Sunday, August 16, 2020

Isles of Shoals

We waited out a northeast blow on Saturday at a mooring in Gosport Harbor nestled among the desolate Isle of Shoals. It was windy, overcast and cool (cold, for summer), the temperature never getting above 70 degrees F. We had motorsailed the 38 nm from Gloucester on Friday.

The Isle of Shoals consists of nine small islands that straddle the Maine-New Hampshire state line. The islands are all privately owned, the largest, Star Island, has a big hotel, a church and several other large residential structures. Apparently, religious meetings are held there, but the island was signpost as "Closed for 2020", probably due to COVID. The islands are rocky, low-lying with very little vegetation, windswept and bashed by waves. On a nice sunny day I expect they would be quite spectacular. On a grey day, they just seemed cold, exposed and lonely.

We landed the dinghy on a beach at low tide in a cleft between Malaga and Smuttynose Islands. Malaga is the only island on which you are allowed to walk on. We climbed its summit (about 50 feet above sea level) and hiked its perimeter (about 1000 feet), which took about 30 minutes walking slowly and stopping often to admire the rugged scenery.

The rest of the time, we spent lounging on the boat, reading, writing, napping, watching a movie. It felt like staying home sick from school as a kid, only without being sick. The wind blew, the boat tugged at its mooring. There were several other boats in the harbor, but everyone seemed to be hunkered down and keeping to themselves.

I took a calculated risk this morning and decided to head on to the Sasco River, about 35 nm north-northeast. The wind was forecast to be coming from the northeast at 5 to 10 knots in the morning and then veer come from the east in the afternoon at 10-15 knots, which would let us sail the second half of the passage. But, nope. The wind blew from the northeast at 10-15 knots all day and even backed a bit north sometimes, making it a 6 hour bouncy, chilly motoring bash for six hours. Not pleasant at all.

We entered the Saco River around 1530 and took one of the city's free mooring balls near the town's jetty. Saco seems like nice little place. We took a short walk and had a seafood dinner of chowder, haddock and scallops, eating outside in blustery conditions.  The weather doesn't look good for tomorrow, so we'll stay put and do some much-needed grocery shopping.

Smuttynose Island, Isles of Shoals

Dinghy landing at low tide, Isle of Shoals

Blustery weather

Rugged, exposed Isle of Shoals

View of Star Island from Malaga Island (Intermezzo in distance, slightly right of center)

Walking on nature's artwork
This gull made himself at home on Intermezzo