Friday, August 28, 2015

One is never enough

Summer is short.   Eat lobster rolls.

Young's Lobster Pound, Belfast
I love this red and white sign, looking out over Belfast Bay.

That's a lot of lobsters!

I mean, a LOT of lobsters.  These were mostly full!

Fresh, cold, not too much mayo.  Perfect, even without the hot dog bun.

Nice Bucket List!

Awesome place.

Pemaquid Fisherman's Coop, Pemaquid
Take me to your lobster.

Lobster and American flag.  Yes.

It all looks good.

And it was!
Wait just a darn tootin' minute! Wanchese, NC
Them aren't lobsters!  Them are blue crabs.  From our trip to the Outer Banks last month.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Tails it is . . . .

Here's how to name a boat:

Step 1:  Sell your house.  Everyone (and by everyone I mean Damon and I) knows it's a PITA to take care of both a house and a boat.

Step 2:  Buy a tiny, cute condo.

Step 3:  Ignore the fact that you still have to move all your stuff out of storage and into the condo. Instead, go boat shopping.  Pick about a dozen boats that look likely and start calling brokers and private sellers.

Step 4:  Find a boat.  Make sure it's not too big, or too small, or too expensive, or in too bad a condition.  Find one that's just right, like this one:

Step 5:  Call a marine documentation company who will change the Coast Guard documentation from the old owner to the new (that's you).  Have a small epileptic fit when they ask what the new name of the boat will be.  Tell them you haven't yet made that decision, cripes, deciding to buy the boat was hard enough.

Step 6:  Get out a sheet of paper, a pen, and a few bottles of wine.  Start generating ideas for a name. Do not drink the wine too fast or you will end up with a bad name, such as "Seas the Day" or "Black Pearl".  Apparently this happens because there are 177 "Seas the Day"s and 175 "Black Pearl"s in the Coast Guard Registry, and that's only for big boats.  Imagine all the little flats boats and day sailors out there sporting such names.  I kid you not.  And NO use of the term "knot" in the name.  Waaaay too corny.  If there must be a pun, please, make it clever.  (Apologies if your boat has one of these names, but you really should have read this before diving in!)

Step 7:  Do not try to google "good boat names".  Here are the top 10 boat names from 2014, which will tell you most boat names are not good:

1. Serenity
2. Second Wind
3. Island Girl
4. Freedom
5. Pura Vida
6. Andiamo
7. Island Time
8. Irish Wake
9. Happy Hours
10. Seas the Day (there it is again)

Clearly the internet is no help whatsoever.

Step 8:  Once you have about 20 names, start to look at each carefully.  Make sure they don't sound like something they're not.  Like "petrel", which was a candidate on our list.  A petrel is an elegant little seabird (probably the most common in the world) that happens to nest on Kent Island, so we have a soft spot for them.  But "petrel" sounds an awful lot like "petrol", which is what many people in the nether regions of the world call gasoline.  Cross that one off the list.  Then make sure they pass the radio test.  When hailing a boat over the radio, the convention is to say their name three times, then say yours.  As in "Seas the Day, Seas the Day, Seas the Day, this is Black Pearl on channel 16". Whatever name you choose should be easy to say and easy to understand.  No tongue twisters are allowed.  Like Toy Boat.  Try saying that three times.

Step 9:  Cross off any names either of you hates.  Be nice though.

Step 10:  Each of you choose your top five.  Don't show each other what you chose until you are both done.  Eliminate any not on both your lists.

Step 11:  At this point, person one (Janet) should say "I like any of those, you choose." Person two, Damon, should respond "No, I like all of them.  You choose." Refuse to take responsibility.

Step 12:  Refill wine glasses, it's gonna be a long night.

At this point in the game, Damon and I had the list down to two candidates; Phalarope and Mercator. A Phalarope is a dainty little shore bird with a wicked cool name, and Mercator was a mathematician from the 16th century who invented a way to draw charts that allowed sailors to steer a compass course (as in, for centuries he's been safely guiding sailors between safe harbors, pretty cool).  There was much hemming and hawing.

Step 13:  At the last moment, have a flash of inspiration and add a write-in candidate.  This is what Damon did -- he threw in a zinger at the end;  Fulmar.  A fulmar is closely related to petrels (and shearwaters, another possible name we crossed off the list).  As one of Damon's friends says, "they are the sexy birds" (ignoring the vomit part of their biology).

We decided we liked Fulmar better than Phalarope.  But Fulmar and Mercator were still in a dead heat.  It was time to bring out the big guns:

Step 14:  Flip a coin.

"Your call," Damon said, his eyes blazing at me over the quarter in his outstretched hand.

"Okay.  Heads, Mercator, since he had a head.  Tails, Fulmar, they have tails."  

"Here goes . . . tails it is.  Fulmar."

And that's how you name a boat.

(It's a well-known fact that it's bad luck to rename a boat, unless there is a boat renaming ceremony. This involves making offerings of rum to Neptune, and some level of imbibing said rum.  Count me in.)

In case you're wondering:

Fulmar, as she will be known, is a 1982 Pacific Seacraft Crealock 37.  We have a survey scheduled for next Tuesday, and if all goes well, will take possession of her in the near future.  Fair winds!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Stalking the Blue-Eyed Oyster . . . and Other Wildlife

Ken and Kathy.  My favorite people in Rhode Island.  And beyond!
What's better than a summer day with friends, exploring a new part of the ocean?  Not much. Especially when the sun is strong, the friends are Ken and Kathy, and kayaks are involved!

I've just returned from a long vacation driving down the East Coast, catching up with old friends, spending time in and on the water, eating amazing food -- and looking at a couple of boats, too!  It's always strange coming off the island and landing in the middle of everyone else's summer.  The night before we left the island, the fog rolled in, the wind picked up, and I ended up wearing my winter hat. That was July 25.  It was time for some summer, that's for sure!

One of our amazing stops on this trip was in Rhode Island, to visit our good buddies Ken and Kathy. We met them several years ago on vacation in Florida, and some how they haven't been able to get rid of us since.  Ken and Kathy have dragged us out on many an adventure, and have a passion for life like very few people we know.  And they know Rhode Island like the back of their hands, including the best places to throw a kayak in the water and mess around on the water for a few hours. Plus, they are very tolerant of my excitement about finding amazing ocean plants and animals.  They even act like they are listening to my lectures.  They nod and smile, and rarely even walk away while I'm talking.

I want to be like these people!  The raft barely floated, but they had a great time.
Damon looks like a real water badass here.  Nice hat!
Kayaking was great.   The sun was warm, the wind wasn't too strong, and the waters were quiet. Although I was concerned about getting sucked out the inlet at the Charlestown Breachway, my kayaking skills (and everyone else telling me I was being silly) got me through and we headed west along the barrier island until lunch started to call to us.  It's a good thing everyone around me was so capable, because I found nothing cool and they found everything cool:  swimming scallops, giant lady horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs, and spider crabs.  I just raced around grabbing up the treasures everyone else found.

Cool thing #1 about scallops:  They have blue eyes.  Lots of them.  Or at least eye-spots.  See them?  Cool thing #2:  They can swim.  Check out the videos below!

Ken found this big lady -- and then Kathy found another.  We know it's a lady because it's so big!
She doesn't pinch or sting, but she is strong and can scratch.
I wasn't put off by that!  Here she is in her glory -- book gills!
And her mouth -- in the middle of her legs!

Ooooo! What's this?   Spider crab!
What better way to end a day on the water than with some beer and "buck-a-shuck".  This buck-a-shuck is perhaps my new favorite thing -- $1 oysters, with several varieties to choose from.  We ordered three dozen and pretty soon were slurping them down and comparing their qualities.

The source of said oysters.  Ninigret Pond is chock-full of oyster farms!  That's my kind of aquaculture.

When in Rome . . . 
. . . do as the Romans do.  And love it.

Now this isn't from Rhode Island!  Not anymore.  That's from Maine, I'll bet my last oyster!
It's hard to believe summer is almost over.  I'm here in my office, cleaning and thinking about the prep I need to do before the semester starts.  Soon, the students will return with their wonderful energy.  The days will grow hectic, and we'll start to feel autumn approaching.  And in only a couple of months, we'll be back to short days and snow.  On those days, I like to pull up posts like this one and remember it'll all come back around eventually.  Hopefully it'll include a warm day with Ken and Kathy -- with some seafood thrown in for good measure.
Isn't this how it's supposed to work?