Day 11 – Prospect Harbor to Jonesport

Day 11 – Prospect Harbor to Jonesport

Jonesport, Maine Chart
Click to view full chart

We woke and quickly pulled our anchor to get moving. Today we were sailing from Prospect Harbor to Jonesport, some 30 miles. The wind was light and in the wrong direction, coming out of the Northeast, so we set off motoring. A shorter boat could confidently fit under the bridge between Jonesport and Beal Island, but Isla’s mast reaches somewhere close to 50 feet out of the water. The low tide clearance of the bridge is 48 feet, and so we decided not to find out if we’d be trading the mast for a shorter sail. This meant we were going to sail around all the islands to the south of Jonesport, adding 10 or more miles to the day.

Petit Manan Lighthouse
This one is very tall, neat

As we chugged past the strikingly tall (109 feet!) lighthouse on Petit Manan Island, we noticed another sailboat making better progress than us by tacking upwind, and we decided to sail. We set off to the east going seven miles offshore before tacking up north. It became clear we were fighting the tide as we drew closer to Great Wass Island. We made slow progress around the southern end of Steel Harbor Island and the current was growing stronger if anything. Noting that our sails were doing little more than keeping us in place, we begin to sail with the aid of the Atomic 4. The combined force pushed us through the water at seven knots, hull speed, but we crawled forward over the ground at less than three.

We watched the lobster buoys pass slowly, the current occasionally forcing them under the surface. The dark skies overhead were no longer sprinkling but raining steadily, and it was starting to feel like a long day. We donned our rain gear and ate the last of our snacks, hard, stale bread. Isla struggled above Head Harbor Island and we fell off the wind towards Jonesport.

Andrew called the Jonesport Shipyard to ask about transient mornings and if the dredged channel would be deep enough for us given the spring tide (two feet lower than usual). They assured us it would be, and told us to pull up to float 28 when we arrived. Unfortunately the current was still fighting us, even as we curved around the islands into Moosabec Reach, and we spent another two hours barely moving in the rain.

Fishing on the sailboat, Jonesport, Maine
That’s a type-II-fun smile right there

We could only laugh at how dreary and dull the day was. Andrew cranked some Shabbaz Palaces and we danced like only two white guys in ill-fitting foul weather gear could. We made it into Jonesport and ducked behind the breakwater to find our float, finally out of opposing current.

The dredged channel was shallow, the number on the depth sounder crept lower and lower. I visualized the damaged keel moving inches about the murky bottom; the shipyard’s assurances were doing much less to comfort than the fact the bottom was soft. About 100 yards from float 28 we slowed to a stop, stuck in the muddy bottom. Rather than sit, I rowed a probably desperate Caly ashore to let her out. Andrew waited for the now rising tide to free Isla, which only took a few minutes. He was moving again before I rode back out. I pulled alongside a moving Isla in the dinghy with surprising (lucky) coordination and we continued towards the float. Naturally, we ran out of gas, but Andrew was able to use her momentum and some sculling to get us the rest of the way to the float.

We tied up and made dinner below deck, listening to the rain and growing wind. We went to bed partly expecting to be woken by the low tide around 5 AM. It would likely cause the keel to sit on the bottom and roll the boat over considerably. I woke up instead to a light shining into my starboard porthole and footsteps on deck. Semiconscious, I called out to alert Andrew but when he didn’t answer I realized it was him. The wind was gusting to 30 knots, which was causing considerable vibrations to travel from the rigging down into the hull. There, they reverberated and combined into a mess of loud humming and rattling. Above deck, Andrew found that the force of the boat tugging on her dock lines had damaged two of the three strands of the line holding the bow.

I fell back asleep while Andrew was fixing all of this as best he could. Later, I woke once more to see him on deck checking the health of the lines. It was a long day indeed, but at least the low tide didn’t wake us.

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