(entry from Peg Guilfoyle, presently berthed on Adirondack)
A long fine day that started in a soul-less chain motel, and is ending in the berth on Adirondack. Salient features: a bus driver named Barbara who recommended the same dive-y restaurant, J's Oysters, as my buddy at the baggage claim yesterday. “Ask for my friend the bartender, Mary, and tell her I sent you!” She called out the local sights to the whole bus as we whirled downtown. "Lady from Minnesota!" she said.
Easy intersection with Jeff and Sally at Dimillo's Old Port Marina and much marching up and down the vicinity of the old port. a dinghy tour of the harbor... ship names Harsh Mistress, Maine Responder, which on internet exploration appears to be a huge pollution control vessel, and Sero Sed Serio, which research reveals to be a Scottish clan motto saying meaning Late, but Steadfast. Jeff runs the dinghy below the piers! We ask some returning fishermen if they have lobsters to sell! I nap in the afternoon! We go to J's Oysters, which is wonderfully dive-y and have lobster stew and we share a bucket of steamed clams, dipping them in clam juice or butter. Then we walk through the port. The marina has a lot of water movement in it.
September 17...or whatever day is it, because I'm already losing track. A long fine Sunday, after a snug long night in the cabin. Went to the First Parish Unitarian in Portland this morning, founded 1670-something, and was greeted warmly. Great church space, with heavy incised carvings in the walls detailing early ministers, all of whom sprang from Harvard, and a great set of religious symbols carved on a white wall behind and above a very ship's prow type New England high and fierce pulpit, which the minister ascended, thick gray hair swept back to orate. box pews, collection boxes on long arms, two young musicians on piano and cello who did a fine job, detailed and full, with the hymns. Then up to the Portland Museum of Art, arriving at the same time as a 1000/plate members opening for a new Winslow Homer exhibit... we were not admitted! but saw the permanent collection including a stunning NC Wyeth Lobster Boat painting peculiarly hung when one first got off the elevator. We pulled out past the Portland Headlight around 2 or so and out onto the Atlantic. I've never been on the ocean in such a small boat and it was stunning. Huge swells like breathing, a million lobster buoys to avoid, and a cool breeze rapidly cold-ing. Jeff at the helm, Sally with the I-pad charts navigating us down the coast, long vista of water and breakers and cliffs, tide falling on the clock. We eventually settled for Kennebunkport, and entered the breakwater at absolute low tide looking for a reputed mooring ball, in what felt like half the river exposed as mud and bottom. I called out soundings, eyes glued to the depth finder, while Jeff steered and Sally called the harbormaster to locate a mooring ball next to a sailboat named Night Magic. Marina mooring here is $4/foot, so the free mooring was quite a score. Hardly any water! Now the stars are high and cold above the river, Sally is knitting, Jeff is emailing and we had live lobster dinner... okay, never done that before. After instruction, I chose not to eat the green stuff or the “tomalley.” What an amazing day. After a bit of napping down below... it was cold up on the flybridge, I came back up, wrapped up, to help watch for buoys.... there was one narrow shape bobbing up and down wildly and very buoyantly. We passed with it close on the starboard side and, not having seen that particular shape before, I glanced down at it and to my utter astonishment, it was the fin of a gigantic dead shark! It looked like a great white, just like the darned movie, as if it were spiralling up out of the deep, so the snout and jaws and torso were about to break water, turned so its side fin bobbed rhythmically into the air. The torso must have been 10 feet in circumference. I have never imagined such a sight, gone in an instant and in the wake, leaving me gaping.
This was just after we passed the presidential buoys, where, apparently, they set a security perimeter when the Bush's are in residence.
So tonight we're tucked up in the Kennebunk River, tide rising, stars hanging high and cold. Next low is at 6 a.m., so by the time we're up and ready to dinghy across to the little town, there will be enough water to go and explore the village a little. One of the wealthiest communities in Maine and no doubt adorable.
But that shark!!
Monday night, Portsmouth NH
Another amazingly day, full of grace. Waking up in Kennebunkport to a completely transformed river scene, the water high and full and running, no more mudbanks. The marinas asking a per foot hourly to tie up to explore the town, so dinghy-ed across instead and walked into an appealing little village, full of shops; we seem to be gravitating toward specialty food shops...today's acquisition dark chocolate sea salt caramel sauce to be drizzled over apples. We pulled out at 11, once again motoring down a transformed access and out into the ocean, headed south and reviewing options for a possible two day weather layover Seas are supposed to run 8 to 12, and they're using the dreaded word gale. Portsmouth looked like the most appealing spot for holing up but the currents and tides in the river here are extreme, so we had to plan to arrive at slack tide in order to get safely in. A beautiful ride over... but cold on the water, and I was really cold this morning. Walked through Portsmouth this afternoon after being met by Steve the marina guy, who presented us with an access key under elaborate subterfuge circumstances. It's a new moon with extreme tides and a storm coming; he made no bones that he was hoping for salvage and a few necessary tows in the next few days. There's a Navy shipyard here that works on nuclear submarines, and a very lively street life. Monday night, dozens of restaurants and shops open, hundreds of people out and about.
a fine long harbor day waiting for the gale to hit, changeable weather and a good day to be ready to change clothes. i charged off for a walk first thing, wanting to walk out to the beach and hoping to see wild sea in advance of the gale. It was a long hike and so diverting that the relative still-calm of the ocean did not disappoint. Through Portsmouth and to an extended road, over a few bridges with beautiful vistas of the town and the water on both sides... and a forlorn little skiff on a mooring ball lettered Chicken of the Sea on the stern. If you were afraid, fear would run rampant since the water is such a dominant feature of the universe here. On to New Castle Island, full of winding streets and dead end lanes and beautifully kept houses tucked patchily together with gardens bright with flowers, doors and house walls closely bordering the roads, and occasionally the bones of the island revealed, huge granite sloping up and disappearing. I don't know when I've enjoyed a walk more. Eventually past the Congregational Church and a little post office with an elderly caned man emerging, and finally to a beach opening up to the bay. Tide low revealing that ecological system so mysterious to me. Sitting, looking at the horizon, the small strand with a dog-and-man, some seabirds on rocks. Jeff and Sally brought the dinghy over to pick me up at the Portsmouth Yacht Club, and then we had a fine ride through the river and harbor, admiring it all, while the weather turned south and the breeze chilled. We borrowed dock space to stop for a snack and wait for the tide to slacken so the run back would be easier and by then it was starting to look like weather. It's hours later now, though, post-hot-chocolate and used bookstore and chasing fairy houses and calling home from the back deck in the night with the river running hard back out to the sea.
Tonight the seas are supposed to be 8 to 12 feet and it won't likely settle for a couple of days. I'd like to see it from the beach, remembering how all my life I have loved a storm.
Storm passed with no fuss here at this safe dock, and really little sense of it. Another day of being in love with Portsmouth...who knew? There's a nice little theater, too, that shows good touring stuff and arthouse movies. Things I've considered from here... a wonderful felted birdhouse. some great-looking but expensive clothes. fancy salts. a compass rose medallion. a towel that looks like a kilt for my Scot husband. Things I've bought.... none.
I had sea legs in town today. Nearly a two hour walking tour of the port and then a visit to the Strawbery Banke museum.
4 a.m. Thursday into Friday
in Gloucester Bay. The wind has come up and that heavy line from the mooring ball is rubbing back and forth along the bowline, just above my feet. I am used to the night and day sounds of Blue Boat Home, but not Adirondack, so knocked at the stern cabin door and then went out to take a look, with the ready-at-all-times starboard flashlight. The stars! Orion is hanging low off the port bow, and the Dog Star at his heels. They all seem lightly fuzzy here, a trick of the air above the water?
We had a lovely run today over a rough-ish ocean, (Jeff and Sally say it's the roughest day they've had), as the water settles down from a gale-ish storm now two days past. We were fortunate in heading, with wise Sally adjusting from her I-pad charts, to be able to stay in relative harmony with the disorderly waves, but still some tossing and pitching (or is that 'yawing'?) Bright sun and at the end heading into the sun's path, and a cool breeze. Fewer lobster pots farther out, but still hazardous. When visiting with their friend tonight here in Gloucester, I added the word 'cutters' to my maritime vocabulary, with Peter reporting having hauled his boat out for work and finding a watermelon sized ball of line, presumably somewhere near the props. 'Cutters', installed on the shaft, will sever any line encountered ("cutters and throttle up!') The approach into Gloucester Bay was lovely, the welcome shelter as we neared the entrance to the river, and a long twisting channel with boats on mooring balls everywhere, beautiful homes with grass running down to the water, (“Massachusetts is civilized!”, Sally says) and something I've never seen before, small, neat summer homes simply set on floats off the channel. A narrow railroad bridge after a hard right hand turn, lifting quickly after we called... I always like to think of the bridgetenders working on manuscripts for their novels in the hours between lifts... and a wonderful and very low little town bridge in which we were perched well above the roadway even when all their lifting was done. Joggers, people walking dogs, town traffic, pausing in their day as we swept through into the open expanse of Gloucester Bay and toward the house of a friend. What could possibly be better?
The lights of Boston, some 25 miles away, glitter like the Emerald City through the opening in the breakwater off the bay. We're headed there tomorrow and then on toward Cape Cod.