Posted by: tflana | June 10, 2018

A Day Off

Brian and I decided today was going to be a day off for us, no work on projects, no to do lists, just fun in Salem. Ok, really, I always need a list even on our days off island. We had plenty of errands to run for the island as well as a small amount of personal shopping, and a list was the only thing that keeps us organized.
As the coffee was brewing, we started a friendly bet regarding the engine size on the Mako, ‘Radio Waves’. Brian insisted it was 150hp and I kept coming back with it is 115hp, the only way we were going to settle the argument is with putting wagers on the table and head out to the beach for verification. If I won, Brian had to cook dinner for me with no assistance whatsoever from me, and if he is right, he wanted homemade pepperoni pizza. I love it when I know I am right and am going to win hands down, but there was no sense in arguing with him until I could prove the horsepower when we climbed on Radio Waves.
It was time to load up our bags, get the empty propane tanks into the cart and head out on our adventure. We were loaded and off for Salem by 8:30a and Brian finally had to acknowledge I was getting a great dinner tonight! We really didn’t have much of a plan to see the sights, we just wanted to drive around a little, get some lunch, maybe some ice cream and head back to the island by 3ish. What we did learn was a Saturday in Salem on a sunny day is not the best choice for a day off, parking was at a premium and we spent more time finding a parking space down town than we did finally eating lunch at the Scratch Kitchen. Lunch was great, people watching was fun, the ice cream place was too far away in the opposite direction of parking to get dessert, so we will try again next time. Brian ordered a beer with lunch, we are not beer connoisseurs in anyway, he usually just randomly picks one and the funny thing is it was brewed in his hometown of Stratford, CT.

Beer from Brian's Home town

Beer from Brian’s Home Town Stratford, CT

We arrived back the Salem Willows Yacht Club with all our purchases and realized there is no easy way to park and unload the van at the club entrance. Everything needs to be moved by a dock cart from the private parking area along the parks paths to the club entrance. This may not seem like a big deal, but we had 3 full propane tanks, 2 pieces of window glass, flowers, wood to work on the front porch and groceries. We finally decided I would get the launch out to Radio Waves and bring her to the dock by myself and Brian would get all the stuff to the dock for quick loading. This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but I have never docked a boat bigger than a dinghy by myself. The guys on the launch offered to help with a chuckle, but I said no problem, I got this! So yes, I dropped the mooring and docked like I actually knew what I was doing and arrived there before Brian got everything unloaded!
We were true to our word of taking the day off. When we got back to the island we just goofed off until it was dinner time, and I continued to relax while Brian lovingly prepared my favorite dish of his, stuffed pork chops.


As we were sitting on the porch after dinner, the sun was setting, and a schooner was sailing out of Salem Harbor. I grabbed our AIS (Automatic Identification System) program and the schooner was identified as ‘When and If’. Brian remembered that name from something he read on George Patton and sure enough, When and If was George Patton’s boat when he was just a colonel. When he left to fight in WWII, he named his vessel When and If because he told his wife, when and if he came back from the war, he wanted to sail the world with her. The vessel now sails out of Salem Harbor as a tourist boat.

When and If

When and If sailing out of Salem Harbor

AIS When and If

The AIS program that lets us identify the different boats around the island


High tide: 7:56am
Low tide: 2:06pm
Sunrise: 5:05am
Sunset: 8:19pm
Man hours worked today: 0
Total man hours worked: 77

Posted by: tflana | June 9, 2018

Our First Volunteer Day

Today was our first day on island with volunteers coming out to help us with some work projects.  A few things differ about Baker’s Island and Seguin Island from our stay there last year, the biggest difference is we get to meet and work with the volunteers here at Bakers, on Seguin, when the volunteers came out we had a day off the island.  This made a big disconnect between us as caretakers and others who loved the island as well.  My routine on volunteer day is to wake up and bake a goodie for coffee break, gives me a chance to bake and seeing as Brian doesn’t like sweets, I get to share the snacks with others.  Todays snack was brownies because I realized I have no brown sugar on island and had to use what I had available.

As I was on the beach awaiting the arrival of everyone, I took a few minutes to sea glass hunt.  The pieces of sea glass on this beach are not very big and green is the predominate color.  And most of the pieces found are rounded like jelly beans, but it still is fun for me to pass the time.  When you finally find a piece, it is like finding an emerald in a field of greys and blacks.


The Naumkeag’s landing on the beach with supplies and volunteers

We were told they would arrive around 9:15a on the Naumkeag and were asked to be on beach to help with the landing and unloading of people and supplies. The weather was perfect for the volunteers, bright blue skies and cooler temperatures, really for first time volunteers what an introduction to the island.  Once we gave everyone the tour of the buildings and a little bit of the history, we got to work.  The two big projects we are trying to tackle this month are clearing the bittersweet out of the clearing along the Captain Blackman Trail and then using the woodchipper to get rid of the branches, the other project is scraping, priming and painting the front porch of the Keepers House.  Everyone in the porch group spent a few hours scraping and chatting which made the time go by quickly.  I soon realized there is a lot of rot in the trim pieces, so tomorrow we will head into town and purchase some lumber and replace the rot.  The group with the woodchipper got some of the branches cleared but the woodchipper had some hurtles to jump to get to work, but this will be an ongoing project.  The volunteers were a great asset and by 2pm, we made a huge dent in this summers projects, and Brian and I had a chance to go over areas on the island we think need addressing with Essex Heritage.

The Director, Annie Harris, has been trying to get pictures of Naumkeag on the water with the lighthouse in the background.  Brian and I agreed to take the cameras out on the Mako and follow the Naumkeag around the island taking pictures.  I took over 500 pictures with the phone and my Canon with the hopes one of the pictures will work for the promotional material.  But we did get to circumnavigate the island for the first time and we both realized how small the island is.


Brian manning the Mako while I sit in the bow taking pictures of the Naumkeag


I think this is the “money” shot of the day.

After we put the boats to rest for the night, we walked back up to the cottage with dark storm clouds following us.  It was time to quickly put away all our tools and close the buildings because rain was on its way.  Within minutes, we had a 10-minute downpour, and ran into the house to try to keep from getting soaked.  Brian took one more attempt of normalizing the hot water for the shower while the volunteers were here, and thankfully, they remembered to bring out the bicycle pump he needed to fix the pressure in the water pump. The true test was could we take a shower with hot water lasting for more than 3 minutes, and finally, we can answer yes!  We both had enough hot water to lather up and rinse, no cold water this time around.  The true test is if the same happens tomorrow.

Last year on Seguin, we had a mascot seagull we named Sam. He was always watching us and would try to take Brian’s things he would leave outside. We hope the Maine Sam is alive and well, but we think we now have a Massachusetts Sam. Last night he tried to take our tray from the bbq, and tonight while Brian was grilling, Sam paid very close attention to the action. He also is the seagull who you will see sitting on the USCG solar panels.

Another gorgeous end to our day, we decided to climb the tower to watch the sunset, and it did not disappoint. I know I have stated it before, this is a volunteer job for Brian and I but we get paid when we are watching mother nature paint a gorgeous mural across the sky.

High tide:  7:01am

Low tide:  1:15pm

Sunrise:  5:05am

Sunset:  8:18pm

Man hours worked today:  10

Total man hours worked: 77

Posted by: tflana | June 8, 2018

A Quick Trip to Salem


This mornings sunrise was the first one since arriving to the island with spectacular colors. As Pickles ran around the yard, I was able to take pictures of Pa Baker and other angles to get some pretty shots. It appeared the winds and seas had settled enough for us to make a quick trip to Salem for laundry and groceries. It isn’t the 5-mile trip itself that is the issue but landing the aluminum dinghy back on the beach when there is surf, someone or something is going to get wet!


Once we had our coffees in hand, and bags ready, off to the beach we went. It was easy to get out to the Mako on the mooring, but landing may pose a problem on our return. It was a quick trip to Salem Willows Yacht Club and were able to tie up at the dock for the short time we were going into town. Laundry was first on the agenda, we travel light and were running low on presentable clothing. Once it was started in the machines, we walked to Derby Joe’s for breakfast sandwiches and they were delicious. This will become a ritual for us on laundry days. The owner serves his sandwiches on a bialy which is a polish bagel with onions and cheese in the dough, turns out he imports them from Toronto to get an authentic bialy. I need to figure out how to make these for the future back on the boat. Once laundry was done, off to the grocery store. With all errands complete, we were heading back home in less than 3 hours. The winds were predicted to pick up midday and our goal was to be safely on the beach before that happened.


The rest of the day was finishing up some chores on the to do list. I needed to make wire cages for all the plantings I put in along the trails, Brian wanted to make a better space to keep the dinghy on the beach, and we had one more sign to put up. Once I finished my list, I went exploring looking for more seagull nests and maybe if I was lucky, a few hatchlings. I got to see both, there really is nothing cuter than seagull babies. Their freckles match the freckles on the egg shells. Turns out I was able to find some almost whole shells near a nest, nothing like returning with treasures. Last year while on Seguin Island, when on the beach, we would look for wishing rocks. A wishing rock is a rock with a different color encircling the entire rock, usually a different type of rock all together. I found one on the beach today and it was gorgeous, and yes, I made a wish.


Hatched Seagull

A few day old hatchling

It was another evening on the front porch watching the sailboat races and the sunset. This will never get old!


High tide: 6:09am
Low tide: 12:23pm
Sunrise: 5:05am
Sunset: 8:17pm
Man hours worked today: 6
Total man hours worked: 73

Posted by: tflana | June 7, 2018

Surf is Still Up

Lighthouse with flagWe thought today would have been a good day to go to the mainland for groceries and laundry, but the surf is still rolling & crashing on the beach.  Plans are meant to be changed and so we did.  We started out with a list of small items we thought would be an easy half day because we thought we would be off island for the morning.  As we worked down the list, I realized the lawn really needed to be cut again so the day turned out completely different than what we thought.

Brian spent some more time on the pressure pump for the water and discussing options with the Director’s husband to see if there could be any simple improvements on the hot water in the shower.  Neither one of us are shower hogs, usually we need about 4 minutes of hot water each, but it seems like we are just barely getting 3 minutes, now granted, I am smaller, and I take the first shower, I don’t have much to complain about, but Brian hasn’t finished up his showers with this much cold water since his teens!  The next fix involves a bike pump which we will bring back ours to the island on our next day off.  Stay tuned for the latest update on whether Brian gets a full hot shower, or he finally realizes he should always get the first shower.

We started out getting the missing clapboards replaced on the Keeper cottage, now we just need to paint them. Next up, we installed the treads on the ramp this morning, hopefully this will give out guests the traction they need walking up to the wooden walkway. A side note to making frequent trips to the beach, the first seagull nest I saw on Baker’s was a herring gull nest along the path to the beach.  When we walked to the beach in the morning, the adult seagull was guarding the nest of 3 eggs, I always look to see if any hatched.  When we walked back to the beach after lunch to finish up, the eggs were all gone, not a sign of any shell or baby and the adult was gone.  There is some mammal on this island eating the eggs, not sure if it is a visiting dog or maybe a muskrat, but our walk to the beach is going to be a little less exciting.  Again, I know seagulls are a pest to most, but I have come to enjoy this time of year with the hatchlings, and it does upset me that this happened.

Tara on the Tractor

Tara riding her big green tractor

The rest of the day, Brian weedwacked the trails and I rode the tractor cutting the lawn.  It is amazing how long it takes to get it all done.  By 4:30p, we called it a day.  Maybe tomorrow we will get to the mainland, but it will be a wait and see based on the surf at the beach.  We are still trying to figure out how the water interacts with the island to make a safe beach landing.

A Cat Ketch on Wednesday Race Night

A Freedom Cat Ketch racing as part of the Wednesday Race series.

The view from the porch

The view from our front porch

The evening found us again sitting on the front porch reading and catching up with some friends.  It was also Wednesday Race Night for the local yacht clubs and one of the marks off the beach must have been part of tonight’s course because we were treated to a few sailboats passing us by.

Brian had the honors of taking the flag down at sunset and getting a few good sunset shots after all.

Low tide:  11:34am

High tide:  5:54pm

Sunrise:  5:06am

Sunset:  8:17pm

Man hours worked today:  14

Total man hours worked: 67

Posted by: tflana | June 6, 2018

Moving the Rocks that Mother Nature Left Behind

Today’s goal was to figure out how the wooden ramps should be placed on the beach to allow an easier walk for the visitors to the lighthouse. To say the beach is rocky is an understatement, in fact when the waves come to shore in makes almost a xylophone sound as the rocks get caught up in the waves. The biggest problem with the rocks is they are so smooth and round as you walk on them, they cave in or slide down the slope to the water, not the safest for visitors to the island. On our arrival to the beach the first day here, it was explained how they did it last year and we had 2 pictures to follow as a guideline, but it was still a lot of guess work to get the job done.


The start of the walkway project trying to figure out where everything goes

Brian and I always come into a project with different options of getting the job done but we always seem to have a hard time explaining to the other the exact way we want to get something done. The walkway was no different, but as we work together for a while, we realize both of our ideas were close to each other’s. There was a lot of rock moving to try to get an even path and of course, there were many ruined lobster traps mixed into the rocks and they needed to be moved. We needed a pry bar, a sharp knife and a lot sweat to get the mangled pile of traps out of the way, but it is done.


The pile of washed ashore lobster traps exactly where the walkway needs to go

When we were halfway done, I kept hearing this chirping noise somewhere below us on the beach, I kept looking and trying to figure out what was making it. After about 10 minutes of looking, I finally found a newly hatched duckling trying to get up the rock slope. Earlier in the morning, I saw a duck and her babes walking along the grassy area above the beach and I guess, it got left behind. I was able to scope it up and carry up to where I saw the mom duck last. After 30 years in veterinary medicine, I know you can’t save everything, but you can try. Hopefully, the ducklings chirping will attract the mom duck back, I like to think most stories have a Disney ending.

We finished the walkway by 3pm and were absolutely beat. We decided if the walkway isn’t exactly right, we can readjust it on Friday when the volunteers come out. The afternoon was for reading on the front porch and laughing at Pickles as she was running around the front yard. It is the simple things that keep us happy.

Low tide: 10:45am
High tide: 5:05pm
Sunrise: 5:06am
Sunset: 8:16pm
Man hours worked today: 13
Total manhours worked: 53

Posted by: tflana | June 5, 2018

A Cold and Stormy Day

June 4, 2018

Today was one of those days when you start to wonder how the year-round lighthouse keepers stayed warm and sane on the island in the winter.  The high temperature today never made it past 52 degrees (felt like 47 with the wind chill) and it was just wet and miserable outside.  The seagulls even were hanging out behind the cottage to get out of the wind.  The good news is Brian and I are used to this either while on an island or our boat, you always make sure you have indoor projects to work on or you have a book to read in front of the heater.  Yes, there is a heater in the living room and it is the perfect place for Ms. Pickles to hang out in her bed while I knit.


No blue sky image today, just wet and grey


The propane heater in the living room

Brian spent most of his day working on the water pressure tank, so the hot water would last longer than a minute or two in the shower.  After spending last night on YouTube and Google, he figured out why the hot water would stop flowing based on the pressure reading on the water tank gauges. After his hours of work in the basement, it appears the hot water will last much longer while taking a shower. Brian made a few trips down to the beach to ensure the Mako and dinghy were riding out the storm well, and all was good.  The waves rolling past the beach are about 5 feet with 10-15 second period in between, not the most hospitable for having to go out on the water.

While he was at work, I made homemade chicken soup for dinner, the perfect meal for a cold, grey day. It was a lazy day for me, I worked on some of my office work, swept the cottage and continued on knitting a scarf I started this winter and didn’t get around to finishing it.  When it is cold like today, I tend to think more knitted mittens and scarfs instead of the summer top I was planning on starting while out here.  There are still 7 weeks left of our stay here, maybe I will get a few projects completed.

Tomorrow is supposed to be dry and still cool, looks like we will be down at the beach raking it level in spots and we will start laying down the wooden walkway to make it easier for visitors to get to the trail once they land on the beach.

Baker’s Island History Moment:

The first mariner beacon on Baker’s Island was a 57-foot conical tower painted red and was first lit in 1791 because many merchant ships were destroyed on the ledges and shoals surrounding the island which sits about 5 miles from Salem Harbor.  George Washington commissioned a permanent structure on the island in 1796 and construction was completed, and the light was lit for the first time on January 3, 1798 in the twin towers.

Low tide:  9:59am

High tide:  4:16pm

Sunrise:  5:07am

Sunset:  8:16pm

Manhours worked today: 5

Total manhours worked:  40

Posted by: tflana | June 4, 2018

June 3, 2018

Our normal Sunday morning routine is for Brian to sleep in while I drink most of the pot of coffee.  He wakes up and makes breakfast for Pickles and me, today was no different.  Sunday breakfast always has bacon involved because Pickles LOVES bacon, next to steak it is her favorite food.  She lovingly watches Brian cook just waiting for her sample piece. As a dog, Pickles lives the large life, she gets to be with us 24/7, cruises on our boat with us to warm beaches, and for the past two summers, she has ruled her island kingdoms.

Surf is picking up

The surf is picking up with swells around 4 feet from a northeast wind

After breakfast, we had a list with a bunch of little jobs to get done.  We know the forecast is for rain over the next few days, so all inside jobs will be saved until then.  Not to bore everyone with all the fun stuff we did, here is a quick list:

  • Lube the John Deer lawn tractor, steering was getting difficult
  • Straighten up the Post & Rail fence posts and replace the missing rail
  • Make a new landing step for the Keeper’s Cottage
  • Paint all the trail sign posts green
  • Install the new piston mechanism on the Assistant Keeper’s Cottage storm door
  • Dig and install the lower sign near the beach for the Captain Chapman’s Trail
  • Weed the front gardens for the Keepers Cottage, dig up some iris tubers and plant in the front garden
  • Finish planting some plants left by the volunteers
  • Pull out the wood chipper from the Oil House and learn how to use it, future project!

It may not seem like a lot of work, but it is inevitable the tool you need is always on the other side of the compound from where you are working.  By the 3rd trip around the place, I just started filling up the cart and carrying everything I think I may need with me!

Swallow nest 5 eggs

A nest with 5 eggs the size of jelly beans found in the weeds.


In the afternoon, we did just spend a little downtime on the front porch reading and watching the scenery.  It is the warmest room in the house on a sunny day and by 3pm, the temperatures had dropped into the low 60’s and the NE wind was howling.  I also must share with you my new indulgence, the new flavors of M & M’s.  I have a sweet tooth and Brian is anything salty, but when I went to town yesterday, I found Caramel M & M’s and Coffee Nut M & M’s, wow are they delicious.  It is a good thing I ended up walking so much today because these little treats are going to be my downfall.

Baker’s Island History Moment:The Oil House

The Oil House is a stone structure located a fair distance from the tower and keeper’s cottages, this was intentional.  The Oil House was where the oil to keep the lens lit was stored.  In the early to mid-1800’s the oil used was most likely whale oil, and like most lighthouses, in the 1870’s the fuel source was switched to kerosene.  Most of the fuels used were highly combustible and needed to be stored as far away from the navigational aid as possible, there was no fire suppression on the islands.  Each keeper would need to make sure there was enough fuel for their shift in the lighthouse.  If you visit the lighthouse, there are 2 indents in the ground level walls.  This is where the day’s oil would be stored in either bladders or drums.  In the middle of the winter, the last thing a keeper wanted to do was to walk down to the Oil House in the dark because he ran out of oil for the lense.  The island certainly had a ready source of rocks to build this building, if you look closely to the walls, the rocks are like the ones you land on at the beach.

Low tide:  9:15am

High tide:  3:30pm

Sunrise:  5:08am

Sunset:  8:16pm

Manhours worked today: 11

Total manhours worked:  35

Posted by: tflana | June 3, 2018

Manchester by the Sea

June 2, 2018 Groceries and Work

Today our plan was to go to Manchester by the Sea to get groceries because the forecast is making it look like the wind and sea won’t be very promising again until next weekend. So off we went to the beach with our backpacks and thermal bags to start our morning’s adventure. It was my turn to drive the Mako and to get used to it, the most horsepower I am used to is my dinghy engine at 6.5 hp, now we are controlling a 150 hp engine, just a little different. I am used to traveling on our sailboat, Scout which even on her good days can barely get over 6 mph, yes, it will be an adjustment. The trip into town was on glass like water, it really could not have been nicer, there were even warm air patches as we powered over there. I am sure to Brian’s shock, I got Radio Waves up to 19 mph and docked her like a pro!


Tara all smiles captaining Radio Waves into town

Manchester by the Sea is a cute little town with many architectural details, the wind vanes are works of art. I need to remember to bring my real camera with me next time to get better shots, but we saw a fire engine and schooner wind vane with such detail. We spent a few minutes walking around the town and seeing what was there, we found the ice cream shop but were a couple of hours early for their opening.

Our day of work continued, the goal was to finish up all the grass trimming in the yard and to get a first pass on all the trails. Down to the beach with the push mower for me and Brian tackled the weed whacker. By lunch, I thought I had all the trails cut, but it turns out I missed a good portion of the Captain Blackman Trail. I only realized this when I went to hang up the trail signs and realized I needed to go spend another hour on this trail and cleared area! Brian finished up the trimming and by 3pm, the only thing we could think of is a hot shower.


We did spend a relaxing few hours reading and getting dinner ready. One of the best parts of this cottage is there is not a bad room with a view, everywhere you look there is something to watch. As I am typing this post, there are goldfinches flying around the honeysuckle bushes. We walked down to the beach for sunset and a little sea glass hunting for me and treasures of all sorts for Brian. So far, the sunsets are nothing to write home about, ok, I am writing about them, but the low cloud cover isn’t giving us much to oooh and aaah about.

When we came back to the house, we met our first islanders/neighbors, Larry, Maura and a goofy chocolate lab, Marty. They came over to introduce themselves and let us know if we needed anything to come on over, I loved the hospitality.
Now is the time for a small history lesson about Baker’s Island: Who is Ma & Pa Baker? In 1815, a small octagonal tower was built on Bakers Island, and then a round tower was added in 1820, this round tower was taller than the original one built. This led to naming the towers Ma (the shorter) and Pa (the taller) Baker. Both towers remained in service until 1926, when Ma Baker was removed.


Ma Baker as it stood in this picture from 1925

Ma Baker Sign

The site where Ma Baker stood until 1926

Another busy day, and we are happily tired. We are starting a list of small projects we can get done over the next 2 months, and we even started a rainy-day list to work on this coming week. The one thing people come to realize about Brian and I is we never like to sit still for long!


Sunset at 8:15pm

Low tide: 8:33am
High tide: 2:48pm
Sunrise: 5:08am
Sunset: 8:15pm
Manhours worked today: 10
Total manhours worked: 24

Posted by: tflana | June 2, 2018

First Day of Work

First Day of ‘Work’ – June 1, 2018


Pa Baker at Sunrise

Pa Baker Lighthouse at Sunrise

Sparrow at Sunrise

A Sparrow enjoying a beautiful morning


I woke up early enough to get a picture of the sunrise today, unfortunately, the low clouds didn’t want to cooperate. The biggest challenge of living in a new location is figuring out where the best camera angles are for the perfect picture. The less than spectacular sunrise allowed me to figure out where to stand to get the sunrise picture without all the solar panel equipment in the scene. The solar panels are a reality living on the island but not the greatest subject matter when you are trying to include the lighthouse in a shot. This is the beauty of digital cameras, you can take thousands of pictures and get that one you will keep without cost or time waiting to look at the pictures.

As I write each day’s blog, I sit at the kitchen table in the Keeper’s House overlooking the northeast corner of the island facing Manchaster by the Sea. Not bad for a view from an office. My usual routine is to percolate a pot of coffee as the sunrises, Brian sleeps in, and I write or catch up on my computer work. It is one of the most peaceful times for me without distractions. This allows me to just think! More people need to stop and find that spot where you can think without so many distractions. And of course, everyone should have a perfect spot to enjoy their first cup of coffee of the day!


Brian cutting grass

Brian cutting the edges of the lawn

Once Brian woke up, it was time to start working on the landscaping of the compound. With the cool and wet conditions out here, the grass grows like hay and will need to be cut once/twice a week until July rolls around. It is fun for me to play on the riding mowers and Brian gets the detail work with the push mower or weedwhacker. Starting at 8am, the grass cutting commenced. There is a lot of grass here to enjoy but it will take a few times before I realize where all the hazards are and the best way to make the lawns looks great! Right now, we are focusing on getting it shorter, the pretty work will start on the next time.




The Norseman Rock Formation

Brian and I got a good amount done before lunch but there is still more to get done. The goal was to get the main yard cut and trimmed, we would move onto the trails tomorrow. The first section I cut was near our cottage because the grass was so tall, Ms. Pickles had a hard time walking through it, it was taller than her. I felt bad the night before because she had a hard time exploring and pushing her way through the tall grass. My goal was successful because her afternoon adventure included sniffing every corner of the cottage yard and did some crazy run around patterns, she is truly enjoying her new kingdom.



Black Back and Herring Gull

A Blackback Gull on the left and a Herring Gull on the right & both of their nests are right next to each other

Living on the island, it is important to play as well as work. We sometimes feel like little kids making sure we get our chores done so we can go off exploring. Both of us put in a 7-hour work day yesterday and it was time to go off exploring. I hadn’t walked all the trails yet, of course Brian had so off he went as lead pathfinder to show me the shore line! This also gave us a chance to see how best to tackle the cutting of the trails. I finally got to see the rock formation called the Norseman but could not get a great profile picture because the seagulls are nesting and did not taking kindly to visitors. As they see us walking around more frequently they will settle down some but will still want to poop on our heads when we get close to their nests.



Gypsy Moth Catepillars

A Tent Caterpillar nest seen along our walk today

I also found some sea glass along the outgoing tide line. Last summer on Seguin Island, I tried to give myself about 20 minutes of me time along the beach at low tide gathering sea glass, now I need to pay more attention to the tides to add this to my day. They are all small pieces but beautiful none the less and I even found a small blue piece, which is usually my indication to stop searching for the day. Brian’s scavenger hunt usually includes metal and figuring out what each piece was in its working days. He found something washed ashore and it does have some identifying marks, but he needs to sand off some rust to figure them out and work on researching what it was.


As we were walking along the beach, there was a schooner sailing by. One of the fun things we do is use our AIS (Automatic Identification System) app on our iPad to be able to identify the boats that pass us. In this case, I took the pictures and went back to the cottage to check on the name of the vessel. It is the Harvey Gamage,(it also has a not so good nickname, the Hardly Damaged) a sailing schooner that usually gives tours. It also was a frequent visitor around Seguin Island last summer. This is our version of a traffic report!


Harvey Gamage

The Harvey Gamage sailing past the island

When we returned to the cottage it was our first time working with the shower system in the cottage, the good news is we have great hot water, but you need to be a speedy showerer to have it for the entire shower. It seems as we get about 2 minutes of hot water and then it cuts off to cold. If you shut off the hot water and wait a minute and turn it back on, you have another minute of hot to rinse. Turns out, it is all based on water pressure talking to the on-demand water propane water heater. If the pressure drops below 20 psi in the water tank, the propane heater shuts off because it wants a psi of 20-80 to heat the water. There was a helpful not on how to take a shower from a previous keeper, but we are varying the process a little and will figure it all out, so no one has to take a cold shower. There is a solar shower in the work shop which we may bring out for use as the weather warms up and we spend time in the water, showering outside will keep the sand out of the cottage.


As sailors we tend to keep a continuous eye on the weather, our whole life and home’s safety is at the whim of mother nature. As Brian checked the weather after dinner last night, we figured out if we are going to go to town to provision, we may want to do it on Saturday morning. If we miss this weather window, we may not get ashore until Friday or next Saturday. So the morning plan is made for us to go to Manchester by the Sea to get some fresh fruit, veggies and a few other necessities. When we get back we will tackle the trails.

The sun set at 8:15pm and we had a bird’s eye view of it, we could see the skyline of Boston and all the lights coming on along the shoreline surrounding us. Another perfect ending to a busy day.

Lowtide: 7:15am
Hightide: 1:31pm
Sunrise: 5:08am
Sunset: 8:15pm

Posted by: tflana | June 2, 2018

Arrival to Baker’s Island

This summer’s adventures is Caretaking Baker’s Island Lighthouse, it is an island about 4 miles off shore from Salem, MA.  The lighthouse sits on 10 acres of the northwest corner of the island and the rest of the island is private residences of about 55 summer cottages.  As of now, Brian and I are not allowed to wander the rest of the island, there is some animosity between the island residences and the non-profit that oversees the lighthouse.  But there is still much for us to see and do here, and I thought it was about time I started up on our blog again.

Our trip north to Salem, started on Wednesday, May 30th. Our boat, Scout, is tied up safely in Annapolis, MD and we drove here to begin our orientation with the Essex Heritage staff. Pickles was the hit of that introduction, she is loved by most and will do anything for a treat and of course, there was a piece or two of chicken jerky to win her over! It can be overwhelming to start the information process of an island when you have never seen the island, but from last years’ experience we knew not to get caught up in the fine details, once we are on the island, it will all make sense. There was a quick tour of the Salem area to let us know where the highlights are, like the ice cream stores! But I was willing to listen where the hardware store was as well, just not as exciting for me.

We chose to camp at Winter Island Campground for Wednesday night, and were pleasantly surprised we could see Baker’s Island off shore. Winter Island is the home of Fort Pickering, Fort Pickering Lighthouse as well as a US Coast Guard station which up until the 1970’s was an active landing area for the USCG Seaplanes, and the old hanger still stands. It has a beautiful walking path around the island, and after dinner, Pickles got her long-awaited walk and sniff. And at the end of our first day of summer vacation was in the books with an extremely exhausted family. We are meeting the Essex Heritage group at the docks for 8:30am to make our first trip out to the island, and it will be a busy day for everyone.

We arrived Thursday morning to the dock with all our provisions ready for the first trip out to Baker’s Island. From last year’s caretaking position, we have learned what to bring and what to leave home, but it still seems like a lot of stuff. The stuff still will need to be carried from the beach when we get on island and up the path to the Keeper’s house. There are many positives of today’s adventure, the boat taking us out, the Naumkeag, is a landing craft, yep, right onto the beach and there are heavy duty carts on wheels awaiting us at the island. It will all make the move in process much easier. When we finally left the dock, Ms. Pickles was a trooper, just another boat ride, but she was more than happy to cuddle with me and fall sound asleep on the 20-minute ride to the island. The island sits about 4 miles off the Massachusetts coast, we leave from Salem, MA but the other close by towns are Beverly, Manchaster by the Sea, and Marblehead, all visible from the island. I will post a more detailed history once I am settled in and know more of the history, so this post is just about getting.

Annie Harris and Heather Goss from Essex Heritage came out with us to help carry bags and teach us all we need to know about the mechanics and caretaking tasks of our 10-acre compound. It is a good thing Brian is technical and I am the process person, because most people’s heads would be spinning during this 2-hour grand tour! Our keeper house is set up in similar fashion to our boat, all solar powered and propane heat sources. All lights are LED and water needs to be pumped into a pressurized tank, and the drinking water into a passive filter system. Nothing new to us just in a bigger scale! The big news is we have flush toilets and hot water for short showers, all great news for us! I did find one negative, no freezer, yikes! How am I going to have cold drinks all summer long, I need to become creative to make sure my water is as cold as possible, good thing we have Yeti cups and the fridge is large enough to put all our bottles of drinks in it to keep things cold. This might be the biggest challenge I face over the next two months!
Once we got the feel for the island and where the systems were, it was time to head back to Salem to pick up the keeper’s summer transportation to and from the island. Brian and I will become powerboaters for the next 2 months with a 19’ Mako center console, named Radio Waves. Radio Waves will allow Brian and I to go ashore at quiet times to get laundry, groceries, any hardware items needed, and of course, ice cream! Annie stayed with and gave us a driving test of sorts, making sure Brian and I are know what we are doing, and again understanding how to maintain this boat. Brian grew up as a powerboater before turning to wind power, so he was having a little bit of young man flashbacks with Radio Waves, my bet is I will never get to drive her. It is kind of funny, over the past 4 years we have traveled over 10,000 miles at about 5 mph, and yesterday, Brian was speeding out to the island at 29mph, jeez, Ms. Pickles was not a fan of this rate of speed. There may need to be some discussion about the crew’s happy speed! We left Salem Willow Yacht Club, where the Mako has a mooring, traveled to the landing beach at Baker’s, then made a turn into Manchester by the Sea, the closest grocery store (and ice cream) from the island, and then back to the Yacht Club. I brought along one of our navigation programs on my iPad and was able to record the route for future trips not having to worry about hazards as we travel.

As we arrived back to the island, it was our first alone time on the island. We had to make sure Radio Waves was safely tied to the mooring, transfer onto the dinghy, row ashore and land it with some surf assistance. The easy part of this was we only had a bag of ice and Pickles to worry about, next time we do this process, we will have to worry about keeping our groceries and clean laundry dry. As time goes on we will get better, but we were both very happy no one was here filming us! Our afternoon was filled with moving in and putting things away. But we each took a little time to explore, I found my first herring gull nest of 3 eggs and Brian walked along the rocky shore figuring out where the paths led.

Last year, we found if we set down to dinner and made a game plan for the next day, we could cut our chores up in doable doses, and tonight was no different. Over a ribeye steak dinner, we figured out what we needed to get done before Monday’s rainy forecast and who was going to do what. Turns out I get the riding lawn mower again this year! The plan is to get all the grass and trails cut by Sunday, hopefully, get the trail signs up as well. As we go around the island we will start a list of other projects we think needs to be done and talk it over with the office this coming week. Brian and I both agreed, we need to work on the windows of the keeper’s house first and foremost, make sure the windows can open and get screening set up for most. The front porch is going to be our happy place and we want to enjoy the breeze as we sit out there.
Our first sunset on the island was so/so but we did finish day one of this summer’s adventure happy and excited about what the next two months will bring!


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