A Flotilla of Teachers on Merrymeeting Bay

The Hands Around the Bay Project, sponsored by FOMB, hosted a small group of dedicated and enthusiastic teachers on Saturday morning, June 7. We were treated royally and escorted by a knowledgeable, environmentally (MMB, at least) committed and fun loving group of small boat captains who had no end of stories to share about the Bay. The day just happened to be the first crystal clear, balmy weather such as one would normally hope for starting sometime in mid-May. Fish were jumpin' and the tide was low enough to navigate both in and out of the Abbagadassett River.

We left in five boats from four sites around the Bay. Launchings took place from the Muddy River, the Cathance River, the Abbagadasett (CHECK SPELLING) and the Kennebec River from Richmond Town Landing. For two hours each captain toured the Bay, introducing teachers to the geography, geology and the beauty of this water system as they see it. I heard one teacher say they stopped to "observe" an eel trap, and one captain headed into the Kennebec in search of seals. At least two elementary teachers were challenged to work out a formula using distance, time and speed, but I hear that a high school math teacher ( or perhaps just a teacher who understands higher strands of math) saved them from a long series of critical commentary by that boat captain.

At 10:00 a.m. we all rendezvoused at Chop Point School in Bath where Frank Hayward, headmaster of that school, hosted our party and provided midmorning beverages and a building for lunch. Linwood Rideout spoke to the gathering for about half an hour, but we easily could have listened to him for half a day because he has a knowledge and love of the Bay rooted in personal history and experiences.

Linwood Rideout shared his knowledge/

Linwood challenged teachers to study the salinity of the Bay, to record results of student research over time, and he asked us to find out if this Bay is like any other in the world. I suspect that some teachers have pondered his concern for crediting this Bay as an unusual ecosystem and may take their students on field trips with the knowledge gained from their own visual and emotional observations.

Before leaving Chop Point, we thanked teachers for their participation by giving each of them (five elementary schools, one high school and one local college) a, hot-off-the-press MMB site directory and guide that details information about accessible locations on the shores of MMB. Each captain and our host received a complimentary ticket to the FOMB Berry Jam Festival to be held at Bowdoinham Community School on Saturday, June 28.

Before returning to our departure points, some of us stopped at Sturgeon Island and were greeted by Mr. Reed, owner of the camp and island. He was coming ashore to raise the flag because he knew we planned on stopping off there. A beaver beat the Bay waters with his tail off Sturgeon to warn whatever population of beavers lived on the Bath shoreline that humans came by boat and hoof.

Special thanks to the participants in this event and also to the boat captains who were available if we needed them - Bruce Berry, Jim McPherson and Bob Curtis. Jerry Provencher, Anne Hammond and Betsy Steen contributed time, interest and "copy" for all to share. Joan and Don Lipfert's sightings form was noted in the FOMB newsletter which we also handed out and this effort met with a very positive response by teachers. Be sure you get your sightings in if you happen to live on the Bay or happen to be passing a beauty spot on the way to the local town dump.

Pat Maloney
June 9, 1997