Chip Ford’s 1974 Catalina 22 Restoration Project
Sail #3282  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

Chip Ahoy’s 2005 Great Coast of Maine Cruise

Last year (2004) I planned to cruise from Marblehead up the Massachusetts and New Hampshire coast to Maine as far as South Addison, just west of Jonesport in Downeast Maine. I'd hoped to visit longtime friend Monica up there, but I made it only as far as Portland. There, threats from the remnants of Hurricanes Bonnie and Charley coming up the coast kept me stuck in port at a marina for eight days. When the remnants had finally passed, too much time had gone by as well as too much money unexpectedly spent for sheltered dockage.

On the sail home last year, I decided that for the coming year's annual cruise (2005) I would pick up where I left off -- trailering Chip Ahoy up to Portland, Maine -- and keep going from there. Last month the trip continued on to my original destination, this year reaching it easily and this time in nearly perfect weather with almost everything breaking in my favor.

Chip Ford
Saturday, August 13, 2005
 


“Fair Winds and Following Seas”
The Log of Chip Ahoy’s 2005 Great Maine Cruise

Thursday, July 21, 2005; 6:30 am
DiMillo’s Marina
Portland, Maine


Wally Riddle and I left Marblehead with Chip Ahoy in tow at 8:00 yesterday morning, and arrived at Portland Yacht Services by 10:30. Rob, the service manager, and Tim, one of the hands there, were graciously friendly and greatly helpful. The Chip Ahoy website and the work I’ve done on the boat were well known by them! It was a scorcher of a day – sunny and in the 90s – but we had the mast up and the boat rigged by 2:30 and I was on my way. While backing the boat and trailer down the ramp and into Casco Bay, both Wally and I failed to look up – where the yard had a crane overhead for stepping masts and hadn’t swung it out of the way when they last used it. Sure enough, Chip Ahoy’s mast caught it, fortunately doing no damage any of us could see, but it created a less than auspicious beginning.

Before launching, I called nearby DiMillo’s Marina to make sure they still had a spot for me reserved. I was assured they did and were expecting me, advised of my slip number, and told I’d be docking on my port side. I hung a pair of fenders and ran my dock lines in preparation. About halfway there out in the Bay, I radioed ahead as requested (Channel 71) and told them I was coming in – to which I was advised that I’d be docking now on my starboard side. While I was scurrying about up at the bow to change preparations, the marina radioed Chip Ahoy and asked me to “stand by” – my slip was no longer available! About ten minutes later while I circled out in the bay, they radioed back that they had another slip for me – that I’d be docking on my portside after all, aaarrrgh.

I arrived at my slip (D2) around 3:30 pm and first thing, set up the “pup tent” just to block the intense sun, reflective side up – the first time I’ve used it for other than rain. I replaced the solar vent on the bow, which exhausts air out, with the air scoop to try directing some air into the cabin. Without that forward hatch most Catalina 22s have, it gets stifling inside. A hatch is definitely on the top of next year’s to-do list!

I settled up with the marina office and was given the password for its wireless service. I couldn’t wait to see how it worked, so pulled out the laptop and gave it a whirl. It connected to the Internet just fine – but none of my e-mail accounts would work! I spent the next few hours trying to get them to send and receive, humped the laptop up to the office in the hope of assistance, but in the end I just wasted my time: I am not going to be doing any e-mail here. Up at about 4:30 this morning, I had another determined go at it – and just wasted more time. In the end, I picked up a Yahoo.com web-based e-mail address, subscribed myself to the C22 discussion group with apparent success, and will use it at least while here until tomorrow morning.

Surprisingly, the EPIRB I rented from BoatUS Safety Foundation – that was supposed to arrive at DiMillo’s office today and I hoped wouldn’t hold up tomorrow’s departure by not getting here – arrived yesterday! Rick, one of the marina’s staff from last year, brought it down to the boat and asked if I was also “Robert” Ford, a package for him had just arrived.

Last night I walked out to Freddie’s Chowder House in “Old Port” – one of my haunts from last year up here that serves great chowders. I spoke on the cell phone with Aaron Mosher from the list and he thought he’d stop by, but would call back when he got here so I could let him through the security gate. I didn’t hear back from him and that was just a well as I was exhausted when I got back aboard and went right to sleep, hatch open with a refreshing breeze wafting in.

I’ve got lots to do here today to get ready for tomorrow’s departure and the real beginning of this cruise. First thing is to adjust the standing rigging (we just tightened all the shrouds enough yesterday to get the boat over here), and put the covers on the battery buss blocks (I just connected the switch wiring and outboard’s battery cables and left the finishing up details for over here). I’ve got to put the cover on the dinghy and accomplishing that with the dinghy in the water will be tricky I expect. I’m going to have to find a system if it’s to be of much use. There’s much general straightening up and organizing that needs to be done before I get underway.

 


Friday, July 22, 2005; 5:15 am
DiMillo’s Marina
Portland, Maine


Yesterday I finished up everything that needed to be done to have the boat ready for this morning’s departure, all but for adjusting the shrouds (primarily the forward lowers). I had to move the boat to a different slip in mid-morning, which is always a nuisance – taking down the “pup tent” being the biggest, especially when I have it rigged perfectly. But it gave me a chance to start the dinghy’s outboard when I ran the dinghy over separately after securing Chip Ahoy. (I’d not had the chance since the motor was serviced last winter, as the dinghy never left my yard until we loaded it on top of Chip Ahoy’s cockpit for the ride up here.)

Just before 1:00 pm Aaron Mosher (“Euphoria”) called and we met at last for lunch at Three Dollar Dewey’s, just down Commercial Street from the marina, then returned to Chip Ahoy, where he took a look around. He convinced me not to cover the dinghy, as the weather forecast has no rain in sight until mid-week at the earliest and I’ll probably be using it before then anyway. His real convincer was, “If you wrestle it on, you won’t want to take it off again.” So true.

Mid-afternoon I began plotting my course for today, first picking Five Islands Harbor on Sheepscot Bay as my destination from the information in “A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast.” Once I’d plotted my course there on the chart, entered the waypoints and plotted my route on the laptop, I uploaded it to both handheld GPSs. It’s about a 30 mile run to reach what I hope will be a free mooring at the Five Islands Yacht Club behind Malden Island.

On the other side of the face dock where the marina moved me is a huge ship (it’s too big to call it a boat), the “Mystique” from Jaluit (one of the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific), though its captain told me the ship has never been outside U.S. waters. This private yacht is so big it’s even got its own wireless signal that I’m picking up on my laptop.

Last night, after completing my course plotting, I again walked over to my favorite chowder house for a quick dinner then turned in at around 10:30, ready and anxious for an early start this morning. I’ve already showered and it’s time to start stowing gear and getting Chip Ahoy ready for today’s trip.

 


Saturday, July 23, 2005; 0515
Five Islands Harbor Yacht Club mooring
Five Islands, Maine (27.9 nm)  
[Chart]

I left DeMillo’s Marina yesterday at 10:00 am and once into Casco Bay hoisted sail. Unfortunately, the 5 mph (approx.) breeze was coming from the south, the direction I was headed out of the bay and into the Gulf of Maine. Once past the sea buoy I headed easterly toward Halfway Rock and points beyond. The weather was beautiful for most of the day, though the winds were light. After about two hours of sailing, the GPS indicated that at the three knots I was making, I wouldn’t reach Five Islands until 10:30 pm at best, sometimes even as late as 11:30 pm.

The sky was darkening over land to the northwest, NOAA weather radio was warning of an approaching cold front that would bring with it scattered showers and thunderstorms, some extreme. I started the motor and motorsailed the rest of the way. The sail/motor combination kept me at 5 knots and promised an arrival time of just after 5:00 pm, much more to my liking.

The sky became somewhat overcast with thin cloud cover that came and went for the afternoon. I arrived at the small, quaint Five Islands Harbor at 5:30 and looked for one of the five or so blue styrofoam moorings the yacht club provides as a courtesy to visiting boaters. The only one I found available off the yacht club had no pennant. Leaving it behind, I tangled with a lobster buoy, fortunately freeing it by shifting the outboard into neutral, forcing the buoy under it, then quickly swinging up the rudder to free it.

The next free mooring I came across, further out in the small and well-sheltered harbor, had no pennant either – but this time I was prepared with one of Chip Ahoy’s dock lines if needed. As I was attaching it, one of the club's members rowed out and took me to a free mooring closer to the yacht club – again with no pennant. I used Chip Ahoy’s dock line and was quickly secured.

Lesson: Instead of running one end of the line through its spliced eye to secure it as a pennant, I should have run the line around the mooring ball a couple of loops then tied off both ends to Chip Ahoy’s bow cleats. I just changed it over, with satisfaction saving my dock line and making my departure that much more trouble-free.

No sooner had I secured the boat when thunder rumbled off in the near distance; though sunny overhead, the sky to the north was dark and ominous as the wind picked up. I quickly stowed everything below, setup the “pup tent,” and turned on the radio. NOAA was now warning mariners in the area to immediately head for shore, that a string of violent storms was approaching “with winds up to 35, frequent lightning strikes, and building seas.” Then it arrived, starting with a downpour and building winds, lightning strikes around us not too far off. I made a bite to eat and sat it out in the cabin, thanks to the “pup tent” with the sliding hatch closed but the cribboards out letting in some air and providing a front seat view of the brief storm. After reading for a while, I soon fell asleep, around 9:00 pm.

This morning I rowed off a bit and took some photos of Chip Ahoy at its mooring, then plotted my course to Boothbay Harbor, to where I’ll soon depart and spend the night if I can find a slip. I’ll call Boothbay Harbor Marina in a little while, and if nothing’s available there, try Tugboat Inn Marina nearby.

I used the inverters I bought for powering the laptop and other 110 volt equipment for the first time this morning and both worked spectacularly (whenever anything works as its supposed to out-of-the-box, I consider that spectacular). After plotting my course from here to Boothbay Harbor (powering the laptop with the Dell/Lind inverter), I uploaded the route and waypoints to the two GPSs (using the Sears inverter) like I was on my home computer with household current.

It’s just a short run around Southport Island and Cape Newagen then up Booth Bay to Boothbay Harbor, about 10 nm. The sun is shining again, the fog slowly lifting outside the harbor. I want to fill a gas tank (after using so much in yesterday’s run up from Portland) when the fuel dock opens later this morning; I’ll row over with the tank and perhaps have breakfast if available at the only other business I can see over there: according the cruising guide, Five Islands Seafood.

 


Saturday, July 23, 2005; 8:15 pm
Boothbay Harbor Marina
Boothbay Harbor (8.47 nm) 
[Chart]

I made it to Boothbay Harbor today at last; I have a slip at the Boothbay Harbor Marina. Today was a good sail, though I didn't cover a lot of distance, making it just to Boothbay Harbor maybe 11 miles on my route, but they were long, rough ones. This has always been one of my layover destinations for this cruise, where my old 60' Alden schooner was built in 1926, Hodgdon Brothers Shipyard still in business. Leaving Sheepscot Bay literally was a breeze with the 15-20 knot wind gusting from the north at my back, and rounding Southport Island was a sleighride. But then I had to sail back north up Booth Bay right into the teeth of the wind. After a lot of exciting tacking, in the end it was time to start the motor to get here sometime today.

I’d reserved a slip from “Lew” while still at Five Islands Harbor and it was waiting for me upon my arrival. But, I no sooner stowed things away, set up the “pup tent,” and paid my bill when Lew, the marina’s owner along with his wife, asked me to move the boat to another slip to make room for a bigger boat. (Aren’t they all?) I told him I was starving and wanted to eat first. When I got back to Chip Ahoy and its apparently very transient slip, I decided not to move a thing until I first spoke with Lew again – the way things were going, he’d probably changed his mind already, and I wasn’t about to repeat the needless exercise all over again (like when approaching DeMillo’s Marina in Portland). Sure enough, now he wanted to put Chip Ahoy in a third location!

Finally settled in at my dock, I am disgusted. I later had to move the boat back one cleat to make room for the tourist schooner when it returned from one of its many daily excursions. I’m closed in by dock pilings supporting restaurants above and a bar, bow out so my line of sight from the cockpit or cabin are the structural floor bottoms and pilings, the waterfall soundtrack in the background is some sort of waste water drainage. All afternoon a 70s rock band blasted away somewhere above me, though it has been silent for an hour now, thank god. When I look out and up, there are diners and other tourists gawking down at me from the outside deck. If this is “getting away,” take me home – it’s quieter and more peaceful there!

Boothbay Harbor is overall quite a real disappointment: lots of kitschy trinket giftshops and high cuisine-type restaurants. Far from what I'd expected – very little real Downeast Maine atmosphere here, or I haven’t found it yet. I’d always planned to spend two days here when and if I arrived. I paid for two days ($88) . I’m rethinking that plan.

 


Sunday, July 24, 2005; 6:15 am
Boothbay Harbor Marina
Boothbay Harbor


A late start this morning, for good reason. I was up until 2:00 am when the bar/club above me finally tossed the drunkards out. Music pounded away only yards off with a deckful of noisy revelers just above and getting closer as the tide lifted Chip Ahoy prohibited sleep – or even thinking straight. I want out of here today; I’d rather be home on my mooring!

I took a walk around town last night looking for a place to eat dinner that wasn’t too kitchsy (there’s that word again!). The quick lunch I grabbed at McSeagull’s Restaurant after settling into my first slip left me unimpressed and the service – if that’s what it’s called – was terrible while all the wait staff sat around one table kabitzing. That was my very last resort short of coming back to the boat and making a sandwich. I ended up at the J.H. Hawk Restaurant and Pub, right above Chip Ahoy, for a good steak. By the time I was done, the maitre de invited me to use a back exit “to avoid the crowd,” and that’s when I noticed how much the pub side had filled up, how noisy it was in the next room.

Back down below on the dock and aboard Chip Ahoy, it was all happening right above me, blasting down, showering me with its cacophony as the rising tide lifted me inexorably closer to the source. The later it got, the more crowded the deck above got and the noisier it became. It was too loud even to concentrate on reading. I’m out of here today.

 


Monday, July 25, 2005; 5:00 am
Brown’s Wharf Marina
Boothbay Harbor, Maine


Early yesterday morning the talk around the marina was about a hard-bottom inflatable that had been stolen the night before, recovered by its owner across the harbor left abandoned, with a little marijuana in a baggie left behind. I told them that I thought I may have seen the thieves on my return to Chip Ahoy after dinner the night before; five guys in their mid-20s had an inflatable pulled up right behind my boat and were piling in it, then they quickly drove it off at about 9:30. A short while later a policeman stopped by and interviewed me. I apologized that I couldn’t help more with descriptions, but I hadn’t suspected anything unusual was going in all the loud chaos above, I figured these were just more revelers who’d arrived by boat – but that it had caused me to lock my cockpit lazerette hatches, then recognizing that as secure as the entrance gate was, anyone could pull up by water and welcome themselves aboard any boat at the marina.

That was the final straw: it was definitely time to move out. Using their weak wi-fi signal, I looked up Brown’s Wharf on the Internet, got their phone number, called and they had an empty slip as soon as I wanted it.

That was the best move I could have made, jumping just across the harbor to a peaceful paradise. At 11:00 am I left Boothbay Harbor Marina with Ray’s promise to have Lew refund a day’s dockage from my credit card when he got in. About ten minutes later I pulled into Brown’s Wharf Marina where Bob, the owner, and a dock hand were waiting to help me dock and tie up at a nice inside dock handy to the ramp, restaurant and facilities. The per-day cost including electricity and wireless is only nine bucks more ($2.45 vs. $2.00 per foot) than I paid across the harbor beneath the rock-and-roll concert emporium.

The owners were thrilled that I found their marina using its wi-fi service from across the harbor and looked them up on the Internet; they can’t wait to tell the techie who set it up for them – he’ll be even more thrilled they said. This place even has a computer in its lounge for guests to use.

I spent part of the day plotting my next route to Port Clyde off Hupper Island in Muscongus Bay, just west of Mosquito Island (which doesn’t sound very inviting). It’s about a 22-mile run, but I think I’ll spend another day here for a couple of reasons.

First, the weather doesn’t look very promising. A small craft advisory is up for this afternoon as a frontal system moves through from the west. It’s forecast to be cloudy with showers and thunderstorms accompanying the front, wind south at 10-15 mph changing to west and increasing to 15-20 later today. By Wednesday a new high pressure area will move in that supposedly will provide beautiful weather through the weekend and into early next week. Tomorrow is forecast to be sunny with 10-15 mph winds from the south; the usual “chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms late in the afternoon” seems to append every forecast.

The second reason is, Bob the marina owner offered to arrange a ride for me to the Hodgdon Brothers Shipyard in East Boothbay – the builders of my old 60' Alden schooner back in 1926 – about five miles from here. I’d told him how I’ve always hoped to visit there if I ever got to Boothbay Harbor. He was enthusiastic that I do, and offered me a ride. I think I’ll stay another day and take him up on his offer.

After completing my charting chores, I learned that the nearest grocery store was back across the harbor, right behind Boothbay Harbor Marina – about a two mile walk around the harbor and over its famous footbridge. Instead, I took the dinghy and motored across in a few minutes, tied up at the town dock, and picked up the perishable basics. Ice they’ve got here at the marina.

Last evening I had dinner at the marina/inn restaurant, ordering the surprising turkey dinner special recommended by Bob. Back aboard, I read for a short while then fell asleep before sunset and slept until 4:30 this morning. Those late-night revelers who kept me awake into the wee hours of Sunday morning apparently wore me out. There's a nice sunrise going on out there; time to get some photos.

 


Tuesday, July 26, 2005; 5:15 am
Brown’s Wharf Marina
Boothbay Harbor, Maine


What a fiasco yesterday turned into: it simply wasn’t in my fate to leave even if I’d wanted to. After a great breakfast at the marina restaurant, when I returned to the boat and called Barbara the cell phone’s beeping informed me that its battery was again almost discharged, dead – even though it’d been charging all night after dying on me the night before. I always keep it on its cigarette lighter battery charger unless sometimes when I leave the boat and take it along. (If I’ve got shore power, the boat’s batteries are being charged constantly by the 12v battery charger.) I’ve got a second battery for the phone, and had the same problem with it too a couple of days ago, and concluded that it was the battery. One of them is new, so it couldn’t be both cell phone batteries – the phone itself wasn’t accepting the charging.

How to make this long story short? I called Verizon Wireless and was told that I was eligible for a free phone upgrade, just bring it in. But the nearest Verizon store is in Brunswick, some 15-20 miles away. Ah, they told me, but most Radio Shacks are Verizon dealers and there’s one right in Boothbay Harbor only a few miles from me. So I took the free local trolley shuttle, “The Island Explorer,” out to the small mall on the edge of town, only to learn it was now a dealer for one of Verizon’s local competitors.

After explaining my situation, the salesman was kind enough to test my phone and declared it unable to charge, as I suspected. He agreed to call a taxi to take me to Brunswick, but was told it’d cost $38 one way. I told the cab company I wanted to come back too – and was told that round-trip would cost $78. For less than that, I could rent a car for the entire day – so that’s what I did. Enterprise had a Chevrolet Aveo available for the day for $45 and I grabbed it – they delivered it to the marina and I was off to Brunswick and the Verizon store.

There, they tried but were useless. The “free replacement phone” was only if I upgraded my service contract plan – and nothing is available that will hook up to my $300-plus truck package back home; it’s “obsolete” after three years because my Motorola StarTac phone supposedly is. There were complications and roadblocks to every move I came up with. In the end – as Verizon knew I must – I forked over $200 for a new phone and cigarette lighter charger and drove back to the boat fuming.

After putting it on the charger, I still had a car for the day so drove over to the Hodgdon Yachts in East Boothbay. There I was met with indifference and disinterest. I wasn’t offered or permitted a tour and the clueless receptionist insisted “the building is too new to have been around in 1926.” I walked around the outside of the building and was able to see a 100-plus footer the shipworks is building, and found one old-timer working on it who spent some time talking with me about the yard’s history. He was quite interested that I once owned Malabar VIII and had me write down my website where he can see the photos of it.

On the way back to the boat, I stopped at a gas station and filled one of Chip Ahoy’s near-empty 6-gallon gas tanks (I’d pumped most of its remaining gas into the fuller tank, topping it off, before I left the boat). Now I won’t have to stop at the gas dock on my way out of here, and saved about 50¢ a gallon.

Back at Brown’s Wharf I added the two-stroke oil and stowed the tank, took a shower, then struggled with programming the new cell phone, spending most the evening on-hold with Verizon customer support to get questions answered that weren’t covered in the most useless owner’s manual I – and by acclimation, they – have ever come across. By 10:00 pm I had it doing enough of what I need it to do and turned in to be ready to cast off today, as soon as I get brought back from returning the car rental at 8:00 am.

Yesterday, though extremely windy, turned out to be rain-free with no thunderstorms even hinted at arriving. Today the forecast is for partly to mostly sunny, fog in the morning (so no rush to depart), wind SW at 10-15 mph and seas running about 2 feet. With a warm front moving in later today, tonight will be cloudy with “a chance of showers and thunderstorms after midnight.” A small craft advisory my be issued for late tonight. Tomorrow sounds quite similar. A new high pressure area moves in on Thursday and it looks like beautiful if a bit cooler weather straight through the weekend.

 


Wednesday, July 27, 2005; 6:00 am
Port Clyde General Store mooring
Port Clyde, Maine (19.1 nm) 
[Chart]

A Cruising Guide to the Coast of Maine by Hank and Jan Taft (updated by Curtis Rindlaub) is my trip bible, and it informs that: “Port Clyde is easy to enter and a reasonably good harbor. It can be miserable, however, in strong winds from the southwest or northwest.” I was awakened at 1:30 last night by the boat’s pitching and rolling, wind whistling through the rigging, halyards slapping against the mast. I went up to check conditions and the mooring, wrap a bungie cord around the halyards. A quick check of the compass and sure enough, strong winds directly out of the southwest, and heavy fog. It’s still foggy, though it seems to be lifting; the wind has lessened but the rocking-and-rolling continues.

Yesterday, after returning the rental car, I departed Brown’s Wharf Marina at 9:00 am. Brown’s is one of the best marinas I’ve stopped in for a long time: great folks who bend over backward to be of assistance and service, good facilities, reasonably priced and – free wireless Internet service to boot.

I sailed out Boothbay Harbor, around Pemaquid Point and across Muscongus Bay. Once across the bay it gets a bit tricky navigating through the narrow passages between islands and rocks, with the navigational aids going from north-south (“red, right, returning”) to east-west where you keep red on your port heading east. The difficulty is knowing which is which, so I had to keep one eye on the chart and stay alert as I approached. I’d made notes in my notebook and marked my chart to remind me as I approached them. For much of the first half of the bay crossing I used the motor along with sails, until the wind picked up in the early afternoon to about 10 knots, the seas building to about three feet of long, gentle rollers from the southeast. Passing through the narrow channels between islands required the motor, for safety but mostly to slalom between minefields of psychedelic-colored lobster pot buoys that seemed (and in many instances were) only feet apart, especially passing between Thompson and Davis islands and the entrance between Hupper Island and Port Clyde.

I arrived at about 5:00 pm, making good about 20-plus miles over the day, and picked up one of the moorings rented to transients by the Port Clyde General Store, per the instructions they gave me on the phone earlier. After everything was stowed and secured, I took the dinghy over to the store’s dock and paid my $25 for the night. Upon return to Chip Ahoy, I plotted the next day’s course based on the Cruising Guide: it’ll be Southern Harbor on North Vinal Island if all works out.

Today is looking iffy for a departure. A cold front will soon move in from the west and NOAA is forecasting a 70 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms “some severe with the potential of serious wind damage.... a small craft advisory remains in effect until late today.” (I didn’t know one had been issued; must have been last night.) Right now the wind is from the southwest at between 15-25 mph depending on which location is reporting, and visibility is generally less than a mile. Prudence seems to dictate remaining another day right here on the mooring.

Monica called last night; actually she left a message as cell phone service here is hit-or-miss: sometimes I get a signal, other times I don’t. When I got her message, after a number of tries I finally was able to reach her. She asked how I was doing, how far I’d gotten, and when I expected to make it to South Addison. I told her I had no idea of my ETA – that I’m just taking it a day at a time – but today is Day One of Week Number Two of my cruise. I’ve got another two weeks ahead to make it there if I can.

I expect a good day’s sail to reach North Haven Island, just north of Vinal Haven Island, another two or so to reach Frenchman Bay and Bar Harbor/Northeast Harbor. Reaching Pleasant Bay and South Addison will probably take another three good days (rough estimate – too many pages ahead in my Chartbook). She’s arranged with the harbormaster for a free mooring when I arrive.

 


Wednesday, July 27, 2005; 7:30 pm
Port Clyde General Store mooring
Port Clyde, Maine


Prudence surely did dictate accurately this day. A severe thunderstorm just passed over us: arriving at 5:15 pm it’s still raining and heavy fog is rolling in. A fog horn is moaning in the background for those unfortunate enough to still be out there. A Carver 300 pulled in a little earlier and took the mooring nearest me. Talking across the water, the owner said it looked like he’d arrived just in time as the fog was rolling in fast. I told him how I’d planned to leave, but after hearing the weather forecast this morning had decided to stay for the day. It’s lucky that I did, he informed me: seas outside were running a good six feet and it was blowing hard. He thought the thunderstorms would miss us, pass us by. Half an hour later all hell broke loose with lightning strikes all around, one very close nearby.

The first thing this morning I dinghied over to the general store and paid for another day on the mooring. I only got here late yesterday but the lady behind the counter gave me a big “Hey Chip Ahoy, you staying for another day? That’s great, love to have you!” I picked up a ham and cheese sub there for later and a quart of their fresh-made fish chowder for breakfast.

It appears that I’ve fixed the alcohol stove, with which I’ve been having a problem keeping the flame burning while brewing my pre-dawn coffee. When I refilled its tank back at home, I noticed that the denatured alcohol had a brown tint to it, like tea. Yesterday, on the way to return the rental car, I stopped by a hardware store and picked up a fresh gallon. This morning I dumped out the old alcohol and refilled the stove’s tank from the new gallon – which as I thought, was clear. After initial sputtering, the stove burned strongly.

I had a pretty relaxing day: I took some photos of Chip Ahoy from the dinghy and a nearby lobsterman’s float; stopped in at the general store again for more ice and a hot dog for lunch; plotted my course from North Haven to Bass Harbor on the southwest tip of Mount Desert Island; read a bit, and took a nap.

I’m being driven to distraction by a strange rapping noise, a sharp knock each time the boat rolls port to starboard hard, clearly emanating from low on the starboard side hull at the juncture where the cabin aft seat cushion ends, the cockpit bulkhead comes down and turns under, where a sliding galley would be stowed if one was aboard – directly across from the winch handle panel and keel cable and drum. I can actually feel it with my hand. It sounds like something striking the boat from outside, but there’s nothing out there. I’ve pulled apart and removed all sorts of things, initially thinking that something’s got to be rolling around somewhere, but there’s nothing that could be making that sound, any sound. Now I’m wondering if perhaps I picked up something on the keel cable that’s striking the hull from beneath – like one of those millions of lobster pot buoys? The keel is and has been down, so I cranked it up and lowered it a few times, but it seems to work normally and this hasn’t had any effect. I just called and told Barbara and Hobie that I think the boat has become haunted and someone or something down there is knocking for permission to come aboard!

 


Thursday, July 28, 2005; 5:15 am
Port Clyde General Store mooring
Port Clyde, Maine


That thunderstorm earlier was just the precursor, the opening act. It continued to rain, but the thunderstorm that arrived at around 8:15 pm was the star attraction. This was one of those “severe thunderstorms” I’d been hearing was probable “later in the day and into the evening” that accompanied the cold front that rolled in from the northwest. It was still raging and raining so hard by the time I went to sleep, around 9:30, that I’ve got about two inches of rain water to bail out of the dinghy this morning. (I’ve yet to use its new cover.) As spectacular as it was, it still didn’t reach the level of the violent storm in Portsmouth, NH, last year while on my cruise – and probably nothing ever will.

Soon I’ll make ready to cast off and head for North Haven, which I should reach by late this afternoon. The sun is rising, and the sky appears very clear, not even any fog outside the harbor: the front must have cleared everything out. High pressure is moving in from the west and should remain at least through the weekend. The wind, now coming out of the north at about 9 mph, is supposed to change later to the northwest at 10-15 mph for the rest of the day, decreasing to less than 10 later this afternoon. Beginning tomorrow it supposedly will come from the west and southwest for the next couple of days, which will be favorable for my course if it holds. Later over the weekend the wind direction is supposed to change over to the northeast then become light and variable. Tropical Storm Franklin is moving well south of us, south of Georges Bank, and should have no effect on local weather or sea conditions, thank god. (Whatever happened to Emily?)

I should reach Mount Desert Island on Saturday, then must make a decision: whether to head up Frenchman Bay to Bar Harbor and/or Northeast Harbor (where the Merliers were supposed to launch “Swizzle Stick” so I might find them there) – as I’ve always planned to do – or keep going along the coast to insure that I make it to Monica’s place in South Addison. I’m leaning toward heading up around Mount Desert Island and spending a day visiting Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, as planned – after all, “the cruise is about the experience, not the destination,” as I was reminded last year. I keep telling myself that. Besides, I’d hate to wind up at Monica’s place with a week to kill and know I could have done the side trip if I’d just taken the time, but will likely never do it again. Besides, if the wind turns light and variable as forecast, it’d make for a good time to sit it out someplace interesting instead of motoring. On the other hand, if the cold front forecast to move in early next week produces what this one last night did, I’ll be stuck next week somewhere else longer than expected and will probably lose another day of sailing.

“A diver is also available if you happen to be unfortunate enough to need one,” the Cruising Guide offers for Thayer’s Y-Knot Boatyard on North Haven Island, where I’m heading to today and hope to pick up one of its moorings. If that rapping on the starboard hull persists during the day, I’m giving that diver some real consideration. I didn’t bring a diving mask (though I kept reminding myself to get one), so I’ve got a good excuse to not jump into this icy water.

I pulled a beaut yesterday in my obsessive search for the elusive rapping. At the suggestion of Hobie Davidson, I tried raising and lowering the keel – but forgot I’d tightened the locking bolt during all the rolling and knocking of Tuesday night (I never tighten that bolt). When I first heard it complain, I said “ah hah!” and thought I’d found the culprit – except the sound came from behind me, forward in the cabin, and I immediately realized I’d forgotten to loosen the locking bolt. I quickly loosened it, but expect that the keel has now been permanently scored. (And just what is the advantage of tightening that bolt supposed to be, if it doesn’t hold down the keel but only scores it?)

 


Thursday, July 28, 2005; 5:50 pm
Thayer’s Y-Knot Boatyard mooring
Southern Harbor
North Haven Island, Maine (22.3 nm) 
[Chart]

Last year I called them lobster trap buoy “minefields.” No longer am I amidst those: now I’m running along a buoy carpet! From the moment I left Port Clyde until just outside of Vinal Haven Island, lobster pot buoys occupied the entire sea: there had to be at least one for every square 10-15 yards – at least one. I had a brief respite, but then they crowded in again as I came into here.

This is why I ran so far offshore during last year’s cruise – but this year I’ve got to deal with running between islands, and there’s just no getting away from the plague of lobster pot buoys.

The tiller-pilot is virtually useless: you must sit at the tiller and steer every inch along the way, every moment of the day. This morning, as I was leaving Port Clyde with buoys all around, I kept figuring that just ahead I’d turn into the wind and hoist sail. I didn’t get the chance until Gunning Rocks, where I grabbed a brief respite long enough to get the sails up – for all the good it did. With the northeast wind I was afflicted with all day, I was constantly sailing directly against it. I finally doused the headsail and kicked on the motor. (Hell, I needed the motor just to dodge the lobster trap buoys!)

As I approached (cell phone service was non-existent earlier), I called Thayer’s Y-Knot Boatyard to arrange for a mooring in Southern Harbor. Permission granted, and no charge – just “grab one and have a nice evening”! Again, incredibly nice folks.

It’s cold here since that front moved in last night. This morning when I started, I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Soon I had to dig out my “nightshirt,” a heavy winter zip-up turtleneck sweater with insulation. Next came the foul-weather gear jacket and socks. I was just barely comfortable all day. As I pulled into the lee of North Haven, I tossed the jacket below; the sweater followed once I moored here. (The socks are still on!)

This is where there’s supposed to be a diver available – but I haven’t noticed that aggravating rapping all day. Maybe I knocked loose whatever was causing it? Maybe the boat just isn’t rolling enough. I just don’t know, but I’m not going to pay for a diver right now.

No “pup tent” tonight. I’m out of here first thing tomorrow morning for Mount Desert Island, and the forecast is for nothing but nice weather.

 


Saturday, July 30, 2005; 5:30 am
Morris Yachts mooring
Bass Harbor 
[Chart]
Mount Desert Island, Maine (23.3 nm)


I got an early start yesterday, slipping my mooring at 7:30 am and stopping to fill a gas tank in North Haven at J.O. Brown’s fuel dock, a real Downeast wharf with a couple big cluttered barns where they do wooden boat work, a small office with marine hardware and supplies, and lots of interesting junk tossed aside everywhere.

Against the advice of the woman I spoke with at Thayer’s Y-Knot Boatyard to arrange the previous night’s mooring, I cut corners leaving Southern Harbor, taking the narrow channel into the Fox Islands Thorofare instead of going down past the Sugar Loaves then back up again. There was plenty of water so I saved myself a couple miles or so down and around. The thorofare was easy enough to navigate, despite some of the warnings I’d read about currents and its narrowness in spots. That put me in a good state of mind for the next challenge later in the day, entering the York Narrows north of Swan Island and wending my way through to Casco Passage and out into Blue Hill Bay.

I’m getting used to the close quarters between islands and rocks and how abruptly the bottom drops off. I can be in 40 feet of water with a rock or coastline only thirty yards off, surf crashing over it. As long as I keep one eye on the chart, the other on the GPS – know where I am and what’s in my vicinity – I’m alright. Coming into Bass Harbor late yesterday afternoon, I had charted a course out around the green can “1” on the outer tip of Weaver Ledge, but on arriving I noted that there was plenty of water between Lopaus Point and the red nun “2” and took that shorter route into the harbor. Again, plenty of water and plenty of room. I arrived at the Morris Yachts mooring I'd arranged by late afternoon.

Today will put this growing confidence to a test. Looking over the charts and Cruising Guide last night, I’ve decided to forgo Bar Harbor and instead head for Northeast Harbor later this morning. Reaching Bar Harbor would be an all day sail up Frenchman Bay – and from what I’ve read, and vaguely recall, it’s another over-priced, kitchy tourist trap. If I spend the day getting to it, it’d take another to get back down and around Schoodic Peninsula on my way to Monica’s place. If when leaving here this morning I take another couple “shortcuts” I can be in Northeast Harbor, just to the northeast, in a few hours. This means passing through a narrow cut that shows 14 feet of water off Bass Harbor Head. Right after that, I plan to turn north between Long Ledge and Great Cranberry Island, a relatively shallow area but sufficiently marked with nuns and cans that I should be in no less than 10 feet of water throughout for the short distance out past Spurling Point and deeper water straight to Northeast Harbor, about 8-9 miles. Otherwise, it’s another 11-12 miles around the Cranberry Islands and Sutton Island to come back westerly and reach the harbor.

Northeast Harbor has the full-service Mount Desert Yacht Yard, another reason I’ve decided to head there instead of Bar Harbor and a longer trip to reach it. The Morris Yachts mooring I’m on is very unprotected from the comings and goings of the harbor’s busy commercial fleet and ferry, especially the lobster boats, and the nearby “No Wake” sign means little if anything. (Before sunrise this morning I switched on my anchor and deck lights, hoping to ward them off, at least let them know Chip Ahoy is here with people aboard, with little success.) With all the rocking and rolling – the damned rapping thunk is back on the starboard side, loud and clear, getting worse if anything: it awoke me last night a couple of times; it’s vibrating throughout the hull. I seemed to feel a left-right wobble in the tiller early yesterday as I started out, raised the rudder, but found nothing wrong so dismissed it as my imagination. Still, it seemed this could be related to whatever is apparently tangled in the keel and/or its cable. After last night’s persistent knocking, I intend to call the boatyard this morning and try to make some arrangement – even if it means hauling the boat – to unravel and cure this distraction, alleviate my concern once and for all, whatever the cost. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a free dock slip out of it too, where I can take a shower and maybe do a load of laundry.

An observation made yesterday: While cruising this coast, there are three factors that decide your route and time underway. The usual two, course and wind, are complemented by the need to dodge lobster pot buoys constantly. Having a tiller-pilot is of limited advantage, as I must keep kicking it into standby mode to steer around the carpets of buoys. It’s such an extravagance when I can do a little open field running and not have to touch the tiller-pilot for fifteen or twenty minutes. That happened on a few occasions yesterday and it was a time of celebration.

 


Saturday, July 30. 2005; 10:30 am
Morris Yachts mooring
Bass Harbor
Mount Desert Island, Maine


I await Irene the Diver. Earlier this morning I noticed a Travel-Lift roll out of the nearby shed with a big sailboat in its sling. I rowed the dinghy to the dock to inquire about its availability on short notice, whether as long as they had it out they’d consider hauling up Chip Ahoy to find the source of the knocking noise. After explaining my situation, the yard guys suggested that instead I hire a diver and save some money, and gave me Irene Schlaefer’s card. I called her and was told that, while she advertised “immediate service,” she and her husband were going out to pick up a motor and wouldn’t be back until later this afternoon; she wouldn’t be able to get here until then or tomorrow morning, was that too late? I told her I’d be here waiting, so she took my cell phone number and promised to call when they got home. Finally, for $100 I’m going to find out what’s causing this racket – lobster pot buoy or disembodied spirit looking to come aboard!

Yesterday I spotted up real close a number of lobster pot buoys just beneath the surface as they ghosted past closely alongside too late to avoid if necessary. I’m betting I caught one of those submerged buoys a few days ago, because I know I haven’t hit any of them; at least I don’t believe I did.

Coming back to Chip Ahoy I noted an empty mooring closer to shore, well inside where I was moored apparently dead center in the middle of Bass Harbor’s interstate freeway. Since I’ll be spending another day and night here, I quickly started the motor, dropped last night’s mooring, and grabbed the inside one. The depth sounder (fishfinder) reads 27 feet of water beneath me, though the shore is only some forty yards from the boat. (It also reads the hull temperature as 55 degrees; a sending unit needs to be added to the puck transducer to accurately read the water temperature, so 55 is probably high. I’m not setting a foot in this water without a wet-suit!) So far the relocation is a big improvement – though the eddies this close to shore are quirky: the mooring ball is riding about amidship, the dinghy is alongside, outside the mooring ball and pointing aft. I’m still rolling, but I’m out of the high-speed passing lane and the rocking and rolling is significantly reduced.

I cannot wait to find the source of this incessant knocking against the hull.

 


Sunday, July 31. 2005; 5:20 am
Morris Yachts mooring
Bass Harbor
Mount Desert Island, Maine


I’m still waiting to hear back from Irene the Diver. I sat aboard all day waiting for her phone call. At 5:00 pm I called her and left a message on her answering machine. At 8:00 pm I left another message, telling her I had to know if she still planned to do the diving job as I had to make plans for today. Not a word back from her, so at 9:00 this morning I’ll start making ready for Northeast Harbor and resort to Plan A – before the yard workers here came up with the bright idea to save me some money by calling Irene and her “immediate service” – get up to Northeast Harbor and deal with the problem there.

I need a shower and a laundromat, both of which are available at Northeast Harbor along with other amenities, where I intended to spend a day at a dock. The rocking and rolling that goes on here with every passing boat can’t be doing the problem any good by just sitting it out here – and the problem persists. Though it was quite calm here last night, there was a quiet tapping that seemed to be coming from the hull amidship, beneath the cockpit. I suspect it’s the same source, only directly beneath the boat in calmer water.

I squandered yesterday aboard reading – finishing one novel and beginning another – napping, and awaiting Irene’s phone call. I rowed the dinghy ashore in the early afternoon and had lunch at the only business establishment within walking distance besides Morris Yachts and the ferry boat office: the local restaurant and thank god for small miracles. Their fish chowder was very good, thick with fish, and the fried dough for dessert was a treat. I dared not tie up the cell phone and risk missing her call, so when Hobie called I had to cut him short, and my calls to Barbara were of minimum duration, just the facts. The sky display last night was similar to that when I was moored in Southern Harbor: crystal clear with stars everywhere, some even shooting. And for a change here, the water was almost mirror flat; and filled with phosphorescent plankton. An entire day wasted away, but not another. This morning I move on, one way or the other.

The weather was beautiful: quite a southeast breeze in the late morning but dying down by late-afternoon; rowing back against it in the dinghy was a bit of a chore. It remained sunny and in the mid-70s, with more of the same forecast for today and tomorrow. Tuesday may bring the next bout of showers and thunderstorms as a weak warm front moves in from the west, then it’s supposed to clear and be in the low-80s for the remainder of the week.

 


Monday, August 1, 2005; 6:35 am
Northeast Harbor Marina
Northeast Harbor 
[Chart]
Mount Desert Island, Maine (7.34 nm)


I was finishing up preparing the boat to depart Bass Harbor yesterday when Irene the Diver called at 8:30 am to inquire whether I still wanted her to dive on Chip Ahoy. She said she could be there in half an hour, so I told her to come on down, that I’d move the boat over to the dock and be waiting for her there.

She arrived, suited up, explored beneath Chip Ahoy for about ten minutes, then surfaced. She reported that nothing was tangled below the surface, no lobster pot buoy; only a lot of seaweed wrapped around the keel and cable. I was stunned – it must be that disembodied spirit from Davy Jones’ Locker knocking for permission to board! She noted there was, from what she described, a small gouge at the top of the keel (from the other day, no doubt, when I forgot to loosen the keel locking bolt), and that the keel was not centered: she could put her hand between the keel and its hanger on the port side, but couldn’t slip even her knife blade between them on the starboard side. (I think this may be a result of my applying the locking bolt, it pushing the keel to starboard on its pin.) I asked her to go back down and watch from beneath as I raised and lowered the keel, but then I must have lowered it too much, played out too much cable, for when I started cranking it back up I felt a jam. Crawling around through the hatch behind the cabin port side settee, I found the jammed cable had sprung loose from its drum and caught on one of the winch’s mounting bolts and the winch frame. I got it straightened out, then cranked the keel all the way up with the usual ease. Still nothing unusual, she reported.

I paid her with two $50 bills, started the motor, cast off the dock lines and was on my way just after 10:00 am. Rounding Bass Harbor Head, I took the narrow channel just off its southern tip marked by a red-and-white gong and bell, one on each end, then headed east directly into the wind to Western Way, reportedly quite shallow on the chart but well marked with cans and nuns. As the tide was high at 8:00 just two hours ago, there was plenty of water during my crossing, 20-30 feet in most places, and the channel was considerably wider than it appeared on the chart. Going through and heading straight up to Northeast Harbor saved a good 11-12 additional miles that it would have taken if I’d “played it safe” and gone the long way, around Great and Little Cranberry Islands and Baker Island, then back in around Sutton Island through Eastern Way.

Approaching Western Way’s entrance marker, green gong “1” at the southern mouth, I hoisted sails in an easterly breeze of 10-15 knots and, making my turn northward, shut off the motor and began a great close-hauled starboard reach all the way up the channel along with a half dozen other sailboats, an equal number coming down toward us from the north. It looked like some sort of regatta going through there. Great Cranberry Island just off to the east blanketed some of the wind, but when I hit the open water between it and Sutton Island Chip Ahoy heeled over hard, its port rail awash as I loosed the sheets a bit. Sutton Island produced the same conditions, but coming out of its lee I was prepared for the gust.

This was a good test of the keel – and it performed naturally. The slight wobble seems to have left the rudder/tiller, though I did have some concern after hoisting sails while the motor was idling in neutral when I felt vibration in the cockpit deck sole. Shutting down the outboard cured that.

As is my practice, I called ahead from Bass Harbor to the Northeast Harbor harbormaster, he had a slip at their dock available, and I arranged to reserve it for a day or two. (The wonderful Cruising Guide not only advises on local conditions and approaches and describes what’s available in most if not all points of interest, but it also provides contact phone numbers and which VHF channels are monitored.) At the red bell “2” entrance buoy just off Bear Island I started the motor and dropped sails, then as I passed Sargent Head quickly prepared the boat for the starboard-side docking I’d been advised was ahead when checking in on the VHF.

I’ve got a system to singlehand dock, running a long bow line outside rigging and anything else in the way then back to the cockpit, the stern line cleated within reach, fenders out, so long as I know which side I’ll be coming in on. I can simply step off onto the dock with both lines and quickly tie them off myself if necessary. It wasn’t yesterday; two of the harbormaster’s young dockhands, alerted that I was approaching, were waiting to catch my lines. I was docked by 1:15 pm, a trip of only about eight short nautical miles, but they were fun ones – the best sailing yet.

Northeast Harbor is the way I expected to find Maine. It’s small and quaint, along with being well-protected. Coming in from sea, the view is spectacular with the small harbor framed by mountains in the nearby background, Cadillac Mountain being the largest – its peak is the first point in the United States to see the dawn rays of sun. Just to the west is Somes Sound and the harbor and town of Somes. The sound I’m told is the only “fjord” in eastern United States. The town of Mount Desert at the head of Northeast Harbor is quite small, but just a short walk up the hill on Sea Street brings you to its intersection with Main Street where all the basics – grocery store with a laundromat beneath it, variety store and gas station, book store with newspapers from all over, two eateries, etc. – are available. In the late afternoon, after taking a coin-operated shower at the Chamber of Commerce’s nearby “Yachtsmen’s Building” (which also provides Internet service, DSL and wireless, for $5/day), I treated myself to a delicious steak dinner at the “better” of the two restaurants, The Colonel’s Restaurant & Deli.

While paying my bill in the harbormaster’s office ($35/day with electricity), I inquired about Philip & Sharon Merlier and “Swizzle Stick.” Sure enough, they’ve been here, and back, but left their mooring again a couple of days ago. I tried raising them on VHF channel 16 a couple of times with no response, then wandered around the parking lot near the launch ramp hoping to find a tow vehicle with Florida plates but came up empty. One of the assistant harbormasters suggested that I check with the police department just up the hill, as that’s usually where long-staying transients park. I’ll try looking there later, as I’d like to leave them a note telling them I’m here in case they return today.

I called and spoke with Monica last night and she was impressed that I’d made it here – she announced that I was only a day or two away from South Addison, which I found hard to believe. But after referring to my charts, it’s true! I find that the Chartbook makes seeing the big picture difficult, abstract: the chart pages provide either too small a scale or too large to conceptualize. You need to keep flipping back and forth through a number of the large and unwieldy pages to plan just a day’s course – so one day at a time, one destination a day, has been my strategy.

I’m now especially glad that I took this opportunity to stop over here, as I’d planned before the unanticipated weekend holdup in Bass Harbor. I spoke with Wally last night, and he’ll be able to meet and pick me up at South Addison on Thursday, August 11. We’ll drive back the following day. That gives me still eleven more days. If I head on tomorrow, weather-permitting (and after tomorrow it looks like a really nice stretch) I’ll reach Monica’s place on Wednesday – really too soon with a week to then kill there wearing out my welcome. I’m leaning toward staying here tomorrow as well, especially in light of the weather forecast for showers and thunderstorms in the morning then again in the late afternoon. The harbormaster just told me the slip’s available if I want it for another day. It’s foggy and worsening, heavily overcast, and raining off and on here right now, so it’s a good day to be under the “pup tent” – maybe not so good for walking up to town with my laundry and shopping list.

 


Tuesday, August 2, 2005; 6:10 am
Northeast Harbor Marina
Northeast Harbor
Mount Desert Island, Maine


“The coast from Schoodic to Head Harbor Island is one of the foggiest areas in Maine. At ‘tit [Petit] Manan there is an average of 250 hours of fog a month during July and August ... in thick fog you could easily be up on the rocks before seeing the light. In a southwesterly breeze, the foghorn to leeward is often inaudible until you have left it astern... Waves coming in from the Gulf of Maine encounter relatively shoal water as they approach ‘tit Manan, and often a very rough sea builds up. The current floods east along the coast and ebbs west. It also floods north into the bays and ebbs south, resulting in turbulent waters off ‘tit Manan, where the currents meet. This area is especially rough when a southwest wind blows across an ebbing tide. To avoid the worst of it, pass about a mile offshore ... between nun “2,” south of ‘tit Manan, and can “1,” off Simms Rock. In thick fog or heavy weather, you would do well to run even farther offshore, outside red whistle “6A” off Southeast Rock.

“A long bar runs between ‘tit Manan Point and Green Island. The safest passage around the bar is outside Petit Manan Island, described above.... A very ugly chop can build up on this bar, particularly when the wind blows against the current. In poor visibility the small buoys are very hard to find, and in heavy weather passage will certainly be unpleasant or even dangerous....”

Excerpt from “A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast”

“Crossing Petit Manan Bar is considered by many to be the second level of the Schoodic rite of passage. Locals tell us it’s simple to decide: if the bar is breaking, go outside. If it’s not, take the fairway across. But be quick about it, especially in a sailing vessel, because whether or not the bar is breaking can change as fast as the Maine weather. Petit Manan Island is another marine cliff, so expect a ‘chaotic and confused sea’ as you round the island.... this is a good place to decide how comfortable you are with sailing east of Schoodic.”

“CAUTION: When heading northeast from Petit Manan Bar toward Tibbett Narrows, watch for R N “4” south of Egg Rock and Whale Ledges en route. These ledges ate a multihull in 1996, so stay well south of this buoy.”

Excerpt from the Maptech “Maine Coast Embassy Guides”

My last day at sea before reaching South Addison and Monica’s place should be on Thursday, and be my greatest challenge as well. There’s no way of avoiding Petit Manan’s natural obstacles and potential dangers while getting past there, and there’s little shelter between Winter Island, where I plan to spend tomorrow night, and Petit Manan but small working lobsterboat harbors where there reportedly is little if any room for visitors even after navigating difficult approaches.

Petit Manan Bar is 12.5 miles from Winter Harbor, 12.83 miles to get through it according to my GPS program. High tide for Thursday is 11:22 am at the bar. I’ll need to be out of Winter Harbor by 8:00 am to make it through at peak high tide – which is my goal. That’s assuming there’s no fog to delay my departure. There was fog here again this morning when I awoke at 5:30 am, but it pretty much burned off since the sun has come up. Yesterday the fog didn’t burn off until almost noon, but yesterday it also rained for most of the morning.

I’ve plotted two courses: one through the bar, the other out well south of and around Petit Manan Light, halfway to Simms Rock. I’ll decide which to take when I reach the red nun/bell “2s” south of Big Moose Island. If I decide on the preferable route through the bar then find conditions unfavorable as I approach, I’ve plotted another short route (3.39 miles) to take me south from Stone Horse Ledge parallel to the bar and out beyond the light, which intersects with the slightly more distant secondary route, between Simms Rock and the lighthouse on the tip of Petit Manan.

I’ve also plotted a fallback course to the tiny lobstering village and harbor of Corea, 3.63 miles northwest of Stone Horse Ledge – in the event that all else becomes impractical. “Corea, however is a difficult place to visit by boat. The harbor is shallow and crammed with working boats. If you are lucky, you may be directed to a vacant mooring for the night. Arrive early, and have a backup plan in case there is no room ... Because several unmarked rocks and ledges are covered at high tide, this is not an easy harbor to enter,” the Cruising Guide advises. Even in the potential “anchorage area” opposite the lobster co-op, the guide warns, “there are hidden rocks.”

While just speaking with the harbormaster here, he’s never done the Petit Manan Bar route, always has gone out and around the light because “when you’re blasting along at 23 knots, it takes longer to slow down through the bar than go around.” But he doesn’t see any problem with Chip Ahoy passing through so long as the weather’s good and I catch a decent tide with plenty of water beneath me. Right now the weather couldn’t be nicer, though there’s little if any breeze.

Today I was going to take the “Island Explorer” free bus service and tour Mount Desert Island, but Barbara wants to come up and visit in early September so I’ll wait and tour then with her. As a kid, Acadia National Park was one of the family’s favorite campgrounds, we spent three or four summer vacations here and I loved it. Looking over the local map of the area, so many names of places suddenly are familiar. It’ll be fun to come back. My sister and Katharine want to come along too, Diane told me last night, so it might be another family event next month.

Instead today, I’ll write and address the postcards I picked up yesterday. That all started with Barbara’s request for one of Somes Sound – the only fjord in eastern United States. Barbara is both a fjord afficionado, having visited some in Norway and one in Ireland, and a collector of post cards. After visiting two gift shops and a news stand/book store, I was able to finally find the perfect postcard, and picked up a half dozen others while I was at it. Unfortunately, the local post office closed at 4:00 pm so I couldn’t get stamps.

I had lunch yesterday back at The Colonels, their seafood plate. (Decent but nothing to rave about. As I told Monica, “It isn’t Dube’s,” the Salem restaurant owned by her family.) I spent more time researching and plotting my course from here – I should say contingency courses – for the next two days than I ever have before, trying to be prepared for anything and everything, even cruising blinded by fog if necessary.

I’m still trying to nail down exactly where Monica has reserved a mooring for me in South Addison so I can plug in the final waypoint of my trip and know where I’m going when I get near – but so far I don’t have it: I don’t even see a harbor on my charts along the South Addison coastline and there’s no mention of one in either of my cruising bibles, in fact no mention of South Addison at all. My course of just over 25 miles on Thursday is now complete except for that, right up to outside Bar Island just off the eastern shore of Moose Neck/South Addison. Ironically, both of the cruising bibles highly recommend the small Eastern Harbor as an anchorage, between Cape Split and Moose Neck, which can been seen from Monica’s back deck, out her back kitchen and living room windows, and from her yard. This seems perfect to me, especially since I’ve been there and can find it, plug it in right now. From past visits and an experience of digging clams in the mud flats there at low tide, I know too that the bottom would hold an anchor well. (It sure held my sneakers back then!) It’d merely be a short dinghy ride to a nearby dock on Cape Split, just down the road from her house maybe a quarter of a mile.

 


Wednesday, August 3, 2005; 5:30 am
Northeast Harbor Marina
Northeast Harbor
Mount Desert Island, Maine


Monica cleared up the confusion yesterday: my mooring is off the new South Addison town dock, which is inside Eastern Harbor after all. The final route is now complete. She and Rich were thinking of driving down and meeting me here in Northeast Harbor, then Monica sailing up to South Addison with me, but it’s too late now, she said. I reminded her that she could meet me in Winter Harbor later today and sail the last day with me if she wants: she’s thinking about it. I told her I’m feeling like Ferdinand de Magellan: after two years, I’m finally about to reach my destination.

Yesterday I wrote and mailed postcards, had a BLT sandwich at The Colonel’s, picked up some ice, Cokes, snacks, etc., at the grocery market, and pretty much just relaxed aboard. I again tried raising the Merliers on Channel 16 a number of times during the afternoon, still with no success. I grabbed a shower later, made a few phone calls, read for a while, and was asleep by 9:00 pm. (Was “Sandy” in the inflatable from Maryland who keeps ferrying folks out to a boat and back really not Geraldine Ferraro? Was it merely a coincidence when I overheard her complaining to her guests about “Rumsfeld in one corner, Cheney in the other, we’ve got no hope”? “Sandy,” sure Gerry.) Just another boring day in paradise.

It was a beautiful day yesterday, and more of the same is forecast for the next few days. This morning there’s not a cloud in the sky, it’s about 70° and the air is still. Later this morning the wind is supposed to pick up from the northwest at 10 knots, lowering to 5-10 in the afternoon, seas are running three feet, subsiding to 1-2 feet later in the day. There’s not even the usual forecast proviso of “scattered showers and thunderstorms.” What more could I ask for? What a difference from last year’s miserable cruise weather!

I called Winter Harbor Marine yesterday and spoke with “Sonny” there. He reserved a mooring for me for tonight; I expect to arrive by mid- to late-afternoon as it’s only a trip of 12 nautical miles across Frenchman Bay. I asked him about the passage through Petit Manan Bar, and he also doesn’t think I’ll have any problems whatsoever so long as I stay between the two red-and-white marker buoys. Despite the warnings that I’ve taken to heart (too much so?), it looks like I’m lucking out with the weather and tide on my side when I plan to go through. The wind for Thursday is forecast to be from the northeast at 5-10 knots, turning from the south at 10-15 knots in the afternoon, which should be perfect. This is probably going to be another non-event for which I’ve over-prepared – but better that than unprepared.

I’ll depart here for Winter Harbor by 10:00 or 11:00 this morning, stop at Clifton Dock to fill an empty gas tank on the way out. I transferred the gallon or so of gas that remained in that tank into the working tank yesterday, so one is full. That small gasoline transfer pump I picked up has sure come in handy for doing this. Now I fill only one tank instead of topping off two, so I know exactly how much gas goes in, thus precisely how much two-stroke oil to add. The oil measuring bottle someone on the C22 discussion group recommended makes the mixture perfect; the outboard seems to appreciate this and has been running fine, starting dependably.

The coffee pot is empty, a breeze is picking up, and it’s time to start breaking camp, preparing to get the day underway, the next-to-last one of this cruise before reaching my destination at long last.

 


Wednesday, August 3, 2005; 5:40 pm
Winter Harbor Marine mooring
Henry Cove
Winter Harbor, Maine (11.9 nm) 
[Chart]

Whew, for a day which I thought was going to be easy, what a breeze – and I don’t mean easy! I should have known it was coming as soon as I reached the gas dock and had to circle in place behind another sailboat, with three at the dock fueling up. It’s a good thing I left at 9:45, a little ahead of plan. After filling the tank, I was on my way and all was well – until I headed east from the mouth of Northeast Harbor and started to run along the waters south of Mount Desert Island. I got my sails up and was moving along at a nice clip with a northwest wind off my port side when I noticed the water ahead had a strange, choppy surface rippling compared to the water I was in. It was either shallows or wind affecting the surface, I figured, and quickly checked my chart and GPS. Approaching Bracy Cove well to my port I was on course in deep water with nothing else around and then the first gust hit, yeow! Damn near knocked Chip Ahoy down hard – I let the sheets fly as water hit the coaming threatening to come aboard and righted the boat in screaming wind coming down through the cove – blowing at me from between the mountains like a hurricane. I’ve never seen anything like it – but then I’ve never sailed in the mountains before. I quickly started the motor and hurriedly, sloppily dropped sails in what had to be gale-force winds. Next came closing up the cabin: Chip Ahoy was heeling without even a sail up!

I hoped that once past the cove – a continuation of the glacial cut that formed the valley between the mountains – it would calm down, and it did, but not significantly. Next came Seal Harbor and another hard blow, then Hunters Beach Cove, and on it went.

Okay, once I get past Otter Point, the southeast tip of Mount Desert Island, and out into the mouth of open Frenchman Bay, conditions should calm I figured. They did, but again not significantly and they changed. Three to four foot rollers coming in from the wide open Gulf of Maine met the northwest blow head on, white caps came at me from the north, rollers from the south. Spray was dousing me. I snapped on NOAA weather to find out what I’d run into: nothing reported, just wind out of the northwest at 8 knots. This wind was at least, minimum, 25 knots and gusting I’d estimate to 30 or better. I motored the rest of the way across the bay in the chop to Winter Harbor, dodging the infinite carpet of lobster pot buoys in the rolling sea. It’ll get better when I enter Winter Harbor, I figured, which is protected especially from the northeast. It did, but again not significantly.

The mooring arrangement when I arrived was the next fiasco. The mooring “Sonny” directed me to during our phone conversation yesterday had no pennant – and worse, nothing to attach one to. It was just a big white ball, maybe two feet in diameter, with an anchor line securing it to the bottom. I tried another empty one: same result.

Winter Harbor is the only place I’ve ever been along the entire eastern seaboard where moorings are dropped among a carpet of lobster trap buoys, or vice versa. Just lining up on a mooring ball and reaching it without tangling with a lobster pot buoy was a feat – then only to find the mooring worthless. Finally, after a closer look at the empty dock, I ran Chip Ahoy out a ways from the head of Henry Cove where I had better room to maneuver between lobster pot buoys, locked on the tiller-pilot, and raced around setting up the boat to dock on the port side. Once readied, I ran into the wind just above the Winter Harbor Marine dock, cut into it, then with the wind at my back pulled up as close as I could get. I had to leap to the dock with bow and stern lines in hand and quickly cleat them off before the boat was pushed into the wall ahead. The only person anywhere in sight was a young girl fishing from the dock, who looked extremely surprised at my arrival and style.

Soon an older woman came down and we tried to straighten out what was supposed to be and was expected. There were no workers around; the yard was empty but for her and she was just a sort of caretaker. The boatyard owner was out on his lobster boat, and “Sonny” wouldn’t be back until tomorrow, just wonderful. She had no idea what arrangements I’d made with Sonny or where I was supposed to find a mooring but I couldn’t stay at the dock as it’s the owner’s space for his lobster boat, he’d be back in soon, and I had to be out of there by then. There was a high wall, a pier, ahead of me. I explained that it was highly unlikely that I could back out against the wind with just the outboard, that with the wind behind me I’d need a hand from somebody to move my boat anywhere.

Her husband, who drives one of the ubiquitous “Island Explorer” free tourist busses, soon arrived, pointed out Sonny’s mooring, and told me to take it; Sonny presently doesn’t have a boat. “But you may have to rig up a pennant, and I don’t know how secure it is,” he added. With him on the bow line, me controlling the stern line, tiller and motor, I backed Chip Ahoy out beyond their dock and motored over to Sonny’s mooring. Nope, no pennant, so I had to swing around through the lobster pot buoys maze once again while grabbing one of my dock lines. Pulling up alongside the big mooring ball, I finally was able to loop the dock line over the ball, bring it to the bow, and cleat the two ends of the line. It held, but I wasn’t confident the line wouldn’t slip up over the ball and put me on the nearby rocks later – so I looped a second dock line over the ball twice and cleated off both its ends. I’m now riding with two makeshift mooring pennants and am reasonably confident the boat will remain on the mooring tonight. Now if only the mooring doesn’t drag. (One good thing about a Catalina 22 is, if a mooring holds its intended boat, it’ll most likely hold Chip Ahoy.)

I’m close enough to shore to practically spit on it, but I’ve got 10 feet of water beneath me at dead low tide. I’d cranked up the keel earlier just to be sure, dinghied to the dock and walked into town, about a mile away at the head of the cove, bought a takeout sub sandwich for dinner and a bag of ice at the IGA market, paid my mooring fee of $25 back at the dock, and have returned aboard for the night. ($25 for this claptrap mickey-mouse setup among a minefield of lobster pot buoys within reach, compared to $35 for the slip at a nice dock with electricity, water and all the amenities at Northeast Harbor Marina – outrageous!) Just an all-around bad day in an otherwise great cruise.

 


Friday, August 5, 2005; 8:30 am
Home of Monica & Rich
Eastern Harbor
South Addison, Maine (21.03 nm) 
[Chart]

Mission accomplished, destination reached after two years. I arrived yesterday at the mooring Monica arranged to have waiting for me in Eastern Harbor at about 1:00 pm. I couldn’t have asked for better weather for my final day of the cruise, especially for the run through oft-treacherous Petit Manan Bar. Sunny with clear sky and a 5-10 knot wind that began out of the northeast and changed to southeast later, just as predicted, it was splendid for my plans.

I awoke aboard in Winter Harbor at about 4:30 am yesterday, raring to go at first light. No time for making coffee and cleaning up afterward this morning. I rowed ashore to take some photos of Chip Ahoy at its mooring, but couldn’t wait for the sunrise shots I’d hoped for – as soon as it was light enough I took my shots then returned to the boat and cast off at 6:15. Initially the air was still, the ocean flat and oily-looking, but I raised my main sail at the mooring, knowing I’d not likely get a better chance in the lobster pot buoy-infested area I was in. Even with the tiller-pilot, finding an opportunity to raise the main has been a real challenge lately, being able to point the boat into the wind in an unobstructed direction long enough to leave the tiller for a minute or two.

I motored out along the rugged, pristine and dramatic Schoodic Peninsula and once rounding it a northeast breeze began to puff up. Concerned with arriving at Petit Manan Bar for high tide at 11:22 am, I motorsailed at 5 knots most of the way – but arrived about an hour early. This was good, as the current floods from the northeast so I’d have good steerage going through and plenty of water. All my backup planning was for naught (but peace of mind, I suppose), as the sky was crystal clear, not even a hint of fog anywhere. Motorsailing through the narrow gap [Chart] in the bar was a non-event, sailing from one red-and-white channel buoy to the other was like sailing between any two marker buoys. After reading all the dire warnings about this passage, the event itself was underwhelming, almost disappointing – almost. Even Petit Manan Island and its lighthouse on the southern tip were devoid of the notorious fog.

Once through the bar I shut off the motor; the wind began changing from the northeast to southeast and sailing conditions couldn’t have been better. Making a good four knots on a starboard reach the rest of the way, I passed the Nash Islands and headed into Eastern Harbor [Chart]. Almost miraculously, my assigned mooring, number 89, wound up being the very first I spotted, so I grabbed its pennant and was quickly tied up. I called Monica and gave her the news that I had arrived. After squaring away the boat, putting up the “pup tent,” and packing a bag, I dinghied ashore where she was waiting on the town dock, and left the dinghy tied up there.

I was welcomed by Rich and Monica with a pitcher of frozen margaritas and a great steak dinner. Rich made delicious corn-on-the-cob grilled on the barbecue; I’ll have to try this at home. Last night I slept in a real bed for the first time since leaving Marblehead, and I slept like the dead.

This morning it’s overcast and looks like rain will arrive. Yesterday NOAA weather warned that a small craft advisory may be issued for all of today, that some nasty stuff would likely be rolling in. I’ve got to go out to the boat later this morning and collect a few things I didn’t bring along when I left (especially a change of clothes so I can take a shower), hopefully before the weather turns bad; one of the things I didn’t bring along on this shore leave is my foul-weather gear.

This weekend we plan to take Chip Ahoy out to some of the local islands Monica and Rich would like to explore. It’ll be fun to just sail around, not have to reach a particular destination by day’s end.

Wally will be up next Thursday to trailer Chip Ahoy and me home. He’ll spend the night here, then we’ll drive back down to Marblehead on Friday. I am not looking forward to tearing the boat down again, then putting it all back together when we get it home, but it’s got to be done.

 


Saturday, August 6, 2005; 5:00 am
Home of Monica & Rich
Eastern Harbor, South Addison, Maine


What a difference a day makes. Yesterday was the day I feared when planning my Petit Manan Bar crossing the day before, what I’d prepared for with all my alternate routes and the fallback destination of Corea Harbor if conditions at the last minute became too treacherous to continue. One day, twenty-four hours, and the weather changed from ideal to atrocious.

Monica and I took the dinghy out to Chip Ahoy around midday so I could pick up a few things from aboard. The dinghy’s outboard started without much problem, so we motored out under a dark and overcast sky and a chop on the harbor. As we approached Chip Ahoy it was rolling wildly, its mast swinging about four feet port and starboard: I almost turned back, concerned that with the two of us aboard it we’d swamp the dinghy alongside, until Monica pointed out that it was just the wake from a passing lobster boat. So we waited it out then tied up and climbed aboard.

By the time we returned to the town landing and drove back here around the harbor, the fog had begun rolling in with a vengeance – it looked like smoke blowing past her house and out onto the harbor. Within minutes not only did the harbor disappear, even the water’s edge, but we couldn’t see the end of her backyard. Later in the afternoon it rained heavily for a short while and we heard occasional thunder nearby to the southwest. Yesterday would have been an extremely bad day to have attempted undertaking the trip from Winter Harbor to here – probably impossible and definitely filled with risks and danger. The fog was so thick I’m sure that I wouldn’t have been able to see the other red-and-white channel marker buoy across the cut through Petit Manan Bar; I’d have had to blindly rely entirely on the GPS, the chart, and my navigation for most of the trip. Boy, did I ever get lucky on Thursday, blessed with that perfect weather for the whole day.

Last night we went out to the Snare Creek Grille in Jonesport for a great prime rib dinner. My intent was to pick up the tab in appreciation of their hospitality, but Rich beat me to it (damn). The agreement is that I’ll get to take them out for dinner the next time they come down to Marblehead to visit Monica’s family.

I’ve been invited along to a neighbor’s annual Downeast Maine lobsters, clams, and corn-on-the-cob cookout later today, where I’ll finally meet Oscar Look, the harbormaster who provided Chip Ahoy’s free mooring during my visit. Apparently Oscar is a big Howie Carr talk-radio listener and fan, so we’ve got a lot in common to talk about. There’s supposed to be quite a crowd attending.

Tomorrow we’ll take Chip Ahoy out for a sail among the multitude of nearby islands. The weather today, tomorrow and going into the week is supposed to again be perfectly nice.

Thursday, while Wally is driving up, I’ll begin taking Chip Ahoy apart so it’s ready to motor over to the town ramp and onto his trailer. This is one of the nicest boat ramps I’ve seen anywhere: wide, deep and well-angled, grooved for traction, and brand new. After our experience launching his “Carpe Diem” off the rutted and eroded ramp in Swampscott, he’s going to be stunned by this one. I should be able to get almost everything ready to load, leaving only the mast up and the outboard mounted. Rich will give us a hand getting the mast down, then we’ll have to just remove the outboard, tie everything down, lift the dinghy up across Chip Ahoy’s cockpit again and tie it down.

 


Sunday, August 7, 2005; 9:30 am
Home of Monica & Rich
Eastern Harbor, South Addison, Maine


Another beautiful day in Downeast Maine. What a difference from a year ago when I was besieged with lousy or threatening weather during my cruise.

The lobster and clams cookout last night was a lot of fun; I got to meet many of Monica’s and Rich’s neighbors, great people. One couple, the son of neighbor Tom the clamdigger and his girlfriend, want to go out sailing aboard Chip Ahoy on Tuesday. They and Tom would like to sail up Pleasant Bay, which sounds perfect to me and will likely be the last sail before I must begin taking down Chip Ahoy for trailering it back home. Some of the guests last night flew in by helicopter, and the pilot agreed to take some aerial photos of Chip Ahoy on its mooring at the mouth of Eastern Harbor, if it’s there later today: what an addition to my photo collection that would be!

Yesterday morning, when I went down to the town landing to check on the boat, I discovered that Chip Mate, the dinghy, had probably been borrowed: it was on a different side of the dock, the outboard had been lifted then tilted (which I don’t do), and of course it’d been tied up differently than I’d left it. No big deal, as it was there when I needed it – but it’s funny that Monica had just mentioned this “borrowing” thing the day before.

She had first suggested that I lock the dinghy, so when she and I went out to the boat on Friday I brought back its cable and lock – but left the lock’s key on my other key chain back on Chip Ahoy. “Probably just as well,” Monica declared, explaining that locking things around here sometimes annoys people. I took the oars with us, thus whoever borrowed the dinghy must have used the motor – so I put some gas in it when I got out to Chip Ahoy. Hey, as long as it’s returned I’m happy.

I never though I’d see it, but there’s another dinghy down there with exactly the same Johnson 3 hp outboard, same 1963 vintage and just as battered. Two of them still are alive after forty years of service!

Today Rich, Monica and I are going out for a sail toward Great Wass Island and the many other smaller islands.

 


Monday, August 8, 2005; 5:30 am
Home of Monica & Rich
Eastern Harbor, South Addison, Maine


What a riot, a shock. Saturday night at Monica’s neighbor’s cookout, the view from Ben’s backyard took in the harbor all the way to its mouth. We pointed out Chip Ahoy on its mooring way off in the distance among the other boats, mostly lobster boats, and marveled at the apparent optical illusion: how large Chip Ahoy appeared from such a distance. When Monica, Rich and I arrived at the town landing yesterday at about 11:30 am to go out for the day, the “optical illusion” was explained: between Chip Ahoy and the many lobster boats moored closer inside the harbor was a sloop of about 42 feet, same color red hull, roller-furler and all! No wonder Chip Ahoy looked larger in the distance from the head of the harbor – the boat we were looking at was much larger, it just wasn’t Chip Ahoy!

I took the dinghy out while Monica and Rich waited on the dock with the cooler and my “sea bag” that held our warm clothes. The plan was that I’d get Chip Ahoy ready then motor over to the dock and pick them up. As soon as I was aboard and opened the cabin hatch I smelled gasoline. I quickly opened the port side lazarette where the working gas tank is stored and the smell leaped out: there was gas leaking from the top of the tank, puddling beneath the tank and along the bilge on its way forward! Whoa boy, no sparks please!

I had switched tanks on Saturday to be ready for Sunday’s sail, moved the full tank over to replace the partially used one. Apparently I filled the tank too much when I left Northeast Harbor – I’d noticed this when I added the oil to it back then but wasn’t concerned at the time. With no space to “breathe” remaining in the tank, apparently expansion had forced gas out from around its cap. I opened the starboard side lazerette hatch and the hinged hatch door behind the cabin settee seatback too, then mopped up the leaked gas with the sponge, wiped it dry with a towel, soaked everything in a bucket of sea water, then let the boat air out for 15-20 minutes. When the boat was ready to go, the gas fumes had pretty well dissipated, so I crossed my fingers, held my breath, and turned the motor’s electric-starter key. It started up without any surprises, no loud noises and flames, so I motored over to the dock then shut if off again. I told Monica and Rich of the situation and we let the boat air out a while longer.

I decided we’d motor for a while to run some of the gas out of the tank. Later, outside the harbor and approaching the Nash Islands, we agreed that it was blowing too hard (about 15-20 knots), the seas too rough, and again too many damn lobster pot buoys all around to hoist sails. (Besides, Monica was still getting used to being on a boat again and, even with the anxiety-suppressant she’d taken, was somewhat nervous yet about sailing.) We motored out around Big Nash Island and the rollers crashing over the “hidden underwater obstruction” (a.k.a., a big rock) just to the south of it, then returned to the harbor, passing "The Ladles" that marks the harbor entrance and protects it from southern seas. I let them off at the town landing, then took Chip Ahoy out to its mooring.

Today Monica wants to give it another shot, take Chip Ahoy out again and sail up Pleasant Bay. The three of us will head out later this morning. I think this will be the last sail before I begin taking the boat apart on Wednesday for the trip home; I’ve decided to call off tomorrow’s sail that I agreed to with Monica’s three neighbors. Three aboard is crowded enough in the cockpit: I think four would be unmanageable under sail. Besides, I’m feeling a little sailed-out and ready to head home.

 


Tuesday, August 9, 2005; 5:15 am
Home of Monica & Rich
Eastern Harbor, South Addison, Maine


Today I’ll begin breaking down Chip Ahoy, getting it ready to trailer back down to Marblehead when Wally Riddle arrives on Thursday. The weather doesn’t look too good for tomorrow, so I figure I should get a jump on it this morning; get as much done today as possible, finish up tomorrow weather-permitting, Thursday if not. By Wally’s arrival I should have everything ready but for taking down the mast, removing the outboard from its mount, and bringing in the dinghy and humping it up across the cockpit.

Yesterday morning our plans for one last sail up here got changed again, beginning with a call from Oscar the harbormaster asking that I move Chip Ahoy to a different mooring. Rich was sunburned from Sunday’s outing and wasn’t too enthusiastic about going out, Monica could take it or leave it, and it didn’t much matter to me, I’m a little burnt-out still from the cruise up here. Instead, Monica and I took Chip Mate out to the boat and moved it to its new mooring – after a little trouble finding the right one. It didn’t have a pennant so I used the new trick I learned for tying up to a mooring ball with no pennant: looping a dock line twice around the ball and cleating off both ends at the bow.

Oscar, along with being the harbormaster, is also a lobsterman and owns the local lobster co-op. He warned Monica against us sailing up Pleasant Bay when he heard our plan for the day. He advised that there are just far too many lobster pots up there, that even the lobstermen who trap up there have built cages around their propellers and rudders to prevent fouling the buoys and lines. When a lobsterman warns of too many lobster pot buoys, take notice! I told Monica that I’d love to take a trip up there on Oscar’s boat to see just how bad it is – if it’s any worse than some of the places I’ve been on this trip.

That one factor – the lobster pot buoys – kept this trip from being all that I’d anticipated. After last year’s cruise, I expected the buoys but not in the number that I encountered, nor their omnipresence. Monica mentioned how difficult it would be to cruise at night. I told her that’s why I always made it to a safe harbor before sunset, but it wasn’t because of a difficulty navigating after dark – though that would be somewhat trickier. It was those lobster pot buoys that I wouldn’t be able to see without daylight to expose them, wouldn’t be able to dodge.

There was no relaxing. The entire trip was spent slaloming through them, never being able to take my eyes off of the water ahead for more than a moment or two. The tiller-pilot worked perfectly throughout the trip and often came in handy, but I could never leave it for more than a minute or so without fear of running over a buoy. Even alert one hundred percent of the time, I still managed to hit maybe three of them since leaving Portland, heard that bumping along the bottom of the hull, gasped and leaned over the transom ready for the worst. Only once did I tangle one in the rudder and between the outboard, had to quickly kick up the rudder to free the line before it could further ensnarl Chip Ahoy.

Then there was that sharp knocking sound on the starboard side of the hull below the waterline that I was sure was caused by a buoy tangled in the keel cable. This still remains a mystery after the diver found nothing but a lot of seaweed wrapped around it. I probably won’t really know if it’s still there or gone until I’m back in Marblehead, if even then, though I haven’t heard it since.

Last night Monica made her “Mimi’s Famous Pizza” (as Rich called it) from scratch including the dough and it was a treat. Being unable to find good pizza up here, she’s learned to make her own; quite a project. Besides using he best ingredients, one of her tricks is using a “pizza stone” in the pre-heated oven on which she bakes the pizza; I’d never heard of such a thing.

It’s very foggy this morning. I hope it lifts soon, before I’m supposed to dinghy out to Chip Ahoy. Its new mooring is considerably further out and up in the harbor by some 200-300 yards, now directly across from Monica’s house and visible from here when it’s clear. I’m not sure I can even find the boat out there in this.

 


Wednesday, August 10, 2005; 7:30 am
Home of Monica & Rich
Eastern Harbor, South Addison, Maine


The fog didn’t begin to lift yesterday until after 1:30 pm, but then rolled back in soon after. When Monica and Rich dropped me off at the town landing at about 10:30 am, visibility was perhaps thirty yards and Chip Ahoy was out there in it, somewhere. I dinghied out in the direction I thought it laid and got real lucky, found it on my first pass.

I must be getting good at taking apart Chip Ahoy, as it required only about three hours this time to complete the task. I’d expected to get a good bit done yesterday, then complete the job either today or tomorrow while Wally drives up, but it’s done now: all that remains is to disconnect the VHF antenna cable and mast lights wiring connector plug from the deck, motor over to the ramp, haul out, lower the mast and remove the outboard.

The trick I’ve learned is the order in which things must be disassembled and removed most efficiently, so I’m not wrestling with lines or tackle that should have been out of the way first. And now that I know how everything goes back together; I don’t have to stop and think about how I’m taking them apart so I can put them back together later. Of course taking things apart doesn’t require the adjusting and tweaking that putting them back together does.

Even removing and bagging the sails wasn’t as time-consuming as I’d anticipated. I thought I might have to dinghy the main sail to the dock to fold it to fit into its bag, then return for the genoa – but instead was able to stuff them each into their bags in the cockpit. I’ll take them out, let them dry, and fold them properly when I get home.

Upon arriving aboard Chip Ahoy in thick fog, I took a bearing on my wristwatch compass so I had a pretty good idea how to find my way back to the dock if the fog didn’t lift. How embarrassing it would be to find myself lost in the dinghy out on Eastern Harbor! Later, I even plugged Chip Ahoy’s mooring location and that of the town dock into one of my GPSs just in case – but when it was time to return to shore the fog had lifted enough to see the dock. It rolled back in within two hours. I can’t help but keep thinking how lucky I was with weather the day I most needed it, passing through potentially treacherous Petit Manan Bar. It was likely the only day within the past week in which that passage could have been made without effort or concern. This year’s cruise was such an improvement over last year’s: I couldn’t have asked for better weather or more favorable winds.

Everything broke my way this time. I reached my destination at last, a year later but just two weeks from leaving Portland on July 22. I’d built in unexpected downtime due to bad weather or other problems and needed to use three days – one chasing a new cell phone in Boothbay Harbor, the next due to a day of bad weather while in Port Clyde, and another to wait for the diver in Bass Harbor. Still I arrived here a few days ahead of what I’d anticipated, and saw that coming when Monica told me on the phone that I could be here in “another day or two.” She was right and I was a bit stunned after verifying it. That made the layover for another day in Northeast Harbor so relaxing, though the biggest challenge – Petit Manan Island – was still ahead.

 


Thursday, August 11, 2005; 5:30 am
Home of Monica & Rich
Eastern Harbor, South Addison, Maine


Wally will arrive this afternoon to take Chip Ahoy and me back home to Marblehead tomorrow morning. The boat’s ready to go and so am I. Wally should be at my house in half an hour to pick up his trailer and the equipment we need to secure the mast and boat, then start his six-hour drive. The usual blanket of fog remains but I’m hopeful it will lift before we have to move the boat. If it doesn’t, I’m confident that I can get out to Chip Ahoy by dinghy and feel my way through the harbor to the dock, where I’ll hand off the dinghy’s bow line, then to the ramp alongside and onto Wally’s waiting trailer.

Tomorrow will be twenty-four days since I left Marblehead, eight since I arrived at my long-planned and pursued destination after fourteen days on the water this trip. I’m ready to go home, and glad that this year I don’t have to sail back to my starting point. Thanks Wally for making this possible.

The best day of the cruise, ironically, was the last day’s sail here from Winter Harbor across Petit Manan Bar, despite my trepidation or perhaps because of it. The most challenging was upon leaving Northeast Harbor a day earlier, with the sudden and sporadic northwest winds off Mount Desert Island that almost knocked down Chip Ahoy and continued strong and unrelenting across the mouth of Frenchman Bay even into Winter Harbor on the other side.

Yesterday was quiet and uneventful. With the boat ready to go, I spent it reading, took a nap, then had another great dinner, last night grilled salmon, baked potato and salad. Again I was in bed by 10:00 pm, for some reason still exhausted. Monica and Rich couldn’t be better hosts or more gracious putting up with me for a week, longer than any of us had originally anticipated.

 


Saturday, August 13, 2005; 12:30 am
Marblehead, Massachusetts


Towing his trailer, Wally Riddle, Chip Ahoy, Chip Mate, and I arrived back home Friday afternoon at about 2:30. We left Monica’s & Rich’s place in South Addison at 7:15 yesterday morning for the 330 mile drive down the coast, stopping outside Bangor for lunch and gas.

Wally picked up his trailer here Thursday morning at 6:00 and was in South Addison by just after noon. The four of us drove over to the town landing, where I went out to Chip Ahoy on its mooring and brought it over to the boat ramp. We quickly had it out of the water, and on the trailer, and the mast down. Next we pulled out Chip Mate, the dinghy, out and carried it up alongside Chip Ahoy, then lifted it up across the cockpit and secured it. We rolled out of the expansive ramp parking lot about an hour later and the boats were soon sitting on the trailer in Monica’s front yard ready for the trip home. That evening, in appreciation for all they’ve done to help make this trip so successful, I took everyone out to dinner back at the Snare Creek Grille in Jonesport. The drive home yesterday was uneventful, but long.

At home, we emptied the back of Wally’s SUV, moved the dinghy from athwart Chip Ahoy’s cockpit to sawhorses alongside, stored its outboard beneath, hung the Tohatsu outboard on its mount on the back of the boat, then took a deep breath and had cold drinks. The trip was complete, the return successful. The mopping up details will begin tomorrow, the unloading, sorting, general straightening up. A couple of hours after Wally left to get on with his life I took a long nap, and just awoke.

Conclusion:  It’s been another great experience, another singlehanded adventure. I have now cruised the entire eastern seaboard from Key West, Florida to Cape Split, Maine. With another couple of days, I might have reached the Canadian border – or been swept out to sea on the Bay of Fundy’s massively strong current. I’ve now done it – cruised as far northeast as I intend in this great but small sailboat – but I’ll never do the trailer-sailing route again: it’s entirely too much effort breaking down and setting up Chip Ahoy even though I’m getting more efficient at it.

Over the two weeks it took to reach Eastern Harbor from Portland, I covered 141.34 nautical miles of plotted course (162.65 statute miles) according to the GPS software. Factoring in that all those courses were “as the crow flies” or should I say the seagull, and seagulls don’t have to tack or constantly dodge lobster trap buoys, the actual distance covered was greater.

I couldn’t have accomplished it without Wally Riddle’s willingness and generosity. Last year, before he made his incredible offer, I’d planned to buy another trailer and do it myself. This would have meant that I’d have left the trailer back at Portland Yacht Services, where I launched for this trip – and that I’d have had to get back there to trailer the boat home. I’d have had to have PYS launch and retrailer Chip Ahoy for the trip home. It took two weeks to reach Cape Split, Eastern Harbor, and Monica’s place; eight days of actual cruising and six harborside, intended or otherwise. One of the those six was consumed by bad weather, two more by unexpected delays, if there is such a thing on a trip like this. Had I needed to turn around and sail back to Portland, I could have spent only a day or two at my long-planned destination visiting my friends on Cape Split, and wouldn’t arrive back in Portland for another week, weather-permitting; and with the fog I saw since arriving there, certainly would have been further delayed, often.

There was no way last year that I was going to reach the end destination then make it back to Marblehead in a month, even had the weather been as fine as it was for this trip, near-perfect. It would have perhaps been close, but the eight days during which I sat out the hurricane remnants threats in Portland last year, and the few I wasted fogged in at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, still wouldn’t have gotten me up to South Addison and back in a month – even assuming perfect weather throughout the trip. Aboard a Catalina 22, that simply is a three-week cruise each way or close to it.

*                         *                         *

Coming back from dinner at the Snare Creek Grille on Thursday evening, the four of us got talking about where my next annual cruising adventure would take me, since I've now cruised the entire eastern seaboard from Key West to Cape Split.

Monica said, “You can always come back here, launch at the town ramp, and keep heading north to Labrador!”

Rich was driving, looked over his shoulder at Wally, and nonchalantly added, “Well, I guess that'll make Wally a Labrador Retriever,” which had us all choking with laughter the rest of the drive back to their place. Fear not, Wally:  there'll be no more trailering for this sailor!

PHOTO ALBUM CHARTS
A  RETURN

 

Chip Ahoy's 2005 Voyage (per Garmin BlueChart courses)

Course Date Distance
Portland to Five Islands Harbor Fri., Jul 22 27.9 nm
Five Islands Harbor to Boothbay Harbor Sat., Jul 23 8.47 nm
Boothbay Harbor to Port Clyde Tues., Jul 26 19.1 nm
Port Clyde to Southern Harbor, North Haven Island Thurs., Jul 28 22.3 nm
Southern Harbor, North Haven Island to Bass Harbor, MDI Fri., Jul 29 23.3 nm
Bass Harbor, Mount Desert Island to Northeast Harbor, MDI Sun., Jul 31 7.34 nm
Northeast Harbor, Mount Desert Island to Winter Harbor Wed., Aug 3 11.9 nm
Winter Harbor to Eastern Harbor, South Addison Thurs., Aug 4 21.03 nm
Total distance (nautical miles)

141.34 nm

Total distance (statute miles)

162.65 mi

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