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Moonraker
This blog chronicles the adventures of the sailing vessel Moonraker. We just finished the second year of our cruising life. We explored the US East Coast from Maine to Florida, the Bahamas, Haiti, PR, and the Virgin Islands.
Another Foggy Day
Donna
07/10/2013, Webb Cove, Deer Isle, Maine

We headed back to Deer Isle to meet up with our old neighbors from when we lived in Philadelphia. They are driving up to Maine today to stay with friends of theirs and we will get together, probably tomorrow. The weather is pretty miserable right now. Like yesterday, it's not raining but it is foggy and cold. We only had about a half mile visibility on our trip over here. We motored the whole way. I've posted a picture we took last night from outside the lobster pound. There were no pictures taken today!

Our original plan was to anchor off the beach near our friends' friends' house. Then Bill thought about it a bit more and realized that no one wants to climb into a dinghy from a beach in this kind of cold weather to come out to the boat, you can't really do it without getting your feet wet. He started exploring other places in the area that we could go and found an adventure company that rented moorings. They even have a launch to take you to shore and back to your boat that would be great for our guests. Best yet, they have hot showers! We headed in that direction, winding through the islands and huge rocks that are everywhere around here. That is when I saw the dolphins. There were three of them. I just saw them briefly but they were the first dolphins we've seen since we've been in Maine.

After we got to the mooring we went in to check out the place and take showers. We decided to use our dinghy because it didn't seem to be like the places we've been recently where there are people waiting to bring you the launch whenever you want. We weren't sure what kind of place it was. As it turns out - it's a campground, but oh so much more. It is called Old Quarry Ocean Adventures and anything you might want to do on the water, or the area, they will facilitate it for you. The owner said he will pretty much sell you anything and if you look around this place it is true. They even have fresh steamed lobster available for take out! The main thing we wanted today though was showers. We were very successful with that. The shower was hot and had no time limit, which is something we've become accustomed to now. On our boat the time limit is that the hot water runs out. Other places where we've paid for showers the water stops after whatever time the token they sell you runs out.

Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow and we can take our friends sailing. Either way we are looking forward to spending time with them again!

Sailing
Today We Summitted Cadillac Mountain
Donna
07/09/2013, Bass Harbor, Maine

We woke up to a rainy day, but ever the optimists we were sure it would clear up, especially when the rain had stopped by our 7:00am departure time. We dinghyed to the dock and went to wait for the free bus to Bar Harbor. The ride wasn't too long and Bar Harbor seemed like a nice place. We went into the park office and checked in. On our way down the ICW last fall we bought a National Park Senior Pass for Bill, who is over the required age of 60. What a deal, we've used it a number of times so far. It's only $10 for life and he can now get into any National Park for free, and bring three of his family or friends with him.

We talked to the park ranger about the hike Bill had planned and she convinced us that it wasn't a good one to do on a not so clear and dry day. Instead she convinced us to summit Cadillac Mountain. We went off to an overpriced breakfast and then caught the next free bus to the Visitor Center. From there we caught yet another free bus that loops the park and drops people off at the trail heads. We took the North Ridge trail up the mountain. By this point the overpriced breakfast was not agreeing with my stomach. Luckily, even though the trail had 1100 feet of elevation, it was not a very difficult climb. Also luckily we had brought our trekking poles which helped tremendously. The final bit of luck was that there are very nice bathrooms at the top of the mountain. So, not only did I summit Cadillac Mountain today, but I did it under complete distress! Unfortunately it was totally fogged in and we couldn't see any of the views that the mountain offers. Guess we're going to have to go do it again one day. The picture above is at the summit point. The plaque behind us is what we were supposed to be seeing.

The way down the mountain was a little easier. We got down just in time to catch a bus back to Bar Harbor. We had to wait forty five minutes for the bus back to our boat so we were forced to buy an ice cream cone to help us wait. What we didn't know was that the early morning bus we took was an express and the one we took back went into every camp ground between Bar Harbor and Bass Harbor, and there are plenty of them. We sat with a young woman who had been on the bus with us in the morning and we had a good time talking to her about her interesting life.

When we finally got back to Bass Harbor it was just in time to meet Sarah and Holly. Sarah was taking us to the lobster pound, which is a no-frills restaurant where you can get a nice lobster inexpensively. There is no table service, and the food comes in paper plates and baskets, but the lobster was really good. We had a good time and it was a great end to a busy day!

Sailing
We Finally Caught A Lobster Pot!
Donna
07/08/2013, Bass Harbor, Maine

It was rainy this morning but luckily it cleared up enough so we could leave Blue Hill. Our destination was an anchorage near Mount Desert Island so we could do some more hiking. There was not much wind so it was a motoring day and we set the autopilot to follow the route Bill had laid out. There were not many lobster pots out there and we had already decided we didn't really need to worry about them. We had hit a number of them already and they just bounced off our bottom. A lot of the pots here have a second line attached to the float with another float on that line because of the large tidal range. It's not a good idea to go between them, we knew that but that hadn't been a problem so far either. The picture above was not taken today, it was too dreary out for pictures. The picture, from a couple of days ago, is an example of how bad the lobster pots can be, today it wasn't anywhere near this. We were going along and we heard something hit the boat, we always turn around to look to see what we hit. All I saw was a little piece of white foam floating away, but then I realized the boat wasn't going as fast as it was before. Bill said I was wrong, but I really thought the boat was stopping. Then Bill looked behind us and saw we were dragging a line, which was attached to a lobster pot on the bottom of the bay in 90 feet of water. Luckily the line hadn't wrapped itself around the prop but had probably hung up on our rudder so it didn't take too much effort to get it disconnected. We put the boat in neutral and Bill messed around with the line with our boat hook. The white foam I saw floating away was a chunk of the float we had hit. Now we know we need to be more careful and hopefully we won't catch another pot.

When we got to our destination of Bass Harbor, Bill said something that reminded me that we knew someone here. She is a friend of one of the midshipmen we sponsored years ago in Annapolis. We had met her at the Annapolis boat show a few years ago. According to the business card we had for her she worked right at the yacht makers' shop we were going to anchor in front of. Well, that we tried to anchor in front of, the anchor wouldn't grab. There were lots of empty moorings there and we decided to call her and ask her what the deal was with the moorings. I had her on the phone when some other guys came by and told us just to take a mooring, no charge. It turns out she no longer works in that location, but she isn't that far away so we decided that tomorrow we are taking her and her daughter to a lobster pound for dinner. I have no good idea of what a lobster pound is yet but she says it's a Maine tradition not to be missed.

We went to check out the town this afternoon and after walking around a bit we decided to finally try a lobster roll. Not only have we not had any lobster yet since we've been in Maine this time, neither of us has ever tasted a lobster roll. We've heard a lot about them, and they are certainly very expensive, so you expect that it's going to be incredible. Well really it's just some lobster meat, mixed with mayonnaise and shoved on a hot dog roll. I'm really not sure what the big deal is.

We are going for a hike in Mount Desert tomorrow. We will take the free bus to Bar Harbor, where Bill has already picked out the restaurant for breakfast, and then take another bus to the start of the hike he has planned for us. We are looking forward to it!

Sailing
Today We Summited Blue Hill Mountain!
Donna
07/07/2013, Blue Hill, Maine

Last fall, when we went down the ICW to Florida, we met a couple that were also cruising but had their home base in Blue Hill, Maine. We ran into them several times in South Carolina and finally they had us over to their trawler for dinner when we ended up anchored in the same place in Georgia. They told us to come visit them when we got up to Maine this summer so we have. We got here yesterday afternoon and took a mooring at the yacht club. The mooring comes with a launch service but only until 5:45pm but we made use of it while we could. It was so rare for anyone to invite us to dinner on their boat that I always want to reciprocate when I can. Finally I could invite our friends from the boat Peapod to have dinner on Moonraker. They took the launch over in the late afternoon and we sat for hours and got caught up on all our travels. He likes to go out to breakfast as much as Bill so we made plans for them to come pick us up this morning for breakfast. When they got here they told us they were lending us their car for the day and we could do anything we wanted until the late afternoon when we would go to their house for dinner.

We had already decided we wanted to hike up Blue Mountain. It's been a while since we went on a serious hike with real elevation but we figured we were up for the challenge. It wasn't easy but we managed to get to the summit without too much trouble. It may not be the tallest mountain we've ever climbed but it was still hard. There were some beautiful views from up there, and of course we had to take a picture to prove we made it, as you can see from Bill's smiling face above.

After the hike we went to the supermarket and stocked up on food. We didn't really need too much but these days when someone hands us a car and says there is the supermarket you don't say, no thanks. Add to that that we had the launch take us back to the boat and we didn't have to wrestle the grocery bags in the dinghy and it was a no-brainer.

The yacht club is very nice but there are no showers here. We haven't run the engine since yesterday so we had no hot water left so we did the next best thing. We jumped in the freezing cold Maine harbor and used our special soap/shampoo that works in salt water to wash our hair. After that we used our solar shower that sits on the deck in the sunshine to rinse off with the fresh water that we heated in the sun. It is very warm in Maine today - the car thermometer said 90 degrees! It was not my favorite bathing experience but after that hike we really needed showers.

We finished the day off with dinner at our friends' really cool house. She made an incredible meal and she even let me bring my laundry!! It was a great stop and we will come back and do it all over again in three weeks when we are going to borrow their car again to drive to the airport in Bangor to pick up our grandchildren, who are coming sailing with us for a week.

Sailing
Anchored at Devil Island
Donna
07/05/2013, Devil Island, Penobscot Bay, Maine

We spent two nights at anchor between High Island and Dix Island. On the Fourth of July we went exploring by dinghy and took a nice walk along the beach on Birch Island, another of the many islands we were anchored close to. Of course we had to barbecue to celebrate Independence Day. There were a lot of fireworks displays we could see from the boat but they were all too far away to really enjoy so we didn't spend much time watching them. This morning Bill got up early and took the great picture, above, of the sun rising with a little fog from the cockpit of the boat.

We left this morning and spent part of the day motoring and part of the day sailing. This afternoon we crossed the track we made coming into Penobscot Bay when we first arrived. I guess we can say we have circumnavigated Vinalhaven, although I don't think that is any big deal.

The area we are in now is so densely populated with lobster pots. It is very hard to avoid them, although we do our best. Luckily our boat's bottom and propeller don't have as much a problem if we hit them as a more modern boat would. We were going through all the lobster pots and had almost gotten to our anchorage and a woman was sailing by in a smaller sailboat and she yelled something to us. We couldn't really hear her very well but she was not going to stop until she was sure we had heard her. What she said was "Watch out for that lobsterman, he is crazy!" I guess she must have gotten too close to some of his pots. Luckily we did not experience the crazy lobsterman!

This anchorage is really beautiful. It is always so amazing seeing the difference in our surroundings at high and low tide. The tide is about ten feet here and that is quite significant but common for this part of Maine. The land next to us which was walkable when we got here at low tide is now three separate islands.

I finally got the chance to post the pictures from our trip from Annapolis to Provincetown. Please check out our Photo Gallery.

Sailing
Today We Were Sailors!
Donna
07/03/2013, High-Dix, West Penobscot Bay, Maine

We started the day by trying to free our dinghy that was trapped under the mooring balls' line to our boat. Somehow the line got stuck between the dinghy engine and the transom and had managed to pull out the dinghy's plug. It took some maneuvering and Bill getting wet but we finally freed the dinghy.

Once that got resolved we went to have breakfast at Bill's new favorite restaurant, the Home Kitchen Café. Our table for two was very close to the next table for two where another couple had just sat down. The man turned to Bill and introduced himself and asked where we were from. Bill told him we were from Annapolis, Maryland and the man said they were also from Annapolis. Of course he could have also said they were from Rockland, Maine and Stuart, Florida, all places that they live for specific months in each year. So many of the people we meet have such interesting lives and stories, of course they think the same of us. We had a nice time talking to the couple all through breakfast and then they drove us into town so we could pick up a guide book they had suggested on how better to enjoy cruising Maine.

When we finally got back to the boat we took care of some business we knew we would need phone service and Internet for and then it was time to leave Rockland. Luckily the day was somewhat sunny and no fog was in sight. We even had some wind. Bill decided to raise the main sail while we were still attached to the mooring ball and then he decided we could sail right off of the ball. I don't think we ever did that before but it felt good to do it.

Usually we are destination driven. We set off to go someplace in a "direct as is possible" route and if the wind cooperates with that route then we sail. Today the wind was good and the destination was not that far away so we decided to sail the whole way there. That meant tacking back and forth across Penobscot Bay until we got within sight of our anchorage. You probably can't tell from the picture above but we had all our sails up. Once we got close to where we wanted to anchor we finally turned our engine on so we could have the maneuverability it takes to drop your anchor and not hit the rocky shore.

It is really beautiful here, and surprisingly we have good Internet service. We will probably stay a day or so and take the dinghy out to explore the beautiful islands around us.

Sailing
07/07/2013 | Dick
Glad that you have finally had a nice sail in a magical place.
In case you were not aware of it, Linda Greenlaw of The Perfect Storm and several of her own books lives on Isle A Haute, which can be a very nice stop.
Dick
Rockland Rocks!
Donna
07/02/2013, Rockland, Maine

We've spent four days in Rockland but we are moving on tomorrow. We really like it here. We've managed to get all our supermarket and laundry tasks done and also found some restaurants and bakeries we have enjoyed. There are two different docks we've used, one is close to the town where the shops and marine store are. It's the public dock where you can tie your dinghy up for free and for $2 you can take an eight minute hot shower. Since our hot water heater was having some issues getting the water hot when we ran our engine, we did each have a $2 shower. It was very nice! The other dock is closer to the supermarket, Laundromat, and Bill's new favorite breakfast restaurant. After tomorrow morning we will have eaten breakfast there three times!

We've also been able to watch the ferries come in and out of town. The other day a huge schooner, of which there are apparently many in Maine, sailed through the mooring field, took a turn around all the boats and went back out to the more open water, in the fog! It's been cold, rainy, and mostly foggy the entire time we've been in Rockland. I thought it only fitting that I put a fog picture up today.

This morning it was so rough where we were anchored that we couldn't stand it. We went over to the other side of the town where it was more protected from the wind direction that would be blowing all day, along with all the rain, and cold... This time we tried a time honored Maine tradition. We "borrowed" someone's private mooring. All the mooring balls have names of the boats and their owners and the word PRIVATE written on them. The ball we took is for the boat "Making Waves" but we thought there was no way they would show up on a rainy, miserable, Tuesday - so we are using their mooring ball just for tonight.

They say the weather will be better tomorrow. We will see about that... Not sure where we will end up yet but it is time to move on!

Sailing
07/02/2013 | Andrew
Are you guys heading North or South next?
It’s Not Summer in Maine
Donna
06/29/2013, Rockland, Maine

We saw some sunshine and not much fog this morning so we decided to make a go for it. The fog started rolling in again as we were pulling the anchor up though. It took a lot longer to bring the anchor up because it was so muddy. By the time we got the anchor up we really should have put it down again, but we didn't. The visibility was OK and it wasn't raining. By the time we got out of the harbor the fog warranted using Bill's newest toy. (I can feel our daughter rolling her eyes right now) It's the FogMate Horn Controller. It automatically blows the boat's horn for the right pattern for whether you are motoring or sailing. We were motoring, that means the horn needed to be blown one long blast every two minutes. We heard a couple of other horns out there but nowhere near as many as there were boats. It's important to have some kind of signal because by the time we got out in the bigger water you literally could see less than an eighth of a mile in front of you. We saw a big power boat coming at us at twenty knots on our AIS. Bill called him on the radio but there was no response, we turned out of his way just to be safe.

In retrospect we probably shouldn't have gone but fog is a fact of life in Maine and with radar, AIS, and GPS charts it's not too bad at all. It was cold, and wet, and more than a little exhilarating. Above is a picture of a navigation mark we went by in the fog. We are now anchored in Rockland though, and the Internet is better here at least. It's a much bigger city, which we hope to explore tomorrow. The fog lifted enough for us to find a good anchorage right outside the mooring field. Only problem is we seem to be on top of a lobster pot that is banging on the bottom of our hull. We'll have to move a bit this afternoon so the lobsterman can pick it up in the morning.

Sailing
06/30/2013 | Dick
Cheer up, the fog will lift, the sun will coe out, and all will be well. We live in Camden and normally sail in Maine, but are spendin most of this summer in Rhode Island.
There is nothing like sailing in Maine, with the possible exception of Nova Scotia.

Good Luck,
Dick
Riding out the weather at anchor
Donna
06/29/2013, North Haven, Penobscot Bay, Maine

We've been in North Haven for a couple of days now. We did get to town yesterday, what little of it there is. The picture above is of a really cool house on our dinghy ride. The porch was curved! We tried to figure out what it was but didn't have any luck. They build the houses on the water on top of rocks stacked on top of themselves. There was one restaurant. It's not really the season here yet but the restaurant was crowded - and good! We also decided to pay for the Internet at the Community Center. Unfortunately it didn't reach out to the boat, even with our Wi-Fi antenna so we spent the afternoon sitting in the Community Center with our laptop and iPad. The center also doubles as the town coffee shop.

It's been very cold, rainy and foggy here so we've been staying put until it clears up. That means a lot of naps, reading, and watching movies. Yesterday we didn't even get out of our pajamas. We are hoping it will clear up enough today to go someplace else. It has not been too rough here despite the heavy winds and storms moving through. The only time we really rock is when a boat goes by at a fast speed, and then it takes a while for the boat to calm down.

People told us not to come to Maine in June. They said it would be cold and foggy. The first few days we were here that was definitely not true, but it has been for the last four. June is almost over - let's hope that the Maine weather realizes that!

Sailing
Anchored in North Haven
Donna
06/26/2013, North Haven, Penobscot Bay, Maine

We stayed in Seal Bay for a couple of days. We spent some time with the other two boats that were also anchored there. They were both long time veterans of sailing in Maine and gave us lots of ideas on where to go. We also took our dinghy for a long ride. That ride taught me that you can't just rely on the depth sounder to tell you when you are getting into shallow water. There are huge rocks that can pop up in the middle of what looks like safe water!

Last night we had a thunderstorm and rain is forecast for the next few days. We left the anchorage this morning and went in search of some place that had better Internet access. It was just really overcast when we left but we had some periods of low fog. You can see the fog line in the picture above. We headed to an anchorage on the other side of North Haven and dropped our anchor. Bill checked the charts and saw we were much too close to some rocks on the shore. Up came the anchor and we moved to another spot further away. Then he checked the Internet and it was not very good, that is when he decided we would move closer to the town. Up came the anchor and we started to move again, but this time the wind started howling and clearly a storm was coming. We dropped the anchor again! Thank goodness we have an electric windlass that allows us to just stand and push a button with our foot to raise and lower the fifty five pound anchor and all the chain we drop it on! A little while later we pulled the anchor up again and this time we made it to the town. Of course we had a discussion on what side of the Coast Guard boat I should drive on until we realized they were in the process of installing the navigation mark that we clearly had to leave to our right!

There are a lot of moorings that are close to the town but also an anchorage a bit further away. We opted for the anchorage and are now anchored within sight of the town. North Haven looks a lot like we expect a town in Maine to look.. at least from a distance. We may get a chance to go ashore when the weather clears a bit. Right now it is damp and dreary and it's cold!. The irony is that the Internet is not really any better over here. There is a movie under a sleeping bag in our future tonight!

Sailing

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Who: Bill & Donna Shuman
Port: Annapolis, MD
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Our Boat

Moonraker is a 1986 Bayfield 40 designed by the famous Ted Gozzard and built in Ontario, Canada. The rig is a cutter/ketch. Here are some of her specs:

LOA: 45 ft. 6 in.
LWL: 30 ft. 6 in.
Beam: 12 ft.
Draft: 4 ft. 11 in.
Displacement: 21,000 lbs.
Ballast: 8,200 lbs.
Sail Area: 1,009 sq. ft.


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