Category Archives: preparing for camp

For Pete’s Sake – PIC Alumnus Builds Us A Sixth Pine Island Skiff

In the 1990’s boatbuilder and designer David Stimson collaborated with director Ben Swan to create the perfect rowboat to serve the venerable Pine Island rowing program and named it the Pine Island Skiff.  Very generous donors funded the construction of four of the skiffs and they were named John, Paul, George, and Ringo.  Just a few years ago, PIC acquired another Skiff and named it Stu, after Stuart Sutcliffe, often called “the Fifth Beatle.” 

Recently, PIC alumnus and super-volunteer Rob Whitehouse, a retired engineer living in Brunswick, ME, brought it to Ben’s attention that the Skiffs were aging and, in spite of the meticulous care given them each fall during the Sloan Critchfield Memorial Boat Maintenance Weekend, might need to be replaced.  Unfortunately, we never had a set of plans made and the pieces needed to construct one of the boats had been lost.  Rob undertook the (to most people) mysterious and math-laden process of taking the lines off one of the Skiffs so that we could build another Skiff and make reproducible plans for future builders to use. 

Rob Whitehouse with the plans he created using Ringo’s lines

Many, many, hours later Rob produced not only plans, but the digital files needed to have a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine cut all the pieces needed to build a Skiff.  The next step was for Rob to build a Skiff in his well-appointed shop at his house in Brunswick. Rob’s time (over eight weeks work!) was all volunteered, and the results are really beautiful, a sixth Pine Island Skiff for the boys and staff of Pine Island Camp, and complete plans, including thumb drives from which one could build a Skiff of one’s own.  Several very generous alumni responded to an appeal from Ben and covered the considerable cost of materials and CNC cutting for Pete.  

Rob with Pete under construction

So, what to call her?  Pete, of course…Pete Best has also been called the Fifth Beatle.   He is a drummer who was replaced by Ringo Starr. Rob will launch Pete sometime this spring and the newest Pine Island Skiff will join the fleet this summer.  No doubt the gleaming and brand new Pete will be a favorite among the rowers this summer.

Thank you, Rob, and all the generous donors who paid for the project!      

Pete complete!

So Groovy! Recorded Music Without Electricity Returns to Honk Hall

At Pine Island Camp we are always learning new ways to live happily without using electricity.  One thing we miss sometimes is listening to recorded music.  Up until a few years ago campers were able to listen to 78 rpm jazz records played on a Victrola record player.  However, inevitably rough use over the years disabled the ancient machine, and we were ready to accept its demise.  Then Emily Swan took to the internet and discovered Victrola Repair Services (!) is located a short drive from Sumner Ford’s home in Richmond, VT.  Sumner transported the machine to St. Johnsbury and on a recent trip to Vermont Ben Swan picked up the fully repaired and restored Victrola.  

Chatting with the proprietor of VRS in his house filled with Victrolas in various states of repair and restoration, Ben learned that Pine Island’s particular machine was built in 1913 when PIC was just 11 years old.  The Victrola is now in the Swans’ living room in Brunswick, ME, awaiting transport to the island.  Several years ago a friend of the camp left his extensive and pristine collection of 78 rpm records to us.  It is such a fine collection that we didn’t want to leave all the records in Honk Hall.  Alumnus and jazz aficionado John Bunker agreed to keep the collection safe at his house in Palermo, ME.  We kept a few classics for the boys to listen to, and should they, just by chance, get broken, John will replenish the stock. Also, of course, it is not hard to find 78s on line.  

2020 Pine Islanders will be able to enjoy some great music any time up in Honk Hall.  Just crank it up!  Hint: if you want to turn up the volume, open the doors at the front of the Victrola.    

New Floating Dock System

Director Ben Swan and his son, alumnus Rip Swan, took a trip up to Pine Island this week to take final measurements for the new floating dock system.

Rip doing final measurements where the dock will be floating

Rip taking final measurements where the dock will be floating. (Pine Island is visible in the background)

The mainland dock (shown below) has always been a huge pain in the neck to install, and it’s not quite as wide as we would like. While carrying gear, we need to walk single file, or risk falling in.

Our mainland dock as seen last summer. It's much too narrow for our needs.

Our mainland dock as seen last summer.

Generous gifts from former dock builders have provided the funds to construct a very robust floating dock system that will be delivered and installed in June.  The entire system will be lifted out of the water every fall, along with the swim float and the boathouse floating dock.  Veteran Mainland Dock builders (pictured below) will truly appreciate this new system.  And we’ll all benefit from a wider mainland dock.

These guys are only working on the first section and you can see they are already not feeling happy. And, veteran Mainland Dock builders will notice the beginnings of the dreaded north wind.

A past mainland dock installation: These guys are only working on the first section and you can see they are already not feeling happy. And, veteran Mainland Dock builders will notice the beginnings of the dreaded north wind.