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.
On the whole, I was fortunate with the weather, as most days it was warmer last week than it should have been, though there was also often a bit less wind than one might expect this time of year.
I hadn’t been to Jewell in years, precisely because it is so crowded during the season, and I was eager to get ashore for a hike. I didn’t get too far, however, before the darkening sky and freezing air sent me scurrying back to the mothership.
The northeast shore, showing the long layers of crumbly rock that give the larger coast its unique striated geography
Rocky striations, in detail
The next morning was much warmer, so I figured I should take advantage of that and give the bottom of the dinghy its very last scrub of the year. This is always a terrible chore, but it can be made much more palatable if you do it someplace nice, on an open beach with nice scenery somewhere, rather than on a rank dock or trailer ramp.
An evidently Jackson Pollock-inspired growth pattern. What grows on the bottom of the dinghy, I’ve found, varies greatly from one part of the season to the next. What you see here, as nasty as it looks, came off pretty easily
From Jewell I shot clear across to the Basin, up the New Meadows River in the northeast corner of the bay, another popular spot I hadn’t visited in years. The wind this day very brisk, howling from the south with a strong sea behind it, and I got good work-out hand-steering the boat downwind.
Nosing through the narrow entrance to the Basin, which gets extremely shallow (like way less than 10 feet!) at one spot. That reefed main is left over from the battle I fought with the breeze to get there
One of many mysterious “boat bites” I picked up along the way. You know how these work: you never notice them until later, so have no idea how you got them in the first place. I think probably this one came while I was furling the mainsail
Getting all cozy aboard as the sun goes down
The warm interior, heated by my faithful propane heater (not pictured)
A bald eagle by its nest, which I spied heading out of the Basin the next morning. The previous evening I’d watched it hunting for fish not far from the boat. These magnificent birds are getting more common in these parts. I saw another one, with another nest, over at Sebasco not very far from here earlier in the year
The next stop was Potts Harbor over at South Harpswell. The breeze was almost nil, so this transit was mostly under power, though I did make a few valiant attempts to sail when the water ruffled up a bit. Coming into Potts from the east is always interesting, as the channel leading into it from Merriconeag Sound is so terribly convoluted.
One reason I wanted to stop here was to check on the progress being made at the construction site where my grandfather’s house used to be. As I mentioned earlier, I was a little afraid some over-sized McMansion, so common on the coast these days, might be going up in its place.
Doesn’t seem too bad, really. Just one story, like my grandfather’s house, with one bit hanging off the short cliff at water’s edge
The oh-so-empty Dolphin Marina at Potts as evening comes on
The next day was again much warmer than normal… but with thick fog! Not something you normally have to deal with in October.
Underway again, after the thickness of it grew thinner
As it lifted the breeze came on, and I had a fine afternoon just daysailing back and forth across the northwestern reaches of the bay as the haze dialed in and out, stealing islands from view, then revealing them again.
As the sky cleared for good and the sun started setting I eased into the anchorage twixt the Goslings, where I was greeted by a giddy seal that had the bloody remains of some fish smeared all over its face. It looked a lot like Hannibal Lecter, in that terrible scene from The Silence of the Lambs.
What? Seafood for dinner again???
A squadron of cormorants moving out before dark
Technicolor finish to a monochrome day
Up close and personal
The forecast for my last day afloat was for a hard northwesterly, with gusts up to 30 knots by the afternoon, so I didn’t dawdle that morning and got away promptly, blasting down the bay under first a double-reefed main and full jib, and then just the jib on its own.
It doesn’t look it here, but by the time I took the main down it was blowing a solid 20. And it was cold, so the wind was punching well above its weight
The obligatory blog-writer selfie, with a cap on
I was tied up at Maine Yacht Center by 10 a.m., and then came a long day’s work of deconstructing the boat, stripping off sails and running rigging, putting away gear, cleaning up generally, emptying the tanks, etc.
Such a bittersweet business.
At least at MYC I am always in good company.
Rich Wilson’s Open 60 Great American IV, still tuning up for next year’s Vendée Globe. Look for my story on that in SAIL in the upcoming January issue
Joe Harris’s Gryphon Solo 2, poised to set out on a hopefully record-setting non-stop circumnavigation
Pulling the stick on Dodge Morgan’s old boat, American Promise