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Thread: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

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    Default Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    A happy coincidence of free time and fair weather provided opportunity to wander Casco Bay by sail and oar this past week. I was aboard Waxwing, and Rob Hazard was in Puffin, his Welsford Scamp.

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    This is a nice shot of Rob sailing Puffin a few weeks back:



    Our put in was in Yarmouth, on the Royal River. It is narrow, and long enough that ingress and egress are only possible with the tide—currents are too swift to row against in a foul tide. Once out in Casco Bay, we found winds from the south, and struck out past Lanes, Little Moshier and Moshier islands toward Whaleboat Island.


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    Here, a marked up screen shot of a chart showing our general progress:





    We had enough time in the day, and enough tide in our favor to sail around the outside of Whaleboat, with a plan to reach/run up the Bay between Whaleboat and Harpswell Neck to our anchorage at the Goslings.

    Here, rounding the outer end of Whaleboat, looking up the bay toward the Goose Islands and the Goslings:






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    The Goslings are a pair of tiny islets on the western end of lower Goose Island. Just beside them on the Harpswell side, is another small island named Irony:



    Once around the inside, between the Goslings and lower Goose is a lovely Beach, and a quiet anchorage:



    At low tide, there is a sandbar exposed between the Goslings, so depending on tides, this can be very protected from southern winds.

    Looking between the Goslings, south-west toward Portland:




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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    Oh good. Got the popcorn; settling in.

    Alex

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    Here is an image which nests between the previous two, showing the sand bar which joins the Goslings from mid-tide down:



    If you look behind the boats on the beach, you’ll see a small mooring area. It’s far enough off the shore for bigger boats needing deep draft. One of the nice things about cruising in tiny boats is the ability to tuck into shallow and protected places bigger boats won’t or can’t go. We spent the night on the beach side of the mooring area, where traffic would be unlikely. Nonetheless, I ran a nav-light up the mast before turning in, just in case someone decided to come over the bar in the middle of the night at high water.


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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    If I might add a few comments here: We timed our departure based on the tide table for Great Chebeague Island which is 5 miles or so away from the launch, and we actually left the launch ramp about 2 hours after the noted high. The Royal River channel is narrow and lined with mud flats on both sides, and high trees on the banks make the wind in there pretty fluky. As we headed out we were mostly able to sail over the flats, but by the time we approached open water the tide had dropped enough that we both found our centerboards getting stuck in the mud. I had to row myself back into the channel a couple times.

    Our actual track down the bay had a few more zigs and zags than John sketched on the chart. I remember getting a long close look at the east side of Moshier Island on one tack and sailing in close to one of the Green Ledges on the next one. I also recall getting a huge lift from the current as I crossed from Moshier over toward Cornfield Point. It's amazing how the tide sluices in and out through all those little islands!

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    Yes, Rob, as we were tacking down the Royal River, I was watching my centerboard like a hawk. The moment it bumped the bottom, I’d come about. And for sure, my marked up routes are approximate—our distance over the water involved more tacks than I indicated.
    The next morning dawned clear and calm, with a light offshore breeze. The tide would be coming in all morning. Over breakfast and coffee, we decided to work further up the Bay, using the high tide to provide enough depth to get between Birch Island and White Island before heading out the western side of Casco.


    It turned out that for much of this trip, we were working upwind, but with the tide in our favor.



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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    Great photos, John. You guys sailed right by where I was working all last summer on Pound Of Tea Island. That Northern part of Casco Bay is really nice.

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    In the shallows between Birch and White, we witnessed the slaughter of innocents...a school of small fish was being pursued from below by predators, and the surface disturbance alerted a flock of terns, which materialized seemingly out of nowhere to begin dive bombing from above. It was pretty wild for a couple of minutes.

    The wind just about died away completely as we worked our way over to Merepoint, but as we reached the harbor on that side of Birch, we got the beginnings of the offshore breeze, and started ghosting down the bay:



    A pretty yawl caught my eye as we sailed through the mooring area:





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    Rob built Puffin a couple of years ago, but this is the first season he’s had her in Maine, so this is the first chance I have had to see a Scamp in person, and to sail in company with one. I have read accounts of them here on the forums, and my impression was that it is a tiny boat with big aspirations. I think that is not completely correct, though. In person, and in her attributes, a Scamp is a truncated big boat.....a twelve foot boat with the cockpit of a twenty something footer, and far more sea keeping ability than any twelve footer should be able to manage.



    Rob, please chime in if you like...I am sure there are forumites with interest in Scamps.

    Passing Flying Point, heading back toward Harraseeket, with Sister Island and Williams Island to the left:





    We saw plenty of seals around Googins Ledge:



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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    Thanks, Steve! We considered going into the Harraseeket to look at the boats, but there was a great deal of work boat traffic, and winds were light enough that we chose not to clutter up the narrow and very busy channel......we had seen an unusual boat the day before, with tanbark mizzen and foresails, and a cream colored low aspect gaff main, and thought she might be moored in the river. Any idea of what she is?

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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    As we were toiling upwind past the Green Ledges Wednesday afternoon I noticed far to leeward a dancing white sail on the water, bracketed by a pair of red sails sort of shimmering in the sun. It was hard to make out what sort of rig it was because neither of the red sails looked like a jib; they all seemed to be free-standing sails, like a lug-rigged main with a mizzen at either end. At supper I mentioned it to John and he said he'd seen it too. We hoped it might show up at the Goslings but no such luck. You see strange stuff on the water sometimes...

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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    As we passed the entrance to Freeport harbor I noticed a low dark hull with 3 masts, the center one being much taller than ones on either end. It was hard to make out which end was the bow. I was certain that this was the mystery boat we'd seen the day before. I called out to John, but he was too far ahead to hear me clearly, and (as John just posted), neither of us wanted to try to struggle into Freeport against the ebbing current.

    Maybe Steven can enlighten us about this novel craft...?
    Last edited by Rob Hazard; 07-15-2018 at 06:12 AM.

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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    Thanks for sharing your voyage!
    John, Do you have any idea how many miles you've logged in Waxwing since her launch about three years ago? A lot of water has passed under her keel since that day.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    The two boats we are sailing are close enough in performance to make for some interesting comparisons. Waxwing, a Francois Vivier Ilur rigged as a lug yawl, is a couple feet longer than Puffin, and her bow is better shaped for slicing into harbor chop. Consequently she is, as far as I can tell, a slightly faster boat. The Scamp seems to point a bit higher though, and while she is noisy as I drive her into the chop, she's remarkably dry. She knocks the spray down so it never gets to the cockpit. Well, almost never!

    I got the impression that Puffin was able to point higher than Waxwing, though I can't prove that. Maybe it's the difference between her balanced lug and Waxwing's standing lug, or maybe it's the foil shapes of centerboards and rudders. It could also be a difference in our sailing styles, or that John tended to sail close in to shorelines while I stayed out in the favoring current more.

    Another random factor is seaweed; Casco Bay is littered with rafts of floating weed this time of year. As I sailed along I
    could feel the boat get sluggish as the stuff collected on the board and rudder, and I quickly found that raising the foils and dropping them again would leave great wads of floating weed in our wake as the boat regained her speed.

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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    Back at the Goslings John and I rafted up for supper. We dined on pate on crackers, artisanal salami, cheeses from local cheesemakers, salads from a local market in Brunswick, and washed it all down with a Belgian style beer that John had brought from Vermont, where it seems you can't kick open a barn door without finding yet another excellent micro-brewery!

    After supper we untied and I set out under oars toward that little cove where you see the boats pulled up on the beach. But as I neared the beach I passed one last mooring. The owner had thoughtfully noted on the buoy that the anchor below weighed 75lbs, which I took to be an invitation to use it if it was vacant. As I passed the buoy I saw that the owner had also written his boat's name in bold letters: PUFFIN.

    Now, MY boat's name is Puffin...

    I have a pet peeve about people trying to come up with clever boat names, names like "My Therapy" and "Wet Dream", so when I saw that the owner of this mooring had the good taste to name his boat PUFFIN, I naturally thought this was a person who surely would not mind if I borrowed his vacant mooring for a night! Now, I may have been indulging in a bit of rationalization, and in a dark corner of my mind I could hear Arlo Guthrie's voice singing "Alice's Restaurant", but I picked up the mooring, hoisted an anchor light and spent a delightfully peaceful night.

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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    I would consider seeing my boat's name on a mooring an invitation!

    Thanks for the thread & great pics guys.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    Threads like this one are the best. I wish more Forumites would take us along on their boating outings.

    So I just looked through my pics from last summer because your mystery boat was ringing a bell. I don’t think I ever saw her under sail but we passed her in the mooring field every trip to or from the Island:

    6100D588-E7A5-42B3-82F1-F87802F7A2B7.jpg

    I don't really know anything about her. I’ll ask a friend who might know more.

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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    Thanks, Steve. A curious boat, for sure! I agree that Scamp points a little bit higher than Waxwing—the Ilur can point a bit higher than I tend to drive her; she seems much faster and more lively if I give her a few degrees of leeway. I can make up the loss of heading with greater speed most of the time.

    After passing the Haraseeket River, we decided to sail behind Lanes Island and stop for lunch. There is a nice long beach on the side of Lanes facing the Cousins River and Fogg Point. Behind Lanes, we were in the lee of the island, and ghosted along until it was time to row or paddle.....I am using a paddle for the first time this year, handy when you just need an ash breeze for a short distance, and stows more easily than fishing a long pair of oars out from below decks. It was a gift from a friend who is also a boat builder, and it is a most useful thing. With a couple of hundred yards to the beach, I climbed around the mast, and sat on the teeny foredeck, mast at my back and feet dangling out front as I sculled. It was surprisingly easy to clamber out front, even wearing the sarong which I wear to keep my legs from getting sunburnt...But I had forgotten that the mainsheet was loosely cleated when I scrambled up forward. I was mildly surprised to find a bit of wind as we neared the tip of the island. The family with young kids on the beach didn’t quite know what to make of the situation as Waxwing happily sailed herself in to the beach, with me lounging up on the bow, like a vampy jazz singer sprawled across a piano in a nightclub, clutching a canoe paddle instead of a microphone.....

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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    I was 50 yards or so behind John, alternately sailing and rowing as conditions dictated. I had just gotten a new pair of long two-piece oars and I'm learning how to shift gears seamlessly, when to take the oars apart for stowage, and how to work around them when I know I'll need them again in a minute or so.
    I could just see John's paddle to one side of Waxwing's bow, the water getting shallower and shallower until it was impossible to sail. The tide was dropping rapidly now, so we had to interrupt lunch frequently to walk our anchors into deeper water and push the boats out so they (we) wouldn't be stranded.

    Looking at the second chart John posted, you can see that we crossed several areas where sailboats typically just do not go. Motorboats venturing there will raise their motors to pass the shallows. Ah, the joys of shallow draft! Puffin floats in 9" of water and will sail in about 18".

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    The tip of Lanes we were lunching on is open to the Bay in the area between Parker Point and Cousins and Littlejohn Islands. The day was growing warmer, and the on shore breeze was picking up. The tide would still be ebbing for another four hours or more. We decided to head up wind and down tide, toward Crow Island between Chebeague and Bangs Islands:



    Again, my mark up shows the general progress....I wasn’t counting the number of tacks me made. It was energetic sailing, and there was a wind vs tide chop which got a bit wet in Waxwing punching through the biggest stuff. Between Whaleboat and Red Can #6 I had a pod of four or five harbor porpoises sound along with me for a few moments, and on the last pass between Stockman Island and Crow, a passel of seals plunged off the rocky shoreline and into the Bay, while another dozen or so were startled from sleep, but stayed put, with expressions which seemed to say “What’s the big deal? Can’t you see we’re napping here?”


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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    A "passel" of seals! We were discussing what to call a group of seals. Not a herd or a flock, since those are groups of herbivores; not a pod, since they are not organized in a hunting group. So, a passel? OK...

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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    I like "passel of seals" very well. Every bit as good as a "murder of crows" or a "parliment of owls."

    And I like this thread, too. Thank you, gentlemen.

    Alex

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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    Alex, thank you and you are welcome.

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    Default Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    We arrived at Crow late in the afternoon, tired after bashing to windward for the past several hours. There is a pocket cove on the northeast end, and as we pulled up to the beach, we spied 14 sea kayaks pulled well up above the high water mark. Rob went up the beach, and over the rise to parley with the people of two blades. He returned a while later, in good spirits. The paddlers were a group of a dozen teenagers and two counselors from an outfit called Ripple Effects, on a sea kayaking walkabout for several days. They intended to camp on the island high ground, and did not mind sharing the cove with us, as long as we would not mind their getting on the water at about 5 a.m. or so. We did not mind.
    The cove we landed in is lovely, deep but too narrow to swing on an anchor. We stayed with the boats as the tide rose, letting us scope out an area where the beach was free of rocks, so we could anchor knowing we would dry out without setting down on a sharp rock. Satisfied we were in a clear zone, we set out bow and stern anchors. Wind was forecast to be light, from the south, so we would be sheltered by the shore. I put my rocna on the beach side, and the new and untested in real use folding stock fisherman as my stern hook.






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    The day ended quietly, with a Novi style fishing boat plying between us and Bangs:



    While over Chebeague, the last of the light reflected below the broken cloud cover:



    It had been a long day, and we turned in early.....


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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    Crow Island is on the Maine Island Trail.
    In my more active sea-kayaking days I spent a few nights there with other members of the North Shore Paddlers' Network. We used to do occasional cleanup trips there and on nearby Bangs Island as part of our support of MITA. I did a quick walk around the shoreline and found it pleasingly free of trash. I found exactly one piece of styrofoam, one plastic slotted serving spoon, and one paper towel. Someone is keeping an eye on the place. Good job, that person!

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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    Sounds like a fine time.

    For what it is worth...
    James Lipton in his book "An Exhaltation of Larks" tells us that it is a pod of seals.

    Still passel seems to work pretty well

    Frank K.

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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    A fine tale! Thanks for sharing it.

    Looking forward to the conclusion.
    Alex

    "A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned, for he will be going out on a day he shouldn't. We do be afraid of the sea, and we only be drowned now and again" Aran Islands Fisherman

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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    Nice pics, a good warmup for the SRR. Are you going to cruise up to Brooklin?
    Steve B
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    Hello, Steve, no I am back in Vermont as I write this.

    The forecast was for light winds from the south, with intermittent cloud cover overnight. Because it was such a mild night, I chose to just cover myself with a light fly to keep off morning dew instead of setting up the boom tent....and woke at 12:30 or so with gusty wind lifting corners of the loose fly and snapping them in the wind. I tucked in the loose edges as it began to spit rain. The wind was from directly astern, and waves were slapping the transoms noisily. It was not conducive to sleep, and the squall kept up for an hour or so. Fortunately, the rain never got serious, and the short fetch from Whaleboat to Crow did not allow big waves to build. I have no idea when I dropped off to sleep, but do not remember a thing till morning—not taking the bottom as the tide went out, or even the first of the kayak group bringing their boats down to shore before dawn. The fisherman was right where I had set it the evening before when Rob moved it so that it would be out of the launching kayaker’s way. The squall was a bit more of a challenge than I would have preferred as I gain experience with how this new anchor performs, but it seemed to handle this without fuss, so a good start to it’s career.



    Another new bit of kit for Waxwing this season is a pair of beaching legs I made last winter:



    This one doubles as a boarding step....I have had a couple of guests go for a swim and have difficulty reboarding, so this provides a solid toe hold for getting back aboard.
    Last edited by John hartmann; 07-15-2018 at 06:39 PM.

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    Another view of the cove at low tide, looking back toward Chebeague, showing a few rocks it would be sad to meet with an ebbing tide:




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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    Good photos, John!

    I'm an early riser from long habit, so I was awake and sitting in my oh-so clever easy chair in Puffin's cuddy with a steaming cup of coffee in hand when the first of the kayakers tiptoed down the beach. I gave them a wave and a smile. Realizing their attempt at stealth had failed, they reverted to normal teenager mode and called back and forth as they launched their fleet. Soon they were paddling away along the shore of Chebeague Island and we were left with a colorful sunrise and the usual rumble of lobster boats in the distance.

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    Default Re: Waxwing and Puffin visit Casco Bay

    Thank you, Rob. New camera this year replaced an ancient DSLR....the widget gets the credit. Do you have images to show the Scamp’s outfitting for camp cruising? I was amazed at how much living and storage space Mr. Welsford packed into 12 feet so tidily.

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