Monthly Archives: August 2011

>Hurricane Irene and Pulpit Harbor, been there, done that

>It’s Monday morning, the sun is out and we are still safe and sound having made it through Irene without a scratch.  Sunday was a very long day with not much to do except wait for the inevitable arrival of the winds which steadily increased out of the east, as predicted, and by 2:00 it was beginning to build.   In the early hours the intensity of the winds increased steadily with each gust a bit stronger than the last.  As we were here in Pulpit and in very protected waters, we were spared the brunt but as the wind rolled in over the island hills and into the harbor, you could really feel the power of the wind.

Over the many years that we have been sailing, I have prepared boats for storms, including one that lead to a total loss with the destruction of my boat Artemis many years ago. As a result of these many experiences I have come to appreciate the destructive power of wind and water first hand.  However, I have always left my boat after doing what I could to secure things against loss only to return the next day to see what had happened, if anything.

Yesterday was different as we did everything that we could think of to prepare and after that was done we remained aboard.   I have to say that in spite of being on a boat through some really interesting conditions in the past, there’s nothing quite like 16 hours of heavy winds to keep you tense.

The strongest conditions began around dusk and continued until around 2AM with stead winds in the high 20s and gusts near 40kts.   Actually, I am sure that the winds were stronger than our instruments read as the winds were often peaking at deck level in a way that didn’t match what the wind instruments were reading.  I guess that this was because the gusts were coming down off of the land and being compressed against the water surface.  While we were shielded from some of the worst wind by the surrounding hills, the winds were plenty strong, that’s for sure.  When the wind was most intense, the boat was swinging back and forth through the wind and heeling over in the gusts.  Items that weren’t secured on the counter slid into the sink and it was impossible to have a glass on the table without holding on to keep it from ending up on the floor.  In spite of being raised to keep my arms off of the table when I ate, this was one time when a well placed arm or hand kept dinner in front of me was an absolute necessity.   Even though we were using dishes with rubber bottoms, the silverware would shoot off of the plate so you couldn’t put them down for even a second.  Not quite the same as keeping my arms around a piece of birthday cake to protect the frosting from being snagged by someone.  Yes, that’s you I am talking about Mom!

I had put chafing gear on the nylon rode that held my storm anchor to keep it from being worn through as the boat swung back and forth and fortunately, everything held and there wasn’t any chafe at all.  However, as the  boat slewed around and the storm anchor took the full weight of the boat it was just amazing how tight the line became as the boat surged one way and then another.    On top of all this the sounds of the wind going through the rigging as rose and fell with each gust.

Brenda, who in the past would have never been able to keep her lunch down with so much movement, did great and happily seemed to do fine in spite of the conditions that felt rougher than if we were sailing on a windy day.   I guess that the years of sailing and the last two months in particular, have helped as she now handles motion like a champ.

With the winds so strong and a fear that something would happen while we slept, we decided to keep anchor watch until the intensity of the storm began to lessen.  I went to bed at 9:30 and left Brenda to keep watch and got up at 11:30 to relieve her.  Every so often a car came down to the beach only to sit there for a while and leave after scanning the harbor with a big search light.  I think that it was the harbor master who had stopped by on Saturday night to tell each of us that he was going to be monitoring things as the storm came through and would lend a hand as needed.  Fortunately, no help was needed and by a bit after 2:00 it seemed to me that things were stable enough and the wind beginning to moderate enough so that we could call it a night and get some sleep.  Me, I slept like a bowling ball.  You know, you throw a bowling ball onto a bed, it rolls to the middle and there is sits.  My sleep was sort of like that.

Well, it’s morning, we are all safe and sound and I am relieved that it’s all over and as near as I can tell, all of the boats in the harbor made it through without a scratch.   We will probably have to stay here in Pulpit one more night as we wait for the wind to get back to normal as it’s still plenty windy and for the seas out in the bay to subside.  On Tuesday we will make our way back to Rockland so that Brenda can head back to New Jersey and whatever awaits us at home.

For me, the big question is who will be crew for me as my friend Roger who was planning to help me bring Pandora back to Mystic later this week is stuck in Denver and won’t be home until Thursday or Friday due to canceled flights. I am not sure what I want to do about the return trip.   To quote Scarlet O’hara, “I won’t think about that today, I’ll think about that tomorrow”.

As no blog is complete without a few photos, here are some shots of the harbor this morning all sunny and bright.   Yesterday you certainly couldn’t see all the way to the Camden Hills across the bay.

To the west and a few of the boats that rode out the storm with us. 
The sun on the water is just blinding. 
What a difference a day makes.  That’s all for now.

>Preparing for Hurricane Irene in Pulpit Harbor

>It’s Sunday morning and we, like just about everyone on the East Coast continue to think about Irene.   We are anchored in Pulpit Harbor on North Haven, not far from Rockland to ride out the storm which is expected to reach us later today.  We chose Pulpit because there is good holding for the anchor, make that two anchors, and is protected from all directions so we can avoid any waves that make staying securely anchored more difficult.  Wind is bad enough but wind and waves are where it can get really interesting.

The harbor isn’t that big and it has a good variety of boats that have chosen to be here as well.  Late yesterday a large motor yacht arrived, took a tour around the harbor and left realizing that there wasn’t enough room for them.   I wouldn’t say that the harbor is at capacity but it’s plenty full and as boats arrived there was some jockeying for position to be sure that everyone had proper swinging room for wind shifts.

All day yesterday owners were preparing their boats, as we were with Pandora, by removing gear that might come loose in the winds expected to peak at over 55kts.  We removed both head sails to reduce windage and the risk that they might come loose and tear themselves apart in the wind.  That was a fun task as folding up a 600 square foot genoa on the forward deck was quite a handful for me and Brenda as the foredeck is only a fraction of the length needed to do a proper job.  We also set out a second anchor, an anchor that I purchased for just this purpose when we got Pandora.  Happily, this is the first time that I have had to use it.

Our main anchor is a 65lb Bruce with 200′ of stainless chain which is plenty big and heavy, and that combined with the Fortress storm anchor made of high strength aluminum and designed for use on boats up to 65′ verses our 43′, should hold well.  The Bruce is set to the south and the Fortress to the east, where the strongest winds are expected.  The initial winds are expected to be from the east with the direction shifting to the south as Irene passes to inland.   It’s Sunday morning and the wind is beginning to build and is probably blowing a modest 18 kts.

One of the problems with this storm is that she is very slow moving so that means that the winds will be with us for a lot longer than would normally be the case from a storm of this type.  Irene is also a very large hurricane with big winds covering a 100 mile range.

We hope that we are well prepared and hope to have no problems.  We will certainly know more on that score by this time on Monday.   Actually, we are a lot more concerned about our home in New Jersey as that’s where the really big winds and rain are now.  We have always had a problem with water in the basement and if our two sump pumps fail due to a loss of power, that’s going to leave a big mess.  Brenda should be home by Wednesday or Thursday to survey the damage.  Let’s hope for the best.

On Friday morning, when we were still in Perry Creek, I was up quite early and took this shot of the sunrise in the fog.  It was very ethereal.

. A few hours later, a much different view. 
Leaving Perry Creek we headed over to Pulpit Harbor and passed the rock at the head of the harbor that it’s named after, an outcropping that has been used as an osprey nest for hundreds of years.  This photo was taken last summer as there wasn’t anyone camping out on the nest at the moment that we entered the harbor.
Pulpit has quite a large number of local craft that are moored here including some wonderful classics like this sailing dory.
It’s also a popular stopping place for the passenger schooners on their way back to Rockland or Camden after a week out.  For me, Heritage is perhaps the best looking of the schooners.  The evening sky was just amazing.  Hard to believe that in two short days we’d be in the midst of Irene.
 Heritage weighed anchor first thing on Saturday to end the week long cruise.   A beautiful site in the early morning.
Most of the schooners don’t have inboard engines and rely on a push boat to get them around in light airs or confined spaces.  These little boats have big engines and tie to the stern of the big boat.  Once underway, they are pulled up in the davits on the stern to reduce drag.  Getting one of these big boats moving is a carefully choreographed effort with everyone knowing their parts. 
A few moments later the push boat driver scrambled up the rope ladder and back on board the schooner.   The women doing this was very agile and scampered up and over the transom in a flash.
And there she goes, past Pulpit Harbor’s namesake rock pile and back to home port in Rockland.  No doubt, she is currently on her storm anchors too behind the breakwater waiting for the storm to arrive like the rest of us. 
Last night we got together with our new friends Scott and Paula a retired trooper and lawyer  (I wonder how they met?), who recently moved aboard their boat to head south for the winter, for a sundowner but only after a trip into “town” to pick up a few items.  The town is actually just a general store, and a good one at that.   Scott and Paula’s little Jack Russel, “Jack” was very excited about going ashore.   Actually Jack gets very excited over just about everything.  Jack has the run of the boat and dink and scampers all over the place with only an occasional dunking in the water.
It’s starting to get windy now and the rain is coming and going, sometimes hard.   More fun on the way for sure. 

>Merchant Row near Stonington and now Perry Creek

>As I begin write this post I am sitting in a community center on North Haven where we are spending a few days in nearby Perry Creek, one of our favorite little harbors.  Since leaving Frenchboro we have gone up to Blue Hill, back to Merchant Row and now here to North Haven.  It’s been a bit frustrating not to have the ability to do a post due to weak cell coverage but I will try to make up for lost time now.

With hurricane Irene headed up the coast, we hope to secure a spot in the inner harbor in Camden by Saturday to be ready to ride out the tropical storm/hurricane conditions that are expected to hit on Sunday and carry through to Monday.  The forecast is for sustained winds to 40kts and higher gusts.  Out in the Gulf of Maine they are expecting seas to near 20′ and gusts to 70. That’s not a place that I’d like to be.  The conditions that we will likely see in a harbor will be exciting enough.  If we can’t get into the inner harbor at Camden we will have to find somewhere else to go, perhaps Pulpit Harbor as that’s very secure as well.  I am supposed to head back to Mystic at some point next week with my friend Roger but our departure will depend on the weather.  I also have to get a few days of work in prior to leaving having been on vacation this week.

When we headed all the way up to Blue Hill we were counting on the wind shifting to the NW to help us get back down the bay.  The winds didn’t disappoint and shifted to allow for a nice run back to the south the following day.  Along the way we enjoyed the sights on a crystal clear day including this lovely lighthouse.  As with most others on the Maine coast, this one has been converted into a private home.  What a lovely spot.  As it’s located on a private island, it must cost plenty to keep everything in shape and well painted.

We also spied this seal spying on us.  We also saw one sleeping on the surface with his head just out of the water.  They are remarkably tough to photograph as they tend to drop down below the surface when we pass.

A lobsterman plying his trade along with the ever present seagulls awaiting a cast off morsel.
All is not work as is attested by this person taking a nap in a hammock off of the stern of one of the passenger schooners that we passed in the afternoon.  
There are quite a few of these old girls plying their trade in this area and they are a sight to behold.
As we entered Merchant Row we passed one of the many small islands that dot the area. They are all granite outcroppings.  You can see how appealing these massive stones were for building materials as they are huge  and with very few imperfections.  
After much consideration we opted to go to a very nice anchorage on the north side of Mclathery Island near Stonington.  This has been a favorite spot for us for many years.   After anchoring we headed ashore for a walk on the beach and woods on the island.  Here’s Brenda at a particular scenic spot.  It’s incredibly green. 
Speaking of scenic, here’s a classic beach shot.  Our dink in the foreground and the “mother ship” out in the harbor.  
Mclathery It’s also a favorite for the passenger schooners out of Camden and Rockland who use it as a convenient anchorage.   To see one of these grand ladies tack into a harbor and anchor under sail is a sight to behold.  This evening we were treated to such a show.  After securing the boat for the evening the crew shuttled the passengers to shore for a lobster cookout on the nearby beach.   While we didn’t have lobsters that evening, we did enjoy one of our “cocktail cruises” and caught this shot of Pandora near the visiting schooner.   Not bad company.   
There’s always time for knitting.  Not a bad backdrop for Brenda.  Very inspiring, I am sure. 
Here’s how our neighbor looked basking in the setting sun.  The end to a terrific day. 
We weren’t the only ones enjoying the evening view.  I wonder what they were thinking about?  “sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits”.  I am thinking the latter. 

As it’s getting down to a few days till we have to be in Rockland to begin heading home to Mystic, we thought it prudent to begin heading back west to shorten the distance needed later in the week and decided on Perry Creek. That’s been a place that we have enjoyed for many years, in part because of the  mussels that we pick on each visit.  In just a few minutes you can get all that you could want for a meal. The real trick is cleaning them to get ready to eat.  That takes much more time than gathering them from the shallows because they totally cover the bottom at low tide.   Brenda outdid herself this time and we had home made, no make that boat made foccaccia bread

In Perry Creek we had this lovely house boat as a neighbor.  Very cute.  They following morning we spied a couple sitting on lawn chairs enjoying a cup of coffee and the view.  This is a very reasonable way to have waterfront property.  And, when you tire of the view, you can always tow it to a more appealing location.

Speaking of veiws,  any view looks better after a good outdoor shower.   A good hot shower at that as they had an instant hot water heater on board.   Not bad, not bad at all. 
Perhaps I will close with a sunrise shot from this morning.  Not a bad view to begin the day.  
It’s now Friday morning and it took me two sittings to do this post. Hope to be able to keep up a few more prior to heading back to Mystic.   The next few days should be lovely and then Irene will make her debut on Sunday.  Wish us luck.  Only time will tell when things will clear up enough to allow me to take Pandora back to Mystic. Perhaps by the end of the week. 

>A mobile vet on Frenchboro, a hike and off to Blue Hill


After leaving Little Cranberry we motored out to Frenchboro for our second visit of the summer, a trip that’s not very long, about two hours.   We had waited until the fog had lifted somewhat only to find out that as we headed offshore, that the fog was as thick as ever.  However, with the combination of radar, a plotter and a sharp lookout, we were fine and arrived with a minimum of fuss.   

We had decided to have lobster for dinner so I headed ashore to find a fisherman to buy some.   There was a very nice fellow who was ready to fill my order.  He headed down to the dock and pulled up a crate just full of the critters.  
He plunged his hand into the squirming mass and pulled me out three great looking lobsters.  Perfect.   They don’t get fresher than this. 
When I was ashore I spied this sign on a boat tied up to the dock.  It was a mobile veterinary clinic. 
The vet in charge was a very nice lady out of Kennebunk, Dr. Margaret Shively.    She and her husband spend time on the water and away from her practice for a few weeks each summer providing care for island animals, both large and small on the islands.  I am fascinated by the culture of support that has developed over the years for these island communities.   As business was a bit slow we had a very nice chat and she showed me around her “clinic”.  
It seems that she and her husband John have been doing this for a number of years and are popular with the island folks.  As you can imagine, it’s difficult to get care for animals without heading off island so this is a great way to take advantage of a needed service and keep pooch in good shape.   Her husband keeps a website and here’s a link to some information about her practice and some nice photos.  

After lunch we were invited by our friends Miles and Loreen along with new friends from the UK to go for a hike on the island.  The path took us around the water and offered us grand views of the surrounding sea and far off islands as the fog had lifted, finally.  The granite in the area is a lovely pink.  This was a typical view down to the water. 

It’s hard to imagine how many terrific views there were at every turn. 

You can see how the fog is beginning to settle in again and soon the visibility was cut to feet.   Our friend’s Miles and Loreen and their boat Ariel just behind us on a mooring.   In the distance, the couple from the UK.  They had purchased their most recent boat in Nova Scotia where they got a boat that had sunk at the dock.  As you can imagine, they got a very good price for the boat and spent several months rebuilding her.   They are now on their way south for the winter and expect that they will end up in Grenada by spring.  For a number of years they have split their time between a home in the UK and their boat.  
 Yesterday we headed up north to Blue Hill, that’s on the western side of Mt. Desert and had great sail for the  25 miles north to the very northern part of Blue Hill Bay.   While this area is very pretty with nice restaurants, but they don’t get that much boat traffic because it’s so far up into the bay.  Another benefit of visiting Blue Hill is that they have a terrific little market, one of the best around that’s pretty well stocked and not terribly expensive.  With the prevailing winds, it’s easy to get here but tough to get out.  Another strike against visiting is that the town dock dries out when the tide is low so if you don’t want to drag your dink over the mud flats back to water, you have to be sure that you are off the dock before the dock dries out which means being off two hours either side of low tide.  

This nice little day sailor makes for a pretty view this morning.  
The view of the Blue Hill hills is fabulous.  Unfortunately, this photo doesn’t do it justice.    
The little harbor is lined with lovely homes.  Nothing tacky here. 
Well, the tide is running out and the day isn’t getting any younger so I best get on with my day.   

>Thuya Gardens, a little Cranberry (island) and a lot of fog.

>It’s Sunday morning here in the harbor off of Little Cranberry Island, just two miles south of North East Harbor on Mt. Desert Island.  We had spent only one night in NEH, as beautiful as it is, because the cell coverage was just terrible and the mooring prices had jumped from $30 to $40 per night in just one year.  There is a very nice lady that comes around in her skiff to collect and she said that transient boat traffic is way down and that she is hearing plenty about the rate increase from repeat visitors.  Based on hearing that I decided to speak to the harbor master about the increase and did so, in the very nicest of ways.  However he wasn’t receptive and actually quite defensive.  I guess I wasn’t the only one to say something.  We will see what happens next year.

We just love NEH and plan to visit again although for shorter times than in the past if the rates stay high.  The harbor is located on the southern end of Mt Desert Island, is quite protected and lined with many ever-so-wonderful homes.  It’s certainly the most high end of the waterfront areas on the island, and lives up to it’s reputation as catering to the Palm Beach in the Winter and North East in the Summer set.  These are the most high end of snowbirds for sure. 
One of the reasons for the pathetic cell coverage, aside from what is probably a NIMBA approach with too much money fighting the cell towers, is due to the fact that the land rises up sharply on all sides of the harbor so that the views are quite dramatic.  On the eastern shore is, what once was a private estate with gardens that were designed by a long time summer resident who left his modest home and expansive gardens to the residents of NEH upon his death in the 20s.  This is where having well heeled residents in the area come in as it’s clearly not the $5 suggested donation that keeps these extensive gardens in shape after all of these years.  It’s clearly countless hours of volunteers and generous benefactors that make such gardens flourish.  
They have a terrific website for Thuya gardens as well as the other gardens in town, the Asticou Azalea gardens, also an amazing spot to visit.  Of particular note on the site is the slide show which is worth checking out of both gardens on their home page. 
As you make your way from their dock (so how many gardens have their own dock?) there is a very well groomed “trail” that heads up the several hundred foot vertical rise to the gardens.   
Along the way there are several lookout points with expansive views of the harbor below. 
In no particular order, here are some photos of the gardens, perhaps not as good as those on their site slide show, but current and mine. 
There is a riot of color at ever turn.  What an amazing place. Clearly the cool conditions favor beautiful gardens.  They don’t experience the blistering August heat that we get in New Jersey and the fog certainly helps as well.  More about fog in a bit.  
They have nicely planned out walking paths carefully raked into geometric patterns each morning it would seem. 
Not much to say except, what a lovely place. 
I was particularly struck by this moss garden.  Lots of water needed here to keep this looking good.  Actually, the woodland around the gardens are carpeted with moss like this if perhaps a bit less artfully arranged.
No garden is complete without a gazebo, or perhaps several to sit in.   Actually, this one was a wishing well with water that was so clear you could hardly tell that it was filled at all.  I expect that it was fed by a spring. 
After our garden tour we decided it was time to “get out of Dodge” and decided on going to Little Cranberry Island nearby.   As we motored over the fog began to come and go.  As this photo shows, it can roll in at a moment’s notice.  For a while it was almost completely clear but after we picked up a mooring off of the town landing it came down like cotton wool.
Fog is funny in that it hardly ever persists over land for long but on the water the visibility can be measured in feet, and the silence is almost total.  And when you hear sounds, it’s very difficult to determine where it’s coming from as the sound echoes off of the fog.  That’s one of the main reasons that navigating in the fog is so unsettling.   “I hear a boat!  Where is that sound coming from?”  Glad that we have radar. 
We went ashore for a walk on Cranberry and enjoyed the local scenery.  This Congregational Church was very pretty.
The Catholics don’t seem to be quite as well funded but the building is very nice.  Not the same as in our town where the opposite is the case. 
On the waterfront there are a few small galleries showing the work of local artists.  This building has been here for many years and we were told that when the winter storms come up the waves come up from under the building and pop up the floor making quite a mess.   However, as tenacious as the independent islanders are inclined to be, they just get out the nails and pound the floor back into place.  It’s refreshing to hear about such things in a country where everyone seems to be looking to someone else to fix things for them it doesn’t go quite right.  Flood insurance here means shoring up the floor with more timbers an nails.  Very refreshing.  
There’s a very nice pottery gallery run by two women that live here year round, making pottery all winter and selling it in the summer.  Brenda was very taken by their work and purchased a number of clay buttons to  make into a bracelet.   Their work is really quite nice as is witnessed by their website for Kaitlyn Duggan, the potter.  She came to the island several years ago, married a lobsterman and has made Cranberry her home. 
She has even personalized an old granite pile in the harbor with one of her urns.  Very ephemeral in the fog.  If  it’s an advertisement for her work, it’s subtle and in very good taste. 
While the month of July wasn’t foggy at all, the last few days have more than made up for it and today is likely to be the same.   View?  Hard to tell as you can’t see more than about 100′.  However, a side benefit of all of this moisture in the air is that you can grow a garden most anywhere as this “moss garden” in the corner of the building on the dock attests. 
Actually, this is the front door of a lovely little seasonal restaurant on the island that does a brisk business in the evenings, served by ferries from both North East and South West Harbors.  As the food is quite upscale, they draw heavily from off island folks and seem to do very well. We took time to enjoy a beer at the bar along with an order of steamed mussels before heading out into the fog to return to Pandora, dinner and a movie. 
Well, Brenda’s reminding me that I am being antisocial and should wrap this up now.   I hope to have coverage, and more posts in the next few days.  That’s all for now. 

>Spirit of Zipilot and cocktail cruises in South West Harbor Maine

>As I write this it’s early Saturday morning in North East Harbor and I am sitting on a bench out in front of the library and tapping into their WI-FI as they are not open yet.  However, after a frustrating week of poor Web access I am taking advantage of their fast router to get another post up.

While we were in South West Harbor we were on a mooring near the marina and each evening Brenda and I enjoyed our evening “cocktail cruise” in our dink touring around the harbor to view the sights.   On one of these outings I spied a boat that looked familiar.  I felt that I had seen the boat before but couldn’t place it, the trawler “Spirit of Zipilot” a green muscular yacht with a home port of Anacort Washington, a long way from home for sure.   Interestingly, Joan Kessler was Joan Freeman, television and movie star in the 70s and 80s  There is a website for everything.  You gotta love it.  It seems that one of her last films was the horror film, Friday the 13th.  Interesting connection.

Spirit of Zipilot is a rugged looking boat and very pretty to look at.  
Using a trusty Google search, I looked her up and found out that the owners, Bruce and Joan Kessler have done some serious cruising aboard her and have circumnavigated at least once in a previous boat.   Their boat has been written up in many magazines as it is a well thought out yacht built by a yard that also builds commercial fishing boats.  This article from Passage Maker Magazine (yes, there is a magazine for every imaginable interest.  No, make that at least two…) goes into great detail about the boat and her adventurous owners.   With that in mind, it seems that Bruce was named “cruiser of the year” back in the late 90s when he took his first Zipilot, which was later wrecked on an uncharted rock pinnacle, around the world.  The honor came from that second magazine Trawlers and Trawlering, so I guess that he does get around.  Funny, if descriptive, name for a magazine.  One way or the other, it’s nice to hear about a boat that really gets used. 
Unfortunately, so many marinas are just packed with boats that never seem to leave the dock.  Some cover great distances but still sit around a lot.  Here are a number of boats, call them yachts, that we spied in our evening cruises of SW Harbor.  
This one was lit up like a small city each night, generator rumbling away to feed the amps. 
It’s amazing just how big these boys are.  From the stern they really look massive. 
The crew looks downright midget against the scale of these monsters. Hard to imagine having the funds to support such a hobby.  I’d like to give it a go, that’s for sure.  “Here, here Jeeves, please fetch me another mind julep”.  
Look how massive this one is in full profile.  A different boat on a dock nearby. You’d think that the dink would be color coded and not look like some sort of nasty growth on deck.  Alas, it’s never quite right.  Such is life. 
And, at the local coastguard station, your tax dollars at work.  Notice the seats up on the bridge.  They have 4 point harnesses in case the boat is rolled in heavy weather.  Get ready to hold your breath.  These puppies can take about anything and keep going.  And, they are only about 40′ long. 
With all of the things that money can buy, what were they thinking?  . 
Yet another waterfront home for a pair of ospreys. And, a lot less expensive to maintain.  Not sure about the winter though.
Not sure what the next week holds, our last in Maine, but the weather is looking great.   It’s still not opening time at the library but perhaps I should head back to Pandora and have coffee with Brenda.  That’s all for now. 

>Frenchboro Lobster Festival and Mt Desert


It’s Thursday morning and the sun is back out after several days of rain. While the sun peaked out yesterday, it was only after a bout of heavy fog where I learned that cell coverage, or at least the ability to send data over the cell network was seriously degraded when the air is heavy.  In fact, while there is plenty of “bars” on my phone, uploading e-mail, and photos for this blog, is a annoying effort.  Alas, that’s why I have not had a post since last Saturday.  The further east we head, the worse the coverage.  However, lots of ground to cover and photos to share beginning with last weekend out at Frenchboro, one of the most remote offshore islands in Maine for their annual lobster festival.  Much has been made of the homesteading efforts to keep the island community alive on Frenchboro over the years and thanks to a thriving lobster fishery there, it’s working.  While the one room school house has about 20 students, I think, the island is still home to families that make this remote and often isolated island their home year round.

We have been visiting Frenchboro for many years and always enjoy the views of Mt Desert in the distance and the nice local folks.  In the past we have always rented a mooring in the harbor but this year we were told that there wasn’t any fee and to just pick up one.  It seems that there was some disagreement last summer as to who should be profiting from a rental venture.  Some said only the fire department and other public works should benefit, and with some perhaps wanting to handle it differently, it seems that moorings are free now.  So much for the common good and free commerce.  The good news is that there are plenty of moorings to use and this remains a great spot to visit.

In past visits, we have always marveled at how few people there were when we were ashore.  However, with  a well publicized lobster festival, this wasn’t a very isolated island at all for the day of the festival at least.  The Maine State Ferry system ran a special boat out and back to get folks to the festival.  And go they did.  What is normally a car ferry that runs once a week I think, was just jammed when it arrived on Saturday morning.  One trip out and one returning that same day.  What a sea of lobster killing humanity they were, streaming off of the ferry and on to the feast.

 A closer look shows just how many were aboard.  I wonder where they got enough lifejackets for everyone.

While normally a very sparsely populated island with about 60 year round residents, this weekend saw the population swell many fold.  Of course, the festival was held on the church lawn.  Many, many lobsters met their maker at this event.

Even with modest rain this summer (I hear that the blueberry harvest is thin) the forest floor is covered with moss and very quiet.  You half expect to see little people running around.  No, I am not picking on those who are vertically challenged but we won’t get into that right now.  Nice moss…
Along the way we spied this little guy.  He was most distressed with being disturbed by walkers going by and struck out at each one as the passed.  However, he didn’t want to give ground.  Pretty gutsy for a fella less than two feet long.
We headed out to the south side of the island to enjoy the view.  The granite here is quite pink.  As so much of this material was shipped to NYC over the years I am sure that some of the pink facades that you see around town came from this general area.
A nice picture of Brenda enjoying the view (that’s the view of me talking her picture of her enjoying the view, to be more precise).
And, what a view it was.  Of the crashing waves.
Of Acadia in the background where we were headed that afternoon.
We enjoyed our sail after the festival as we made our way up to Acadia and Somesville at the head of the only fjord in North America, or is it the only one in the eastern half of North America?  Whatever!  It’s a fjord, of that I am confident and a beautiful one at that. 
Well, it’s now Friday afternoon and based on the poor coverage I had to abandon my “office” and head to the library to finish this, along with the rest of my “pre-vacation work chores” before the end of the day. 
We are now in North East Harbor where cell coverage is the worst of any populated harbor in Maine but that’s another story.  What a great spot!!!
I’ll try to post as service permits.  Lots more to talk about. 

>A visit to the Wooden Boat School

>Back in the late 70s, about the same time Brenda and I purchased our first boat, a guy named Jon Wilson started a little magazine Wooden Boat.  It came out 6 times a year and catered to those who owned and loved wooden boats.  At that time, wooden boats were really on the fringe and nothing like today where the most wealthy show off their good taste buy owning and sailing these works of art.

However in 1974 Wilson saw the future and started a magazine in what was an unlikely place, from a publishing point of view, in Brookin Maine.  However, from a subject standpoint, he couldn’t have picked a better place as Maine has become one of the most prolific places in the US to have wooden boat built, rebuilt or maintained.   From the very beginning, I became a subscriber, and still am, devouring each issue as I still feel that it’s one of the most interesting magazines.   After all of these years it still comes out 6 times a year but the business has grown in many impressive ways.

Wilson is no longer involved on a day to day basis with the business but he still owns it, I believe, and the publication is as successful as ever.  Fortunately, I don’t travel like I used to but the magazine is still readily available in airport newsstands, something that has always amazed me given the fact that the magazine caters to such a narrow interest group.  Or does it?  I did read once that Wooden Boat has the largest newsstand circulation of any boating publication and given it’s very high production values and beautiful photography, I am not surprised that someone would pick up a copy while waiting for a flight.  Perhaps it’s a love of beautiful things that drives so many open it’s pages.  Believe it or now, the magazine has 100,000 subscribers.  I assume that newsstand is in addition to that number.

The headquarters is located on an old estate on the water and out in front there is a great spot to anchor for a visit.  Over the years they have branched out into other related areas of business, most notably, the Wooden Boat School, and the Wooden Boat Show that is generally held at Mystic Seaport in Mystic CT each year.

The boat school is located on the headquarters grounds and is housed in what was once the stables for the estate.  Along with a very nice workshop/school is an area where the “disciples” can camp out while enrolled.  They also have moorings off of their dock for those who opt to stay on their boat in the harbor.

The facility for the school is wonderfully maintained, as you would expect from a group that spends hours laboring over wooden boats.  The school is in what used to be the stables on the estate that is now the Wooden Boat headquarters.  What a beautiful building, slate roof and all.

And, of course, there is the Wooden Boat Store as they publish books and plans as well a sell unusual tools and the ubiquitous T shirts.  Years ago the store, and mail order business, were located in a room in the main building.  Now they have a dedicated building and a nicely designed one it is at that.

Not a bad place to spend a week learning to build boats.

Brooklin Maine is located on Eggemoggin Reach, a nice stretch of water that runs perpendicular to the prevailing winds so you can sail up and down the reach in calm water most any time the winds are out of the South West.  This light is now a private residence and marks the northwest entrance of the reach.   I have always thought that it would be wonderful to live in a lighthouse or at least the lighthouse keepers house.  Not sure how I’d address the furniture in a round room.  For sure, the theme would be nautical.

A number of boat yards specializing in wooden boats have grown up in the area so most any time you sail on the reach you will encounter some lovely vessel out for a sail such as this little gaff rigged sloop.   Interestingly, one of the best known photographers of wooden boats is a guy Ben Mendlowitz who does a lot of work for Wooden Boat, lives near by and I am pretty sure that we saw him chasing a really nice sloop later that day in his runabout taking pictures.  It’s the late afternoon light that Ben enjoys using to get the best shots of his subjects.  I met Ben years ago when I had him speak at a Corinthians Gam about his photography.   It seems to me that traveling all around the world taking photographs of beautiful wooden boats would be a fun way to make a living. Ben probably wouldn’t approve of that nasty outboard hanging off of the transom though.

A couple of the students working on a wood strip canoe.  Generally, you sign up for the course with the plan of learning how to build a particular boat that you will finish in a week.

It’s not too often that you see a “corporate headquarters” that looks like this except perhaps at hedge funds in Greenwich CT.
What other publishing company has a view like this!  You have to admire Wilson for what he has created.  In this case it was literally out of nothing as the first issue was published out of his home that didn’t have a phone or electricity as this short history describes.  Very impressive.  
There are some beautiful, if somewhat rustic, gardens on the property including some old apple trees.   This cluster of Indian Pipes were growing in deep shade in some moss.  Really interesting plants as they don’t have chlorophyll but form a symbiotic relationship with a particular fungus so it’s actually getting it’s energy from the sun but through the trees that it lives under. 
Headed back to Pandora there she is anchored off of the Wooden Boat dock complete with the burgee of the company.  What a great spot and a wonderful place to visit.  
I couldn’t resist a “still life” that I will entitle “rosemary, thyme, geranium and primary winch”.  Even this looks great on a bright summer day.  For now, I’ll leave it at that.   Today we are going ashore to enjoy the Frenchboro Lobster festival.  More on that later. 

>It’s been a rainy day in Belfast Maine

>As the saying goes, if you don’t like the weather, wait an hour.  Actually, we didn’t like the weather yesterday and had to wait about 24 as it was rainy and cold all day, only to finally stop drizzling around dinner time.  But hey, into every day a little rain must fall.  Besides, it washes the salt off of the boat.  

It’s Thursday morning and we are here in Belfast Harbor, at the head of Penobscot Bay.  We came here on Monday evening from Holbrook harbor near Castine after a nice cozy night on one of the nature preserve moorings.   This chart shows our run from the SSCA Gam in Isleboro, up around the top of the island, over to Holbrook Harbor and then to Belfast.  All very close and way up at the head of the bay.   Note that I figured out how to make the route show up better on the chart, in red!

The preserve at Holbrook has great trails and a really terrific dock to get ashore.  The dock is particularly important as the granite rocks drop off to the water rather dramatically.  With all of the rain of late the moss is lush and the forest floor very soft and quiet to walk on.   There is quite a view from the top of the steps on the dock.  Not a lot of boats in the harbor keeping Pandora company.  All and all, a beautiful day.  Not great cell coverage though, even with the booster.

There is moss and ferns on everything.  Very “green” and soothing to look at.
It’s always nice to see the contrast of sea and woods.  I guess some animal (person animal perhaps?) put this urchin shell on a bed of moss. 
Nice contrast of green and red berries. 
Brenda wanted that urchin shell and several other treasures.  Happy girl!
With the some 10′ tides in this area you sometimes see reversing falls.  They run dramatically out when the tide drops and hard in the other direction.   This one runs out through a narrow cut and right by someone’s dock.  I wouldn’t want to bring Pandora up to that dock when the tide is running.  Look at all of the foam that piles up there too.
Late on Monday afternoon we made the short run over to Belfast.  This harbor is very pretty but exposed from the south.  Along the way we saw a not so little rain cloud blow by.  Really dramatic actually. 
But, after a while it cleared off and got sunny again.  You have to love these dramatic vistas.
Once we were in Belfast we took a mooring, went ashore and enjoyed the lovely town.  The buildings are really interesting and well preserved. 
The buildings on main street are mostly made of red brick and have wonderful details. 
This certainly looks like an old time New England main street. 
There is a large supermarket outside of town that I walked to early one morning but it is a REALLY LONG WAY, I learned and it’s up hill, really UP.  The good news is that it’s only up hill one way.  Besides, I was able to get a ride from a nice Mainer for the run back to the boat.  Later I learned that there was quite a large co-op natural  food store just off of main street, heavily devoted to the nuts and berry set however.  Fortunately, they had good fish and meat too.  While everything in the store was “natural” it seems that even natural food lovers know that you can’t be too picky about wine and beer.  It seems that they dropped their standards and had the same brands as the “normal” stores.  I guess when it comes to booze, you have to be practical, green or not.  Well, at least you can take all those bottles home in a canvas bag. Yea, that works.  
As nice as our visit was, the harbor’s exposure to the south proved itself as the wind shifted to the, you guessed it, the south and blew up to 25 kts all night.  It was really bumpy and when the tide ran out opposing the tide, it got really interesting with Pandora riding sideways to the wind with the current pushing her into the wind.   There was a little double ended sailboat on the mooring next to ours that was bouncing all over the place and wasn’t being affected by the current the same way as we were.  While we were more steady they were “sailing” all around their mooring and would have bumped into us had it not been for the vigilance of both of us to continually fend off.  This did make for a long night but as I said earlier, “into every life a little rain must fall”. Make that a wind from the south in an exposed harbor. 
The weather has cleared, at least it’s not raining and today will be better.  This afternoon we are going to move to somewhere else and head out for a long weekend.  More on that later.

>SSCA Islesboro Gam and world cruisers

>It’s Sunday morning and we are here in Islesboro in Penobscot Bay Maine.  It’s raining and the day looks like it isn’t going to be one of those crisp clear days that we have been having so many of lately.  Yesterday was great fun as we joined in at the 20 something annual Islesboro Gam for the Seven Seas Cruising Association, a worldwide group of cruisers and liveaboards.  While we have only been members for a few years, we have begun to really enjoy the group and members that we have met.  To spend time with “regular” women who cruise great distances has given Brenda a lot more confidence and helped her see the positives of a life afloat.    There is definitely a different mentality with these folks and what their lifestyle means to them compared with the Yacht Club Set that we have hung out with for so many years.  Both groups are great fun but this group is much more low key and mostly of very modest means.  While many of them have retired early, they live simply because it allows them to spend more time doing what they want to and it seems that they are more focused on accumulating experiences and less on gathering stuff.

That’s not to say that they aren’t voyaging in impressive boats but they still seem like simple folks and are really quite welcoming and unassuming.

This is only the second year that we have joined in at the gam which was held at the summer home of a cruising couple who have been here in Islesboro for many years.  Their home is modest but wonderfully maintained and is set up in a way that they can shut it down, water and electricity OFF, for the long cold Maine winter while they head south to enjoy warm weather cruising.  They drain their water, board up the windows and just lock the door.  The heating system is filled with antifreeze so they can just walk away.   Sounds great as I have been wondering what it would be like to be several thousand miles away when an ice storm hits and the power is out for a week with know one to check on things.  Not a pleasant thought.

On Friday night we participated in a really fun event, a dingy raft-up for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.  The way that this works, given the need to accommodate crew on the nearly 40 boats in attendance, was to have everyone tie up to the stern of a host boat in a big floating mass, meet, greet and pass their offerings from boat to boat.  Half of the fun is swapping plates of nibbles between bobbing dinks while talking to everyone tied up to you.  What was particularly amusing is that the winds really piped up so this floating cocktail party was bobbing and pitching all the while trying to balance drinks and snacks.  Relaxing isn’t the word that comes to mind, more like great fun.

As we were in the thick of the group, this shot doesn’t begin to show how many boats, nearly 40 in all, were tied together.

In the mix we met some of the most interesting people including a couple who’s home port was Anacortes Washington.  Interested, I asked them if they went through the Panama Canal.  They reply was “not yet”.  Clearly enjoying the questioning, there was a moment while they watched me try to process this answer.  After a generous pregnant pause, they volunteered a bit more information letting me know that they had crossed the Pacific and made their way through the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal.  After spending several years in the Med they were continuing their journey and had decided to visit Maine and participate in the Gam.  All and all, they had been underway for some 9 years and after Maine would be headed south for winter in the Caribbean prior to finally transiting the Canal, the Panama one.  Hearing that, I asked if they were then going home to Washington only to learn that they still had lots to explore going up the west coast and that it would likely be a long time till they “swallowed the anchor” and moved ashore.  This is just one example of the really interesting folks that we have met through the SSCA and you can see why they are a group that we are enjoying.

Part of the tradition of this Gam is to invite a speaker to give a talk and this year’s was particularly enjoyable.  Their speaker was an author of some 18 books and what a terrific speaker he was.  James Nelson the author of several works of fiction, has also written many historical non-fiction books including his most recent title, George Washington’s Great Gamble:  And the sea battle that won the American Revolution.  I won’t detail his talk here but it’s sufficient to say that he is a very engaging speaker and the book sounds just terrific.

Jim’s speaking style is very energetic and he held the attention of his audience totally as he spoke from our host’s front porch. 
After his talk, he and I spoke about his coming down to the NYC area to present to The Corinthians, a group that I have been very active with for years.   I am sure that the group would really enjoy hearing from him.  I hope that it works out. 
Folks at the Gam spread out on our host’s lawn to listen to our speaker and enjoy a pot luck lunch provided by all. 
It was such fun to see old friends and make new ones.   We even saw our old friends from our catboat days Tom and Susan who had spent over two years sailing their boat up and down the East Coast.   
As I was scooting around the harbor I enjoyed checking out some of the local water craft including this rather unlikely craft, a classic trailer “parked” on a barge.  I would think that this would be a nice place to spend time with a wonderful view of the Camden Hills in the distance. 
I wonder if this picnic spot was part of a “family compound”.  It was close but not that close to the trailer boat as heading to lunch would mean a dip to make if from one to the other.  Perhaps they were part of a progressive dinner plan.  
I particularly liked this cute lobster shack with a mess of lobster cars floating out in front. 
Meanwhile, this float plane circled over head for quite a while.  I was hoping for a landing but they eventually headed off into the distance. 
Well, today all of the boats that attended the gam will begin to disperse and head off to points east.  With the iffy weather I am not sure where we are headed but it will certainly be a spot with cell coverage as tomorrow is a school day.  
One last thought about those cruisers.  When I tell them that we are cruising but that I still work, this statement is greeted with something that sounds a lot like eeewww!!!.  Hmm…I guess that I will have to do something about that.