Close-hauled

Sneak in the back way to McMahon Island – there’s a little passage around to the west into Hockamock Bay from the Sheepscot River.  But I am single-handed and going up wind and against the tide.  After three tacks in which I gain only a few yards before I have to jack her around again, I realize that getting past the little spit is going to be impossible – too easy to be pushed down onto it, with an unfavorable wind and current to hold me there is abject embarrassment.

In earlier days I would have gone for it, but in my sixties the better part of valor takes over and I turn tail and run for Damariscove.  Hard to believe that this thin little thread of a harbour has been inhabited most summers since 1608, when the English fisheries summered here to fish for a haul of cod back to Liverpool.  I rush headlong before the wind into its narrow embrace, luffing up around a Canadian sloop parked by the old Coast Guard station, across from the hill where the headless ghost walks.

But I have wind and sunlight left, so a dance around them and back upwind out of the anchorage and back into the exhilarating sea.  As the sun attenuates, I ride the rollers back into land, past the big seal on Pumpkin Ledge, the terns swirling above the lonely chimney atop the Whites, slipping by Pemaquid light through the Thread of Life, tucking up into The Gut just in time for Mike to give me a mooring, so he can fix my bilge pump in the morning.

It’s a joy to be doing real play and real work, swinging the scythe, sanding the oars, tying up the tomatoes, but it’s back into jet land for me – one more time, over to UK, to see the students out and James in.

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