43 Lakeman Harbor to Portland, ME

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The Maine nights have been comfortably cool. Two quilts and a goose down comforter keep us warm as temperatures drop. There is nothing like snuggling into our cozy berth on cool crisp nights, pulling the quilts and comforter up and drifting off to sleep rocked by the gentle motion of the sea.

Bright sun took the chill off the brisk morning air. Inside Tranquility’s full canvas cockpit enclosure we were comfortable in shorts and T-shirts. Ahead a bright white pillow of a fog bank blocked our passage. We disappeared into its whiteness. The temperature dropped 10 degrees and sweatshirts were rapidly put on. Our sailing companions on Caribbean Soul disappeared behind us, only to show up as a round blip on our radar screen. Watching on radar and creeping toward shore, we could visually confirm about a quarter mile visibility. We decided to push on in the fog to our next destination, Mistake Island.

We motored along, holding shore just barely visible by sight. On the radar screen shore was a sharp outline. As the fog thickened, we held our quarter mile off using radar. The narrow entrance passage to the anchorage was easy to see on radar but invisible visually. Just as we entered, the spectacular granite walls lining both shores became visible and the stress of the entry was erased by the enjoyment of the beauty of the narrow channel into a unique anchorage. At low tide we were sheltered all around by 15 foot granite walls. At high tide, on the ocean side, our mighty walls were now only 2 feet high.

Ashore, we walked along a boardwalk out to the lighthouse and foghorn. The boardwalk protected the fragile ecology of the island. Blueberries added a taste treat to our visual treat provided by this unique island. As we got back to Tranquility, Mistake Island one hundred yards away disappeared into the thickening fog.

High tide was 2 AM and by then the wind was up. We had howling in the rigging, but the thin 2 feet of rocks proved adequate for keeping the ocean waves out of the anchorage. We moved around a lot on the anchor, worried about dragging, but the water was smooth. Nevertheless we had an uneasy night and were up at first light to leave. The wind was on the nose now blowing 25 knots. We motored out into 6 foot seas. Having been spoiled by all our easy passages we had not taken time to secure the cabin. Five minutes in the ocean and there was no need, everything that could move was now in a uniform mess on the cabin sole. The motion was so violent that the oil lamp hanging from the overhead popped its wick holder and dumped oil all over the mess on the cabin sole. Six hours later we were snug on a mooring in Southwest harbor cleaning up the mess.

Thick fog held us in Southwest Harbor for 3 days. Most days we couldn’t see shore from our mooring. We took the handheld GPS along in the dinghy, marking Tranquility as a waypoint so we could find our way back in the thick fog. This is the home of Hinckley Yachts. It was interesting being in a harbor where Hinckleys, normally rare in a harbor, seemed to outnumber other boats.

The mix of boats in Maine is interesting. All the harbors are a mix of lobster, fishing and sailboats. Power pleasure boats like trawlers and sport boats are rarely seen. Even in sailboats, the high volume production boats like Hunter’s and Catalina’s are a minority. Marinas are very small. Instead the harbors are filled with moorings jammed uncomfortably close together. So far there’s enough separation so we haven’t touched anyone.

As the fog broke, we headed for Bass Harbor a quiet lobsterman village. Ashore we found a heart wrenching sight. A Valiant 40 sailboat had hit a rock hard during the fog. The keel and skeg holding the rudder are going to have to be rebuilt. The remainder of this quiet town we loved-just pleasant homes, a great place for breakfast, open fields and great views of a harbor jammed with lobster boats.

On the way to Stonington, Caribbean Soul fouled their propeller on a lobster trap float. We circled watching as Jory, clad in a wet suit, went over the side, and after much effort was successful in clearing the propeller.

Richard and Jory looking at quarried rocks

Stonington leads as one of our favorite towns in Maine. Isolated on Deer Isle, its charm remains that of a quiet village with just a few shops catering to tourists. A rocky working harbor jammed with lobster and fishing boats dominates. Along the rocky shore, docks cluttered with lobster traps, floats, and fishing gear back up against warehouses designed to be functional, but ending up having quaint charm. Above and behind then, well-kept old homes cling to the hill and look out toward the harbor. Main Street winds its way along the shore providing a thin line of shops between warehouses and homes that seem to press in trying to get a waterfront view of the harbor. Across the harbor, Crotch Island has a working granite quarry that can be seen from Stonington. We walked the town in the yellow glow of late afternoon light enjoying the character of this quiet town. During the early evening we took the dinghies over to one of the islands, climbed to the top of the hill for the view and then scrambled along the rocky shore, climbing over areas where granite had been quarried directly off the shore.

Winter Harbor helped quench our desire to get away from towns and enjoy a wilderness setting. We worked our way into its narrow harbor and anchored off a 100 foot cliff called Starboard Rock. All around us, spruce trees provided a piney setting to the rocky shores. We took the dinghy and motored around finding little bays and streams hidden in the convolutions of the rugged shore. One stream opening thwarted our attempt to enter. The rush of the outgoing tide created a current too powerful for the dinghy motor to overcome. We played in the current for a few minutes, going nowhere, and then turned and squirted back downstream dodging around rocks in the stream. When we anchored in the early afternoon we had the harbor to ourselves. By late evening 8 other sailboats kept us company in this snug harbor.

A quick trip north and we were in Castine, a town filled with history. It had changed hands a number of times during the Revolution and during the War of 1812. We enjoyed town, but again headed for a chance to anchor out and enjoy a wilderness setting. We anchored in Smith Cove and walked the trails of the State Park there. I decided to cool off on returning to Tranquility and went for a swim in the 60 degree water. Actually I wanted to check on the status of the zinc I’d added at Pulpit Harbor. To my dismay, it was gone and I spent a long cold half-hour adding another, and then cleaned the rudder of its accumulation of slime to see if we have to just clean the bottom or pull Tranquility and repaint the bottom.

The weather forecast called for high winds, showers and thunderstorms. We altered our plans and made a long day heading west to Christmas Cove. We stayed two nights riding out afternoon thunderstorms. Shore provided a nice walk into the tiny town of South Bristol that looked like it was just starting to recover from hard times.

With NOAA still talking about daily thunderstorms and hedging its long range forecast because of Hurricane Bonnie, we decided the prudent thing to do was to head to Portland. We headed down and tied up at a marina. First time we’ve had shore power in 45 days. Tranquility will be here a week. We head back to Rochester, NY over the weekend for my second of 3 dental appointments and to visit family.

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