Friday, October 7, 2022

Back in the US

We are under way westbound in the North Atlantic Ocean, running along the Maine coast. Today is the first good weather window we've had since arriving back in the US on Saturday. We're skipping all the usual stops and will make as much progress today as daylight will allow.

The watch changed shortly after my last post, and Louise had a miserable watch dodging lobster floats in the dark all night. Seas were too choppy to pick them up on radar, so she just drove with the spotlight on, catching their reflections at the last minute. Lobster season never closes in Maine, and our blissfully float-free run through Nova Scotia was over. I took down our Canadian courtesy flag and hoisted the Q before I turned over the watch.

Rockland Breakwater Light. A long but popular walk from shore.

I came back on watch at 0900 ADT, after which we immediately changed the ship's clocks to EDT, making it 0800. By 9:30 we were approaching the Rockland Harbor breakwater, and we had the hook down at 0940 in the northeast corner of the harbor (map), Anchorage B, a new spot for us. This in anticipation of high winds out of the NE, starting in the middle of the night.

It was calm and pleasant when we dropped the hook, and after clearing in via the CBP app, we spent most of the day relaxing and recovering from our first overnight passage since our northbound run to Atlantic City back in May. By dinner time we felt good enough to splash the tender and head ashore to one of our old stand-bys, Rustica right downtown. We landed at the town dock, which had a prominent sign that all dinghies needed to be out by October 15th, which is when they remove the dock.

This is the latest we've ever been here, by a good couple of weeks. The harbor was startlingly empty, a sea of unused mooring balls ready to be removed. The Landings marina was already closed, the docks removed and stacked neatly ashore. All sure signs it is time to get out of Dodge -- soon almost all the fuel and water stops along the Maine coast will be closed for the season, and weather windows get fewer, shorter, and farther between. On the positive side, this is the most fall color we've ever seen cruising Maine.

Whitehead Light Station on a beautiful fall day.

As if to underscore the point, the forecast winds arrived with a vengeance just before I turned in, escalating quickly from almost nothing to 30 knots, and gusting over 35. It was a bit of a wild night, but our chosen location in the northeast corner served us well and we only had the wind to contend with, and not heavy seas. The winds persisted all night and through most of the day Sunday as well.

Thus trapped on the boat, I jumped right in to a project, repairing a critical piece of equipment on board. While not a piece of propulsion machinery, navigational equipment, or even a cooking appliance, it was an item nevertheless entirely essential to crew harmony and well-being: the sewing machine. Louise reported it had begun making grinding noises, and was afraid continued use might lead to catastrophic failure.

Tearing it apart I was able to diagnose the problem straight away: the end bearing on the motor was shot. I've already replaced the motor twice, with one of the previous repairs also being a bearing failure, so it was no big surprise. We had learned that the motor is the Achilles heel of this particular machine, and thus we had a brand new spare on hand, just as we would for any critical system on board.

Fresh motor ready to go in.

It was Monday by the time I got the new motor in place and the machine back together, but to no avail: the machine was "running away." Apparently something in the speed sensor circuit broke during the replacement. I figured it had to be a loose wire or something -- that part was working before I started. So I spent another full day plus messing with the circuit, also to no avail. We have a new speed sensor on its way to Portland today.

After the winds abated somewhat Sunday afternoon, we decided it was just calm enough to get to the very closest dinghy dock, attached to the north end of the breakwater just a thousand feet from us (as opposed to the town dock, over a mile away). From there, after walking off the rough-hewn granite block breakwall, it's a short stroll to the four-diamond Samoset Resort. We had a very pleasant dinner in their Enoteca lounge, a more casual space with the full menu of their white-tablecloth restaurant. Resort prices, but the food was good and it was close.

The Canadian pocket cruise ship Pearl Mist anchored in the harbor on her foliage tour. We had seen her in Halifax.

I'd been meaning to try this spot for a while, having stayed in this harbor perhaps a half dozen times now, and I'm glad we went when we did. A couple of days later, the work crew showed up in their hoist barge and removed the dock. They first picked up the lightweight dinghy of another cruising boat and carried it on to the breakwall, where it sat until its occupants returned. They somehow managed to get it back down and return to their boat. We made a mental note that any dock we use might be slated for removal that very day.

On Wednesday we went ashore in the afternoon and took Uber to and from Walmart. There's a nice Hanaford grocery store in walking distance of the dock, but we're overdue for an oil change and I needed seven gallons of oil. There was no way I was going to pay $40 a gallon for it in Canada, and even the auto parts places in town wanted over $21 for what Walmart sells for $14; the difference more than covered our Uber, and this let us replenish our staples. We returned to Vector with the dinghy loaded to the gills. We would have stayed ashore for dinner, but we got back just before it started to rain, so we had a nice dinner on board.

It was a fairly pleasant five nights in Rockland, and in the course of our stay we also made it to the two waterfront joints, both decent, for dinner, Archers and The Landings. I also made it to Hamilton Marine hoping to find a plotter/sounder for the tender but left empty-handed. We did have an uninvited guest earlier in the week; we were hearing "knocking" that took several minutes to track down. When we finally figured it out, it turned out to be a gull pecking at our soft top; he actually managed to poke some holes in it before we found him and chased him away.

Beak holes in our fairly new top. The gray top makes the daylight stand out more.

Yesterday was the warmest day since our arrival, with a high in the upper 60s. That gave me a chance to go aloft and patch the top with some fabric tape we have for the purpose. You can still see the holes, but this will keep them from spreading into full-on tears, and keep the water out. It's a shame to have this damage after only two years.

Louise has been tracking the weather forecasts multiple times per day, and yesterday she confirmed today's window still looked good. So we weighed anchor in the afternoon and made the short 2.5 hour trip to Tenants Harbor to get a head start for today. We dropped the hook in a new spot for us, a bit north of the main harbor (map), hoping to be out of the swell.

Clear patch in place on the top side.

We had a nice dinner complete with some local drafts in the Quarry Tavern at the East Wind Inn, right near the town dock. We both had lobster rolls, which were the meatiest and tastiest we've had anywhere, and reasonably priced. They are just feet from the lobster dock and they pick their lobster meat fresh daily.

Unfortunately, not long after we got home and decked the tender, the wind died completely and Vector turned broadside to the small swell that was coming into the harbor. It was just enough to sustain an annoying roll at Vector's resonant period, and Louise had a rough night. In hindsight we might have set a stern anchor or a swell bridle in the evening to mitigate this, and we'll try to remember that for the next time we're here.

This morning we weighed anchor after our first cup of coffee for what will be an all-day passage. As I am typing this paragraph we've already passed Booth Bay, the first time we've ever done so without stopping, and the plotter says we will be in Portland just after 5pm.


  1. Entering or leaving Everrett, WA always involved navigating a minefield of crab floats. One time we got home to Cow Bay with a crab float hung up on the stbd fin. I had managed to hook the float but the prop cut the line without fouling. We didn't have prop spurs but they would have been nice going into Everrett.

    Bob Evans
    Formerly M/V Gray Hawk
    Now just a lowly Baylurker driver

    1. We do have Spurs and they've cut a line or two. Our biggest challenge is to keep them from catching under the stabilizer fins. We have diverters but sometimes they still catch.


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!