Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Small Reach Regatta 2014! Return of The Hog!

OOOOooooHHH SNAP! It's that time again!

It's the Small Reach Regatta 2014!

TA Ta TAAAA! (trumpets)

Yes, I took this picture swimming.

ENTER Stage Left: CIRCE, as she enchants Odysseus' sailors!

"She opened her gleaming doors at once and stepped forth, 
inviting them all in, and in they went, all innocence... 
She ushered them in to sit on high-backed chairs, 
then she mixed them a potion--cheese, barley 
and pale honey mulled in Pramnian wine--
but into the brew she stirred her wicked drugs 
to wipe from their memories any thought of home.
(The Odyssey ch. 10, Fagles)

Of course, the worldly Intrepid Reader of GISAmateur Style knows that soon after the sailors were turned into little piggies and run into pigsties,

"...sobbing, squealing as Circe flung them corns, cornel nuts and mast, 
common fodder for hogs that root and roll in mud.
(The Odyssey ch. 10, Fagles)

This year the SRR was again held at the Hog Island Audubon Camp where we checked our humanity at the door and wrestled, rowed, and sailed our boats up and down Muscungus Bay!  Snort-snort fellow piggy sailors, it's sailing time!

Scout and I arrived at Muscungus Bay a few days early, and met up with GreenMountain John who has just finished an absolutely stunning Fran├žois Vivier Ilur! Heartstopping is an adequate word to use on WAXWING. She is the FIRST and so far THE ONLY Lug-Yawl Ilur on the PLANET. You saw it here first, folks. And lots of other places too.

GreenMountain John rowing in, like a BOSS


The only Lug Yawl Ilur... IN THE WORLD
Just two boats, cruising in Maine.
On Wednesday other boats started showing up.  The Small Reach crowd is pretty core.  A few trailers came in with technical issues, from blown tires to the axle falling off one trailer, but they still made it. Broken trailers are not an issue for a Small Reacher, it is imperative that the Regatta is reached! All solutions are acceptable, including lashing the axle back on.  Who needs U-bolts?

Don't despair, Lashing Man is here!
So I'll be honest here, this year I have some fewer pictures than usual since I was having some camera battery issues.  Also, this year the Regatta was a little more calm and I just enjoyed the splendid company, good food, and wonderful water-time with friends I see once a year.  Lots of repeat boats this year, a few new ones, and we did enjoy a visit from a Tancook Whaler.

The first day was a long row (about 4 miles or so) from Hog Island to the southern tip of Friendship Long Island to a little cove that is protected by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust on Ned's Point.

Cove at Ned's Point.  Very pretty.

NO SRR is complete without the legendary WOLFISH, Crazy Charlie's Washington County Peapod

Super Salty Mike with his well traveled and storied Melonseed, PEPITA
I LOVE this boat, and Mike is just the greatest saltiest sailor evAR!!!1!!
(Intrepid Readers remember PEPITA from this picture in 2013)

El Jefe Professor Denis and his Carpenter.  More on this later!

Funky-Funk Andrew and PHOEBE!
Andrew is my homie. (homey? homee?)

Cap'n Paulie and Goat Island Skiff KATHLEEN MARIE
After a year in exile, they return triumphant to the Small Reach Regatta

Sausage Brian returns with KEEL BASA, his Lillistone Flint.
Sausage Brian is eating sausage in this picture.  Circe got him realz good.
KEEL BASA is the first lug-rig Flint IN THE WORLD!
After lunch, we had some breeze and sailed back to Hog Island.  As I was walking out to SCOUT who was bobbing merrily on her anchor I got distracted talking to our Fearless Leader Tom and slipped on a rock.  No big deal.  I got wet, but saved the bag, and climbed into Scout and got her ready to go for some sailing! As I was about to retrieve the hook, I looked down for something and noticed that there was red water in my aft cockpit and my legs were a little worse for the wear...


So that was fun.  These guys wouldn't stop bleeding either.  Blood on my towel, blood in the aft cockpit, blood in the bilge, my new shiny floorboards, everywhere! I just mopped off and went sailing. Sometime later, one of the many medical professionals at the event gave me some cream to put on them, but I had already given them a good scrub in salt water.  Remember: I Viking! (I took the antibiotic cream anyway, barnacles can be full of nasty).

Enough pillaging, back to the sailing!

Sweetest boat, Hylan Beach Pea, steered by oar.  Really wonderful boat in so many respects.
New addition to the SRR.

Matinicus Peapod.  She leaves nary a ripple in the water, as it closes up right behind her.

Tancook Whaler VERNON LINGUINE bearing down on us!

VERNON LINGUINE passes us in her slippery noodlely way
Denis and his Carpenter under sail AND oar because let's be honest, it's a lifeboat.

OOoooOOOoo 18' Joel White Shearwater OCARINA.
I love this boat for it's simplicity, it just speaks.

Piratey Ed in his Ness Yawl ghosting alone. Ed lives in NH, which means we should go sailing!

Cap'n Jon FINALLY makes an appearance in TWO-HEARTED (Phoenix III)
He's sailing with his FIL, Hank, who was kidnapped by Cap'n Jon
from his grandfatherly duties to go sailing. Atrocious crime!

PHEW there are a lot of grey skies going on in the above pictures.  I need some SUN and BLUE MAINE SKY, Hmmmmm Hmmmm! On the second day we sailed back down to Harbor Island which has a beautiful beach and harbor and is a great place for lunch! No camping, but the beach is available for day use, and there are trails around the island with cliffs on the east side with some beautifully clear water which probably has great snorkeling.  The bottom of the harbor seems like it is good holding ground for those that sleep aboard.

Scout is at anchor at a distance.  Goat Island Skiff BLEAT is foreground, right side. PEPITA is on the left.
The pulling boats always get to the beach first, notice the three in the foreground.

Susan with her Yawl-Dory ELYSSA

YES I love this ghetto style! There is nothing more sacred than utilitarianism. It works.

So here's another Dennis in WHISPER a modified Tom River Skiff.
Unfortunately, I did not get a good long look at this boat, and didn't get to sail it either.
I regret this, because it looks like a lot of fun, and it has a lot of sail.
More downhaul might be a good idea on this rig, but Dennis knows his stuff.
Look at that sky!

Cap'n Jon, my Lovely Wife, and myself stopped by at Broad Cove Marine and grabbed
some tasty lobster rolls ($10!).  This is now one of my favorite lobster stops.
We left the regatta and renegaded this much needed lunch stop!
Note Scout down on the dock.

On the last day, we did some very interesting sailing.  It was a long summer sail-day, with many circumnavigations of islands, and a nice beach lunch stop.  This was the end of a wonderful week on the water.  I spent three days sleeping in the boat, three sleeping ashore in a tent in a wild patch of woods with my Lovely Wife, and I left feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to rock for some more sailing!  Sailing! I want mooooorre!

Fleet working up between Oars Island and the mainland.


This is the kind of shot that really symbolizes the SRR for me.
Lots of beautiful small boats, great scenery, and fun times.
What more could I ask for during my vacation?

Cap'n Nathan ghosting along in his lovely Kingston Lobster boat.
He can really sail this thing, he would ghost in and out of tight harbors with current, no problems.

So, here's a Sea Pearl 21 and a Herreshoff Carpenter.  Many people will often name drop Herreshoff
and Sea Pearl 21 in the same sentence.  Well, Ron Johnson is the designer of the Sea Pearl 21,
and he was "inspired" by the Carpenter, but the Carpenter was designed as a lifeboat. The Sea Pearl is a machine.
The Carpenter rows OK,  needs wind to move under sail, and it very stable, but it's not the Sea Pearl.
They may share relatively same hull shapes (flat bottoms, etc) but performance wise it's another story.
They are different boats, and to mention Herreshoff and not Ron Johnson is disingenuous. 

Another comparative picture for those Sea Pearlers that are interested.
The Carpenter is a lovely boat, but it's quite specific.

Cap'n Jon FIL Hank flying wing-and-wing in SCOUT!

After all that sailing, it was high time for the legendary last night lobster-fest.  This is where we get together in a communal fashion and eat, drink, and be merry together before parting the next day.  Lobster, chowder, and puffin are usually on the docket, all delicious foodstuffs after a great week of sailing.  Funky-Funk Andrew is all about pairing wine with puffins, for instance.  There is music and song, stories and laughter, biting mosquitoes and starlight.  We bond over our plates, our love of sailing, and our shared communal spirit of sailing small boats.  Small Reach Regatta is the high point of my sailing season, and it comes slow, passes quickly, and leaves me stoked until the ice clogs the rivers and bays.  

Cap'n Jon piles his plate high with food, and carries his lobster below, opening up valuable plate space!
Take note, rookies!

"I am going to eat your babies."
(Real quote from Funky-Funk Andrew while eating the lobster roe)
The crowd gathers around the dessert and to hear GreenMountain John play some pipes!


"This wine pairs wonderfully with puffins!"
Funky-Funk Andrew sends it home again!

Until next year, SMALL REACH REGATTA!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Casco Bay Cruise to Visit the Retirement Zen Master

AHOY Intrepid Reader and welcome to another installment of Amateur Style sailing in beautiful Maine!  Sea Pearl 21 SCOUT and I have just returned from a three day Trip of Awesome, doing some motoring and some rowing and some sailing, and we even met an interesting oldster who just oozes wisdom and panache!  HooooRAY sailing!

As usual here is a chart of our journeys--

Day 1- Royal River to Goslings
Day 2- Goslings to Whaleboat via Potts Harbor
Day 3- Whaleboat to Royal River

Black = Iron Mizzen to Goslings in the fog, Day 1
Red = sailing (tacking not necessarily shown)
Yellow = rowing

After a big slow front passed with its giant embedded thunderstorms (microburst in York, ME) I drove in the rain following the trailing edge to the Royal River in Yarmouth for a three day cruise in Casco Bay. I had caught rumors from a colleague that there is something of a Retirement Zen Master summering in Harpswell, and I was hoping to pay him a visit.  Scout and I were mission ready!

The first day was drizzly, foggy, and windless.  I used to be a rowing hero, but I've had some thinking as of late.  Shane St. Clair, the original owner of Scout (Voyage Through America), often wrote that when the wind was dead on the nose or there was no wind on his Eastern-US circumnavigation he would fire up his Iron Mizzen and head forth.  I've got the damn thing, so yes, yes I'm going to use it and not feel guilty!  I don't rely on it for emergency aid, I see it as a tool that may/may not be available.  If there's no wind and I want to go somewhere, Iron Mizzen comes alive. VroomVroom.

Iron Mizzen in action! My world surrounded by fog

With little visibility due to dense fog I had to break out the dead reckoning navigation techniques using time, chart, and compass.  In lieu of a straight-edge, I used a piece of trusty dockline to estimate my route and magnetic bearing and we slowly made our away across Casco Bay to The Goslings. There are some reefs that extend north of Little French Island, and I was certain that I had passed the last of them and was about to turn for the Goslings when I noticed what looked like a log looming ahead.  It was a big log, and a noisy log, and it was moving.  A quick grab to the binos revealed that nope, that was no log, but seals resting on rocks that were just inches below the surface... I would have run Scout straight up on the rocks without the seal-indicators.

French and Little French Island materialize in an unexpected window through the fog.
We were on target, on time.

PHEW Rock-indicating-seals!
Note shoaling fish and birds scooping them up to the left of seals.  

Soon thereafter we arrived at The Goslings, again on time.  I initially got a little confused by a Blue Heron that I mistook for a man (fog illusion) and almost ran Scout up on a shoal, but we bore off and soon were on the beach at this very popular island destination. This is not my first time to the Goslings.  Believe or not, Intrepid Reader, but Scout and I do not blog every day/trip that we go a sailin'.  I came here last year and spent a luxurious fall evening in the anchorage, by myself.

Goslings, Fall 2013

Once anchored, I set up shop for some dinner! I was hungry and thirsty and my primal needs had to be satisfied!  It seemed the fog was in for the night, but I was certain any rain had now passed.  OF COURSE in the middle of cooking dinner, it began to rain.  I rapidly set up my tarp/awning with the aid of bungee cords.  In the frenzy to maintain some amount of dryness in the cockpit (where I would be sleeping) I watched with frustrated awe as one bungee, stretched to the limit, slipped and sailed silently over the bow in a parabolic arc and into the mist and the murky waters beyond.  So it goes.

Foggy Sunset, surrounded by salmon hue

My tarp set up, in lieu of the pop-up cabin.
Check out those awesome new floorboards!

The book I am reading on board, which was entirely fitting to the locale and my activities.

THIS is living.


The next morning I was up and at 'em, and I rowed north to meet this mythical character, Skipper ManJohn: The Retirement Zen Master.  I rowed for exercise, fuel conservation and a touch of suffering since the current was against me and my boat is 21' long. Suffering can be good for some mind clearing, especially for us spoiled western types who really have nothing to complain about.  Complaining example: My Shaw&Tenney oars are 9' long, and I would like 9'6" oars.  They are just a tad too short for the rowing I like to do.  Regardless, north we went, along with a little bit of power sailing, I kept the mizzen sail up and sheeted in to capture a bit of morning breeze coming off the land, at the very least to neutralize some of the current.

I didn't really know where to find ManJohn, I just had some vague instructions to look in a certain spot in Harpswell, behind a rock, with the big pine tree, and the seal will bark 3 times.  I was certain I'd find him as his magnetism is legendary, I could sense that Scout was drawn to him. Hugging the shore, I came upon two senior types who looked on with alarm as I rowed over the rocky shallows (I saw starfish!).  Suddenly, a primal cry from the woods:

"Halloooo CallSign!"

He found ME, before I found HIM. The powers are strong in ManJohn.

Scout and ManJohn's Mason 44. Proof!

ManJohn Fact: Skipper ManJohn holds court and you will listen

Before I knew it I was whisked away into a small cabin in the woods right out of 1948.  ManJohn graciously offered to make me breakfast.

"We don't have any coffee, but there's coffee on the boat." His eyes (that have seen around the world) squinted at me from under their bushy brows.  "Row me to the boat if you want coffee." It was a dare.  A manly dare. I contemplated doing this as I FORGOT my coffee at home (horrors!) but suddenly as he saw the resolve in my eyes, "No, forget it, we have orange juice." and ManJohn leapt into the kitchen.  I pass the first test.

On the menu was omelets and home fries. "Dammit, we don't have any bread" he mumbled as he pulled ingredients out of the fridge.  I asked if I could help and ManJohn replied, "No, I got this." He immediately proceeded to throw together eggs and ingredients in a bowl and whisk.  Suddenly: "Here cut these potatoes for the home fries," as he pointed to some potatoes in a colander.  I started cutting and he unceremoniously dropped a full bag of potatoes in front of me.  "Cut these too," and then, "and these," as a second bag materialized.  This is how ManJohn makes breakfast-- through delegation.  Toast appeared like magic, even though there was not supposed to be any bread.  "Butter the toast," he commanded and I did as obliged.  The whirlwind in the kitchen spun out to the deck and breakfast began-- Omelet with olives and cheese, home fries with onions, toast and butter.  A breakfast fit for a king.  Fit for a sailor.  Fit for... ManJohn. I pass the second test.

ManJohn Fact: Scout tied up to Skipper ManJohn's Mason 44 makes Scout look small

After breakfast Skipper ManJohn commandeered Scout as tender and we put-putted out to his Mason 44, an ocean going cruiser that he has recently purchased after his retirement.  We tied up and he showed me around the palatial accommodations.  50hp diesel engine, generator, A/C (yup), pressure water, refrigerator, you name it, this Mason has it.

We spent some time gabbing sitting on the rail of his boat while he ran the generator.  He waxed poetic about his youth, well spent on a Greenwich 24 (later the Cape Dory 25).

"It was just me, my boat and my dog..." he pauses, "no money, no problems, living on the boat and eating mackerel and clams that I dug myself.  I brought that boat through so much weather when I probably should have remained ashore, but she saw me through." He pauses remembering past times.  I brought up yesterday's foggy travels and navigating by dockline as I had no straight-edge to plot my course.

"Yeah, I've used line before." He fixes me with his gaze, thinking of the past. Long pause.  "Hell-- I've used seaweed." His scowl is on me.  Line? PSSHHH. Seaweed. Seaweed is the navigation tool of choice for Skipper ManJohn.

ManJohn Fact: Singing to your sails increases their productivity and lifespan.

"Sometimes, I think I'd like to go back to my Greenwich 24.  She was so simple.  Life was good..." he pauses again and looks down the length of the Mason 44.  "But I love this boat!" His eyes light up as he affectionately pets the gunwale and gushes, "I love you baby, don't you worry, I won't get rid of you." Skipper ManJohn made kissy faces to the gunwale.

We sit there bobbing for a while and he looks at me and the fire is lit behind his eyes, the fire of freedom and the sea and the love of a good boat.  "I love this.  I love this.  This is my boat, out here, no worries, no one bugging me, life is good." He pauses again,"It's like I'm a king and this is my private island..."

 He fixes me with his long stare, his eyes narrowing.

"Now get the hell off my island."

Scout and I shove off, southward bound for lobster rolls and a night on Whaleboat.

ManJohn Fact: ManJohn is the boss.

Enjoying a growing sea breeze after a hot still morning is a special pleasure reserved for sailors.  Scout and I bounded south with the current, against the wind.  I took my time, taking her off the wind to let her gallop and we just moved.  Scout was happy and striving forward the water gurgling around the leeboard and our flags flying high. This was some sailing!

Bastille Day? How about Bastille Week!

Our destination was Erica's Seafood in Harpswell, which is one of my most favorite lobster shacks in Maine. I strongly recommend the Lobster Roll, two for $20 done in the no-nonsense Maine way with minimal crap and maximum lobster. BYOB.  Cash only.

Don't get confused or lulled into going to the big restaurant next-door that is named after an aquatic mammal that on TV has been called Flipper. They have been known to give small-boat sailors anger-driven tirades for using the overnight parking that they advertise, even after said sailors paid for it.  Don't ask how I know, just trust me on this one. Flipper be full of crazy.  ERICA's-- Go there.

Scout and I sailed up to the dock.  Use the north/south side of the dock, the front is used for working boats.  For tourists there's no much like a boat sailing into a congested harbor and nosing up to the dock, and for me the skipper, nothing as satisfying.  I hopped out of Scout in all my sailor glory and got my dinner.

One roll down, one roll to go.

After dinner we scooted out to Whaleboat and I sailed Scout right into the little protected harbor, threading needles around the rocks and I stopped her right where I envisioned that morning.  It was a perfect bit of sailing. Whaleboat is  WOW.  Carefully managed by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, it is a beautiful spot for a day trip, picnic, or overnight.  I first came here last year with Cap'n Jon, IAZP, and Two-Hearted.

The evening was spent stargazing, observing hummingbird hawk-moths and lightning bugs, and slapping mosquitoes.  Soon, sleep took me by the shoulders,  and shook vigorously.  Various odd island dreams washed over my mind.  One of these dreams involved someone calling my name, and this mixed with the sound of waves splashing on the shore entered my psyche in a horror, in a way only a small boat sailor on and island can experience... my boat was obviously being pounded on the rocks and a passer-by was calling my name to warn me of my impeding starvation on an island!  I blew out of the tent to find Skipper ManJohn motoring by Whaleboat at 4:50am in his Mason 44 yelling my name. He was heading to Bar Harbor.  I waved back in groggy stupification, took careful notice Scout's masts happily bobbing at anchor, and collapsed back into bed.  I pass the third test and ManJohn is pleased.

In for the night.  Eagle Island (Does the Intrepid Reader remember?) is in the distance on the right.
Milkweed smells shockingly good

The Blue Hour descends


I spent the rest of the day returning to the ramp, and I perfected my shallow sailing technique.  Sea Pearl 21's can sail on water that is but ankle-deep (I tested this) and it's incredible to watch the shells zoom by.  To work upwind, I drop a few inches of leeboard and roll the Scout on her ear, which allows the leeboard to bite.  I must have made an impressive sight returning to the Royal River, passing standing shore birds, out of channel, across the mud flats.  Remember this when you see a Sea Pearl: Shallow Draft. Follow at Own Risk.

Until next time, Intrepid Reader, don't forget your seaweed.