04/09/2016 – Three weeks in the Penobscot Bay

The title is accurate but misleading! The OCC lunch and mini cruise began on Sunday 14th at the Camden Yacht Club with a presentation about a dreadful return trip from Bermuda to New England. Personally I thought some of the decision making was poor, I really don't think we would have found ourselves in a similar situation. Following the talk there was a lunch, pot luck appetizers followed by a 'sandwich' which means a burger and blueberry crumble. Local boats were asked to draw a visiting boat from a hat to 'buddy'; Carl on 'Gusto' drew Starblazer and was very helpful throughout the cruise. The first leg on Monday was actually the longest single leg, about 20 miles from Camden to Castine. It was also the windiest day; we followed Carl, saw how Gusto was on her ear (i.e. heeling over) so opted for two reefs in the genoa. We all anchored in Smith Cove then dinghied across to a catamaran rafted together with two yachts which hosted another pot luck. Somehow everyone managed to gather on the cat! Tuesday's trip was another 20 or so miles but broken up by a visit to Eagle Island on the way to Seal Bay, Vinalhaven. Eagle Island is privately owned and we were guided around by Mr Quinn whose family have been on the island since about 1805. It was really interesting to see inside the schoolhouse, practically untouched since it was closed in 1941. Tuesday evening we cooked dinner for Carl and his crew, Evan. We had a very convivial evening. Seal Bay on Vinalhaven is supposed to be a good hurricane hole, worryingly we dragged during the night! We didn't hit anyone and didn't run aground, but worrying nonetheless. Wednesday's destination was McGlathery Island, an uninhabited island in Merchant Row. We set off and pulled out the Genoa once we had wriggled out of Seal Bay. For some reason the sail jammed at about the second reef point. As we approached the start of Merchant Row, a passage littered with islands and lobster pots linking Penobscot Bay with Jericho Bay, the wind died, the sky looked threatening and the temperature plummeted. We anchored to the north of the island, surrounded by numerous islands and a few reefs. At the third attempt we felt we had adequate swinging room and enough depth at low water! Sadly we didn't go ashore for the treasure hunt because we had only just finished lunch and we saw very little movement on the beach. We did, however, go ashore later for drinks though the planned BBQ was cancelled because it had become rather windy. I joined a group of ladies who followed the route of the treasure hunt and found all the hiding places (led by the lady who had organised it in the first place!) Thursday was the final day of the cruise though there was an optional event on Friday. The destination was the anchorage in the Fox Islands Thoroughfare separating Vinalhaven from North Haven. There was no wind so we motored all the way, about 9 miles. The final event was a pot luck supper in the North Haven Community Centre followed by a talk by a couple who have just completed a 7 year circumnavigation, held in the theatre in the Community Centre. John fell in love with a painting on a piece of driftwood that was part of an art exhibition, it didn't have a red sticker so was still for sale. The optional destination on Friday was a visit to Hurricane Island which is now a centre for science and leadership. We were given an introduction to their work by the resident scientist then went on a guided tour including the quarry, the pond which provides fresh water, the remains of the church and another pool which looked really beautiful. At the end of the nineteenth century the island was home to over 600 workers of many nationalities who worked in the quarry or carved the stone. We had lunch with the staff and the children, who were on a residential course. The chef had provided a very good spread. We retraced our steps, or more accurately 'wake', returned to North Haven and went ashore to buy the painting! I don't know where we'll put it when we get home. The plan from there was to sort out the problem with the Genoa furling then head east, towards Ile Au Haut and onwards to Mount Desert Island. Plans are wonderful when they come together, this one didn't. John went up the mast on Friday, confirmed that the swivel was still on the foil but found that it wouldn't swivel. Saturday morning he went up again to grease it but that made no improvement. We managed to unroll the Genoa fully and dropped it; the swivel, now at a sensible working height, stubbornly refused to swivel whatever it was fed with.....penetrating fluid, WD40, boiling water, oil etc. It needed to come off. On Sunday we returned to Rockland in thick fog. Monday was horrible, wet and cold, but John phoned around to find a rigger then organised a marina berth. He also found a source for a replacement part for the top fitting on the forestay, a bit like searching for hens' teeth because they are no longer made even though the forestay was new in South Africa last December. On Wednesday morning we went in to Journey's End Marina, Loric came along in the afternoon to remove the forestay, its bottom fitting and the recalcitrant swivel. After further inspection he phoned John to say that the bearing surfaces were wrecked and the ball bearings damaged. Replacement parts came to two thirds of the price of a new one then there would be the labour needed to rebuild the damaged old one. John ordered a new one. All the parts were delivered on Tuesday morning so Tuesday afternoon John and Loric rebuilt the forestay and roller furling foil. Wednesday morning Loric returned to install the forestay and we escaped the marina and returned to the anchorage. Marinas have their advantages: hot showers, washing machines, walk ashore without needing a dinghy. The disadvantage is the cost. While we were waiting for parts we visited a couple of museums and walked just over two miles to Shaw's, a good supermarket, then called a taxi back. I subsequently walked 2.4 miles to a Walmart store for the things we had forgotten then walked back. Once back in the anchorage we decided to delay our departure until Friday because I had seen some good, protective iPad cases in Walmart. We walked there and back! Friday morning John set off on a couple of errands and returned several hours later so our departure was put off until Saturday morning! The elephant in the corner, so to speak, is Hermine. It was upgraded to a hurricane just before it hit Florida on Thursday then downgraded to a tropical storm as it stomped through Georgia and the Carolinas. It might even be just a tropical depression now but no one is really sure what it will do or where it will go. It had been predicted to blow its way along the Maine coast, possibly Monday or Tuesday, now it looks like we may get less wind than previously forecast but not until Thursday. Saturday afternoon we anchored in Burnt Coat Harbour on Swans Island. We had a very quiet night and awoke to a flat calm and lovely sunshine. Sunday morning we set off for our 'hurricane hole' in Somes Harbor on Mount Desert Island. The scenery on this part of the Maine coast is stunning but you can't look at it for too long because of the lobster pots. Yes, I know I have mentioned them before but they are everywhere. The approach to Somes Harbor is via Somes Sound which is actually the only genuine fiord on mainland USA excluding Alaska. We were anchored by 1245. On the way the temperature plummeted because the easterly wind strengthened, poor John hand steered almost all the way because of the lobster pots. We finally managed to download the weather reports when John got a little 4G coverage on his iPad using the Verizon sim he bought in Rockland. T mobile is poor in this area so I have to tether to his iPad when I want any connectivity. Hermine appears to have stalled and will possibly strengthen to a category 1 hurricane again though the coast between Virginia and Connecticut are expected to suffer the most. Until it moves we won't know whether eastern Maine is threatened. We wait and see, while preparing Starblazer for the worst but hoping for the best. Joyce I will also be posting a few photos, providing the Verizon signal holds up! Sent from my iPad

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