For the twelfth time, Steve Blecher's 53' J-160, Javelin takes a tried and true, mostly Dartmouth grad, crew on a cruise to Maine. The Crew:
Steve (Dartmouth '64) boat Javelin, home port Westbrook, CT
Rick Van Mell ('63), boat Vanishing Animal, home port San Francisco Bay
Mel Converse ('60), boat Whim, home port Galesville, MD, Chesapeake Bay
Paul Wharton (Duke '64), boat Solitude, home port Stamford, CT,
the above boarding at Westbrook, CT, plus
Brian Klinger ('62), boat Special K, home port Portsmouth, NH, boarded at Wentworth Marina, Portsmouth, NH.
This year's Plan was to "Go Where The Wind Takes Us", meaning (once we push on to Maine) sail as far as we can with wind on any given day as opposed to having a planned destination. But, as this crew gets fidgety sitting around, it wouldn't be surprising if we fall back on some of our past habits and start off under power in the mornings with no wind -- headed east. From Javelin's home port of Westbrook, CT, we'll head east, traversing Long Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay, through the Cape Cod Canal and then past Gloucester and Cape Ann to Portsmouth, NH where we will pick up Brian sometime around daybreak Tuesday morning, then push on to Linekin Bay, next door to Boothbay Harbor. Usual planned stops include Harpswell Sound to see Leighton & Karin McIlvaine, an extra day in Portsmouth to take Brian's office mates for a sail, then south through the Cape Cod Canal for a visit with Jay ('64) and Hasty Evans at Scraggy Neck, followed by a stop at Nantucket before returning to Westbrook.
That was The Plan, and Shopping List, but you'll just have to read on to see what happened when the wind hit the plan! Note: "Plan" destinations shown are Rick's choices to facilitate lobster dinners, but Steve's original targets also get as far east as Cross I. and touch on Castine/Holbrook on the way back west.
Pictures by Mel Converse, Paul Wharton, Bob Miller and Rick Van Mell, and are grouped between days. There are even be a few movie clips too.
The table below summarizes daily runs and the date is a link to that day's log. Elasped time is generally time under way and has sometimes been adjusted for lunch stops. Cells with a darker background color represent changes from the original Plan.
"Rise & Shine," intoned over the intercom at 0710 on Sunday morning. Steve called the crew for breakfast, and Mel & Rick rose from the beds at Steve's house in Scarsdale, performed their morning ablutions, and appeared ready for Steve's breakfast of scrambled eggs.
The morning chore was shopping - lots of shopping. We pulled into the A&P parking lot about 0820, filled two shopping carts and headed back to the house around 0930. Stuff was sorted into temporary fridge and freezer compartments, then we headed for Costco. Only one (big) cart this time, and we were again back at the house and stowing stuff by 1100.
A little after noon, Rick sorted the fridge and freezer stuff into a cooler and bags, then stuffed the back of the SUV with the better part of three weeks of food and all our clothes and computers. A five minute drive to Hartsdale and we picked up Paul, who had two big frozen lasagnas to add to his two frozen chilies which were already packed. Paul's foul weather gear and life jacket were neatly hung on a hanger -- looking like an extra crew member; we dubbed him "Frank." But even "Frank" found room and we were headed for the boat by 1245.
We arrived in the parking lot near Javelin about 1415 and set to work stowing all the gear. The boat's refrigeration system had been turned on, and gotten the fridge & freezer somewhat cooler, but then had tripped a breaker and refused to work on 110 volt shore power. So we started up the engine and that started bringing the temperature down nicely. After wiping down the inside of both the fridge & freezer, they were packed to the top with most everything for a dozen meals aboard over the next three weeks.
Other chores were draining and filling the water tanks with fresh water, inflating the dinghy and stowing it on the foredeck, mounting the outboard on the stern pulpit and generally stowing clothes and making up bunks. Our efforts were complete in time for an 1800 dinner at the local restaurant, the "Boom", and we all turned into our bunks early - Steve leading the way at 8:35 PM, and the rest following within an hour.
True to his word, Steve was stirring at 0400. Mel made coffee. Clothes laid out the night before were quickly donned. The air conditioning was turned off. The shore power cord disconnected and stowed. Running lights, and foredeck and cockpit lights on. Dock lines off & coiled. Fenders stowed. The log entry for departure was 0431.
No wind; flat sea; the slightest glow of light forming to the northeast. But the current was with us, and added to Javelin's engine cruising speed of about 7.9 knots, we were making 9.5 knots over the bottom headed for Maine.
By 0530 a rich red sun was breaking through a low cloud bank. 0713 had us at North Dumpling Island, leaving Long Island Sound for Fishers Island Sound - where Mystic Seaport is located. At 0816 we cleared Watch Hill and were into Rhode Island waters headed for the next waypoint at Point Judith.
By 1323 we had crossed below Naragansett Bay and famed Newport, and were entering Buzzards Bay. The wind had freshened from the southwest to 14 knots, but it was dead behind us and even rolling out the jib did little to increase our speed. What really helped was setting the sun shade awning over the cockpit to keep the crew from getting baked in the afternoon sun.
By 1500 severe thunderstorms were breaking out to the northwest of us over Hartford, CT and Springfield, MA. A severe storm with golf ball sized hail hit Amherst. MA. Mel's Internet link showed severe storms popping up across Massachusetts and moving east. Good we are, but stupid we ain't. Systematically we stowed the deck cushions and wrapped the mainsail cover with a continuous line -- much as Steve would for an approaching hurricane. We discussed what spare radios, computers and GPS units we would put in the (metal) oven if we were caught in a lightning storm. The metal "box" can act as a Faraday Cage and potentially protects them from an electromagnetic pulse that might knock out the primary ship's electronic navigation and compass.
We each laid out foul weather gear & boots, and made sure we each had a PFD (life jacket) close at hand. We called ahead to our destination fuel port, Sandwich, at the eastern end of the Cape Cod Canal and asked if they had room for us to spend a few hours to let storms pass. They did; we approximated our arrival as 1745, an hour and a half away.
We gave Steve a hard time that we were arriving 4 minutes early at 17:41. Fuel tank filled, we tied to an available berth ... fired up Mel's computer ... and watched the storms all move southeast of us -- big ones going over Westbrook which was now 13 hours astern. If you didn't know, the very best way to change the weather is to be totally prepared for it. We were; it changed; and we chilled at Sandwich while Paul's great lasagna (S.L.O.W.L.Y) heated in the oven.
Steve called Brian in Rye/Portsmouth (Wentworth harbor) to tell him the sad news that we were not going to be able to pick him up an 0430 off the docks and he'd just have to sleep in. Brian survived. At 2019 we cast off and were under way out the last half mile of the Cape Cod Canal headed for Wentworth Marina at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 80 miles away.
Monday's transition to Tuesday occurred under a new-moon black bowl of stars, dimmed slightly by the loom of Boston's lights 20 miles to the west. As we headed north on a course of 12 degrees, Mother Nature fired up quite a light show low on the northeastern horizon. Below the stars, a wide band of clouds could be seen in lightning flashes which continued for over three hours, slowly moving east and appearing to be farther away from us. The storm appeared to be in the Portland, Maine area 100 - 110 miles away.
Another low storm fired up just south and west of Boston for about 45 minutes around 0100. But it too was very low on the horizon and was simply fun to watch. As we approached Cape Ann at 0200, the Drinking Gourd (as the Big Dipper is called in song) was perfectly placed above the dark outline of the Cape Ann hills. Pleiades had risen in the east, and Cassiopeia balanced the Dipper across Polaris, with the Little Dipper forever pouring into the bowl of the the Big dipper. The wind increased from the southwest to 15 -18 knots for a while, then backed off. With stars, warm wind, a lightning show and the steady hand of the autopilot, we rounded Cape Ann and aimed for Portsmouth.
Brian was standing on the dock at Wentworth Marina as we pulled alongside at 0640. Using only two fenders and a single spring line, Steve held Javelin in place while we got Brian & his gear on board. In three minutes we had cast off and were on our way to Linekiin Bay, just east of Boothbay Harbor.
Light winds and sun started us off, but a fog bank could be seen ahead, and by 0900, Brian, Mel & Rick were running the radar and tracking boats in our usual routine. We dodged one big power boat that seemed to be going nowhere. We were a bit cautious as a radar target that we had passed about a quarter mile to port appeared to change course and approach us from astern. It turned out to be a swordfishing boat either curious about who we were, or just heading off to a new hunting ground. We played cat and mouse with the fog on into the rest of the morning.
When the sun finally prevailed, and we had about 3 hours left to reach our destination, we made a mistake. We set the sun shade. As we relaxed over the next half hour the cell-phone-based weather radar lit up with cells, and the white cumulus over land turned dark. Radar revealed a large cell about 12 miles away, likely headed in our direction. Switching into storm mode, the sun shade was struck and stowed, cushions and the ensign passed below, foul weather gear found and donned, hatches battened down and electronic valuables stowed in the microwave and oven. We were ready.
At 1330 the front passed over us from the northwest, with initial gusts into the low 20 knot range, and it looked like it would pass on by. But it either reversed course or filled in on the back side as another rain field developed with north winds peaking in the 35 - 40 knot range for a few minutes at 1359. Forty-five minutes later as we closed with the Cuckolds and the entrance to Boothbay Harbor, the rain slid southeast and we were back in sunshine.
An hour later, at 1547, we were taking on fuel and water in Boothbay in bright sunshine -- but big stuff lingered in blocks around the horizon. Secure on our mooring in Linekin Bay at 1639 with the ports open and the cushions out, we settled in to relax. By 1732 we reversed the process as black and thunder again filled the sky.
We debated cooking our steak out on the grill at the stern rail, or pan searing in the galley. Our decision worked -- we cooked below, and it didn't rain. After dinner our mooring host, and Steve's friend, Bob Demont came aboard and chatted for an hour before rowing his dinghy back to shore as the light faded. We all tucked in early and slept soundly.
The first of several records fell as Mel was making coffee at 0742. Rarely had we EVER been making coffee AFTER 0700. Steve's new "Go Where The Wind Takes Us" plan was having unprecedented effects. Breakfast at 0830 - another record, and Paul & Mel were credited with taking more than 5 minutes to eat their eggs and sausages. Rick even had time to sit in the cockpit, with a towel over his head for darkness, and upload the log to the web page. It's 0911 (wind 94 degrees at 3.3 knots) and we're still hanging on the Demont mooring in Linekin Bay -- no destination picked. The wind, or more correctly, No Wind, has hit The Plan.
Brian and Paul dropped the Demont's mooring at 0934 and we motored out of Linekin Bay. At Ram Island we headed east on an otherwise beautiful day under a clear sky with white cumulus strung along the inland hills. Rick's target for the day was Castine - and some lobsters for dinner. Steve's plan was to go east, not north into Penobscot Bay. Rick plotted a course east to Old Man, the southwest point where we could turn north for Castine, but where we could also continue east. Wind readings ranged from 2.7 to 3.7 knots right up toward noon as we approached Old Man.
With no wind, Rick suggested an "islands tour" up between Allen & Burnt Islands, then a slalom course north leaving Brenner to port, Davis to Starboard, Thompson to port, Barter to starboard, then circle McGee to starboard and Seavy & Bar to port. All of this in a three mile stretch, often with less than 50 yards between islands. Conviently, Steve pointed out, that would bring us out three miles up into Penobscot Bay. But, with nothing better to do, we headed up the chain and had lunch along the way.
As we rounded the top of McGee, wind began to fill in and Steve was itching to sail. Rick wanted lobster. By fortuitous happenstance the fates converged. Dead ahead was a lobster boat. Steve hailed, "Would you sell us some lobsters?" "Yes," was the reply, and shortly we had five 1.5 pound lobsters aboard. Rick smiled. Steve hoisted the main, set the jib and we sailed off to the east.
Dead ahead was Metinic Island; we had to choose which way to go past. Paul suggested we visit Matinicus Island -- pretty much due east past Metinic. We slipped south of Metinic and headed for Matinicus. Matinicus is the farthest out inhabited island along the Maine coast, and was a first time visit in our last ten years of cruising.
Matinicus first had year round residents in 1671. In 1750 Ebenezer Hall had a fundamental disagreement with the local Indians over burning grass on Green Island and sailing and fishing rights. In 1751 he shot two Indians on Matinicus and buried them in his garden. Other members of the tribe sought legal redress and in April 1753 wrote to Governor Phipps objecting to Hall's activities, particularly to his murdering their two friends, concluding, "If you do not remove him in two months, we shall be obliged to do it ourselves." Finally, on June 10, 1757 Hall was shot and his wife and four children carted off to Bangor. Joseph Green, a son of Mrs. Hall by a previous marriage, got out a window and hid. He went to Pemaquid, returned to Matinicus, and finally settled on Green's Island off Vinalhaven. Mrs. Hall was ransomed in Quebec but the children were never heard of. (From The Cruising Guide to the New England Coast.)
We approached Matinicus harbor with abundant caution. This is a working lobster and fishing harbor, with a few "guest" moorings just inside the entrance. The wind had died so we motored in, took a look and headed back out.
Continuing our "island" theme, we aimed for Duck Harbor on Isle au Haut. Isle au Haut having gained it's most recent 15 minutes of fame from Linda Greenlaw's role in The Perfect Storm. But, alas, there were two boats already there when we arrived late at 1810. If it had been empty, there might have been room for us, but there is very little swinging room, and so we continued on.
Another 6 miles north, into Merchant Row, we finally dropped the hook behind, appropriately, Steve Island at 1920. Rick already had the zucchini and onions chopped, and Paul dipped some clear sea water for the lobsters. Before long the veggies were stir fried and tucked in the oven to make room for two big pots on the stove. With 3 lobsters in one pot and two in the other, bright red and delicious steamed lobsters were served up in 20 minutes. A dollop of sour cream in the veggies and lemon caper butter for the lobsters was all we needed. Dinner done, another early bunk time.
Old habits creeping back in. 0705 and the crew is standing around drinking coffee waiting for Rick to serve breakfast. English muffins & spreads. We could tell it was time to get under way because Steve had finished eating and was fidgeting but trapped on the forward side of the table.
With no wind, Steve suggested continuing our Island tour with a visit to Frenchboro Harbor on Long Island. Under way at 0820, an hour and 14 minutes earlier than Wednesday, we powered down Merchant's Row and turned down Toothacher Bay. A detour took us into Burnt Coat Harbor on the southwest side of Swan Island - another long-talked-about-but-never-visited harbor. We were treated to three big tourist schooners and a full fleet of anchored boats. A pretty harbor and worth another visit -- if only it wasn't so close to NE Harbor.
But the wind had come up - to all of 7 knots - and we set sail in front of the schooners and sailed out of Burnt Coat Harbor. It was glorious, if cloudy sailing as we rounded the southern end of Swan and began beating toward NE Harbor in winds up and down between 7 and 11 knots. It shifted frequently too, then drizzled a bit for good measure. Seven tacks later we were on a clear shot into Western Way and Clifton Dock in NE Harbor for fuel, water & ice. Rick walked up to the Pine Tree Market to replenish the OJ supply and add Tabasco to the ships supply. It was an easy walk down to the town dock were Javelin arrived to pick Rick up. At 1351 we were headed east again.
Now Rick's original Plan aimed for Birch Point in Dyer Bay - last visited in 2007. But, the wind, all 8 knots of it and damp with mist, Steve was quick to point out, was enough to sail the boat --- and wasn't that The Plan, go where the wind takes us? Couldn't argue with that logic, so up went the main and off went the engine at 1402. With the wind from the east, the logical place to sail was north into Frenchman Bay. But first, there was a Morris 52 in sight so we raced it until it was clearly no contest. Meanwhile, it tried to rain enough for Paul & Brian to reach for wet gear. All this in a stretch of one and a quarter miles. At 1425 the wind had died. Down came the main, on went the engine and it was back to Plan A.
The rain cleared, but water still clouded the view through the dodger. So Rick unzipped the center section to get a clear view. But it was cold and the crew insisted it would bring the rain back. And sure enough, half an hour later the rain returned.
We also changed our target anchorage for the night. At Dyer Point, just west of the Petit Manan bar, you have a choice of two large bays, each running over 3 miles inland and up to a mile wide. To the right is Dyer Bay, with Birch Point at its northern end. To the left is Gouldsboro Bay, with potential anchorages at its northern end in West Bay at Jetteau Point, and Rogers Point in Joy Bay. We chose Gouldsboro as we'd not been in there before.
The entrance has several possible approaches, but the deepest and straightest is Eastern Way which we chose. With a 12' tide range, and the ebb starting, there was already a 2 knot current flowing out and setting up a standing wave as we powered into the bay. Somewhat to our surprise, the bay - all three miles long and about a mile wide - was carpeted with lobster pots. We dodged our way up the bay as a black rain squall slid in from the northeast. Fortunately, it had mostly cleared by the time we had to work through about half a mile of rocks to reach our desired anchorage area. It too was thick with lobster pots, but it was getting late, damp and gray, so we picked a lane with the fewest pots and dropped our anchor.
To reward the crew for laboring in the rain to add yet one more new spot to our memories, we served up shrimp & cocktail sauce, plus olive bread, cream cheese and olive oil & garlic for dipping. Pork chops, applesauce and salad finished off the meal. Our first movie of the cruise was African Queen - then off to sleep.
Bright sunshine greeted us Friday morning. The lobster pots sparkled in their rainbow of colors and all seemed right with the world, well, it would have been better if there had been a little more than the 6.4 knots of wind. Luckily, we had survived two tidal curent changes without catching any lobster pots on the keel. At 0745 we hauled the anchor and were under way for points east.
We powered out Eastern Way at 0824 and continued on to the passage through Petit Manan bar, and once through, immediately hoisted sail in 7.5 knots of breeze at 0845. An hour later we had a pod of porpoises pass astern. they may have taken the wind though because it was back to the engine at 1029 as boat speed dropped under 3 knots. Half an hour later it was engine off and jib out at 1052. At 1159 it was engine on and all sails down as the breeze vanished again. After lunch, with 10 knots of wind, we set sail again at 1300. Delightful sail for the next hour, then it started to fade again.
An hour and a half of good sailing, with sunshine and speeds up to 7.0 knots brought us in front of Cross Island and the Navy's towering radio antennas to the north on Cutler Peninsula. this array of over 26 towers and wires communicates with submarines around the world. Sails down and an engine run just long enough to cool the fridge & freezer brought us to Steve's favorite anchorage on the 11 foot spot between Cross I. and little Mink Island.
All hands assembled to launch the rubber dinghy, attach the electric Torqeedo outboard motor, find the oars and watch Paul & Rick don life vests and set out for shore to explore. After testing a nearby rock promontory and finding no path inland, we motored down to the old Coast Guard station where Paul dropped Rick ashore and headed back to Javelin to pick up Mel. By the time they returned to shore, Rick had scouted three possible trails, and we selected the most scenic for adventure. Winding beneath a thick grove of pines, interspersed with mostly dead small birch trees, the forest floor was spongy with fallen limbs and moss. Evidence of water courses suggested our trek would have been soggy had there been any sizeable rain. We wandered along for about 20 minutes, and though there were some old signs, no indication of where or how long the "loop" trail we were on would take us. Prudence suggested returning the way we had come, and we emerged back at the old station around 1700.
All three of us gingerly boarded the little dinghy (yes, we checked our combined weight and were at least 50 pounds short of the maximum People weight recommended.) Back alongside, it was a bit of a challenge to both get aboard and stow the motor as there was now about a 2 knot current running past Javelin. But all were soon safe aboard and the dinghy stowed. Steve and Brian, as soon as we were below, demanded, "What's for dinner?" So it was on to nibbles and a generous serving of Paul's delicious chili, rice & mixed vegetables. All hands stayed awake for the full 2 hours and 35 minutes of Gladiator. Though the movie ended about 10:15, Paul read from his Droid the play by play of the ninth inning of the Yankees - Boston game with the Yankees leading 3 to 2. Paul & Steve cheered the final out as Brian resolved, "Wait until tomorrow night."
"Patchy fog," droned the weather radio. Indeed, the crew awoke to a blanket so thick that at times even little Mink Island was hardly visible. Teasing moments of blue sky above alternated with white waves returning as the wind, now around to the west and southwest ranged between 3 and 6 knots. Steve was briefly contained for a French Toast breakfast -- while wryly observing, "What, it's 7:49 and we're not sailing?"
So we sailed. At 0916 there was 8.9 knots and lifting fog. Into the top of Machias Bay we navigated through the Cross Island channel, then immediately set sail and headed west close hauled across the Bay. Visibility improved to half a mile, and we tacked to the south as we neared the shore. As we closed with Libby Island and the open ocean, we sailed back into the fog, but the wind increased to the 10 -12 knot range and Javelin romped along at 8 knots.
We beat south, then west, then south then west - all in fog and dodging occasional lobster boats on radar for about five hours to Trafton Island. The fog lifted as we closed with the land. Easing sheets as we passed 2SR west of Great Wass Island and heading past Black Rock, the wind increased to 16 knots and Javelin responded with 9.5 knots through the water and 10.0 knots over the bottom with a following current. Sunshine was welcomed by the on deck crew who had been damp and cold for over five hours.
Running north into the lee of little Trafton Island, we furled the jib and dropped the main. It was a short five minutes under engine to nose up into the back side of Trafton and drop the anchor in 21 feet of water -- near high tide with 10 feet of tide already above chart datum. Steve called for a pot of hot water (our second of the day) and two hot chocolates and two cups of Folgers were shortly warming the hands and insides of the crew.
Steve had one more surprise for the crew as he pulled out a new Hatch Hoodie from Jess Gregory. This clever piece of canvas has an adjustable batten at one end that creates an arch to funnel wind into a hatch, while protecting the opening from all but the most serious rain. We rigged this one over the main cabin hatch with about 14 knots of wind. It was steady, quiet and seemed to do a good job. If the forecast is right, we may get a chance to test its rain protection overnight. (It did, and we stayed dry!) It also fit right in with Jess's Twin Delta riding sail which kept Javelin quietly pointed into the afternoon southwesterly. The pictures show the results.
A lazy eggs & sausage breakfast. Light wind and modest visibility encouraged us to haul anchor at 0935, then doing a couple of circles to free a captured lobster pot float. Steve wanted to get from Trafton Island to Flanders Bay, so we started out under power to cool the fridge & freezer and charge up the batteries after yesterday's long day under sail. By the time we had powered the four miles south to open water we were back in fog.
Two and a half miles further we were through the Petit Manan bar and set sail at 1043 in 13 knots of breeze. Good sailing, but a bit challenging watching for lobster pots in the haze and other boats on radar. Naturally the wind was coming from the direction we wanted to go so we were beating into it. Then it went light. Then it started raining. We rolled in the jib at 1118, and finally dropped the main at 1142 and powered upwind toward Schoodic Point.
Rounding the point put the wind and sea at our back for a smoother ride, but the rain continued. Steve nixed the idea of stopping short and going into Winter Harbor - too much swell. We pushed on toward Flanders Bay. All the crew but Rick were in full foul weather gear, sitting under the dodger when possible. At one point the rain dripping off the boom was falling on Paul - so Steve moved the boom to port - so it could drip on Brian!
Rick called up the course changes from the nav station as we worked the ten miles up Frenchman's Bay toward Flanders. Also served up was steaming tomato soup with noodles and oyster crackers, first to Mel, Paul & Brian and finally Steve after we anchored in Flanders Bay at 1339. Forty minutes later the wind increased into the twenties, with at least one gust noted at 28 knots with another round of driving rain. On went the heating system, out came the books, magazines and tunes to finish off the afternoon snug and warm as wind whistled through the rigging.
And whistle, moan, and hum it did right on through Paul's second delicious lasagna for dinner. It was a late dinner at 2000 hours, allowing just over two hours for the frozen lasagna to heat in the oven. A bit more reading, and some sing-along to Jimmy Buffet finished off the evening. Just as we were turning in, the wind abated and we slept soundly.
Condensation dripping from the main cabin hatch onto Steve's nose was all it took for Steve to fire up the generator and heating system shortly after 0700. A lazy breakfast of the usual juice, coffee, and this morning English Muffins was eaten and stowed in time for us to get under way at 0837. No wind, but fog. Usual drill; usual positions; headed the short 19 miles to Northeast Harbor on Mt. Desert Island and a day of laundry, shopping, chores and uploading the log.
Javelin got a thorough cleaning: deck and topsides washed down; interior vaccuumed and heads cleaned. Even the crew took showers. It took nine loads of laundry to get clothes and stuff clean after up to 10 days on the road. The Pine Tree Market had only about half the items on Rick's reprovisioning list, so we're coping without a few things. The log got uploaded at the free WiFi at the delightful NE Harbor library. All this in time to welcome Hank & Rebecca aboard at 1800 for cocktail hour.
Docksider reservations at 1900 for the seven of us filled the place - always a good sign that business is OK in this little town which must make most of its living from July 1st to October 1st. The lobster was good and the company exceptional. Back aboard, Rick & Brian did some harmonizing in the cockpit under a shining moon - even joined by a passer by on the dock - and then all turned in.
Sometimes you just can't get enough of a good thing, so we invited Hank & Rebecca to join us aboard for a French Toast breakfast. It was a bright, sunny, pleasant morning and after breakfast Rebecca headed off for a spa day and some store browsing, and we kept Hank aboard for a day's sail. At 0927 we shoved off and started wind hunting in Eastern Way.
Wind was elusive, but we found about 7 - 9 knots and managed to find, tack behind and pass a J 47.
Then we sailed south to "The Drums" just north of Long Island then gybed and set the spinnaker for a slow ride back to Western Way. A quick stop at Clifton Dock topped off the fuel tank and added a bag of ice. A lazy, enjoyable day.
Wind hummed through the rigging at 20 knots. Rain steadily tapped on the deck and cabin. The forecast had come true. Smartphones concurred with their radar images that pervasive rain hung from Penobscot Bay to east of us in Northeast Harbor on Mt. Desert. But it was marching east.
Best guess was that the trailing edge might clear NE Harbor around 0900. A light breakfast, some tunes and some reading quickly passed the time. When Steve, already in his foul weather gear bottoms for half an hour, opened the hatch and poked his head on deck at 0900, it had indeed stopped raining. The crew, naturally, was galvanized into action and power and water were disconnected, lines singled up and we cast off at 0910 headed for Long Cove on Vinalhaven Island.
Rolling seas from the southeast had built up overnight and gave us an uncomfortable ride out to Western Way green can #1, but then improved as we ran off before the wind and seas for Bass Head. West of Bass Head, into Jericho Bay, things smoothed out and we rolled out the jib to add speed and steady the boat. A passing tourist schooner provided some contrast as we checked off, one by one, the green topped rocky islands of the Deer Island Thorofare.
Wind increased and rain returned as we crossed the open 6 miles of east Penobscot Bay into the Fox Island Thorofare. Chicken soup, carefully spiced with Worchestire, and accented with 2 cans of well-aged, vintage 2003, Spaghetti O's. Topped with oyster crackers and whatever additional spices the consumer chose, the steaming pot was eagerly downed as soon as we had passed into the flat waters of the thorofare.
It was an easy rounding on the west side of Vinalhaven down to Leadbetter Narrows, not much more than a single boatlength wide, into Hurricane Sound. Then a turn to port up into Long Cove where Hank Jonas' mooring was waiting for us. Well, the mooring was there, but a blue sloop was also hanging on it. We didn't really feel too mean asking them to leave, after all the mooring does say, "Private - On Rush." While waiting for them to vacate, we flagged down a lobster boat who happily sold us 7 lobsters for $40. Oh yes, just as we had completed the transaction, he casually asked, "Would you happen to have a cold beer?" We did. He got it, and was all smiles.
Light rain, or heavy fog, dusted us as we settled in for the afternoon. Reading, log writing, and preparing for the evening. A long string of missed communications finally culminated with Rick & Sherry Tonge's Juliet, whom we'd met at Grand Manan a year ago, appearing two moorings over an hour and a half later. We hailed them and they are coming for cocktails. Steve had also been trying to connect with another past cruise companion, Bob & Mary Ann Miller's Mast Transit. They too should be arriving in the next hour.
"Two drowned rats coming over," announced Rick & Sherry's approach about 1630. Deftly avoiding the generator's exhaust, first Sherry stepped up the stern ladder, then a big bag of goodies, and finally Rick was safely aboard. It was toasty warm below, and with the welcoming enthusiasm, we shut down the generator and began catching up on a year's worth of memories. Bob and Mary Ann hailed on channel 16 about an hour later, and were tied alongside to complete the party.
And party it was. Mast Transit contributed a stack of fish chowder and bottles of wine to compliment Juliet's array from avocados to ginger beer and Goslings rum. Our feast started with the chowder, then the steak was pan seared and put in the oven while the lobster pots got to steaming and the corn warmed on the remaining burner. Top that all off with a plate of Juliet's cookies and Javelin's Oreos. What a feast! We finished off in harmony with a long round of songs, "til time and party passed."
"Where did that tree go?" asked Brian as fog thickened around us during breakfast. Steve & Brian finished off mousing the shackles on the stern ends of the lifelines, while Bob rowed around taking pictures of Javelin and Mast Transit. By 0938 we were both under way,Mast Transit heading east for Bass Harbor, while we headed west for Poorhouse Cove. JUliet (and dinghy "Row-Me-Oh) had departed earlier for Rockland.
Visibility improved once out into Penobscot Bay and with 9 knots of breeze, we set sail at 1017. Rick had Javelin in the groove upwind for 45 minutes across the Bay, then we tacked south and Steve took a turn. We were gaining on a tug and barge, and eventually tacked back to port headed for Old Man at the southwest corner of Penobscot Bay. The wind backed into the south instead of veering toward the west, so we could parallel the tips of Maine's ragged coast as we headed west.
Though the sky was still overcast, making over 8 knots, on course, with a favorable tide pushing us up to 9 knots over the bottom, it was way too early to call it quits. When the wind hits The Plan, the plan says to keep on sailing. We did. It was only 1316 when we sailed right on past Pemiquid Neck and the turn up the Johns River to Poorhouse Cove. Next target, pass Boothbay and turn up into the Sheepscott River and try a new location - Harmon Harbor. The Gods approved on our change - the sun came out and we were making 9.2 knots over the bottom.
It was only 1454 and we were still gloriously headed west as we arrived at the Cuckolds, so we hardened up a bit and aimed for Cape Small. Now there were lots of choices. We could go all the way to Harpswell Sound and the McIlvaines, our "tomorrow" destination. Or, we could work up into one of Mel's favorites, Quahog Bay. Then there's Cundy's Harbor, Sebasco, and Riley's Harbor to choose from.
But Steve wanted to return to The Basin - if the tide allowed. Low tide was at 1600, and at low tide the chart shows only 7 feet of depth in the narrow channel into this beautiful, land-locked little lake surrounded by wooded hills on all sides. Javelin needs all seven of those feet to float - and the bottom at that point is likely very hard rock. We rounded Cape Small at 1638, and by the time we made the 8 miles up the New Meadows River to the entrance to The Basin, it was 1740, with 2.0 feet of tide above low water. We headed in.
The depth sounder began a steady drop from over 30 feet to the twenties, then into the teens, then lower. Drifting slowly over the shallowest spot right where we make a sharp left turn and pop into the basin it dropped to 10, then 9, then flashed in heart-stopping succession to 7, then 6.8, then back to 7 then up to 8 - all in less than about ten seconds. We didn't hit, we didn't stop, and we were gloriously into The Basin. Three other sailboats and a small power boat were scattered around, but there was plenty of room for us.
By 1754 we were anchored and relaxed into dinner. The Plan had changed. And it was about to change again. A message from Karin McIlvaine said that our planned visit for tomorrow would have to be cancelled.
Lots of changes. Under way at 0730 - the "late" departure allowed a full 3 feet of tide over the shallow spot on our way out of The Basin. Destination change: straight to Wentworth Marina (Portsmouth, NH - on the border with Maine.) They were able, over about an hour, to move our two-night reservation up one day. Brian called his office to see if we could move the Office Sail to Saturday instead of Sunday.
A little sparrow joined us for a rest well off Cape Elizabeth, but did stay long enough for a picture. Light winds and a smooth sea made for an easy ride under power on the long 50 mile run down to Wentworth. Some breeze as we passed Kennebunkport at 1245 teased Steve into setting all sail, and we continued on at almost the same speed for the next three hours. As the wind went a bit west, we were beating down the shore and finally went back to the engine about 3 miles out when the wind went light.
Brian & Rick headed for Brian's house to do laundry & upload the log. Steve, Paul & Mel tidied up the ship. Brian, Rick and Brian's wife Lise arrived back aboard about 1845, and after some nibbles and beverage, all walked up to the Latitudes restaurant for an excellent dinner.
The changes continued. Brian, who had slept at home, came by to pick up Rick for a shopping run and they were back aboard about 1015. Brian stayed ashore to wait for his office mates to arrive for an afternoon sail. Steve's son Jeffrey and his wife Jen and kids Ella and Olivia arrived about 1115, and we were under way for a tour of Portsmouth Harbor by 1121.
Little Ella took a turn at the helm, then explored below with dad Jeffrey and little Olivia giving Jen a short break. We powered over to Pepperell Cove to see Brian's boat Special K, then continued up the harbor past Brian's yacht club, Kittery Point YC, to the old bridge and turned back toward Wentworth Marina. The attention spans lasted, as Steve had predicted, just over an hour and we were back at the dock at 1245. Steve escorted Jeffrey, Jen and the kids up the dock to say good bye as they headed off to get their own lunch.
Meanwhile Rick made sandwiches which were quickly eaten in time for the arrival of the afternoon crew of Brian and office mates Sarah and Ashley. We shoved off as quickly as they arrived at 1338 and headed for the Isles of Shoals, about 5 miles southeast of Wentworth. We were in luck with a delightful building breeze and were able to set sail and beat out to the islands. Sarah did an excellent job of learning how to sail upwind, and we roared into (and out of) Gosport Harbor at 8 knots. Since Ashley needed to be ashore by 1600, we set the spinnaker for a fast run back and it was her turn to steer. We were abeam of the fuel dock at 1600 and tucked in our slip at 1604.
As Ashley headed off the crew relaxed with hors de oeuvres in the cockpit, followed by spaghetti & meatballs with green salad and garlic bread, finishing off with blueberries over crushed Oreos, topped with whipped cream. Just another great day on the cruise.
"Zero dark thirty" was darker than usual as Captain Steve called all hands at 0430 and we were under way at 0447. A very red sunrise over the Isles of Shoals gave way to clouds and then light rain as we powered south to Cape Ann. (Brian, we surmised, though probably still soundly sleeping, was happy we had moved his office sail to Saturday.)
We altered course 12 degrees as we rounded Cape Ann to head for the Cape Cod Canal and an evening rendezvous with Jay & Hasty Evans. As the picture shows, with the headwinds and rain, "Is this the fun part?"
Using electronic navigation planning and charting tools our laid out course for the run was 91 miles. Since it turned out we ran the whole course essentially on autopilot, it was noteworthy that our track miles ( think of breadcrumbs laid down behind you) came out to 90.8 miles. On any normal run, you'd have current either with you or against you and thus the total would be different, even if you sailed the same line. This time, our travel time of 12 hours worked out to be equally divided between current with us and current against us. Lest anyone think we are bragging about how good we are, that's a whole big coincidence.
We did arrive early, at 1604, having been flushed through the Canal doing 10.8 knots over the bottom. Jay and Hasty rowed out in their dinghy at 1715 and we spent the next 4 hours catching up on sailing, kids and general goings on. Hasty finally rowed home in their dinghy, using a flashlight as we tucked in for the night at 2200.
We'd made the whole Plan change based on two things: Karin McIlvaine's decline of a visit, and the prospect of a potential 30 knot easterly, with drenching rain, on the day we were scheduled to go from Wentworth to Scraggy Neck. Damn glad we did!
Rain began overnight, and somewhere in the early morning hours we collectively heard the pitter patter of rain on deck and closed the open ports. By dawn it was raining. No big deal, but very wet. The bigger stuff was forecast for mid-day to evening. So we relaxed with cereal & fruit for breakfast, plus some fresh-baked rolls with a choice of spreadsl
Time to read, or for those obsessed with (OK, excuse me, "for those that have") smartphones, it was a game of showing the bright green, yellow and red radar images that spelled drenching rains marching toward us. Well, yes, they did finally arrive a bit after noon (turkey sandwiches for lunch), and we floated nicely parallel to the shore in easterly winds of 15 - 20 knots.
The GRIB files and the various weather reports showed the strongest winds from the east and northeast, then shifting to north, and possibly northwest as the bulk of the rain passed by to the east. True to the forecast the wind picked up to the 15+ range and the rain came down in sheets. In a test of the new Hoodie Hatch canvass cover, we rigged it and opened the hatch over the main cabin. It was open a full 8 inches most of the day, and only closed down to about 2 inches during the worst of the rain. We were all really pleased with the ventilation. To pass the afternoon, we watched the 3 hour movie spectacle "Australia." At the end Rick raised the questions, "What's the similarity between the movie and Brian's Office sail?" The answer, the heroine "Sarah Ashley!"
The GRIB files and the various forecasts talked about winds going north ovenight. By late afternoon the wind had gone into the northeast and Javelin was coming quite close to some of the empty moorings just off Jay & Hasty's place. About 1700 the wind headed toward north and Javelin kissed the nearest mooring with a gentle tap.
Wet gear time. Steve was already in his boots and suit; Paul was putting on "Frank", and Steve called for Rick to do the same. At 1720, as the rain was backing off to quite light, Steve started the engine, Rick gave Steve hand signals, and Paul hauled the anchor line until the anchor was safe aboard. We powered a very short half mile due north to the lee side of Wing Neck and anchored there. This would absolutely minimize any wave action from north or northwest winds.
Now secure, we moved on to dinner of roasted chicken and the zucchinii, onion, capers and sour cream mix that worked well enough earlier in the cruise. Early to bed by 2100.
An easy egg breakfast, then under way by 0807 headed for Nantucket. The wind from the north varied from 10 to 13 and made for a nice run down to Woods Hole, the passage between the northeast corner of Buzzards Bay and Vinyard Sound with Martha's Vinyard to the south, and Nantucket away to the east.
The current was with us as we roared through The Hole making 11.3 knots over the bottom. Flushed out into the Sound, it still carried us east at a little under 9 knots most of the way to Nantucket. This famed whaling island lies a surprising 30 miles east of Woods Hole, and 22 miles south of Hyannis on Cape Cod. It is surrounded on all sides by shoals with plenty of spots here and there with depths under 10 feet. Unlike Maine, there are no islands sticking up at random intervals to give you at least some points of reference to avoid the shallow spots. Out here it is just an unending stretch of water with strong currents - you need to always know where you are in these parts.
The wind went light as we approached the West Chop headland of Martha's Vineyard so it was motor time to continue the trip. Heading east we could see to the south the low outline of Chappaquiddick Island (of Ted Kennedy infamy), essentially the eastern end of Martha's Vineyard, then the low black line of Tuckernuck Island to the west of Nantucket proper. We kept the main up until we headed south at Cross Rip shoal when our course became dead down wind. There seemed an unusual number of mega super yachts headed for Nantucket. These are the $20 million and up category. Boats of all sizes crowded the docks and moorings - over 350 in total - as we rounded Brant Point into Great Harbor. We hailed Nantucket Moorings on channel 68 and were quickly escorted to mooring G6, about a quarter mile off the main town dock. Another launch came alongside to give us our Welcome Packet of island brochures. We were all secure by 1400.
By the time we had done a few chores, like replacing one of the dogs on the forward hatch that had broken, and reading through the literature, we contemplated going ashore. One of the things we discovered was that this was Nantucket Regatta Week, packed with activities. No wonder there were so many boats around! Rick, Paul & Mel hailed the launch and headed ashore a little after 1530. One of the places we wanted to see was the Whaling Museum, but the literature said it was only open 10:00 to 4:00 Thursday through Monday - and this was Tuesday, and we were leaving at 0600 on Thursday.
We asked the launch driver about the museum, and he referred us to the information kiosk at the head of the dock. Indeed they thought it was open today and gave us directions. One block west, two north, and two more west had us at the front door at 3:45, and the door was still open. We went in and discovered that indeed they were open today and tomorrow, 10:00 until 5:00, and that the last showing of their new movie about Nantucket would start at 4:00 and run until 4:50, and further, our admission would also be good for re-entry tomorrow. We stayed and enjoyed the movie, though it was more a self-serving tourist promotion than a movie about Nantucket whaling, albeit with much mention of the wealth it once brought to the island.
The first European settlers, in the 1670s, confounded the native Indians by talking about "owning" land, a concept unknown in their communal arrangements. First granted only winter rights to graze sheep from October to May, after the Indian's crops were harvested. The settlers gradually increased in numbers and displaced the Indians, partly, as would later happen across America, through illnesses to which the Indians had no resistance. Indians had been opportunistic whalers, harvesting whales that washed up on the outer shores of Nantucket. It was from the simple beginning that the settlers used their knowledge of ships to begin harvesting the local whale population. For almost the next 200 years, to the mid 1800s, whaling brought wealth to Nantucket.
As local whale populations were depleted, whalers extended their voyages, eventually sailing for 2 -3 years at a time into the South Pacific. Though Moby Dick is the quintessential whaling story, Melville did not set foot on Nantucket until a year after the book was published! Stately mansions attest to the wealth of harvesting whale oil to light the lamps of both England and America. Four things marked the rapid decline of whaling from Nantucket. First, the supply of Indian crew and workers had become exhausted. Second, a great fire in 1846 burned most of the town waterfront and docks, and though mostly rebuilt, it was not the same. Add, in 1849, the California Gold Rush. Over 50 whaling ships loaded up with crew sailed around Cape Horn for the gold fields, and the crews joined the passengers in the pursuit of gold - leaving the ships to rot at the San Francisco piers. Finally, oil was discovered in Pennsylvania and the much cheaper kerosene flooded the fuel market. Ironically, perhaps to modern environmentalists, it was petroleum that first saved the whales from extinction!
Mingling on the streets filled with (as the promotional movie seemed to emphasize) "a multi-cultural population", Rick, Paul and Mel completed a quick walking tour of some side streets and the main drag, poking occasionally into T shirt shops as Mel considered how to fulfill Molly's request for a Nantucket souvenir. Mel did remember, and find again, and prod Rick to consider buying a unique T that simply reads, "I am the man from Nantucket."
Our last look ashore was out on the docks were three vintage 12 Meters were grouped together: Columbia, America's Cup winner in 1958, American Eagle, Ted Turner's contender which also sailed in the 1970 Chicago - Mackinac blow, and a third whose name we did not recall. Add four more out in the mooring field, Nefertiti, Gleam, Northern Light and Weatherly, and that brought to total to seven stately America's Cup queens.
Steve's favorite, spaghetti & meatballs, with peas, for dinner. "The Wild Bunch", a real shoot-em-up, corny, western finished off the evening. Into our bunks at 2200.
This morning's light added an eighth big boat, Wild Horses, and eventually a stable mate (owned by the same person) White Wings. There are scheduled 12 Meter racing on Thursday and Friday after we are gone, but today there is an informal Kids Day on 12s race, but the wind is very light.
We powered out to watch the fun at 1011, but with only 2 - 4 knots of wind, nobody was going anywhere fast. At about 1055, a gal on the Race Committee intoned on channel 72, "The course for the Kids Race will be windward, leeward, twice around." Aboard Javelin we could see the weather mark just over half a mile away, and still took bets that they'd never make it. Gleam came back with a polite, "Roger that, we copy. Just wanted to advise that our kids are being picked up at the mooring at 1200 hours and we have another charter after that." After a pregnant pause, the RC came back, "We'll make it once around." Since none of the boats had much more than steerage way, we thought that was even a stretch. The RC gave a Prep signal, and 4 minutes later a starting horn sounded. The gaff-rigged New York 40, about the same length as the 12s, drifted across the line shortly there after. No one else was close and some even pointing in the wrong direction. Ten minutes later, the race was abandoned.
We powered back into the harbor and picked up our mooring, batteries now charged and the fridge cooled down. We saw Weatherly & American Eagle heading out with guests aboard. A light southwest wind slowly materialized and we enjoyed a sandwich lunch watching boats come and go. Around 1500 Weatherly & American Eagle made a nice show coming back into the harbor.
We hailed the harbor launch and went ashore to complete the museum visit we had started yesterday. It was time well spent. Then we headed for the beach and Ed & Barbara Hajim's house that looks out directly down the main channel. Ed and Steve have been business partners and friends for decades. Barbara had graciously invited us for cocktails between 5 and 6, and we arrived right on time. This wonderful house would have done any whaling captain proud, compete with a "widows walk" roof-top balcony where traditionally wives would look out to sea for returning ships. Certainly this one is spectacular for that, and also overlooks Nantucket town.
We headed up Eaton street to the American Seasons restaurant for a gourmet repast - perhaps the last sit down dinner of the cruise as Steve is aiming us for home tomorrow, sailing into the early hours of Friday morning to reach Westbrook. Wonderfully fed, we ambled down the cobble stone streets down to the dock and took the launch back to mooring G-6 just at sunset.
"Rise & Shine," called out our skipper. It was 25 whole minutes until the crew had risen from their bunks, put on clothes, rubbed sleep from their eyes, turned on the various instruments and readied the navigation computer, ... and cast off - at 0525.
As they say, time and tide wait for no man, and we were riding the ebb tide west toward the Muskeget channel, skirting the Tuckernuck shoals and several places where there was only 5 feet of water. We'd covered just over 20 miles by the time we set all sails south of Nantucket in the Atlantic and headed west. It was 0805.
A wonderfully long, remarkable day stretched before us. Our log entires, hour after hour, showed the wind from 217 - 223 degrees, only varying from 10.6 to 12.2 knots as the speed of this thorobred clocked between 8.0 and 9.7 knots for eight hours - until the tide turned against us late in the day. We were so far ahead of a probable schedule that we ran into the mighty ebb tide flowing out of Long Island Sound through The Race. Four to five knots at the worst places. Steve picked a racing strategy and we sharpened up and headed for Plum Gut at the southwest entrance to Long Island Sound. Though still with tide against us, the worst of it only lasted about half a mile instead of 5 miles through the heart of The Race.
We'd cleared into the Sound, making 9 knots through the water but only 7.5 over the bottom, and set our course for the western end of Long Sand Shoal and Javelin's home port of Westbrook, about 10 miles away. Rick started warming dinner on the gimbaled stove below, though the seas were still rolling a bit. Just as the sun set, the wind went lighter, so we turned on the engine, dropped sails, and continued on. A Coast Guard broadcast warned of a severe thunderstorm moving east from New York harbor with 30 knot winds and lightning.
As Steve tucked Javelin neatly in her slip, we could see distant flashes away to the southwest. We were home. Safe and snug. Our last dinner was Paul's chili over rice, with mixed veggies - washed down with a toast to shipmates, and a cruise well sailed.
Since horse-headed-for-barn got home last night, there is little to say today. We'll spare you pictures of hosing down the boat, stowing the dinghy and ships computer and cleaning out the freezer, fridge and beverage cooler. We departed Westbrook at 1028, and dropped Paul off in Hartsdale at 1200, and were back at Steve's house in Scarsdale 10 minutes later. Mel was driving south for home within the hour, and Rick uploaded the log and did laundry.