23 August, 2012

What a drag!

Location: Jewell Island, Maine
Position: N 43 41.286 W 070 05.455

Jewell Island is another picture perfect Maine Island made different by the fact that it was also a submarine spotting station during World War II. The remains, a couple of concrete watch towers over looking the Atlantic, bunker tunnels, and the remains of quite a few buildings, stand a lonely sentinel over the southern reaches of Casco Bay.

The anchorage here is a bit tight. It's shaped like a long, narrow “U” with rocks on both sides, shoal water ahead, and a narrow entrance to the north. It's also very popular so it can be a bit difficult to anchor without being on top of your neighbours.

As we arrive a large sailboat is just leaving, what luck! We slip right into his spot and drop the anchor. We're a bit closer than we'd like to our new neighbour behind us, but we are satisfied and have complete confidence in our anchor and our ground tackle. We should sit tight in anything less than a gale.
Jewell Island anchorage on a less busy day

The next day a smaller boat comes in and anchors right in front of us. A bit close for our taste, but not too bad. Mark has some chores to do in the basement (under the cockpit), so he takes Julie ashore for a walk, then proceeds to haul everything out into the cockpit so he can get at what he's working on. Both seats, the cockpit sole, everything is covered with the stuff we stow in the basement when it's not in use. Lines, buckets, oil change pumps, storage boxes full of various stuff, all conspire to completely clutter the cockpit. The big lazerette hatch is wide open and Mark is busily doing whatever it is that he does down there in that cavernous, yet tiny space.

Julie has a lovely walk ashore and when she returns calls Mark on the VHF to come and get her. She notices the new boat is a bit closer than it was so she tells Mark to stop by and tell them on his way in. Mark clambers out of the basement and sees the boat heading toward us – but no one's on deck! He hops in the dinghy to let them know. He hears a “Holy shit!” and they both pop up. She starts the engine, he starts hauling up the anchor by hand. “The anchor is caught on something – I can't haul it up.” he says. Mark says “you could be caught on our chain. Just sit tight – don't do anything until I get back with my wife. We'll haul our anchor and get it all sorted out. You just keep still and fend off if necessary.” He rows in quickly and picks up Julie.

While Mark is picking up Julie (a two minute trip each way), another boater has dinghied over to the smaller boat to help them. In our absence, they have decided to put their anchor rode on one of their winches to help them haul it up. As we arrive back aboard Rachel they've succeeded in lifting their anchor out of the water and, sure enough, our chain is caught on it. Unfortunately, their little exercise has also managed to pull our anchor loose in the process. So much for waiting until we got back like Mark asked!!

Now both boats are starting to drift back onto the boat behind Rachel. The smaller boat is still attached to Rachel by our anchor chain and their crew is starting to freak out!! We see what is happening and rush back to Rachel. Julie leaps aboard, grabs a boat hook, and fends the other boat off while Mark secures the dinghy, fights his way through all the basement stuff in the cockpit and gets the engine started. By now we're only about 15 feet from the boat behind us and closing. Mark motors slowly forward and that disaster is averted.

Julie suggests to the crew of the other boat (in no uncertain terms!!) that they would be well served to post one of their member to focus their energy on keeping our two boats from bashing into each other while we get things sorted out. Meanwhile, Mark has been leaping back and forth (still over all the basement junk in the cockpit) between the helm and the port side of the boat where he is intermittently fending the other boat off and tying on fenders to protect Rachel while keeping us all from drifting any further back.

Up on the bow, Julie is letting out more chain to take the tension off their anchor. Finally the small boat is able to unhook and drop our chain from their anchor. Now that they are free, they again start to drift......once again right towards Rachel. “Fend off” Julie shouts. She's on the bow madly getting the anchor up so that Mark can maneuver away. Finally the anchor comes off the bottom, Julie signals Mark “she's up” and he steers out into open water. Phew.

The little boat moves further up into the anchorage to reset their anchor. Rachel is finally anchored slightly ahead of her original spot with some extra chain out, and we can now relax and take a deep breath. Phew!!! Is it cocktail time, yet?

But wait! The cockpit is still full of 'stuff'! Poor Mark still has his boat jobs to finish, then has to re-stow the basement when he's done.

What a drag!

11 August, 2012

Musings From Maine

Location: Somes Harbor, Mt. Desert Island, Maine
Position: 44 21.699 N 068 19.665 W

Tuesday, 10 July
The Goslings, Casco Bay, Maine

A week ago we were leaving the Chesapeake Bay. Today we're in Maine. How things change when we're cruising! This time we moved our home and traded 100 degree days and afternoon thunderstorms for crystal clear blue skies, chilly mornings, and daytime temperatures in the 80s.

Maine is a special place. Morning coffee in wooly jumpers and sweat pants just after daybreak at 05:30. Chilly, calm, peaceful.

A blue heron flies by and Mark is transported back in time. Gathering driftwood logs, boards, and lobster warp from the rocks to make rafts. Running around the islands almost flying from step to step, rock to rock (not much chance of that now <g>). Wearing raggedy old sneakers, up to his knees in mud digging for clams with his dad. Heading out on the “Sylvia Jo” in the the fog, wearing oil skins and hip boots, to check Uncle Ned's lobster traps. Swatting mosquitoes while hiding under the cottage, waiting to be found during a game of “Border Patrol”. And most of all, generally messing about in small boats. 

Always restless, ever seeking new experiences, the seeds of his desire to go cruising were sown right here in Casco Bay.

buying lobster in Cundy's Harbor
Roberta holding lobsters just before 'the feast'

Awash in memories, he notices several small ducks floating on the surface not far from Rachel. They slowly paddle together into a flock, then within seconds of each other, they dive. A minute or so later they begin popping up, scattered about, wherever their hunting has taken them. Then they leisurely gather back together again and repeat the process.

Like these ducks, we cruisers also tend to flock together to chat, socialize, and share our experiences. When it's time, we dive off, chasing our own personal muses and searching out our own personal experiences. When we surface again, we see other boats on the horizon, are drawn together to socialize and share, and the process begins again.

Sunday, 15 July
East Boothbay

We're in East Boothbay on a mooring visiting family for a week. We're all staying most nights at Mark's cousin's cottage with Mark's mom, uncle Bill, cousin Kitty, and uncle Bill's helper, Peggy. It's almost like summer camp for old folks. Our crisp, sunny days have evolved into foggy, cool, damp mornings opening back up into sunny afternoons. We're spending lots of time on the porch looking out at the ocean. With 10 foot tides the view changes constantly. We watch kids playing on the pebble beach, swimming in the COLD sea, kayakers paddling by, schooners full of tourists out for sightseeing trips, lobstermen hauling their traps. It is almost like being on Rachel except we're the ones on land looking out at the boats instead of the other way round.

Mark's 97 yr old uncle Bill (a.k.a. “Guppy”) says “I remember my first Harley Davidson motorcycle. It was a tired old thing. The front hub was so worn the tire used to rub against the front forks.” This was followed by several minutes of reminiscing about the various Harley and Indian motorcycles (and their associated mechanical problems) he owned when he was younger.

This first one was apparently inherited from a friend at high school. The friend asked if he could walk his newly acquired, heavily worn motorcycle over to Guppy's so Guppy could tow it with his old Ford to see if they could get it started. They towed and towed to no avail. His friend finally gave the motorcycle to Guppy and left in disgust. The next day another friend came over and found that the valve and ignition timing were both way out. Together, they made the correct adjustments and were able to get it started with it's own kick starter. He then proceeded to “ride that thing into the ground”.

The stories continue and, as always, are punctuated and made more poignant by Guppy's warm wit, sweet disposition, gentle manner and boyish giggles.

This afternoon Nat Wilson brought his 1915 Hereshoff wooden sailboat down the river to the mooring right next to us. This is a rare and extremely beautiful classic wooden sailboat. There aren't many of these around and the view from Rachel's cockpit is vastly improved by it's presence. Then we realize that this 21 foot sailboat and Uncle Guppy are the same age - and they're both true classics.

August 8
Thompson Cove, Deer Island, Maine

Owls Head lighthouse
Wow, we've been here a month now, time has really flown.

Seals in Seal Bay, Vinalhaven
During this visit to Maine, we've sailed past and enjoyed looking at hundreds of small islands. Their pine- and fir-topped rocky shores peek up out of the sea, seemingly offered up like rocky cup cakes for us to enjoy. We have managed to get ashore most days for walks (at times more like clambering) around the rocky shore to circumnavigate an island, walk through a town, or climb a mountain. And, of course, many of the wildflowers are in bloom, painting the landscape with their colors and adding their delicate aromas to our walks.
61 boats attended the Seven Seas Cruising Assoc. gam in Islesboro

We've watched loons swim by and listened out for their distinct and haunting calls echoing off the cliffs. We've seen seals cavort in the water and sun themselves on the rocks. Barking at each other, they plop into the sea then hump and bump their way back on the ledges. And we saw another whale – a minke this time, we think.

We've hung out with old friends, made new friends, and spent time by ourselves - it's been a perfect balance. 

Our lives are rich beyond measure.

Seguin lighthouse
Taking a break after hiking all the trails on Seguin Island

View of Camden from the top of Battie Mtn.
good job there was an artists depiction of what we were looking at!!

 busy Camden harbor without the fog

Sunset behind a schooner anchored beside us