We made it to Maine. It’s good to be back.

It’s Sunday and the Down East Rally fleet has arrived in Rockland.  I was able to arrange for a special “event” with the city of Rockland that would allow us to take over the entire public pier for three days.  To see more than 20 of our boats tied up and happy to be in Rockland is rewarding to me as so much effort by me and so many other volunteers goes into each rally, it’s nice to see things come off with a minimum of mayhem.  Cruisers rarely pay for dock space when they are on the move as costs can add up and quickly overwhelm a cruising kitty.

Here in Rockland dockage normally, costs $2.50/ft/day, but for this “event” the total is only $125 per boat for the entire three days.  That’s a big discount and well worth the price.  To make this happen I had to apply for an special permit with both the harbor commission and city council.  It took several months to put everything in place.

The smallest boat in the fleet is Aquila at less than 30′ and she arrived after a very long crossing at nearly midnight last night.  I had been in touch with them once they were within cell range and had hoped that I’d be able to meet them at the dock and help tie them up.  However, as the night wore on, I suggested that they just pick up a mooring in the harbor and wait until light to move onto the dock.  Lori, one of two on board, is new to all this and she told me “we have stories to tell”.  I’ll bet.  They don’t have radar or AIS but they do have a good chart plotter so at least they can tell where they are going if not where others are going at the same time.   The ever-present issue that concerns all us in fog is how “two objects can not occupy the same space and time”.  Crunch…  Stressful.

We arrived in Rockland yesterday late morning with a number of other boats with the rest trickling in as the day progressed.    The 165 mile run from Mattapoisett began for most of us on Friday morning at 07:00 in the fog, which got progressively worse as we got closer to the canal where visibility was a little more than a few boat lengths.  Actually, from the moment that we left Newport on our way to Cuttyhunk and then on to Mattapoisett, we had three days of heavy fog.

Cuttyhunk Harbor was pretty thick.  Craig and I hiked up the the summit at the center of the island.   Seeing this picnic table brought back bitter sweet memories of a very special week of cruising years ago with my sons Rob and Christopher and my dad.  It was Dad’s last time aboard.
The scene on this trip was a lot more barren without the four of us.  I will admit that it made me a bit sad but what a wonderful memory. When we left Cuttyhunk, yep, more fog.  Not to be deterred, the crew of Gypsy Soul mugged for the camera. As we entered the canal the current was beginning to run in our favor which was a good thing as the current runs very hard, up to 5kts when it’s at full flood or ebb so there is no way that we could have gone through against it.

Fortunately, the current was a big help as we had timed our transit to coincide with the beginning of the flood.  However, the fog was so thick that we could only see about 75′ as we picked our way from buoy to buoy the last mile or so to the entrance.  It was nerve wracking.  At one point there were a number of small runabouts passing us and they were very had to see on radar and surely didn’t have AIS trackers.The most fun part was when a 100ft+ yacht finally loomed out of the fog.  I saw them on AIS and radar but they were actually beside us before we even saw them.

As the fog lifted, it was fun to see so many Dawg boats filing through the canal together. Brenda’s friend Karen, who lives on Cape, agreed to come down and wave to us as we passed by.  That was fun.  She took photos of nearly all the boats in the fleet as they came by including this one of Pandora.  Karen and George on the “quay”.  The fog persisted until we were nearly out into the Gulf of Maine.  Amazingly, the gulf side was completely clear and remained so all the way to Rockland.

There wasn’t much wind until we were about 25 miles into the gulf and it drove us along quite well until early evening when a squall line came through.  Someone on another boat sent me a photo.  I was so busy getting Pandora ready for the arrival of the squall that I didn’t have time to get a good photo.  I am told that this formation is called a roll cloud.   It looked pretty ominous bearing down on us.The rest of the trip was fairly benign and by the time we entered Penobscot Bay the seas were nearly glass calm.   As expected, there were loads of lobster pots to dodge.  Welcome to Maine.

You really get a feel for how remote some of these islands are.  Look at these houses lined up with low scrub as the only sign of vegetation.  I can only imagine what life here must be like in the winter.  Owls Head light is a beacon alerting us that Rockland was just a short distance away.   Seeing the light reminded me of so many other trips to Maine.  I think this may be my 16th in a series of three different boats.So, here we are all tied up, 21 boats, for three days in Rockland.Actually, I wasn’t able to fit all the boats in the frame.  Pandora and a few others are off to stage right.  The blue “boat” behind me is owned by the NY Developer Larry Silverstein.  You may remember that name as the guy who purchased the World Trade towers about two months before they were taken down in the 9/11 terrorist attack.  It took years to collect on the insurance from that disaster.  I guess he finally got his money. Today is rainy but the rest of the week promises to be pretty nice.  With a heat wave hitting the NY area, the high here today will be a chilly and rainy 65.

Later today, off to the Farnsworth Museum, home to paintings by three generations of the Wyeth family, NC, Andrew and Jamie.  looking forward to that.  Perhaps there will be time to see the Maine Lighthouse Museum too.

And, don’t forget a visit to Hamilton Marine to find some must have items.

Tonight all the Dawgs descend on a local brew pub.  When I asked the manager yesterday if that was Ok, his reaction “I guess I had better get another bar tender”, delivered in a classic Maine understatement.

We made it to Maine.  Indeed, it’s good to be here.

More to come, including Brenda on Sunday I HOPE!

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