Maine coast

  • BECOMING A BOAT DOG: The Further Adventures of Baxter Afloat

    Bax in vest

    There were some suggestions after I introduced Baxter here that I needed to get him a life-jacket. I knew this, of course, and wanted one as much for the handle on the back, so I could heave the beast more easily in and out of a tender, as for the flotation. You see him here, modeling his new Ruffwear vest during our recent week-long cruise from Portland to Rockland, and as the expression on his face suggests he doesn’t really mind it a bit. Indeed, by the end of our time together he had deduced that being asked to wear the jacket while aboard Lunacy meant an opportunity to go ashore, and he eagerly wagged his tail whenever I picked it up.

  • CASCO BAY CRUISE: Little Whaleback Island

    Little Whaleback

    Earlier this summer, while stopping over at the Goslings in northwestern Casco Bay, I noticed there was a small mooring field just off the north end of Little Whaleboat Island. It had never occurred to me to put in there, and I could find nothing about it in any cruising guide, or in my annual Maine Island Trail Association guide (which can be a great resource, by the way, when looking for obscure islands to visit). So of course I was intrigued. Late this past week, as I headed out on what will probably be my last solo overnight on the bay this year, I thought I might as well check it out.

  • CASCO BAY CRUISE: Out and About on My Wild Lone in Late October

    Lunacy at Jewell

    Tis true, faithful readers. I have been missing from this space for far too long, lost in the endless maze of Annapolis and the boat tests that come afterward (more on those later), the acquisition of yet another rescue dog (no need to go into that here), and straight into a delicious week of wandering the bay alone on Lunacy before she gets put away for the winter. One advantage of cruising the Maine coast in mid to late October is you can visit high-traffic anchorages without finding any traffic. Witness the photo above, taken at Jewell Island just around sunset, where I was the only visitor in its confined nook of a harbor. This after a swift cold-air sail out of Portland late on a Monday afternoon.

  • FOURTH OF JULY CRUISE: The Father-Daughter Variation

    Lucy navigating

    For reasons we need not go into this year's father-daughter cruise fell on the July 4th weekend rather than on Father's Day. Our big breakthrough this time out was that Lucy got interested in navigation, courtesy of the Navionics app on my iPad. This on day two of the cruise, when we were tediously motoring most of the way from Cliff Island in Casco Bay to Popham Beach at the mouth of the Kennebec River, our traditional July 4th destination.

    After Lucy asked for the hundredth time, "How long until we get there?" I just handed her the iPad and said: "Here, you figure it out."

  • LABOR DAY WEEKEND CRUISE: Lasers and Dogs From Outer Space

    Lasers racing

    As is traditional, our annual Labor Day excursion got off to a late start. But after we finally dropped Lunacy's mooring pennant in Portland harbor on Saturday afternoon, we instantly found ourselves embroiled in the Laser Atlantic Coast Championship Regatta (see photo up top), which was quite exciting. As far as I know we didn't actually get in anyone's way.

    If you were there racing that day and have a different opinion, please feel free to correct me on that.

  • MAINE COAST CRUISE: Mouth of the Sheepscot River

    Wing-and-wing

    With children fortuitously exiled in sleep-away summer activities, my bride Clare and I had a chance last week to venture out on Lunacy for several days on our own. We originally thought we might visit the Damariscotta River, but heading out from Portland last Monday we were plagued by light air and had no reasonable hope of its increasing considerably in the days ahead. This is a problem that often confronts the cruising sailor: when the wind lapses do you simply switch on the motor and go where you wanted to go anyway, or do you sail more slowly and go someplace you hadn't thought of?

  • MAINE COAST CRUISE: To Thomaston and Back

    Phil on Lunacy

    This wasn't so much a cruise as a delivery to nowhere, as the goal was to get Lunacy from Portland to Rockland, get her measured for new sails by Doug Pope, and then get her back to Portland again as quickly as possible. The scheduled window for accomplishing this was Tuesday through Friday of last week. Coming along for the ride was my old partner-in-crime, Phil "Snakewake" Cavanaugh (see photo up top), who in his dotage has taken to wearing country-western garb while sailing.

  • MAINE COAST CRUISE: Up and Down the Damariscotta River

    Lunacy under sail

    During our “adult cruise” (i.e., sans offspring) last summer, Clare and I harbored wild ambitions of ascending the Damariscotta River, but suffered a lack of breeze (and an intolerance of motoring) so settled instead for a perambulation about Knubble Bay and the lower reaches of the Sheepscot River. This summer, having once more disposed of children, I was determined to try again, and we were fortunately favored with some brisk wind early on.

  • NOVA SCOTIA CRUISE: Fog With Everything

    Lunacy in Lockeport

    I am writing this in the obscure, once prosperous fishing port of Lockeport, not too many miles north of Cape Sable on Nova Scotia's so-called Southwest Coast, which actually faces east. It is not foggy now, though it was when we came in here just before sunset yesterday. So thick we couldn't see more than 30 yards and had to do a might bit of groping with chartplotter and iPad before we found the docks of the White Gull Marina (see photo up top), where we settled in for the night alongside a big turquoise Novi-style lobster boat named Newfie Kids.

    We've been out eight days now and barring some unforeseen disaster while recrossing the Gulf of Maine, I can say this little voyage has been an unmitigated success. Even with the fog. And in part because of it.

  • POPHAM BEACH PILING REMOVAL: The Politics of Beach Erosion

    Popham pilings

    So, about that arrogant CEO I mentioned in my last post: this would be Jackson Parker, who runs a heavy construction company called Reed & Reed, based in Woolwich, Maine. About five years ago Mr. Parker built himself a McMansion on Popham Beach--he calls it a “cottage,” in the best tradition of the old Newport elite down in Rhode Island--just down the beach from a small house owned by my aunt. WaveTrain riders with long memories may recall this is the house where my mom died over seven years ago.

    Since buying his property and building his cottage Mr. Parker has decided he does not like a collection of old steamboat pier pilings (see photo up top) that jut up out of the water just off the beach, almost directly in front of my aunt’s house and just a short distance down from his. He may not like the look of them, or he may (as some contend) want to build a dock of his own, or, most likely I think, he may, as he claims he does, sincerely believe the pilings are causing the beach to erode.

  • PROVINCETOWN MA TO PORTLAND ME: Doublehanded With Underpants

    Bear front

    Lunacy at last, as of early Tuesday morning, is all the way home. I brought along crew for this last mini-leg of the voyage not because it felt necessary, but rather because an old friend, a fellow sailor, Frank "Bear" Gibney, has suddenly reappeared in my life and it seemed the perfect way to reconnect. As you can see in that photo up there, Bear quickly got the hang of Lunacy's helm and became adroit at steering with his (well-underpanted) groin.

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