We went to sleep last night thinking that we would make the 15-mile trek southeast to Tenant’s Harbor to visit a market and get a hop on the journey south but when we woke up to pristine sunny and calm conditions we decided to save ourselves the laborious motorsail and continue to explore Vinalhaven.
So after a relaxing morning of reading, swimming, and watching some seals fish around us, we motored through the glassy Hurricane Sound to Hurricane Island. This island, like many of the others in this area, has an interesting history. It was a booming quarry known for it’s polishing skilled labor in the mid to late 19th century. Less than a mile long, it once housed 1,500 immigrants working in the quarry and overnight the place closed turning it into a ghost town.
Eventually the outdoor skills program, Outward Bound made it’s home here but then as it expanded, it moved to the mainland for logistical reasons. Now the island is home to the Hurricane Island Foundation, which is a science, education, and leadership center. Apparently, it should be bustling with youth and corporate retreat summer groups this time of year but everything has been canceled due to the pandemic. There are still scientists here and the public is welcome to walk around the trails but they just ask we don’t use any of the facilities (and leave a donation).
We grabbed a day-mooring that had an empty peanut butter jar attached to it to leave a donation for using the mooring. (They ask for $15 for day and $25 if you stay the night). We were the second boat to grab a mooring but within about a half-hour, about 3 or 4 others joined us. We went ashore and walked around the island.
One of the trails took us through the old quarry which has now filled with freshwater and the residents use it as a drinking source. Brandon was, of course, very interested in poking into every maintenance shed we found to check out the pumps, sisters, solar panel setup, etc.
Scattered throughout the island are the remnants of past-working island’s machinery. Rusting cranes, boilers, shaped granite, and drilled cliffs ready for excavating are around each corner. We hiked through thick pine woods and open raspberry fields then climbed over boulders along the smooth granite shoreline before finally finding one sliver of a sandy beach we could cool off in. It was a very warm day with no sea breeze.
By 1 o’clock, we were walking back the large grey mess hall where the few summer residents were having lunch. We waved and said hello and they asked us if we saw the great white shark! Apparently it was all over the radio that one had been spotted in nearby! We did see a bloody dead seal but did not investigate to the cause of the death. So glad I found that out AFTER my swim.
We headed back to the boat and planned to skip just over to the next island to anchor in Reindeer Cove, dingy into Carver’s Harbor where the “downtown” of Vinalhaven resides to get a late lunch and visit the market to stock up for the trip home.
But as plans go many times on sailing trips, they had to change. First, Reindeer Cove had three boats already in it which was it’s max. They also all had stern anchors out. We went around the corner to a spot that looked just as fine but then the Vinalhaven Ferry went by and we learned why no one was anchored there when the 4-foot crashing wake tossed us around like a toy boat.
Carver’s Harbor is apparently not very hospitable for yachtsman as it’s a working lobster and fishing village so we knew we couldn’t go in there. However, we saw another boat anchored just a way’s out so decided to go for it as well. When I pulled up the anchor using the windlass, the chain jammed and a part jumped out of its place. Luckily, Brandon fixed it after I fetched some tools and all was well again.
By this time though, it’s getting later in the day and we’ve haven’t eaten so we bring our getting-close-to-hangry selves ashore to find nothing is open due to COVID except the market. So we shop while hungry and end up with a plethora of goodies from muffins to chocolate covered Oreos but also some food for the trip home.
On our way out of Carver’s Harbor, we hopped over to Green’s Island in the dinghy to explore another gunkhole that we noticed had an old beached fishing tug, as we got in there, we found quite a few sunken ships and a few tucked away homes. It was a cove on the chart I didn’t understand why it wasn’t recommended because it looked so protected. Now we understood!
Our plan at this point is to get a good night’s sleep then take off on Friday morning for the 36-hour trip back to Rhode Island. Unfortunately, the breeze looks light until Saturday and while another day in Maine would be nice, getting in late on Sunday night does not. We know we have just enough fuel to motor sail if we have to.
As we sipped our evening cocktails after a dinner of fajitas with homemade guacamole watching the sun fall behind Camden Hills (and wallowing in a few more times in lobster boat and ferry wakes), we decide to just send it now. There’s a nice sea breeze still blowing so that will help us get south before we have to inevitably motor sail tomorrow.
And just like that there was no time for nostalgia that the honeymoon in Maine was over, it was time to pack up and head south for the last part of this adventure.