"There is nothing more pleasant than cruising on a boat with the whole family."
Letter from Empress Catherine the Great

Friday, August 18, 2017

Day 59, August 17 -- Rockland to Warren Island Cove, Gilkey Harbor, Islesboro -- 14 NM

Started a few minutes after noon. Reefed main and small jib were used, appropriate for the strong westerly gusts in the harbor. But we were under-powered most of the trip, did not change sails and started motoring when speed got down to 2.5 knots. Lobster trap coverage was light on this clear, bright, sunny, summery, day and we ended covering the miles in three hours, mooring to mooring, on a clear, warm, bright sunny day with wind out of the east during our sail NE. We were in no hurry on this short pleasant passage.
We had never before been to Islesboro Island, ten miles long, in Penobscot Bay. On its west side, is Gilkey Harbor, largely formed by Seven Hundred Acre Island, lying off Islesboro's west coast. But Gilkey itself is too large to provide shelter and several of its coves serve that purpose. The one we selected is formed by Warren Island lying NW off Seven Hundred Acre Island. Warren is a state park and seven free moorings there are provided. Only two were occupied and we took a vacant one in deeper water, lowered the dink, sprayed ourselves with insect repellent (having been warned that mosquitoes swarm there), dinked in to the dock and walked the trail largely around the Island. About an hour's walk. Signs say that wood is for sale at $5 per day. Is that per person or per campsite? Several campsites are available, some with sleeping sheds, but only one was occupied, by two men with their tent and canoe and the men sleeping in hammocks. We were there in the late afternoon when the tide was low, exposing the beds of seaweed that skirt the island. That is not sand.

A powerboat from Searsport was at the dock. We visited that town and its museum in 2009. Their transmission failed when their prop caught a lobster pot. They had been cut loose by a diver who was planning to tow them home tomorrow.
Several windjammer schooners ply their trade at Warren Island.
Beautiful "Olaf" with lots of bright shiny wood was at the dock when we returned to the dink.

Larger "Mercantile" came in later and anchored near us. They both take their passengers to a campsite for a clambake and lobster roast dinner. Mercantile stayed the night.
Back aboard ILENE I raised the dink (for the second time today), some cooking, dinner and reading before a calm night's sleep. Mainland Islesboro is ILENE's backdrop, with the ferry landing just to the left.

Tomorrow's planned passage to Belfast will be early to avoid the stronger tidal flow and the forecast rain.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Days 57-58, August 15-16 -- Buck's Harbor to Rockland and Lay Day There -- 20NM

A late start, waiting for the fog to lift, and it did -- but it came back, though only a few short lengths of the 20 miles had the dangerous killer type fog, with at least 1/4 mile visibility the rest of the way.
Fog is like big puffy irregular clouds on a sunny day that the wind moves across the sky; only with fog the wind moves the clouds along at sea level.
We were underway for four hours essentially heading a variety of courses around 230-240 degrees magnetic (with lots of dodges for lobster pots, though they were absent in the early part of the trip and not nearly as numerous as in the Mt. Desert Island region). We motored the whole way and only put up the small jib part of the time. We wanted as much visibility as possible both for other boats and for lobster pots. We threaded between, but could not see due to fog, several smaller islands: Beach, Big Spruce, Little Spruce and Compass while heading down the eastern part of Penobscot Bay until we cleared the ledges off the south end of long, thin, Islesboro Island, which largely divides the eastern and western parts of the northern part of the Bay. Then we crossed the western part of the Bay to the lighthouse at the end of the 7/8 mile long breakwater that protects Rockland Bay and Harbor from most winds.
Later in the day I got an email from my navy buddy, Hugh, about his experience at Beach Island many years ago. I replied that we had sailed right past it but could not see it in the fog.
Unlike the coast of Nova Scotia, there are lots of boats out on the water here, sail, fishing, windjammer tours and ferries, and the airwaves were full of the chatter of folks trying to announce themselves to avoid problems in the fog. We blew our air-can fog horn in the bad parts and I must say that the crew does not like the noise. Alfie scrambled below.
Ned had given us the exact position of  his mooring off Jameson Point in the northeast corner of Rockland Harbor and I had placed it in the chart plotter as a waypoint. Ned and his wife Carolyn were introduced to us by their Florida neighbors, Elissa and Len, when we were in Fort Lauderdale in 2015. Elissa is Lene's HS classmate; she thought we might like to meet her sailing friends, who, she said, have a house and boat in Maine. And proving once again how small the world is, Ned is the brother of Harlemite Gene, who has befriended me at City Island. The only other time I have seen Ned and Carolyn was at the Harlem, for a memorial service after the very untimely death of Ned's nephew a couple of years ago. Ned had invited us to drop by if we were in maine. Further coincidentally, Elissa and Len are currently house guests of Ned and Carolyn here in Rockland.

Ned moved his 42 foot Jenneau, "Namaste," to an adjacent mooring to free his mooring for us.
Shown here, left to right, are the beautiful waterside condos on the bluff, one of which is Ned and Carolyn's, Namaste, the dinghy dock seen under her forestay, and the land end of the seawall.
Lene had shipped three purchases to Ned's house and they met us near the dinghy dock and gave us their car and use of their dock cart to bring those packages and the groceries we bought in Hannaford's supermarket to the dink at night. We also had dinner at a local brew pub. "Haddock Rockefeller" was innovative but sadly, not very tasty. And we saw the new movie,"Dunkirk" which had been so hyped that Lene was disappointed in the reality. Our only mistake was failure to leave a light on aboard ILENE, which made it a bit difficult to find her in the grocery laden dink on a dark (but not stormy) night. Such a light was not required by law because we are in a mooring area, but would surely have made it easier to find ILENE.
Next day we stayed aboard in the morning and cleaned. I blogged, taking advantage of good wifi signal to catch up, and lene made a lot of reservations for moorings and docks and dinners in Belfast, South Freeport and Portland, and ordering some new rugs from L.L. Bean, to replace and augment our existing ones. We dinked ashore and walked the length of the seawall.
At the far end we mounted the lighthouse's platform and saw this wakemaker
send big waves over the seawall, which is less than a foot above sea level near the outer end at high tide, which is when we were there. The tail end of that wake is seen splashing over the breakwater in the photo above.

We saw yet another windjammer
from the platform under the lighthouse at the far end.
Next was a delicious dinner with interesting conversation at Ned and Carolyn's lovely home with Elissa and Len and a fellow resident of the condo community, a sailor, Bette, also in attendance. But my camera was out of juice so no photo of our friends, sorry.

Day 56, August 14 -- Somesville to Buck's Harbor -- 27NM

Twenty seven miles today -- five and a quarter hours. No wind at the start and them from the SW, in our faces. We exited Somes Sound and the Western Way. I saw small dolphins and then I saw that one lobster float was moving! No, not a lobster float but the head of a seal! I swerved to avoid him and he dove to avoid me. No contact, no foul. We transited the channel that crosses the bar off Bass Light.
It seems so narrow until you get there and have sailed over it before. Fifteen feet is plenty of water if you stay in the channel which is straight and marked by a red and white at each end. Go close to the near one and then get your course over ground to go to the other -- piece of cake. Then we crossed Blue Hill Bay where this windjammer was going the other way behind a rock ledge.
We transited Casco Passage, another slot that looks narrow until you get there but is wider than it seems on the chart and well marked. As we got near Eggemoggin Reach, one of about three major wide passages connecting the Mt. Desert area with the  Penobscot Bay area, our course was NW and the wind was sailable.
Out came the Genoa and with changes in wind and in our direction while dodging lobster traps, we made anywhere from 7.4 to 3.5 knots. We had no rush so the 3.5 was pleasant. And once into the Reach, no more traps. I wondered why: (A) by law, (B)  the lobsterman don't want to go so far from their docks or (C) the lobsters don't like living in the Reach. The Marina said the answer is "C".

Elsewhere in Maine's waters the lobster floats are so thick that they preclude use of automatic pilot and require constant mental exertion. It is just a straining experience. Hmm... three floats: Is the fourth, the second one of the second pair but missing or drawn under water, or is it a pair and a single? And which two comprise the pair, a question that is made more problematic by the fact that the lobstermen generally do not paint both floats of the pair the same color. You have to dodge, but which way? If the current is flowing from port to starboard, you better dodge to starboard becausein going the other way, the current will drag you back into the traps. It is a puzzlement. But lobstering is a huge part of the economy of Maine.
Here in Buck's Harbor, Lene noticed it first --  another boat came past and took the mooring next to us: "Stern looks familiar. Windows, same. Double forestay solent rig. It is another Saga 43!" she said, and she was correct. Bill and Marilyn aboard "Loon", three years younger than ILENE, up from Oxford, Maryland.
Loon has been across the pond and back, serious open ocean passage making. We dinked the hundred feet over to Loon and got acquainted with her people. He is an attorney and she a feline geneticist for the NIH, studying diseases in cats to learn more about them in humans. Nice interesting people. She is a cat lover and was interested in our crew.
Then, I'm in the outdoor shower, lathering my body but my head stuck out above the privacy enclosure.I hear "Roger!" Its Ken, from the Harlem YC. He and Camille now keep their 30 foot Nonesuch, "No News" in Maine and drive back and forth to NYC.Sadly, even though we are both on vacation, our "schedules" prevented us from getting together; wait til the Going Out of Commission dinner at the Harlem in October.

This was our third visit in Buck's Harbor and again we ate at the excellent little restaurant behind the market and were not disappointed. We have been disappointed in the wifi and cell phone service in Maine so far. It was better in Nova Scotia. Pretty harbor, this its western half in the evening calm.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Day 55, August 13 -- Northeast Harbor to Somesville -- 5 NM

First, a sad note. I received a call from Nick's niece that he had passed away. Gone to "Fiddler's Green" as we sailors say. Several of us Harlemites and former Harlemites have taken him out from his nursing home for a day of fall sailing the past few years. When I visited him this spring the deterioration caused by his dementia was materially advanced. I notified his friends and the Club of the death. Pat has volunteered his "Panacea" to honor Nick's wish to have his ashes scattered in Long Island Sound. RIP old salt, you will be missed.

Lots of indecision about where to go today. First thought had been Islesford on Little Cranberry Island. Next to its ferry dock is a good restaurant where we dined one year in total fog. They let us stay overnight at their dock, for freewith very little business that night. On the other hand, those lobsters back at Lunt's Deli in Frenchboro on Long Island also beckoned, until we learned that they are closed on Sundays. But Lene learned that the Acadia Repertory Theater in Somesville had a matinee at two and that did it.
After showering ashore in North East Harbor (very clean shower room, strong stream of nice hot water, what more can one ask for) we departed at 11, the marina's deadline (though it can be extended a bit with notice). For such a short and low wind day we towed the dink and raised no sails. We motored through very thick fields of lobster floats (inland, out of the ocean currents, the lobster men usually use only one float per trap, making it easier to dodge the floats than when they are paired) but trying to dodge through this is ridiculous!

We passed Valley Cove, where we love to anchor and hike to the top of the hill.
Somes Harbor is a long Cove extending further north at the north end of the fjord called Somes Sound. It is close to the geographic center of Mt. Desert Island and extremely protected: you have to go through the Western Way, which will block off most ocean waves, around an island, through the fjord and finally through a relatively narrow but well marked and deep channel. No wonder Mr. Somes chose this lovely protected spot for the first settlement on MDI back in the 1600s, according to the bronze plaque at the dinghy dock.
You can see the chanel from the Harbor to the Sound - the gap just to the left of the four sailboats.
Here is another view of it when we were headed out.
The cruising guides say that you can take a vacant private mooring, and we did so after an uneventful hour underway. The thespian offering was Inge's "Bus Stop", which we had never seen. One could call it a trite honeyed story, but it was sweet, with lots of humor and very well acted. About passengers on a bus in the midwest in the 1950s who get trapped in a diner by a blizzard. It occurred to me that the banter between its two cowboy characters may have been the inspiration for Garrison Keilor's recurring bit on Prarie Home Companion, "The Lives of the Cowboys." We overshot the walk back along the main road and had to back track to find the unpaved lane leading to the dinghy dock. Many empty mooring balls.

Once aboard, while I was hauling up our dink, two men rowed a dink nearby, politely hailed me and advised that while we were welcome to stay on vacant moorings, the one we had chosen, numbered 305, was designed for 30 foot boats and we might be more comfortable, with the assurance that we would not swing into a neighbor, if we moved to a nearby mooring with a 400 number on it, which we did.

Delicious simple home cooked dinner and an early bedtime.

Days 53-54, August 11-12 -- Eastern Cove to Northeast Harbor and Lay Day There -- 11 NM

Two knots of wind from the south was not enough to move us north at the five to seven we are accustomed to go; so we motored, without putting up any sails. The course to the entrance to Western Way, from around the eastern side of Long Island is even easier than the one around its western side -- fewer shoals to dodge. But both are over miles of lobster trap strewn seas. Approaching the Western Way:
The western way is the grand thoroughfare into the waters south of Mt Desert Island and north of the Cranberrys  (Big Cranberry is under the forks tines, below). The large bay thus formed includes the two busy harbors and towns: Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor, and the much larger but less densely populated Somes Sound. Think of the way that Northport, Centerport, and Huntington Harbor are all approached from Long Island sound through Huntington Bay. For most folks, coming from the west, The Western Way is their entrance to Mt. Desert Island.
Fork tines point to the Western way; spoon handle to Southwest Harbor; green knife blade to Somesville harbor at the top of Somes Sound; red thing to the "Eastern Way". North of the Western Way, at the tip of the steak knife, lies the busy moneyed Northeast Harbor, full of affluent people, both the residents and the boaters. This guy passed us on the way in.
We tied up inside Clifton's fuel dock at noon, the time we had told Customs and Immigration that we would be there. But they were having a busy day, including a cruise ship in Bar Harbor. Officer Smith did not show us his friendly smiling face until after two. He asked for passports and ships papers, asked if we had brought in any citrus and what we had purchased abroad (about 1/6 the allowable amount) and said we were cleared. "Do we get a number, some document?" "No; Welcome; You're in!" This was so different from when we came in to Fort Lauderdale from the Bahamas in 2012. Then they made us get off the boat and indeed to take a cab to their office to check in.
We refueled and took a floating dock. Such docks are moored fore and aft, take two boats, and use so much less room than individual moorings on which the boats swing. They also make it so much easier to essentially be moored fore and aft as compared to trying to tie up to a line stretched between two pilings.
Our neighbors, Neil and Nancy, out of Newburyport, MA, who gave up sailing for their Grand Banks trawler a year ago.

Later, Light Dancing had acquired an additional temporary passenger.
Most of our time here was spent cleaning and I changed the engine oil and filter and bought new oil to have as a spare.

A beautiful scene followed by detail views of ILENE at left and our dink in the lower right.
We walked through the residential neighborhood of older style mansions and had dinner at "The Colonel". On the lay day it rained all morning but we had a nice lunch off the boat with Barbara, a friend from Manhattan in whose Mt. Desert Island home we had dinner in 2013. By dinking across the harbor and tieing up to a public dock. you are set up to hike to Asticue Gardens on the far side of the bay. That would be a good plan and a reason to come here again, during our next Maine cruise.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Days 51-52, August 9-10 -- Shelburne NS to Eastern Cove, Long Island, Maine -- 165 NM

     "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to             fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in               miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current         when it serves, or lose our ventures."  Julius Caesar, Act 4, Scene 3

William Shakespeare knew a lot about life and the sea, more than just writing plays. He knew that there is a moment -- that one must "strike while the iron is hot." Our moment (thanks Bill for your help) was 11 a.m. on August 9; less wind the next day.  And the wind and tide were favorable, at least during parts of the passage. Our track described a great big curve: south then SW, W and finally WNW. All was good on the southbound part of the passage out of Shelburne. A last good look at Nova Scotia.
The next seven hours as we headed southwest and west were tough, with big ten foot ocean rollers plus the wind trying to push us backwards. We were motoring here with the reefed main up for stability and there were some foggy patches. But all went well especially with two hours of favorable current pushing us west from the buoy south of Cape Sable to the one at Blonde Rocks, giving us an extra two knots above boat speed through the water during that thirteen miles from the Cape Sable buoy to the Blonde Rock buoy. We passed Blonde Rock at 7 pm. (It is white with the froth of the breakers on it) We turned WNW and sailed without the motor first with small jib and reefed main and later with genoa and reefed main -- a straight course of 308 degrees magnetic, for 112 nautical miles, with actual course adjusted slightly as the currents in and out of the Bay of Fundy, pushed us from side to side. Sunset on the Bay of Fundy:
Good wind until 5 a.m., when I was on watch. Then it died so we had to motor sail the rest of the way arriving 25 hours after we departed.

It was cool at night but we bundled up.
Lene looks happy; maybe it is because she is headed for the good ol’ U.S. of A.
I thought we had fog again approaching Maine, but it was in front of us and as we got nearer, it did not get nearer to us, perhaps a hazy smog.
A boat passed two miles further off shore from us near Nova Scotia. The lights of another unidentified one loomed up on our starboard side during the night, believed to be several miles away, and then drifted passed down to our starboard quarter. Not much traffic out there. Approaching Maine we saw several dorsal fins of unidentified creatures and in the bay where we anchored a seal lay on his back basking in the water and gave us a good friendly look.
First sight of the US was the huge mountains of Mt. Desert Island, seen here from 25 miles out as just a different shade of blue gray above the horizon. Our three prior visits to Maine all involved coast-wise approaches so we never saw the mountains from this far out and haze usually obstructs such views. The next sight of the U.S. was the unfortunate appearance of lobster trap buoys, set in water 350 feet deep, way off the coast!
In Nova Scotia, the lobstering season does not include the sailing months, which is one of the major attractions of cruising N.S. as compared to Maine. This is one trap, with two floats, a barrier when the wind and current place them perpendicular to ones course, and worse when there are hundreds of pairs. it is just not as much fun cruising amidst them, like those video games where you are driving a race car and obstacles loom up before you in rapid succession.

We made a change of plans during the passage. We had planned to visit Frenchboro, the lobstering port on the north side of Long Island, a favorite of ours for its lobsters, cole slaw, corn and blueberry pie, now an inflation adjusted $27 US. When you order, they bring them up from the lobster boats unloading their catch to the "Deli," as they call it, and cook them for you. But U S Homeland Security, who we had called before we left N.S., told us not to set foot off the boat until they visited us, in Northeast Harbor and cleared us in. So we diverted to a different cove on Long Island, Eastern Cove, much larger and well protected from the expected SW winds, and as deserted as many harbors in Nova Scotia. No other boat came in. There, the allure of lobsters would not tempt us to break the law.  In Eastern Cove we replaced the Canadian courtesy flay with the yellow Q, for quarantine, flag which will be removed,
once homeland security “visits” us and clears us, in Northeast Harbor. We have never been boarded by the officials of any nation, a first for us. We certainly have nothing to hide.
The first time we set our anchor here in Eastern Cove, it did not set right at the start and we ended up too close to some suspicious rocks, so after lunch we moved to a place with lots of deep water all around, starboard, forward and port:

And we caught up on lost sleep. Next morning the view aft: It's Morning in America!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Days 49-50, August 7-8 -- Two More Lay Days in Shelburne -- Zero NM

It was blowing 30 to 40 knots the first day and raining pretty hard and rather steadily the second. The schooners did not race in that wind and we did not go anywhere either. Chores, repairs, and I visited the three little adjacent museums, three buildings of one museum.
One dealt with the building of Shelburne dorys. The town was known for making thousands of them from which men fished for cod. They are still making them and you can have a fifteen footer for only about $5K Canadian. Then you can keep in shape by trying to row it.

Boats in progress showed the steps of the construction.
Next was a historical museum with artifacts of the region's past. And finally a former store, with home and militia room above. The militia was formed to protect the town against the threat of raids by the US Navy during the War of 1812. This was not a "great" museum experience but a nice effort by a small town to show off its history. Well worth the price of admission which included the tour: $10 Canadian.

Kim, on the right, in "Loyalist" costume; her family has been here since the 1780's. She was my personal and informative docent on a tour of the neighborhood. No one else took the tour so I had her all to myself. She explained the architecture,
original builder and purpose (and repurpose) of each structure.

On the way back, I stopped at the schooner "Voyager", tied to the fuel dock.
Her owner, Loch, invited me aboard. Gaff rigged, all wood, she has been around the world and was rebuilt recently in the far East.

Loch, a New Yorker, from Brooklyn specifically, keeps her in Maine but wants to move her to Martha's Vineyard, which has a large number of schooners. Voyager's length at the waterline is 39 feet, comparable to that of ILENE, but her overall length, including generous sweeping bow and stern, is 51 feet, compared to ILENE's 43. A very beautiful boat. I loved the gold leaf covered carved decoration aft of the howser.
She is very well maintained.
The second day the schooners raced in the rain.
This recently built replica named Columbia, after her namesake, which raced and lost to Bluenose, the boat pictured on Canada's postage. The original was lost off Sable Island (not Cape Sable). So much bigger than all the rest, Columbia is seen here after crossing the finish line long before any of her competitors. This is a very expensive boat. You can see the yellow foul weather jacket of a person standing amidships.
Dinner with Bill and Sandy at Charlotte Lane, a fine dining experience in every way.