Friday, August 17, 2007


When you think about it is seems absurd. A single strand holds us in place. A braided line, some shackles, a length of chain. At the end a device forged from the best steel in some pre-hensile earth gripping shape, and engineered so the metal will dig into the earth and hold.

I last night awoke a few minutes after midnight in another, more violent thunderstorm. In the dark I could hear an ominous dripping. The wind hissed and then rose another octave. Rain drove against the cabin top.

“Oh no,” I groaned.

All I wanted was to stay in my sleeping bag, close my eyes and just make it all go away. My boat tore at her tether, swung and jerked again.

Standing in the gangway I could see in the flashes of lightning the cutter anchored next to me. We were both holding our ground. I began to worry how I would manage if the anchor broke loose. I’d have raise the anchor up, get the engine and electronics up and going, and do it all by myself, before we blew into Stage Island to the lee or the ledge that stretches out to the East. To my horror I saw another boat, a 35 footer which had been anchored well upwind drag between the cutter and London, as if she was steering a careful coarse between us.

There is something unreal about a boat dragging. Its anchor line still extends from the bow as if tied down, and yet the boat slides past, stern first at 2 or 3 knots. This one was dark. Her crew still asleep. Another crack of thunder and a blue flash that seemed to light everything for an instant. Didn’t they see? Stupid with sleep I could not think what to do to help. The squall was furious. If I went after them I would quickly be in trouble.

I grabbed my air horn and gave two blasts, waited and then another longer three. The drifting boat remained dark. I used the radio to call for the harbormaster. When it seemed as if the sailboat should be on the rocks, I saw its anchor light dart forward and then the navaigation lights came one. Incredibly it surged forward. I turned on my deck lights to give them a point a reference and went up on deck to lengthen my own line and watch them navigate by.

I had trouble falling asleep after that. An hour later it was nearly calm, and an hour after that foggy and still. This morning I was awakened by the putter of a diesel and a woman's voice calling: "Thank you, London.”

They circling my boat again.

“Did you sound the alarm? If it hadn’t been for you…”, and she trailed off.

I told them quickly about my own experience being aground not 1/4 mile from here. The loberstermen saved me. I was glad to be able to help someone else, especially so close to where I hit rock.

Not a bad way to begin a day, eh? “Thank you, London.”

Otherwise, just some log notes from yesterday. Motored most of the day in dead calm at 5 knots from Rockport, till the wind came up strong enough so I could maintain my speed. We past Boon Island at 12:30 and briefly got wireless signal. I was off Cape Porpoise by 3:05, sails up a bit later and at Wood Island by 4:30. I came into Biddeford Pool under sail and with no moorings available, set my anchor at 5:15 in 12 and a half feet of water. This was reduced to seven something a few hours later at low.

I took a sun shower by hanging the shower from the boom and sitting in the bottom of the cockpit. When I took my drying swim suit off the life line two moths flew out.
First seal of the trip splashing among lobster traps. A small one off Cape Porpoise.

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