Thursday, August 16, 2012

Into the Void

There is something soothing about cruising the rugged Maine Coast.  Islands strewn with evergreens and granite produce a rawness that define simplicity.  Fresh, salt-infused air fills your lungs while your body slowly ratchets down to a post-massage state.  Drifting through lapping waves off of Islesboro is the type of therapy city folk seek spawled out on leather couches.  Yes, cruising the Maine Coast delivers a moment of reflection, satisfaction, and relaxation.

That is until the fog rolls in...

Then you might experience different feelings like insecurity, anxiety, or better yet...sheer terror!

Is that jagged ledge five feet off your bow?  Well who can't actually see your bow!


Relax have a GPS.  Be coy have a Compass.

So, you're going in the right direction.  You won't be silly enough to run into that ledge.  It's at least a 1/4 mile off your port side.

 Nice...but, hmmm.  Maybe there are other boaters enjoying the lack of scenery.  It's true, there are probably a dozen other blind boaters drawing zig zags across the bay just as you are.  Slow down and loosen your grip and listen. 

Zzzzzinnnngggg!!!!!!  What's that?  Oh no, I think you ran over a lobster trap!  Cut the engine.  Wow it's quiet...deafening almost.  Okay, trim up the motor.  Take out your fake Leatherman and hope the blade cuts the warp line free.  Success!  And you didn't even need to go for a dip in the frosty sea. 

Fog is a nuisance and is quite prevalent in Maine this time of year.  I've experienced near zero visibility three times in the last week.  First (and worst) on the way to the Maine Boats, Homes, & Harbors show in Rockland from our marina in Hampden in a 31' Rinker Express Cruiser.

On Sunday I cut through it again on the return trip in a Scout 262 Abaco (with Garmin HD radar).  We had an armada of three returning vessels that were able to keep in sight of each other almost the entire way.  Finally, last night I made a trip back from Belfast in my friend's 29' Regal after a fine dinner at Delvino's  We anticipated getting home to Hamlin's Marina around 10:00 p.m., but the cloud of death followed us all the way to the Penobscot Narrows Bridge

We didn't step foot on dry land until 1 a.m.!  Mercifully, a wayward gull hovered over us for a few miles using us as some sort of beacon. 

Fog is a reality in Maine, so be prepared.  Make sure you have a proper compass, GPS, VHF radio, and if at all possible...radar.  Also, make sure you have basic tools, a sharp knife, first aid gear, and an overnight ditch bag (blankets, warm clothes, snacks) just in case you need to overnight in a remote place.