A Down East Idyll, with Hurricanes! Page 2

We were ghosting toward the mainland, gybing back and forth to make the most of a faint morning breeze. The sun was out and it was hot. To the north I could see swells breaking over Horseshoe Ledge and a rock formation called The Drums. I was also keeping an eye out for lobster buoys. The tide was ebbing, setting up a wicked crosscurrent in spots, and I’d already been forced to alter course
Author:
Updated:
Original:

A Trip Through Time

With the Bass Harbor Head light just visible to starboard, we sailed slowly south until the wind died then came back on the nose. By now the crew was growing restless, so we fired up the auxiliary and motored the rest of the way into Frenchboro, on Long Island, where we had lunch and went ashore to do some exploring.

Located some eight miles off Mt. Desert Island, Frenchboro sits on the edge of the open Atlantic and boasts a year-round population of only 70. By the time we got there, just a few days before Labor Day, things had already pretty much shut down. The summer people were mostly gone, and there were only two other pleasure boats in all of Lunt Harbor.

Frenchboro is worlds apart from those parts of Maine that are better known to tourists. It’s the kind of place where you feel you’re stepping back in time, the kind of place only sailors typically get to see, because they’re the only ones with the means and inclination to go there. In the off-season it’s pure magic.

In Frenchboro everybody knows everybody else, and you’re never out of hearing range of the bell buoys offshore. The local kids play in the middle of the road without having to worry about traffic, which is largely golf carts anyway. Big Beach, on the island’s southwestern shore, is comprised not of sand, but of bowling-ball sized granite boulders, and is strewn with buoys, lobster pots, timbers and other marine debris—a testament to the raw power of the Atlantic. The proprietor of the Frenchboro Historical Society told us that during storms the rocks rolling around Big Beach sound like thunder and can be heard the length and breadth of the island.

It was in Frenchboro that we first heard talk of Hurricane Earl. According to the weather forecast, the storm, then making its way up the East Coast, was likely to hit Cape Cod and might reach Maine. Sitting in the Lunt & Lunt Dockside Deli, we watched the Weather Channel for a while with a local lobsterman, who said he was going out to shift his pots later that afternoon. We’d come in to get some ice cream cones after a hot, sticky hike across the island. Hurricanes? Heat waves? It was beginning to feel more like the Caribbean than New England.

Inshore Slalom

The next morning we took advantage of the ebb tide to sail off our mooring on a fluky westerly and steered a course for the mainland. For two hours we gybed back and forth, picking our way through fields of lobster buoys and taking bearings off nearby Crow, Green and Sister islands. We had yet to see a shred of fog, which was fine by me. I shudder to think what it would be like making your way along this coast in poor or no visibility.

Once past Horseshoe Ledge and The Drums, the wind died again, so we motored back in through the Western Way, past a charter schooner, heading out toward open water. Close inshore there was a nice sea breeze, so we turned off the engine and started sailing again. Rounding the red bell buoy off Spurling Point on the northwest corner of Great Cranberry Island, I confess I grew just a little frustrated with the density of the lobster buoys. I understand these guys need to make a living, but come on!

Hardening up to beat into Cranberry Harbor I noticed a Rhodes 19 maybe a quarter of a mile away under full sail going nowhere. Sure enough, looking through the binoculars, I could see her crew reach over the side for what could only have been a buoy line. When I looked over a few minutes later, the boat was on its way again, no harm done.

By the time we had grabbed a mooring and were ashore at Islesford on Little Cranberry Island, preparations for Earl were in full swing. Lobstermen were packing up their traps, and a crew was hauling out the local fleet of Bullseye one-design keelboats. It was mid-week, and the Islesford Dock Restaurant had already shut down for the season, so the island was almost completely devoid of visitors.

Once again, we made a beeline for the nearest ice cream source—the general store-cum-post office a couple of blocks inland. Once again, the sun shone bright in a clear blue sky, while waves broke on the shallows of the “gut” at the head of the harbor. According to the two elderly gentlemen at the general store, it is not unusual for Little Cranberry to host more than a thousand tourists on a busy weekend, but we pretty much had the place to ourselves. It was like taking another step back through time—a combination of off-season quiet and picture-perfect weather.

Back aboard Trillium for dinner, I realized we were the only charter boat left in the harbor. The mooring field was now well over half empty. Earlier in the day I’d called Patricia Tierney at Hinckley Yacht Charters to see if she wanted us to come in early, but she said not to worry. The forecast was looking a little better, and she was sure Trillium would be fine. Apparently the Hinckley crew had been busy hauling boats ever since we left, so there would be plenty of space to tie up Trillium where she’d be nice and safe.

Related

AC210117cb_23806

VIDEO: Capsize in the Prada Cup

American Magic's Patriot capsized during day three of the Prada Cup. If you haven't yet watched the catastrophe unfold with your own eyes, check out the above video or any number of others that are circulating on social media. It's truly a tip that has to be seen to be believed. ...read more

210115-AC36

Prada Cup: Brits Take First Two Races

Who saw that coming? After getting skunked in December, INEOS Team UK has swept the first two races in the Prada Cup elimination series of the 36th America’s Cup  Racing took place on racecourse “C,” sheltered between Auckland’s North Head and Bastion Point to take advantage of ...read more

ac-2048x

Hutchinson: 36th America’s Cup will be a Close On

On the eve of the Prada Cup challenger series, the official start of the 36th America’s Cup, New York Yacht Club American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson says it’s anyone’s game. "As we've seen in the last week, everyone's gotten faster," said Hutchinson said at the event’s ...read more

Episode1_Thumbnail4_00000_00000_00000_00000

Sailing Docuseries Released Online

Endless Media's Reaching Reality is the story of three friends, a 24-foot sailboat and 1,200 miles. With candor and humor, this series proves that you don't need to be an expert or a millionaire to cast off on the journey of a lifetime. Produced by Emmy-award winner Barry ...read more

01-LEAD-nder-sail-3

Prepping for a Transatlantic

Growing up on the coast of northern England, I dreamed about crossing oceans on my own boat. Like most of us, though, education, a family and a career took precedence, and before I knew it, we had mortgages, young children and endless work obligations. We also became landlocked, ...read more

210111-Vendee

Vendée Update: Josche Forced to Abandon

A week ago, the canting keel on Isabelle Jocshe's IMOCA 60, MACSF, failed. She managed a jury rig with a replacement ram, which held the keel centerline and allowed her to keep sailing, but with a major hit to her speed potential. Jocshe had been in 8th at the time and remained ...read more

rudder

Vendee Update: Emergency Rudder Replacement

A devastated Hare talks about the breakage Pip Hare (Medallia) is back in the game after an emergency rudder repair deep in the Southern Ocean. “Every part of my body aches. I have bloody knuckles on every finger, bruises all down my legs and muscles I didn't know I had that ...read more

Oracle-RBYACFEVD3_2870

PRADA Cup Pairings Announced

The schedule for the PRADA Cup has been revealed as a multitiered extravaganza featuring over a month of racing, stretching from January 15 through February 22. First, the three teams—American Magic, INEOS Team UK and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli—will face off in a 12-race, six-day ...read more