Maine Cruise 2018 – Retracing Our Steps to Home

Camden to Boothbay

We left Camden after a  pleasant visit.  We were sort of smelling the barn, feeling like it was time to head home, but we left ourselves room to tweak our plans — as we always do.

It started out a clear and calm day, with the threat of rain and thunderstorms later on.  Good for making tracks.  We were under way by about 10:00 am, after walking the dogs, grabbing a few last minute items and French & Brawn, hoisting the dinghy and taking on fuel.  The fuel would help us keep all options on the table as we contemplated pushing south.

The plan for the day was a run back down Muscle Ridge Channel, bypassing Rockland and Tenants Harbor, and stopping once again at Boothbay.  Boothbay is easy and a good point for making a variety of itinerary choices, and also a secure spot if the weather proved challenging.

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Rounding Whitehead Island, at the southern end of Muscle Ridge Channel.

We had an easy trip and grabbed a mooring by mid-afternoon at the Tug Boat Inn under gray, threatening skies.  And then rain.  We gave the pups a quick wet walk when we arrived, and decided to have supper on board.

We turned it into a fun boat-night, with lots of good music (apologies to any boats nearby who could hear us!), some wine and a great dinner of shrimp-pesto-pasta, and loads of veggies.  We really had fun, just hanging.  We did go ashore after dark to give the pups one last squirt, and it was very wet.

We had a plan.  Early to bed.  Up at 0400.  Walk the pups at 0500. Under way at 0600.  Headed towards home, retracing our steps with the 110-mile run to Scituate.  The forecast was for northerlies in the morning, shifting to easterlies during the day as we pushed south.  Early forecasts were for 5-10 knots NE.  By the time we got up in the morning the windspeed forecasts were up to 10-15 knots NE.  We kept to our plan.

Boothbay to Scituate

The pre-dawn trip ashore was wet but not raining.  The pups got filthy.  Back on board Bruce hoisted the dinghy back on the top deck and I got the boat ready to roll.  We were off the mooring just slightly behind schedule, at 6:15.  Conditions were gray, damp, calm, and clear.

ofXsyRnhQwyRuk8XD1wjWAThe rain stopped as we headed out, but the calm lasted for only about an hour, then the chop started to roll in on the beam and the ride became uncomfortable.  We got the pups settled in the salon on the settee.  About ten miles out, we crossed paths with several boats racing in the Monhegan Island Race.  They were on there way back westbound, enjoying the fresh northeast breeze under spinnaker.

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Bruce’s breakfast.

Bruce requested a traditional at-sea breakfast, so I went to work.  As I cooked, things got less and less comfortable but I made it happen.  Bruce had a dee-lightful breakfast of farm-fresh scrambled eggs, locally raised & smoked uncured Maine bacon, and local Otis N Lucy ‘taters cooked in bacon fat with Otis N Lucy leeks & garlic.   Very special!

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Dorsey’s Breakfast.

Then I turned to my own breakfast: braised leeks and garlic, shredded beets, beet greens, steamed whole grains, fresh basil and parsley, a local farm fresh poached egg and toasted pepitas.  Yum!

After breakfast, as I was cleaning up, we all began to feel rather unhappy about the conditions.  We pushed the throttle down to steady the boat, knowing the this would cost us in fuel consumption but make the ride much easier.  We hoped we would not have to run that fast all day.

After a couple of hours, the wind clocked eastward and began to relax.  The sea began to settle down.  The boat was happier and we could pull back on the throttle. We remained on track for a sub-12-hour day.  We saw little.  The occasional commercial trawler, a few sportfish, and one or two large yachts, but that was about it.  It remained gray and damp, but no rain and no fog.  Not so bad, really, once we got beyond about three hours of slop.

A twelve-hour open-water passage is tiresome.  It’s too long, really.  We’re OK with doing it on occasion as necessary but it’s not a lot of fun.  We arrived at the entrance to Scituate feeling antsy, ready to shut down the engines, and most of all, anxious to get the dogs ashore.  We don’t like doing this to them, but at times, we have to.  If we had not had the uncomfortable start it would have been easier, but that was history.

We called the town launch, E-Z Rider, on the radio.  They answered right away and led us to a mooring.  I shut down the boat while Bruce launched the dinghy.  Off we went with the pups.  We found the town wharf and dinghy float.  It was below mean-low water, most of the dinghies at the float were in the mud, and the ramp so so steep we had to carry the dogs. Not an easy arrangement, but we dealt with it.  The dogs were grateful.  Next time I would recommend trying the Scituate Yacht Club before the town launch.

We gave the pups a good long walk through town, and were even invited to join the local harbor master/police/fire men at a Sunday evening BBQ in their garage.  That was nice!  The pups said YES! as the smell of hot dogs and burgers was overwhelming, but we thanked them guiltily moved on.  Took the pups back to the boat, then returned ashore to have supper at the Satuit Tavern which we had found on our previous visit.  It was busy, but we found seats at the bar, were welcomed by friendly locals, and were able to relax and enjoy the meal.  Long day. By the time we headed back to the boat, the fog had settled in thickly.  The forecast for the morning: thick fog.

Scituate to the Cape Cod Canal to Cuttyhunk

We slept well, but got started promptly in the morning because it was going to be another fairly long day.  We headed ashore at 0800 after oatmeal and coffee, and gave the pups a good long walk around Scituate.  We had excellent coffee and a good almond croissant at the Lucky Finn Cafe, not because we needed it, but just because we could.  Good call.  Then it was back to the boat, and prepare to move.  Fortunately, the current at the canal was timed perfectly.  It was a 30 mile run from Scituate to the canal, and the current turned with us at 11:30 am.  We left at just after 0900 in very, very thick fog — I estimated with the radar and chart about 700 feet visibility as we proceeded out the channel — and it stayed that way for about an hour until the sun began to thin it out.

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Headed under the railroad bridge, you can see on the plotter we are doing 12.5 knots over the bottom.

By the time we reached the entrance to the canal it was clear but not sunny. The sea conditions were quite calm, a blissful change from the previous morning.  The current had been with us all the way from Scituate, and on the way through the canal we at times reached over 12 knots over the bottom while making 7.5 through the water.  That’s fun!

We proceeded on to Cuttyhunk.  It became more and more gray, and we watched squalls on the weather radar approach from the south and west.  A few miles from Cuttyhunk it started to rain.  We passed a sailboat, headed the same direction as us, sheeted down in the southeasterly breeze, getting soaked.  We were warm and dry in the pilot house.  Who said bad things about the Dark Side?

By the time we passed into the channel and the pond, we were in a full-blown, drenching rain squall.  We had planned to anchor, but given the conditions, and the fact that there was an available town mooring right in front of us, we changed the strategy and grabbed the mooring.  Naturally, as soon as we were secure the rain stopped and things quieted down, but we were settled, so we stayed.  Furthermore, the wind was scheduled to shift overnight, and there were already several boat anchored.  We didn’t need the hassle.

Once again: dinghy over the side, pups ashore.  Have you heard that before?  Cuttyhunk is like an old shoe: we know the drill, and it’s comfortable, as long as the boat is secure.  Ashore, we found the new dinghy dock, which had been under construction when we left for Maine, was now in place and almost finished.  the downside is that the inboard side of the float is very shallow at low tide.  Beware.

We walked the pups, and went back to the boat to dry off and make dinner.  We ate well, thanks to good provisioning in Maine.  Early to bed.

Cuttyhunk to Home – New England Boatworks, Portsmouth

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Early run ashore in Cuttyhunk with the pups.  Calm weather for the final leg home.

Early to rise.

The afternoon before, when we arrived in Cuttyhunk, Mattie appeared anxious to go ashore.  She never does this.  Nor does Pepper.  But I sensed that she was in a hurry.  Odd.

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Someone had been hard at work overnight on Cuttyhunk.

In the morning at about 0600, even though it was much earlier than she usually gets up and about, Mattie was whining at the door.  Hmmm.  I took her right in and she did a long pee as soon as she hit the hard.  Very unusual.  Throughout our walk she peed and peed and peed.  Every ten feet.  I was concerned.  I would call the vet as soon as they were open and get her an appointment.

We had a good long walk, then went back to the boat, got everyone fed, dinghy aboard, and under clear skies and calm seas, headed out.  Once again, Cuttyhunk feels like home.

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Running up the Sakonnet River.

It was an easy ride across the to Sakonnet River, then a pretty, hot and breezy ride up, under the Sakonnet River Bridge, then under the Mount Hope Bridge, then a choppy last few miles to the entrance to New England Boatworks.

Our 2018 Cruise to Maine was done.  Everyone was home safely.  I scurried directly off to the vet with Mattie, who was diagnosed with a bladder infection and put on antibiotics.  It was very good timing to be home.

  • Thursday, July 26 to Tuesday, August 14
  • 19 days
  • 590 nautical miles
  • 60 engine hours (approx)
  • 10 ports of call (including the repeats on the way home)

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