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Ballard Sailor

Bath to Boothbay Harbor and The Back Door

Rating: 51 votes, 5.00 average.

Friday morning, after sleeping late and taking our time over coffee, we returned to shore. This time not to explore the museum but rather to shower and do laundry as we found the museum has free, clean facilities for traveling boaters. By 2pm we were back out to Libra and securing everything for our trip through the inside passage to Bath. One cool trek through the countryside in narrow, current and lobster pot riddled channels, sounds fun right.


Well the first thing to tackle is Upper Hell Gate in the Sasanoa River. We timed our departure for high slack water so by the time we motored the short distance to Upper Hell Gate the current was ever so slightly with us as the tide went out down the river. Beautiful countryside views as we motored along, but since we were in the countryside we had the consistent battle with greenhead flys to deal with, those are mean little buggers! Once out of the Sasonoa River, we took a lazy turn through Hockomock bay while swatting flies right and left and made our way into the next challenge of the trek, The Boilers and Lower Hell Gate.


Now when we left Bath we thought we had enough fuel to make it to Boothbay Harbor. But since it was such a challenging passage with strong currents and little chance of sailing we were nervous and hoped to make it to a fuel stop at the South end of Knubble Bay in Riggs Cove. Lower Hell Gate was the last barrier to the fuel stop and as the current was at its’ full ebb we began flying along at 8.5 knots. As you enter Lower Hell Gate and the Boilers there is a Red Nun “2” that you must honor because it marks a very shallow ledge just inside it. So with the current boiling and bouncing us around, we searched and searched for the Nun but couldn’t find it. Things were becoming very tense and as Jennifer went forward to search from the bow we finally spotted something red just below the surface. With the bob of a wave it came above the surface and we clearly saw a #2 as we flew by with it on our port side, the correct side thankfully! Through the Boilers we went and quickly got spit out into Knubble Bay to one of the most dense lobster pot buoy fields I had ever seen. With 2 knots of current running with us we dodged and weaved our way down the bay until we took a right into our fuel stop in Riggs Cove. The motor happily chugging away - we slid up to the fuel dock, threw our lines to the attendants and began hearing Jazz music playing in the background. “Is that live,” asked Jennifer? “Ayuh, (that means Yes in Maine) it’s Free Jazz Friday’s here in Riggs Cove,” smiled the attendant.


We fueled up, got some ice for the cooler and cocktails and kicked the dock goodbye . . . returning to the lobster buoy filled bay and jumping back into the strong ebb funneling out through Goose Rock Passage and into the Sheepscot River. Traversing straight across the river we slipped between Boston and Green Island and turned back north around Cameron Point into Townsend Gut. As we passed through the swing bridge some open boats rowed through in the other direction, looking like a kids summer camp or an outward bound group. Soon we motored out of the narrow gut into Boothbay Harbor and found our way to the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club and our mooring for the weekend. We’re sailing the 8 meter Pleione Saturday and Sunday in the BHYC’s 38th Annual Regatta, should be a hoot!



Saturday dawned light and warm as we joined the boat and crew on their mooring before heading out to the race course. We enjoyed 3 buoy races Saturday with winds in the 6 to 9 knot range and Pleione managed a 2,1,1 for the day lining us up in 1st place, just in front of their regular nemesis Kaos, a solid blue Frer’s 41 that is consistently well sailed. Funniest thing happened as we got into the dock though. Seems that at the start of the last race we got protested for barging, but no one ever told us! As we came into the line late on the committee boat side we realized the rest of our fleet had gotten there early and were quickly dropping their bows down to keep from becoming over early.


In doing this they left a 50 to 60’ spot at the committee boat for us to slip our 9’ wide 48’ long 8 meter into. Perfect! As we hardened up I was on the lee side grinding the jib in and looked over at the next boat to leeward about 30’ away putting up a protest flag. Since we were never anywhere near them and not one person on their boat hailed us nor looked over or pointed, I attributed it to a boat just below them and we went on with our race. No one notified us of a protest after the race and it was only when a crew member asked when the results would come out at the clubhouse later that someone mentioned “as soon as the protest hearing is over between you and Big Dog Party.” Crap, we didn’t even know what we were being protested for! In the end the protest was thrown out after a witness from Big Dog Party said they never had to change course and the hole was huge. But it was still a big downer after such a fun day. A day that we watched a certain Farr hit the weather mark, unknowingly, with their spinnaker as they hoisted it just in front of us and we looked at each other and said, “who cares, let’s not protest.” To each their own, eh? The yacht club put on a great lobster dinner while we were being serenaded by a local steal drum band, an excellent evening even though many of the racers did not stick around.


In the morning Jennifer exchanged burgees with Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club - now PMYC joins the PNW flags of CYCS and SYC on their fully dressed burgee walls. Back out on the 8 meter, we came into Sunday’s racing ready to protect our position on Kaos and do our best to keep the 8 flying along in the predicted 15 to 25 knots of breeze. They sent us on a long course around the islands of Boothbay and we had the 8 charging. We finished strong knowing we easily corrected into 1st and as the winds built up over 20 knots we waited to see if the RC would put off another race - they did, much to my tired arms chagrin as I would be grinding in the large genoa in 20+ knots of wind. You only live once and off we went. We had a good conservative start and managed a couple of good tacks out into the channel when things went to crap. We took a tack across the passage to Squirrel Island and as we were tacking off the beach our jib sheet tied itself in a knot and we sat in irons while we sorted out the mess. It wasn’t just any knot that you can pull out by yanking the tail, this one tightened up as we yanked on it making matters worse. Unable to tack back because of the beach, it was a long painful process. Once back under way, we had our work cut out for us to catch up. The wind gods must have been smiling on the beautiful 8 meter because things began to lighten as we approached the weather mark at Cuckholds and our competition was forced to change jibs to something bigger or simply sail along underpowered. With our big genoa pulling, the 8 meter got back into the mix, not a commanding position, but at least we were back in the race.


By the finish we had worked back in front of our nemesis Kaos and gotten close enough to Big Dog Party to correct in front of them for a 2nd place finish behind another Farr that had sailed a great race. With a 2,1,1,1,2 for the weekend we headed into the yacht club elated and tired as the winds kept building up above 25 knots kissing 30 in the puffs. A tough weekend on a beautiful boat with some stiff competition, we couldn’t have asked for anything more. We had dinner with the crew before retiring to Libra, spent.
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East Coast Cruise for 2012

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