Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Logistics of a Liveaboard Dinner Date

Loaded with farmers market fruit, fresh laundry and with our good friend Al and his dog Elsa sailing their boat alongside, we sailed out from Rockland and spent a couple of weeks sailing in good Easting winds whenever we could, and ducked and hid from the occasional squall. One after another we picked lonely little island destinations where the dogs could frolic on the beach together leash-free.

Sunset on Hurricane Island. Once upon a time it was a very active granite quarry, now the island is home to students of Outward Bound studying a variety of nature items, including sustainable scallop farming. For more information on the Outward Bound program, click

Chloe and Elsa exploring the quarry at Hurricane Island

Eventually Lance tired of cooking and I tired of doing dishes so it was time to find a restaurant and take the night off. Now, most folks do this regularly and it's not a big deal. But since we are hopping around mostly deserted Maine islands on a boat, a restaurant meal requires strategy.

Green Isle, this one wasn't even a charted anchorage, we just liked the look of it so we threw our hooks in among the lobster floats and settled in

First up, find a restaurant that is close to the water. This required a restaurant search on Google Maps.

Chloe on Green Isle, with the Fish Stick

After a few of those were picked out, I weeded out the ones that aren't dog friendly and made note of the restaurant hours.

Now, of those that were left, the goal was to get the boat as close as possible, so the restaurant needed to be reachable by dinghy. Time to switch from Google Maps to the chartplotter. One of them had a boat ramp for the dinghy and a spot to anchor Minerva closeby, protected from every direction except the East. Switched to a weather predictor, planned out what day works for winds to sail there, and whether any big winds are expected from the East, don't want that swell rolling into our anchorage and spoiling our night. Verify the sailing and anchoring plan jives with the restaurant open times.

Has anyone ever planned so well for a basic dinner date?

👉A side note about lobster pots:  We are learning to come to peace with the plentiful lobster pots, in that we have decided it's OK to drift among them as long as our prop isn't spinning. So now we anchor among them, knowing we will drift over them while Minerva is at anchor, and the only one that is concerned about this is Chloe, who has decided the perimeter of the boat must be defended, and so she barks at them as we swing over them. To her it surely looks like they are coming to board us.
We came to this conclusion quite by accident, after we struggled to find a spot to anchor in a lobster-pot-free zone, only to wake up to find them planted all around us, and no harm having come to anyone at all in the night. This opens many more anchoring opportunities.👈

At the end of all of this legwork, the answer was a cool little restaurant right in lonely Webb Cove, on the island of Vinalhaven just around the corner from Stonington. The restaurant had an interesting menu. Reservations were made.

The Cockatoo Portuguese also had a full bar. Hello Sangrias.

The predicted winds didn't show up on sailing day, so we had to motor there, not a big deal. As we were rounding the corner into the anchorage Lance said... "where do we get groceries?" Groceries? That wasn't part of the plan! And it's impossible. There's literally nothing else there except a restaurant and a lobster processing plant nearby. Groceries, that's a whole different strategy. For a different day.

A quick island tour before dinner

Dinner at the Cockatoo Portuguese restaurant was well worth the legwork. For the next few days the dogs frolicked on a nearby lonely beach, and the anchorage was well protected and peaceful, and we enjoyed watching the lobster boats work.

It turns out there were no groceries to be found on the island at all, just an ice cream shack and a small convenience store, more or less the same story we'd been finding at all the lonely islands. Perhaps the locals don't eat fresh fruit or vegetables. Or maybe they grow their own.

Al, Elsa and I walked the mile and a half to the town of Stonington. Alas, not a fresh fruit or veggie to be found. It was a lovely walk nonetheless.

As we rounded the corner we found ourselves approaching the lobster boat race starting line. Yes, it's a thing in Stonington in July and it's a total madhouse, complete with lobstermen taunting one another on the radio, and big Coast Guard and harbor patrol vessels doing their best to keep the racing separated from the spectators. We skirted the edge of the pandemonium for a while before deciding our best course of action was just to go around the island the long way and stay way out of their way.

Stonington is very much a blue-collar working town. The guidebook warns that they actively discourage visitors. All our contact with the locals was friendly, but all the same we kept our visit very brief.

The mooring field at Stonington, all lobster boats and no pleasure craft tell the story. We're working here. Go vacation somewhere else.

Somewhere during this couple of weeks of anchoring out, we discovered that we just don't make enough power to keep up with day-to-day living aboard, and were having to run the motor to top off the batteries every few days. So back to Rockland for some new solar panels for Minerva. Oh, and fresh fruit and veggies. Can't be getting scurvy after all.

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