In late July I dropped Cricket and Pat off at the airport to return to the West and, what with the Canadian border being closed, I took my free week and headed back toward Ithaca, New York, where my Odyssey began 68 years ago. On the way I visited Douglas Brooks, who taught me Japanese boatbuilding a while back. This is his crazy basement laboratory, which he says might seem cramped until you’ve worked in a Japanese boatbuilding shack.

When I was a wee sprat we spend a week each summer car camping at a State Park. I visited both parks on my journey–Rogers Rock, which I only know from family legend, and Fair Haven Beach on Lake Ontario. The beaches seem a lot smaller now than they did sixty years ago.

Back in Ithaca I visited my mom, who’s ashes fertilize a dogwood tree in the Cornell Plantations. The first tree we dedicated to her went berserk and ate the entire hillside. That’s my mom. They reigned her in and gave her a more manageable form.

And my dad, who is a laborato on the Cornell campus. He used to be a laboratory, but the ry has moved on.

My brother Tom was busy packing pyrotechnics into his red trailer for the annual pyrotechnic guild meet in Fargo.

And my sister Anne was fixing the rabbit pen while the progeny was off at the 4H camp.

It was the weekend of my 50th high school reunion at Ithaca High School. I got to have dinner with four hot babes from my class.

Then back to Maine for some serious study. Here’s the last hurrah for my cheap Chinese piece of crap tent. Gotta reinvest for next year.

My first week of classes was rowing with Havilah “Haddie” Hawkins. His dad built and sailed the Mary Day, the fabulous schooner I spent a week on a few years back. Haddie has been rowing since, he thinks, before he could walk. I learned a lot of cool tricks.

One of my favorite steeds in the livery. Wild Rose. She just feels right.

Here is a cool anchoring trick. Tie a long rope to your bow eye. Then tie a lead weight about ten feet out on the same line, and balance the weight on your bowpost. Then push the boat off shore. When she’s out where you want her, give the rope a tug. The weight falls into the water and your bow is anchored. Tie the long end somewhere on shore above high tide. When it’s time to go, pull the rope and drag the lead weight in with the boat.

It even works with four boats tied together.

A froggy morning in camp.

Unless you’re in a class, you aren’t allowed to take the school boats out of sight of the dock. But were studying (hard) so we got to leave the playpen. This castle, built some years back by the Bemis toilet fixture fortune, is for sale for a mere 3.8 million. I’m hoping someone feels the need to buy a summer home for us wayward WoodenBoat addicts. I’d really appreciate it.

Haddie is amused by the pupil’s devotion to their devices. Of course I am using my device to take the picture.

Still life with knee and periwinkle shells.

Out to lunch.

He was in a jam…He was in a giant clam! (B-52s)

My wonderful sailing mentor Jane and I had time for some adventures. We hijacked Haddie’s boat after class and went out to see Captian Barry when he anchored the Mary Day for a lobster bake.

We took our time going back home.

I spotted this Saint Pierre dory in the harbor that week. I was (and remain) smitten. Gordon and Angie invited me aboard for a beer and a tour.

The Eggemoggin Reach Regatta came into harbor that week also. I counted 140+ masts in Great Cove that evening.

The next week was a bit more studious and a lot less scenic. Paul Gartside taught us about a year’s worth of nautical theory on boat design in five days. Amazing stuff. Each of us got to work on a boat design.

I chose–what else–a variation of that 27′ Saint Pierre Dory I had just seen in the harbor–but with a Briggs dory hull tweak. With a hull speed of five to seven knots, it should be the perfect thing to cruise the coast in. Maine, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland…actually, if you hug the coasts, there are very few crossings more than 400-500 miles to go clear around the world if you do it right. I’ve got it all mapped out.

The only way to scale things properly is to scale the contents as well. We have a 30hp Honda on the back (overpowered), the captain at the helm, the co-pilot asleep in the foc’sle.

Evenings are so enchanting.

On my final evening I had my last lobster bake of the year. Rich Hilsinger, the Director of the school, gave his usual heartfelt closing speech. It’s always a great talk. But this time it was pretty bittersweet for me. After 38 years at the school, most of them as Director, Rich is retiring in September. I won’t get to see this again. A billion thanks Rich. This place is magical beyond description and your leadership has been a huge part of that.