Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mackarel Cove - The Repairman Finally Arrives at Bass Harbor

The repairman was not due to arrive until "mid-morning" which turned out to be around 11:00am. He diagnosed the problem to be a loose transmission control wire. The transmission was okay, the push wire to control the engaging was loose. He fixed that problem but then found that the house batteries were not only dead but devoid of water. They had to be replaced and while that procedure was going on, we all went to a local fried seafood place that I can now recommend, quite good.
With the boat finally in working order again, we headed for Mackarel Cove but by that time the light wind had died completely so we motored the 7 miles to the cove, enjoyed another Happy Hour, two rounds of bridge and settled in for the night.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Bass Harbor - Chuck Dobson Saves the Day!

We left Mackarel Cove when the fog lifted around 1:40 pm headed for Northeast Harbor on Mt. Desert Island. We were okay crossing the bay but when we crossed the bar by Bass Harbor, the fog started to roll in. We could see several hundred feet so it was troublesome but doable. When we came upon the buoy to turn into Western Way leading to Northeast Harbor, the fog grew especially thick with visiblity down to 30 feet or so. We slowed down to 5 kts to give us time to avoid the lobster pots which was the only hazard. Our GPS showed our exact position on a chart of the area and our radar showed all the other boats around but nothing but your eyes would show the lobster pots! I had the boat on autopilot most of the time since it was difficult to hold a course manually in the fog, you tended to go in circles. However, when a lobster pot appeared, I quickly switched to manual to avoid the lobster buoy. You actually had to look for both the lobster buoy and its associated toggle since they were connected by a line strung between the two just below the water. With the visibility down to less than 50 feet, that was a challenge but we were making headway to our destination.

Then we received a call on the VHF (marine radio) that Firefly (the boat chartered by the Bunches and the Zeisings) had lost power, their transmission would not engage so they were under sail only and the wind was dying. We paid our respects to the green buoy #1 at the entrance to Western Way and turned back to find Firefly. We both had the same course entered in our GPS's so we just followed the course backward. Presently we saw them emerge out of the fog (there was a lot of traffic in the area so we couldn't tell in advance which radar blip was them) and we turned to follow them towards buoy #1 and then went ahead of them as we entered Western Way. However, they didn't follow! They turned back westward away from buoy #1 and we likewise did a 180 back towards them. We learned that a chase boat was being sent in their direction and that they were headed for Bass Harbor, the home of Morris Yachts.
The chase boat appeared out of the fog and tied up alongside Firefly to provide power. With Firefly taken care of, we motored back across the bar and picked up a mooring at Bass Harbor. Then we got the full story. I seems that Firefly was crossing the bar (a narrow channel across a shallow bar close to shore just south of Bass Harbor) when it lost all power to the prop! The wind was very light at that point and the lobster pots started to go faster than they did (in other words, the current was pushing them backwards even though they were making a little headway, but not faster than the current!) Understandably, they were concerned about ending up on the nearby rocks! They did finally make it through and that's when we got the first call. In all, we made the passage between the bar and the green #1 three times that day!
We found a mooring and I dinked to the Morris Yachts dock and who did I see but Chuck and Jean Dobson waving from the Morris dock! As it turned out, Firefly was totally out of ice and needed 40 pounds desperately. To add insult to injury, Morris Yachts was out of ice! Chuck volunteered to drive one of us to the nearest ice source, about a mile down the road. He came back with 80 pounds of ice (I took 40 for our cooler). Chuck was renting a vacation cottage just up the road in Sawyer Cove and just happened to be at Morris Yachts when we came in, lucky for us! We celebrated with a Happy Hour on Fleetwing with all the crew and the Dobsons.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Markarel Cove - More Fog!

We awoke to a dense fog (again!) and couldn't even see shore although it was only about 500 feet away. We took our handheld GPS along with the boat's location plugged in and headed out for shore. Lance did his business quickly and by that time we could see our boat loom through the fog. The fog slowly lifted and we did a circumnavigation of Round Island which was beautiful with the pink granite and the aroma of balsam pines in the air. By noon the fog had lifted enough for us to head out but we ran into fog again in the middle of the bay but we were able to sail along at about 5 kts or so. As we approached Swans Island, the fog lifted and we found the Mackarel Cove anchorage empty. With a breeze out of the south, we could relax on the back of our boat and look out on Mt Desert, a very pretty view. The Bunches and Zeisings came over for dinner and I grilled chicken breasts that had been marinaded all afternoon. A great dinner with bridge afterwards.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Round Island Anchorage - Hiking on the Islands

We had our usual morning fog but it seemed to clear late morning so we headed out into the bay with the goal of reaching Mackarel Cove on Swans Island but the further east we sailed, the more dense the fog became. We became separated from the Bunches and Zeisings in their boat in the fog and when we finally joined up we decided to cut our sail short and anchor in Merchant's Way near Round Island. The two nearby island are owned by the state and open for hiking and exploring. With Lance now on board, we also needed a place for him twice a day so it was convenient too.
Liz guided the rowboat with her hands since the rower could not see where he was going.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Carver Cove - The Bunches and Zeisings Arrive

We motored to Rockland to let Philip and family off the boat. Journey's End let us use a dock for an hour for the off loading and we used the time to buy ice and to top off the water tanks. It was sad to see everyone go but we had a great time.

Our next stop was at Carver Cove to meet up with the Zeisings and the Bunches. They chartered a boat for a week to sail with us. The wind was out of the south and we had a great sail at 7.5 kts average speed to Vinalhaven. When we arrived we found there was no net out like last time. However, as we were to find out, they put the net out that night around 9:00 (we heard talking and clanking). The net seemed rather close and we wondered if our anchor was under the net! When we pulled the anchor up the next morning, we had about 40 feet to spare! We never found out what they catch with the nets.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Warren Island - Matthew's Birthday

We wanted to find a place where the kids could go ashore and use up some energy and the Warren Island anchorage fit the bill. It's a state park and they have a dinghy dock for easy shore access. We all went ashore to explore the area and there were several campgrounds in use with canoes and kayaks in abundance. As the sun went down we could admire the mountains to the west, a very pretty view.

Today was Matthew's birthday, he's 10 and we celebrated on the boat, all decorated up! Matthew likes to put together models, especially Legos but he's now interested in wooden ship models which can be very intricate and demanding of patience. Matthew is very good at models.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Belfast City Landing

Here's Matthew again:
Hi it's me again, today I played my gameboy. I went swimming off the back of the boat. After lunch we took off. On the way I made a wooden model. I nailed the propeller. I glued every thing else in but the wheels. And docked at the Belfast harbor. We took a two mile walk though Belfast. We saw a huge schooner Bowdoin. We then ate at Weathervane. And came back to the Fleetwing and saw an osprey. We also are watching The Pink Panther. Good bye.
The morning dawned warm and sunny. As is usual in Maine, it takes awhile for the wind to build but it started up around 11:00 and my 12:00 was around 8 to 10 kts. We weighed anchor and headed west to Belfast. We sailed all the way with blue skies, flat seas and no jackets with the wind increasing to 10 to 15 kts. Coming into Belfast we had to change to shorts and, heavens, even put on the air conditioning once docked ($1.75/ft). What a change in the weather. The Bunches and Zeisings are due to join us in their own chartered boat next week and they'll probably wonder why we advised they bring heavy clothes!

We had dinner at the Weathervane restaurant right by the marina. Belfast has seen a renewal and has some interesting shops. There's a grocery store nearby as well as a coin laundry. We watched an osprey repeatedly land on the top of the windex of a nearby boat. It must put a real strain on the windex but it seemed to withstand the onslaught okay.
See our progress at Maine Cruise

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Holbrook Harbor near Castine

The fog broke around noon so we decided to head to the top of Penobscot Bay to escape the fog and for warmer weather. Holbrook Harbor has plenty of room to anchor and a pebble beach for the kids to play on. They were feeling a little confined after several days onboard. Matthew restarted his blog:

Hi it is Matt, yesterday I took Lance to the dock so he could pee. It was foggy I saw a schooner that followed us and I took a two mile walk to Stonington. The fog lifted and we headed to Castine. We went swiming and found some shells on a rocky beach and saw some osprey. I steered the dink back to the Fleetwing. Played my gold gameboy and made a lego engine. I saw a beautful sun set. We hope to do more sailng today and look out for more lobster pots. Lobster pots are conected to a buoys and moorings so the lobster men can get the pots.

Believe it or not, Matthew stayed in the water about an hour. We just said, "Times up" and this was with the water temperature around 61F!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Billings Marine on Deer Island

It was a beautiful morning at Seal Bay and once again we saw seals on the way out. The kids played around the boat, it's like a giant junglegym to them. Sarha practiced her "look", I think Philip will have some fun when she starts dating. We sailed most of the way to our next anchorage at Merchant Harbor but when we arrived we found the wind had not shifted to the SE but was from the east instead which made the anchorage untenable since it was completely open from that direction. We dropped the anchor for lunch and pondered what to do next (Maine term....)

We looked at the anchorage at Round Island but we found the best spots already occupied. We decided to anchor outside the prime area but when I went forward to drop the anchor there was no response out of the windlass! After a few trips to the cabin the reset the circuit breaker I was still unable to get the windlass to work. With that we headed for Billings Diesel for a mooring. I also noticed that I was not charging the batteries and there was no tach readout or temperature gauge reading, not a good sign.

Arriving at Billings Diesel we picked up a mooring and upon looking in more detail I found one of the battery switches slightly off-center from being fully on. Recentering that switch, everything returned to normal. The kids had been playing in their cabin where the battery switches were located and had partially rotated one of the switches causing the problem. It was probably all for the good since the fog really set in after that and it started to rain. It's supposed to turn warmer the latter part of the week with temperatures in the 80's (I'll believe it when I see it). We're cozy tonight and had a great dinner of spaghetti and meatballs.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Seal Bay

Matthew rejoins us today with his new blog. He'll be with us for the next week and perhaps longer if he decides to stay after his family leaves for home.

Dear readers, today I woke up for a hour before everybody and my Dad was stuck in one position. We went out to get some provisions for the boat and left after breakfast. I saw 14 schooners. A schooner is a boat with two or more sails. We saw a schooner that had three sails it was huge. The next thing we did was motor into the bay and I went swimming. I took a shower. And brings me to right now.

We started out with Philip's speciality, home cooked pancakes which everyone gobbled up. Then it was a trip to the grocery store for provisioning at a nearby Hannafords. You could tell it was a popular place for sailors since some were filling up the back of a pickup truck with provisions! On the way back it was low tide and we saw starfish clinging to the pier. Then it was time to head out to see some of the schooners that Matthew was talking about in his blog.

Our destination today was Seal Bay and, sure enough, we saw seals again on the way in! Once anchored we scouted around the boat for shallow areas (we learned our lesson at Mackarel Cove) and decided to reanchor a short distance further out from shore. Matthew likes to play in the dinghy so we put him out with a 100 ft line although he would rather be free of the line. He even went in for a swim in the 61 degree water! He said you get used to it after awhile but I don't believe that for a moment although he did seem to enjoy his swim.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Rockland Harbor at Dock

We sailed all the way from Carver Cove to Rockland, reaching 7.5 kts in places. It was a Saturday so everyone was out, the bay was full of sailboats. Several windjammers were out and about too. We had expected Philip and family to arrive sometime in the afternoon and were taking bets when they would get here. I placed a bet on 8:00 pm but lost by two hours. Everyone crashed as soon as they arrived. We'll spend a day at the dock and head out on Monday. The weather is supposed to turn warmer (!!) and even reach the 80's later in the week. We'll all look forward to that!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Carver Cove on Vinalhaven Island

For those of you following the blog, I had mentioned that we anchored in Mackarel Cove based on the predicted winds from the SW and W. So, guess what, we had winds most of the night from the east, the least protected direction! At least the winds were less than 10 kts so they were not a problem. This goes in the same category as the wind always being from the direction you're headed in!
We had fog again for most of the day in Mackarel Cove but around 3:00 it cleared enough to see the lobster pots so we headed out for Carver Cove on Vinalhaven Island. I've been in Maine before and there have been lobster pots before but then main difference now is the quantity of pots and the total disregard for other vessels having to stay in a channel (e.g., Fox Island Thorofare, Deer Island Thorofare, etc.) for narrow passageways. In fact, if you didn't have charts, the best indicator of where the channel is located is the abundance of lobster pots. The more pots, the more certain you are in the main channel! There must be some logic here but it escapes me.
Since we had a late start and there wasn't much wind, we just motored. Upon arriving in Carver Cove we found the best part of the anchorage (closest to shore, the SW corner) had a fishing net stretched across the entrance! It was about a mile long. We headed to the northern part of the anchorage which still had good protection from the "predicted" NW winds. After doing our anchoring ritual, we saw two small, open boats coming with two square sails. We recognized them as from Outward Bound. We counted 10 people in each open boat! We were either mooned by the person on the forward deck or he was taking care of personal hygiene. After all, it was an open boat with 10 people, I don't imagine there's much privacy. We've heard that as part of Outward Bound, they typically stay out for a week. As night fell, they pulled a red cover over the top of the boat, talk about togetherness. By the way, the boat had a mixed crew too.

Meanwhile, there was a lot of activity around the net but it remained in place as we left the next morning. I don't know what they were trying to catch. I think the dog wanted to be in the main boat!

Follow our progress at Maine Cruise

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mackarel Cove

The fog lifted this morning long enough for us to reach Mackarel Cove on Swan Island. Not long after we anchored the fog rolled back in. It's kind of pretty watching the fog come and go. Sometimes we can see for miles and other times we can only see 100 feet or so.

One thing in Maine you have to look out for is lobster pots. ln Long Island Sound, you only have the one buoy to mark the location of a lobster pot. In Maine you have both kinds: the one buoy like in Long Island Sound and also the kind with a toggle which is attached to the main buoy with a long line that can be anywhere from 20 ft to almost 100 ft away! In negotiating the lobster buoys you pay attention to which way the current is flowing. The main buoy is always the one most visible, the toggle is smaller and harder to see. It is also suseptible to being drawn underwater by the current. So the technique is to pass the main buoy down current since the toggle will always be upcurrent from the main buoy. Otherwise you may be surprised to find yourself passing over the toggle of a buoy that you thought had none! Passing between a toggle and its buoy is not recommended since you can snag the line connecting the two. With water temperatures in the 50s, you really do not want to dive to free your prop or rudder from a tangled buoy! On the other hand, on the way to Maine we had a certified diver on board so it was not a problem. Luckily, we didn't have to use his talents.
Tonight (7/19) we are supposed to have 15 to 20 kt winds out of the south so we are tucked in Mackarel Cove with protection from that direction - which will probably assure a wind direction from anywhere but the south! Such is sailing.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Still in Sourthwest Harbor at Hinckley Marine

We looked out this morning and couldn't see the boat moored next to us. Needless to say, we couldn't see the shore either. Navigating in fog is not a problem. With GPS and radar you know where you're at and you can see the other boats. The problem is avoiding the lobster pots of which there are many and in random places. We had planned on going to Mackarel Cove for the night but since we're on vacation and not confined to a schedule, we decided to just stay put for the day and go tomorrow. If it's still foggy, we'll just throttle back a bit and dodge the lobster pots to head west for our rendezvous with Philip and family on Saturday.
With that settled, we went into town. I finally found the town dinghy dock yesterday on the north side and it's only a short walk to town from there. As with all dinghy docks everywhere, it was packed with dinghies but there's always room for one more. Most people are polite and leave their motor down so the prop is not in position to do damage to neighboring dinks but then some are not so polite. Also, most leave a long painter so others can reach the dock, the impolite ones tied their dink tight to the dock, leaving no room for anyone else. Oh well, you can't change the world. Such are the concerns of someone retired, not bad.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

To Southwest Harbor

I went to start the genset and Ann called to say she felt a small bump against the boat. I went up on deck to see that we were in the midst of a rock weed patch. The water was clear enough to see rock weed all around us. The depth sounder read 8.5 feet and we only draw 5.0 feet. Using the hand held sounder, I read 4.5 ft off the stern. I pulled up on the anchor for about 30 feet and the depth increased to 12 ft as read by the sensor just forward of the keel. I launched the dinghy to explore the surrounding area some more and found that the shallow patch was just 15 feet or so in diameter, very localized. All around the area, including up to shore was still 8 feet at low or deeper. I marked the spot on the chart and if anyone wants the coordinates I can forward them. The anchorage is really beautiful, especially with the full view of Mt Desert in the distance.

The day was clear but still not much wind. The temperatures have been running around 55F in the mornings and the low 70's in the afternoon. Our morning routine has been to start the genset for heat up the cabin, charge the batteries, heat hot water for the shower and make coffee. We have all the comforts of home, we just wished it was a little warmer!

We picked up a mooring ($35/night) at Hinckley Marine and admired the surrounding Hinckleys! I had Ann stand by their travel lift which I think would be entirely adequate for the club for our biggest boats although we might have trouble getting it to the well! I'm sure Rich would have fun with it.

The internet connection is not good here so I have to use the library WiFi to get out, it's the only place in town with an internet connection. At least it's free. The blog updates may be sparse as we head east, we'll see.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Off to Mackarel Cove

We weighed anchor around 10:00 and started out from Smith Cove. Unfortunately, there was very little wind so we motored to Swan Island, entering Mackarel Cove around 2:00 pm. We took the route through Eggemoggin Reach which was beautiful. However, at the end the lobster buoys became almost as numerous as around Tenants Harbor, our standard for lobster buoy density in Maine. There was no clear path through the maze so we zigged and zagged through the pots. Many of the lobster buoys in Maine not only have the familiar lobster buoy but they also have a "toggle" buoy which is attached to the main buoy but floats anywhere from 20 to 80 feet downstream. Going between a buoy and its toggle can be disastrous since it can snag on the rudder or, worse yet, on the prop! You do not want to dive in Maine waters (temps in the 50's!) to free a fouled prop! So you pay attention to which buoy is the main buoy and which one is the toggle so you avoid splitting them with your boat - all the while looking out for the next set of buoy challenges. Oh well, it's all part of the Maine experience.
We like Mackarel Cove anchorage since it's not only very protected from the south but also has an excellent view of Mt Desert highlighted by the setting sun. There's also shoreline to explore in the dink and plenty of room to anchor. You have 8 feet of water at low tide almost up to shore. The mooring balls in the harbor are at the edge of deep water at 8 feet at low tide and close to shore. There are only a few and they serve to delineate the harbor's edge.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Still in Smith Cove in Castine

With the prediction for high winds, rain and fog we stayed in Smith Cove for another day. It started raining in the afternoon and didn't stop until after midnight. This morning we could only see about 20 feet but the fog lifted as the sun came up and it's fog free as of 9:00 am. It's predicted to be sunny and warm the next two days so we'll head out to Mackarel Cove (it's not spelled mackerel like the fish) on Swan Island for the night. I've been having trouble connecting to the internet and the problems will probaby increase as we head east. I'll publish on the blog whenever I can get a connection. Likewise for e-mail.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Smith Cove by Castine

It was very calm in the morning so up the mast I went to investigate what happened to the topping lift. I had purchased 130 feet of line and two sizes of blocks to replace the topping lift that failed. I tied the line to my belt and up I went. I led the safety line through the pulley at the base of the mast and played it back to the cockpit and through the rope clutch managed by Ann. The view from the top was great. The mast is not as rigid as one might think, it flexes a bit, interesting when at the top. I did manage a photo from the top. I found a place to locate the block and fed the line through it and on down the outside of the mast.

With that task done, we headed east and north for Smith Cove near Castine. Although we did have wind, it was directly behind us so we motored most of the way. Smith Cove is much easier to navigate, no hazards. Today Ann saw her first Loon! She had heard their calls but she had never seen one, we even got a photo! It a good sign for the rest of the cruise.
Follow my progress at Maine Cruise

Friday, July 13, 2007

Seal Bay

The tides in Maine start out around 10 feet in Rockland and increase as you head further east. I took two snapshots of the docks we were at in Rockland near the tide extremes. Getting luggage up the ramp at low tide was a real chore!
We refueled this morning with 31 gallons of diesel after 200 miles of motoring and using the genset every morning. Then it was off to sail in Penobscot Bay with a SW wind of 10 to 15 kts and bright sun. It was still brisk with a temperature of 66 in the bay but when we crossed over into the Fox Island Thorofare, the temperature rose to the mid 70's. However, the sail was just wonderful and the bay was full of sailboats (and lobster buoys!) It's sails like this that you come to Maine for along with the mountain scenery and remote anchorages.

Our destination was Seal Bay. The way in is not buoyed or marked in any way, you're on your own but with a chartplotter it's really no problem. You just better pay attention to where you're at as there are unmarked ledges everywhere. Sure enough, we spotted a ledge with lots of seals. We often saw seals near the lobster traps, surfacing for a look around now and then. Seal Bay has no development, no houses (except one) and no other sign of civilization, it's great. Here's the way in.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Still in Rockland

We spent the day restocking our water, fuel, groceries and sundry supplies needed for the next two weeks. I still have to figure out what went wrong with the topping lift (it parted at the top of the mast) before installing a new one. That will involve another climb up the mast, hopefully at a harbor that's calmer than Provincetown! The fog finally lifted today and we can actually see across the bay to Vinalhaven Island. The sun was even out!

It's kind of neat being next to the Coast Guard station and watching them come and go. The Coast Guard ships here are not the small inflatables we often see around home, these are big ships!

As always, you can follow our progress at Maine Cruise. If you also want to experience what passes for Maine humor, click here (windows wma file).

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rockland Harbor at Dock

We awoke to a dense fog in the morning at Tenants Harbor. The Mehaffeys had reserved a car for pickup at Rockland so we started out at 10:00 in the fog bound for Rockland. Our passage north would be through the Muscle Ridge Channel which is strewn with ledges and other hazards but with a modern chartplotter and radar, it's really no challenge anymore. However, it's another story concerning the hazards presented by the lobster pots! With the fog, you couldn't see much more than a boat length so we stationed a crew member on the bow to navigate through the lobster buoy maze. With the current running 1.5 kts, some of the buoys were submerged and you had to be especially alert to see them beneath the water. We passed several boats that emerged out of the fog that we first saw on radar, it's an eerie sight to see what appears to be a ghost ship passing by just discernible at a distance. We listened to the bells, groaners and fog horns of all the nuns, cans and lighthouses along the way although we saw very few of them.

Coming into Rockland Harbor, the fog still held sway all the way into port. We had made reservations for a dock at Journey's End Marina ($1.60/ft, love those Maine prices) and they were out to meet us. It was on the end right next to the Coast Guard Station for Rockland. I'm sure Matthew would have enjoyed the view of the Coast Guard cutters going out into the fog on duty. We later had a great dinner at Peter Ott's which I highly recommend. The fog then came in even more. We will be here at least one more day to prepare the boat for the next two weeks of cruising before Philip and his family come for a visit.
Follow our progress at Maine Cruise.