AGROUND AGAIN: Old Trick in a New Location


Oct. 4/2021:  One thing I needed to take care of on Lunacy this past month was replacing the propeller zinc, the one anode on the boat that degrades fastest. I first tried doing this in the water, diving on the prop while Lunacy lay on her mooring in Portland, in what I call the lagoon between the municipal waste-treatment plant and a baked-bean factory. I was nervous about this, first because there’s a lot of current in there, also because I’ve always imagined there might well be some sort of weird biological beans-and-feces feedback loop between the two facilities. But I waited for some slack current, put on my big-boy swimming trunks and a mask, and jumped in anyway.

I did get the zinc on the prop hub, but could only get one of the mounting set-screws to bite and take hold. I dove on the prop many times in vain trying to get the second screw to bite, then finally gave up when I got tired and cold. Since I also wanted to give the bottom a light scrub, I figured I’d ground the boat somewhere nearby and take care of both jobs out of the water.

The question was where to do this? I’d only ever dried out the boat in Popham, where I know all the low-tide ground quite well, and never in the Portland area.

There is in fact one nice low-tide bar right in the lagoon, very close to Lunacy’s mooring, so I checked that out first.

Lunacy’s mooring is in the southwest corner of the “lagoon” between the fixed bridge and old railroad swing-bridge seen in this chartlet. You can see the low-tide bar in question in the northeast corner


Landing there in my dinghy, I found the ground is indeed hard, but a bit steep with a lot of large rocks. There is some clean space where the boat might rest safely, but it is quite small and it seemed it might be challenging to park the boat in precisely that spot on a falling tide.

The next place I thought of was a bar between two islands, Great Chebeague and Little Chebeague, just a few miles north of Portland. I knew this was fairly large and had often seen people walking there at low tide, so figured it must also be pretty firm.

I have explained before that when drying out a boat on the tide you really do need to know your ground well. So I took Lunacy up to Chandler Cove, off the south end of Great Chebeague, on a falling tide, picked up a mooring, then dinghied over to spend some time walking the bar.

It proved to be a pretty ideal spot. The ground is very firm, quite flat, with a large area where there are no rocks of any sort.

The designated grounding area, between Ricker Head on Great Chebeague and the northeast end of Little Chebeague. Most of the ground between those three charted rocks on the narrow part of the bar and Ricker Head is very clean and good to dry out on


I spent the night aboard Lunacy in Chandler Cove, then motored over the following morning at high tide and anchored on the bar. The trick, of course, was knowing just where to anchor. I’d meant to take my iPad with me when I walked the bar the previous day, so I could mark a waypoint where I wanted to be on my Navionics app, but unfortunately I’d left the damn iPad at home. So instead I took some visual bearings on different landmarks. These worked well enough, and it helped too that it was very easy to see the bottom as I motored over the bar.

Once the boat was aground I had plenty of time, about two hours, to check on the prop zinc and clean up the bottom. I was pleased to see the one set-screw I’d planted had kept the zinc in place. Getting the second screw on was easy with the boat high and dry. I also had several visitors, as walking out to Little Chebeague at low tide is a popular pastime for people on Great Chebeague. All these people assumed I had landed on the bar through some terrible mishap.

When I finished my chores I hiked over to Little Chebeague myself. I was out of sight of the boat for some time, and was surprised when I started back to find the rising tide was threatening to cut me off. The tidal current over the bar is quite strong, so you do need to be careful about this


Waiting to float again


All in all this was a great success, and I am pleased to have found such a great spot for drying out so close to my mooring. It’s bound prove useful in the future.

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4 Responses
  1. Clemson

    I really enjoyed reading this article, which is my first exposure to Lunacy. I discovered your sailing report while researching Tanton Cat ketches . I saw a photo of this incredible sailboat with Portsmouth NH painted on her stern and that is where I live, so further investigation was in order.
    I now look forward to starting at the beginning your story with Lunacy and will probably purchase one of your books in the near future.

    1. Charles Doane

      Clemson: Glad you found me here! Enjoy the blog, buy the books. Hopefully we will cross paths in Portsmouth someday. I’m in Annapolis right now, doing the boat show thing. Back in Portsmouth soon. cheers, charlie

  2. Nice work Charlie. I have been a fan of the Boreal for a long time and the way the design lends itself to drying out. Not a simple thing to do by yourself but you made it look easy.


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