It isn’t all pretty sunrises and sunsets

July 13, 2017 – It is not all sunrises and sunsets!

Today turned out to be one of those days where there is no glory in being a caretaker at Seguin.  Brian and I needed to figure out why the composting heads in the cottage were not working properly.  I spent hours reading over the manual and diagnosing the problem but I needed Brian to help with the hoses and clamps.  It appears over time the composting heads evaporating tray can have ammonia salt build up and the drain hose becomes clogged.  Without going into very specific details, the problem was the liquids were not draining and perhaps they needed to be removed manually, not a fun or glorious job.

After 5 hours with boiling water, pine shavings, a plastic shovel and an air compressor, I can finally report I think the clogged drain is functioning again and I needed a very long hot shower.  The guest cottage composting head will be tackled next week.

Tara is the only one who can fit in the very tiny space to work

Almost done, by the end of the day, Tara had hugged and almost climbed into the composting head.

This was a good day to tackle this project because we had a rainy day with northeast winds, not a great combination for visitors to arrive in the cove, including the 2 couples who were supposed to arrive today to stay in the guest cottage, I guess we will need to eat all of the chocolate cookies I had waiting for them.

The funny part of the day is Sam the Seagull.  There is this one seagull who has bonded with us, sort of.  We don’t feed it but he is always watching us when we are outside, usually at a safe distance of 10-15 feet.  He even sits on the chimney when I am up in the tower giving tours.  Last night he decided he was going to oversee Brian and the bbq.

Sam the Seagull is never far away when we are outside

He really is quite handsome

The weather is predicted to be better tomorrow, maybe we will finally see what summer in Maine is supposed to be really like.

 

Guests today – 0

Guests total – 491

USCG – 6

A quiet, foggy day

July 11, 2017 – A quiet, foggy day

This morning we woke up to rain and fog, not the best weather to have visitors. We had a short list of things to get done and no need to rush outside.  I spent some time in the kitchen baking and getting snacks ready for the Wednesday Warriors and the guests staying in the cottage tomorrow night.  The result of the time in the kitchen was Garlic Focaccia Bread, Parmesan Croutons, Chocolate Oatmeal Squares and a large harvest of spinach and lettuce washed and drying for part of tonight’s dinner.

Bread and croutons fresh from the oven

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Squares are set for the Wednesday Warriors

We have an abundance of lettuce and spinach from the garden

We did some fine tuning of the yard maintenance but otherwise it was a restful day of reading, knitting and getting our things together for the day off the island tomorrow.

The most notable thing occurred at sunset, the fog was completely surrounding the island and we could not see the mainland but the sun was strong enough to burn through the cloud cover to give us a great ball of fire, breathtaking.

A fog filled sunset

Guests today – 0

Guests total – 478

USCG – 6

A day of firsts

Friday, July 7, 2017 – A day of firsts

Today started out with us working at chores early because we thought the weather conditions would bring us visitors earlier than normal because the afternoon had some rain predicted.

My goal today was to finish cutting back the North Trail.  This was a first for me, to complete the North Trail and Loop by myself.  It is a lot of work and not the most fun trail to cut especially with the agitated mama seagulls.  Out I went at 7 am to get it done while Brian was finishing up the repairs on the porch off the kitchen.  Things were going well until I was near the north point of the island when another first happened, I got hit hard on the back of my head by a swooping seagull.  I was stunned for a moment, and then realized I needed to finish up and make a hasty retreat.  The good news is I finished the cut back of the trail by myself, the bad news is the bird hit me so hard on the head it caused a laceration, even thru my hat.  By the time I got back to the cottage, my hat and hair were well crusted with blood and I was sporting a large egg on my noggin!  Advice to the visitors may be to skip the end of the North Trail for a few more weeks!

The wild flowers are in bloom all around the island

The wild roses as you walk up the Lighthouse trail are so fragrant

When I got back to the cottage, Brian was giving tours to the Kennebec River Sea Scouts troop 243.  They were originally going to Boston for their summer outing but the seas were a little too big for most on board and the leader called the trip short and brought them to the island for a small recovery period.  There were 12 total on board for a visit.  The Sea Scouts hold a special place in our life because our boat S/V Scout was a former training vessel for the Scouts in Long Island.

By lunch the rain arrived but it did not stop another group of visitors, they arrived by sailboat and wanted the kids to see the island from the tower.  Brian took this tour as well while I stayed warm and dry inside!

This is the look Pickles gives us when we ask her to go out on a cold, rainy day

As the afternoon was winding down, I decided I needed to walk the South Trail to give me another first, walking all of the trails in a day.  We are constantly walking the trails but because the North Trail is always a challenge, I have never walked them all in a day.  Off I went as Brian worked on cutting back the Cove trail.

One of the early hatchlings is now in full feather and flying

Another hatchling still a little fluffy but mostly feathers

A Facebook memory came up on our newsfeed from last year.  We were docked in Elizabeth City, NC and the heat index was above 100 degrees and we were all melting.  Today on the island it reached 59 degrees and we are bundled in layers of fleece and contemplating turning on the space heater!  We are still waiting for that week of summer Maine supposedly has.

Guests today – 17

Guests total – 390

USCG – 6

Thunderstorms and the Thundermoon

Blog – July 8, 2017 – Thunderstorms and full moons

Today’s project list was short and sweet because the weather should be gorgeous for visitors today.  Again, we set off pretty early to get our hour or so work done in time to greet any arrivals.

Brian needed to get the Cove Trail spruced up and he wanted to work a little more on the short vista trail he cut off the Cobblestone Trail.  I wanted to clear out the growth around the fog horn signals, it probably doesn’t make much difference if there are branches blocking the signal apparatus but it doesn’t look very good.

A new vista off of the Cobblestone Trail

The soon to be cleaned up vista overlooking the South Cove

Brian taking a break as he trailblazes to the South Cove

The overgrowth surrounding the fog horn signals

Almost done, just need to weedwhack

All nice and neat now

Oh yeah, I made the most beautiful loaf of bread while out clearing brush

Visitors started arriving by private boats around 10:30, it was just busy enough to give us a chance to talk with the visitors and give them our undivided attention.  When it is busy, I feel like we never have a chance to get to know anyone and make connections.  We expected a group from Ethan today but as noon came and went, we realized he was heeding the thunderstorm warnings being issued by the Coast Guard and NOAA.

By 2pm, the sky was filling in with very dark clouds on the west side of the island coming from the Phippsburg area, but the east sky was perfectly blue.  As the thunder rumbles started, I needed to run down the hill and close the engine room.  When I was down there, a sailboat was heading into the cove and 2 of the power boats visiting earlier were still tied up to the moorings.  Hopefully, all were staying safe in the cove which should provide a safe haven with the wind predictions.

Storm clouds arriving from the west

As the rain started, a family crested the hill.  Turns out they were on the sailboat and wanted the family safe on land and not on the boat.  It was fun sharing the storm with them up in the tower, they were a family on a week’s sailing vacation who live in Freeport.  When the storm finally wound down, they were ready to sail off to the Basin around Small Point.  We promised to take pictures of their boat as it sailed away from the island and email the pictures to them.

SV Inseparable on their way after the storm

Tonight, was the full moon, the Thundermoon.  Brian tends to be the night owl and I am the early bird.  After today, I was sound asleep by 8p and Brian was able to get some gorgeous pictures of the moon rising.

The Thundermoon as the flag was to be lowered

Guests today – 23

Guests total – 413

USCG – 6

Sunday, July 2nd

Sunday, July 2, 2017

This morning was a fogged in mess, even sitting in the tower using the internet, I could barely see the Oil House.  We really hope we have visitors today, we are beginning to feel a little unloved because of the unseasonable yucky weather.

Overlooking sunset bench

First thing we did was walk down to the cove to make sure the 2 boats moored for the overnight in the cove were safe after the weather that blew through here last night.  Appears all is well and one of the boats left in the dense fog before we made it down there this morning.  While we were down there we figured we would bring another 5-gallon container of drinking water back up to the cottage, last one needing the trip up for the week.

This is how we carry 5 gallons of water up the Lighthouse Trail to the house

When we made it back up to the cottage, the fog had cleared from the summit but we could still see heavy fog at water level.  We decided to start the grass cutting up top before any guests arrived even though everything is so wet but if we don’t start now, the grass will be over 6 inches by tomorrow.  I got on the riding mower and Brian was kind enough to do the push mower and weedwacking.  As a team, we got the top looking perfect within an hour.

A few visitors arrived in the mid-day from private boats after the fog cleared, including 3 from my home town of Marion, MA.  It was fun comparing addresses of the roads we grew up on and who we knew in common. From that point, it was a slow afternoon.  We were just getting ready to take showers and get ready to make dinner when a large group of people crested the hill, ok, 21 people in 3 groups to be exact arrived around 5pm from private boats.  Turns out they reported all moorings were full, 6 boats in total.  We wish we could have seen it but we were busy with tours and fishing fly away baseball hats from the roof.

It turned out to be a gorgeous day, great for boat spectating.  Hundreds of sailboats were out and around the island and Sheepscot Bay.  Always a fun time for us! Also, I had some time to take a walk around the trails to get some pictures of my favorite baby seagulls and a few other fun sites.

Giant spinnaker

Classic Ketch

Sparrows

Brand spanking new baby seagull

Sandpiper

We finished off the night by climbing the tower for sunset and our first fireworks display of the holiday weekend at the top of the tower.

Waiting for the fireworks in Phippsburg and Southport

Guests today – 26

Guest total – 251

USCG – 6

Happy Canada Day

Saturday, July 1, 2017 – Happy Canada Day

another foggy day on island

When we went to bed last night, the forecast for the holiday weekend looked spectacular.  Unfortunately, it is only a forecast and reality is very different. I woke up to one of the densest fogs yet on the island and the NOAA Marine forecast did not offer much hope for visitors today but we are ready to greet anyone who comes to visit.

As I was sitting at the computer this morning, there was a flash of movement out the window, I figured it was a bird capturing any left-over bugs from last night.  Not quite, the movement was a chickadee trying to eat something but the food item was bigger than the bird, it was a giant moth.  It is a Polyphemus Moth, a member of the giant silk moth species and it is a female (thanks for the information Google). The moth was hanging on to the window frame and the little birds were ready to celebrate with a giant feast.  The moth had different ideas and tried to fly away.  It most likely had just hatched from its cocoon and the birds were very opportunistic, no matter if I interfered, mother nature was going to prevail.

Polyphemus Moth

Female Polyphemus Moth, the female for once gets the prettier coloring in nature

As sailors over the past few years, we have met many Canadians and we knew July 1st is Canada Day and this year marks the 150th Anniversary.  Brian found a small Canadian flag which we proudly displayed for our northern friend’s day of celebration.

Happy Canada Day

After breakfast, we walked the trails and were very surprised to still find nests with eggs in them, one was just hatching as we walked by.  The hatching period for the seagulls is far broader than my research has showed.  We are seeing hatchlings that are sporting feathers and are ready to look like birds and then there are still eggs being incubated.  Good news for me because it gives me many more weeks of entertainment.  There is also this one seagull that seems to want to be part of our family.  It is always hanging around the yard near the cottage, sits on the rail of our porch or up on top of the chimney so I can see it when I give tours.  And he seems to like Brian more, probably because he tends to eat more frequently outside.  We have an agreement never to feed seagulls on the boat and supposedly he insists he doesn’t feed them here!

Mama and her chick off of the South Trail

Newly hatched chick and his nest mate working hard to join our world

Our new best friend, he still hasnt been given a name

Just hanging out with us wherever we go, even up on the tower

There isn’t much to do on the island at this point for projects to keep us busy and we are looking forward to the summer crowds to come visit us.  We don’t do relaxing well when it is cold and wet.  But as we were walking down at Cobblestone Beach, Brian found what looked like an overgrown path to the South Cove and area that is beautiful but as of now you can only access over a very steep rock climb.  Brian decided to change that, off he went with pruners and the weed whacker to clean up what looks like an old trail.  This should keep him busy for the afternoon.

Brian showing off the new trail/vista he is working on off the Cobblestone Beach Trail

Trail in process

11 o’clock came and went and no visitors were brought from the mainland but there was one sailboat on the moorings, most likely as a safe haven from the dense fog and the predicted thunderstorms for the afternoon.  Hopefully they will put their dinghy in the water and come for a visit.

I ended up cutting back some young trees near the helipad to square up the landing area in my hope of still getting the USCG Helicopter to land sometime this summer.  And of course, on a yucky day I bake, today was a new bread recipe, nothing better than a house that smells like fresh baked bread.

Brian finished the first cut of the path to the South Cove and wanted to show it off so with camera in hand, back down the trails we go.  He did a lot of work and it will be another nice vista off the Cobblestone Beach Trail, he still has plans to widen it and try to make a safe stopping point for it.  Tomorrow is another day and if no visitors again, I am sure he will have this done in no time.

As we headed back to the cove, another sailboat came in to the mooring field as the wind picked up.  We went from light and variable one minute to wind speeds in the 20’s.  Not the calmest of places to ride out a storm but if the wind directions don’t change it is a much safer spot than out in Sheepscot Bay in dense fog and a thunderstorm rolling over you.

Two sailboats using the cove as a safe haven from the weather

Tonight, I had extra time to experiment with dinner, we defrosted a pork loin roast for dinner and I have a lot of fresh spinach from the garden. Also, it was an oven dinner because the weather was not the best for grilling out.  I ended up making a spinach/cheese stuffed pork loin for dinner and even Brian suggested I post this as a recipe.  So, tomorrow in the fog, I will write up the recipe and post it for everyone to give it a try.

Guests today – 0

Guests total – 225

USCG – 6 (I have cleared the helipad for more to visit, and I will bake for them if they come, would love to see this number get bigger!)

 

Quiet Days

Friday, June 30, 2017

The past two days have been somewhat quiet and routine out here on the island.  The afternoon storms are bringing a lot of water which makes my vegetable garden happy and the grass grows inches while we watch it!  The problem is it is so wet at this point, it is hard to cut the grass, we should really have a few goats out here getting fat on this island grass.

Brian and I are in a good routine now for the summer season.  We figured out anything that needs to be done should be completed before 11am.  This gives us time to wash up, have a snack and a long drink of water.  Then at 11:30am the guests from the ferry usually appear at the top of the hill and are ready for a tour.  Brian tends the gift shop and likes the more relaxed atmosphere to chat with the guests, and I take the groups up and down the tower hoping to instill some excitement in them with the history of the island and lighthouse.  As a team, it is working well when we have a constant stream of guests.

The best rainbows in the tower show themselves around noon on a sunny day

The hardest part of the day is when we think there will not be any more visitors and we start to unwind around 5ish. Then, suddenly, we have a few more people walking up, usually a private boat stopping for a quick visit.

Ally, a 6 month old border collie, burning off some energy chasing sticks in the cove

We have been blessed to meet many new sailing/cruising friends who heard about Seguin Island and us being lighthouse keepers here, they have added this as a stop on their trips farther north.  We hope we get to see some of these folks when we get back to our boat this winter as we all migrate to warmer waters.

Brian chatting with Russell from S/V Blue Highways about engines

This afternoon, one of the boats arriving to the island mentioned there was a baby seal in the cove hanging out near the sand/rock line at the beach.  Of course, I needed to go down and see.  It is always a gamble for me to go see any type of animal because I tend to create a whole story line behind them and make myself upset worrying the animal will be alright.  Turns out, this little guy has some fresh propeller strike wounds on its back, but it is swimming when it needs to protect itself.  Hopefully, he/she just needs a little rest on the beach to make it to adulthood.

Baby seal resting on the beach

Guests today (and Thursday) – 15

Guests total – 225

USCG – 6

The Chicks are growing up

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 – The Chicks are growing up

Sunrise behind the lighthouse tower

I am a morning person, Brian is the night lover.  Most of the sunset pictures are taken by Brian but the sunrise is all mine.  It was gorgeous this morning and as I was out walking the dogs, I realized how beautiful it is with the tower in the foreground.  Six weeks on the island and I have never witnessed this view before.  I hope everyone has a chance to start their day this way.

Wild Iris seen on the walk this morning

Low tide is early today, around 7:30a and gives me the perfect chance to go sea glass hunting on the beach and to take more around the island stroll without a soul around me.  It turned out even better than I could have imagined.  As my head was down looking for treasures, suddenly, I hear a combination bark and growl, yikes, not a sound I should be hearing.  A seal was sunning itself on the beach not 10 feet from me.  It makes a bee line for the water and my heartrate has a chance to slow down.  I continued around the path and I spied some amazingly cute, fuzzy creatures walking along the rocks.  The 2 juvenile seagulls were on the rocks near the nest I watch hatch on June 9th and their age is about right for the 2 I saw today to be the 2 I watch hatch.  I am utterly fascinated by these two, I can’t wait to find more.  Patty, the keeper from last year, sent me a quick message there will be a lot more on the rocks soon.

The chick in the foreground is the original hatched egg, its younger sibling is in the back ground (Friday 6/9/17)

The 3 week old chicks, hatched around June 9th

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The chore list isn’t too bad for today because we figured a gorgeous day would bring a lot of visitors.  I realize I need to be near the museum by 11ish to greet people instead of out maintaining a trail and when the boat arrives, both of us need to be here.

As I started my second group up to the lighthouse, I began chatting with a group and they asked where we were from originally.  I responded Connecticut, and after a few exchanges, we find out she is a great friend with our niece who still live in the town Brian grew up in, Stratford, CT.  It always amazes me how small our huge world really is.

As we were giving tours, a few schooners were sailing by the island on their way to Boothbay Harbor for an antique boat parade this afternoon.  Not bad for rush hour traffic on the island. Most of the tours were also blessed with a view of Mt Washington, 90 miles away in NH.

SV Adventure

SV Harvey Gamage

Rush hour near the island, two schooners heading to Boothbay and a tug and barge heading towards Casco Bay

The afternoon started to wind down and Brian went out to the North Trail to finish the cutting out there but one of the mama seagulls had a different plan, she would not let Brian go by the rock her baby was on.  Very protective seagulls out here, so maybe the trail will get done another day.

Mama seagull protectively standing over her chick

The skies around 4pm got dark and we could hear the rumble of thunder on the mainland and the sheets of rain were coming our way.  The weather station we have in the living room has shown us its sense of humor on windy days but today it was all about the rain, and for an hour we had a typical afternoon squall line move through and yes it was raining cats and dogs.

Raining Cats and Dogs

Guests today – 28

Guests total – 210

USCG – 6

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Wednesday, June 29, 2017 – Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

This recipe has been my standard go to recipe for years, it was adapted from one of my dad’s recipes who was a master baker since the 1940’s in the New Bedford, MA area.  It is one of those recipes where you can tweak it to make it your own with mix-in’s.  I use the base recipe for White Chocolate/Macadamia Nut cookies which are also a favorite.

The best part about this recipe is the compliments you will get when you bake them for someone.  We had overnight guests this past weekend and I baked a batch to share upon their arrival.  James, the young gentleman in the group, wrote a note in the guest book; ‘Thanks Tara for the amazing cookies, they are better than my mom’s’.  High praise indeed!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ cup butter (softened)

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup white sugar

1 ½ tsp vanilla

1 large egg

1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips (or another flavor)

1 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

 

Beat butter in a large bowl for 1 minute until smooth.  Add sugars, salt and vanilla and continue to beat 1-2 minutes. Beat in egg at low speed until blended.  Stir in flour and baking soda.  Then add the chips and nuts.

Drop by tablespoon (because everyone likes a big cookie) onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes until golden on outer rim and light gold in center (this will give you a soft cookie).  Cool on rack for 2-3 minutes and then transfer cookies to wax paper for about 5 minutes to absorb some of the oils and completely cool.

 

A few hints:  Make a double batch, you will want to share some and eat some.  Also, use parchment paper in most baking of cookies, makes a huge difference.  And always use nuts with this recipe, I have tried many times to make the recipe without nuts and usually it turns out as a failure, the extra oil in the nuts must make the difference.

 

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

Sailing Friends

Monday, June 27, 2017

Today low tide was around 7 am which gave me a chance to do a little sea glass hunting before the day of chores and visitors began.  When I arrived at the cove there were 2 sailboats already on the moorings, one of the first indications this was going to be a busy day.  I did spend a little time walking along the beach and rocks and my persistence paid off, another blue piece of sea glass was the treasure for the day.  Also, the flock of Common Eider Ducks were swimming in the cove with 11 ducklings, always a good sight for me.

Eider ducklings swimming in the cove

The day could not be more perfect for a summer day.  We knew that visitors usually start appearing around 11 which should give us a few hours of time to get a few things done to be ready to greet guests later in the morning.  Today’s chores included yard and trail maintenance, cleaning the guest quarters and of course, the weekly maintenance to Clivus, the composting head(toilet) down near the cove.

Oh, living in a lighthouse is so wonderful they said, until reality hits and you are cleaning the composting head!

Perfect early summer day on island

SV Bear

SV Bentana

One of our first couple to visit us this morning were fellow sailors.  S/V Bear arrived in the cove bright and early and it turns out the first mate was a member of Women Who Sail on Facebook (I am too!).  She saw a post I made about being a lighthouse keeper on Seguin for the summer and they wanted to stop for a visit and a photo op as they sailed north towards Bar Harbor.  The best part was they gifted us with some homemade cookies, we will never turn down cookies!  As the crew from S/V Bear was relaxing back on their boat, another cruising friend hailed us on the VHF radio to say hi and to let us know they would be stopping back for a visit at the end of the summer.  It makes us incredibly jealous of everyone out sailing these great waters, but we will be up here next year with the boat to enjoy.

SV Tiny Bubbles II

Brian and I kept working in between tours and had a chance to take a breather later in the afternoon when we had a chance to sit and talk with a young family with 3 boys who have been cruising for the past year but were teachers on a Maine island in a one room schoolhouse and have decided while the boys are still young to change their cruising grounds to warmer areas.  S/V Tiny Bubbles II were a fun family and we had many similar experiences to share, they gave us some great information on Maine anchorages and we gave some advice on traveling south on the Intercoastal Waterway.  Hopefully we will meet up again in the Florida waters this winter.

Tonight’s dinner included a small offering from the garden, the first harvest of the growing season!  We had enough spinach to add to our pasta for dinner!  Need to plant another crop of spinach to have it all summer, on tomorrows list to do!

The first harvest from the veggie garden

The day was winding down and Brian and I just stopped to enjoy the weather.  We watched S/V Tiny Bubbles II sail around Small Point onto their new adventures.  This position for the summer can have its drawbacks but a little piece of heaven was experienced this afternoon.

Brian sitting enjoying the afternoon with the seagull that hangs around us in the yard most days

 

The start of sunset after a beautiful day

Guests today – 19

Guests total – 182

USCG – 6