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It is July 20, 1999.
Aboard 'Silver Heels' in Center Harbor, Maine. The boat is ready to sail! The stove works, and the severed propane gas line has been replaced. The refrigeration system works well with an hour engine run in the morning and a half hour run in the afternoon. The sails were repaired (Center Harbor Sails), and all sails have been raised and trial reefed. The genoa was removed and replaced with a small jib that I call a 'spitfire' or 'yankee'. The battery takes and holds a good charge. The paint and varnish are fresh. There's a new (third) anchor on the bowsprit and new rode for the starboard side fisherman anchor. As mentioned in the log, "...the crew is in better spirits."
Sarah flew out from SFO and arrived July 18 (also Ellen's birthday!) for a month's stay . Ellen and I begged a pickup truck from Ann and Dick aboard "Salt Wind" to drive three hours to Portland, ME airport. Sarah's flight was delayed and she arrived around 10:00 PM. We then, of course, had a three hour drive back to Center Harbor. THEY had to stop at Freeport and shop a little at L.L.Bean's major store along the way. On the route to Brooklin Sarah seemed a little frightened going through "deepest" Maine at three in the morning. The thick forest grows to the road edge, there are no lights, and there are no other cars around at that time. When we got to Brooklin Boat Yard, it was pitch black. I forgot a flashlight and had to feel my way down the dock, ramp and float to get the dinghy. In darkness, I motored away from the float and slid the dinghy onto the nearby beach closer to the truck ... at 3:30 AM. We loaded the small boat with myself, Ellen, Sarah, her luggage and 12 bags of groceries that we bought earlier the day before. It was not only dark but foggy, and I had to grope along in the scow boat for the 1/4 mile of water to "Silver Heels." I am familiar now with the harbor and its boats; there are about twenty here. I luckily recognized each boat as it loomed out in the fog about 20 feet away. I felt like Capt. Hornblower sneaking up on a Spanish fortress in the night. RIGHT! Finally, at the harbor's outer edge, there showed the dark outline of a coastal schooner. It was our 'house.' Sarah was not comfortable; it was her first time aboard the boat. She, however, got into a warm bunk and slept 'till noon the next day. She slept in that forward starboard bunk for 9 hours, "gaining strength ."
I am getting requests for a 'narrative' written by Ellen. Some think she may be doing this boat cruising somewhat against her will. They have noticed that she doesn't make entries in the log. Well, I suppose they would like her to speak out! I assure all that she's here of her own free will. She was not pressed into service like some 18th century British seaman. Actually, she has had higher spirits than I during the first few days. She has said many times, "It'll work." She will make an entry and not under duress, I assure you.
July 21, 1999. TODAY WE SAILED DOWN EGGEMOGGIN REACH. YES!! Not for the first time exactly, but for the first time in our cruising shape. I cannot convey the excitement and thrill of this short sail. I really do not know what to say after so much hard preparation. She, "Silver Heels", looked beautiful with the yankee, the staysail, the foresail and the mainsail all drawing. A five foot American Flag flying from the mainsail gaff peak. But, can this lady demand work. Free the mainsheet, off with the sail cover (requires sliding 4 feet over the water out to the boom end), off with the sail ties, up on the quarter lifts (port and starboard equally), slack the fisherman outhaul, slack the reef clew outhaul, up with the main halyard and peak halyard, sweat up both for the right luff and peak tension, coil and makeup the lines. That was for the mainsail. Now the foresail topping lift, free the foresail sheet, peak and throat halyards up, remove the boom crutch and make up lines. Then free the staysail sheet, off with the sail ties, up with the halyard and then finish luff tension with the "jig". Lastly free the spool on the roller furled jib (yankee) and haul back on the sheet (sail trim rope). Everything is pulling as they say and she heels slightly. Silver Heels rolls along at eight knots in about 18k winds. What a beauty! Other boats are taking pictures of her. A 12" bow wave rolls by. She heels but doesn't dip a rail. Make up the tail ends of 14 lines. Clean up the decks. Thankfully Jim and Kathy are with us. Jim is a very experienced sailor and Kathy is his equal. Yes, we had some problems. The bimini top zipper broke and the bimini folded back on the helmsman (helmsperson?). The mainsheet hooked the bar-b-que when we tacked and damn near launched the bar-b-que up the Benjamin River. But, talk about classic boat romance. This was a perfect example of a coastal schooner reaching along a beautiful waterway. We doused sail and picked up the mooring around 4:00 PM and said goodby to Kathy and Jim. They had to drive home to Cincinnati; their vacation ended. We stayed aboard and had fresh crab (from Brooklin General Store, of course) pasta, some wine and a good nite's sleep. Water was flat calm that night, and temps were 85 degrees dropping to 55 at night.
Best of luck to you all.
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