2005 North America Wayfarer Rally, Hermit Island
Tom Graefe

Following on the heels of the Parry Sound International Rally and our cruise on the Maine coast in September, 2004, Dick and I stopped at Hermit Island to assess it as a venue for the 2005 Wayfarer Rally. Our cruise included a lot of everything Maine can offer, and provided inspiration for making the Maine rally a reality for 2005. As we got out of the car on Hermit Island our respective memories of its potential (now nearly 30 years past) was confirmed: it was a picturesque day, with blue sky, nice breeze, warm sunshine and the ocean, coast and beaches. This was the Maine we wanted everyone at the rally to experience. Fast forward to August 2005, and after a night of rain (very inconvenient for all who arrived and had to set up) and a morning of clouds, what do we see but a week of sun and wind. I imagined many different situations before the rally-from afternoons becalmed to thunderstorms or fog banks rolling in. I never imagined the treat of a full week of lovely winds and sun.

When Friday arrived, I had to pinch myself to realize the week was over, and was sad to see the boat come out of the water, and to think of saying goodbye to our Wayfarer friends for another year, as we all scatter to our many different homes.

When Nel and I took our boat out that afternoon we had a short chat with one of the co-owners of Hermit Island. He asked whether 'our club' had enjoyed the stay, to which we said yes. We then told him how much we liked the campground and how beautiful the island and coast were. He affirmed they were beautiful and said 'God made it this way, and now it's our job to keep it that way.' Let's hope that when we return to Hermit Island this is true.

Scenes from the rally:

Elm Island Landing

Elm Island lies about two-thirds of the way from Hermit Island to Harpswell Neck. On Monday, as folks were still getting settled, four boats decided to head across. I went with Tom Ericksen for a very relaxed sail aboard Possum. It was a great chance to catch up on events, since we had last seen each other at the 2003 rally. It's always interesting to sail with someone for the first time, and provides an opportunity to observe different styles in boat rigging and sailing. We had our fun tacking in and out through the channel-a test of how quickly crew and captain get in synch. My brother Dave had sailed with Tom E. back at our first rally at Chaumont Bay on Lake Ontario in 2001-on a breezy day when I sailed with Dick. Chaumont Bay was the first summer we owned our Wayfarer, and after that sail and the rally I was hooked. That rally also was the first step on my path to my Maine cruises and this 2005 Maine rally.
The day grew more and more beautiful as it went on, and by the time we had reached Elm Island it was picture perfect for landing. Alan and Tim decided to head back, while Dick and Joe and Andre and Monique decided to land. But finding the place to land posed some typical hurdles, especially for several boats at the small beach (very small at high tide). We looked first from the south side down a fairly narrow passage betwen the two halves of Elm Island. But with the wind blowing directly down the passage and it seeming to be only about 20 or 30 feet wide, we elected to sail around to the north side and see if we could get better access to the beach. Led by Dick and Joe and Andre and Monique we landed and enjoyed a beautiful view across the northern part of the Bay. Our sail back to Hermit Island was no less fun than going over, and was rounded off by our return up the channel to the dock.

Seguin Island

One of the most impressive aspects of the sail to Seguin Island was the ocean swell. The swell was large enough to give an inkling of sailing up and down, not just over, the waves. We watched the hulls and parts of sail disappear into the troughs. This rhythm of ocean sailing is compelling in its own right, as a movement underneath motion.

On our way to Seguin Island, on our port tack towards the southern end of Woods Island, we found some of the swells cresting (thankfully not breaking) as they neared the shallows. This hinted even further at the power of these waves, and the rollers seemed to loom high and project power and mass. Waves breaking on the shore or on shoals or rock hazards were constant aspects of sailing during the week--a visual pleasure and at the same time a reminder of the need to be aware of course and conditions.

Tacking Duels and the channel

No 2005 Rally report would be complete without some mention of the channel. There can be no doubt that sailing with wind and current provides ample variety of dynamics to make typical maneuvers atypical. Throw in boats on moorings, plus five or six other Wayfarers all trying to make headway into the wind, and it made for close-order drill on water. Go above, go below, tack before them or after them, how close to the rocks, how close to the shore. At one point I was speculating to Nel about when I planned to tack, looking off towards a moored lobster boat 75 feet away, and she calmly replied I might want to tack sooner unless I wanted to run right into the float with all the lobster pots piled on it. Oh shit, did not even see it. (Yes, a second pair of eyes is a big help for overcoming that blind spot). It was particularly interesting with a strong breeze and current against you. Normal execution seemed to leave the boat barely able to regain speed after a tack, moving backwards, even as you juggle sheet and tiller to manage a gust of wind. All of a sudden it seemed the normally narrow channel just got even narrower. It's an exercise in adaptation, and keeps things interesting.

It seemed by the end of the week the parameters of the channel had become known, and if the tides were a constraint, even a hassle, they are one of the inexorable forces that makes the coast what it is.

To Mackerel Cove and return-and side trip up Ridley Cove

After Seguin Island the group split up the next day. We sailed with Kit and Patsy for Mackerel Cove. It was a fine day and our sail west was in a fairly light wind from the south/southwest, most of the time. On our way over we sailed outside of most of the islands, tracking on the various bouys marking this passage. About half way across we saw Ab fab slow and then gathered they had seen some Porpoises. We too let out our sails but saw nothing, until about five mintues later after we had set sail again, all of the sudden about 25 yards astern there they were--several coming to the surface, breathing and diving down.
We reached the entrance to Mackerel Cove, but decided against a beat upwind (since the wind had now shifted to the north/northwest and increased as it sometimes does with that shift). Instead we sailed up the shore of Bailey Island and Orrs Island with a very nice 10-15 knot breeeze. The wind picked up and eased and surged at times, which made for wonderful sailing as we marked our course from RN4 to RN6 to RN8 northward and then east to RN6 and on. We decided to explore Ridley Cove and together began a series of tacks towards George Island. I was hoping we could reach the channel on the north side of Yarmouth Island and then go over to Quahog Bay and around. But the wind was really picking up head on, and so in the face of whitecaps and stronger and stronger gusts we decided to end the exploring and continue our trip back to Hermit Island. The strong wind stayed with us, but was now on our backs, and so we sped past Jenny Ledge and Flag Island and on to Jamison Ledge and then past Wood Island, completing our circumnavigation of our part of Casco Bay. Such a day of sailing, even with just short exchanges over the VHF, is a pleasure to do in company with another Wayfarer. Sharing an adventure and sharing the pleasure. As the wind picked up in the afternoon we fell into the rhythym that only comes with hours on the boat, exploring new waters.

Lobster Heaven and the two-step lobster shuffle

Dick did a masterful job finding the spot and picking up the lobsters for the group lobster cook out--and they were delicious. Cooking them was the challenge--how many pots can you get boiling at one time and how many different estimates of the time the lobsters have been cooking can you keep track of? Hopping pot to pot with a hungry crowd growing restless!

Elm Island Wayfarers at anchor

Frequent Maine companions near and far

Alan and Tim returning from Seguin Island

Ab faB and Possum

Scenes from Hermit Island Shoreline

Sunset over Wood Island

Prism in the clouds

Yankee in the evening

Irene's Nightmare

Nel's Lobster

Hmmm. Where are we?

Nel and I would like to thank everyone at the rally for their spirit of adventure and fun. See you next year!

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