Aug 9, 2021

Wow, wow, wow!!! That pretty much sums up our last week on Swan’s Island for the Sweet Chariot Music Festival and Eggemoggin Reach Regatta. We’re now in Bucks Harbor, of Robert McClosky fame (Blueberries for Sal and One Morning in Maine) after an exhilarating 17 mile sail from Mackerel Cove up the Eggemoggin Reach once again, under the Deer Isle-Sedgwick bridge, past harbor after harbor filled with masts, complete with soundtrack by Jethro Tull, the Beatles, and the Moody Blues, music to sail by to be sure!! This evening we had our first outdoor shower on land after many on the boat at Bucks Harbor Marine where we read Robert McCloskey’s Time of Wonder overlooking the harbor.

Eggemoggin Reach

Here are some links to our Soundtrack for the Summer:

Lazy Day Sunday Afternoon

Question (before the bridge)

Question (after the bridge)

Anchored in Burnt Coat Harbor on the south side of the Swan’s Island for the festival, we counted on toward 30 boats, including two schooners, the engineless Louis R. French and the American Eagle, which we had the good fortune to tour early one morning in the rain by invitation of Will’s friend Ben and his family who were onboard, and Captain John Foss, who has owned, sailed, and maintained her since 1985. So much history in these 1930 Gloucester fishing schooners.

Burnt Coat Harbor, Swan’s Island

Now in its 32nd year, the Sweet Chariot Music Festival started with Doug Day playing his banjo aboard his windsurfer to schooners anchored in Burnt Coat Harbor. This year it was a three night extravaganza of extraordinary talent from Maine to California, including: Goeff Kaufman who ran the Mystic Seaport Sea Music Festival for ten years and knows every shanty ever sung; Annegret Bair, West African djembe player extraordinaire from Portland and member of Inanna, Sisters in Rhythm, of which I’ve been a groupie for 25 years; Muriel Anderson, the guitar-harp playing powerhouse who sailed into Mackerel Cove last year and was invited to join the line-up again this year; Dean Stevens, the gentle folk singer with a Guatemalan flare; Bob Lucas, the soulful banjo-guitar playing singer-songwriter from Ohio; the husband-wife duo John and Rachel Nichols from Rockport; Eric Kilburn, the mandolin playing sound guy with a large recording studio in MA; David Dodson, the renowned singer-songwriter now living in Maine; Rich and Sandy Jenkins with Bob Hipkins, the show-tune performing trio straight from the Big Apple; and last but by no means least, Suzy Williams, the almost-70-year-old magenta-wig-tutu-sporting singer-songwriter of Stormin’ Norman and Suzy fame from Venice Beach, CA; and of course, Doug Day himself as musician-MC-runner-of-the-roost director, complete with the gorgeous backdrop mural painted by Buckley Smith. How Doug met this diverse group of performers would take many blogs, but suffice it to say, he has been around himself. And as front row audience members prone to enthusiastic rhythmic clapping and dancing, we were much appreciated by the performers.

Sweet Chariot Music Festival, Odd Fellows Hall, Swan’s Island

I also put together a video of some of the acts to give you a flavor:

Sweet Chariot Music Festival 2021

Aside from enjoying the high-caliber music and performances, we were inspired to volunteer our services on the first night in the kitchen making Tuesday Tacos with a bunch of wonderful teenagers where we sang Mary Poppins tunes from their stellar performance as Mary Poppins and Burt at Camden High School, which was a big highlight! Later, we also spent some quality time with Doug’s son Jackson, whose senior project at College of the Atlantic is called Ode to Mushrooms. What a great bunch of young people!

Our efforts in the kitchen meant we were then invited to the “after parties.” The first was at Doug’s house, where I was approached with, “So you made it into the inner sanctum,” which apparently is quite rare for normal audience members, and the second was at the waterfront home of one of the many locals who put up musicians in their homes during the festival, which included desserts and ongoing performances into the wee hours of the morning.

And then there was the shanty boat parading around the harbor with a boatload of musicians in the afternoon while we danced on deck in between sipping wine and eating local steamers. As it so happens, we were responsible for this couple being at the festival having met them at Hell’s Half Acre near Stonington, and here they were invited to participate. It was just that kind of festival, where you see musicians rowing ashore with their instruments.

We also had the great good fortune to be chauffeured around the island by Liberty, a dance friend from Portland, in her custom camper van named Roameo, which meant we were able to visit parts of the island we might not otherwise have seen. Other cools things about Swan’s are the excellent swimming quarry, the local oysters, the many female lobsterwomen, the Swan’s Island Yacht Club with free sailing lessons, and the stone beaches and mossy hikes. As such, we feel we’ve been swept up into the vortex of Swan’s Island such that Doug picked up on our enthusiasm by showing us a wonderous but neglected Japanese tea house adjacent to his property built by his friend that might just be for sale, and then fed us a sumptuous brunch on our last morning on the island. More on that TBD.

Our second destination of the summer after Sweet Chariot was the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta, now in its 36th year. With over 100 classic wooden boats of all sizes and rigs, our plan was to spectate from NIRVANA. But wouldn’t you know, on the first night sitting next to Doug at the dinner we helped prepare, he mentioned he had a wooden boat and was racing in the regatta, so Will jumped to ask if he needed crew and wouldn’t you know he said yes!!! His 1958 Sparkman & Stephens Valencia was built for the commodore of the New York Yacht Club and was the perfect boat to be on for the race. Aside from a pre-start near encounter with Black Watch, a 68’ 1938 S&S design out of Newport, complete with a matched-t-shirt crew who didn’t look us in the eye when they tacked in front of us onto starboard, it was a very low-key race in a relatively heavy boat and fairly light winds. We ended up 99th out of 109 boats, which afforded us a wonderful view of all the boats as they sailed downwind with their colorful spinnakers flying. With Will on the mainsheet, me as a floater between jib sheet and camera, and Doug’s son Jackson a human spinnaker pole, it was a dream come true to see all these beautiful wooden boats in one location on the coast of Maine!!!

Eggemoggin Reach Regatta

I’m almost as exhilarated remembering this past week as I was experiencing it. So now we are back to the mellow life of living aboard NIRVANA awaiting the next wonderous adventure on land and sea.

Tasha & Will

One thought on “NIRVANA S1:E5

  1. So loved all of these! I’d say one of the finest chapters in life! Way to make the very most of every day Tasha and Will.
    Carpe Diem is not being lost on you two!
    With love and full on appreciation!


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