Monday, August 8, 2022

Port Clyde to Thomaston, wall

Russ still had a couple of items coming to Rockland. And since we weren't going to go around and back to the town, we decided to get as close as possible, which was Thomaston. It's a 25 minute bike ride from there.

The small 1 hour long trip went great, only a couple of prop trap clusters (albeit densely populated) to maneuver around.

Yesterday, however, was a grand day out! Hannah, David and we took the ferry from this tiny port to Monhegan Island. And here's why...

David took this with is drone.
Highwind and inQuest are rafted just below the little island

Quick breakie before we take the ferry
Waaaaay back in New Bedford, Scot of the Moby Dick Brewery chatted us up and recommended we see Tod of Tributary Brewery in Kittery. So we did. He in turn recommended seeing Mary and Matt of the Monhegan Brewery, on Monhegan Island.

Frankly, we didn't think we'd get there. It's a fair distance away and, once there, not a very protected place for the boat. Then I noticed, "Hey, lookie at that! There's a ferry." I put that in the back of my mind, marking the place as a "what to go" on my map. And, if you recall, I mentioned this while in Rockland... and viola!

The town of Monhegan on the island
The island, however, was an amazing destination. Think Nantucket, but way less crowded and way less expensive. Lots of little inns, restaurants, ice creams stands, museums, hiking trails, a light house that you can tour... and of course a brewery.

We stopped in after a quick hike to the other side of the island to see the cliffs. I asked to see Matt or Mary. Matt, wouldn't you know, took a few minutes to chat with me. He was tickled pick anyone would travel by boat to breweries, and was all to happy to give his recommendations.

The cliffs on the other side of the island.

Oo! And we found the Tardis.

Sunset at the end of a busy day.
Frankly, this had been kind of an interesting adventure, making us go places we otherwise would have missed. 

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Rockland to Port Clyde, anchor

(subtitled: Last minute decisions made at 4:30 pm after 2 beers)

The crew of Highwind joined us in Rockland around noon. Once they got anchored we picked them up in the dinghy and headed into Rockland where, this weekend only, they were holding the Lobster Festival. We got in the lobster line, ate that with corn on the cob and slaw, then headed to the Fried Dough stand where we got desert. These were more like elephant ears but you get to heap them with whatever you want: powdered sugar, caramel, chocolate syrup, lemon curd, blueberries, custard, just to name a few options. With these in hand we walked to the brewery.

During a couple of rounds of drinks and a couple of games of Hanabi we talked about travel plans, as boaters do. I mentioned that I wanted to go to Port Clyde, not so much to see Port Clyde, but there was a ferry there that takes you to Monhegan Island. That I wanted to do.

Around 4:00

Rafted to Highwind at sunset

I left to use the restroom and when I returned decisions had been made that we were upping anchors now and doing just that. Within minutes ferry tix were bought (gotta love the interweb) and we were walking back to the dinghy. 30 minutes later both vessels were underway.

Right into the fog bank. It was perfectly clear on land.

The ride was 3 hours, but it was 3 diligent hours. Running lights on, fog horn blaring, radar intensely monitored, all while eyes were up and watching for prop traps that would dimly appear in the fog. 

Another reason to go was, while we couldn't see well, the open water journey was very calm waters. The ride was very smooth, despite the lack of vision.

When we got to the anchorage this part of the water was clear. We could easily see our way through the mooring field. Highwind dropped her anchor first, then invited us to just raft to her.

And that's how we spent a very quiet evening.

Following them in the fog...

Friday, August 5, 2022

Belfast to Rockland, anchor

When we went to bed last night there were predictions of fog in the morning and thunderstorms in the afternoon. We hoped to travel in between those 2 events. But no fog in the morning, so we didn't dilly-dally much. Turns out, no thunderstorms either.

Very calm water today, which was lovely. We traveled mostly south toward the Atlantic, hovering along the west coast of the Penobscot Bay. The last couple of weeks we've spent winding between islands, hiding from any real water. But that's about to end. We're getting back into trips out on the Atlantic.

Dramatic skyline
Given that we might be here a while. We planned to spend the weekend but Russ had stuff shipped here that (of course) did not get here in time. He wants to wait until he gets it, which the earliest is Monday. Tuesday, at a glance, is looking marginal for travel. 

So, we may be here a while.

The lighthouse at the end of the
breakwall of Rockland.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Marker 24 to Bucksport, anchor

Given last night's decision to head south today's trip was only 1 hour or so. Leaving was perfect -- anchor came up nice and we caught the end of the outgoing tide. In Bucksport there was no ball to be had so we dropped the anchor nearby. That, too, went swimmingly.

When we were in Belfast, David (of Highwind) helped Russ set up the our alternator for recharging the lithiums while underway. Up until now we'd only recharge the batteries with solar, the generator, or being plugged in at a dock. Additionally, many moons ago when we first bought inQuest, we installed a big, honkin' alternator. But that alternator was never set up to charge the lithiums when Russ converted the system. Until now.

Notables: 1440 miles to Miami
2800 miles to San Francisco
and 11,675 miles to Albany, Australia
from either side of the globe.
He'd still working out some kinks, like keeping the system cool and moderating the charge. So once we got settled he played with fans and settings. Once this works we'll be charging up as we run. We may not need to get near land or run the generator again!

We also took a quick run into town to eat some pizza. We're thinking we'll check out the fort tomorrow and do some grocery shopping as the very convenient grocery nearby.

Data from powering the batteries. The noise is from too much heat.
It gets hot, shuts off, cools, then turns on. Once Russ added
a fan, it totally stabilized. And then we made power!

Bucksport --> Buck's Harbor --> Belfast, ball

(Lots of "b"s)

This was the big mail run day! In all our comings and goings around the Penobscot Bay we've had stuff delivered here and there that didn't quite make it in time. So we knew we'd have a "run around the bay" day to collect stuff. Today was that day.

First, back to Buck's Harbor, where our dinghy registration was waiting. The run down the river was pretty quick since we caught the outgoing tide. 

We called Back's Harbor ahead and told them we were coming. They were ready for us, having the letter in hand as we sidled up to the dock. We didn't even tie up; I just got Russ close enough to grab it and we were outta there.

You'll see a boat ahead of us. We hailed the dock for 
permission to get the mail, they -- without talking to 
anyone -- snagged our spot. Thankfully, 2 other boats were
headed out. So you see our "touch and go"
Two touches... we gave them a tip.

Next, back to Belfast. I was looking forward to this since we didn't get to the Thai place, which was closing on Saturday and closed on Sunday. Moreover, it was me who had packages waiting.

By the time we started across the bay to Belfast the winds had come up from the south. We tacked a bit to make the ride smoother (note the crooked path once we got around the island). Nothing drastic, but the winds make is a big, big sailboat day.

Sailboats! About 50 of them, all poised to cross our path.

Not enough to dodge prop traps, we're dodging sailboats, too.

We got in, got a ball, dinghy-ed to the dock, ate some lunch (Thai place was a little disappointing... I was bummed) and got my stuff. Well, round 1. I had a delivery coming later that day.

Sunset in Bucksport.
Totally foggy the next morning,
which is why we didn't head out until 9 am.
Back on the boat we crashed for a few minutes with a power nap. When we got up, the dinghy was gone.

Wait... what now?

Oh yeah. Gone. Not attached to inQuest any more. 

The wind was pushing stuff in only one direction so I got out binoculars and started looking while Russ called the marina to see if anyone had found it. They had, in fact. We just had to go get it. "Do you have room at the fuel dock?" "Yes, we do."

So, we unhooked from the ball and hustled to the dock. Russ unboarded and brought the tender back, tied it up securely, then we went back to the ball. The whole rescue was about 30 minutes. We feel extremely fortunate.

All we can figure is we recently got a new painter line on it (many thanks to the crew of Highwind for that!) and, being new, it's just a bit slick. With all the bouncing from the wind (we had 2 foot chop in the mooring field), it must have loosened and untied itself.

We're told it happens. But that's a new one for us. Thank goodness getting it back was trivial.

Oh. And my 2nd package didn't arrive. Such is boat life...

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Exploring Bucksport

Bikes loaded, off we go!
Staring at us from across the river is Fort Knox. Not the "where's the gold" Fort Knox. But a real fort nevertheless. 

Sadly, while it appeared accessible by water, this was not true. And you can't walk across the bridges. That left biking. Once breakfast was done we tossed the bikes into the dinghy and headed to the dock. There we started the 20 minutes bike ride to the fort. (Note: Google claims this is a 15 minute bike ride but fails to alert you of the altitude change, thus our 20).

Russ thinks this is his favorite fort ever. Built more recently (1840s) they'd sussed out a number of issues like getting troops around, food storage, and of course, defense. So while smaller the place was laid out brilliantly.

Looking across the river from the top of the fort.
inQuest is the white dot on the right...

Looooooong corridors wrap the fort so
gunman can be everywhere!

A few canons are still there.

It was fun exploring all the cave-like corridors.

Mess hall. They recently built those tables,
The place smelled of freshly cut wood.

Russ is up on top.

To bad it was never actually used. But it's in fine shape, and still being actively maintained.

When you buy tickets to visit the fort you're asked if you want to go up the tower too. In 1832 they built a fancy bridge (a smaller version of the Golden Gate, which was built a couple of years later). At the time it was considered the prettiest bridge in the world.

Well, they took that down and built another bridge. This one, however, had 2 massive towers (you may have noticed in the pictures). And one of them is an observation station you can go up in into. And we did.

North, Bucksport

East. You can see Blue Hill and 
Acadia from here.

South, to Penobscot Bay

Lobster roll: 1/3 lb of lobster (no mayo!) on a 
toasted baguette. Hand for size.
After snapping pics and looking at all the places we'd already been this summer we biked back to Bucksport to try the brewery, Friar's Brewhouse. The name is not a ploy -- the place is run by friars. Got the robes and everything. We ate some tomato bisque, a lobster roll (because, Maine!), and a lobster Mac & Cheese (because, Maine!). Actually, we ordered a different mac & cheese but they accidentally gave us the lobster one by mistake. Tasty mistake, tho. Beer was quite tasty, too. 

I liked the last bit.
We brought the leftovers back to the boat (friars are big on volume) and passed out from all the uphill bike riding. Which it was. Both ways!

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Belfast to Bangor, anchor

(In the back of my mind I hear Andrew Dice Clay saying, "Bangor?! I don't even know her!" I'm sure the Maine folks have never heard that one.)

We left Belfast and headed across the Penobscot Bay and up the river to Bangor. It's pretty much the furthest north you can get to by boat in Maine. The ride up was just beautiful, and it's been one of the longer ones we've had in a while, about 4 hours. We barely saw any other boats while on the cruise.

But have you ever just had a vibe? Things weren't going to go as you planned, and you continuing to force that plan is a lot like slow-boating against a strong current?

Perfect boating morning.
Upon arriving in Bangor we hail the town docks and ask for moorage. Turns out (while this is Monday) Tuesday night is a Jimmy Buffet concert, so they had no space for the next 2 nights. In other words, had we picked almost any other time this wouldn't have been an issue.

We're not daunted. There are a number of anchorages around so we pick one. We try it, but we can't get the hook to hold. Russ had read ahead of time that much of the area is scoured, leaving only rock which we can't anchor on. We move to another anchorage, nearer the casino. Hook grabs great! We're done and ready to nap.


As we napped we heard the sound check for the show. It didn't bother us but it was a clear sign we might not want to stay 2 nights as planned. We anchored in the "concert anchorage" so we assumed it would fill with folks wanting to be entertained, who may or may not know how to anchor. We altered our plans: we'll stay the night, do some errands tomorrow, then head to Bucksport Tuesday afternoon.

Passing Fort Knox in Bucksport.
Gonna try to get there.
For dinner we took the tender to the town dinghy dock. Which is separate from the town official dock. We were the only boat there, sharing space with folks fishing, kids jumping in the water, and a "camp" in a nearby park. This didn't leave us with a warm and fuzzy feeling. We locked up the dinghy and ate at the brewery. Not a great meal but decent, yet hard to enjoy since we worried about the tender.

Enough time has passed now that the tide is well and truly out. While a river, the tidal swing here is 13 to 14 feet. When we got back to the boat we were less than 40 from shore (not well marked on our charts I'm afraid) with exposed rock. And we had 4 feet yet to go before the end of low tide.

...and we're outta here!
We fired up the engines and moved closer to the center of the river and tried again. This time we dragged across the bottom. Raising the anchor to try again we had the added surprise of a heavy, thick cable snagging our anchor. Russ managed to free us with a boat hook, but he had to drop it from the weight. We rescued it and decided that was that. We turned and headed downstream.

This was round 7:30 pm. While sunny, the wind was blowing 15 knots or so up the river while the tide was pulling out. That made for some weighty chop. But our frustration was that Bucksport was 2 hours away. Neither of us enjoyed the thought of anchoring in an unknown place in the dark. Russ got out the charts and found a spot about 1/2 way there, just behind marker R24. That is where we dropped the hook. That is where we spent the night.

And it was one of the quietest, most peaceful nights we've had in a long time.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Bucks Harbor to Belfast, ball

Last night, in Bucks Harbor, was one of the quietest nights we've had in Maine. The marina was nestled behind an island so wind wasn't a factor but also there were no workboats there. We didn't get waked at all. Great night's sleep.

We'd planned to have packages and mail sent there. The packages were waiting for us, but the mail was missing. It was important stuff, too -- the dinghy registration and our voting ballots. Apparently they don't receive the mail there. Instead they have to go pick it up at the post office. We waited, got our ballots but the registration remains missing. Thus the later departure.

Lovely island hopping.
I'm bummed because the GoPro wasn't working for the first half of the ride, which was weaving in between a number of awesome islands. Great trip, overall, and lasted about 2 hours. Before getting a ball we fueled up, pumped out, and topped off the water. 

Highwind joined us a couple hours later. The 4 of us went out to the local brewery -- because that's what we do! -- then off to get dinner. Being Saturday night, things were pretty busy in the town. We tried the Italian place (45 minute wait), the Thai place (no more seatings tonight), then settled on the sushi place, which only has seating at the bar. But that worked for us! 

Downtown Belfast

Cresent moon sunset.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Stonington to Deer Island (anchor), to Bucks Harbor, ball

Lots to cover.

Two nights prior the crew of Highwind and we sat outside the Stonington Ice Cream shop eating their lobster rolls (yes, you read that right -- everything sells lobster rolls here, even the ice cream store). Both David and Russ were pawing through their cells comparing information about Aragosta. This was a highly rated restaurant right in the area. Both tried making reservations but the place was booked out until September. David sat upright and announced they did have availability on Thursday for the tasting menu. 8:15 pm. That's usually bedtime for Russ and me, but that seemed like serendipity. He booked it on the spot.

Last time through Stonington
On Thursday we took the hour cruise, away from the Cockatoo anchorage, back across Stonington, up the west side of the peninsula, and dropped our anchors one bay over from the restaurant. There was a beach in front of the place, so the plan was to dinghy over, beach the tender, eat, and dinghy back. Easy peasy, no?

However. A storm front was coming in. Weather was predicted around 9 pm until 11 pm, bringing high winds (heh... like their boat's name).

By the pricking
of my thumbs...
All day long the skies were glorious. Russ and I took a couple of cruises trying to find alternative dinghy-able beaches. Even though the ride to Aragosta would only be about 10 minutes, it would be in open waters, like (points south) the Atlantic is right there! And that's exactly where the wind would be coming from. Open waters + lots of fetch = really bad waters. But place after place was riddled with rocks and boulders, making the thought of leaving the dinghy for hours unattended out of the question. We envisioned waves and wind knocking it into craggy rocks and damaging the small vessel.

So. We were sticking with plan A.

Everyone prepared for this. I brought a change of clothes, Hannah and David wore cover garments so their fancier clothes stayed dry. We even had shoes to change out of since beaching a dinghy means stepping into water.

By the time we headed over, around 7:15 pm, the wind had already come up. We managed to get a couple of waves into the tender, starting the soaking early. But, again, we were prepared for that. It was fine.

Dinghy on the loney beach, the log is our moor.
Taken for insurance purposes...
Now, consider tides. We arrived at the low point of an incoming tide. This is a bit of a trick when beaching a vessel. The tidal swing was over 10 feet. The shallower the grade in the beach, the longer the distance your boat is going to move. In preparation for this Russ had bought an "anchor bungee". Once we beached the tender he heaved out small anchor out the back and affixed the bungee to the boat. Then, using a really, really long line (150 feet, and it was NOT long enough) we tied to boat to a makeshift moor David and Hannah made from a heavy log. It was over 150 feet from the beach. Then, because all of us were paranoid about having a ride home, we set and alarm for 2 hours later to check the dinghy. 

That accomplished we went inside, changed our clothes, washed our feet (sssssh! Don't tell the restaurant), then waited for our seating. Which was short, since all that took a lot of time.

The tasting was wonderful. We had about 10 items served to us throughout the night. They even accommodated Russ and my being pescatarians. The service was great, the drinks were great (we didn't have many, just in case you were wondering), and the food was outstanding. And no, none of us, none of us, had the presence of mind to take pictures of the meal. Boaters!

When the alarm went off at 9 Russ and David went to inspect the dinghy. The water line had already gotten to a few inches up on the mooring log. They adjusted it, moving it more onto land and resetting it, and, as they were returning to the restaurant, the rain started.

It rained on and off throughout the dinner.

By 10:45 our meal wrapped up. We all donned our rain gear or still wet clothes from the ride over, and headed, now in the total darkness, down to the dinghy.

The water level had risen a lot, but the makeshift anchor moor still held. The first task was to get the dinghy to shore. Keep in mind, there's an anchor way out in the water (which did it's job of keeping the dinghy off the beach so it didn't get beat up). Recall the waterline had moved a lot since we tossed it off the back. So chore number one was dragging the boat in, trying to overpower the bunged and anchor, which was an effort for both Russ and David. 

They managed, we climbed into the already soaked boat (sitting in the rain, getting pummeled by waves). The engine started without flaw. We backed up, pulling up the bungee, and released the anchor. That all sounds very matter of fact, but keep in mind, it's night, it's raining, and we're being bashed by waves. I got out a huge, bright flashlight (we did plan ahead!) and scanned around to find land to get some idea of what direction we needed to go. And we were off.

Immediately it became clear everyone had to help. Russ drove the dinghy. David, using Navionics on his phone, gave Russ directions. I held the large flashlight high to scan the water since lobster traps abounded and needed to be avoided. Poor Hannah, at the bow of the dinghy and on hands and knees, shouted directions to avoid said lobster traps, using her arms to point left or right. I say "poor Hannah" because we were inundated, wave after wave, with cold, salty water. We all got covered and soaked, but Hannah had them right in her face. In case that sounds dreadful to you, she was laughing the entire time.

From my vantage this was like some wild Disney ride. It was pitch dark. While I'm holding a light high so Hannah can see but I cannot. And every few seconds someone threw heavy buckets of water at us. I couldn't see the sea, or the chop, or the land, or the waves, just Hannah pointing, David huddled over his phone trying to keep it dry so it would continue to work, and huge water spray in the light as it smacked our bow and arched over us

Hannah, safely back on Highwind.
inQuest is the distance light...
Eventually we changed directions, from heading into the wind to get around the point and back to the boats. Once the wind was on our backs the ride got much calmer. Both of the boats were lit (planning ahead) so we could see them easily on the way back. We dropped off Hannah and David and quickly sped to our own boat. 

Getting the dinghy affixed to the boat and raised was a bit of a challenge in the 2-3 foot chop. Once that was done, once all the wet clothes were removed, once we quickly rinsed off the sea water, we went to bed, which bounced for hours from the storm. Needless to say, bellies full, brains buzzing from the adventure, and bodies bouncing on the boat, we didn't sleep all that well.

The morning after... Highwind through the fog.
When we got up the waters had calmed. And fog surrounded us. We weren't in a hurry to leave so we hung out a few hours. 

We headed north to Bucks Harbor. The water were a little churned, swells with quicker periods, but not bad. The further north we went the calmer they got. Bucks Harbor has tons of mooring balls which we navigated to get to our assigned one. Then we passed out doing laundry intermittently. After two nights of fantastic meals, we're due for a humble one.

That was a night for the books.

Lovely voyage in the morning.
You'd never know.

The trip in the morning.