Some Sailing Is Salty


North East Harbor by daylight. Sparkling with a layer of clouds above and low visibility, hell, it was better than last night. As day opened up it cleared well.

N.E. Harbor is located on Mt. Desert Island. To the east is Bar Harbor and to the west South West Harbor. The island is all apart of Acadia National Park and these harbor towns rest just on the edges giving the whole place quite an interesting feel.
As it turns out N.E. Harbor (or haba) would be our home for most of the trip. Jim was familiar with this harbor, had been here before, and said it was the most protected from the approaching storm. It was. On shore were showers, $2 for 4.5 min hot, cold for free, a library, ace hardware, bakery, post office, general store, and a seasonal fish market which closed day two. In this regard we needed nothing but to relax. Dan and I spent some time at various points in Bar Harbor and Jim took us to S.W. to meet Gordon, former president of Gettysburg College and his soon to be sailor of a wife. But in general the trip came to a somewhat frustrating slowdown, mostly due to weather. So, we waited and drew and wrote and sang and drank. It wasn’t a bad few days.

Our regular jaunt to the library for internet sent bad news to Dan. Grandmother was sick and Dad was on his way to see her. She might not make it until then. Dan called pops and we looked at bus schedules. He was off the island by 9:30 AM the next morning. Now it was just the two of us with a bit of space to make up and a lot of empty space to fill.

I write a lot but I also begin to dissect my world without interruption. The kind of interruption that friends provide so you don’t get too serious, so you don’t get spiteful, regretful, lonely, frustrated, so you don’t create reasons Not to kill your current focus of attention. Dan wasn’t there anymore. No more goofy Uke songs, no more silly questions, no more of more.

Three days later were back in Booth Bay and then I’m on a bus and then a train and then I’m in Providence, Rhode Island. New people, three of them thus far. Nice people. Just what the doctor ordered, change.

Sail Set

With due timing and utmost vigilance we’re off. Set sail. Onward, upward, outward. Dan and I, enthusiastic, gawk at the sights, the smells, the lore of such a voyage. We’d anchor tonight, we’d see the land the whole way, we had no doubt this was an achievement no man had made before.

Well, we had some sense. There were plenty of other boats about, and our rig was by no means the brightest, but what the hell it was going to be fun. Sailing for two weeks with Captain Jim. Captain Jim was practically Neptune himself. Say where were his mermaids. That’s a rotten deal.

Our motor moved us through the bay and around islands with names like squirrel and negro. The we turned east and neither Dan nor I knew what lay ahead. We took photos and kept a watch out for anything novel, sure to alert the rest of the crew, “Look Out! Bird, Bird port, errrr-starport, err port bow-side. A bird!”. This lasted about two hours before Dan took a break and I gave up my vigilance.

The sail came up for a short while but quickly back in a we crossed “Penbscot Bay” and soon we were near Winter Bay/Harbor, an anchorage defined by a narrow channel with reefs and sand bars everywhere. Along the channel sides, in the channel middle, on both ends. This was a pilots hell! But I wasn’t at the helm and we had a dingy if trouble brewed too dark.

Capt. Jim brought us in on a dime. A bit much further the morning would have seen us digging the boat out. Jim’s morning swim, and consequently Dan and mine as well, showed that four meters off the stern, with the boat turned on it’s anchor with the tide, Jim could touch bottom. It was a precision anchor drop. Jim harvested muscles for us that evening and we steamed them up into quite a first nights meal.

Round nine thirty we set back to the sea. Motor blaring we navigated the now well drained channel. Exposed rock and reef abounded. I was further impressed with our pilot. I didn’t stop talking about it. We swung back into the channel and put out to sea.

Fog. Do you know about fog? Halloween, dance parties, cold punch. These are the things fog was made for. A close second is to combine with smoke and produce the beautiful sunsets of Los Angles, but at sea, in a boat, unfamiliar with land, fog has no place.

We got rolled. We saw it coming and we strutted right into it. Light at first, it socked in the distant hills, then the islands, then the close land marks, then the shoreline. Next the water. Then the buoys. Then visibility was gone. Cold, wet, stiff I stood atop the anchors on the bow, feet snug under chain. My arms continuously pointing out lobster buoys, a hazard to our prop. The sound of breakers echos quite well in the density of fog. A bell buoy ricocheted gongs and dongs. from the left and right, sometimes from stern. My arm would point one finger, then a second, a salute to Texas, then my other arm, another finger on my first as the second tried to keep up. I tracked buoys with fingers and let them go as they came a beam in order to track the next. Pale white, my fingers kept at it. My beard dripped dewlets down my neck and freshwater into my mouth. I was grinning. This Was adventure. Dan stood behind me in the tension of the fog relaying any message between Jim ans I and kept his own eyes open. I could have gone on for days like that. It was great. I retreated back to the cockpit once the buoys dissipated and the water calmed. Armed with radar and GPS, Jim clearly could have lasted too.

Once in harbor we were happy to not still be at sea and we drank and rested well. It was only in the morning and the days after that Dan and I were able to recognize what kind of space we navigated by shear luck and a $1000 of electronics.

Destination Nowhere

Nowhere seemed to be the theme after I arrived in Boston.

Julia and Chris put me up for the night and then went off to sail in the morning. Their last day until school started. I began to walk.

I have never been to Boston. I wanted to know where they served tea, but I never asked. From MIT across the river to Fenway and its monster through the park and to downtown. Past china town and across another river. Into South Bay and to the water. Couldn’t find Sam Adams and his men, caught the bus back to MIT. Up into Cambridge and Dan called. Back to MIT. To the apartment, back up to Cambridge for lunch, across the river, picked up some ukes, into the park, down the street, Pour House for dinner and conversation with the waitress, back to MIT. Asleep.
Up in the morning, a walk about campus, and back to the apartment to gather our things, then over to South Station and on the bus to Portland. Goodbye for now Boston. Awake in Portland, Maine. Dr. Todd unlocks his car and we’re off for Wiscasset at midnight. Down into East Booth Bay, a right at Lukes Gulch (private rd) and another quarter mile the car shuts its lights off. A small dingy rests on the dock. We push it in and awkwardly slip in. The beam is three inches out of the water. The guessing game is moment from finality. Which is it? The schooner? That yawl? This thirteen foot sloop? There she sat, “Remedy”. A 35′ sloop all the way from Hong Kong some 40 years prior, a Cheoy Lee – though that builder still means very little to me. A brief tour ends at our birth in the forward cabin and morning come too quickly and too bright. I rectify this by closing my eyes and opening them an hour later. That’s better. This bay is beautifully clear, clean, wooded, calm. So this is Maine, eh?

After loading gear, running errands, fetching breakfast, and doing a cursory check of the rigging we’re underway for the day about the Bay, hooray.

A bit of a motor, the genoa (so called “jib”) is unfurrled, around lobster pots and islands through the harbor and back to the mooring. Bath time, we’re all in the water, then rapidly back out again. It looked delightfully warm, but had the taste of high school waterpolo hell week. You can’t help but laugh when you’re out lasted and out shivered by a 65 year old man. I have no towel. I brought Dan his and seemed to be dry afterward. Into Booth Bay Harbor for our farewell Lobster dinner. A walk and then back to the boat. Content. Asleep.

Dr. Todd, by request, becomes James, then Jim, then Captain Jim, then back to Jim.

Morning starts with a quick row ashore, use of the facilities, postcards in the mail, and on last once over. Off the mooring and out to sea. My attention t the chart is somewhat overwhelming for everyone. I cool it. Jim’s in charge.

Sailing in Maine (Images)

The Boat we are on.. with the green.
Views while sailing in Maine. A beautiful schooner, there are hundreds of these boats up here.

A view off our bow – while under sail
A look at Northeast Harbor in Maine. 8 AM, 9/6/08


Our viability while entering the harbor. about 5:30 PM

The bitter fog.
Our first day on the boat. – I’m doing something important.
From East Booth Bay we launched from a working boat house. Here’s a boat they’re building.. Quite beautiful.