Sunday, September 30, 2007

Kittery Point, ME

Isle Au Haut Post Office

Kathy raises the main in the fog

On top of the lookout tower on Jewell Island

Entrance to the gun magazine, Jewell Island

Isle Au Haut, Allens Island, Five Islands, and Jewell island are remote places, so we’ve been out of touch with the world for a while, which is not all bad. Our hikes have taken us up Mt. Champlain and Bowditch Mountain on Isle Au Haut and around the small communities on Five Islands, and all over Jewell Island. On Jewell we explored the WWII gun platforms, batteries, and spotting towers along with the beautiful trails. The temp got up to a record 85, so I donned the scuba gear and spent 45 minutes cleaning the hull. It didn’t feel too cold until the last 5 minutes, and then when I got out of the 57 degree water it became apparent just how cold I was. After depleting the hot water supply in the shower, my color came back. Now the boat goes a full knot faster, and every day we sail makes me glad to have accomplished that task.

Sailing wise, the fog has become a regular force to contend with. It’s really not so bad once you get used to it, and the chart plotter and radar make it easy to navigate although the lobster pots still require constant vigilance.

Stardust is back in Kittery Point, ME, with Portsmouth just across the harbor. Tomorrow I will give an “Adventure Talk” to a friend’s high school class. We’re getting errands accomplished and looking at the map to see that we have a looong way to go on the trip south! A couple of cold fronts have gone through, and now it is in the 40’s at night and 60’s during the day. We want to be out of here before the icebergs appear.

We’ll head for Boston in a couple of days.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Blue Hill

Top of Blue Hill

Rachel and Mariner hiking Blue Hill

Stardust enjoying a calm anchorage

Schooner at Bass Light

We sailed off of the mooring and out Somes Sound on the 13th in light winds making 2kts, but it was beautiful out, so we didn’t mind the slow speed and didn’t want to break the spell by starting the engine. But we had 27 miles to get to Blue Hill, and it would take 16 hours at this speed, so as we passed Southwest Harbor and the wind decreased to nothing, we cranked up the Yanmar and made 7kts to Bass Harbor light where we met up with a chartered schooner. After rounding the light the winds became favorable to sail again for a while. We alternated sail and motor on the way into Blue Hill Harbor, and then picked up a yacht club mooring as guests of Holly and Todd.

The following day started off nice, with calm air and water, leaving Stardust’s mirror image in this protected harbor. We hiked Blue Hill with Holly in the afternoon, but the clouds rolled in, so there wasn’t a view, but the hike was nice. Afterwards we joined Holly and Todd and son Mariner and Todd’s brother’s family for dinner. They have a very nice house out in the country on 36 acres, much of it covered in blueberries. Holly has a huge garden, and gave us a big bag of vegetables, including a pumpkin which Kathy and Rachel turned into 2 pumpkin pies. The 6 kids played tag into the dark.

On Saturday, a cold front brought rain, so we stayed on the boat most of the day. Holly and the gang came out to visit, so the adults talked in the enclosed cockpit while the kids played games below. Then we had a tour of their Island Packet, Indian Summer.

Today was errand day, which was easy with the loan of Holly’s car. We all hiked up Blue Hill again, but the weather was clear and perfect, providing great views of the surrounding woods, lakes, and sounds. Then we had another scrumptious dinner at their house, and took the dinghy back to Stardust in the dark over the smooth water with bright stars above and bioluminescence in the boat wake behind us. It is in the mid-50s so the generator is running to heat the boat before we go to bed. It will get down into the mid-40s tonight.

It has been a great visit with Holly, and a real pleasure to get to know Todd. Rachel had fun with Mariner on the hike, and they played a game of chess before dinner.

We’ll head for Isle Au Haut tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Somes Sound and Bar Harbor

On top of Mt. Cadillac, MDI

Holly and Todd at Sand Beach, Acadia Park, MDI

Stardust in the rain and fog in Somes Sound, MDI

September 6-7:
The free propane bus came in handy for grocery shopping and other errands. A visit to the Oceanarium was informative as to the strange sea creatures which live in the area. We filled up the water tanks and motored 6 miles up the Somes Sound fjord. Rock cliffs dropped to the water on both sides, with about 800 vertical feet to the hilltops. The current lessened as we approached the head of the sound, and found the Wade’s mooring in a very protected spot. The winds have blown up to 20kts, and the water remains calm, a rarity for us.
Holly Bixby and her beau Todd dropped by on the nearest dock, and I brought them to Stardust in the dinghy. They had a nice bottle of wine and some cheese snacks to savor while we chatted. They own an Island Packett, and sailed to Isle Au Haut over Labor Day. We hadn’t seen Holly for several years. She is a friend from Taos whom we met in 1978. I patrolled in Taos with her partner, Dick Gibson, who died a few years ago from cancer. Dick, (we called him Gibber, or Big Dick, because of his size) was the one and only man on the patrol who kept his humor and sense of fun even when things weren’t going well for us, or we got too caught up in the seriousness of the job. Their dog Amber was the first avalanche search dog on the patrol. After Dick died, Holly sent me some of his skis, such as Rossignol Strato 102’s and Blizzard Comps. I’d take em for a spin around the mountain, to share a run with Dick, and get strange looks from skiers on the chairlift due to the ancient models. Oldies but goodies. We had one engraved and placed on the wall at PHQ on top of the mountain. Big Dick could ski with a grace few others could match, and we’d follow him down the untracked chutes at high speed. On the backside wax races at the end of the day, his weight would carry him across the flats, making him the man to beat, especially on the fast Blizzards. He was an avid sailor before Taos, and after they moved back to Maine. Of our trip on Stardust, Holly said “Dick would be proud.” Wow.

September 8:
We hiked up Cadillac Mountain, at 1500 feet, the highest peak in coastal Maine. The trail was well maintained, and many people were hiking. There is a road to the top, and we didn’t much like having to share the mountain with the distant sound of cars and motorcycles until we got to the top and found a store with ice cream. After the hike down we took the bus into Bar Harbor for some pizza, and then took another bus back to Somes Sound.

September 9:
Holly and Todd took us to Bar Harbor to an art museum which featured Native American art and displays, and some photography and current art. Then we toured the loop road around MDI, and stopped at the only sand beach in the area. There is an extensive web of carriage roads for bikes and walkers, not open to cars. It rained most of the day and into the night.

September 10-11:
Still raining. I bussed into Bar Harbor both days for internet and errands. Ran into friends from the Bahamas, Jim and Ann on Bees Knees. They’ve been here for a couple of months, but are leaving this week for the Caribbean.

We’ll be in the area for another day or so. There are a series of cold fronts coming through and the TV weatherman says summer is over. We’ll go see Holly and Todd again in Blue Hill, and then head south with the geese.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Photos top to bottom:
Sunset at Tenants Harbor.
Rachel spotting lobster traps.
Juliet, one of our neighbors in Camden.
Camden Footbridge.
Hiking up Mt. Megunticook.
Rachel summits Megunticook.
Another neighbor in Camden- we're anchored and he's on a mooring.
Anchored off Camp Island.
Kathy on Stardust.
Granite quarry.

Boothbay Harbor to MDI

August 25:
Rachel and I were in the front yard of the town library in Boothbay Harbor, measuring the perimeter and everything in the yard for a science project on mapping. We were bent over the tape measure when a man stopped right in front of us- I was looking at his feet. Bending upright, I stared into the face of an old hanggliding buddy, Paul Voight! Paul and his wife Barbara said they were in town for the weekend, visiting his mother, who lives in Boothbay Harbor. Along came his mom, son Ryan, and Ryan’s friend Desiree. We all talked for a while, and then met up the next day on Stardust for more hanggliding talk. What a coincidence!
Speaking of which, we got an e-mail from our old college friend, Judith Hagen-Meadow who lives in Norway. She looked at our blog after returning home from a visit to the US, and was in the JFK library the day before we were! So close, and yet so far.

August 26:
Motorsailed 27 miles to Tenants Harbor. Squeezed our anchor in between the moorings in this quaint, beautiful small town.

August 27-29:
Motorsail 20 miles to Camden, ME. We loved this place! Nice town, wonderful harbor full of windjammers, plenty of room for the anchor, and the biggest mountains we’ve seen in years. We walked up Mt. Battie (800’) and then Mt. Megunticook (1400’). It was marvelous looking down on the harbor from this height. Kathy fixed a great lunch which we ate on top while enjoying the view. Whitefoot enjoyed the hike too, but she fell asleep in the dinghy on the way home to Stardust, a first.

August 30-31:
Sailed to Camp Island, off of the Deer Island Thorofare. Collected mussels at low tide, and had a bucketful for dinner. Met Dennis and Lorraine on a trawler, who offered us their mooring in Somes Sound.
On Friday, we woke up to dense fog. Later, as I drank coffee in the cockpit I watched as a nearby sailboat pulled anchor and tentatively advanced towards the wall of fog, circled back, advanced again, sounded the foghorn, and then disappeared into the fog. They must have been on a schedule. We were happy to stay put, and later as the fog lifted for a couple of hours, we took the brown stain off of Stardust’s waterline with ON/OFF, which works very well. Then we hiked around one of the small islands off our anchorage, and took the dinghy on a little sightseeing cruise. Then the fog rolled back in, and there was some light rain into the evening.

September 1-3:
Pat Teagarden and Nick Kirschs’ birthdays. Happy birthday guys! This day dawned clear and sharp with a brisk wind from the north so we sailed a short 10 miles to Burnt Coat Harbor on Swan’s Island. The anchor dragged and dragged without biting so we brought it up to find it covered in kelp. We picked another spot, and later when we dragged again and pulled the anchor up, a huge steel cable hung from it. We got it off, and found spot number 3 which worked.
We took a walk to the lighthouse on a grassy knoll which offered a beautiful view of the ocean and surrounding islands. Whitefoot romped and Rachel slipped and fell a few times in the slick grass with her flipflops on. We bought 5 lobsters from Norm the lobsterman at 4 bucks a pound and had a scrumptious dinner. 3 very large sailboats anchored near us, one being a 100’ ketch. Boats of all sizes and types were out for Labor Day.
We had a nice hike to a granite quarry, and Whitefoot got to jump in the fresh water and chase sticks.
Our friends Jay and Barb loaned us their charts of Maine (saved us $250), and typed up a little guidebook for us too. Jay’s sister Betsy lives on Swan’s Island, so we looked her up. Betsy and Leona live in house overlooking Burnt Coat Harbor, where we anchored. Betsy gave us a tour of the island in her truck, and lucky Whitefoot got to ride in the back. Dogs love trucks! Leona grew up in the same house, and we looked at old pictures of the area and listened to her animated stories of her early life, the island, and wildlife of the area.

September 4-6:
We sailed out of Burnt Coat expecting strong winds and we got them. As we progressively reduced sail, the winds increased, gusting to 28kts. It is not too hard to sail in strong winds if the winds are consistent, and a straight course line is held. We couldn’t do either one. The islands upwind of us changed the wind direction and strength, and the thousands of lobster buoys forced a zigzag course. I was already tired after this short 15 mile sail as we entered Southwest Harbor on Mt. Desert Island (the locals call it MDI). We again squeezed next to the moored boats to drop the hook in 50 feet of water, using 80 feet of chain and another 200 feet of nylon rode. The wind continued to blow above 20kts, and the lobster boats roared in and out of the harbor rocking us to no end. The boats quit at dark but the wind didn’t, so it wasn’t a very good night’s sleep. Consequently, we moved onto a mooring (a deal at $20/night) further in the harbor, in a no wake zone where the lobster boats can’t roar by, and there is good protection from all but east winds.
There are wifi connections on shore, so I hope to post this today and get e-mail, while we do laundry and grocery shopping. Our cell phone doesn’t allow internet connections in Maine, and it has been 3 weeks since we were online. We’ll be here until tomorrow, then move north on MDI to Somes Sound, the only fiord in the US. We want to see more of MDI, including Bar Harbor, and Cadillac Mountain, the highest on the Maine coast. There is a free bus service, sponsored by LL Bean, which runs on propane, and covers the entire island. Also, our friend from Taos, Holly Bixby, lives in Blue Hill which is near here, and we are really looking forward to seeing her.