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.

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