Grab a Sail and Head Down East

Bring an old sail to the Maine Boat Builders Show to help the earthquake survivors in Haiti."Past the Spindle" from our March 4, 2010, _CW_Reckonings

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People attending the Maine Boatbuilder Show in will have the opportunity to participate in the Haiti relief effort.Mark Pillsbury

As if you needed another reason to pile into the car and drive to Portland, Maine, two weekends from now for the Maine Boat Builders Show, Phineas Sprague, owner of Portland Yacht Service and show organizer, e-mailed this week with a plea to bring used sails along so they can be sent to earthquake survivors in Haiti.

In his note he said an old sailing friend, John Eide, owner of the Concordia Golandria, "recently returned from the Caribbean with fire in his belly to help the awful situation in Haiti." So, Phin's setting aside a building in his sprawling waterfront yard as a collection point for John during the show, which runs March 19 to 21.

"Haitians still have a pressing need for food and shelter as they recover from the massive earthquake that struck in January. As a member of the Maine sailing community, I'm organizing a drive to collect used sails to be shipped to Haiti to be used as makeshift shelter. The rainy season is starting early this year in the Caribbean, so the faster we can get our used sails to Haiti, the better off the estimated 770,000 homeless will be," writes John. Prior to the show, he's lined up Maine Sailing Partners in Freeport and Pope Sails and Rigging in Rockland as additional drop-off points. If you're making a donation, he asks that you have the hoist and foot measurements of the sail available.

If you've never been to the Maine Boat Builders Show, it's a doozy. Think art meets water in a very varnishy sort of way. For three days, Maine marine artisans bring the best of what they've been working on all year and put it on display in one quite salty location. The chili is great, by the way, and the Ship Yard ale will more than quench your thirst.

So, without question, I'm digging out the old sail from a Bristol 24 that a friend left at the house, and the 420 spinnaker that my daughter saved from the dumpster when the kids cleaned out a sailing program locker last summer, and I'm heading to Portland. The only question is what shoes to wear: boat mocs or rubber boots. The show is truly a harbinger of spring, and it's been a long winter Down East. If the sun is out and the weather's mild, it could be full on mud season.