Monday, July 28

Here's a little description of my trip...

Sunday we sailed along the coast of Gloucester, past Twin Lights, then set a course for Rockland. Abandoned the plan to sail straight to Nova Scotia- the winds just weren’t right. Mark (my uncle) and Bob (his friend) had cigars in the cockpit while I mixed the first of many rounds of cocktails. We had to switch to the motor after a while, and kept going through the night. When the sun went down there was no land in sight. I watched the moon rise bright orange as the sky darkened. I had first watch, nervous about tugboats and barges, but traffic was light until Bob relieved me. Slept well in the aft cabin, all to myself, cozy in my sleeping bag, rocking with the boat.

Saw my first seal of the trip on Monday as we sailed past Monhegan Island. How happy to see the islands, seals and terns and ferries bringing tourists in Maine sweatshirts to and fro. Got to Rockland, to Bobby’s mooring, and into town. Went to the boat store, got some things. Mark saw an ad on the board for a 45-pound anchor. Called the guy, yeah, he could get it to the public dock in half an hour. Bob and I drank at the Black Olive while Mark waited for the anchor and brought it to the boat. Back to the boat for dinner and more cocktails.

Sailed between Vinalhaven and North Haven to the Coots, a couple islands by Deer Isle, near Camp, Devil and Bold Islands. Rowed the skiff around and landed on a private island owned by someone from Gloucester. Barnacles everywhere, jeans soaked at the bottom. Fog and rain rolled in. I cooked a big meal that night, we lit the fire and drank scotch. Woke Wednesday morning to engine trouble, diesels don’t like air, and broken gasket, a critical bolt dropped in the bilge. Mark took the skiff to Billings for parts, Bob and I hung out on the boat. The weather was so bad we stayed put even after the engine got going. Warm and cozy on the boat, drunk and full. Slept well.

Thursday we sailed to Northeast Harbor on Mt. Desert Island, to pick up the new depth sounder that was shipped overnight to my uncle David in Franklin. We hiked up to Jordan Pond, went to the hardware store and the market. Stopped in to get a copy of Mark’s marriage license at the City Clerk’s office. Turns out his wife has been wrong about the date for 11 years. The clerk’s brother had performed the ceremony, the guy with one leg from the hardware store was the witness.

By Friday I was lonely. The guys just talk about girls and boats, and I was very quiet, nothing to add. We sailed past Mistake Harbor to the Cow’s Yard. We were led to our site by a seal, and a bald eagle flew by as we were dropping anchor. Cold on the way up, nice fire warmed us and the ever-present cocktails kept our bellies warm. The boat rocked all night and I discovered what my uncle calls ‘drinking ours’ (he got that from a trash novel). They are when you drink too much, fall asleep quickly, sleep hard for a couple of hours, wake up and spend most of the night unable to fall back asleep. Get in another hour or two before morning.

Saturday I woke up in a fog. The boat was also in a fog. Waiting for the tide to come ina bit and the fog to thin I watched a jellyfish swim the length of the boat. The fog nearly broke and we motored to the Roque Island Archipelago. Our first anchorage was by the beach, but the boat rocked so much we moved to a little spot between Great Spruce and Little Spruce Islands. Read a trash novel on deck and got too much sun. Rowed to shore to see a big brown back leaning over on the beach. At first I thought it was a bear, not even ten feet away. After I turned the skiff quickly I saw it was only a ram, there with a ewe, munching away. Rowed across the cove to find where a great sound was coming from- amazed to find it was the wind rushing through a tree, the only tall tree that wasn’t a pine. Saw some wild irises growing on a cliff. Went for a swim off the boat.

I stayed in bed Sunday morning, pretending to be asleep while the boys figured out that the boat’s electrical system had been wired incorrectly The starter battery was completely drained. Motoring through rain and fog. Fresh water pump broke, all the water leaked into the bilge. Get to Bar Harbor and yuck! all the people. Made the usual stops (hardware, automotive or boat store, grocery store, liquor store, cigar store, maybe a cup of coffee). Drank too much. Again.

Monday we got to Valley Cove, you can see the hill from there where my uncle was married. Ospreys flying around, the cliff dwarfing everything around us. Quiet again. To Blue Hill, where the water is just 15 feet deep and the seals fished around us all night. Nice little town, warm water for swimming. In the morning the autopilot won’t start. Fog thick as pea soup, motor to Belfast. The rain came down in sheets and cleared away some of the fog. Washed my clothes, went to the library, saw a bit of town. The next day the weather was no better, so we stayed put. Went into town again. Lovely place, seeming to be for the people there, not for tourists so much. Decent showers. Melancholy second night, Mark missing his sister Judy (she died 7 years ago and was his best friend), had me sing the song I sang at her funeral (Jamaica Farewell). The three of us finished a bottle of vodka and a bottle of scotch. We all ended up skinny dipping in the harbor, and me not able to get back into the boat.

Friday the weather broke. We made our way back to Rockland and got the boat ready to leave there. The sky opened and dropped buckets of rain, lovely with bright bolts of lightening. Full double rainbows crossed the harbor. Had our first meal out, got to bed early, and woke up at 4:30 on Saturday morning to drive a rented car back to Gloucester.

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