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August 12, 1999, Center Harbor, ME. It's overcast, some fog, inside boat temperature is 66 degrees, and it's dreary. This is what I disliked about San Francisco when I lived there. Mark Twain said, "The coldest winter he ever spent was one summer in San Francisco!" Had he been to Maine? Although somewhat similar, the summer weather here in Maine is not exactly like that. It is varied in its bad features. One day there's 18k to 25k winds gusting to 30k ... the boat pitching and chafing at the mooring ... then dead calm the next day. Heavy rain then warm, sunny, balmy weather. There'll be clear star covered skies at night with the glow of lights in cottages easily seen two miles across the 'reach'. Then, fog so dense that you cannot clearly see a boat moored 50 feet away. The locals say, "This is an unusually great summer!" I'm being teased by those incredibly beautiful, but not common, summer days.

Just before sunrise one blustery morning, I noticed that the lobsterman goes out regardless of the weather. "Shiela Marie", a lobsterman's boat, left as usual when the winds were up. He closely passed "Silver Heels" this morning when the sky was just less than pitch dark. I could see an orange and green glow from instruments in the boat's cabin. The crew dressed in yellow foul weather gear waved, suprised to see a "yachtie" up so early in the morning. He probably has a 250 to 300 horsepower diesel for power, and he was considerately running slowly in the harbor making a shallow wake. But, it was 'full throttle' outside Center Harbor with a roar you could hear a mile away. It was 5:00 AM, and I was on deck lashing down a running backstay that has a metal hook on the end. As the stay slatted in the wind the hook "clunked"on the deck just above our bunk, all night. A clunk every five to eight seconds. Just annoying but not enough to get one out of a warm bunk ... until sunrise. The wind has a maximum fetch of two or three miles, so seas don't build up to more than 1 1/2 to 2 feet in the harbor. Seas outside are larger; it's enough to make the boat roll and work on deck uneasy. The lobsterman's work of raising a heavy lobster trap must be more difficult in that chop. Their boats roll and pitch as they circle the lobster buoys and toggles, one after the other. Regardless, the boats always go out.

August 20, 1999 is a sad day. I overheard this at Brooklin General Store, and it was confirmed by my new friend, 'apostle' Giffy Full. A lobsterman's boat was found in the bay circling. Nobody aboard. The lobsterman was working alone and may have fallen overboard. The other lobstermen searched the area near his traps. They did not find him.

I have been concerned about cruising this boat at this stage in my life, 60 years. I keep looking around at the crews of transient cruising boats that come in to anchor in Center Harbor. Probably 60% are 'gray hairs.' To me a 'gray hair' (especially a 'gray hair' cruising a boat) is someone in a later stage of life worried about health, money, kids, arthritis and cholesterol. A 'gray hair' has to wear 'look overs' to see, can't hear quite as well as others, drives a car a little more slowly in the right hand lane and sometimes can't remember an old friend's name. I'm a 'gray hair'. Can a 'gray hair' make a 1500 mile trip in an old, heavy, gaff headed schooner? Giffy Full takes his boat to Georgia or Florida every year, and he's done it 14 or 15 times. He's even been through a hurricane in a small boat! He said he'll come over and help me plan the way. One great advantage 'gray hairs' have is that they're usually retired. Retired people don't have to meet deadlines like "getting to work Monday morning." I can wait until the weather is to my liking. One or two days' wait can make the difference between a windy, rough, wet, choppy seas trip and a smooth, warm, sunny, light wind trip. I can think of two friends who lost their lives taking chances getting "home for work Monday morning." We plan to leave for Georgia just after Labor Day weekend.

With regards to you all,

Terry

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