Bill & Carol's Excellant Adventure
Day one: Pick up the boat in Bucks Harbor, Maine on the Penobscot Bay. The harbor is beautiful but crowded.
The boat, a 1980'ish 30' Columbia Sloop is very pretty. Appears to be very well maintained. Lots of varnished teak. Very comfortable for 2.
We Need to travel around 15 miles south to Stonington on Deer Island. Wind 25-30 and waves in our teeth with 4-6' seas the entire way. Never raised sail. Motored the entire way. Only able to make 3.5 - 4 knots in the waves. Carol (the Admiral) VERY unhappy. Depth sounder reads around 125' pretty much the whole way. When the waves get to six get to 6' she gets out life jacket.
We Arrive Stonington around 3 hours later. Admiral stinks with dock lines, knots and fenders. I come in too close. 4' scratch in the paint where starboard hull kisses the dock.
Day two: The low point. Storms predicted. Decide to sit tight and hang out in Stonington. Dock boy tells us we can move to a more comfortable slip that is more protected and has shore power. Admiral stinks with dock lines, knots and fenders. I come in too close. 1' scratch in the paint where port side hull kisses dock. Carol goes to shower. I start to make coffee. Boat has alcohol stove. I am unable to bring pressure up to 20-30 PSI as req'd. Decide to try to light stove with only 12 PSI. Stove Primes no problem. Reopen valve to start boiling water. Step outside for a minute or two. Go back into cabin. See flames in oven compartment and all over stove. Close valve, Throw water (actually the correct thing for alcohol fire), Fire still burning. Notice liquid on floor near cabin sole. It ignites. Alcohol obviously still pooling around. Grab fire extinguisher. Put out fire with four short blasts, one on stove top, one in oven, one on cabin stove, one behind stove (it's gimballed). Start to clean up. It smells. Dry Chem fire extinguisher. Stuff in air everywhere. Big bummer all around. Get a bunch of it cleaned up. Open cabinet under sink to throw away paper towels, etc. Small fire burning under sink. There are aerosol cans under there. Put out fire with water. Fire has been fed with garbage bag and plastic cap which has melted everywhere, from aerosol can. Hose from water tank to sink and sink drain hoses damaged but still working.Very annoyed. Clean everything up. Explain myself to Admiral, who arrives back from shower as I am cleaning up. No coffee anywhere.
Dinghy 10 - 15 minutes into town for coffee in inflatable. Decent ride but a little wet and rough presumably due to weather that is supposed to materialize. Have coffee, shop for dinner. Dinghy back - wetter and rougher.
Go to Marina store and buy dog clips for fender whips so Carol won't have to tie clove hitch or bowline to attach fenders to lifelines. We expect to do more docking. I vow to leave more room.
Call Charter company to complain about stove (or pump for tank anyway). Guy says, gee it ought to work. Don't tell him about the fire. Don't want to deal with it. A mistake. Tells me he has account at boat yard and has me ask them to check it out. They don't want to bother - real work to do. It appears that the valve on the pump hose is too worn to get a good seal, and pressure leaks out on pump backstroke. I go in search of a new valve. No luck.
Storms finally roll in late afternoon and last several hours. We can't cook because stove n/g and don't want to grill in rain or dinghy in rain to town. We snack on cheese and crackers and get drunk.
Slip very protected. All in all we sleep quite well.
Day 3 Oh what a beautiful morning. Great weather predicted for next 3 days. 10-15 kn winds from E- NE. Settle up and get the hell out of there. Motor some through waters incredibly thick with lobster pot buoys. Never seen anything like it. You could just about use them as stepping stones. Thread the needle for quite a while and finally raise sails when the pots thin out some. Go to McGlathery Island. Anchor. Wait to see if we drag. Everything okay. Dinghy into beach. Have lunch. Sun bathe. Explore a little. I swim. Water temp 58 degrees. Seem to have the entire island to our selves. Pretty great. Head back to boat.
Haul anchor and head for Swans Island where we expect to moor for the night in Burnt Coat Harbor. Into another forest of lobster pots. Decide to sail through them. Wind calms down quite a bit. Run over a buoy without enough speed to clear it. The boat stops. Look over the transom to find the pot warp has jammed in the 1" wide slot between for the forward side of the rudder and the piece of steel designed to guide pot warps past the rudder.
I drop the main and attempt to furl the genoa to take the strain off of the jammed warp. Notice that somehow the halyard has eased and is now wrapped several times around the furling tube making it impossible to: a) fully furl the genoa, (b) lower the genoa to unwrap the halyard, and c) raise the genoa re retension the luff. I curse the Gods, furl as much as I can and let the rest of it luff.
Down the swim ladder I go with the boat hook to try and clear the line. Don't let go of the ladder. 580. Poke and poke. Every time I push hard, the ladder of course swings up and away from the transom (Physics anyone?). Stuck fast, and can't get enough leverage because of the swinging ladder. I consider putting a loop on the end of a line tied off to the boat and free diving to try and resolve the issue. Decide against it. Even with the sails down I am not enamored with the idea of being in 125' of water without a life jacket once I free the boat with only the Admiral and her limited skills aboard.
Get on the radio and place a Pan. Talk to the Coast Guard in Stonington. Give them lots of info: Lat/Lon, describe boat, tell them we are wearing life jackets (Lying). They tell me to take a hike. Too busy looking for terrorists. Harbor diver cuts into conversation saying he can be to us in 20 minutes. Salvation. Guy arrives in big skiff in wetsuit. Throws on dive belt clears jam in about 15 seconds. Charges 150.00 USD.
I raise the main. It jams. I finally find that it's halyard has wrapped around an idiotically placed useless tang halfway up the mast while boat was bobbing with sail down and inadequate tension on halyard. I imagine going aloft. Manage to clear it with a couple of good flicks of the wrist. See a pieces of large monofilament hanging down into the cockpit. Boat is equipped with "Dutchman" system that flakes the main as you lower it. Trying to raise it while jammed has caused the monofil to pull out of the disk mounted near the foot of the sail.
Unfurl the genoa. The wrap on its halyard prevents it from fully unfurling. The head is also about 9" down from where it should be. Unfurled genoa resembles dirty laundry.
Never the less we actually sail pretty nicely and comfortably to the entrance of Burnt Coat Harbor. If earlier pots were a forest, we are now in a primordial rain forest. The channel is utterly packed with them. We douse the sails and carefully pick our way through. We get to the inner harbor where things open up a bunch and pick up one of the few remaining rental moorings. It is incredibly beautiful. Some pleasure craft. Lots of lobster boats (what a surprise). No town to speak of. Just docks and fishing shacks.
The owner of the moorings, who of course is a lobsterman, comes out in his skiff a little later. Welcomes us, takes a twenty, and offers to deliver us lobster dinners with steamers, chowder, and blue berry pie for a song. Our mouths water, We still have yesterdays steak to grill though, so we decline. We mention the lobster pot warp adventure, and he says, "Happens all the time. That must've been the Greek. You were ripped off. The going rate for pleasure boaters is 75.00." Now I feel real good about myself.
I get to work. Fix the Dutchman system. No big deal, just needs some tinkering. I go to work on the genny. Remove the sheets and completely unwrap it by hand, manage to pull it down to the deck, clear the halyard wrap, and raise it again, making sure the halyard is very well secured.
Hor Douevres, wine, dinner. We dinghy to the shore and take a walk. It is incredibly beautiful. Also a beautiful evening and sunset.
Resolve that despite problems (150 USD) it has been a good day. Discuss plans for following day. Waters totally calm. Boat steady as a rock. Go to bed. Pass out.
Day 4 4:30 AM Awoken by sound of departing lobster boats. Boat pitches around in the wake. Happens off and on for the next hour or so, but we keep falling right back to sleep. Get up around 8:00. Need cash (yesterdays 150 USD). Mooring guy has told is there is a general store with cash machine a ways down the road in the "town" on the other side of the harbor. He's pointed out where to land the dinghy for the shortest walk. We head out around 8:45 figuring every one gets an early start. Get to the store. Door locked. Woman inside looks at us. We make please and praying gestures with our hands (a couple of atheistic Jews). She comes to the door, cracks it, and says, "I open at 10:00," and shuts it in our faces and relocks it. We go for a walk. I go back to tend to the dinghy on a rising tide (10' range). Carol waits at store.
We finally get back to the boat and prepare to head out. We've decided that this harbor is, so pretty and calm, and quiet (despite lobster boats), that we'll day sail out of here and come back again for the night. Not to mention the lobster dinner delivered to the boat. Also, no docking req'd. Refer to day one above.
The island has, by the way 350 year round residents. Swells to around 1,100 during summer. It is not small, and is the south of Mt. Desert Island (Acadia Nat'l Park). We've abandoned plans to go to Mt. Desert. Why go to a crowded touristy, albeit beautiful place, when we can stay in uncrowded beautiful places?
We head for Frenchboro, which is the only development on the farthest most island in the chain. Remembering Day One, Carol is fearful because south of us will be only open sea. It's a beautiful day, calm seas, fair winds at 10-15. We have a beautiful sail to Frenchboro, which is even more beautiful than Burnt Coat. Pick up a mooring in the non-town in Lunts Harbor, and dingy to the visitors dock.
The residents, all 45 of the year rounders, are making an effort to attract tourists. There is a picnic table type restaurant at the dock, and a public rest room. I think it's owned by the Lunts. We've made lunch, and head out to explore. We take a short hike across the island to the ocean side, through the pine forest. The ground under foot is spongy from all the layers of fallen needles and moss and find ourselves all alone on a huge shore of massive granite rocks. We picnic, read, sunbathe, and watch the ocean with the inevitable lobster men in their boats working their pots. Pretty darn fabulous.
On our way back to the boat, we stop at the "museum". Clearly the residents are really trying. It's very cute. Sort of everybody's attic opened up for inspection. Family photo albums, old records (vinyl, not paper) , furniture, and clothes. Stuff like that. We see a picture and newspaper clipping about a guy in 1958 who caught a 75 pound lobster. It's about 4' long. I think his name was Lunt. We look at the war memorial plaque. Pretty much everyone's name is Lunt. We over hear the curatress telling someone that there is a one room schoolhouse, currently with 2 students, though there is a third on the way. People must move off island when their children reach high school age.
We have a fabulous sail back to Burnt Coat on Swans. It's much less full than yesterday, so we pick a mooring that hopefully will be a little less exposed to the morning commute. Kevin, the lobsterman, mooring owner, restauranteur, comes out. We pay him and order our dinner for around 7:00. Next we dinghy to the other side of the harbor and go off in search a fresh water quarry pond we've read about. Find it and have a lovely swim.
Kevin brings dinner. It's fabulous.
After dinner we dinghy ashore again to get rid of trash, and walk through more beautiful pine forest to the abandoned light house which has been converted by the islanders into a park. We watch a glorious sunset, the light glinting off all the lobster buoys, and head back.
In all, a fabulous day.
Day 5 4:30 AM. Once again awoken by noise and pitching and rolling from the morning rush hour. Begin to suspect that they enjoy doing this to the pleasure boaters.
Up around 8:00 again. It's time to start working our way back towards Bucks Harbor. The plan is to stop at the "Wooden Boat School" to look around and moor a little further up the Eggemoggin Reach for the night.
We decide to top off the fuel tank, especially since the fuel gauge doesn't work and the charter owner shrugged when I asked him about fuel consumption rate.
As we approach the fuel dock, I go back over the handling of dock lines with the Admiral and she readies the fenders to starboard.
The fuel dock is pretty busy so we do a couple of donuts. Each time we pull away, another local pulls in. I decide stay close, backing and filling, to make my intentions very clear. We finally get an opening.
I pull up to the dock with the wind blowing off of it. Looking good. Carol tosses a line guy who's been packing lobsters on the dock. Unfortunately she's thrown it over all of the lifelines instead of under. As she sorts it out the stern starts moving away from the dock. I've previously noticed that I have not been able to walk the boat to starboard in reverse at all, so I grab the stern line and make a world record standing broad jump to the dock and tie off. No transfer of paint. We fuel up, and head out.
We're motoring through the channel slowly, dodging pot warps left and right. There is nice breeze and clear skies. Suddenly the engine starts to wind down, I try to throttle up and am unable to. Bad fuel? Vapor lock? Against Carol's protest I quickly unfurl the genoa and continue to sail through the maze. Just as suddenly the motor regains rpm's, and we motor sail out of the harbor.
We have a spectacular sail up to the mainland. We anchor for lunch, and go ashore on Hog Island just off the coast. Beautiful horse shoe shaped cove with combo sand and granite beach. We share it with a few kayakers. We walk the beach discovering a bleached dead but standing pine draped with lobster buoys. It looks like something out of "Blair Witch Project. Lunch. Carol reads. I explore. Less than 5 minutes though the pine forest I am on the other side of the island on an equally beautiful sand beach facing the shore.
We head out and sail to Wooden Boat. We wander around the grounds looking in on some classes. As far as we can tell it's kind of a Tanglewood Festival for sailors.
We need some groceries for dinner so we hitch (well walk actually) a hour to the general store. We successfully hitch a ride back to Wooden Boat almost immediately from the store, dinghy out to the boat, and head out.
Another lovely short sail a ways up the Eggemoggin Reach to Benjamin River for a mooring. We expect little out of the location. The cruising guide doesn't have much to say and there are no services. We are, however, very pleasantly surprised. The river is actually very short with the mooring area near the head of it. The shoreline is lovely and peaceful, and there are not many boats moored. Very few with anyone aboard. & NO LOBSTER BOATS.
Dinner, a bottle of wine, another beautiful sunset and lovely evening
DAY 6 Up and out by around 9:30. Not quite as nice a day, but certainly nothing to complain about.
We head up the Eggemoggin Reach broad reaching on alternate tacks and sometimes running wing on wing.
Pull into Bucks Harbor around 2 hours later, and dock. Another Olympic class leap from the boat to tie off. Admiral really has to learn to move faster.
Checking out the boat with the owner, who is none to pleased about the paint, I look below the water line and lo and behold there is a piece of a pot warp on the rudder shaft. Guess that explains the shaky exit from Burnt Coat a couple of days ago. I can only guess that the extra speed and force of getting wind in the genny snapped the line. The owners assistant says, don't worry about it, happens all the time. The owner doesn't look so casual, however. I suggest to him that he better check out the stove, because the pump is not right. He acts surprised that the guys in Stonington wouldn't fix it, but instead of apologizing, remarks incredously, "how did you cook".
Carol and I agree it has been a great trip despite the mishaps. She says it wasn't particularly relaxing, but was a lot of fun and an adventure. She thinks maybe next summer we should do the Chesapeke. I wonder if she'll be any quicker at the dock.
Bill Berner 16 Sep 2002
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