Friday July 25, 2003, Falmouth Foreside, ME

504-75-Schaefer-Fiddle-BlockHaving made such excellent progress during our first two days, we took the time to re-provision and refit the boat. The first step after a late-ish start was to clean the crew. Portland Yacht Club provides showers for its members and guests and, while the soap was initially AWOL, we found willing help to rectify the situation. Scrubbed up we then split up to pursue new shackles, tackle, and sundry flibbertigibbets.

Handy Boat Service (another HBS*) was a short launch ride from the PYC dock, so like a twit I walked the long way around by land. As a chandler’s HBS is replete with sweatshirts and Croakies, but lacks a good selection of fiddle blocks (shown left), particularly one that might replace a 30-year old Holland. Pressed further the staff’s answers all ended in a chorus of “West Marine!” Obviously, some form of nautical Mecca (for those lubbers among us).

I went in search of the captain and found him lurking in the car park in search of his crew. Reunited we set out to determine our best course of action. Back in the chandlers we inquired if one might make the pilgrimage to West Marine on foot? Certainly not! Proving once again that without a car in the United States you are basically screwed. Thus, a taxi was called. The cab driver agreed to meet us at Shaw’s, a local hypermarket, a mile and a half away. Shirley of HBS kindly agreed, since she was ‘anyway going home to make lunch for her Olympic freestyle skiing daughter’ (who for some reason wasn’t allowed to boil water) to drive us to our rendezvous.

Although our taxi driver had aspirations of becoming a marine biologist, he had never heard of West Marine. Yet I believe, having now visited West Marine personally, this knowledge is crucial for any mariner. Furthermore, our trip there will prove to have been one of the pivotal events in our driver’s aspirational career. His next career waypoint, after finding West Marine, would be a sojourn at Southern Maine Technical College. From there he hoped to work at Marine World as Shamu’s personal trainer, a job leading to, well who knows, perhaps Zodiac driver to the stars of the sea?

shaws-falmouth-meHugh found a new fiddle block, paid, and we returned to Shaw’s in the same cab to provision. It’s always fun to tell the cabbie: “Wait here!” It adds an element of uncertainty to the activity in hand, as well as an unknown financial risk. “Wait here!” we cried, diving into Shaw’s clutching our long list of necessities, including Boddington’s ale and Guinness stout.

The afternoon was peppered with rain showers and rigging experiments on the boat. Some of which were all wet and some of which were successful. We returned to shore, but not before we’d moved Mashantam to a new mooring. Three Sheets had returned to her mooring unexpectedly and we were bounced to Lucky Bear’s spot instead. Dinner among the conservatives in PYC turned out dry, not least because of the conservative dribble emanating from the neighboring table. Turns out PYC is a BYOB establishment and we two silly SoB’s had left the B on the boat. Clams were the menu’s special item. A good choice since the mussels were off. Come dusk and broods of savage mosquitoes, we hastened our retreat to the boat, downed a tot of rum, and slept soundly in anticipation of Malcolm Harris’ arrival in the morning.

Saturday July 26, 2003, Falmouth Foreside, ME

Casco BayAccording to the captain the sunrise bathed Mashantam in fiery ochre. The sun shone in the mahogany of her newly restored cabin top. She is a thing of beauty. By the time the crew surfaced the sunrise had disassembled into muted yellows and the radiant effect was largely lost.

Having refueled and taken on water the day before, we took Mashantam down to the dock only to make boarding easier. I found Malcolm at the clubhouse. The chances of an Englishman looking for directions and wearing a cap with a capital ‘M’ on it not being Malcolm were fairly small. We press-ganged him and at once shoved him on board. Heading out under power past Clapboard Island, we made our way through the channel that snakes around Chebeague Island and found ourselves within sight of Halfway Rock lighthouse.

Slowly, the wind built to the point where we could become a proper sailing vessel. Powering down near Marker Island, we raised sail and headed across Casco Bay for Seguin Island and the Cuckolds. Seguin has some tricky rocks around it, but a fabulous lighthouse high on its narrow hilltop. The light itself isn’t that tall, but its position provides it with an enormous advantage and makes it visible far out to sea. Ambling along as we were, I went below and made our regular lunch of sandwiches. Malcolm shared stories of his times hitchhiking across America as a young man during the Summer of Love. He also recounted his prior sailing experience, a deal of which included sending the mast and rigging of a Snark sailboat to the bottom of a lake.

seguin-lightWe successfully rounded Seguin, avoided Tom Rocks, passed the Cuckolds and arrived in Boothbay Harbor at about 3:30PM. That gave us time to find a mooring and further futz with the rigging. It turned out that the fiddle block Hugh bought was one size too small for the main sheet. Digging deeper into the lockers, we found a spare but discovered it was warped and the cam cleats wouldn’t hold. That resulted in sudden unexpected slackening of the mainsail. It should have been funnier than it was.

Whipping, the fine art of keeping ropes from unraveling, is a classic sailor’s skill. I tried my hand at it, and it amused me until it was time to go ashore and find Malcolm’s lady friend, Cheryl. We mooched about the tourist traps looking at postcards and t-shirts until she showed up around 6:15PM. Loading Hugh’s dinghy Scargo to her gunnels, we clambered back aboard Mashantam for rum cocktails. Hugh made free with the jigger, the ice pick, and pineapple juice. Two drinks later and in a state of semi-lubrication we headed back to shore, making two trips to lighten Scargo’s load.

Dining at the Harborside Restaurant we talked at length about the problems of the world and where is America’s sense of collective responsibility, anyway? Cheryl had written a book about Vietnam, yet to be published, that sounded very interesting. It’s always nice to find right-thinking lefties during one’s travels. The mix of rum, beer, wine and decaf took its toll and it was off to bed in the aft cabin, with the hope the officer’s head would soon reopen.

[*] Hugh’s last name is Blair-Smith, hence HBS




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