Sunday, May 25, 2008

Jewell Island

[Kyle]From Quahog Bay, we sailed the short distance to Jewell Island arriving by mid-day. We anchored as close to the head of the cove as the tidal range allowed, although there were a few power boats that had arrived at high tide, and were now high and dry on the beach.

The anchorage is a long horseshoe shaped cove which becomes two separate islands at high tide, we anchored in the shelter of both sides of the horseshoe. We were met by the summer caretaker for the Island (Ross), who had a team of people collecting trash from the island. He was very friendly and handed us a map showing the island trails. The island is one of the many managed by the Maine Island Trail association, and what a great job they do. They keep the islands and trails open for visitors, campers, etc, all from voluntary donations. This was the same organization that managed Little Snow Island in Quahog Bay, a place we had earlier explored.

As it was the start of the Memorial Day weekend, and the weather was great, we found ourselves for the first time in ages in an anchorage with other boats (about 3 when we arrived, and over the weekend as many as 20). The place was very active with lots of people dinghying back and forth to the beach to see the trails and set up camp. There were sea kayakers exploring too, the weather was so good. We rowed ashore and dragged the dinghy high up the beach in anticipation of the rising tide, tied it to a tree and set off on a hike across the island (which is just about a mile long).

Jewell Island was used as a lookout post in both WW1 and WW2, (housing about 400 troops) so it is littered with old army buildings, including look out towers and gun turrets. We could not resist climbing the towers for a spectacular view of Casco bay, probably stretching 30 miles or more. We also got our first introduction to Maine's notorious mosquitoes, voracious but luckily only in a few windless patches of the interior of the island. The trail took us over the island, passed the old battery ruins, where along with two 6" guns and four 90mm anti-aircraft guns, officers' quarters and barracks sat in an underground bunker which we had come prepared with a flashlight to explore.

From there we descended to the other side of the island to beaches offering yet more beautiful views of Maine through a crystal clear sky - and great camp sites from which to enjoy them from; sea views and the sound of surf crashing - perfect. We briefly considered packing our camping equipment for the night, but as the forecast was rain we thought better of it. By the time we returned to our dinghy we noticed most of the camp sites (particularly the more accessible ones in the cove) were getting full. One group of about a dozen said they were celebrating a bachelor party and spent most of the day hauling enormous amounts of camping supplies and equipment up 30' of cliff, bucket brigade style.

On returning to the boat we rowed around the now separated Little Jewell Island and ended the evening enjoying a splendid sunset from Footprint.

The next day (Sunday) after sleeping in and catching up with household chores, we found ourselves in just over 3 feet of crystal clear water, and could see the bottom clearly all the way to the anchor (still no fish). We rowed to shore and hiked the remaining trails of the island. In the afternoon I had planned to sail to a nearby archipelago to get a better view of the wild birds. There was plenty of wind, so we anticipated a great afternoon of sailing in the dinghy. Part way out, however our rudder cracked, and was in danger of breaking altogether. We decided to return to Footprint, and our only option was, to row back. We pulled down the mast and sails, we were only about 0.8 miles out. By then the wind had increased, and the tide was starting to ebb - we had to work against both to get back. Our GPS estimated a 2 hour row. During gusts and heavy waves our progress would stop, but then we would make progress during the lulls. I hunkered down for the long row back and after about 30 minutes (0.2 miles) a powerboat offered us a tow - which I was very grateful to accept! Even though we had not met the residents of the power boat, they knew which was our boat, and towed us all the way back to Footprint; this was no easy task in a crowded anchorage at slow speeds towing two fools in a dinghy. All the boaters we had waved to on the way out under sail, seemed surprised to see us returning under tow! Lost some sea-cred, but glad to be safe!

A big thank you to our new heroes on Booked Off, that rescued us!

Once back at Footprint, we decided it would be prudent to spend a quite afternoon with no further adventure nor chance of drama.


Karen said...

Kyle, what an awful ride back! But I guess that means you've both done your rowing pennance now, for whatever "sins" you've committed against each other: feigning sympathy, bad jokes, etc. ;-)

Sorry, that's mean.... I wouldn't wish that kind of trip for anyone. ;-(

Have you fixed the rudder yet? I'd be amazed if you didn't have your handy-dandy fiberglass repair kit onboard and got to it right away. ;-) Or are you going to "splurge" and have a new one made?

(Oh - I had to ask, have you worked out your help levels yet? Maybe these can get you started: Help 1 = help...whenever you get a moment; Help 2 = soon as possible; Help 3 = Help...before I have to start yelling and make a scene; Help 4 = Help...IMMEDIATELY or risk sleeping in the dinghy for the rest of the cruise!)

But seriously folks.... Happy sails!

kate said...

Aren't boaters the nicest?! Being a stinkpot instead of a rag-hauler (hehe), it was always engine trouble for us. I can't tell you how many times Mark and I have been "rescued" by considerate and helpful folks offering a tow in. And most of the time, I don't even think they were drunk. Ha! No, seriously, I'm sorry about your dinghy's rudder and for the rowing workout - but happy to hear you got an assist. What a beautiful little place Jewell Island is!

Anonymous said...

Glad to come to your rescue - thank you for the mention. Loved reading about all your adventures.

from the Heros of Booked Off (Ron & Bridget - Cape Elizabeth, Maine)

Andrew Mooers said...

Have camped a number of times on this Jewell Island in Maine with friends. One trip being in a tent during Hurricane Hugo. Loved the history of the WW 2 Bunkers. Parked at South Harpswell Maine boatyard and took vessels across.