Vacation Like a President

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Eric here with the latest travels of Still Waters II.  Can you tell that the crew might be in Maine from the photo below.


Summary of week:


The crew headed to Kennebunkport on Monday to visit the summer home of the Bush clan.  The crew then visited the summer home of Admiral Peary on Tuesday.  On Wednesday, the crew cruised up the Kennebec River to Bath to visit the Maine Maritime Museum.  Thursday, the crew took a back way to explore the oldest lighthouse in Maine, and then pushed on to Rockland.

Weather, mostly wind causing big waves, kept the crew in Rockland on Friday so they visited the Lighthouse Museum.  Due to bad weather setting in over the next week, the crew decided it was time to turnaround and head south.  The crew took advantage of good weather on Saturday to make Portland.

This week’s journey of discovery did answer the following questions:

  1. Who is credited as first person to walk/sled to the North Pole? (the answer will probably surprise you.)
  2. What was the name of the first ship built in the colonies?
  3. What is the oldest Lighthouse in Maine?

Click on the link to read the day-to-day travel log.  This includes weather report of the day, sea conditions, log of the days travel, and a summary of the experience.

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II leaving the town of Kennebunkport out the narrow river thru the breakwater wall.  While traveling up the Kennebec River she will encounter two lighthouses.  Then on the way to Burnt Island she travelled thru the Townsend Cut.   Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library now contains 34 videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop and waterways.

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

The cruise took the crew past one of the iconic Maine Lighthouses, Cape Neddick “Nubble” Light, which has been an active navigation aid since 1879.  The light was automated in 1987.  The lighthouses all have their own unique light characteristics that allow mariners to determine which hazard the ship is approaching.  Cape Neddick has a three second red light followed by three seconds of darkness.  The fog horn is one blast every 10 seconds.

Cape Neddick “Nubble” Light, notice the red lens


After rounding Cape Neddick, the crew made way to the entrance to Kennebunkport thru a narrow breakwater wall and then up the narrow river.  The crew stopped at the Chicks Marina.  After docking, the crew set out for the main drag in town, Dock Square.  There were three tour busses in town so the small square and businesses were filled with people.  Some of the businesses had small Texas flags and plaques in their windows.  Supposedly this is to signify a shop that the Bush family frequents.  At five in the afternoon the Admiral noticed the streets were empty.  The tour buses must have loaded and left.

Park on the way to Dock Square, honors Barbara Bush contributions to town

After walking around the businesses for a while the Admiral decided to try a lobster roll which is basically mayo and lobster on a buttery toasted piece of bread similar to a hotdog bun.

Next, the crew walked to the other end of town to visit the St. Ann’s Episcopal Church.  The seaside chapel cornerstone was laid in 1887 and the chapel has twenty-five stained glass windows.  Summer services at the chapel have been ongoing since 1892.  This year, 2017, the last service of the season will be held on the skippers birthday, September 24.




On the way back to the dock the crew took this picture of Still Waters II next to her big brother, a 90-foot sport fishing boat.

18 90 footer in background

Tuesday, Aug 29, 2017 

The Bush compound is just a short distance from the Kennebunkport River entrance.  When the crew exited the river they ran alongside the security buoys to get a close look at the home.  While they passed by they could see a Texas flag flying on the flag pole.  Tradition has it that if the Texas flag is flying then one of the Bush ex-Presidents is at the home.  With Hurricane Harvey hurling towards Houston, the crew wonders if Barbara and George SR may have come north for a few days.


The crew turned north and set their sights on Eagle Island, once the summer home of Admiral Peary.


Admiral Peary built the home similar to the layout of a ship.


Side view of Eagle Nest

The front of the home, facing the flag pole, mimics a pilot house and includes the front porch , living area, and upstairs bedrooms.  The main living area, salon, has a three -sided fireplace.   All the rocks were gathered from Eagle Island.


Out the side door are covered and enclosed walkways down both sides of the home that lead to the galley (kitchen), and mess deck (dining room).


The Admiral was an amateur taxidermist and all the stuffed animals in the house were actually preserved by Peary.


Admiral Peary is most known for his claim to be the first to the North Pole.  He sent a message to the NY Times that he made the pole on April 09, 1909.  Unbeknownst to Peary, Frederick Cook had claimed he made the north pole in April 1908.  Cook’s claim was made just one week before Peary’s in the NY Herald.  So the immediate question became, who was actually first?

Peary won the initial PR battle and was toasted as the first to the pole.  He mostly won the battle by the use of the line, ‘Lie about one thing, Lie about everything.’  Cook had claimed to scale Mt McKinley in 1906.  Peary was able to get people on the McKinley expedition to say that Cook had lied.  Once that was cemented in peoples minds, they did not believe his claim to be first to the pole.  Interesting enough, time has shown that Cook’s records and observations of the North Pole and surrounding area are more accurate than Peary’s accounts.

Peary travel bag that went on his expeditions

However, National Geographic had Wally Herbert review the Peary documents in the 1980’s.  Herbert concluded that Peary did not reach the pole in 1909, but he did get within 60 miles.  Herbert’s work and conclusion have become widely accepted.

Looking out from Eagle Island

So then, who is the official first to walk to the North Pole now?  Well Sir Wally Herbert is now recognized as the first to accomplish the task in 1969.  Yes, the same Wally that discredited Peary.  Just remember, what goes around, comes around.


After touring the house, the crew got a lift back out to Still Waters II and headed a few miles east to Cliff Island where they took a mooring ball for the night.

Cliff Island

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017       

The crew left the mooring ball early in the morning to try and make way to Bath.   On the way, they passed another iconic Maine Lighthouses on Sequin Island.  The lighthouse was built in 1857.  The tower is only 53 feet tall but because of its location on the Island, the focal plane is 186 feet.  The characteristics of this light is a fixed white light which means that the light is always on.  Because the lens is a rare first-order Fresnel, the light can be seen twenty miles out at sea.

28 Sequin Island
Sequin with its white light on

After passing the Sequin Light, the crew turned up the Kennebec River to the town of Bath.  The trip up the river was one of the most scenic stretches the crew has ever witnessed.  The rock cliffs covered in trees are drop dead gorgeous.  Pics just do not do this area justice.


Also while cruising up the river the crew saw about twenty seals.  These seals are camera shy and have been elusive to get on film.

30 Seal

The skipper finally got a few good pics.  It only took about 22 tries today.  Which brings to mind that even a blind hog roots up an acorn every once in a while.


After taking a mooring ball in Bath, the crew toured the Maine Maritime Museum.  The museum is on the grounds of the old P&S Ship Yard.  In the heyday of wooden schooners (1894-1920) this place built 45 wooden schooners.  The museum is dedicated to the wood ship building industry that ended in 1920’s due to the steamship and metal boat works.

The Wyoming was the largest wooden schooner ever built, and the largest sailing vessel ever built in the US.  P&S Ship Yard built the schooner at this location.  They have a life size sculpture on the grounds showing the location of the Wyoming as she was being built.  The six flags mark the location of the six masts.

Bow, six masts, and stern



The museum also had a building dedicated to the lobster business in Maine.  The crew were exploring the lobster exhibits when the museum began to close.  The following shows the unique lobster pot floats and the zones that they are found in Maine waters.


The metal boat works business up the river that helped close the era of wooden ships now builds destroyers for the US Navy.  The facility lit up at night.


Shipbuilding along the Kennebec River goes all the way back to 1607.  There was a Pophan Colony along the river whose mission was to show that the New England forests could be used to build ships.  They built the Virginia, abandoned the colony, and sailed the ship back to England.  She then was used to return supplies to Jamestown in October 1609.  She made one last voyage to supply Jamestown in 1610.  Her where abouts are unknown from this point in history, as she never appears again in any known historical records.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A museum volunteer suggested that the crew take a little used back way over to Burnt Island and stop to explore the Island.  The crew thought that it sounded like a good adventure so that is what they did.  The course has two narrow high current areas that are named Upper and Lower Hells Gate.  They managed these areas without any problems, but the pucker factor was tight on the way thru the challenges.

Calm water before Upper Hells Gate

The crew arrived ten minutes early for the 0930 bridge opening  near the end of the cut, so while they waited they watched this Bald Eagle fly over and land near Still Waters II.


After passing thru the bridge, they arrived at Burnt Island, dropped the dinghy and went over to the dinghy dock.  They explored the island for a while and got a close up of Maine’s oldest ‘Original’ lighthouse, Burnt Island Light.


The lighthouse was built in 1821 and was not automated until 1988.

After returning to the boat, the crew headed to Rockland.  As they were making the 36 miles to the marina, the winds unexpectedly picked up to over 20 mph.  This caused the sea state to change to 4-6 foot swells moving from the southeast, while wind blown waves of 1-2 feet were moving across the swells from the northwest.  It was like riding the boat in a washing machine.

The calm before the storm from Burnt Island

The other problem this wave action caused was the ever present lobster floats were now going completely under water for 3-5 seconds at a time.  It was difficult to steer clear of the floats when you cannot even see them.

After getting docked, the crew noticed five seals feeding in the waters outside the marina. The crew sat on the sundeck while they enjoyed dinner and watched the seals.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The winds had not died down enough for safe passage, so the crew spent another day in Rockland.  In the afternoon they walked over to the Lighthouse Museum and learned that there are 70 active lights along the shores of Maine.

However, there were two interesting stories that caught the attention of the skipper.

IMG_0167The first was about William S. Ros.  He makes the museum because he invented items that helped the lighthouses work better and more efficient.

The side story though was more interesting.  Abraham Lincoln asked Rosecrans to be his vice-president during his second term.  Rosecrans took a long time to decide if he would take the position or not.  He finally decided to accept the offer and wrote the President an acceptance letter.  Because it took so long for the decision and letter to arrive, Lincoln assumed Rosecrans was not interested and choose Andrew Johnson instead.  So Rosecrans could have been president if he had acted sooner.  Who Knew?




StephenPleasonton.jpgThe next story was about Stephenson Pleasonton.  He makes the museum because he was a penny pinching miser of a clerk who rose high in the civil government. During his rise to power he would not give the money needed to fund the lighthouses and they began to fall into disrepair.

His side story though was much more interesting.  During his early days as just a clerk in the government he was responsible for saving many documents from being burned when the British set fire to Washington D.C. in the War of 1812.  His boss had learned that the British were on their way to D.C. so he ordered Pleasanton to rescue as many documents as possible by removing them from D.C.  Among the original documents he removed and hid were the original:

  • Declaration of Independence
  • United States Constitution
  • Articles of Confederation
  • George Washington papers from the time he was president

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The weather has started to turn cold with lows in the 40’s and highs in the 60’s.  The locals had been telling the crew that September was the best time to cruise Maine.  With the wind predicted to be over 20 mph most of next week, the skipper asked a few more questions about the weather.  Turns out the best cruising is because the wind ‘freshens’ in September.  This is code for high winds good for sailboat, bad for motor vessel.

Based on the weather, the crew has decided to turn around and start south.  With that in mind, they made 78 miles today to get past the Gulf of Maine and all the open water while the winds were relatively calm, 10-15 mph.

Leaving Rockland.


Leaving the rocky Maine Gulf Coast.


Arriving in Portland.


Boat Name of the Week

1 in Kittery

Love the image of the kid standing in the corner.


Next Week –

Loop On – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

One Comment on “Vacation Like a President

  1. Erik, the crew was right. The elder Bushes are in Kennebunkport. They issued a Hurricane Harvey statement on Monday the 28th:

    “Barbara and I are in Maine, but our hearts are in Houston. We are praying for all of our fellow Houstonians and Texans affected by Harvey, and truly inspired by the flotilla of volunteers — Points of Light all — who are answering the call to help their neighbors,” George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush said in a statement Monday morning.


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