Camden, a “Maine” favorite for Pandora and a bit of whining.

It’s Thursday morning here in CT and it’s cloudy, again.  After a winter of SUN in the Bahamas, I am amazed with how cloudy it’s been here in the last few weeks. We have been trying to find a few days to head north to Vermont to celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary (Yes, I know, we look like two kids just playing house.   37 years?  I wish we looked more the part too.)   Anyway, the weather has been cloudy more often than not.  We’ll give it another try early next week.  Who wants to head out on a “mini-vacation” for a few days in the rain?  Not I, no make that Not We.  Well, wish us good luck and a few sunny days.

However, June is nearly half over and I am NOWHERE toward getting Pandora in shape to do a bit of cruising this summer.  As I have moaned about to anyone who would listen over the last year or so, I have been frustrated by an ongoing vibration problem in the running gear on Pandora.  It seems that we have vibration that comes and goes and I am about out of ideas as to how to  correct the problem.  

Last summer I sent out the Max Prop for rebuild, it’s second visit to the manufacturer, because of vibration problems.  Unfortunately, this did not solve the problem and after getting the engine aligned and having the prop shaft tweaked a bit, the problem just won’t go away.  No, make that, the problem won’t stop and sometimes happens and as quickly goes away as the vibration is intermittent.  In any event, I decided “enough is enough” and ordered another type of propeller, this time an Autoprop.

First, here’s a video of the Max Prop (the one that has been giving me fits), an elegant piece of machinery if there ever was one.  Don’t worry, the video is only about 30 seconds.  However, be warned that the “speaker” isn’t going to get an Oscar for his delivery.  In concept, this prop is a wonderful piece of equipment.  However, it needs a fair amount of ongoing maintenance as it has to be filled with grease three or four times a year.  And, unless you are an occasional cruiser that hauls their boat at least once a year and doesn’t put many miles on it,  this means swimming down under the boat with a grease gun to get the job done.  And, if all was well and the prop ran smoothly, I’d be ok with that. However, after years of frustration, Max is Min for me so it’s time for a change.

So, what to do? A number of fellow SAGA 43 owners have spoken highly of the Autoprop and after fussing with my current prop for several years, I have ordered one of these.  The reason I waited as long as I did is that these puppies are pretty pricey and spending that amount of money for something that I can’t even see has kept me focused on trying to make my Max right.  However, after a winter of nursing it some 4,000 miles I decided “enough already, it’s time to make a change”.  Just for fun, here’s a video of how the Autoprop works. It’s a very odd looking beast.

I can’t imagine how someone came up with this concept. Oddly, it’s actually “self pitching”, meaning that it adjusts to the right pitch to get the maximum power out of your engine, depending on sea conditions.   How does it know?  I guess it’s sort of like a thermos keeping things hot or cold.  It just knows. Hmm…
I sure do hope that the effort, and cost, of pulling Pandora out of the water to make the switch proves to be a good decision. For sure, it’s an expensive one. Fingers crossed that I am not just swapping one set of problems for another.

Ok, enough about “what doesn’t work”.  How about I talk about where I want to be? Yes, that’s good.

How about Camden Maine? Yes, that’s a good spot.

Camden Maine is located in the heart of what is referred to as “Mid Coast Maine”, on the western shore of Penobscot Bay.  This body of water is one of the nicest cruising areas in Maine and a great jumping off point to explore other ports, all within an easy day sail.

Whenever we head to Maine our visits always include a stop in Camden where we enjoy taking a “harbor float” within the “inner harbor”.  The main harbor is very nice but it’s somewhat exposed to the prevailing SW winds so any boat in the harbor is subjected to what is known locally as the “Camden Roll”.  Unfortunately, there is nearly always a bit of swell finding it’s way into the harbor so enjoying a quiet evening aboard isn’t always as quiet as it should be.  Fortunately, there’s a way to avoid that and that’s to tie up to one of the small floats in the tiny inner harbor.

We generally take one of these floats from the Camden Yacht Club as they charge a bit less than the commercial yard that owns the bulk of the floats, Wayfarer Marine.   Both operations are very friendly and when all of the CYC floats are in use, we just go with one from Wayfarer.   One way or the other, being in the tiny inner harbor is a great spot.  Actually, it looks bigger from up high than it seems when you are there.

As you can see, the harbor is filled with small docks all moored in a line. It’s a great way to pack a lot of boats into a small harbor and very orderly.  Here’s a view of the harbor from high up on the nearby Camden Hills.   You owe it to yourself to take the hike up to the summit to see this view for yourself.  As if the view from the top isn’t enough?  The view from Pandora, just as nice. What a spot. Just to our stern in the shot above is a dock used by some of the local schooners who take folks out for a week of sailing.  Going out on a “dude schooner” would be a real treat?  Want to learn more?  Visit the schooner association website.  These majestic beauties are one of the real treats of a visit to Maine and Camden. To see these boats sail into a harbor at the end of the day is breathtaking. And they have to sail as they have no motors.  It’s a good thing that the captain and crew are well seasoned on sailing in close quarters.  Pretty impressive boat handling.  Me, I prefer to anchor under power.  Ok, call me a wimp, I can take it.   “Bob, you’re a wimp”.   See, I didn’t even flinch.  Well, only a little.   And if you are one of the 1% you might want to have one of these.  Not into varnish and old wood?  Perhaps this beauty is more your style.  And yes, 1% club member, for sure.However, if you are carry a AMEX Black card and are a member of the .0001% club you can have a boat like Bystander.   Bystander was built in 2007 and was designed to look like a classic steamship from the 30s. This article will give you a feel for what she’s like.  Now, that’s real money.This spectacular ship is privately owned and acts as a “tender” to a magnificent classic “J” yacht Velsheda, once a contender for the America’s Cup trophy.   This classic sailing yacht has been “rescued” several times from near death to be rebuilt. She has an interesting history chronicled here.   She is now in fit condition, probably better than new, a perfect example of what an open, and unlimited, checkbook can accomplish.  To own a classic “J” is not for just anyone.  However, he’s not alone as there’s a “bakers dozen” of these beauties around now, more than were sailing in their heyday.  Check out the “club site” for an overview of all of the current Js.  Talk about an exclusive group.

It’s amazing that one person can own a classic J along with a remarkable power yacht like Bystander.

Well, these are just a few examples of what you can find in Camden.  Even if your bank account isn’t up to owing a multi-million dollar yacht, you can always go ashore and drown your sorrows in a bowl of ice cream.  Yes, that works for me. Besides, what visit to this lovely town would be complete without a stroll down the main street, another reason that Camden is indeed one of Pandora’s favorites. Warm summer days, cool nights, beautiful views, a chance to watch the folks with “giga-money” having fun and ice cream.  What’s not to like?

Perhaps if I finish this post I can get dressed and get to work on Pandora so we can go sailing again.  Now that’s a plan.

Oh yeah.  Thanks for listening to my whining.  I feel better now too.

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