A Down East Idyll, with Hurricanes! Page 3

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
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After dinner, we went ashore to go swimming at the public beach just south of Hadlock Cove. Once again, we had the place to ourselves. There wasn’t a breath of wind, and everything was bathed in the warm late-summer glow that is so unique to New England. It seemed a shame there were so few people there to enjoy it. Although the mosquitoes became pretty ferocious as the sun went down, the water was warm and the beachcombing first-rate.

The next morning we listened to the weather forecast during breakfast, then started back to Southwest Harbor. It was incredible how few boats were still on their moorings when we got there. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to haul so many boats in such a short time. Once again it was sunny and warm, with just a thin, low haze. I felt a little guilty leaving Pattie and the rest of the crew to batten down the hatches, but she said not to worry. It looked like Earl was heading offshore. The forecast was improving by the hour.

In fact, it continued to improve all day. Even though we took the scenic route through Lincolnville, Camden and Rockport, which meant we didn’t get home until well after dark, we barely saw any rain—the perfect end to a perfect Downeast holiday.

Getting Your Bearings

When sailors go bareboat chartering, they typically rush straight to the boat, provision as quickly as possible, and then cast off lines. The idea is to get out on the water without delay and make the most out of the time available.

There’s something to be said, though, for taking things slowly and easing your way into a charter. Trying to rush the checkout process, for example, inevitably creates stress for everyone involved. Same thing goes for stocking up on supplies. I don’t know if I’ve ever been as hot, sweaty and grumpy as the time I was loading up a 35-footer one hot, breathless afternoon on Mobile Bay.

By hurrying onto the boat, you also miss the chance to get a feel for the area where you’ve chosen to go sailing. Before our Maine charter, for example, Shelly, Bridget and I all went camping for a few days on Mt. Desert Island. We visited Bar Harbor, drove up Cadillac Mountain, swam in Echo Lake and spent a morning looking for seals and dolphins off the rocks surrounding the Bar Harbor Head lighthouse.

Shelly and I have done the same thing on other occasions, in the Caribbean, down in New Zealand, in the Gulf of Mexico and on Lake Champlain. We’ve never once regretted the lost sailing time. When we’re finally ready to go, we’re not only more relaxed, we also have a much greater appreciation for the locale in which we are sailing. The result is inevitably a much richer experience afloat.

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