44:17N 68:19W South West Harbor Maine

Madeleine and Martin
Tue 7 Oct 2014 18:36
We seem to have a near fatal attraction for hurricanes! While we sat at home Hurricane Arthur, the first of the 2014 season, was girding it loins ( or getting its knickers in a twist depending on your view of the sex of hurricanes) and heading up the eastern seaboard  straight for Shelburne and our “safe” anchorage. We need not have worried. The lads at Shelburne did a tremendous job, stripping off the canopy, tying down anything that could move and even securing the fridge door! In the event September was virtually undamaged whilst the Shelburne itself suffered from downed trees, no power for five days but no loss of life or serious injury. Well done Shelburne. We would recommend the harbour and the Shelburne Yacht Club without reservation.
Whilst back home we joined the OCC (The Offshore Cruising Club). We should have done this years ago as it has proved a great benefit. On arriving back in Shelburne, Wednesday 6th August, we decided to make tracks for Maine somewhat earlier than originally planned in order to take part in the OCC Maine 60th anniversary rally. The passage to Maine was in fog and flat calm so we arrived early i.e. before dawn to the sound of the traditional Maine welcome -  banging on the hull and splitting plastic as we chewed our first lobster pot bouy. And that was just the beginning of our entry to Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Island (pronounced desert as in deserted or as in pudding neither of which is accurate – anyway universally referred to as MDI; can you blame them) which was challenging. Lobster pots everywhere, the shortest pick up on a buoy ever invented (talking inches here – took us five goes to pick it up and oh the shame) and Our Lady of the Customs. Whilst interrogating us on board she was interrupted by a young crew member from another boat wondering when we would leave so that they could get out. Reasonable enough one might think. Response; “ Ma’am, you need to back off. You are interrupting a Federal Investigation here” Don’t you just love those uniforms.
To recover we celebrated with an enormous Lobster Supper ashore. So some of the traps were still working! Next day, hired bicycles and spent the day riding on David Rockefeller’s personal carriage roads through part of the Acadia National Park. No cars, just cycles and horses. A treat.
And so to South West Harbor arriving 16th August in time for the beginning of the OCC Rally.
Now, when it comes to joining in “September” is tending to the “schizophrenic”; the Admiral loves to and the Skipper is somewhat less enamoured of the whole “meet and greet” thing. ( In fact, he’s just plain anti-social!). However, it has to be recorded that at the end of the four day event the Skipper was moved to make an impromptu after dinner speech of thanks to the organisers and the assembled company. Well it was indeed great fun!
There were 137 people at the opening salvo on Sunday at Suzi Homer’s B and B on the shore of South West Harbor – and 31 dinghies at her dinghy dock! The Meet kicked off with the formal bits including a reminder from the Rear Commodore Doug Bruce about the enduring qualities of “Hum” Barton’s simple criteria for the club; a reasonable price, a one thousand mile qualifying ocean passage and amateur status. He then presented the newly created “Vertue” award to Peter Macrae in recognition of his eleven single handed Bermuda 1,2 races. ( Eleven! Doesn’t bear thinking about). This was followed by the Greet over luncheon on the lawns – one of the other four British skippers attending was behind the bar (a Yorkshire man - enough said) – and musical entertainment in the afternoon.
27 boats attended the actual rally over the next three days whose high lights included a trip to a local granite museum; a tribute to 800 or so 19th Century local quarrymen and the schooners that delivered the stone to such places as Washington for the construction of the Library of Congress et al ( but the best bit was when two of the not quite so young lady OCC members, under the tutelage of our host, split a 500 pound block of granite using hand tools!); a cruise to Winter Harbor and then on the third and final day a visit to the Rockefeller Gardens “somewhere near Seal Harbor” (apparently their location is supposed to be something of a badly kept secret). Madeleine wrote the report on the rally for the OCC Newsletter so I can quote. “ These breathtakingly beautiful gardens are open only one day per week, only for four weeks of the summer, and only to a limited number of advance registrants. Susi Homer, (our OCC hostess of the mostest ed.) certainly has friends in high places. From out-of-this-world extravagance to the nitty-gritty of the College of the Atlantic , where a highlight for me was sniffing a humpback whales’s vertebra.” (No, really). “ Researchers here discovered that from photographs of the underside of the humpback flutes it is possible to identify individual animals (like fingerprinting) thus enabling researchers to track group distribution, population size, behaviour, ecology and reproduction.” For those of us who have had the privilege (and the frisson) of seeing whales in their ocean habitat when sailing by, this sample of education, research in action and passionate commitment to the cause was indeed inspiring.
And so the final words from your correspondent . “Then it was back to our boats to collect a bottle of wine and a sharing of hors d’oeuvres (together with Suzi’s steaks) for the wind up supper party at Susi’s.  Regional Rear Commodores Doug and Dale Bruce, who were responsible for getting the group together and handled all the email, queries and enrolments, presented Susi with a lovely gift in recognition of her unstinting hospitality and for organising the varied programme of visits. The evening – and the Rally – wound down just before midnight with many a hug ‘n handshake, and a “see you on the water!”
Oh dear. What have I let myself in for..............
Yours ever, Rear Commodore OCGOM