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Curlew's Log
Southwest Harbor
44 16.347'N:68 18.639'W
08/17/2013

The plan was to leave on Wednesday 8/14, but when I woke up it was dense fog and rain again. I waited until noon but as it had not cleared up by then I decided to stay another day at anchor in Rockland. I had dinner at Suzuki Sushy restaurant and had the chef's assortment of sushi and sashimi. It was excellent. As good, if not better, than anything I have had in Philadelphia. Thursday dawned clear as a bell and I was underway at 0745. The wind was mainly from the west and varied between 10 and 20 knots. Main and yankee, downwind. During the trip I heard an emergency call on the VHF from the British sailing vessel "Nimway", that had hit a rock under sail somewhere at 5 knots of boat speed. After some discussion with the coastguard they reported that they were not sinking and were underway again, under power. From a subsequent conversation between them and another vessel I heard that they were not leaking, but had visible structural damage to the galley! That must have been some hit! This is the third grounding on a rock that I have seen or heard this trip in Main. At 1605 I picked up a mooring in Southwest Harbor. On Friday I went to the local West Marine store, to return the second set of binoculars that had fogged. They were both WM brand. The first pair I exchanged at the Solomons Island store earlier this year. They were about two years old but had fogged after a day in the sun. That's not supposed to happen. This pair only lasted a few months. Obviously I did not buy another pair of these. I ordered a pair of Nikons at the local Hamilton Marine store for pick up next week. Then I spent some time at the local public library where I can get internet. Verizon cellphone coverage in this part of Maine is non-existent and that's what I depend on for internet access. Today I pretended to be a sailmaker and replaced the nylon webbing on the mainsail that had chafed through. I hope it holds. And the weather stays beautiful

Summer 2013
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Rockland Harbor
08/13/2013, South anchorage

Sailing down West Penobscot Bay

The plan was to leave Belfast on Friday 8/9, but I woke up from the noise of rain clattering on the decks and that was how it pretty much remained all day. So I stayed another day on City Mooring # 5.

On Saturday, after settling my additional day of mooring fees at the office, I made a quick trip to the co-op for some last minute provisioning. I dropped the mooring at 0915. I raised the mainsail and discovered that one of the three nylon webbing strips that secured the tack of the mainsail to its cringle had completely chafed through, and that a second one also showed signs of chafe. And when I turned on the autopilot power switch a little later it did not activate the hydraulic ram. It appeared to be a bad contact. Two more things to add to the top of the to-do list.

After an hour the wind became quite gusty and I put one reef in the main. Another hour and I furled the staysail. Thirty minutes later I furled the yankee and unfurled the staysail. The wind had increased to 25 knots with gusts of 30 knots on deck and the wind had backed somewhat and turned a beam reach into a close reach. Terrific sailing, but with lots of spray covering the decks with salt. And that after they had been thoroughly washed with fresh water from the rain yesterday. I dropped anchor in Rockland at 1330. As I practically had sailed off the mooring in Belfast and had anchored under sail in Rockland I had to run the noisy Honda generator for an hour to charge the batteries.

On Sunday 8/11 I went ashore to visit the Rockland boat show. I have visited this small local show twice before over the years, but the last time must have been in 2008. Although I heard that this year it was a bigger show than the last two years, I was still disappointed. Mostly new England style powerboats and very few sailboats. I remember seeing locally built custom sailboats in the past, but not this time. Conspicuously absent was Morris, who was also not at the Annapolis sailboat show last fall. I have read somewhere that they are closing one of their facilities (in Bass Harbor). I strongly believe that the sailboat industry is rapidly disappearing. The generation that has the interest and the means to own sailboats is getting older and the younger generations either do not have the means to maintain a cruising sailboat, or has no interest, or both. Sabre, a quality boat builder known for their sailboats, has recently moved to building power boats exclusively and Hinckley did the same several years ago. I did talk to Chuck Paine, the designer of my boat, who displayed his newly designed 14 foot daysailer, inspired by the Herreshoff 12 ½ but with modernized under water sections, keel and rudder. Chuck told me that this boat was twice as fast as his original 12 ½. He is looking for a builder to build and market this boat in a fiberglass version.

After the show I walked over to Hamilton Marine to spend some more boat bucks: I got a new Maptech guide for New England (the one that I had was 10 years old), and besides some other stuff I bought two replacement Schaeffer furling blocks of the type that fits around a stanchion. The existing ones had become deformed over the years and the sheaves would no longer turn. I believe this is a weakness of the design. The pressure of the set-screw that secures the block to the stanchion will eventually deform the shape of the fitting which increases the friction of the sheave, eventually to the point that it will no longer spin freely.

Today was a windless day that started out with fog, which made me decide to stay one more day in Rockland. To use this day productively I changed engine and transmission oil, and all oil and fuel filters on and off the engine. After that was done I replaced the connectors of the cockpit speakers (something that I had wanted to do for quite some time.) The original Perko plugs both had broken prongs. This is another piece of equipment with a design flaw: Not only is the positive prong thin and breaks easily, the design also allows you to touch the female receptacle in reverse polarity, which can be fatal for some sensitive equipment. (It blew two 12V cell phone chargers on identical receptacles elsewhere on board.)

Assuming that the cold front that is passing through tonight brings better weather tomorrow I will move further east, towards the Mount Desert area.

Summer 2013
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Belfast
08/08/2013

Yesterday I raised anchor at 0800, motored for a little while, but later had a great sail to Belfast, where I picked up a city mooring at 1315. Time to do laundry, fill the food and wine lockers and have a meal ashore. Belfast has a unique atmosphere. It is a small town with an actual center with a traffic light, and is populated by an eclectic group of people. Today was rainy and cloudy. A perfect day for doing laundry and provisioning in the Belfast co-operative food store. Beer, chips and oysters for dinner at the Three Tides bar and restaurant. Tomorrow back to Rockland for the local boat show, and to see new work by Irma Cerese at the Landings Gallery.

Summer 2013
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Boats aground and boats anchored too close
Sunny, no wind
08/06/2013, Merchants Row/Camp Island

Coot Island near my anchorage

Yesterday was another gorgeous day. I hiked a bit around Isle au Haut (note to self: Next time bring hiking shoes; sandals are not ideal on these trails!), and although it was a very pretty hike, I could not find any places that allowed a view of the Thorofare where Curlew was anchored. In the afternoon I put the teak cockpit gratings overboard and gave them a good scrub with a Scotch-Brite pad in salt seawater. Now they look as new again.

Today I dropped the mooring at 0940 and left through the narrow NE dredged channel. I had seen other boats going through yesterday, despite the published warning that it had only 3.5ft at low tide. I went through very slowly at 1 ½ hour before high tide and had 15.1 ft throughout the channel. There was a predicted tidal rise at that time of 8.1 ft, so the minimum dept at mean low tide must be around 7ft. I left a local knowledge comment on the Active Captain site. There was no wind, so I slowly motored through the beautiful archipelago of Merchants Row and dropped anchor at the Camp Island anchorage at 1125. A little later I noticed a Cape Dory 33 (?) that was apparently aground on a rocky ledge nearby. By the time I had put the outboard on the dinghy to see if I could be of any assistance, a boat from Billings Marine approached and he got them off pretty quickly. The Cape Dory was in a dangerous position, as they had run aground just after high tide and the next high tide was not until 2300 or so. At low tide I took the dinghy out to the rock, which was now at least 3 ft above water. They were lucky to get off, because it would have been a very uncomfortable position to be in, even in this benign weather. It seemed to have been a day for boats to run aground. I read later that a Hylas 70 had run aground under sail at about 10 knots on a rock just south of Isleboro Island and lost its carbon fiber mast on impact.

It seems that when you are the only boat in an anchorage you immediately attract other boats. Their crew probably thinks: "That must be a good spot to anchor, let's anchor close to that boat". Two boats anchored later in this (admittedly) popular anchorage, but a third boat circled around and around, and decided to drop anchor just two boat lengths ahead of me. I had seen the tiny Danforth anchor dangling from the bow fitting, wife at the bow and husband at the wheel, and when they were finally anchored their stern almost hit my bow platform. When I got out of the cockpit and expressed my feelings that they were really too close, the husband reacted annoyed but moved to a different spot anyway.

Summer 2013
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Ships that pass in the Thorofare
08/04/2013, Isle au Haut

Rental fee collection bottle

I attended the SSCA gam on Saturday. I talked to a few people, including the crew of Moonraker, who is anchored next to me. They are hailing from Annapolis, and keep a blog on the same site as I do. I left a comment on their blog the night before, and in the morning they stopped by and told me that they get comments from all over the world, but never had one from someone so close by! The features speakers at the meet were from the Island Institute in Rockland. I learned a lot about the difficulties of the year-round population on some of the Maine islands, and the potential consequences of global warming on the lobster industry here.

Today I motored slowly through the Islesboro archipelago. There was no wind, and I needed to charge the batteries after two days at anchor. I have a Honda genset that I can use to charge batteries while at anchor, but I hesitate to use this noise maker in a quiet anchorage with other boats around me. The wind picked up after I got to the Penobscot Bay and had a light-air sail to the Fox Islands Thorofare. I sailed up the Thorofare until the wind was completely blocked by the landmass around me, and had to turn the engine back on for a while. While sailing down the Thorofare I recognized the yawl "Christmas" that belongs to one of the people that keep the CSBB bulletin board alive. It is the only sailing related bulletin board that I follow from time to time, although I haven't contributed much the last few years. Christmas tacked right behind me and we exchanged a few brief words. What a pleasant coincidence, to meet people this way.

I had a spectacular sail, close reaching in 15k of wind under a blue sky, from the east entrance of the FI Thorofare to Isle au Haut, where I picked up the last remaining rental mooring. The fee for the mooring is placed inside a Coke bottle that is attached to the float. This is a true honor system. Right now I have a plastic bottle on the foredeck with probably 4 $20 bills in it. I guess they do not collect the fee on a daily basis!

I have no cellphone/internet connection here, but are piggybacking on a very weak open WiFi node. So pictures have to follow later.

Summer 2013
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Dinghy raft cocktail party
08/02/2013, Islesboro, Warren Island anchorage

Yesterday was a bright and sunny day, so as expected, today was damp and dreary, with occasional rain and drizzle. Visibility was may be a half mile. But I still had a great sail from Castine, over the top of Isleboro island to the anchorage at Warren Island, tacking all the way down to the entrance to the anchorage. Tomorrow is the SSCA Down-East Gam, which started off today with a dinghy-raft cocktail party. I left the party a little early, together with a few other people, because on the weather radar I could see that a thunderstorm was approaching, and I was anchored in a location exposed to wind from the north-west. But the system fell apart before it got to us.

Summer 2013
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Fog, mate!
08/01/2013, Castine, Smith Cove

When I woke up this morning it was pea-soup fog. I could not even see the rocks nearby. But around 1100 it cleared up a bit and I raised anchor. Outside I could still see some fog patches hanging around, but I assumed that those would clear up soon too. Not really. It shut down completely within half an hour. Now was my chance to use the Fogmate! I turned on the switch, set it to the proper blast sequence, and behold, it blasted away as advertised! Fog is almost fun this way. Although I had the sails up I had the engine running in neutral to charge the batteries, so technically we were still a power vessel. Thus one long blast every two minutes.

After about two hours the fog lifted and I had a nice sail to Castine. Beautiful views of the islands, with the Camden hills in the background. I will put some more pictures in the photo gallery in the side bar later.

I dropped anchor in Smith Cove, near the beautiful motor yacht the Blue Guitar, which I had seen many times before in various places on the east coast. It used to be owned by Eric Clapton, who is not only a brilliant guitar payer, but also someone with impeccable taste in boats.

Summer 2013
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Rocks and Seals
07/31/2013, Winter Harbor

I left Pulpit Harbor at 1200, motored for an hour or so, but then a light breeze came and I sailed to Winter Harbor on the east side of Vinalhaven island. This is an anchorage where I had been before, and I really liked it then. This time I went much further inside, around several drying rocks, and around a rock that had only 2ft of water over it at low tide. I dropped anchor between a tall rocky bluff with pine trees to starboard and a group of low drying rocks off the bow. There were eight sun-bathing seals on those rocks (I did not get a good picture of them).

Maine at its best.

Summer 2013
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Charging problems
07/30/2013, Pulpit Harbor

When I turned on the engine to enter Pulpit Harbor yesterday, I had noticed that the engine speed was fluctuating a little. Almost as if a fuel filter was clogged. But that did not seem to be the case, as the vacuum gauge was still solid in the green zone. Then I noticed that the battery voltage was surging up and down while the engine was running, and the amps charged as displayed on the Link meter were surging too. This morning I inspected the alternator and noticed that the red insulation at the ring connector of the sense and power wire that goes from the back of the alternator to the regulator was almost black. Also the fuse holder looked suspicious. I cut off the damaged wire portion, including the heat-damaged fuse holder and decided to re-route this wire away from the alternator to a terminal board closer to the house battery bank, which happened to also be closer to the regulator. Another problem solved.

Later this morning I went ashore and briskly walked the 45 minutes to North Haven, had lunch and walked back. It was a beautiful, warm and sunny day.

Summer 2013
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Pulpit Harbor
07/29/2013

The day started foggy but it cleared up later, though it stayed overcast. The weather seems to be changing from day to day. One day sunny and warm, the next foggy, cool and overcast. I raised anchor at 1330 and this time it came up without snagging anything on the bottom. As I've explained before, I buoy the anchor whenever I anchor in Rockland Harbor. The wind was light from the SSW, 10k or so, and we sailed in two hours the short distance to Pulpit Harbor. Once you get to this part of Maine, Verizon cell phone reception, and thus Internet, becomes spotty. (That's my excuse for not updating this blog more frequently.)

Summer 2013
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Fogmate
warm and sunny
07/28/2013, Rockland Harbor

Saturday was a warm and sunny day. In the morning I took the lock from the door hardware of the aft cabin and put it in the door to the head. The aft cabin door does not need a lock. Problem solved, for the time being at least. In the afternoon I went ashore and walked the brisk mile to Home Depot and Walmart.

Today I put the Fogmate horn controller together. I had bought this gadget a few years ago at Hamilton Marine here in Rockland, but never got around to installing it. This device, combined with an electrical fog horn, will sound the appropriate horn signal for a vessel moving in fog: One long blast for a vessel under power, and one long followed by two short blasts for a sailing vessel. I had bought a plastic electrical junction box at Home Depot yesterday and the whole unit fits right inside. Neat. Can't wait for a good foggy day to try out this new toy!

Summer 2013
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Rockland Harbor
Clear and windy yesterday; rain today
07/26/2013

Lobster floats everywhere

I dropped the mooring at 0845 on Thursday, put a reef in the main and unfurled the staysail. It was sunny, clear and breezy from the NE (18 to 22 knots with stronger gusts) and we had to navigate the minefield of lobster floats outside Tenants harbor. Thanks to the modification that my friend Kevin did a few years ago I am not bothered by these floats anymore when under sail. So we plowed over numerous floats without catching one. Later the wind diminished and I put up the Yankee and even shook out the reef. I noticed that were many more lobster floats with toggles in western Penobscot Bay than in previous years. Ah well, even those don't bother me any more. Curlew just sails over them and then they pop up behind the stern.

We had a great sail today. This is Maine sailing at its best. Maine is by far my favorite cruising grounds on the east coast.

I dropped anchor in the northern part of Rockland Harbor, in 27 ft of water. As it was just past full moon the tides were exceptionally high (11 to 12 ft) and I put out 90 ft of anchor chain. I also buoyed the anchor. Rockland is one of the very few places where I do this. I have had three occasions here where I snagged a hawser on the seabed, or an abandoned electrical or telephone cable., or another object. Clearly there is a lot of stuff on the bottom that is just waiting to snag a sailor's anchor.

Today it rained practically all day. Another perfect day to do chores. And, as luck will have it, the latch and lock to the head door broke this morning. I found the manufacturer of this particular piece of hardware on the internet and I took off in the dinghy (wearing full foul weather gear and a life jacket) for the local Hamilton Marine store. Of course the replacement part was a special order, you need to order at least two and it will take 5 to 6 weeks to be delivered. Tomorrow I have to do some creative thinking on how to secure this door. I don't want it to slam open and shut every time we hit a wave.

Summer 2013
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