Atlantic ocean

Spica: Cruising Off Maine

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"Downeast" is the the name originally given by sailors in the early part of the 19th century, to the north eastern part of Maine which stretches to the Canadian border. In summer, the prevailing winds come from the southwest. Leaving Boston and heading for Europe, the sailors would make the most of the downwind conditions to head east along the Maine coast. The term is now used in a condescending way by Bostonians to refer to the rough character and strong accent of the people of Maine. This wild, granite region is a kind of mixture of Britanny and Sweden. The climate is tough, with very cold winters, and the good weather restricted to the summer months and maybe a small part of the Fall (we were lucky to experience this in 2017). Downeast, the lobster fishing is even more active than elsewhere in Maine, and the two main ports are Vinelhaven and Stonington. Each port has over 300 boats. Each boat carries 800 lobster pots which carpet the sea along the coastline in summer. For our second season of sailing and before heading to tropical waters, we stayed in the area of Penobscot Bay and Mount Desert Island. This small bit of coastline offers infinite anchoring possibilities, with deep inlets scattered with hundreds of islands. It’s one of the loveliest non-tropical cruising areas that we know, with incredible wild anchorages, with eagles and seals for company. If you’re used to navigating currents and rocks, then the sailing conditions are good, with the many islands breaking up the sea, with lots of good shelter if the weather takes a turn for the worse. The density of lobster pots and especially the double ones, is a real problem. In general, unless the current isn’t too strong, the cable which attaches the pot to the floater is vertical. With a double buoy, a secondary floater is linked to the main one by a 2 or 3 meter line to facilitate raising the pot. However, it can be a very effective trap for any boat whose hull passes between the two floaters. The line tightens and you’re in a trap, and it’s probably worse with two hulls. However, once you’re back on land, the quality of the lobsters bought from the fishermen will soon help you forget any unfortunate incidents!

Who :  Christine & Michel

Boat :  Outremer 45

Where : Maine coast, North Atlantic.

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