The Welch House Inn
“This was a real nice Clambake…” 22 Aug 2013, 12:32 pm
As you may know, the movie version of the musical Carousel was filmed in Boothbay Harbor.
While checking in some guests today I learned of a personal connection they have to that movie and this place. Jerry’s brother, Bill Foster, was a dancer in Carousel as well as a number of other Hollywood musicals of that era (Bandwagon, Stars and Stripes Forever).
That is our harbor in the background, folks!
Jerry and his wife shared with me how much he loved filming here, and that he (and they) have always had a soft spot in their hearts for BBH because of it. Bill went on to become a choreographer (The Best Things in Life are Free, Mardi Gras) and worked with people like Marilyn Monroe and Bob Fosse, and to direct a number of television shows (like the Danny Kaye Show). Being fans of musical theater and film, this was very fun for us to hear!
Though Bill passed away recently, it’s nice that his work lives on, and that his family shares his affinity for this little corner of the world.
The Bounty is Lost! 30 Oct 2012, 11:12 am
Just a week or so ago, if you walked out onto our breakfast deck, you could see these archaic masts and full rigging standing taller than the trees. As it has been several times over the past ten years, the HMS Bounty was in dry dock at the bottom of McKown Hill.
The HMS Bounty
in dry dock at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard
The HMS Bounty sinking
Photo courtesy of the guardian.co.uk
Claudene Christian has been recovered dead and the Captain, Robin Walbridge, has been lost. The other fourteen crew were recovered safely.
For a moment when I heard the news, I realized how a 19th-century resident of this very town must have felt when they heard similar news; “The Bounty is lost!” and I felt a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
The Bounty was a very important ship to this town; there’s hardly anyone who didn’t have a friend or family member on the crew at one time or another, or had worked on her one of the numerous times she’s been in dry dock at the foot of our hill.
Why is this community of sailors so strong? Let me give you an example.
Charlie, Tammy’s son, started working for us when he was 12. When he was in high school, Susan managed to get him on board an Ocean Classroom boat for a semester. When he came back, he announced this was what he wanted to do. Not just go to sea, but to go to sea on a schooner.
Now, at age 20, he is in California going to school for his captain’s license. He called his mother this morning to check in, but not until he had called one of the Bounty crew members to see if she was OK. This crew member had been a crewmate during his first sail, and so she is in some ways as important as his mother.
This ferocious dedication to the craft has kept the tall ship alive through the steam, coal, diesel and nuclear power ages. Once you sail on a tall ship, you understand the reason why men traveled by sea hundreds of years ago, blindly sailing farther and farther into the unknown. The natural rhythm of the sea, the sway of the ship, days and nights out on the ocean are so otherworldly.
And then there are your trusted friends and shipmates. Your Captain. His Mate. The Cook. People that you eat with, work with and joke with. People that you rely on, and who rely on you. I can only imagine how close these crew members became.
I believe these relationships are the reason why Schooner sailors are how they are. Relationships between the crew. A relationship with the boat. A relationship with the sea.
The pain that is felt by the crew and owners of the Bounty is shared not only by Tall Ship sailors in Maine, but by sailors around the country. Claudene and Robin died doing what they loved to do on the ship they loved to sail.
We mourn them and the beautiful HMS Bounty.
Here we build ships. 26 Sep 2012, 11:30 am
Stand on our breakfast deck looking out over the harbor, and then gaze to your right. The wooden masts you see belong to the HMS Bounty. Built as a prop for the 1962 film, it was destined to be burnt after the movie. When he found out, that $%@& Pain-In-The-Butt Marlon Brando decided that if they burnt the ship, he would not make the movie.
The HMS Bounty
in dry dock at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard
Waiting its turn on the rail is the Amistad, moored in the outer harbor.
For almost 150 years, a boatyard has occupied the same spot on Commercial St., and over the years, the men and women that have worked there have crafted Schooners, Tugs, PT Boats, Minesweepers, Yachts and replicas of historical vessels. Most of wood, the shipyard has a reputation for their craftsmanship, most recently launching a replica of the Discovery for the state of Virginia.
Boat builders at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard
working in wood
Some mornings, you can hear the shipwrights pounding oak pegs into the hull of their current project. The sound of wood on wood softly resonates up McKown hill, and I know that it was the ancestors of these folks that built the Welch House. Certainly not some land-locked carpenter.
And yet, these craftsmen are not alone. There’s Hodgdon Yachts, designer and fabricator of the Scheherazade, a 154′ private yacht, and composite assault boats for the US Navy. Washburn & Doughty makes some of the world’s finest Tugboats. Southport Island Marine turns out fiberglass fishing and pleasure boats. And the list goes on. There are dozens and dozens of men & women that make their living on this peninsula the old fashioned way.
They build boats. Wicked nice boats.
Breakfast of Champions 2 Aug 2012, 11:03 am
Buy Local. Hire Local. But more important, we here the Welch House believe that we should be making a personal commitment to our State and the people that live here.
Olympic Gold Medal Winner 2008 & 2012
This is Elle. She was both a housekeeper and a front Desk Clerk for us in 2006. Like many of the local young woman that we employ, she was a hard worker that put 110% into her job. Smart and quick to pick up new skills, Elle was a really, really good employee.
It wasn’t all puppy dogs and ice cream, though. Like most young people her age, Elle had her share of post-adolescent issues, some of which we actually saw resolved during her tenure. I’m sure that some of those issues are still waiting to be addressed.
The point is, we were, and are still, committed to hiring local high-school and college kids to staff us through the summer. While most of our peers hire foreign workers for the season, we feel an obligation to look for local talent. The resulting staff may offer its own unique challenges, but we find a way to work through the drama and still provide an excellent service for our guests.
There are times when I think that Tammy, Susan and I are the only stable (me, stable?) adults in some of these kid’s lives. Molested girls, teen mothers, college honor students, confused kids. They are all part of the family.
They tell us their problems while we’re making breakfast and stay after their shift to talk with Tammy.
They grow up, they finish school, they get married, and they live their lives. They come and visit, when they can. They bring their husbands, sometimes their babies. They tell us about their new lives, their jobs, and their dreams.
We are so proud of each and everyone of them.
And then there’s Elle proving to each and every one of these kids that you can grow up in Maine, you can get a good education, and if you work really, really hard, you can win gold.
Thank you, Elle. I’m proud to have been a part of your life, and I am grateful that you were part of ours.
50th Annual Windjammer Days 6/24 – 6/27 15 Jun 2012, 9:32 am
Once upon a time, in this land that we call home, there were greats ships that moved in and out of Boothbay Harbor.
Boothbay Harbor from McKown Hill
in the late 19th century.
They carried ice from nearby ponds, there was a fishery and a fish oil company. We canned lobsters and made fertilizer. All the while great ships moved in and out of the harbor and were an integral part of the local lives. We sailed boats, fixed boats and made boats by hand. It was all about the boats.
During the 1930′s, Mill Cove, a shallow backwater of Boothbay Harbor, was a popular layup location for schooners. At least five large schooners, and probably several more, spent years in Mill Cove, awaiting their fates. The bones of two big schooners are still there, left to rot after their owners decided that there was no more money to be made from them.
You can still see those rotting hulls today, and for many years, that was the only reminder of the great sailing days and how important the industry was to Boothbay Harbor.
2012 Poster Contest Winner
Then, in the 60s, somebody had the great idea that we should gather Windjammers from across the State and invite them to Boothbay Harbor, under sail. Fifty years later we are still thrilling to the sight of a dozen or more Double- and Triple-Masted Schooners sailing into our harbor.
Participating Schooners this year include the Eastwind, the Heritage, the Lazyjack, the American Eagle, the Harvey Gamage, the Spirit of Massachusetts, the Timberwind, the Nathaniel Bowditch, the Lewis R. French, the Amistad, the Sherman Zwicker and the Bowdoin.
Download the entire schedule of events here.We still have some availability on Sunday the 24th and Monday the 25th, so take a few days off and join us for Windjammer Days!