Sunday, August 19, 2007

Cundy’s Harbor

There are waves under my mattress. I swear. Like the broad back of a relentless sea serpent, it sways and undulates beneath me.

Four days from Fairhaven, MA to Cundy’s Harbor, Maine. It could have been three but I slacked off after having Cape Elizabeth in sight, and being suddenly ahead of schedule.

The morning after the storm, Biddeford pool looked like this.

The weather man in his local summary said "Yesterday a cold front triggered wicked thunderstorms across New Hampshire and Southern Maine.”

Underway at 9 am I used the channel which led me across the mouth of the Saco River and out onto Saco Bay. The morning sparkled with a nice northeast breeze. I motor-sailed (What a euphanism!)… With the main up I powered into the swell and the breeze until I rounded Cape Elizabeth and turned into Casco Bay where the wind completely died. I could see the agitation on the glassy sea to my south east trying to reach us. Finally after lunch the motor went off and the sails went up. The rest of the afternoon I made my over to the entrance of Broad Sound and into Potts Harbor for the night. Had a great dinner plate at the Dolphin Restaurant ashore - grilled haddock and vegetables, fresh blueberry pie. In the morning a friend came out from Falmouth and met me at 7:30 for breakfast in the same place. I was on my way by nine.

During the night there had been more squally storms, distant thunder and in the very early morning, while it was still dark, much torrential rain. The sky was black to the north east, clearing to the south and west. I was to go north east. There was wind, lots in some places, none in others. When we’d walked out to the meadow on the point beyond the boatyard, the air was rushing down Broad Sound, rushing hell bent for Halfway rock out on the horizon, shaking the bushes on the bank over the water. Yet in the harbor, at the fuel dock it was still. There are currents of air in the sky, swirling up and down, eddies and pool, just like flows of water in the depths of the sea.

After I picked my way along the curvy channel out of Potts, I hoisted only the jib and flew out past Mackeral Cove and the end of Bailey's Island. Among the pines I could make out the houses where my cousins and I stayed when I was a boy. I learned to row out on the ledges and among the rock week round here.

Once inside Baileys and then Orrs islands the wind dropped off a bit and I rolled in the jib so I could hoist a single-reefed main and then let the jib out again. In this way I sailed across the mouth of Quahog Bay among the islets, until near the mouth of the New Meadows River I found myself surfing from one wave top to crash into the next: the jib fat and full, the bow down, the stern quarter up and the rushing of water all around. As I reached spot where I would turn upriver, I broached once and then again. It seemed I was in as much wind as I'd ever been in.

Upriver was a beat, close to the wind and London was sailing like a dinghy. One moment the mast would be vertical and the next, bang, we’d be heeled well over. She likes a lot of wind, expecially like now, when the water is flat. She can really point in conditions like this. I was having so much fun I almost past the entrance to our cove near Sheep Island.

In the wind I missed the mooring on the first pass. On the second I got it with the boat hook but could not lift it. On the third I hauled the mass of heavy orange goo encasing the mooring line up from the sea. The line was so heavily overgrown I could not find the loop and had to settle for tying onto the thin toggle line at first. I used a bread knife and rubber gloves to hack at the mess and cut the crud off the line. Pounds of orange sponge, mud, seaweed, sea squirts, mussels and other stuff went over the side. Little marine centipedes wiggled on deck among the gravel and broken shells. The foredeck was a mess and as I moved around the deck the mess spread like a virus. Muddy footprints down one side. Mud splattered white cabin from cutting and hacking in the wind. Tiny dams of dirt and pieces of vegetation in the spaces between the stanchions and rail from flushing the deck with gallons of seawater.

But from ashore, Nancy waved from the cabin door. In only two trips I handed her my gear, moved out of the boat and into our cabin for the week.

No comments: