Saturday, February 23, 2019
It is February and time to visit Charlotte’s mother in Sumter, South Carolina. I had a feeling — snow and freezing ice — that we should leave early, and so we did. Sunday, after hustling to pack a day early, we drove 150 miles south to Champaign-Urbana and pulled in at 7pm. The cold and freezing rain began as we unloaded the car.
In the morning, we waited until 10:00 AM for the temperature to reach 32 degrees before leaving. The next couple of days had us rushing 800 miles to stay in front of the ice storm. The seven hour drive from Nashville, TN to St. Simons Island in Georgia was through torrential rain and forty mph winds. At one point, the radio blared with tornado warnings. In the final stretch, I increased speed to over 80 mph to outrun the menacing black squall in the rearview mirror.
The interstate was obscured in rain, fog, and spray from the huge trucks that we shared the road with for most of the 2th and 3rd day. In a moment of inspiration, I fitted our Honda Accord Coupe with snow tires and they performed flawlessly. At least it was only blinding rain, and not snow and ice. The decision to leave early was prescient.
This is not a compelling story. Living where we live, we have all driven through similar conditions, so why am I bothering to tell you? Well, because it occurs to me that if this happened while piloting Carrie Rose, our 32’ Nordic Tug, it would be one hell of a story. Water increases the dramatic value of an experience. Even calm uneventful passages have drama.
I am not sure if a boat has inherently more risk associated with it than a car, or if I am just more attuned to possible danger when on the water. A boat has a few more dimensions to work with: depth, current, waves, and though wind and fog and storms can affect a cars safety, at least a car can pull over and stop. Granted, a boat can drop an anchor but this is usually not an option. A boat’s voyage needs to be completed.
I have a friend who took his boat (and his wife) to Lake Superior, a cruise not to be taken lightly. On their way east out of the lake, despite all precautions, they were caught in an unexpected storm. As the following seas built, he knew that the destination required transiting a low bridge into the harbor of refuge. He contacted the bridge tender knowing he had only one chance to approach the bridge. These were not conditions to linger in. His forethought paid off and the bridge operator had the bridge open.
I have been in my share of large following waves, but it is hard to image how his boat surfed passed the bridge on the backs of the gigantic Lake Superior waves. When we reminisce about our unique experiences on the Great Lakes and beyond, it is obvious that that day on the water left him forever changed.
His telling of the tale altered my attention to detail. I study the weather, the route, and the boat's condition with increased vigor as I plan the day's cruising agenda. And this vigor has transferred to driving. I am more willing to get off the road prematurely, or not to begin if conditions are unfavorable.
But still, a day on the water is more likely to inspire prose than a day on a turnpike or a winding country road, even in the rain and the snow, and for that matter even in February!
Friday, December 28, 2018
Maine is a fluid environment. Twice daily, the tide rushes in and out. This dramatic event progresses by about an hour each day. The wide tidal ranges and sweeping currents require a careful monitoring of time. The amount of water that rises and falls, and thus the strength of the current, varies with the interaction between the earth and the moon.
In Carrie Rose’s pilothouse, there is a Weems & Plath clock with a discernable tick-tock. Often it is the only sound. Its constancy can be annoying. But then, I am reminded that the quiet click is a blessing compared to the noise that emanates from above our Chicago bungalow, which sits under the flight path of O’Hare’s runway 28R.
Carrie Rose first ventured into tidal waters after locking through the Troy Lock at the Federal Dam on the Hudson River in 2015. Its purpose is to stop the tide’s influence up stream. At this point, the southern tip of Manhattan Island, our destination, was still one hundred and fifty miles downstream.
My lack of tidal knowledge was a concern. There was little insight to be gained from locals or from cruisers passing the other way, so I started to read. The “bibles” of East coast tides and currents are Reed’s Nautical Almanac, and Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book. Since I could only find Eldridge, this bright yellow book became my guide.
It is dense. The first half is made up of background information. Page after page discusses what influences tides, how to navigate the books tables, the peculiarities of locks, and then before the voluminous tables and maps begin, a short primer on chart symbols and the rules of the road is included.
I delved into it. The pressure I felt was akin to preparing for medical boards, and the anxiety grew as we approached the end of the Champlain Canal at Waterford, NY. Our attention to detail rewarded us with a safe, if not an uneventful trip north.
Maine’s — and Canada’s — intense physical reality only magnified the tides and currents influence. But still I thought if other boats manage not to fall off the edge of the earth, we, if prepared, should not either. This “edginess” has made each moment of our cruise as momentous as the next.
In some ways, Carrie Rose is a time machine. A machine that stretches or compacts time contingent with the situation. It makes each moment spent on the water uniquely rewarding . . . and prevents me from taking the clock’s battery out!
Happy Holidays from Charlotte & Dean
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Maine's challenging Trails
Helping The Needy
North East Harbor's Fleet
North East Harbor's Entrance
North Hero Island on Lake Champlain, VT
The Resplendent Catskills
Grand Isle, VT
Middle Bass Island, OH
Atlantic Boat Company, Brooklin, ME
This was Carrie Rose’s seventh year of summer cruising. Over these years, we have been thrown a few curves and have had to adjust the schedule. Sometimes it is weather, sometimes mechanical failure; sometimes it is as simple as boredom or a place not being what it was represented to be.
This year it was Charlotte’s father being hospitalized, twice as it turned out. It was not a surprise. Despite Charlotte’s efforts to prevent it, it seemed inevitable. When we heard the news, she flew back to Chicago to manage his care.
He needed a tune up: fluids, food, antibiotics, and twenty four hour care. Three weeks later, he was discharged in better condition, and Charlotte flew back to Maine. Still, we decided that while Charlotte’s sister was minding the store we should get Carrie Rose tucked away for the winter.
Due to my disinterest in crawling around the engine room any more this year, decommissioning (a fancy sounding word that allows for higher hourly rates) was left to the Atlantic Boat Company. They are slow to bill, so around Christmas the shocking invoice should arrive in an email attachment.
We took a farewell cruise to Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island (MDI) for a final emptying of the head. This harbor is a dream destination for many cruisers. Part working: lobstermen and women, ferries and mail boats, a Christian affiliated aid ship for medical, dental and spiritual relief to remote islands. Part recreational: tour boats, fishing charters, repair and storage facilities, fuel and other stores and services.
It is a striking place nestled within the low granite foothills of MDI’s Acadia National Park mountains. One classic boat after another pack the harbor’s docks and moorings, and add to this the transient fleet of robust sail and powerboats that come and go all day. Of course, along with the boats comes a unique mix of crews. Some professional, some single handers, but most couples like us. The fact that we all made it here provides instant bona fidies. I have to continually remind myself that Charlotte and I belong to this informal and unspoken of club.
The other reason for coming to Northeast Harbor was to hike the Acadia National Park’s trails. My goal before the end of the summer was to top Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the island at 1530 feet. It is the highest point seen from sea for most of the eastern and western American coast. I enlisted Charlotte in this attempt. We took the free island bus to the North Ridge stop and started up the trail of the same name for the 2.2 mile trek to the summit.
One thing I have learned about Maine is to be skeptical of trail difficulty ratings. Easy should be moderate, moderate difficult, and difficult impossible by us flatlanders. We began hopeful, especially since numerous families were dragging their mumbling preschoolers along with them. This was to prove a near fatal (a bit of hyperbole) mistake. The trails I have walked in Maine consist mainly of exposed rocks and tree roots intermixed with steep angled slabs of grey and green granite, many with the scars of ancient glaciers still evident.
To our favor, it was a cool sunny day with a stiff breeze. Charlotte made it 7/8ths of the way up before bailing. I decided to huff it to the top with the last eighth as challenging as the lower seven/eighth had been. She tucked herself into a spot out of the wind and waited (or so I thought) for me to return.
Cadillac Mountain’s summit consists of sweeping views and a parking lot. I negotiated the throng of tourist to the summit, rotated 360 degrees, and quickly headed back down not to keep Charlotte waiting. My inclination is not to trudge down mountain trails. I hop and skip, and try to keep my momentum going but in my state of exhaustion, I thought it better to take my time. So, I carefully placed one foot in front of the other, slow and steady.
It took longer then I thought to retrace my steps. I expected to see my now rested partner around every corner. The search was proving fruitless when suddenly I heard a familiar voice call out from above. Charlotte was up at one of the road’s scenic lookouts.
One peculiarity of the North Ridge Nature trail is that the summit road often runs directly above it. This is not the trail to hike if solitude is an objective. I scrambled up and stood there panting while Charlotte bluntly stated that she was not walking down, and that I had better ask someone for a ride. I looked to my left and saw a woman jump out of a smallish SUV with her camera, leaving her husband behind the wheel.
Our eyes met and without hesitation, I asked if he could give us a lift to the trailhead. With his wife now back, I repeated my request and after a quick evaluation it was determined that we were not likely serial murderers, and the back seat began to be cleared out. His wife was exuberant; it seems not long ago a stranger had rescued her from the final three miles of a hike in their home state of Kentucky. It was pay back time.
We exchanged niceties and then the question of where we are from lead to how we got to the island, and the next thing we knew he decided to take us back to Northeast Harbor to see some boats, ours included.
To travel, especially on a small boat, is to welcome experiences not always expected or planned. They can enlighten or dishearten, but usually they are thought provoking. I am not a big believer in a karmic universe, but that day on a steep mountain trail it played to our advantage.
The next day’s hike was the “easy” Jordan Pond Trail. It leaves from the Acadia National Park’s restaurant that is famous for popovers, and heads for three miles around the pond. We decided to walk counter clockwise and for the first half, until we reached the headwaters at the far end, it was a flat gravel trail, easy. Once we crossed over the unique wooden bridge that fords the pond’s feeding stream the nature of the trail changed.
Now granite slabs appeared, as did a jumble of rectangular rocks that had broken free from the steep rock face of the mountain above us. The trail became wet and required wide circles around mud ponds. Then we found ourselves on a boardwalk made up of two split tree trunks. Some were rotting, some were new; some were stable, some were not. Each step became an adventure; and this went on for most of the second half of the trail.
It was a beautiful walk nonetheless, with mountains bordering each side of the crystal clear pond. To celebrate our accomplishment we stopped at the local lobster shack on the way back to the harbor, and had home made Maine blueberry pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was a fitting way to replace the calories burned in the last two days.
But I am not sure why I am telling you this. I have no reason to think that you have an interest in the mundane facts of our trip. Maybe, despite the adventures that Carrie Rose has afforded us, it is precisely the mundane facts, the everyday occurrences that make our explorations unique. With that in mind, we decided to take advantage of our eastern position to visit friends on the way home.
In Maine, we stopped by the log cabin of a friend I went to Chiropractic school with. He proceeded to adjust my hiking weary feet, and his wife regaled us with the joys and challenges of horse husbandry.
In Vermont a fellow Nordic Tug couple who showed us much hospitality in the three months we spent on Lake Champlain, instilled in us the joys of living in their adopted state.
Then we headed south to the New York Catskill Mountains to visit Charlotte’s childhood friend and her husband. These New Yorkers showed us how the beauty of their summer home in a resplendent forested valley helps to soften the complexities of NYC living.
And finally, we travelled west to Ohio to visit another Nordic Tug couple that spends their summer living to the fullest on a tiny island in the middle of Lake Erie. The octogenarian captain and his admiral inspired us to never let the vagaries of age prevent us from living life on the water.
If inspiration was needed on how to live a fulfilled life, this was the group to emulate. We came away with a profound sense of gratitude that they have continued to reach out to us over the decades. So, even though our seventh cruise was truncated, it allowed for an alternative journey. After all, it is a fragile world with no guarantees; so we will take all the “mundaneness” we can get.
Friday, August 24, 2018
The hatch above my bed starts to lighten at around 5 AM. For most of my time on Carrie Rose, the hatch was opaque due to years of sun exposure and harsh cleaning. This year over the winter, it was reconditioned due to a leak that I had effectively but grossly fixed with black duct tape.
So now, when I look up I can see the state of the sky. Most often this summer it has shown an amorphic white due to fog and low clouds, and so it was that morning. There was also a crocodile skin pattern of water droplets left by the rain from the night before.
I quietly slid out of bed not to wake Charlotte and climbed into the pilothouse. Grey with low clouds and mist, not really rain and not really fog. Here in Maine, it rains but the droplets are so fine that they defy gravity and stay suspended in the air. It is not so much that the rain falls on me but that I walk through it.
The first task was to warm up the boat. To do this I venture out on the stern and open the rear storage/propane locker. Many years ago I gave up on the electrical solenoid system for managing propane and replaced it with a series of valves connected to a regulator. It requires diligence but the simplicity more than makes up for the extra effort.
That done I made a cup of tea and stood looking out the front window towards the shore. The lobster boats were beginning to move about. They crossed in front and to the side. They backed off the harbor’s wharf, and spun off their mooring and floats, while their rough workboats scurried back and forth. There is always the soft rumble of diesel engines idling when lobster boats are about. They run from the moment the captain get on their boat until they leave for the day.
As I pondered this the Cranberry Island ferry and mail boat both arrived, loaded their passengers and gear, and left. Little and Great Cranberry Islands sit about two miles south of Mount Desert Island and these two small boats supply most of their needs. The islands endure most of the Atlantic’s swell and storms making Northeast Harbor a comfortable refuge.
Now boaters from other parts of this long and narrow harbor start to make their way in to the overflowing dinghy dock. The first of them had anxious dogs mounted nose first straining for the odor of land and not stinky fish. The next wave of boats pass with various parcels and bags headed for the harbor’s showers and the town’s only grocery store.
The dinghy dock is a conglomeration of small boats of every description. They swing in the current and wind. And this being a premiere boating location, plus the epicenter of traditional craft, the dock, though mainly inhabited by rubber monstrosities, has many examples of finely crafted wooden boats and their fiberglass equivalents.
The approach to a dock like this can be daunting. The boats form a bulwark, there seems to be no place to tie up. As the amorphous mass comes into more detail, we search for any weak spot in the wall of pontoons and outboard motor propellers. When a weakness is seen we head for it and usually, some head butting is required. Boats are swung left and right as our dinghy’s nose nudges in. Once tied up, de-dinghy-ing is another story for another entry.
The boat’s salon is warm now, so I go to the stern to turn off the propane, and there noticed Poseidon. I have seen her before. She is a beautifully muscular example of a lobster boat, a little on the large size but perfectly proportioned. I need to provide some details about lobstering for the rest of the story to make sense.
Lobsters must be a hardy lot for all the manipulation they are put through. To begin with they are trapped in metal cages where they can spend many days before being harvested. To do that they are pulled up from as far as 300 feet, and if they are the proper size and gender thrown into a tank of circulating seawater with their other brethren.
Once the boat returns to the harbor, they are sorted and packed into ubiquitous grey plastic crates that weigh one hundred pounds. The stern men will, after attaching them to a common line, unceremoniously throw the crates into the water. I have seen these crates float for days besides the lobster boat’s mooring. They constitute the lobstermen’s bounty.
This is where Poseidon comes into the picture. As far as I have observed this system is unique to Northeast Harbor but I could be uninformed. As I said it is a large open ended boat with a captain and two stern men. With its center mounted crane it travels from mooring to mooring fishing out each lobstermen’s crates.
They are loaded on the after portion of the boat like piling up bags of cement on the bed of a pickup truck. It has an unique sprinkler system that keeps the lobsters watered. There are so many crates that the boat seem perilously low in the water and unusually sluggish to maneuver. Full of crates, it makes its way to the wharf where the crates are lifted off and into a waiting refrigerated truck.
It is the end of August and I have overheard the summer people asking each other when they are leaving. Soon recreational Maine will give way to wintering Maine, and the busy little harbor will be left to its business without interference.
The cold will bring a respite, if not from the weather than from the tourist. This busy little harbor will be left to pursue its real purpose, supplying the world the hard shelled creatures that make Maine viable. And so, a day goes by in this busy little harbor on this busy little island.
Northeast Harbor, Mt. Desert Island, Maine
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
At first light, the lobstermen wake Carrie Rose as they transit to their boats. And not long after sunrise, other lobster boats wake Carrie Rose as they stream in to check their traps. I am usually up with the former, go back to bed and have the latter wake me up for good. Fishing is just one of the phenomena that occurs here on mooring ball #14 in Herrick Bay, Maine.
When the moon disappeared this month of August, the tide was particularly low. Where I usually have 8 to ten feet under me at low tide, there was less that five. It rendered my outboard useless at the floating dock where the water was less than three feet.
All the obstructions to navigation around the dock became visible. New smatterings of rocks appeared throughout and the bay’s boat traffic halted for several hour pre and post low tide.
Then there is the fog. Locals have told me that this year has been particularly bad. It rolls in and it rolls out. It hugs the water only to rise and hug the shore. At times the water particles that make up the fog are visible, each one its own entity. And with the fog comes the cold. One moment there is the sun’s warmth, and the next the fog’s chill. It makes choosing the day’s wardrobe a lesson in compromise.
One morning I awoke to a fog so dense that I could not see the boats around me. A steady breeze was blowing from the southeast and there was a hint of blue sky above me. I was tinkering in the pilothouse when I noticed that the fog had cleared around me and had coalesced into a parabola shape streaming off Carrie Rose’s bow and stern. It was rainbow-ish: more shades of browns and purples than the usual Technicolor.
As the boat swung, it undulated but stayed attached. I went to the bow and took pictures and a three minute video, and then I thought that I should just watch it. And so, I did until it slowly widened and disappeared deep into the bay. I know you are going to ask if I checked the boat for a pot of gold, I did not, figuring that boats are more generators of debit than revenue.
The night before my personal rainbow I was sitting below in the salon. It was dark and foggy. There were only a few dim lights visible on the shoreline and the ghostly yellow hue of my solar garden light illuminated the stern. The lights in the pilothouse were off as I walked up the stairs where I confronted a brilliant 7/8ths blood orange moon about 30 degrees off the horizon. Its reflection was streaming towards me and the entire bay was ablaze.
It took me by surprise. I was expecting a void and instead I saw an otherworldly landscape of water, islands, and boats silhouetted by the moon’s bronze glow. I almost fell back into the salon. Of course, I went for my camera in an attempt to capture the few photons streaming around the boat’s wobbling platform, impossible. Again, as with the rainbow, I gave in to the image and watched.
Some days later, after a day of rain and fog and threatening thunderstorms the skies began to clear. It was close to sunset, so I kept watch on the western horizon. The skies were chaotic enough to offer a chance for a stunning sunset, always welcome after days of low clouds.
A thunderstorm passed in the distance. It’s lightening was audible as it headed to the northeast. The girth of the storm seemed to draw in other substantial clouds, which began to organize on the horizon. I have seen clouds like these before. They are roll clouds that form, if I am correct in my analogy, like the vapor seen on the front of jets wings. Pressure causes the humid air to condense and become visible.
Though these clouds look formidable, they usually do not presage a violent occurrence. Nonetheless, I do not ignore them. My eyes were drawn into their pure symmetry and relentless movement. I prepare for the worst but am most times relieved by their inconsequential passing. They seem to signal an end to the chaotic weather, but on occasion portent a worsening. So, I stay beware and count my blessings if they pass silently.
There are other stories but my computer’s battery is getting low and the two fingertips that I am using to type this are sore, so I will stop. Phenomena are one thing, despite the challenges, that keep folk like me on the water. May they all be benign!
Monday, August 13, 2018
Conferring in Northeast Harbor, Mt.Desert Island, Maine
Seal Bay, Vinalhaven Island, Maine
Seal Bay is an anchorage on the east coast of Vinalhaven Island. It has a circuitous route in. Carrie Rose left North Haven Island to the east and passed between Oak Hill and Burnt Island, and then into a small channel defined by North Haven’s coast with Dagger and Downfall Islands to our port. This lead into East Penobscot Bay where we skirted the Fox Island thorofare to the west and entered Winter Harbor.
Before heading in too far we turned 90 degrees to the left and motored between Hen Island and the pile of exposed rocks that separate the channel from Penobscot island. Now in Seal Bay, we took another 90 degree turn to the right to avoid another pile of rocks, and then left 90 degrees to miss Hay Island, which was directly off the bow and then looked for a place to acchor.
Carrie Rose dropped the hook in 11 feet at low tide just before another Burnt Island. There are numerous Burnt and Seal islands, bays, and harbors on Maine’s charts, which I suppose speaks to the history of this distinctive state. Sir Tugley Blue followed us in and anchored 50 yards to the port.
Two Cape Dory sailboats were anchored just in front of us. These are nice examples of good old traditional fiberglass cruising sailboats. Next came two older but upscale sailboats, one of which rigged their dingy with a sail and took what seemed like grandpa and grandson for a brisk sail around the bay. After a short instructional sail the floppy hatted boy was let loose on his own where he showed much aplomb.
Later in the afternoon a 40-ish chunky trawler and a sleek black sailboat anchored across the channel from us, and in no time their dinghies were lowered and tied up together on the back of the trawler.
While I was watching their reunion, a classic cream colored wood day cruiser and its companion sailboat festooned, which was with water toys for a gaggle of kids, snuck in and anchored behind us.
So, except for one large trawler anchored deep in the cove, Seal Bay was populated with five pairs of like minded folk. Five pairs that were safer for travelling together.
As the night settled in, the wind calmed. Anchor lights popped on like so many fire flies, and everyone I am sure slept sounder knowing that their companions were close at hand.
Blue Hill, Maine
Monday, August 6, 2018
Flexibility is important when cruising. Wind, water, waves, and machinery require a close watch. Situations can change at a moments notice and it helps if precautions have been taken to mitigate the damage or inconvenience. Along these lines is also the home front. I do not have many concerns at present but Charlotte has two 93 year old parents, one of which she is the caretaker.
This is the seventh summer that Carrie Rose has disappeared over the horizon. Wind, waves, weather, and machinery have had their issues but the home front has been quiet except for this year. Charlotte’s dad [Hi Seymour, I hope you are feeling better] had, let us just say, some gastrointestinal problems and was hospitalized.
As the drama unfolded, we were anchored in Seal Bay on remote Vinalhaven Island. The phone miraculously worked and through consultation with family, friends, and support staff, Charlotte decided to head home. This meant getting back to Herrick Bay and Atlantic Boat Company, our home base.
A route was entered into the Garmin chart plotter and other sundry devices. With the diesel fired up, we started for Herrick Bay. The bay is 21 lobster buoy infested miles away through Merchants Row and up Jericho Bay. The next morning at first light the Honda headed for Bangor International Airport and Charlotte to Chicago. So, until Charlotte gets back Carrie Rose and I are on mooring #14 in the middle of the bay.
Out on the bay, the tides rise and fall ten feet, the lobstermen leave at 4:30 in the morning, and the dock is a two block dinghy ride east. Carrie Rose has to deal with whatever weather develops. The bay has long fetches from the south and the north, so when the wind pipes up from those directions it can get rough. Add to this the effect of the current running in and out all day, and it can get uncomfortable.
The third night out the weather got nasty. I listened to the weather radio and somehow dismissed the forecast. Do not ask me why. Wind, rain, and thunderstorms were clearly announced. Usually forecast with T-storms get my attention but that night it did not connect through my torpor.
I had drinks and dinner with the crew of Sir Tugely Blue and motored out to the boat through a fine mist. Once on board I realized that even though Charlotte had only been gone a day, I had cluttered every flat surface. I can’t live like this so, I started to tidy up, and as I did the weather deteriorated.
If Carrie Rose was anchored, I would have been paying close attention but moorings breed complacency. Finished with my tasks I grabbed a book and went to bed. The boat was gyrating; rising, and falling as the sizable waves passed under her. It was noisy: a combination of the wind hollowing, the waves crashing, the boat creaking, all normal sounds in rough weather. I settled into pages of 15th century Florence and Rome papal intrigue when I heard (and felt) a couple of loud thumps. It could only be one thing, the damn dinghy I left on a long painter tied to the back of the boat.
My standard practice with T-storms in the forecast is to put the dinghy in its proper place out of the water on the swim platform. Of course, this meant the outboard engine needed to taken off and stored. Since I was too lazy to do it when there was light left in the sky, and the waves and wind were small, I now had to do it in the dark with the wind and waves building.
I put the 15th century down and proceeded to get suited up: rain jacket and pants, sou’wester hat, boat shoes and life vest. With a flashlight in my pocket, I ventured out the backdoor into the rain. The first rule I learned on the first sailboat was: one hand for the boat and one hand for yourself, in that order. It was told to a clueless eleven year old in the utmost seriousness by the manic captain of the Thien Hau. I continue to heed his advice.
Here are a few boring details that need to be mentioned. The dinghy, when stored, rests on the back of the transom attached to the swim platform by two oddly shaped clamping mechanisms which require two stainless steel loops to be placed on the platform. These two loops are held on by two clevis pins, and have spent most of their lives attached, except for that night.
I assumed it was going to be a rough night and since the dinghy has a tendency to float up behind the boat and whack into them I had taken them off. Now I know what you are thinking, if I went to the trouble of removing them why didn’t I put the boat away…I know, stupid. So, when I pulled the water filled dinghy up to the stern and put the dinghies clamping mechanisms in place and went to clamp the boat on, I realized that the loops were not there.
These loops are tenuous at best. They hang off the back of the platform and are held in place by small pins. Even in the best of times, putting them or taking them off requires concentration so as not to lose them overboard. I let the dinghy stream back into the night and retrieved the loops.
Now here I needed two hands for the boat, one to hold the loop securely in place and the other to put the pin in. I did this while kneeing on the gyrating platform with the water slapping its under side, and me all the while thinking Charlotte will never forgive me if I fall off into the bay’s fifty degree water.
With the tasks completed, I drew in the dinghy and snubbed the painter in. Now I had to swing the recalcitrant dinghy sideways to attach it to the loops but I had tied the painter too tight. The dinghy could not lay flat against the platform. Another thing I have never done and I did it twice that night.
I reattached the painter and with a little muscle (all I have left at this point), it clanked in place. This is not a position that it likes to be in. It bounces, it slaps, it threatens to tear its connections apart. I never leave it there for long, always pulling it up on the back of the transom where it rest proudly and displays the name Carrie Rose and its homeport of Chicago. That night though, I had to get the outboard motor off.
This is not your average outboard. It is a quirky three piece lithium powered GPS monitored West German made electric contraption. It is in the middle of the bouncing dinghy just barely within arms reach. Remember the one hand rule, well it worked to get most of it apart. It has two electrical cables that need to be unfastened. Then the throttle and tiller arm can be detached. Next comes the large awkward battery that needs to be pivoted 90 degrees. They say it will float but if it fell in here, it would float into the North Atlantic and beyond.
Then the tricky part, the shaft with the motor and prop. It is attached to the back of the dinghy's transom by two vice like screw clamps. I could not reach it without getting in the dinghy and I was not going to do that. So, I started to pull the dinghy up to the stern. This was harder than usual because of the shaft and the accumulated water resting in the bottom.
I slowly pulled and it slowly came up with the shaft pointing up to the dark sky in a precarious angle. I huddled on the swim platform and let the dinghy rest on my shoulder while I loosened the clamp with one hand and held the shaft tightly with the other.
There was no way around it, it was going to drop, and drop it did. The prop and a good half of the shaft splashed salt water in my face as it hit the bay, but I had a good hold on it.
Now out from under the dinghy, I made fast the lines. I slowly made my way down the stairs into the salon. Took off my wet gear, stowed what I could, and lay down in the berth to pick up the 15th century where I had left it 30 minutes before. I awoke with the sun and looked out into dense fog and the now mirror flat bay we floated in . . . a little less flexible.
Saturday, July 28, 2018
There is a constant battle here between winds and currents. Each boat reacts differently. Boats with deeper longer keels and less super structure, i.e. sailboats and generally Carrie Rose, tend to favor the current; boats with more super structure and shallow keels, if keels at all, tend to favor the wind.
So, dealing with the multiple factors of wind strength, direction, current and tides, and numerous other things such as location, moored and anchored vessels point in different directions.
The anchor must react to these changes if the boat is going to stay in place. CR’s anchor is called a Bruce. It is a big upside down scoop with bat wings and a rounded snout. It weight 22kg (do the math) and is oversized for Carrie Rose. I have seen many boats twice our size with punier anchors. Though I cannot see what is going on, I hope that as Carrie Rose spins the anchor digs deeper and deeper.
In Maine, quite a few harbors/anchorages have moorings. They are there for the taking but of course being outsiders, we never take one unless we know whom it belongs to and whom to pay. The law, as has been explained to me, is that if a mooring is unoccupied it is there for the taking and no one, not even the owner, can kick you off for 24 hours. But, of course, being outsiders we do not push our luck. We anchor.
Now Carrie Rose is a mooring field called Warren Island State Park, which is nestled in Islesboro Island just south of the ferry dock. Islesboro Island dissects Penobscot bay into East & West. It is a long craggy jumble of rocks, other island, and channels. The ferry courses West Penobscot bay to Lincolnville every hour on the hour. It is the only way off.
Warren Island has eight moorings to choose from. The one we picked up had $20.00 and ½ ton written on it with magic marker. The ½ ton refers to the weight of the slab of granite that holds the mooring in place. It is one of Maine’s peculiarities that the moorings are not classified by length but by weight. The reference for this designation is not in wide distribution, so I am not sure how much granite should be holding us in place. Though, now that I write this I will endeavor to find out.
The fog cleared while we hike the perimeter of the island. The island has dense fern lined forest and open mosquito ridden fields. The tide was out and the island’s bedrock of sharply tilted green igneous sandstone appeared with small rounded rocks of every description scatters about. Some of the bedrock still showed the striations of the last glacial age, as did the large eccentric granite boulders lying about here and there.
A few campers populated the shore side campsites and the busy ranger kept showing up to say hi at different portions of our hike. In the early evening, the fog reappeared, and after a peaceful night, I awoke to fog even thicker fog then the evening before.
Today is a lay about day. Carrie Rose has no destination. Tomorrow she will head for Pulpit Harbor on the slice of an island called North Haven to anchor in a well protected harbor. There we will visit friends and wait out the expected heavy winds. Wind enough that I am sure will keep both sail and power boat pointed directly into it.
Pulpit Harbor, North Haven, ME
Many horror stories exsist about the downtrodden people of the British Isles transported to the maritime regions of the new world. I will leave the retelling to the historians. But this year Carrie Rose has been a beneficiary of the diaspora at several Celtic musical festivals.
There was one in Bar Harbor & one in Belfast, and there are several more on tap on various islands about Penobscot Bay. The performers have been young and the organizers middle aged. There was been many tributes to their teachers and inspirers (if that is a word), most of whom have passed on.
The music and dance have centered on the Celtic tradition: Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Maine, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and I am sure am leaving a few out like Galicia in Spain. The performers were gracious and sincere. They praised those that came before them. It was obvious that they benefited from an education that many of the founders never had, and that they used their newfound knowledge to extend their virtuosity.
I will not feign to explain the difference between a reel and a jig. Both are spirited and both, if the dancer is skillful enough, can be danced to. Both are lighting quick and demand foot tapping by the audience. One young woman in an attempt to differentiate the two said a reel is like wa-ter-mel-on and a jig is like rasp-ber-ry. Good enough for me.
Fiddles, pipes, flutes, guitars, a few eccentric folk instruments, but not a drum kit was to be seen. There was the occasional bodhran but feet drumming on the stage provided the rhythm. It made me yearn to have been born further North to learn to clog as a matter of course, wishful thinking.
My plan is to read the history of these forsaken people when I get home in the fall, but I think instead I will let the reel and jig speak for them.
Pulpit Harbor, North Haven Is., ME
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Carrie Rose’s layout is a bit confining. A good land based example would be a studio apartment. Carrie Rose has approximately 250 square feet of sleeping, cooking, pooping, relaxing, and piloting space. Place about three hundred pounds of Homo sapiens within and it can get quite small.
The designer was Lynn Senour. He designed fast fishing boat that worked the waters of the Pacific Northwest. He was noted for his interiors. Our vintage 32 foot Nordic Tug (1990, #44) benefited from his skillful touch.
The boat is divided into four spaces: salon/kitchen, pilothouse, head, and bedroom. The interior has three levels. To go from the salon to the pilothouse is three steps up; to go from the pilothouse to the bath and bedroom is four steps down.
Charlotte and I have designated spots. These were gleaned without any discussion. It happened naturally. I spend my time stretched out athwartship on the long pilothouse bench. Charlotte lives fore and aft on the salon’s port couch with her back propped up against the back wall.
There is no wall between us to hinder conversation. Though I had not thought of it before, the fact that there is no TV or video limits the need for a common space. We read, write, paint, and of course, seek distraction with our smart phones, when there is a connection that is. These are mostly solitary pursuits.
A small table on the starboard wall of the salon functions as the dining table. A sophisticated Norwegian oil lamp swings above it. The kitchen is mid ship and faces aft. I stand with the stove/oven in the middle, the small frig to my right. There is a workspace above it. To the left is the sink. It is very convenient.
Storage is scattered throughout: some above and behind the kitchen, some below the salon’s couch, some tucked along the side of the starboard wall. Everything has a place but still we end up hunting and pecking, not remembering where the pasta and the sauce, the crackers and the cookies are stored.
Wine and beer are a different matter. We always know where they are. The bedroom is offset. This was done to provide the semblance of a double bed as opposed to the usual V-berth. It has its pluses and minus, but it does provide for a small seldom used seat to the port. The previous owners explained that under the seat cushion was their liquor cabinet. Except for the unholy hot Chesapeake, the bubble wrap padded space is always cool, and so wine and beer is stored there.
The pilothouse sits on top of the engine, really the machinery room. The main engine, generator, holding tank, batteries (3), various pumps and filters, and a whole lot of wiring and hoses are accessible by lifting two heavy hatches in the floor. There is enough room to get most jobs done without standing on my head. It is a space I know intimately.
Like I said, the bedroom is offset. Behind our heads is the head. It is a tiny space but a functional one. Years ago I got rid of the electric toilet and reverted to a manual one; another thing that has pluses and minuses, but mostly works.
Since we are in the habit of cruising for weeks on end without a stop, the shower comes in handy. I can barely stand in it. The walls are close and usually cold. I have been known to wrench my back from violently twitching upon contact with the wall.
The first person in has to get the water’s temperature regulated without wasting any. This means a cold drench to begin with. The second person has to clean up, so either way it is trade off, and I usually am first. As scant as the shower is, it is hard to describe how refreshing it is. Well worth the contortions needed.
So, Carrie Rose is 250 square feet of efficient well used space. It has kept us sane after weeks of confinement. Though, maybe, I should reconsider the use of the word sane.
Holbrook Island, Maine
Carrie Rose has been travelling in the fog. Fog is often depicted as a contiguous mass but is the opposite. It comes and goes, lightens and thickens, rises and falls. It blows across landforms like syrup defying gravity. Add to this a boat moving at 8 knots (I should slow down) and the possible outcomes begin to multiple.
Fog is the result of the dew point and the temperature coinciding. For the last week both have been in the mid fifties. The fog has been undulating in and out of the anchorages and harbors but has never completely cleared. Living in a cloud has its downsides.
The 100% humidity turns every surface cold and clammy. Nothing dries and it is difficult to warm up. I began to wear a wool sweater and watch cap, a funny sight in July even for Maine. Lobster boats venture out to do their daily work, but the cruising fleet huddles deep in the harbor.
This self imposed quarantine does offer a respite from daily travel. There was time to do laundry. The hardware store aisles were explored. One hundred dollars was left at a classic used bookstore whose owners are retiring after forty years. New suede boat shoes and a bright yellow polo shirt with an embroidered lobster and pine tree was bought.
Back at the boat, I drew what was directly in front of me. I struggled with the background and then it was gone, obscured by a white cottony haze. It began to rain. There were thunderstorm in the forecast and then, sun in the morning.
That would be welcomed. The cruising community is getting antsy. Dock lines cannot wait to be cast off; there will be a mass exodus at the first sign of blue sky. But in Maine, the fog is never far behind.
Friday, July 13, 2018
1 – Woke up at 6:30, left industrial lobsterland at Head Harbor at 8:00.
2 – Big black back of whale (minke, I think) surfaced just to our port side outside of before mentioned harbor’s entrance, then many smaller whales were sighted along with porpoises and razorbilled auks.
3 – Tied to the pier at Roosevelt Campobello International Park.
4 – Had “Tea with Eleanor”, a heart felt presentation by the local staff who also served tea and Eleanor’s favorite ginger cookies.
5 – Left the pier to anchored a 100 yards off because of shallow water at low tide.
6 – Anchor was reset twice due to not holding the first time . . . a rare occurrence.
7 – Windy! from the SW.
8 – An unexpected thunderstorm rolled in from the north and just missed, but did washed the salt off the deck.
9 – Fog crept in from the SW engulfing Eastport, Maine a mile across Friars Bay, and then cleared.
10 – A beautiful sunset as the wind quieted.
Mistake I. Harbor, ME