02 August 2007 | Seal Cove just inside Cape Elizabeth
SW winds 5 to 15 kt. Seas 2 to 4 ft. High 86 low 66
We've now been truly baptized by the fog, and it happened just short of the Maine border. We had stayed three days in Salem because Bruce had been pouring over the weather maps and he determined that we were going to have three days of "doggy weather" (apologies to the Intrepid Seadog), and then it was going to clear on Monday.
Monday morning, we awoke to the sound of rain on deck. Not the fog of the forecast, but rain. And thunder. Chip was trying desperately to crawl into my lap as I drank my coffee. We dithered about for a bit, wondering whether we should stay one more day. Then we checked the satellite weather maps online, and we saw that the band of thundershowers was moving offshore and we could slip out behind it. Surely, the day would then clear.
It's amazing that today, with all our modern technology, we can download weather maps with lines and arrows and fronts and temperatures - and we can look at live satellite images on the Internet, and we have color radar on the boat that reaches out sixty miles, and still we can be so wrong in our weather forecasting. We might just as well have bought one of those Witches' Balls in Salem.
The trip to Portsmouth was somewhere around 40 miles. We didn't get away until nearly 11:00 and we were looking at a 6-7 hour trip. There was no wind so we were motoring beneath gray skies on an oily looking sea. Occasionally, it seemed as though the clouds just lowered themselves down to the surface of the sea and enveloped us - and the visibility closed down to about half a mile. By mid-afternoon, Bruce had the radar on with the overlay on the chart plotter. It was interesting picking up "hits" on the radar and watching their progress until suddenly they loomed out of the mist a half-mile away. We passed lots of fishing boats, a few sailboats and lobster boats. There were some buoys offshore and we often wouldn't see them until we were nearly on them. We took turns standing watch outside in sweatshirts, while the other one went below to read in a warm bunk.
By late evening, we were headed into Little Harbor just outside Portsmouth Harbor and the visibility closed down to less than 100 feet off the bow. Bruce announced that it looked like we were trapped inside a milk bottle and he decided we weren't up to anchoring if we couldn't even see the anchorage. We called the marina, and they said it was just as foggy in the harbor. They would send a launch out to greet us at the breakwater.
Talk about scary! We were slowly creeping in and suddenly, less than 50 feet off the bow the breakwater loomed out of the mist. There was another breakwater on the other side about 150 feet away, but we couldn't see it. I tied the Intrepid Seadog to the boat because I was afraid he would fall overboard and we'd lose him in the fog. On the radio, we could hear that another boat, a big powerboat, was also coming in, and I wondered if they would run into us before we saw them. We waited -- trying to hold position between the two breakwaters, hoping the launch would soon arrive. Finally, after what seemed like hours but was only minutes, the launch appeared out of the white. A young man waved his arm and motioned us to follow him.
We traveled through the inside of that milk bottle, sometimes losing sight of the launch, and occasionally seeing moored boats appearing alongside our path. Just off the marina, the mist lifted enough for us to see the dock and we swung into the slip. Wentworth by the Sea Marina was a luxurious place (with prices to match), and Bruce and I celebrated our safe arrival with a dinner at the Lattitudes Bar next to the roaring fireplace, drinking Mount Gay and tonic and chowing down on the best lobster rolls I've ever tasted.
The next morning dawned clear and sunny. We went topsides and said, "Oh, so this is what this place looks like!" It was gorgeous with the marina's floating docks attached to a wooden boardwalk that wrapped around stone cliffs. High above that was the Wentworth by the Sea Hotel, a four-story turreted 19th century affair. Colorful flowers sprouted from every nook and cranny. We borrowed the marina's loaner car (a Mercedes!) and went shopping at a fabulous Market Basket, stopped at West Marine, hit the fuel dock (not literally) and made it out the harbor entrance by noon.
Just across the river from Portsmouth, the state of Maine begins. We headed up the coast to Cape Elizabeth, just south of Portland and came in to the first place we were able to anchor since Delaware! There were two boats there, some folks camped out on the island, but other than a few fisherman and lots of seagulls and cormorants, we were alone. From the Chesapeake onward, we had only been in crowded, mooring-filled harbors and it was so nice, we spent all day there yesterday. We went ashore and explored, threw a ball for the Intrepid Seadog and totally wore him out, taking him back to the boat wet and covered with sand and happier than he has been all this trip. Last night, as the evening chill set in, we cooked our own New England clam chowder and damned if it wasn't pretty good.
So, the forecast now is for sunny days ahead. It makes me wonder if I should take my raincoat when we head for shore.