Thursday, October 4, 2012

Friendship Tour 2012!

OOOOOOOHHH *SNAP* it is high time for another exciting update to your favorite Goat Island Skiff blog!  This time it's another four day cruise in northern Maine including Blue Hill Bay, the Eggemoggin Reach, and the Deer Isle Thoroughfare.

Yours truly and IAZ,P launched solo and sailed for two days and then met with the illustrious and dashing Cap'n Jon for another two days of salty adventurous fun.  I love sailing in company, and Cap'n Jon and his plucky Pheonix III TWO HEARTED is one of the best to sail with.  (You may remember TWO HEARTED from this introductory post earlier in the summer and the shenanigans at Small Reach 2012).


IAZ,P and myself started at the Brooklin ramp, much like I did for BILTrek2012 with Count Gregoire de Frontenac.  I obviously missed the tide I wanted by about 3 hours and found the water at full low, which means I had to roll the boat all the way down the sand to the water.  I guestimated to where the water would be when I was done packing, and when the boat was rigged and fully rigged, I realized I had guestimated wrong.

Ready to go, and still 6 feet of water needed.  

With a setting sun, I muscled her back into the water screeching and moaning over the rocks the whole way.

I didn't really have a plan.  Originally I thought I'd go south to the Deer Isle Thoroughfare and cherrypick a campsite down south.  Unfortunately with wind and tide heaving northbound and after many minutes making marginal way I decided to go with the flow and head elsewhere.

I ended up skimming between two islands in water so shallow my throat seized with almost-panic but the shoal draftiness of the Goat Island Skiff saw me through.  At one point I stepped out on a giant boulder and stood in 2" of water several hundred yards from any shore.  I made good time on a nice reach and with a gentle tide.  A few island circumnavigations later I landed, with the sun setting, on an isolated empty beach.... except for two kayaks!  What in Poseidon!?  Midweek? Remote northern Maine island!?


The next morning I arose with my two campmates who were totally awesome and paddling from Lubec to South Portland on a sort of VisionQuest (sound familiar!?).  We had a rousing good time making conversation, eating, quenching thirsts, imagining the future.  This is what the Maine Island Trail is about-- water, awesomeness, visionquesting, and friend making.

Typical water-borne camping style mandates chaos

Foggy calmness

Breakfast with a view 
  After a good breakfast and repacking the boat I shoved off in light airs and headed north.

Rarin' to go!
The low scud parted, the sun came out and the temperatures went up.  Perfect for lazing around and exploring long beaches and marshy tundra-like landscapes.

Three years of camp cruising and still looking good.
Cricket laden, heat baked, taiga type landscape

Long romantic beaches
 When the wind started to pick up a hightailed it back to Brooklin, and explored a little around the islands off the boat ramp.  Cap'n Jon would be coming later that evening, and I needed to find a good campsite for the evening.  One option was Hog Island, not on the MIT, but a good camping option and conserved by a group dedicated to the cause.  There is a fantastic well protected albeit rocky harbor, and a giant glacial erratic that is split down the middle.

Hog Island.  If you don't stove out the bottom you're good.

Holy Giant Erratic!  Notice IAZ,P in distance.
 After picking up some trash on Hog Island and eating some lunch on the hook we continued to sail up the Eggemoggin Reach, and went to the HOLY of HOLIES, WoodenBoat.  I sailed around the anchorage, took in the sights, almost ran aground in the deceptively shallow dinghy mooring ground, and then I did something which I'm pretty sure is a Goat Island Skiff first-- tied up at the WoodenBoat dock!

I present, history!

Goat Island Skiff IAZ,P tied up at WoodenBoat. OH! The Awesomeness!

Another, just because maybe you want vertical format!
Afterwards, it was back to the Brooklin ramp to wait for Cap'n Jon.

We waited.  

And waited.  That's all.  Road was foggy, etc.  You know how it goes.

By the time he arrived we nixed Hog Island and went with nearby Sellers instead.  It was a good choice.


After a truly epic/spooky night sail to Sellers Island off the ramp (bioluminescence like you can't BELIEVE!  Epic Epic Epic!) we set up camp and caught up, then promptly passed out.  In the morning, we realized that I had forgotten my compass (WTF?) and Cap'n Jon had forgotten his BattleStick tiller extension which is essential to any adventuring boat.  

So, BACK to the cars and ramp, and time for pictures.  Cap'n Jon will now be contributing to the photos as well!

Tide's up in Brooklin and ready to go.
I'm ready to rock.  Note new drysuit!  (Cap'n Jon)
After gathering our wayward items we blasted off into the wind.  Forecast was calling for 10-15kts gusting to 20kts.  Remember this, it is important.  10-15, G20.

IAZ,P sailing south out of Brooklin. (Cap'n Jon)
We sailed around Sellers Island and worked our way south, towards destiny and a hopefully a beverage at Stonington (the goal of the day).  As we proceeded out of the Egg Reach, the wind started to slack.  Hmmm, 10-15ktsG20, right?  Oh well, shake out that reef.  

And the wind continued to slack.
slackity slack slack
and time to ROW.

This is what 10-15kts, G20 looks like.
Here's Cap'n Jon

IAZ,P and me with Acadia in the background. (Cap'n Jon)
Cap'n Jon plunging into the darkness beyond.  Remember, 10-15G20.
So with all this business of rowing, we got hungry.

So we stopped at a familiar island.

Rowing in

So fed up with rowing, Cap'n Jon tests his new drysuit.

After a snack we decided to keep forging south towards Stonington still somewhat hopeful that we would arrive with plenty of time for beverage AND a sail back to some island for some good camping. Of course, the wind was 10-15kts, G20...

...Which meant we weren't going anywhere.  Cap'n Jon rowed out and then with a hint of a hint of a breeze, we raised sail and just chilled the screw out.

Cap'n Jon ghosting along

The front slowly pushing eastbound with TWO HEARTED in the distance.  Note rudder up for super light-air downwind performance.  One reason out of many on why I loooooove the vertical Australian rudder cassette design.
Slowly, and I mean slowly, the wind started to gently pick up.  We did some island reconnaissance and did some miscellaneous sailing around.  I ended up hitting a mysterious underwater obstruction since I tend to find these things, and Cap'n Jon and I took pictures of each other.

We ended up sailing to check out another island, and then the wind decided to pick up to it's promised 20kts, and it came on suddenly and with little warning.  I had a monster plane (I was "moving with purpose" in the words of Cap'n Jon) in the wrong direction, and then it was a monster fight back to our chosen island of camping.  But what's a day of sailing without something frustrating.   Remember, if you're sailing and you don't have a moment of frustration at some point during the day, you're doing it wrong.  We made it to our beach, rolled the boats up, and spent quite some time fiddling with how we were going to keep the stationary when the tide came up that night.  We had a howling wind, rocks, and tide to deal with.

Triumphant engineering pose after solving the close proximity anchoring situation.  

The sun plunged into the west, the wind rose to a howl from the northwest, and we hunkered down on a meadow facing south to get out of the wind and had a very nice quiet dinner.  Then, it was time to visit the boats before hitting the hay.

Boat Starry Night.
Note the rock ledge in the distance.  Remember that.


We awoke to a howling NW wind.


A tent shaking, bone rattling, head scratching "how we going to get out of here", cold, toothy wind.  Barreling straight into our makeshift harbor.  Oh man...

But first, nature calls, stomach calls and campsite cleanup calls!

Poop bucket.  With a view.  In the warm sun.  Where you at at 7am? This can't be beat. (Cap'n Jon)
Then, some breakfast!  Yes, those are my home grown eggs that I am soft-boiling (a mystery cooking method in the USA, I am finding) on day 4!  Hmm Hmmm hot tea.
Boat check? Boats are still there!  PHEW (Cap'n Jon) 
Time to clean up camp.  A little more order than usual this morning, it seems.
 For what happens next there is no photodocumentation.  We loaded the boats and set off.  Cap'n Jon (Mr. Smart) went first, rowing like a madman straight into the teeth of the wind.  When he was out of the harbor, it was my turn.  I attempted to sail out, and I failed, miserably.  I should have stopped when I was raising the sail and the downhaul was caught around the anchor.  There was a certain level of disorganization in the boat that was not acceptable and it should have merited a do-over.  Instead I cleared the fouled line, raised the sail, and jumped in.  I sheeted in the main, and then slipped when inserting the daggerboard and we went skidding sideways into toothy jagged rocks.  Too late, I missed my narrow exit, now it was time to minimize the damage.  I careened over several boulders, hit some others, and came to rest on a leeward rock shelf (see Starry Night picture above).  The main did not dump, as the mainsheet wrapped around an oar.  Chaos.  I jumped over and kept her from capsizing but she was getting absolutely pounded on the rocks.  I couldn't reach the halyard from where I was.  Struggle ensued.  Finally, with the sail down, I walked her around the rock shelf, reboarded, and let her drift to the lee, now away from the island sailing on bare poles. From the comfort of having all the sea-room I could ask for I raised the main and went to meet Cap'n Jon who was waiting for me.  From there it was an all out screaming plane downwind.  Some of the fastest speeds I have attained in the boat were in this stretch, and this is loaded with camping gear!

The sail to Brooklin was half downwind, and then upwind as we worked our way back to the Eggemoggin Reach.  It was here were TWO HEARTED really shone.  Except for rowing, the GIS is usually slightly faster than the Pheonix III, except in certain situations.  With very lumpy seas coming out of the Egg Reach, close hauled, she shouldered in and literally just left me behind.  Now, IAZ,P did quite well in the lumpiness for a flat-bottomed boat, but close hauled with confused large lumpy rolling seas have always been her low point.  The flat-bottom-healed-over to make a "V" doesn't work as well since the waves are of a chaotic motion and there is a fixed percentage rate of waves that slap the hull in some flat area, knocking her about.  Mr. Parker of "The Sharpie Book" fame distinctly talks about this phenomenon in a recent WoodenBoat article.  The rounded lapstrake bilge of TWO HEARTED really stood out in these conditions.  Cap'n Jon waited on me for the rest of the day, which pleased him to no end.

We ended up sailing back to Brooklin and making a quick pit stop before sailing back to the HOLY of HOLIES, WoodenBoat.  It was Cap'n Jon's turn to sail through the anchorage with TWO HEARTED and make some Pheonix III history of his own.

WoodenBoat anchorage (Cap'n Jon)
Me and IAZ,P leaving the WoodenBoat beach where stopped to do some backslapping.  2nd reef. (Cap'n Jon)
Then, it was an easy downwind cruise back to the ramp.  The wind was actually becoming more reasonable, and I could have shaken out some reefs, but to be honest, after 4 days of muscling boats around I was absolutely shot.  I just sat in the bottom of IAZ,P and cruised back to the car.

IAZ,P rolling downwind to the cars. 
On the beach at Brooklin.  I love screaming over that bar with 2" of water.  IAZ,P floats on moisture.

Narcissus returns to boat ramp. This is what a hero looks like- awesome.
Note how heroes let others do the dirty work.
And so ended another 4 days of high seas adventure with my trusty Goat Island Skiff and Cap'n Jon's Pheonix III.

What other adventures await this Dynamic Duo of Destiny?!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The siren song of boatbuilding has lured another

You can't stop what you can't stop.  (I'm pretty sure that's Rumi.)  Count Gregoire de Frontenac has realized that boatless man is truly bound like the t-shirt says, and he must escape his shackles with a project that will dominate his garage, pick his pocket, and estrange him from family and friends.  Yay boats!

I ripped this picture of my Goat off his first and only post.

BILTrek2012 was spent mostly doing this.  Note bank of fog.
Good luck to Count Gregoire de Frontenac!

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Ahoy Mateys!  

In the grand tradition of VisionQuest/ManQuest2010 (here and here), and BroVenture2011 (Days 1+2 and 3+4), I bring to you BIL(brother-in-law)Trek2012!

IAZ,P, myself, and my brother-in-law Count Gregoire de Frontenac boldly drove forth to the wonderful world of Blue Hill Bay, Maine.

Count Gregoire de Frontenac
We went to Brooklin, to be exact, to enjoy a leisurely circumnavigation of Swan Island with some potential exploring in the Deer Isle Thoroughfare.  I promised Gregoire bald eagles and starry nights, fast heart-pounding broad reaches, and leathery tanned skin!  I promised adventure and riches and a story to last a lifetime.  I promised a Goat Island Skiff experience, an IAZ,P adventure!

What I neglected to promise Count Gregoire de Frontenac, however, was the glories of a gigantic low pressure system that was going to park itself over Maine for two days.  Oops.  So much for my budding meteorological skills.

"Hi, my name is Mr. Twirly and I'm going to rain on your parade, you buffoon."

A few disclaimers.  We spent our time on privately-owned islands along the Maine Island Trail that are available to MITA members and described in the guidebook.  It is requested to not publicly blather about such islands with respect to the islandowner.  I will honor this request.  As I have a done before and will do now, I highly encourage the intrepid reader who is interested in these waters to become a member at MITA.  It is not expensive and it pays for itself immediately.  It is a worthy organization for a worthy cause.

I present, with humbleness, BILTrek2012:

Peace.  Notice lack of houses anywhere.  Quiet.

Fickle winds started us off the public launch at Brooklin.  I carefully ghosted out of the harbor, and once out in the bay we started to scoot along-- just barely.  The boat was heavily laden with the two of us, gear, food, and water for five days and winds ere light.  We made good time, all things considered to our first island.  That was the last of the sun.  In came the fog.

15 minutes later after "peace."  No joke.
After dinner, we went to bed.  Around midnight, it started to rain.

And rain.

And rain.

Out came the WX radio.  Thunderstorms on their way.  Flashes through the tent.  2-3" of rain per hour.   Rumbles in the distance.  I struck IAZ,Ps mast/lightning rod.  Flash flood watches throughout Maine.  The wind came up and started folding over Count Gregoire de Frontenac's tent.  My tent was in the lee, so I thought it was quite peaceful.  We skippers need to stay well rested and dry to make good decisions.

Gregoire's tent blowing in from the wind.  Wet.  Rain seeping through the seams.

IAZ,P with mast down

Stoic Captain...?  Feelings of foolishness lurking underneath stone cold face.
By the next morning Count Gregoire de Frontenac started to complain that his sleeping bag was sponging rain water that had finally started to work itself through the saturated seams of his tent.  The weather forecast was calling for continued heavy rain the entire second day.  There was going to be no hope of drying out for at least another 24 hours, and who knew what would come next.  We were exposed.  There were multiple factors to take into account, but most signs were pointing to an easy escape or a hard and cold and wet day.  With the fog lifted for a few minutes, I took a compass bearing towards Brooklin and we rapidly broke down the tent, and sailed back to the boat ramp.

We had a good wind pushing us along, and we passed some lobstermen who gave us energetic waves and smiles as we blew through some chop in the pouring rain.  To them we probably looked like we were off on an adventure as opposed to turning back around...  I waved back.  Lobstermen in Maine have always waved at IAZ,P.  Better keep up the impression that we are a salty bunch too.

Romantic second night camping location.  IAZ,P loved this. (sarcasm)  Count Gregoire de Frontenac observing.

Drying tents.  Why not?

Camping in a hotel room.  Talk about sand and wetness.  That chart book?  Pissing water.
On day three with improving skies, we drove back to Brooklin, to start again!

This is a historic picture for blatantly obvious reasons.  Take note.
We repeated the loading of IAZ,P for the second time in as many days, and sailed forth!

This is the "all-tides" gravel ramp at Brooklin.
My compact 2W sedan is not going to make it back up this at low tide.
Note fenders for rolling IAZ,P down to the water after pushing her off the trailer.
World-famous Eggomoggin Reach in the background.

Sailing out.  Cute Maine Island.  What dangers lurk around its waters?

Count Gregoire de Frontenac navigating and keeping us safe from said dangers.

I just like this island.
I had a plan, and that was to head to a supposed Island of Paradise and salvage what we could of our trip.  We didn't know what we were going to find.  We didn't know if it was going to work.  We didn't know if people would already be camped in its limited space.

And then, we turned to the corner into the small harbor.

That's right.

Splashing into the crystal clear water on the beach, we decided that there was no further reason for exploration anywhere else.  Day three was henceforth spent relaxing in the sun warmed harbor, circumnavigating the island at low tide, and napping.

Camp.  Gregoire up on the hill, I'm closer to the boat.
Count Gregoire de Frontenac posing with IAZ,P


Trees and what-was-once-tree communing
Count Gregoire de Frontenac bathing.  This ain't no damp breezy castle no mores, this be real saltiness!

The beach/bathtub dries out

Further and further the water falls

Officially stuck for the night.  We're not going anywhere for another 6hrs at least.  And then it will be dark.
Legal fire below high-tide mark
The night went smooth.  A few showers passed, but nothing of any consequence.  The bioluminescence was spectacular. The next morning, however, dawned with calm/calm/calm winds and an overcast.  The tide was on the flood, and I wanted to be sure to meet it as soon as possible and make the most of it, because there would be no sailing that day, and it would be a long row back to the car.

Calm and mist.  Woe.

Waiting for the tide
It was a long row back to the car, and a longer ride back home.  BILTrek did not have booming reaches, midnight collisions with rocks, spirited discussions about spear-gun safety, anchors lost overboard, or encounters with sirens.  However, we had a decent relaxing time, saw WoodenBoat, and discovered an absolute gem of an island for future visitation.  Every trip with IAZ,P brings something different, why not some relax for once?

Fair winds, intrepid reader.