Saturday, July 30, 2016

Belfast at Last: Second Impression

We left Pulpit Harbor, saying hello/goodbye to nurse Paul who arrived on his Pearson Triton in the anchorage the night before we left. Such is the cruising life... Within an hour of departure, we were engulfed in thick fog. It was actually quite pretty to see the Camden Hills (500 or so feet above water) above the fog layer. We got to toot our fog horn a lot. I think someone should design fog horns with different tunes, so you can identify who is tooting, kinda like ring tones. The fog makes the sound echo and does not carry the sound in the direction you expect, so you really don't know where boats are coming from, which is a bit spooky - unless you are on AIS and the other boats are too (transmitting and receiving)! At some point we were called by name (thanks to AIS) on VHF 16 by another boat to avoid colliding. The best part of the call (on VHF16 that every boat listens too) was the captain saying "Alizée" with a perfect French pronunciation (A-LI-ZAY, not A-LI-ZY). Of course with a boat name of Chanteclair, the captain must have had some French or Canadian background. That was very cool!

Alizée on her float can check
on Puff when we are ashore.
Usually the fog dissipates by mid-morning. Not that day. Sadly the views should have been gorgeous given our closeness to the west side of Penobscot Bay but all we saw were the lobster pots to dodge and the two boats that came out of the fog close by (we knew... with AIS!). The wind followed its usual pattern of dying about late morning until mid-afternoon. Unfortunately at that time we were crossing a shipping channel, going 1.6 kt (did I say how much captain likes to use the engine before?) and feeling like a sitting duck when other boats under engine would blast by at 6 kts. But hey with AIS, why worry? I just went below for a nap at that point.
Belfast lies in Waldo Country

We arrived in Belfast mid-afternoon to tie Alizée to her float (a small dock out in the water away from land). We were so focused on docking in the current that we tied up to the wrong float. Ha! The dock hand came by, telling us how much he loves Boulder and that his sister graduated as the youngest graduate at Naropa Institute in Boulder. Small world! We easily relocated Alizée the next day to her assigned spot. Practice makes perfect. Her new float is a bit further away from the dinghy dock, which we care about a lot as we row to shore and the harbor has 3 kts of current at its peak. Unlike Pulpit Harbor where we saw more rowing dinghies than other places, in Belfast we seem to be the only ones rowing, but we do get a lot of compliments on Puff.

Historical walking tours in English
and French
We first saw Belfast about a month ago when we ferried Alizée's trailer and truck up here. We arrived late in the afternoon, it was blowing like stink, the stores were closed, our motel was meh... definitely a lukewarm first impression. Many folks who came by Alizée told us "you're gonna love Belfast", so I had to wonder. We now have seen more of Belfast and, indeed, it is quite a place. Reminds me of Salida, CO a bit with its funky stores - like The Green Store "a general store for the 21st century"- a McGuckin equivalent with all sustainable ecological stuff. Eat More Cheese has cheese I eat in France (Beaufort) that I don't see in the states and they have the Clos Alivu rosé we have been hunting for back in Boulder after tasting it in Corsica. The Moon Bat Bakery has croissants. I think I will like it here! Oh and Susan, don't you worry about bringing gluten-free stuff when you come, the Belfast Co-op has more gluten-free options than Whole Foods! They even have Bill's favorite beer, La Fin du Monde. Crazy sauce.

Belfast has a historical walking tour with signs in French and English. I definitely like this town!

Howie can sit there!
Shelby can sit here!
Art is everywhere on the streets. Howie, no need to bring your guitar, they have one right on Main St you can sit on.

The Front Street Shipyard, where Alizée's float lies (and where she will be hauled out for the winter), is quite a scene. Their travel lift can hoist 440 tons (yep, the zero is not a typo) and we have seen a huge tugboat on it. Quite an operation. Apparently it also dropped a 400 ton tugboat back in the drink when the tug's roll chocks cut the slings (no damage, just splash.) They are so busy they could not handle Bill's request to order the transmission part we have been missing. He had to call the Yanmar dealer in Freeport and ship it in from Georgia. It so happens we will be passing by Freeport anyway while making the obligatory visit to LL Bean on our way back from picking up Shelby and David in Portland. The guide says you have not seen Maine until you go to LL Bean. Works for me!

Front Street Shipyard 440 ton travel lift
(and they have others!)
Last night, we celebrated Shelby's graduation in her master in nursing from Vanderbilt at Meanwhile in Belfast, one of the insane number of restaurants here. We even had dessert to cover the full-time job position she was offered. You go girl. We may need some of your cash come September :) We had a wonderful dinner on their patio watching the 'arbar and the mosquitoes had an equally good dinner devouring us when we rowed back at dusk cuz we stayed out too late enjoying food and drink. Harsh punishment. Once on the boat we are safe from these creatures as Bill installed nets on the hatches.
We are landlubbers for several days: boat cleaning, pump-out, water tank refill, provisioning, laundry, haircut (captain, not me!), getting ready for Shelby and David's stay aboard next week. For play, we plan on visiting Camden during the Regatta Classic Cup and hiking the Camden Hills State Park. We should be back to sailing Wednesday.

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