It's the End of the World - Sail Magazine

It's the End of the World

The sun shone a milky white. Its weak rays were barely able to drive off the damp chill of the early afternoon as we made our way eastward in the Deer Isle Thorofare, a passage snaking between Deer Isle and the beautiful smaller islands of Merchant Row in Down East Maine. I carefully checked the chart against the red and green buoys marking the channel, mindful that straying off course could mean
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
maine.int1

The sun shone a milky white. Its weak rays were barely able to drive off the damp chill of the early afternoon as we made our way eastward in the Deer Isle Thorofare, a passage snaking between Deer Isle and the beautiful smaller islands of Merchant Row in Down East Maine. I carefully checked the chart against the red and green buoys marking the channel, mindful that straying off course could mean trouble.

My wife, Liz, and I were bound for Mount Desert Island aboard our first boat, a 1976 Bristol 24 named Elizabeth. Getting there, all the way from our homeport in Bay Head, New Jersey, represented a major milestone, a true achievement for a pair of newbie cruisers who had dared to tackle the dragons of Maine in a 24-foot boat with no speedo, no depth sounder and no GPS. All we had was Loran C, which sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t, and a homemade lead line—a knotted length of twine with a sinker on one end, wound around a paint stirrer.

Long-distance coastal cruising had always attracted us—the mystique and romance of taking a small boat far from home—and now here we were almost to the End of the World, as the waters on the far side of Mount Desert Island are sometimes called. They get that name because, being a fair distance from touristy Bar Harbor and broad Frenchman Bay, they represent “real” Down East sailing, as it were, with eye-bulging Bay of Fundy tides, fog as thick as New England clam chowder and few services for cruisers.

I glanced up from the chart. We were just south of Sheep Island, abeam of buoy #10, when It came.

“Oh, man,” I said. “Look at that!”

Liz looked off the bow at a wall of shimmering white and gray fog sweeping toward us.

“Visibility will be zero in about 10 minutes,” I said, fighting back a wave of anxiety. Dealing with fog offshore was bad enough, but in a rock-infested passage? I quickly scanned the chart for a place to duck into, noting the shores of nearby Stinson Neck were bold, with only a few nasty ledges, but that wide Billings Cove appeared to be just the ticket for a fog-duck.

I plotted a new course, using Boat Rock as a jump-off point. But the fog closed in before we arrived at the mark. For a while it was a little hairy, especially when we nearly hit Whaleback ledge, but eventually we found our way into the cove and dropped the hook. Afterward I opened a beer, filled with a sense of accomplishment at having kept Elizabeth off the rocks.

That’s what Maine cruising is all about, an adventure in waters devoid of crowds and replete with enough coves and islands to keep you exploring for a lifetime. We’d been in Maine for several weeks, slowly working our way east. Already it was exerting a sort of magical pull on us.

Related

Stearns Photo

Racing the Solo Mac for a Cause

There are plenty of reasons to do a Chicago-Mac race, and Rich Stearns, who has done literally dozen of ‘em should know. This year, though, he’s doing the Solo-Mac for an especially important reason: to help those with prostate cancer.“Two years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comRafting dangerOne unseen danger when sailing yachts lie alongside one another for a convivial night is that if they happen roll to a wash or begin to move in an unexpected sea, the spreaders can clash ...read more

180615-01 Lead

A Dramatic Comeback in the Volvo

After winning three of the last four legs in the Volvo Ocean Race (and coming in second in the fourth), Dutch-flagged Brunel is now tied for first overall with Spanish-flagged Mapfre and Chinese-flagged Dongfeng following the completion of Leg 10 from Cardiff, Wales, to ...read more

MFS-5-2018-Propan-SP02

Tohatsu LPG-powered 5hp Propane Motor

Gassing it UpTired of ethanol-induced fuel issues? Say goodbye to gasoline. Japanese outboard maker Tohatsu has introduced an LPG-powered 5hp kicker that hooks up to a propane tank for hours of stress-free running. Available in short-, long- or ultra-long-shaft versions, the ...read more

180612-01 Landing lead

Painful Sailing in Volvo Leg 10

It’s looking to be a case of feast or famine for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean fleet as it continues the epic struggle that has been Leg 10, with it having been all famine thus far. Painful is the only word to describe the light-air start in Cardiff, Wales, on June 10, as the 11-boat ...read more

01-13_07_180304_JRE_03695_4605

Tips From the Boatyard

Within the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard sits a communal sail loft which provides service and repairs for all seven teams sailing in the 2017-18 edition of the race. The sail loft employs only five sailmakers who look after 56 sails in each stopover. If you’re thinking, “wow, these ...read more

sailCarwBasicsJuly18

Sail Care for Cruisers

Taking care of your canvas doesn’t just save you money, it’s central to good seamanship  Knowing how to take care of your sails and how to repair them while at sea is an important part of overall seamanship. The last thing any sailor needs is to get caught on a lee shore with ...read more

Ship-container-2048

The Danger of a Collision Offshore

This almost happened to me once. I was sailing singlehanded between Bermuda and St. Martin one fall, and one night happened to be on deck looking around at just the right time. The moon was out, the sky was clear and visibility was good. Still, when I thought I saw a large ...read more