Point of Sail
02 August 2020 | Snow Island, Casco Bay (photo Harbor Island)
Carey Hotaling | Calm before the storm
The “point of sail” in sailing, is your direction in relation to the wind. Just like in life, there are times you have to tack directly into a strong oncoming wind. We all seem to be doing that now. COVID-19, the divisions in our country, climate change, and the next awakening of our racial inequities, has meant at times we’ve had to just throw down the anchor and wait, and other times we are scared and dive right in. The adventure is the unknown, and these adventures are not of our choosing. Our lives of thought, analyzation, decision-making move forward regardless. When Peter and I took on our month-long adventure into the unknown, we were confident of our skills, and in our beast-of-a boat to make it where we cautiously bring it. The uncertainty of the rest of our lives need to be approached with the same feelings of adequacy. When venturing into the unknown classroom in a month or reopening Seacoast Tours in a year, we need to remember our learned wisdom for survival. People are now pretending our lives go along as “normal,” but we know that each day brings new challenges, learnings, opportunities, and dangers, regardless. These are just very pronounced now... and the dangers for some people are outweighing the dangers for others. This seems to be what we need to pay attention to.... pay attention to the “point of sail.”
We have not found ourselves writing about the first two weeks of eerie lack of boating in Maine, and then the challenges of a few busy anchorages during the second two weeks when boats were around. Nor of the chance sightings of Freeport people, the Walsh’s on Fox Island thoroughfare, Alison Bramhall kayaking up to us during boat yoga or our wonderful visit at Turkey Cove with the Brouder’s (missed Vicky!). We have not analyzed our perfect sail down the St George River, or our light winds these last few days, or describing each anchorage of paradise we seem to be staying in. The sailing has been good, skillful and very fun. The escape has been required and rejuvenating, and the calm of the sea now gives hope in the lee of the two oncoming storms (normal rain Tuesday and Wednesday, possible Isaiah Hurricane after that). In some ways, those are the things a sailblog is expected to be about. But for us, it was more about quieting the mind, reconnecting together with nature, and gaining strength for pointing into the wind when we are required to do so. For those that have read the blog, I hope you are able to find small and big ways to do this in the future, so our society can learn from this perfect storm we seem to be weathering together.
On to Freeport to stay on our personal mooring tonight; home in our own beds tomorrow.
31 July 2020 | Harbor island
Peter Milholland | Calm and hot
Glug glug, slosh slosh, I roll on to my side and try to go back to sleep. Nock nock, bonk bonk, all reminders of chores fulfilled and ones not.
Living on a small boat you soon become aware of the rhythms they have. To someone who has not lived aboard a small sailboat, the creaks, groans, and variety of sounds, smells etc mean nothing. To someone who has spent any time aboard, and has some knowledge of the multitude of systems a boat has, knows or learns each sound and the story they tell. The sound of the bilge pump turning on and off frequently indicates a leak some where, often not a good sound but hopefully you're not sinking -:) The low gurgling sound heard in the middle of the night night be the refrigeration system doing its job. The bonk bonk of the mooring ball you are tied to as it bangs the hull next to your head, or the rushing and gurgling water of the tide flowing under the hull or the gurgle of a full tank of water that will last you two weeks.
Sometimes I think of living aboard our sailboat is like being in a space capsule orbiting earth, seeing all the magnificent views but never touching it. The ultimate quarantine! Your everyday activities are confined to the 300 sq feet of living space. Kind of like living in a closet of a tiny house... okay it's not that small but it can feel like it.
With the exception of the bathroom (the head), an aft cabin we call "the garage" and a ten by ten deck where we eat meals, read, do projects, and oh yes sail the boat. The garage has a large wedge shaped queen size sleeping cushion in the back of the boat. We slept there once and never again. One side of the berth is under a section of the deck and if you sit up you bonk your head. Its so claustrophobic that you can't really sleep. In addition the bed is right on top of a 25 gallon fuel tank that sloshes through the night. Now it's used for all kinds of storage, bikes, extra clothes, boots, cushions etc. "the garage."
The main cabin consists of a small kitchen area (galley) two bunks, one on either side and a forward V shaped birth where we sleep. We love our capsule now that we've become part of its rhythm. She takes us to new places we've never explored ever mindful of our space together.
In the Flow
28 July 2020 | Photo of Reindeer Cove; Currently at Dix Harbor, Muscle Ridge
Carey Hotaling | Hot on land 80s. Cool and breezy on water
Have not had much access to the internet, yet we've had a lot of immersion in the movements of the ocean and atmosphere. We didn't really have a plan as soon as we headed back from being deep Downeast. We started really going with the flow of the weather, tides, our moods and needs. No straight lines anyway when sailing, but now we've just been circling around western Penobscot Bay to new places we wanted to explore. So freeing, and so not the norm. True cruising rhythm took us about two weeks.
Spending time exploring Seal Harbor and Old Harbor (moored at Reindeer Cove) off Vinalhaven, then Cradle Cove at Dark Harbor Boat Yard and the other side of Islesboro Island at Sabbathday Harbor definitely showed us the McMasions of the 1%ers. Wow. We were flummoxed by what the reason for such big cottages could be, except showing off. Then, we got out the magic rectangles and started googling the rich and famous on Islesboro. We read about John Travolta and Kirsty Alley among others, but their houses looked more reasonable than most we were seeing. When we finally made it to the place to anchor, we decided there were so many empty moorings that perhaps it would be OK to poach one due to the threatening severe thunder storm. When Peter got back from tying on, he came back and whispered that we were on a mooring labeled Travolta! What are the chances?
Immediately, when we started back on July 4, we were back in the mode of living together on the boat for some of these items, but now have fully sharpened rhythms:
-tasks separate due to height, strength or skills ( cooking, lifting the mainsail, driving to anchorage or setting the anchor.)
-when one person is cleaning one area (cockpit etc.) the other is down below gathering and putting stuff away (this takes zero discussion)
-recently, its been still and hot in the morning, time to swim
-read the weather report and make plans when wind is up to go places
-hide from storms in good anchorage
-when wildlife shows up, stop and watch (sometimes researching)
-plan rowing excursions related to the tides
-on, and on
So much shows me the strength of a 37 year relationship. How lucky we are that we helped each other grow, and grow together, instead of growing apart. Luck of the draw.
No One Boat
25 July 2020 | Seal Harbor, Vinalhaven
Carey Hotaling | Gonna be a scahah
A morning thought (first draft)
No one boat
Far outside this still bay
Sing to the red clouds
Which startle me
When I wake
change the colors
Alerting which birds awake
A seal floats by in swirls
Immerse in the wind
Dive into the water
Attempt to wash away the grief
loss for what was
Reminds me of the engines
In the distance
Created somewhere else
Rocking someone else’s boat
Falsely, I pretend no ripples are here
Of far away protests
Ripple the shores of my mind
Awakening what can never go back
Gathers and blows
Across water, smooths granite
Then calms again, waiting
What will become
of the roar in the distance?
The hum of the collective silent listeners, open your ears
breath as the seal surfaces,
splash of the fish and the osprey
Her first cry signals the sun lifted
Part of morning fits like a puzzle
Together we create the hum
Of sounds we want to hear together
Privilege, money and ability to escape
23 July 2020 | Looking toward Mt Desert from Buckle Harbor (Swans area)
Carey Hotaling | 65’F, deep fog
I don't think of myself as rich, but in world standards I'm very wealthy. We have had enough education, strong community support and parents who believed in us. Our parents were basically true middle class people who felt that was enough. They tried to direct, create opportunities, let us make our own mistakes with our lives. Risk taking in our 20's, the way our own children have done, is not possible for most non-white people in our society. The safety net needs to be there to feel ready for risky adventures of living on the edge. For both of us, and our children, these periods where we weren't concerned with gathering wealth or playing with our health, were important growth opportunities to "find ourselves." If I grew up in poverty, or as a person of color --with laws, justice, housing, food insecurity, healthcare, etc. all stacked against-- there really would have been no security. If it doesn't work out, they can't just come back home to get their parents to pay for wisdom teeth removal (as I did) or to gain strength and presents at Christmas, to do it all again. In my lifetime, I have gained more and more understanding that it isn't just money security, and the parental support that I had (although these are real)... but with my white skin... all who saw me (whether a cop stopping me for speeding, or other stuff) I carry a white non-invisibility safety cloak of sorts at all times.
Interestingly, with little access to the internet I wrote twice on our second day out, about privilege. Both posts were lost to the ether. We were in Damariscove Island preserve. The photo of the most amazing house ever, an old coastguard station, did post. A few years back, it was sold to a private family; multimillion dollars I'm sure! They were there while we were. The kids did what Peter and I did in our childhoods. Peter would spend time with a childhood friend at Turkey Cove (we hope to go soon) at a huge double farmhouse (two houses connected and with a courtyard and barn connecting.) They would do just what these girls were doing. Take the zippy boats out to fish, learn to swim in cold water, and just generally, "Mess about in boats." My parents met at a summer camp and they worked there, all my siblings went there, and all our children- Camp Killooleet. There, I was able to fully immerse in nature, learn crafts and most of all mess about in boats - mostly kayaks and canoes. Going with the flow, learning and making mistakes, catching frogs or noticing wading birds nearby, creating forts and just BEING a kid. What a privilege. We never thought our empty bellies would not be full in the next meal. We never had a care in the world, except the ones with our peers or rules of adults. All things essential for learning how to be in the world. These girls we were watching in this nature preserve Island, were probably 7 and 10 year old siblings who were each allowed to bring a playmate. They were doing it right in the summer. However, when you looked around you saw was an unimaginable home in the prettiest spot, a nice fast boat to get them easily back to Boothbay Harbor. Perfect COVID-19 pandemic escape. Not possible for most kids during this pandemic.
Since that first day out, it's been 20 days. We have done good escaping. It might really help when I have to get back to the classroom. It's eerie though, as there are very few other boaters "cruising." The few people out here have money, flexibility and white skin. I've seen two or three people of color, $7,000,000+ yachts with full-time captains for one guy, happy racers with old historic fancy wooden boats, and lots of working stiffs (hardworking lobsterman/women). I love Avelinda, our boat. This boat was purchased with my portion of the sale of my parents house. Not enough for a cottage on the coast, but enough to make this cottage go anywhere in Maine we want to go (in the summer/fall). I am very aware of my privilege- I try to do the right thing with it in my classroom, where I have the most power and control of anywhere in my world (other than my parenting which for the most part is done). I want to feel like my brother, and not feel guilty about who I am: white, with enough money, education, skill, and health, to escape and make isolation a gift rather than jail (as it was in the spring). I have come to terms with the fact that silence about racism is violence, and my next twenty years need not to be complicit with racist policies. I strive to be an antiracists.
I want to be devoted toward doing what I'm doing now (immersion in nature and my relationships), as well as making sure I use my privilege to communicate, listen, learn and do what I can with my determination and skills, to make the world a better place for the children of the world: my own, my grandchildren, the children I teach, and those most vulnerable children far away from my world (those ripped from their parents at the boarder, those far away and those in need). Although I contributed a significant amount of my Aunt L's money to Maine indigenous college scholarship, most of my contributions aren't in cash - but I can do other things and plan to. Please do what you can as well.
Thanks for listening. We are healthy and well!
19 July 2020
During the past two weeks we’ve seen very few people along our cruise. Those we have seen have been from a distance, on other boats or at small lobster wharfs in working harbors like Burnt Coat on Swans Island. When we arrived in Bar Harbor for the night we decided to head to town to check out the scene and treat ourselves to a dinner out. Our mooring was a bit of a distance from the town pier but we managed to row in against the tide and wind. We tied up at the dock around 6:00 o’clock and wandered down wharf street to Stewman’s Lobster Pound. We were fourth in line when we arrived, five minutes later the line to get a table was way down the block. While it was nice to see the town of Bar Harbor look somewhat normal with people (tourists) milling about it felt very strange. Being on a boat for weeks at a time and not seeing other people, in the midst of a pandemic, with everyone (mostly) wearing face masks, some dressed up and others in t-shirts and flip flops was a culture shock.
We enjoyed our dinner out but as we left, the wind picked up quite a bit. We saw a couple across the deck from us clutch on to their shade umbrella as it started to lift out of the hole in the picnic table ... “that was crazy” I was thinking to myself. As soon as I finished that thought, out of the corner of my eye I could see our umbrella hovering over our heads. In slow motion it flew across the deck like Mary Poppins. It then bounced off the head of an unsuspecting customer seated at a picnic table behind us. Almost instantly the wait staff scurried out like a pack of mice when the cat sneaks up for a surprise attack. Everyone was a little freaked out, but no one got hurt.
The next day was farmers market day from 9-noon. Carey, who has taken on the self-proclaimed title of Galley Master, wanted to stock up on fresh produce. Oh, how I do love my Galley Master... Five years ago we did a big cruise to Nova Scotia and along the Maine coast. At one point during our journey we decided that we needed to investigate all the towns that had farmer’s markets. We found online a list of all the markets with a schedule of what day and times each occurred so we could semi-schedule our destination plans according to the markets. Why change a good thing.
18 July 2020 | Cows Yard
Carey Hotaling | Reading for thunder and lighting ( only seen in distance)
Mistake Island is a place one would consider you may have to miss due to the name. We recommend not zooming past this area on the way to the magical Roque. Visiting the lighthouse on Mistake was a highlight, and afterwards our plan was to just skirt across the harbor to Mud Hole. This would have been on Great Wass Island with many rare plants and animals along a network of nature conservancy trails. There is room for one boat. Up you need to enter at high tide and someone got there before us, so we went to Cows Yard.
No indication of why it’s called Cows Yard except the shape of the anchorage is circular. It was not listed as a hurricane hole (like mud hole) , but the next best thing. It was one of the quietest spots. Many seemly abandoned hunting and fishing cottages we think are accessed either just by boat or by Beals Island. As we settled in after a short motor past dangerous ledges, etc., we set a stern anchor to keep away from the many lobster traps and forgot to attach the dingy painter. I love to swim, but couldn’t handle the Roque Island cold water on my shoulders and head for more than a brisk dip. However, all those years of lifeguard training had me shift in to gear. Without thinking, as the dingy was leaving in the wind, I stripped my clothes to my underwear (not even lobsterman to see) and did a long dive toward to boat. Halfway back I started thinking about the coast guard sailing safely class I took that talked about how our muscles stop working in cold water. I shouted up for Peter to tie a line on something to throw (just in case). He did, but it was not necessary 😊. I made it fine, and was happy I could use my swimming skills to get out dingy from the rocky shore! We measured the water temperature as 52 degrees! (( if you saw the peas post on fb, you saw this Harbor).
Our exploration of the shore on that day enabled us to realize there were two outhouses. We decided to empty our compost from our marine grade “Airhead” that we have been calling the magical toilet. Wow- thank you
Genie and Joe Field for suggesting it. Everyone who is a sailor should install one. No messy tank, no dumping at sea, no waiting at Billings Marina for the tide to rise so we can partially pump out our sewage. This is a much, much better system unless every marina were to have a good pump out situation. This was our maiden voyage with this toilet, so without experience we have been not sure if it was going to last for the whole month. Since we found the outhouses, we decided to use them to dump our compost. Amazingly it almost looked all composted, but they say to wait three months before using on your flower beds.
Humans aren’t used to the process to deal with our own waste. We love it all to magically go away if it’s toxic cleaners, plastic bags, or our own sewage. We need to transition our thought process. Stop using chemicals on the lawn that pollute our water - dandelions are important pollination opportunities for bees. Stop buying everything in containers that don’t even recycle. Recycling isn’t the answer...plastic can only be recycled a few times...that’s what those numbers in the triangles mean. Reduce is what we should do, or if not, we need to reuse and as a last resort recycle. The systems on our boats, cottages and houses should be using biomimicry as much as possible. We are so pleased with our Airhead and hope others who are big consumers, such as boat owners, feel free to ask us about it! I’d love to be a distributor!
We left with a great sail to Bar Harbor. A port we had never sailed to before, and probably won’t do again. (It we did make the Sunday farmer’s market).....But that’s a story for another day.