Attack Sailboats, Electrical Fires, Old Forts, and More

Drone shot of Fort Gorges, one of the highlights of our Portland weekend

We headed out from Tenants Harbor a couple of days later than we thought we would due to work schedules. Now that the Summer is nearing its end, we are starting to make our way back down south. Our next destination was Round Pond, where we struggled in the wind for some time to pick up a mooring buoy with Padebco Marine. David did some excellent maneuvering to save us from being blown into the rocks before I was finally able to grab the line from the bow. We only stayed one night here and didn’t get off the boat!

Next we headed back to Boothbay, where we anchored out – about 200 yards further out than we had previously…we were very isolated. John and Joan were also there, so we managed to grab dinner with them one night. The weather was predicted to be fairly bad (the remnants of Josephine heading north through Maine), so we decided to stay put for the weekend and have a couple of lazy days on the boat.

The view from my desk window at Boothbay

The winds were fairly heavy on Sunday and late morning, after we had just rolled out of bed, David heard someone yelling. He went outside and saw a trimaran heading towards us on a collision course! They had lost their center board and could not steer. Luckily we already had the dingy down and it was just tied up to the side of the boat, so we quickly threw on clothes and hopped in the dingy. We were able to hitch a line from their boat to the dingy and tow them back in to shore! Sadly we didn’t have the wherewithall to grab our cameras during this exciting rescue adventure, so we don’t have photo evidence!!

Once the weather calmed down, we headed out towards Falmouth, just north of Portland. Our plan was to spend a couple of days on a mooring buoy at Handy Boat and then head into a slip in a marina in Portland for the long Labor Day weekend. We had also arranged for a canvas guy to sew velcro into the roof of the bimini as David had finally convinced me we needed to move the solar from the hard-top to the bimini out of the way of the shadow of our antennas and we’d be able to get more panels. The canvas guy would pick up the panels from us in Handy Boat and then drop them off to us in Portland.

[David Edit] For the past several days, with the generator running, we could on and off smell a faint whiff of an oily/plasticy smell, so we’d known that something was up. I had ordered an infrared camera to check all electrical connections but it hadn’t arrived yet. Wednesday night, with the generator running, I noticed that the smell had suddenly gotten a lot worse, and dug into the electrical panel, where it seemed to be coming from. I found a completely melted and smoldering bus bar and spent the evening fixing it. Whatever idiot had set up the AC wiring before we owned the boat had crossed the neutral leads between bus bars, so the power draw through the charger was running through an extra ~60 feet of neutral lead, to/from the inverter, through an semi-isolation circuit, and back again — an additional 4.4 ohms of resistance. The wires had gotten hot enough to melt the plastic supporting the bus bar and it was only a matter of a couple hours before it would have melted into the wood below and probably started a fire. Lacking a spare third bus bar at the moment, I joined the neutrals of the inverter output with the input, and everything worked nicely again.

On Friday morning, right after my first alarm went off, I felt a sudden jarring of the boat, that was not a normal boat-wake bump. I stumbled out of bed and went outside to see a sail boat perpendicular to Highwind. Turns out, he’d rammed into us. Luckily, one of the Handy Boat shuttles had been driving by and witnessed the action. He was able to point me in the direction of where contact had been made, and sure enough there was an imprint of the bow-sprit in our fiberglass. (The sailboat guy wasn’t saying a word). David had also woken up with my yelling, so he hopped in the Handy Boat shuttle and they and the sailboat headed in to the dock to exchange contact and insurance information.

By this time, it had been 6 months since we’d both had haircuts – back in Florida at the beginning of our journey!! – so I decided to try to find a hairdresser in Portland that would come out to the boat, since we are still trying to avoid being inside places. After several emails, I was successful and arranged someone to come out on Friday afternoon. Since the damage from the sailboat impact wasn’t huge and Handy Boat was not going to be able to fix it in the afternoon, we decided to put a piece of Gorilla tape over the hole, head to Portland for the weekend and then head back north to Handy Boat on Tuesday to get it fixed.

We had a lovely weekend bike-touring the city of Portland, which has a lot of Seattle Ballard/Freemont vibes. Saturday, we biked around town and did wine and beer tasting and visited a few distilleries, and ended the night with a great sushi dinner.

Sunday, we slept in (a little hung over), and in the afternoon dinghied across the bay over to Fort Gorges, an old harbor fort from the civil war era that is on a tiny island in the bay and now essentially abandoned. It was a neat spot and kinda spooky to walk around the decaying interior rooms in the pitch black, since the flashlights we brought turned out to not be great.

Monday, we rode out to Portland Head lighthouse and walked around the park and grounds. The park also had another fort from the same era, on the other side of the bay from Fort Gorges. We even ran across what must be a Portland scooter collective, as they rolled out in cinematic ironic fashion, meep-meeping the whole way.

After a great weekend, we headed back north to Handy Boat, where we learned that we’d need to be hauled out for one night for the repairs. The cleaned bimini canvas with new velcro attachments for the solar panels were delivered to Handy Boat also, so now we have a roof again, and will start assembling the new solar setup this week!

Luckily the repairs were completed with no issues and we were dropped back into the water the next day. We’re now ready to start heading south again!

For those keeping track, Canada is still showing no signs of opening up to plague-ridden US citizens until next year sometime, so we’re going to be heading back down the coast to Florida for the winter, getting ready to head to the Bahamas to claim asylum when the civil war breaks out in November. If the country stays intact long enough, we’ll give the loop another shot in the spring, but for this year, we’re just east coast boaters.

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UPS is Bad at Delivering to a Marina

Our first destination after Hinkley’s was Buck’s Harbor. We had intended to anchor, but upon arriving in the small cove, we realized like most of Maine, that everything was taken up with either a mooring buoy field, or lobster pots, so we hooked onto a mooring and set up for the day. There was a small general store and restaurant within walking distance of the town, so I decided we’d do a quick provisioning and pick up some take-out, which turned out to be very delicious! Unfortunately we forgot to take pictures of this little outing, including the fact that I forgot to take off my lifejacket and was wearing it around the grocery store :).

The next morning, we decided to head toward Pulpit Harbor, but as soon as we had exited Buck’s and started to engage the throttle, something immediately went wrong. The throttle cable connector on the port engine had broken!! Unfortunately we didn’t have any spares of this part on pard, but David was able to rig up a quick fix while we slowly drifted in a large open expanse of water. We decided to change our destination to Camden and overnight order a replacement (and some spares) to Wayfarers. We headed slowly into the harbor and grabbed one of Wayfarers’ mooring buoys. As it turned out, John and Joan were also staying in Camden, so we ended up having them over to the boat for a happy hour that evening.

The next morning, David was clicking refresh on the UPS page every 10 mins or so, tracking the delivery of our package. When we neared the delivery window time, he called in for a free lift to the dock to pick up the package. Upon arriving at the dock, nobody at Wayfarers had seen the package (nor signed for it, since it was signature required). The UPS delivery status showed as delivered. After a few calls, we heard a message from the driver – that he’d “left it on the dock”. LOL – there’s 100s of ft of dock at Wayfarer and the package was 3in square, let alone he was supposed to collect a signature. After lots of phone calls and waiting, we ultimately gave up and re-ordered the item overnight. Sadly, it was now Friday, meaning that the package would not arrive until Monday. Since we were sick of dealing with Wayfarer (remember we’d previously spent a week waiting for them to haul our boat), we decided to have the package delivered to a different marina – Tenants Harbor. One good thing to come out of our stay in Camden was that we borrowed the marina’s courtesy car to drive for a huge grocery run.

John and Joan were heading to Dix Island for the weekend, which wasn’t too far from both Camden and Tenants, so we decided to join them. It turned out to be a beautiful anchorage. By the time we arrived there were already several other boats on anchor, and of course this being Maine, the whole space was also filled with lobster pots. We dropped anchor and set up for the weekend, though we were a little concerned about the proximity of lobster pots in our swing radius.

Dix Island has a very interesting history and is currently owned by a co-op of individuals who reside on the island with no electricity or infrastructure. The residents are nice enough to have marked a public path around the island (about a 1 mile walk). While on the walk, we ran into one of the residents, who graciously showed us her property which is one of the few remaining original structures on the island from where there used to be an active quarry. Her house used to be the maid’s quarters and the original house is now a ruin which houses her vegetable garden. She shared with us some of the history of the island and was very friendly.

Later in the evening, we joined John and Joan on Starlight for a sunset happy hour.

Sunday morning, we awoke to some fog and decided to hang around until later in the afternoon and hope that it would mostly burn off. Eventually it cleared enough and we headed out to Tenants Harbor. We’d been here earlier on our trip, but it had been so foggy that we hadn’t really even seen the Harbor -turns out it’s actually quite pretty!

David’s cousin, Kevin (who incidentally did the whole great loop ~6 years ago), was driving to Tenants to meet up with his parents and join them for a week of cruising. We all headed out to the Happy Clam, where it is apparently a de Regt family tradition to eat when at Tenants!

Our package arrived on Monday morning, and was even delivered to Highwind by the harbor master via dinghy. David was able to replace the broken part and restore use to the throttle cable – yay! Now we’re just waiting for a time in our work schedules to get on the move again.

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Making Water (Potable) and a Return to Somes Sound

Back once again to Hinkley’s and ready for our water maker install, we got tied up on their dock. Awaiting us was a cart load of boxes from Amazon and some items sent to us from Seattle, in addition to the water maker, since this was our first opportunity in over a month to have some items shipped to us. (I forgot to take a pic!).

David had already disconnected and moved the batteries, so when the mechanic came aboard, we were ready for him to get started on the install. Thus followed a week where the boat was a complete mess, with tools everywhere! Our bedroom was once again taken over, so we spent a few nights in the front berth.

The install proceeded smoothly, right up until we were running the first cycle, when a bad fitting (from the factory) broke under a high pressure flow, resulting in salt water spraying all over the motherboard, completely frying it. Of course, this was on a Friday, so when David called the distributor for a replacement, we knew we were not going to be able to get it until Monday. In addition, despite this being very clearly a manufacturing issue, Spectra held firm to their position that they are not responsible for “water damage”, which meant the new motherboard would not be under warranty. (Insert angry emoji here).

With little else to do, and the Hinkley’s dock not being suitable to stay on over the weekend (some winds were expected overnight), we decided to head to Valley Cove for the weekend, which was only 2 miles away. This was from a recommendation from some other loopers that we had met at Bar Harbor and had a socially distant conversation with on the dock.

Valley Cove is just a little ways north into Somes Sound (where we holed up safely for Isaias) and was actually a very beautiful spot, possibly my favourite place since Roque Island. The landscape is very reminiscent of PacNW boating and there was no civilization visible from our anchorage spot. Luckily there was also several miles of Acadia National Park trails easily accessible from the beach, so on Sunday we hopped in the dingy aiming to do a short 1 mile loop. As we were dingying to the beach, we were hailed by a couple on a nearby sailboat, who turned out to be from Everett, WA! We chatted with them for a little while from the dingy and they pointed out a different hike along the shore. Once on land, we decided to check out this other hike, which actually was 5 miles, but afforded a fantastic view overlooking the mouth of Somes Sound.

On Monday, we returned to Hinkley’s where the new motherboard was waiting for us. We tied up to a mooring and the mechanic returned for the swap. We finally got everything working and ran a successful cycle topping up our tanks. Having the water maker on board will mean that we can now go for longer on anchor without worrying about our water supplies (we hold only 70 gal), and we can take daily showers if we want!! Ahh, the life of luxury.

As David was re-connecting the batteries, he accidentally touched the positive fuse with a negative battery cable, which blew the fuse, which we didn’t discover until the evening. Turns out, we did not have a spare on board! Luckily when we called in the morning, Hinkley’s had some spares, so we were able to get that fixed.

This morning, we finally cast away from Southwest Harbor and are now heading back south/west to explore some new areas of Maine.

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Chilling Around Mt Desert Island

After a lovely week at Roque, we decided to start heading back west towards MDI where our appointment with Hinckley for the water maker install was coming up. We decided to stop in Jonesport on our way back, since I needed to do laundry. We reserved a mooring and upon arrival into the bay we tied up to a floating dock tied to a mooring buoy. Oddly, despite there being several available other buoys, there was a small sailboat tied up to one side of the dock. Regardless we got tied up and we immediately hopped in the dingy to take me to shore. This was important because their dingy dock dried up at low tide, so there was a small window for me to make it! I set up shop in the laundry room with my laptop for working and then proceeded to work my way through about 5 loads.

We decided to head back to Bar Harbor for the next weekend, in order to fill up with water and possibly get the bikes off the boat for another ride through a different part of Acadia National Park. This involved loading both of the bikes onto the dingy, which was no small feat!!

We made it safely to shore and had a great ride through the park with a picnic for lunch. We even biked all the way up Cadillac Mountain for an amazing view down to Bar Harbor. As per usual, right as we were walking around the top of the mountain, a big fog bank was rolling in, obscuring 180 degrees of the view. Despite that, we still had a great view on the other side, and it was a beautiful day for a ride.

The following Monday was our anniversary, so we decided to stay one more night in Bar Harbor so that we could go out to eat. We had a lovely lobster dinner and then wondered further into town to a cheesecake and wine tasting place for dessert.

Tropical Storm Isaias was approaching and we knew that Bar Harbor would not be well enough protected from the winds, so we decided to head to Somes Sound, which is located in the center of Mount Desert Island and largely protected by hills all around. We tied up to a buoy, added our anchor bridle system for extra security, and prepped the boat by pulling in everything loose from the outside of the boat. We don’t have a wind meter, but we probably saw winds up to 35kts overnight. David stayed up late through most of the worst of it to ensure our survival.

All the fenders piled inside the boat, plus we took off the canvas from the windshield for the first time ever

Following the storm, we decided to head to Northeast Harbor to relax for a few days and possibly stay through the weekend where we might meet up with David’s aunt and uncle on their sail boat. We arrived in the Harbor and stopped at the marina for a pump out and to fill up with water. After hearing that their buoys were $40/night, we decided to check out an anchorage around the corner. That turned out to be mostly filled with lobster pots, so we called another place in the harbor. They had a buoy empty for us, but after a few minutes of driving up and down looking for an unoccupied yellow buoy, of which there were none, we radioed back for further directions – it turns out they were a little way outside of the harbor. We headed over and got tied up. Then a boat from the yacht club meets us and asks what our plans were. As it turns out, the buoys were only available for a few hours, not over night! So in the end, we headed back up into the harbor and moored with the main marina – after more confusion where they buoy number they gave to us turned out to be already occupied!

John and Joan arrived on Saturday and we enjoyed a relatively lazy weekend hanging out, took a short hike up the nearby hill, and visited an amazing flower garden.

We decided to stay put here until we needed to make our way the short distance back to Southwest Harbor and Hinkley’s.

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Bar Harbor and Roque Island

Bar Harbor at sunset, with the “experience cruise” sailing ships coming in for the night

We ended up spending the whole week in Bar Harbor. The internet was good, the buoy was reasonably cheap, access to restaurants/supplies was excellent, and it’s really pretty there. In between the rainstorms, that is.

About half the nights, we dinghied into town and found dinner somewhere random. The first time we went in, just after a rainstorm, we found a place with a strong review on Yelp, and, after they quickly dried the water off the outdoor tables, had a lovely meal and cocktails. Dinghying through a pitch-black harbor full of lobster pots is an interesting experience.

Later in the week, with better weather, we tried several places that were totally booked out, and ended up just walking by a sidestreet that happened to have a Thai place on it. So we jumped over there and had a, well, intensely mediocre Thai meal, to be honest. But it was our first Thai meal since leaving Seattle, so we loved it anyway. We even had time to make it over to the grocery store and renew supplies before they closed for the night.

Fundamentally, the harbor and surrounding areas are super pretty. Even with the nonstop lobster boats who don’t seem to give the slightest bit of a shit about sending multi-foot wakes at you at all hours of the day, we’ll still be back.

Roque Island. Highwind is just left of center near the bottom.

For the weekend, we decided to head even further east to a well-known spot (up here) called Roque Island. It’s a large private island with a giant sandy beach just off the coast that forms a nice crescent cove protected from all the sides that the wind mostly comes from up here, so it was bound to be a popular anchorage. It was about 40 miles east of Bar Harbor, so we spent much of the day slowboating over there, dodging the densest collections of lobster pots that we’ve yet seen.

When we arrived on Saturday afternoon, there were already ~15 boats taking up the shallow areas of the anchorage. We have plenty of chain, and run the generator a lot, so we happily moved further offshore and anchored in 35 feet of water, well away from everyone. Weather was sour at this point, so we just stayed in for the night instead of going ashore. Sunday was no better, so we mostly just hung out for the weekend and enjoyed the peace and calm. Internet was passable, so we decided to hang out for a few days as people filtered out for the work week.

Mid week, we finally managed to get some good weather and a hole in our work schedules to coincide, and went ashore just before the sun dipped behind the trees and got a little sun in our faces. On the way back to Highwind we were hailed over by a couple on a boat and chatted for a bit about the great loop and some local anchorages to try out.

By Thursday, we were starting to run low on laundry (it’s been a while), so we decided to hop over to the nearby town of Jonesport, which had a rental mooring with access to laundry facilities. The dock was only accessible (i.e. “not high and dry”) near high tide, so Hannah spent the day ashore doing laundry and working from land. We need to top off on water somewhere nearby, then we’re good for another couple weeks.

Amazing full rainbow at Roque

The watermaker we ordered is completed and working its way up to Maine, so we’re tentatively scheduled to head back to Hinckley to get it installed on Aug 10th. This gives us another week and 2 weekends to hang out east here, then head back for the install, and then probably head back west to meet up with John/Joan.

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Repairs and Acadia

We ended up spending a full week on the hard at Hinckley. They ordinarily don’t allow people to stay on the boat while it’s in their yard, but with all the hotels in the area closed, we didn’t have a lot of options, so they graciously let us stay there and use the restrooms/showers after hours for the week.

While we were fixing some of the windows, we noticed some other windows having issues too and dug into those, and I decided to get a new sonar installed, which stretched out our time ashore a bit. But they did a great job, were super easy to work with, and in the end it wasn’t too much more expensive than going to a no-name shop in the middle of nowhere. You could tell the workers there genuinely had pride in doing good work, as well, which was reassuring as they were busy putting large new holes through the bottom of our boat. Stuff we had done:

  • Our bow thruster had continued to be doing poorly ever since coming to the east coast, and after replacing the motor unit. They came to the same conclusion that I did — it just needs a second 4/0 wire run, and to clean up some of the crappy factory wiring while they were in there. Our bow thruster now finally actually moves the boat around!
  • Adding a through-hull to be ready to install a watermaker. We’ve ordered a Spectra 340c (14 gallons/hour nominal) which will be here in a couple weeks to install. We’ll head back to Hinckley to have them install that when it shows up in the mail.
  • Raw water pump replacement — our other pump was leaking, and apparently requires you to own a bottle jack to jack the motor up to replace, which is a tool I don’t keep on board…
  • 1000 hour service — we’d already done most of this preemptively at ~900 hours before starting the loop, but we had a couple last items as we passed through 1000 hours worth doing.
  • Bottom paint — the diver who checked our boat in CT was amused at our near complete lack of paint, so it was time to fix that.
  • Fiberglass repair on the transom — The previous owners had installed some fishing supply trays incredibly hackily, so they leaked into the boat. Patched it over fully and sealed it up.
  • Installed a Garmin PS51-TH forward-looking sonar — after months on shallow waterways with questionable charting, and looking like we’re going to be doing it for at least another couple years, I wanted some insurance.
  • Repaired several leaking windows — Meridian hacked the windows into the boat, didn’t use enough caulk or bedding, and many of them needed re-sealing from scratch. Good times.

The joys of boat ownership. 5 figures of repairs, and only 1 new toy to play with…

We were dropped back into the water on the 16th, and immediately headed over to Bunker’s Harbor, a little spot that sounded good on the ActiveCaptain entry, but in reality was barely wide enough to lay out enough chain to safely anchor in. As we tested the anchor, it jumped once then “set”, which led me to believe it was just catching on rocks at the bottom. With steeply shelving rocky sides, fishing boats waking the shit out of us all evening and night, and very poor cell reception, we weren’t thrilled with our choices. The next morning, we quickly retreated and headed back west to Winter Harbor on the other side of the peninsula, getting a buoy from the Winter Harbor Yacht club for the weekend.

We took advantage of their launch service (a little ferry boat that will take you to/from shore) to bring the bikes ashore and bike around for a gorgeous Saturday. Hannah ended up finding a winery+distillery that was ~15 miles inland, so we biked up to there and braved extensive mosquitos to find that they were something rather interesting — a fruit-based winery. But, unlike the fruit wines we have had in the past, these were actually dry and semi-dry wines based on fruit. Really wacky flavor profiles to have something that smelled and mostly tasted like a pinot, but was made from apples. They also had several interesting liquors, including a lovely rum. So, we ended up strapping a case of wine and spirits to one of the bikes to head home. We left the bikes on a bike rack out front of the yacht club, grabbed the batteries to charge, and headed back to the boat for the night.

Sunday, we wanted to bike over to the offshoot of Acadia NP that’s on this other peninsula and do a big loop ride around it. We had a lazy morning, headed to shore to grab the bikes, and found my bike’s rear wheel resting on the ground, completely deflated. Having never patched a bike tire in my life, it was time to learn how. Knowing this moment would someday come, I had a little tool bag with all the wrenches and allens needed to repair the bike, a small patch kit with plastic tire wrenches, and a tiny tire pump. The process turned out to be pretty simple. Being next to the ocean, once I pumped the tube back up a bit, I dunked it in the water and immediately found the pinhole leak. The super-cheapo Chinese stock tires on the bike gave no resistance to just being pushed back onto the rim with my hands, and we added a Mr Tuffy puncture resistant liner before reassembling. In not too long at all, we were off to the park.

We had a lovely day biking around the park, even though the trail up to the summit of the little “mountain” at the center of the park was closed. Some rangers interrogated us about our bikes and what class they were, which at the time I didn’t know. We later looked and found out they are class 2, which are not allowed off the paved roads in the park, so we couldn’t take an interesting-looking route through the center of the park. We consoled ourselves with ice cream just outside the exit of the park on the loop road, and the patch held up all day!

While we were far less concerned about dragging anchor and destroying our boat, the Internet wasn’t very usable in Winter Harbor either, with either AT&T or Verizon. As such, on Monday morning, we ended up heading back over to Bar Harbor (the tourist town we biked to on the 4th) for some reliable internet for working for the week, where both AT&T and Verizon have pretty strong signals, and set up permanent residence on one of the city’s mooring buoys.

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More Fog and Finally Hauled Out!

Sunset from Beal’s Lobster in Southwest Harbor

The lack of blog updates unfortunately reflects our reality — that we’ve just been in holding patterns for the last two weeks. Wayfarers kept delaying getting back to us with either a day when they could have a mechanic come on the boat or when we might schedule a haul out for a rather long shopping list of other work that needed to be done. We waited on the dock for an answer from them for two days, with them putting things off for 4 hours at a time. At least, on our last night on the dock, we walked in to town to eat at one of the lone outdoor dining restaurants and had a great meal surrounded by fog.

We decided to spend one more day on a buoy in Camden because they were going to have time to send someone out to look at some stuff the next day, in theory. In the meantime, we had a diver come out to check out our props to see if we picked up a lobster pot line or something and that’s what was causing the vibration. No dice, so we were perplexed, but not terribly worried.

Panorama of view on buoy on our last night in Camden waiting for Wayfarer.

The next day, we decided to stop spending 50$ a day on a mooring buoy when we could go nearby and anchor for free, and they still hadn’t committed to a day for any work to be done. We set up on anchor in Dark Harbor across the way from another boat yard, and after one more full day of Wayfarer delaying, we got in contact with someone from this boat yard. They also said they might be able to squeeze us in before the weekend, so we prepared for that. The weather continued to be gloomy and we dealt with a moth infestation on the boat…fun times. (My nightmares continue to be haunted by the BAT-sized moth that I saw flapping around our dingy that night.)

Meanwhile, upon the advice of my dad, David decided to check the engine mounts to see if that might be causing our vibration. Lo and behold, two of the mounts were loose, so we tightened those down and hoped that would do the trick. It did end up curing much of the vibration, but we still have some smaller vibration on that side (which is probably what loosened the nuts in the first place), to be determined at a later date. We suspected that we had actually nicked the propellor on something back in the Dismal Swamp, since a really small vibration had started around that time, just not enough to worry us.

After several days of “we can fit you in tomorrow morning” and then “actually later this afternoon” from the Dark Harbor boat yard, and very few days to actually get somewhere for the holiday, on Thursday we finally gave up, pulled anchor, and headed towards Southwest Harbor on Mt Desert Island, where the internet told us there might be fireworks for the 4th.

The route was about 30 miles, and since I had the day off from work, while David didn’t, I did most of the driving. Though the weather seemed ok when we pulled anchor, the fog quickly descended resulting in possibly the worst visibility we’ve ever had on the boat – maybe one boat-length in front of us (~50ft). Also, since we’re in Maine, lobster pots abound, so it was a pretty stressful ride, navigating around some small island clusters and a billion lobster pots. At one point in the cruise, through a narrow passage, we ended up in the middle of a mooring field, dodging moored lobster boats as well!

Luckily, there was no rain…until about 5 minutes before we had to dock, so I was getting lines and fenders ready in the pouring rain. As soon as we tied off the boat, the rain stopped though, so I guess that’s something :).

We decided to spend the night on the dock in the one marina in town in order to get some laundry done. We also treated ourselves to a full take-out lobster dinner including crab dip, plenty of sides and a mountain of steamed clams.

We used my parents and the internet to help us to figure out how to access the inside of the lobsters 🙂

Since the weather actually looked like it might be nice for the holiday Friday, we decided to stay one more night on the dock so that we could get the bikes down and go for a ride. The blue skies finally came out a couple of hours after lunch and we decided to head towards Bar Harbor, the other big town on the island, riding along the outskirts of Acadia National Park.

Once we arrived in town, we realized we’d probably made a mistake, since the town was very busy with vacationers, less than half of whom were wearing masks. We decided to have a quick drink, but as it turned out, we were sitting on the patio right by the sidewalk with people walking only a few feet away from us the entire time. We decided to hightail it back to the boat, stopping for a quick detour into Acadia national park on the way home. Since it was getting dark, we didn’t go very far into the park and decided we’d return if possible on a dedicated ride.

The marina also had a courtesy car, which we used to do a grocery run and took a quick walk through the cute downtown where there was a tiny public library with a be-masked statue outside.

Meanwhile, we still needed work done on the boat, and we finally got in touch with a marine shop (Hinckley’s) that gave us some more certainty around a schedule – just across the bay from the marina. We grabbed one of their buoys for the weekend. The fog rolled in again on the actual 4th, so we had a lazy day on the boat reading/gaming. The actual city firework display turned out to be cancelled, but in the end, there were several people launching their own displays around us. Despite the fog, we could still see the colorful bursts, and sat up on the flybridge for a while curled up under a blanket enjoying the show.

On Monday, we were actually given a date for when a mechanic could come aboard to replace the raw water pump on the starboard engine – we were expected on their dock at 7am on Wednesday! The day rolled around and amazingly we had a mechanic aboard by 8am and the work was done by the early afternoon. We also discussed with them all the additional work we needed done (bottom painting, fiberglass repair on the stern, investigation of a voltage drop in our bow thruster, drilling a through-hole for later installation of a water maker) and scheduled to be hauled out on Thursday.

We are now on the hard and have people under and inside the boat taking care of things. After 4 months on the water, it is a very strange feeling to be on the boat while it is completely stable!! One of the annoying parts of living in a boat while it’s on the hard is that you cannot use any sinks, since those go straight out the side of the boat (and in this case would go onto someone’s head!). We did look into staying in a hotel, but they are all closed due to COVID. Hinckley’s usually do not allow people to live aboard, but they made an exception for us and have given us access to their shower and laundry room. The team here is incredibly helpful, friendly, and have been doing good work. It’s pricier than other shops around, but they’re incredibly responsive, and have a good team.

The afternoon weather cleared up enough for me to pull out the pole – for the first time in about 4 weeks. We decided to bike to an outdoor dining restaurant for dinner (actually the one above the marina we stayed at earlier), but by the time we finished dinner the fog had come back!

We’re going to be on the hard through the middle of next week, so hopefully we’ll get some more biking in after Tropical Storm Fay passes through tonight and tomorrow.

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Maine is Foggy

Our view, almost every day

Now that we have reached Maine, we have been able to slow down our break-neck pace to rush northwards and have generally been staying in places for a couple of days at a time. It has been nice to be a bit lazy. Snow Island was a great stop – we were the only boat anchored around the island and we were only disturbed by a few lobster boats coming out to check their pots.

We dinghied my pole to a little island off our stern and David took some shots of me from the drone

After Snow Island, we headed to Booth Bay and dropped anchor in the middle of the harbor. The weather was predicting to be moderate for the first night and then the wind was supposed to pick up for the next two days. We decided to stay on anchor and then see about moving to a mooring buoy for the next few days if we’d need it. The was a lobster wharf/restaurant on one side of the bay, so we headed over for dinner. We shared lobster roll and fresh haddock (which you can’t see in the picture because I devoured it before I thought to take a photo!).

The night was rocky, but it turned out that we were pretty well protected in the bay, so we ended up staying on anchor there for a few nights, rather than moving to a buoy about 200 yards to the side. The weather remained pretty nice for our stay there and we even had a good sunset one night.

Sunset at Booth Bay

The town on the other side of the bay had a free dingy dock, which we used when we did a grocery run and also on our last night for a meal at a mediterranean restaurant overlooking the bay (outdoor patio) that was absolutely delicious!

When it came time to roll out of Booth Bay, the fog had again crept in and we spent the entire cruise to Port Clyde, our next destination, with only double digits of visibility in front of us. This makes dodging the lobster pots even harder to do!

We dropped the anchor at Port Clyde and spent one night in the fog before we decided to move on.

When we arrived into Tenants Harbor, we knew we needed a pump out and that there would be a mobile floating one somewhere in the middle of the bay. We figured we’d have to meander around through the fog until we came across it, but luckily it was right in front of us when we pulled in. This one was manually operated, and apparently I drew the short straw…

This photo describes itself

Arriving in Tenants Harbor, we needed to refill with water, but as we approached the marina we saw that the dock was full. Luckily there was a couple on a 35ft boat, so we asked if we could tie alongside them in order to fill up and they obliged. As a thank you, I cleaned off an enormous bird poop from the back of their boat. Apparently it was just my day to get poopy :).

We picked up a mooring buoy off the marina and spent 2 days in on-and-off fog. The primary attraction of this place was a restaurant called the Happy Clam, which we had been instructed we needed to visit in order to be truly part of the de Regt sailing clan. Sadly they were closed on Monday and Tuesday nights, so we weren’t able to make it out.

David tried flying the drone to see how high the fog went, but let’s just say it went higher than the FAA allows drone flights and leave it at that. On the way down, some sensors in the drone freaked out and David had to do a fast catch that cut up his finger a bit. We had to go ashore and do a full re-calibration on solid ground before it would want to fly again. I even learned how to hand-launch-and-catch the drone!

In the evening, we played a virtual escape room game with Matthew. It was pretty hard and took us an hour and a half to solve!

We pulled out of Tenants Harbor in – you guessed it – more fog. Our next destination was Camden. For this leg as it was a very high tide, and many of them were sitting slightly under the surface of the water.

This is a common view of Maine, as far as we can tell

Somewhere on the short trip, we picked up a vibration, so when we arrived and tied up to the dock at Wayfarer Marine (our first dock in several weeks!!!), we wanted to figure out what was wrong. For a couple of hours in the middle of the day, the fog burned off enough for me to hop in the water to see if I could see if anything was wrapped around the prop. Let me tell you – I’m already somewhat skittish about “the unknown” below me when swimming, so it was super freaky to try to dive below the boat. The water was about 60 degrees, so not terrible, and it took me a little while to get the courage to dive down and look at the props. I didn’t see anything obvious, so we’re a little concerned.

We are waiting for the Wayfarer folks to give us an assessment on a few things we’d like to get taken care of on the boat, so we’re not sure yet how long we’ll be staying here. But so far both a diver and the main project coordinator have been delaying us for an extra day, so we’ll see how long we’re stuck here waiting…

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Maine!

A pretty old schooner welcomed us to Portland, ME

Expecting heavy wind the next full day, in the morning, we decided to head into the Marion harbor and pick up a buoy with Barden’s Boatyard. We pulled up the anchor, went to wash it off, and … nothing. Apparently the washdown pump had decided it was a good time to give up the ghost. Noted. So we grabbed a buoy and started calling around for a spare part. No one nearby had one, so we gave up for the moment, since it’s not super critical that it works. While the day didn’t turn out to super windy, at least in the harbor, it did rain a bunch, so we just hunkered down on the boat and worked, never leaving the boat.

Tuesday morning was our anticipated (short) early morning weather window to make it through the canal and as far up the coast as possible. We were hoping to be able to make it over to Provincetown and spend a couple days anchored there, but the rest of the week looked really nasty (25+ kt winds basically continuous for ~48 hours), so we decided the plan would be to wuss out and go spend a few days in Scituate, another of John/Joan’s suggestions.

We woke up at 7am, and had a pretty uneventful drive up and through the canal. There was a huge mess of fishing boats right on the exit of the canal, which we were able to navigate around, but we heard boats going the other way complaining about it on the VHF all morning. We hit the canal right at peak eastwardly current (5 kts), and the canal has an absolute speed limit of 10 mph, so we literally had to idle through the canal (our idle speed is 4 kts) and still bumped through the limit a few times. There were even police boats patrolling the canal, so we didn’t try to push it.

Exiting onto Cape Cod, we turned northward and did something we haven’t done much in the last few months: set the autopilot for a heading and then stare at the horizon for a couple hours, periodically dodging lobster pots. I’d picked out a spot to grab diesel an hour or so short of Scituate, and as we entered the harbor, despite the charts showing lots of depth, I started getting scary depth alarms of 4 ft or less. Apparently, according to the person running the fuel dock, the harbor shoals regularly and they need to dredge it every few years. Like, maybe right now would be a good time, to avoid another code brown.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. We arrived in Scituate, called the suggested launch service, they directed us to a buoy mid-harbor, and we ended up hanging out there for 3 full days while the weather passed. And that was a good call, it turned out. It rained like hell on and off, blew like crazy for the predicted 2 days straight, and was generally uncomfortable, even nestled fairly deep in a harbor, much less if we’d been anywhere actually exposed. In the gaps in the rain, Hannah ran ashore and got a full load of laundry in, some grocery shopping, and picked up a new overpriced washdown pump from a local parts place. On the last night, we even had a great meal eating outdoors at a nice Italian restaurant in town, Riva. Sadly we forgot to take any pictures of our time in Scituate!

Friday was our next semi-weather-window. With this much unseasonal wind, we have to pick any vaguely decent window and go for it. I was planning on making a short early morning stop to Gloucester, but as we went to bed, the weather showed a longer hole of around 4 hours instead of 2, so we made a quick change and decided to try to go all the way to the Isles of Shoals. Our route would take us right by Gloucester anyway, in case the weather simulations were a lie (happens), so we could easily bail. We made it the next 20 miles up to the Isles of Shoals, with moderate chop, and grabbed a buoy.

The Isles of Shoals! We’re in that central harbor there.

The Isles of Shoals are the largest part of a small archipelago about 8 miles offshore from New Hampshire. It was originally a popular-ish harbor back in the 1600s, and has been on the downswing ever since. These days, a few of the islands have a few houses on them, and Star Island has a big conference center run by a religious cult that also lives on the island. There’s a little harbor protected from the ocean on 3 sides by a few islands and some artificial breakwaters that connect them. The harbor is usually a pretty decent tourist spot, with daily boat+walking tours from several companies out of Portsmouth (the nearest city in mainland NH), but with C19, everything’s shut down, and Star Island has a big “ISLAND CLOSED” sign on it.

The harbor, fortuitously, has several mooring buoys owned by a few yacht clubs, all of which are listed as, basically, “first come first serve for non-yacht-club members, and if a yacht club member asks you to leave, get off.” So, even with it being Friday midday, and an afternoon crowd of yachters heading in later on, we risked it, and grabbed a PYC buoy. We figured we’d drop anchor if we had to.

In the end, we got lucky and actually were able to stay on the buoy for 2 nights. The islands are gorgeous. We were treated to two lovely sunsets, lots of 70 degrees and clear sunny skies, we took a dinghy ride around in the ocean swells to check out the other islands, and generally had a great time. Finally some decent weather.

Sunday, with passable weather predicted, we decided to go the 50nm all the way to Portland, ME, to fill up on the cheapest diesel within hundreds of miles, and then see how the weather was doing. It was a pretty choppy morning all the way up, and required a lot of lobster pot dodging, but as we arrived in Portland, we were greeted by a really pretty harbor, ringed with old forts, and a bunch of sailboats out to enjoy the weather.

We stopped at DeMillo’s marina, and Hannah immediately ran off to the grocery store while I slowly filled up on diesel, gas for the dinghy, and fresh water, and emptied a couple weeks of accumulated recycling. I didn’t actually check the news for updates, but with the number of people walking around without masks and eating at restaurants, I assume Maine must have lifted any quarantine restrictions since we left Rowayton.

A 200 year old shipwreck monument

Stocked up for a week or so on the hook, we slow boated our way over to another John/Joan recommendation, Snow Island, 20nm east of Portland, thoroughly enjoying the scenery. Coastal Maine is so pretty. I haven’t been here in decades, and that was a mistake. Everywhere you go is picturesque islands with small cliffsides facing the ocean, waves breaking over rocks, and pretty houses overlooking everything. We even passed a 200 year old “shipwreck monument”, which is really just a hollow pyramid with supplies inside, so if you got shipwrecked nearby, you could go there and possibly not die from exposure. As the sun fell, we arrived, and dropped anchor in an empty bay, with 30 of our closest lobster pot friends.

We’ll see what our plan is from here — probably stay here for a couple days, enjoying the scenery. We’re trying to coordinate getting some work done on the boat by Wayfarer marine, so we’ll try to hook up with them early this week to get some preliminary estimates/dates, and plan our schedule from there.

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Starting a Side Trip to Maine

Hannah demonstrating the rapidly-extinguishing sunlight, and our questionable decisions, to her parents over video chat as we head toward the Marion anchorage

We headed out from Rowayton on Tuesday morning, before work, heading east. For the next month or so, every bit of travel will have to be undone to get back to the main loop, so now we’re off on a really long side trip. We’d spent a bunch of time hearing stories from John/Joan about the trip to/from Maine, and Joan wrote us up a great doc with a bunch of their favorite spots. They tend to cruise longer days at 7kts, and, on weekdays, we tend to cruise short morning trips at 14kts, so their daily “hops” tend to match ours pretty well.

Our first stop was a small archipelago ~40nm away called The Thimbles. They’re all private islands, owned by rich folks who mostly put big houses on them. So, we parked right in the center of their islands and ran our generator on and off for 2 days.

WSJ shot of the Thimbles, not mine. It was windy and/or rainy the whole time we were there, so I couldn’t get the drone off the ground.

The weather was bad on Wednesday, so we just stayed in place, and in the afternoon snuck in a quick dinghy tour of the islands while it rained on us and 2-3 foot swells threw us around when we ventured out of the protected center bit. It was a cool spot, with some neat islands that reminded us of some of our more tropical trips in the past.

The closest we got to a sunset in the Thimbles. Notice the swells rolling through our anchorage.

Thursday, we headed over to Mystic, where there’s a ship restoration company plus museum that I’d remembered from living here as a kid. The entrance to the city has a bridge that you have to wait for, which only opens at 40 minutes past the hour, but there was a protest going on even in this tiny town right next to the bridge, so at least we got to watch that and honk as we went through.

If you squint you can see all of the people with signs protesting to the right of the bridge

While the museum buildings are closed due to C19, the grounds are all open, and you can wander around the top deck of several ships. Staying in their marina, they let you have the run of the grounds after hours, so it’s pretty cool to wander around with no one to bug you. There’s several large period-correct old ships around, undergoing restoration (just ignore that several of them have camouflaged radar domes hiding up in the masts), and while I’m not as much of a historical navy buff as my dad, it’s still hard to not be inspired looking at what mariners used to have to work with.

Mystic also had a nice restaurant with outdoor seating that we walked over for, and managed to sneak in a great meal in between rainy periods. We could get used to this outdoor eating everywhere for restaurants thing.

The next day, in the early afternoon, we walked around the museum while it was open, to chat with some of the volunteers about the ships. Weather was predicted to be fairly bad overnight, so we were going to be cheap and head to an anchorage just outside of Mystic to ride it out. Walking back to our boat to head out, the dockmaster caught us and offered us a good enough deal to stick around for another night that we took it, and the windy night was much easier attached to a dock.

In the morning, we crossed into Rhode Island, topped off on some cheap diesel at Point Judith, and headed into Narragansett Bay. As we left CT, we were heading into somewhat unknown territory with regards to quarantine periods. Some parts of RI had just announced that quarantine requirements were rescinded, but other parts were more unclear. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine had all not said anything about rescinding their requirements yet. So, we had no idea whether we’d be able to get diesel, groceries, or even water once we started into the other states. So, we’re in a mode where we want to keep all of our supplies as topped off as possible in case we do get stuck in a partial or even full 14 day quarantine period along the way.

We stopped for the night at Wickford, another favorite of John/Joan’s, and picked up a town mooring buoy just inside the breakwater. We were going to dinghy into town and try to get some dinner and a drink, but a weather warning popped up saying that a thunderstorm had changed direction and was moving into the area at 90kts, with up to 0.75 inch hailstones possible. So, instead we hunkered down on the boat on the buoy for the night. Fortunately, while it rained and blew like crazy for a short period, the storm didn’t really turn out to be that bad, and the sun even peeked out for a nice sunset after it moved on.

Highwind is just below the middle, with the Wickford breakwater nearly submerged at high tide.

Later in the evening, unfortunately I noticed that the fridge didn’t feel very cold, and some quick temperature readings with a cheapo infrared thermometer confirmed that the fridge was at nearly 50 degrees. We poked around and apparently the cooling plate at the top had made nearly a solid inch of snow, with a quarter inch sheet of ice underneath the drip tray, all of which was nicely insulating the rest of the fridge from the cold generation. Looking like the situation was a little past a normal defrost, we chipped away at the ice and snow for a while, filling our kitchen sink with the results. We’d noticed that it was starting to smell a little bit in there, and this explained why. So, we unfortunately threw away a bunch of meat and dairy before it killed us, and went to bed.

It’s possible that we should not let it get that bad again…

After a lazy morning, the weather was looking good, and so I called around and found a hardware store with a fridge thermometer, so we dinghied into town and made a day of it. We ate lobster sandwiches at a restaurant on the water, walked out to the hardware store and picked up some stuff, and even stopped at a wine tasting room doing outdoor tastings, where we ended up restocking our wine supply a bit.

In fact, we lost track of time doing the wine tasting, and had to scurry back to the boat to head out. We were planning on taking advantage of an evening weather window to make it most of the way up Buzzard Bay to the town of Marion, but we definitely cut it a bit close, with the sun dropping below the horizon with us still 10 minutes out from the anchorage. We pulled into a wide open anchorage to the south of the town with some lingering light reflecting from the clouds, dropped a pile of chain, and called it a day.

In the morning, when we can see something, we’ll pull further into the town’s proper anchorage, behind an island, as the weather is supposed to get nastier in the afternoon/evening, so we’ll want to be protected. From there, we wait for another weather window to finish out Buzzard Bay and head through the Cape Cod Canal into, well, Cape Cod.

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