Day 30 Sweet Chariot Festival – First Mate’s Log

We enjoyed our last morning at the peaceful Merchant’s Island and bid goodbye to the gentle waves lapping up against the shore accompanied only by the sounds of seagulls and the occasional loon. Today we would change to a very different setting. It was a sunny day with even winds so we sailed off the anchor clear to Burnt Coat Harbor with sails unfurled and catching wind the entire way. This was a treasured afternoon for Bryan, indeed. The harbor was filled with sailboats that had arrived for the Sweet Chariot Festival, which has been called “the best festival you can’t get to… unless you have a boat.” We circled around to find a spot to anchor near the pier that Doug Day told us was closest to a B and B where we could take a shower and stay if we liked. We happily took him up on the shower and to later wash some clothes but were content to row back and sleep aboard Avocet each night.

About 4pm we watched a lobster boat take off from the dock filled with singers who passed our boat and circled around where most of the sailboats were, serenading them with old sea shanties. They did circle back our way and gave us a hearty chorus of “Heave Away Haul Away.” 

We weren’t sure exactly where to find dinner, so we rowed to shore and started walking down the road. We walked a long way, passing only fields and charming houses without any confirmation that we had even chosen the right direction. I decided that hitchhiking was now in order, but there didn’t seem to be any cars. Finally we heard a vehicle behind us, and stuck out our thumbs. A pickup truck pulled over, and the driver said “hop in the back.” There was already another man in the open back cargo area, and we quickly climbed up the side of the truck, feeling quite like vagrants. He too had been walking towards where everyone was meeting at Oddfellows Hall, and the driver of the truck happened to be the driver of the lobster boat that had recently serenaded us. We were happy to arrive to a full taco dinner with all the performers from the festival, followed by a fantastic evening of music. The concert hall was in the same building, just above where we had dinner. Led by a trumpet, all the performers marched in singing “When The Saints Go Marching In” followed by “Happy Days Are Here Again.” The audience was beaming. For many, it was the first time being able to congregate since the onset of CoVid. By the end of the concert, you had never seen such smiles.
We will share video of much of the concert and shanties in upcoming AcousticSailing episodes. If you subscribe, you can also hit the little bell to get a note when each episode is live.