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Time Bandit
Don't Panic!!!!
28/08/2015, Boothbay Harbour, Maine

So, what do you do when the rain is tipping down and thick fog? Catch up on some overdue maintenance.

New impeller on engine. Drain and renew engine coolant. Watch a movie.

Finally, the weather turned and, on the tide we slipped our mooring at Robinhood and headed for the tide ripped Goose Rock Passage.

Half way through I'm watching the engine temp start rising. So, before the overheat alarm goes off I shut down the engine, smack in the middle of the narrow passage. Rocks all around and tide running at 2-3 knots. Not the best time.

Don't panic! Genoa out and run with the tide and light breeze and casually dive below, tear apart the cushions, rummage in the locker and grab the spare coolant.

I knew what the problem was. When filling with coolant there's invariably an air lock. That's why previous day I'd run the engine, checked the level and topped it up. Apparently though, not enough. The boat really needs a good shoogle to let it burp so you get it really full. Robinhood was glassy calm all the time we were there so no burping.

Anyway, filled up, all got back to normal and off we went. Nerves jangled.

So, to add some spice we took the short cut through Townsend Gut, at bottom of Spring tide rocks on either side.

An hour later after weaving through the narrow channel it was time for a large whisky.

Finally, just 6 miles later we picked up a mooring at Boothbay Harbour Yacht Club. Ashore just in time for "Colours", leaping to attention like Bitzer in Shaun the Sheep as the bell rings prior to the shotgun firing exactly at sunset.

Didnt cover much ground but we got a good close look at Maine.

Wandering the town now in blazing sun.

Trains & Boats & Planes

Not necessarily in that order. Also, the song title gnores, cars, taxis, arguments with check in staff, buses and miles of walking between modes of transport.

Ain't life a bitch!

Anyhow. after the car ride, ticketing argument at airport, wait, flight, hunt for bus in Dublin airport, give up, get taxi to dodgy Dublin hotel, half sleep, taxi, wait, Aer Lingus flight to Boston (drinks €5-€8; come back BA, all is forgiven), wait, bus through torrential rain to Bath, Maine. Now pitch black, rain still pelting down so rather than dinghy out through tide ripped bay we hunt for hotel.

Hampton Inn - $350!!!!! Days Inn 20 minute taxi ride away $150. Bit better but still a bunch for Maine backwater. Walk to Walmart for supplies then back in filthy, minging taxi (hd to wipe my feet BEFORE I got out) and.......finally, were here. Here being Robinhood Marina southern end of Maine. Rain and thunder with no wind forecast for next few says so likely boat maintenance time.

Maine is 95% forest. Although a good percentage must be lakes and fjords. Cabins dot the countryside and cars are loaded with bikes snd kayaks. You can get "tooled" up at the local store. Pack your rifle, hand gun, crossbow, really, pick the lethal weapon of your choice and head into the woods hunting. That or a banjo.

This morning at our luxury 2 star Days Inn breakfast, well, polystyrene cereal and chamois leather omelettes out a packet the Weather Channel was tracking hurricane Danny 3 days east of St Lucia and Eric, (?) just off Africa and already building up a head of steam.

These systems get as far north as here. Need to keep an eye on them as together with tides, rocks, hunters we may well be doooommed.

Wet Weekend in Tarbert

Well, that's a title that will sound familiar to many Scottish readers.

Somewhere along the line in our travels we managed to earn our small commission from the Sottish Tourist Board by convincing Dave and Linda that they had to make a trip to see Scotland.

First mistake from the 101 Book of "Driving Tourism to Your Country", don't invite people who are well travelled. Best focus on folks whose biggest trip has been to the new IKEA or, at a push, a nearby Disney.

"Oh look, there's an eagle......or maybe it's actually a seagull. Hard to tell from this distance." Oh look, there's a whale.....or maybe it's actually just a wave from that wee fishing boat."

Dave and Linda, coming from the USA, where, as most Scottish folk will know, everything is big, we'd really worried just how we might impress. On their day trips to their islands off Ventura, California, Blue Whales wander past while sea eagles pluck 12lb fish from the ocean.

Our Eagles might be Eagles or, more likely they're just seagulls at a distance. Our whales might just be a passing wave, or maybe a porpoise but boy, when it came to running water, we had 'em licked. Rain. We had it in bucket loads. But were they down hearted....not that they'd confess anyway!

Finlay's (the waiter in the hotel in Arran) deliverance of "To a Mouse", "To a Louse"and "Tam O'Shanter" put the cap on it. Just blew them away. Absolutely no idea what was being said but blew them away anyway. His keyboard skills might not have been quite what we've become used to, knocking around with Julian, but Finlay's Burns was a masterpiece.

Castles, Isle of Mull ferries, single track roads and mountains in the mist hopefully made for an enjoyable wheech round Scotland. Anne and I certainly enjoyed it. Great to see the old haunts and indeed, the distilleries. Given the tipping rain, I'm thinking that distilleries might actually have nothing to do with whisky. I've a suspicion they're funded and run by the Scottish Tourist Board to give our foreign guests somewhere to go during a period of slight precipitation. (May 'till September - summer!)

However, the main purpose of this trip home (not that you'd know it) was too see les grand weans, both number 1, Freya and most recently, #2, Matthew. (Hi wee man. First time your name's been in print?)

Return to Maine is looming so better stop this waffle and do something productive......... suggestions please.

Bored of Logan Airport

When I woke up this morning, at 5:15AM, I had something on my mind. Mostly the fact that we are going home. We'd had another long night of heavy rain, thunder and lightning. All this weather, presumably warm air coming over the cool sea brings Maine's famous fogs. We are homeward bound so lots to remember, getting the boat ready for Ian and Fiona who arrive shortly to sail around for the month we are gone.

Anyway, the taxi was waiting, blowing his horn and in the early morning rain we started our long trip home. Trains and boats and planes with the odd dinghy ride and bus chucked in will get us to sunny Cardiff.

Maine, so far has been interesting. Rumour has it that before July there is a likelihood of fog. However, reality is that "likelihood" is actually a dead cert as evening and morning it's like living in a box, a giant Tupperware box or indeed, in Newcastle where I hear they often have fog on the Tyne.

The fog is so dense we have to take bearings on the dock or boat when going to and fro. Or indeed, back and furrit. With a strong tide of up to three or four knots running through the anchorage we need some accurate tidal offset planning to get us to the right place. Otherwise, you might just drift away.

You also have to be sure to climb onto the right boat. Island Packet must have had some very good years. Of the 15 or so boats moored here, 4 are IP's and there are two more on the slips.

So, transported here to Boston's Logan airport we are in the "all dressed up and nowhere to go" phase of international travel. Gone are the days of company sponsored luxurious lounges, free booze and lay flat seats. A Big Mac and a flavourless coffee are the order of the day while sitting on hard plastic seats with the masses prior to boarding cattle class for 8 hours with your knees up your nose while watching grainy movies on a screen the size of the cardboard sandwich they just chucked you.

Anne is off wandering, splashing money around at the various booths peddling manicures, re-vitalised skin tone and double chocolate muffins.

Only another 23 hours to go................


Prize to readers who spot and name the songs and their artistes! (Can you tell I'm a shade bored?)

Small World
19/07/2015, Georgetown, Maine

That was and maybe still is the name of one of our kids favourite Disney rides when they were just wee.

Small Point is the name of the harbour we winkled our way into night before last, courtesy of OCC member John Chandler. Tight entry? Probably the tightest we've ever done. Got the heart rate up following John's wake apparently threading our way between sand banks that went from 2 meteres to 2 inches in 2 feet.

Past the banks we made our way up the sea loch to a pool outside John's house where we spent a beautifully quiet and sheltered night.

In the morning, John arrived with reinforcements to help us backtrack through the bar and on our way to Robinhood Marina and mooring field a few miles up the Kennebec River ahere we arrived at slack water. Its quite clerar we are farther north as the tides are now something to be reckoned with and passage planning and timing are critical. So much work!

We are ashore at Robinhood for a final lunch before we depart tomorrow. Once again, a family of Ospreys is outside the restaurant window. Mum is flying around the nest while the two chicks look on, quite uninterested at the propspect of flight, let alone fending for themselves.

For the last two nights we have had the full thunder and lightning shoiw complete with downpour. This morning, it was a complete white out in thick fog. This is a feature of this area right through until end July, or so the say. Other than that, a very scenic area. Maine is 95% tree covered and the smell of pine wafts across the water. With its 700+ islands its like a giant Loch Lomond.

Wacky Races

We really thought the Portuguese had it nailed when it comes to laying lobster pots but compared to the New Englanders, they're amateurs.

Not content with having pot floats littering the sea they seem to have this theory that the best fishing is in the channels or around turning points. Up 10. Back 10. Up 20. Back 20.... until in the end you give up weaving around like Mutley in a high speed chase and just close your eyes and bash on through trusting to a long keel and a rope cutter.

All that dodging got us to Gloucester. Or Glow (as in "ow" that really hurt) Sester which is how the locals pronounce it.

Planning to only anchor off, sleep and leave we settled down for a movie night on the cockpit.

Twenty minutes later....."Hi, just thought I'd say hello. Lovely boat".

"Thank you" we replied and having noticed an accent commented that the owner of the voice was from out of town etc. etc....

"From Northern Ireland, 45 years ago" etc... etc...

"But we lived all our working life outside Boston in a place called.....Wayland. (Our home for four years).

"I've sailed a bit around the west coast of Scotland" etc... etc...

"I sail with a friend that lives in a small village called..." Yes, you guessed, our home town, Bridge of Allan.

So, for the first time in a while Pat and Huw's Bushmills was looked out and we talked until Roy finally gave in and invited us ashore for breakfast!

We retired to bed to be woken around midnight by a phone call from an extremely well composed son-in-law, Barry to tell us that baby Matthew had just arrived in Cardiff to join his wee cousin Freya in the growing grand childrens little league.

Double GP's in the space of a few months. All well etc... etc... GP's delighted.

And so, after a night of light sleep (Anne jumping around) we took up our invite to brekkie.

Roy snd Shelagh live smack on the waterfront in a beautiful, period gatehouse from an 1888 project to recreate Newport's "cottage" society in Gloucester.

Joining us for breakfast was their friend Colin who had driven all the way from Wayland to say hello to some fellow Scotsmen and see if we knew of any of his west coast and BofA friends (John Knox, Sandy Miller in Westerton Avenue)

Roy and Shelagh gave us a tour around the town and up to Rockport. Both old favourite haunts of ours.

We finally parted about 2pm and headed off to catch the breeze to whistle us further north bound for Isle of Shoals or maybe Portsmouth.

Twa Ton o' Haddock

If you ever caught Hector on Real Radio (and if you didn't its well worth a YouTube) you will know of his exploits to deliver "twa ton o' haddock".

Well, the happy fisherman in Scituate will have been ecstatic yesterday when he delivered this 700lb tuna to the dock.

Boston Blast

They say there's an obesity epidemic in the USA. Well, after this mornings breakfast in downtown Boston I can understand why.

To start: strawberries on a bed of chocolate and yogurt with nuts and fresh berries.

Next's: Two 1" thick slices of French toast dusted with cinnamon with, Anne - bananas, chocolate and maple syrup. Stuart - same two thick doorsteps of French toast with blueberries, cream and maple syrup. All with enough coffee to float yer boat.

Right now, 21:00 on Sunday, after three long blasts the Queen Mary inches her way out backwards from her berth half a mile away en route for New York. Last time we saw her we were in Alesund Norway two years ago.

Escorted by at least seven police RIB's, a bit worryingly she is reversing towards us presumably to give the guests a closer view of the nighttime Boston skyline and the fireworks that are meant to be appearing shortly.

The cops are chasing off the muppets who roar around the harbour in the pitch black in their powerboats. We just heard one being told to clear off as, they "are entering an exclusion zone". That and, cruising into the unlit fireworks barge which might be more of an issue. "Cap. You are entering a security zone. Turnaround now. No. Do a 180".

Meanwhile, the band plays on!

Hopefully the QM will miss us and the fireworks miss the Virgin Airways flight that Julian is on, about to take off overhead. (Poor Julian. Back to London for a weeks work!)

........what a fireworks display! Just brilliant, lighting up the bay, reflecting light and sound of the skyscrapers. We were going to leave today. Glad we stuck around. Funny thing is, we are so close, perhaps within 200 yards of the fireworks barge and half a mile of the QM, we and Time Bandit are going to be in the background of a thousand photos.

Meanwhile, as she sounds her horns again and slowly pulls away we have another truly weird Boston Harbour experience. One we've had for a couple of nights now.

Somewhere far beneath us the "T", Boston's underground railway, passes, taking its passengers across, or under the bay. We clearly hear the rattles and the vibration seems to gently shake the boat. It's a seriously strange feeling having an underground train pass beneath you as you lie in bed 200 yards offshore. Its like having Led Zep playing Whole Lotta Love. The clickety clack starts in your left ear, goes across your shoulders through your head and out your right ear. All under the boat. Weird and a bit spooky.

Also, the mooring field is just off the end of the Marriot Long Wharf hotel. Beside that is the tour boat dock and from about 07:00 to 23:00 or midnight the tour boats come and go. It can be a bit off putting to climb into the cockpit, eyes screwed up and blinded by the early morning sun to find 500 tourists looking down on you dressed only in your best "Y"'s giving a fine impression of Spike in that scene from Notting Hill.

We've had just a couple of days here as we dash north. Just enough to familiarise ourselves with our old haunts and some new experiences. One of these was a quick haircut in a very traditional barbers complete with old leather chairs, cut throat razors and giant bushy shaving brushes you could hide in.

I always thought Boston was a great city. Now, with the removal of the aerial motorway through its heart its just stunning. Better than New York in my opinion.

Anyway, time to head north for Maine and its frozen wastes.

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