Cruising Log: June 20-22, 2003
Early in the Week...
As anyone in the
northeast knows, this spring and sailing season has, to date, been
fraught with rain, drizzle, and generally inclement weather. For
those of us lucky enough to be able to sneak to the boat during the work
week, at least there have been some sailing days. Weekends,
though, have been incredibly poor for the most part, and I feel bad for
people holding down jobs with regular hours.
The summer was shaping up
to be somewhat more complicated than I might have liked, what with Heidi
having a busy work schedule, my own plans for building a boat barn, and
other commitments getting in the way of an extended cruise. We
hoped to get away for the weekend, finally...our first chance of the
season, really, and the only chance in sight for the next several
weeks. One might say I was becoming...desperate, perhaps,
to get back out for even a small taste of cruising. With a
forecast for a decent weekend, we made plans to head out for three days.
Throughout the week, I
paid close attention to the forecast, becoming increasingly frustrated
as each day progressed and the forecast changed radically, day to
day. By Thursday morning, after a ridiculous shift in the forecast
for the weekend, I was a basket case, as it seemed suddenly that the
weekend might not be what we had expected. My composure cracking,
I worked myself into a tizzy over the weather. I should have real
As it turned out, the
forecasters had no clue what they were talking about--this time, for
once, in the right direction (that is, they forecast doom and
gloom, but what we got was sun and shine).
had hoped to get on the boat Thursday evening and get a jumpstart on the
weekend, but Heidi's work ran late, and we weren't able to get
there. We made plans instead to leave Friday morning, side by side
with Heather and Nathan on Dasein.
Friday, June 20
We arrived at the boat at
about 0945, a but later than we had hoped but still within the realm.
The sky was partly overcast, with a northerly breeze. The
first order of business, after stowing gear and supplies, was to figure
out where we were going. It was deemed that a skipper's meeting be
called, so I rowed the dinghy over to Dasein and we huddled with
a mangled chart in the cockpit to debate some possible cruising
locations for the evening. After a short discussion, we decided on
The Basin, an essentially landlocked saltwater pond in Phippsburg, on
Cape Small. With the north wind that was blowing, it looked like
it would be a pleasant sail. With the decision made, I rowed back
to Glissando, and we prepared to take off. I hadn't run the
engine in weeks, so I decided to fire it up to make sure all was well
before we departed--of course, there was no problem. Better safe
than sorry, just in case.
Just outside the
anchorage, I killed the engine and we began sailing, enjoying the
perfect northerly breeze and rapidly clearing skies. Before we had
gone a half mile, though, the wind began lightening dramatically, and
the two boats were soon drifting at a pathetic 2 knots.
Since we would never get where we were going at that rate, we decided to
motor, and powered in succession through the Chandler Cove and around
the web of islands in the bay headed in the general direction of Cape
Small. As we passed ubiquitous Little Mark Island, resplendent
with its unique monument, a southeasterly breeze sprung up (amazingly as
predicted), and I decided to try sailing. It was wonderful--just
enough breeze for a pleasant 3.5 - 4 knot sail with the sails set for a
fine close reach. The sky was clear, the temperatures warm, and
the seas gentle (despite a large swell). Perfect!
June is serious pollen time here in southern Maine, particularly White
Pine pollen. The ocean was covered with the stuff, with thick
collections of it banded tightly around unseen current divisions in the
water. Glissando carved a pathway through one
particularly heavy band...yuck. This stuff gets all over the hull
and looks terrible! Perhaps I'll paint my next boat pale yellow.
We sailed just offshore
of the outer islands ringing Quahog Bay and environs, finally turning in
past Bold Dick rock (a nasty, mostly-submerged monster) and White Bull
island up the broad entrance to the New Meadows River, off which The
Basin lies. By this time, the wind seemed to have lightened
considerably, but with a fair current we were still moving at around 3
knots over the ground--despite thru-water speeds of only about 2
knots. Turning roughly northward towards the river, the apparent
wind direction shifted further and further aft; with the large swell and
light wind speed, we needed to sail strong angles downwind to keep the
boat moving and sails full. Time and again, I thought the wind was
dying for good, only to find a resurgence of fresh air that kept us
moving at just about my self-imposed "too slow" threshold.
It was such a nice day.
After a number of gybes
back and forth, we finally found ourselves nearly opposite Cundy's
Harbor, only a short distance from our destination. The wind had
been dropping steadily, and finally chose this moment to more or less
peter out entirely; our boatspeed dropped beneath a knot, and Heidi put
the kibosh on any further attempts at my stubborn tendencies by
declaring the "time of death" to be that very moment,
1526. I started the engine, we rolled up the genoa, and began
powering the final mile. Heidi steered while I lowered and flaked
the mainsail and prepared the anchor. Behind us, Dasein was
doing the same.
The entrance to The Basin
is a cool, narrow channel, lined thickly with trees and granite.
Nary a house could be seen. Once inside, we chose an anchoring
position off to one side in 19' of water at mid tide. I lowered
the CQR, and it was as if a huge magnetic field had grabbed the ferrous
anchor and pinned it to the bottom; I barely had all 30' of chain out
when the anchor grabbed fast. My kind of holding ground! I
let out 90' of scope and backed down on the anchor for several minutes,
not that it seemed to need much help setting itself. By 1600, the
anchor was set, and we had arrived.
perfect, shining, golden light of the almost-longest day of the year
blessing us and the rest of the harbor, the four weary sailors gathered
in Glissando's cockpit for cocktails and merriment, at least
until being forced below at sunset by voracious mosquitoes that overtook
the boat by force. Before long, they had blanketed the sailcover
with their squirming bodies--gross! Below in the cabin, though, we
enjoyed some fine haddock, poached over a bed of onions, green and black
olives, tomatoes, capers, and seasoning, accompanied by fresh greens
picked in the morning before leaving home.
Saturday, June 21
an eerily still night, complete with "spotlight" moon at about
0100, we awoke to one of those gorgeous, bright, blue mornings that make
you want to kiss the ground (or the decks, as it were) in reverent
thanks. Heidi, as is her wont, stayed in the rack for a while, but
I got up to sip coffee and read a book in the cockpit and simply soak in
the relaxed air. Quiet, relaxing, and peaceful hardly begins to
describe the scene.
Unfortunately, previous commitments
meant that Dasein had to depart this morning, but Heidi and I
decided to stay right where were, as the forecast was for benign--if
increasingly cloudy--weather during the day and night. At about
0930 or 1000, Dasein weighed anchor and headed out, while Heidi
and I settled in for a pleasant and relaxing day at anchor. I
rowed around the entire Basin, checking out a few anchored boats and the
general shoreline topography, and we read and relaxed all day, while
watching a nearly endless parade of small craft enter The Basin, drive
around what I dubbed the "great circle route", and left
again. In nearly all cases, these boaters proceeded slowly and
without raising large wakes. I few people asked questions about
the boat as they went by. The wind remained very light, and it
gradually became cloudy as the day wore on.
the boats sliding through the area provided some entertainment, but
perhaps none more than a lobster boat that roared, unruffled, deep into
the cove before slowing down--OK, we're all sooo
impressed. I don't know what they were doing, but at one
point they shut the engine down, and before long I became aware of a
recurring whirrr...whirrr...whirrr noise--which I finally determined was the
lobster boat's starter. For whatever reason, they couldn't seem to
get the diesel going! A small aluminum fishing boat, which had
been loosely conversing with the lobster boat, was nearby, and appeared
to offer up a tow. They towed the boat successfully for a short
distance, but then stopped, and the whirrr...whirrr...whirrr recommenced. I
could hear the boat's battery getting weaker and weaker as the assuredly
peeved lobsterman (with his group of cronies on board) ground it
repeatedly and mercilessly to no avail, finally giving in and being
towed out of the harbor. The remainder of the evening passed
without further incident to report.
Sunday, June 22
We had some rain
overnight, as predicted, but by the morning it had ended, with only gray
skies remaining. With the prospect of more rain later in the day,
plus some things to do at home, we weighed anchor and departed at
0900. There wasn't a breath of wind to be found, but we raised the
main anyway and motored out.
chose the inside route home, a narrow channel strewn with rocks and
rocky islands--yet easy to traverse. It also happened to be nearly
a half mile shorter than the way we sailed in on Friday; any way to
shorten a boring motor is welcomed. The seas were oily calm as we
motored out the New Meadows River, outside of the entrance to
Quahog Bay, and past Orrs-Bailey Islands and back in the narrow pass
inshore of Little Mark Island.
could see rain showers around us in all directions, but fortunately our
own little area was clear. We had an uneventful passage back,
until shortly before arriving in Falmouth when, bent over slightly
coiling a line in the cockpit, some part of my back said, "Um...no
thanks," and snapped--causing immediate and intense pain and
inability to move normally. Now, I've occasionally strained by
back here and there, but never like this--never had I felt so
immobilized by pain. All I was doing was coiling a jib sheet, for
heaven's sake...though perhaps the event was predicated by my raising
the anchor several hours before (I could understand if my back didn't
care for that).
In any event, we got back
to the mooring at about 1230 or 1300 (in my pain, I forgot to check the
time) and I managed to weakly go about my requisite boat-bedding chores,
though with little enthusiasm. We packed up and departed, having
thoroughly enjoyed our snort cruise.