Thursday, August 7, 2008

Like a Duck to Water

Mom is fitting right into boat life. The 80-year old babe has salt water in her veins. She fearlessly climbs in and out of the dinghy and up and down dock ladders (much braver than her weeney daughter was at first). Vicki was concerned about Mom walking around the boat while we’re underway, but she’s been very sure-footed. Norm was wondering if she was getting tired after a couple mile walk yesterday, but no. All that exercise is paying off – Mom has an exercise room in the house and regularly does the treadmill, cross country ski machine, jump rope, push ups, sit ups, stretching, weights, and a bunch more. The bottom line is that we’ll get fatigued before she will!

Our cruising plans changed yesterday due to changes in the weather forecast. We’ll be staying in the Casco Bay area while Mom’s here rather than taking the 6-hour run up to Boothbay Harbor. Yesterday was a wonderful day. We cruised about an hour from Portland to the northeast side of Great Chebeague Island. Anchored in the harbor.

Took the dinghy ashore. Mom saw the Tee for a water hole on the local 9-hole golf course and stepped over to take a closer look. She transposed herself to Tucson, took her imaginary driver out and took an imaginary swing--perfect "hole-in-one". No wonder she still shoots in the 80's.

We then visited the museum’s fascinating exhibit of the impact of World War II on the island and Casco Bay. The bay became a military zone - it was a staging ground and refueling station for the military ships traveling the North Atlantic. Nets were placed across the entire bay – from island to island to prevent enemy submarines from intruding. The nets had several gate areas to allow vessels to enter and leave. Gun embankments were placed on land, Mines and surface obstructions were placed in some parts to prevent attacks from boats on the surface. An electromagnetic cable was placed out a ways from Cape Elizabeth to Bailey Island allowing any boat that crossed it to be “seen”. The commercial and private craft in Casco Bay could travel in designated channels and had to contact security posts along the way – the maps show large areas marked Forbidden Zone. It was a fascinating, fascinating exhibit.

Mom took us to dinner at the Great Chebeague Island Inn. This is a great place! It’s a large inn overlooking the bay and a 9-hole golf course. Lounging area with many overstuffed chairs and couches in the great room with big fireplace. Wrap-around porch with overstuffed chairs overlooking the bay – we had cocktails there. Dining overlooking the bay. Mom treated us to Vicki’s second birthday dinner. Norm and Mom had lobster dinner – the ‘lazy way’ with the meat served without shell. Must have been pygmy lobsters – the tail meat was little bigger than a golf ball, but it was good. And then there were the flambĂ© for dessert - yum.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We're Goin North Again, Mom!

Today, we are in Portland, ME docked at the Sunset Marina. Directly across the harbor is the "Explorer of the Seas", a Royal Caribbean Cruise Liner. As she was departing, she took up all the space in the harbor. See?

Mom is due in a few hours. Vicki wants to give her a sample of our cruising life. So, she has selected destinations that include anchoring in remote, isolated, out-of-the-way, nobody will find you anchorages; quintessential Maine touristy, crowded, souvenir-buying, shopping towns we dinghy to from a mooring; and, big city marinas. Norm, on the other hand, suggested that if we really wanted to give Avie a genuine taste of full-time cruising, let's have her do an oil change, wash the mustash off the bow, do a pumpout, change a diesel fuel filter or replace a burned out raw water pump impeller. That didn't fly, so, we're headed back North to places we know and some we don't. First stop is a place we have not been to--"Love Cove" on the Sheepscot River. Then it will be a day at a time depending on weather---and Avie.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

We're really almost there, mom!!

Today, we made a quick, short cruise to Falmouth Forside, ME, just a few miles north of Portland. We're expecting rain and thunderstorms tomorrow, so wanted to be close, not to miss mom. We're moored at the Portland Yacht Club mooring field. This is one of the best mooring fields we've been in. Big mooring balls, spaced nicely. However, the painter lines are 2-inchs thick and Vicki asked Norm for help. Upon attaching the line to the boat cleat, Norm noticed living creatures on the line--like little shrimp/worms. Norm attached a bridle to keep the painter lines off the boat. Were the lines too heavy? Or, was Vicki affraid of the shimp/worms? She claims not to have seen the creatures. Didn't you Vicki? Didn't you really?

The Portland Yacht Club has a free shuttle which Vicki took advantage of immediately to go ashore and take a run. Norm stayed aboard and got ready for the long, daring, 5-mile run to Portland in the AM and washed the creatures off the foredeck.

We're almost there, mom!

Yesterday, we continued our cruise south. We anchored at a spot that we knew would protect us from the northerly winds forcased for overnight--Potts Harbor. You might remember that we anchored there on the way north. This time, Potts Harbor seemed prettier than before. First, there were far fewer lobster trap buoys; and, none in the vicinity where we set the hook. The last time we were surrounded and more were being placed as we anchored. Also, we were dodging storms all day and actually missed a couple. Later, after a few showers, the skies opened up and the sun would shine down between huge white billowy cloud formations. It was a picture postcard scene. Then last night the skies were crystal clear and we could actually see the milky way. We felt we could reach out and touch the stars. What a beautiful sight, never seen in cities.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, Vicki!

What a day! We arrived in Boothbay Harbor about 1.5 hours earlier than anticipated due to favorable tides. That’s the good news! We cruised over six hours in dense fog with only ¼ mile visibility. VHF radios were chatty all day with boaters confirming radar blips and arranging port or starboard passes. It was very stressful, but very good experience. We’re moored at Carousel Marina mooring field. This is a very well-maintained mooring field (clean painter lines and well marked mooring balls) and very nice people operating the marina. They even volunteered to come out and move a lobster trap buoy if needed. (Isn’t that a switch from Northeast Harbor?) They also have a well-stocked ships store, restaurant, condominiums and hotel. The showers and heads are spotless. We have some nasty weather approaching, so our plan is to remain here for 3 nights.

Happy Birthday, Vicki! Yesterday, (Aug 2) was Vicki’s birthday. So, we celebrated by Norm taking her to dinner at a restaurant of her choice and giving her a gift of a lifetime—a hardback version of Chapman’s Illustrated Essential Marine Knots. Wow, what a guy! Actually, it was just what Vicki wanted—more knot know-how—really!! We ate at a restaurant named “93 Townsend” and it was great upscale “downeast” food. Fried asparagus appetizer followed by Lobster mac ‘n cheese for Vicki and dry-rubbed Ribeye for Norm. In short—fantastic.
Today, we had plans to hike the trails on the outskirts of Boothbay but the thunderstorms we were expecting arrived. Some pretty nasty lightning and buckets of rain have fallen so far and more to come. Norm will have to go out and bail out the dinghy before the next front arrives. Oops, too late!

In Memoriam

Norm writes:

It’s been asked over and over again. Why does God take the good ones?

Last Thursday, Wally Hoem, x-brother-in-law, husband, father, grandfather and uncle to my daughters passed away unexpectedly. He was a hearty Wisconsin farm boy of hearty Norwegian heritage who looked fit and healthy. So, his sudden death was a shock to everyone.

I will not forget Wally. He was a model husband, father, uncle and friend. He was also the hunter extraordinaire and taught me how to hunt, track and dress out a deer. I remember one season we were walking the farm fields and Wally sat down in the snow, braced his elbows between his knees and aimed his high powered rifle toward a ridge into the distant woods. It was late in the hunting day and the light was dim. I could not see anything but shadows. Pow! “I think I got him” Wally said. We trekked to the site, which was at least 300 yards away, up a hill in the middle of the woods. There it was—one shot perfectly placed. That’s how good he was!

Wally was my age or close to it. So his passing rings loud my own mortality and reminds me how, even when we do all the right things, we have such little control over our fate. And, how we live our lives is what it’s all about. I think in Wally’s time here, he made the right investments into important relationships, lived his dreams and shared his blessings with others. Regarding relationships, my brother Mike said it best today. He said, “If wealth was measured by great family and friends, I am a very rich man”. So was Wally Hoem.

Wally’s passing will create a significant gap in the lives of everyone that knew him, especially his family. My most heartfelt condolences go to his family for their loss.