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September 9, 1999, Tenant Harbor, ME., 15 miles north of Boothbay, ME
We left Center Harbor at 6:10 AM with 1 mile visibility in fog. I hoped the fog would lessen as the day warmed up. I sipped some coffee, but as we motored out of Eggemoggin Reach the visibility lessened to 1/2 mile. It never got brighter. For a good part of the eight hour, 46 mile trip we were in 1/4 to 1/2 mile visibility in heavy fog. We altered our planned course in Penobscot Bay for a safer outside course away from shore. We arrived in Tenant Harbor at 2:30 PM. It wasn't a pleasure trip dodging lobster buoys and searching for buoys that would loom out of the fog a short distance away. Seas were 2 to 4 feet and winds were light, so that wasn't a problem. This lingering fog is a feature of hurricane Dennis. The decaying hurricane is still driving moist tropical air up the coast where it condenses into fog (advection fog) over the colder northern waters. Supposedly, it will begin to diminish in a few days. Today's forecast - it is presently 6:30 AM - is for fog and heavy rain, 1/2 to 1 inch per hour. The report said, "Enough rain to cause flooding - and possible late night thunderstorms." It's muggy weather with high humidities. Tenant Harbor is another typical small New England town about 15 miles north of Boothbay. There's not much to do as we wait. As usual there's one grocery store, coin laundry, harbor restaurant, boat yard, post office and a cove full of moorings. I have yet to find what I dreamed of in this trip or its preparation. When the weather is marginally good and sailing conditions are good, I find that this boat takes a lot of preparation to get ready to sail. When everything is up, there's beautiful "old time schooner" sailing. However, when Ellen is steering, I have everything to do on deck. For just a few hours sail, it doesn't seem worth it. For a full day's sail this romantic schooner is incredible. "Silver Heels" is stable, heels slightly and makes good speed. The winds we have met are primarily from the SE which is over the bow and that is not good for our trip sailing south. It's not good schooner weather for sailing, but we can power into it nicely. Reaching is the favorite sailing course for schooners. Gaff headed schooners, like "Silver Heels" are not efficient beating into the wind. Cruisers who have made this trip up and down the coast, to and from Maine, say it's "A reach up and a wretch back!"
We met Russ in the laundromat, Tenants Harbor. He has a PhD and taught statistics at the Citadel. He gave it up and has been cruising a 27 foot sloop for the last nine years. He's crossed the Atlantic, cruised Europe and gone up the Med to Turkey. I couldn't count the places he's been in that small boat. He's going to go down the coast this time and winter over in Florida. He has no regrets giving up the pressured life he had before. He has an enthusiasm for cruising that I will pick up as we move on.
September 11, 1999, Tenants Harbor. 7:30 AM. Small craft warnings are up, but the report is for lessening winds and improving weather for the next three days. At last! The fog is gone although the skies are overcast, expected seas 6 to 9 feet. I feel that the best part of this leg is that we will be able to see. We picked up buoys over 2 miles off, visually. Eventually we pass Pemaquid Point and head for Boothbay and Townsend Gut. On the approach to Boothbay the seaward and inside shoreline is lined with houses (cottages?). Just as we alter course for the inside of Boothbay Harbor, we notice a tall mast a couple of miles away that looks like a 12 meter yacht. It was sailing across our bow on a collision course. As we move closer, I noticed that this yacht is much larger than a 12 meter. It is "Endeavor", a 1930's America's Cup competitor. She's about 137 feet long with blue topsides and teak deck. What a sight, a handsome creation. She was probably moving at 18k! Our GPS picked that moment to go blank. Referring to charts to get on course, I didn't get pictures of that magnificent yacht. It's incredible to think that someone spent that much money on a "play toy". Just to get it going you'd need a crew of 15 to 18 people.
I arrive at Boothbay Harbor, and I bear to port to enter Townsend Gut. A recommendation of apostle Giffy Full. I think this three-mile slot will take us to Ebencook Harbor where we'll anchor. To say there's a tree lined shoreline along the "gut" is an understatement. The trees grow so densely that it looks like a forest. Meadows are in between the tree groves, and summer homes nestled randomly. Each house has a cantilevered sun deck, a sun room with pane glass and the typical white clapboard siding of the New England architecture. Some branches overhang the water several feet so you have to watch for mast clearance as you pass. This looks like river cruising. The buoy markings are nonexistent so I keep a watch on the depth. Halfway up the "gut" is a swing bridge, privately owned. We call the tender, the bridge opens and we pass with three other boats. The tender calls down for my name and the boat's name as we pass.
We exit the "gut" passing a green day marker and a red nun buoy that showed a channel only 100 feet wide. The water was deep though as we rounded a turn and saw the opening to Love Cove. This cove is small and shallow with only 8 feet of water at low. We draw 6' 8". A foot clearance is as good as 50 feet, right? The thick forest of trees extend to the high tide mark then it's granite for about nine feet down to the water. There's growth everywhere, and again it is so very beautiful. The pictures don't convey the romantic coziness of this place. I'd like to be here during the holidays, snug in one of those houses, a fire in the fireplace, a cup of coffee and a book. Outside there'd be snow on the trees and ice in the cove.
So ends September 11, 1999.
Sunday, September 12, 1999.
We left at 8:30 AM today for a trip twenty-seven miles down the coast. After some distance offshore in moderate swells, I worked the boat up a channel and past several shoals to Jewell Island. This island shields the small cove from the southerly Atlantic swell. Hidden on the island's inside is a very small anchorage. It's maybe a hundred yards wide with 14 feet of water at low. There's some trees at the far end of the cove but our area is mostly barren. This cove is more business like when compared to the gentle, quiet secluded harbor we had last night. I set my heaviest ground tackle, the100 pound anchor, because the scope had to be very small to prevent collision with other boats on the swing. I also attached a 50 pound sentinel to help the 3 to 1 scope. This "sentinel" is a weight placed on the anchor line a short distance from the anchor. The weight helps hold the anchor line more horizontal and the anchor "digs" in the mud a little more easily. Even in the cabin I can hear the roar of the surf just a short distance over the ridge of the island. We have to leave early tomorrow because there's a 45 mile leg to complete. Destination: Portsmouth Harbor, New Hampshire. A new state!
Best regards to you all, Terry
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