I set out, boat in tow, well before dawn to get from my home in New Hampshire to Rockland, Maine. John, coming from Vermont, had started his drive even earlier. We needed to be on the water by 10 in the morning to make the crossing of Lower Penobscot Bay and get to the narrow entrance of The Basin on Vinalhaven at slack tide. The forecast looked promising for the 10-nautical-mile crossing. With a wind out of the south at 12 knots, we could make good speed on a broad reach out of Rockland Harbor and across lower Penobscot Bay, a stretch of water that is known for foul weather and steep seas. This was the first challenge to overcome on our trip, which was to be a circumnavigation of North Haven Island, Vinalhaven’s northern sister and the smaller of the two Fox Islands. A few years prior, I had circled Vinalhaven from Rockland with my Sea Pearl and wanted to explore more of the area. John, after hearing about that first trip, was eager to do something like it with me.

Roger Siebert

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Rockland Harbor, 2 miles wide, didn’t have much wind. Across Penobscot Bay, Vinalhaven was made invisible by fog but for the motionless pearl-white blades of the island’s wind turbines stabbed skyward. Soon after we ghosted off the ramp with a weak southwestern breeze, the peak of John’s mainsail suddenly came undone. Sail and boom came crashing into the boat, and it took another 30 minutes to get sorted out. The current in Penobscot Bay was in a strong flood, flowing northward, and instead of the good sea breeze we expected there was a weak southeasterly wind. A straight shot across to Vinalhaven proved impossible and by the end of the crossing we were pressed to the ragged granite north end of 500-yard-long Dogfish Island, more than a mile and a half north of where we wanted to land with no time-efficient way to sail against the current. We hurriedly struck our rigs and rowed, frantically, the final 2.5 miles.

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