Category Archives: September 12

Motivated to build a vessel that is all about the pleasure of rowing

Scott Vaitones rowing his newly launched 13’ peapod, Jeuros Skitlas (Sea Glass)

Scott Vaitones rowing his newly launched 13’ peapod, Jeuros Skitlas (Sea Glass)

About four years ago, Teel Cove resident Scott Vaitones bought a set of plans for a 13’ peapod designed by Belfast boatbuilder Arch Davis and stuck them on a shelf. It was last winter, the first of being retired from his position as business manager at the St. George School, that he dug them out and started reading them through. On days he could stand the cold in his unheated workshop, he built the “stations” that would guide him as he shaped the hull. He then began putting the boat together in May and launched it this past August 18, christening it with a bottle of Shipyard Ale.

“I’ve always liked how pea pods look,” Vaitones says. “I’ve always known how nice they are to row and I love to row, so I figured I’d build a peapod for rowing, for exercise.”

Vaitones had previously built three or four skiffs, a couple of canoes and a 16’ “stitch-n-glue” center console from scratch. “I also hauled a 20’ runabout out of the St. George transfer station that had been in a severe fire, took it completely apart and rebuilt it as a 20’ center console. And then, of course, I had done general boat repairs during the eight years I lobstered commercially year-round out of Port Clyde.”

Vaitones says that, as far as can be documented, pea pods were first designed and built on North Haven around 1870. “They were built as a lobster boat, a rowing lobster boat. They were usually about 15’ long and in most cases the guys would row them standing and they would row backwards so they could see where they were going all the time, where their next trap was.”

The advantage of standing while rowing, Vaitones adds, was that the fishermen didn’t have to keep getting up when they got to a trap. “And much like a dory, peapods are designed to tip to a point but then a lot of stability kicks in. So if you’re hauling a trap and leaning over the side, it goes down with you, but then it stabilizes. And probably the more weight you have in the boat—bait, lobsters—the more stable it becomes.” He pauses to let that sink in, then adds with a wry smile, “So, hopefully, as the day goes on, you trade bait for lobsters.”

As the peapod developed on North Haven, Vaitones notes, some builders added masts for sailing and, when power came along, some added engines. But his preference has always been is for a vessel intended to be rowed.

Vaitones says he made one major modification to Arch Davis’ plans. “The plans called for the boat to be lapstraked, so that the hull looked like clapboards on a house. But in reading through the plans I thought it was a complicated way of building. As I made the stations I thought, this is identical to how I built canoes. Each station is different and so you are bending the wood of the hull around the stations to a stem. So once I decided I was going to build it out of cedar strips it was a matter of modifying the plans to make it come out.”

Vaitones used flexible yellow Alaskan cedar strips in constructing his peapod.

Vaitones used flexible yellow Alaskan cedar strips in constructing his peapod.

The yellow Alaskan cedar strips, which Vaitones bought from a company in New Hampshire, are very, very flexible and measure 3/4” by 1/4” cove and bead. One side of the strip is coved in and the other side is rounded out as a bead. The strips are edge-glued and stapled to hold them in place, with the staples being pulled out once the hull is assembled. Vaitones made the floorboards and seats out of fir decking he got from E.L. Spear. “The fir has no knots, so it was nice clean lumber,” Vaitones notes. To give a little accent to the seats he inserted cedar strips bead edge up between the decking.

Finally, Vaitones gave both the outside and the interior of his peapod a skin of fiberglass. “I probably didn’t need to put the fiberglass on the inside, but by the time you’re sanding the cedar strips to get the glue out of them they are pretty thin, so I know now I can’t punch a hole in the hull. I used epoxy and I used a light cloth—with bigger boats I’ve used a heavier cloth—but this ties it together.”

Once he began actual construction of the peapod, he’d be out in his workshop by about 6am. “I’d get an hour’s work in and then there would be six or 12 hours of dry time. I’d sometimes come out to the workshop at about 7pm, do another 15 minutes of work so that it would be dry for me to work on in the morning.”

Vaitones admits there were moments when, even with Arch Davis’ plans in hand, he got stuck. “I made mistakes and I got to places where I didn’t know what I was doing, so I would back off and do some research or talk to somebody like George Emery to get some advice.”

The oars for Vaitones’ peapod were made in Orono, by Shaw & Tenney, a company founded in 1858 that is now the second oldest manufacturer of marine products in the U.S. The company’s website states, “We make our products just as we did in 1858—to last a lifetime.”

Since launching his peapod, which Vaitones named Jeuros Skitlas (Sea Glass) in honor of his Lithuanian grandparents on his father’s side, Vaitones has been building up his rowing strength with short excursions in front of his and wife Ginny’s home on Teel Cove. Eventually, both he and Ginny expect to be venturing further out along the St. George River.

“We’ll probably row up and down the river, but when we’ve been out in our 25’ dual console with a 250 HP outboard on it—a boat that can cover 60 to 100 miles in a day on the various bays—we’ve had enough close encounters with kayaks that I don’t want to put myself out there in a not very maneuverable rowing vessel on a day when the fog comes in. I’m not planning to cross the Atlantic. I’ll happily stay on the shorelines.”­

PHOTOS: Julie Wortman

Feeling at home again

Nature bummin’ with Kirk Gentalen

Snowberry Clearwing Moth

Snowberry Clearwing Moth

Vacations are great. Returning in a relaxed state, with “new” eyes and a clean plate ready for connections both “re-“ and “new” can be a blast. Things get back to normal, but not exactly how things were when you left, because your vacation changed you. Hopefully for the better, but whatever. Time to get back to feeling “at home.”

For some reason birds are often what first grabs my attention when exploring a new world or an old world with new eyes. After returning from a recent adventure, I found myself tapping into the local chickadee scene to catch up on what was going down in the neighborhood—songbird speaking, of course. From their chatter it was clear the chickadees’ behavior had changed in our time away. First off, the chickadees were part of a sizable flock, as their “chip” and “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” calls were mixing in with calls from other avian species. As day lengths grow shorter, black-capped chickadees dissolve their territories and merge with neighboring chickadee groups to form larger flocks. Safety in numbers is key when courting and breeding seasons are over. Chickadee groups also allow other songbirds (and woodpeckers, etc.) to take advantage of the kind of survival strategy that only a “mixed-species flock” can supply. The first group of chickadees I saw had Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos, a young Magnolia Warbler, a Northern Parula and a small handful of Black-throated Green Warblers mixed in. The sight made me feel a bit more at home …

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

I then got all jazzed up to “reclaim” the meadow trail system in our yard. After a few weeks of un-checked, mid-summer growth, the trails had become an “aster jungle.” Before I was to “rehabilitate” the plants on the pathways, I strolled through and checked out what this “micro-jungle scene” was made of fauna-wise. Finding dragonflies perching and hunting from the flowers was no surprise as was seeing bees, flies and butterflies slurping up nectar as they tried to avoid the dragonflies. The presence of Clearwing Moths (Genus Hermanis), however, was what got me most excited. The two species of Hermanis are collectively referred to as “Hummingbird Moths,” but in reality they come in two separate flavors—“Snowberry Clearwing” (H. diffins), whose abdomens are mostly yellow, and the “Hummingbird Clearwing” (H. thysbe), whose abdomens are orangey-red. The combination of coloration and abdomen shape inspires my friend Amanda Devine to refer to the H. thysbe as “Skylobsters.” Fitting description. Both species were inhabitants of the aster jungle that day and I couldn’t have been happier.

Red-black Salamander

Red-black Salamander

Where most moths flit around slowishly at night and gather at lights (boring!), these Clearwing Moths were flying faster than fast—zipping from flower to flower and then eventually zipping by my head. By far the coolest moths to watch!!! Crossing paths with both species was a wonderful welcome back to the ‘hood. I still slayed the asters in my yard trails—but there are plenty of flowers “off trail” for the Clearwings to tap into! If I wasn’t totally feeling at home yet, I was well on my way.

Nothing, though, can “take one home” as much as a good ole creek walk can. For our creek walk adventure Leif and I grabbed some nets, snagged a couple of buds—Oliver and Clifford—and headed to Jones Creek. Water was flowing strong after a recent rain, and frogs were jumping in mad dashes as they spied the four of us trucking none-so-stealthfully down the creek. After one green frog was secured in our bucket (and several more took advantage of the endless number of hiding places in the creek), we

Releasing the frog

Releasing the frog

switched gears to salamander “hunting.” We’ve found adult Northern Dusky Salamanders close to the creek on past visits, but on this day we were fortunate enough to find larval salamanders still in the creek! “This year’s model” of Dusky’s, complete with external gills. We wrapped up our outing with a Red-backed Salamander and numerous Amanita mushrooms. Needless to say, we were pumped and I was feeling more and more grounded and present. Nothing hits the spot like a good creek walk, with four sets of eyes looking. The more the merrier.

It can be great to get away, and it can be just as great to get back. Back in the groove, back on the train, back in the neighborhood. Back home. Come back with different eyes and reconnect in whatever ways suit you. Nature is an easy one, because “you can’t and you won’t and you don’t stop.” There is no place like home.

PHOTOS: Kirk Gentalen

Photo: Mid-Coast School of Technology

Installation of the mural on the facade of the new Mid-Coast School of Technology building in Rockland began the week after Labor Day. St. George artist Katharine Cartwright served as the Artist Consultant on the project, which involved students from the school’s graphic design and technology program. Find out more about the complexities involved with creating the mural by looking up The Dragon’s feature story on the project, “The challenges behind creating a compelling outdoor mural aimed at celebrating MCST’s presence in Rockland,” in our March 14, 2019 issue.

Installation of the mural on the facade of the new Mid-Coast School of Technology building in Rockland began the week after Labor Day. St. George artist Katharine Cartwright served as the Artist Consultant on the project, which involved students from the school’s graphic design and technology program. Find out more about the complexities involved with creating the mural by looking up The Dragon’s feature story on the project, “The challenges behind creating a compelling outdoor mural aimed at celebrating MCST’s presence in Rockland,” in our March 14, 2019 issue.

PHOTO: Jonmikel Pardo

Dragon Eats

Maine Peach Pound Cake

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh peaches, pitted & chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 10 inch tube pan and coat with white sugar.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Reserve 1/4 cup of flour for later, and sift together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Use the reserved flour to coat the chopped peaches, then fold the floured peaches into the batter. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with a fresh peach or blueberry sauce if you like.

Celebrating completion of the Keeper’s Barn and Workshop at the Marshall Point Lighthouse

Members of the Lighthouse Committee attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 28. From left to right: Dave Percival, Laura Betancourt, Joan Duffy, Diana Bolton, Nat Lyon, Jan Gaudio, Craig Parsons, Lynne Hall, Lorraine Hupper, Mark Bartholomew

Members of the Lighthouse Committee attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 28. From left to right: Dave Percival, Laura Betancourt, Joan Duffy, Diana Bolton, Nat Lyon, Jan Gaudio, Craig Parsons, Lynne Hall, Lorraine Hupper, Mark Bartholomew

On Wednesday, August 28, 2019, Marshall Point Lighthouse and Museum celebrated the completion of the reproduction Keeper’s Barn and Workshop with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Many community representatives, journalists, donors and lighthouse volunteers gathered for the historic moment.

The original barn was built about the turn of the 20th century and served as storage and work space for the lighthouse keepers. Several of the keepers used the barn as a secondary means of support. Shoemaking and lobster-trap building were among the occupations practiced in the Keeper’s Barn and Workshop. The Coast Guard removed the old barn in 1971, when the light became automated, no longer requiring a keeper.

The Lighthouse Committee wishes to thank everyone for their generous donations of time and money which made successful completion of this project possible. It was a true community effort. Port Clyde pastor, Randall Thissell helped in consultations with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. Local builder Paul Gill, who at one time lived in the keeper’s house with his family, led the crew that built the beautiful post-and-beam barn. Jay Cook of Tenants Harbor provided the stone foundation work, using granite from the old Wildcat Quarry. Local builder Steve Thomas, former host of “This Old House” on PBS, donated time for a fundraising event. The support of many local businesses, artists, organizations, residents, visitors and lighthouse lovers helped us meet the challenge of raising the $150,000 needed.

The barn will allow consolidation of artifacts in one place, making rotation of exhibits easier. Come by and see the outstanding workmanship of our newest addition to the campus. And watch for some of the additional projects in the works, like a webcam, and the return of the Marshall Point 5th Order Fresnel lens, which has been at the Lighthouse Museum in Rockland.
—Laura Betancourt

PHOTOS: Top, Sean Fowlds, bottom, Carolwood Productions

Native plant corner

Wild bergamot (monarda fistulosa)

Wild bergamot (monarda fistulosa)

We have been enjoying the hummingbird and insect activity in a sea of wild bergamot (monarda fistulosa) blooming in the gardens since early August. A clump-forming, showy member of the mint family, monarda fistulosa is a Maine native with pale lavender to violet pom-pom like blooms which appear from late July through September. The dense globular flower of wild bergamot is made up of a cluster of hollow tube-like structures that deliver nectar to long-tongued bees, day and night flying moths, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Fritillary butterfly in wild bergamot

Fritillary butterfly in wild bergamot

Wild bergamot thrives in dryish to medium moist (but not wet) soils in full sun to partial shade and can tolerate somewhat poor soils. Typically, bergamot grows two to four feet in height, forms clumps, and may self-seed to form a substantial colony in the garden. Its complex lavender bloom sits atop a square stem. Each dense flower head rests upon a whorl of showy pink leafy bracts. The toothed greyish-green leaves are very aromatic and some use these leaves to steep for a minty tea.

Hummingbird Clearwing Sphinx Moth nectaring in wild bergamot

Hummingbird Clearwing Sphinx Moth nectaring in wild bergamot

Wild bergamot is an excellent addition to your pollinator garden and is complemented at this time of year by yellow composite flowers like native black-eyed Susans (e.g. rudbeckia hirta and rudbeckia triloba) and native ox-eye sunflower (helianthus helianthoides), mauve colored Joe-pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) and white boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum).
—Jan Getgood

PHOTOS: Jan Getgood

Always on the prowl for parts on the path to ‘enlightenment’

Fred and Ginger 5x3 200 dpiMaurice (Morry) Klapfish is not the only person in St. George who frequents the town transfer station in search of cast-offs that just might come in useful. But he’s probably one of the only ones who sees value in bent and broken lamps.

Klapfish1“Finding parts is the biggest challenge in repairing lamps,” Klapfish explains, holding up a floor lamp he recently scored off the metal pile. Most of the lamps people bring him for repair are old, sometimes antique, so while the electrical upgrades they require will involve new parts, the repair, Klapfish says, should still look in keeping with the age and style of the lamp. So the many component pieces of the battered old metal-pile lamp might be a valuable source of parts for a future repair.

New sockets, for example, can be inserted into old socket casings appropriate to the lamp. Likewise, missing screws need to be replaced by screws like the originals. Klapfish points to shelf upon shelf of his home workshop that are filled with boxes and boxes of lamp parts—all kinds of switches, glass shades, sconces, and ornamental pieces. “I rely very heavily on this collection of old stuff,” he says.

Although repairing lamps consumes more and more of his time these days, he started out making lamps rather than fixing them. “My wife, Anne, was always nosing around flea markets and antique shops for interesting furnishings and curiosities. [Anne Klapfish is the proprietor of Stonefish, a boutique located next to Village Ice Cream in Port Clyde.] One day she brought home an old surveyor’s tripod and asked if I could make it into a lamp. Then she brought home some duck pins and wanted me to make some lamps out of them.”

Carmen 2.5x3.33 200 dpiWith a background in engineering, the electrical work was very easy for Klapfish, but the creative side of the work was unexpectedly satisfying. Soon Klapfish found himself on the prowl for other objects to re-purpose—mainly pieces of junk he would find during regular visits to Larry’s Second Hand Shop. Sometimes his creations took the form of whimsical characters such as one he called “Carmen Electra.” Others include “Ginger Rogers” and “Fred Astaire,” which are available from Lamp Revival.

“Making lamps is fun,” he says, “but repairing lamps can be a challenge—especially when you are trying to fix something that looks hopelessly destroyed.”

One of those apparently hopeless challenges that Klapfish took on recently was a wooden chandelier that had been dropped and smashed. The uniqueness of the piece meant that finding replacement parts wasn’t an option. “Sometimes you have to make the parts you need,” he says, pointing to a small metal shade he made to match others on the piece. Anne helped him by figuring out how to match the paint. Klapfish also had to find invisible ways to repair places where the wood had been broken.

Few people have lighting fixtures that require such extensive repairs, but “everyone has lamps that need repairs, “ says Klapfish. “Even THIS house has lamps that are in bad shape!” he adds with a rueful laugh. Old cords, sticky switches, and outdated wiring are safety hazards that in most cases can easily and cheaply be addressed. “Most repairs are nickel-and-dime stuff,” he notes.

A sign saying “Lamp Repair” hangs from a post outside the Klapfish home on Route 131, directly opposite St. George Realty in Tenants Harbor. Call 372-9998 for more information or visit Lamp Revival at ­—JW

Closing the door on a great, long run

Noble2If you enter the lobby of the Tenants Harbor post office to mail a letter, you will see three porcelain plaques with distinctive blue lettering letting you know when the last mail pick-up is, where Netflix goes and where all other mail can be deposited. Inside, there is a nameplate with the postmaster’s name on it, also porcelain with the same blue lettering. Indeed, there are porcelain spoon holders, mugs, and serving bowls in homes all over the St. George peninsula with stylized lupines, birds of peace and spruce landscapes in a similar style. Sadly, the supply of these cheerful pieces will soon dry up because their makers, potters Trish and Steve Barnes, have decided, 30 years into operating Noble Clay, that it is time to shut their Martinsville showroom/studio door and retire.

“It’s been a bittersweet decision,” says Trish. “We’ve had the most wonderful customers, loyal and true, many of whom have become friends. But we want to spend more time with our kids and grand kids.” And just maybe, she adds with a rueful smile, “have the chance to have a real Maine summer.”

The path that led the couple to bring Noble Clay to Maine in 1990 began in Swarthmore, Penn., after the two reconnected with each other at a birthday gathering. Steve had recently decided to leave his post teaching biology at the University of Delaware—”University politics drove me crazy,” he says—and had taken an adult education class in pottery, which he enjoyed. Trish had already been working in clay, creating sculptural pieces. When they decided to marry they made a plan to set up in business.

Trish brought two sons into the marriage, so making a success of the enterprise was essential. “Steve got real good at making pottery real fast.”

“And Trish taught me all I needed to know,” Steve quickly adds.

The couple started out making red earthenware pieces, but encountered too many technical problems. “Then we went to white clay, to stoneware and finally to porcelain,” Trish recalls. “Porcelain was by far the most wonderful clay to work with. It has it’s technical challenges, but over the years it has cooperated well with us.”

In December 1983, at a holiday craft show, they debuted Noble Clay and what became their signature style, now so well known in St. George. “We named ourselves Noble Clay because Steve’s middle name is  Noble and Patricia means ‘of noble birth,’” Trish explains.

Right from the beginning they applied lettering to their plates, something that proved not only attractive but very popular for custom designs commemorating special occasions such as weddings or the birth of a child or grandchild. “We were influenced by the work of Pennsylvanian German potters—I loved the lettering they used,” Trish says. Having done calligraphy since high school, she found the idea of applying lettering to clay especially appealing.

The decision to move to Maine came in 1989, once their sons were finished with high school. Steve’s family were longtime summer residents at Howard’s Head, so the couple knew where they wanted to be. The house and barn in Martinsville seemed ideal. After renovations, the barn became their studio, with a  narrow showroom on the first floor.

Noble Clay will close its doors September 30. Blue Tulip will carry any remaining Noble Clay pieces for as long as they last after that. “It’s been a great run, “ Trish says. “Thirty years is a long time.”—JW

It’s a girl!

rose and calf SMRose, the Jersey cow who belongs to Tenants Harbor residents Joan Small and Hale Miller, gave birth to her long-awaited calf August 23—and to everyone’s joy it was a girl!  The delivery was a difficult one, but luckily Small and Miller were well prepared and Rose pulled through safely. The new calf is named Daisy.

Gerald is Daisy’s father, a Jersey bull who lives in Waldoboro. Small took Rose to spend the night with Gerald last fall.

Rose provides the Small/Miller family, which includes Miller’s son Eli, with delicious milk, which Small also uses to make soft cheeses such as cottage cheese and cream cheese—and lots of butter.

Keeping a milk cow is a lot of work, admits Small, who is Rose’s primary caregiver. “I’m pretty much chained to Rose’s milking schedule,” she laughs. “But I find I enjoy the routine.”

In the past, when Rose gave birth to male calves, Small had to find people who could use them for breeding or raise them for beef. But Daisy can be raised to be a milk cow, like her mother. Small and Miller have begun a search for the extra pasture a second cow will require.

There is always next year

dragon cabbage leavesGardening is for optimists, for people who know there is next year to look forward to. Next year, when the weather will be the perfect balance of sun and rain; next year, when beetles and caterpillars, deer and raccoons will all forage somewhere else. And next year when I will have all the time and energy I need to keep noxious weeds at bay.

So even as the harvest from the vegetable garden comes roaring in I try to make notes for next year, like to get row covers on the kale and arugula as soon as I sow the seeds to keep those pesky little flea beetles under control. I resolve to push through another wet and cold spring, should we have one like this year’s, and get those cucumbers and squash in the ground even if I have to replant them because they rotted in all the wet. (I don’t even have zucchini this year.) And I resolve to be more vigilant knocking Japanese Beetles into soapy water.

dragon tomato harvestI am also optimistic about the next gardening year because of what I learned from this year. Pruning and trellising the tomatoes the way I did was really good—at last I have figured out how to get a good and manageable crop. (Of course, there’s not much I can do about getting tomatoes earlier in the season unless the weather cooperates.) I keep learning that thinning the crops is the right thing to do, even though I hate losing the baby carrots or beets or chard or turnips that I pull to make room for others.

This summer I learned that I do not care for the Painted Tongue flowers I thought would be good for cutting (beware of glowing descriptions in catalogs)—but I really like the Masumoto China Asters I grew for the first time. I think I’ll cut back on my rudbeckias, particularly those with the dark maroon centers, but I’ll increase zinnia and lacy blue didiscus plantings. I didn’t like how long the gentian salvia took to bloom (it is finally blooming in September), but I have been impressed with how long the statice has performed.

And here in September I am also optimistic that I will be vigilant this autumn in putting the gardens to bed for the winter, so everything will be pruned and tidy and ready for a lovely growing season next year.

—Anne E. Cox (Cox is co-owner of Hedgerow in Martinsville.)

The Ocean House, Port Clyde

PMM Ocean House BWsThe Ocean House is believed to have been built in the 1830s as a rooming house for mariners. It was operated as early as 1851 by Ira Gilman and later by James Brennan, who had a saloon there that drew customers who enjoyed imbibing on the front porch. George Gilman was the owner in 1883.

The original hotel burned in 1888 and was replaced by the “New Ocean House.”

Information provided by Gene Dalrymple

Photograph courtesy Penobscot Marine Museum—PMM Image ID LB2010.9.117547