Saturday, September 23, 2017

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday there were whitecaps in the harbor even though the wind was coming from the NNE and the breakwater offers protection from that direction, but today is beautiful. We've been hunkered down here in Rockland since last Friday waiting to see what Irma, José, Maria were going to do. We haven't been idle though; we've been checking chores off that list that every cruiser has. If you're a cruiser you'll know what I'm talking about.

Ours had things like change generator oil, empty and clean aft fuel tank, change fuel filters, figure out why toilet isn't bringing in water, replace masthead light bulb, install radar reflector, and fix broken flag halyard.

A new blogger told me that even these mundane things might be interesting to my readers, so I'm going to tell you a little about the fuel tank and the toilet. Thrilling, I know.

After removing the toilet intake pump and determining that it was clean, we checked the thru-hull next.
(not my picture, but similar to our thru-hull)
Sure enough, the thru-hull was clogged, because when we removed the hose and opened the thru-hull, water DID NOT gush into the boat. Something or someone had taken up residence in the grate.
Our boat has these grates outside on most of the intake thru-hulls and critters like to live in them. So now we had to take the elbow off the thru-hull and wiggle a piece of coat hanger around in there to dislodge the squatter. Keep in mind the thru-hull has to be open to do this.

About a minute of poking and pushing is all it took and suddenly water was gushing in like it was supposed to. We closed the valve, fit the elbow and the hose back on and tested the toilet. Perfect.

Oh, and don't worry about all that seawater in the bilge. The bilge pump is one of the things that's working fine.

Our aft fuel tank has a history of contamination problems. We cleaned it two years ago when we were in Grenada, but then we kept putting dirty fuel in it and the pick-up is in the lowest corner where all the gunk collects, so we use a lot of filters and the generator balks when we draw off that tank.

First we pumped 17 gallons of diesel out into jerry jugs using our dinghy bailer pump and a Baja filter. (Of course this project is taking place in one of the more difficult places to reach: through a 5"x10" access plate, under the generator and kitchen sink.) Then we used those bilge pad things to sop out the last of it. Finally we scooped and wiped all of the brown gunk out, put the lid back on and put the fuel back in the tank. And the generator runs happily now.

See folks, it's not all sandy beaches, palm trees, and rum drinks out here. There are hurricanes to watch out for, repairs to be made, and hitch hikers to evict.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Farnsworth Museum

One of Rockland's big tourist attractions is the Farnsworth Museum with its extensive collection of Wyeth art.
Many people probably recognize N.C. Wyeth's art from his illustrations in Robert Louis Stevenson's books. He was one of America's finest illustrators and had a wonderful grasp of how to convey the gist of a story in an illustration.

His son, Andrew Wyeth, focused more on sketches, watercolors, and tempera paintings. His subject matter was the world around him, but he painted in a moody, monochromatic almost austere style.

The Farnsworth had his old chest displayed next to his painting "Her Room" that you see above.

Andrew was particularly adept at painting white objects and these white pumpkins are a perfect example. Detail from "Albinos".
The grandson, Jamie Wyeth, also paints the natural world around him with a heavy emphasis on animals, but with a more colorful palette than his father. I really liked this cat detail from his "Maine Coon Cats".

If you ever get to Maine, a visit to this museum is highly recommended. You can also visit the Olson House, the subject of his most famous painting, in Cushing, Maine.

The Apprenticeshop

There is a wooden boat building school here in Rockland called the Apprenticeshop and we visited there yesterday. It's a very friendly place with "Visitors Welcome" signs everywhere.

The students all start with this Susan Skiff as their first project. It has red oak frames, pine strakes, and a cedar bottom. We saw at least three of them in various stages of construction.

After the relatively simple techniques learned on the flat bottomed skiff, they progress to fully planked boat with round bottoms. These boats really are works of art; all the wonderful curves that come together just right are a treat for the eyes.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Beth's Farm Market

On our way home from Sugarloaf Sunday, we stopped at Beth's Farm Market for an extra dose of Fall and it didn't disappoint.

Mums were massed around the building, the scent of apples filled the air, and pumpkins, gourds, and ornamental corn abounded.
Everything was just so beautiful and fresh that I wanted to buy one of each, but we limited ourselves to one huge bag full of apples, carrots, tomatoes, beets, broccoli, onions, bell peppers, and green beans.
ps: If you're interested in online jigsaw puzzles, this one of mine was selected as a featured puzzle yesterday. Check it out at
My username is fortunesafloat

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Fall Color in Carrabasset Valley

Thanks to a wonderfully generous couple we met back in St. Augustine, we had a weekend away from the boat in the hills of Maine enjoying the fall colors.

We drove past Flagstaff Lake where they had hiked and camped many times, and marveled at the brilliant red trees reflected in this little pond.

Next we drove up into the Carrabasset Valley where the colors were even more pronounced. Although this area is only around 4000' in elevation, it reminded us of the Sierra Mountains back in California.

On Sunday morning we rode the chairlift to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain where we were able to see the sleeping Indian across the valley. Can you see him? His feet are over to the left,  his hands are resting on his chest, and his headdress is trailing down to the right.

Our friends lived at Sugarloaf for many years and spent lots of time on the mountain skiing. Riding the lift back down, they said this was the first time they had ever ridden it DOWN the mountain. It was a beautiful quiet ride on the lift with views like this along the way. You can see our shadow on the trees.

On the way back we stopped by Mooselookmeguntic Lake and had this view out across the lakes in the watershed that feed the Kennebec River.

Thank you so much Jean and Bill for a beautiful weekend at your beloved Sugarloaf. We love you.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Stonington, Maine

A huge part of Stonington's history involves granite, and we were looking forward to visiting the granite museum, but it was closed for the season. So we walked around town, window shopping and talking to folks, and learned that there is an old quarry east of town that's now a park.
It's called Settlement Quarry and is near Webb Cove. There's no direct water access, but we parked our skiff (we call it a skiff now here in Maine) at the lobster packing shed nearby and one of the watermen told us how to get there.
We spent about two hours hiking around on paths like this....
and seeing things like this....
until we got to the top of the park where the quarry used to be. You can see a bit of the Deer Isle Pink Granite there. Although it wasn't from this quarry, this is the granite Jacqueline Kennedy chose for JFK's monument at Arlington.
From the top you can see across Webb Cove and Deer Isle Thorofare, and south all the way to Isle au Haut.
Here and there old pieces of mining equipment sit rusting amid the chunks of granite and in Webb Cove there's an old crane sinking into the mud.

Crossing the thorofare we saw this schooner heading west. Notice how their skiff provides the power? Lots of these old schooners have no engines, so they secure their skiffs at the stern, power them up, and motor around that way.
Back at our boat, we enjoyed this late season sunset and contemplated the arrival of a bad boy named José. It seems he might be coming this way.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

It's coming...

There's a certain feeling in the air now in Maine. It's that dry, breezy, leaves-crunching-underfoot kind of feeling that tells us that fall is coming.
Although the afternoons are still shorts and t-shirts weather, the mornings are chilly and we wish we had a heater. We are starting to see bits of orange here and there. Some of it, like these flowers and mushrooms is quite striking. The mushrooms were so bright, I thought they were crysanthemums at first!

We are beginning to see a few orange trees in the woods and fallen apples carpet the grass beneath their trees. Even the setting sun adds it's fiery glow to the boats in the harbor.

I picked up this leaf and carried it home yesterday. I tucked it into Thistle's logbook as a memory of our incredibly beautiful time sailing here in Maine. 

Castine, Maine

I know this seems hard to believe, but we walked into another storybook town here in Castine, Maine. The old homes are beautifully maintained and surrounded by huge elm trees and sloping lawns. Castine is also home to the Maine Maritime Academy and we saw cadets everywhere; even practicing docking their launches at the town landing. 

We walked about a mile out to Dice Head Light, which we had sailed by on our way in. There is a trail down to the rocky shore below the lighthouse where we were able to look out across the Bagaduce River towards our anchorage near Holbrook Island.

On our way back into town we stopped and read every one of the many historical signs. Castine was the site of many important events between the French, English, and Colonials in the 1600s and 1700s.
Castine has its share of gorgeous shingled summer "cottages" like this one, which also has a windmill!
After delicious Rueben sandwiches at Markel's Bakehouse, we walked out to an organic grocery store where we purchased some local tomatoes and lettuce. The sunflowers along the roadside took our minds off the long walk back.