Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Reach

We bid Acadia a sorrowful goodbye, comforting ourselves with "it's just the first time", "we'll be back". Our next leg was up in the air, never knowing what the day's winds will bring. (If you didn't see the memo, forget the weather forecast.) Blue Hill? Frenchboro? We awoke to a zephyr from the NW: Blue Hill is out. Oops, wind shift (and some mooring politics): Frenchboro is out. Beating upwind with the hope of turning the corner for a nice stride up Eggemoggin Reach, or simply The Reach.

Backing up a bit for land-oriented folk, a 'reach' is a direction of sail where the wind comes more-or-less from the side of the boat rather than forward or aft. A reach is fast and fun, without too much work: something the lazy sailor in all of us love. You can actually drink and sail a reach at the same time, no problem. In this neck of the ocean, the afternoon breeze usually builds, sometimes with some ferocity, from the Southwest, meaning you can spend all your afternoon hours reaching up and down Eggemoggin Reach, which, really, is not a bad way to be. One does need to keep a weather eye out because the wind can be gusty: a schooner was knocked down and sunk here in 1984.

As we tacked upwind (current in our favor this time - yea!) into Jericho Bay from Acadia, the lobster pots seemed a wee bit more manageable than our last two nightmares here. As the bugs thin out at the shallower depths, the lobstermen (lobsterwomen too, see Lobster Chronicles) "put the warp to 'em" and migrate the traps to deeper water.

Much to our annoyance, lobster folks are incredibly hard working, often at it well before dawn, hauling one trap after another, stinky bait, lobster prices too low, diesel prices too high, etc. By and large lobster boats have a dry, unmuffled exhausts, so they sound like thunder miles away, much more across the dock. We try to learn how the work and stay out of the way. Each boat displays a buoy showing its color scheme. By matching up the buoys in the water with the one on the boat, we have a pretty good idea of where they are heading and try to stay out of the way. Sometimes we obviously hinder their darting about, but we've never been dressed down and we do, really, try to be good about it. That said, avoiding these snares is the biggest negative to sailing (for us) in this area.

To understand The Reach, you have to go back a bit, perhaps to E.B. White. White, and his descendants, hale from Brooklin, just off The Reach. Charlotte's Web emerged from his experiences here and a local fair. His son Joel became a well regarded yacht designer and established the Brooklin Boat Yard, on The Reach near Center Harbor, as arguably the finest wooden boat yard in the World.

Many classics call this part of the world home: from schooners and yawls to Herreshoff 12 1/2s and whitehalls. These are the boats, all in wood, we see as we sail up The Reach from Jericho Bay.

Alizée is modern wood, not classic in any sense, but she seems at home here as well. The 10-15 kt. wind suits her and she kicks up her heels. Some fast day sailors come out to challenge, but none can catch us. Not today. Not here. Not in this wind. (Good thing that J 105 that blew by us the other day wasn't around.)

There was a stranger in this land that time forgot (to mix and match titles), complete with personal helicopter. Fortunately, they were quickly gone and we could get back to schooners.

As we pass the eastern section of The Reach the lobster pots thin out and we can relax and enjoy the sailing to its fullest at its finest. Almost too soon, we find ourselves at the end of The Reach at Buck's Harbor, our stop for the night.

Quaint and very Maine, Buck's is. A nice treat is the absence of lobster boats. Maybe, just maybe, we can sleep in until sunrise tomorrow. Hmmm.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Goodnight Acadia and Thank You!

Sunny NorthEast Harbor. Fog gone!
We just spent a marvelous week-plus discovering Acadia National Park. It was a celebratory goal to enjoy this park and the weather cooperated nicely, giving us sunny and warm weather all week, sometimes too hot to hike, but we'll take that over the foreseeable cool down.

Lobstering history
We started at NorthEast Harbor (NEH) for 3 nights and liked it so much we extended our stay 3 more nights. We validated what the guide said: the town is really the best option for sailors. A very protected harbor, great grocery store (albeit quite expensive - $8 for strawberries!), laundry right off the dinghy dock, clean warm showers, easy access to the park free bus, coffee shop, bookstore, and marine store. The only drawbacks were 1) the working lobster boats stationed here, including one not 50 feet away, that start their days at 3:30am every morning and 2) the lack of a restaurant scene. Earplugs and the occasional Benadryl took care of (1) and the free bus to Bar Harbor for dinner took care of (2).

Top of Cadillac Mt,
highest peak in the park
Bar Harbor (locally referred to Baa Haa Baa) is the best known town in the park. It's actually not in the park itself but where most tourists stay and the hub for the free park bus, making it ideal for getting to trails and other towns surrounding the park. The harbor is about the worse harbor you can think of: rolly, no hot showers, unresponsive dock master. Three strikes and you're out.

Hiking trails provide
incredible views
Our days have been filled with hiking or biking. Start with a hearty breakfast on the boat - blueberry pancakes, oatmeal or cereal - pack up a tuna sandwich and apple lunch, get on the free park bus to a trail head, climb, sweat, get to the top, eat lunch with a gorgeous view, get back down, flag the bus to Bar Harbor, find a place to dine, get on the bus to NEH before sunset (to avoid mosquitoes), take a warm shower on land, back to the boat by 7:30pm, read or watch a movie onboard, crash by 9:30pm. Rinse and repeat.

Acadia hiking trails provide a range of hiking options and many of them are in shaded areas. Surprisingly the most famous one, Mt Cadillac, was not crowded at all until we got to the top: people can get there by car too. Kinda dulls the effect of making it to the top but does provide everyone the killer view. While hiking up, we found it fun to ask where hikers were from. Tally: California, Massachusetts, upstate New York, Illinois, Ohio, New Hampshire. We have been looking for a Colorado plate since we made it to Maine and we finally found one: a Subaru, go figure :)

Somes Sound from
Acadia Mt peak
Well maintained trails!
Some challenging climbs!

Biking the carriage roads
Biking in Acadia is quite special because of the carriage roads which are loosely graveled roads reserved for hikers and bikers. The "roads" were created by Rockefeller Jr as a rebellion against the automobile era. Thanks to his philanthropic view, Acadia now provides 46 miles of biking trails. We probably did 10 of them in a day. A bit hilly at times but so enjoyable.

Sand Beach, the only salt water
beach in the park
Even though the park was free for a few days while we were there, in celebration of its centennial, we hardly saw crowds, other than in Bar Harbor, at the top of Mt Cadillac, and one of the two park beaches (Sand Beach) where people seem to have no issue getting in the 58F water. We dipped our toes in and it sure seemed feasible to get in all the way. I bit myself not to have taken our swimsuits. The guide did say: go for a dip at the beach after a day of hiking, but we thought it was joking given the temps. Dang it!

Maybe because it has been an unusually hot summer here, the water is warmer than past years. After checking out of NEH, we motored up Somes Sound, the only fjard in the US, a long stretch of water surrounded by cliffs. BTW this is not a typo: it's really a fjArd (even though the spell checker is fighting me hard on that one), which is different from a fjord for some geological reasons. This was to be one of the highlights of our Acadia trip. We read so much about it, were looking forward the adrenaline rush sailing it. Frankly it was 'meh' after all the hype. No cliffs. Looked more like an elongated lake to us. However the harbor at its end, Somes Harbor was a beauty, with a pod of porpoises, eagles, and loons. Sun was hot so we had the urge to jump thinking this is likely below our 64F threshold. Low and behold, thermometer said 69F so off we went, and so did many boaters around us. Felt so good we scrubbed the bottom of the boat while we were at it. Sunset was just gorgeous there.

Somes harbor sunset
While at Acadia, we also met very interesting folks by sharing a float with another boat. One of the boats was owner-built as well from a software developer south of Belfast, ME. Took him 21 years to finish it. Puts our 6 years in good perspective! Even more interesting were our previous floatmates - Tori and Jon - a young couple from LA, who recently relocated to NY with their 37ft boat. They bought their boat three years ago not knowing how to sail and proceeded to become live boards in NY during the winter without running water. Guessing they are in their late twenties, early thirties, they epitomize the gig economy, entirely working remote in digital jobs. You can read their publicized story at It has been fun and inspiring to see young folks opt for a fulfilling alternative lifestyle.

We are now in Southwest Harbor, the last of the 3 main towns surrounding the park. Alizée is sitting at a marina dock, a bit in shock as she had not seen a marina since Mystic in June. Southwest Harbor features the Hinkley boatyard and prides itself for its foodie scene. Food did not disappoint indeed, but the most interesting part was the Common Good Kitchen Café, a donation-only breakfast place that collects funds to support local families in the winter. We went to try their famous popovers (soufflé-like pastries) and contributed to this noble cause. Our brommies are coming in handy to get us around this extended town and the biking is serene on the quiet side of Acadia, as Southwest Harbor is referred to.

Biel's Lobster Pound dinner with
dried blueberries
Our stay in Acadia is coming to an end, coincidentally when the park free bus is changing schedule for the low season. The park should see another rush of tourists Labor Day weekend and then in October for the gorgeous foliage. We will definitely not see that :( but we enjoyed one last Lobster Pound dinner, this one from Biel's, which happened to be owned by a friend of Susan's cousin. Small world!

Burning skies on our last night
in Acadia
We have yet to decide where to go next as, by now, we have learned to wait for the morning for the actual wind before reviewing our sailing options: forget the forecast. Enjoying every last minute of our Acadia visit, including tonight's burning skies over da ha baa.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Fog and Lobster Pots but Acadia at Last!

Acadia from Swan's island
anchorage: fog rolling in!
Yesterday was the day we would finally make it to Acadia National Park. After 55 days onboard Alizée we would get to to see the oldest, yet smallest, US national park (which happened to celebrate its centennial this year). We woke up to fog but by 8AM it had already started to lift. The previous day, in the middle of the afternoon, we had seen low fog roll in between us and the Acadia mountains Very pretty but a bit unnerving to see fog right above the water with mountains above.

A motorboat crossing Alizée in the fog 
By 9 we decided to get going as the moorings at Northeast Harbor (our destination) were first-come first-serve. Although with the low density of boats we have seen on the water, I made myself believe that mooring would not be an issue. Again the wind is not a prevailing Southwest breeze, rather out of the East and on the nose.

As soon as we clear the anchorage, the fog thickened and the lobster pots started emerging. At first we could clearly see them and they were sparse enough to easily avoid them, but as the fog thickened and thickened some more to the point where we asked ourselves what happens if the fog is thick enough that you can't even see the pots until it is too late to avoid crossing their line? At some point, I did not even need my glasses to see them. I am near-sighted so rely on my polarized prescription sunglasses to assist Bill in lobster buoys sightings. This day, by the time they showed up out of the fog they were close enough for me to see them, and spit on them. Yikes. We kinda laughed at almost running over channel markers that became suddenly visible out of the fog. At least we were not alone. We heard three boats using their fog horns. The first one, a ferry that picked us up on AIS, even called us on the radio nicely asking whether we care if they passed up port (left) or starboard (right) from our stern (behind). Matters not to us as long as long as it's one or the other; we did not even see them pass us, but we heard the engines alright. The second one crossed us astern. Then there was that sailboat that just popped up coming right at us without any fog horn, VHF call, or AIS visibility on the chart plotter. C'mon people. It's the 21st century!

Oh look the buoy marker we were looking
for! No brainer that they all have bells
around here.
After 4 hours of ghost ships in the fog, and absolutely no view of the park and its mountains, we made it to the entrance of Northeast Harbor and called for a mooring. Phew, they had one left and assigned us mooring 312. As we approached the mooring, it already had a a boat on it. Crap. We called the harbormaster back (which we later found were summer interns manning the radio), and he casually said that was the last mooring available. Oh no... we are not turning around now and anchoring is not allowed ... then he proceeded to offer a float as an option. You betcha. Float works. At that point we would pay anything to just park it. Turns out their floats cost the same ($40/nt) as their moorings. Sweet (except for folks running their generators around us). Now we are closer to the dinghy dock than we would have been from a mooring, although finding a spot on the dinghy dock seems to be a bigger problem than rowing the longer distance.

Busy dinghy dock (and that's
only half): can you find Puff?
It's now 2pm and we can finally make some lunch, mentally and physically tired but happy to have made it here before the heavy rain forecasted that night (and yes that forecast was correct this time). By 4pm, we made it ashore to find the visitor center closed (boo) but located the yachtsmen's lounge. Hello sailing community, it is about time you acknowledged other genders! I think it should be called the Yacht's Men, Women, and all others lounge. Their hot showers were very welcomed after our sun showers were decommissioned by the fog.

Interestingly, the dinghy dock is packed but ain't no one in town. We did a reconnaissance tour. I absolutely relish the first time we get on land at a new place where everything is new. There is something so excited about it, regardless of what we find. A Maine coon cat welcomes us on the driveway of a clearly native house.

Maine Coon cat
Making a statement?
The Moon guide to Acadia states "NorthEast Harbor's small downtown caters to a casually posh clientele and the well protected harbor attracts tons of yachties". The town is very small indeed - mostly main street - and it does have an unusual number of chic boutiques. For yachts, it has, again, all you need: a funky bookstore with a coffee shop, a small maritime museum and a very nice grocery store. The Pine Tree Market even had the Whispering Angels rosé we discovered in Nantucket, although at $26 for a 1/2 bottle. We'll pass at that price. Only two places are open for dinner, and the one we picked (Colonel's) fills the spot with fish stew, lobster salad, and blueberry pie, being as maine-ly as we can. For all my froggy friends, NorthEast Harbor is where Marguerite Yourcenar lived. She was the first women elected at the Académie Française. Her place here is called Petite Pleasance, and she is buried closeby.

A fireplace, a book and coffee = heaven!
After 55 days of little to no rain on Alizée, we are happy to report that she not only floats, sails but she also does not leak! We are now all cozied waiting for the rain to stop midday so we can go ashore. We're psyching ourselves up to bail all the rain out of Puff, but who cares about wet dinghy butts when you are in Acadia! Let the hiking and biking begin!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Wooden Boat

At the risk of being trite, the sunset over the moored boats at Wooden Boat (School, Magazine, ...) was ... ah... gorgeous. After a wind on, wind off haul around Cape Rosier and down the Eggemoggin Reach, we spent a tranquil evening at front of the Wooden Boat School surrounded by a mix of classic wood boats and visitors of assorted vintage.

From Wooden Boat, we hadn't far to go today, so we spent the morning touring the grounds, running into notable wooden boat folk Geoff Kerr of Two Daughters Boatworks and Accidental Sailor Girl: small world. There was evidence of much small boat building, but the only thing going on this Saturday was an oar making workshop. After peeking in a few sheds and, as always, checking out the tool inventory, we strolled back to the dinghy and rowed back to Alizée in an increasing SE wind.

As we hoisted the mainsail, we could see the minefield of lobster pot buoys in Jericho Bay, arguably the worst place in the World for lobster pots. We tried to screw on a positive attitude at our second attempt to transverse this bay under sail. The last time we tried, it was crazy, we doused sail in defeat, and carefully picked our way through, under power, to the anchorage. My heart didn't drop from my throat until the first sip of wine. This time didn't go any better. The tide was high and the current strong. The pots here are particularly dangerous because they are rigged with toggles. Some of the toggles and even the buoys were slightly under water. There were whitecaps and the rising sun in our eyes. We couldn't even give up as there was no room to head into the wind to douse the sail. You can't take your eyes off the water for a second to navigate. Of the hundreds of pots we avoided, we missed one and it brushed the hull on starboard. We held our breaths as it bumped past the dinghy. It's hard to tell whether we snagged it or it's just looks pulled under by the current. It seems to recede behind us. Whew. We snagged one a couple of weeks ago, saw another boat snag one, and heard a panicked call to the Coast Guard from a poor soul hopelessly fouled on a pot warp.

Finally, we find a slot, douse the main, and carefully power up. Now we can head straight into the current so we aren't crossing the toggles, but with the prop turning any snag could wrap the prop: much worse than hanging up on the keel or rudder. After an hour of this, the pots thin out somewhat as we enter the York Narrows and drop anchor in Mackerel Cove. Collective sigh. But wait, like a horror movie, it isn't over yet. As the tide drops (12' here on the full moon), a last buoy pops up to the surface going back and forth under our hull as the boat swings at anchor. It was a couple of feet under water when we anchored. Seriously?

Cath cooked up some haddock and, with a wine accompaniment, both the wind and our adrenaline settled down to an evening quiet. Really quiet. Lobster pots aside, they say Maine is a peaceful place. The water has turned to glass for the sunset: Alizée absolutely still. At night, the milky way is positively bright, without all the light pollution. Without the sound pollution of cars, outboards, loud music or people, we can hear a far off eagle cry, a small duck washing itself, even the exhale of two porpoises across the anchorage. When they surface next to the cockpit, we're startled. A day of contrasts: panic then peace. Tomorrow, we'll brave the pots again and, with a little luck, hole up in Acadia for a bit of park frolic.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Funky forecast and friends

Shaw& Tenney paddles and
boat hooks display
Our dear friends Susan and Howie arrived almost a week ago with two clear requests: lobster and sailing Alizée. They came to Maine almost 10 years ago and remembered their lobster experience. Alrighty. Before we got to lunch, we swung by Shaw & Tenney, the makers of our boat hook (for mooring pickup) and Puff's oars, in Onoro. Just like the Lie-Nielsen tool shop,  Shaw & Tenney was a hoot to visit; we find it fascinating to visit where pieces of Alizée were made, especially hearing their business stories.

Meeting the lobster request was easy: we took them to Margaret's in NorthPort, 15min south of Belfast, for lobster rolls. We recently read a recent TripAdvisor post from a local who had dropped his Wiscasset's Reds Eats recommendation as the "best lobster roll"in Maine for Margaret's. Concerned about lines, given that Red Eats lines are over 90 minutes long, we called and asked whether they had a wait and their answer was "no, we just had a downpour".. uh.. ok.. no line works for us! When we got there, we understood the answer. The only place to sit is outside on picnic tables that just got soaked. No line, and a way more reasonable lobster roll price than Reds Eat. Score!

Young Lobster Pound institution: some
ordered 3 lb lobsters!
Surprisingly Belfast does not really have many seafood restaurants in town, maybe because Young's Lobster Pound across the bay makes such a killer spot for the lobsta experience. We had dinner there and did our best to overdose on lobsters, mussels, clams, oysters, and, uh, wine.

Overdosing on lobsta
We had to enjoy this first day on land as their second request (sailing) was a bit out of our hands, given the no wind and rain forecast for most of their stay. "Sailing" in the rain without wind, with wet clothes not drying and no hot showers makes for a pretty miserable experience. In all fairness, we have yet to experience real rain since we left in June - the summer has just been incredibly dry with heat advisory in many days.

Determined to make the best of the few days they had, we set off on day 2 for Holbrook island. Worse case was motoring the whole way. Across from Holbrook island is the Holbrook Sanctuary Maine state park so we figured if we get rained on, at least we can avoid boat fever by getting on land and walking, albeit in the rain.

Only missing: some warm water-proof socks!
Just as with our previous visitors, the wind unexpectedly met us right outside of Belfast, in a more-or-less favorable direction to take us to our first stop. Temperature was chilly and the close view of the sheet of rain going over land made us prepare for the worse with Captain pulling out his full foul weather gear for the first time.

We got to the harbor and still just sprinkles, so we stuffed the four of us in Puff and the captain rowed us ashore. Puff hauling ten times her weight requires no one to sneeze to stay afloat. We ran into one person hiking and one car driving: crazy quiet. Who says Maine is busy in the summer?

Holbrook: Puff got us from Alizée
(in the background) to shore
The harbor had seals, river otters (we are not sure exactly what they actually are), and a magnificent bald eagle perched in his tree. There was only one other boat in the anchorage and the water flat as a mountain lake. We could hear the seals breathe when they came up for air. So cool! We looked like the crazy people from Colorado who missed the no wind and rain forecast, and what we got was a gorgeous anchorage almost to ourselves. The night was quiet and in the early morning thick fog engulfed us; we could only just see Puff attached 30 feet away from Alizée.

Once the fog lifted enough to move, we opted to go straight to Pulpit Harbor on North Haven. We just love Pulpit for the entertaining scene of so many boats yet quiet, and again, worst case (rain rain), we could go ashore and walk an hour to town. It is also where we found the water warmest for a jump-n-swim.  The osprey on the 150-year old nest at the entrance welcomed us with a swooshed fly-over. Still no rain when we anchored, so jumping in we did! Cloudy skies prevented the sunset we had hoped for but still no rain so we counted ourselves lucky.

Alizée and the corporate group on
their schooner
The next day we went from Pulpit Harbor to Warren Island State Park to hike the little loop on the island. The state park can only be reached by boat which makes for a unique camper population. We arrived in the small anchorage at the same time as a schooner from Rockland, ME, who had what seemed to be a corporate group doing some team building trip. It was funny to see them to challenge each other to jump in, only to see them all in the water after a while.

Sunset from Warren Island moorings
When we left close aboard the schooner, one crew member yelled he was from Denver. That evening, we were rewarded by an incredible sunset to make up for the one we did not see while at Pulpit.

V-Berth privacy curtain for
guests. Ain't no doors!
While on Alizée, Bill and I got to experience the stern slapping when sleeping in the aft berth while Susan and Howie tested our V-berth privacy curtain! We enjoyed watching movies using Spencer's projection system even though some could not stay awake for the duration :)

Thank you Susan and Howie for bringing your great attitude and making the lobsta experience an even better one with you. We are leaving Belfast tomorrow to finally make it to Acadia National Park, but we miss you already.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Virginia construction in Bath
Hiking Thorne Head
Between Shelby and David's departure and the arrival of our dearest friends Susan and Howie we've been doing a bit of reconnaissance, by both land and sea. Terrestrially, we stopped again by Bath. Bath is home to the Bath Iron Works, which builds big steel battleships and such. M'kay. We were expecting a rather rough and tumble, perhaps even depressed, town as a side effect. That was an unjust and incorrect prejudice. In fact, we love Bath. It has a bit of funk, a good foodie scene, a terrific maritime museum, and a Thorne Head Preserve with hiking trails. Of course, we had to do it all! Icing on the cake was having a peek at the Virginia, a replica of Maine's first ship.

While we have dabbled in lobster rolls, we had yet to do a real lobster dinner. Young's Lobster Pound, just across the harbor from us in Belfast, is the real deal: BYOB/W (we brought along a favorite Corsican Rosé), picnic tables, paper towels, and yummy lobster! Man do they have a lot of lobsters: hundreds if not thousands. You tell the guy what you want and he brings a bag with a tag number; remember that number. The lobsta goes in da bag, da bag goes in da boiling water, da bag comes outta da water, and your number is called.

Warren State Park
We also sailed a small loop to look at some new (for us) places we might want to take our friends when they arrive. First up was Warren State Park, accessible only by boat. We picked up a state park mooring and went for a short hike through the park. There are a number of campsites and a water well (key feature for kayakers). There remains some of the foundation from one of the most expensive rustic cabins ever built on the East coast: 100'x100' with some 22 rooms. Alas, it was never really used and burned in 1919.

Things were getting interesting on the weather front. In terms of wind direction and speed, we are learning to take the forecast with a grain of salt or simply ignore it entirely. Alizée was horsing around on her mooring at the park as the forecasted light winds out of the Southwest were really a strong breeze out of the Northwest, sending waves down into the otherwise protected anchorage. Rats. We made the afternoon call to move the boat to a better protected anchorage. The wind continued to build and we were making tracks heading for Pulpit Harbor. Then the wind let up. Hmmmm. I cautioned Cath about any whistling (sailor's superstition), but somebody did something because in seconds we got hit with 35 kts. and higher gusts. Craziness. Yelling over the wind dousing sail. The waves horizontal through the air. Yikes! We were able to motor to across the wind to make a downwind bare pole passage between some islands and onward to Pulpit. By the time we made Pulpit, the wind had calmed considerably, but we were too pooped to hoist sail for another 30 minutes of sailing. This weather pattern must not be terribly unusual because two days later we heard, on the radio, one of the wind jammers reporting 40 kts. in the same location while we had little wind 8 miles away.

Another first experience waiting for us in Pulpit: a mega yacht, in Maine. This isn't Florida. Those kinda people aren't supposed to be here. (You can Google 'Archimedes superyacht' for the gory details.) The rest of the anchorage from the slender double ender to the Friendship sloop to the weathered schooner to the lobster boat uttered a collective "go away": it didn't. They could have least thrown a cocktail party for the anchorage. Our neighbors in Boulder are waaaay better than that.

From Pulpit we sailed around the corner and on our way to Seal Bay next to Winter Harbor on the East coast of Vinalhaven. Dead calm and not a sail to be seen anywhere. As we skirted past Sheep Island, lo and behold, there's a large schooner coming the opposite direction through the passage. Normally our Vesper AIS system is for collision avoidance, but when one is a bit bored you can 'browse' boats nearby and see who's who. Out came the nifty Android AIS app and, lo and behold (again), it's the schooner America we see approaching. Ever had the feeling you're being followed? We (David and I) first saw America in Mystic in late June. Then Cath and I saw her at the dock in Bath. Now we see her again, close aboard, the only two boats around off of Sheep Island.

Sunrise at Seal Bay
Seal Bay does indeed have a few shy seals. We wish they would come by for a closer look, but the slightest movement sends them under. They must have been plundered by man as a young species. Cath takes a long row around the anchorage, finding a couple of boats deeper in the anchorage and hidden from our view. Maybe we'll go deeper next time. I'm still intimidated by narrow entrances with current, lurking rocks, and lobster pots. The calm of the morning sunrise gives that mountain lake feeling once again. Neither words nor pictures can capture the peace of this morning.

We leave Seal Bay for someplace, probably either Holbrook (another park we would like to show our friends) near Castine or back to Belfast to have a full day to clean boat, provision, etc. We started with a slight breeze, then less, fighting a knot of current on our way up. When the current is half your boat speed, where the boat goes is only partially determined by where it is pointing, complicating the endless lobster pot dodging. Sure enough the wind starts building right when Cath brings our lunch sandwiches up to the cockpit. Gotta reef down first. Finally down to a bit o' jib and a double reefed main I attempt to eat my sandwich single handed (dodging lobster pots under these conditions is a bit much for Cath and the autopilot is useless since it can't seem them). I manage to get most of the sandwich down but BBQ sauce is everywhere. Still, the boat is balanced and we are moving out. Given our speed, we decide to stretch for Belfast and, unfortunately, the approaching rain showers we see in the distance. We're going to get wet.

Now things get weird. How can so much wind just up and disappear? (This is right when we heard the warning on the radio about 40 kts. in the vicinity of Camden.) We are still moving OK, again under full sail. We watch with a tickle of joy as the rain shower blasts right across our bow with barely a sprinkle on our foulies. To top it off, out of the rain sails the schooner America! This is too cool! We feel like such America groupies. We alter course for a flyby. Turns out she will be in Belfast for a couple of days, on her way back down South, so we can drop by and gawk as much as we please between provisioning, pump out, wash down, laundry, propane fill, and all the other chores that we must do before heading back out with Susan and Howie.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Four Aboard

Sorry folks for the elapsed time since the last blog. We are officially declaring blog bankruptcy as we have been enjoying Shelby and David's visit the past 5 days, and making the best of our car trips to Portland and back picking them up and dropping them off (hiking the Camden Hills State Park, visiting Lie-Nielsen "heirloom quality" tools work shop and falling in love with Bath, ME with its Maine Maritime museum, volunteer reconstitution of the first Maine ship (the Virginia), and its adorable downtown shops and eateries).

Obligatory picture by the LL Bean boot
Shelby and David were kind enough to bring wind and sun with them so we just enjoyed every minute of it - starting with a short visit of Portland, ME, the obligatory LLBean visit (they can now say they have visited Maine!), and Belfast.
Enjoying Belfast artistic benches

3 day sailing itinerary with steady 15 kt winds 
They only had 3 full days to sail so we just got going even though the forecast called for light and variable wind again on day 1. We planned for a short trip expecting high frustration with boat bobbing, but low and behold, the wind picked up so we just kept going as far as we could, going to Eggemoggin Reach at a good 6 its of speed to moor at Benjamin River the first night after an exhilarating sail. We did have our first lobster pot snagging - despite the 4 pairs of eyes watching for them. Definitely had a sinking feeling when Alizée slowed to a halt and we saw a trio of lobster buoys dragging behind us. In retrospect, this odd combination, obviously previously tangled up, should have given us a hint, but we just are not used to them yet. Cursing was temporarily allowed as we watched in disbelief. Prompt reaction from Captain - "roll up the jib and let out the main" - allowed us to disentangled ourselves quickly. Luckily the line was not caught in our prop and the experience served us as a reminder to stay as far away from these creatures as we could, which often isn't as far as we'd like given the water sometimes looks like it rained confetti for all the colorful buoys floating on the surface (and some really nasty ones floating just below).

Stellar anchorage at McGlathery
Island in Merchant Row
Turned out to be a real challenge going through Jericho Bay, appropriately referred to "the lobster buoy highway". Trying to tack upwind in choppy seas with all those lobster pots; we finally gave up, threw in the towel, and slowly, carefully motored up into the anchorage at McGlathery Island. What a delightful anchorage (until about 4am when the lobster boats decide to make their rounds throwing huge wakes into the bay).
David dodging lobster pots -
no issue with tiller!
On the last day we had a long haul to come back to Belfast on time to shower and go to a goodbye dinner before the skeeters came out. 20 kts of wind with some 25 kts gusts made for boisterous sailing day with David trying his hands at the helm.

It was so much fun to see Shelby remembering how to sail like she did it yesterday and David picking it up quickly. Tiller sailing was a non issue for them. I declared myself a passenger on the trip - the type of folks that don't actually have any task on board - other than feeding the crew (Shelby and David) and the captain (Bill).

Yep 67F water takes your
breath away!

Puff even transported the 4 of us at
once (without luggage!)
They both jumped in the balmy 67F water and swam around the boat, David a bit easier than Shelby but not by much! They rowed Puff around the anchorages.

We dropped them off at the Portland airport with a bit of a heavy heart reflecting fondly on the memories we had just built together.

In the end, mosquitoes who tend to dine on Shelby anytime she is around (if anyone needs a bug repellent, just invite her over) stayed away.  I think Maine was starting to grow on them - trying lobster and haddock - the way it is growing on us.

Demanding lobster on her last day!
Thanks Shelby and David for being such grateful and easy guests to test our Alizée guest-on-board ability - other than the holding tank (geesh you guys poop a lot in the morning) which about overflowed in the end, water consumption (ok we cheated taking cold showers which felt warm after jumping in 67F water!), cooking for four (sorry David if I left you hungry often), two people sleeping in the aft berth (another cheat given your cuddling as recently married couple!), I think we are ready for our next guests next week! Now we have to figure out what we will do with Howie's guitar! it will feel like 5 guests. We are ready for the challenge!