Sunday, August 5, 2018

Rock-Paper-Scissors on the Maine Coast

Disclaimer: The schooners are real. The persons and personal interactions depicted here are strictly works of fiction.

The Grace Bailey up close.

        The historic Grace Bailey, eighty feet of white hull, high masts and bright wood cabin tops, glided through the crowded little harbor of Camden, Maine. The two dozen newly-arrived passengers clustered in the forward part of the ship and watched the captain thread the ship through a maze of lobster boats and small sailing craft moored in the channel. They approached another schooner tied to a dock with the exotic name of Angelique, and as they did, the deck crew on the Grace Bailey paused at their tasks to shout greetings to a young woman busy preparing the other schooner for the next sail. Jason, the first mate on our boat, and the young woman on the Angelique launched into a weird dance. They swung one arm up and one arm down three times, then quickly struck poses. Then they would laugh and start again.

       We passengers already knew the girl. Her name was Donna; she had helped our crew load our gear onto the Grace Bailey the night before. Afterward, she and Jason had done the same weird dance on the dock, which turned out to be a full-body version of the child’s game rock-paper-scissors. After about ten minutes of that, they had collapsed in laughter, then headed up the dock to the shops in the harbor.

       This morning, Jason showed up wearing a hand-knit beret, the same one that Donna had on the night before, and now as the boats passed each other they resumed their dance-game until the Angelique was hidden among the boats in the crowded harbor.

       We were outbound on a five-day sail around Penobscot Bay, a large bay on the central Maine coast the includes several groups of islands, with countless coves and inlets to explore. During the days that followed, we crossed open water under strong winds. The bay sparkled, low rocks and small trim lighthouses dotted the shores of the many islands. Beyond the shoreline our eyes soaked in the deep green of solid pine forests, and above it all the open sky. In the evenings we anchored next to secluded beaches or small coastal hamlets, and sometimes at night we would awake to find our little part of the world obscured by a blanket in fog.