Who can dispute that family and friends make life better? Our two most recent stops proved that once again.
It was finally time to say goodbye to Maine. We knew we had about a ten hour trip ahead of us to get to Gloucester so we left at sunrise. Along the way we saw a seal pop his head up and check us out for a while! Finally! We may have seen a grand total of 8 seals the whole time we were in Maine! And – at long last – we spotted two whales that day!! We think they were Minke Whales . . . not too big and could be mistaken for a dolphin swimming at the surface of the water until you realize it is much too large to be a dolphin!! The sightings were brief, but exciting. We took two hour shifts, it was warm, and we were going downwind, so it was a comfortable ride other than the flies that wanted to make the trip with us. Ten hours flew by, and then we were pulling into the harbor in Gloucester, another town with LOTS of Frank’s family to visit . . . but we’ll save that for the next post.
Today will be a different kind of post entered under a new category. Some of you may have an interest in reading . . . some of you may choose to skip this category all together, and that’s very understandable.
I have found writing to be very therapeutic at moments in our travels . . . .just to capture a thought or feeling or to comment on some silly something that has happened along the way. So I am starting a new category called “Short Stories.” These are not our typical entries about our stops or activities. These may be commentaries on life on the boat . . . or two people confined in a small space together . . . or special moments . . . oh they could be about all kinds of stuff.
These will not have a bunch of pictures. They will truly just be short stories by me, Ems, Mary Marie, MM.
If you enjoy them, cool. If you’re not interested, also cool. I’m just putting them somewhere other than in the notes section of my iPad.
Here is the first: “A Relaxing Saturday Morning”
It is called a “reach” because the way it is positioned and the direction of the predominant winds, a sailboat is almost always on a “reach” (meaning with the wind hitting the boat broadside) which is the most desirable point of sail. The weather was gorgeous and, best of all, the lobster pots subsided for a while!! My friends, we did something shocking. We put up the sails and turned off the engine – a rare experience in these parts for us! Sun, warmth, wind, no pots – that makes Frank very happy. Here’s how happy it made him:
That was a big moment for us. We pulled into Northeast Harbor and made that our home base for the next four days. We had a new experience in the harbor: floats. We called in to the harbormaster to see about getting a mooring ball . . . they were all taken, but they had a float available. A float is like a little, tiny floating dock just about the length of a boat. It is, like a mooring ball, anchored to the floor of the body of water, but it is a mini-dock. You get one side of it and another boat gets the other, so you have one very close neighbor. One thing we have discovered: the “knucklehead factor” up here is pretty low, so you’re not worried about having “Fuggedaboutit” pull up beside you blaring Pit Bull (no offense, Pit Bull fans). We found it very comfortable, quiet and good sleeping. Our first night there, a dinghy came riding over with two familiar faces: a couple we had met at the gam! They invited us to come for “sundowners” on their boat. It was a great way to wind up the day, and they had lots of helpful information about getting around the area.
It’s rarely dull out here. This week has been no exception. We have been fortunate not to have any severe “near miss” experiences. We have little “near misses” or we’re around other people who have had issues . . . they are all reminders that it is important to keep on your toes when you’re living on the water!
The next day was a gathering at the cottage of one of the members who has now hosted this shindig for 23 years! The weather turned beautiful for exactly the portion of the day that we were gathered for a covered dish lunch and a program in the afternoon. The speakers shared information about Maine, its economy, and the state of the islands themselves. (Fun fact: there are 3,166 islands in the Maine registry! I know! Who knew?) We met great people and got lots of helpful information from those who have been sailing our same route for many years, some for more than a decade. I especially laughed at a comment one couple made that we were talking to. They said, “Yeah, we can tell you haven’t been cruising that long – you look too clean . . . after ten years you’ll look like us!!” I didn’t think they looked all that bad, but he did have a rather long and curly mustache bordering on handlebar. Wonder if Frank will give up shaving somewhere along the way. Doubt it. Many people were especially helpful in prepping us for traveling through the Bahamas this winter. All in all, a good gathering.
The three of us met back up for lunch and then toured the vessel State of Maine.
Next morning we headed back to Camden.
While underway, we heard a distress call on the VHF radio . . . a boat named Archangel was talking with the Coast Guard. We could only hear the Coast Guard’s side of the conversation, but it sounded like they had hit something and disabled the boat. Everyone on board was safe and help was being sent to assist the boat. We could tell it had happened fairly close to our location. When we got back to Camden and picked up our mooring ball back at Wayfarer Marina, the staff was all abuzz about the boat the had run aground. It was the boat we had heard on the radio, and it was coming in to the marina. They said it had been demasted, which is exactly what it sounds like – the mast snapped off in the impact. That is a heck of an impact! The next morning when we were taking Triana to shore, we saw Archangel parked at the dock. Oh my goodness. She’s a 70 foot Hylas (meaning big and beautiful) and sure enough, the mast was snapped right off. Just made your stomach turn. They had been under full sail and hit a big rock. Amazing no one was hurt. It was another reminder that you can’t lose your attention when you’re out on the water! Amazingly, the boat was able to be uprighted and come back in under its own power.
And the unsettled weather moved in as predicted. That morning was the first time we actually got up and unplugged anything that was plugged in and charging (phones, computers) for fear of a lightning strike. Then we rolled over and went back to sleep . Not much you can do at that point! All was well – no direct hits. We listened to it rain hard for the day and took advantage of the time to read/nap/catch up on bills and correspondence, etc. Sometimes a forced down day is a good thing. We actually didn’t mind. And it was a very scenic harbor!! After a day filled with rain, the skies cleared for the most beautiful night with the sky lit up with stars. Amazing what lack of lights will do for star gazing!
We’re hop, hop, hopping through Maine.
We try to have very few dates/destinations that we must be at because it puts pressure on our choices . . . and weather is always playing a big part in our decisions. But we did plan to attend a Seven Seas Cruising Association gathering or “gam” on August 2-3 in Islesboro, so we didn’t want to waste any time getting up that way with a day cushion in case weather delayed us along the way. So we made several quick hops and got ourselves up to Islesboro and Gilkey Harbor in plenty of time.
Our stops along the way were PORT CLYDE, ROCKLAND and ROCKPORT.
Port Clyde, Maine: You know pretty quickly when you pull into a harbor whether you feel comfortable there or not . . . sort of like when you walk into a hotel room. That first minute or two and you’re pretty clear if you can relax. Port Clyde was like a good hotel room . . . pretty, comfortable and peaceful. We took the dinghy in to the hub of all things happening in Port Clyde: the Port Clyde General Store. Restaurant on the back, market and breakfast counter on the front. Out back by the water was a lobster shack where some of the local guys offload their catch. We were able to procure six fine specimen for our enjoyment later.
Next stop, Rockland, Maine.
Rockland is more of a city than many of our stops. Cruisers tend to like it because of accessibility to a major shopping center by foot for groceries, office supplies, etc., so it is a great place for provisioning. We made a productive stop in the RiteAid and then checked out the town. Frank was in search of a hardware store (shock) that had been mentioned in some of our guidebooks. Long story short, when he got to the address later that afternoon, he found a boarded up True Value. Argh! But not to despair – there was a Home Depot close by. The man has every tool (and two of some) on board with spare parts to nearly every major piece of equipment on the boat . . . and yet, there’s always something that comes up in a repair that we don’t have. Murphy’s Law, I suppose. I would say “Quigley’s Law” but I suspect he doesn’t have a corner on that particular situation. (Can I hear an “Amen?”) When we went into town, they were setting up a carnival for the start of the Rockland Lobster Festival. We did not help them test the portable ferris wheel. (Those of you in Grantville will understand that more than most.)
After one night, which we felt was plenty, we left – in GREAT weather – for Rockport.
Rockport was lovely, wonderful, special. We LOVED Rockport. Like Port Clyde, we kind of knew when came into the harbor were going to like it here! It was a short trip from Rockland, so we had a good afternoon and evening to spend walking around town. And walk around town we did! We get a lot of exercise just hoofing it everywhere . . . and Rockport is HILLY! That made us feel justified when we got to dinner later, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Rockport is also somewhat of an artist colony and houses a fine music hall and chamber music program. There were no concerts the night we were there. Many lessons learned on this trip about timing . . .
We hadn’t had lunch and figured we’d find something to eat in our trek around town, but it was about 3pm. We had just missed lunch at some places and were too early for dinner at others. So we walked a far piece to where we thought there was a restaurant . . . turned out to be a roadside BBQ stand, and it wasn’t talking to us. Okay . . . hungry but happy, we kept walking. There was a market in town that we had read about . . . you know, the “let’s pick up a little food at a time so we don’t have to carry too much” theory. He’s hardware stores . . . I’m markets. We FINALLY got to this market (after walking another far piece) . . . and it had nothing we needed, pretty much. So walked back down to the harbor mostly empty-handed and wtih empty bellies. So even though we were getting tired and probably getting a little ripe at this point, we were standing outside of a very nice looking restaurant that was due to open shortly. We decided to treat ourselves . . . we were WAY too lazy to go back to the boat, shower, and then come back out for dinner. So we sat in the park and watched people swimming in the 64 degree water while we waited for 5:00pm. (It was 5:00 somewhere, but not in Rockport yet!) The place was called Shepherd’s Pie, and it was amazing. Great looking place right on the water with lots of dark wood like an irish pub, put with floor to ceiling windows looking out over the harbor. The kitchen was open to the dining room with a wood burning stove. We ordered a treasure trove of appetizers and turned it into a meal. EVERYTHING we ordered was outstanding! (And it wasn’t just because we were that hungry.) Beyond outstanding. Makes you want to do a happy dance kind of good. Neither one of us has had a meal that we drooled over that much in quite a while! I don’t know what came over me, but as we were walking out, I walked to the open kitchen and called out, “Are you the head chef?” The chef looked at me like, “Oh no, here it comes.” He forced a smile, walked over and said,”Yes.”. I put my hand on Frank’s shoulder, looked at the chef and said, “I know I’m too old for you, but I’d leave my husband for you – that’s how good that meal was.” Then I turned around and walked away before he could figure out how to respond. Happily, I heard two laughs from behind me and, luckily, one of them was Frank’s.
Here are some shots from our day.
Earlier when we got in to harbor, we picked up a mooring ball that we thought belonged to the marina. It seemed to fit the description. Frank at the helm, I went to grab it on the bow. The rope felt kind fo slimy when I was pulling it up, which was very odd. I got hold of it and was just putting the loop on the cleat to secure it when I realized that the “slime” was moving! It was thousands of little tiny crabs and mussels and other living things. I try to “put my tomboy on,” but I am not a fan of crawling things – I admit it. Fortunately, I already had the line hooked on the boat when I realized this, therefore preventing me from dropping it in the water! I hope the yelp I let out was a little, private one. Frank came up to assist and survey the situation. Now we had little crabs trying to crawl onto the deck. Nothing that the wash down hose couldn’t fix, but more importantly, that told us the mooring ball hadn’t been used in a very long time, which struck us as odd. Come to find out, we had mistakenly pulled up to a privately owned mooring, which the nice young man at the marina informed us when we told him what number we were on. He didn’t care. He said, “You can stay on it – just be prepared to move if the owners show up.” Judging by the ecosystem on the ropes, we figured we didn’t have to worry about that! And so we saved $35 on our mooring ball that night.
Off to our next port . . . and hope that we don’t rock.
Next post, our adventures in Gilkey Harbor at Islesboro . . . and the day we almost had to leave our anchor behind.
We left Portland on a beautiful day with some nice wind in our sails. We set off that morning thinking we were headed to a place called “The Basin.” That was until we realized that a) we were doing about 7 knots (that’s good), and b) we were actually sailing instead of having to motor sail or motor, something we haven’t gotten to do much of lately and we like it! So we decided to take advantage of the good conditions and keep on going to Boothbay Harbor area. And so we did. The great sailing didn’t last the whole day, but it lasted for more than half the trip which turned out to be about a 6 hour trip.
By early afternoon the wind wasn’t as favorable, so we turned the engine back on. And we became even more acquainted with our friends, the lobster pots. And we were reminded that when you’re traveling over 57 degree water, it’s rarely going to be really, really warm.
Because Boothbay can be very crowded in the summer, we opted for anchoring in a cove around the bend known to be a quiet anchorage. After the rocking and rolling in Portland, we were ready for a quiet anchorage! We found a beautiful spot in LInekin Bay. We had read about a park at the head of the bay where you could land your dinghy and then walk into Boothbay Harbor. Another thing that we had read about was the 10 foot difference between low tide and high tide . . . a swing that we are not so accustomed to. We considered that very carefully when we were anchoring, being sure to think about how much water we would be parked in six hours later. But when we took the dinghy to shore for a walk, we didn’t give it quite as much thought. The following pictures tell the rest of the story.
We enjoyed a nice walk into to town. Boothbay is a tourist destination, but a relatively laid back, civilized one. We found a place to have an incredibly cheap lobster dinner a little outside of town, and then walked back to the main harbor the next morning. (The next day we checked the tides and had a little better dinghy parking strategy!) It is hard not to feel for the lobstermen/women. There is a glut of lobster and they are getting less than 2.50/pound. We had a complete lobster dinner with two – that’s TWO – 1 1/2 pound lobsters for about $18 per person. We will do our best to support the industry while we’re here.
As you can see, the weather turned and the layers of clothes and jackets became necessary again. A number of times before we started cruising, we told people we were going to “sail to 80.” That wasn’t referring to our ages . . . it was referring to fahrenheit . I commented to Frank today that I think we sailed right through 80 and straight to 70!
Our assessment of Maine so far . . . it’s a beautiful, cool place (in more ways than one) . . . but you gotta work for it!
Last post we had stopped over in Isle of Shoals, the little patch of islands about 8 miles off the coast of Portsmouth, NH. It was dipping our little toe into Maine since it was right on the state line. Well we have now thrown our entire bodies deeply into the state of Maine. First stop, Portland.
When we came back from our walk, to our amazement, we saw Wind Runner in a slip right across from us!! We walked over and introduced ourselves, explaining that we had heard their distress call and the resulting assist from Grumpy – and wanted to know if they were O.K. They were just fine aside from the fact that they had snagged a lobster pot and got it wrapped snug around their prop, thus having no steering. After throwing the boat into reverse several times, they got enough of the line unwrapped to limp the boat into the marina with the watchful eye of Grumpy escorting them. They mentioned that Grumpy was a rather large boat. Once they had made it to the marina, Grumpy disappeared into the mist (so to speak). We learned all of this when we invited them over for cocktails and some empathy for the day they had just had. And that’s how we met Jim and Vanessa. They were having the boat hauled the next day to take a look and see what damage had been done . . . oh, and they were going to do laundry. Again with the laundry. We enjoyed our visit and went our separate ways.
The next day was a washout with rain and heavy winds. It was no day to try to leave, so we sat there thrashing about on the dock for yet another day. In the mean time we had discovered more clothes with mildew on them. Boats. So guess where I headed? Yup, back to the laundry room. On my last batch of clothes in the dryer, guess who walked in? Yup, Vanessa. We just looked at each other and laughed – hard. How much laundry can two women do in two days’ time? I was able to catch up on the fact that they had discovered the remains of twisted lobster pot line wrapped around their prop which they were able to get off in short order when they hauled the boat. No permanent damage and all was well. They could continue their interrupted journey to Boothbay Harbor the next day. We ultimately decided to have a “combined resources” dinner together on their boat that night: they made the steaks and we made the sides and brought the wine. It was a most enjoyable way to end a labor intensive day with fun new boating cohorts.