Friday, August 28, 2015

Cured Meats and Soft Cheeses: Around Great Island

It smelled like old Wendy's fast food that lay smoldering under a Las Vegas highway overpass, somewhat wicked but rapidly desiccating into something oddly familiar and satisfying. Much like a flatulence that waffles between pride and disownership. The desert dries all things with a hint of sage and concrete, as does the mystery powder in the bottom of the Doodie Bag (but without the sage). 

I was contemplating this and other mysteries from the toilet lid of a 5 gallon bucket amongst pine needles and the quiet lapping of water on a Maine island.  The flies were already moving onto my location and unbeknownst to me and my buzzing friends, so were 10 college women intent on preparing a campsite for a Freshman Orientation Week.

This can only mean one thing...




I welcome you back to another wonderful and beguiling installment of GISAmateur Style!  This has been a tumultuous year of tribulation, complete with physical ailments, professional shakeups, ponderous tragedy, and mighty little sailing. (We missed the Small Reach Regatta, horrors!).  Last week however, SCOUT and I went cruising, and we did it in company and we did it well and BY POSEIDON and his graciousness and his fury we had a goddamm good time and some great sailing!

-Commodore Hazard! and his lovely sneaky fast Coquina SLIFPER
-GreenMountain John and his one-and-only lug rigged yawl Ilur in the world, WAXWING
-Cap'n Jon, of Pheonix III fame but in his newly acquired SeaPearl 21, INDIGO
-And me, Captain Callsign, with of course, SCOUT.

Our objective was the circumnavigation of Sebascodegan Island, or Great Island, which I did solo last year.  You can read this account here. We decided to do it again because it is just such a groovy trip, with varied sailing, nice little holes to duck into, and it was in good proximity to the four of us and our schedules.


For better viewing:

SCOUT and I were the last to arrive at Bethel Point Marine, which has parking and a slimey ramp. Overnight trailer parking can be tough to find, and Bethel Point offers it at $6 a day per vehicle. Don't screw this up! Everyone was already in the water, sprawling around their boats and looking suspiciously content. Commodore Hazard came bouncing up the ramp and greeted me to watch SCOUT while I parked the trailer. We had little sunlight left and in a jumble of camping gear and badly stowed rigging, we set forth for our first anchorage of the night, tucked in just west of Yarmouth Island.

Cap'n Jon took this picture click for more
Commodore Hazard and SLIFPER
Cap'n Jon took this picture click for more
We rafted up for dinner, and quickly bonded over a love of literature, food, exciting beverages to go with said food, lantern light and starlight. MAYBE we talked about boats, too! We bedded down in our steeds open to the night sky and we watched the celestial dome spin about our paltry selves.  I lay for a while staring at the Summer Triangle directly overhead musing to myself that this was the first time I was seeing it this season. It was an old friend that meant camping and warm nights, mosquitoes and high adventure.  In that moment I missed the Triangle terribly and was glad to see it against the backdrop of the Milky Way. Palpable relief settled upon me, and as a few stray meteorites streaked into their hot oblivion, I fell deep asleep. We were under the stars again and life was made right.

I awoke way too early in the morning with Commodore Hazard and GreenMountain John shouting at each other across the anchorage about what a "GREAT DAY" it was. It was 6am. Maybe 5. It was early. I don't know. Some people work for a living.

We rafted up for breakfast, and planned to go around Orr before heading up the west coast of Sebascodegan.


Red arrow lower left: Lunch
Red arrow upper right: 2nd Anchorage
Yellow: Rowing
Tacking is approximate
Commodore Hazard was ready to go about an hour before anyone else.
If this is Retirement, I want some.

No one else is ready.
We tacked out of our anchorage and quickly realized we missed the slack tide.  It was now flooding, we were beating upwind, and our plan to round Orr Island was looking like it was going to take a while.  Having spent the past several months chasing schedules and moving at the speed of modern transportation, I admit my brain was not running at the same time/distance equation as wind, water, and tide. This mental disconnect with the pace was unnerving, full of internal conflict. I seriously contemplated screwing the plan to go around Orr and running down Gun Point Cove like I did last year, but Hazard kept doggedly marching south and so I did too.

We put in at Cedar Beach on the northern tip of Bailey Island to break down the rigs to get under the the bridge between Bailey and Orr Island. Cedar Beach is a touchpoint on public access to water. I have said this before and I will say it again... access to the water is part of our American Birthright, and we let it slip away to private interests at our peril!

HISTORIC first picture of SCOUT and INDIGO together!
Cap'n Jon celebrates in the background!
SCOUT and I rowing underneath the bridge.
It looks like a bunch of jumbled concrete, right?
Cap'n Jon took this picture, click for more

NO it's lincoln-log stacked blocks of granite! This didn't take any work, I'm sure.
More here
 On the other side of the Bailey Island Bridge we rowed up to Cook's Lobster House. This was fortunate because it was lunch time. It was also unfortunate because it was lunch time and the ferry from Portland just regurgitated about 120 people whose sole purpose in life was to eat at that very moment at Cook's. Fortunately, GreenMountain John was able to sweet talk Cook's into giving us take-out and they happily obliged! Cook's is now on the approved Lobster Eating-Place List here at GISAmateur! Congratulations Cook's!

After lunch, we spun out and then began one of the most incredible downwind runs I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. The tide and the wind were at our backs, the breeze was building, we were four well matched boats, and the sun was out and we were going somewhere!

Small boat friendly beach!

A Rozinante... it was a real treat to watch Commodore Hazard and SLIFPER spin around her.

Hazard plays around with just the Main, and scoots along just fine.

WAXWING, SLIFPER, and INDIGO coming out from under the Mountain Rd. bridge 
and into the Ewin Narrows.

Shipshape, honest.

INDIGO rounding the corner at Doughty Point
with the Long Reach in the background.

Cap'n Jon doesn't just sail
He slums it. 

Wing and wing down the Ewin Narrows

Cap'n Jon took this picture
Cap'n Jon took this picture, too!
Striking the rig down at Gurnet Straight.
In some wild way, we timed the tide exactly as planned and hit the notorious Gurnet Straight at full slack. We struck our rigs and rowed under the bridge which delineates the northern tip of Sebascodegan Island. We convened on the other side and decided to push further west and tuck in on the east side of Merritt Island and anchor for the night. This small section really became a booming reach with fast sailing and a circumnavigation of Merritt itself, which revealed to us that the "bar" connecting Merritt to the mainland is not sand but rocks, and it's also not charted. We all bumped boards but escaped any serious damage, and dropped our hooks in a little calm paradise. This is where we all couldn't agree how to best anchor and enjoy the boats and the shoreline.

GreenMountain John decided to rig an outhaul, which as my Intrepid Readers will remember, is usually some sort of exercise in frustration, and this was no exception. I swore at this moment that I am finally going to get around to getting that Anchor Buddy, which would solve a lot (not all) of our shore/tide problems. That being said, there's something humorous about watching two sailors tangle with outhauls.

SLIFPER awash in green

Something is rotten in the state of Outhaul.
Commodore Hazard attempts to rectify the issue.

Now the outhaul is hopelessly wrapped around SLIFPER's rudder.
Still working on it.  That Commodore Hazard is persistent, he is.
Hey...Who's outhaul is this, anyway?

I was forced -against my will- to take this picture of the final successful outhaul attempt.
This success came at a great cost of time, took two people, two boats, and much
editorializing from the Peanut Gallery (me).
I salute GreenMountain John for his fortitude and persistence in seeing this through.
They do work sweet, when they work.

FINALLY we can get down to eating!
Most bad-ass raft up ever.

Chef BoyardJohn just slayed this dinner for us unthankful compatriots:
Spirali and pesto sauce with smoked scallops.
Paired with his home-brewed beers.

Cured meats and soft cheeses.
Commodore Hazard enlightening us on the subject of boom crutches and Other Exciting Subjects.
Cap'n Jon listens politely to his superiors. (Smart, Cap'n Jon!)


So it came to pass that we awoke to a more humid and less sunny day than Day 2. We decided on a humble goal of making it down to the The Basin and tucking in there for the afternoon.  We would have the tide and wind slightly against us, and we just went ahead and enjoyed the sailing it would provide.

Of course this morning after my coffee I headed onto Merritt Island to enjoy my morning constitutional. It was foggy and midweek and who would show up at 8am?, I thought to myself. I dawdled and certainly did not conceal myself, planting my 5 gallon pail right on a major walking thoroughfare from the north end to the south end of the island. I was a king, and this was my land, dammit! I leisurely finished up and turned around just to see a group of college girls (and 2 dudes or so) come walking over the landbridge from the mainland! Forty seconds later, and they would have received what I would imagine is a very unpleasant site of me with my pants bunched around my seaboots cleaning up. My timing was as close as close could be. I walked by the happy group, Doodie Bag in hand, while they cavorted over to the island where moments ago I was most vulnerable.  I'm almost regretting my great timing, I feel I robbed them of a good story to tell over the weekend to their classmates. Maybe I would have said something pithy too, just to spice up their story. (probably not)

Sailing wise, at times the wind was fickle coming through the narrows, but it picked up just fine later in the day and we made good time. We stopped for lunch for more cured meats and soft cheeses, of course. INDIGO and SCOUT had an epic tacking battle into The Basin that wowed the locals who motored over later to talk to us champion sailor types. Then we settled in for another evening of eating.  I think at this point we were beginning to feel it.

Waking up on Day 2 was a little more peaceful, less shouting and the like.

"Hey! You kids! Get off my lawn!"

GreenMountain John sculling WAXWING and showing us all how it's done.
In the background you can see Commodore Hazard preparing for his morning constitutional,
after the college group had left, of course. He either has better timing, or less sense of adventure. Not sure which is better.

Lunch time! Yeah!
This is where the immortal "Captain F***Head" (as christened by the Commodore)
motored by with a big wake bashing the Coquina's rudder onto the rocks,
forever turning "Slipper" into "Slifper" as the pintle rubbed the paint off the transom.
...And if you think about it,
SLIFPER is just so much cooler, because now there's a story.

Tied up in The Basin in triumph. This is what it looks likes, when one triumphs at life.

This is what not-so triumphant puzzlement looks like.
How do I get off the rock and into the boat
without doing what I did last year to myself?

Making the dinner, again! Tonight, it was Cap'n Jon's turn.
He added a special fiberglass ingredient to his dish after he dumped dinner into his bilges.
This does not bother sailors like us, this only makes us
more resilient! Delicious boaty taste, hmm hmm good.


East arrow is lunch time at Cundy's Harbor, west arrow pull-out in Bethel
During the night in The Basin we were hit with a particularly hard yet short rain shower which tested all of our tent designs.  Cap'n Jon and I have the convertible cabin that comes with the Sea Pearl, but mine is 29 years old and showing it's age and the leaks to prove it.  It is definitely time for a new one.

We all woke up around the same time and slowly made ready to ship off.  Cap'n Jon was adamant that we stop in Cundy's Harbor and scour the landscape for food, and we all thought this a fine idea and did not oppose him. Jon carries the Tome of Tomes: The Maine Cruising Guide. How he keeps it dry and in good shape I have no idea, because my MITA guide makes it about 4 trips before becoming a sopping mess.  This year, it made it three days since I left it on deck and we had the aforementioned rainshower.

Regardless, Cundy's Harbor is home to Holbrooks Lobster Wharf which is another fine dining establishment with a small-boat friendly dock. Sailing in New England can be boiled (steamed?) down to one goal: Lobster-Hopping and dammit, if it isn't good! It makes us New Englanders strong.

Preparing to leave The Basin

ANNIE, cute schooner from Greenport, NY

After some fine sailing we alight at Cundy's Harbor

Commodore Hazard makes it quite clear how he maintains discipline and order in the fleet!
This is not a man to be trifled with.  He is retired, and he rows, and his name is Hazard.
All fury, all the time.

Here I attempt to explain complicated seafood math to the flustered Commodore Hazard, and how: 
(Steamed Lobster + Steamers) = Steamed Combo.
I am quickly rebuffed by the Commodore and reprimanded, "That's not MATH, that's ARITHMETIC. I'm getting the Lobster Quesadilla."
(Cap'n Jon)

(Steamers + Lobster Roll) +2(Sea Pearl)+2(Boats of varying types) = AMAZING TRIP

4 Skippers + 1 Camera + Timer = Class Graduation Photo.
(Look at the Commodore's muscles! and that steely gaze framed by the wise beard)
Cap'n Jon took this photo
 After lunch it was time to put this circumnavigation to bed.  The wind was rising, the humidity was increasing, and we had heard ominous rumors of thunderstorms to the west approaching our location. We hopped in the boats against an increasing flood tide and onshore breeze.  Time to get moving! We quickly encountered the fog and picked our way around Cundy's Point.  We hove to, and regrouped to make sure no one was left behind.  Then, it was a quick scuttle back to Bethel Point with the wind and tide pushing us along.  Commodore looked over at me with a look of exasperation, "I can't believe it's over.... Let's do it again!" I looked at him hard... I had the food and the water to do another one, and who could fault us if we had? We were a tight group. We all sailed very well, had excellent on-the-water skills, could handle our boats, and we got along swimmingly.  I am proud to be acquainted with such top-notch gentlemen sailors and I have difficulty expressing the great time I had.

What wonderful sailing!
What a wonderful group of sailors!
What great boats!
What a coastline that we have in our backyards!

Cap'n Jon took this photo

If you found this interesting, GreenMountain John has posted a thread at Wooden Boat with another perspective and his pictures.