Friday, July 20, 2012

One Misty, Moisty Morning in Maine, off Naskeag Point

    Fog happens, even on the best of waters.  And when it does it provides a great opportunity to practice navigation.    There’s something quite satisfying about calculating an angle from the chart, estimating a time of arrival, heading off into the great white nothing and having land appear as predicted. 

   Much of the time, since we use charts printed with magnetic north lines on them, I can do a rough estimate of the angle required just by glancing at the chart, and verify by sighting the island.  But in a cocoon of white, precise measurements count. 

  We were practicing in Herrick Bay, between Naskeag Pt and Flye Pt; a small bay whose silence told us there were no lobster boats in the area.  And we were quite pleased with ourselves until we came upon this speck of land off Flye Point.   
    On our charts we read it to be an unnamed lump by 17, right off the point.  Flye, Gander and Goose Islands, 1/4 to 5/8 miles away were out of sight. 

     “150 to Gander,”  I announced and Mark agreed.  But just a short ways out, as land appeared, it was apparent we were off.  Charts were double checked, and excuses made.  My most common excuse is that over short distances just a slight misreading, from the edge of the island, instead of the center, makes a big difference.  But Mark was not happy, not until he made it home and checked Google Earth, when he could report, with satisfaction, that our charts were in error.
   Fog can have other magical moments;  just after launching from Naskeag Point a pod of six (or so) porpoises entered in.  In the quiet waters their distinctive “puffs” on surfacing made it easy to track them.  I sat there in the silence enjoying their presence.
   Not that fog is entirely wonderful.   Lobster boats were out, making crossing Eggemoggin Reach and Jericho Bay unappealing.   At 66F and 100% humidity, it was a clammy paddle.  And when a slight drizzle became a steady downpour we decided to cut our trip short. 

   A short while later, as we approached Naskeag Pt the rain lightened, so we continued on to a few more islands and lunch on Sellers.   
    The rain lifting was one example of the “don’t like the weather – wait five minutes” rule; which also came into play when we decided to check out Haven.  Haven is the mythical Maine location for a Steven King based television series formerly on the SyFy channel; worth watching for the beautiful coastal scenery alone.  Unfortunately, it’s filmed in southeast Nova Scotia, not Maine.  But on our charts, Haven was shown a mile west of Brooklin.  We drove through Haven hoping to find a church or grange with a “Haven sign” enshrouded in fog.  Sadly we didn’t spot any Haven signs, only a few large houses, and no fog.  The fog had temporarily lifted.  Google would later confirm that Haven was just an enclave of summer houses.

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