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.