Late afternoon on the 31st, the Admiral, the Captain, and Bucko Mate Rob Johnson boarded Pathfinder at it’s mooring in Northport, Maine. There were grand visions of voyages afar and crossing the notorious Bay of Fundy and rounding Cape Sable at the southwestern tip of Nova Scotia. Casting off at 1700 the trio bucked the current and wind and made for the safe haven of Warren Island, next to Islesboro’s Dark Harbor. With a rainbow to the east the Captain and Mate hoisted a pair of Peak Organics finest and studied a few charts. An early bedtime was had by all with an 0430 alarm set and a long day ahead in store.
Some days are meant to be savored, some endured, and some have moments that cross a broad spectrum of feelings. As the Captain peered into the engine compartment at 4:30 AM and saw oil floating on top of the water in the drip pan he knew that yesterday’s plans were going to change. The week before he thought he solved a minor oil leak by tightening the oil filter a quarter turn but now he wasn’t so sure. Making a 36 hour run to Shelburne, Nova Scotia did not seem like such a good idea with engine concerns. So instead of charging down Penobscot Bay and heading for the open ocean, the crew enjoyed an early breakfast and watched the sunrise over Islesboro and the early light on the Camden Hills. Just past 7:00, phone calls were made to neighboring boat yards and sure enough a mechanic was available to look over the engine at the Dark Harbor yard around the corner. By 9:00 a young fella showed his flexibility and agility by diving into Pathfinder’s port locker and poked about the engine compartment with his large light. Eventually he had the Captain crank up the engine to 1500 RPM while he studied all parts intently while lying on his stomach over the shaft. He emerged from the locker, looked over the forward side of the engine and finally had it shut down and pronounced there were no more oil leaks, however the raw water pump bearings were wearing out and the water leaking from the pump was causing the remaining oil residue to look much worse that it actually was. When told of the vessel’s destination he strongly recommended the water pump be replaced. Since none of the local yards had the part in stock the decision was made to get underway and proceed toward a boatyard on Mt. Desert which would actually be 30 miles closer to Nova Scotia than the middle of Islesboro. It was a beautiful day on Penobscot Bay but with very little wind. As we approached the Deer Isle Thorofare we received confirmation that the Hinkley Yard on Mt. Desert could obtain the new water pump and schedule the installation on Friday, August 4th. Mate Johnson made a wise decision that hanging about with the Captain and Admiral while waiting for a repair was not an efficient use of his time and opted to be dropped off in North Haven to catch the ferry to Rockland and a ride home. It is never a hardship to motor through the Fox Island Thorofare on a beautiful day and Rob was dropped off with at least 10 minutes to spare to catch the ferry. The Admiral and Captain returned to an easterly heading and halfway across East Penobscot Bay the wind filled in, the sails were set and the engine was given a rest, making passage through the lobster pot buoy minefield a little less stressful. It was a gorgeous run through the Deer Isle Thorofare with Isle au Haut presiding to the south. In the late afternoon we made our approach to Buckle Harbor, an old favorite, on the northwest side of Swans Island. The jib was furled, the engine was st ……, wait what’s wrong with that damn engine!!! The starter panel appeared dead as a doornail, but the boat’s batteries seemed to be in good shape. With mainsail alone we ghosted into Buckle Harbor and dropped the anchor. The good Maine Mud on the bottom held the anchor fast. We were safe, but a very tired Captain and Admiral knew the end of the day was to bring no rest. Lockers were emptied and the Captain dove in with a meter and a 12 volt test light, feeling that this was a simple problem that he could surely solve quickly. Two hours and three locker crawls later he hung his head and admitted he was whipped. Nothing seemed to be amiss, but the engine starter panel was dead. Fortunately the yearly towing insurance with Boat US had been kept up and after a quick call a tow to Southwest Harbor was arranged. Lights were out before 9 PM.
The Admiral was up at 5 AM, bustling and trying to make the Captain feel guilty about staying in bed until 6:30. It almost worked. After breakfast the Captain made another attempt at finding the engine problem. Trusted Chief Engineer Art Hall was consulted vial text messages. Unfortunately while trying to check a fuse in a wire attached to the starter solenoid the Captain pulled out the wire out from its connecting point. So instead of making progress he was going backwards. Fortunately Captain Bill of Towboat US showed up at this point. He was very friendly and professional and assisted by his mate Brenda, Pathfinder was underway on the end of a tow line. Patchy fog was visible off the outer islands but we had a clear trip across Blue Hill Bay, by Bass Harbor Light and up the Western Way to Southwest Harbor. Bill dropped us off at a Hinkley mooring by 11:30. Southwest Harbor is full of beautiful Hinkley and Morris yachts of all sizes and shapes but it is no place to relax. A constant stream of lobster boats, and landing barges (servicing the villages on the Cranberry Islands) kept the waters churning and Pathfinder rolled about while the Captain and Admiral emptied out two lockers in preparation for an electrician who arrived at 12:30. Dave the electrician knew his job well and within an hour had repaired the wire the Captain had pulled out of its place (no easy job since it was attached to the starter solenoid in a spot completely out of sight and had to be done by feel), reset a 20 Amp breaker on the engine, and reattached numerous other wires to sensors that had somehow been knocked loose. Yes, the engine was back in service too. Pathfinder was underway shortly for the busy, but much quieter waters of Northeast Harbor. A spot was found by the mooring agent at one of the floating docks (not attached to shore) in the inner harbor. For those not familiar with Northeast, it probably is the most attractive harbor on the island of Mt. Desert, but its popularity makes it a place to avoid for some. There are beautiful boats of all sorts and sizes, mega yachts, and a number of lobster fishermen who are not going to be run out of this gorgeous harbor with a shoreline that encompasses some of the trails of Acadia National Park. A trip into town was made to help stretch the legs and to correct a visa application that the Captain had made a mistake on. With a hopeful repair scheduled to be completed on Friday the weather is being watched for another window to make the crossing to Nova Scotia. In the long range forecast Sunday is looking promising. Stay tuned.