Monthly Archives: July 2011

>Leaving Cundy’s Harbor, sort of, and a surprise gift

>Yesterday we decided to leave Cundy’s Harbor to make the short run over to The Basin, a wonderful harbor that’s nearly landlocked just across from Cundy’s Harbor.  As we headed out of the mooring area in Cundy’s for the 1 mile run, a lobster boat named “Life After” hailed us and came up along side Pandora.  At first, I thought that they were going to tell me that I was at risk of tangling with some newly set traps but their mission was very different.

The captain asked if we were “Barbara and Steve’s friends”, the folks that we had been visiting for the last few days.  When I said “yes”, he retorted that “I have some lobsters for you”.   My only reaction to this was a simple “what?”, thinking that I had miss-heard him.   He retorted with an answer of simply, “I want to give you some lobsters.  Do you have a bucket?”.    No more explanation needed for me so I dived into the locker to retrieve a bucket that was buried deeper than I realized.  However before I was able to find mine, they were ready with their own bucket and 4 lobsters which they handed over to us before roaring off to tend their traps.  I yelled an uncertain “thanks” to their stern followed by “let me give you your bucket back” but they simply said, “keep it” and they were gone.

“What was that all about”, Brenda and I wondered aloud as they roared off and were gone.

Later that evening Steve and Barbara came over in their runabout to visit for a drink and the first words out of her mouth were “did you enjoy your lobsters?”.  It seems that she had told her lobstering friend Paul about us and he had agreed to make a gift of lobsters to us, someone whom he had never even met.

I guess to that lobsterman any friend of Barbara and Steve is his friend too.  A small gift perhaps but one that amazed us since we hail from the land of “in God we trust, all others pay cash”.

Maine is indeed a great place to visit.

As I write this in The Basin the sun has just peaked up over the hills and again, what a view or should I say, view”s”.

Even the big boys enjoy visiting this place if only with the “proper help”.   This boat is called “Grumpy”.  I wonder if he is?  I have seen Grumpy in prior years.  Funny name for a boat.

Even a dock looks lovely in the early hours.

While not our “lobster boat” from yesterday, one of the locals tending his traps.

Sometimes you feel like you can walk across the trap buoys there are so many of them.

A lovely little Friendship Sloop, the sort that used to be used for lobstering in this part of Maine years ago, reflected on millpond still waters.

Off to Bath today after work and with the tide for a two or three day visit to the Museum.  Great weather for the next few days.   Time to get to work so signing off now.   Weekend in a few days. Perhaps I will make it a long one.   Hmmm….

>Cundy’s Harbor, Casco Bay Maine

>Since Sunday we have been visiting Cundy’s Harbor in Casco Bay.  This area of the Maine coast is made up of long peninsulas and lslands that run north/south.  Unlike Mescongus and Penobscot Bays, these indentations in the coast don’t offer much in the way of east/west passage which means that in order to go east to west you have to head all the way back out into the Gulf in order to get to your next destination.  And to add insult to injury, with the prevailing winds blowing from a southerly direction, you are very likely to find yourself motoring into a smart SW wind as you head back out.

Cundy’s Harbor is primarily a fishing village with few summer residents “from away”, or not Maine native,s as they are often referred to.  Our friends Barbara and Steve, from near by at home in NJ, purchased a small home on the banks of Cundy’s Harbor a few years ago and have been splitting their time between the NY area and Cundy’s ever since.

It’s interesting to speak to them about how they are viewed by the local Mainers, as they are definitely in the minority.  I expect that most of the locals have never visited New York and might very well feel out of place in the busy metro NY area.  The area around Cundy’s is very peaceful and most of the boat traffic is lobster boats.

Barbara and Steve’s place is right next door to a lobster bait business with all of the comings and goings you would expect in a busy working harbor and very different from Camden or other harbors that cater to tourists.  No Tee shirt stores here.  Cundy’s is still much the same as it was 40 years ago.  

As you can see from this shot, the homes are set very close together and line right up with the high tide line.  No risk of beach erosion here as the homes are perched on top of granite outcroppings.

The view from their home is lovely as from our boat.  Not bad at all.

Any which way you look, the view is to die for.

Early this morning we had a passing shower and the rest of the day looks like it will be very pleasant.

Later today or Wednesday we expect to head up to Bath which is 5 miles out into the Gulf and another 10miles up the Kennebec river.  There is a terrific museum there, the Maine Maritime Museum and of course, Bath Iron Works where they have been building ships continuously since 1884.  Even today they are one of Maine’s largest employers and the home of the largest crane in the world that can lift 100s of tons.

Of course, a trip up the Kennebec has to be done with a mind toward the tides as the ebb runs very fast and can make a two hour trip up the river to Bath take twice that long.

Well, it’s time to get to work.  More to come on all of this in a few days.

More to come on that.

>Bailey’s Island ME, new friends and a mud oven

>The sun is out, we are moored in a little cove on Bailey’s Island in Casco Bay and all is well. When we were in the harbor, the Gosling’s, the other day we invited a very nice couple to join us for lunch and asked them about where their favorite places were to visit in Casco Bay. One of the spots that they mentioned was near the rock crib bridge on Bailey’s Island.

Located at the end of long peninsula jutting out into the bay, the harbor is very compact and nestled into the nortern point of the island. We arrived late in the afternoon and as it was fairly windy, the outer harbor unappealing at best. Instead, we decided to head into a more protected area further in and picked up a mooring. After getting settled in I set out to find out who the owner of the mooring was. After a few stops at various boats with folks working on them,  I was told that the mooring belonged to a couple, Charlie and Sally who lived in the house on the point. After tromping right up to their back door and introducing myself, Charlie readily agreed that we could indeed use their mooring for the night.  He also did one better and invited us to visit for coffee the next morning which we did and had a wonderful time.

Their home was lovely and was full of Scandinavian touches, the details of which warmed Brenda’s heart as it would any weaver who was particularly fond of Norwegian things. We sat with them for several hours at ease immediately.

Our original plan was to head out on Saturday afternoon to join up with our friends Barbara and Steve who own a small home in nearby Cundy’s Harbor that evening. However, when I called Steve to make  announced that they had been invited to an outdoor pizza party and would we like to join them. As luck would have it, the party was actually less than a ten minute walk from where Pandora was moored. Talk about luck. We could have gone any number of places and yet chose the one place on the Maine coast that was the site of a party were our friends were headed. We do live right.

On top of that, our new friends Charlie and Sally were also going. What a small world. As if that wasn’t enough of a coincidence, I was also speaking with someone on the boat next to ours, a Valiant 40 named Calypso, also a Bob Perry design (he drew the SAGA 43 design years later) only to learn that John and his wife Margo had sailed Calypso around the world for ten years some time back and, no lie, that he was a good friend to Steve and Barbara, the very folks that we wanted to hook up with.

There’s Pandora on the right and Calypso on the left  but different none the less.  Note the Norwegian flag on the dock.

What a small world given who we ran into on such a small island. I have always told my boys that you have to be very careful what you do in public, no matter where you are, as you never know who you might run into. Coincidence upon coincidence at Baley certainly reinforced that point to me.  It also reinforces the point that you have to reach out and meet folks whenever you can.

In any event, off we went to the party, and a outdoor mud oven pizza party at that. I had never seen a mud or beehive oven before and was immediately smitten. I have to have one and after enjoying wood fired pizza and beer.  No the beer wasn’t wood fired.  Brenda and I have decided to build one ourselves when we get home in the fall. What fun.

 And of course, you can buy a book on the subject from Amazon, Build Your Own Earth Oven, and it’s the 3rd edition, at that.  Thank you, I think I will.  Perhaps I will order a copy and have is shipped to the Tugboat Inn in Booth Bay Harbor so I can read it as we cruise the Maine coast.  Perhaps we will have to get a donkey and goats to go with that.  Perhaps not.

Anyway, back to the mud oven. Theirs was built on a rock base and the oven itself was made of a mixture of clay, sand and straw, vaguely shaped like a fat fish with a big mouth, and there it sat, in all of it’s glory, under a small lean too with a corrugated steel roof.

You have to love it.   A giant pile of mud that you can cook in.

Here’s our hostess, complete with straw hat and Birkenstock shoes.  The perfect combo for wood fired pizza.

Here’s Brenda and some of the other guests, feeling relaxed and well “pizzaed”.

There were many types to choose from including Gorgonzola cheese and pear, artichoke hearts, onion and even chocolate chip, marshmallow and strawberry pizza for desert.  One thing for sure, it wasn’t possible to get a photo of an entire pizza as they were cut up and eaten so quickly.

Well, off to Amazon to order a mud oven how to build it book. It’s just so awesome.

Back to our mooring hosts, Charlie and Sylvia. They have built a terrific home on the point and have landscaped it wonderfully. A particularly nice feature is their tidal pool built into a rock ledge on the edge of their gardens fed from a pump out in the cove. While the ledge is almost 15′ above sea level, water is pumped up from the harbor and cascades over the rocks back over the rock ledge. It’s very charming.

The view from their porch is fabulous. It’s hard to believe that there is such a wonderful place on earth, and Maine is full of such views.

There is also a really unique bridge just across the harbor, the only rock crib bridge in the world.   Supposedly, there used to be one in Scotland but it was dismantled during World War Two, and was never rebuilt. The construction technique is really interesting, as it’s built of a lattice of granite slabs dry laid in a Lincoln Log style with no mortar.  Probably not something that would be a good idea in an area prone to earthquakes.

The bridge is over 1,500 feet long and is a source of pride to the local residents having been recently rebuilt by the state.  Check out a bit of history of the bridge.

The details are impressive, and it’s hard to believe that it’s nearly 90 years old.

The detail work is quite impressive.

Also, I forgot to mention that John and Margo, with the Valiant 40, on their decade long cruise around the world, decided to purchase land in New Zealand and now split their “summers” between Maine and New Zealand. How wonderful is that?

Now, the next step for us is to decide where to go tonight as it has to have good Internet coverage. Not sure but it’s 9:00 and time to decide.

We now have a number of new friends, a place to return and soon a mud oven. Life is good.

>Casco Bay Maine and it’s Friday!!!

>We have been in Maine for nearly a week and have settled in on Pandora.  We are particularly enjoying our new cockpit cushions and updated fabric in down below.  Work has been going well and I put in a full week working aboard.  It’s certainly not as easy as working in an office but the view is certainly better.   The cell phone booster is also coming in handy as it makes a weak cell signal a lot better.  I do have to be mindful of where we are anchored to be sure that I can get my e-mail and make calls that sound clear.

While working aboard can be tough, a decided benefit is to finish up at the end of the day, jump in the dink with Brenda and head out on an evening cocktail cruise around the harbor.

For much of the week we remained in Falmouth, just north of Portland, where we had made landfall last weekend.  Our friends Frank and Gail have been terrific hosts even going as far as lending us their car so that we could run our car up to Rockland so that it would be accessible at a location that was at the mid point of where we expect to spend time cruising for the rest of the summer.

We ran our car up to Rockland late on Wednesday afternoon and left it near town boat ramp, a place where we had parked several times over the years.  This year I wasn’t certain if it was a good place to park as there weren’t any other cars in the area.  In past years we have left a car on the grass just off the parking lot along with others that had done the same thing.  However, this year there wasn’t a sign of anyone parking there and I just wasn’t comfortable in leaving it there.  The thought of leaving a car for more than a month and coming back only to find that the car is gone wasn’t appealing.  However, after speaking to a number of folks that happened by I found someone who was friends with the Rockland Harbor Master and made a call for me to see if it was OK to park there.  Happily, she put me on the phone, I explained my plan and happily, he said yes that it was just fine to leave a car there.  I guess that makes him my new favorite harbor master of the week.

What a relief to have that part of our cruise logistics solved.  Well, back in the car for the 90min run back to Falmouth and Pandora.   As luck would have it, the picture perfect sunny Maine afternoon deteriorated as a massive storm cell rolled over the area complete with wind, heavy rain and impressive lightning.  By the time we dropped off our friend’s car and I hoofed it back to the town landing, the rain had not let up much.   I was a little damp, for sure.

Earlier in the week I had decided to move Pandora off of the club mooring to save $$ and had moved her waaaaaay over to the other side of the harbor in the lee of a very pretty island.   That was the good news.  The bad news was that we were now looking at a mile plus run in the rain, with no rain gear, to get back to Pandora.  To make it even more fun, it was nearly dark, except for the constant lightning in the distance lighting up the sky.  That did make it a bit easier to see where we were going when it flashed. The positive side is that the storm had mostly passed and it was perfectly calm.

As you can imagine, a mile is a long way in a dink when you have to go really slow.   However, in spite of the fading light and thankfully, calm conditions we were soon zipping along on a plane with the dink and in about 10 minutes,were safely aboard Pandora.

I have to say that Brenda was a champ about the whole adventure.  In spite of being soaked, a glass of wine made everything about right.

Fast forward to Friday morning as I write this post and the weather is wonderful. It’s not too cool and though the sky is somewhat overcast, it’s clearly going to be a great day.  With good weather in the forecast for the coming weekend, we are looking forward to the next few days.

Not a bad view to see first thing in the morning.  This is the early morning view as I write this post.

The light in the early morning is just so warm and a great welcome to a new day.

One particularly nice thing about cruising is that you can get the best views and there is always a water view.

You can often see delightful and unexpected things on the water such as this group of Opti sailors being towed out for a day of sailing lessons. These little folks were just so cute and looked like a bunch of moths skipping across the water.

For the big kids it’s always nice to fly over the water in an ultra light.  The pilot and his passenger took off from a nearby field and buzzed just over the water, around a small island, and headed off into the distance or should I say, off into the sunset.  I hope that they had life preservers on board.

All and all, a very nice first week aboard.  And did I mention the wonderful roasted pork dinner with onions and carrots that we enjoyed last night as the sun was setting?  Very nice indeed.

>How much stuff can you fit on a SAGA 43?

>It’s Monday morning and we are sitting aboard Pandora in a wonderful little cove about 15 miles north of Portland Maine, the Goslings.  The fog is thick following a rainy night and it’s as peaceful as you can imagine without  a ripple on the water.  We headed out from Portland Yacht Club yesterday afternoon after jamming all of our stuff aboard from the car that Brenda brought along from New Jersey.  We wanted to head someplace close by as we are heading back today to the club to view the fireworks aboard Frank and Gail’s SAGA Alcid.  You know, the one that they sailed to the Med?  Thought so.

So back to the question posed by the title of this post.  Some time back two boat shoppers considering a SAGA 43 visited me and Brenda aboard Pandora to take a look at her as they were considering what sort of boat that they wanted to purchase.  The questions were varied but as they planned to live aboard for several years while they got their cruising kitty in order, one of the big areas of discussion was “how much storage does she have?”.  The answer is complex as perhaps the better question is “how much stuff to you have to have with you?”.   They were trying to decide between a SAGA and an Island Packet, two different vessels entirely.  I have spouted on and on about what a great boat Pandora is but it’s sufficient to say that she will certainly out perform most other boats her size and certainly will outrun an Island Packet, a design known for ruggedness but not speed.   However, the Island Packet will certainly out perform a SAGA in the “store your stuff” department as they are a much wider and voluminous design.

So, how much *%$# can you put aboard Pandora?  I am glad that you asked as I have been wondering too.  Well, we certainly are putting her to test as we move aboard for two months in Maine.   It seems to me that, as this photo illustrates, you can put a good deal of &%^$ on a SAGA 43.

And that’s just what Brenda brought along to meet up with me here in Portland.   There is literally several tons of stuff aboard and we never seem to take anything off.   It’s always a one way trip, it would seem. 
Alas, there is order in life, at least aboard Pandora.
Did I mention that I raised Pandora’s waterline a full 2 inches over the winter?  Thought so.   So, will she still perform under sail?  I guess the answer to that an other cosmic questions will have to wait until another post. 

>Crossing the Gulf of Maine


The trip across the Gulf of Maine was uneventful with almost no wind at all.  Even now, at 10:00 we are motoring into a light breeze but it’s not from a good angle to put the sails up. 
As we are headed to Portland we were never more than about 25 miles from shore but that’s still plenty far out to feel isolated and alone. 
I have always enjoyed being out of sight of land and can still remember when we sailed out 20 cape cod catboat TAO out of Bridgeport CT.  Sometimes we would head out on a hazy day and it was always a thrill for me when we couldn’t see land.   I would imagine myself out on the ocean heading for some exotic place.
So, here I am nearly 30 years later writing this while off shore making what must be my 15th or 16th trip to Maine.  A lot has changed for us and it’s still a thrill for me. 
When I make a run to Maine I am always hopeful that we will see a whale or some other interesting creature and this trip wasn’t to disappoint.  While we left the Cape Cod Canal at dusk we were in darkness long before we were over the areas frequented by whales.  Besides, most of them tend to congregate east of our intended path.
However, this morning we saw, about a few hundred yards off, what was probably a finback whale.   We didn’t get close enough to get a good photo but it was exciting, never the less.
What was even more exciting was a fin that appeared of in the distance, a fin that looked pretty chewed up.  Thinking that it was an ocean sunfish,  a slow swimming, very docile fish, we headed over for a closer look.  With the engine barely ticking over so as to not alarm our quarry, we drifted over to see what we had discovered.  As it turns out, we ended up right on top of an enormous shark.   You tend to think of sharks as long and sleek but this one had enormous girth and had to have been 15 to 20 feet long.  I don’t know what it was but I was mighty happy to be on the bow of Pandora and not in the water. It might have been a basking shark as I did see that it was spotted.  This link is to some photos by those clearly quicker on the photo finger.  Besides, there aren’t that many shark species that are this large. 
I was so stupefied that I wasn’t able to get a shot into the water even though it wasn’t five feet from the bow and I was standing on the bow sprit, literally on top of the monster. So, you will have to settle for a shot of the fin.  I can only imagine what sort of creature chews on the fin of a shark that big.  I guess it would have to be an even bigger shark.   Hmm…
Thinking that I would need my telephoto lens to get a good picture, it was way too close and much too big to get picture with the lens that I had. 
The trip wasn’t all excitement though as I was able to enjoy a magnificent sunrise over glassy calm water.    As I was on watch from 1:00 to 5:00 I was treated to sights that began with magnificent stars over head and no moon to light up the sky and obscure the view, followed by a gradual lightening in the east and finally treated to this wonderful sight as the sky brightened and the sun finally came to life .
Just as the sky began to brighten to the east. 
Finally peaking up over the horizon
Ever higher, the day has begun.
Now we’re cooking with gas!!!
It’s hard to believe that it can be this calm in the ocean.
 Motoring across a glass like sea gently breathing as the waves went under us. 
We are now less than ten miles from our first waypoint since the canal as we begin to thread our way through the islands to make landfall at the Portland Yacht Club.
Brenda will be on her way too and tonight we will visit our friends to get ready for Monday’s Portland fireworks display.  What better way to watch the show than from the deck of a boat? 

>Off to Maine, finally! And a view of ICAP Leopard

>It’s 9:00 and we are about 5nm east of Watch Hill Passage (eastern Long Island Sound) and are on our way to Portland Maine.  It’s hard to believe that we are finally under way after months of working on Pandora and planning for our summer aboard.  My crew assembled in Mystic last evening, provisioned and had a nice dinner out prior to getting to bed.  We arose early enough to watch the sun rise and at 7:00 headed out to Long Island Sound for the run to Portland Maine.

Pandora’s happy crew 5 miles south of Newport RI.  

We have not been to Portland by boat yet so this will be a new experience for us.  We will be hooking up with fellow SAGA owners Frank and Gail of Alcid who live in the area and are members of the club.  It’s worth noting that they took Alcid to the Med some time ago and enjoyed sailing the waters from Gibraltar to Egypt for 7 seasons before having the boat shipped back to the states on a ship about a year ago.

Our landfall will be at the Portland Yacht Club, a few miles north of Portland proper.   The cruising guide says that the club is the second oldest in the US, although I wouldn’t be surprised if other clubs claimed the same.

It’s a beautiful day out on Block Island Sound and while the winds are not sufficient for sailing (It’s always that that way when you are trying to make miles) It’s great to be out on the water.

A bit later on in the day, off of Newport RI, we spotted a magnificent yacht ICAP Leopard go by at an impressive pace.  Out for a easy day of cruising, Leopard is a go fast world class racer that has participated in many events world wide.  You too can charter Leopard for an afternoon of fun.  Check out their website.  If you really want to be wowed, take a look at some of their videos.  And, if that’s not enough.  They have a number of world records to boast about and they do on their website.

This was about as close as we got to Leopard.  
How about this video of Leopard at speed on their record transatlantic?

I couldn’t resist putting in a video.  How about this one of Lizard Light at the entrance of the English Channel.

Yes, putting this video in is a bit random but it is the finish line for races from NY Ambrose to England, a hotly contested route for as long as there have been boats crossing the Atlantic.

Well, back to our poky run to Maine.  The plan is for us to catch the tide at the Cape Cod Canal at some point after it begins the flood so that we won’t be going against the current, which runs hard at nearly the speed of Pandora under power.  That means that if we are with the current we will be making double digit speeds over the bottom as opposed to 2-3 knots if the tide and current are against us.  As the canal is about 10 miles long that means that the trip will take about one hour with the help of the current or 3-4 hours if it’s against us.

If all goes well we should be pulling into the club mooring field at mid afternoon on Saturday.