Thursday, September 24, 2020

Bye, Teddy

We are underway downbound on the Kennebec. The really skinny stuff is behind me now, Otto is driving, and I have some time to type. We had a great stop in Augusta, where Hurricane Teddy was pretty much a non-event, just as we prefer it.

Teddy-driven surf at Ocean Point. Photo: Steve Demaranville

Tuesday our friends Ann and Steve from Boothbay drove up for a visit. We were hoping to sit out behind Cushnoc Brewing on one of their picnic tables for lunch, but apparently the back patio only opens at dinner time, and the two tables out front were occupied. We ended up getting two pizzas to go and walked them back to Vector, where we sat on the aft deck.

Louise and Ann showing off Kathleen's quilt. Photo: Steve Demaranville.

The pizza was quite good, and we had a pleasant conversation. Well, when we could hear each other. Apparently, Tuesday was the day when all the Augusta fire trucks have their pumps tested by a service company; every engine in town came down to the boat ramp across from us, connected to a giant suction hose in the river, and blasted water out of a deck gun that the service company had set up on the riverbank. When they ran the pumps up to full speed, the engine noise was a bit overwhelming.

The first of a half dozen fire engines testing their pumps. It was 40° when I took this shot.

I took the e-bike out for a spin around town both before and after lunch. In the morning I rode down to the Capitol, taking the rail trail to a small connector that comes out at Capitol Park. I then rode back to town along State Street, passing the governor's mansion and the Civil War memorial.

Maine Capitol from the eponymous Olmstead-designed park.

In the afternoon, I rode up to Mill Park, which is basically the filled-in remains of the controlling works for the Edwards Dam, which impounded the Kennebec north of Augusta for 162 years. It was the first dam ever to be denied a renewal of operating permit, and was removed in 1999; the native fish populations decimated by the dam are already recovering somewhat.

Standing on part of the old dam, now a park, looking across the river to the ruins of the powerhouse.

There I came across the Tuesday Farmers' Market in a nice pavilion. There was nothing we needed but I picked up a couple of home-made cookies for later. The park also sports a large p├ętanque court, the nicest I've seen. I spent a few minutes walking on the remains of the dam structure.

Farmers' market, Tuesdays 2-6.

Tuesday afternoon and evening, Teddy passed by offshore, on its way to Nova Scotia. The highest winds we saw in Augusta were perhaps fifteen. The coastal forecast was for dozen-footers, though, and I suggested to Ann and Steve that they swing by Ocean Point when they returned home to have a look. They sent us the photos of some spectacular surf.

Vector in downtown Augusta, as seen from Memorial Bridge. I had to crouch below the suicide fence to get this shot.

Following behind the storm were much warmer temperatures. Yesterday was a perfect day, and I took the e-bike out to big-box land near I-95. After a quick stop at Home Depot, a ride around the enormous mall grounds, and a half sandwich on an outside table at Panera Bread, I headed into the Walmart Supercenter for supplies.

Blaine House, the official governor's residence.

I needed four more gallons of motor oil for the main engine, which limited how much else I was able to carry, but still I was able to fill the whole list. The final item was batting for Louise's quilting; they had four packages left, and I took them all. That made the bike look like I rode out of the Grapes of Wrath, but it was all downhill to get home and I made it with no escapees.

Loaded up. The tiny wheels make it look all the more wonky. Not shown: the full backpack. I can only fit three gallons of oil in the basket. The fourth gallon and most of the groceries are in the pack.

With a day finally warm enough for the task, I changed the engine and gear oil on the dinghy outboard, slightly overdue, and then used the remains of the day to ride down to Hallowell on the rail trail. There I found Lee Ann tied to the dock; the skipper reported he was scraping bottom at low tide, so definitely not enough water for Vector. I am glad we did not attempt it on the way up.

The dock and bulkhead in Hallowell, with its colorful Adirondack chairs. Lee Ann just off frame at left.

I spent a few minutes riding around town before heading right back up the rail trail. Back in Augusta I made a quick loop of the eastern shore before returning to Vector and hoisting the e-bike back aboard. We strolled over to the Raging Bull Saloon for dinner on their "deck," a temporary platform in a parking spot. They were using bar stools to rope it off, except here the bar stools are western saddles on posts. We were the only ones dining al fresco.

Beer at the Raging Bull Saloon. Note the saddle-stools. This was our warmest evening.

All in all it was an excellent stop, but this morning the timing of the tide was favorable to leave (yesterday we would have had to leave before breakfast) and we dropped lines just ahead of high tide to have the best water for departure. NOAA discontinued its tide station in Augusta five years ago, so lacking reliable tide information, I've been recording sounder readings over the course of our stay and basically made my own table.

Downtown Hallowell.

That made all the difference, and the spot that read just seven feet on our way upriver carried ten feet on our way out, a much less nerve-wracking experience. We cruised right past Hallowell and also Gardiner, where we might have anchored but there was certainly no room at the dock. We arrived at the turn for Richmond just below mid-tide and falling, and while we probably could have easily cleared the shoal at the entrance and made it to the dock, we decided instead to keep riding the ebb downriver.

Civil War memorial.

Tonight we should be in Bath again, or else anchored nearby, and tomorrow we will use the first of two very nice outside windows to exit the Kennebec, round Cape Small, and make our way back into Casco Bay. My part for the master head is waiting for me in Portland, along with a third pair of lithium batteries, and we need to get those aboard before our clock expires in Maine. We'll get in a visit with our friends there, who have been gracious enough to receive all this, and then use the next available window to continue south. 

Lithgow Library.

Update: We are tied to the town dock in Bath (map), again with permission to stay the night. As I finish typing it's 80°, a far cry from two days ago when we did not even make it into the 60s. The riverside park is busy; clearly everyone is enjoying the nice weather.

When we were singling up this morning we found this wheel trapped with other detritus between the bow and the dock. The river always flows downstream here, where the outflow overcomes the tide. I pulled it out and left it on the dock.

My next post will likely be departing Portland.

The old arsenal. This shoal is covered at high tide. I shot this from the bridge, since I could not snap it from the helm while driving.

Gratuitous shot of the last engine of the day running its pump. Warmer now, at least.


  1. What brand of ebike do you have? Is it a folding bike?
    Are you generally satisfied with the bike?

    1. Yes it's folding. I chose it because it was a good compromise among folded size, weight, price, and range. Also, it had to have pedals and a fairly low top speed to be legal almost everywhere. It's a Swagtron EB-5:

  2. Great post & pictures. So glad Teddy past by with no problems for y'all. Loved seeing the e-bike loaded with supplies. I bet Louise was happy to see all that batting for her quilts!

    1. Apparently her other quilt fans have given me high marks for the batting mission.


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