Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Mistaken Island, Monhegan Island, On to Penobscot Bay

Tuesday, July 10

I woke up this morning to the sound of – nothing. When you are tied up in a marina, there are all kinds of boat sounds – fenders creaking, lines stretching, battery charger humming, AC running, other boats and people. At anchor, or on a mooring, there is usually some noise ranging from lapping water to crashing commotion depending on the night.

On this morning, here at Indian Bar just outside Castine, Maine, there is nothing. It is a perfectly still morning. The water is barely rippled. SeaClearly sits calmly with her anchor chain and snubber hanging straight down into the clear, cold water. The wind generator, which was spinning like mad all day yesterday, is just basking in the sunrise. Nothing moves, so nothing creaks, squeaks, thunks or bumps. Quiet. This is quite a contrast from our night at Monhegan Island and the trip to Castine yesterday.

But, backing up a little bit, we spent Saturday night, July 7 into Sunday, July 8 at Burnt Island. Not, it turns out, at the Burnt Island we expected. I mentioned previously there are multiple, many Burnt Islands in the area. This was not the one with Living History Lighthouse Tours. This was a private island that sponsors Outward Bound adventure training classes. The night we were there, there was no one.

There was a sand bar that uncovers with the tide between Burnt and Little Burnt Islands. We had seen several loads of powerboat locals there the previous afternoon so, in the morning, we decided to go have a look. But first, I wanted to look under the boat. When we were backing down on the anchor when we arrived, there was a last-minute vibration that made SeaClearly shudder.

Sure enough, from the dinghy with the sun at just the right angle, I could see a tangle of line glimmering around the prop. Fortunately, the water is clear. I took our long boathook and started prodding around and got a hold of a loop of the line. I couldn’t get it to the surface but I could reach down into the water to start untangling the line. Between the boathook and my hands and arms, blue from the freezing cold water, I managed to get down to just one strand of line left around the shaft. One last good yank and the shaft rotated and let go of the line. Lucky. That’s twice I have been able to get a line off our shaft with that boathook. A valuable piece of equipment.

We took Tilly to the beach - an actual beach with sand and everything. These bars are interesting. The beach appears and disappears with the tide. At high tide, we watched a small boat drive right over this spot. Tilly played until the bar entirely uncovered and connected the two islands. Then, the caretakers of Burnt Island showed up. They were nice enough, but they had several dogs with them and you just never know how dogs will all interact. An isolated, private island is not where you want to find out. We talked to them for a few minutes and dinghied back to SeaClearly and prepared to leave for Monhegan Island.

Monhegan is a rock island about 10 miles out in the ocean. We had a pleasant ride out in calm seas. The winds were predicted to come up briskly from the southwest later, which would put the wind in our face, so starting early was good. There were lobster pots and lobster boats everywhere. The drone of diesel motors is the soundtrack to sailing in Maine.

We had a nice day on the island. There are a handful of mooring balls available in between the local lobster boats that can be used by vistors (for a small fee). We couldn’t get in touch with the Harbormaster so Junie shouted to one of the lobstermen and he pointed us to a mooring. Then, we called again and finally reached Sherman, Master of Monhegan, who confirmed we could stay there for one or two nights. We dinghied into the beach which was, rather incongruously, littered with broken glass. Nobody else seemed to take notice but we wondered how and why all this was here.

We got some lunch at the Fish Shack then walked the path up to the lighthouse. Monhegan has a long history as an artist community but we did not spend much time at the various little galleries - for a couple of reasons. First, none of them looked exactly pet friendly. Tilly, wearing her new trail boots and that ‘I could break a bunch of stuff’ lab look didn’t receive any invitations to browse the artwork. And, of course, we are living on a boat. We barely have space for T-shirts much less sculptures or blown glass. We determined that the right way to visit Monhegan is to take the ferry and stay at the beautiful Monehegan House, sans dog.  That way we could have spent time browsing and hanging out.

Monhegan and Manana Islands from the lighthouse

The schooner Harvey Gamage showed up in the harbor late in the afternoon. That brought the number of sailboats in the harbor to two. The Harvey Gamage is a training ship for young people that we have run across before in our travels.

There is a small island that forms the harbor called Manana (like banana) that is populated, in the summer, by goats and sheep. It was entertaining to watch them climb around the rocks above the shore.

By evening, the swell had set in and stayed. The swell coming into the harbor had us pitching (mostly) and rolling (occasionally) all night long. The mooring lines were rubbing in their chocks. The penant from the mooring ball would bang up against the anchor, every now and then, when SeaClearly’s nose dipped down far into the oncoming swell. It was a noisy, bouncy, rolly night. 

By first light, I was up making coffee and we were ready to roll. Or, stop rolling. One night was enough. We dropped the mooring ball and motored out into large swells funneling into the harbor with waves crashing on the rocks on either side. Once we got out far enough, we did a 150 degree turn and rode the waves the other direction and back towards the coast.

We rode those waves all day. The wind and waves were directly behind us varying from 5 to 23 knots. We motorsailed part of the trip. By the time we were in Penobscot Bay, we had lots of wind and rolling waves following. There were several schooners making their way down the bay, tacking across our path. We got some great views, sometimes intimidatingly close, of the schooners under full sail. Very impressive.

We arrived at Castine in the afternoon, cruised past the town dock area to check it out. We will probably move over there to a mooring today to explore the town. We headed into this cove to anchor for the night. Tilly got her beach trip and we settled in for some dinner and some sleep. Sometime overnight, the wind died and left us with a beautiful Maine morning.

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