45 Nautical Miles of Good Sailing Home!
14 August 2015 | The Basin, Casco Bay off the New Meadows River
CH/ Lots of wind, sunny, some clouds, beautiful day
We knew we wanted to go as far as possible today, since the last day of our travel home was forecast to be thunderstorms in the afternoon in Freeport. After a hearty breakfast of eggs and toast, we headed out of Dix/High Island harbor around 8:30. We motored against the strong outgoing current of Muscle Ridge Channel (happily charging our four iphones on the motor’s battery).
Just about each day we have seen seals and porpoise, but this day they were close to the boat and some of the porpoise jumped from the water. We assumed these might be White-Sided Dolphin due to their speed and acrobatics. In addition, we saw Wilson’s petrel, a gannet, guilemot, bald eagle, osprey, and several others. We headed right past the spot we had seen puffin before, but didn’t see them this day.
We kept trying to decide if we should hoist the sails, but given the winds are usually low in the morning, we had a distance to go to our destination, and planes to catch upon our return, we kept them up until just at Allen Island. At this point, we wouldn’t have to tack directly into the wind, and we would be at a better angle. Thus, at about 10:30 we turned off the motor and began our sail. The winds just kept improving through the day and we got to our destination, Dammarascove Island, at about 2:00. Since we weren’t sure on this lovely Friday afternoon there would be space for us in there, and we wanted to take advantage of the wind, we just passed right by it and headed for Sequin Island. We weren’t sure exactly where we would end up, but we thought stopping at Sequin would be a good break.
We sailed right in near the cove and turned on the motor to negotiate the ledges and catch the mooring. Rusty rowed Zippy in to the beach against strong wind. We marveled at the tram which was a wooden walkway with railroad ties to pull a cart with provisions up the the lighthouse. There were a few such trams in various states of disrepair that we have seen on our trip, but this one was working through last year (when an accident had its use halted). We are hoping they are in the process of repairing it, but I forget what the caretaker said about that.
The caretaker at Sequin is chosen each year from many applications. This year, the wife of the couple had lived there as a two year old in the 60s since her father was in the Coast Guard. She had never been back until this year. She showed us briefly through the museum, and then brought us up the light to view the Fresnel lens and the dramatic view. Sequin Light is the highest lighthouse in Maine, and is what you see when at Popham Beach on the island 2 miles away. It was emotional for us to see where we had come from, and where we were headed. By this point we had decided to try to make it to The Basin, and we could see Cape Small -- the edge of Casco Bay. You could also see the major current formed by the huge amount of water entering from the Kennebec River causing white caps and waves.
It was about an hour diversion at the island before we headed back on the boat. We decided to go away from shore to avoid the current, but even where we were headed was bumpy and with significant waves and 15-20 knot winds crashing over our bow. A few of these got us very wet. When we wanted to hoist the sails we decided it would be safe to reef both the main and the jib. Unfortunately, its best to set this up before getting into the serious seas...but we hadn’t done this. Luckily, we have a son who likes being “on the edge” rock climbing, hang-gliding and the such, and Christo quickly clipped his off-shore life jacket into the jack lines to go on deck and do what was needed. The rest of us were happy doing the work from the cockpit, and it took all four of us to get everything ready. (How had we done this with just two of us….?) As soon as we were sailing we were going 6.5 knots steadily, fully reefed and heading in a hurry toward our destination.
When we rounded Cape Small the wind got more manageable, and we were now in Casco Bay. Peter started pointing out specific spots in the water where Friends of Casco Bay have water quality sites, and giving us a guided tour of islands, and useful information about the area. We headed downwind towards The Basin, off the New Meadows River, as the sun began to set. Rusty went below and began dinner, so we could eat upon arrival. At one point we almost went to Malaga Island, a bit closer, but we were all glad we decided to wind our way down the narrow passage to the lake-like basin which opened up into a perfect, calm, hurricane hole. No way would we be rocked to sleep tonight in this calm spot. We were ravenous at 8:00 when we arrived, and we felt a real sense of accomplishment for our long adventurous sail. What a day!