Sunday, August 18, 2013

SSCA Gam in Islesboro, Maine

John and Scott chat in Willow's cockpit

While Brenda and Scott keep an eye out for our mooring
 Our great friends John Magrauder and Brenda Free have returned from the western Caribbean and are cruising the Northeast coast on their Mason 44 "Willow". They invited us to join them in Maine for a week. We suggested scheduling it during the SSCA Gam in Islesboro and the Sweet Chariot Music Festival on Swan's Island.
Luckily they had reasonable weather to make an overnight passage up from Marion, MA to Rockport, Maine in time to meet us on August 1st.
It was a beautiful sunny day when we pulled up at the public dock in Rockport. "Willow" was tied up
Busy Rockport Harbor

Solving the world's problems, one at a time
 already. We had an exchange of bags. Our duffle bag and lots of bags of food went on and their emergency life raft and a few other boat items went into our car (items usually stowed in areas we'd be occupying for the week). Of course there were also lots of hugs and exclamations as we haven't seen each other since Mexico last year.
It was 6 pm by the time we settled everything and cast off the lines. John had arranged for us to park right there for the week and rented a mooring for the night. It took a bit of work to find that mooring among the hundreds but soon we were fastened on and pouring drinks. We had brought dinner with us - curried garbanzo beans, naan and salad so it was an easy evening. We had lots of catching up to do and many a funny story. It was lovely to crawl into our bed and feel the gentle motion of the sea again.
We had a nice relaxed morning with a great breakfast before setting out for Gilkey's Harbor, Islesboro. This was our 3rd Northeast SSCA Gam (and the Gam's 23rd anniversary). We came here in Scott Free in 2004 and 2005. The Gam is held at the home of Richard and Kathy DeGrasse and started with a dinghy raftup Friday night at 6 pm August 2.  It was an easy motor over to Islesboro from Rockport and we arrived early afternoon. Unfortunately I wasn't feeling very well and called the DeGrasse's for some advice. Kathy made an appointment at the local clinic, picked me up at the ferry dock and accompanied me. Luckily they saw me, gave me antibiotics and we managed to get back in time for the dinghy raftup at 5 pm.
The raftup was a hoot. Imagine 40 plus dinghies filled with people trying to talk, hold their drinks and pass the pot luck appetizers. Sorry, you'll have to imagine it as I didn't bring my camera (wish I had). We met up with Tom and Kathy on "Jumbie", old friends of John and Brenda's.
Next morning John and Brenda were busy making cole slaw for the luncheon pot luck. By this time

Surface mist on the water in the early morning
 there were 60 boats represented! The weather meanwhile wasn't cooperating fully and it was raining. But the sun gods shined and it stopped only a half hour after the Gam started, and the sun came out full blast.
The food was excellent and there were lots of old friends to meet and greet - some we hadn't seen for many years. Richard welcomed everyone and introduced the speakers; Rob Synder and Heather Deese from the Island Institute (The Island Institute works to sustain Maine’s island and remote coastal communities. The core program areas—including economic development, education, community energy, marine resources, and media—are driven by the requests of community members themselves.) 
A quiet dawn outside the harbor
 and Harbormaster, David Sleeper.
Attendees were encouraged to meet in groups headed by experienced sailors who could answer questions about their experiences. There were a number of round the world and ocean crossing sailors in the group.  Commodores were encouraged to sponsor qualified Associates for Commodore Status. Scott and I have been Commodores for many years now and fondly remember our sponsors who signed our application at the 2005 SSCA Gam!
Now in Islesboro, near sunset
 After this marvelous afternoon we enjoyed a quiet evening on the boat with a great dinner. The sunset was amazing with an intense golden light that transformed the surrounding boats, sea and land. Both nights we'd enjoyed this but Saturday night the sunset was particularly gorgeous.
More stories of our times in Maine in future posts.
Golden light on nearby boats

Morning coffee in Willow's snug salon

Making up the cole slaw for the pot luck

Light rain still falling as we come in to the dinghy landing

Hardy volunteers help cruisers land and moor their dinghies

Just a section of the huge crowd at the Gam

Another view

Our host Richard DeGrasse welcomes us

Sunset that night

Looking over to the ferry dock

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