Thursday, August 24 - Mount Desert Island, Maine
We arrived at Northeast Harbor at Mount Desert Island after 27 hours of motoring across a smooth Gulf of Maine. During our respective watches, Annie and I both watched Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911, then listened to Jimmy Carter reading his book Endangered American Values on the iPod. Due to safety concerns, we won't be reading any Rush Limbaugh or Anne Coulter. The last thing we need in the dark hours of the night is to have crew members throwing themselves overboard.

After seeing a few lobster pots in nearly 200 feet of water earlier in the day, I had worried a bit about snagging one during the night. The boat plows along into the darkness, steering itself for hours on end, and while you scan for other boats and watch the radar there really isn't much point in trying to see something as small as a lobster float. Fortunately, lobster pots were not an issue until we reached the area of Mantincus Rock shortly after sunrise, but they increased in frequency the closer we got to the mainland until steering around them became a constant challenge. You really don't want to have to dive into this cold water if you can help it. On the other hand, with the ten foot tides they have here, maybe you won't have to.

Moorings here at Northeast Harbor are $25/night, which is reasonable, and the harbor is pretty. Looking around, I feel like I'm in Colorado. Best of all, there is a free bus that will take us all around Acadia National Park. I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't stay here for a while.

Northeast Habor, Mount Desert Island
Photo: Northeast Harbor as seen from the Asticou Terraces.

Friday, August 25 - Mount Desert Island, Maine
We're back on the boat after a long day of learning how to get around in Acadia National Park. We caught one of the free Island Explorer buses into the town of Bar Harbor and had lunch there, but found out that the visitor center for the park was elsewhere, so we caught another bus. The visitor center had a nice film and friendly staff, but there wasn't much to do there, so we waited for another bus, missed it because we weren't quick enough, and then waited another half hour. Finally we caught a fourth bus to Jordan Lake, which was very pretty. We've seen plenty of rocky shorelines in the Caribbean, but the forest here is unlike anything we've seen in a long time. Pines, hemlocks, and other conifers are the dominant trees. Maybe it's our imagination, but even though it's August we can feel a bit of chill in the air.

Back at the boat, I dropped the girls off and went to the opposite shore to visit the Asticou Terraces and Azalea Garden, beautifully maintained gardens and trails open for the enjoyment of all. The Azalea Gardens have oriental influences, including a sand garden with carefully stones and raked sand. The Terrace, as the name implies, is a series of trails climbing the side of Elliot Mountain up to the Thuya Lodge and Garden. Since I was already halfway up the 400 foot tall mountain, I opened and stepped through a large wooden gate (the meticulous English gardens, the wishing well, the thousands of flowers all in bloom makes this gate feels like something from Alice in Wonderland) and hiked up to the summit. The terrain was as pretty as anything you'll see this side of the Mississippi. The only disappointment today is that we weren't able to follow the rest of the tourist crowd to the top of Cadillac Mountain, which at 1,500 feet is the tallest hill on the eastern coast. The propane-powered free buses can't make the climb, so we may have to make the attempt on foot.

Jordan Lake, Acadia National Park Asticou Azalea Garden Asticou Terrace Gazebo
Photos: (1) Jordan Lake looking north toward the two hills known as the "Bubbles" in the distance at right. (2) The serene pond at Asticou Azalea Garden. (3) One of several gazebos at Asticou Terraces overlooks the harbor.

Saturday, August 26 - Mount Desert Island, Maine
Another day of perfect weather and beautiful scenery in Acadia National Park. We took the free bus into Bar Harbor for lunch at the Rexall Pharmacy, where the tab for four sandwiches and desert for the three of us was around $11.00. Then we hopped another bus for a ride to the Nature Center and gardens, then rode over to Sand Beach. The beach was a nice stretch of sand between typical rugged Maine coastline, but only a few teenagers were getting wet--the water temperature was in the fifties! From the parking lot, we could gaze upwards at the Beehive, a rounded mass of granite around 600 feet high. Of course we had to make an attempt on the summit.

Laura and Annie got about halfway up, which was quite an achievement. Looking at the almost vertical sides of the mountain, it was difficult to believe there was any kind of trail going up that looked more like a rock climbing route. But there were ledges around the cliffs and iron rungs in the rock at the steepest spots. I made the summit in the company of a very nice fellow named Tom from New Hampshire, and ended up hiking with him down the backside of the mountain past a beautiful little lake called the Bowl back to the parking lot. Annie and Laura had gone ahead to Thunderhole, a slotted canyon on the shore which was only whispering today rather than thundering, given the low tide and calm seas. I hiked on to the rocks of Otter Point, still looking for Annie and Laura, but via cell phone discovered that I had passed them while they sunned on the rocks near Thunderhole.

Acadia National Park is everything I had hoped it would be. Even better, it is an ideal place to visit by boat, thanks to the free buses that will take you anywhere in the park.

Jordan Lake, Acadia National Park Asticou Azalea Garden
Photos: (1) Cheap eats at the old fashioned lunch counter at the Rexall Pharmacy in Bar Harbor. (2) My hiker friend Tom on one of the ledges on the Beehive in Acadia.

Sunday, August 27 - Mount Desert Island, Maine
We're very proud of Laura today. After turning seven years old just last month, she hiked up and over a 1,500 foot mountain today. We went up Cadillac Mountain via the West Face Trail, which was one of the most consistently steep trails I've ever walked, then down the North Ridge trail, and she did every foot of it on her own two feet. As usual, the free buses at Acadia made this trip hassle-free.

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park
Photo: Annie has surmounted most of the steepness of the West Face trail on Cadillac Mountain.

Tuesday, August 29 - Mount Desert Island, Maine
Toughened against the Maine weather, we did laundry yesterday despite a misty rain and fog. I reinstalled the hoses for the engine-driven cabin heater and changed the engine oil and filter (788 hours, but the hour meter did not register some twenty hours of our last passage, although it's working now that I checked the connections). Today we rode the bus past Somes Sound to Southwest Harbor, but decided to stay on the bus and continue to Bass Harbor, where we had a quick sandwich and caught the same bus on its way back to Bar Harbor. There we visited the small but excellent Whale Museum (free admission, $1/person donation suggested). It seems that all the whale watching boats tend to go out 25 miles or so to Mount Desert Rock, so perhaps we'll have to take our boat out there if we want to see whales. First, we'll have to do some repair work on the genoa, which has blown out two seams.

Whale Museum
Photo: Inside the free Whale Museum.

Like everyone else on the coast we're tracking the progress of Ernesto, which is currently forecast to go inland toward the Great Lakes and be fairly insignificant here in Maine. Of course, that's one reason why people like us come to Maine in the first place. Just in case, I feel fortunate to have a copy of the Taft guide, A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast, which Janet lent to us (along with lots of other materials) when we were in Bristol. The Tafts have each harbor ranked for protection from one to five, with five being a hurricane hole. Northeast Harbor, where we are now, is ranked a four.

Wednesday, August 30 - Mount Desert Island, Maine
Another full day of activities included mending the genoa and cleaning out below the bunk in Laura's room (where two inches of water--condensation?--had ruined all the canned food stored there). While up in town shopping for nylon cord to retie the customized noodles to the Marlin, we checked Island Rentals for prices on bikes and ended up renting some for the afternoon ($15 each, plus $7 for a "tag-along" trailer bike that attached to mine for Laura). We rode the highway for less than mile to one of the gateways to the 45 miles of "carriage roads" build by John D. Rockefeller through the park. These paths, restricted to travel by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage, are a great way to see forests and views that most people would never experience otherwise. We covered about a dozen miles, although some members of the expedition caught a bus at Jordan Pond. Modesty forbids me from naming the sole family member who completed the route under his own power (oops, I might have given a clue there).

Aunt Betty Pond Laura and Annie Carriage Trail along Jordan Pond.
Photos (1) Aunt Betty Lake on the carriage trails. (2) Laura and Annie on the trail. (3) Overlooking Jordan Pond.

Friday, September 1 - Little Harbor, Mount Desert Island, Maine
Yesterday started out with somebody else's problem. Going up on deck in the morning, I heard the rattle of a sail snapping back and forth. A unattended classic sloop about a hundred yards away had unfurled its genoa in the gusty fifteen knot wind and was beating it to death. Before getting in the dinghy myself I called the harbormaster on the radio. He confirmed someone was already on the way, but while I was already talking with him, I asked when we might get a pumpout. Right now was the best time, he said, before the ferry got in.

So we rushed off our mooring to the ferry dock with breakfast still cooking below. It was a tight starboard approach, always the hardest, with the wind threatening to blow us back away from the dock, but we thought we were ready with our midship heaving line. Outfoxing the wind, I came in fairly fast, turning only at the last second, and we came right up against the dock. Perfect! Except, of course, that both Annie and I had completely forgotten to put out any fenders. It only took a second, and the starboard side of Seaductress was sporting a gouge in the gelcoat and a red racing stripe from the dock.

We probably should have quit for the day right there, but on I went to Clifton Docks at the entrance of the harbor to get some fuel. Here I ended up using the midship line since I ended up five feet out from the dock. The midship line can be a real face-saver in this situation. You simply throw it to the person on the dock, tell them to tie it off, then power forward with a little opposite rudder and the boat is pulled right over to the dock. Counting jerry jugs, we took on 30 gallons of fuel (791 uncorrected hours) to replace what we'd used getting to Maine from Rhode Island. So far I'd blown a docking or two, gouged the side of the boat, and spent a hundred dollars or so on fossil fuels, but at least we were fueled, water, and pumped out, ready to go just about anywhere...right? Incorrecto. As we motored away from the dock, both Annie and I heard what we figured to be the dreaded cutless bearing rattle! Out of the blue, present at every RPM, our drive shaft problems had suddenly returned. But why now, after sitting peacefully in the harbor for a week? The only thing I could imagine was that the bearing (which is basically just ribs of hard rubber) had hardened up and shrunk in size due to the cold Maine water. We'd just replaced the cutless bearing--along with the driveshaft, the coupling, and later an engine mount--three months previously.

In somewhat troubled spirits, we proceeded through the aptly-named Narrows, dodging hundreds of lobster pots, into Somes Sound. The Sound is called the eastern Atlantic's only fjord, a glacial river valley taken back by the sea. Especially at the entrance, towering mountains rear on either side, although you can hardly take your eyes off the lobster pots long enough to appreciate them. At the northwest end of the sound we entered the well-protected Somes Harbor through another narrow pass. As usual, moorings filled all the best anchoring spots, but there was some room in deeper water behind the mooring field, we settled in with what became a small fleet of a half dozen anchored boats. It was a peaceful night in a most peaceful place.

Somes Sound
Photo: A sailboat dodges lobster pots to tack up Somes Sound.

In the morning we moved back down the fjord to Valley Cove, resisting the urge to tie to a Coast Guard mooring and anchoring just off the south beach (technically a lee shore, but the forecast winds are light) in about 35 feet of water. A hiking trail goes right along the beach here, and I dinghied ashore to make an attempt on the summit of Flying Mountain (285 feet high). From the top, I could see all the way up the Sound and then, from another vantage point, all the way to Southwest Harbor and the Cranberry Islands. This trail has been called a great reward for a small effort, and I must agree. Back on board, I put on lots of neophrene and dove under the boat to inspect the prop and shaft. I removed some barnacles, but not enough to explain the vibration. Of the two zincs we had installed on the shaft in Ft. Pierce, the innermost one was almost entirely gone, so I replaced it and then headed straight to a hot shower. This Maine water is cold!

We'll spend the night here tonight even though the New England Coast Guard is warning about a big gale for their area. When we tune to our own forecast, there isn't anything like that scheduled until later in the weekend, so we should be okay for now.

Valley Cove
Photo: Anchored in Valley Cove on Somes Sound. You must be close to the beach to get shallow enough to anchor--most of the cove is 70 to 90 feet deep.

Sunday, September 3 - Northeast Harbor, Mount Desert Island, Maine
We're back in Northeast Harbor after three days in Some Sound. The protection in Valley Cove was fine for the relatively light winds we experienced. It's still sunny today but the rain from the remains of Ernesto are supposed to arrive tonight for the holiday weekend.

I guess I'll take a look at the engine mounts again, but I believe we're going to have to haul the boat and have someone look at the cutless bearing. The first place to try is Morris Yacht Service here in Northeast Harbor. We could probably motor all the way home on the current bearing but it tears my soul to hear the rattle, and whatever the problem is it has to be fixed eventually regardless.

Thuya Garden Thuya Garden
Photos: Visiting Thuya Gardens with Annie and Laura was a beautiful treat for me.

Monday, September 4 - Northeast Harbor, Mount Desert Island, Maine
It's Labor Day, and before we started trying to get the boat hauled out of the water this week I knew I had to make one more check of the engine mounts just to be sure a nut hadn't backed off and caused our latest hull rattle. Three of four mounts were fine, and the fourth was tight as well, but it seemed to have an inordinate amount of play in it. I was amazed to find that a quarter inch steel bracket that bolts the mount to the engine (the "mount for the mount," as it were) had broken in half. This no doubt happened because that mount (the R&D mount I had installed in North Carolina) was so much stiffer than the other four.

I reinstalled the original mount so this wouldn't (I hope) happen again. I had planned to buy a new "original" mount anyway, but for now I've gone back to an improved system of hose clamps around the worn one so it will (I hope) work in the meantime. Now all we've got to do is get a new mount-for-the-mount. I'll call Vosbury Marine tomorrow and see if we can get a brand new one; otherwise we will have to get a machine shop to make something or try to weld the original back together. At least now I understand (I hope) why the rattle started so suddenly. It could be worse...just got an e-mail today that my nephew Gabe had broken his leg in scooter-meets-truck accident on Friday and now has a rod and a metal plate in his leg. I'll take a broken boat any day.

Wednesday, September 6 - Northeast Harbor, Mount Desert Island, Maine
First Gabe's scooter accident on Friday, then on Monday Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin was killed by a stingray, of all things. I never got the chance to meet Steve Irwin, but like millions of other people around the world I felt like I knew him. The good news is that Bruce MacQuaid at Morris Yacht Service got our broken engine mount welded back together for a reasonable cost. We took the boat out for a one hour spin around Sutton Island and she is back in good health, ready to travel. Repairs complete, we are free to worry about soon-to-be Hurricane Florence, which like most storms this year seems to be headed this direction. Actually, this morning Chris Parker gave Florence only a 10% chance to impact the eastern coast, but that's a huge increase over just a couple of days ago, when the storm didn't even exist.

Next Two Weeks | Previous Two Weeks | Start of Log

Copyright © 2007 by Rodger Ling. All rights reserved.