Down East 2013 ©
Haul-out. It’s a fascinating process in which a massive, 75-ton, 120-foot (sparred length) schooner is pulled out of its natural environment, the ocean, to have its hull cleaned and painted, only to be returned once again to the cold, briny waters of Penobscot Bay. It’s the only time of year that the J. & E. Riggin is completely out of the water. It’s also the dirtiest, most grueling three to four days of our entire year, when we work from sunup until after sundown (sometimes by the light of our truck’s headlamps) in a race to the finish line — to get off the railway and back in the water on schedule.
Schooners are large vessels, not small boats, and they require the strength of a shipyard railway to haul them out of the water. A shipyard railway is an angled ramp with a set of large railroad tracks that run down the ramp into the water. A cradle, a simple but strong wood and steel framework that can be moved along the set of railroad tracks into and then out of the water, receives the schooner. Once the schooner is in the cradle, supports can be placed underneath, and ultimately the cradle and schooner ride up and down the rails together by way of a large winch and wire cable system. The process is ancient — and ingenious.
About a half hour before high tide, the shipyard crew lowers the cradle down the track and into the water as far as it will go. At this time, we have the schooner en route, being pushed by Annie in the yawl boat. We line up the schooner between the raised catwalks of the cradle and slowly come to a stop, making off bowlines, stern lines, and spring lines out on both sides of the vessel. Once all the lines are on, we cast off the yawl boat and follow directions from the shipyard crew, adjusting the lines to get the vessel perfectly lined up over the keel blocking on the cradle. A diver is required to make sure everything is lined up just right and that no single part of the hull is bearing too much weight. The big winch at the top of the ramp is engaged and slowly pulls the cradle up the rails until the bow of the vessel touches the bed of the cradle. The shipyard crew stops the winch, sends the diver back down to check for proper alignment, then pulls the first set of blocking into the hull to keep the Riggin upright. This slow process continues until all of the stacked blocking is up against the hull and the Riggin’s keel is sitting on the bed of the cradle. When the vessel is completely out of the water and above the high-tide mark, they stop the winch and set the brake.
When the tide recedes, the next three or four (twelve-hour) days are spent power-washing barnacles and green slime off the hull; scraping a mussel farm off the bottom with a two-inch scraper; sanding the entire hull with a disc sander while perching on less-than-perfectly constructed scaffolding; and painting 180 linear feet of bottom and then topside of the hull. It’s enough to give a person a few sore muscles, a cranky disposition, and a longing, not for a bed, but any horizontal surface on which to sleep.
Swiss Chard with Sesame Seeds
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 cups sliced onions; about 1 large onion
1 bunch Swiss chard; about 6 cups chopped and lightly
3 pinches salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Use a knife to separate the chard stems from the leaves by slicing the leaf down each side of the stem. Coarsely chop the leaves and wash and drain well. Chop the stems into ½-inch pieces and wash and drain well.
Heat a wok on high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onions and stir-fry until tender and beginning to brown and caramelize. Add the chard stems and stir-fry until tender, about 1 minute. Add the chard leaves and sprinkle with salt and sesame seeds. Stir-fry until the leaves are tender but still bright green, about another minute. Serve over a bed of rice or as a side.
This salad is an unusual way to serve kale, and is infinitely versatile. The kale will keep much longer in the refrigerator, and I find that when I prep kale like this, I end up reaching for it as a base for my lunch salads more often than not. In the wintertime, when I’m wanting something warm to eat, I just add it to a hot skillet for 1 to 2 minutes and then add other vegetables, protein, or rice. Serves 6 to 8.
12 to 14 ounces kale
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice; less than ½ a lemon
De-stem the kale and rip it into more manageable 2-inch pieces. Wash in cold water, drain well, and pat dry. Drizzle the kale with the olive oil and add the salt and pepper. With your hands, work the oil and salt and pepper into the leaves. When the leaves are fully coated, add the lemon juice and mix again. Serve as is, or add one of the following combinations or your own creation.
Apple, Cranberry, and Walnut
Sesame Seeds, Lime, Sesame Oil, and Warm Shiitake Mushrooms
Pine Nuts, Gorgonzola, and Fresh Tomatoes
Excerpted from Sugar & Salt: A Year at Home and at Sea (Book One: The Blue Book) by Annie Mahle. The book is published by Baggywrinkle Publishing (Rockland, Maine; 136 pages; paperback; $24.95). athomeatsea.com; mainewindjammer.com