Aug 18, 2021

Here we are in Belfast Harbor where we’ve been on “shore leave” from our cruise about ready to move on. In Buck’s Harbor, we read in Points East magazine about a wooden boat building festival, so we decided to check it out and ended up spending five leisurely days getting to know this wonderful little town. With a long public walkway along the waterfront that passes a couple of boatyards, a rail trail up the Passagassawaukeag River, including a sweet footbridge across the river, and downtown just steps away, Belfast has offered us some very enjoyable walks and encounters ashore.

Turns out the boat building contest consisted of exactly one team building a skiff, and when the four-hour timer went off, we were the only people there to bring our applause and capture the moment. Half an hour before, a dramatic thunder and lightning storm hit sending everyone home, so we huddled under a gazebo catching up with my friend Linda who lives in the co-housing community here. We were then treated to an unexpectedly wonderful puppet show about a young girl and boy who find a message in a bottle with a treasure map and make their way in their small boat to a tiny island only to encounter the no-eyed pirate and his two mates who were about the make them walk the plank when Lobster Boy and Crabby save the day! There were other great characters as well, including a giant sea monkey, the kids’ inattentive parents, and the wild and crazy jet ski dude. We were told by the puppeteers that the show was written and puppets created in only three short months by the same three siblings who ran the puppets. Such a joyous treat to escape into puppet-land for an hour. We felt the like the story was about us as our alter egos Harriet the Spy and Encyclopedia Brown. :)))

Earlier in the day, we heard there was a boat swap, so with a wagon full of fresh veggies and other delectable delights from the farmer’s market and food co-op, we wandered down to the two tables only to find the exact item we were looking for: a whisker pole to hold out our tiny jib when sailing downwind. The other item we needed was a boat hook, which served as said whisker pole the day before until, upon “un-deployment,” bend to a 90-degree angle and no longer served its intended purpose. This was fine with me because I could never get it to collapse or extend anyway, and luckily, just up from the boat swap was a small marine store that had a new boat hook, just as unplanned as everything else we’ve encountered!

But that wasn’t all. When we first arrived, we went to the public dock for a pump out and water, but since it was after hours, no one was there, so we ended up staying overnight at the dock thinking we could get the pump out first thing and leave. Well, we ended up being charged for an overnight that we didn’t anticipate, so we were heading out to anchor. Instead, at the boat swap, we ran into Sandy, whom we’d met at the music festival on Swan’s Island, who when asked if she knew of a mooring we could use said we could use her floating dock at the head of the harbor, which has been sitting empty all summer since she only recently launched her boat. Cool! Sandy had bought a boat last year, lived on it on the dock last summer, and was in the process of learning as a solo sailor until she met Guy, a British boatbuilder who has lived in the US for 25 years, so is now navigating sailing in partnership. We managed to tie alongside without being swept under the footbridge or into the shallows by the strong incoming current, and that’s where we’ve been ever since, just off Front Street Boat Yard a short row to the walking path but just far enough away from the marina to feel like we have our space.

In addition to Sandy and Guy, we’ve encountered so many neat people and things here, including Luke, one of the riggers who works in the harbor and runs a small charter boat tied up to the same float; a therapist couple who’ve been living on their Grand Banks 32 trawler for the summer on a neighboring floating dock; Fred who owns a 505, the boat my Dad and I used to race when I was a teenager; Rob, a friend from Portland Community Dance who has been living off-grid and off-the-land in nearby Monroe; Evie, wife of the late Norman Tinker, found-objects sculptor; Alison Langley, wooden boat photographer; Alec, mobile mechanic extraordinaire who came out to the boat for a couple of repairs; the recently restored turn-of-the century steam ship Cangarda; a cool floating shipping container house boat; excellent homemade ice cream; a beautiful loon that visits us every night; plus one giant rubber ducky!

Prior to Belfast, we went from Buck’s Harbor to Horseshoe Cove, a short two miles away at the recommendation of a couple we talked to on the dock while reading Burt Dow by Robert McCloskey. We spent two wonderful days and nights, one in the eerie fog and one in the bright sunshine where rowing up stream, we were treated to some amazing wonders of nature.

We’d asked them where we might find some hiking, so they sent us up a narrow channel beyond the narrow harbor by dinghy to a boulder (you can’t miss it!) where we could find a trail spur on private land that would bring us to the John B. Mountain trail. Well, we didn’t find the boulder, but somehow we found the spur and then the trail and had a delightful hike up and down again and miraculously managed to find our way back to our dinghy following not much more than our instincts in the many forks in the path. It being a hot day for a change, we stripped down and swam in the shallow waters and rowed back to the boat, past Seal Cove Boat Yard, this time at high tide.

The day before we rowed in the same direction, this time at low tide to the reversing falls just beyond the yard, where we went ashore on a spit of land trying to hack our way to the other side of the falls.

We never made it beyond instead encountered dozens of wild mushrooms of many species, which we found fascinating in our ongoing pursuit of psychedelics. Don’t worry, we haven’t tried any yet but are inspired to learn more. And low tide treated us once again to fresh mussels harvested from the sea!

From Horseshoe Cove we had intended to sail to Holbrook Island, but the wind died as it often has this summer, so we stopped instead at Pond Island, just off Cape Rosier, which had a beautiful sand beach and where a schooner was also anchored. The next day we took the long, uncharted way around the outside of the island and had a swim among the rocks and seaweed on the back side overlooking Isleboro and the Camden Hills. As we approached our dinghy I said, “Boy I’d sure like a beer right about now,” and passing a group on the beach, Will asked, “Do you have an extra beer?” to which she replied, “Which one do you want?” We gladly accepted, and I paid her with the perfect sand dollar I’d found moments earlier on the beach, the only one we’ve seen all summer.

Well, that brings us back to our downwind sail around Cape Rosier, around the tip of Isleboro, and on into Belfast. So now it’s on to Castine and Holbrook Island, Butter Island, Seal Bay on Vinalhaven, and slowing making our way back to our home port. We’ll see how those “plans” shape up since most of our plans are really just “ideas” until they are manifested.

Tasha & Will

4 thoughts on “NIRVANA S1:E6

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