Monday, August 22, 2016

Maine charter!

For years, my folks spent one to three weeks each summer sailing about in Penobscot Bay, Maine. They have, for various reasons, given this up for the last decade-and-a-half, but missed it terribly. So.... this year they chartered a Beneteau 375 and Cynthia and I acted as captain, first mate, and cook(s): after all, they wanted to get out there again and we wanted to see the place they loved. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, first of all, I didn't realize that they always figure, based on prior experience, on two or three decent sailing days per week with the remainder being washouts due to excess wind, rain, or fog. Fortunately, Maine apparently decided to treat this as a first date and displayed her best side, with warm weather and only one day we needlessly sat out for predicted late rain and one morning of serious fog.

We spent the day off (our first full day) on Lynn's mooring (Lynn being a new friend we met after she discovered us on her mooring in a tidal creek). We hiked,

looked at numerous mushrooms,

and three of us even leaped off the boat and went for a brief cold swim!

The next day, before the wind picked up enough to move on, Lynn came by with muffins and coffee and a couple dogs and we chatted and told stories.

So far, so good. We stopped in to Stonington for an hour (and brought a pint of Cherry Garcia to the boat to split four ways), then moved on to a nice anchorage on the north side of McGlathery Island. Ashore we found perhaps an acre of milkweeds upon which Cynthia spotted thousands of monarch larvae.

Most of these seemed to be all of a single age group and so numerous that some plants were in danger of being eaten completely and leaving the larvae upon them to starve. I could not resist plucking one leaf with two or three upon it and moving them to an uninhabited plant.
If we had been there a week later I believe the plants would have been hung with chrysalises like Christmas ornaments! Nice to see a decent breeding spot for these endangered insects.

The next day we sailed for Lunt Harbor. A moment's distraction while wending our way through the incredible endless thickets of lobster buoys on the way left us snagged on a string lobster pots, dragging them in the strong wind and current and unable to steer away from Halibut Rocks, a few hundred yards away...and closing. Cynthia and I managed to free the boat in time, with only a reasonable amount of shouting and bloodshed. Very exciting. We decided that sailing in much of this area is like sailing in a crowded harbor, requiring endless and unbroken attention. Not terribly relaxing, but I found that I could sit on the lee side, steer, and see the buoys pretty well.

Once we reached Lunt, we anchored and I dove under the boat to make sure the propeller was not fouled, then we motored (yes, I used the engine willingly and often on this trip) into the harbor, seeking a mooring or spot to anchor. We took a private mooring and hoped the owner would not return that night. This worked well and in the morning we pulled up to the dock and all went ashore for a bit of exploration and exercise. Very nice... and we found green cranberries, tiny ripe blackberries, and a decent tiny patch of wild blueberries, enough for a bite for each picker.

Next, we moved on to Bass Harbor. I had tried to manage too much myself and had lost track of ice. Stonington had wonderful, inexpensive ice....but, NO, I had to refuse it and not notice the ice in the three coolers was running low. So we made a special side trip to get very expensive ice in Bass Harbor, but at least we had a nice chat with a fellow who gave us a ride to the store and lived in a re-purposed cannery right on the water (waves lapping at the foundation! Very cool!). We continued on to Mackerel Cove, a spacious and peaceful anchorage, and dropped anchor in time to enjoy the sunset.

The next morning we headed out and sailed up Eggemoggin Reach. The buoys diminished to the point that we could often take our eyes off the water for a minute or so. Nice. We ended the day in Buck's Harbor as the fog settled in.

Here we ran into our next problem: our first water tank had run down and, per instructions, we switched to the second one...which was empty. Apparently, in the rush to prep the boat for us after the prior charter, they did not make sure the second tank got easy error since both are filled from the same fill hole and there is no obvious way to make sure water goes in both tanks. Hugely fortunately, we had paid for a mooring in the harbor...and this came with the right to fill our tanks with the sweet, clean water at the docks. Very nice! They also had inexpensive ice and free showers for mooring folks. Sweet! Then Cynthia pulled out her rod and had a great time fishing for the schools of mackerel around the dock
...although I'm afraid that I damped things a bit by my reluctance to get mackerel on the dinghy, dock, or sailboat. I can be a fretful and annoying curmudgeon...hmm.

The next morning we began our final full day. We started by motoring once the fog lifted (hardly any breeze) and saw a few pairs of porpoises breaking the glassy water. Then we sailed a bit. Then the wind picked up and mom and I sailed on a double reef to Pulpit Harbor.

We set two anchors, to keep the nightly land breeze from pushing us too close to shore...or into the gorgeous huge black sailboat on the mooring fifty yards or so away. Cynthia poached some of the mackerel in a garlic butter sauce and I think those hors de vours plates were licked clean, at least by one of us.

In the middle of the night I awoke, hot, and spent a half hour laying on the deck and watching bright stars (I think I saw a couple nice Perseid meteors) until the chill drove me back to the warm bed.

And, in the morning, we set out for Rockland and the charter folks, wind picking up until the lee rail nearly dipped into the ocean,
and managed to get our butts and gear off the boat with about ten minutes to spare before the official end of our charter.

I would call this trip a success. Yes, there were too many lobster pots, but the place is beautiful, all of us returned still on speaking terms, and the food... well, my gal is rather unstoppable... I think the pic below shows parmesan crusted dijon mustard pork chops (from scratch), blueberry apple sauce (she made from apples we collected last fall), steamed broccoli, and some cranberry sauce. We also all really enjoyed my dad's wine and our G&Ts...

 And I got our deposit back with compliments about how nicely we kept the boat, I've been the official captain of a charter, and we understand Maine waters. This is all good.


  1. Love it! I have missed hearing of your adventures. Sounds like you have been having a great summer.