Day 8 – Pulpit Harbor to Marshall Island

Day 8 – Pulpit Harbor to Marshall Island

Marshall Island Chart
Click to view the full chart

When we woke up two of the schooners were gone. Today we were sailing to Marshall Island. The air was already warm from the sun, and the water felt refreshing to the touch, so we went for a swim.

Jumping off the spreaders
No need for the bosun’s chair

We passed the namesake Pulpit Rock and started motoring around the north shore of North Haven, today heading for Marshall Island. Isla choked through the last of her gas, so we dumped one of the spare cans into the main tank (which has no fuel gauge, if you’re wondering). We raised the sails as the wind strengthened, and I set out the handline, tangling it badly.

Twenty minutes of untangling later, I had it trailing the boat nicely, and soon caught a colorful lobster buoy. The snubber stretched tight and the tension pulled hard enough to slow the five and a half tons of sailboat on our end. We doubled back and I reached down the line; a second hand fact about the legality of shooting someone pulling your lobster trap came to mind. I freed the hook and stowed the rig.

We navigated a dense minefield of lobster trap rigs, the majority of which now had a second buoy attached by a horizontal line to the first. In other words, they were perfects traps, lying in wait to snag our prop and rudder. As we drew near to Marshall Island we spotted bald eagles surveying their respective domains atop small rocky islands. We circled around the southeast corner of the island and tacked up into Sand Cove.

Sand Cove, Marshall Island
All to ourselves

The cove was gorgeous, clear turquoise water, a broad sandy beach stretching above the gentle waves, wrapped on either side by pale orange granite outcroppings. The evergreens on the shore were really the only giveaway, the water wasn’t as tropical as its appearance. Andrew verified this while inspecting the hull for damage from our crash, trading his light farmer john wet suit for the thick hooded one, with gloves and boots too.

Diving on the hull
“Hey, how’s it going down there?”

The keel was missing some paint from the impact, but showed nothing concerning. After he struggled through peeling off the suit we rowed ashore to explore.

Sand Cove
Sand Cove, good name

Caly celebrated firm ground with her ritual full tilt figure eights. We set off around the island counter clockwise. On Devil’s head, a short spur trail with too many spider webs led us to the rocky shore. A bald eagle, perched on the rocks maybe thirty yards away, spotted us and took off. The short distance between us showed just how large the bird’s wingspan was; I’d guess comparable to my 6’6″. Andrew found a huge yellow buoy on the way to the derelict pier, and decided to carry it back to Isla, some 4 miles.

Marshall Island, Maine
Andrew’s new toy

We continued around the uninhabited island, spotting a few more eagles, and the bones of their food. The island was once inhabited by a single family. We cut inland to see the old airstrip (a wealthy family apparently), and startled two young white tail deer before reaching the broad treeless “X” cut into the forest. The area surrounding the clearing was dotted with low bush blueberries, a Maine specialty.

Crossing to the other side of the of the island, we spotted two sea kayaks, and stopped to talk to their owners. The two fortyish looking guys were setting up camp for the weekend, and about to prepare dinner in front of their seaside sunset. It turned out one of them had gone on a similar sailing trip when he graduated college, Gloucester, Massachusetts to Nova Scotia.

Marshall Island, Maine sunset
Red at night, sailor’s delight

We got back to Isla at dusk, the mosquitoes thick, and I regretted volunteering to row again as I couldn’t swat them while holding the oars. We made mac and cheese and baked beans for dinner. As the light faded we were somewhat surprised to have the picturesque cove to ourselves.

After dinner we went back above deck, where the distance to the mainland and a new moon had dropped the ambient light to remarkably low levels. The Milky Way wrapped from the southern point of the cove to the tip of the mast above us. A huge meteor with glowing tail tore across the sky and we watched for others and satellites for a while. The luminescent phytoplankton were back again. I debated if I should row to the pitch black island for pictures of the glowing specs above and below the water, but succumbed to weariness and went to bed.

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