Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Change of Plans - On to Boothbay

Ahoy there mates it's me Matt. Today we had to go to Boothbay because we had 5 foot water on one side and 12 on the other and the tided was still go out!!!!!! I reread some of my Dragon Ball Z books. When we were going though a lobster field in the fog I said "SHIP OFF THE STARBOARD BOW!!!!" for real. Then I took a nap. When we arrived we went ashore and I drove the dink and parked it. Then we went to get dinner at Kalers and I had a buffalo chicken sandwich. Then we got some fudge. More tomorrow on Matt's Blog.

At Jewell Island, we were in the outer part of the anchorage and during the night as we swung, we first got rather close to rocks on one side and then ledge on the other side. If the predicted 30 kt gusts came, not to mention thunderstorms, we did not feel comfortable in the narrow anchorage. So with the stormy weather predicted, we headed for Boothbay and a much more protected anchorage. Unfortunately, it was fog all the way. We have a routine in fog. Ann mans the timer and I push the fog horn when the timer goes off every two minutes. The radar is rather important as is the GPS.

When we first chartered in Maine in the 80's we didn't have GPS, radar or even Loran. I had charts and a hand bearing compass. As visibility permitted, I took sights on opposite sides of islands and back traced on the chart to our position. My old charts of Maine are covered with pencil markings from frequent sightings. The buoys in Maine all have distinctive sounds. Some are "groaners", some are whistles and some are bells - all with a different pitch according to location. You can still buy weather chimes in Maine stores labeled with the location of the buoy that the sound is modeled on. So as you proceeded down a fairway, you listened for the groaner on the starboard side, the bell later on on the port side, made the turn when the lighthouse fog horn sounded directly behind you, etc. You listened for other boats, especially the lobstermen with their unmuffled engines and the ferries with their distinctive horns and hoped your dead reckoning was somewhat accurate. Somehow we made it through okay and had a great time. However, today it's no contest. Just use a GPS chartplotter that shows your location directly on a chart in front of you, updated once a second to a typical accuracy of 10 feet. Your radar displays any nearby boats. So now you always know your location and where other boats are at but you still have to avoid them and, of course, the ever present lobster pots! Old fashioned chart plotting or GPS chartplotter with radar, I've done both, I'll take the GPS and radar.

So we set out with all our modern instruments in order (sans depth sounder..., more tomorrow on that!) and proceeded though the fog. Most of the radar targets we passed were far enough away that we never saw them. However, I did see one approaching that was dead ahead, I slowed down and turned to port (left) and as the other boat emerged from the fog, I saw him turn to starboard (right) - that put us on a collision course! We were both moving slowly so there was plenty of time for a correction (he turned to port and away from us). There is a term for that kind of mutual response to a crossing situation, it's call a "radar collision". It's when both boats attempt to pass behind the other ("you go first", "no, no you go first".... - thud..) That's where rules of the road come into play but you're never certain that the other captain knows the rules much less follow them in a tight situation.

As we neared Boothbay, the fog gradually lifted and we found a mooring at Tug Boat Inn, where we stayed last year. What most impressed us was the lack of people and boats. It looked alike a deserted town. There were plenty of moorings and slips available. We ate at Kaler's on the water (Matt loved the root beer!) and then walked through town. Tomorrow we plan another day at Boothbay and a ride on the free trolley to the aquarium. Should be fun.


mcnaughton24 said...

Love reading your blog! Wish we were there!