Double Rainbows in Camden

We arrived in Camden with cloudy skies and a threat of a shower. Shortly after picking up the mooring we did in fact get a little rain. But rain can sometimes bring us the most beautiful rainbows. And on this evening in Camden we were not disappointed. Not one but two incredible rainbows. If a photo is worth a thousand words I’ll stop now and let you view the photos.

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The mooring rental was from Wayfarer Marine. They had a courtesy car that we used to find a laundry and supermarket. The shops and restaurants there were very good as well. Ginnie was able to find goodies for Reese and Graeme.

Seal Bay in Vinyl Haven

One of the prettiest places in Maine, Seal Bay, is a well protected anchorage in all winds. It is pristine and peaceful. Very few boats seem to find their way here. Dan & Linda have kayaked throughout Maine and were impressed we had found this unique setting. On our previous trip to Maine we spent a few nights here. We collected mussels for dinner and this year we stepped up our hunter/gatherer routine to include soft shell clams (steamers). Dinner consisted of steamers as an appetizer and a dinner of steamed mussels with white wine, butter, garlic, sausage, onions and of course bread for dipping. OMG we couldn’t finish it all, so we had the leftovers as an appetizer the next day.

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Just after sunrise in Seal Bay.

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Early morning fog.

 

Mt Desert Island and Northeast Harbor

Going to Maine without stopping at Northeast Harbor would be a disappointment for us. Not wanting to be disappointed, we left Swans Island and sailed east. The term Eye-Candy had only one meaning when I was younger. Now I have to admit that there is a second type of Eye-Candy to be admired; those many beautiful, well cared for Downeast style boats in Northeast Harbor.
Also a must see there is Thuya Garden. The totally organic garden and surrounding land is a wonderful blend of semi-formal English border beds and indigenous eastern Maine woodlands situated on a granite hillside overlooking Northeast Harbor.
We dinghied to the Asticou Terraces Landing and walked up the 1/4–mile Asticou Terrace Trail to the garden and lodge, passing the Joseph H. Curtis Memorial and enjoying the views from several lookouts along the way. The garden’s borders are a mixture of colorful annuals and perennials defining the two sides of an expanse of grass lawns leading to the upper pavilion at the northern end and a shallow reflecting pool at the southern end. Below are just a few of the photos I took.

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Dan & Linda sitting in a tree……..

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The harbor from the trail going to the gardens.

Meeting fellow cruisers from the Bahamas here in Maine is getting to feel routine. On our way here we received a call on the VHF radio from Dave & Suzy on Cay Paraiso. They were sailing south and called to ask if we were the Firecracker that was in the Bahamas. We were and had a long chat with them. Their home port is Wiscasset, ME.
While on the mooring in the harbor two dinghies pulled alongside- Burt & Pru from Exuberant and Bill & Gayle from Spiraserpula whom we both met in, you guessed it, the Bahamas. It was great to see them once again.

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Bill, Pru, Bill & Gayle
On our way to check in we met former neighbors on the dock who were from Mystic. It is truly a small world.

Rockland and the Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors Show

From Boothbay Harbor we sailed to Rockland to visit with Devon’s sister Shay and her boyfriend Max and attend the Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors Show. I’ve been known to look at boats every so often; it’s so easy to do. But being in Maine brings out my addiction with so many beautiful boats and so little time.
In a time long, long ago when I was a teenager (OK very, very long ago) I had the opportunity to sail aboard an Alden designed schooner named Voyager in Tiverton, RI. The owner was going blind and needed help to go sailing. I was available. Years later when in Newport Harbor I again saw Voyager. Knocking on the hull I inquired if this was the same Voyager that was in Tiverton. Peter Phillips, the owner, said it was and I told him how I had sailed her with the previous owner. He asked if I may have been the young boy he mentioned in an article he wrote for Wooden Boat Magazine. I was! Well let’s fast forward to August of 2014 in Rockland Maine. While touring the harbor in the dinghy we happened upon this beautiful Alden schooner, yes it was Voyager. Could it be, the same Voyager? Absolutely. We hailed to see if anyone was about and Peter’s wife was gracious to invite us aboard. Voyager has, over the years been rebuilt, both in Nova Scotia and in Thailand. She is to die for; originally built in 1929 she is in better structural condition than new with a modern layout below.
While in the Bahamas we had met Ed and Lynne on board Constance. They had completed a seventeen year circumnavigation and were cruising the Bahamas. Having dinner one evening we were reminiscing over the differences of old wood boats vs. fiberglass. I was telling the story of how I had sailed and slept many nights aboard an old Alden schooner in Tiverton. Ed to my amazement said “That was Voyager, and you were the young boy that sailed with Dr. Dewing”. Ed, while circumnavigation the world, had met Peter Phillips in the south Pacific and was told the story of the young boy in Tiverton. At that time Voyager was also in the midst of her fifteen year circumnavigation. This is a very small word indeed. It was very sad to learn that Peter had passed away, I would so much liked to have talked to him again.
Here are a couple of photos of Voyager that I found on line.

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Voyager at the dock in Rockland.
The next morning we dropped the mooring and left for Stonington ME for lunch and then on to Swans Island.

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Stonington was so nice Ginnie and I thought we would look for a small vacation house.

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Downtown Stonington.

Dan had told us that “lobsters in the rough” could be had at Trafton’s Wharf. Buy them there, maybe get them cooked, and bring them back to the boat. Trafton’s looked to me to be just another tired fisherman’s wharf, and it was. But just as advertised by Dan, we were able to buy steamers and lobsters. The owner said he didn’t have time to cook them for us as he was leaving for a local chowder cook-off. Dan said “no problem, can we cook them ourselves?” He agreed and we then had a feast on board. You have to love Maine!

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Chef Dan….Lobsters in the Rough.

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Lobsters and steamers with corn on the cob for four…..$45, not bad Dan!

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This photo is for Ginnie, she just loves to look for lobster pot buoys….NOT!

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Firecracker anchored in Burnt Coat Harbor at Swans Island.
The mooring at Swan’s Island had a Coke bottle attached to the mooring pennant for payment. In the morning Ella and her dad came to empty the bottle. You really have to love Maine.

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Northeast by North, Isles of Shoals to Falmouth Foreside & Boothbay Harbor

We stayed two nights at the Isles of Shoals giving us time to have lobster rolls for lunch and to explore the island. Dan & Linda, friends from our first year in the Bahamas, were joining us for some cruising in Maine after which they planned on kayak camping on some of the islands in the Maine Island Trail. After leaving Isles of Shoals and prior to picking them up at Cook’s Lobster House on Bailey Island, we decided to spend the night at Handy Boat in Falmouth Foreside.
Dan & Linda, with more provisions than you could imagine (Linda does love to cook), came aboard and we went to Dolphin Marine in Harpswell for fuel, water and a mooring for the evening. There were no moorings available in Christmas Cove for the next evening so we diverted to Boothbay Harbor for the night. Dan recommended the Tugboat Inn for dinner and it was wonderful with our table overlooking the harbor.

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Burnt Island Lighthouse on the way into Boothbay Harbor

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Boothbay Harbor

Latitudes & Attitudes

If the Bahamas are the place to be in the winter…then Maine must be the place to be in the summer. We have had wonderful adventures on board Firecracker and this year has been the best. St Marys GA to the Bahamas, back to Fernandina Beach FL, up the east coast to Down East Maine then eventually we will get back to Connecticut.
On our last trip to Maine we sailed off shore from the Cape Cod Canal direct to Northeast Harbor on Mt Desert Island. This year Ginnie wanted to do day hops, stopping each night along the way, so we could see more of the coast. Starting in Mystic we spent our first night at our old mooring at Dutch Harbor Boat Yard in Jamestown, RI. We invited our friends Sam & Tess and Steve & Karen from Sol Mate (who we met in George Town, Exumas last winter) for drinks and hor’dovoures on board Firecracker, then on to dinner at the Oyster Bar in town. We had a great evening with wonderful friends.

The next morning we left for Onset, MA at the west end of the Cape Cod Canal.  As we were sailing up Buzzards Bay we were hailed on the VHF radio by Ron & Karen from Sea Dancer. They were cruising with friends aboard Southern Estate and were anchored in Onset. We met “Rocking Ron & Cool Karen” two years ago in George Town where for many, many years they have been DJ’s for some of the best dance parties in the Bahamas. Ron also was tireless in organizing volleyball tournaments on you guessed it, Volleyball Beach on Stocking Island. It was terrific meeting again on our way to Maine.
We left Onset early to catch the favorable current to get through the canal and on to the Boston Harbor Islands. We picked up a mooring off Georges Island for the night. Below are some photos in the canal and of the sunset over the Boston skyline.

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Also some shots from early morning when we continued north to the Isles of Shoals.

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Star Island, Isles of Shoals

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Firecracker anchored in Gosport Harbor, Isles of Shoals

The Adventure Continues….

We arrived in Beaufort and secured a slip at the Beaufort Docks. Our slip was adjacent to the main bulkhead and we had front row seats for the Friday night entertainment.

Great fun with the best seats in town… in Firecrackers’ cockpit.
The next morning we still had some nasty weather offshore so the decision was made to bypass rounding Cape Hatteras and continue up the ICW to Norfolk, VA. This would be a little more ICW than we had planned for but better than sailing in the conditions predicted for offshore.
After leaving Beaufort NC we crossed the Neuse River and Palmico Sound and entered the Pungo – Alligator Canal. We had no wind and the sights along the canal were breathtaking at sunrise. Below are a few photos taken just after sunrise.

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Morning OJ, Pungo River style.

In Norfolk we stayed at the Little Creek Marina for a few days waiting for weather once again but it was worth the wait. We had a great run from Norfolk to New York City where we sailed by the Statue of Liberty and transited the East River. One section of the East River is Hell’s Gate. It is essential to time your passage through Hell’s Gate to coincide with the current flowing in the direction you are traveling. The current at its peak can be in excess of 5 knots. If we were to try and travel against the current we would be hard pressed to reach a speed of 3 knots, making it a very long passage.
Seeing the New York skyline from the water is very special. Below are a few photos.

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We decided to bring the boat to Branford to haul out at the Brewer’s Yacht Yard as it is less than 10 minutes from home and they were gracious in allowing me to do all the maintenance needed on Firecracker. She needed some new bottom paint and I needed to buff the topsides and complete some other minor projects necessary after our two winters in the Bahamas.

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Cleaning the tannins that are in the waters of the ICW.

Dan and Ted’s Great Adventure, a trip not exactly planned for…

Dan, our friend from our last trip to the Bahamas, graciously (maybe with some excitement) accepted the invitation to crew for our return trip to Connecticut. Our plan was to go offshore from St Marys GA to Branford CT, weather permitting of course. Ginnie was driving the car that we had left in St Marys back to Connecticut. So this was Dan & Ted’s Great Adventure.
We departed St Marys with weather reports that were favorable to at least get us to Beaufort, NC. The forecast was for a possible isolated thunderstorm in the area of Frying Pan Shoals off Cape Fear, NC. “Possible” thunderstorms, well that didn’t happen. “Isolated” not even close! Shortly after midnight when we were about 30 miles south of Cape Fear the thunderstorms started to develop on the coast and move out to sea directly in our path. There were lightning strikes every few seconds. We felt it prudent to do a 180 turn and slowly head south at about 2 knots to keep away from the thunder storms. This way we could turn back north and still make Beaufort during daylight hours when the “isolated” storms moved offshore. Great plan but it didn’t work. The weather didn’t clear until 5AM and we could no longer make Beaufort during daylight hours. We were far enough south away from the storms that we never encountered winds higher than 20 knots and the seas were manageable. In the vicinity of the storms we could see winds as high as 40 to 50 knots on our Sirius satellite weather displayed on our chart plotter. We decided to put in at Cape Fear and made reservations at the Southport Marina for a little R&R since it had been a long night.
The forecast winds for the next few days were to be from the north east, the direction we were heading and the seas were forecast to be 8 to 10 feet. Not a good combination for trying to go back off shore to get around Frying Pan Shoals. So we headed up into the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to get to Beaufort, NC.