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Sailing to and in Maine

I was not lying when I told my former boss at the DMNS that I have not finished revising my thesis for publication because I’ve been really busy. True, I’ve been busy doing mostly fun things. Those fun things have given me only snippets of time to work on my paper and update the blog. Now it’s time to get to work!

Starting with our backpacking trip to Katahdin: it was the longest backpacking trip I’ve ever been on and I could not walk properly for several days after we got back. While Maine mountains may not have much in the way of altitude, they make up for it with ruggedness. Lee and I covered lots of steep trails, including our ascent and descent of Katahdin on the last day. We climbed to the summit, followed the knife edge ridge to the second peak, and descended down one very, very, very long ridge. A girls high school volleyball team seeking heart-shaped rocks chased us to the summit and a group of 4 or 5 guys carrying only shed moose antlers chased us down (one guy was shoeless on the sharp rocks).
After Katahdin, I spent a few days working in my paper at Lee’s parents house before we packed up and headed back to Rhode Island to retrieve Pirat. We found the boat safe and sound in it’s mooring at Pirate Cove and quickly got ready to sail North with my dad, who flew out from California for the trip. First, we took Lee’s friend Becky for a sail in the bay. It was a blustery day and a we got in a few hours of quality sailing. On Sunday evening we picked my dad up at the Providence airport and had a delicious Indian dinner (thanks to Becky’s recommendation).
The three of us set sail from Pirate Cove on Monday morning in dense fog and light wind. The weather improved and we had a good downwind sail through Buzzards Bay to the Cape Cod Canal and then a lively upwind leg to Plymouth on the other side. We anchored there for the night and started our 24-hour leg to Maine the next morning. It was a windless day, as expected, so we motor sailed most of the time. There were a few periods of good breeze when we shut down the engine and enjoyed the silence.
Thanks to my dad’s sharp eyes, we saw lots of wildlife. He spotted giant tuna jumping completely out of the water, several whales (probably Pilot and Humpback), a few dolphins, and sharks sunning themselves on the surface. One humongous shark crossed just in front of the boat and then turned to check it out. It was about 10 feet away from us and we could see that it approached 20 feet in length. We looked up it’s fin shape later and decided it was probably a Basking shark.
The night watches were relatively uneventful. I took the first watch (9-12) after the guys assured me that the thunderstorm out ahead of us was really far away and probably wouldn’t be a problem (we took down all the sails, just in case, and because we were motoring directly upwind). My dad took the second watch (12 to 3), and Lee took the third (3-6). I slept a bit better this time with more of a chance to relax.
We tacked up the bay Bremen, ME on Wednesday morning, the wind lightening as we left the ocean. Tacking among the islands was like sailing in a pinball machine. When we dropped anchor in front of Lee’s parents house Lee’s mom picked us up in the skiff and brought us ashore for hot showers.

The next few days brought perfect weather and a chance fr my dad to get to know Lee’s parents a bit. We all sailed out to Monhegan Island on Thursday. Monhegan was a picturesque setting for a hike and we had a great sail out. We stopped in Round Pond for lobster dinners on the way back (oh so, so, wonderfully tasty) and motored back to our home anchorage after dark, watching the meteor shower.
The dads, Lee, and I went to Rockland to check out the boat show and visit Hamilton Marine on Friday. Then, Lee and I drove my dad back to Providence, RI to catch a plane home on Saturday. We had to go back down to get our car, which we’d left in Tiverton, anyway. On the way back North, Lee and I spent the night in a hotel in Lexington, MA and met up with Lee’s brother and kids in NH. And so ended the great journey of two car/boat round trips between ME and RI.

Lee’s friend Doug was waiting for us when we got back to Maine. He and Lee spent a couple days working on Pirat’s engine, which had been leaking transmission fluid, oil, and water at an alarming rate throughout our trip North. They also removed the auto pilot, which had finally succumbed to hydraulic fluid loss from the over-heating incident in the spring. We sent it in for repairs under warranty and figured we’d get by with a third person on the boat instead of the auto pilot.
On Wednesday we left for Acadia National Park, stopping on Isle au Haut (actually part of the park as well) on the first night, and arriving in Northeast harbor, Mount Desert Island on Thursday evening. Isle au Haut was idyllic and peaceful. Both days were glassy calm and fog plagued our passage on the second day. We braved the mosquitoes to BBQ in Duck Harbor on Isle au Haut and took a little hike on the island before leaving the next day.
Northeast harbor proved to be full of moorings, making anchoring impossible, so we paid for a floating dock mooring there for 2 nights. From there we took the free shuttle around the island and hiked quite a few miles through the park. The peaks are very rugged and beautiful. I was impressed by the carriage roads and bridges in the park. We went to the visitors center and Barr Harbor. On our second day we moved the boat to an anchorage, Valley Cove, nearby. We explored another part of the park and went to a lake to go swimming.
On Sunday we headed south by way of Isle au Haut again. This time got a mooring in the developed harbor where the ferry came in. There still wasn’t much there. It would be so strange and isolated to live on an island like that.
Yesterday we sailed back to Lee’s parents house in strong wind a big seas. We had 20-25 knots from behind us starting out so we ended up sailing with just the working jib. It was nice not to have to worry about rounding up with the main in the following sea. Every once in a while a big set of waves, sometimes coming from a random direction, would barrel down on us and send Pirat rolling. It was a long, cold, exhausting day of hand steering. We did raise the reefed main for an upwind leg in the bay at the end. All in all, yesterday was a fabulous day of sailing.
Today Lee and Doug are messing around with the windsurfer in the persistent high winds. Lee tried out one of the smaller sails my uncle sent us and it worked great.
Monster was sick while we were gone and Lee’s mom had to take him to the vet for an overnight stay. It turns out he had a reaction to the vaccines the vet gave him last week and he’s on the mend now. Poor Monster!

Next on the agenda: find a place to have the boat hauled and painted; remove the transmission and send it off for repairs; start planning our sail south (there’s a new plan, which I’ll write about next time); maybe go to Block Island when my mom comes out to visit for my birthday?

Posted August 24, 2010 by Rachel in Pictures

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