Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lobster Pots Everywhere - Welcome to Maine!

I witnessed the seaweed taking possession around the propeller, sun shimmering between the keel and rudder on this windless evening. Boldness volunteered my hand to shear off two handfuls of weeds that stunted us from steering ahead. The safety line around my arm held me to Aletheia, the small knife around my wrist provided the tool to release Aletheia from her seaweed chain. I descended into Maine saltwater, warmer than expected, adrenaline keeping me afloat, and plunged twice at the prop to knife away the ocean's weeds. A moment of proving nothing but to myself. 

We've been having a wonderful, yet short-lived visit in Blue Hill, ME. Arriving last Thursday under rainy, squally conditions, we celebrated a 3rd generation wedding in Blue Hill this past weekend. Congrats again to Elissa & Doug!

It's hard to believe it's been one week since we landed back into US waters. Sailing by the weather, we departed Shelburne, NS on the eve of Monday, Sept 8th after docking (for the first time!) for the afternoon, cooking a few provisions that we could eat while under sail and napping as best we could knowing we had a big leap to make across international waters. 

We ninja'ed our way out from the Shelburne Yacht Club under the electric motor and began our journey hoping for the forecasted North-Northwest winds to push us downwind. We slowly inched our way out of Shelburne Harbor with a bit of disappointment. Nate took the first night watch and we bobbed for nearly his entire shift with very little wind. We felt a bit concerned due to the fact that we left Shelburne when we did to time the Bay of Fundy currents. We turned for a nearby anchorage and received a great upwind sail, so much so that we decided to turn back around to find the best downwind position on the sails we could manage. From that moment, Aletheia essentially sailed downwind the entire duration of the passage, roughly 120 miles, which saved us both time and a feeling of discouragement.

During part of our passage, we came across the Overfalls, a topographic area off the mainland of Nova Scotia, in which the water depth falls from nearly 40 ft to 160 ft causing waves in the middle of the ocean. We lost a few hours because as the waves were surfing us b/w 4-5 knots (~5mph), we were only sailing around 1kt (~1mph) so not going very fast.

We continued our way across the Gulf of Maine, took 3 hour shifts between 7PM-7AM for two days, eating 3 meals/day, snacking, listening to podcasts and music, monitoring any nearby cruise ships, surfing b/w 4.5-6.5kts all night, and watching the bright moon playing peek-a-boo behind the clouds. After the sun came up on Wednesday, Sept 10th, we regained a new spirit knowing we were with a 12-hour window of landing in Southwest Harbor, ME. Starting the morning off right, we continued to sail downwind b/w 4-5kts the entire way. As the sun warmed our spirits we came upon a whale watching area and just happened to see a whale spray water from its blowhole - it would have been much more exciting had we been closer and the huge whale-watching boat been farther away. We wondered if the charter company happened to track the whales via GPS to "guarantee" to see a whale. It's one theory anyway!

Nate spotted land (Mt. Desert Island) and we jumped for joy! Being seabound for nearly 40 hours, this was a wonderful and elated emotion. As the day wore, the sun warmed our souls, yet the wind disappeared which didn't make our arrival any faster, instead it delayed it considerably. The final 10 hours of our 48-hour passage was full of obstacles including an obscene amount of lobster pots, no wind, seaweed wrapped around our propeller which decreased our speed and steerage, a shipping lane complete with an oncoming cruise ship (while we had no speed or steerage), fog, nightfall and a minefield of more lobster pots. We barely managed to keep our wits about us as I became Nate's eyes to locate every lobster pot as we entered Southwest Harbor (our port to clear customs) in the dark. Maneuvering from port to starboard every 5 seconds with a spotlight in hand felt like a never ending battle. The pots began to thin out and we came upon the anchorage in which we quickly picked up a lovely mooring ball, rewarded ourselves with a big, fat kiss, called our parents and quickly went to bed feeling exhausted and relieved to the bone. After exactly 48 hours, we had done what I would have expressed as scary and overwhelming just one month ago.

The entire passage experience, although anxious at first, went better than expected despite its challenges, wishing the boat would stop for just a moment of relief, we worked well together, encouraged one another and got to our final destination in Blue Hill, ME. I am more than proud of us and completely trusting of Nate because of our recent experience together. 

We enjoyed having family aboard Aletheia over the past weekend. There was so much love added to her foundation. Thanks to Sunny & Nat for bringing a wonderful and selfless amount of homegrown produce (potatoes, garlic, onions, eggs, squash) as well as making some sewn bags for the head toilet paper, kitchen trashbag and firewood bags for The Hobbit! Sheree asked Sunny to deliver a bottle of champagne to toast this celebration and we plan to have a toast with Sunny, Nat and Sheree while visiting Boston in ~ 2 weeks. Such an endearing mother I have! 

And thanks to Malcolm for lugging our leftover packages of possessions we thought we would like to have aboard earlier this summer as we packed up. He also graciously drove us back to Halifax, NS this past Sunday to pick up our Honda which we are now in the process of selling. We hope to sell the vehicle within the next few days, otherwise, we'll donate to a local organization. 

Here are some recent photos from our week:
View from under the hard awesomeness dodger
Drying laundry
Land Oh! Mt. Desert Island behind those clouds!
A hawk friend taking a rest on the pulpit
Moored in Southwest Harbor, ME - a beautiful site
Sailing downwind - wing-n-wing
Trapped at the moment - not a favorite spot of Wyatt's
A landmark in Blue Hill, ME - scallop & lobster rolls! 
Dana made 12 boat racing centerpieces for the Friday night BBQ
Wedding at Ingleside
Parking Attendants
Classy Newlyweds Reception Car!

Love to all!
Jenn & Nate


  1. What a terrific way to describe and celebrate such a key leg of your journey! The web tells me that you are right in the timetable for hawk migrations in Maine and down the coast, very cool. Your 4th aboard may have welcomed the rest. Always thinking of you guys. DEJS

  2. Thanks again for sharing!! So many wonderful details and the pictures are great. The days are getting shorter and cooler. Hoping for you to make it to warm waters soon.

  3. Again, beautifully written!! So glad Sunny, Nat and Malcolm could see your new life aboard Aletheia. When you open the bottle of Champagne picture the raised glasses from ALL your parents and we toast you good health and a safe journey, where ever that my be!! L'Chaim!! To Life!! So glad you had a wonderful time with family and new family, you both look fantastic!! Only I can ask....did you get a mani/pedi???? Hey, after dodging all those lobster traps, did anyone offer you lobster???? Enjoy and hope tohearfrom you again, soon....xoxo mama

  4. Phew!!! I'm exhausted...just reading the ups and downs.....I would need an arm full of sea bands!! Quite a journey...You both look wonderful!!!! Quite rested for all you've been through....Once again Jenn, your writing is Wonderful!! So detailed, just like being there...Much love,,,Aunt Bev