Yesterday the wind blew from the south, and was forecast to really blow in the night and into today. I was still anchored off of Gayle and Bruce’s house, just a little ways inside Long Cove from where it joins Tenants Harbor. Nice visits, and Patty K. came over from Friendship and out to the boat in Gayle and Bruce’s dinghy. So many thanks to all – what a nice time over there!
With the big wind and a bunch of rain coming, first thing in the morning up went the sails, and I was off to investigate Long Cove further up, even beyond the pretty anchorage at Clark Island, which has been a favorite in the past. Looking at the chart, one can see a good-looking spot with enough water even at low tide, tucked in back of the point on the west side of Long Cove. Shortly I was anchored in back of that point in about 5 feet of water at low tide, near some lobster boats on moorings. Sure did look nice!
By the time the tide was about halfway up, the extra protecting rocks were starting to go underwater, but you wouldn’t think that it would be a big problem since the cove is so long and narrow. However! Waves and more waves. Not dangerous – more like an endless stream of boat wakes. Rocking the boat enough that you would not have wanted to try cooking, or anything else precarious like that. Rats! And the culprit? The steep rocky shore on the far side of where you turn the corner to get in back of this point. Reflecting waves, just like playing pool and banking the ball off the side of the pool table, to get around the obstacle of other balls.
This happened once before, also taking me by surprise, in the East Harbor at Sorrento. There is an island perfectly positioned in just the same way, with the same effect in a south wind. At least in the present situation there are no waves coming across a bar from the opposite direction, giving the boat the uncomfortable jerking roll that it had in Sorrento. But rolling for the top half of the tide – meaning six hours total, coming in and going out – was really a bit much! And I wasn’t looking forward to doing it again in the middle of the night.
So when the tide went down again, making it possible to see the locations of the generous collection of rocks in this area, I decided to try to move further in to the shallow area toward the back of my little corner behind that point. Sails up, anchor up, and lots of zigzagging back and forth with the lead line (galvanized shackle on the end of a string, put over the side to check depths) looking for that sweet spot that would be out of the waves but still with just enough water to float at low tide.
In the end, it was a compromise. Not quite enough water to float, and not really far enough in to get entirely away from those waves. But it was livable, and down went the anchor. One of the nice characteristics of a lead line, as opposed to the electronic depth sounder, is that when it hits the bottom you can feel the way it hits. Soft mud is easy to differentiate from rocks, and after a good bit of zigzagging and sounding, one has touched a lot of the bottom in the area. It was reassuring to have hit mud every time.
The other nice thing about the low-tech approach to this entire move, with sails rather than motor, was that I could really push the edges of the available water, without worrying about running the propeller into the bottom. If I ran the boat onto the mud using the sails it was likely to be no big deal to push it off again with the pole, or at worst to wait for the tide to come up later on. I had debated just turning the motor on and not dealing with sails or sculling, all just to move the hundred and fifty feet into the wind when it was the end of the day. But by the time I was sailing back and forth in the 18 inches of water where I was hoping to anchor, I realized those sails were really doing me a favor! Not to mention that the motorless record since the day of arriving in Belfast got to stay intact for another day…
So the anchor went down in the new location, which in the end had a depth of about 2 feet at an hour and a half before low tide. It was coming up on 5:30 in the afternoon, getting ready to be a nice evening – breezy, but comfortably warm in the 60s. Doing out the tide math, the boat was definitely going to be at least partially into the mud at low. And here’s the fun part: in this very soft mud I had the opportunity to try something that somebody told me about a little while back.
When I was anchored at Dyer Island outside of Milbridge, still on the way east, I had the opportunity to visit with a fellow named Tim. He was out in a very sweet looking open motor boat that day, but he’s also a sailor of small boats, and told me about a neat trick for going down in the mud in a boat with a long, shallow keel. Just as the boat starts to touch the bottom, you make it rock back and forth. He talked about standing at the mast and using it as a lever, but on this boat it seems more effective, getting a better roll, to stand in the cockpit and shift one’s weight back and forth. As the boat rocks, the keel scrapes at the mud, digging a hole. After a bit you stop rocking (digging) and let the boat float until it starts to come down again on the bottom. Then it’s time for another round of rocking. The theory is that by the time the boat is down too far to let you rock it back and forth, it has created enough of a low spot in the bottom that the boat can settle upright, rather than over on its side. Pretty neat trick!
So I did a bunch of rocking and settling and more rocking, just for fun. Between the softness of the mud and the amount of water still left at low tide, it worked like a charm. Eventually the boat wouldn’t rock, and was no longer shifting in the wind, but it was nicely upright. The tide didn’t go out a whole lot further, but it was pleasant to be level for that hour – and not bounced around by any waves at all – and it was great fun to think that the boat had dug a hole in the soft mud! For an added bonus, I was indeed far enough in behind my protecting point to have a bit less rolling when the water came back up, and the water was so shallow that for quite a while I knew for absolute sure that nobody was going to run into the boat!
As it turned out, the high tide in the middle of the night was pretty peaceful as far as waves, and the cove was very peaceful in other ways, and perfectly lovely. Just now the tide is almost high again, and there is more rolling than there was in the night, but not as much as yesterday midday. So I’m considering the exercise a success, at least so far.
This morning I went out and set the second anchor – insurance for the extra high winds that were forecast for this morning, and in a good spot for when the wind goes around to the northwest tonight. If all goes well, tomorrow will be a sailing day, in one of those fine, fall northwest winds. Here’s hoping!