Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jewell Island

This weekend we decided to just sail and not worry about projects. Our destination was Jewell Island, I had never been there but I've heard it's great. Great for people, great for sailboats and great to sail to. Saturday morning I listened to the weather to find lots of sun, light and variable winds from the south east, and our course (of course) was south. The only saving grace was the tide. On our way south I let the ocean pull Neptune and tacked only when I wanted some sun or to stay away from water that was anywhere near 10 feet or less. Please see "running aground"! This sail was so easy and flat you wouldn't really know you were on the water, except for the occasional laboring of fishing vessels whose engines detract from the natural beauty only a sailor can feel. I was steering and watching the red nuns gently float by as Sophi was being handy, scraping nasty varnish off our toe rails. Little did she know it, but she was also busy throwing overboard our back up boat hook a.k.a. the boat brush on a stick.

Our approach from the north to Jewell was hampered by a quartering head wind that not only denied an easy approach to the island but also pushed us to the lee Cliff Island. On our second tack I was getting mildly agitated, but after thinking about where I was, who I was with and what I was doing, I decided that I wouldn't mind tacking to this island all day... I did want to beat this monster 3 spreader sailboat who was approaching from aft though. No dice, he passed me like a fat kid to cake, then took the best possible anchoring spot available. When we were getting close enough, I fired up our outboard and got to talking some strategy on what we were about to do. Neither of us had anchored a sailboat by ourselves. It was at this time that I realized we should have been talking about this a long time ago, but oh well. For those who don't know, Jewell is very well protected but also very narrow. We were getting close now and our CQR was at least on deck, but we still hadn't solidified a plan. It was time to wing it, Sophi was at the helm and did a good job maneuvering around a packed harbor finding us a spot. She slowed and stopped which was my cue to drop anchor, and count the feet in tens as they went into the 12 foot deep water. I let out some rode but my chest was full up with heartbeat and heavy breathing, so I forgot how much scope I let out or if I snubbed the line. I'm quite sure I didn't count or snub anything, needless to say after 10 minutes of "seeing what happens" I was uncomfortable with where we were, well actually where the huge boat-crushing rocks were, really. It was at this moment that the stars must have aligned and a leprechaun gave away his treasure and that massive boat who beat us in was leaving his sweet anchorage to raft up with a buddy who was also a millionaire. YES! Sophi and I looked at each other with the same thought. I must be a Negative Norman because I was thinking "Is something wrong with that spot?" Regardless, we were about to find out.

For this try, I was at the helm and I directed our bow to a sweet looking spot in the very middle of the cove. When we got close I realized that I didn't want to let Sophi repeat my mistakes so I explained over the engine noise that I wanted her to count the feet she lets out until the anchor hit bottom, then also count the scope she let out as I backed up. Execution was flawless! When we had about a 5:1 ratio, I asked her to cleat off the line while I continued backing slowly. I didn't feel like we were moving, which was what I was looking for, then since the area was clear we let out scope to be at a sweet ratio of 7:1. I will say again that I have never anchored a boat and all this seemed to happen in the blink of an eye, so I was still on edge but at least we were not staring down some rocks. After 20 minutes of probably-not-dragging anchor I wanted even more piece of mind, so I hooked up our spare anchor to a line and to our anchor rode letting her slide underwater, just out of sight. "I dare you to drift now, smarty-pants!" I proclaimed. Our bow gently moved to the left and the right but our over-sized 30-something pound CQR held her ground perfectly. I looked up anchoring in Chapman's just to ease my mind; in the section on anchoring they mention placing two anchors at 45 degree angles to help reduce bow swing. I didn't think it would be a problem but thanked the book and placed that bit-o-knowledge on the back burner. Now it's time to do some projects. To quote our mast-stepper Carter Becker, "You're a sailboat, you're in no hurry, we go to distant ports to do our maintenance." That's exactly what we are planning to do all summer, thank you Mr. Becker.

I tackled our registration numbers i.e. put them on... hey, its only been a month. Sophi got a notion to paint on our ship's name, she did an excellent job painting while dodging wakes. When she was done it was starting to get late so I was thinking of how we would be seen late in the night. We had zero outside lights, and I wanted at least one. I figured my best chance was to try to repair our spreader light, at least it had a bulb, a socket, and wires leading to it. As apposed to our tri-color light, which looked like someone had hit it with a baseball bat. I went below deck and threw the breaker on in hopes that I would be able to use my voltmeter to find which wires were hot. I for some reason couldn't find any voltage on any of the broken wires above deck, "Interesting" I thought. My next step was to bring battery voltage by way of a jumper cable to the wires on the mast. Once I had that rigged up I would look up to hopefully see the light. Little did I know the light was already on, magical! That light had not worked last time we checked it, is it possible that all the saltwater is fixing things? If so, I want our tricolor light to be next.

The day was getting on and we wanted to explore a little of the island. Back in WWII Jewell was used by the military to help triangulate enemy subs and I wanted to see the view from the lookout tower. At the top you can see for miles in three directions and rumor has it that a real life German submarine was wrecked somewhere offshore. We spent a few minutes at the summit and met a couple who had sailed from Saco on Last Mango, the man seemed really knowledgeable so I explained how we anchored. He was confident we wouldn't move an inch. We swapped sailing stories then went on our way to the punchbowl, a shallow area where the ocean gets stuck leaving nice warm, calm water, great for swimming in. The punchbowl also had lots of driftwood, driftwood is free and makes a perfect boat hook for a boat that looses one on every voyage. I found a suitable specimen and brought it back to Neptune as it was starting to rain.

Sunday, we needed to venture back to Freeport. Only problem was the rain and lack of wind. "Light and variable from the south with light rain expected all day," said the radio. Have you ever noticed how the weather women says clouuuuds in her almost machine-like voice? She makes me laugh every time. We were in for a slow, long, wet day... sweet! We left at the onset of high tide, hoping to be pushed like driftwood all the way home. A little breeze carried us to Eagle Island where I turned due north all the way to the Harrasseket. I was able to stay on one tack the entire way just missing Whaleboat Island and a few others. Along the way Sophi made it a point to stay below deck "cooking." It was really an excuse to stay dry, but I enjoyed the food so I forgive her. When we were just about abeam of Mosher Island I was sick of going no where slowly, and being wet, so I pulled the cord on the outboard and Neptune lunged ahead at 5+ knots. Even after a wet slow sail it was still hard to leave, but leave we did to do it all again next week.

1 comment:

  1. Travis-
    I love your story telling! Hope you can write some more, but it can wait until Sophi goes back to school, I'm sure. See you soon...