MAINE COAST CRUISE: Damariscove Island

Damariscove Island

I USED TO COME OUT HERE when I was young, in an outboard skiff or a Drascombe longboat with a spritsail. I was in love with the abandoned Coast Guard station at the entrance to the tiny slit-trench harbor and often daydreamed I would someday live out here in that house, all on my own. I was used to the tall dark pines of our island in the Kennebec, and to me the landscape of this island, altogether treeless, with grass and thick shrubbery reaching in all directions, seemed alien and exotic.

Small as it was, the very fact of the harbor also made the island appealing. We kept our boats moored on the open tide-wracked edge of the mighty Kennebec, and whenever we wanted to sail on open water we had first to clear the river entrance, a sometimes tricky affair. Here you could moor a small boat quite securely and in an instant be out sailing looking at mostly horizon in all directions.

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AUTOPILOT BACK-UP: She's Gotta Have It

Aries windvane in action

WHEN IT COMES TO AUTOPILOTS it is always best to divide your affections. No sense in being monogamously faithful to just one unit, giving it names and all, only to have it crap out on you in some less than sanguine circumstance. One reason I fell for Lunacy was because she came equipped with three different self-steering systems, each quite a bit different from the other two.

First, there is the Aries windvane in pure windvane mode (see photo up top), its air blade waving above its head, seeking the direction of the wind.

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SAIL V. CRUISING WORLD: Secret Bilateral Talks

Elaine & Charlie

BACK IN THE LATE NINETIES when I quit my job as an associate editor at Cruising World, Elaine Lembo was hired to take my place. We've been good friends ever since. We usually have furtive encounters in vans running between BWI Airport and Annapolis in October and swap all kinds of juicy gossip about sailing magazines, particularly the ones we work for. This year for the first time we had our furtive encounter in the proper way, aboard a boat, in a fabulous anchorage in Maine (Ridley Cove, just south of Cundy's Harbor), in company with Elaine's partner-in-crime, paramour, and common-law husband, Cap'n Rick Martell.

I was aboard Lunacy; Rick and Elaine were aboard their vintage Crocker ketch, Land's End. Can you guess which boat we decided to have dinner on?

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GREENLAND CRUISE: The Further Adventures of Cousin Nick

Greenland cruise

JUST IN CASE you guys haven't been following my cousin Nick's cruise to the east coast Greenland like I told you to, I thought I'd import an entry from the ship's blog so you can get a taste of how things are going aboard S/V Teddy. Nick, unfortunately, came down with the shingles, but is recovering; meanwhile, he and the crew have had little trouble catching cod to eat. The text that follows is by Nick; the fantastic pix, evidently, are by Ben Yeager.

Took 4.5 days to cross the Denmark Strait to Greenland. Little or no wind for the middle half - a damn lot of motoring.

We entered the ice field 3x. By ice field I mean vast regions of concentrated floes & bergs. The Danes (the colonizers of Greenland) call this the stori, the until recently impenetrable ice fields coming down from the polar basin year round. This pattern dramatically changed in the past decade, due to global warming I guess, and small boats like mine can enter a month or two a year. Two locals told me that 5 sailboats come in each year, in August.

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JEFF'S NEW BOAT: Valiant 40 Delivery

Valiant 40 deck

HAD A CHANCE to return a favor last week, as my friend and neighbor, Jeff Bolster, needed crew to help him get his new boat all the way home from Florida. (You may recall Jeff helped me sail Lunacy back from Bermuda just two years ago.) Jeff's original plan had been to sail the boat--a Valiant 40 built in Texas back in the 1990s--up here to Baja Maine in one fell swoop. But the boat's engine had different ideas.

After an unscheduled layover first in Baltimore (to fit a new turbocharger) and then in Norwalk (to replace a bell housing that somehow managed to split in two), Jeff (seen up top wrestling with his new mainsail) at last had the pleasure of piloting his new ride into the mouth of the Piscataqua River twixt Portsmouth and Kittery not long before sunset on Friday.

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VALIANT 40: The First "Performance Cruiser"

Valiant 40

OFTEN HAILED as the first performance cruiser, the Valiant 40 was an important breakthrough boat both for its designer, Bob Perry, and for cruising sailors in general. The genius of the design is that it married what above the water looks like a beamy double-ended traditional cutter with a much more modern underbody featuring a fin keel and separate rudder mounted on a skeg. First introduced in 1974, the Valiant 40 was for at least a decade the definitive production-built offshore sailing vessel.

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CRUISING MEMORIES: Island of the Tripping Squirrels

doorway in forest

On returning from a solo cruise to Mt. Desert Island in Maine some years ago, I stopped and anchored for the evening next to an uninhabited islet off the northwest corner of Swans Island.

At least I thought it was uninhabited...

The sun was already low in the western sky, but I thought perhaps there was just enough daylight left for an expedition ashore. The tiny island beckoned to me. I hurried through my chores--rigged a snubber line on the anchor rode, snugged the sails down for the night--and then jumped in my tender and pulled for a thin stone strand I could see at the foot of a low cliff that ringed the island's shore.

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Triple Stars in Bermuda

HERE'S A POSTSCRIPT to a sad story. Triple Stars, the Island Packet 380 from which cruiser Jan Anderson was lost overboard last November, was towed into Bermuda last week by a fisherman. The boat has been adrift ever since Jan's husband Rob abandoned it about 285 miles northwest of Bermuda, after a search for Jan was called off. As you can see in the photo up top, taken at Ely's Harbour in Bermuda last Thursday (by Glenn Tucker, for the Bermuda Royal Gazette), the boat looks to be in reasonably good condition. At the time she was abandoned, there were reportedly problems with her autopilot and in-mast furling mainsail, but she was otherwise operable.

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  • Boats & Gear

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