Saturday, September 30, 2017

Penobscot Bay

Thistle has spent almost three months cruising in and around Penobscot Bay and it has been delightful. I feel like we've gotten to know Penobscot Bay pretty well, and we are sad to leave, but the fall color is a little late this year, and the good weather won't last forever, so we are heading south today.

Some of the things I'll never forget about Maine and Penobscot Bay are the wonderful old schooners and wooden boats,

the lighthouses,

the picturesque harbors with huge granite foundations, shingled buildings, and lobster gear piled around,
and the beauty of the rugged coastline.

I especially enjoyed the gardens full of beautiful, healthy flowers,

and the colors of autumn which I hadn't seen in quite a while.

 Here's a map showing our various jaunts around the area. The blue lines are the Captain's trip with Bill. The green lines are his trips with Don, and the yellow and orange lines are the trips we've made since I came back from California.

I might even grow to remember the lobster buoys fondly when enough time passes. Nah, not really, I'm sure I'll never miss them!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Rambling Around on Muscle Ridge Channel

With the weather finally settled, we decided to do some exploring down along the Muscle Ridge Channel. We left Rockland early Sunday morning and rounded Owls Head Light with the rocky point glowing in the morning sun.
Another boat in the harbor had suggested Dix Island as a nice place to hike around. We navigated the narrow channel into the anchorage at high tide, and dropped the anchor in about 18' of water. (The wide blue line shows our route.) After lunch we went ashore and got this view of our boat in the snug anchorage.
On the northeast corner of the island we saw another boat anchored in a fine place that was much closer to Rockland and probably much easier to get into. (The fine blue line on the chart shows that route.) This is what happens when you don't have the "good" Maine cruising guide and you have no local knowledge. Oh well.

On High Island we found remnants of an old quarry including the pit, some rusty old equipment, odd bits of granite, and even an abandoned home.

We also saw lots of fungi in the woods.

We went back to Rockland late Monday morning at high tide and had another nice evening watching boats enjoying some fine fall sailing. Maine is magical right now!

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.

Added later: We also cleaned the windings and brushes on the bow thruster and it's working at full speed now.

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
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