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Maine to Annapolis, MD - Southbound 2008


Boothbay Harbor, ME and other stops in Maine
by Mary

2008 Southbound On August 28 we finally left Camden, ME headed south and got to Boothbay, ME that same afternoon. The good news was that the Two Bush Channel was not as densely packed with lobster pots as it was on our way north.

Boothbay is another of Maine's tourist destinations. It's a picturesque town with lots of shops to relieve visitors of their cash and more lobster restaurants than I've ever seen in one place. There's a rustic looking bowling alley with candlepin bowling The harbor is full of moorings holding many working boats as well as pleasure boats. There are a couple of fishing boats and quite a few lobster boats.. The harbor is also dotted with lobster traps in among the mooring balls.

Friends had recommended that we stay at Tugboat Inn and Marina but they had no moorings available so we followed another recommendation and got a mooring at Brown's Wharf. Brown's is on the opposite side of the harbor from the downtown so it's a trek to get into town. This is the most expensive mooring we've ever had - more expensive than others in the bay - and almost as much as a slip costs in many places - and there was no launch service to get us to shore. On the plus side, they have a courtesy car available which gave us a chance to do some grocery shopping. We hadn't been to a supermarket for a few weeks so the grocery list was pretty long.

There's a free trolley that runs from Brown's to a few hotels and to downtown. We took it on our first day here to get a feel for the town's layout. There's also a footbridge across the bay which makes it an easy walk into town. The footbridge walk is especially useful if you need to expend a few calories after consuming a lobster dinner with a stop for ice cream for dessert. We had an excellent lobster dinner at Kaler's and it was the least expensive lobster we've had.

On September 2, getting ready to leave, we noticed another Saga 43 on a nearby mooring. It was Lucille with Bill and Sandy Donaldson aboard. We'd met them in the Bahamas at Warderick Wells. They stopped by in their dinghy on their way to do laundry. We're hoping we'll meet up with them again as we continue our way down the coast.


Biddeford Pool, ME

As we got about 3.5 miles off the coast we encountered a couple of seals - the first we've seen in open water.

By 4:00 we were anchored at Biddeford Pool just south of Portland, ME. We'd thought we'd spend a couple of days here but there were no moorings available so we anchored and just stayed overnight.

Biddeford Pool, ME

Kittery, ME

We originally planned to head straight for Salem, MA from Biddeford Pool, but on the way we decided that it was just too ambitious a plan for one day considering that it's getting dark much earlier now. We don't like to come into an unfamiliar harbor after dark. Kittery, ME, just across from Portsmouth, NH, was our choice for an overnight stop. I was looking forward to another lobster dinner at Warren's. one of our favorite restaurants, but we ended up farther away from Warren's than we wanted to dinghy.

Pepperell Cove, Kittery, ME

As we moved farther south, the lobster pots became much less dense. There were even periods when there were no lobster buoys in sight. Makes for a much more relaxing ride.

On the 4th we weighed anchor at Pepperell Cove in Kittery and set out for Salem. At 4:30 we were settled on a mooring in Salem harbor and ready for a glass of wine. Tropical Storm Hanna is on her way up the coast so we spent the 5th making sure that everything is ready for strong winds.


On our way down the Maine coast we were plagued by flies. I don't understand how they get more than 3 miles offshore. And these were biters. Neal still hadn't healed completely from the previous fly onslaught and now he was being bitten again. Between watching for lobster pots and swatting at these little demons, we were very, very busy. One fly swatter actually broke from all the action! As we killed them, we scooped them into the gutters on either side of the cockpit floor. It was astounding to see how many there were.

Salem, MA

Tropical Storm Hanna came through with strong winds, but not nearly as strong and turbulent as what we'd experienced at No Name Harbor in Florida. That was a relief. A couple of days later, a front came through with much stronger gusts than Hanna had thrown at us.

Salem Harbor is great - well protected and in town. In fact, this was once the busiest harbor in the colonies - bringing goods from Asia to the New World. We took a mooring from Salem Water Taxi which gave us launch service to and from a small city dock as well as access to the facilities of Hawthorne Cove Marina.

I have mixed feelings about the town of Salem. It is a nice town with a lot of interesting colonial buildings and architecture but the retailers go waaaay overboard on the witch theme. The witch trials of the 17th century are the main tourist draw here and everyone wants a piece of that. Downtown has a very nice pedestrian mall, but every second shop has to do with witches. Even the ones that are not directly witch related highlight their witchy merchandise. It gets a little tiresome. On the other hand the National Park Service has a Maritime Historical Site here that is interesting. We didn't take the guided tours of the Customs House and other buildings, but we'll do that next time. The "House of the Seven Gables" is also here and is a tourist attraction. That's also on our agenda for our next visit.

We visited my son, Jim and his family; and he came aboard for what was to have been a weekend of sailing that was screwed up by weather. It was great to spend some time with him. We got groceries and did laundry - all the exciting things.

It's started getting too cool overnight - lows in the 40's. Time to continue our southerly migration.


Scituate, MA

September 20, we left Salem to go to Scituate and decided to spend a couple of days to see the town. We picked up a mooring line with the boat hook on the first try and felt proud of ourselves. Moorings in Scituate harbor are pretty densely packed together and we found ourselves in contact with another boat. We were moved to a mooring with a pickup stick and again got it on the first try. Had the final lobster dinner of the season at Mill Wharf restaurant. It was very, very good. It's a nice town with several restaurants, a CVS pharmacy and a supermarket within easy walking distance.

We were having engine starting problems again. When we weren't able to start after getting fuel, a good Samaritan came on board and noticed loose wires at the starter solenoid. When Neal took a closer look he found that there was one wire that wasn't' connected to the solenoid. Connecting that wire seems to have solved the starting problem.

On the 23rd, after installing a new alternator belt, we left Situate heading for the Cape Cod Canal, and Onset Bay at the west end of the canal.

Scituate, MA

Padanaram, MA & mooring woes

Weather forecasts were ominous. A strong storm battering Puerto Rico and Hispaniola was predicted to move north to meet another strong storm forming off the Carolinas. The result was forecast to be high winds and treacherous seas all the way to New England in the next few days. We didn't want to be at anchor in a storm, so we decided that Padanarum (South Dartmouth, MA) would be a good place to get a mooring and wait out the weather. The NOAA weather sites forecast 16 - 18 foot waves off the coast. Not a good place to be.

We spent the night of the 23rd at anchor in Onset Bay and then headed for a mooring at the New Bedford Yacht Club at Padanaram. In windy conditions, we picked up the mooring pickup stick on the second try. Not bad. But then we were told that they'd mistakenly put us in place too shallow for our 7' draft at low tide. We'd have to move. The new mooring didn't have a pickup stick, so I got the boat hook - extended it to about its maximum and got ready on the bow. But by now the wind had picked up to 16 knots (18mph).

Wearing our 2-way radios, I stand at the bow directing Neal to bring me to where I can grab the mooring. We're getting much better at this in calm or low wind conditions.

But now the wind was having its way with us. Approaching a mooring, the boat must be just barely moving so that the person on the bow can capture the mooring line and hang on to it. Generally the engine is out of gear and we're coasting as we get close to the mooring. This is a problem in windy conditions, because a slow moving boat will be moved by the wind and with the engine in neutral and no forward speed to speak of, steering is almost impossible and the boat blows away from the target.

After a couple of complete misses, I managed to snag the line with the boat hook, but the wind was pushing us away from the mooring with such force that I just was not strong enough to get the float and line on board. At least 3 or 4 times, I had it in my hands but couldn't hang on as the wind took us away. Just to add to the frustration, one of our radio batteries crapped out and we had to shout back and forth to one another. Finally one of the launch drivers grabbed the mooring line; attached a much longer line to it and heaved it to me. This gave me enough length to get the line secured and then haul the float and mooring line aboard. We're no longer crowing about our few times snagging moorings on the first try.

As I write, we're sitting here watching weather forecasts and biding our time until the storm passes.

Atlantic City & Cape May, NJ

Left Padanaram on Sept 30 - a day later than originally planned. Our goal was to get to Cape May, NJ, 260 nautical miles (301 land miles), but wind was a problem. At first there was no wind; and when it finally came up it was right on our nose, sometimes as high as 20 knots. Hard to push forward against that kind of force. As evening fell, two little birds took refuge on the boat. They sat on the lifelines for a while and then found a quiet spot under the dodger. On my 3 to 6 am watch, the last one finally took off again. By the early hours of the next morning it was clear that we wouldn't get to Cape May before dark so we headed instead for the anchorage at Atlantic City, NJ.

There were only 2 other boats anchored so we were able to find a spot with good holding. A guide book had warned us about currents here but we were still surprised to find our swing controlled more by current than by wind. It feels strange to be at anchor and not facing into the wind. Since we arrived at about low tide, we put out plenty of scope (Length of anchor chain). A front came through overnight with strong wind gusts.

At about 9 the next morning we were about to collide side to side with one of the other anchored boats. Each captain felt that he'd not dragged anchor so we're not certain what happened, but we believe that we had more scope than the other boat. That combined with the other boat's nylon anchor line (nylon stretches) probably brought us together in the very strong wind gusts. We hauled anchor and moved a bit.

On Oct 4 we fueled and left Atlantic City. By 10:20 we had 23 knots of wind right on the nose so it was slow going to Cape May where we anchored overnight.

Atlantic City, NJ

Delaware Bay to Chesapeake Bay and Annapolis

The next day we went up Delaware Bay - one of the most boring passages ever. There is nothing even vaguely interesting to look at on the shores We did find a nice anchorage, though not far from the C & D canal entrance. It's a spot behind Reedy Island that we'd never have considered except that it's listed in Skipper Bob's anchorage book. There was a lot of current, but it was a very quiet and pleasant place to spend the night.

Reedy Island, Delaware Bay

Due to a miscalculation, we traveled the C & D mostly against the current. We encountered about 6 barges on the canal - a busy day for a Sunday. We'd decided to go only as far as the Sasafrass River. Considering that we were fighting current, that turned out to be a good idea. We'd heard how popular the Sasafrass is with cruisers. The problem for us was depth - only one relatively close anchorage is reported to be deep enough for us but when we got there a bar across the entrance made it too shallow for us to get in. Fortunately we were at a very wide spot in the river and we were able to anchor well out of the channel. Now that we're in the Chesapeake, we have crab traps instead of lobster traps. The good news is that crab traps are rarely set in more than 30 ft of water.

Sasafrass River, upper Chesapeake Bay

On Oct 6, we finally headed for Annapolis hoping to find a reasonable place to anchor. The boat show was coming up starting on the 9th so we knew we'd face crowded conditions. Luckily we did find a spot on Back Creek. The creek shores are lined with marina docks so the middle of the creek is filled with anchored boats. It can be tricky to judge just how much space you need, but the tidal range here is minimal so anchor scope can also be shorter than optimum. We don't plan to go to the show, but we're here to get some repairs.

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