During many Windjammer Days, Captain Mark Stover invites family and friends (and sometimes paying customers) to go out on his boatRedhookfor a fun ride around the Harbor and out among the islands to watch the ships come in.
Folks would gather around noon at the Tugboat Inn marina to climb aboard. We'd wave to Mark's wife Bonnie, who was never able to join along because of a prohibitive work schedule. When everyone was properly situated, Mark would head up the ladder to the elevated cockpit and begin the departure process. Backing and turning, backing and turning, he gracefully edged Redhookout, clearing other parked boats by inches. But, without hesitation, we'd make our way into the heavy sightseeing traffic circling the harbor in anticipation of The Big Event.
However, for one reason or another, I missed a trip. Either I had other obligations or maybe Mark had boat problems, like an engine to rebuild. I don't recall exactly. At any rate, I was on my own from the shore for my viewing activities. I headed for a favorite vantage point and hoped for glimpses of the majestic ships as they sailed into the Harbor. As I headed for McKown Point, on my way to the Department of Marine Resources buildings, I passed an open spot along the shore near what used to be annex offices for Bigelow Lab, looking out toward Mouse Island.
I pulled over and parked the car in the parking lot next to the annex with hopes of catching a glimpse of unfolding events. I got lucky! There they were. But, they were going the wrong way. Wait! Why were the boats leaving? It wasn’t even quite time for the boats to arrive. That was odd.
Eventually it dawned on me that the boats were headed out to gather themselves for a grand entrance, arriving one after another, dramatically dropping anchor off Fisherman's Wharf, then Rocktide, Brown’s and Carousel, none of which I could see well from the DMR parking lot, I might add.
So this year, with or without Captain Mark, I hope the boats will come back again, before they leave.