Through the Eyes of Children

We enjoyed our cruise to Maine, but there is nothing as special as grandchildren. I missed them. I always do. Now that they are getting older we can share our love of the water and boats with them.

Caleb, 7 years old, and sister Cecily, 4¾ years old, met the new Kindred Spirit last summer. This time, they were visiting us without parents and we decided a day on the water would be fun. These two treat the boat like a giant playscape, dashing here and there, checking every corner and space out. I don’t quite understand why, but they love the engine room (just like Papa does!) It is the first thing they do when they step aboard. 

Checking out the spaces in the engine room with a tiny lesson on checking the oil in the engine.

The spiral staircase down to the cabin concerned me. I worried that I would fall down it last summer, so little ones dashing up and down were a concern for me. LOL, why????? 

My worries were pointless. They treat the spiral staircase like a climbing gym.

The dinghy holds a special fascination for little people. Instead of taking Kindred Spirit out for the day, we decided to dinghy over to Pine Island’s little “beach” (that’s a generous use of the word) to play. It was one of those brutally hot and humid days, even on the shoreline. 

Dinghy ride!!!!!

Spending the afternoon there was perfect. Brother and sister entertained themselves and us non-stop.

Beach play on the rocks and finding driftwood.
They tried to catch schools of tiny bait fish with buckets – not possible, but very entertaining. Then they practiced casting with the toy fishing poles we had.
Ceci perfected her technique of climbing into the dinghy from the water.
They kept themselves busy, in and out of the dinghy. Made it pretty easy for us to watch and applaud from the beach, 20 feet away.

We didn’t imagine Caleb and Ceci would then combine forces to move the dinghy around. Caleb pulled up the anchor and they dragged the boat to the beach. Then they both pushed it back out again. And repeat. And again.

Pulling and pushing the dinghy. Best.Toy. Ever.

Papa gave Caleb his first dinghy driving lesson when we returned to the dock. This was one serious 7-year old as he listened to his grandfather’s instructions.

Caleb’s first dinghy driving lesson. Not bad at all for 7 years old. I struggle to remember which way to move the engine tiller!
Feeding hot dogs to the SYC striped bass is a must on every visit.

One day after that visit, Caleb and Ceci’s cousin, Addison, with her parents, my son Adam and his wife Steph, joined us for a day on the water. This was their first visit to the new Kindred Spirit. The weather forecast was changing by the minute but never improving. It was an overcast day with sprinkles a few times. But that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits.

Like her cousins, Addie wanted to explore the boat. Off to the flybridge to see what was up there and then out to the bow. Yes, she needed foul weather gear.

We collectively decided to take the short ride over to West Harbor on Fishers Island. The weather wasn’t good enough to hang around on the dock, and it wasn’t bad enough not to go out.

Addie and Papa used the headsets for a chat before Nana needed hers at the helm.

We anchored in West Harbor and enjoyed lunch onboard. You can guess what was next – dinghy ride!

Papa took us all out for a ride around West Harbor.
Addie has a smile that lights up even the gloomiest day.
All the kids love these toy fishing poles. It’s a great way to begin casting and reeling in. (I say that as though I know something about fishing which I do not!)

And then it was FAST dinghy ride time! Adam was not about to miss this, but Steph and I decided to stay on Kindred Spirit. Truthfully, this little dinghy would never plane off with all of us in it.

Looks like fun!
Oh yes, it is certainly fun. Look at that face.
The SYC striped bass were fed again. I only had organic “healthy” hot dogs. Lucky fish.

I can’t describe how much we enjoyed both visits. I wish it could happen more often. The only way to end this blog post is to share a drawing that Caleb made of Kindred Spirit. He worked at the salon table and stepped outside to check on different features, including the number of portholes in the cabin, the round porthole, and the blue kayak on the flybridge. This is going to be framed.

Kindred Spirit as seen through the eyes of Caleb.

Maine Reflections

Our cruise to Maine was unlike any of the summer cruising we have done before, around the southern New England islands, which made the experience new and exciting. We really enjoyed going to new harbors and seeing new places again. Maine has been on our bucket list for many years and we are both happy to have done this. 

Maine’s 5,000 miles of coastline which includes 3,166 offshore islands, is loaded with rocky ledges scattered throughout the waters. About two-thirds of those islands are an acre or less, so there is a lot of land lying right below the waterline at high tide. I found myself imagining that if all the water is drained away, there would be rocky mountains of widely varying heights, all relatively close together, plunging down hundreds of feet below the surface.  

Thousands of islands! Oh yes. It would be impossible to stop in every harbor and each island in one summer season. With only 5-6 weeks to spend, we took 4-5 travel days to get to Maine and 4-5 travel days to go home, and that left about 4 weeks to actually cruise in Maine. We had no specific itinerary so we just did the best we could, choosing places to go based on that Cruising Guide to Maine (which was sometimes out of date), friends’ recommendations, and weather. We couldn’t do it all, and that’s ok.

When I think of Maine now, it won’t be only about lobsters. I will always see those rocky islands, small and large, and the pine trees standing tall and strong. (How do they grow on rocks????) As we traveled among the islands and coastline, the topography was rocky and pine-filled, but with variations that made each new sighting of an island noteworthy. Especially if it meant we knew where we were!

I can’t imagine what it was like before electronic chartplotters. It was invaluable to see your boat’s location and movement in relationship to each piece of land, large and small, every navigational marker and the depth of the water. I have absolute respect for sailors of old AND for boaters who traveled these waters before the introduction of GPS and electronic charts. 

Who names these islands? The same names are used over and over again. Seal, Burnt This or That, Bear, Porcupine, Cow, Crotch, Birch, Back, Crow, Deer, Goat, Goose, Hog, Mill, Ram, Otter, Sand, Sheep, Spruce, Wood. I quickly learned that if I was going to search for an island in the index of the guide, I better know what part of Maine it was in!

Speaking of pine trees, I began to notice a pine tree on a charming flag flying everywhere, or so it seemed. On flagpoles, shops, boats, houses, clothing. It’s simplicity was arresting and attractive. Was this Maine’s state flag? Yes and no. A little bit of research uncovered an interesting story. 

Shops and houses

Maine became a state in 1820, but didn’t have a state flag until 1901. There are no records of this flag other than the legislative document which states that the flag should feature a “buff” background with “a pine tree proper in the center” and “the polar star . . . in blue in the upper corner.” These are two familiar Maine symbols —  Maine’s state tree, the white pine, and the North Star represents the state motto, Dirigo, Latin for “I direct” or “I direct.” That original flag flew for just eight years before being replaced by the state flag that continues to be flown today

On flag poles and on boats

Maine’s present state flag, adopted in 1909, is blue with a shield in the center featuring a moose and a pine tree. On each side of the shield, a farmer and a seaman stand. In the center at the top, there is a small star. Across the star reads the word “Dirigo.” Frankly, that flag looks like any other typical state flag and you have to look closely to determine which state it represents. There is currently a bill introduced in the legislature to return to the original 1901 flag.

I am not a Maine resident and have no say in the matter, but I would vote for a reinstatement of the 1901 flag.

Back to my other reflections ….. Maine’s water is so clear! and clean. Both deep water and shallow waters, it is as clear as the Bahamas, just not warm or blue.

Looking through the 1300+ photographs I took, it was tough to choose our favorites. There were so many memorable moments which is actually why I bother with the blog. It is a way for us to save the memories.

Mornings and sunrises —

Sunsets

Our favorite Kindred Spirit photos —

Windjammers and schooners –

Lighthouses (We agreed these are our 3 favorites) —

Bass Harbor Lighthouse
Whitehead Island Lighthouse
Southern Island Lighthouse

And then there is the weather. Weather is always a huge part of boating. It can make or break it. We were very fortunate with the weather during the 5-6 weeks. Almost half of our days were great or good weather. That’s pretty good, I think. From all reports, it wasn’t any better in southern New England! We were warned about F.O.G. Experienced Maine cruisers cautioned us that there could be times when fog would hold you hostage in a harbor for days. I counted only 3 days of heavy fog, and on those days, it was also a total rainout so we had absolutely no motivation to move the boat anyway.  Often the early morning fog or mist cleared quickly or did not hinder visibility. Some of the days that began with a bit of fog became bright and sunny by afternoon. So, all in all, we have no complaints.

We could not have asked for better sea conditions overall. The only truly uncomfortable day was our first day from Shennecossett to Cuttyhunk.

We talked about our “favorites” of the trip. We usually agreed!

  • Favorite town – Camden
  • Favorite quiet anchorage – McGlatherty Island or Muscle Ridge (Dix, High and Birch Islands)
  • Favorite marina mooring- Dolphin Marina in Harpswell (those blueberry muffins and free laundry!)
  • Favorite restaurant – Dolphin Restaurant in Harpswell
  • Prettiest place – Thuya Gardens
  • Most Dramatic – Cadillac Mountain and Thunderhole, Mt Desert

And….. drumroll, please….. FAVORITE ICE CREAM – Nona’s in Scituate! (even though that wasn’t in Maine.)

And last, a few statistics:

  • Total miles = 660 nautical miles     Northbound nm =338       Southbound nm = 322
  • Shortest travel day = 7 nautical miles for 1 hour (Tenants Harbor to Doyle’s near Muscle Ridge)
  • Longest travel day= 79 nautical miles for 11.5 hours (Scituate to Cape Elizabeth)
  • Average travel day = 28 nautical miles for about 4 hours (14 days were 28 nm or less)
  • Total number of days traveling = 37  plus 1 day on either end for prep and clean-up/packing up = 39 days away from home
    • #days northbound = 23
    • #days southbound = 14
  • Number of days anchored = 16
  • Number of days on moorings  = 20 (15 paid + 5 free) Moorings ranged in price from $30 to $55. Cost was not always commensurate with what you got.

For me, any reflection of our time on the water has to include that one special person who makes it all worthwhile.

About Homarus Americanus…. The American Lobster

When you mention Maine, lobsters come to mind, as a food delicacy and as a major part of the state’s fishing industry.  Lobster is a $500 Million per year industry for Maine. Cold, clean waters are the key.

Photo from Wikipedia, not me.

When we planned to cruise to Maine on our own boat, we were cautioned about lobster buoys. It is a challenge to maneuver a boat through these buoys, like a minefield. And it isn’t just in harbors, it is everywhere. In depths of 100-200 feet of water, right in harbors, in mooring fields, everywhere. It becomes tiring on your eyes. 

How can there be this many lobster boats and buoys?? How are there any lobsters left? I picture the sea floor crawling in swarms of lobsters. Mind boggling! If someone has cruised to Maine and says they have never caught a lobster buoy, I would be quite suspicious of their honesty.

Facts and figures about lobsters and lobstering can be found all over the internet. Here are some Homarus Americanus (American lobster) facts that we found of interest as we meandered through these buoy infested waters.

  • The word lobster has an uncertain origin, but it is believed to come from the Latin word ‘locusta’ meaning ‘grasshopper, locust’. 
  • Maine has very strict laws governing lobstering. Lobster traps may not be hauled at night or on Sundays during June through August in Maine waters (since 1967). 
  • The legal minimum length is 3¼ inches and a maximum length of 5 inches. 
  • Egg-bearing female lobsters must be returned to the water after a v-shaped notch is placed in her right tail flipper. This is to protect her so that she can continue to reproduce.
  • The female lobster carries the eggs for 9-11 months and can lay up to 100,000 eggs, but only 1/10 of 1% may survive. (That’s only 100 eggs!!) 
  • Lobsters regularly live more than 50 years, perhaps as long as 100 years. 
  • There are 6,000 or so licensed lobster fishermen although not all are actively fishing, perhaps only 4500 in recent years. Each is limited to 800 traps. Non-commercial (recreational, private?) license holders cannot submerge more than 5 traps for lobsters at any given time in the coastal waters of Maine. In 2014 we were visiting friends, Peter and Laurie, who have a 5-trap license and took us out to pull their traps and eat lobster for dinner! It was a fun and enlightening experience.

Out of habit we referred to “lobster pots,” when we should be calling them lobster “traps,” although the terms do seem to be interchangeable. I’m old enough to remember the old wooden lobster traps, but today the traps are a plastic-coated metal frame and cost about $150 apiece. 

A huge stack of new lobster traps was waiting in Northeast Harbor and was then loaded onto this lobster boat.
In contrast, most islands or harbors also had piles of old traps and buoys just lying about. At least that is the way it appeared, although I guess it could be a storage method.

While at anchor or traveling, there were always lobster boats out and about, or moored nearby. Sometimes we would sit and watch lobstermen working traps. It is hard back-breaking work to haul the traps up, take the lobsters out, re-bait the trap and drop it back in to the water again.

Lobster boats in a Harpswell cove in Casco Bay.
Only a very small sample of the lobster boats out working .
A lobsterman’s day doesn’t end with hauling his traps. Back at the docks, there is the unloading and sorting.
Proud of the catch – young lobstermen showing off.

The ultimate goal of catching lobsters is to eat lobster, right? The first European settlers discovered that North America was swimming in lobsters, so plentiful that they would reportedly wash ashore in piles up to 2 feet high. Colonists called them the “cockroaches of the sea.” During hard times lobsters were a source of food, but that same benefit led to the lobster’s reputation as the poor man’s protein. Lobsters were so cheap and plentiful that they were fed to prisoners, apprentices, slaves and children during the colonial era and beyond. 

During the 1800s lobster caught the fancy of the rich in Boston and New York City and prices immediately began to rise. By World War II lobster became a rare treat and delicacy. And it still is.

When in Maine, you eat lobster. We enjoyed our lobster meals, some more than others. John Doyle’s lobster chowder was the best lobster meal we had (THANK YOU!). We also enjoy a good lobster roll and I am starting to crave one of them again. I’ll be honest here; I (we) do not really enjoy the cooking and picking the meat out of the lobster. It tasted delicious with melted butter and lemon, but it is just too messy and gross for me.

An encore of our lobster meals, clockwise from upper left – John’s chowder, Lobster BLT, Lobster fettuccini, our “on the boat steamed” lobster, Lobster roll, Lobster Reuben.

Now, about those buoys…..  On sunny calm days, it looked like confetti sprinkled all over the water. My repeated attempts to capture this colorful confetti in photos, failed. I wish there was a way to show what the water really looked like to us as we dodged these floating obstacles.

Each lobsterman paints his own design in his own color scheme on his buoys, to distinguish his traps from others. They are required by law to display their buoy colors.

One way a lobsterman displays his buoy colors is to mount a buoy atop his boat.

Photographing the buoys passed the time for a few hours on some of the beautiful days we had. I loved the reflection of the colors in the water. Maine’s lobster buoys are cleaner and prettier than any in our southern New England waters.

I have over 100 individual buoy photos. 😳😁 I could have taken more. I really could have.

Let’s start off with the black and white buoys. This is not a good color choice! Both are very hard to see. I wonder if more of them are run over than the brightly colored ones?
Orange and white buoys – Orange is an excellent buoy color because it shows up quite clearly on the water.
Orange is often paired with other colors, also easy to spot. And quite pretty.
Red, in combination with other colors, is cheerful and bright on the water’s surface.
More reds!
Bright shades of green are surprisingly noticeable.
Combinations with blue and green are my favorites although sometimes they are harder to see on the blueish-green water.

Do pink buoys belong to female lobsterpersons? I don’t think so, not exclusively. There were women out on the boats, but the buoy color had no relationship to the gender of the fishing people. Al and I both read Linda Greenlaw’s book, The Lobster Chronicles. Her tale of life on a small island and being a lobsterman is a witty and entertaining read. I also found a good article about women in Maine’s lobster industry that is worth checking out – Pretty Rugged: True Stories from Women of the Sea, a book by Ali Farrell.

The most colorful buoys have 3 colors. They are cheerful and bright and usually very visible.

Every once in awhile there would be a striped buoy of a different orientation, vertical or even slanted. Switching it up!
The only non-striped, non-single color buoy – an inventive creative round dotted buoy.
Occasionally, but not often, there would be buoys with tall tops, most likely to act as radar reflectors or to increase visibility.
Mainers have no problem using buoys to decorate their homes.

Buoys are an example of a functional art form that has become an iconic symbol of Maine. These floating markers get upcycled into décor and art, both in Maine and as souvenirs. Although it is illegal to remove any lobster equipment, including buoys, that is found washed up on the shore, people do it all the time. Mainers and visitors alike. We did collect a few lost abandoned and very beat-up buoys. Perhaps restoring them to a former glory will be a winter project?

Good-Bye Maine, Homeward Bound

We left Isle of Shoals at 7:00 am on Saturday morning for a run of 46 nautical miles to Scituate, Massachusetts.

It was a sparkling morning in spite of the humidity.
The seas were comfortable. Again. We have been so fortunate that on every traveling day over these weeks there were rarely challenging seas. (except for the first day….)

It was a day with not much to photograph as we traveled back to Scituate, Massachusetts our first repeat stop of our summer cruise. I noticed an unusal pair of lighthouses to the west. Curious again, I learned these were the “Twin Lighthouses” or Cape Ann Light Station on Thatcher Island, one mile offshore of Rockport, MA.

The Watch and Wait, a vessel captained by Anthony Thatcher was wrecked in a serious storm near the island in 1635. The disaster claimed the lives of 21 passengers and crew. The original 45-foot towers were constructed and lit in 1789; making them among the oldest of America’s lighthouses

The 124 foot granite towers seen today replaced the original lights in 1861. The two towers were constructed so that when a ship sites on both towers, they point to true north allowing sailors to check and adjust their compasses. I had never heard of this before. Interesting.
A closer view of one of the twins.
The yellow line is our route on the chartplotter. Red circle is Isle of Shoals; blue circle is Scituate. 46 nautical miles

Along the way, thanks to that awesome Krogen Finder app (affectionately known as the “stalker app”) we were in touch via the VHF and texts with Acadia, another Kadey Krogen. We both ended up in Scituate.

From our mooring we had a great view of Acadia arriving in Scituate harbor, with the lighthouse in the background.
A mini-Krogen rendezvous happy hour with Tim and Diane from Acadia.
Our after-dinner trip to Nona’s Ice Cream. Afterall, isn’t that the reason we stopped in Scituate? I do believe this may have been the only time we were out in the dinghy after dark on the whole trip. 
Scituate Lighthouse at predawn, about 5:15 am..

Sunday morning was our Cape Cod Canal day and timing that right meant a late morning departure so that we wouldn’t be fighting the current in the canal. Unlike our north and east bound trip through the canal, it looked like we would actually be able to see the canal. The day was bright and breezy, and much less humid than the past few days.

No fog at all – there’s the entrance!
People were out and about enjoying the Sunday afternoon on the breakwater and on the banks of the canal.
There may be a Coast Guard Station and signs posted about the speed limit and “no wakes”, but there were plenty of boats that ignored the rules. And got away with it.
Declarations of love on the bridge supports. “I love you Nancy” and” I love you Corinne. ” Unrequited or love returned? We do not know.
The Cape Cod Railroad Bridge, much more visible than last month’s trip under it.

We anchored in Onset in front of Wickets Island again.

After dinner, Al tried a little fishing when he saw the water swirling. He did miss Dean, his fishing buddy/mentor!
Setting sun in Onset.

Monday morning was another early departure so that we would have a favorable current down Buzzards Bay. We left at 5:45 am and arrived in Cuttyhunk in just 3 hours, in time for breakfast.

Whoooaa! We wanted a favorable current but this was crazy! 10.2 knots – speedier than our usual 7.2 knots. But it didn’t last. We were simply glad not to fight a current.
Swirling patterns of light on the water’s surface
It was a very peaceful and uneventful ride down the bay. Just fine with us. 😉
The captain on watch with the autopilot remote by his side.
Clevelands Ledge Lighthouse. The location was originally known as Pocasset Ledge until President Grover Cleveland made it his favorite fishing spot.  Cleveland was U.S. President for two non-consecutive terms from 1885-1889 and 1893-1897, but the Cleveland Ledge Lighthouse was not officially completed until June 1, 1943.

We had the whole day ahead of us at Cuttyhunk and decided to stay the next day, too, after three travel days in a row. I’ve done other blog posts about Cuttyhunk – In 2017, 3 Weeks, 4 Islands, 6 Harbors  and in 2019, Block & Cuttyhunk, so this is just a refresher with a few new observations.

Cuttyhunk

We really, really needed to stretch our legs, so I pulled on my yellow rubber boots and we dinghied to the outer harbor beach to take a walk. 20-25 years ago we would find handfuls of sea glass here, but not so much anymore. It’s really disappointing, because it is harder for me to even get off on a beach, and there is less sea glass everywhere. I think that is due to two factors. 1) Environmental consciousness and recycling which is hard to argue with. IMHO, sea glass is special and should be exempt. 2) More people hunt for sea glass now than did before so the completion is stiffer.

Cuttyhunk has become much more crowded over the years. The inner harbor mooring field has expanded and the moorings are very close together. The outer harbor now has an ever-increasing number of moorings as well. We were shocked to learn the mooring fee is now $55 per night. That’s a lot for no services other than a ball with an anchor block.

The crowded inner mooring field.
A very sweet example of an older wooden cruising boat.
We try to only stop at Cuttyhunk when the conditions are safe for anchoring in the outer harbor near the breakwater.

Ice cream on the docks was always one of our must-do activities when at Cuttyhunk. But, alas, that has changed as well.

The ice cream shack in the parking lot near the dock was not open. On a warm afternoon! Al was distraught. It has been days since he had any ice cream.
We walked to the little Cuttyhunk Market (yes, it is down that little path in a former house. Just one room.
Hoodsie cups were the only ice cream options that the market had. In desperation, we enjoyed our little cups with the wooden spoons very much. Memories of “Dixie cups” when we were in elementary school. Feeling young! 😜
Sopranos, one of the few restaurants on Cuttyhunk, was closed for the season, but the “diver down” flag was new. ???

We continued our tradition of breakfast at the Cuttyhunk Fishing Club B&B. On our walk there, we noticed some new sights.

It’s been a couple years since we were here, but we are fairly certain that this hill with scattered rocks and a memorial bench did not exist then.
The lily pad has four new occupants – a unicorn, a shark, a fish and an unknown.
Someone(s) had a fun arts and craft day painting rocks! “Cuttyhunk Follow Your Dream” and BEAM are the messages.
But some things don’t change and we are glad they don’t. The tub and toilet planter still adorn the hill.
Cuttyhunk Fishing Club – another enjoyable breakfast on the porch overlooking the harbor and beyond.
Cuttyhunk is a great place for kids. Sailing lessons in the inner harbor (top) and even in the outer harbor (bottom) The lessons in the outer harbor were right beside us. Great observation point from our flybridge!

It is comforting to see the usual Cuttyhunk sights, the gray cedar houses, the US Coast Guard Station, the ferry from the mainland.

The Coast Guard Station and the Coast Guard house (? dormitory ?)
People boarding the ferry to return to the mainland.
The natural grayed cedar shingles of the homes.
Look at this – another Kadey Krogen! This time Eye of the Storm, A Kadey Krogen Whaleback, arrived at Cuttyhunk. Bob and Lori stopped by to introduce themselves and say hello. The boating world is indeed small at times. We had been on this same Whaleback in Baltimore in 2013 on our first cruise to the Bahamas. The previous owners of what was then Steadfast, were on the same dock as we were.
Sunset over Cuttyhunk’s inner harbor.

Our final 50 nautical miles were next.

THE FINAL 50 NAUTICAL MILES – Cuttyhunk to Shennecossett !
7:00 am. Looks like it might be a slightly overcast day.

We know we are almost home to SYC when we see these landmarks —

The stately yellow Ocean House of Watch Hill.
Taylor Swift’s white house sitting above her very big sea wall in Watch Hill.
Watch Hill’s US Coast Guard Station on the point.
Latimer Reef Lighthouse, at the eastern end of Fishers Island Sound, is a “sparkplug design” built in 1884.

And then we were back at our homeport in Groton, really just in time. The track of Henri, a tropical storm/hurricane, is aiming for New England (as of Thursday evening.) We had nearly 6 weeks of decent weather with only a few rainout days, fog that usually disappeared by late morning, and incredibly comfortable sea conditions. Why push our luck? It’s good to be home!

Our welcome home included hosting dinner for dear friends, Mary Jo and Dean. They were brave enough to come for my “what can I make with what’s leftover in the refrigerator and pantry” dinner.
😉

I still have some thoughts and reflections about our first cruise to Maine. After the dozen loads of laundry are finished, the house pantry and refrigerator are restocked, we see family and friends again, and catch our breath, I will tackle that.

Isles of Shoals – Are We still in Maine or is it New Hampshire?

Another orphan buoy

During our “dinghy up” routine to prepare for our departure the next day, Al discovered a lost lobster buoy snuggled in between our dinghy and the swim platform. We have a few of these orphans tucked away, but none of them have been particularly “pretty.” They may require some rejuvenation if the goal is to display them at home. Outside.

On Friday the 13th  at 5:15 am, we dropped Mooring #13. Is this a bad omen? Not for us. We do not suffer from triskaidekaphobia, fear of the number 13. We lived at house #13 in Regional School District #13 and the exit off the highway for our town was Exit 13. I have always felt very comfortable with the number 13. 

It was another humid and warm day, but the seas were flat and calm and we had the current with us. Early starts can be hard, but when it is this beautiful it is worth it.

We got to see the lobster boats at work before sunrise with their spotlights reflecting on the water.

It’s interesting to be on the water that early. The horizon changes from that predawn glow into the sparkle of an early sunny day.

Our route was mostly a long straight run of 47 nautical miles out of the total 53 for the day. Our goal was Isle of Shoals with other options if necessary. Autopilot was on but we still had to be on lobster buoy watch. No more constant dodging was necessary, but we needed to be vigilant because lines of buoys still popped into view at random moments.

It was a beautiful morning to be on the water.

Eight miles out to sea, off of Kittery on the southern coast of Maine, lies tiny (only 300 feet x 700 feet) Boon Island. On this very flat little island we could see the 133 foot silhouette of its lighthouse, the tallest in Maine. The island and its lighthouse have some pretty interesting stories including numerous shipwrecks and even cannibalism.

A treacherous location, talk of the need for a light station on Boon Island dates back to 1710. The first granite tower was constructed in 1811, but washed away in 1832. The current tower was built in 1855 with a new lightkeepers house. After serious damage from a blizzard in 1978, the lighthouse was automated.

We had heard so much about the Isle of Shoals and were disappointed that we couldn’t stop on the way north. We were traveling on a Saturday last month and all sources had reported “do not go on a weekend.” Why? The proximity to the mainland makes the Isle of Shoals the place to go by boat for day trippers and weekenders. In addition to that, boaters are cautioned about  anchoring there because of the fouled bottom however, there are no rental moorings, either. You are supposed to just pick up an empty Portsmouth Yacht Club mooring and hope that no member arrives to kick you off of it. Sounded like a no, yes, or maybe place to visit. WE started the day with “maybe”, but somewhere along the way, Al decided on “yes.”

Isle of Shoals is a cluster of nine small islands and ledges that lies 6 miles southeast off Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The border between the Maine and New Hampshire runs through the group of islands.

It was a Friday (the 13th) around noon, so we decided to give Isle of Shoals a chance. Me, nervously and Al with confidence. We approached the islands between Appledore and Smuttynose Islands. The harbor, Gosport Harbor, isn’t very large. Al looked around and decided we were going to anchor. He snuggled Kindred Spirit into a safe place. 

The New Hampshire islands are Lunging, Seavey, Star, and White Islands. The Maine islands are Appledore, Cedar, Duck, Malaga, and Smuttynose Islands. 
We were still in Maine as evidenced by the red dot I marked.

Our route took us between Appledore Island and Smuttynose Island. Smuttynose Island Whenever I hear Smuttynose and Appledore, I imagine a Hogwarts/Harry Potter atmosphere. The name Smuttynose actually refers to the dark rocks at the island’s eastern end.

Smuttynose is most famous (infamous) for the gruesome double murder that occurred on the island in 1873. While their husbands were off on the mainland to purchase fishing bait, two women were killed with an axe and the third escaped, hiding among the rocks. The convicted and hung accused murderer was a Prussian fisherman who had worked with the Norwegian immigrants the previous summer. I recall reading Anita Shreve’s novel, The Weight of Water, a story that intertwines that history with a modern fictional tale.

My less than successful attempt to photograph those smutty dark rocks.
Appledore Island, the largest of the Isle of Shoals islands. It was one of the most populated English settlements in the 1600s but is now home to the Shoals Marine Laboratory way station. The tower is a World War II concrete observation tower built to hold a radar installation. The dome for the radar no longer exists, and the radar unit was never installed.

In 1873 a grand resort hotel was built on Star Island, one of the 150 grand hotels constructed on the New England sea coast between 1800-1950. Of the ten remaining grand hotels, the Oceanic House is the only one that has escaped renovation.

The non-profit Star Island Corporation now owns the Oceanic House as a retreat and conference center for the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. We could hear and see a lot of activity there on the day and evening we were anchored.

It was a stinking hot day, even offshore in Gosport Harbor, and we never got off the boat. Appledore and Star Island are the only two islands open to the public. We had plenty to watch from our cockpit.

Sunset to the west over New Hampshire/Maine.

On Saturday, we pulled up the anchor (no fouling issues) and departed, leaving Maine behind. We made our way through the other side of the Isle of Shoals, passing by Lunging Island and White Island.

New Hampshire’s only off shore lighthouse, White Island Lighthouse. The first lighthouse was built of stone and wood shingles in 1820 and didn’t survive the harsh conditions. That was replaced in 1855 by the current lighthouse, built of brick and stone.  

A view of White Island and its lighthouse as we leave.
The covered walkway, was built in 1850 and washed away by a storm in 2007. In 1993 White Island and a few others were  transferred to the New Hampshire State Parks system which now maintains and preserves the lighthouse.

We thought the beauty of this group of little islands is somewhat marred by the busy crowds. But, Friday is the start of the weekend and perhaps that is why. There is a lot of history here and it would be nice to have explored more. For a one day/one night stopover, I sure had a lot to write about. Maybe too much!