A sailboat motors alone in the vast ocean as the sun sets.
Our 32-hour trek to Rockland was sort of magical to us, speeding along at 6.5 knots in the dark, not knowing if we might hit something. Despite the fact that the depth finder lost the bottom below 599 feet, there were still occasional lobster buoys. Unbelievable. For many hours, from about 9:00 pm to 6:00 am the next day, we could see basically only the bow of the boat, the sliver of a waning crescent moon and its reflection on the waves, and the starry skies. Fortunately for us at this time, the Northern Lights appeared as a swath of muted light across the port side of Afterglow ,but the Big Dipper and its starry sky mates lit up the heavens for us. All three of us---me, Allen and Adam, knew this was a very special experience, and we relished most moments. Except for the display on our chart plotter, the not seeing where we were actually going became a mysterious and wondrous cruise on the Bay of Maine in the Atlantic Ocean, most times over 599 feet in depth. It’s eerie when the depth finder cannot find the bottom…
To prepare for this overnight, Allen had developed a buddy watch rotation. This meant that each of us had one hour of standby duty followed by three hours of being at the helm, followed by two hours of standby duty when with next person came on watch. There were always two people in the cockpit at all times during the night. Lively conversations, music—thanks to Adam--and twinkling stars kept us company. Our son Adam wrote these words to describe what he was feeling and seeing:
With the barest of cell reception, we report in! It is hour 22 of the sea sailing journey. 3 hours sleep, 6 hour shifts. The sun fell and rose as an orb of red. The stars glittered without pollution of light from civilization. The sea of the Atlantic off the Gulf of Maine has held soft winds and the treats of terns and gulls flitting about for fish and insects. A seal jumped recently. Our rally of 6 other boats has been distant but consistent in pace ahead of us. We beheld the Northern Lights, ribbons across the night sky. No land or shore in sight for any direction. No cell service for most of the sail. Only the company of family and the accompaniment of music to pass the time on watch.
There was so much that I learned, some of it so simplistic, but new to me:
Birds fly across the ocean at night. It was so surprising to us to see them zoom past us. We could not see any land, but the birds were single mindedly on their way somewhere in the dark.
I kept on trying to find Venus (eventually I did) but there was too much twinkling, and Allen pointed this out to me: Planets don’t twinkle; stars do.
Sharks? Fins in deep, deep water are not necessarily sharks as Adam and I originally deduced when we saw two medium-sized dorsal fins go past the boat in the opposite direction. We learned later that these were sunfish. Others in our rally saw them also.
Did you know that the crescent moon provides a watery walkway on the waves directly to our boat? In the early morning, the sun does the same. The light the orbs provide twinkles and sparkles on the moving ocean waves.
Lobster pots and their toggles have been a hazard for recreational boaters for a long time. Some are in really, really deep water, two or three hundred feet deep. Boating to Rockland in the dark and fog together is real exhausting work, both for the lobster buoy sighter and the driver of the boat. Dodging them is arduous. Moreover, after the fog lifts, birds impersonate lobster pots, and we laughed as we misjudged the sheen from gull feathers in the water as shining white toggles. "Its a bird, its a buoy, its a bird, its a buoy, no I'm sure it's a buoy. Oh, it just flew away!"
32 hours later we reached Rockland Harbor and soon found a mooring ball in fuzzy fog. The fog in Rockland and along Maine’s many islands is real and thick and persistent. There are many,, many lobster pots even in the channel and the harbor and dodging them was like swerving among a bag of spilled colorful skittles.
Rockland, however, was a real treat! We really like the downtown areas. The Farnsworth Art Museum is fantastic and hosted special exhibits of Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper who specialized in water colors in this area. Fabulous museum. Some neat pictures are below.
In fact, there are really several art shops and museums in this town, some of the art clever and fanciful. When we first got out of our dinghy to take a long walk to the optometrist to get new frames for Adam broken glasses, we were greeted by a dinosaur barbecuing on someone’s deck.