Shortly after the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta (see last post) I set off from Brooklin to sail about 55 miles to the Muscongus Bay, where the Small Reach Regatta was to be held. Late in the afternoon on August 10, the current and weather were still favorable, so I decided to sail a few hours and find an anchorage for the night. Maine coastal waters are a wonderful cruising ground, with many small islands, rocks, challenging tides and currents. There are rocks everywhere and most of them are unmarked, so you have to keep a constant eye on the chart and the GPS. Just before Stonington I found a nice cove for the night. A neat little Tancook Whaler shared the anchorage.
The next day started with a nice breeze and I sailed past Stonington early in the morning. Just as I started crossing the 5.5 mile East Penobscot Bay the wind died, so I started my iron horse and got to the other side in about an hour. I typically don’t want to linger on open stretches of water, since one never knows what’s coming. Snaking through the Fox Island Thorofare got me to North Haven just in time for lunch. One thing about Maine waters is that there are many lobster boats about. Each village has a real working town atmosphere. The waters are just covered with lobster pots and sometimes require steering a slalom course to avoid them. Fortunately they use sinking lines nowadays. They used to use more floating lines so it was easy to get fouled with them. Most pots have two buoys about 15 feet apart, which makes it even harder to avoid them.
Next was crossing the West Penobscot Bay, which is also about 5.5 miles to Monroe Island. I was close reaching, doing about 5 knots the whole way. As I got there however the wind suddenly picked up a few notches and together with the current made for a challenging upwind slog. After reefing and giving it about half an hour I was soon fed up with it, turned the motor on and found some shelter. I was able to creep along the shore to my next anchorage at Spruce Head Island in the Muscle Ridge Channel.
All this time Tom Jackson was also sailing and rowing in his Nomans Land Boat to go to this event. That night I called him and he was close to where I was on Andrews Island, about two miles over to the east. He doesn’t have a motor and sailed in company with a small yacht which did, so he was able to get a tow once in a while.
To catch the ebb I would have to get up early (4:30) and I woke up by the wake of a lobster boat. These guys start mostly at the earliest light. They also don’t believe in exhausts and keeping their wake down… After motoring for quite a while I got to Port Clyde and then to Friendship Harbor. Only then I found some wind for the last hour of my trip.
At about 2 PM I got to my destination; Hog Island in the Muscongus Bay. The island has an interesting history. In early 1900 it was bought by a woman who wanted to save the island from clear cutting. Since then, around 1936, is was sold to the Audubon Society which together with Friends of Hog island still runs the camp today. This was the first location in the US, where educators were taught about ecology. About 40 years ago, a young scientist called Stephen Kress, started putting young Puffin chicks on an island not far from there called Easter Egg Rock. Puffins were then about extinct on the coast of Maine due to hunting. After putting about 8 chicks in make-up nests and feeding them till the fledged, it took a full 8 years before the first Puffins returned! All this time Stephen kept checking and checking. Now there are a few hundred Puffins that reside in the area, but they are constantly threatened by gulls, eagles and owls. Every year lots of volunteers (called puffineers) stay on the islands day and night to monitor the Puffins and scare off the predators. Some dedication.
Just as I got to the island, there was a reunion going on of ‘Project Puffin’. I was immediately offered lunch, showers and a place to anchor Fetch.
The Small Reach Regatta wasn’t going to happen for another day and I joined the Audubon folks on the schooner Roseway for a ride to Easter Egg Rock to find some Puffins. Despite the dense fog we found some Puffins, but most of them had already migrated elsewhere. Schooner Roseway is an experiential educational program for youngsters, which hails from Maine in the summer and from the Virgin Islands in the winter.
On Wednesday the first sailers started to arrive. About 50 small row/sail boats were scheduled to meet at Hog Island for the weekend. Some smaller boats were hand launched across the way and the trailer launched boats had to go to Round Pond, which was a few miles south. The next day we were off for a short sail around an island. All 50 boats gathered and sailed in one cluster to the lunch spot. A funny thing that happens with so many boats is when the boats in the lead stall because lack of wind, the following boats, who still have some breeze, pile up on the stalled lead boats. Slowly booms and bow sprits become parts of other peoples boats. Lines get tangled and peoples faces turn from happily surprised to somewhat concerned.
The lunch spot offered another surprise. We arrived at this high bar with shells and pebbles. Some boats beached but others went around to the other side of the bar, which was more sheltered. When those guys stepped out of their boats they sank about knee deep in heavy black muck! Some folks had to be helped to even make it out of there. Friends of mine from Holland, Eric and Silvia Wybenga, happened to also attend this event. I knew about them coming, but they didn’t know that I was going to be there. They couldn’t get over the surprise. I had built a boat for them in Holland called ‘Time & Tide’, a modified Nomans Land Boat. Small World I guess.
That afternoon we were presented with a brisk breeze (15 to 18 knots?). I was crewing on a Kinston Lobster Boat and had my hands full, so I don’t have pictures of the excitement. Some folks had never reefed their boats before and had to improvise a bit. The evenings were always a feast with good food and company. The folks at the Audubon Camp really took care of us.
The next day the winds had moderated again and we had a fine cruise to Harbor Island and another fabulous lunch at the beach.
One more day of cruising in company finished off the weekend and people headed back to their cars and trailers.
Tom Jackson and I started our sail back to Brooklin. Tom wanted to work the tide and wind, not having a motor to fall back on. Me on the other hand happily turned on the engine and motored for about 5 hours till the wind picked up enough to go sailing. I had a good breeze across an 8 mile crossing more south in the West Penobscot Bay and arrived at the bottom of Vinal Haven without any mishaps. Except that I accidentally locked myself out of my boat. I had to buy a hack saw, cut the lock and put a new lock on. I had dinner in Carvers Harbor and called Tom. Not knowing of each other’s routes he had just arrived about 1 mile from where I was! Without a motor he arrived at the same spot about 3 hours later, pretty good! We decided to stay the night in a cove on Greens Island. In the middle of the night Toms keel found a rock… I heard some mumbling and shuffling with anchor chain and then it was quite again.
The last day we tried to stay together and our boats matched speeds remarkably well in varying wind conditions. Once in a while Tom would row to not be set back, I tried to be loyal, but didn’t have oars on my boat, just a paddle. After a while I got tired of that and started the motor. I suggested to Tom to go have lunch in Stonington, but he wanted to keep at it. After lunch I had a few more hours to Brooklin and moored safely in front of the school. Always a relief to arrive without any problems. After all one is vulnerable in a small boat in open water.
Before I had left on this week-long cruise, I had shown a model of my new design called Loon. Matt Murphy, at the WoodenBoat Magazine was taken by the looks of it and suggested that Mike O’Brien do a plan review of her. Matt suggested I spruce up the drawings a bit and offered me space to work in their office. He put me in a vacant office next to Carl Cramer and soon I was going full bore drawing plans for Loon. After this trip to Muscongus Bay it took another two weeks to finish the set of plans. I was able to work with Mike, who lives next door, on content and layout of the article, which was quite thrilling. The review will appear in the November issue.