Friday, February 21, 2014

Downeast Maine

A little late, I know, but I now must make room for further adventures, and I've let things slide too long.

Downeast I headed last August in my little but strong boat named Daphne.  I sailed alone with Daphne, but had a cast of characters who managed to make their way onto the boat and into my head.  George, the autohelm, Frank, the self steering wind vane, Jimmy, the GPS.  We would converse when I wasn't talking with "Daph."  Of course, I also found Wilson on a small island...

The Downeast voyage was a test of the system.  Since buying Daphne a year before, I hadn't had a significant voyage but wanted to see how we of the system would do together.  Contrary to when my friends and I bought Crazy Horse, I did not have a specific voyage in mind when I bought Daphne.   I just knew she was the vessel I had been looking for and figured the voyages would present themselves in due time.  So going Downeast was the best place to go, close by.  With good winds, fog, strong currents, and tides, it would do.  And I wanted to know if I could handle the boat by myself.  This was a big question.  While having crew is preferable, I wanted to know if I had to depend on crew to move the boat.  

And so off on my voyage I went.  What followed was some of the best weeks I've ever had.  I loved my days.  Weather was king, and the first thing I would do upon opening my eyes would be to slide the hatch of the aft cabin open and look into the sky.  The sky would tell me what kind of day I would have.  Where there clouds, fog, sun, was the anemometer at the top of the mast spinning?  From there I would take a dip in true Outward Bound style, and then have my breakfast which usually consisted of yogurt, fruit and granola.  After breakfast I would make a plan for the day, looking where I wanted to get to and figuring out what was possible with the daylight, tides and winds and exploration opportunities on land and sea. 

Sailing alone means there are no one else's hands to do work when I'm at the helm, so it took an extra half an hour to plan through in my head and then ready every little thing so that I would be spared the little tasks when I needed to be doing other things.  On the list:

George on
Frank ready and working
Check fuel
Trumpet accessible (my fog horn)
Ladder up
Downwind aft life lines down
Check sunset time
Check tides/currents
Pee bottle handy
Instruments/radio on
Sunscreen on
Water handy
Snacks handy
Chart on deck
Log book on deck
Head door locked
Destination info handy
Nav plan ready
PFD w/ radio, PLB ready
Warm clothes accessible
Hatches closed
Sail plan ready w/ respect to weather conditions
Weather forecast written down

After completing the list I would sit below decks and meditate for five minutes to let my mind remind me of anything else I forgot, to take a few moments to remind myself of what I was doing, of the dangers of being forgetful or distracted.  

Around Schoodic Point, officially having made it to Downeast Maine, I was becalmed.  But I had time and so I let Billy Bob, the engine, take a rest.  I was content with bobbing about as I had options and didn't have a schedule I had to be on.  I like this type of sailing best, as I find it puts me most in tune with the wind and the water around me.  And the feeling of going from the bobbing about in the calms to a little steady push through the water is amazing.  

Sometimes I would have my little stereo going, sometimes I would sing loud and proud as I sailed, sometimes I would dance, sometimes I would talk to myself, lots of times I would talk to Daphne.  I had no schedule, I had no anchorage plan, I would just make the day fit the conditions.  I explored islands for hours on end either bushwhacking through the brush or running on the island roads.  I made it to 20 miles south of the Canadian boarder to magical Cross Island.  Endless exploration there was to be had.  Sometimes exploring islands, sometimes donning my wetsuit to explore the underwater world of rockweed.     

I love my little boat.  She took me where my soul seems to like it best.  Living with the moon, the sun, the wind, the waves, the islands.  I'll let the pics say the rest.  Thanks for reading.