Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Saying Good Bye to Maine

We are leaving Maine behind.  Our time there has run out and we are on our way back south.  We have had a lot of days with little or no access to Wi-Fi and we ran out of data in our phone plan so there has not been a lot of communication.  So here is what has been happening:

On Monday, 9/5/16, we planned to leave Rockland and go across and up Penobscot Bay to Pulpit Harbor.  After a quick run into town we dropped the mooring ball and were on our way.  That is what was supposed to happen.  What really happened is that when dropping a mooring ball I usually motor forward a bit to let off the strain and Cori drops the mooring line and then I back away until I will be sure of clearing the mooring and it’s lines.  This time, for no apparent reason, I thought we were clear of the mooring and motored ahead planning on leaving it behind.  The reason to back away is to keep the lines away from the prop.  Cori started franticly trying to telling me that I was going to overrun the mooring.  Before I can shift to neutral the line catches the prop and winds itself on it pulling the mooring ball until it stops us.  We are now sitting with a mess and not going anywhere.  I tried turning the prop shaft to see if it would release with no luck.  We called the marina to tell them of the situation but there was nothing they would be able to do for us except give us the name of a diver to call.  Cori called the diver but when there was no answer we realized that it was Labor Day, a holiday with almost everyone off for the day and any help would be expensive.  At this point it was decided that I would have to go in and try to free it up myself.  I am an oka snorkeler but seem to have too much flotation to stay down for very long.  The water was not too cold, similar to swimming in Lake Superior.  My first dive showed that the small line had wrapped itself and pulled the larger line around the prop and the eye had hooked on a prop blade.  The next dive got the eye free and by pulling on the line was able to get both lines to unwrap.  We were now free of the mooring but I was still in the water.  A quick and unsightly climb into the dinghy and then I was aboard again.  Cori quickly started the engine and proceeded to motor out of the mooring field while I rinsed off with fresh water to avoid getting salt on everything.  Not a good start to the day but it didn’t cost anything other than my dignity.  Once out in the bay we took several long tacks up to Pulpit Harbor and picked up another mooring ball.

Our first project in the morning was to replace the pressure valve on the water heater.  Now that I had the engine heating the water the pressure valve would not seal.  We have had this problem before and we carry a spare valve.  Problem solved, for now.  We then dinghied to shore and walked up the road to a small store to pick up some fruit and vegetables.  We stopped to check out an old cemetery along the way.  Once back to the dinghy we rode around taking a tour of the harbor and checking out an osprey nest on some rocks that the cruisers guide says has been in use for over 150 years.  Everything is old up here.  On Wednesday Cori took her kayak out to explore some of the areas we were not able to get into with the dinghy.  On her way back she stopped to visit with several other cruisers.  We were invited for drinks and stories on “Sugar Sugar” a boat visiting from South Portland.  Also aboard was Laura off of “Annie Laurie” who has been cruising single handed for some time.

The next morning it was foggy but was burning off so about 10:00 am we decided to continue on.  We started down the bay but soon the fog closed in again.  At times we could see one or the other shore.  We turned on the radar and using that and the chartplotter we were able to continue, keeping a sharp lookout for lobster pots that would suddenly appear out of the fog, most times in front of us.  We debated several places to stop and get out of the fog but decided to continue to our planned destination at Bunrt Island.  The radar showed us where the island was as we approached it and found the mooring field.  Once we were tied to the mooring the fog cleared a little showing us how close we were to breaking waves on a rocky shore.  The next morning, at low tide Cori went off exploring again in her kayak.  Mid-morning we dropped the mooring and headed out with Boothbay Harbor as our destination.  Along the way we diverted to Eastern Egg Island to see if we could spot some Puffins.  The Puffin has been reintroduced to the area and the Egg Islands are a prime nesting area.  It was too late in the season and they were all off to sea.  Once we reached Boothbay Harbor we checked out the anchorage and decided to rent a mooring instead of anchoring.  This also gave us a short dinghy ride to get into town.  We picked up a mooring in front of the Tugboat Marina and paid for a two day visit.  We took a walk around the downtown area, grabbed a drink and an order of wings and started back to the boat.  We had passed a coffee shop that had a sign for live music 5:00-7:00.  Since it was just after 5:00 we stopped in.  A VERY good decision!  There was a duet performing a variety of songs and during their break we got an opportunity to talk to the guitarist/singer.  His name is Bobby Sweet from western Massachusetts and was just back from another eighteen month tour with Arlo Guthrie.  The singer was a local from Boothbay Harbor.  We stayed for the entire show, bought two of his cd’s and after saying good bye we were back to the boat for dinner and listening to music.  Sunday morning we went ashore, took advantage of hot showers and wandered aimlessly about the town checking out the shops and galleries.  One of the galleries invited us for a reception with one of the artists later in the afternoon.  With nothing else pressing we went back for the reception and met Jim St. Clair, an artist from New York that paints scenes along the small waterways around New York City.  It turns out that he has a boat in the 79th street marina and invited us to look him up next time we are in the city of staying at the marina.  We talked a lot about boating rather than art and he wants to be a liveaboard like us.

Sunday dawned foggy, rainy, and chilly.  We decided to stay for another day.  We did more wandering around, stopped for some chowder at the Chowder House and just killed time.  We both had been commenting how much the town reminded us of a slightly larger version of Bayfield Wisconsin where we had our 29’ Ericson, “Carina”.  Monday morning we dropped the mooring in time to make the 10:00 opening at the bridge and motored up the Sheepscot River to Wiscasset.  Upon arrival we tied up at the town dock, notified the harbormaster that we were there and planned to stay for a couple of days.  There is supposed to be a charge for staying at the dock overnight but he never came to collect.

When we first arrived in the Abaco’s in our first season one of the first couples we met were Sam and Kayda on “Solstice”.  We have stayed in touch with them and they were the first to tell us that we needed to come up to Maine.  Cori had let them know we were coming.  Tuesday afternoon Sam picked us up, gave us a short tour and then to their home for dinner.  Also visiting them was Tom and Bella, another coupe they had met while in the Bahamas.  After dinner and many stories we were back to the boat for the night.  The next morning, Wednesday, Sam picked us up and brought us to the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Just down the road from the Bath Iron Works where they are building ships for the Navy.  Sam and Kayda both volunteer at the museum and it was their day to work.  After a quick tour by Sam we were set free to visit the museum.  If you are ever in the area we highly recommend this stop.  The area has a lot of shipbuilding history and fortunately much of it has been saved, including the site and buildings where they built the largest wooden schooners ever built.  They also gave us their car so we were able to make a quick run for provisions.  Back at their house they loaded us up with fresh vegetables from their garden.   In the evening we talked about theirs and our cruising and discussed what our next move should be.

Among the “must see” areas on our way south they strongly suggested Jewel Island.  On Thursday, 9/15/16, we waited for high tide to catch on outgoing current and we left Wiscasset.  Once out the mouth of the river we were able to sail again and made our way to Jewel arriving about 6:00 pm.  There were several boats in the anchorage so we picked a spot and anchored.  In the morning all of the other boats left so we pulled the anchor and moved further into the anchorage.  Jewel has a long history of supposed hidden treasure and being used as lookout outpost both in WWI and WWII.  We paddled the dinghy ashore, tied off to a rock and hiked across the island and then followed the trails past the ruins of old barracks to the two towers.  We bypassed the tall one and checked out the shorter WWI tower and then hiked to the south end of the island for a beach lunch.  After hiking back we found the dinghy high and dry, as we expected, and dragged it back into the water.  The area has ten foot tides so no matter where you leave the dinghy it will either be floating away from the shore or up high and dry on it.  Without the motor it was an easy job getting it back in the water.  Saturday we went ashore about mid-tide and hiked back to the ruins.  This time we climbed the WWII tower, eight stories tall, and having brought flashlights explored the underground bunker and the gun placement sites.  We hiked several more trails finding more ruins of buildings and back to the harbor. With the tide out we walked across the spit of land that is normally underwater and walked the beach of the small island looking for shells and sea glass.

It rained overnight and most of Sunday morning and when it cleared Cori took the kayak back to the little island to look for more shells and sea glass.  It was a big day onboard with being able to listen to the Nascar race and the evening Vikings-Packers game on the XM radio.  Monday morning we planned to make the run to Portland.  We need new batteries and I had found a good source there.  Unfortunately it was rainy and foggy and it never cleared enough to try making the run.  Tuesday morning was foggy also.  We kept watching for a break and eventually it looked like it was getting better.  We pulled the anchor and as we started out of the harbor it filled in making it hard to see the boat right next to us.  Hoping it would get better we turned on the radar and continued.  Again it was a day of trying to avoid lobster pots that would pop out of the fog right in front of us.  We have had several instances when the auto pilot would act up or quit, and today was one of them.  The auto pilot refused to work so it was hours of standing behind the wheel steering.   Once we arrived at the mouth of Portland Harbor the fog cleared.  We motored up the harbor then into the river to find a place to stay.  The guides listed the possibilities and we chose to try staying at the Centerboard Yacht Club moorings with the hope of being allowed to come to the dock to swap out batteries.  Once we explained our problem the dockmaster told us to come in to the dock for the night and he would only charge us the regular mooring fee.  The club had a number of amenities we were able to use including free Wi-Fi, showers and laundry.  Cori started a load of laundry and I ran an extension cord into the boat since they did not have the usual 30 amp service on the dock to power up the computers and such.

Wednesday morning started early with me pulling the six house batteries out and moving them up to the parking lot.  At 9:00 am Pam from “Sugar Sugar” picked us up and brought us to Ed’s Batteries with a side stop at a great bakery for breakfast treats.  Once we had exchanged batteries we got a tour of Portland and then back to the boat and Pam went back to work.  We meet such good people when we are out cruising.  Once the batteries were in and everything connected we moved out to a mooring ball but at a discount “since it is after the high season”.  People in Maine are really nice.  We spent the rest of the afternoon in the clubhouse using their Wi-Fi and getting six loads of laundry done.  I took care of some business and was ready to start an update to the blog when we were invited to the outside tables for drinks that ran into dinner with several couples.

Thursday morning we went back to shore to finish the laundry and take care of some phone calls then we got ready to head out.  Before leaving I checked the auto pilot.  It still would not work.  We can travel without it but it is a lot more work to always have someone at the wheel.  Several years ago we upgraded all of our electronics except the auto pilot and it was looking like it was time.  We started making calls to find if anyone in the area had what we needed.  We eventually tracked down a system at the Braintree MA West Marine store.  We had made plans to stop in Portsmouth NH to see friends and made arrangements to have it shipped to the West Marine store there.  Once that was finalized we dropped the mooring and headed out.  We stopped for the night at Bitterford Pool and in the morning proceeded to Portsmouth.  We had met Elizabeth and Morgan on their boat “Ithaca” while in the Bahamas and they were another couple that kept telling us we had to see Maine.  She was able to let us use her mother’s dock and gave us her car to use while we were there.  We made a run to West Marine and picked up the auto pilot and received a pleasant surprise: New Hampshire does not have a sales tax, saving us over a hundred dollars.  We had dinner that night with Elizabeth since Morgan was out of town and then in the morning started the install.  Once I got into it I found that I was going to be short one networking cable.  The local West Marine checked several locations and found the one we would need at a store down by Boston.  While I kept installing Cori made the run to get it.  Once she was back I finished and then started testing.  We were using parts of the old and the new pilot and were not sure if it would work.  After going through all of the commissioning steps the only thig to do was give it a sea trial.  We opted not to do that because we weren’t sure we could get back to the dock with the strong current running.

Sunday morning, 9/25/16, we debated our plan once again and decided to head out for an overnight stop at Gloucester.  A front had come through Saturday and the wind was forecast out of the north for the next couple of days.  We had been motoring into south winds all this time and would have a chance to sail again.  Once out and sailing downwind we changed the plan and decided to bypass Gloucester and make for Plymouth.  We were able to sail all of the way at 4-6 knots but with the added distance we were going to be out after dark.  Out in the dark is not a big issue until you take into consideration the number of lobster pots what we normally have to avoid.  In the dark we would not see them.  We were lucky and only picked one up in the afternoon and when we turned the boat into the wind and spun the prop shaft by hand it dropped off.  We arrived outside Plymouth Harbor and dropped anchor at 10:00 pm, well after dark.  We chose to anchor outside the harbor so we could get an early start but found that that was a mistake.  The swell had us rolling side to side all night, making it almost impossible to sleep.  In the morning after checking the weather forecast we pulled anchor and motored to the Cape Cod Canal.  The north winds were blowing themselves out and they were too light to sail.  We arrived at the canal with an incoming current and picked up an additional 2.5 knots.  About an hour and a half later when we exited the canal we made way to Woods Hole for the night.  We had made plans to stop at one of the closer harbors but decided to go the extra five miles and pick up a mooring in Hadley Harbor again.  We like it here in Hadley Harbor.  The rain forecast for overnight arrived and we are spending the day relaxing and obviously writing this blog.  The weather is unsettled so we do not know how long we will be here but are in a hurry to get further south, it is chilly up here and the trees are changing color.  It’s time to move south!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Rockland Maine

It is Labor Day Weekend and we labored today.  We are on a mooring in Rockland Maine.  Today was the day for engine maintenance, so the oil, oil filter and fuel filter got changed.  We have been having problems with our water heater, no hot water, so I decided to tackle that again.  When I was done we had hot water, now to see how long it continues to work.

We have been moving around from one harbor to another and each has it's own appeal.  While we were at Holbrook Island we checked out most of the trails, met a number of other people cruising the area.

We also made a trip across the harbor to the village of Castine.  We walked around, hit the bakery and walked to a market that specializes in fresh hydroponic vegetables.  While there we also bought several lobsters from the seafood truck.  Lobster for dinner the next two evenings, delicious!

Sunday morning we decided to leave since we were tired of hearing the boats around us running their generators.  We motored out into Penobscot Bay and down to North Haven.  There was no wind the entire trip.  We motored through North Haven harbor to Vinylhaven Island and picked up a mooring ball in Perry Creek.  In the morning we took the dinghy up the creek to the trail head and hiked some of the trails.  The area around Perry Creek is set aside as a nature preserve so there are no houses and a lot of trails.

Once back to the dinghy we found the disadvantage of going hiking at high tide.  The dinghy was high and dry about four feet above the water.  It could have been worse, there is a nine foot tide here.  We muscled the dinghy back into the water and we were off for more exploring.

Tuesday morning we made a quick run with the dinghy to North Haven to try to get better cell service and see the town.  They have a very nice Watermans Center with free wifi, coffee shop and lounge.  We were scheduled for a conference call with our financial adviser so we needed the cell service.  Most of the islands we have visited have some cell service but very slow data service.  We can get and make calls, texts and emails but cannot get internet access.  Once back to the boat we dropped the mooring and motored to Isle au Haut.  We were not able to get a mooring in the harbor but got one of the guest mooring just outside the harbor entrance.  Just a little further to dinghy to shore.  We went ashore and checked out the gift shop and grocery store, both very small since not many people live here.  Most of the island is part of Acadia National Park so we walked up to the ranger station to find out about the hiking trails.  Most are on the far end of the island.  The next morning we took care of some boat stuff and went ashore in the afternoon.  The ranger told us that the lighthouse was a short walk away.  Off we went.  When we got to the light we found that the light was open allowing us to go up into the tower.  The old lightkeepers house had been made into an Inn and since no one was there at the moment we got to tour that also.

As we were leaving to go back to the boat we stopped at one of the lobster boats to see if they had any to sell.  We offered them $14 since that was all we had on us at the moment.  We bought two small and one large lobster.  All three were cooked up for dinner.

We had heard that Burnt Coat Harbor on Swan Island was interesting to we dropped the mooring in the morning and wound our way through the lobster pots to check it out.  It turned out to be a very nice location, protected from almost all sides and the lobster boats cut their speed to reduce their wakes when they approach the mooring field.  We do not usually use mooring, choosing to anchor instead, but the anchorages are all deeper then I care to anchor in.  We dinghied around the harbor taking it all in and then retired to the boat.  For dinner we had the mussels Cori collected when she was kayaking in Perry Creek. When we picked up the mooring and shut off the engine I heard the water pump running, we were out of water.  We carry an extra five gallons in a jerry jug so we were not technically out.  We carry 120 gallons of water and we last filled up in Gloucester.

Since we were low on fuel and short on water we decided to make the trip to Rockland for the weekend.  Once out of the harbor we were able to sail with just the headsail and mizzen almost all the way.  We had to wind around many islands and dodge lobster pots but I had the idea that without the propeller turning we shouldn't have to worry about picking up  a pot.  At one point they were so thick that I couldn't maneuver around them and suddenly our speed dropped to almost nothing.  We had hooked a pot.  I went down and tried turning the prop by hand with success.  As I turned it the pot came loose and we were free. After a great sail we arrived at Rockland and called a marina to take on fuel, water and rented a mooring for the weekend.  We ended up on a mooring next to a boat from Oriental NC, just across the river from our old home and a boat that we were familiar with from listening and checking in with the single sideband radio.  Saturday morning we went to town and walked the streets checking out the shops and viewing the harbor.  On the way back to the boat we did a dinghy tour of the harbor and got a close up look at several schooners.  Those are some beautiful old boats.

Since we have good wifi service I have taken the opportunity to upload the Google map that shows our stops using our Spot locator and pictures.  I found that Picasa had been replaced by Google Photos so I am making some changes to accommodate that instead.  So far it seems to be working.