Tag Archives: Maine

Koukla Charters at www.sailkoukla.com

It’s been a year since we’ve been back, and Koukla is all spiffed up and now available for day or overnight charters out of Rockland, Maine

For anyone looking for info about charters, day sails, or overnights, go to www.sailkoukla.com

This page is the blog of the trip to the Caribbean aboard Koukla from 2013 – 2014

First Week

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New Harbor, Maine

Tennants Harbor to New Harbor: Second day out.  After spending our first night in Tennants Harbor we were off.  The winds were a bit better than predicted and we made it to New Harbor.  After we lowered the sails, Molly realized we weren’t far from where her brother was staying for the semester, at UMaine’s Darling Marine Center.  So Scott, Molly, Isaac, and I headed ashore.

When most people think of Maine, they think of places like New Harbor: a quintessential lobstering village.  The harbor was filled with lobster boats, the docks full of traps, and lobster bouys hung from the sides of houses and wharves.  And it appeared that the town was made exclusively for lobstering and fishing.  When we tried to go ashore we looked for a public dock, and there were many, many docks but all went to private houses or had “fisherman only” signs. We found a seafood restaurant in town, Shaw’s Wharf, and you’d think they would have a public dock for restaurant-goers, but no, once again: “commercial fisherman only.”  Either this was the last authentic Maine fishing village untouched by tourism, or not many people visit by boat.

We shouted up to the restaurant patrons who were evidently locals and said the fishermen were done for the day so we could just come right up.  By this time Molly’s brother had to head back for dinner, so we just had  a brief visit and returned to Koukla. Mom and I made chicken in a pot with cabbage for dinner.  It was good, but the smoked mussels and fried haddock at Shaw’s sounded better.  After dinner, we all went up on deck to enjoy the full moon, mugs of hot chocolate in hand.  The moon was so full and bright it glittered over the water and lit up the boat and nearby shoreside cottages.  Not a bad way to start things off.

New Harbor to Boothbay Harbor: After a short motor-sail from New Harbor to Boothbay Harbor we spent a sunny afternoon doing laundry, taking much-needed showers, and walking around town. Touristy Boothbay Harbor is quite boater-friendly and is a very beautiful spot, but it has an almost Disneyland quality to it: beautiful, exciting, but not quite real.  We all split up soon after going ashore.  Isaac and I grabbed ice cream cones—Maine blackberry for me and chocolate salted caramel for Isaac—and spent the afternoon exploring.  Our most interesting discovery was a porch filled with shelves of books all for a quarter.  The place was orchestrated by friends of the public library and they were all old books no one wanted.  Isaac, who is very interested in boardgames, card games, video games, etc, grabbed a book called Games People Play and was disappointed it was about psychological games and not real games.  It looked like a psychologist had donated a bunch of books, as there were many others of that nature.  However, a few old sailors had contributed as well.  We nabbed The Finely Fitted Yacht (volumes 1 & 2) and two books on the Caribbean published by National Geographic back in the 60’s and 80’s.

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Southport Island Swing Bridge, opening just for us

Boothbay to Portland: There’s nothing quite like raising the sails on a blustery grey morning to make you feel alive.  We left Boothbay before breakfast and headed toward the Southport swing bridge, and through a narrow passageway called The Gut.  There’s something about slightly dangerous and unpleasant tasks that can be exciting and enjoyable.  It felt good, familiar, to stand on the bow, feet firmly planted to stay upright in the rolling seas, and raise the sails on an empty belly.

We spent the rest of the day in rolling seas.  Not terrible especially considering the weather we’d had on the first trip, but enough so that cooking lunch would have been rather difficult.  We had mostly saltines and candied ginger that day.  We motored almost all day to get us in to Portland harbor at a reasonable hour, before the predicted evening storm arrived.

We had an interesting encounter shortly after we picked up our mooring in Portland Harbor.  A man in a red hoodie and jeans came along side Koukla, much like the red hoodie and jeans my dad frequently wears, only without the motor oil stains.  He came up alongside, remarking on Koukla, as people often do. So we invited him aboard, along with his wife and daughter, who were there with him.  As he introduced himself and his family I saw a glimmer of recognition on my dad’s face when he said his name was Boyd.

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Portland Head Light

Perhaps the red hoodie and jeans is the off-duty uniform for marine engineers, because it turned out Boyd was also a marine engineer.  We got to talking, and they were former cruisers with a 47 foot ketch, and Boyd had an extensive knowledge of ham radios.  If you’ve read any of the 01-02 cruise posts, you’d know we’ve had chronic issues with ham radios.  They never work properly until someone who already knows what they’re doing shows us how to use it.  So, my mom, dad, and Boyd got engrossed in radios, while Faith and Nichole, Boyd’s wife and daughter, took the rest of us over to their boat for snacks and a tour.  While we were all talking, it came up that apparently Boyd’s grandfather used to be captain of the Victory Chimes, which is out of Rockland.  Scott and I glanced at each other and Scott slyly asked, “What’s his name?” and Faith said something something Guild and Scott and I said, “No way!” This was going to blow our parents minds.  My dad worked on the Victory Chimes under Captain Guild after college, and that was where my parents met.  If not for Captain Guild and the Victory Chimes Scott and I wouldn’t exist.

In addition to the enlightening conversation, Faith made us some tasty snacks.  The best was her bruschetta, with pesto in place of basil, which I preferred over the original, and makes much more sense for the ocean-going crowd, often without fresh produce let alone herbs.  When we came back to Koukla and mentioned our new friend’s familiar relationships, their minds were thoroughly blown.  As we were saying goodbye to our new friends, my dad said to them, “I believe that our paths will cross again.”

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International Cryptozoology Museum, Portland, Maine

Portland: Bad weather had been predicted for the next few days, so we decided to hunker down in Portland for a bit.  It stormed and rained and blew all that night and well into the next morning.  But just before noon the clouds parted and we dashed ashore to explore.  Despite growing up in Maine just two hours north (by car), I was surprised how poorly I knew the area.  The cobble stoned streets of the old port area were full of interesting shops and restaurants, many of which we were happy to find had free wifi.

Soon after we got to shore we all split up, and Isaac and I set off in search of the international cryptozoological museum.  We’d heard about the place on AtlasObscura.com, a website showcasing interesting and unusual attractions around the globe. When we arrived at the museum, a man popped up and blockaded the door so that we couldn’t peek in before paying him. We paid and walked in, looking at the scale-model plush giant squid hanging over the front desk.  The museum had exhibits on such cryptids as the Loch Ness monster, the Jersey devil,  and the chupacabra mixed in with actual animals such as the coelacanth on their logo.  However, they seemed to specialize in Bigfoot, as attested by long lines of glass cabinets filled with numerous plaster of paris footcastings.  They even had some for sale.

In the second room there was the constant chirping of crickets, used to feed a live lizard in a terrarium.  What the lizard and crickets had to do with cryptozoology I couldn’t figure out.

There were many cases of what the museum called cultural artifacts of the various cryptids.  You or I might call them toys or souvenirs.  I couldn’t quite tell if the place was taking itself too seriously or not seriously enough. While it was enjoyable in an ironic hipster sort of way, it was rather amateurish and overall a bit of a let-down.

We spent another day in Portland, enjoying the showers, laundry, and wifi of civilization.  This time, our delay was waiting for a part.  In the rush to leave, we’d forgotten the stovepipe extender to our wood stove and with the recent drop in temperatures we were starting to miss it.  Since Portland has a significant boating community with well stocked marine supply stores we looked into getting a replacement.  Hamilton Marine had one in stock, but in their Searsport store.  So we had to wait for it to arrive, giving us all a case of déjà vu.

Leaving

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Horatio (aka Scott) and Molly working to get ready to leave

Months ago, when we first started telling people that we were going on this crazy trip, we said we’d be leaving the first week of September. As the months went by, that turned into first or second week of September, then “early” September. At some point we decided on September 10th. Nice round number. But as the 10th loomed closer it became more apparent we wouldn’t be leaving by the 10th. We didn’t even move on the boat till the 11th. First, there was simply too much to do. Things to hook up, houses, cars, bills, and obligations to take care of–shore stuff. We spent almost a week living on the boat before we were actually ready to leave.

On the 16th we were ready. We took off the awning, sail covers, and sail stops, ready to take in the dock lines, turned on the engine and…problems. The engine cooling water pump wasn’t working. At first it appeared to just be a quick fix, but then it was apparent that it was a piece that needed to be welded. We’d have to take it somewhere. It’d be a few hours delay if we were lucky. We weren’t. Two welds and two breaks later, we decided we’d need a new part. It’d be at least another day waiting for the part to arrive. We tracked the part and the next morning it was in Rockland out for delivery. It then occurred to us that we should have just had the part sent to the UPS place and picked it up ourselves. We spent the rest of the day waiting for it to arrive. By the time it got here it was already too late in the day.

Finally, on September 18th we were ready to go. The part was installed, the engine was working properly, and we were leaving. For real this time. Now that we’ve left, it’s kind of exciting to think about all that is ahead. Now the fun can begin. We hope.

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Our first night (Tennants Harbor)