Oh my goodness; we’re in Maine!
Suddenly we decided to hit the afterburners and get to Maine . . . enough tooling around in Rhode Island and Massachussets . . . let’s get to MAINE!
Consequently, we have hit a number of places rapid fire and I am behind on posting about them. So this will be a tour through several locations. I will apologize for the length of this post right up front. Quick overview of our trip so far:
From May to Maine!
After Cuttyhunk we headed to Martha’s Vineyard. We hit two different spots in the Vineyard which were very different experiences. The first was Vinyard Haven. It is pretty but a slightly more industrial section of the island. We anchored outside of the harbor which was peaceful and entertaining. We watched all kinds of boats coming and going along with the constant stream of ferries coming to the island. But our greatest entertainment that evening came from watching a very large shooner that looked a bit like a pirate ship. When we rode into the harbor by dinghy to check things out, we saw it anchored. There were signs indicating that it served as a summer camp. Turns out, they spend the nights anchored up outside the harbor after sailing in the late afternoon and they were our neighbor for the night. (Not very, very close, but close enough for us to get the gist of what was happening on the boat.) We heard the chow bell, we heard them doing chants and songs like they were sitting around a camp fire later on and then they set off the traditional sunset canon (a popular thing here in New England!) We could tell they were settling into their bunks and instead of having an actual anchor light up in their mast, they did it old school . . . they actually lit real lanterns and hung them from the rigging. So neat to imagine what they were talking about or if they were telling ghost stories while swinging from their hammocks down below. Although it was a very hot day by land, it was so comfortable at anchor and we had the most peaceful, easy, relaxing afternoon and evening aboard just minding our own business and watching the world go by.
The light at the entrance to Vineyard Haven Harbor
Vineyard Haven Harbor
Two schooners used for youth camps. The navy one was our neighbor in the anchorage.
Red sky at night, sailor’s delight!
The second part of our visit to Martha’s Vineyard was the more bustling, touristy Edgartown. First let me just say, it was blazing hot. We had made a reservation for a mooring ball right in the harbor. We would not do that again. Some mooring fields are open and spacious with local boats that are not always occupied . . . just sitting waiting for their owners to come show them some love. Not Edgartown. This is like getting a summer rental in Ocean City. Actually, what it was most like was like being parked in a floating RV park. (Now some people might like that . . . nothing wrong with RV parks). It was loud, crowded, busy and boats just one on top of another. Edgartown was very busy with tourists and quite the happening place. And it seems that at about 10pm every night, anyone over the age of 30 basically gets thrown out of town and it is taken over by the young, wealthy, happening crowd. We were in the area for about 3 days. The second day the breeze picked up and it was much more comfortable, but the first and third days we were melting quite a bit. On day two we were able to take a good long walk around town to find a hardware store (I can’t remember what needed fixin’ that day) and to get some exercise. We saw some amazing boats/yachts. But frankly, it just wasn’t our kind of place. Beautiful, don’t get me wrong. I’ll bet I’d like it more in October. Plus we should have anchored outside of the harbor where the air was moving and the boats were further apart. Lessons learned. First sighting of a motor yacht called “Blue Guitar” which everyone thinks belongs to Eric Clapton. (I researched this one hard and am pretty sure it is not his yacht – but that is a very popular urban legend.)
Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard
Walking around Martha’s Vineyard
Beautiful gardens all around Edgartown
Picturesque buildings in Edgartown
As we were walking, Frank let out a sort of “whoop.” Scared me half to death. It was the siting of the beloved Dairy Queen – his favorite part of Edgartown. Oh boy.
Next we went through Woods Hole (one of the openings between islands in the Elizabeth Islands) and came across a little slice of heaven: Quissett Harbor, Mass. Picturesque, protected from storms (which we were expecting), a quiet, charming harbor. Not a whole lot happening in Quissett itself, but if you walked up the road about 1/4 mile there was a trolley that ran either to Woods Hole or to Falmouth. We needed parts at a hardware store (again) and took the Trolley to Falmouth the first day. Nice downtown, shops, grocery, West Marine (bonus!), hardware stores and plumbing supply (which is really what we needed). We enjoyed provisioning all over town and finding a nice pizza place to have lunch at the bar and watch some of the British Open. Oh, and a barber shop! (I escaped using the clippers again!) The guy who oversees the harbor is such a cool character. He’s been there for 30 years (He must have moved there when he was 20), and manages the marina/yacht club. In the evening he gets in his skiff, puts on bermuda shorts and a big straw hat, has a beer in his hand and rides around the harbor to collect the very reasonable mooring fee from visitors. Did I mention that if they did a movie of his life Richard Gere would definitely get the part? What a stitch. We loved him.
Waiting for the Trolley in Falmouth after provisioning.
At the Barber in Falmouth. I am spared from clipping again! Wow, is it short.
Again, it was HOT! And I had about one nerve left which someone was about to get on . . . so as we were gliding out of town, I spotted . . . I’m embarassed to admit it . . . a vey nice looking hair salon. I called and found that they had a cancellation the next morning. Yup, I weenied out and went to a grown up hair salon for some air conditioning, Wi-Fi and pampering. I am SOOOOO ashamed. My hard core sailor needed a break for a couple of hours and I turned back into a girly girl for a bit. Can I tell you, it was DELIGHTFUL! And Frank dodged the bullet from having to trim MY hair!
Rachel was great! Ladies know it is nerve wracking to go to a new stylist – but anyone would be better than Frank! It’s only fair that I get a picture in the midst of getting my hair done, too.
Funny story (now) . . . I had taken the trolley into town and left Frank repairing the head (yes, a crappy job . . .) and expected to see him when I returned to Quissett. When I was finished at the salon, I listened to a voicemail from him saying he was coming into Falmouth to go to – you guessed it – the hardware store and to call him when I got done. I was feeling happy and refreshed and human and respectable looking again, walking down Main St. with a little extra swing back in my step. I figured I would find him and we’d go have lunch before heading back to the hot boat. And that’s when the following conversation took place (approximately):
Ems: Hi! Where are you?
Frank: I just got out of the hardware store and now I need the pluming supply store.
Ems: Okay. Where is that?
Frank: I don’t know exactly.
Ems: Okay. Were you in the hardware store on Main Street?
Frank: Yeah, I think so.
Ems: Where are you now?
Frank: I’m behind the library.
Ems: Okay, well I’m in front of the library, so we’re going to be making eye contact any second now.
Frank: Yeah, well I’ve got to get this part to finish the head, so I’m headed there now.
Ems: Okay, where is “there?”
Frank: I don’t really know! I’m not looking for you right now – I’m looking for the PLUMBING SUPPLY STORE!
That is a direct quote. I don’t think I exactly hung up on him . . .
Moral of the story, he thought I was still sitting in the salon trying to get him to come say “hi” while I was finishing up. What he failed to realize was that I was on Google Maps trying to chase him up and down Main St in nearly 90 degree weather with my new hairdo now sticking to my face trying to catch up with him!! We were able to laugh about our miscommunication over lunch in the air conditioning , but the sidewalk was sizzling for a few minutes before that. Ah . . . communications.
We met a really lovely couple from two boats down as we were riding around the harbor . . . had cocktails together our last evening there. They were SO kind as to give us their cruising guide for Maine. We have a cruising guide for all of New England, but this is the penultimate guide specifically for Maine. They had used it for a couple of years and wanted to pass it along to us, and asked us to pass it along to someone else who could use it when we were done with it. What a generous and wonderful thing to do. We already have referred to it multiple times in our first few short days here. I’ll say it again – people on the water are amazingly kind.
We left Quissett on Sunday, made our way through the Cape Cod Canal and went to Provincetown, an extremely colorful place that is welcoming of all kinds of lifestyles, some very flamboyant. I’ll just tell you that we learned what “bear week” is and I’ll leave it at that. We grabbed a mooring ball close to the bustling town because we were . . . wait for it . . . in search of a hardware store – quickly. And then we very quickly made our way out of Provincetown the next day and headed east to Maine.
Leaving Quissett Harbor at daybreak
Entrance to the Cape Cod Canal – Like the C&D Canal, you have to time your trip through the canal based on the currents; thus the early morning departure.
The Maritime School at the Canal Entrance
Exiting the Canal. Again, we didn’t meet any large boat traffic. We hardly met any traffic at all! We looked for whales after we came out the canal, but they would not come out and play that day. Guess they feared Frank the mighty fisherman!
Proof that we were actually in Provincetown . . . for 12 hours.
Our thought was that Provincetown is like a mix of Key West and New Orleans . . . a carnival-like atmosphere. You can’t really see the large, orange painted transvestite on the unicycle. Yeah, you read that right.
The harbor in Provincetown. Supplies from the hardware store secure in the backpack.
We didn’t feel like doing another overnighter . . . that took a lot out of us . . . so we were looking for a way to turn the trip into a couple of long, back-to-back days instead. We were on the single side band radio one morning listening to the morning cruisers net with boats checking in from all over when someone mentioned they were in “Isle of Shoals”. We looked at each other like a dog does when it’s confused – you know – head cocked sideways . . . and kind of made that little “wuh?” noise. We’d never heard of it. And we knew these people were headed for Maine. Upon further research, we found this little patch of nine teeny islands in a cluster that are about 10 miles off the coast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The Maine/New Hampshire state line splits right through the middle of them. They are a perfect stopover point for a trip to Maine. And so, we decided we would explore the Isle of Shoals. There is quite a history if you Google Isle of Shoals and start poking around. There was a grizzly murder of three women on one island in the late 1800s while the men-folk went to fish and couldn’t get back to the harbor due to weather. There are rumors that Blackbeard’s wife’s ghost wanders on one of the other islands after he left her there to wait for him and she died before he returned. On Star Island there is a huge retreat and conference center for the Unitarian Church. (I always thought Unitarians were pretty cool. The guy who wrote “All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” is a Unitarian minister . . . trivia for the day.) We grabbed a (free) mooring ball in the harbor expecting to stay just one night and mosey on the next day. We realized the harbor was right where the state line crossed, so we figured when the wind blew one way we were in New Hampshire and when it blew the other way and the boat swang around, we were in Maine. It was a beautiful, remote, picturesque, interesting place to see. And not a place very many people will ever have a chance to lay eyes on. I think we like some of those kinds of places best of all – the ones that very few people get to find. It just feels extra special. We ended up being there for two nights . . . that pesky weather, you know. Our day was spent on boat chores. We ended up re-sewing a lot of canvas by hand where the thread is starting to dry rot. It was the best job of collaborating on a project that we have done in a long time. We have a hand stitcher and it is a much easier job with two people. Remember, canvas is very thick and heavy and requires huge needles. It’s not like hemming a pair of pants! Three hours and two stiff necks and backs later, our repairs were in pretty good shape. And it was cool enough, at last, to be able to cook a real dinner on the boat without melting. Boat care and maintenance never go away and we’re putting some hard miles on this baby.
The next morning, we started out at about 6:00am in a bright sunny Isle of Shoals to head to Portland, Maine. About twenty minutes later, it wasn’t bright and sunny any more. It was foggy. Very foggy. And it stayed that way for the first four hours of our trip. We got some good practice time in on the radar. We know we need to get used to it . . . that’s the part of the country we’re in and boaters around here know how to deal with fog. But it’s still a little nerve wracking for us . . . but we did very well, and around 10:00am, the sun finally started breaking through again. By the way, there has been very little actual sailing in these last few legs. Either there hasn’t been any wind or it’s not in a favorable direction, so we’ve been motoring or motor sailing a lot. So after a couple of days of grinding northeast, we finally made it to Maine.
The Retreat on Star Island, Isle of Shoals
Good company in the mooring field.
Sites around the picturesque island
Welcome to Star Island! Another fun night of listening to youth campers enjoying there time in this very remote location.
Not leaving the Isle of Shoals today! A raw, rainy day in the harbor.
The lighthouse as we leave the Isle of Shoals in the sun.
We’ll spend pretty much the next month exploring just a few of the myriad of islands in these parts. So much to see – so little time. We frequently talk about the fact that two years sounded like a long time to try to do this, and yet we know we will only scratch the surface of the number of things to see on this route in two years.
So next post will begin our adventures in Maine for the month of August starting with Portland. I wonder if Portland has a hardware store?