Don’t fret Canada, we’ll be back

Yarmouth—with its 16-foot tide swings—is our last intended stop in Canada this go-round.

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Not that we’re anxious to leave, of course, because we love Canada.  Over the last four summers we’ve spent a good deal of time in five of the thirteen provinces.  We’re qualified to opine that the people are great and the scenery is awesome, and we’re gracious enough to overlook the abomination that is poutine.*  But Hurricane Dorian now is tracking towards Nova Scotia.  At best we can get to Maine and avoid the storm entirely.  At worst processing a property or life insurance claim from Maine will be much easier.  But first we have to get to Maine.  But even more first we had to get to Yarmouth.

As of last night, our plan was to get up at 4:00 to catch the tidal current.  No Drama planned to leave later and anchor, so we said our farewells.  At 4:00, however, we found her lit up like Christmas with Jeff and Fred and Ann and Zak and Sheila all buzzing around preparing to leave.  Turns out their evening cocktails yielded the realization that they just couldn’t bear to fall behind goobers with far less boating experience, so both boats took off in the dark.  And by dark, we mean pitch-black dark.  No moon and no-other-light-source kind of dark.  Thankfully after a while it got just light enough to see, which conveniently—and perhaps not coincidentally—allowed us to watch an awesome sunrise across the Atlantic horizon.

D8E62777-2A8D-4A92-98DB-12BC30FB3471After that, not too much going on, but at least the water was calmer than predicted.  Apparently despite the lighthouse, Cape Sable—the actual Southernmost Point in Nova Scotia—enjoys a disproportionally large number of shipwrecks.  We’re not sure why, as we—the aforementioned goobers—saw the light and not much reason to sink.  That’s right baby, we successfully navigated eastern side of The Shipwreck Shoreline!

The coolest part of the trip was dodging the islands through Schooner Passage.  The islands weren’t necessarily majestic, but still photo-worthy.

As we approached Yarmouth, we passed The Cat, a super-fast ferry providing service between here and Bar Harbor, Maine.

CE87374C-3BB4-4B51-BB3D-EDDED90C8004Except when we looked into sending Shannon over on The Cat so she could catch a plane in Portland, it wasn’t running.  And when Fred looked into taking it over so he could catch a plane in Portland, it wasn’t running.  In fact, the ferry hasn’t actually ferried anyone all year.  The locals are blaming Bar Harbor infrastructure and the lack of a customs station on the other side, but all we know for sure is that The Cat is a nice big boat just wasting away in Nova Scotia.

Unlike The Cat, the waterfront webcam was in fact operating.  We took a screen-shot selfie as we lined up to dock at Killam Brothers Marina.

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img_9027Around these parts, the Killam name is a big deal.   A mess o’ Killams started a shipping and chandlery business circa 1838, and Killams continued to run the business until the last one gave it up in 1999, although there’s still some tenuous connection to the wharf and marina and a museum and other stuff.

We generally accept only the “early to bed” part of Ben Franklin’s proverb, so were fairly uninspired when we landed this afternoon.  But we still mustered the oomph to walk around town.  The park was nice.  The shops were cute.

But that’s about the sum of our exploration.  Tomorrow we face thirteen hours across the Gulf of Maine on a day that’s supposed to be crappy but less crappy than the following bunch of days.  To a near certainty the blog report on re-entry will be untimely.

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* Deep in the Amazonian rain forest, indigenous cave-dwellers, untouched by civilization and uneducated even by third-world standards, intuitively know that ketchup is the only sauce belonging on a french fry.  Okay maybe sometimes cheese.  ABSOLUTELY NO GRAVY.

Hey it’s good to be back home again, yes it is*

Finally time to catch up on our notes, this time from the good old U.S. of A.  Monday morning as we headed west we watched our last sunrise over a Canadian shoreline for a while.

There’s a lot we’ll miss about Canada.  Way too many things to list.  One thing we won’t miss?  Tim Horton’s.  They don’t grill the burgers, they don’t have fountain drinks, and they don’t have regular delicious french fries on which to put ketchup.  They claim that everything is “Always Fresh,” but based on our experience “Always Fresh” to Tim Horton’s means “so very not fresh that it goes straight in the trash and then you just eat snacks from the gas station because now there isn’t time to go someplace else.”   If that isn’t enough, Tim Horton wasn’t even named Tim.  His real name was Miles.  He recently was put on the list of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history, however, which is dang impressive.  In 1974 he killed himself by driving drunk, which is the opposite of impressive.  Just like the food at the restaurant chain he started.

Anyway, the first three hours crossing the Gulf of Maine was more mellow than predicted.  We cranked up Sam Outlaw in the pilothouse.  Dana did some chores.  We had a nice breakfast.

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The waves rolled up on us midday, but although unpleasant they were less unpleasant than expected.  At exactly the blue dot we popped back into waters of the motherland.

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About 15 NM from Maine, we started hitting lobster pots.   More precisely, we started seeing lobster pot floats.  We actually only hit one float line.  Quick, go to neutral!  Now let’s bob around in beam seas to assess the situation.  The water is 54° with rolling swells.  None of those women lifeguards from Baywatch are around so Doug ain’t jumping in to try to unwind a line.  Fortunately it only snagged on a stabilizer fin and we managed to back off it after a surprisingly short period of wailing and swearing while we talked ourselves into concluding that it probably wasn’t also wrapped around the prop shaft.  During that period we were too busy wailing and swearing to think of taking a picture of the float actually appended to the fin, of course, but we did get one the bastard after we backed out to safety.  A sunfish drifted by during the ordeal, either obliviously or to laugh at us.  These things are weird that way.

As we approached the entrance to Southwest Harbor, the number of floats increased exponentially.  And fog set in.  To the point that we had to pick our way around them slowly, which exponentially sucked because we’d already been underway for more than 11 hours.  But hey, we made it across, so we’re not complaining more than a little.  Now here we are at Dysart’s Great Harbor Marina, which we hope is “always safe and warm.  Come in, she said, I’ll give you shelter from the storm.”**  We need it, because Hurricane Dorian is barreling north.

Southwest Harbor is on the Quietside—one word, capitalized, without even a hyphen—of Acadia National Park.  We know that, because there’re signs.  That’s okay with us, of course, because we’re Quietpeople.  The town is just busy enough to have a couple of good restaurants, but not so busy you can’t get a table.

Here’s the harbor and marina from the hilltop joint where we’ve eaten a couple of times.

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The significance isn’t the harbor.  Or the marina.  It’s Jeff and Ann climbing into the photo just like that time Dana photobombed the special moment Brent and Karen were sharing when they skipped the hike up the enormous sand dune in Michigan.   (It’s hard to tell for certain, but it appears that Jeff may’ve said or done something to justify getting an earful.)  Regardless, we were quite glad No Drama—now Fredless—made it over safely.  Nova Scotia is gonna get way more of Dorian than is this part of Maine.

When we visited Maine a few years back we stayed for a few days in both Bar Harbor and Camden.  No need to stop at either place by boat, but we did zip up to Bar Harbor for groceries and lunch.  The shops and restaurants were crawling with passengers from that cruise ship in the harbor.  Bar Harbor is not on the Quietside.  We also dropped into Camden, mostly so Dana could revisit the bookstore and the store that sells all the lavender stuff that smells really good but we really don’t need.  We do love Camden.

The other must-do thing on Mt. Desert Island is hiking in the park.  So we did.  What Dana identified as a “moderate” hike in actuality required scaling a 25,000 foot peak, but at least it was pretty.

The huge Fleming behind us hauled out in advance of Dorian.  We’re staying snuggled up in Southwest Harbor to ride out whatever’s left whenever he or she shows up.  After one last night of frivolity, Jeff and Ann decided to head down to Camden and end their cruising season now, putting No Drama in storage for the winter.  Sad day for Misty Pearl.  We haven’t exactly traveled with them, but we’ve been in constant contact and have docked with them a fair bit since Quebec City.  Now they’re like old friends.  And no, we don’t mean “old” in the context of Jeff having played football at Northwestern in a leather helmet.

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Hopefully we can start down the coast on Sunday.  Our goal is to be back at the Statute of Liberty by October 12.  Ish.

On a final note, we found a place for lobster trap floats that’s much preferable to being in front of us, or even worse wrapped up under our hull.

But wait!  There’s more!  The moment between that final note and hitting the “publish” button was extended by a sunset, which was perfect but for the Nordhavn 47 that partially blocked our view.

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* We agree, John Denver.

** Yes please, Bob Dylan.

“Always avoid the toilet bowl”*

Dorian came close, but although the wind and rain kept us inside all Saturday, we had no troubles to report.

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At least we had time to do some research.  Southwest Harbor is on the Southwest—duh—corner of Mt. Desert Island.  “MDI” to the locals.  The island got its name when that same Sam de Champlain of whom we’ve previously written grounded his boat nearby and remarked (somewhat inexplicably) that the mountains made it look like a desert.  But of course the French pronunciation sounds like “dessert,” setting the stage for confusion and a debate that’ll not be resolved in our lifetimes.

F301B5A8-120D-4863-8322-095C87B23541The majority of MDI is filled with Acadia National Park, which used to be owned by the Rockefellers.  The park is loaded with excellent hiking trails and other stuff.  Like ticks.

Another Maine debate relates to the point where sunlight first hits the United States each day.  Some claim it’s the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia.  We side with the side that believes it’s the West Quoddy Lighthouse in Lubec, not because we’ve done a scientific analysis with prisms and mirrors and Foucault’s Pendulum but because we watched the sunrise from the lighthouse a few years ago and told everybody it was first.

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Southwest Harbor is where Hinckley Yachts has been building boats since 1928, which explains the huge number of Hinckleys in the marina.  We also encountered batches of them in Spring Cove, Michigan and Palm Beach, Florida.  Go figure.  Anyway, they’re pretty impressive—and absurdly expensive—boats.  Not for us.  We wouldn’t mind going a bit faster from time to time but we also love our stand-up shower.

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We wasted a bunch of time trying to find info on Fort Prentice, solely because of a small plaque mounted on a wooden retaining wall.  The plaque looks legit, but finally we gave up in defeat.  Not a hint of explanation or confirmation to be found.  If it’s an April Fool’s joke, we don’t find it funny.

Despite the weather, we exercised regularly by climbing up and down a 45-degree slope every low tide.  Oscar hated it.  Especially in the dark.

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Tomorrow morning we’re heading down to Rockland.  October 10 is our target date to close the Down East Circle Loop back at the Statute of Liberty.  Since periodically we seem to be stuck somewhere for a week, we gotta move when we can.

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* We’ve previously quoted Jeff’s pearl of boating wisdom but Hurricane Dorian makes this a great place to use it again.

On top of everything else, lobster is really expensive

A clear and beautiful day turned into a gray and dreary day, but the wind was light and the waves were acceptable.  The only impediment to a great day of cruising was the obstacle course.

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Seriously.  Imagine starting a nice drive from Phoenix to Sedona, only to discover that someone dropped ten thousand tire-popping spikes of different sizes and colors—including camouflage if that’s a color—all over Interstate 17.   Cause that’s what today was like.  Oh for the days of crab pots.  We’ll never again moan about crab pots.  Crab pot floats are to lobster pot floats as Twiggy is to a bus full of Mama Cass lookalikes.  Grrrrr.*

We also saw a cool sailboat.

Actually we saw three of them.  And a couple of lighthouses.  Then we docked in Rockland, ate a delicious dinner, talked to our neighbors about Looping, took long hot showers, put on pajamas, and settled in for Monday Night Football (Doug and Oscar) and a book (Dana).  Life still is good.

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* In the context of all that’s wrong in the world, we understand that lobster traps are not a significant problem.  That’s particularly true since the output of lobster traps is, well, lobster.  So enough complaining.  At least publicly.  To a near certainty there’ll be a lot more complaining in the privacy of the pilothouse until we leave lobster country.

Maine is quite pretty when you don’t focus only twenty feet ahead

Bummer to leave Rockland yesterday morning, because Rockland has a surprising amount of good stuff we didn’t get to explore.  Like the Maine Lighthouse Museum and a bunch of world-famous artsy places.   We also missed the Maine Lobster Festival by a couple of weeks.  Oh well, on to Boothbay Harbor.

Yesterday was a fine day, mostly because we decided to embrace the lobster pots and just enjoy the beautiful Maine scenery.  We took the inland route past hills and islands and lighthouses.

While underway we caught up to Cygnus, a Kadey-Krogan we met in Rockland.  Mr. Cygnus sent us a photo as we slid by.  That’s a damn fine boat right there.

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Boothbay Harbor is a bit of a tourist town itself, probably because it has boats and lobsters and that quintessentially-picturesque Maine look.

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The American Constitution—which apparently is classified as a “coastal cruise ship”—sat anchored out in the harbor, frankly looking kind of abandoned.  Doug flew the drone over for a closer look.

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Two obvious questions though.  First, where are the lifeboats?  If they only cruise along the coast maybe they just expect everybody to swim for safety if the ship goes down, but somehow that doesn’t seem right.  What about the old people like us?  Second, who decided to install a putting green on a surface that pitches and rolls?  Probably the same genius who found lifeboats superfluous.  There’s even a berm around the green to keep balls from falling off.  Ridiculous.

Right now we’re tucked into a tidy quiet corner away from the masses.  The only boat around is Wren, a little Grand Banks that also seems abandoned but probably isn’t.

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After a recommendation from the owner of a sister 43—Miss Elly—we changed our plans.  Tomorrow we’ll head to Dolphin Marina in Harpswell rather than Portland.