Boothbay Harbor to Mount Desert Island, Maine 2008

Boothbay Harbor, ME to Mt. Desert Island, Me 2008:

We are up early for our departure from Boothbay Harbor.

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In Maine, the sun comes up very early. After a quick trip to shore for the dogs, we are underway at 5:30 AM. The winds are forecast to increase later in the day so we want to get an early start. There is no fog today so that is a good thing. The only people stirring at this hour are a few lobstermen. We don’t exactly know where we are going today. This is very unusual for us. Our final destination is Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island. It is possible to make this run in one day but it would be a long day. The weather is good now but the forecast is for the winds to pick up this afternoon. We have plotted several different courses on our computer. If the weather holds, we will take the outside ocean route directly to Mount Desert. There are several places where we can deviate and duck inside islands to make a two day run to Mount Desert. The weather will make the decision for us. Northeast Harbor does not take advance reservations for their moorings. We will call as we get near to see if space is available. It is a little worrisome not knowing in advance if there will be space when we arrive.

As we enter Fisherman’s Passage our boat seams to be rocking back and forth more than normal.

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We check the stabilizers and they show an active status. They show no movement up and down but it is calm out so we are not sure at first if they are working or not. As we continue to monitor them, we realize that they are not working properly. We first recycle them on and off several times. We hear them come on each time and they show an active status but still no movement. Jeff checks each stabilizer unit and all seems well. We are puzzled! Jeff next spends a few minutes checking everything in the engine room. He soon discovers that an oil drip pad is blocking one of the infrared beam sensors of the stabilizer. He repositions the drip pad and everything is back to normal. What a relief!

We first pass Muscongus Bay and then Penobscot Bay. The weather and seas seem to be cooperating so we continue on our outside route. Everything seems to be going well when we suddenly hear a thump on the hull. Jeff quickly puts the boat in idle and we go outside to inspect. From the stern we see a cut blue and purple rope trailing out from under the boat. Where did these ropes come from? We saw no signs of any lobster traps. These lines must have been floating just under the water surface. They must have caught on the stabilizer fin. Jeff reverses the boat to free the line. This seems to work and we continue on only to hear a second thump a few seconds later. We again look outside but see nothing. We cautiously continue and everything seems to be normal. We have no further signs of any problems.

The winds pick up some in the afternoon and the seas increase to four feet. We soon see Isle au Haut in the distance. The rocky granite boulders strewn along the shoreline of this island look very inhospitable.

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This Island was discovered by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain. He named this island “High Island”. Isle au Haut is an island we would have liked to visit but the anchorage is suitable only in very calm weather. The population here stands at about 50 people. 18 miles of trails belonging to Acadia National Park are found on this island. We will save this for another time. We must now make a final decision to either continue on to Mount Desert or take the Merchants Row Channel to an alternate anchorage. The seas are manageable so we push on. There are absolutely no boats anywhere to be seen. As we round Isle of Haute, we can see the fog engulfing the island. We enter Jericho Bay which is riddled with rocks and ledges, many of which are unmarked. It is now a race against the fog. The fog continues to chase us for the next 30 minutes. Soon the lobster pots reappear. We quickly notice that these lobster pots are different from any we have seen in the past. In addition to the lobster float there is a second line attached to a smaller float which trails about 20 feet from the main lobster pot. It we cut between these two floats we would catch that line. Now we have double the trouble in an already crowded waterway. Just as we reach the narrow channel off Long Island, the fog closes in. Visibility goes to almost zero. We keep our eyes glued to the radar, carefully avoiding the rocky shoals. Once through this passage, visibility improves to about 300 feet and we spot a sailboat up ahead on our left. We try hailing him on the radio to let him know we are behind him. He doesn’t answer and now he is moving over into our path. We slow down and continue trying to hail him on the radio as we are approaching the narrow channel entrance for Mount Desert. Just as we reach the channel entrance, he answers and we advise that we will pass on his starboard side. Whew! It is stressful enough navigating in the fog without having to worry about what some crazy boater is doing.

As we near Northeast Harbor, the fog lifts and the mountains majestically rise from the ocean floor. There is a sailboat regatta going on in the outer harbor. It is a glorious sight as we watch these boats glide across the water in front of the mountains. Mount Desert Island is what most boaters dream about when they think of Maine cruising.

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Many boaters make this their primary destination year after year. We can see why! The harbor entrance is very wide and easy to navigate. Finally after 11 hours and 86 miles we are safely moored in the harbor. Unfortunately our day is not over yet! As Jeff is taking the dogs ashore, he notices several ropes trailing from under the side of our boat just above our starboard stabilizer.

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HUH! These are the same ropes we saw earlier today. We just thought they were gone. After taking the dogs ashore, Jeff dons his wet suite and dives overboard to cut the ropes from our stabilizers.

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He also discovers some line tangled around our prop. These ropes must have gotten caught in our prop and severed by our line cutters. Jeff frees this tangle of old ropes from the boat. As he is doing this he notices that the block on our line cutter has also been broken off. He then inspects the rest of our hull only to find that one of our two bow thruster’s props is missing. It was there a month ago when he dove the boat in Rockport. It seems we have been operating with only one bow thruster for some time. What to do? Do we repair the line cutter now or take our chances with the lobster pots? A new prop will have to be ordered for the bow thruster. Both of these items will require the boat being hauled out of the water to repair. Do we do this now or wait until we return south? We have lots to think about.

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Total Miles Traveled Boothbay to Northeast Harbor, ME: 86
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 1314

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