Day 14 – Roque Island to Cutler

Day 14 – Roque Island to Cutler

Cutler, Maine Chart
Click to view the full chart

It was raining lightly when we lifted the anchor out of the sandy bottom of Roque Island Harbor. I wasted no time in donning my waterproof jacket and pants.

Roque Island Fog, Maine
Good timing, we were getting low on fog

We motored out between the rocky islands under overcast skies, and once in open water, raised the sails. In doing so the three lowest slides slipped out of the track on the mast, which left the luff loose. The wind and rocking swell did their best to keep Andrew from getting them back in, but he fought back with a solid stream of emphatic swearing and wrestled away. Caly came and hid between my legs, but soon Andrew was able to get the mainsail right again.

With a stiff breeze and the aiding tidal current we are doing eight knots overground, excellent pace. After the long day into Jonesport, we had planned around the powerful tides pushing into and out of the Bay of Fundy to our north.

VLF Array, Maine
997.5 foot tall towers

We neared Cross Island, the entire island a bird refuge, and the massive radio towers of the the Navy’s VLF transmitter appeared over the clouds behind it. The Cold War era transmitter is one of the most powerful in the world and provides one way communication to submarines in the Atlantic, even when they are submerged. The wikipedia article proved fascinating. A network of towers and cables and the low lying fog came together to form an ominous spectacle. Two large hill-perched mansions nearby must have been abandoned and haunted.

We continued to Cutler, the next in our sequence of lobstering towns. The current and winds around the mouth of the harbor were strong, making choppy waves and uncomfortable sailing. I dropped the headsail as the boat bounced around beneath my feet. With one arm wrapped around the boom I hastily furled the main and struggled to keep my footing. Isla looked narrow below me, as if a fall might end outside the boat; I made a mental note to wear a life preserver next time.

With the motor running and both of us safely in the cockpit, we ducked behind the Little River Lighthouse and into a calm Cutler Harbor. We pulled up to the edge of the mooring field and picked a spot to anchor. The cruising guide had said it was common for a boat to drag her anchor across the harbor, but when Andrew had called the harbormaster he said it was “all good holdin’ “. We let the rode out and soon enough started drifting slowly towards the other boats, anchor bumping along the bottom. We reset the anchor and watched our position closely as Isla fishtailed slowly. After a few minutes we were confident the scoop had dug in.

Cutler boat launch, Maine
Spot Isla

We rowed to the boat launch and tied up The Dingy. Walking around the village in search of a bathroom, we stopped at the town office and library, a single small building, which did in fact house Cutler’s single public bathroom. We chatted with a very friendly woman working there; she seemed surprised the two of us were handling our boat alone. She recommended a quick hike along the ocean starting at the end of town back past the harbor, and we headed that way after taking some pictures of the piers and lobster boats.

Mossy trail, Cutler, Maine

The trail shined wet from recent rain and the vegetation was a vibrant green. We followed the path by a century old silver mine, nothing more than a gouge in the earth, and out to a beach covered in gray rocks, rounded smooth by the surf.

Cutler Harbor, Maine
‘Hi friend’

We ate a quick snack and waited for the tide to drop, enough to allow dry passage to the tiny island nearby. We scrambled up its rocky sides and walked atop the small cliffs on each side.

Cutler Harbor Cliff, Maine
Jacquandrew Cousternest

Despite the snack, we were growing hungry and returned to Isla to cook dinner, mac and cheese and beans again. Poor cell service and nebulous plans for the next day lead us back to the library’s public Wi-Fi. The tide was much lower now, and the boat launch dock no longer reached the water; it lay useless on the muddy bed. We instead went to one of the private piers. Somehow, Andrew managed to climb the growing ladder with Caly under one arm. The library was closed, but we sat on the porch in range of the router.

After a while I left Andrew to his research and wandered up the nearby hill. I found the Little River Boat Shop which evidently had built most of the lobster boats in the harbor. It wasn’t much more than a garage, perhaps big enough to house two of the fifty foot boats end to end, but the boats in the harbor bearing their name were impressive. Here’s a picture (from their facebook) of them backing a new hull into the shop.

On the walk back I couldn’t help but admire how nice many of the houses were. Well kept lawns, new trim, several of them had spectacular views of the narrow harbor, set on the hill above it. When I returned to the town office, Andrew had disappeared. Someone had taken pity on him and let him in off the porch. She appeared to live in the three-in-one Cutler Town Office, Library, and now apartment building. We sat inside for a few more minutes and then left for Isla.

The tide was even lower than before and the bottom steps of the ladder, which spend the great majority of the day underwater, were increasingly slippery. I opted not to watch as Andrew descended, one hand holding Caly, the other quickly switching between the slick two-by-four rungs.

Cutler Pier, Maine
18 foot tide, 1 foot dinghy control

The pier now towered over the floating dock below, where only six hours before they were nearly level. We rowed back to Isla and climbed into our respective berths. The boat rocked forcefully all night and the main halyard was rattling loudly. I climbed out of the hatch above the v-berth to tie it away from the mast and the noise decreased. But, for all the rocking we agreed it was the worst night of sleep yet.

2 Replies to “Day 14 – Roque Island to Cutler”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *