yduJ Sails the Maine Coast

This summer with my housemates Ken Olum and Valerie White, I cruised the Maine coast on Ken's boat Proton, along with a group organized by Bob Gleason. Unlike the others, we chose to sail to the starting point rather than trailering our boat. We set off from Boston on Wednesday, July 8, and ended up spending the night at a mooring in Rye NH, after failing to get into Hampton NH because there was nobody to open the drawbridge for us. We had had to use the motor a fair amount in the afternoon, because the wind had left us. The next morning, we headed out to sea, and we had lovely wind, which brought us to Small Point, Maine.

Unfortunately, we had a miscommunication with the place we were planning to spend the night (a campground which had a dock), and so we went to the wrong dock. But that was not the real problem: while we were attempting to pull into the wrong dock, Valerie thought we were about to hit another boat which was already docked there, and so she put her hand out to fend it off, and unfortunately there was some sort of fish hook or other sharp object on the boat which ripped out her palm. There was blood everywhere!

A good Samaritan on the dock offered a ride to the hospital to Valerie and Ken; they immediately accepted, and Ken said "finish tying the boat to the dock" to me, and they dashed off. I spent some time finding the people in charge of the campground, and finding out which dock I was supposed to use, and moving the boat, which was somewhat exciting for me, as I had never done any of this by myself before. With only a little bit of dinging up the boat, and a huge amount of getting bit by mosquitoes, I managed it. Meantime Ken called me on the cell phone a couple of times to inform me of the progress of Valerie's injury at the hospital. They were shuffled around a few times, ending up spending the night with some relatives who lived not too far away, and heading to Portland to get micro-surgery to reattach her ulnar nerve, which she had severed. Ouch!

Despite all this, Valerie decided that she was in fact well enough to continue with the trip, and so on Saturday morning we continued north in the boat to meet up with the rest of the group, who were launching their boats that day in Rockland. We actually hooked up with them on Sunday, on the island of Vinalhaven, where a friend of Bob's lived, and he hosted a very fine clam bake for us all.

Monday morning we headed out to the island of McGlathery's, where we planned to have lunch. We got there a bit later than the rest, as we had stopped in Stonington to get gas and other supplies, and when we arrived, there were four boats rafted together (that means that the boats are tied up side to side, as though they were logs in a raft: in this case, each of the logs is 20 feet wide). We added our boat to the outside of the raft, making a pentadekamaran (15 hulls!). Someone had tied a rope from the boat closest to shore to a rock on shore, and inflated their dinghy to use as a ferry from the raft to the shore, and people were taking walks on the island, hanging out on their boats, socializing, etc. This was fun, and people were lazy, and it got late, and we decided not to actually press onto any further destination. We put a few more anchors out, to make sure that the raft did not move around while we were all asleep and ram into rocks or the shore, and we all went to sleep on our boats. It worked okay, until the early morning when lobster boats were starting out on their daily rounds, throwing up large wakes from their boats, which would encounter the raft, push one boat up, pulling on the next one, continuing on in and pushing the next boat up, pulling on the first one, and generally making a lot of clanking and jerking, and being somewhat uncomfortable for sleeping. We decided not to do this any future nights. But, it was fun, and we did learn something: rafting is for a temporary situation only.

The next morning, we decided to head for Somes Sound, which is in the center of Mount Desert Island, the alleged "only fjord into North America". It was a lovely canyon, but I really didn't see the special appeal of it being a fjord. It is about five miles long, and the wind streams in from the opening straight towards the back. We flew the spinnaker only, which worked very well until we were ready to douse the sail, at which point it was difficult to get the wind out of the sail in order to neatly drop it, but we did manage it.

The next day there was hardly any wind, and so we primarily motored back out through the sound and around to the western side of Mount Desert Island, where we found nice cove with a nice little island for hiking (and being eaten by mosquitoes), and we followed that by a day of shifting winds through Eggemoggin Reach. After this, we broke from the group Friday morning, and motored through fairly thick fog (with eyes glued to Loran, depth finder, chart, and compass) to meet a friend of ours for a weekend of land-based activities, and I headed home in her car, having run out of vacation time. Ken and Valerie finished sailing the boat home. Even the ride home had some element of adventure, as a fan belt broke in my friend's car, and AAA was not exactly fast about coming and getting us.

One of the cool things about this trip was that we were sailing with a bunch of other trimarans, which are quite rare boats, and having six or eight of them pulling into a harbor usually caused other people to notice. In one case, it was the local Coast Guard who cruised by in their small power boat to check us out. The next night we anchored behind a small island nearby and that time it was someone in a sea plane who flew past and buzzed us twice. And the night after that, many of us rented moorings at a harbor, which caused someone at the marina to ask over the radio, "what is it with all these trimarans?"

Another cool thing was sailing with boats that are faster than us (we had the slowest of the trimarans) and also watching the other boats as they were making similar but not identical courses to ours, seeing how they chose to deal with different amounts of wind, and seeing how the fickle wind was first blowing hard for them, causing them to go fast, then becalming them while blowing for us. We learned that having brightly colored sails helps to identify which boat is which from quite a distance; previously we had thought that brightly colored sails were a random extravagance. We could always tell which boat was Hot Flash, even miles away!

Valerie has already had some regeneration of feeling in the fingers that had numbness, but it seems clear that there is going to be a fair bit of permanent damage. Exactly how much is unclear as it will literally be years before we know what her final recovery state will be.