Maine and Nova Scotia

Sailing in fog has been a new experience. In Maine they call it dungeon fog when you can’t see the front of the boat. Like flying on instruments, you have all sorts of odd sensations and without compass you simply cannot steer a straight course.

Coming up to Maine from Cape Cod my GPS antenna packed it in as I made my landfall at the Kennebeck River. Islands and shoals everwhere, radar signals enough to be incomprehensible, a 4 knot current and reefs on both sides. I learned for the first time the benefit of sound signals – to port and close by the lighthouse horn, ahead the gong of the 1st channel can, and to starboard the sound of surf. Gingerly I groped into soundings, dropped the hook in a shallow bay to the right of what I thought was the river mouth and fell into bed. It was 2 days before I saw anything and could continue up river to Bath. How those old sailors did this – and did it routinely – I cannot imagine.

Strong winds don’t clear the fog, as I discovered crossing the Bay of Fundy in swirling currents and a stiff southwesterly. I assume the radar signals off Seal Island were clam draggers but I will never know. In similar dense mists further up, in the Straits of Belle Isle, I know that the many radar signals were icebergs. At least there was little wind there. Icebergs generally give good radar return at 3 miles and are not a worry as long as you pass to windward of them to avoid the growlers.

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