Thursday, August 28, 2008

Portland At Last

Portland, Maine
N 43 38.940 W 070 14.670

Previous times that we were in Maine, we always skipped Portland. Not so this time. We're on a mooring here, and we leave to take Nick to Vermont tomorrow morning.

We spent last night on Jewel Island. It's a bad pun but Jewel is a jewel. It is an unimproved Maine State Park, and it's great. See the panorama below of the little bay we're anchored in.

Nick and I set out in the dinghy to capture a mussel dinner. No such luck. There are no mussels on Jewel, not even any shells of dead mussels. I wonder why so many in Penobscot Bay but none here in Casco Bay?

This morning we saw an abrupt transition. We went from the natural isolation at Jewel Island to the commercial shipping harbor in downtown Portland. This is the first city we've seen since New Bedfort, or Washington DC.

Readers: don't expect any new blogs until next Monday.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Deep Sea Fishing

Boothbay Harbor

Today was deep sea fishing day for Nick and I. We set out at 0800 aboard the charter vessel Blackbeard. Captain Don Stevens was in charge. The weather was foggy, but the visibility was improving by the minute as we left.

Nick and I and two other anglers looked forward to a fish dinner. Captain Don announced that our day's goal would be bluefish. Fine.

We stopped along the way by an island where we all fished for mackerel to use as bait. Nick caught seven, and I caught one. Soon we had enough and Blackbeard moved on.

Racing ahead to the punch line. The boat's net catch for this morning was one lobster (Nick's) and one sea gull (mine) but zero blue fish. There were several strikes but none landed. One blue hit Nick's bait and bit off the line. I cast out my bait one time and a gull dove down and caught the bait mid air. I had a tug of war with the gull to get my bait back.

Oh well, it goes with fishing. Some days, they just don't bite.

I have another theory. I'm a jinx. As we fished today, I tallied all the fish I ever caught in my life. I caught a guppy when I was four years old. I caught a pickerel on Lake Champlain fishing with Libby's father. I caught two catfish in Florida. That's it. After hundreds of attempts at fishing in my life, I only caught four meager fish. It was me who jinxed the luck of the whole Blackbeard boat. Sorry Nick, you should have left your granddad behind.

Below are some shots of our outing to High Island and skinny dipping in the quarry pool. In the middle is a particularly beautiful sloop sailing single handed with five sails up. At the bottom are shots from today's fishing trip.

p.s. At first I thought that 100% of all lobster boats were right-handed. I thought it might be a tradition. Not true. This month we spotted three left-handed ones. The photo below shows one.

One more shot. A sunset in Rockland harbor that turned out great.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Boothbay Story

Boothbay Harbor

On the way in to Boothbay Harbor is Newagen Point. On our honeymoon in 1966, Libby and I came to Boothbay pulling a little caravan camping trailer smaller than the car. We drove out to Newagen Point and we saw the huge, lovely and historic looking Newagen Inn. We decided to splurge on our meager resources and spend a night att the inn rather than in the trailer.

When we checked in they asked us, "American continental plan?" I didn't know what that meant. I still don't know. Anyhow, I chose the least expensive option. We started feeling uneasy though because the inn appeared to be the place for rich people, not newlywed paupers like us.

For some strange reason that I never found out, Libby and I appeared to be the only guests in this huge resort. It was July, hardly off season. Anyhow, in the morning, we came down for breakfast. In my memory, which may be larger than life, we came to an enormous room with tables set for 1,000 people and with 100 uniformed wait staff standing stiffly at attention, white linen towels draped over their forearms. Libby and I were the only guests. We felt extremely self conscious and under dressed.

The waiter came to take our order, but he asked for our room number. We gave it to him. We returned a minute later saying, "I'm sorry but your plan does not provide breakfast, you'll have to leave." We asked if we couldn't pay cash for breakfast. "I'm terribly sorry, no," was the answer. Oh dear. With tails between our legs and with our cheeks burning, we had to march out of the room, unfed, past those 100 staff people staring at us. The humiliation was complete.

That night we cooked our own lobster banquet over a can of Sterno in the tight quarters of our little trailer. There, we felt like king and queen. Our experience at the Newagen Inn was life changing. Ever since, we like things plain, simple and blue collar. We would choose Motel 6 over the Ritz Careton any day. We prefer eating in a neighborhood diner than the fanciest restaurant.

Puffins Not Home

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Yesterday was another one of those beautiful days. Halfway between Dix Island and Boothbay, is Eastern Egg Rock. That rock is one of the places where puffin populations have been restored.

We detoured a few miles to Eastern Egg Rock. We circled the island close in. We saw lots of birds, but alas, no puffins. Perhaps they weren't home that day.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

From Inaction to Action

Penobscot Bay

Just after posting my blog yesterday complaining that we couldn't get radar repair help from Furuno, the Furuno technician called. Hooray. We made arrangements to meet at the public landing in Rockland. We sprang in to action. Hastily, we weighed anchor and set out fo the landing. Too hastily. It seems that there was a lobster pot directly under the boat when we first started the engine. Sure enough, it wrapped around the propeller. It didn't wrap tightly enough to stop the engine. We were
still able to motor in to the landing. When we got there, Nick volunteered to go swimming and to get the rope fragments away from the shaft. Thank you Nick.

The Furuno guy came. It took him only minutes to discover the problem. There was a screw-in cable connector in the back of the unit that wasn't screwed in tight. Oh no. All those months for such a simple problem! To diagnose the problem I have been up and down the mast twice, I disassembled and reassembled the cable wire terminations at the base of the mast three times, but never once did I check the cables at the back of the display unit. Oh well, the dunce hat for me today. Anyhow, it's
fixed and I'm glad even if a little embarrassed.

We left Rockland immediately and headed for another semi-wilderness place at Dix Island. We discovered that our coastal navigation skills are really rusty without the aid of our Lowrance GPS chart plotter. Our skills are fine for navigating 5 mile or more from shore, but here in the archipelago with numerous shoals and rock hazards everywhere, we need *precision* navigation. Libby drove while I constantly checked the charts, and our bearings to marks and our lat-lon from our hand held GPS. We
did OK. Oh well, the practice will be good for us.

While Libby made dinner, Nick and I hopped in to the dinghy and went over to nearby High Island. We landed near a pier made of massive rectangular granite blocks. High Island had been used as a granite quarry. The pier was granite, the foundations and cellars of building ruins were granite, a road leading inland was granite, every bit of infrastructure on that island was granite. It makes extreme sense doesn't it?

After a short hike inland, we found the quarry. It was a very deep pit, and it was filled with fresh water. I tried the water. It was fresh and it was plenty warm enough for a nice swim. I went skinny dipping in the pool while Nick did a little rock climbing. Nick took a picture of me swimming from 200 feet above. I'll post it if it turns out good. The little side trip was fun.

This morning, we are en route to Boothbay Harbor. It is 25 miles as the crow flies and 50 miles by water. We'll try to stop along the way at Eastern Egg Rock where we may be able to see puffins. Winds are SW at 5, sunny and temperatures expected to hit 80F(27C). We'll have to do half the trip by motor and hopefully the other half under sail.

We also have a plan for the coming week. We'll try to find a deep sea fishing excursion in Boothbay, and we'll also receive mail and Lowrance parts. Then we'll leave for Portland, ME. I reserved a car to pick up in Portland Friday to return on Monday. We'll drive Nick to Vermont, then we'll drive to Albany NY to visit my sister Marilyn, then return to Portland. I was very proud of my Internet skills on the car rental. First, I discovered that cars cost $115/day in Rockland, or $70/day in
Portsmouth, NH, but only $59/day in Portland. Then, I searched the web for Avis coupon codes. I found a page listing 20 or more codes. I tried one code after another that didn't work. Then, I tried one more time. PRESTO; the price dropped to $33/day. What an enormous difference -- $115 to $33!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hurry Up and Wait

Rockland, Maine Public Library

We're still waiting to hear from the Furuno technician whether he will come to repair our radar. We're rapidly running out of time. We tried 5 Furuno dealers here in Maine. One said he would no longer deal with Furuno, three refused to answer our phone messages, and now the 5th is standing us up also.

I suppose that we must wait until were in a fixed location for a month or more to get the radar fixed. I recall reading numerous stories from sailing cruisers who waited 3, 4, 5, or 10 weeks or months for critical parts or repairs. I'm not *that* patient yet. I also don't consider the radar to be *that* critical. We never used it much except in fog.

Now, our Lowrance GPS chart-plotter failed also. That's much higher on our critical list. I ordered a new GPS module and a new connecting cable to be express mailed to us in Boothbay Harbor for pick up next week. The parts plus shipping cost $324. A brand new 2008 Lowrance costs only $499 in the West Marine Catalog. I wonder if we made the right choice to repair this one. If the fault is something other than the GPS module or cable that I bought, it will be a financial disaster.

Below is a collage of pictures of the wonderfully scenic little village of Bayside Maine from our recent visit (see the blog). It is very easy to see why it is a favorite place for summer vacations. Northport Yacht Club, of which we are members, is shown with the rainbow in the background. The woman in the window is our friend Margaret. She was fixing dinner for us. Margaret and her husband Don and their cat Tiller, when they are not cruising on their W32 Heron, run Bayside Cottage Rentals.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Oh No, Not My Favorite Hat

Rockland, Maine

My favorite hat blew off into the ocean yesterday. We turned around to retrieve it, but just like most such attempts, we returned to the spot just in time to see it sink below the waves. I could have dived into the water making an underwater search in the cold cold deep, but I wasn’t *that* devastated.

The hat was a gift from my daughter in law, Cathy. It said Barrow Alaska. I treasured it because no one else in my circle of contacts wears a Barrow Alaska hat. I’ve worn it for more than six months, which is remarkable considering that the half life of most of my hats is much less than a week.

The good news is that it blew off because we finally had some good wind. It blew 20-25 knots yesterday, the best wind we’ve seen in Maine this year. We took advantage of it to sail from Northwest Harbor back to Rockland. Nick expressed surprise. It took us two weeks including a lot of motoring to go north from Rockland to Northeast Harbor. Now the return trip took only 10 hours under sail beating up wind. We found it exhilarating.

On the return trip we took routes and narrow thoroughfares between islands that we hadn’t seen before. My oh my, Maine seems to have a limitless wealth of scenic beauty and picturesque locations. Ever time I think that we’ve seen the best, we turn the corner and there’s another view even more pretty. Now I have a new list of places we’d like to explore further on our next trip here.

We are definitely on the southward migration path. Northwest Harbor will mark our maximum northing this year. We have to return Nick to his parents by August 29. Our plan is to get to Portland or maybe Portsmouth. We’ll leave the boat and rent a car. We’ll drop Nick off in Vermont, then continue to New York to visit my sister Marilyn. It has been a year since we’ve visited her.

Meanwhile, my poor brother Ed and sister in law Sally, who live in southern Brevard County Florida, wound up in the epicenter of tropical storm Fay’s downpour. They got 25-28 inches (71 cm) of rain in 24 hours. Their house is OK, but everywhere around them is just water. It is so flat there in Florida that I imagine that the water will not run off to the rivers and the seas very fast at all. It’ll just sit there, and when hot weather returns it will become like a steam bath.

I haven't managed to contact Albion yet. I was worried about them on their boat in Marathon in the Florida Keys as Fay passed. However, Fay didn't get that close to Marathon so I presume they had no trouble.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Acadia Snapshots

Northwest Harbor Public Library

We motored over to Northwest Harbor today and rented a mooring. This place is not our cup of tea -- it is crowded. However, we were nearly out of food and out of clean clothes. Having a hungry growing 16 year old on board sure does make a difference. If we wanted to do an ocean crossing with Nick on board, we'd have to arrange for air drop resupply.

This is the first time I ever succeeded in snapping a picture through the eyepiece of our binoculars. It's very difficult to do. That schooner you see is huge. Look at the boom for the mainsail. It must be 75 feet long all by itself. Wow.

Above, speed demon Nick sails the fatty knees dinghy around Somes Sound yesterday.
Here's a good lesson in life. No matter how big your boat, someone else always has one still bigger. Two days ago, as we sailed in to Soames Sound, we noticed that big white sailboat at anchor. I remarked to Libby, "That sailboat is huge. It has four levels of mast spreaders." This morning, as we came back out of the sound, there sat an even more huge blue sailboat. This one makes the white boat look like a dinghy. I have no idea how big that blue boat it. Libby said 115 feet, but I think it might be more than 200 feet long.

Above, another adventure in photography. This is a panorama of the view from the top of Valley Peak. I stitched it together from 9 separate shots. Pretty cool huh? Click on it to see it full size. You'll probably have to scroll your browser left and right. They claim that you can see whales out at sea from this mountain peak. I think you would need they eyes of an eagle to do that. You could use a powerful telescope, but where would you aim it?

Above, Nick decided to swim back to Tarwathie (background) after our hike up the mountain.

We love the windjammers that we see sailing about in Maine. Almost all of them carry tourist day sailors. As a matter of fact, Maine seems unmatched in terms of the number of beautiful boats, both sail and power, and both antique and modern.

Above, Libby picks her way along the Valley Peak trail.

Above. My daughter Jenny loves this kind of photo.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Beauty of Acadia

Valley Cove
N 44 18.585 W 68 19.069

Yesterday we tried to anchor in Valley Cove but the anchor wouldn't bite on the rocky bottom. We continued up the sound to Somesville for the night. This morning we returned to Valley Cove and we had better luck. We are tied to a massive iron mooring ball said to be put here by the Hinckley Yacht Corporation.

I chatted with a cruising couple that we met in Rockland. Sorry, I didn't get their names. They were young, around thirty, yet they had been cruising full time for seven years now. They started in Oregon and took seven years to work their way down to Panama and up to Maine. They said they are becoming weary of sailing and might sell their boat this year and give up the cruising. I learned one very interesting thing. They said they loved Panama and that they spent 9 months there and thought
that it was hurried. They explored both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Panama. They saw everything from mountains, to white sand palm tree islands, to jungles. Panama lies outside the hurricane zone. I never thought of Panama as a cruising destination before. Hmmmm, that's food for thought.

The three of us went ashore and set out to hike the Acadia trails. It sounded easy, less than one mile to Valley Peak. What the sign didn't say however was how steep the trail was. Poor Libby had to give up 2/3 of the way up. She has a few bad vertebras and she can't take the steep climb. We left her with water and food and shade, and Nick and I continued to the top. Actually Nick zipped up to the top, almost at a run, while grandpa straggled along behind huffing and puffing.

The reward for the climb was a truly spectacular view from the top. We could see out to sea over the huge archipelago in front of us. I can't recall such a magnificent view of land and water since we toured the fjords of Norway. It was also an especially sight for a man who hasn't seen anything higher than 65 feet in more than a year (not counting the old post office in DC). The states from New Jersey south on the US Atlantic coast are all so flat and featureless. Seeing a hill is a thrill,
and looking out from the top of even a small mountain is good for the soul.

We'll stay here on the mooring tonight. There is another of those dreary cold fronts with severe thunderstorms coming this evening. However, after Tuesday, they promise several days of nice weather.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Natural Splendor

Soames Sound, Maine
N 44 22.002 W 068 19.980

Yesderday was rainy and gray again. We didn't go anywhere. We just sat in Moore's Harbor and explored via dinghy. I found the mother lode for mussels. I found a rock in the middle of the harbor that was only inches below the surface at low tide. It was covered with a thousand or so jumbo size mussels. I didn't harvest any though. We're temporarily musseled out.

Moores Harbor

This morning we got up to blue sky, dry air, warm, no fog. It is a spectacular day. We navigated out of Moore's Harbor, destination Soames Sound.

Navigation was tricky. And that's an understatement. As we wiggled our way through a narrow passage between Isle La Haut and another island, we saw a very cute osprey nest right beside a green day marker. We angled in close and snapped the picture below. That was a big mistake. Just seconds after snapping that picture there was a BANG BANG noise as Tarwathie bounced off rocks on the bottom. We grounded in the channel despite the tide being 4 feet above low. 15 mintes later in another channel, and BANG, we struck another rock. Add two more groundings to our score. If we had a boat with a fin keel we might have really done some damage. For a W32 however, we probably only scraped off some bottom paint.

After passing the danger zone, we came out in Jerico Bay. Oh what splendid beauty. It looks like the Swedish archipelago in the Baltic near Stockholm. There are hundreds of small rocky islands everywhere. I suspect that it looks like Lake Huron too according to my friend Dave on Neverland.

As we approached Desert Island and Southwest Harbor, we encountered boat traffic. Lots of boat traffic. Understand that it is a Sunday in August, and probably the nicest weather in weeks. Of course, all the boats were out.

This is Hinkley territory. We saw Hinkley boats everywhere. In case you don't know, Hinkley is to American yachts as Rolls Royce is to Brittish cars.

Soames sound is billed as the only fjord on the Atlantic Seaboard. I think that's cheating. There's an even more spectacular fjord near Quebec City. I think the Gulf of Saint Lawrence counts as part of the Atlantic Seaboard. Anyhow, Soames sound looks like the Hudson River near West Point, or like Lake Champlain near Basin Harbor.

Soames Sound

We wanted to anchor in Valley Cove tonight and to start from there in the morning to hike on a trail that is supposed to be excellent. As we entered the cove, three other boats zoomed ahead of us at full speed and they grabbed the only free mooring and the good anchoring spots. I hate that. Anyhow, we tried twice to anchor there but we could not get the plow anchor to bite. We abandoned that, and came up here to Somesville for the night.

We are very concerned for Chris and June on Albion. They are on a mooring in Boot Key Harbor in Marathon. They are waiting for hurricane Fay to strike there Monday night. They plan to ride it out on the boat. We wish them the best and we hope that Fay will choose to go somewhere else. I'll let you know how they fare.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Isle La Haut, Maine
N 44 03.222 W 68 38.753

Wow what good eating today. We're dining mainly on Isle La Haut food.

Today we remained at anchor. In the morning we packed a lunch in our packs, then Nick and I set out for a hike. We took the dinghy in to the beach, then walked on the trail toward Duck Harbor. This island is beautiful. Its geology and nature are a lot like Valcour Island, NY. As my readers know, I think that Valcour Island is the jewel of the northern hemisphere. The woods are mainly pine. Moss and lichens and fungi grow abundantly.

As we hiked we snacked on blueberries and raspberries that we found along the trail. There were also plants that I believe to be wild rhubarb, but we didn't try to eat those.

After two hours hike, we came to the base of Duck Harbor Mountain. We ate our sandwiches there, then chickened out on climbing the mountain. For one thing, it remained foggy, and we weren't sure that we would have a view if we did climb it. For another, it would have been an additional 3 hours hike up and down the mountain, plus two more hours to hike back to Tarwathie.

After returning to the dinghy, we took a few minutes to pick up a batch of mussels from the beach. They are plentiful here everywhere under the seaweed.

Returning to the boat, we found that Libby made corn chowder for us, and also bought lobsters from a passing fisherman. She also cooked salt potatoes. All together, they added up to a huge Maine feast.

After supper, we discarded the lobster carcasses overboard. Surprise. The carcasses attracted a school of very hungry carniverous fish. Nick grapped the fishing pole, baited it with bits of lobster legs and bingo he started pulling in fish as fast as he could. We think they are mackerel. They aren't big, but they sure are enthusiastic. As I write this, I hear the sound of live fish flip flopping on the deck above me.

It has been a very fun day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Busy Busy

Penobscot Bay
N 44 17 W 68 53

Sorry, I missed a couple of blogs. We've been two busy.

We had a delightful evening at dinner with Don and Margaret. We really like that couple. Even Nick was entertained with our endless string of sailing stories. Don and Margaret had some really hair raising experiences during their trek north last spring. They nearly did themselves in with CO in the cabin. The CO and smoke was coming from a diesel cabin heater that they had running all night. Then they badly misjudged their boat speed and the speed of a tanker in the Saint John's river. Their
reward was an extreme close up (macro mode?) of the tanker's hull.

Yesterday morning we returned to Belfast briefly to pick up our new outboard motor. She's a beauty. We hope that this Honda 2hp will prove to be much more reliable and simpler to operate than our old Mercury 2hp. We left the Merc at Northport Yacht Club with a sign saying Free For The Taking.

After Belfast we continued on to the city of Castine. Castine is the home of Maine Marine Academy. Libby and I heard bout MMA's programs at the gam. They train young people in a quasi military environment to become deck officers or propulsion engineers in the merchant marine. Navy ROTC also has a recruiting office there. As I remember, Navy ROTC will pay 100% of your four year college costs if you sign up for a 6 year tour. Nick's stated interest is forestry, not marine. Nevertheless, it
doesn't hurt to learn about alternatives.

Unfortunately, we got there at the wrong time and the wrong day to get a tour of the campus, or a tour of MMA's ship, State of Maine. We wandered around on our own and found some unattended bridge deck simulators that we played with a bit.

On the way back to the boat we found an oyster bar, and we introduced Nick to oysters on the half shell. We each had two oysters. They were very expensive, $3 each! Nick was polite but I don't think he liked them. I'm not surprised. I think that probably more than 50% of people think that raw oysters are yucky.

Returning to the boat we discovered a nice breeze. 15 knots from the SE. It was the best wind we've seen since Nick's arrival, so we took advantage of it. Up with all the sails, and out in to the bay we went. We had a really fun sail, lasting till about 1800. Then we pulled in to a tiny sheltered cove and dropped anchor. It was as if the wind was shut off with a switch. It was totally still and quiet in the cove. Really nice.

This morning, we had to wait until 1000 for the fog to burn off. Now we're en route to Isle La Haut. We hope to find wilderness there for Nick. That's what he loves best. Wilderness and no people.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Maining Around

Bayside, Maine
N 44 22.839 W 068 57.857

Yesterday we enjoyed the facilities of Belfast. WE LIKE BELFAST.

Last night Nick and I went to see Dark Knight, the latest Batman movie at the Belfast movie theater. The theater has special half price tickets every Monday night. Nick thought that the movie was awesome. I thought it far too viscous and sadistic. I worry for the future of the country and the world when young people enjoy that kind of entertainment instead of Father Knows Best and Leave It To Beaver. I also worry about the image that the USA projects to the world via Hollywood productions. George Bush is not the only source of bad image. I read an article recently saying that almost everyone in the middle east Muslim countries are big fans of Desperate Housewives which they watch on their satellite TV. As Desi Arnez used to say, "Ay ay ay ay ay."

Today, in the pouring rain, we moved a few miles up to Northport Yacht Club in Bayside. We have been members of this club for two years but we've never actually been here before. We're tied to Heron's mooring, owned by our friends Don and Margaret. Last year we spent a month rafted up with Heron in Vero Beach. Tonight, we're going to visit Don and Margaret at their house.

Nick and I walked around Bayside this afternoon. I thought that it was very charming. Bayside is like Round Lake, NY. It was built as a religious community retreat. The tiny houses are very decorative and built much too close together. Most colonies like it must have burned down long ago. Nick though it was a very boring place. There is nothing to do there more than walk around and look.

We threw in the towel on our old 2 hp Mercury outboard motor that we use with the dinghy. We bought it used a year ago. The motor runs good sometimes, but every week or two it refuses to start. I remove and clean the carburetor and the spark club, put them back and it runs OK for a short time. We're sick of it. This morning I ordered a brand new Honda 2 hp motor from a company in Bangor. They'll deliver it to Belfast tonight and we'll return there tomorrow to pick it up. I have high hopes that this Honda motor will be much more reliable and easy for Libby to use. It only weighs 26 pounds.

After that, we have a weather window of two sunny days coming up. Nick's taste runs more towards wilderness than settlements. By Thursday night we should be anchored at Isle La Haut in Acadia National Park. Nick should like that a lot better.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bella Belfast

Belfast, Maine

We've been saving the best up to now. Belfast, in our humble opinions, is the nicest town on the whole US East Coast. Even though we plan on continuing northward (if the wind ever blows again), Belfast is the high point of our 2008 northward migration.

Our friends Penny and Richard on Viking Rose liked Belfast so much that Penny wanted to move here.

What makes Belfast so great? I'm really at a loss for words. It just is. If you want to find out why, come here.

We'll spend at least two days here.

In a bit of recursive wizardry, the picture below shows me in the flower garden of the Belfast Library writing this sentence.

The other day, while it was cold and rainy, we played Monopoly with Nick. He really got into it. Below you can see him at the height of elation when he was winning big, and then later at the depth of depression when things turn against him.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

One For the Record Books

Searsport, Maine

This morning we got up to sunshine and warmth. Hooray! After three straight days of cold and rain, it was very welcome. I hope it lasts but I fear that more rain is on the way.

Nick and I went ashore again to forage for more mussels in Warren State Park. I'm afraid we overdid it. In what seemed like only a few minutes we had a half bushel of mussels and crabs. We took it back to the boat and Libby had no place to store them for dinner.

No problem, while Nick and I weighed anchor and set sail for Searsport, Libby stayed below and made chowder. It must have been the richest chower ever made. It could have been Guiness Book material. This chowder had two quarts of liquid and potatoes, plus two quarts of mussel meats. It was delicious. I ate two bowld full and Nick ate three.

We moved up to Searsport with the idea of going ashore on such a fine day. Surprise. Nick didn't want to go ashore with us today. Oh well, he probably needs some personal time and personal space, just like everyone else.

Libby brought laundry, but too bad, there is no laudromat in Searsport. Libby and I also saw the marine museum here two years ago. As a result, I'm sitting here in the local sports bar blogging while watching Olympic swimming on TV.

I took the picture below just moments ago. It is a beautiful view of Penobscot Bay from the Searsport Public Dock looking toward Castine. Look carefully and you can see Tarwathie anchored out there. In the distance are sailboats enjoying the breeze that just came up 30 minutes ago. Behind them are small mountains.

Below is Nicks Grandpa Dick and Grandpa Dick and Dad John in Rockland Harbor.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Foraging For Food

Warren Island State Park, Maine

We're tied up to a state owned mooring at Warren Island. This morning, Nick and I went ashore for a hike on the island which is a Maine state park.

This is a very nice island with great campsites. It is much nicer than Burton Island in Vermont where we have vacationed with family several times before. The campsites are also nicer than those on Cumberland Island Georgia.

Around the far side of the island we found a tidal flat, and the tide was low. We took off our socks to keep them dry and walked out on to the flat and waded ankle deep in the water. It took us only a minute or so to find colonies of mussels. Nick and I both stuffed our pockets with as many mussels as we could carry.

Then we ran in to a group of three women escorting about 30 four year old kids. They must have been on a pre-school outing. The kids appeared to be having lots of fun. Nick and I made it back to the boat around noon; just in time to avoid a rain storm. It has been raining ever since.

Back on Tarawathie we feasted on mussels and snails for lunch. They were delicious. We had so many that Libby had to fill the pressure cooker three times to cook them. Not bad foraging for food. Just minutes to harvest a delicious meal for three.

We've also been feasting on special treats that John brought from Central New York. He brought, sweet corn, salt potatoes, and Stewart's assorted donuts. All three are special favorites of ours.

I can't explain why, but the fresh corn on the cob that one buys in Central New York in August, tastes much better than the corn we buy from any other place. Even Albany, only 120 miles away from Syracuse, produces very different tasting corn. My parents who lived in Oran, NY, used to buy corn from the local farmers in August. The farmers would pick the corn after 1600, sell it at the roadside stand by 1700, for people to bring home, cook and lay out on the table by 1800. No corn ever tasted
so good as that. Of course, our corn this week was two days old, not two hours, but it still tasted great.

Salt potatoes are also a Central New York Specialty. In recent years a few stores in Albany and in Vermont also sell them, but they are still a CNY specialty. What are salt potatoes? They are small potatoes, I think they are called new potatoes in other regions. However, the ones that come from CNY are grown on the strip of muck farms that stretch from Syracuse to Rome. They come out tasting extra good. They are sold in 5 pound bags with a package of salt. One throws the salt in the boiling
water, then boil the potatoes. We eat them whole, and unpeeled, dipped in melted butter. Oh boy are they good.

Stewart's donuts? Well, you'll just have to try them yourself.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Pulpit and Camden

Camden, Maine

We spent our night in Pulpit Harbor, but we didn't get to experience much of the beauty. It was cold and rainy all the time we were there.

This morning I gave my crew a choice. The weather forecast called for more rain starting this afternoon. I said that we could explore North Haven Island by foot this morning, or pull up anchor and head for Camden to see what we could see there. (We've never been in Camden before.) They chose Camden, so here we are.

Camden and Boothbay are very similar places. Both cater mainly (and Mainly ha ha bad pun) to tourists and depend on the central harbor for their charm. However, Libby and I love Boothbay yet we have a negative impression of Camden, based on our short stay. For starters, there is almost no place to anchor here, so we tried for a mooring buoy. We called Wayfaer, the local mooring company, and they wanted $40 per night to moor. That's far too much. $20 is a fair price for a transient mooring. $30 is the highest I'm willing to pay. $40 is over the top.

Rather than moor, we sought out the corner of the harbor where there are a few spots to anchor and dropped the hook. Then we launched the dinghy and motored in to the public dock. I headed here to the library to write a blog, while Libby and Nick looked around the town to see what they could see. Surprise, in less than 30 minutes, Nick and Libby came back and said that they couldn't find anything of interest. Tourist gift shops are not our thing.

I really can't explain why we like Boothbay but not Camden.

Oh well, we'll move over to Islesboro to anchor overnight tonight.

By the way, we'll have to find wet weather activities to do soon to have fun. The NOAA forecast calls for rain every day through next Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Now We're Three

Penobscot Bay, Maine
N 44 07.712 W 68 59.274

Well, for the next few months we have three aboard Tarwathie. Myself, Libby, and our grandson Nick. Nick is 16 years old and he's anxious for a taste of open water sailing. Nick sailed with us through Lake Ontario and the Thousand Islands last year, but not yet in blue water. We'll try to accommodate that.

Nick arrived yesterday around noon with his father John and his other grandfather Dick. That's right, Nick has two left-handed Dicks as grandfathers :)

Libby and I took the gang to the Rockland Cafe for lunch. We feasted on seafood chowder, fish and a lobster roll. They have awfully good food in that Cafe. After a visit to Tarwathie, John and Dick left to drive back. It is a 9 hour drive for John to get back to Rome, NY.

Last night, Nick and I went ashore in the dinghy to go to a movie. We saw Mongol, a movie about the origins of Gengis Kahn. The photography and the nature of Mongolia shown in the movie were spectacular. The action however, dragged out. Both Nick and I nodded a bit at times.

Our plan for this morning was to go to the city dock to take on fresh water and then depart. Last night however, there was a huge cruise ship, The American Star, tied up to the end of the city dock. That was quite a sight. A 150 foot long cruise ship tied to a 30 foot long section of dock. Fortunately, there was no wind. American Star and her sister boat American Spirit, cruise up and down the east coast. We've seen them in Florida and Georgia and North Carolina and in the Chesapeake. I'll
bet that it is really fun for her passengers.

This morning The American Star departed, and we pulled in to her spot to tie up and take on fresh water. Then it was departure time. I planned to go to Dix Island, which we heard was very nice. However, Libby found a place in the guide book called Pulpit Harbor. The description of Pulpit Harbor in our guide book was effusive in it's description of the place's charms. Therefore, we changed plans and we're heading for Pulpit Harbor now. There's just enough breeze to let us do it under sail.

The weather calls for three or four days of cold, gray, rainy weather. That's OK. That's what Maine is famous for.

After Pulpit Harbor, we would like to visit Camden, then Castine, then Searsport, and finally Belfast. In Belfast we'll get to say hello to our friends Don and Margaret from the W32 Heron. We might also visit Northport Yacht Club. We've been members of that club for two years, but we've never been there yet.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Abigail II and Victory Chimes

Rockland Maine

This is a story about the good and the bad.  First the good part.

Yesterday, as I walked through downtown Rockland, I was stunned to see a sign pointing to a ships berth that said Victory Chimes.   Seeing that made the memories well up.  You see fourty three years ago, Libby and I were in Boothbay Harbor Maine on our vacation.   While there, we saw the most beautiful ship in the world sail past the promentary where we were sitting.  That ship was The Victory Chimes.   She was the most beautiful and majestic thing we could imagine.   We learned that The Victory Chimes is a cruise ship that takes passengers on vacation cruises.   

The Victory Chimes
I am delighted to hear that 43 years later, The Victory Chimes is still sailing and still taking passengers.   We hope to get a glimpse of her while we are here in Maine.

Now for the bad news.   On Saturday, as we returned to Rockland from Islesboro, we heard a boat calling the Coast Guard on VHF asking for help.  The boat was named Abigail II.   She must have been close to us in Rockland because we could hear her clearly.   The captain explained to the Coast Guard that they had just chartered this boat, and that the steering was jammed and that they couldn't raise the sail.   That left them pretty helpless and in need of a tow.   We presumed that they tried calling the charter company first, and were calling the Coast Guard out of desparation.

It is our understanding that any reputable boat charter company thoroughly inspects the equipment before turning it over to the customer.  We chartered sailboats five times ourselves and this was always the case.   We've found faults on some of those boats, but nothing major and nothing obvious. In this case though, the poor customer had an entirely different, and bad experience.   If it were me, I'd be furious.   Getting towed in and getting the faults repaired eat time out of their vacation week.  Tsk tsk.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Ray and Pat

Rockland, Maine

Today our fine friends Ray and Pat from Reflection drove to Rockland just to visit us. They are the couple we met in the Dismal Swamp a year ago, and who shared our experiences in DC for the first two weeks in June this year.

Ray and Pat's are cruisers in the midst of the transition to become full time cruisers. After cruising for a year, they now returned to Maine to divest themselves of their house and car and personal belongings. It all brings back memories of 2005 when Libby and I went through the same transition. It was lots of hard work for us. I hope it goes well for Pat and Ray. 2008 is not the best time for selling a house in the USA.

Anyhow, Pat and Ray needed a break from that tedious work so they came to Rockland to hang out a little with their cruising buddies -- us. It worked out fine.

We had vague plans on going for a day sail with Ray and Pat, but there is zero wind today, so that damped our enthusiasm. Instead, we just walked around downtown Rockland and had lunch at the Rockland Cafe. Mm mm good. The Rockland Cafe is one of the best restaurants around with a great menu and very reasonable prices. I recommend it.

We also stopped in at the Puffin Project office to learn about puffins, and we watched a documentary film there. Libby is determined to see puffins while we are in Maine. Now, we know which places to go to for sightings.

Pat, Libby, Ray

Tomorrow, our grandson Nick is coming to join us for 3 or 4 weeks of cruising. That will be great. We'll have lots of fun. We're sure that Nick will love Maine.

Pictures From The Gam

Rockland, Maine

The raft up
The raft up
The raft up
The lawn crowd
Guest Speaker
Circumnavigators tell their tale
Another circumnavigator (may we all look as good as her after doing the things she's done)
The cruiser's boats anchored out
The raft up

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Islesboro Gam

Islesboro, Maine
N 44 16.9 W 68 55.9

Now I have the urge to do ocean crossings again. Going to these SSCA gams exposes us to numerous cruisers who go to all sorts of exotic places. It makes us think that we're too conservative and too timid. Why not sail around the world? We met a couple who just returned from a 10 year circumnavigation. They don't seem much different than us.

There were more than 70 boats registered for the gam. We all met today at the home of our hosts, Dave and Kathy on Endeavour. There were only four circumnavigators in the crowd (compared to one or two dozen at the Melbourne gam last November). They are the ultra elite of sailors. The host called for applause for the circumnavigators. Good.

We heard talks about Marine Maritime Academy, and about marine insurance, and about traversing the Panama Canal, and about that 10 year circumnavigation.

Top quote of the day: The circumnavigators took questions from the audience. One person asked, "Where was the best sailing?" The answer came quickly and played to the crowd, "Why the coast of Maine of course."

We met another couple who sailed to Panama and then to Alaska and back. That's what Libby and I wanted to do our first year. They said that British Columbia is like Maine on steroids, but also that British Columbia is nothing at all compared to the Alaskan cruising waters. Sigh.

I said it before and I'll say it again. Cruisers are the most physically fit group of people, considering their ages, than you can find anywhere else in the USA. It stands out every time we see a crowd of sailing cruisers. (There were only two power boat cruisers among the 70 boats at the gam. Consider fuel prices.)

We passed on regards to Dave and Kathy from Richard and Penny on Viking Rose. We all agreed that it is sad that Viking Rose is summering in New Bern rather than sailing in Maine.

Libby made chili for the pot luck lunch. That's the first time she made chili since the chili cookoff contest in Marathon. She's getting awfully good at it. When I tasted it, I wanted to keep it and not take it to the pot luck. No such luck. Then I hoped that there would be some left over to take back to the boat. After all, there was enough food there to feed an army. No such luck. The SSCA gang ate every last bite. (:

Friday, August 01, 2008


Islesboro, Maine
N 44 16.753 W 068 55.930

We almost didn't come here today. The fog had rolled in again and our radar is still not fixed. Around noon though, I thought that it had lifted slightly. Libby didn't. I'm the captain so I won. We left Rockland and motored up the bay. We had no trouble. Minimum visibility was 1/4 mile, and after an hour it improved to one mile.

When we arrived at Islesboro to the place where the gam is supposed to be, we were treated to the sight of sixty or so other cruising boats, just like us already anchored there. The SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association) is very cool. It has around ten thousand members, of which about four thousand of them live full time aboard their boats like us. As you can imagine, all those people have a lot in common and they have no trouble striking up conversations with each other.

We went to a so-called dinghy raft up cocktail party. What the heck? I didn't know what to expect. It turned out to be literally true. We rowed over and found a group of about 50 dinghies in the middle of this cove all tied to each other to make a giant raft. As everyone jabbered, they also passes around bowls and dishes with snacks, chips and dips, cheese and whatever. Remarkably, nobody fell over board, and none of the dishes or spoons or cheese slicers fell in the water. Now that's direct
evidence that these people are experienced sailors.

I'll report more tomorrow night after the gam.