s/v Esmeralde

Jamestown, Rhode Island





Esmeralde's Advenutures (and other stuff too!)


Maine Cruise 2010 - The Illicit Cruise

We finished the Bermuda Race this year, and sailed directly back to Portland, Maine to clear customs in order to get to the Sabre rendezvous in Boothbay Harbor for the July 9 - 11 weekend.  Once the rendezvous was over, we had planned to head directly home.  However, when we thought about all the extraordinary cruising ground just east of us, well, we couldn't resist.  So on Sunday afternoon as the rendezvous wound down, we gave in to temptation and headed east - in the thcik fog - towards Tenants Harbor.  The rest, as they say, is history!

Cuttyhunk - Wednesday & Thursday, July 21 - 22

Cuttyhunk was delightful when we arrived.  Warm and steamy, with lots of moorings available inside the pond.  We were both tired, so we relaxed and snoozed a bit, reading and walking ashore with Pep.  For dinner we bought swordfish from the local fishmonger on the dock, as well as some shrimp and seafood spread from the Raw Bar.  A very expensive meal, in the end, but nice!  Ate on deck with a bottle of cold chardonnay.  Kind of what it's all about.

Our plan was originally to leave Cuttyhunk in the morning for a run to Block Island.  Unfortunately the forecast proved correct: 15-20 kts out of the west, gusting to 25.  We weren't exactly in the mood for thrashing directly into it for six hours or more, and Cuttyhunk isn't such a bad place to hang out for an extra day, so we hung.  I made Bruce a sauteed mushroom-cheese omlette with bacon, and also made delicious banana-blueberry-oat muffins from the Black Dog Cookbook.  Very pleasant domestic morning on board, while the wind blew.  The Hunter 41 DS next to us headed out for Block: we'd love to talk to them to see how the trip was!  We'd rather get to Block on Thursday than on Friday, but the price we'd have to pay, leaving in those wind conditions, was simply too high. 

Overnight to the Cape Cod Canal

The forecast was basically for light and variable winds: not great sailing, but an easy passage, and a fast, direct one, which was a top priority for Pepper.  These Maine overnights are not easy on or good for the little guy.  We don't like doing it to him, but sometimes we have little choice.  Our plan was to leave mid-morning and head for either Provincetown or the Canal -- same compass course, so it didn't matter.  In the end, going directly for the Canal is only an extra 12 or so miles, so it's far more efficient, unless you really want to go to P-Town.  We didn't care.  So ultimately we decided to run straight for the canal.  We left Tenants at 10:00 am. 

The trip was quiet and uneventful.  We ran at about 23 or 2400 RPMs, burning about a gallon an hour.  We kept on 7 - 7.2 knots as long as we had some apparent wind angle, and as low as 6.2 when the breeze came directly ahead at 12-15 apparent over night.  At one point we were down to 5.9 SOG when the current came ahead as well, but basically we made pretty good time.  There was a near-full moon and clear skies for most of the night: very pretty, very easy, very pleasant. 

We arrived at the Canal entrance at about 7:30, and as we did, the fog descended VERY thick!  No problem, really, but annoying.  We dropped the main and pulled into the basin for fuel and -- more importantly -- a pee for Pepper.  He made a bee-line for the nearest bush!  We were stopped for all of about 10 minutes, and under way again for a fast passage through the canal and out the other side, and on to Cuttyhunk, where we pulled in and grabbed a mooring at about 12:00 noon.

Tenants Harbor - Monday, July 19

In the afternoon we motored off from Camden to Tenants Harbor, planning our exit-strategy for getting back home.  We motored through the calm down Mussel Ridge Channel, which, although still scattered with lobster pots, seemed no where near as packed with them as in previous years.  Apparently still more indication of  a quiet economy.  Same was true of the waters approaching Tenants Harbor: lots of pots, but seemingly no where near as bad as years past.

There were also lots of moorings available in Tenants.  Hmmm.  Nice, sunny day, little activity.  Entering the harbor we saw a strange looking vessel anchoring far outside, beyond all moorings.  It was GLevy on his bizarre "new" steel boat.  If only we could find out what happened to his last boat, which seems to have disappeared mysteriously without explanation...

On the way to Tenants we called the Bouzaids, who promised to meet us for dinner at the Cod End.  They arrived (naturally) by boat, and we had a delightful evening with them and their Kiwi buddy, boat captain, Chris. 

That evening, after looking at the forecast, we decide to head out in the morning for either Provincetown or the Canal, thus ending the 2010 Illicit Cruise to Maine!

Camden - Sunday, July 18

This was on obligatory and eagerly anticipated stop by the entire crew.  First, we really enjoy Camden, and second, we wanted to say Hi to all our friends at Wayfarer.  Pepper was especially excited about the prospects of seeing Nancy and Missy!

After a lovely (short) sail from Bucks Harbor in crystal-clear, warm, sunny weather, we pulled into Camden at around noon and tied up to a float in the inner harbor, all the way inside and right next to all the schooners that were in to change over guests for the week.  Saturday and Sunday are always great days to visit because the schooners are in and it's fun to see them and watch the activity.

We got a warm welcome from Ben and the rest of the dock staff, which was really nice.  Wandered around town in the afternoon and generally relaxed in the typical Camden afternoon heat.  Camden was a little quiet, especially for a weekend.  This is a theme that has echoed everywhere we went.  Maine is quiet this year.  Clearly, the economy is still in the rubbish bin.  We're doing our best to prop it up, though!  Had dinner (with Pepper) out on the dock at Bay View Lobster, then turned in for a quiet night.

In the morning, we motored over for a quick-haul at Wayfarer.  The objective was to look at the repair job with the work crew there, and also clean the bottom which, judging from our boat speeds over the last week, was becoming foul.  The gang was great: the travel lift guys were fun, Simon and Steve were there to greet us and chat, and most of all, Missy and Nancy were there.  Pepper went NUTS!!!  Next time I'll try to get it on video: he races up and down the office from one to the other, barking in celebration.  Then he gives Missy high-fives for cookies.  It is VERY cute!  Missy and Nancy are looking forward to pictures of Mattie, which we promised to send.  We also saw Pepper's photo on their wall, with photos of all the other famous Boat Dogs.

In the afternoon we motored off to Tenants Harbor, planning our exit-strategy for getting back home.  We motored through the calm down Mussel Ridge Channel, which, although still scattered with lobster pots, seemed no where near as packed with them as in previous years.  Apparently still more indication of  a quiet economy.  Same was true of the waters approaching Tenants Harbor: lots of pots, but seemingly now where near as bad as years past.

On the way to Tenants we called the Bouzaids, who promised to meet us for dinner at the Cod End.  They arrived (naturally) by boat, and we had a delightful evening with them and their Kiwi buddy, boat captain, Chris. 

Bucks Harbor - Saturday, July 17

We had a couple of leisurely days in Northeast Harbor, partially because we enjoy it, partially because we're lazy, and partially because of the persistent, heavy fog that dogged us just outside the entrance and periodically rolled into the harbor to remind us we were doing the right thing by staying put.  We had a nice day-trip into Bar Harbor to be tourists and have steamers and a lobster roll on the water.  The entire town was buzzing with the impending arrival of the President and the First Family.  It made us want to leave...  They finally arrived on Friday afternoon, and we bugged out on Saturday morning when the fog broke, at least partially, and we were ready to go.

We headed for the "Egg McMuffin Reach" and Bucks Harbor.  Although we had to motor into a light and partially foggy southwesterly across Lower Blue Hill Bay and through Casco Passage, by the time we headed northwest towards the entrance to the Reach the breeze had filled in and the sun had come out.  We had an absolutely delightful sail from the Passage and up the Reach: sunny, warm, beam reach, 7 - 7.5 knots, and fair tide. 

At Bucks there were lots of moorings available.  We picked one up just off Bucks Harbor Marine, and took Pepper in to visit with Horatio and Barkley, the two Scotties who live there.  The boys had a great time with each other: no squabbling at all!  It was good fun to watch them bounce all over the place together.  All the customers were entertained.  We promised to send photos of Mattie when she arrives home.

Northeast Harbor - Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, July 14, 15 & 16

RAIN.  RAIN RAIN RAIN.  Overnight the heavens opened and I'm surprised the boat didn't drown!  It continued well into the morning.  I finally gave up, put on all my gear, and took Pepper ashore in the monsoon.  The dinghy was like a bathtub, but at least it was floating!  Once soggy, we decided to make a decent walk of it, and went out to see how the lighthouse restoration project was going.  A carpenter was there working inside.  The outside of the building looks wonderful, but obviously it's a long project.  The inside still looked largely gutted. 

Back on the boat, we decided to head for Northeast Harbor.  We got under way, and, as I flicked on the autopilot, the GPS and radar went out.  Geeze.  We went through the same exercise as the day before, and Bruce got on the phone to try to troubleshoot.  Eventually, everything started working again, and we proceeded in the rain and fog, under power, to Northeast.  The fog wasn't quite as think as the day before, except for a brief period, but it was still cold and very wet.  We were glad to arrive at Northeast, where skies began to brighten as we entered the harbor.  Thankfully, moorings were available and we settled in. 

Ashore, parking lots were largely empty, slips were not full.  Again, it seems very quiet.  We explored town, noted the new shops and the stuff that is now closed.  The restaurant we enjoyed last year with Tim & Bev, up behind the gas station, was closed and for sale.  How sad: we had like it, and it had seemed quite popular.

And of course Bruce marched in to the Little Notch Bakery and bought a blueberry pie!

Dinner was lobster rolls aboard: wonderful!!

Swans Island - Tuesday, July 13

Morning broke in Isle Au Haut as the evening before had ended: shrouded in thick, damp fog.  After walking Pepper and doing boat chores, we headed out.  As the thick fog settled around us, the GPS, autopilot and radar all crashed.  Oh Joy.  We spent half an hour or so messing around, just near the harbor entrance outside the curtain of fog, trying to figure out what was going on.  Since early summer, we had occasionally lost our GPS fix, but we had attributed it to satellite failure.  Now it was looking like we had some gremlins in our system.  Turn on the autopilot, and out goes the GPS.  Finally it all started working, and, with our hand-held GPS running close at hand as back-up, we headed out in VERY THICK FOG, through Merchants Row where we dodged lobster buoys and lobster boats, not to mention ledges and islands.  Tense work, but thank God the electronics stayed on. 

We eventually made our way to Burnt Coat Harbor at Swans Island, where, even in the harbor the fog remained thick.  Wow.  We picked up one of the Boathouse moorings.  We tried several, all of which were foul with weed and wrapped around the chain.  Eventually, we got one on board, then had to wash the boat down.

After relaxing for an hour or so to come down from the stress of working in the fog, we dinghied ashore with Pepper.  The Boathouse, our normal shore access point, was closed up.  No floats in.  So we went over to the Fishermen's Co-op. Bruce bought four lively lobsters.  We went for a nice little walk with Pepper, then back to the boat.  A few other cruisers had managed to find their way in, including a Canadian couple that was delighted to see Pepper, as she was actually Scottish!

We steamed all four lobsters for dinner, and ate two of them.  They were great!  And the cockpit was a mess. Pepper enjoyed the last of the rib-eye and was very pleased.  I picked the other two for lobster rolls the next day.  Then we all went for another walk ashore for an evening walk.


Isle Au Haut - Monday, July 12

The morning broke with think fog, but some sun shining from overhead, so we were hopeful that it would break into a nice day.  Once ashore we had a nice long walk with Pepper, who was very grateful and enjoyed the whole thing.  Then back to the boat, where we were the last of the over-nighters still lingering.  We hauled up the main, cast off, and motored out, picking our way among the lobster pots that carpet the harbor.  They were thick, but both Bruce and I think not so thick as a few years ago.  Once outside, we headed for Isle Au Haut.  The breeze filled in, and we were able to have a nice motor-sail.  Not quite enough breeze to just sail, but nice none-the-less.  Sunny and pleasant, but surprisingly cold.

We arrived at Isle Au Haut around 2:00 pm, to find no other yachts.  Picked up a rental mooring with the coke bottle attached for payment (Bruce left a Bermudian $10, plus some US cash).  Ashore we discovered the Lunch Buggy, which was new.  The food looked very tempting, but we'd already eaten so we will make note for a future visit.  Bruce enjoyed looking at all the funky vehicles, and Pepper was joyful.

Evening brought clouds and fog, so we tucked in and enjoyed chicken and asparagus on the grill.


Tenants Harbor - Sunday, July 11

The trip to Tenants from Boothbay was foggy and damp, but we were happy to be headed east. We motored directly into an easterly wind, gray, damp and cold, with current against us and swells rolling in from the southeast.  Pepper, poor little guy, barfed again, as he had on the way from Portland to Boothbay.  Note to self: give Pepper some Bonine before leaving next time.  We arrived in Tenants in the pouring rain, and couldn't find any rental moorings.  As the heavens opened, we picked up the nearest vacant buoy.  It clearly had not had a boat on it in a VERY long time, so we hung. 

And of course, as the rain let up (a bit, not completely) we went in to Cod End for the obligatory lobster rolls and (for Bruce) lobster stew.  Great as always, but a big difference: we were the only people there!!  We had gone in early to avoid the crowd that normally shows up at dinner time, to find no one.  Hmmm.  We've never been here in July before, and of course it was raining, but still, it seemed odd.  Sign of the summer season?  Time will tell.  No Chuck sighting this time.  But when it really started to rain as we waited for our food, they invited us inside, even with Pepper.  How nice!



Bruce and Dorsey Beard