117 Frenchboro, ME to Manasquan, NJ

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A wonderful confusion of islands, some graced with huge old homes line either side of Merchant Row. It provides safe passage through the confusion to a short stretch of open water where Fox Islands Thorofare, another narrow, well marked passage, leads past more islands just begging to have someone tuck in behind and anchor out for a bit. In 1998 we’d spent the summer exploring the area and knew we’d hardly made a dent in the possibilities. Now, however, we passed on by driven by a desire to be further south.

Chicago started the pop culture craze with Cows on Parade. Rockland, ME had Lobsters on Parade as a once good idea continues to be marketed to death and boredom. In addition to the cows and lobster we’ve seen horses in Rochester, fish in Baltimore and moose in Toronto. Lobsters seemed to be a bit of a stretch. The artwork was uninspiring. Rockland, however, was a charming town, and we poked around for a couple of days.

York has a cliff walk threading its way in front of huge homes tucked back up the craggy shore and for the most part invisible as we poked our way along the scenic shore. Alan and MJ had joined us for the afternoon. We walked the trail and then found an inn lounge that had the feeling of a sailboat salon complete with arched headliner and small windows just below the ceiling. We relaxed catching up on our mutual adventures.

Our York mooring was less than ideal. We were out of the harbor exposed to any wind from the east and just barely off the channel exposed to boat wakes. There were some benefits, however, once we realized boaters were not speeding and the weather forecast had only west winds. We had a front row seat for watching all the harbor activity. Our mooring, at the confluence of a small channel and the main passage into York harbor sat at the edge of tidal eddies and whirlpools as the two tidal currents reluctantly tried to merge. The interaction was fascinating but proved impossible to catch on film. We took picture after digital picture, checked them on the laptop and then deleted and tried again to catch the quiet flow of beautiful changing patterns in the water. Evening brought another challenge that defied our photographic efforts. Sunset colors filled the entire sky from horizon to horizon in any direction we looked. We tried taking pictures knowing all we would achieve is deleting them with the comment: Nah; had to be there. Finally we just sat, sipping a glass of wine watching the colors build, change and then fade to deep purple before dimming to gray and night.

The fishing boat to starboard staggered throwing a huge bow wake as it slammed into a wave. We were traveling in the opposite direction surfing instead of slamming into the waves that ran 5-8 feet. An occasional 10 footer, just to make things interesting, kept us too busy to spend much time watching the other guy get pounded. Surfing to above 20 knots with the odd fishing buoys to avoid held our attention.

Annisquam Canal Bridge

Annisquam Canal Bridge

Relief came at the Annisquam Canal. We ducked in so we didn’t have to run outside around Cape Ann. The smooth waters were a relief but also a bit of a challenge since we were running at dead low spring tide and the depth alarm kept alerting us to thin water. Ruth talked with the Annisquam Bridge tender as I stood on the deck eyeballing the clearance of the low bascule bridge. By eyeball it looked like we’d just clear, and we asked the tender to be ready but leave the bridge down. Slowly we inched up and cleared with inches to spare.

We just weren’t in the mood for Boston. Learning the marina was charging us $120/day didn’t help. We found a mooring at $40/day but ended up leaving a day earlier in lousy weather. There were some highlights, however. Having a waiter try to shake us down for a tip two blocks away from the restaurant was a first. We hadn’t left a tip because the service was lousy. Instead of giving him a tip on the street I went back with him and explained to his manager that I didn’t expect waiters to accost us on the street and then outlined why the service was poor. It made for an interesting day.

Lawyers for Click and Clack on Car Talk

Lawyers for Click and Clack on Car Talk

The next day we took the subway out to Harvard Square. It was fun exploring Harvard and Radcliffe. To our delight we spotted the office window “Dewey, Cheetham & Howe” the famous fictional lawyers to Click and Clack on Car Talk. Quincy Market was a kick more for people watching than shopping. It was fun just wandering around enjoying Back Bay and Beacon Hill and Boston Commons.

Shouts and a loud crunch hit our ears simultaneously. We went off looking for the cause at Mystic marina. It wasn’t a pretty sight. A support had failed and the crane truck was resting on its side. The end of the boom rested on the now flattened radar arch and driver’s seat of a boat on the far side of the haul out well. No one was hurt. The yard crew was already trying to figure out how to right the crane. MJ and Alan came for dinner as we continued our reunion started in York and restarted a day earlier at their intriguing home. Alan and I couldn’t resist making a few visits to check progress on righting the crane. Finally after dark with the help of a second crane the truck with it’s badly mangled crane was vertical again.

Laurent and Judy met us as we dinghied ashore at Essex. We wandered the charming town and had lunch at an old inn dripping with character and serving great food. We took Laurent and Judy’s dinghy (a small SUV they haul behind their RV) and headed out to find the ferry to cross the river. We’d seen Gillette castle from the water and now spent a leisurely afternoon touring the quirky stone home of a once famous actor.

An early start in light fog brought us to Hell’s Gate at the peak of a favorable outgoing 5-knot tidal current. We flew through heading for the East River. Unfortunately, it was a perfect Saturday, and we had lots of company. The chop from all the boats was horrific. We felt sorry for one poor sailboat moving slowly and bobbing like a cork in a washing machine. Our fellow boaters stirring up the water were annoying, but the large tramp freighter rapidly overtaking us made us a bit nervous. We kept looking over our shoulder edging ever closer to shore as we passed the UN. The freighter seemed to follow. Finally we cut across its bow and headed for the quieter water of New York Harbor. To our relief the freighter turned and headed up the Hudson River.

Smiles broke out on our faces as we passed under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge officially crossing our up bound track. In that brief instant our most ambitious undertaking by boat was complete. We’d taken 123 days and traveled 2,900 miles to go up the Hudson, through Lake Champlain, out the St. Lawrence River, to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia before crossing back into Maine and traveling back down the coast to New York City. The memories of spectacular scenery, whales, wonderful people and the sea stories generated by that trip will be with us always.

It was still early afternoon and weather conditions were great so we headed out into the Atlantic heading south. Early evening brought us to Manasquan inlet and a traffic jam of weekend boaters returning at sunset. We fell in line and joined the boat parade back into the tiny inlet.

The bridge tender held the bridge going into Glimmer Glass pond and then asked when we’d be leaving. We told him early morning and he said he’d leave a note for the morning tender to look for us. The shallow pond, ringed by homes was glass smooth as we found a place to anchor, watch the sun set and talk about our summer adventure.

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