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Old 06-01-2021, 07:06   #1
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Sailing in Maine

As I sit inside in the winter I continue to think about:

Sailing in Maine

Many people think that sailing on the coast of Maine is challenging. The combination of challenges that confront the sailors in this part of the world appear daunting to folks who normally sail in kinder and gentler waters. Large tides with attendant tidal currents along the Maine coast make some folks nervous. Numerous lobster trap buoys waiting to catch your rudder, propeller, and keel are intimidating. Impenetrable fog and unforgiving rocky shores are enough to give southern sailors nightmares. I am here to tell you that you have nothing to fear and that all of these conditions were put here for a reason and that you should consider them all to be personal gifts.

You can enjoy yourself in Maine knowing that there are large tides with currents that can reach four or more knots in some places. If you are used to sailing in places with tide heights of a foot or two, our tides of nine to twenty-four feet should fill you with feelings of reassurance. You can be assured that should you run aground at low tide that you will float free sometime tomorrow and if you run aground at high water you will have plenty of time to scrub and paint your bottom while you wait for the water to come back. Those of us who are used to the tides of Maine can not understand how folks who sail in areas that have small tides ever get their bottoms cleaned or for that matter how they get themselves off when they inevitably run aground.

The tidal currents are a gift for those of us who only travel at four to six knots but are always in a hurry. On a recent trip to Eastport for the fourth of July, Pacem was traveling up the Grand Manan channel, around the end of Campobello Island and down the Head Harbor passage doing ten knots. The incoming tidal current for the area’s twenty-four foot tides sped us along at such a speed that I would have been scared if it were not for the fog that kept me from seeing more than a hundred yards.

As I have told our crew, Ben and Brad, fog is like night time at home. You know that if you get up in the middle of the night and walk around the house without turning on the lights that everything is just the same as it was when there is light. So sailing in the fog is the just the same as sailing in the bright sunshine but you do not have to be distracted by the sights of islands with summer houses the size of castles, mountains with views over the sea, wildlife, and schooners with sails filled bearing down on you. It frees you to be more introspective and to pay attention to the numerous navigational aids that the friendly people of Maine put out in the water for you.

The United States Coast Guard does a wonderful job of marking the major hazards to navigation on the coast but with a decrease in available funding the job of indicating the flow of currents has fallen to volunteers. The lobstermen of Maine spend their lives putting little colored buoys in every conceivable place along the coast of Maine. They help us figure out the exact set and drift of the current by placing these beautiful little buoys in the navigable channels. The density of the buoys seems to be related to the amount of waterborne traffic expected in the area. The Penobscot Bay area has so many buoys that it seems that one could walk across some channels without getting wet. In some places from Muscongus Bay north, they even put on small additional buoys or toggles before the main colored buoy to help us determine the current by catching the horizontal line between the two buoys on our propeller or rudder. Though most of our boats mount anchors on the forward or pointy end of the vessel, these numerous lines help us practice the age-old technique of anchoring by the rudder. We should all thank these selfless volunteers and also try to support them by encouraging everyone we know to buy the critters that they catch when they are moving the navigational markers around our rocky coast.

The rocky shores of Maine are a great improvement over the sandy shores that cover some of the rest of the planet. The sand that one brings aboard from beaches gets into your bunk and your bilge and is impossible to get out of either one. The rocky shore also tells you when the water is getting too shallow to float your boat. I have run aground in many parts of the world and I can tell you from experience that when you run aground in Maine you will know it immediately. I have run aground in the Bahamas, Florida, and Nantucket in such soft sand that the boat just slid to a quiet stop without any notification to the crew. In Maine the notification of grounding is immediate and usually relatively noisy. The noise of scraping or fracturing of fiberglass from the forward part of the hull clearly sends the message that the water has become too thin.

The challenges that people associate with sailing the coast of Maine are really great gifts to all of us. Think of these gifts as lessons to be learned and events to be experienced. The coast is a tough teacher who thinks that you learn better when the lessons are difficult and the grading is demanding. I want to assure you of the friendly and benign nature of the coast of Maine and encourage you to come up and sail with us. In few areas of the nautical world is the combination of conditions as conducive to relaxation and carefree cruising as the coast of Maine.
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Old 06-01-2021, 08:00   #2
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Re: Sailing in Maine

You forgot black flies.
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Old 06-01-2021, 10:37   #3
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Re: Sailing in Maine

Sounds idyllic
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Old 06-01-2021, 11:57   #4
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Re: Sailing in Maine

Right on the money! Maine is a great place to sail and cruise. Once you are there you get used to the large tides, current, and fog. The extra challenge becomes part of the fun. It is easy to adapt and worth the effort. We agree with the OP 100%....go cruise in Maine. #worthit

Yes the lobsta pots are a pain, caught one and it wasn’t a big deal to dislodge. Full keelers and skeg rudders should have no worrries.

If one is interested to see how it is for first timers to Maine, we have some videos of our time sailing and cruising Maine on our YouTube channel.
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Old 06-01-2021, 12:50   #5
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Re: Sailing in Maine

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnsleyS View Post
As I sit inside in the winter I continue to think about:

Sailing in Maine

Many people think that sailing on the coast of Maine is challenging. The combination of challenges that confront the sailors in this part of the world appear daunting to folks who normally sail in kinder and gentler waters. Large tides with attendant tidal currents along the Maine coast make some folks nervous. Numerous lobster trap buoys waiting to catch your rudder, propeller, and keel are intimidating. Impenetrable fog and unforgiving rocky shores are enough to give southern sailors nightmares. I am here to tell you that you have nothing to fear and that all of these conditions were put here for a reason and that you should consider them all to be personal gifts.

You can enjoy yourself in Maine knowing that there are large tides with currents that can reach four or more knots in some places. If you are used to sailing in places with tide heights of a foot or two, our tides of nine to twenty-four feet should fill you with feelings of reassurance. You can be assured that should you run aground at low tide that you will float free sometime tomorrow and if you run aground at high water you will have plenty of time to scrub and paint your bottom while you wait for the water to come back. Those of us who are used to the tides of Maine can not understand how folks who sail in areas that have small tides ever get their bottoms cleaned or for that matter how they get themselves off when they inevitably run aground.

The tidal currents are a gift for those of us who only travel at four to six knots but are always in a hurry. On a recent trip to Eastport for the fourth of July, Pacem was traveling up the Grand Manan channel, around the end of Campobello Island and down the Head Harbor passage doing ten knots. The incoming tidal current for the area’s twenty-four foot tides sped us along at such a speed that I would have been scared if it were not for the fog that kept me from seeing more than a hundred yards.

As I have told our crew, Ben and Brad, fog is like night time at home. You know that if you get up in the middle of the night and walk around the house without turning on the lights that everything is just the same as it was when there is light. So sailing in the fog is the just the same as sailing in the bright sunshine but you do not have to be distracted by the sights of islands with summer houses the size of castles, mountains with views over the sea, wildlife, and schooners with sails filled bearing down on you. It frees you to be more introspective and to pay attention to the numerous navigational aids that the friendly people of Maine put out in the water for you.

The United States Coast Guard does a wonderful job of marking the major hazards to navigation on the coast but with a decrease in available funding the job of indicating the flow of currents has fallen to volunteers. The lobstermen of Maine spend their lives putting little colored buoys in every conceivable place along the coast of Maine. They help us figure out the exact set and drift of the current by placing these beautiful little buoys in the navigable channels. The density of the buoys seems to be related to the amount of waterborne traffic expected in the area. The Penobscot Bay area has so many buoys that it seems that one could walk across some channels without getting wet. In some places from Muscongus Bay north, they even put on small additional buoys or toggles before the main colored buoy to help us determine the current by catching the horizontal line between the two buoys on our propeller or rudder. Though most of our boats mount anchors on the forward or pointy end of the vessel, these numerous lines help us practice the age-old technique of anchoring by the rudder. We should all thank these selfless volunteers and also try to support them by encouraging everyone we know to buy the critters that they catch when they are moving the navigational markers around our rocky coast.

The rocky shores of Maine are a great improvement over the sandy shores that cover some of the rest of the planet. The sand that one brings aboard from beaches gets into your bunk and your bilge and is impossible to get out of either one. The rocky shore also tells you when the water is getting too shallow to float your boat. I have run aground in many parts of the world and I can tell you from experience that when you run aground in Maine you will know it immediately. I have run aground in the Bahamas, Florida, and Nantucket in such soft sand that the boat just slid to a quiet stop without any notification to the crew. In Maine the notification of grounding is immediate and usually relatively noisy. The noise of scraping or fracturing of fiberglass from the forward part of the hull clearly sends the message that the water has become too thin.

The challenges that people associate with sailing the coast of Maine are really great gifts to all of us. Think of these gifts as lessons to be learned and events to be experienced. The coast is a tough teacher who thinks that you learn better when the lessons are difficult and the grading is demanding. I want to assure you of the friendly and benign nature of the coast of Maine and encourage you to come up and sail with us. In few areas of the nautical world is the combination of conditions as conducive to relaxation and carefree cruising as the coast of Maine.
Ha ha, love it.
Maine, here we come 😉
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Old 26-05-2021, 20:45   #6
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Re: Sailing in Maine

Awesome!! Hope to sail there this August
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Old 27-05-2021, 04:40   #7
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Re: Sailing in Maine

I love the positive perspective you have, Ansley.

Despite your rosy endorsements, Maine IS challenging sailing, however, for the very reason that people going there have not dealt with the strength/height of tides, navigating in a fog (frightening if you've never done it) and the potential of "grounding" on rocks, not sand or mud and the endless, endless lobster pots.

These make an excellent learning platform, but you have to know what you don't know.

Ann Cate responded to someone this week who thought something was wrong with his engine, but all that was wrong was he was sailing against the 1.5-knot tidal stream...

Of course, none of this is prohibitive, but people who would like to cruise Maine need to bear these in mind... and do their homework!

Kindly meant,
LittleWing77
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Old 27-05-2021, 05:06   #8
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Re: Sailing in Maine

Maine made me a better sailor. Lobsta warps were not a problem as I had a full keel boat. It was a SAILboat, no warps in prop if motor not running.
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Old 27-05-2021, 05:21   #9
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Re: Sailing in Maine

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Originally Posted by sanibel sailor View Post
Maine made me a better sailor. Lobsta warps were not a problem as I had a full keel boat. It was a SAILboat, no warps in prop if motor not running.
You would think so. I was in Bar Harbour in the mid 90's at the same time as Lin and Larry Pardey. They had to be towed in, not overly uncommon when engineless, but this time it was because they had caught a warp!

A truly engaging couple, and I'm glad to have met them.

However, I agree it would be a rare thing to catch a line on a full keel boat.

I found if we kept our speed up, and minimized our drift, the buoys (with their weighted warps) would part to either side of the hull, and we'd be fine.

We started off sailing around each and every buoy, and ended the day just sailing right through them. The weighted lines are golden! Hughes 35, and again on a Corbin 39; both fin keel with skegs.

Cheers.
Paul.
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Old 27-05-2021, 06:17   #10
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Re: Sailing in Maine

Check out the Salty Dawg Sailing Association summer rallies. Maine is a destination.
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