At 2 AM, our sleep is interrupted by thunder and lightning. The wind freshens. Cutter Loose is tugging at her mooring. A brief episode of hail precedes the rainfall. Within an hour, the line of thunderstorms moves to the east and northeasterly winds fill in behind the front.
Lunt Harbor is ensconced in heavy fog at daybreak. By late morning, visibility improves to one-half mile. This is as good as it gets for today. We sieze this opportunity to move on to our next destination…Burnt Coat Harbor on Swan’s Island. In low visibility, we navigate by radar and electronic chart from Frenchboro to enter this well protected harbor.
In Massachusetts, navigating by radar in fog primarily involves avoiding collisions with other vessels. In Maine, radar echoes to be avoided include not only other vessels, but exposed ledges (i.e., small rocky islands) as well. Only the major ledges are identified with buoyage or other aids to navigation. To make matters even more challenging, some of the ledges are exposed only at low tide. At high tide, they lurk just under the surface, waiting to snare the unwary mariner. Under these circumstances, it is easy to become disoriented when navigating by instrument during periods of low visibility.
During the first few days of August every year, Swan’s Island is host to the Sweet Chariot Music Festival. The island is accessible only by boat. While there is ferry service to the island from Bass Harbor on Mount Desert Island, it does not operate at night. The evening concerts are held at the Oddfellow’s Hall. There is only one way to attend this festival and that is by private boat with dinghy.
When we arrive at Swan’s Island at 2 PM, there are already some 25 boats in the harbor. Since all of the rental moorings are occupied, we anchor Cutter Loose on the west side of the harbor just beyond the mooring area. Boats continue to arrive throughout the afternoon, including two Windjammer schooners that anchor nearby.
Our mid-afternoon harbor entertainment takes the form of traditional sea shanties being performed by roving folk singers and musicians. A decorated sailboat, packed with singers, meanders its way through the harbor serenading each anchored boat. For an encore, the sun makes a welcome appearance in late afternoon.
We will explore Swan’s Island tomorrow, including the 7:30 PM concert at the Oddfellows Hall.