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Sunday 8/11: Merchant Harbor Harbor Detail Chart
Since we hadn't been planning on arriving here until today anyway, we sort of looked on Saturday as a freebie and decided to stay in Merchant Harbor another day--it is a pretty place, after all. Nathan and I went ashore to Harbor Island in the morning and enjoyed a short hike, and we all adjourned to Glissando for grilled hamburgers at lunchtime before setting up the sailing dinghy for all to try out. The wind was light and very fluky in the harbor, despite the appearance of some heavier winds outside, so sailing was a little frustrating.
A large catamaran came in and anchored close to Dasein, and mentioned to them at that point that they were with the New York Yacht Club and that the annual cruise, all 180 boats, were headed to the many islands of Merchant Row that evening. While we appreciated the heads-up, as far as it went, we objected to this guy's arrogance and unapologetic nature, as he kept repeating how it was "gonna be a parking lot here at 5 o'clock", as if that somehow defended his anchoring too close for comfort. Later, he picked up and moved to a sport very close to and between Dasein and Glissando, saying at that time that he had to make room because he was rafting with someone and , once again, unapologetically as if it were their given right to take over any and all anchorages, however unsuitable, to defend his behavior by telling us how much of a parking lot it was going to be. We thought he reminded us of the band manager in the movie This is Spinal Tap, so we dubbed him Ian (pronounced in the British manner--een) after that character.
We did have the pleasure of watching some of the beautiful and elegant yachts pass outside of our harbor under full sail, including a gorgeous dark-hulled schooner and the old J-class Endeavor, which as any sailor knows is the epitome of class, elegance, and beauty under sail. What a treat to see this restored relic from a bygone era under full sail in 20 knots of breeze!
I should preface the remainder of this log by saying that the reputation of the New York Yacht Club cruise as a rude, arrogant, and uncaring bunch precedes them, and we had only just been saying a couple days ago how one never wants to get stuck in the same place as one of their planned stops. Now, I'm sure there are many respectable members of the NYYC, and I don't mean to offend any courteous, caring boaters who may belong to this club. But I am sorry to say that there are a few, or perhaps many, members who attend these cruises who are rude, pushy, arrogant, uncaring, and downright despicable--and this generally unsavory behavior was demonstrated to great effect by at least one boat in our anchorage overnight, which I will get to in due course. Their reputation is known by all mere mortal boaters, and I'm sure there are many tales describing their rudeness available through most boating circles. Stereotypes become such for a reason--because of a typical behavior--so the stereotype of a NYYC cruise was not formed in a vacuum. Again, if you're in the NYYC and find my descriptions of your fellow members distasteful, perhaps you should revisit your choice to be a part of it, lest you get wrapped up into the same category, whether uncalled for or not.
While Nathan and Heather were relaxing in our cockpit, a blue and gold Irwin 52 called Rhapsody pulled in, and anchored literally on top of Dasein--uncomfortably close, and extremely rude. Nathan and Heather at once returned to defend their property, and promptly discovered the root of the poor reputation of NYYC--despicable, pompous, and socially indifferent scum like those on board Rhapsody, which at some point during the afternoon was dubbed "Crapsody", which name stuck and was most apt. . These people not only refused to move, again quoting his many boats were supposedly on their way, as if that was a defense, but were rude, hostile, and belittling as well, as they sat surrounded by plastic and canvas in their chopped-mat cockpit staring down at Dasein through the afternoon, 20 or 30 feet away. The rudeness and pettiness of these people spoiled what was a pleasant day for all of us, as Nathan defiantly (and rightly so) sat in the cockpit with a set jaw, pointedly refusing to move. Finally, it got so ridiculous that I recommended that they move, despite the principle of the thing, just so they could relax, and I helped move Dasein to a remote section of the cove where, surprisingly, no one else was moored. (It turned out, by the way, that there were only 20 boats total--many of which, fortunately, were not NYYC--in the harbor overnight, most of the NYYC boats apparently having chosen to go elsewhere. There was PLENTY of room for all, which made Crapsody's behavior even more insulting. As we pulled up the anchor and motored around the stern of Crapsody, Nathan quipped "Have a nice evening" to the filth in the cockpit, and we had lots to talk about over cocktails that night.
We awoke to thick fog, but with the sun brightly shining overhead. We had invited Heather and Nathan over for breakfast, so we enjoyed a leisurely repast through the mid and late morning. By about 1100, it looked like the fog might be lifting, and most of the NYYC boats had already left. (YAY!) However, just as soon as we had this thought, the fog returned with a vengeance, socking u in once again as heavily as ever. Fortunately, it was short-lived, and by 1245 it had cleared enough for us to see all the nearby islands, so we raised anchor and departed. We motored the ridiculously short distance across the channel and between Wreck and Round Islands to our chosen anchorage at Wreck Island, where we both anchored in short order. This was a completely different place than Merchant Harbor--amazing how traveling such a short distance makes such a difference in scenery. We all enjoyed Wreck Island very much--it has a good harbor, interesting scenery, and you can go ashore on the island.
Heidi was enthusiastic about taking the dinghy for a row, so while I was below making some notes in the written log she prepared to take it out. Suddenly, I heard a splash, and ran above decks to find Heidi, bandana and sunglasses in all, bobbing in the water next to the dinghy; she had lost her balance and fallen! In a high-pitched voice she squeaked that she was fine, so I got out the boarding ladder to help her aboard, dripping wet and embarrassed but otherwise OK.
After Heidi changed clothes, we all went ashore to explore and search for the raspberries promised by the cruising guide--there were few to be found, unfortunately, but we enjoyed our tour of the island, and Heidi picked up a big bag of cool white shells from the beaches. We ran into some folks from one of the other boats in the anchorage who were describing the scene there the night before, with many of the huge yachts of the NYYC at anchor nearby--we didn't get any of the huge, classy yachts at Merchant, only the dregs of the club, apparently. Back on the boat, we enjoyed a warm sunshower before heading over to Dasein later for cocktails and dinner. It was a bug-free, pleasant night.
Another brutally tough passage today.
Before retiring last night, it had been decided that at least Dasein, and maybe both boats, would have to head the short distance into Stonington for ice and water this morning, so that chore was high on the agenda. At a morning conference, held between my dinghy and Dasein's cockpit, we determined that there was no need to take Glissando into the town, since all we needed was a little ice, mostly cubes for cocktails. Heidi decided to stay on board rather than come along, so Heather, Nathan and I departed for Stonington on Dasein at a little before 1000,. motoring the short distance between several of the, as always, scenic islands of Merchant Row.
After a pleasant trip of 45 minutes or so, we found Billings Marine and tied up at the dock. No blocks, we were told...so we purchased a total of seven bags of cubes, three for us and four for them. The filled their water tank, and we were on our way again within 15 minutes or so, motoring back to Wreck Island via the passage east of Crotch Island, where an active granite quarry exists.
We arrived back at Wreck Island and Glissando shortly before noon, and preparations were made for our final departure for the next destination: the narrow cove in between Bold and Devil Island, which we've been calling Hell's Half Acre because of the small islands shown on the chart with that name. Our course took us generally eastward towards Ram Island, then through the very interesting passage between Coombs Island and Spruce Island, before finally rounding the eastern point at Devil's Island and turning into the cove. Dumbly, both of us raised our mains, only to have to laugh shortly when we arrived at the new harbor in an even sorter time than we had expected! These long days are a killer.
We found a mooring at the head of the cove that was identical to the one we had picked up at Pickering Island, so we suggested generously to Dasein that they pick it up, and we would anchor. Our first anchor set was too close to a rock and a dock on the nearby island, so we picked up and moved a short distance away and reset the anchor easily in the mud bottom. After a hot dog lunch in the cockpit, attended by all, we went ashore to the small islands called Hell's Half Acre and enjoyed a pleasant swim off the shell beach in fairly warm water (relatively speaking, of course). At high tide, there were few hazards to be seen in the cove, but this changed drastically late in the day as the tide went out, exposing many rocks along the edges of the cove (as seen on the chart). All the harbors we have been in are more dramatic at low tide, and more visually interesting, generally.
While we were all ashore, a J/32 came in, with crew standing purposefully on the foredeck with a boathook as if they knew exactly where they were heading--which, of course, it turned out they did: Dasein's mooring, apparently put out by the Mount Desert Yacht Club or some such--the burgee that was on the pickup buoy was the same as the burgee the J/32 was flying. So, unfortunately, at the polite request of the owners of the J-boat, Dasein had to move and reanchor behind us...nice of us to recommend they pick up that mooring, huh.
The rest of the afternoon and evening were spent in the strenuous pursuits of cruising, as described throughout other days of this log, with little noteworthy to report, except for the large group of teenagers (well-behaved) who were staying at the small cottage on Bold Island and had a great time buzzing about in their whaler with tubers in tow. What a great spot. In clearer weather ( it was very hazy), Mount Desert would be clearly visible out the mouth of the harbor, framed by Jericho Bay, along with a clean view southwest through the islands of Merchant Row. This is hard to take.
With our Triton rendezvous outside Castine coming up on Friday, as well as a generally pressing need for us to provision once again, we decided to hear partway up the bay towards Castine, splitting the difference, more or less. Our loose destination was either Barred Islands or Butter Island--to be determined once we got up a little closer.
The day dawned extremely warm and hazy. At first, sitting in the harbor, it was tough to determine whether it was actually foggy or not. (It wasn't...just hazy.) The weather forecast was speaking of 90-degree highs inland, so once again we felt lucky (for so many reasons) to be on the boat instead.
We departed the harbor at around 0945, hauling the anchor in without difficulty. Dasein followed closely behind. We raised our mainsail as we motored out the narrow cove and then motored through Deer Island Thorofare past Stonington, and uneventful few miles. Then we turned further north for the now-familiar (to us) run up East Penobscot Bay, past Eagle Island and Butter Island. The wind remained absolutely calm the entire time until we had just passed Eagle Island and neared our destination, when a light sea breeze came up. We throttled back to allow Dasein to catch up so we could discuss the ultimate destination--we decided on the Barred Islands, so continued the short distance around the western end of Butter Island and into the narrow, scenic anchorage at Barred Islands. The entrance to the anchorage is a little tricky, with many ledges. I was leading, having plotted the course into my GPS, but for some reason I decided to not follow t he plotted line and proceeded in a slightly different direction. Suddenly, with alarm I noticed whitish rocks passing under the keel, and 7.8' depths on the depthsounder! Apparently, I had strayed out of the channel (which I would have been perfectly in if I had followed my course). Once again I praised the shallow draft of the Triton, and we were soon in deeper water again.
We immediately noticed that there were many boats already at anchor in the small cove, and after a brief drive-about we decided that the anchoring room remaining didn't look so great, so we returned to the beach on the northern side of Butter Island, which is ostensibly protected from the prevailing southerly winds. A couple of boats were anchored there (for the day only, we discovered), so it made our anchoring location less than perfect at the beginning. We both set our anchors simultaneously, but it was soon apparent that the wind was not cooperating and when Glissando finally snubbed her anchor line we were way too close to Dasein, so I pulled up the anchor and we reset it a short distance away. Unfortunately, we were a little exposed in our location at the far eastern end of the cove, especially since the wind seemed to be southeasterly, which was certainly not predicted. However, the wind remained light, so it was not a problem. Eventually, the two day boats pulled their anchors and departed, so at that time we raised the anchor again--Nathan had come over for a visit so he (stupidly, for him) volunteered to haul in the anchor, which was set in about 35' of water at the time--making for a very difficult haul. Eventually he got it up and we motored over to the chosen spot and dropped it again. It seemed to set, and we let out scope and backed down to set it, as usual, but the apparent set had been a farce--we were dragging straight backwards at a nice clip. Once more time, I raised the anchor (Nathan was on strike by this point) and found a huge piece of kelp wrapped around. After removing the offending weed, we set the anchor a fourth and final time, ending up in a good position finally.
Later, Nathan and I went ashore to the very steep shingle beach (which we decided would be excellent for careening the boats) and hiked the short, but steep, trail to the top of the hill on the island, where a nice granite memorial bench dedicated to the original owners of the island, the Cabots (in whose family the island remains), with stunning views in all directions about the bay. Even in the heavy haze of the afternoon, the views were beautiful from 180' up. It was markedly hotter on the island than on the boats. The rest of the afternoon as dedicated to napping (for some), fiddling, and sun-showering. Heather and Nathan came over for the habitual cocktails and ended up bringing over a pasta salad for dinner, so Glissando's chef received another impromptu night off, thankfully. The anchorage was a little rolly overnight, though the wind remained calm.
A gusty westerly wind (once again, not in the forecast) was blowing by 0800--not heavy, but certainly more than we had been seeing for the past week or so. The sky was hazy and the sun hot. With a short run planned, and an adverse tide until about 1100, we had pretty much planned on a relatively late start for the trip today, so the morning was spent in the normal pursuits and catching up on the log, which I had not taken care of since Dasein arrived nearly a week ago.
With the wind available earlier than expected, we departed Butter Island around 0945 and enjoyed a very pleasant beam reach for the first couple miles before the wind began to lighten. The boat slowed for a time, but then the wind returned and we were able to continue sailing at a reasonable pace. As we neared Green Ledge, the wind lightened substantially, but there was a lot of sloppy chop remaining from the overnight wind, so the sailing was a little difficult, especially on port tack. Starboard tack, which allowed the seas to remain behind the boat, was more comfortable and we jibed downwind until Cape Rosier, when the wind died completely. We started the engine and began motorsailing the rest of the way to Castine; the wind picked up again after a few minutes and we motorsailed under reduced engine RPM with the main all the way out, enjoying speeds of around 6 knots. For some reason, the audible LPG alarm kept going off during this part of the trip; I closed the tank valve and checked everything carefully but found no problems, and the alarm continued to be a problem on and off throughout the afternoon, obviously a minor electrical fault of some sort, until I was forced to disconnect the alarm so we could enjoy silence. Troubleshooting will occur later, much later.
We entered Castine Harbor and passed by the Maine Maritime ship State of Maine, now painted blue (she used to be gray) on our way to Eaton's Boatyard, where we tied up behind Dasein for fuel, ice, water, and trash removal. The panicked dockhand, obviously knowing nothing about sailboat approaches, worried out loud that I was going to hit Dasein, and promptly snubbed the bowline (thanks), kicking the stern away from the dock. No harm done, but geez...and then we were all reprimanded to put shoes on when on the dock. Whatever. We got water, 9 gallons of fuel (5.5 in the deck jug, the rest in the tank) and ice and then departed for the town dock so that we could go up to Tarrantine Market for provisions, since they wouldn't allow us to stay at Eaton's dock. The friendly folks at Tarrantine's supplied us with everything we needed, not the least of which was a pair of gorgeous filet mignon steaks from their meat case, which we looked forward to grilling in the evening. Maybe we'll return to Castine later on for a more thorough visit to the town, but there was no time now, and it was way too hot ashore anyway.
With the provisions bought and temporarily crammed into the very full icebox (the lid was standing 1-2" above the countertop at this point), we adjourned to The Breeze at the head of the pier for an ice cream, then took our leave of the burning hot town of Castine (temps in the 90's) and motored across the Bagaduce River, with swiftly flowing current, into huge Smith Cove across the way--which would be more aptly named "Smith Bay", as large as it is. The southwest wind had really kicked up by this point, and was on the nose as we motored down the bay, creating some of the larger whitecaps we've seen on the trip. We dropped the anchor in calm water at the farthest southern tip of the cove by 1400 or 1430 (I forget...), and I spent a good bit of time below repacking the icebox (the lid fit now) and stowing all the food, as well as spending a little more time working on the propane alarm and leak testing the system (no problems).
We had a cooperative dinner on Glissando, with Dasein providing fresh haddock to complement those great steaks, all of which melted in our mouths. A very pleasant evening was had by all, and we even had the humorous interlude of a visit from the folks on Rubyiat, which we had seen one week ago to the day at Pickering Island, and we had the exact same conversation with them, since they obviously did not remember us from the last time. It was really quite amusing.
Today was the first day of our long-scheduled Triton rendezvous, scheduled for Holbrook Harbor. Since we were so close by, we didn't have to rush to leave, but we finally departed at around 1030 to take advantage of the outgoing tide in the cove and the river. The weather was gray with annoyingly light showers.
Soon, we had arrived at Holbrook and dropped an anchor near the beach in the eastern end of the cove. Holbrook is very pretty, and huge as well, with good protection from all directions, depending on where you set the anchor. For sociability, we rafted with Dasein, planning to raft up with any and all Tritons that showed up. We were expecting at least three, including ourselves and Dasein, with possibly a couple more as well as a couple of non-Tritons that are owned by previous Triton owners and/or enthusiasts.
Within a couple hours, Bill Bell on Kialoa had arrived and tied along our other side, and all of us in attendance spent the requisite time prowling each other's boats. We all went on board Art Hall's Seabreeze 35 and were very impressed with her deck space, stowage, and general fit and finish--a fine restoration job on a nice boat; our Tritons felt a little smaller for a while that afternoon. Finally, late in the afternoon we all settled down for drinks and merriment before breaking up the raft at around 1930, since no one wanted to spend the night rafted up. The afternoon had been hot and sunny, with a strong southerly wind that was sure to dig our anchor in deeply, with three Tritons pulling on it. The wind eventually died, leaving us with a very pleasant and calm night.
Oh, it was supposed to be such a nice, relaxing, fun day--the second day of our rendezvous, and the lobster bake on Islesboro. Sometimes, things happen.
The day started off well--clear, warm, sunny, beautiful, with a pleasant west wind--perfect for a sail to Islesboro. At around 1030, the three Tritons in attendance proceeded out the harbor and attempted to sail to Islesboro, a short 5 or 6 miles away. My anchor chain was extremely muddy after our raft up the day before, and it took a long time to wash the mud off the chain and foredeck. For a brief time, the wind was nice, but it promptly died. Kialoa bagged it early and began motoring, but I could see a sailboat moving nicely over at the Islesboro shore, so I tried heading that direction--but eventually we had to start the engine too. We motorsailed slowly in the general direction of the wind on the Islesboro shore, and finally picked up a very pleasant northwesterly breeze off the island that propelled us all the way to the mooring at Islesboro Harbor, just inside of Hewes Point--the destination for our lobster bake. Kialoa arrived momentarily and picked up another mooring; Dasein stayed out for another hour or so to enjoy the nice breeze, and then rafted up, at least temporarily, with us on the mooring in the calm, quiet cove.
Later, another boat--a Pearson Wanderer whose owners recently purchased Triton hull # 1, L'una--arrived from Swans Island for the lobster bake, and after they tied up next to Bob Clayton's Triton (our lobster bake host) I rowed over to say hi and chat. As I did so, a wake rolled through the anchorage, and a line they had secured to their coaming snapped the coaming right off. This should have been a harbinger of things to come, but Glissando and Dasein rode it out fine. (Our masts were nicely staggered, and lots of fenders.)
10 or 15 minutes later, as I was still in the dinghy chatting with the folks on the Wanderer, I looked up in horror to see another huge wake rolling towards the sterns of our boats, rafted up nearby, and watched in amazement and disbelief as the waves fairly picked up both boats and rocked them terribly fore and aft, but slightly out of synch. Just as the thought was entering my head that this was bad, the masts hit, hard, once, twice, three or four times--a rafting nightmare, and when the wake was past there were two mangled sets of jumper struts on our boats, plus any other damage that I couldn't yet see. I rowed vigorously over to assess the damage--Heather, Nathan, and Heidi were still aboard and were also staring at the masts in disbelief.
Glissando's jumpers were completely folded over and torqued to one side, the jumper stays slack, and the VHF antenna was bent aft. Otherwise, things looked OK. On Dasein, however, things ended up a lot worse--though we didn't notice immediately. Her jumpers were bent to the side, though not folded like ours, and the mast had a bend at the top from the maladjusted jumper stays. Fortunately, the hulls and lifelines had not had any problems, and the damage was confined to the rigs. The first order of business, after ensuring that all people were OK, was to split up the raft up to avoid any other incidents. Dasein pulled away and searched for a place to anchor, and at one point Heidi said that she thought that their starboard spreader was bent or something. I couldn't really see it, but decided to row over as soon as they were settled, which I did after a time since they had difficulty finding a good spot to anchor in the harbor. Of course, all this happened a short time before we had planned to head ashore for the lobster bake, so not only were we late, but the event put a major damper on the fun to be had that evening anyway. Amazing how one inconsiderate jerk in a powerboat can ruin things so fast. 5 seconds that changed the world...OK, maybe that's a little melodramatic.
To paraphrase Poe, "Quoth the rafters...nevermore..."; no more raft-ups for either of us. All it takes is one incident to cure that stupidness. All I could think of was our 6-boat raftup earlier in the summer, and what a disaster this wake would have been to that. I wonder if we'll ever be able to do that again?
Commiserating, I pointed out Heidi's observation, at which time we noticed that their starboard spreader base had sheared from some impact during the collision; it was still under compression and doing its job, but the broken part of the base had slid aft an inch or two, and who knew how long that would last. Suddenly, things were much worse than just a set or two of jumpers. This was a problem with potentially disastrous implications, and I felt so bad for them, since of course the boat could not be sailed that way--their cruise was winding down after the rendezvous, and they were heading home, but this development would, at the least, preclude any sailing, and possibly even worse. This was a real bummer for them, and for us, too, for their sake.
The immediate issue was how to stabilize their spreader so that it would at least stay the way it was. Nathan and I rowed ashore to talk to our meeting host, who was not around but we spoke with his son, Mark, who was most helpful and came right out to the boat to have a look. He shinnied up the mast and popped the spreader base back in place, then returned back up the mast in a bosun's chair to lash it in place, a decent stop-gap. As I rowed him back to shore, we discussed Glissando's problems, and finally settled on a plan where I would bring the boat around to the yard Mark worked at in Ames Cove off Gilkey Harbor, on the other side of Islesboro, the next morning at high tide, since their docks are tidal. The time was set for 0800, which would mean a pretty early departure to get there in time.
Finally, we all went ashore for the festivities, to find that no one had come from shoreside, as planned (boo!), but what a fine spread was put on by the Clayton clan! Steamers, lobsters, corn, burgers, hot dogs, salad...and tons of everything. What a nice time, all things considered. Too bad none of us were too much in the mood, although we enjoyed the food!
We hit the rack fairly early, since I planned to get up before 0600 so that I could motor the boat around the bottom of the island and through Brackett Channel, which on the chart looked difficult, although by now I was jaded and had seen so many channels that looked much worse on the chart than in person. But that's tomorrow's log!