ROCKLAND — The Maine Lighthouse Museum invites the public to its open house on Sunday, September 26, at the museum, located at 1 Park Drive, in Rockland.
The open house begins at 1 p.m. Brian Dunn will be singing Sea Shanties until 3 p.m., when staff will unveil two new exhibits "The Lighthouse" and "The Launching," both given to the museum by Barnaby Porter.
The ship Pine Tree is one of the largest in a series of sculptural pieces labeled “Works of Nature” by the artist. It was built to commemorate the State of Maine’s first International Trade Mission to Japan in 1995 under the leadership of Governor Angus King. The artist was a member of that delegation.
The image it presents is one of hope and high expectations and the great strength of Maine’s maritime tradition, coupled with her vast native resources, according to the Museum, in a news release. It is a celebration of the many natural materials to be found in the forest and by the sea – their shapes, colors and textures – all brought together as a masterpiece of construction and purposeful utility.
The ship’s hull is of white pine, Maine’s state tree. Altogether, there are no fewer than eight species of native woods incorporated here.
“The viewer will notice that virtually everything used in the building of this ship is readily found material in our local environment, and no effort was spared in putting it all together to achieve the highest degree of function and detail,” said the Museum.
Just a few of those details include: the ship’s hold filled with a year’s supply of firewood and acorns; the crew’s quarters below deck, with bunks, foot lockers and furniture; the officers’ quarters under the poop deck, complete with gimbaled bunks, brass lantern, navigation table and a library (which includes a well-worn edition of Scary Fish); a swimming pool (quite unusual on a sailing ship) on the poop deck; ground tackle in the form of two huge killick anchors; over 500 feet of working rigging with the required blocks and deadeyes (made of hard pine knots); a complete set of sails made of recycled brown duck; a telescope; a heavy rudder and working helm station; a crow’s nest (actually a redwing blackbird’s nest); and, yes, a below-decks lighting system.
This piece is the culmination of the artist’s long line of such constructs, resulting from his acquaintance with a parallel world of forest creatures, who, in the absence of mankind, have sought to expand their role in a world of natural beauty, wonder and abundance.
“It should perhaps be no surprise that the results are in many ways very familiar to the likes of us,” said the Museum.
CROW POINT LIGHT:
It only follows that going to sea to explore the great ocean requires more than a ship loaded with supplies. The watery main, glorious as it is, is often fraught with perils and unknowns: uncharted lands and waterways, treacherous lee shores, thick pea soup fogs ...... and frightening fabled sea monsters.
Not long after The Launching of the great ship Pine Tree, it became apparent to its builders there was serious need for an aid to navigation – a tall, tall tower erected on a prominent point of land and visible from far out at sea – a lighthouse! It was to serve both as a welcoming beacon to guide the ship’s return to home waters . . . and as a warning to not cut that last headland too close!
With great effort, the huge hollow trunk of an old apple tree, suitable for the purpose, was erected on the chosen point. On the first floor were stored supplies and sundries, while the lighthouse keeper’s accommodations occupied the second. The third floor housed the all-important firewood factory, including a winch to hoist bundles of logs from the ground below for cutting and splitting. The top deck, roofed with blue mussel shells, supported a stone fire pit. It was here where the critical firelight beacon burned to pierce the fog and flicker bright all night long. Safety being always on the lighthouse keeper’s mind, alongside the fire pit sat a big wooden water tank and a bucket . . . should things ever get out of hand.
While not much can be done about the sea monster problem from a lighthouse, there was ample time to worry about that issue on down the road, according to the Museum.