I don’t get tired of looking at boats, and of all the boats I like the graceful sailboats the best. Watching them glide by is a treat, and it reminded me of a nice bit of poetry about the lure of the sea and the “tall ship” boats:
Sea Fever by John Masefield
I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
There’s a “tall ship” anchored in Stonington’s harbor today. It towers over the other vessels, and gives rise to thoughts of men ‘o war and the old days of wind-powered wooden navies and sailing craft.
All boats are cool, but there’s something especially graceful about sailboats.
Kish is a savvy traveler. She does her homework, and finds bargains and options that other people just don’t know about. I happily enjoy the fruits of her labors.
We wanted to get out on the water in Portland, and she suggested the mailboat run on the Casco Bay Lines. You could take a private cruise, I suppose, but the mailboat run is a lot more interesting and probably cheaper, besides.
For only $13.50, you board an actual mailboat that takes mail and other supplies out to islands in the Casco Bay. You sit up front with the locals while the crew works their tails off to the aft, offloading mail and pallets of supplies. For more than two hours you steam along, stopping at Great Diamond Island, Long Island, Cliff Island, and finally Great Chebeague Island before the boat turns and heads back to Portland.
If you’re lucky enough to have good weather and sit next to a friendly native of Great Chebeague Island you can enjoy a lovely cruise and pick up some of the local lore, too — like how the Bay was outfitted during World War II, why the clouds tend to stay above the land while the sky above the sea is blue, how lobstermen guard their trapping territory, and why locals despise the ugly abandoned power plant smokestack that mars the view back toward the mainland — but also use the smokestack as a marker when they’re fishing.
Casco Bay is a lovely area, and the homes on the islands are stunning. Kish and I came back with sunburns and a slightly deeper understanding of what it must be like to live on an island in the sea.