So our journey has ended!! Before I recount the final days of our journey, I thought I would share a few more interesting boat names I encountered recently on our trip:
This boat must belong to an old guy who forgot how to spell due to his condition:
If this guy thinks it’s busy out in the harbor, he’s obviously never been to Boston:
Why does this guy own a boat if that’s how he feels about it?!?:
This is clever, especially for the tides in the Bay of Fundy!
Why tell the cops upfront??
This guy even tells the cops what he’s guilty of!
Now, this makes more sense – the best defense is a good offense!
This guy seems to have found is calling in life:
Another motto to live by –
So this is where all my money went when I bought all that cheap Ripple wine when I was in high school and college!!
A few signs or T-shirt messages caught my attention along the way as well:
This guy must be a very deep, philosophical thinker:
Another deep thinker:
Please don’t ever make it illegal:
It may not be a crime, but there seems to be an awful lot of it in Washington these days….
It’s great when your dreams come true –
Well, there’s always the evening….
We rode out Hurricane Fiona tucked far into the inner harbor at Boothbay. We experienced some wind, but we were in such a protected spot inside the harbor, the water was calm. On Friday night, I went to a dinner theater in Boothbay, the Carousel Music Theater, and saw “The Wonderful Marvelettes”. The storyline was a bit weak, but the performers were superb:
We left Boothbay early Sunday morning, headed for Portland. Hurricane Fiona had passed, and the seas had calmed down, so we had a pleasant passage around the headland and through Casco Bay.
A lighthouse we passed on the way:
Paul navigated us through the islands and narrow passages; notice how Paul and Jim are dressed – it’s getting COLD out here!
The city of Portland was named after the Isle of Portland in England; thereafter, Portland, Oregon, was named after Portland, Maine.
Portland, Maine was first settled in 1623, and was originally called Casco. In October of 1775, during the American Revolution, the British gave Portland residents two hours to vacate the city, after which they bombarded the city for 12 hours, reducing it to ashes. The city was rebuilt, but during a Fourth of July celebration in 1866, a firecracker started a fire on a wooden wharf on the waterfront; the resulting inferno burned the eastern half of the city to the ground, destroying 1500 buildings, including most of the commercial buildings in the city and leaving more than 10,000 people homeless. During this rebuilding, however, shops and warehouses were built with brick, while public buildings were built with granite; that has resulted in the handsome, historic buildings which line the waterfront area today. Some of the original cobblestone streets still adorn parts of the waterfront district, adding to the historic character of the district.
I addition to attracting visitors to explore its historic waterfront and enjoy the many restaurants, pubs, and other attractions, Portland today is a bustling commercial center. It has become the banking, law, and insurance center of Maine, and its harbor ranks third in commercial activity on the East coast.
Here are some images from the historic waterfront district; notice the cobblestone streets:
The waterfront is lined with wharfs which date back to colonial days; some have been repurposed for fun and entertainment, with food, drink, and live music:
The waterfront also boasts a bustling working harbor, which not only coexists with the visitor’s experience, but it. A large fishing pier supports an active fishing fleet. Here are some images:
In my travels along the waterfront, I came upon this lobster boat with its crew putting bait into individual mesh bags for insertion into traps, preparing to go out to pull and rebate its traps:
A fish market with fresh fish of all sorts from local waters is a fixture on one of the working wharfs along the waterfront:
Portland also played a key role prior to the civil war in helping slaves escape bondage by fleeing to Canada:
In more modern times, Portland was able to obtain a piece of history which marks another major milestone in humanity’s drive for freedom:
I visited the Portland Museum of Art, and thought I would share the following paintings which were highlights to me:
This is by George Wesley Bellows, entitled “Matinicus”, painted in 1916:
This is by Newell Convers Wyeth, illustrating the herring fishery at the time, entitled “Dark Harbor Fishermen”, painted in 1943
Here are some sculptures on the grounds of the museum:
One of the historic landmarks in Portland is the Portland Observatory, a wooden maritime signal tower built in 1807. It is the oldest surviving signal tower of its type in the United States:
With a system of flags, the tower was used to alert the people in town and on the waterfront that a particular ship would be coming into the harbor in a few hours. Using a high-powered 65 x telescope, the person on the tower could see ships approaching the harbor 18 miles away, and could identify the particular ship by its flag. The person on the tower would then fly the ship’s flag from a pole on the tower; the owner of the ship would then have time to secure dock space and assemble workers to offload the cargo, making the entire operation more efficient and therefore cheaper. For this service, the ship’s owner would pay an annual fee.
The tower is 86 feet tall, and it sits high above the harbor on Munjoy Hill. It has no foundation, but instead the base is anchored by 22 tons on granite which sits on top of the tower’s base.
The tower was operated by the same family that built it from 1807 until 1923, at which time radio communication rendered it obsolete. Today, visitors can climb the tower and take a guided tour. The views from the tower are spectacular:
There was an enormous cruise ship in the harbor while we were there: here are pictures of it from the top of the tower:
We were fortunate to have our friends Abby Gray and her husband Adam Baske and their two adorable daughters, who live near Portland, join us for cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres on the joint Adventure:
Earlier in the day, I came upon a shop called “Heritage Seaweed”. Having no idea what that was, I decided to go in and have a look. It turned out to be a retail store that sold seaweed products. Always interested in trying new things, I bought a couple of seaweed “hors d’ oeuvres”:
I found one to be quite tasty, but I didn’t care for the other. However, Abby thought they tasted like low tide. You’ll have to try some for yourself –
The next morning, we headed south again, to Kennebunkport. The seas were a bit rough with 3′-4′ waves, but the floats from lobster pots were our biggest challenge. While not as dense as further north, they were difficult to see amongst the waves, and many submerged as waves and currents pulled them under water.
On the way, we rounded Cape Elizabeth – another milestone:
As we approached Kennebunkport, we passed the Bush compound – here it is from the water:
We had to detour a bit seaward to stay clear of the compound, as delineated by a series of white buoys.
I later took a bike ride past Walker Point and the Bush estate – here’s a picture from land:
Below is a picture of a tribute to George W H Bush next to the road from where the above picture was taken, followed by a picture of the plaque:
Kennebunkport is a short ways up the Kennebunk River, a fairly narrow but picturesque river that is lined with marinas and dockage on one side. Kennebunkport is a very busy tourist town – the streets are lined with shops, galleries, restaurants, etc., and the sidewalks were busy even on a Wednesday in late September. Here are a couple of images:
As I rode around town, these really interesting wind sculptures got my attention; there were many, many more, but this was the best image I could get:
This will keep a tourist busy for awhile:
I don’t know if this guy came up with this name for a clothing store himself, but he might want to hire an advertising firm next time:
One of the shops had an extensive Halloween display on their side lawn. My three year old grandson Gabe is obsessed with Halloween to the extent that every morning he asks his Mom “Is today Halloween?” Each day she says no, it’s still a long time away, so the other day he asked “Can I just sleep until Halloween, and you can wake me up then?”. Anyway, I thought I’d include a couple images from this extensive display:
What a strange tradition!!
The next morning, we continued our journey south to York, Maine. The entrance to York harbor is challenging when the tidal current is roaring on an incoming tide, as it was when we came into the harbor. There are plenty of rocks to get one’s attention, and the entrance turns sharply to the right then the left – apparently boats which are underpowered or whose helmsman isn’t vigilant get swept into a mooring field adjacent to the sharp turns.
Here are some images that I took from land after we were tied up; note the boat entering the harbor on the right:
The boat has now made the first sharp turn; notice the current as it passes by the navigation marker and the rock:
Here’s a picture of the York River further upstream where the current still swirls but not as strong; notice all the lobster boats!
We all loved York. It’s a fairly small town that caters to tourists, with great historic inns and an assortment of shops and restaurants; however, it is also a working harbor and waterfront with an assortment of lobster and fishing boats. It has stunning views of the harbor and the ocean, a great sandy beach, an assortment of walking, hiking, and biking trails, and some great historic architecture.
This is the Emerson-Wilcox House Museum, followed by a plaque that briefly explains its history. Unfortunately, a car crashed into the other side of the museum a couple of years ago, so it has been closed for the last two years awaiting legal closure and settlement. It is expected to be repaired and reopened at some point, however:
Here is a picture of the beautiful ocean beach:
York has many walking/hiking/biking trails – along the harbor, along the ocean, and in the woods. This cool pedestrian bridge leads into some trails through the woods:
I rode my bike onto one of the working piers where a lobster boat was tied up with a couple of lobster men aboard:
I chatted with them awhile, then asked if I could buy three lobsters from them. When I asked how much, one of them replied $5 each – the other then said – “How about four for $20?” I said “It’s a deal!”. So we cooked them and made lobster roles for the next day’s lunch (with plenty left over!).
After I left, the truck they were waiting for to offload the lobsters and take them to market arrived, so I took this picture from the nearby bridge to Harris Island:
My daughter Jenny, her husband Chris, and their 15 month old son Niko came to the Joint Adventure the following morning to join us for two days as we approached Boston. I guess it’s not easy to travel light with a 15 month old, even for just two days!
Once we got underway, Niko decided he needed to catch up on some Z’s, and the motion of the boat in the gentle waves were just what he needed:
Our destination was Newburyport, with a stop for lunch at the Isle of Shoals, a group of small but really cool islands approximately 5 miles off the coast from Rye, New Hampshire – some are in Maine and some are in NH. The harbor, which is exposed to winds from the southwest and west but is protected from other directions, contains a number of moorings. Visiting boaters are generally welcome to tie to an empty mooring for a visit and even overnight if the owner doesn’t need it. Generally there are open moorings during the week, but less so on weekends. We picked up one of the many empty mooring on a Thursday morning late in the season.
Appledore is the largest island, at 95 acres, Star Island is the second largest, at 46 acres, and Smuttynose Island is third, at 25 acres. There are a few homes on some of the islands, but a large and historic hotel/educational conference center is located on Star Island. There are a number of seminars and programs that the public at large can attend, staying on Star Island in the iconic hotel in an incredible setting.
Here is a picture of the hotel/conference center on Star Island:
Here are some houses on another of the islands:
White Island contains the Isle of Shoals Light, first built in 1820 to warn ships passing by of the existence and location of the rock islands:
It was nap time for Niko, so Jenny and Chris erected this tent inside the folded-down dinette in the main cabin; he slept like a baby as we gently rocked on the mooring:
While Niko slept, I kept watch as Jenny and Chris took the dinghy out for some fishing and for a visit to Star Island, on which visitors are welcome to wander around and enjoy the incredible views:
Niko was ready to take over after his nap, so he insisted on driving on our way to Newburyport:
Newburyport is a mile or so up the Merrimack River; the river is known for its strong tidal currents, especially on an ebb tide when the flow of the river adds to the flow of the outgoing tide. We docked at the well-maintained docks, which front the municipal boardwalk along a wonderful park overlooking the river.
Here is a picture of Newburyport as we approached from the water:
In addition to being a bedroom community with reasonable commuter access to surrounding high tech and other employment centers as well as Boston, Newburyport is a large tourist destination with many shops, restaurants, pubs, water-based tour opportunities, and attractions. The downtown waterfront area is well-maintained and is contained in historic buildings from centuries gone by – buildings which are intact thanks to the visionary thinking of the city leaders in the 1960’s.
You may be aware of a federal program in the ’60’s called, among other things, “Urban Renewal”. By declaring sections, including whole neighborhoods, of a town or city “blighted”, the “Urban Renewal” program allowed and paid for cities and towns to buy up the entire section or neighborhood using eminent domain, then demolish the entire section or neighborhood, then sell the vacant land to developers to redevelop – all this in the name of “progress”. Tragically, entire neighborhoods of historic homes, businesses, community buildings, etc. were destroyed. Those who live in or around Boston may be familiar with the West End – the West End was demolished and a series of non-descript high rise buildings were built in its place. In my hometown of Hull, an entire neighborhood of old historic buildings was razed under the Urban Renewal Program; unable to agree on what should replace it, the land remains a vacant, weed-strewn parking lot to this day.
Newburtyport was far wiser, somehow managing to redirect the Urban Renewal funds at that time to restoration rather than demolition. This plaque tells the story briefly:
Here are just a couple of pictures of the lively streetscape of Newburyport today:
The next morning, I was able to catch the sunrise as it rose over the riverfront park and boardwalk where the Joint Adventure was docked:
On our way out the river near low tide, we passed a herd of seals who had hauled themselves out of the water to soak up some sun on the rocks:
Emerging from the river while the tide was running out and meeting the waves that were coming in created some significant waves on our bow for us to run through; however, once we turned southerly and escaped the influence of the river, the motion of the boat calmed down.
Our second-last run of the voyage was to Gloucester via the beautiful Annisquam River, my favorite run in New England. The Annisquam isn’t really a river – it’s a tidal estuary that connects Ipswich Bay with Gloucester Harbor, including the Blyman Canal. At the southern end is the Blyman Bridge, a drawbridge which spans what is known locally as “the Cut”. Construction of the Blyman Canal actually turned Cape Ann into an island.
Following are some images.
This is the lighthouse that marks the northern terminus of the Annisquam River:
This is a picture of Wingaersheek Beach, on the Annisquam a short distance from the northern entrance to the river. It’s a gorgeous beach along which boats anchor on summer weekends to enjoy the water, the scenery, and the stream of boats going up and down the river:
There are half a dozen or so of these “houseboats” moored in shallow areas adjacent to the river:
I wonder if my architect friends might be able to identify the architectural genre to which this home would be properly categorized….
Note the mooring line to the house doesn’t drift away….
Gloucester is a no-nonsense genuine fishing town, and is known throughout the world as such. It’s a working city, a bit gritty in parts, reflective of its long and storied history of fishing, lobstering, fish processing, shipbuilding, and other industries related to and supportive of the fishing industry. Some tourism has been finding its way into the city recently, but the roots and soul of Gloucester has not changed. The large waterfront remains primarily a working harbor, dominated by lobster boats, fishing vessels of various types, work boats, and Coast Guard boats.
Here’s an image of a portion of the lobster fleet:
For those of you who have read the book “The Perfect Storm” or seen the movie of the same name, you may recall that part of the story tells of the lives of the fishermen who died on the Adrea Gail. The bar called the Crow’s Nest was the hang-out and gathering place for many of Gloucester’s fishermen. It still serves fishermen today, so I decided to go in and have a beer. Noticing the pool table by the door and the large rectangular bar nearly full, mostly with large, fit men with facial hair, I felt a bit out of place as I walked around the far side of the dimly-lit bar to find a seat. However, I soon struck up a conversation with Joe, who sat next to me at the bar:
Although Joe was not a fisherman, had no facial hair, and had moved to Gloucster just three years ago, it was clear that he was well known, was part of the Crow’s Next crowd, and was well known and well liked. We chatted for about an hour about the story of the Adrea Gail, about Gloucester and its people, and about our voyage. It was a very pleasant way to spend part of an afternoon in Gloucester!
For those who may not have read The Perfect Storm or saw the movie, I recommend both highly. I suggest reading the book first if you’re so inclined, as it provides an interesting backstory to the events that took place. The book is by Sebastian Junger.
After visiting the Crow’s Nest, it was only fitting that I walk down to the waterfront to view the most well-known fishermen’s memorial in the country or perhaps in the world, given Gloucester’s long and proud heritage:
Though a bit difficult to read, this plaque says it all:
On a lighter note, as I walked back to the Joint Adventure at the end of the day, I was invited to join this distinguished group for a spot of tea:
A lovely group, but they weren’t very talkative –
The following morning, our friend Jake, who missed the early part of the trip due to shoulder surgery but who joined us three times in the latter part of the trip, came to Gloucester to ride with us into Boston on our final leg. While it’s bittersweet that our voyage has ended, this was a familiar and welcome sight! We made it!!
A bit greyer, perhaps, and me desperately needing a haircut, one final image as we parted for home:
Left to right, Jim Small, Jim K, Paul Coates, and Jake Mycofsky
So our journey has ended. We traveled a total of 2,640 nautical miles, which translates to 3,038 statute miles – about 400 miles further than driving a boat from Boston to LA.
We used a total of just 496 gallons of diesel fuel – an incredible 6.1 miles/gallon for a 34′ boat! To put it in perspective, we encountered a boat in Portland that was just a little bit bigger than the Joint Adventure that pulled up to the fuel dock and filled up with diesel fuel – the total cost when the pump shut off was just over $63,000!
OK, maybe the boat was more than a little bit bigger than the Joint Adventure:
But $63,000 for one fill-up!!
We put 393.5 hours on the engines – a total of just under ten 40-hour weeks!
We wanted to include friends and family on our journey as best we could. As a result, a total of 29 people joined Paul, Jim, and I on the Joint Adventure at various places along the way – in doing so, they enhanced our trip immeasurably!
We were on the water just under 4 1/2 months, in which we stopped in 81 ports and harbors, including some big and small cities, many towns and small villages, many small, remote fishing harbors, some lonely, nearly abandoned wharfs, and some beautiful, peaceful, and remote anchorages. We tied to floating docks, vertical sea walls, fishing boats, mooring balls, and moored platforms, in addition to staying on our anchor at times.
The boat, despite being 20 years old, performed extremely well. Early in the trip, we had some leaking hose clamps which, having been replaced this spring with new hoses, seemed to need to seat over time as the engine went through heating and cooling cycles, so we tightened them up accordingly. Thereafter, we replaced a starter as a preventative measure on the starboard engine when it became suspect (but never stranded us), and we replaced the freshwater pump near the end of the trip when it finally quit (it had been making funny noises for a couple of years, and I should have had it replaced before we left).
We knew starting out that this trip was a bit of a challenge for this boat; everything is a tradeoff when it comes to boat design. A lobster boat, for example, has a deep V hull design in which handling big seas is one of the first priorities. Many cruising boats are designed with heavy seas being a first priority as well. A PDQ is designed for calmer water, in which other features are higher priorities – a wide platform, room for six people to sleep and live comfortably for extended periods of time, a shallow draft, and fuel economy are prime design priorities that guided its design. Therefore, we knew we’d have to be patient at times and wait out some days when other boats, especially sailboats, might run. Looking back, the boat performed better than I had anticipated, and we had relatively few days in which the ride was uncomfortable for extended periods of time – there were some, for sure, but usually they didn’t last more than a few hours after which we were able to change our course, or duck behind some islands or a headland, or arrive at our destination.
The weather is always a wild card, and we truly were extremely fortunate with stellar weather throughout the spring, summer, and early fall. Virtually all of the locals whom we encountered commented that this was the best, driest, calmest summer that they had seen in recent memory. We did have to wait out a bit of rough weather during the last two weeks or so of September, especially when Hurricane Fiona passed by. However, we were able to run the last five days in a row, getting us home on October 1. Most remarkable was the lack of fog – the waters from Quebec City through the coast of northern and central Maine, including the lower St. Lawrence River, the Gaspe Penninsula, the southeastern coast of Nova Scotia, the Bay of Fundy, and the coast of Maine are all notorious for frequent, dense fog. Incredibly, we ran in fog an aggregate of only about 4 hours during the entire trip!
We learned from observation that very few boats do the Down East Loop trip each year – I’m guessing maybe a dozen or so. Other than our new friends Dave and Martini from Quebec that we encountered several times along the way – they were in a 27′ sailboat – we were by far the smallest boat doing the Down East Loop. The few power boats we encountered were all over 40′, several significantly larger than that.
Given our smaller size and shallow draft, we were able to, and chose to, go to places most other boats didn’t or couldn’t go – small, remote villages and fishing harbors that we sought out. People in a couple of harbors told us that we were the only pleasure vessel to come in all summer!
Now that our voyage is over, someone asked me – What takeaways do I have from the trip? Wow! That’s a tough question! A few things come to mind. First, the adventure is the draw – the challenge, the excitement of seeing and experiencing a new place nearly every day, being outside and experiencing nature at its best, seeing incredible scenery, meeting new people, many with totally different lifestyles that I could only imagine.
The second takeaway is how incredibly friendly, outgoing, helpful, and generous the people we met have been, particularly in the Canadian Maritimes. Total strangers offering us a room and shower in their homes, a ride to the grocery store, even use of their car if we need to go somewhere!
The third takeaway – I know this is corny – but I’ve vowed to pay it forward – to go out of my way to be helpful to people when I can, in the same way that so many folks were so helpful to us.
The fourth takeaway – our fisheries are in big trouble. The lobster fishery seems relatively heathy and stable at the moment, but most other fisheries have collapsed. We heard the story over and over – there just are very few fish left in the oceans.
A personal note I’d like to share – our first granddaughter was born a little over two weeks ago – she joins three grandsons. I’ll be on my way to Washington DC to meet her. Here is mom Jessie and Rosedelia Mary Rios, connecting:
They’re just starting their own new adventure!
A final thought that I’d like to pass on.
I looked up the definition of “epic” when used as an adjective. It reads: “heroic or grand in nature”. There was nothing “heroic” about this trip, but to me personally, I think it was “grand in nature”. It clearly challenged me and pushed me outside my comfort zone, even after having done the Great Loop several years earlier. To me, it was an epic adventure.
This type of boat trip is not for everyone. Each of us has our own interests, goals, “bucket lists”, or whatever. They may involve adventure, or an experience of some sort, or an accomplishment we’d like to achieve, some of which would likely rise to the level of “grand in nature” relative to our individual desires and comfort zones. So having been reminded of a sign I saw and included in a previous blog, I thought I’d close with this last thought, for whatever goal or activity or experience or accomplishment might, for you, be grand in nature:
Leave a Reply