Gray weather has returned to Midcoast harbors, but sailors and others who enjoy time on the water appear to be undeterred, as moorings are inspected and boats launched.

Every day shows more masts swinging to the breeze, and plans for individual and group voyages are under way.

Rockland Yacht Club kicks off 84th season

ROCKLAND —The Rockland Yacht Club announced a successful start to its 84th sailing season, hosted by Steve Pierce.

Three boats left Rockland Saturday morning, June 4, heading for Seal Bay: Webfoot crewed by Commodore M.J. and Dave Shiverick with guests Dale and Nancy Harrington; Altair, a Saga 48 crewed by Rick and Julie Palm; and Spirits crewed by Pierce and Alan MacDonald.

The weather cooperated for the first cruise of the season, with a fresh but cool wind for the start. As the group headed east, the wind eased, facilitating a leisurely sail from Rockland into the entrance of The Fox Islands Thoroughfare.

Going the long way around the south end of Vinalhaven and up East Penobscot Bay, a fourth boat, Black Bear, crewed by Gary Cran and Norm Farrar, left from Pulpit Harbor and was the last boat to arrive at Seal Bay. Dutch Dresser, leaving Rockland on Koan late in the afternoon, spent the night at Perry Creek.

Saturday afternoon was beautiful and calm at Seal Bay. A work session ensued, as the crews on each boat worked on various projects and repairs. Palm went to the top of Altair’s mast to put a nut on its wind indicator, which had been noticed wobbling while under sail. Later in the afternoon, the Palms hosted cocktails, displaying work that was done on Altair over the winter at Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding.

Early Sunday morning, Black Bear was the first boat to leave Seal Bay. It was another beautiful day and a little warmer than Saturday. Spirits and Webfoot left about 9 a.m., while Altair waited until later. With a light wind, Spirits and Webfoot motored from Seal Bay and into the Thoroughfare.

Approaching North Haven from Perry Creek, Koan joined Spirits and Webfoot. In company, the three boats continued out the Thoroughfare toward Rockland. Sometime after passing the PB buoy, the wind came up and allowed the group to finish the cruise under sail. Altair’s later departure paid dividends for them, as they were able to return from the Thoroughfare to Rockland under sail. All things considered, it was a very nice start to the 84th cruising season.

The Fireworks Cruise, July 2 through 4 off Stonington, is RYC’s next cruise and will be led by Don and Jody Abbott. This cruise was very popular last year. Visit the RYC website at rocklandyc.org for more information.

Boothbay Windjammer Days to feature fireworks

BOOTHBAY HARBOR — Each summer the Boothbay Harbor Region celebrates its maritime history with the annual Windjammer Days Festival. This year the 49th annual Windjammer Days Festival will be held June 21 and 22.

Admission to festival activities is free, and the community offers a free parking and shuttle service for attendees.

This year’s events will include a visit from the USS Oak Hill, a 600-foot naval vessel. Both days of the festival will feature live music, with the Corona Brothers performing Tuesday and the Big Chief Band on Wednesday evenings. The Kids Tent, courtesy of the Boothbay Region Land Trust, will host a day of special activities including model boat building, knot tying, flag making and book printing.

For more information and event schedules for this year’s Boothbay Windjammer Days Festival, contact the Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce at 633-2353 or visit boothbayharbor.com.

Marine ecologist to speak on mass extinction

BLUE HILL — On Tuesday, June 21, the public will have an opportunity to hear marine ecologist Jeremy Jackson give a talk titled “Brave New Ocean: The Future of the Ocean Past,” as part of the Marine Environmental Research Institute Ocean Environmental Lecture Series. Note that this June lecture is on a Tuesday, not the customary Thursday evening.

The biodiversity of the oceans and abundance of marine life are undergoing critical and increasingly rapid changes, a press release said. Coral reefs are being devastated, large numbers of marine fish populations are collapsing, and the planet is losing coastal and marine ecosystems. According to Jackson, major drivers include over-exploitation, trawling, destruction of habitats, globalization of species, ocean warming, damage to marine food webs, and pollution.

Human activities are transforming once productive and complex ecosystems like coastal seas into oxygen-starved dead zones, and devastating kelp forests and coral reefs. The challenge for sustainability in the oceans, said Jackson, is to develop successful management and conservation strategies.

Jackson is director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation; William E. and Mary B. Ritter Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, Calif.; and a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Jackson’s lecture will begin at 7 p.m. and will be preceded by a 6 p.m. reception for the speaker and for distinguished marine biologist Nancy Knowlton who will be signing her new National Geographic book, “Citizens of the Sea: Wondrous Creatures From The Census of Marine Life.”

Marine Environmental Research Institute is located at the MERI Center, 55 Main St. in Blue Hill. For more information call 374-2135, e-mail info@meriresearch.org, or visit MERI’s website at meriresearch.org.

Apprenticeshop graduates two, launches six

ROCKLAND — On Friday, June 17 at noon, The Apprenticeshop will celebrate the graduation of apprentices Justin McAnaney, Kelly O’Sullivan and Thor Hubble.

Following graduation the public is invited to share the celebration as the school launches its latest apprentice- and intern-built boats.

With the high tide at noontime the following boats will be launched.

  • An 18-foot Buzzard’s Bay sloop, designed by Peter Culler and built by apprentices Ryan Flynn, Thor Hubble, Jared Huffman, Duncan Macfarlane and Alex Roderick
  • The Apprentice 15, a daysailer designed by Kevin Carney and built by apprentices Justin McAnaney, Skyler Shepard, Jeff Steele and Hobbs White
  • A 14-foot Skylark, designed by Paul Gartside and built by apprentices Matt Costa, Matt Dirr and Adam Yanchunis
  • A 10-foot Abeking & Rasmussen tender built by Sophie Meltzer and Drew Scott
  • Two 12-foot Susan skiffs built by interns Sarah Whittam and J. Noah Singh

The Apprenticeshop is located at 643 Main St. in Rockland. More information can be found at the website at apprenticeshop.org.

North Haven welcomes alewives

NORTH HAVEN — A story by Catherine Schmitt, first published in the June issue of The Working Waterfront, and linked from the Maine Lobstermen’s Association’s Landings newsletter at mainelandings.org, described the arrival of two Maine Department of Marine Resources tanker trucks at North Haven, via the Island Transporter.

In the tanks were live, adult alewives taken from the Kennebec River. Their destination was Fresh Pond, which once supported North Haven’s commercial alewife fishery.

The article described the work of Jeffrey Pierce, executive director of the Alewife Harvesters of Maine; Adam Campbell, North Haven fishermen and oyster farmer; Charles Curtin, island resident and science professor at Antioch University; Island Institute photographer Peter Ralston; and Toby Bonney and Jason Valliere, fisheries biologists with the Department of Marine Resources, in delivering the fish.

The alewife delivery on May 29 was the culmination of three years of planning and many more of dreaming, Schmitt’s article said. “With the arrival of the trucks of fish, alewives will move between Fresh Pond and the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in over a century.”

Approximately 25 people were on hand watch 2,500 fish pour into the pond.

“The adult alewives stocked in Fresh Pond will spawn and leave the pond within a week or two,” Schmitt wrote. “The eggs will hatch and grow into juveniles over the summer. In the fall, as they migrate to the ocean, they’ll pick up sensory cues unique to the North Haven environment. This ‘imprinting’ will serve to guide them back to Penobscot Bay next year, although they won’t be old enough to spawn; that will take another two years, which is why the DMR will be stocking Fresh Pond for the next several years to secure a population.”

Research continues on lobster sensitivity

A story by Dawn Drazal, first published in The New York Times, and linked from the Maine Lobstermen’s Association’s Landings newsletter at mainelandings.org, discussed recent research on whether lobsters feel anything when they are cooked.

Drazal’s article presented the work of Richard J. King, in which the author offers insights on a topic that has been under debate since the early 19th century.

“The latest scientific research on the subject holds that although a lobster lacks the neurological hardware to process pain like higher animals, it does register ‘nervous irritation,'” Drazal wrote. She offered a number of methods to kill the crustacean with less likelihood of pain, including the suggestion that cooks “anesthetize the lobster in the freezer for 15 minutes. Then, flipping it on its back, use a sharp knife to split it all the way from the top of the tail (technically the abdomen) to the head. That severs the ganglia and kills it almost instantly.”

“The lobster population in the Gulf of Maine has inexplicably exploded, and while lobster fishing remains to some degree an individual enterprise, it has also become a multibillion-dollar, globally distributed industry,” the story states.

According to the website wordorigins.org, “Scuttlebutt is an early 19th century nautical term for an open cask of water kept on deck for use by the crew. The term comes from scuttle — to cut a hole in — and butt — a large cask. Sailors would gather about the cask and trade stories and gossip, much like modern office workers do at the water cooler or coffee pot. By the turn of the 20th century, American sailors began using the term scuttlebutt to refer to these sea stories and gossip. Eventually the term became associated with any gossip or rumor.”

Send scuttlebutt to Herald Gazette reporter Shlomit Auciello at sauciello@villagesoup.com or call 207-236-8511.