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The Down East Loop - Day 11

Demi-Downeast: Friends, Fair Weather, and Fuelish Behavior

Boston harbor

BoothBay Harbor to Boston took us three half-day passages thanks to clear skies, calm seas and the Cutwater’s comfortable low cruising speed of 12 to 15 knots.

Before leaving Boothbay, Joanne and I ate breakfast with Allan Miller and Pam Burke. I knew Burke from Newburyport where she owned a beautiful wood schooner, named Heart’s Desire. We belonged to the same gang of eccentric sailors who kept their boats on the Merrimack River.

1902 Bridge House

Anyone who has been to Boothbay will remember the 1902 Bridge House that lies midway on the footbridge that links to the two sides of the inner harbor. Miller and Burke own this unique property and used to live there, but are trying to simplify their lives. I promised them I would spread the word that the old rumrunner’s shack—now a cozy cottage with a dock—is on the market for $675,000.

Miller is famous for having built the Black Dog of T-shirt fame in Martha’s Vineyard, and now owns Pepe’s, the oldest restaurant in Key West.


We got to Portland in short order, leaving Boothbay at 11:30 a.m. after posting my blog about our horrific fog transit the day before. We took a little detour through an idyllic Casco Bay, and came alongside the docks at DeMillo’s Marina shortly before 4.

After a night on the town, which peaked with live music at Andy’s Old Port Pub on Commercial Street. The Customs House was playing “roots” music, complete with fiddles and washboard.

We made the Isles of Shoals the next afternoon and picked up a mooring in Gosnold Harbor formed by jetties connecting Starr, Cedar and Smuttynose Islands. The history of the Isles of Shoals is remarkable, beginning with their use as a European fishing station years before the Pilgrims arrived. The history that followed involved an unmitigated succession of pirates and treasure, shipwrecks, storms and murder by axe. As recently as the 1970s, Maine and New Hampshire fishermen engaged in a “lobster war” over territory here.

Two of the most scenic views of the Isles of Shoals off New Hampshire are Starr Islands’s Unitarian-Universalist retreat at the old Oceanic Hotel, and the lighthouse on White Island.

On a foggy morning, the Isles are truly spooky. On those days, I used say, Gosnold Harbor was full of ghosts and gulls and ghosts of gulls, but this morning as we cast off our mooring line, it was all sunshine and calm seas. We set a course for the Annisquam River, which bisects Cape Ann (home of the fishing port of Gloucester, Massachusetts) with the help of a small cut called the Blynman Canal.

We arrived at Boston’s Constitution Marina, next to the famous fighting ship of the same name, at around 12:30. And we got a shock, the Volvo Penta tank alarm told us we were down to just one gallon of fuel! When we left the Isles the electronic read-out showed 57 gallons, and there was no way we used 56 of them to get here. We should have had between 10 and 14 in the tank, a pretty standard reserve, according to the fuel flow data.

The Cutwater dealer had told me that the fuel monitor, while not perfect, would be “in the ballpark” as far as how much diesel was in the tank at any particular moment. Oh, well. From now on, I’m subtracting ten.

Bob Bauer, a colleague at SAIL magazine, will be taking Cutwater to his home waters at Newport, Rhode Island, on Monday. And Joanne and I will fly home to Florida after a remarkable five-day, 250-nautical-mile cruise on a capable little cruiser. I suspect I’ll be writing a little more about the subject in coming issues of PassageMaker magazine.

The young men of a Maine lobster “gang” gather on a float after a day of working the traps.

The Down East Loop


  • Builder: Cutwater