Thursday, August 4, 2011

On Board the Tackle

The most common question for the crew of the icebreaker Tackle?  “So what do you guys do in the summer?”  The answer, given many times by each of the crewmembers aboard; “We tend Aids to Navigation, specifically day and range markers.”  One crewman added a second sentence, “We do a lot of training in the summer, that’s when the new members come on board.”  And apparently, though they were too professional to mention it, they also attend various festivals and deal patiently with visitors.
Everything from Rockland must display a lobster
We’d come to the Bucksport Bay Festival for entertainment, knowing the Navy Frigate USS John L. Hall would be there, but little else.  We were totally delighted to discover the Tackle at the dock.  The Tackle and the Bridle are two icebreakers tasked with clearing the Penobscot River and Kennebec.  Chief Deery noted that they keep the Penobscot clear all winter, but clear the Kennebec only in the spring.
Unfortunately we arrived at the docks at exactly the wrong time, just as the steamer, Patience, was headed out on a tour, the Tackle was planning to change positions on the dock, and the crew planned a break for lunch. 
The Patience sails away, and the Coast Guard prepares to move
So we returned to the waterfront park.  At first we hiked up to where the naval ship was docked, but the line there stretched back quite a way into the hot sun.  We had no choice but to return to the vendor tents and spend the hour selecting fine treats.  There was a huge collection to choose from, pies of all flavors, BBQ chicken, fried dough, smoothies.  I eventually selected Kettle corn and water, while Mark ordered a hamburger.  We sat in the shade of a small tree and watched as the Patience went first up the Penobscot then down, touring along the edge of Fort Knox.  Meanwhile a fine sailed vessel came up through the narrows.  As it sailed above the bridges, we recognized it as the Bowdoin.
The Bowdoin has one sail up in the top picture, it got the sails down pretty quickly after passing under the bridges
Bowdoin is a training vessel of Maine Maritime Academy(MMA) that we commonly see berthed at its dock in Castine, and too rarely sailing.  This Grand Banks schooner was built in 1921 by Donald McMillian.  In June 2008 it returned to Greenland once again, this time with a training crew from MMA. (More about Bowdoin) Soon the Bowdoin was docked beside the Tackle and open for deck tours.  The prisms for letting light below deck were rectangular, just about 8 inches long.  It doesn't seem like it would be very much light.
Bowdoin can sleep a crew of 15 and seemed to have at least that many aboard for this trip (though I didn’t do a count.)
Wandering the Bowdoin was fine, but we really wanted to get aboard Tackle.  The day we bought our house, on the pre-purchase inspection, we arrived just in time to see the Tackle bravely working its way up the icy river.  It’s a rare treat to see the vessel plying our waters, both because I spend many hours at work in the winter and also because we do very little paddling once the waters have iced over.  Mark mentioned to Chief Deery that the controls for the Tackle were just like tug controls and recently, while visiting Mystic Seaport, he’d “piloted” a simulated tug, with full sized controls.  Despite this sterling credential, Mark wasn’t allowed to take the craft out. 

But we could put our hands on the artfully decorated wheel.   And in return we’ll pass along this request:  label your kayak with a name, address and phone number, so if it’s found the Coast Guard can easily determine if a search is necessary.
Winter on the Penobscot

1 comment:

  1. Sorry I missed it..looks like it was a fine outing.