN HARBOR: Avard “Bud” Chater, long-time steward of the Camden Yacht Club, owner of a mooring business, and boatyard proprietor, February 7, 2007, age 82. Lloyd Bergeson, yachtsman, shipbuilder, and promoter of modern wind-assisted ships, February 20, 2007, age 90. Jimmy Steele of Brooklin, peapod builder extraordinaire,March 1, 2007, age 70. SPEAKING OF MAGAZINES, Time, Inc. has sold a boatload of its magazines to the Bonnier Group of Sweden, including Yachting, Motor Boating,Salt Water Sportsman, Cruising World, Sailing World, Power Cruising, Boating Life, WaterSki, Sport Fishing, Fly Fishing in Salt Waters,Marlin, and Wake Boarding. Rumor has it that Maritime Life & Traditions, owned by WoodenBoat Publications of Brooklin, is ceasing publication. THE CRUISE SHIP BUSINESS on the coast of Maine continues to clatter away on a rising curve. Portland has 30 cruise ships scheduled to visit that city between this June and November, up from 17 last year. Bar Harbor expects 91, up from 83 last year. According to a tourism consultant’s report recently presented to the town of Bar Harbor, there has been a 400-percent increase in cruise tourism in that town, from 27,000 people in 2000 to 128,000 in 2006. Expectations are that by 2020 Bar Harbor could see approximately 180,000 to 200,000 visitors disembarking from cruise ships annually. Hurricane Island Outward Bound, the experiential adventure program centered on Penobscot Bay, will have 14 new boats this summer. For decades the standard Outward Bound boat, designed for rowing and sailing, was a 30-foot wooden double-ender reminiscent of a whaleboat. The new boats, designed by Rodger Martin Design and built in Maine of composite materials, will be 30-foot sharpie schooners for oar and sail. Maine Maritime Academy is planning to build a new tidal energy research center that would both test tidal power devices for efficiency and reliability and provide as much as 10 megawatts of power for the college’s operations. The first step is to obtain a federal permit to research sites for the facility; two potentials are in Castine Harbor and Bagaduce Narrows. Rockland’s Samoset Resort also sought federal permits, theirs to build a 550-foot wooden pier beside the Rockland Breakwater. Fishermen opposed the idea, saying the pier would impinge on their ability to moor in the area and would disrupt their lobster fishing grounds. The fishermen won. Belfast is revisiting the big-box retail zoning issue. Several years ago the city put a limitation on the size of retail stores; opponents of the regulation point out that the result has been economic stagnation. Southwest Harbor, seeking to further economic growth, recently voted to create a Pine Tree Zone, which would be eligible for certain state tax exemptions, credits, and refunds. The Mount Desert Island town’s zone involves primarily boatbuilders, among them Wilbur, Hinckley, and Morris. Washburn & Doughty of East Boothbay, builders of tugboats and other large steel and aluminum commercial vessels, seeking to expand its operations, is acquiring property in Bucksport, on the lower Penobscot River. Formerly owned by Sprague Energy, the 14-acre site has deepwater access. Chimney Farm, on the shore of Damariscotta Lake in Nobleboro, has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The property was formerly the home of writer Henry Beston, author of The Outermost House and other books about the natural world, and his wife Elizabeth Coatsworth Beston, best known for her historical fiction and children’s books, particularly The Cat Who Went to Heaven, winner of the Newbury Award. Captain David Allen, for years the skipper of the MV Sunbeam, has retired. The new captain is Mike Johnson, who for the last five years was the vessel’s engineer. The Sunbeam is owned by the Maine Sea Coast Mission, which since 1905 has engaged in nondenominational ministry and provided assistance to island and isolated communities along the Maine coast. Two major bridge repair projects that travelers in our fair state should keep in mind: The Route 1 viaduct through the center of Bath leading to the bridge over the Kennebec River is undergoing major reconstruction, requiring detours in both directions through the streets below. And the deck panels on the Deer Isle bridge over Eggemoggin Reach are being replaced, meaning there will be one-lane traffic in alternating directions with a 9-foot maximum vehicle width most of the time. THE FOLLOWING acronymological report came to us via e-mail without a bibliographic citation. In other words, stamp it “Facts Questionable, Origin Unknown.” “In the 16th and 17th centuries, everything had to be transported by ship and it was also before commercial fertilizer’s invention, so large shipments of manure were common. It was shipped dry, because in dry form it weighed a lot less than when wet, but once water (at sea) hit it, it not only became heavier, but the process of fermentation began again, of which a by product is methane gas. As the stuff was stored below decks in bundles you can see what could (and did) happen. Methane began to build up below decks and the first time someone came below at night with a lantern, BOOOOM! Several ships were destroyed in this manner before it was determined just what was happening. After that, the bundles of manure were always stamped with the term ‘Ship High In Transit’ on them, which meant for the sailors to stow them high enough off the lower decks so that any water that came into the hold would not touch this volatile cargo and start the production of methane. Thus evolved the term ‘S.H.I.T’ (Ship High In Transport), which has come down through the centuries and is in use to this very day.” IN OUR CHRONICLES of Misidentification, Downeast Division, we have this from the police beat column in the Mount Desert Islander: “Southwest Harbor police and the Hancock County Sheriff ’s Department both received reports of a ‘strange object in the sky.’ Lieutenant Mike Miller investigated and found the object to be familiar rather than unusual. ‘It was the moon,’ Lt.Miller reported.” And in our Miscalculation Department, Please Don’t Make Me Eat Those Words Division, we have the grizzled old fisherman who, back in the 1970s when wooden lobster traps were king, on seeing the new wire trap invented by Jim Knott for the first time, said,“ Looks pretty, but it ain’t gonna catch no goddamn lobster.” Speaking of lobster, preliminary lobster landing statistics for 2006 have been released by Maine’s Department of Marine Resources. A total of 66,607,536 pounds of live lobster worth $272,580,125 were landed. By comparison, 68,167,363 pounds worth $315,004,389 were landed in 2005. The retail price for lobsters hit $15 per pound this year by winter’s end. Wholesalers blamed bad weather, cold water temperatures, and fewer lobsters than usual stockpiled in lobster pounds. Fortunately, the price was a little lower ($11.25) when a group of ten young people dropped in at New Meadows Lobster in Portland one early April morning, bought 300 one claw lobsters, and told the proprietor that they wouldn’t be eating them; rather, they would be releasing them back into the wild. Another group— perhaps the same one—did ditto at Portland’s Harbor Fish Market. Some fishermen found that the most ridiculous thing they ever heard—after all, those lobsters would most likely be caught all over again—but think about it: This is a recycling program where everyone can win. The fisherman catches the lobster and sells it to the wholesaler who sells it to the fish market that sells it to the savior who puts it in the water; the fisherman catches the lobster again and sells it to the wholesaler again who sells it to the fish market that... well, you get the point. One thing you won’t find in any fish market is a golden haddock, but that’s what a commercial fisherman caught last winter about 17 miles off Gloucester, Massachusetts. The standard colors of a haddock are tones of white and gray; this one, according to Commercial Fisheries News, was tones of white, yellow, and gold. A statement by Ted Ames, a Stonington fisherman who has spent years studying the causes and effects of overfishing, recently caught our attention. Ames, of scientific bent, named a MacArthur Fellow a couple of years ago to study historical fishing patterns, was speaking to the Mount Desert Historical Association about the history of commercial fishing in the Gulf of Maine. “If you want a fish resource that will go forever,” he was reported as saying by the Mount Desert Islander, “use a hook and line.” As logical as that may seem, it is a radical concept. Just about all solutions to the overfishing problem discussed these days involve limiting the number of fishermen, or the amount of fish the fishermen catch and where they catch them, or the number of days the fishermen can fish, or some combination thereof. Here is someone who has spent a lifetime in the industry—a fisherman and scientist— who is saying that the best way to conserve a fishery is to revert to a fishing mode that was made obsolete by modern technology. In other words, conserve a resource by introducing severe inefficiency. A most interesting idea. Speaking of the Mount Desert Islander, the Allie Allison Award for Alliteration this time goes to that newspaper for this headline: Mainers Wicked With Wickets. And the Headline Non Sequitur of the Season comes from the Camden Herald: Town to Cut Off Power to Boats and Destroy Goose Eggs. FINALLY, ED GLASER, the Rockland Harbormaster, has conjured up a new racing dinghy class—an anti-Optimist, if you will: “For want of a better name,” Glaser writes, “I’ll call it the Pessimist class. We wouldn’t really race anything; we’ll just stand on the dock and complain: “‘I don’t know why I bother to race, I never win.’ “ ‘I just know something’s going to break.’ “‘What’s the point, we just go around in circles.’ “‘Why do I always get the slower boat?’ “‘Maybe you’re having a good time, but I’m not.’ “‘Wouldn’t it be cheaper just to throw the money in the water? At least that way I wouldn’t be all wet.’ “The symbol for the class would be a half-empty glass.”
Information Welcome: We look forward to your notes, tips, tirades, clippings, press releases, rants, and raves for possible inclusion in this column. Send to P.O. Box 758, Camden, ME 04843; fax 207- 236-0811; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to read In The Lee of the Boathouse in past issues and other articles by Peter H. Spectre >>