15/09/2016 – Hiding from Hermine and making progress towards New York.

Our anchorage, tucked away in Somes Harbour at the northern end of Somes Sound, was very well protected with very good holding in thick mud. We spent Monday, Labour Day, doing boat jobs because the weather was awful but we couldn't blame Hermine as the system was still stalled south west of us. Tuesday morning we awoke to thick fog which scuppered our plans for the day but it brightened up by lunchtime. Hermine, by this point, had turned around completely and was heading very slowly towards New Jersey so we felt it was safe enough to leave the boat. Wednesday morning, not quite as early as we might have liked, we went ashore and walked the half mile to the garage and small grocery where, according to our guide book, they could tell us the times of the busses to Bar Harbour. They couldn't but suggested that the library would have a timetable. We turned around and retraced our steps and found the library a couple of hundred yards past the track to the dinghy dock! The library is open Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings but at least it leaves it's wi-fi on. John managed to find the bus timetable on the Internet. Unfortunately the hourly bus service reduces considerably after the Labour Day weekend however we only had about 40 minutes to wait for the 1225. A large area of Mount Desert Island is taken up by the Acadia National Park and the bus service is free though welcomes donations. Bar Harbour is the hub and a number of busses run on a half hourly schedule through the park. Entry costs $12 per person though nobody ever checked our tickets when we returned on Thursday morning. The only two busses back to Somesville were at 16.30 and 20.30 so we opted for lunch and a walk around Bar Harbour. It's a lovely, historic town and is very popular with holidaymakers and tourists. As we walked down Main Street we spotted a cruise liner anchored just off the coast with its waterline wreathed in fog. We walked down to the bottom of the hill to find a vantage point to take a photo, only to find that the fog had completely enveloped the liner and all the small off lying islands. We caught the 16.30 bus back and got off at the traffic lights near the garage as we needed milk. Thursday morning, with Hermine expected to dissipate, we headed ashore and caught the 09.25 bus to Bar Hatbour. We then paid our park entry fee and hopped on a bus into the park. We got off at Sand Beach, which lived up to its name, but unfortunately the fog reduced visibility here to about 50 yards/metres. There is a coastal path leading to Otter Point about 2 miles away so we followed this. The rock formations were fantastic but the sea views were rather curtailed, at least it wasn't too hot. We regained the road and waited for another bus which would take us to Jordan Pond House, the only food outlet in the park. After a very good, warming lunch of Shepherds Pie we set off to walk along the lakeside where the fog was not too dense and we could see for nearly a mile. It was a bit of a scramble up to the roadway where we reached a car park with only about a minute to spare before a bus arrived. This bus took us back to Village Green, the terminus in Bar Harbour. We had enough time to find Hannafords and buy a few essentials (bread, tomatoes) before retuning to Starblazer on the 16.30. Friday morning we pulled up the anchor and zigzagged our way from Mount Desert Island to North Haven Island via Casco Passage and Merchants Row. If Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, Maine must be the land of 10,000 islands discounting the reefs which uncover at low water! We anchored close to our previous spot, ready to leave early on Saturday morning hoping to make Southport Island but ready to stop en route if necessary. We had identified several possible anchorages however the forecast was not helpful for Sunday and if we stopped it would probably be for two nights. In the event we had quite a fast passage, all on the engine as there was no wind, pushed along by a favourable current. We reached Maddock Cove around the north western tip of Southsea Island soon after 17.00 however our plans to anchor were thwarted by numerous mooring buoys. John called up Hodgdon Boatyard and we were allocated buoy number 33 which we were very close to. I love these mooring buoys where the pickup is a glass fibre wand about 4 feet high which you grab to pull up the mooring line, so much easier for me than leaning over the rail fishing for the pickup line with the boat hook. It's also easier for John on the helm as he can see the wand almost all the way whereas he loses sight of the buoy as the boat approaches. We had a good reason for coming to Southsea Island, the stores in Hodgdon Boatyard had received the heating parts John had ordered. On Monday morning he dinghied in to collect the parts and pay for two nights. Tuesday we listened to the weather forecast, it wasn't promising. Or rather it was, promising winds up to 25 knots from the southwest and our heading towards Cape Cod would be just about southwest! Beating into a strong wind is a fool's errand unless you happen to be a racer, which we aren't, so we decided to pay for another two nights. John managed to complete the heater installation on Tuesday afternoon but found a couple of minor exhaust leaks to fix when he ran it. We cast off soon after 17.00 on Wednesday, delayed by the necessity of scraping the hull of the dinghy when we lifted it on deck. We have been lazy, leaving it in the water since we arrived in Rockland about six weeks ago! The forecast suggested that the wind would veer from SW at about 15.00 through W then NW before going N overnight. It did. The predicted wind strength was 10 to 25 knots, not a problem on this wind angle. We did not expect several hours of 20 to 30 with gusts to 35. Straight after dinner John headed into the wind and I dropped two reefs in the main. We already had 4 rolls in the jib to allow better lobster pot spotting. Several days of fairly strong southwesterlies had kicked up quite a bumpy sea which the northwesterlies hadn't made much of an impact on. During John's 2000 to 2300 watch the cold front finally cleared us, leaving behind crystal clear skies and a stunning full moon but it was cold. Somewhere between 0030 and 0130 the wind moderated to about 19 knots and the seas were becoming calmer. By mid morning we unfurled the rest of the jib and let out the reefs to try to keep our boat speed up. We managed to sail all the way to the entrance to Plymouth though there were still a couple of miles to go to the harbour. We finally picked up a mooring buoy at about 1500, right in front of the harbourmaster's office and dinghy dock. John went ashore to check in then get a taxi to an out of town shopping centre to buy more data for his Verizon SIM card. Communications have been difficult. In much of Maine T Mobile had no data coverage and very little phone coverage so John had bought a Verizon SIM and I relied on tethering my iPad to his to get coverage. This worked fine until he ran out of data. Adding more money by telephone is possible so long as your credit card has a US zip code, they cannot handle UK postcodes, the only way to buy more data is to go into a store and pay cash! Next instalment will follow shortly. At least in Massachusetts I seem to have good T Mobile coverage. Joyce

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