Saturday, August 7, 2021

Back Down East

We are underway in the North Atlantic, eastbound across the mouth of Muscongus Bay. Seas are three feet, but they are fairly widely spaced rollers with only a light chop on top. Yesterday was apparently five footers on a short period, but we wouldn't know it in our cozy anchorage.

Honestly, this was one of the calmest anchorages we've ever been in, and especially so for Maine. It's inaccessible to the swell that pushes well up the bays and rivers here, and it's even in a tidal null -- tide comes in from both sides and goes out on both sides; Vector hardly moved. It's also in a no-wake zone which is generally respected.

Sunset over Moffat Cove and Vector.

With Boothbay Harbor now receding behind us, we're "Down East" by most definitions of the term. When cruising here, I have to make several mental adjustments and it takes a couple of days for those to take hold. The first is that, no matter how far inland we get, we're still on International Rules, also known to mariners as the "COLREGS." International and Inland rules are identical in many respects, but there are subtle differences that we encounter daily, including signalling maneuvering intentions to other vessels, and some of the lights we expect to see on other vessels at night or in fog.

A second adjustment, which I wrote about here on our first cruise to Maine, is to plan shorter days, on account of lobster floats. They are constant and unending, requiring much more attention to the helm and a lot of hand steering. After four or five hours, I'm usually pretty beat, as opposed to elsewhere, where I can generally let Otto steer and be much more relaxed. This particular adjustment kicks in at the New Hampshire line, well before we are Down East.

The sun actually set behind an invisible cloud. Cool effect that did not photograph well.

The bottom contour here is also a mental shift. Along most of the eastern seaboard, when cruising inland, we can expect to be in 8'-12' of water much of the time. The bottom rises gradually -- if I set my depth alarm at 8', I can expect plenty of warning before we touch bottom, which will usually be onto mud, sand, or gravel. Here you can be cruising along in 60' and come upon a rock just a couple of feet below the surface in a heartbeat. The bow can be aground while the depth transducer is still in 30'. And if you touch bottom, it's almost always going to be rock. I'll transit Georgia with a foot under the keel; here I want at least four.

We enjoyed a nice dinner on board Thursday evening, after settling in to what could easily be considered the canonical Downeast anchorage. It was chilly and damp, and we were content to sit in the saloon and enjoy the warmth emanating from the engine room. A light fog enveloped the anchorage by nightfall; surrounded by moorings and well off-channel, I opted to forego running the bell and annoying the waterfront residents.

Our calm anchorage -- quintessential Maine.

Yesterday was a gorgeous, sunny day with almost no wind, at least in the anchorage. It was so flat calm in the anchorage that it was tempting to head out and see how it was outside. But every model, forecast, and buoy we had said it was miserable offshore. We opted to stay put, not wanting to even chance a night of swells in nearby Boothbay Harbor. I got some projects done aboard, and at dinner time we splashed the tender and rode the 3/4 mile through the swing bridge to the popular Robinson's Wharf waterfront restaurant on Southport Island. We waited a half hour for a patio table, but it was nice to get off the boat and enjoy the sunshine, and the food and drafts were decent.

Today's offshore forecast was questionable, but we decided to poke our noses out and give it a go, with the fallback option of returning to Boothbay if things were too rough. We weighed anchor for the 9:30 opening of the Southport Island Swing Bridge and pushed through the canal into Boothbay Harbor. As soon as we exited the canal we encountered swell that extended all the way into the anchorage; we had made the right call to remain in Moffat Cove. The superyacht Huntress and the cruise ship American Constitution, both of which we had seen docked in Portland, were anchored in the harbor; both vessels had to tender their guests ashore.

Distant view of American Constitution anchored in Boothbay Harbor.

We're glad we came out, because it is more comfortable out here than forecast, and we can make some progress eastward. The pot floats are less frequent here in the open water, and a short while ago we passed Eastern Egg Rock, known for its seasonal puffins. Last year we were just a bit late to see the puffins; this pass we were able to see a dozen or so, but we passed too far away to photograph them. This afternoon we should be anchored somewhere in the western half of Penobscot Bay.

Update: We are anchored in a familiar spot in Tenants Harbor, Maine (map). With perhaps two hours of only an occasional pot float, I felt like we could press on a bit further, but the next protected anchorage is at Vinalhaven, and as much as I'd like to stop there and see the town, arriving on a Saturday would mean hunting for a tight spot, and we might well end up far enough away to be back in the swell. I had all the blog text done before arrival, but the thickening pot floats kept me from processing the photos.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you guys are out there "having fun".
    we would invite you in but we are located near Port Townsend, Wa. Home of the wooden boat school. We always enjoy reading about your adventures. Happy travels. Steve & Carol


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!