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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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Stonington to Stonington, anchor

Rumor had it that there was a wonderful Portuguese restaurant just around the corner. So Highwind and we decided to travel 20 minutes to make the dinghy ride there much easier. Both of us had anchors down by 9:30 am. 

We spend the day getting seriously rocked by lobster boats zipping by us at 15 knots and kicking up 4 feet wake. A couple of times I had to race down the stairs in preparation for the disruption to save the food that's cooking from falling on the floor, or make sure the fridges were secured. We've lost food stuffs before. Maine: Come for the lobster, stay to get the snot waked out of ya!

One of the more interesting vessels we've seen.
But the real adventure happened in the evening. Dinner reservations were around 6:15. We dropped our dinghy and picked up Hannah and David by 6, then headed to the restaurant, which supposedly had a dock.

Well... when the tide was high it did. Tides fluctuate about 10 feet here. We slowly made our way to a working dock near the eatery only to hit the bottom about 5 feet from the floating dock. With the use of some paddles David and Russ pushed the dinghy through the mud and close enough to the dock that Hannah could straddle the distance and get onto the pier. That was a sight to behold. She then pulled us into through the mud so that the dinghy touched the pier and the rest of us got off. (Not that she's crazy strong, although she's quite fit, but without that extra weight the dinghy was just a tad more buoyant).

The view out the back.
Still getting used to seeing so much rock.
Then we had to climb about 7 feet up a less than encouraging hand-built ladder to get up the pier and onto the working dock that (we learned) did belong to the restaurant. Good thing, too, else we'd have been trespassing. Then find our way up to the restaurant.

We checked in and got seated outside. While the service was slow, the meal was wonderful. The place closed at 8, which was why I made the reservations around 6, but we ended up not leaving the place until 9 pm. In the dark.

Reversing out tracks we made it back to the dinghy, which was now only 3 feet beneath the dock since the tide had risen significantly. We climbed back on the tender, then traversed the dark water -- dodging prop traps and mooring balls in the dark -- back to our boats.

Nothing like a little adventure to round out a good meal.

David took these when we docked.
Note the land/rock just to the left.
The dinghy is attached to a floating pier,
attached with rope to a taller pier, 7 feet higher.

Clearly, this is a working pier.
If this didn't belong to the restaurant,
we were what they call "criminals."

Russ took this mid-way through dinner, proof
the dinghy was there and the tide was rising.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Blue Hill to Stonington, ball

I'm diggin' these short cruising days. And we traveled slower today to make sure we had enough time to make water. The route we took wasn't the shortest but the one that kept us in the deepest water for the process.

Blue Hill was a perfect hide out from the weather. The skies dumped some rain, we had one clap of close thunder, but otherwise we hardly noticed the fierce winds that were on the Atlantic.

Cruisin' to the town dock
Blue Hill isn't much of a town but, making it harder to visit, the town dock can only be accessed around high tide. Otherwise it's on land. We went over yesterday at 8:40 AM (high tide was 9:40) to get some grocery shopping done. The store is a mile hoof uphill(!). But we were back to the tender long before tidal issues... and got a little cardio workout in as well.

Got back to the boat just in time!

Stonington is on the right. Highwind is on the left.

This is getting into Blue Hill.
The approach is a little interesting. You almost get on 
land before you make a hard left turn.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Opechee Island to Blue Hill, ball

I found my thrill.... on Blue Hill... 

Storms were forecasted for tonight and tomorrow bringing with them big, big winds. Russ found us a small "hurricane hole" with a tiny yacht club. They have a big name, though. Kollegewidgwok Yacht Club. Thankfully, they don't require anyone to try to say that, so when hailing them you ask for "KYC."

After a quiet night we headed around the small islands and north to Blue Hill. We had calm waters and sunny skies all day long, well, for the 2 hour trip anyway. They had space for us on a ball and sent the launch to help us find it. 

Russ took this pic of sunrise in Opechee
The views in Maine continue to impress us. Blue Hill is a decent-sized hill and can be seen from distances. We hadn't realized the looming hill was where we were going. The only downside is the town dock can only be accessed plus or minus 2 hours from high tide. Otherwise, it's in the mud. It's about an hour walk along a no-sidewalked road from the yacht club. which isn't great either. But we got food on the boat, so we should be good for a couple of days.

Blue Hill, and the KYC thereby

Hey! Look who's making sourdough bread!
Many thanks to Hannah for sharing her starter.

Somes Sound to Opechee Island, anchor

Once the sound opened up to the Atlantic we had a bit of swells on the bow at higher frequencies than we like. But we didn't have far to go, and once we turned the corner and headed west the islands blocked that small bit of nastiness. So, most of the ride was wonderful. Just about 20 minutes of "Ugh!"

The anchorage Russ picked was nestled in between 3 islands. The views are lovely. But Bella Gatto, en route to Northeast Harbor, took a photo of us as they passed by.

Those are seals!
(Thank you, Jayne! We never would have known.)

We dropped the dinghy immediately to see for ourselves. At first we saw a few on some rocks, then it we realized they were everywhere. We stopped at a couple of different locations for pictures and movies. There were at least 20 in the first stop and another 15 in the second. There were even a few near the boat.

That made for a grand day out!

Farewell to the fjord!

Glorious sunrise today.

Here's the trip up Somes Sound yesterday.
When we get started we pass a sailboat. Then, as we
wait for a tacking sailboat, the first one passes us
on the right... so we have to overtake him again.

Lastly, the cruise here. Pretty out through the fjord,
then watch for "the cut off" (peanut-head!).
And lots and lots of prop traps!

Friday, July 22, 2022

Southwest Harbor to Northeast Harbor, then up the fjord, anchor

We've had a couple of tiny toodles around and up the Mount Desert Island, each about 45 minutes long. We stayed in Northeast Harbor 2 nights, expecting bad weather (which never really came). Then we headed up the only Fjord in the United States and dropped the hook for a night.

As fjords go this one was isn't crazy inspiring. But we're spoiled a bit by some of the Canadian passageways -- Baie Fine comes to mind -- and even some of the cruising we did on the Tennessee last year. But the water was blue, the sky was bluer, and the breeze was relaxing.

There are 2 crops in abundance here in Maine this time of year: blueberries and lobster. We've been eating our share of both.


The fjord of MDI.

This would be good joke if there were no boat on the ball.

The weekend ahead looks like a great weekend to do some traveling.

We'd been warned fog was going to be a thing.
But this has been a really dry year up here.
Until now.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Bar Harbor to Southwest Harbor, ball

We did more touristy things in Bar Harbor than we ever had before.

First, we took a whale watching tour. Typically we pass on any boat-related tour thing -- no pirate tours, no sailing tours, no sunset cruises, no dolphin/manatee/insert-water-critter-here tours. We live on a boat. We see that stuff a lot. And for free. 

However, given the last couple of days had been utter concentration on dodging prop traps and we haven't seen any whales we thought this would be fun. Let someone else do the driving and we just sit back and take in the view for a change.

Only 3 in this shot. The far left is a calf.
And we got some great views. The tour had whale-aficionados on board who took pics and worked on identification. They keep track on what whales are where. I was expecting to see a couple of smaller, lesser known whales, and I would have been keen with that. But we got humpbacks. Four of 'em. We had to travel 50 miles out to sea to do that (and wouldn't you know it, they were in Canada), but we saw whales. We were told typically we only see 1 or 2. So we feel pretty lucky.

Nice blow!

My only 4 shot. A blow, a tail, and the mother and calf.

Us in our e-vehicle.
I told Hannah we look like
crash test dummies
in the "before" shot.
Once back on land the crew of Highwind treated us to an electric golf cart ride through Acadia. The park was just stunning. After being chilled on the whale watching tour (colder out there on the water, and the boat travels at 30 knots, so nippy!) driving in the sun in an no-door vehicle was perfect.

Today we headed out, slowly making our way westward. Lousy weather is coming. We didn't want to leave MDI quite yet so we made our way into the Somes Sound within the island. We'll putter around here for a few days. Apparently, this is the home of the United States only fjord. We wanna see that.

Final sunset in Bar Harbor.
Or as the locals say, "Bah Hahbah."

Friday, July 15, 2022

North Haven to Bar Harbor, ball

Lots of island skating today.
This is it, the big destination. Bar Harbor! Gateway to the Arcadia National Park, home of whales and seals and puffins, and our northern-most achievement this year.

North Haven suited for the night but there wasn't much there at all. We passed a town called Stonington on our way here which I'd love to stop in. Hopefully things will work out that way.

David got out his drone and took this sunset
glory of inQuest in North Haven. Thank you!
The ride here was absolutely amazing and infinitely frustrating all at the same time. Given we travel early in the morning and go east visibility is always challenging. Not only is the sun a thing but the dancing-water reflection is equally blinding. Add a crap-ton of prop traps on top of that and both Russ and I understand the "cursing like a sailor" adage.

Once that wasn't a critical problem we were greeting with some of the most gorgeous views we've seen in boating thus far. The Mount Desert Island (MDI to locals) is renowned for its beauty. It did not disappoint.

We originally moored next to each other.
This doesn't look scary but David was sure
he could jump onto inQuest
We moved so we all could sleep easier.
But. Prop traps. And I cannot stress this enough, a crap-ton.

2 greens. Do not go between them.

GLARY! Gorgeous, but GLARY!

MDI in the distance

Blue sky, blue water, green trees, red rock...

Lovely day for everyone on a boat.

Lots o' rock

High tide...

Low tide. Big swing here.