Reunion (Larry Kaplan) video

See also: Song For The Bowdoin

#968: YouTube video by gdgest
℗2017 ~ Used with permission ~

Well, what do you know, it's been 42 years.
There's me from the road and there's you at the pier,
Sitting there peaceful
in the October breeze on a Sunday;
The weather's just right in a westerly wind.
I get weary these days---thought I'd see you again,
I forget the good feeling
of visiting friends in autumn.

Do you remember, I was one of your crew,
There wasn't a soul who would set foot upon you,
With your rotten old decks and the years of decay;
By the docks where you wanted to die every day,
Harbor fog in shrouds of wind and sea spray.

You were the old one and I was the young,
Hard work soon paid off and we made a good run,
Me high in the crosstrees-
trying to learn all the islands;
We were making our way in the late afternoon,
To the dark of the night when there wasn't a moon,
And I tried to remember
the easiest tunes of old sailors.

Huddled below by the kerosene stove,
Shivering to sleep in my bunk in the cold;
Hiding from snow in the lee of your sail,
Till the morning sun rose at the end of a gale.

And I learned how to worry all through the night,
In a raging nor'easter with a fading flashlight,
Checking the charts, was our anchor set right?
Were we dragging?

Now who is your captain? Would he know what to do,
In the Mussel Ridge Channel
with the tide flooding through?
Has he seen Winter Harbor. Is he looking for crew?
I'm just asking.

I know all these years there've been dozens like me,
Who just knew that they wanted a life on the sea;
Do you know what I'm saying?
Are you listening to me,
Or to the gulls on the buoys with their crying?

Ageless old lesson but we've been told,
A boat lives forever---a man just gets old,
And stubborn and foolish,
then empty and cold every winter;
And every day I want to run from the sea,
Is a day I forgot where I wanted to be,
More than anything else on this earth
I once ever imagined.

Well, I've got to get going, I need to get home,
It was good we had time just to sit here alone;
God, I bet you can dance on the top of the waves,
Proud and so happy in your very best days;
Young as the morning you were launched
from this home,
Like a diamond that sparkles
in the golden Maine sun.

Don't let anyone tell you boats haven't a soul,
Or can't handle bad weather,
or storm anchors don't hold;
You don't know what it's like
to be chained to the land,
Dreaming of harbors, forgetting your plans.
So remember me now with the next summer sea,
When you sail through the waves
in a fair summer breeze,
And glance back at the shore,
will you still remember me?

####.... Larry Kaplan ©2014. ©2016 Hannah Lane Music, BMI. All Rights Reserved. ....####
Recorded by Larry Kaplan on his 2016 release Furthermore, trk#11, produced by Hannah Lane Music, Essex, CT, USA. Distributed by Folk Legacy Records, Inc, Sharon, CT, USA.

Larry Kaplan Notes:
"I helped restore, then served for some time as crew aboard the Arctic exploration schooner Bowdoin. This vessel, built in 1921 by Admiral Donald MacMillan, was designed to be graceful at sea, but at the same time able to withstand the ice and the weather of the Arctic. After retiring from twenty-six trips north, and after MacMillan's death, she fell on hard times until dedicated and talented people like Captain John Nugent and Doctor Edward Morse, along with the Bowdoin Association, finished the restoration and turned her over to the Maine Maritime Academy. Today she serves as a sail training vessel, once again voyaging above the Arctic circle.

The S/V Bowdoin was built during the winter of 1920-21, but the idea of a sailing vessel that could successfully navigate dangerous Arctic waters was first born in the mind of Donald B MacMillan over four years earlier.

In 1913, Donald MacMillan set out for the Arctic in command of the Crocker Land Expedition. He and the other members of the expedition became stranded and were unable to return home until 1917, when the third relief ship, the Neptune, successfully navigated the treacherous ice of Melville Bay. While he was waiting for rescue, MacMillan had plenty of time to think about the characteristics that a good, strong Arctic vessel should have. After he returned to the United States and served in the Navy during World War I, MacMillan began raising the money needed to build an Arctic schooner. He hired William H Hand of New Bedford, MA, to design the ship to his specifications, and the Hodgdon Brothers of East Boothbay, ME, to build it. In 1921, the Schooner Bowdoin, named after MacMillan's alma mater, was launched.

At 88 feet long, 21 feet wide, and weighing 60 tons, the Bowdoin is the smallest vessel designed expressly for Arctic work, but also one of the strongest. The ship is a two-masted auxiliary schooner, double-planked, and double-framed with white oak. A five-foot belt, one-and-a-half inches thick, made of tough Australian greenheart, protects against ice, and the rudder is overly large for turning easily and quickly when working through narrow stretches of open water between ice packs. The Bowdoin's propeller is deep under water to avoid damage, and the hull is rounded, designed to rise up out of the water when caught between ice pans or to crush ice blocking the way. A nose piece of steel plate weighing 1800 pounds is bolted to the hull to aid in crushing ice and protect from collisions with heavy ice.

During the Bowdoin's maiden voyage, over-wintering at Baffin Island in 1921-22, the design of the ship proved to be perfect for MacMillan's Arctic work, and he sailed the Bowdoin more than 300,000 miles over 26 voyages through the frozen North in exploration and scientific studies. The Bowdoin was invaluable to Arctic research.

In May 1941, the Bowdoin was sold to the Navy for the duration of World War II. Under the command of Lt Stuart Hotchkiss, the Arctic schooner helped to establish airfields in Greenland and perform hydrographic surveys. MacMillan bought the Bowdoin back from the Navy in 1945 at the end of the war and continued to sail North. Nine years later, in 1954, MacMillan and his beloved Bowdoin sailed the Arctic together for the last time. Today, after stints as a museum vessel at Mystic Seaport and as a charter ship, the Bowdoin is used at the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, ME, for training runs to Labrador and Greenland. Once again, the Bowdoin sails the icy seas of the frozen North. ~ Excerpted from the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum

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