Yesterday I planned to stop in to the North End Shipyard to take a good look at the Jacob Pike, which I think I want to paint. From there I would go home and do an exercise painting the branches behind my studio.
It would be improper to poke about without saying hello to Shary Cobb Fellows (and her chocolate lab, Coco) in the office. Captain Linda Lee of the schooner Heritage was there. We chatted about the Jacob Pike’s history as a sardine carrier. It may have been a vacation day for many people, but for Captain Linda, it was another day in a new season of fitting out.
The “Jacob Pike” in drydock.
Sometimes what you need to do is just look, so that’s what I did. I looked at that old sardine boat from the front, the back, the propellers, and the top. While I was doing so, I ran into Sarah Collins from the schooner American Eagle. She was crossing the yard in search of wood filler. I talked with her as she sanded that young slip of a rowboat, Roscoe.
In November, Shary took a great photo of the sun rising over Owls Head. In the foreground, the little tug Cadet nestles against American Eagle; behind them is the Rockland light. Yesterday, I noticed that Cadet was back in the same place. That in turn reminded me that I had intended to paint that tugboat last summer; the idea had just gotten away from me.
Cadet was rebuilt over ten years by the American Eagle’s captain, John Foss. She was built in Kennebunkport, Maine, by Bernard Warner in 1935 or 1936 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Captain John Foss wrote in 2011. “At some point she was sold to Ellis S. Snodgrass, who built the Cousins Island bridge in Casco Bay. The Cadet went on to be owned by Cianbro from 1969-1984 after which she was bought by William Clark as the Cadet Corporation in the Portland area. She was used last by John C. Gibson from 1984-1989.”
Instead of my painting kit, I was traveling with my ancient dog. There would be no field painting with his help. But forget the study of the winter woods. I could paint the Cadet. I went back to my studio and started a small sketch. (Boats are complex; it will take me more than a day to finish it.)
As I drew, Pandora queued up Donovan’s Atlantis. That song combines the coolest groove with the stupidest lyrics. Yet, somehow, his mumbling about his “antediluvian baby” seemed perfectly appropriate to the Old Girl on my canvas. I laughed, and my groove was back.