s/v Esmeralde

Jamestown, Rhode Island





Esmeralde's Advenutures (and other stuff too!)
Maine Cruise 2009

Monday, August 17 - Barred Islands to Camden

The day started out glassy calm with a light haze and drifting fog filtering around the islands.  It was beautiful, but we were a little cranky after a busy night.  When the tide turned at about 10:30 pm, ESMERLADE managed to wrap the anchor rode around her keel, which had a laying hard against the rode.  After some fussing, we managed to sort her out, but by the time we were done we were both mosquito-mauled.

We spent the morning reading and relaxing, and finally up-anchored at about noon.  SKATER headed north for Seal Cove, just west of Bucks Harbor.  We decided to head south and east to catch up with the Bouzaids aboard WAI ANIWA. 

Sunday, August 16 - Merchants Row to Barred Islands

Sunday was yet another beautiful clear, calm morning.  We did the appropriate thing: relaxed and read.  Sandy Wakeman from the Able 58 PILGRIM came over to say hi and we had a nice chat.  When SKATER hauled up, we decided to sail off with them up towards the Barred Islands at the north end of Penobscot Bay.  The breeze came up nicely and and we had a great little sail through Merchants Row, then ran up the bay in light air. 

Cleave and Darcy "sailed" down to ESMERALDE in their dinghy while Pepper waited to welcome them aboard for cocktails.


Saturday, August 15, Day 19 - Merchants Row, Round & McGlathery

A lovely, lazy day at anchor in an incredibly beautiful spot.  A bit of boat work, a bit of reading, and a fun walk around Round Island with Pepper.  He had a great time bouncing around the rockpiles and was every bit the little mountain goat.  A bit too bold for his own good, but we all had fun.  It was clear and sunny, but early in the day there was little breeze, so we got quite hot and sweaty.  At the end, we decided it was time for Pepper's second swim lesson, so Dad took him for a plunge.  He was great!  He paddled around in a circle then made his way towards shore to shake himself off.  He kept himself up even without a lifejacket...something we'll not test unless on the beach, but he CAN swim.  The second time Dad dunked him, he didn't even race right out of the water, preferring to hang out.  Maybe he liked the cool water.

Dinner aboard SKATER.  Ever had a Harbor Bar?  Yum!  But only buy one or you'll be in trouble...  Thanks, Darcy!


Friday, August 14, Day 18 - Northeast Harbor to Merchants Row

Another beautiful, sunny day.  After shopping and laundry, we piled aboard and headed out for Merchants Row, and one of our favorite spots, a little hole between Round Island and McGlathery.  SKATER had left a couple of hours ahead, bound for the same spot.

After motoring over Bass Harbor Bar, the southwest breeze freshened.  We shut down the motor and set sail, a lovely beat across to Casco Passage.  A Sabre 38 was sailing the same route, and we trounced them handily.  Always fun to do!  The breeze was gusting up over 22 apparent, so we were overcanvassed but doing fine.

When we arrived at Round & McGlathery, a bit windblown, there was only one boat in the hole.  We dropped anchor and settled in.  Quite lovely.  Breezy, cool, sunny and clear.  Isle au Haut peaking throught the passage between the islands.  SKATER arrived about an hour later, having had a longer sail out around Long Island.  Dinner with the SKATER crew aboard ESMERALDE featured fresh steamed lobster cocktail as we enjoyed a spectacular sunset.  We bought the lobsters from a boat that was hauling traps alongside in the anchorage. They went from the bottom to his boat to ours, and into the pot, in about ten minutes (after we introduced Pepper to his first lobster...).  Then the main course was meatballs that Bruce had made on the trip over: yummy! 

Thursday, August 13, Day 17 - Northeast Harbor

Layday in Northeast.  It turned into a beautiful day: sunny and cool.  Bruce spent some time at the medical clinic in the morning to have a small ear issue dealt with (he can hear again!), and then we took the bus into Bar Harbor to replenish our book supply.  After a nice lunch on the waterfront we made our way back to Northeast, where I once again tackled the cabin top with cleaner and wax.  Almost there...but ran out of wax and had to special order some through the hardware store.  It will be in tomorrow.

The evening was our first on our own, without guests or engagements, in many days.  This has been a very different cruise from what we are accustomed to.  Fun, but different, as we have had social activities virtually every night, everywhere we have gone.  So to celebrate our solitude we decided to go out to dinner at the Tapas restaurant in town.  It was VERY GOOD!  Very pleasant evening.

Tomorrow morning we will test the little gift that Pretzel left us: a nice, freshly scented piddle-pad we will leave on deck...

Wednesday, August 12, Day 16 - Little Cranberry to Northeast

It was gray and foggy when we woke up, but we conquered that detail with homemade blueberry-banana whole wheat muffins.  Darcy and Cleave came over to indulge with us.  Even Bruce didn't mind the whole wheat element.  By the time we were done, the fog had lifted.  Both boats headed for Northeast, not exactly what we wanted but it seemed good enough.  Both of us secured moorings: very nice.  I spotted KINVARA over on one of the floats so I hopped in the dinghy to say hi.  They accepted our invitation to cocktails aboard ESMERALDE, so the party was set.

It turned into a very lovely, sunny day.  We ran errands, ordered new hinges for the fridge door (temporarily repaired with a Sam Adams beer cap), and then I spent a few hours cleaning and waxing the cabin top.

We had a delightful party on board with the crews from SKATER and KINVARA, including little Pretzel.  Good for for everyone.  The highlight of the evening was Peter taking Bruce's bet to motor his dinghy under the catamaran moored behind us...  Peter won the two dollars Bruce wagered, much to Jane's amazement, and we all had a great laugh watching the scene!  In the photo, Peter gives the two fingers in the air: Bruce better come up with the two bucks!





Tuesday, August 11, Day 15, Pleasant Bay to Little Cranberry

The verdict is in: the weather has informed our decision to head west.  With easterlies, rain and fog in the forecast, we don't want to hang out in Roque.  So off we go towards Mt. Desert.

First, though, we must feed ourselves: breakfast aboard SKATER by Darcy featured pancakes with organic Maine Blueberries and bacon (turkey, thank you).  Once we were well stuffed, both boats cast off the pennants and said a silent, enthusiastic "thank you" to Jack and Diane Myles for their delightful hospitality at John White Island.  Then, through flat calm and smoky haze, SKATER & ESMERALDE motored peacefully out Pleasant Bay, scooted over Petite Manan Bar, and enjoyed the views, through the haze and occasional fog banks, of Mt. Desert looming in the West.

Possible destinations included Winter Harbor, Sorrento and Little Cranberry.  Somehow we ended up headed for Little Cranberry, mostly, I think, because Darcy was ready to have dinner in a restaurant, and the Islesford Dock Restaurant has been a favorite of cruising sailors for many years.  EMSERALDE arrived first and picked up a town guest mooring (free!!). 

We had a bit of a peep show when we arrived.  The crew of a boat alongside ESMERALDE was swimming off the stern...except that they were bathing, stark naked!  Not a scene you see often in Maine, with the stunning views of Mt. Desert in the backbround.

With a strong front approaching with thunder, lightning and rain, we tucked in, and I buzzed ashore with Pepper for a quick walk around the island.  Things ashore actually looked quite lively and a little more polished than I remember from previous years.  There is a new shop on the dock, as well as a new gallery.  A number of houses (tho not all) were spiffed up with gardens and paint.  The store appears to be gone.  I pleasant walk, nice people, and a bunch of puppies for Pepper to greet.

Back on ESMERALDE we enjoyed cocktails below, at first then in the cockpit as the front bypassed us to the south with only a few spits of raindrops.  The sun came out, and we were treated to that spectacular sunset show that Little Cranberry is so famous for, with the waterfront glowing in evening light and the hills of Mt. Desert looming to the north.  Very nice scene.


Monday, August 10, Day 14, Pleasant Bay, John White Island

The morning dawned damp and gray off John White Island, and we were all a bit crunchy, as we rolled most of the early morning from a combination of surface chop and lobster boats.  Pepper had also barfed in his bed, and slept in it, so we had a bit of work to do.  It turned into a boat morning as we tackled the dog (a complete bath, much to his displeasure), the dog bed, the cockpit cushions, the cockpit, and the bottom scum from the mooring that had traveled all over the deck.

In the midst of all this, Cleave and Darcy came over and asked us if we'd like to go for a ride in the Myles' van to Jonesport to have a look-see, and do some provisioning.  This seemed like a good way to see Jonesport, given the dense fog we were facing, so off I went, leaving Bruce and Pepper to clean up the mess.  To get to the van, we dinghied to the Myles' dock and walked up some paths to a little john-boat arrangement, an aluminum skiff set up with an outhaul to the mainland about 70 feet away.  The tide was out, so we could walk across, but we would need the john-boat on our return, as the tide would be in.  Jonesport was bleak.  The economy is not soaring, and as a couple of locals on the town dock told us, lobster is cheaper than hamburger.  We provisioned at Manneford's supermarket a few miles from the waterfront, then drove down to Cape Split/Eastern Harbor to see about motoring up there for the night.  Couldn't see a darn thing through the fog.  Back at John White Island, the sun was out, so for the time being it seems a good idea to stay put.  Plans for Roque are on hold, as there is an easterly wind forecast and we don't want to anchor along the beach in those conditions.  We can't anchor on the north side because Pepper can't go ashore there, and Lakeman's only has room for maybe two boats (especially since we are on rode, not chain).  So we don't know what our next move is, but that's just fine!

A lazy, sunny afternoon merged into a lovely evening.  The SKATER and ESMERALDE crew joined the Myles clan on their float for sundowners.  What nice folks, what a beautiful spot. 


Sunday, August 9, Day 13, Burnt Coat Harbor to Pleasant Bay - John White Island

My day started with an early trip ashore with Pepper, who was denied his late-evening pee because of our evening with Cleave and Darcy.  It was a perfectly still, clear, cool morning.  We walked out to the lighthouse, which is in the final stages of a restoration.  Last time we visited, the lightkeepers house was crumbling.  Now, the point is a public park and National Historic Site, and the keeper's house looks wonderful, although not quite complete.  The island kids are still using the access road for drag racing, as evidenced by the rubber on the road, but otherwise it is a lovely, pleasant spot and we look forward to seeing it complete on our next visit.

Today we're headed east.  No wind, sunny, clear for miles and miles.  We left Burnt Coat in tandem with SKATER, looped through Frenchboro for a peek, then pointed for Pleasant Bay, where Cleave and Darcy have friends who have a small cabin on an island just north of Cape Split.  We motored for a bit, then, as the breeze filled in, both boats put spinnakers on.  It started out slow and lazy, but within an hour we had a perfect breeze: 10-14 kts, right on the quarter.  Esmeralde rolled along effortlessly at 7 - 7.5 knots.  Views of all of Mt. Desert, Schoodic Point, Frenchboro and Swans Island entertained all day long.  A GREAT SAIL: it doesn't get much better.

Eventually we passed Petit Manan, then turned northeast up into Pleasant Bay, headed for Jack and Diane Myles cabin on John White Island.  Putting the pole out enabled us to carry the spinnaker dead downwind the rest of the way.  The Myles maintain a CCA mooring, but it was already occupied when we arrived by other acquaintances of Cleave's, Greg & Debby Gebow aboard UNDINE, a Hallberg Rassy 43.  We picked up a neighbor's mooring, which left our stern about a boatlength from the rocks in 11 feet of water. 

After a quick shower, and as the evening turned damp and cool, we all dinghied to the Myles wonderful float and granite pier, and followed the pine trails to their charming, self-sustaining cabin looking down Pleasant Bay.  We enjoyed cockails with them before having dinner aboard ESMERALDE with Cleave & Darcy. 

Saturday, August 8, Day 12, Northeast to Burnt Coat Harbor, Swan's Island

We're on the move again, and what a lovely day to move.  Another clear, cool, breezy day, a nowrthwesterly that took us briskly out of Northeast and Western Way.  We got a call from Cleave as we headed out of the harbor, and agreed to meet in Swan's Island, Burnt Coat Harbor.  He and Darcy were sailing over from Pulpit Harbor.  We put on the sails, and had a lengthy discussion about whether to put on the Code 0 or 2-A spinnaker. In the end, with gusty and shifty breezes, we decided that either one would be frustrating, so we just unrolled the genoa and off we went.  Good call, as the apparent breeze pulled well forward as we headed roughly southeast towards Swan's Island. 

What a delightful sail it was!  The breeze held at 13 - 18 apparent, at 35 - 90 degrees as it wrapped around the islands and we worked our way through the various rockpiles and islands to the back tickle into Burnt Coat.  The only problem with the sail: it was much too short.

We dropped sail as we appoached the eastern entrance...a "tricky tickle" as the guides say, where we bumped on a ledge the first year with this boat.  Happily, we made a safe entry into the main harbor, and could just see the menacing ledge lurking below the surface of the water as we passed by.  Only two yachts were in when we arrived, so we anchored with plenty of room outside the mooring field.  I hopped in the dinghy with Pepper to walk to the store.   Somehow, between the dairy cooler at Pine Tree Market in Northeast, and the entrance to Swan's Island, the milk I picked up had disappeared.  Since we plan to be cruising the islands without resources for the next week, we needed milk.  Fortunately, the new store on Swan's Island, built after the old one was lost to fire in 2005, was open.  Off we went.

We dinghied over to Kent's wharf and had a delightful walk.  It's about 15 - 20 minutes to the store, just north up the road, past the post office and the lovely lily pond, then left onto North Road, past the little white church, and up just a couple hundred yards on the left.  It's a tiny little store, but has pretty much everything you might need, and appears to be the social hub of the island.  Pepper sat outside, and was a hit with the locals.  Everyone loves a Scotty!  There is also a little take-out restaurant in a trailer that appears to be a busy little spot.  Hot dogs, burgers, grilled cheese, fried seafood, ice cream, all the good stuff.  Pepper and I sniffed around but managed to restrain ourselves, and enjoyed the nice walk back to the boat, weighed down with three quarts of milk.

Cleave and Darcy arrived around 4:00.  We made arrangements to have drinks and dinner with them aboard SKATER.  What a fun evening.  The Great Occasion was that Darcy has just secured a contract to publish her first book, a project that has been in the works for a number of years now.  Congratulations Darcy!  What a terrific accomplishment.  The book will be published by a small, niche British company and will appear in print in February.

The evening was good fun, as always.  Lots of great food, and plenty of liquid refreshment to wash it all down.  Pepper had a delightful time playing with Cleave and Darcy, and chasing down food wherever he could find it.  Bruce, Pepper and I ultimately tumbled safely back to ESMERALDE a little too late, and had a quiet rest.

Friday, August 7, Day 11, Northeast Harbor, Layday #4

We woke up to a beautiful crisp, clear, sunny "fall" day.  A fresh northerly was blowing, and Northeast Harbor was quiet: everyone off sailing in remote parts (except us!).  After a liesurely breakfast aboard of homemade banana blueberry bread, we headed for the free Explorer bus and rode to Jordan Pond with Pepper.  Pepper LOVES the buses.  He charges up the steps when the doors open, greets everyone who comes aboard, and watches every movement and responds to every sound.  The doors spook him a bit when they open with a "whoosh-bang", but he's fascinated by them none-the-less.

At Jordan Pond there was no shortage of explorers, but it was quite a lovely walk around the pond, a little over three miles.  Pepper had a blast!  He charged along ahead of us with his head up, exploring everything.  Except for an occasional squirt on some unsuspecting shrub, he never slowed down.  What fun for all of us.  Towards the end he did get a little tuckered out, so rather than doing the hike back down the the harbor we took another bus home.  It was a lovely way to spend a few hours.

Back at the boat, a few squalls threatened, along with some spits of rain, as a front passed through.  The Espar parts were waiting for us, as was one last pile of laundry and a shopping list.  We divied up the chores and off we go. 

One the shopping list: a Little Notch blueberry pie :), and for Bruce, those scary looking bright red hot dogs...

Finally: a very lovely evening, cool and crisp, clear and pleasant.

Thursday, August 6, Day 10, Northeast Harbor, Layday #3

Last night was great fun.  We had cocktails aboard Emily with the Gaynors, Lloyd & Pat Hamilton, and Tim & Bev.  We started out on deck, but drizzle started and we all tucked in below, enjoying the carefully planned and hard-sailed Emily.  The Gaynors are delightful, and we talked about all the sailors we know in common, about the Bermuda Race, regulations, rating rules, people and sailing.  Very nice evening.  Pepper was included, and spent most of the evening shredding a sponge he selected out of the galley cleaning stores, and also chewing apart the leather laces on Edwin's shoes.  I don't know how Edwin was able to keep his shoes on this morning when he dressed, as I collected many bits of leather lace off the cabin sole as I got ready to leave. 

Today was a beautiful clear sunny northerly.  Waiting for Espar parts, Bruce and I decided to explore a bit.  We took the free propane-powered bus over to Bar Harbor and wandered around the town, and had lunch on the waterfront.  Glad we're not staying in Bar Harbor, but it was a fun visit.  On the ride over and back, we saw that the park system is really stressed by the number of visitors and cars.  At Jordan Pond, cars were parked on both sides of the park road for a mile or more, and there was a traffic jam at Jordon Pond House.  Thousands of bikers.  Pretty amazing.

Lovely evening aboard, after fueling up at Clifton Dock.  One more day, parts, and repair the Espar.  Then we'll be off again.

Wednesday, August 5, Day 9, Northeast Harbor, Layday #2

We're beginning to think that we may have been hit by lightning sometime earlier this summer.

Last night, after a delightful dinner with Tim and Bev at the Tapas restaurant, we returned to the boat in the cold, damp fog and fired up the Espar to take the edge off the night.  No Espar! 

This morning Bruce dove into the project, and after multiple telephone conversations with the tech guys, ordered parts.  Overnight delivery to Mt. Desert is actually two day delivery, so we're here for two more days.  At least it's a nice place to be.  We could take off and return to pick up the package, but we decide to hang around.  We've been invited aboard Emily tonight, for cocktails with Edwin & Elizabeth Gaynor as well as Tim and Bev.  Nice invitation and it promises to be fun.

Tuesday, August 4, Day 8 - Northeast Harbor Layday

Stayed in Northeast today: laundry, propane, boat clean-up, and lazy hours.  Early morning had dense fog at ground level, but sunshine overhead.  Through the day the fog came and went in the harbor, but it was pretty clear that outside, the fog remained thick.  We did our chores early: Bruce to re-fill the propane tank, me in the laundrymat with Bev off September Song. 

When I got back to the dock where Bruce and Pepper were waiting, he told me he had had quite an hour.  Apparently, on board a Sabre we had oogled the day before, a couple was leaving the harbor and the man had a stroke.  The wife sent out a mayday call on the radio, which Bruce heard while he was in the Mooring Agent's office chatting.  They went running down to the town dock as the harbormaster took off in his boat.  The Sabre came alongside as the ambulance arrived, and the captain and wife were rushed off to the hospital. Bruce and the mooring agent helped drop the sails which were still up and tidy the boat up, and the harbormaster towed the boat back to a mooring.  How really depressing.

This evening we'll go out to dinner at the Tapas restaurant with Tim and Bev, which should be fun.

At the moment (mid-afternoon) the fog is as think as ever, even in the harbor, and it feels a bit like it might rain.  Nice day to be in town.

Monday, August 3, Day 7 - Wooden Boat to Northeast Harbor

Monday morning brought another damp, foggy day.  I fired up the cappuccino machine, and responded to Bruce's request for blueberry cornmeal pancakes and bacon (only I forgot to cook the bacon and got in big trouble when I served the pancakes without it!)  We took Pepper for a delightful walk through the Wooden Boat school and out the access road to the main drag, and back again.  He was happy. 

As we returned to the boat, the fog lifted nicely so we decided to press on.  Waving good by to our pals from the evening before, we headed out the reach, and down Jericho Bay, bypassing our favorite Buckle in order to press on to Northeast Harbor.  We drifted along under sail for a short while, but eventually the wind pooped out entirely and the tide turned against us, so we fired up the engine and had a pleasant trip through Casco Passage.  Half-way across to the Bass Harbor Bar the fog socked in.  ZERO visibility, and lots of lobster boats, pleasure boats and lobster boats.  It was a very busy few miles on approach to the Barr, then around to the entrance to Western Way.  Then, without warning and as fast as a curtain coming up on a stage, the fog evaporated and Mount Desert appeared, clear, warm, sunny, and blue sky.  Even the fog offshore to the south simply dissolved.  I have never seen so much fog disappear so suddenly and so thoroughly, not to return at all for the rest of the day. 

We picked up a mooring in Northeast and wandered ashore.  We'll stay two days, refresh our propane, do laundry and some basic provisioning, then maybe head east to Roque & Cutler.

While we relaxed in the cockpit, we spoted Bev & Tim arrive on the Sabre 386 September Song.  We'd been trying to catch up with them, and here they were!  They came aboard for a chat, and we will have cocktails this evening aboard September Song.  Good fun!

Sunday, August 2, Day 6 - Bucks Harbor to Wooden Boat

After a nice quiet evening in Bucks, we woke to very thick fog blanketing everything in sight.  Nothing better to do than take Pepper for a nice walk "into town", as it were, for a hello to the neighborhood at the Bucks General Store.  Pepper was a hit, greeting all the locals and summer folk as they came and went, gathering morning coffee, newspapers, bread and milk.  Bruce went in and made a few "unapproved" purchases, plus our first local Maine blueberries of the cruise, and we all headed back to the boat.

Back at the boat, the fog was still think but showing some signs of lightning.  So we hauled up the anchor and headed out, and as we passed through the harbor entrance the fog lifted all around us, and gave us clear but gray views up Eggemoggin Reach.  We turned left, and headed down the reach to destinations unknown.  Maybe Wooden Boat, maybe Buckle, maybe Northeast.

It was a pleasant motor up the reach, especially as we began to see a veritable parade of lovely wooden boats proceeding northwest up the reach.  Clearly, something was up at Wooden Boat.  We decided to duck into the anchorage to see what we might find, just as the fog rolled in thick, wet and impenetrable.  There were still many of the Wooden Boat Regatta fleet anchored in the fog, and we spotted our good friends Dean and Kathy Mendenhall on Briar Patch.  We also found the guest CCA mooring was available, so we continued in, waved to Dean and Kathy, and picked up the moorning.  Why fight the fog with such good company at anchor?

Dean and Kathy came over and joined us in our cockpit.  They are in the last month of a 13-month cruise on their lovely McIntosh cutter that Dean built himself, in his own back yard, with trees felled from a neighbor's property more than 20 years ago.  They were repeating a cruise down the waterway and a winter in the Bahamas that they had shared together 17 years ago.  What an adventure!   They invited us to dinner aboard with their good friends Paul and Joyce, who had sailed their wooden Ketch ???? around the world in the mid-1990s.  It was a delightful evening in good company, warmed by Kathy's wood-burning galley stove and Dean's incredibly charming hand-built interior.  We just barely managed to find our way back to Esmeralde in fog so thick it was essentially raining.  A good night's sleep lay ahead!

Saturday, August 1, Day 5 - Isle Au Haut to Bucks Harbor

We got pummeled by rain yesterday throughout the evening: a great cleaning for the boat, and the dinghy floorboards were floating this morning.  We were happy, though, tucked in below with a nice dinner of pan-seared pork tenderloin and red wine.  Bruce chatted with ham and sideband pals, including Cleave.  We missed Eric.  Early bedtime.  I poked my head out of the hatch at about 0300 and saw nothing but stars.  Could this be a good sign?

In the morning, it was clear and the sun was shining through a moderate ground fog: very beautiful.  I took my half-hour to wipe down the decks, rails, stainless and cabin top, then went back below to put the porridge and coffee on the stove and feed Pepper.  Lovely morning routine.  The Thoroughfare was mainly asleep, and beautiful.

Once the crew was up, fed and watered, we all went ashore for a pleasant walk along the shore.  Pepper met some new friends, and was very happy.  He loves visiting these new spots and is very animated.  We hope he is having a good time.

Back on the boat we took an hour to do boat routine.  Bruce cleaned and waxed the transom, while I cleaned the cabin sole, galley stove and head.  Nice and tidy.  All is well.

We decided we'd do the lazy thing and wander just around the block to one of our favorite spots, the little hole in Merchants Row between Round and McGlathery.  We decided against exiting through the thoroughfare on a falling tide, with our 7' draft, so we motored out into East Penobscot Bay instead, to find was a lovely westerly breeze.  We decided it might be a nice run up to Bucks, where Pepper could say hi to the Scotties at Bucks Harbor Marine.  It was indeed a lovely trip, with clear views of the Camden Hills and lovely panoramas wherever we glanced, but we ended up motor-sailing most of the way, as the breeze failed us and the ebb tide was strong against.  Regardless, it was most pleasant.  We anchored in the eastern cove with spectacular views down Penobscot Bay.  Caused a bit of a ruckus when we went ashore and all the Scotties greeted one another, but it was fun.  Returned to the boat where it was flat calm, sunny and hot.  Enjoyed a lovely siesta, waiting for the cool evening breeze and the sunset.

Friday, July 31 - Day 4 - Tenants Harbor to Isle Au Haut

Woke up this morning and looked out the overhead hatch to see crystal clear blue sky and felt a cool, dry breeze wafting down.  Could this be...Kansas?  No!  This is Maine!  In the summer of 2009!

Yesterday in Tenants turned out to be lovely.  As we tidied up the boat and showered, the rain that had welcomed us tapered off, the skies cleared, and the warm, pleasant sunshine emerged.  It was a beautiful summer day, and we soaked it in.  Oh, to be in Maine in July!  We're grateful for whatever we can get this year.  After the obligatory lobster rolls and lobster stew at the Cod End, we both had a great restful night.

I should note that while we were able to pick up a mooring at 8:00 a.m., and there were plenty of rentals available until 3:00 pm, by 3:45 all the Cod End moorings were taken.  About half a dozen boats arrived after that and had a tough time finding a home for the night.  Some anchored, some went to Long Cove, and one or two found that elusive other-than-Cod-End rental. 

This morning, as I said, we woke to a lovely Maine summer day.  We took Pepper in for a nice long walk on a country road, where he found several kitty cats to chat with, and his first rooster.  After a stop at the General Store, we returned to the boat and pondered the day's plan.  We're relaxed, and we simply want to enjoy whatever is available.  With light winds and afternoon showers forecast, we elect to head off to Isle Au Haut.  It is a pleasant, quiet, motor-sail passage, with lovely views of the Seven Sisters to the North, then Vinal Haven Island, then into East Penobscot to Isle Au Haut thoroughfare.  Uneventful, easy, nice.  Just what we had in mind.

When we arrived, there were no visiting yachts so we had our choice of rental moorings.  Rain was in the air by the time we were tied up and stowed, so we hopped into the dinghy with Pepper and headed ashore for a quick walk.  The center activity was the store, as always.  All the locals were there chatting.  I noticed that their inventory has definitely moved upscale.  They still have the basic canned baked beans and spam, but they also featured some upscale cheeses, condiments, greek yoghurt and Pete 'n Gerry's free range eggs.  Some things do change, even in Maine.

By the time we got back to the boat, the rain had started.  We really didn't care.  We parked ourselves in the cockpit, poured some cocktails, and enjoyed the setting.  Nothing to complain about at all.  It was quite lovely. 

And as an afterthought, just to prove this is Maine 2009, I'm including a photo of the rain from our cockpit...  The plants and ducks are happy (and we are now snug below, all three of us, having a nice evening)!



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Thursday, July 30 - Day 3 - Gulf of Maine to Tenants Harbor

Day 3 started just as Day 2 ended...  Rolling along on a near-dead-run in the Gulf of Maine, 20 - 25 knots of breeze, in very black, damp night.  It wasn't comfortable, but it wasn't too bad.  Pepper was unhappy but was snuggled up hard with one of us at all times, which kept him calm.  He's a good little dog: a good trooper.  The dinghy was hanging in there.  What a great boat the Trinka is.  We have the 10-foot sailing version, and it's a terrific tender.  It has a self-bailer that we leave open whenever we tow, so even if she takes water aboard, it empties right out.  We didn't like putting the boat through the abuse it took surfing down the waves and getting yanked as our stern yawed back and forth, but took it she did!  No problems at all.  Next we'll rig some sort of little drogue to tow that will hold her back a bit, and hopefully keep her a bit more fully in line with Esmeralde.

I relieved Bruce at 3:00 am after a bit of sleep, but not much.  I found a very black, wet night waiting for me, with thick, thick fog.  The good news was that the powerful thunderstorms had passed by to the north, leaving us untouched.  I kept her going as we pulled abeam of Monhegan.  Bruce and Pepper emerged from their nap as we passed Mosquito on the final approach to Tenants.  We shared lobster-pot watch duty, and noted that while the entrance to Tenants was still pretty thick with them, it didn't seem as bad as years past.

We turned around Southern Island, the wind came into our faces, and the rain began to fall.  The three of us became thoroughly soaked as we entered the harbor and dropped our sails.  We had ourchoice of moorings, and were relieved to pick one up, tidy the boat, have hot showers, and finish it all off with the traditional scrambled eggs and bacon breakfast!

We left Cuttyhunk at 7:00 am Wednesday, and were sitting at a mooring in Tenants by 8:00 am Thursday.  Not bad for our scruffy little crew!


Wednesday, July 29 - Day 2: Cuttyhunk to Gulf of Maine

A long day ahead: the plan was to get an early start, hit the Canal with the change of the tide, fuel up and pee Pepper at Sandwich, then head straight for Tenants Harbor.

There was plenty of fog in Cuttyhunk as we made coffee, but not as bad as the day before.  At least we could see the shore!  We cast off just before 7:00 (and also before the morning mooring fee collection team came around, although that wasn't our intent) and headed for the Cape Cod Canal, some 20 miles north up Buzzards Bay.  We arrived just as the tide turned at about 10:00 am, and the fog, which had reduced visibility to 1 mile in the bay, lifted to reveal a bright sunny day.  Pepper was thrilled with his first trip in the Canal, and eagerly watched every person on the bike path and every dog out for a walk.

We pulled into the Sandwich Marina to fuel up and to give Pepper a quick squirt, then at 11:45 headed out and set a course for Tenants Harbor: 143 miles, about 140 degrees.  There was a brisk 15-knot southerly at first, but it quickly went southwest, dead astern, so we motorsailed with the main only.  During the afternoon the breeze quit completely.  Very pleasant, actually, clear, sunny and warm.  A nice change. 

Our course took us directly over Stellwagon.  Bruce was asleep, and I was half-watching, half-reading in the cockpit, scanning the horizon for whales every now and again.  And I got the best whale show I HAVE EVER SEEN!  Just about 10 boat lengths from us, a large whale completely breached the surface: his entire body, from the head to the flukes, came soaring out of the water then came crashing down with a tremendous splash.  My heart was in my throat!  I ran for Bruce, and when we came on deck, the whale did it AGAIN, and AGAIN and AGAIN!  The last few times were within four or five boatlengths of the boat.  (Don't worry, we didn't chase him, we just idled the motor and kept clear).  It was an incredible show, and naturally, no pictures.  It was too exciting to even think about a camera!

As evening approached, we organized for a potentially eventful evening.  The forecast included strong thunderstorms, lightning and heavy rain, along with s-sw winds 15 - 25.  On Sirius Weather we were watching a huge, powerful wave of thunderstorms march across NY, CT, MA and NH, and wondered what they had in store for us. All our handheld electronics went into the oven (who knows if this works, but we thought we'd at least try), harnesses and wet weather gear came out, the boat got fully stowed, and we had a yummy pesto, tortellini & chicken dinner.

Aside from lightening, we had two concerns: Pepper, who had never done something like this before, and the dinghy, which we knew should not be towed across the Gulf of Maine in a 25-knot southwester, but we had no real alternative.

After dinner, Bruce took 6-8 and the breeze filled in for a delightful sail.

I took 8 - 12, and the wind built throughout, topping out at a solid 20 - 23, gusting to 25-26.  This was fine until the seas built, then the dinghy, as we expected, became a bit unruly and Pepper was unhappy.  We spent the rest of the night trading watches every few hours, the off-watch person on duty snuggling with Pepper, which kept him calm.  There wasn't much we could do about the dinghy other than tweak boatspeed.

The fog came and went, and the moon even made an appearance to shed some welcome light on the entire adventure.  I said good-by to Day 2 at midnight, turning the yacht over to Bruce as I went below to hang out with little Pepper.

Tuesday, July 28 - day 1 - Newport to Cuttyhunk

This is one of those days that will go down in the books.  All you sailing pals who think we're absurd with maintaining our boat will get some vicarious fun out of it.

It started out just fine.  Good night's sleep in our air conditioned house, then a reasonable start to the boat, all packed up and ready to go.  ESMERALDE made us proud: she was spit 'n polish fine, all systems ready to go, clean and organized and well stowed.  We were ready!

Hopped aboard, Pepper in tow.  Cast off from our slip in Portsmouth at 10:30.  Perfect timing.  Headed for a relaxing evening in Cuttyhunk (we would have headed straight on through the canal, but there was no way for us to make the current, and a nice evening and good rest seemed to make sense).

At 10:50, Bruce went below and found our bilge full of hot, fresh water, and our starboard water tank empty.  Stop the boat!  Shut everything down just south of Prudence Island, and the immediate diagnosis was a failed pressure releif valve on the hot water tank.  Not such a big deal, as we could grab one quickly at any plumbing supply store, but it did totally disable our water system so we wanted to deal with it immediately.  Head back to the dock.

Then I had to tell Bruce what I had observed while he was diagnosing the water system failure: our autopilot kept shutting off, "mot stal". 

This was a bigger problem, and a surprise, as we had just replaced the autopilot control head two weeks ago.  A phone call to Bruce's pal at Raymarine Tech Support, and a diagnosis of a failed drive.  Another quick call the Cay Marine, which had a replacement drive in stock.  We were headed for the dock anyway.  Add that to the list.

Back tied alongside by 1130.  Bruce ripped out the old drive, and while I carried it up to Cay for the replacement, he pulled out the pressure relief valve.  I returned with the new drive, and exchanged it for the pressure relief valve.  While I drove to the Plumbing Supply store, he installed the drive.  When I got back with the new valve, he was finishing up the drive installation.

Our boat, which had been spotlessly tidy just two hours before.  Was totally ripped upart!

Installed the valve, and fired up the water system.

The water pump wouldn't shut off.  Not air lock, not crap.  DEAD.  OK, pull out the spare we carry (the pump has already been replaced twice) and install it.  Fire up the water system again.  All is well.

Put boat back together.  Leave dock at 3:00 PM having spent $2,030 and used a $300 spare part.  Head out, and spend an hour calibrating the autopilot.  4:30: head for Cuttyhunk.

WHEW.  What a way to start a cruise.  Thank goodness we carry a full-time mechanic on-board.

We had an uneventful motor down the bay, then ran straight into PEA SOUP fog around Clingstone.  Less than 1/4 mile vis by the time we got to Castle Hill.  Hoisted the main as we rounded R4, and put her on a course for Cuttyhunk.  Nice 12-knot breeze on the beam.  We rolled along at 7 - 7.5 knots, a really lovely sail but for the zero-visibility thing.  Good time for both of us to relax and try to get beyond the hectic and unplanned activities of the day.

Got in to Cuttyhunk at about 8:00 PM.  We couldn't see the breakwater until we were about one boatlength away.  The stuff was very, very think, even in the channel and in the harbor.  We picked up one of about 2-3 available moorings in the pond, had a quick yummy chicken dinner and a well-deserved glass of wine, and crashed for a good night's rest.













Bruce and Dorsey Beard