N E W†† E N G L A N D†† 1 9 8 5

 

©By Ellis Simon

 

You may recall that last summer we took our 34-foot Mainship trawler as far north as Casco Bay, Maine.For our two weeks this year, we decide to try to go even further north and visit Nova Scotia.The sheer distances involved finally convince me that it's too much traveling.We would have a real problem if the weather turned sour.But I'm getting ahead of my story.The big excitement in last year's cruise was the discovery of a sizeable crack in the engine oil pan.Many of the winter weekends were spent lifting the engine and having the pan repaired.A new one costs $935.While I had the engine up, I installed a stainless steel drip pan under its entire length.I'm in high hopes that this cruise will pass without a repetition of the problem.

 

The passage of another year has made further inroads into the Amberjack's crew.Our son Donald is back down at Long Beach Island for the summer and isn't available to cruise with us.Leigh Ann also has acquired a summer job and is staying behind with her grandparents.So it's just Marilyn and me to battle the elements in the far north.I've developed this theory that if you run long and hard the first few days to get to the furthest point of your cruise, you then have all the rest of the allotted time to leisurely make your way back.This has the fringe benefit that half of the time logged on the machinery is over early in the cruise.If anything is going to go wrong, you have a 50-50 chance it will happen then, allowing time to get it fixed, rather than stranding you somewhere two days before you're due back at work.

 

With this in mind, I plan to make a nonstop run from Barnegat Inlet to Portland, Maine.From there we'll day trip it further northeast. Remembering the tough time I had staying awake through the night of last year's run to Provincetown, I ask some of the other squadron members if they would be interested in joining us for the run to Portland.We'll leave Friday after work and arrive in Portland sometime Sunday.Marilyn will drive up and meet us there.They can then make their way home by land and we'll continue on our cruise.This way, my crew will miss little or no work and will have an interesting weekend.Being a math teacher, and therefore rather clever with numbers, Marilyn is quick to point out that a one-way trip in a rental car costs little more than a round trip in one of our cars.Particularly when one couldn't be sure one of our cars could make the trip without a stop for major repairs.This impeccable logic landed her a berth on the northbound leg.A decision she was soon to regret.

 

Bill, Charlie, and Paul graciously agree to be shanghaied for a weekend and the crew is set.I'm sincerely grateful to Betty, Norma, and Jane for giving up a weekend on their boats for this nonsense.I split us into two watch crews.Bill and I on one and Charlie and Paul on the other.Marilyn has charge of the cruise ship aspects (food, drink, and the other amenities of home.)The watches are to be four hours during the day and two hours between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am. One of the worries I have for a passage of this length is the water supply.Five adults could deplete the 50 gallons the tank holds.To solve this problem, I get several cardboard cartons from a food store.Clorox cartons are ideal since they come with two internal baffles.These cartons are placed in convenient locations on deck.13-gallon plastic garbage bags are placed in each space in the carton.The garbage bags are then filled with water and closed with twist ties.As the water from the boat's tank is depleted, the water in the bags will be transferred by a siphon consisting of a piece of clear plastic tubing.The tubing is inserted into a bag, and then, while holding the bag tightly around the tubing, gentle but firm pressure on the bag starts the water flowing.The emptied bags are folded and eventually used for their original purpose.The cartons are collapsed and stowed for later disposal.This system works like a charm and we arrived at Portland with a full tank and a carton of water left over.Each Clorox carton holds about 15 gallons of water when set up this way.

 

FRIDAY, JULY 26. The weather forecasts are anything but encouraging for the start of a long offshore passage.Hurricane Bob has thrust itself ashore in South Carolina and made its way inland to West Virginia where it is combining with a cold front sweeping eastward.The forecast is 60% chance of thunderstorms with winds out of the southwest at 15 to 25 mph.Ever hopeful, Bill, Charlie, Paul and I meet in Trenton and proceed to Forked River where Marilyn has spent the day stowing equipment and making final preparations for the trip.

 

Finally, at 5:39 PM, with heavy overcast skies and winds as advertised, we leave the slip.Barnegat Inlet looks rough, but it's impossible to gauge the conditions of the waters offshore.There are no other boats out there.I've found that one can tell a lot about the sea conditions by studying the motions of other boats with binoculars.Another boat has requested inlet conditions of the Coast Guard and has been told that no information is available.We decide to make the plunge, and plunge it is.After the usual bouncing at the mouth of the inlet, we find that it is indeed rough.So rough, in fact, that a return through Barnegat would certainly be ill advised.

 

I was in hopes that the seas would have a longer distance between crests once we cleared the shoals around the inlet and got into deeper water.High rollers with a long period are not a problem.This is not to be the case tonight!When we reach a depth of 60 feet, seas are running 6 to 8 feet with occasional 9 and 10 footers with a short period between waves.They're all white topped.It's a condition best described as "square waves."After some experimentation, I find that I can run about 20 degrees to either side of a direct course downwind.To take our intended track of 60 degrees to Montauk would make for a very uncomfortable beam sea. Steering in the heavy following sea precludes the use of the autopilot and it gets very tiring for the helmsman.

 

After an hour of rocking and rolling up the coast, we decide to put in at Manasquan and wait a few hours to see if things will quiet down.No sooner have we made this decision than we're further encouraged by the appearance of lightning to the west.The radar confirms that there's a thunderstorm about six miles inland.There is no way to tell what its course and speed is.It could be coming at us or maybe it's moving parallel to us.

 

Bill and I reach our limits of fighting the helm and turn it over to Charlie and Paul.As we approach the inlet, the storm is still to the west, indicating that it is more or less paralleling our course and keeping its distance, so we don't have that problem.In order to produce the maximum stability, I request everyone to leave the flying bridge for the run through the inlet.

 

The entry to Manasquan in the dark with the skies lit by the lightning flashes is exciting but uneventful.We anchor just inside the inlet and settle down amid the aromas from the Lobster Shanty to comment on the wisdom of our decision.We have traveled for four hours and taken quite a pounding just to get where we could have gotten in two hours of quiet running inside.The storm moves off to our northwest.A little light rain falls but no severe weather.Concerned about the tight spot we're anchored in, we move to a spot just above the Rt. 35 Bridge and fall into an exhausted sleep.

 

SATURDAY JULY 27.At 4:30 am, I awake to a strange calm.At first, I think I'm in bed at home.There is no sound and no motion.Then the wake from a passing boat brings me back to the real world.A check with NOAA weather reveals that the front has slowed and has yet to pass.There are predictions of more heavy seas and more rain.We crank up and head out the inlet.The seas are still rough but they have subsided somewhat and, more important, the distance between crests has increased.We key in the coordinates of the "MP" buoy off Montauk on the loran and we're off.

 

An area of rain promptly overtakes us from the west, and for the next hour or two, it rains intermittently.The rain eventually ceases and the gray skies give way to sunlight as we watch the front slide off to the east.The seas stay with us right through the day, however.We don't mind so much because the autopilot is able to deal with them and they actually help our speed over the ground by pushing us along. As the day wears on, the seas gradually subside.By noon we can see the shoreline of Long Island.At 3 pm we're off Shinnecock Inlet.Some time after dinner, the lone fishing rod that we're using begins to sing.I reel in a fine 10-pound bluefish.It's the only strike we're to get on the entire trip.

 

At about 7:30 pm we pass the buoy "MP" off Montauk Point.The loran shows an error of less than 200 feet.Our average speed has been 8.4 knots.Dusk settles over us at 8:30 pm southwest of Block Island.We round Block Island a little after 9:00 pm and set out across Rhode Island Sound (the 1210 Chart) for Buzzards Light.I check the oil in the engine and am gratified to see that it's still full and there are no signs of leaks in the catch pan.The visibility is excellent.We see some flashes of light on the east side of the Newport Bridge and check them out with the binoculars.They are some of the most beautiful fireworks I've ever seen.They go on for about an hour and a half.††

 

The watch changes at 10 pm.Charlie and Paul take over east of Block Island for the first of the two-hour night watches while Bill and I grab some sleep.Last year, we had a real problem getting enough light out in front of the boat to spot lobster pot buoys.Thanks to the marvels of loran, these obstacles now pop up anywhere.Our large spotlight ruins our night vision with backscatter from the decks.I wouldn't want to use it for any long period of time anyway since bulbs cost about $40 apiece and have a very short life.I solved this problem by rigging a standard automotive driving lamp under the bow pulpit.It snaps on with a couple of plastic rail clamps.We use this all night long.It draws relatively little power and lights up an area about 500 yards in front of the boat.The backscatter is negligible and anything on the surface of the water shows up clearly.You hardly know it is on until a lobster marker comes into range.

 

Except for the passing of a couple of tugs with tows, the next two watches are uneventful.When we come on again at midnight, the seas are down to about two feet and the excellent visibility remains.As we near the end of our watch at 2 am, we're approaching Cleveland Ledge Light, which marks the beginning of the seven-mile run up the top of Buzzards Bay to the western end of the Cape Cod Canal.Bill and I stay on to assist in transiting the canal.As we proceed, we find a new problem.One that none of us has encountered before.The last couple of miles are a straight, narrow channel marked by no less than sixteen navigational lights.These lights are of varying colors, intensity, and heights above the water.The result looks like a meadow full of fireflies.We carefully verify the number on each marker as we pass.

 

Soon, we find ourselves in the canal itself.At this hour of the morning we have it all to ourselves.It's near maximum current eastbound.An additional 3+ knots of current help the Amberjackís 8+ knots.The surface is like glass, which hasn't been the case on my previous two passages.We're approaching the Sagamore Bridge, about 2/3 of the way through, when a 75 foot Corps of Engineers boat comes by in the opposite direction, throwing a respectable wake.From there on until we exit the canal, we're tossed around by a 2-foot chop.That wake would hit the rock borders and come right back undiminished.This is quickly built up into standing waves by the strong current.

 

SUNDAY, JULY 28.Our helpful current shoots us out of the breakwaters into Cape Cod Bay at 3:56 am.We're met by quiet waters and immediately set off on a northerly course for Cape Ann, northeast of Boston.Charlie and Paul promptly inform us that it's 4 o'clock and their watch is at an end!Fortunately, they relent and Bill and I get some sleep.Dawn breaks as we sleep and soon the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown can be seen to starboard. Our course takes us over Stellwagen Bank, which is a noted whale feeding ground.Soon we're spotting spouts and whales on the surface.The hours begin to run together as the Amberjack plods northward through calm seas.I'm even able to start this article on a portable computer I've brought along.Cape Ann slides by to port at about 11 am and we begin a real open water run to Boon Island Ledge east of Portsmouth, N.H.At the furthest point we're about 20 miles out.

 

At 1:30 pm we pass Boon Island and swing to the NNE to make the final 30-mile run to Cape Elizabeth, just south of Portland, Maine.During the day we sight several seals and one large shark. Cape Elizabeth Light comes into view right on schedule.We run in close to shore so that everyone can get a picture of the rockbound coast with the picturesque light.We enter the Portland Harbor at 5:20 pm and proceed to Demillio's Marina.There we're shown to an incredibly narrow slip, which everyone agrees we'll never get the boat into.The dock attendant is right and we're wrong.We shut down the engine for the first time just 36 hours after we left Manasquan Inlet.After a pleasant dinner in a local restaurant, we all collapse for a much needed sleep.

 

MONDAY, JULY 29. Early in the morning, I jog out to the airport and rent the car that is to take our intrepid crew back south to New Jersey.By the way, the one-way drop off charge is $85.To add insult to injury, the car has New Jersey license plates.I pay $85 for the privilege of returning Hertz's car for them!The fellows have coffee and buns with us and then depart.It takes them 7 hours to motor back with a shopping stop in Kennebunkport. Our fuel usage for the 36 hours plus 4 hours Friday has been 168 gallons, or 4.2 gallons per hour.The engine took two quarts of oil.Our average speed was about 8.5 knots.I subsequently back off from 2000 rpm to 1800 rpm and get 8 knots average with a consumption of 2.5 gallons per hour.This just points up that once you get beyond hull speed, you really start to burn fuel for a small increase in speed.One of these days, I'm going to try running at 7.5 knots and see what the fuel consumption is.††

 

Having seen our crew off to the sunny south, we return to the Amberjack to do a thorough cleaning job.The long haul has laid on a considerable burden of salt and dirt.Still planning to visit Nova Scotia, I go off to a ship's store to buy charts for that area.I'm informed that no chart books such as the BBA Chart Kit are available for Canadian waters.Admiralty charts are available at $8.00 per chart.I select four charts that cover the southwestern portion of Nova Scotia.Back at the boat, I spread these charts out and begin some serious planning.The admiralty charts are quite different from the US charts.First, they are mostly printed in black and white.You'd be surprised how hard it is to determine which side of the shoreline is land and which is water without the buff and blue to help.Second, depth markings are rather sparse.In fact, you can easily make out the lines that the survey ship ran while taking the soundings.

 

It becomes apparent that a direct run from Bar Harbor to Nova Scotia would take over 12 hours of running in open sea with a furthest point from land of 50 miles.Not too attractive.The alternative is to make a 9-hour run from Bar Harbor to Eastport, Maine, then a 6-hour run across the Bay of Fundy.Four days of hard running would get us one night in Nova Scotia.Further, the use of four days for the trip would require another two long runs somewhere during the trip.Also, we would have little or no time reserve in getting back home in two weeks.I decide to save Nova Scotia for a future trip.I plan out a trip that will make Bar Harbor the northeastern most part of the trip and will give me easy runs for almost the entire trip.After all, this issupposed to be a vacation!I ruefully take the Admiralty charts back to the store and return them.

 

The city of Portland has a colorful history.First settled in 1632, there immediately began a protracted legal battle over title to the land.This was for good reason.The peninsula, on which the city sits fronts on an excellent, well protected natural harbor.To the east lies Casco Bay with its wealth of lobster, fish and islands.One island was known for a while as "Isle de Bacchus" because of the abundant wild grapes found there.To the Northwest, the peninsula opens into an area of lush land excellent for farming.By the time of the Revolution, the town was a major seaport and shipbuilding center.

 

In 1775, feelings in the town were decidedly anti-British.The captain of the British sloop-of-war Canseau, which had anchored in the harbor, took a leisurely stroll through town.He was promptly arrested and jailed for spying!He was subsequently released, but reappeared 5 months later with a small fleet of warships.He sent word ashore that the residents had two hours in which to evacuate the town.Then the fleet opened fire and leveled the town.That night, landing parties torched everything still standing.Portland recovered after the Revolution and thrived until 1866 when a disastrous fire leveled the city again.The residents used this occasion to straighten streets and lay out a more efficient city.

 

Portland was the birthplace of Representative Thomas Brackett Reed, reputed to be one of the finest speakers in Congress.When a certain gentleman proclaimed, "I would rather be right than be President,"It was he who commented, "The gentleman need not worry.He will never be either."

 

After the cleanup, we leave our slip to refuel.Since the wind has freshened to about 20 knots out of the southwest, I enlist the aid of one of the dock boys to get out of the narrow slip.He says not to worry.He'll take a line from our bow to the boat on the windward side to keep us off the lee finger pier as we back out.He does this and then lets the line go slack when I get into motion and am fully committed to backing out.The result is that a fender parts its line and goes adrift.Fortunately, it drifts out of the dock area into the open harbor and we're able to pick it up after about six passes.Fenders are hard to get out of the water when there are no loops to get a boat hook into.I've made a mental note to put small loops of 1/8-inch line on each fender for this possibility.

 

At 3:00 pm we depart Portland for the run to a small harbor off Sebasco Estates on the eastern end of Casco Bay.I was worried about the seas that wind might be kicking up, but I figured that if it was uncomfortable, we could turn tail and run inside the bay in the lee of the many islands.When we reach open sea we find that the waves are only 3 feet high and coming from the stern.The ride isn't bad at all.We cruise past countless islands and ledges and pull into Sebasco Estates at 6:00 pm.

 

This small harbor is one of many recommended to us on our trip in 1984.We pick up a mooring and, having heard that there was a restaurant ashore that required jackets, dress for dinner.We dinghy ashore in full dress and walk up the hill to the restaurant.It turns out that Sebasco Estates is sort of a retirement resort and the restaurant is really a posh dining hall.The last sitting for dinner was at 8:00 pm.Having arrived at 8:03 pm, there is no way that we can convince them to serve us.We walk back to the dinghy and row back to the Amberjack.We have dinner aboard this evening and it's delicious, the main course being the bluefish that I caught off Block Island.

 

99 days out of 100, this harbor is probably an outstanding anchorage.Ours is the 100th day.The rollers produced by the southwest wind roll right in the mouth of the harbor and give us a motion filled night.Further, as the tide comes in, the rocks that guard the entrance sink beneath the surface and give the seas more access to the moorings.It isn't really any worse than a windy night at Tice's Shoal, but I could have selected 20 better-protected spots within 5 miles.

 

TUESDAY, JULY 30.Morning dawns clear and cool.At 6:00 am the Amberjack departs Sebasco Estates and rounds Cape Small for points east.Seguin Island slides by to port with its 180-foot high light.The light stands on a ridge of rock.By 10:00 am we're leaving Monhegan Island to starboard.There are indications that the Vikings landed here around the year 1000.European fishermen knew of the island before Columbus discovered America and Cabot visited it in 1498.Today it is much the same as it has been for hundreds of years, mostly a fishing village with some summer tourism.As we're traveling along south of Vinalhaven Island, I note a fishing boat of some sort about two miles off to port and astern that is making a high speed and seems to be closing on us.It looks like he will go astern of us close aboard.

 

Having lost one fishing lure to a boat cutting across our stern on a previous trip, I pull the trolling line in.The boat comes up close on our port quarter and then crosses over behind us.It's a Maine Fish and Game Commission boat.About 45 feet long, high powered, and all business.After a good long look, they wave to us and roar off to the southeast.I'll never know what aroused their curiosity in the first place.By early afternoon the Amberjack rounds Vinalhaven Island at the mouth of Penobscot Bay and heads for the hamlet of Stonington on Deer Isle.At Stonington, tourism runs at a low ebb.The town lies about 30 miles from Route 1, which is the nearest tourist highway.When you take this 30-mile side trip by auto, there is nowhere to go but back north.Deer Isle is a true island, separated from the mainland by Eggemoggin Reach.One bridge crosses to the island.As we leave East Penobscot Bay for Deer Island Thorofare, we pass several beautiful small islands.This is the first evidence of the eastern Maine landscape.

 

The islands are essentially outcroppings of granite, rounded by ages of wind and sea.They are topped by stands of pines with a little undergrowth and grass clutching to the rock.The waterway itself is wide and deep, the minimum depth being 15 feet.To seaward, a myriad of islands and shoals blocks the waves.The first harbor inside is the Billings Diesel Service, where I've made arrangements for space at a dock by VHF.We continue on past to see something of the town before tying up for the night.

 

The main part of town has several venerable quays extending out into the water.Most of these make use of the rocky nature of the area for at least part of their construction.The land itself rises rapidly from the water to a height of more than 100 feet, so that the streets and buildings are laid into a hillside.Except for Billings Diesel, there are no small boat accommodations at shoreside.The small boats are all at moorings in the thorofare.One black-hulled old windjammer is anchored and I get several postcard pictures of the town with the boat in the foreground.

 

We double back to Billings Diesel for our tie-up.This is a traditional full service boat yard.They have an engine shop, a paint shop, a carpenter shop, a sail loft, a ship's store, and an electronics shop.There are several marine railways capable of hauling large trawlers.The docks stand about 20 feet above the water at low tide and about 12 or 13 feet above at high tide.The underpinnings are a multitude of pilings supporting a deck, which in turn can support a tractor-trailer.Fortunately, there are excellent floats alongside the docks with modern metal ramps to get up and down.We meet another couple there with a Mainship.It turns out that they're there to have the mechanics look at this strange leak in their oil pan.I'm able to give them some bad news about Perkins oil pans.

 

I take my daily jog so that I can size up the town and what it has to offer.Stonington is predominantly a fishing and Lobstering center.Our marina is located on an island to the west of town.It is 1 and 1/2 miles to the center of town and to my knowledge, there is no public transport.I notice immediately an abundance of flowers, both wild and cultivated, growing among the outcroppings of granite.The homes are small and weathered.They look to be fishermen's homes for the most part.I pass several lobster pounds as I run.These are ponds formed by running dams between the rocks.A gate allows them to be filled at high water.Lobsters are then kept in these ponds until they are to go to market.Just let the water out at low water and harvest the lobster.The town has one of everything, including an opera house and one restaurant.The opera house is perhaps better than movies in larger towns.They have a schedule that shows a different first run movie every night of the week.

 

"Back to the Future" is playing tonight.Several fish processing plants make up the only industry in town.The lobster pounds are all empty and the lobster boats and pots are all up on the beach.The price of lobster is down and Lobstering is a depressed industry in Maine.Across Deer Island Thorofare, on Crotch Island, lies an abandoned granite quarry.The stone from this area is of high quality.In fact, New York's Triborough Bridge came from Deer Island.It took two hundred men two years to cut the rock into blocks.Tourist activities are not a big thing in Stonington.There are a few guesthouses and a couple of bric a brac shops, but nothing like the towns that line Route 1.I jog back to the boat.After a shower, we walk back to the restaurant, which is on the other end of town.There, we have a gourmet seafood dinner.The cost is reasonable and the service is excellent, even though it's the only place in town and has all of 10 tables.

 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 31. We depart Stonington at 10:00 am, bound for Bar Harbor.As we pass through the eastern part of Deer Island Thorofare, we meet several magnificent old coasting schooners running downwind through glassy waters on their way to Penobscot Bay.Each of them is loaded with passengers.The John Taber is the first and the most memorable as her skipper has written about boating in the Penobscot Bay.These ships take passengers out for several days or a week among the beautiful islands of the area.The run from Stonington to Bass Harbor Head on Mount Desert Island is all in protected waters and goes by without event.At one point in the Casco Passage a Coast Guard workboat is resetting a buoy.The officer was taking horizontal sextant angles to get the exact position.After Bass Harbor Head, we travel up a series of waterways behind the Cranberry Islands (so named for the wild cranberry bogs there) and then round Mt. Desert Island into Frenchman's Bay enroute to Bar Harbor.

 

Acadia National Park is located partially on Mount Desert Island, the rest being on Schoodic Point, across Frenchman's Bay, and on Isle au Haut.This park was the first national park east of the Mississippi and came into being because the wealthy vacationers who inhabited Mount Desert Island at the turn of the century were concerned over the damage that logging operations were doing.Believe it or not, they got together and bought the land.Then, after some years of hassle, they got the U.S. to accept it as a park in 1916.The view as you travel along Mt. Desert by water is spectacular.Granite outcroppings are an abrupt boundary to the open sea.The waves crash against the rock and send spray flying high into the air.Occasional indentations in the coast provide rocky beaches and a couple of holes where you can anchor.Over all this is a magnificent forest that marches up to Cadillac Mountain, which, at 1532 feet, is the highest mountain on the Atlantic seaboard.

 

At 3:00 pm, we arrive at Bar Harbor.The Harbor itself is formed by a mud flat, three islands, and a manmade jetty.It is roughly a mile wide and completely open to the east for 3 miles.There is one large stone quay at the foot of town, with a parking lot on it.Attached to this quay are four floats, two on the protected side, which are used for permanently located small boats and charter boats.The other two are located on the southeast side and are used for transients and to service the boats at moorings.Since it's a weekday and there isn't much traffic at the floats, the harbormaster consents to our tying up overnight at the transient float.This puts us right in the center of town and it's an easy walk to the stores, etc.

 

Bar Harbor came into being in 1844 when the famous nature painter, Thomas Cole, settled there.He invited all his wealthy friends to visit him there and by 1890 it was the summer social capital of the country.Bar Harbor still retains much of the flavor of those days.There are more stores than in any other New England town that I've visited.Many excellent hotels and restaurants are also there.

 

While we have been making our way up the coast, a nasty little storm system has been brewing back in New Jersey.It's moved on to the northeast and is predicted to hit our area overnight.I debate moving to a mooring, but since the wind is predicted to be out of the northeast, I figure we will be in the lee of the islands, and protected.When I go to bed, the water is calm and so is the wind.

 

THURSDAY, AUGUST 1.At 4:00 am, I awake to find the Amberjack rolling liberally and rain pouring down.The wind is out of the east, giving the seas the aforementioned three miles to get a run at us.The float and the boat are really getting a ride!There's nothing for it at that point but to ride it for a while.I wouldn't be able to get the boat off the windward side of the float without sustaining some damage.When it becomes light, I enlist the help of the crew of a sailboat on the other side of the float and get two lines across the 50 feet of open water to the other float.With these, I'm able to pull the boat off the overworked fenders and have her roll free, at least.At the worst of the storm, the rollers are about 2 and 1/2 feet high.I'm surprised to find all the dinghies tied to the back of the float awash with water.At the time, I thought they must have shipped water from the seas.Later I learn that Bar Harbor had received six inches of rain in that storm.

 

The rain finally ends about 9:00 am but the wind keeps right on blowing.I want to leave Bar Harbor for Northeast Harbor but there is a sobering thought to be dealt with.The spectacular shoreline along Frenchman Bay would be no place to be blown ashore in the event of a loss of power.The water goes from 100 feet deep to rock 100 feet high in 500 feet at some points.There would be no way to safely anchor in an emergency.I decide to wait it out until the advertised wind shift to the northeast or north takes place so that I can be sure that we won't be in trouble if the engine quits.

 

The wind ever so slowly backs to the safe northeast quadrant.Finally, at 3:00 pm, it looks like we can start the 2-hour run.At 4:00 pm, with the help of our friends from the sailboat, we ease the Amberjack out of the space between the floats and make our way out of the harbor.As we work our way down Frenchman Bay, the seas build up to 6-foot rollers with a 3-foot cross-sea caused by the wind shift.Since all this is coming from astern, and since the rollers aren't breaking, it's a comfortable ride.I keep well clear of the coast, however.As we round into the lee of Mt. Desert Island, the seas subside rapidly and by the time we enter Northeast Harbor, the water is calm.

 

It's a little hard to describe the waters to the south of the eastern part of Mount Desert Island.Four large islands and several smaller ones nestle in a square notch cut out of the large island.The waters in and around the islands vary in depth from tidal flats to over 60 feet.They are well protected from the open sea to the south.Right in the corner of the notch, there is a piece of water roughly two miles by two miles.To the southwest lies Southwest Harbor.To the northeast lies Northeast Harbor, logically.The distance between the two harbors by boat is about 3 miles.By land itís about 15 miles.

 

Northeast Harbor is a long, narrow harbor.It is a scant 3/4-mile from the entrance buoy to the tidal flats at the head of the harbor.The harbor has a floating marina and the inevitable moorings.We're informed by the harbormaster that the slips at the dock are all taken, but there are moorings available.For such a small harbor, there are a vast number of moorings.They are packed in so tight that I don't believe they can all swing without colliding.I pick up what looks like the last mooring not far off the dock.The harbor is ringed by wooded hills with houses set into the woods.At an elevation of a hundred feet or more, straight up the hill at the head of the harbor, stands a large building, which looks like a hotel.

 

We get into the dink and row to the float for a look around the town.There is the usual public float where one can tie up for an hour or two and pick up water and supplies.There is also a large sign that says "No dinghies on the front of the float."The only problem is that the back of the float is absolutely crammed with dinghies.One for every moored boat, it seems.I finally tie the Sportyak at the very end of the float, hoping I won't find it gone or ticketed when I return.The marina is quite large with very nice floating docks.Boats 20 feet and smaller are tied bow to on a long float.Right next to the main wharf is the absolute largest sloop I have ever seen.I pace off the length of this beauty and it comes out to be 100 feet, give or take a few.The decks are all teak.The cockpit, if you could call it that, has a table permanently installed forward of the wheel.This table could easily seat 12 for dinner.Outside this cockpit, there is still about 5 feet of deck on either side.The mast simply towers over anything else in the harbor.There are dozens of cruisers and sailboats at the floats.

 

Once you leave the marina park there is a short but steep climb up a hill to the main street of town.The town is not extensive, about three or four blocks of the inevitable gift shops.Here, however, the shops tend toward rather high quality art and jewelry.The homes are all rather stately and well kept.There are a number of guesthouses and no motels, fast food places or gas stations.You can get gas at the combination convenience store gas station, however.A number of restaurants are listed.All but one are somewhere out of town.We have a very nice dinner at the Popplestone Inn, which is located on the edge of the harbor park.

 

FRIDAY, AUGUST 2. Morning dawns crystal clear.No fog, no wind.I decide to go jogging.I take the road that will lead me to the large building at the head of the harbor.It turns out to be the Asticou Resort, on the edge of the Asticou Wildlife Area.The large building seems to be the recreation and dining area.Numerous small cottages are placed about the grounds, similar to the resort I mentioned earlier.As I'm returning to town, I see a path leading off the road that has a sign telling me that it is a nature trail to town.Being much inclined to this sort of thing, which has gotten me into trouble on other trips, I take the nature trail.I soon find myself following along a babbling brook of crystal clear water.The brook rushes down the hillside under a cover of hardwood trees and so do I.Soon it breaks out onto a grassy slope from where I can look out over the tidal flats to the harbor.Right at the edge of the flats the trail leaves the brook and makes its way to a stairway of about 150 steps that brings you back up on the main road.It is a pretty side trip.The only problem is that early in the morning, the grass and weeds on the trail are laden with dew.I now have soaking wet shoes and socks!

 

We depart Northeast Harbor at 6:30 am.Just to the west lies Somes Sound.This is the only true fjord on the coast of North America.We take a side trip to explore it.It is named for the first permanent settler on Mt. Desert Island.He came to the island by boat from Gloucester in 1761 to cut a load of barrel staves.He liked the area so much that he brought his family.They lived on their boat until they got their house built.The narrows at the entrance to the 7-mile long sound are about 500 feet across.The water is 20 feet deep, however.The widest point is a little over 1/2 mile.At one point, a 600-foot mountain and an 800-foot mountain look at each other across the sound.They are a mile apart.The water between them is 138 feet deep!The sound is busy with small outboard lobstermen.

 

We work our way back out through the narrows and proceed around the western half of Mt. Desert Island past Bass Harbor Head.After crossing Blue Hill Bay, we enter Eggemoggin Reach.This mile-wide natural waterway is 16 miles long and separates Deer Island from the mainland.It is a very pretty passage with forested shores.The weather remains excellent and the protected waters are calm.In this stretch of water we meet four or five other boats.

 

From Eggemoggin Reach we pass into the eastern arm of Penobscot Bay.Roughly the size of 10 or 12 Barnegat Bays with most of its water depths in excess of 50 feet, (270 feet in places) Penobscot Bay is ideal cruising.On this Friday in early August, we didnít see more than 5 boats at any one time!The bay is split lengthwise by an archipelago of islands.The largest, Islesboro Island, lies to the north with all the others strung out to the south.We cruise north and then around the island and back to the south.At this point, what looks like a dog occasionally pokes its head out of the water.They're seals.We cruise over near Seal Island to see if it will live up to its name, but apparently they're all out foraging for fish.

 

At 3:00 pm we arrive at Cambridge.Cambridge is the northernmost of three seaports on the western coast of the bay.Next, just over a ridge, is Rockport, followed by Rockland.I intend to stay overnight at Camden.The harbor is incredibly crowded.It makes Northeast Harbor look like it was empty.The inner harbor has a large boatyard on its eastern shore and the town on the western shore.The boatyard has no space for us at the dock.In fact, they are so crowded there that they have floating docks out in the harbor that are about 35 feet long and are moored with no connection to land.Each has two boats tied up to it and a dockbox at either end.It's a damned short dock with no place to go, but what a view when you have a dock party!

 

The inner harbor is also where a half dozen or so of the tall ships moor when they are in port.These ships raft alongside each other with formidable moorings holding the whole flotilla in place.I finally locate a mooring in the outer harbor, which is also incredibly crowded, as well as quite large.Where the inner harbor is about 200 feet by 1000 feet, the outer harbor is about 3000 feet in diameter.The crowding is so tight here that moored boats are gently colliding with each other in the light and variable breeze.There has to be some damage sustained from this random contact, particularly when they rock in the wake from passing vessels.About 300 feet up the shoreline from our mooring is a wide paved ramp.The paving ends at the water line and from there on the bottom are small rocks about 3 to 5 inches in diameter.There is a small seaplane on the ramp, just out of the water.No one is around the plane.It happens that the tide is falling at the time.In about an hour and a half, the water has receded 15 feet from the plane.The pilot and three other men show up and manhandle the 2000-lb seaplane over the rocks to the water.I can just imagine what the bottoms of those thin aluminum floats look like.After watching the seaplane take off, I paddle to the ramp and took a walk into town.

 

It's a busy town.Route 1 passes through the center and there is an extensive business district.There is also a park and a couple of very old boat building establishments.The most vivid recollection is of old homes with neatly trimmed grounds.It is a pretty place to walk.Since the waterfront is so crowded, the main shops for the boatyard are located two blocks from the water, up a steep hill.In fact, the yard itself is on a hillside.When I walk into town, there is a 50-foot ketch sitting in the grassy yard looking for all the world like a child's toy boat put aside for the moment.When I return, this huge, fully rigged boat is being trundled down the street, down the hill and around the bend to be launched.All just a routine operation at Camden.

 

SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, the weather is again just beautiful.I row ashore and set off jogging to Rockport, a very picturesque harbor 3 miles to the south of Camden.Once I leave the town and get out on the little country road, I get to thinking.You know, there is no way, once you leave the coast, to tell if you are on a road in Maine, or Tennessee, or New Jersey, or Illinois.To the sharp-eyed, the stones on the ground and the flora and fauna tell a story, but the houses, cars and signs could be anywhere.

 

I puff over the hill into Rockport.This small town sits at the head of a long narrow cove that is ringed on three sides by steep hills.The town is set into the hillside.There are very few shops and only one restaurant.There is a pretty little park on the waterfront.This park has a restored lime furnace and a little steam locomotive.The town was once a center of the lime industry, which flourished in this area.There are only a few small floating docks at the waterfront.Most of the traveling boats are riding quietly at moorings in the harbor.They include several tall ships that have apparently stopped overnight there.I work my way back up the hill and travel down the long slope back to Camden.As I get back into town, I catch the delicious aroma of pastries baking.Since one of my customs when out jogging is to stop on the way back to the boat and pick up some goodies for breakfast, I start to follow the odor to its source.I zig and zag but instead of getting stronger, it just peters out before I get to the business district.I never did find that kitchen.

 

The Amberjack moves on down the Penobscot and slips up into Rockland Harbor for some pictures.As we're making our way out of the harbor, two of the windjammers join us.They're under power, being pushed by their diesel push boats.These are 20-foot skiffs with a stout diesel engine that are carried athwart ship on davits across the stern when under sail.When under power, their blunt noses are butted up against the mother ship's counter and spring lines on each side keep them in place.To alter speed, a crewman has to climb over the stern and go down a rope ladder and adjust the controls.We got several pictures of these ships cutting across the glassy waters.

 

The next port, five miles further south, is Rockland.This is the major commercial center for the area.It is one of Maine's largest lobster collection and shipping points.Rockland harbor is an excellent natural harbor.Every year on the first weekend of August, Rockland has a lobster festival.With marching bands, parades, and a festival atmosphere, they serve 20,000 lobsters to visitors from all over the world.From the papers, we know this was the day of the festival, as evidenced by the bands playing and the dozen windjammers descending on the harbor.I decide that yet another lobster isn't worth the trouble of changing our itinerary and finding a mooring and getting ashore.We just tour the harbor and leave.Now I'm sorry I didn't take advantage of our happening on the event as we did.Time and tide wait for no man, however, and at 10:30 am we depart Rockland Harbor for Boothbay.

 

By this time our shipboard routine has become well established.I usually go out jogging in the morning.After I return, I get the Amberjack underway and clear of the harbor.During this time Marilyn prepares breakfast and brings it up on the bridge.After breakfast, and when we're in open water, I turn over the watch to her and go below to finish exercising.Itís a challenge to try to do pushups in a rolling sea.With that chore over, it's time for a shower and back up to the flybridge.

 

The weather for the entire trip is comfortably cool.I start out with a flannel shirt and jeans. By mid morning I'm down to a tee shirt and jeans, then in late afternoon, it's back to the flannel shirt.The flybridge is fully enclosed with clear vinyl curtains.We only took these curtains down one day and then I had to put them back up after an hour because it was too cold in the wind.When the bridge gets too warm, we open the center panel in the windshield.If that's too chilly, the corners will allow enough ventilation without freezing us.A 2-quart stainless steel thermos provides an endless supply of coffee.

 

We cruise over flat seas past Muscongus Bay, which looks as enticing as Casco Bay with its dozens of islands and hidey-holes.Alas, I'll have to leave that for a future trip.That's the nice part about cruising Maine.It would take a dozen two-week trips to just get the measure of the coast.After negotiating the tight little passage off Linekin Neck, we turned north into Boothbay Harbor.By the way, here there are some boats on the water.Not enough to come up to Barnegat or Chesapeake standards, but some, anyway.After all, it is Saturday in August!

 

Boothbay Harbor is again quite small and very crowded.The shore is lined with marinas with floating docks and the center is jammed with moored boats.The Carousel Marina tells us by VHF that they have a slip for us.What they don't tell us is that we have to maneuver thru a 15-foot passage with our 12-foot beam and then turn on our axis in order to squeeze into it.On the starboard side of the "squeeze" is the highly polished stern of a 100-foot yacht.With the aid of the thrusters and a nervous crew, the Amberjack gets put to bed without incident.

 

This is a very busy port and since our berth is on the inside of the fuel dock, we have an excellent view of the activities.A fifty-foot sloop is tied up directly astern.This boat has just made a seven-day passage nonstop from Florida to Boothbay Harbor.The skipper is asleep below the whole day.I figure the boat had to have averaged better than 8 knots for the entire trip.

 

Two features of the town are a quarter-mile footbridge across the head of the harbor and an outdoor pick-your-own lobster restaurant run by the local lobster cooperative.Dinner at the outdoor restaurant is an experience I could have done without.First you stand in line to select your lobster and steamers.This done, you're given a number like in a bakery.Next, you get in another line to get side dishes and beverages.While you're in line two, line one calls you to give you your steamers, which are served in a flimsy paper tray.If you go to eat the steamers, you lose your place in line.When you've ordered in line two, you're given another number.Now you go and find a table.About now, you guessed it; they call your number for the lobster.You can now eat your lobster or wait for the rest of dinner. Finally, when the lobster is eaten, the side dishes come.All this for slightly more money than a well-served dinner in a sit-down restaurant.On the way back to the boat we pass the largest "old salt" statue I've ever seen.This one, in traditional sou'wester, is about 25 feet tall.We get some pictures standing by his knee.A check of things in the engine room showed not the least sign of leakage in the drip pan.The oil is down one quart.Everything is looking good.

 

SUNDAY, AUGUST 4, the excellent weather continues.We depart Boothbay at 8:30 am for the long run to Kennebunkport, our last port of call in Maine.The weather is crystal clear and the water is calm.There is little to do but read to while away the hours.At 3:00 pm we tie up at the float at Chick's Marina in Kennebunkport.As I reported last year, Kennebunkport is primarily a vacation and tourist center.During our stay, there is a march for nuclear disarmament.This is aimed at Vice President Bush, whose family has a summer residence nearby.Unfortunately, Vice President Bush has flown back to Washington before the march began and missed the whole thing.The Doonesbury comic strip has a sequence that bemoaned the concern that Kennebunkport might become too "touristy" due to the presence of the Vice President.This is amusing only to those who have visited Kennebunkport.They also speculated on whether the "acting president for a day library" would be established there.

 

My curiosity aroused, I jog down along the river and east along the coast until I come to the Bush compound.The main house sits out on a small peninsula of land with water on three sides.Every few hundred feet there are little guardhouses equipped with TV cameras.Since Mr. Bush isn't in residence, the guardhouses are unoccupied.The driveway has a sawhorse barrier across it with a small but official looking sign that simply states "Private Property -- No Trespassing."Behind it is a manned gatehouse and government style support buildings.There is nothing that states in writing that a high official of the United States lives there.On the way back I notice that the jagged rocks along the shoreline show strata jutting upward at a forty-five degree angle.What a monstrous upheaval of the earth's crust must have produced this angle!††

 

MONDAY, AUGUST 5.Our excellent run of weather continues.The Amberjack is refueled for the first time since Portland.The 8-knot cruising speed is giving a fuel burn of 2.5 gallons per hour.The engine has not leaked a drop of oil!Looks like the repair job on the pan is going to hold.At 10:00 am we slip down the narrow river through Kennebunkport and head out to sea.The preceding quiet days bring us quiet seas.An hour or so after departure, we pass Cape Neddick.This cape is a narrow finger of land that juts out into the sea about a mile.On the tip is a lighthouse that just begs to have its picture taken.The waters are deep right up to the rocks at the foot of the point, so I maneuver in close for some calendar pictures.

 

We proceed southward and pass between the mouth of Portsmouth Harbor and the Isles of Shoals.These seven islands straddle the border between Maine and New Hampshire.Totaling about 350 acres, they were first charted by John Smith, who named them "Smith's Isles," of course.They are surrounded by shoal waters and are therefore a great attraction for fish.The fishermen who frequented the area noted that the fish gathered into schools there.This was called "shoaling" and so the islands became known in the vernacular as the Isles of Shoals.For a period of time the islands were inhabited by outlaws and were considered a very undesirable place to visit.Eventually, the government established a lighthouse on one of the islands.The lighthouse keeper was industrious and built a hotel on the island.His daughter was a poet of some note and this attracted the literary lights to the hotel.On their heels came other wealthy vacationers.The hotel, joined by others, operates to this day.There is considerable traffic from the mainland to the islands for both fishing and vacationers on the islands.

 

As we cross the border from Maine to New Hampshire, I should give credit to Louise Dickinson Rich for the wealth of historical information, which I acquired from her book, "The Coast of Maine."If you have an urge to learn more about the Maine seacoast, I suggest you read this book.

 

The Amberjack plods on southward and by midafternoon, we're entering the breakwaters of the Merrimac River on our way to Newburyport, Massachusetts.The town lies about three miles up the wide, well marked river.Newburyport has undergone considerable urban renewal.At the waterfront is a beautiful park with a seawall with brand new floats lining it.We tie up to the seawall float, but I'm a little nervous about leaving the boat there since the main channel is only a hundred yards off and the traffic doesn't seem to be too careful about wakes.The harbor is ringed with marinas.The ones on the town side are small and crowded.The ones on the other side would leave us with a long walk to town.A large bridge crosses the river and I'm told that just above the bridge there is a new condominium/marina that might rent us a slip for the night. I walk up past the bridge to the condo complex.A very pretty young lady in the model is very helpful in putting me in touch with the marina operator and I make arrangements for the night.

 

The floats are spacious and brand new.Further, the marina is protected from the street by the condo complex and a stout gate.Most of the water traffic is headed for destinations below the bridge, so there is no problem from that direction.With the boat secured, we have an early dinner at a waterfront seafood restaurant and take a walk through town.They have done an excellent job of rebuilding the downtown area.Adjoining the park is a mall area done in the cobblestoned streets and brick buildings of early New England.The whole area gives you easy automobile access with good parking while allowing you to shop in attractive surroundings.I find myself playing detective to try to determine which buildings are new and which are remodeled older buildings.There just isn't any easy way of telling from the outside.We stroll back to the condo/marina and settle in for a quiet night's sleep.

 

TUESDAY, AUGUST 6.The Amberjack joins a couple of fishing boats for a quiet run down the river at 6 am.Our destination for the day is Provincetown.On clearing the inlet, I find that the ride isn't going to be quite as smooth as the preceding days.An easterly breeze has stirred up a 3-foot chop.Not bad, but not really comfortable.As we make our way down to Cape Ann, the radio comes to life with calls of concern about an overdue schooner.Seems several windjammers have sailed down from Maine to Gloucester for some event and one of their number hasn't shown up.Coast Guard stations up and down the coast try to raise him with their powerful radios.No success.Visibility is excellent so I scan the horizon from my vantage point.I can cover a half dozen sailing hours with the excellent visibility.No sails in sight!As we round the Cape, I scan all the anchorages to see if he is asleep at anchor.It turns into one of those unsolved mysteries of the airwaves.Nothing more is heard.He probably appeared at the Gloucester breakwater about then and the search was called off.If it doesn't get into the Coast Guard's formal missing vessel system, no transmission is made to tell of the outcome.I should pause here to point out that if a vessel is really considered overdue and potentially missing, the Coast Guard periodically transmits a "securite" call giving a description of the vessel and the details surrounding the case.Then, if the vessel is located, they transmit a message stating where the vessel is located.Up near Bar Harbor, a small sailboat was reported lost with a dog aboard.The skipper had gone overboard and the dog was left to deal with the boat.Apparently the skipper had reported the incident.I never heard the end of that saga either!

 

After passing the Dry Salvages off Cape Ann, I lay in a south southeasterly course for Race Point on Cape Cod.10:00 finds us on Stellwagen Bank, the best spot for whale watching.As we cruise along, spouts appear regularly as small pods of feeding whales pass by.A whale watching boat almost always accompanies the more notable pods.Several times whales breach, sending great fountains of water 50 feet into the air as their great fluked tails point skyward for an instant before disappearing back into the sea.I try to get a photo of this, but you don't get any notice and the whole thing is over before you can get the camera aimed.Further, while I realize they are docile creatures that mean me no harm, I make it a firm practice to give them a wide berth and watch them through binoculars from a distance.

 

Shortly after noon, we pass the black and white "RP" buoy off Race Point.While this means you have arrived at Cape Cod, it is by no means the end of the passage.It is exactly nine miles from this point southeast down to Wood End, then northeast to Long Point, then northwest to Provincetown Harbor.We arrive at Provincetown Marine at 2:00 pm.I'm disappointed to find that they have been rebuilding the main pier and hence have only about half the floating docks in place.As a result, there is no space available at the dock.There are plenty of moorings available, however, so we pick up a mooring and settle in.I catch the launch to the dock and go for a long afternoon run.It's about a 3-mile run across the dunes to the visitor center on the eastern bluffs of the cape.Fortunately, there is a paved bicycle path that is shaded much of the way.From the observation platform atop the center, one can get a panoramic view to sea and west over Provincetown to Plymouth.†††

 

Back in town, I go back to the boat and shower.When I'm ready to go back to shore, the launch is trying to tow a 40-foot sportfisherman with a 30-foot harpoon pulpit to the fuel dock.The wind has backed around to the northwest, so he is working on the windward side of the dock and further is on the windward side of the boat.A formula for trouble!The trouble isn't long in coming.First, the pulpit blows into the dock.By the time he gets the pulpit back out, the boat drifts down on a small boat moored to the pier with an anchor out to hold him off.Of course the mooring lines foul in the big boat's wheels.About 45 minutes later, they finally get it all sorted out.Seems the fellow in the sportfisherman had run out of fuel.After an endless wait, I join Marilyn on the pier and we go to dinner.

 

After dinner, we visit Marspec.Marspec, Inc. is a large surplus mail-order house.If you are in the market for a Rumanian Navy officer's tunic, you can get it there.Or how about dummy bombs, suitable for filling with water or sand?I sprung for some braided line cutoffs and one of these wire saws that you can coil up and put in your pocket.(Which I lost overboard on the way back to the boat!)

 

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 7, is to be one of the long runs of the trip.Provincetown to Newport, RI.According to Gene Lieberman's itinerary, the Procyon will be in Newport today, and we're planning to meet them there.We depart Provincetown at 4:30 am in darkness and a light fog.I haven't done my planning before getting underway and as soon as I clear the breakwater, I'm in trouble.I head for a bright flashing light which I assume is Long Point light, my point of departure for the run to the Cape Cod Canal.After several minutes of running, it becomes obvious that either my eyes or my radar are wrong.It turns out that I'm looking at the Highland light, across two miles of very dry cape!I do some furious plotting and get us headed in the right direction.It just shows that you can't get complacent on the water.

 

The sun rises on quiet seas as we head southwest.The engine is beginning to run a little rough so I increase power to full throttle and we run on plane for about 15 minutes until the great cloud of black smoke has disappeared.This is a problem with running a diesel engine at low power for extended periods of time.I once had to open up the Colonial in the Manasquan after one of these trips.Three outboards and a sloop got lost in the ensuing smoke cloud!When I slow down this time, the engine settles into its familiar purr.We reach the east end of the Cape Cod Canal at 7:30 am and we're passing Qk Fl 1 at the west end at 8:45 am.Our average speed is 8.9 knots.

 

As we cruise down Buzzard's Bay, we hear Gene on the radio.We establish radio contact and exchange notes.He is running ahead of schedule and has left Newport that morning.We pass close aboard at Gong "5" north of Cuttyhunk.I get a couple of pictures of the Procyon as they pass.By early afternoon we've passed through the 1210 area and are entering Newport Harbor.There is a storm brewing and so most cruising boaters are looking for a place to weather the storm.We try several marinas looking for a slip without luck.Finally, someone suggests that we try the Newport Yacht Club.They're able to accommodate us and we're soon moored to a floating dock right next to the Newport Marine Police Station.

 

Newport is always an absorbing harbor to visit.Small boats of every type and description come and go in a steady stream.Since the yacht club is located at the head of the harbor, one gets a panoramic view of the action.Moorings are going fast as the storm approaches.Unfortunately, I don't have much time to enjoy the action.After a quick washdown, I set off into town to find some supplies to mend a section of the flybridge enclosure that has come undone.After about a mile's hike I found a hardware store that has the needed materials and got the job done.We have dinner at a second floor restaurant overlooking the harbor and within about a block of the boat.The rain arrives on schedule and it rains most of the night.

 

THURSDAY, AUGUST 8.In the morning the rain has stopped and I get in some jogging.This year I decide to stay away from the Cliff Walk and see a little more of the town.I get about two miles from the boat when it starts to rain a little.Then it starts to rain a little more.I decide to turn back toward the boat when it starts to come down with a vengeance.I finally find a shopping center where I can stand under the canopy and wait it out.When it lets up a little I make it back to the boat as quickly as I can.Fortunately, it is mostly downhill.The plan for today is to make the two-hour run from Newport to Block Island.We had laid over at the Great Salt Pond on a previous trip, but had not gone ashore to see what Block Island had to offer.The wind is blowing about 20 knots out of the southwest and I know it won't be an easy trip after the night's storm.In our favor, however, is the exit from Newport.The channel is deep and wide, with a gradual transition from protected waters to open sea.We can always turn back if it gets too rough.

 

I decide to try it.We leave Newport in late morning.By the time we pass Brenton Reef Light the seas are right on the bow at six feet.I back off on the speed to ease the ride.About halfway across, I decide it is not the time to enter the jetties to the Salt Pond on the windward side of the island.The old harbor is right in the center of town on the eastern side of the island.This is the leeward side and so that's where I head.With rock bluffs 100 feet high blocking the wind, the waters are blessedly calm.

 

We pass inside the breakwater of the old harbor and find that the cramped harbors of Maine are like oceans compared to this.Two giant ferryboats, a small anchorage, and about forty small boats at docks all share a space the size of a football field!To impossibly complicate matters, a 75-foot gasoline barge is offloading fuel to the island.The dockmaster tells us to raft out alongside about six other boats until the fueling is done in "an hour or so."Finally, two hours later, after a mad scramble, everyone is docked stern to at the dock.The small boat portion of this harbor is just 150 feet square.The permanent boats have moorings off the dock to hold their boats off.The transients just place fenders between their sterns and the dock pilings and tie to the dock with long spring lines.Fortunately, there is only about a 3-foot tide.You are kept from swinging sideways by the 15 other boats crammed in alongside you.This costs about $25 per night.

 

Shortly after we get docked, an interesting scene unfolds before us.A small sailboat docks with a half dozen scuba divers aboard.Soon, one of the men launches a windsurfer and starts to try to use it.He apparently knows little or nothing about windsurfing.After a while, he makes the inevitable progress downwind, which takes him out of the inner harbor to where the ferries come and go.His girlfriend apparently decides to rescue him in a small dinghy with a sail.No problem, except that she knows less about the sailboat than he does about the windsurfer!You guessed it!Just as they're trying to sort all this out in the middle of the fairway, not one but two ferryboats arrive.After some anxious moments on all four vessels, the small vessels drift out of the way of the 150-footers and everything is OK.

 

The harbor is right in the center of town.Town consists of about five impressive old hotels and a smattering of other stores.The visitors seem to be of a younger genre than you find at many of the other New England towns.Two of the larger hotels have standing parties that start at about noon and get happier as the evening progresses.There is a bar right at the dockside and droves of happy tourists patronize it.The bars close at about 2:00 am and the fishermen start yelling at each other at about 3:00 am.In between, you sleep.We walk the mile over to the marinas on the Great Salt Pond.There are about five marinas here, plus moorings for a hundred or so boats.All in all, I highly recommend Block Island as a port of call.It is interesting and picturesque and well worth a visit.

 

FRIDAY, AUGUST 9.We depart Block Island for Shinnecock, on the eastern end of Long Island.The ride around the island and across to Montauk Point is uneventful.Seas are down to two feet.I decide to get in some exercise so I leave Marilyn at the helm and go below to do some calisthenics.While I'm in the shower, the Amberjack plows into a fog bank.Marilyn estimated that visibility was about 150 feet.She turns on the automatic foghorn and mounts a radar watch.A short time later a target on the radar begins to close on us.It turns out to be a 40-foot sportfisherman that goes by on full plane!I just hope he had us on his radar as well!From there to Shinnecock, the fog varies in intensity.The trusty loran brings us to the seabuoy without trouble.Now comes the tricky part of negotiating the shoal at the mouth of the inlet.It is pure dumb luck that we arrive at high tide with the tide just starting to fall.Having no local knowledge, I manage to pass right over the shoal, but the water is still five feet deep.We dock at the correct marina this time and I learn that the proper approach is from the west.In my own defense, I was following a local boat that hopefully knew what the depth was.

 

Shinnecock is the easternmost inlet on Long Island.It is also the end of the line on land since there is no bridge over the inlet.There are two marinas, two restaurants, (one for sale) a beautiful and lonely beach, and the inlet.No houses, stores, or anything else.We have dinner at the same restaurant as last year, but somehow it doesn't seem quite so good.

 

SATURDAY MORNING, AUGUST 10, I'm up well before dawn to get an early start on what is to be our longest leg of the return trip.Shinnecock Inlet to Barnegat Inlet.100 nautical miles of open sea.30 miles from land at the furthest point.Marilyn asks me to wait a bit before casting off so that the coffee will be safely in the Thermos in the event that the seas are rough.

 

At about 4:30 we start out the inlet.Past the jetties, I turn west for the dogleg.Now comes the problem.In the dark, with no buoys to mark the deep water, there is no way to tell when to make the turn out to sea.I know that the tide is again near high, so I just run west for a while and then start south with the boat moving dead slow.Seas are running about two feet and there is no white water ahead.I watch the depth finder with a hypnotic fascination.12 feet.. 10 feet.. 9.. 8.. 7.. 6.. Then the numbers begin to increase again.At 4:50 we take our departure from the sea buoy.The seas are quiet as dawn breaks.The coastline recedes ever so slowly as we run almost parallel to it on our southwesterly heading.Marilyn goes below to start breakfast and returns shortly to inform me that the generator starts but won't put out any electric power.I go down and check the brushes, the connections, and everything else I can check short of removing the whole generator.Nothing works.No hot meals this day.Marilyn is still reminding me of how fortunate I am that she made me wait to get the coffee done!

 

When we're about 15 miles off the coast, a 16-foot outboard pulls up alongside to ask us how far offshore they are.They then whiz off to go back to their fishing.There is a lot of lonely sea out there on a Saturday.You occasionally pass within a couple of miles of another boat, chumming, but other than that, you are all alone.Later, a strange thing happens that I have no explanation for.I'm sitting alone on the flybridge facing to port.Marilyn is sitting on a sofa in the deckhouse.The skies are clear and there is a 10-knot breeze from the port side.Suddenly, there is an extremely loud explosion from behind me!It sounds like a firecracker right behind me.I jump up and look around, but there is nothing to be seen.There is one boat that had been converging on us from the starboard, but they've stopped to fish and are now about 1/2 mile astern.I go down and ask Marilyn if she heard the noise.She says she'd heard a muffled pop, but had thought I dropped something on the flybridge.There is no puff of smoke, no nothing.I search the entire boat, thinking maybe a bullet had hit us somehow.Still to this day, no explanation.

 

Shortly after noon, we cross the Hudson Canyon with its 240-foot depth.The afternoon wears slowly on.The only diversion is searching the horizon for some signs of New Jersey.Finally, some specks on the horizon turn into tanks and towers.By 3:00 pm we can identify Seaside.At 4:00 pm we start into Barnegat Inlet and the trip is over.It is a shock as soon as we enter the inlet.Barnegat Bay on a sunny August Saturday has to be the busiest piece of water on God's green earth!We've just spent two weeks where it was crowded if you had five other boats within a sinker's throw.

 

The trip covered 956 nautical miles.Other than the generator, which subsequently had to be rewound, there was no trouble with the boat.††††