Monday, September 21, 2015

Not from around heah

We are finally cruising down east. The scenery is stunning here, but cellular signals are nonexistent, and I find myself once again typing into a text file to upload later.

Sunset over the lobster boats of Tenants Harbor.

Notwithstanding my prediction that we might spend a second night in Tenants Harbor, since we did not need to be in Rockland until Friday afternoon, we nevertheless departed Thursday morning. It was lovely in the harbor, and we had a good WiFi signal there, but we had a crew member aboard who was under the weather.

Angel, feeling a bit unwell.

Angel has been feeling crummy lately; she's been crying a lot, and going through water like crazy. We already knew she has some renal issues, with really only one working kidney, and the increased water intake had us concerned. Realizing that Rockland would be our best chance to find a vet, we made some calls Thursday morning and made her an appointment for Friday morning at the Rockland Animal Hospital.

Whitehead Island Light, at the entrance to the Muscle Ridge Channel.

That meant we'd need to be settled in Rockland Thursday evening, and so we left Tenants Harbor on a favorable tide for the relatively short cruise. The most direct route transits the Muscle Ridge Channel and Owls Head Bay; the former is marked on our charts as being heavily populated by lobster floats. We actually found the floats here to be not as dense as some other places, and I only had to hand steer occasionally.

Owls Head Light, at the turn to Rockland Harbor.

After entering the harbor we made a quick check of the "special" anchorage closest to the docks, which was, as we expected, chock full of mooring balls. Instead we dropped the hook in the northwest corner of Anchorage "A" (map), which was surprisingly devoid of boats, moorings, or even, for the most part, lobster floats. We had the entirety of this enormous anchorage to ourselves, for the price of another minute in the tender. We were just close enough to pick up a marginal WiFi signal from shore.

Vector looking a bit lonely in Rockland Harbor Anchorage A. Owls Head is at right; Vinalhaven in the distance.

We had a lovely dinner at a nice Italian place, Rustica, in the quaint downtown. We had cruised through this downtown on the scooters when we stopped here in Odyssey a few years ago, but it seems more vibrant today, with lots of nice restaurants along a four or five block stretch. We enjoyed walking through the downtown and then back along the waterfront.

Friday morning we loaded Angel into her carrier for her first-ever dinghy ride. Suffice it to say she was not happy, yowling for the first part of the trip. By the time we got into a taxi for the short ride to the vet, she was completely subdued and made no complaint at all about the car. The vet turned out to be just a half mile from the Elks lodge at which we had stayed when we were here in Odyssey, and I recognized it as we drove past.

After some poking and prodding and a set of blood work, the diagnosis was some sort of urinary tract infection, which, all things considered, was really the best outcome. She is now back on prescription kidney diet, and the vet gave her a shot of antibiotics that obviates the need for us to cram pills down her throat for a week. She already seems to be feeling better.

Around 3:30 we hopped back in the tender, and I dropped Louise at a boatyard north of town that happens to be next to a quilt shop, while I zipped down to the boat ramp south of town and tied up for the mile hike to the UPS Customer Center, which opens at 4pm. It's a two mile drive, but by walking along the railroad tracks and cutting across a pair of industrial parking lots the walk is much shorter.

The visit to UPS was to pick up our new Verizon Jetpack MiFi, which we had our mail service in Florida send up via second-day. The Jetpack was doing us no good in our mail box, and we're already paying for the service; we had it sent there so we could get our order placed right away and not miss out on what we thought might be a limited-time deal.

The MiFi is lightning fast and we are very happy with it. It comes with unlimited 4G data on the Verizon network with no contract, so we can stop obsessing over how much of our monthly 2GB Verizon allotment we use whenever we can't find a WiFi or Sprint signal. Of course, here at our very next stop there are no signals of any kind, and the MiFi sits forlornly on the helm console, unable to communicate.

The weather while we were in Rockland was gorgeous; sunny and warm, and we even had cocktails on the deck at Archer's overlooking the harbor Friday evening before walking to a nice dinner at Eclipse downtown. We woke Saturday morning to equally pleasant weather, and could see quite a number of weekenders heading out for the day.

Fog rolling in as we motor out of Rockland Harbor.

As luck would have it, just as we were weighing anchor to head over to Vinalhaven Island, the fog moved in. We steamed out of the harbor and right into it, switching on the foghorn not long after clearing the Rockland Breakwater Light. By the time we were crossing the ship route in the middle of the bay, I could barely see the lobster floats in time to miss them, and our track looked like a drunkard was driving.

Still clear enough to see the Rockland Breakwater Light on our way out.

Using the radar I was able to line up the various buoys and towers marking the entrance to the Fox Isles Thorofare, separating Vinalhaven from North Haven islands, and avoid the inevitable lobster boats who keep working through any conditions. We figured to make the first turn, into the relative shelter of the western isles, and drop the hook to wait it out if need be.

The small town of North Haven, clear and almost sunny.

I could see the North Haven - Rockland ferry coming toward us on the AIS, and I called him on the radio to ask about conditions behind him. He informed us that it was clear in the thorofare closer to North Haven, and only got thick closer to where we were. With less than a mile to the end of the fog, good returns on radar, and fewer lobster pots in the channel, we decided to proceed. Just then, a sailboat came zipping at us out of the fog doing nine knots or so; he missed us by a boat length. I barely saw him on radar, and he was going way too fast for the conditions, coming, as he did, out of the clear and into the fog. We had slowed to five knots, not enough way to dodge quickly. We wondered if he had wet himself when our fog horn went off.

Goose Rocks Light, in the Fox Isles Thorofare.

It cleared up beautifully as we approached the small community of North Haven on the eponymous island. I had chosen this route for the scenery, and with the fog out of the way we were not disappointed. We continued southeast past the Goose Rocks Light, around Calderwood Neck at the northeastern corner of Vinalhaven Island, and into Seal Bay, where I started working on this post yesterday morning (map).

Sunset over Seal Bay.

I can imagine this bay is chock full of cruising boats in the height of the summer, but we had our little section all to ourselves, with just another couple of boats in the distance in other parts of the bay. It is exquisitely beautiful, with the classic rocky shoreline and majestic trees of down east Maine. A couple of small houses could be found set a bit back from the water, and a lone lobster boat rode quietly on a mooring.

Looking east from our anchorage. The rocks at left  and the cut to the right are submerged at high tide -- accurate charts are a must here.

We could easily spend a week in this one bay, but with no Internet access and a tight schedule we spent just the one night. We did not see any seals during our stay, but found several sunning themselves on the rocks just as we were motoring out of the bay; just a bit too far to get a good photograph, but we saw them well through binoculars.

Five seals on these rocks.

Yesterday's cruise brought us north through Eastern Penobscot Bay, where we pounded into three-footers most of the day, past an array of lovely islands and remote fishing communities, and around the northwestern corner of Deer Isles, marked by the Pumpkin Island Lighthouse, into Eggemoggin Reach.

Eagle Island Light, as we slammed our way north.

Once in the Reach seas calmed down almost completely, with winds out of the north, and we had a beautiful ride under the graceful Deer Isles Bridge and past the Torrey Islands to where we are now, at anchor north of Babson Island near the Wooden Boat School (map). We once again have no cell signal, but there is a usable WiFi network here.

Pumpkin Island Lighthouse at the entrance to Eggemoggin Reach.

Our time down east is nearing the end. We have a firm date to be in Washington, DC mid-October, and we are now checking forecasts daily to see when we will have our first window for an ocean passage. We have six outside hops ahead of us, one of which will span three days, and the windows are becoming fewer, shorter, and farther between as the season draws on.

Deer Isles Bridge, over Eggemoggin Reach. Deer Isle is on the right, mainland on the left.

From here we proceed to our final scheduled stop, in the middle of Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. We plan to be there two nights, but I don't know if I will have enough signal there to post. After that we have one or two optional stops on our way to Mantinicus Island, our jumping-off point for the overnight run back to Gloucester for fuel.


  1. Been following your blog for quite a few years, good news on your kitty, was wondering about the comment regarding the Verizon Mifi though, were you grand fathered?

    1. No, this was a deal through an MVNO that has since been discontinued -- we got in on the very tail end (it was gone before you even posted your comment here). More details are at this excellent resource page, which anyone needing mobile internet solutions really should be following:

  2. Just wondering...what is the status on the coach? Has it sold?


    1. The coach is still for sale. Anyone interested should email me directly at the address in our "Who We Are" link in the sidebar.


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!