Bahamas Reunion – in Maine!

Yes, the title is correct – Maine is 1,274 miles from Elbow Cay in the Bahamas, but it was only a five hour drive by car from Connecticut. Two of the couples we met in Hope Town actually live on the same road in Maine  – perfect for a colorful autumn road trip in October.

We took our time driving north, stopping at the outlets in Kittery (briefly, very briefly) and at LLBean in Freeport. Al indulged in his favorite seafood lunch, clam strips, at Bob’s Clam Hut.

Bob's Clam Hut - Once featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

Bob’s Clam Hut – Once featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

Last winter, in Hope Town on Elbow Cay in the Abacos, we were introduced to Sam and Kayda, on their Cape Dory Solstice, by mutual friends, Dan and Marcia. Sam and Kayda introduced us to Peter and Laurie, their neighbors from Maine who live on the same road. Peter and Laurie, on their trawler, Navigator, were new to cruising, like us, and this was their first trip south as well. Al’s “trawler radar” spotted Navigator as soon as she was moored, right next to us in the harbor. The design of this trawler, an Island Gypsy, appeared to fit our wish list. When we returned north and began our search for a trawler, we used Navigator as our comparison model. 🙂 I think we did pretty well!

Navigator, Peter and Laurie's island Gypsy, a  trawler with the roomy aft cockpit and bright salon, two features at the top of our wish list.

Navigator, Peter and Laurie’s Island Gypsy, a sedan-style trawler

Back to Maine………… We have only been to Maine a few times. I camped there as a child loooong ago. Al and I spent a weekend in Portland for the 2000 New England Track Championships when Adam was competing in high jump; we visited Ogunquit for a get-away in between my chemo treatments back in 2011, and Al helped his buddy, Gil, bring his sailboat to Camden in 2013. We have always talked about taking the boat on a 6-8 week summer cruise to Maine someday. That’s still on the retirement bucket list.

The peninsulas and bays of Maine are like fingers that reach out to the Gulf of Maine and the Atlantic Ocean. Our friends live in the rocky midcoast region of Maine off the Back River.

A satellite view (courtesy of the internet) of this region in Maine. A puzzle of bays, rivers, peninsulas and islands.

A satellite view (courtesy of the internet) of this region in Maine. A puzzle of bays, rivers, peninsulas and islands.

 You hear about the 11-foot tidal range (difference between high and low water levels) in Maine, but seeing it in person makes an impression. The maximum tidal range here in Long Island Sound is 2-3 feet in Groton and 7 feet in Greenwich at the western end. I always thought that Maine’s tidal range was greater because Maine is so far north, but that  is not the case. The tidal range of a particular location depends more on its physical characteristics such as topography, water depth, shoreline configuration, size of the ocean basin, etc. than on the north/south position, relative to the equator. If you imagine the Atlantic Ocean as a large basin of water being sloshed back and forth, the motion of the water in the middle of the basin is relatively small, but when it enters a region that narrows like a funnel the water begins to “pile up” causing a greater tide heights. The many bays and rivers along the coast of Maine act like funnels, forcing the water to rise higher than a more open area. Trivia fact– The highest tidal range in the world is in the Bay of Fundy on Canada’s east coast – 50 feet.

This was taken at near low water, but the photo does not do justice.

This photo was taken with a zoom lens from our bedroom window. It was near low tide, but the photo does not do justice to the lack of water compared to high tide.

Our friends’ homes sit high above the water with a beautiful view of the river and the forests. on the river

Peter and Laurie's little sailboat at rest near their dock as seen through the trees from above.

Peter and Laurie’s little sailboat at rest near their dock as seen through the trees from above.

We joke that they have own marina - a sailboat, runabout, rowboat, and a lobster boat. When they use any of their boats, they must be mindful of the tides or they could be left high and dry, literally.

We joke that they have own marina – a sailboat, runabout, rowboat, and a lobster boat.
When they use any of their boats, they must be mindful of the tides or they could be left high and dry, literally.

The lovely day we had for driving north turned chilly and cloudy for the next day. But that didn’t stop any of us from getting outdoors and enjoying the fall scenery. We all met for a hike on the Back River Trail.

Into the woods

Into the woods

Hiking the Back River Trail

Hiking the Back River Trail

hike - rock

Fallen birches on the path

Fallen birches on the path

hike- sam pointing kayda laurie

Sam pointing out details to us below while Kayda and Laurie look out in the other direction.

hike - mens talk

The men survey the water. It looks gloomier than it really was.

Peter and Al

Peter and Al

hike - marshes hike - looking out to water

In the distance, we could see a heron on a dock (zoom lens, of course).

In the distance, we could see a heron on a dock (zoom lens, of course).

After the hike, we went down to the docks to go …………. lobstering!!

rowing

Al enjoys a little rowing before we go out in the lobster boat.

Peter and Laurie have a cute little lobster boat and 5 traps in the river.

The lobster boat with its buoy colors displayed on the cabin top.

The lobster boat with its buoy colors displayed on the cabin top. Every lobsterman has a unique color scheme for his buoys. Lobstering boats are required by law to display their buoy colors.

I have over 60 photos of our lobstering, but can tell the story with just a few. It was such a wonderful experience, a first for us. – Thank you, Peter and Laurie!

Laurie is at the helm while Peter prepares to haul traps up. Peter is the only one who can haul the traps since he has the license.

Laurie is at the helm while Peter prepares to haul traps up. Peter is the only one who can haul the traps since he has the license.

Buoy marks the spot!

Buoy marks the spot!

Peter picks up the buoy.

He attaches the line to the wheel that hauls the lobster crate up and out of the water.

He attaches the line to the wheel that hauls the lobster crate up and out of the water.

Each time, Peter checks the lobsters for size and to determine if it is female and a known breeder.

The legal length of a lobster (between 3 ¼ inches and 5 inches ) is defined by the distance from the rear of the eye socket to the end of the carapace (the body shell) and does not include the tail. Peter is using the special gauge which allows a lobsterman or -woman to take a measurement with speed and accuracy.

Commercial lobstermen make a “v-notch” in the tail flippers of egg-bearing female lobsters they encounter while fishing. This serves as a means to identify and protect a known breeder, after she has hatched her eggs, from harvest.

Peter rebates the trap.

Peter rebates the trap.

And the crate goes back into the water!

And the crate goes back into the water!

We checked four of the traps and brought back 5 lobsters and one crab.

We go for a ride on the river, on the cabin top -- great seat!

We go for a ride on the river, on the cabin top — great seat!

The sun fought its way out of the clouds, enough so that there were reflections in the very still water of the river. Like a mirror.

IMG_3733 IMG_3729

reflection 1 reflection2 reflection3 reflection4

What do you do with five lobsters? Fresh out of the water? Really fresh?  You steam and eat them!!!!

Laurie prepares the steaming pot and adds the lobsters.

Laurie prepares the steaming pot and adds the lobsters.

Lobsters - the freshest and best lobsters I have ever eaten. It makes a difference.

Lobsters – the freshest and best lobsters I have ever eaten. It makes a difference.

Saturday evening dinner was at Sam and Kayda’s.  Sam is quite the chef and prepared a stuffed boneless pork loin roast. His stuffing was incredible and the vegetables were directly from Kayda’s amazing garden. We even had room left for rum cake – my new coconut version!

Stuffed pork loin, potatoes, carrots, onions with a great salad.

Stuffed pork loin, potatoes, carrots, onions with a great salad.

Dinner at Sam and Kayda's

Dinner at Sam and Kayda’s

The meal was a delicious treat all by itself, but there was more – John and Carol (Palm Pilot, a catamaran) also live in Maine (and Nova Scotia) and drove down to join us for dinner. The only thing missing from a perfect evening of food and friends was Dan and Marcia (Cutting Class). But we can’t feel too sorry for them – they are sailing south, as we speak (write?), on their way to the Bahamas.

Indoor delights as well as outdoor fun. Peter plays his pipe organ for us. Yes, he built this into the house.

Indoor delights as well as outdoor fun. Peter plays the pipe organ for us. Yes, he built this into the house.

Sunday was a cool, but sunny autumn day. Before leaving for home, we drove to Bath to tour the Maine Maritime Museum, where Sam is a volunteer guide. Founded in 1962, the Maine Maritime Museum sits along Kennebec River in Bath, “The City of Ships.” The museum site is the only intact shipyard in the country that built large wooden sailing vessels, Percy & Small. The Museum campus includes four of the five original Percy & Small Shipyard buildings.

The Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine

The Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine

From 1894 to 1920 the Percy & Small Shipyard constructed 41four, five & six mast sailing ships. Of the ten six-mast sailing ships built in the U.S., seven were built at the P&S yard. Most of the vessels were built to transport coal from mid-Atlantic ports to the industrial centers of the northeast and New England. The ships were built large to take advantage of scale and rigged as schooners so they could be operated by a crew of 12 to 14 seamen.

Ready to tour the museum, inside and out. Laurie, Sam, Al, and Peter

Ready to tour the museum, inside and out.
Laurie, Sam, Al, and Peter

Museum grounds, looking over the Kennebec River.

Museum grounds, looking over the Kennebec River.

A building that houses old boats

A building that houses old boats

One original Percy and Small building houses displays of the planning stages for contracting the boat.

One original Percy and Small building houses displays of the planning stages for contracting the boat – tools, ribs, and sketches on the floor.

The launching of the Wyoming at Percy and Small

The launching of the Wyoming at Percy and Small

The Wyoming, a six-mast schooner-rigged vessel, built to carry coal from U.S. mid-Atlantic ports to the industrial cities of the north and New England, was the largest wooden sailing vessel ever built in the U.S. and it was constructed in Bath at Percy and Small. It is interesting as well as surprising to learn that wooden schooners were still under construction at this point in history. Steamships were in use by the mid-1800s and the Titantic made her fateful ocean voyage in 1912.

Wyoming Stats:

  • Construction began on April 5, 1909 and was completed in less than 9 months
  • Launched on December 15, 1909
  • Total construction costs: $164,800
  • Length: 329.5 feet with a sparred length of 444 feet
  • Height: 177 feet from keel bottom to topmast truck
  • Beam: 50.1 feet wide
  • Draught was 30.4 feet
  • Capable of carrying 6,000 long tons of coal
  • Capable of sailing at 16 knots (18 mph)
  • The average round trip voyage was 32.3 days
  • Lost along with her crew during a winter storm off Nantucket in March, 1924

One of the most impressive displays on the grounds of the museum was an “outdoor sculpture,” the largest in New England. In 2006 six 120-foot tall “masts” representing the masts of the schooner Wyoming, were erected joining bow and stern structures already in place on the Museum campus.

The six "masts" represent the Wyoming.

The six “masts” with the bow and aft deck, represent the Wyoming. The magnitude of this old ship becomes real when one stands near the sculpture.

Each flag represents something. These two are the Wyoming itself and the Maritime Museum.

Each flag represents something. These two are the Wyoming itself and the Maritime Museum.

Naturally we had to see Sam in action as a tour guide. He was at the outdoor display that demonstrates how boats were launched.

Sam has a wonderful style (what successful middle school teacher doesn't?? ;-) as he describes the launching process.

Sam has a wonderful style (what successful middle school teacher doesn’t?? 😉 as he describes the launching process.

Sam engages this young boy in the launching by asking him to name the "ship." The boy says, "Grammy."  You gotta love that!

Sam engages this young boy in the launching by asking him to name the “ship.” The boy says, “Grammy.” You gotta love that!

In the museum store, I found this book. Not only can I indulge my love of sea glass hunting all through the long winter, but I will also remember our trip to Maine each time I turn the pages.

 

In the museum store, I found this book, The Ultimate Guide to Sea Glass. Not only can I indulge my love of sea glass hunting all through the long winter, but I will also remember our trip to Maine each time I turn the pages.

 

 

We have wonderful memories of our Bahamas trip, but the absolute best memories are of the people we met along the way. Our time in Hope Town was only three months, but those three months forged what we hope will become life-long friendships. These may be “new” friends, but they feel like wonderful “old” friends.

~ Sam and Kayda with Cedar, their granddaughter ~ Peter and Laurie ~ John and Carol

~ Sam and Kayda with Cedar, their granddaughter
~ Peter and Laurie
~ John and Carol

 

Connecticut River Trip

This post will bring our 2014 boating season to a close. 🙁 Boating is not a year-round activity for most of us in New England. The season comes to an end all too soon.  I believe the shorter northern season is why New Englanders are so passionate about their summers. For us, it was especially brief this year – we didn’t even get started until late July. Even so, it was a short but sweet season. We were just delighted to back on the water.

Our yacht club, Shennecossett, ended the season early this year with a major dock project. D Dock, our old dock, will be rebuilt and new fuel tanks will be installed.

~ The new fuel tanks before they are placed underground. ~ The crane and barge are ready to do the heavy lifting.

~ The new fuel tanks before they are placed underground.
~ The crane and barge are ready to do the heavy lifting.

D Dock looks a bit odd with out the docks and finger piers. This was our piling with the red reflectors.

D Dock looks a bit odd without the docks and finger piers; only the pilings remain. We recognize our piling with the red reflectors.

And so it was time for us to leave SYC and head up the Connecticut River where this Kindred Spirit will winter. Al’s long list of projects will be easier to accomplish if she is nearer to home. We watched the weather forecasts and checked the currents and tides. In order to take advantage of the current we needed to make the trip around the 24th-26th of September or wait two more weeks until Columbus Day weekend. We decided earlier was better than later, especially given the transmission concerns.

The sky gave us a glowing send off the evening before our departure.

The sky gave us a glowing send-off on the evening before our departure.

We left in the early morning on a day that was now forecasted to be gray and overcast with rain arriving later. A week ago it was predicted to be a very nice day. Such is New England weather. Our goal was to be anchored in Hamburg Cove, up the Connecticut River, by noon before the heaviest rain.

Once again we pass Ledge Light standing guard at the entrance to New London Harbor. We are going to takes a tour of the lighthouse someday - it is on my retirement bucket list. I want to see the inside!

Once again we pass Ledge Light standing guard at the entrance to New London Harbor. We are going to takes a tour of the lighthouse someday – it is on my retirement bucket list. We spend every summer looking at the outside so I want to see the inside!

We passed the Millstone Nuclear Power Station. Not the prettiest sight, but a "landmark" along the route.

We passed the Millstone Nuclear Power Station. Not the prettiest sight, but a “landmark” along the route.

Beware of the rocky shallows  - the green marker guides the way.

Beware of these rocky shallows – the green marker guides the way.

 Although the morning was dreary, we had a goal and marked each passing mile with satisfaction. We held the engine to 1100 rpms and babied the hurting transmission. All went well. Ahh, a sigh of relief.

It was good to see the Saybrook Point Lighthouse, known as the “outer light” at the mouth of the Connecticut River.  In 1831, a buoy was placed just offshore to mark the dangerous bar at the river’s mouth. In the 1870s it was dredged to accommodate increasing ship traffic, and the two granite breakwaters were built, one extending out from each side of the river mouth. The lighthouse was built and placed into service in 1886. It is now privately owned, purchased in 2013 for $340,000. There doesn’t seem one any activity on it, so I can’t help but wonder the owners plan to do with a lighthouse of their own?

Saybrook Point Light

Saybrook Point Light, a 48-foot sparkplug lighthouse.

As we turned into the Connecticut River and passed the outer light, the “inner light” was visible. The inner light, Lynde Point Lighthouse, was the first lighthouse in the area, here on the west side of the river entrance.

Lynde Point Lighthouse

Lynde Point Lighthouse stands 65 feet tall —  constructed of granite in 1838, electrified in 1955, automated in 1978,

This journey up the Connecticut River will be filled with memories of our boating years on the river, from 1994 through 2005. Those memories include bridges, which means waiting for bridges to open when you have a sailboat with a tall mast. With a trawler, the trip  will be different.

Before we left SYC, Al lowered our little mast. Yes, we have a mast, but no sail on the trawler.

Before we left SYC, Al lowered our little mast. Yes, we really do have a mast, but no sail on the trawler.

We could see the East Lyme Railroad Bridge up ahead. This is a bridge we had to pass through on every trip from our marinas to Long Island Sound. It is always up until a train comes through. Naturally, trains will transit through here whenever you also need to go through. So the bridge comes down and you wait.

A very fast power boat rudely roared past us, making us rock and roll. I cheered when the bridge came down right in front of it! Yeah- there is justice!

fast boat stopped at rr bridge

Stopped by the bridge! That’s what you get for speeding by us and throwing a nasty big wake.

My glee was short-lived. That power boat was able to fit below the bridge and went right on through.

As trawler newbies, we decided to wait until the bridge opens rather than try to squeeze underneath.

As trawler newbies, we decided to wait until the bridge opted rather than try to squeeze underneath.

Waiting for bridges to open reminded us of our trip down the ICW one year ago.

Waiting for bridges to open  — reminded us of our trip down the ICW one year ago. 🙂

Nostalgia – We passed several marinas where we had once kept a boat

The docks at Saybrook Point Inn

The docks at Saybrook Point Inn. We never kept a boat here, but we passed it on every trip down the river.

"Between the Bridges" is the name and it is. Right between the East Lyme Railroad Bridge and the Route 95 high bridge.

“Between the Bridges” is the name and it is. Right between the East Lyme Railroad Bridge and the Route 95 high bridge.

We got this one! No problem going underneath it.

We got this one! No problem going underneath it.

 

We spotted this little house right on the water, in every sense of "right on the water." It's been there for years - good to see it it has not been swept away in any floods or storms.

We spotted this little house right on the water, in every sense of “right on the water.” It’s been there for years – good to see it it has not been swept away in any floods or storms.

 

Passing by Essex. We spent many years on a mooring at "The Chandlery."

Passing by Essex. We spent many years on a mooring at “The Chandlery.”

Just as we reached Hamburg Cove, north of Essex, the gray and cloudy day added  wet to its weather description.

Just as we reached Hamburg Cove, north of Essex, the gray and cloudy day added wet to its weather description.

Entering Hamburg COve

Entering Hamburg Cove – one of our favorite anchorages on the river.

We spent a peaceful, but chilly afternoon and night in Hamburg Cove, I even sat in the engine room with Al just to get warm. The morning brought a new and different day – sunshine!

A lovely morning in Hamburg Cove

A lovely morning in Hamburg Cove

Hamburg Cover boat house

Hamburg Cover boat house

Hamburg Cove grassy dock - We watched this dock for years, waiting for it to sink away into the water. But it is still there!

Hamburg Cove grassy dock – We watched this dock for years, waiting for it to sink away into the water. But it is still there!

We were hoping to see the colors of fall foliage on this trip, but we seemed to be just a little too early for the brightest colors.  As we traveled north up the Connecticut River, we played Billy Joel’s “River of Dreams” as background music. The music video was shot on the Connecticut River and in various Connecticut locations.

“We all end in the ocean
we all start in the streams
We’re all carried along
by the river of dreams”

It is an interesting ride up the Connecticut River, and a trip we have not taken in quite a few years. A perfect day for the flybridge. We had a wonderful view of the river’s shoreline and its mix of textures — nature’s rocks and trees to manmade habitats, large and small.

Come along for the ride —

Homes on the river

IMG_3294Rocky shoreline

rocky shore and house

A few logs and branches caught on sandbars in shallower parts of the river.

A few logs and branches caught on sandbars in shallower parts of the river.

An empty sandbar

An empty sandbar

We could see markings on the rocky ledge but have no idea what they mean or their purpose.

We could see markings on the rocky ledge but have no idea what they mean or their purpose.

Markers on the shore, not the water. They are actually more difficult to spot.

Markers on the shore, not the water. They are actually more difficult to spot.

One of the most famous sights along the Connectiut River is Gillette Castle. The “castle” was originally a private residence designed  and built in 1914 by William Gillette, an American actor who is most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on stage. After Gillette died, with no wife and no heirs, he had his will stated in his will that the property could not be possessed by any “blithering sap-head who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded”. The State of Connecticut took over the property in 1943, renaming it Gillette Castle State Park.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

The Chester Ferry is one way to reach Gillette Castle (sitting high above the water). The ferry began operations in 1769 and is one of the oldest continuously running ferries on the Connecticut River.

The Chester Ferry is one way to reach Gillette Castle (sitting high above the water). The ferry began operations in 1769 and is one of the oldest continuously running ferries on the Connecticut River.

The ferry docks below Gillette Castle

The ferry docks below Gillette Castle

A closer view of Gillette Castle

A closer view of Gillette Castle

There certainly is a variety of boats along the river, even on a quiet day such as this.

This is the Becky Thatcher River Boat, part of the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat Tour.  for the ultimate Fall Foliage journey through the unspoiled Connecticut River Valley.

This is the Becky Thatcher River Boat, the water portion of the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat Tour, a two and a half hour train and boat journey.

Notice this sailboat?

This curiously moored sailboat caught our eye!

This funky water vehicle came roaring by. We think we have seen it before up the river. Although we could not catch it's name, we think it might be "Barnacle Balls."

This funky water vehicle came roaring by. We think we have seen it before up the river. Although we could not catch it’s name, we think it might be “Barnacle Balls.”

It wasn’t long before we approached East Haddam, the home of Goodspeed Opera House, originally built by a local merchant and banker, William Goodspeed. Construction began in 1876 and was finished in 1877. Goodspeed Musicals, formed in 1959, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and advancement of musical theater and the creation of new works.

Goodspeed Opera House - looks like they are doing some work on the buidling.

Goodspeed Opera House – looks like they are doing some work on the buidling.

Just beyond Goodspeed Opera House is the East Haddam Swing bridge, spanning the river between Haddam on the western shore and East Haddam on the eastern shore as part of Route 82. It is stated to be the longest swing bridge of its kind in the world.

East Haddam Swing Bridge

East Haddam Swing Bridge

Obviously, as sailboat folks, we have always had to wait for this bridge to open, on the hour and half hour only. The clearance is stated to be 22 feet at high water, but I called the bridge tender to double check. We had measured our height without the mast – 18 feet. We were good to go, but honestly, it unnerved me a little bit.

Here we go - first time going under a bridge as a trawler!!

Here we go – first time going under a bridge as a trawler!!

Almost home at this point, just another 30 minutes more.

This was the most colorful tree we saw on the trip. Notice that is a singular tree, not trees.

This was the most colorful tree we saw on the trip. Notice that is a singular tree, not trees.

The river curves and we can Middletown ahead on the western shore.  We will be wintering in Portland, across the river on the eastern side.

The river curves and we can see Middletown ahead.

The river curves and we can see Middletown ahead.

And the season ends………… the new Kindred Spirit is “on the hard” in Portland, Connecticut.

"On the hard" = when a boat has been hauled and is now sitting on dry land.

“On the hard” = when a boat has been hauled and is now sitting on dry land.