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Riding the Storm Out

The town of Rockland, Maine is a popular summer destination for cruisers, wealthy yacht types, and vacationers from around the world. Many of these land-based guests stay at The Samoset Resort, a classic 1902 hotel resort on the waterfront. Near the Samoset is the historic Rockland Harbor Breakwater. The 1200 meter long, granite breakwater was built to help shelter ships in the harbor during the rougher weather that inevitably rolls in from Penobscot Bay. As you might imagine, putting a long granite breakwater 1200 meters out into the middle of the bay makes the breakwater itself a hazard, and a lighthouse was constructed at the end of it to help ships navigate into the harbor. Walking to the end of the breakwater is a rite of passage for visitors to the region and offers spectacular views.

A couple of us joined Fayaway for a weekend of cruising around the Penobscot Bay islands. Rockland was our expected destination all along, but the weather forecast brought us there earlier than originally planned. A thick fog greeted us as we rounded Vinalhaven and retraced our route from a few days earlier. The fog lifted and temperature grew noticeably warmer as we motored past the Rockland Harbor Breakwater Light into the mooring field. Well over a hundred people were walking the breakwater, proving that the weather was better on land than it had been on our journey there.

But we all knew what was coming. Severe storm warnings made it clear for anyone paying attention, and when you’re on a boat you pay attention. We weren’t the only ones seeking safe harbor. Mega yachts began anchoring in a billion dollar conga line. Smaller boats filled the mooring field and local anchorages. The desire to shelter from a storm is universal. Nobody reviews your bank account when the wind starts blowing.

A late lunch in town got us back to the mooring just as the first raindrops fell. Soon the light patter became a roar as the heavy rains came, and later sustained wind and the heavy gusts. Those gusts capped out close to 60 knots overnight, which might have made it adventurous on an anchorage but on a solid mooring more a curiosity.

A solid boat like Fayaway and knowledgeable Captain like Chris goes a long way to eliminate potential stress, but you still tend to wonder about the state of other nearby boats on their moorings and anchorages. Each lift and slap of waves on the hull made an impression, making you run through your action plan should something happen like a boat dragging its anchor ramming into you. But as the night wore on and Fayaway shrugged off the wing gusts and wave action, I put aside things I can’t control and appreciated where I was. And with a stormy soundtrack playing in the background I dozed off content and confident. Life is a collection of experiences, and this was surely one to remember.

Rockland Harbor Breakwater & Light

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