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post #26 of Old 08-14-2007
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Last week, in Maine, we were caught out in a stronger-than-predicted cold front passage. We were anchored in Pulpit Harbor, North favorite anchorage in Penobscot Bay. It is totally protected in all directions....except NW.

At about 10PM the winds started to blow from the W then NW. The predicted 15-25 knot winds quickly increased to 40 knots plus in gusts (on my anemometer and as confirmed by other vessels in the same anchorage). They blew at this strength for 10 hours, all through the night, and only abated at 0800 next morning. Good timing, 'cause I had to take Max ashore for a run and a pee and was wondering how we were gonna do it in the wildly bobbing inflatable.

I stood anchor watch in the cockpit all night, as did many other folks in the anchorage. There was nowhere to go...all boats at anchor had a rough night of it. For the first few hours of 40-knot plus winds I ran the engine at idle, partly as insurance (since there was a hostile lee shore not far away) and partly to charge the batteries fully while I watched to see how the anchor gear would do.

We were anchored with a 45lb genuine CQR which has been a faithful companion for 18 years, in 30-40' of water (an 8.3' tide), with 30 fathoms of 3/8" HT chain and two 20' 1/2" nylon snubbers. Holding in Pulpit Harbor is pretty good, in thick mud/clay. No issues; we didn't budge all night.

On anchor watch, I monitored our position on the GPS/PC-chart display and on radar. Turns out, the chart for this particular location appears to be about 100-150' showed the boat to be about that far West of where it actually was, according to the radar and to my visual bearings. Positioning was critical, because of the aforementioned lee shore.

At first light, about 5AM, we moved further into the anchorage looking for a spot with at least some protection. There really wasn't any, but we dropped the hook in a good spot ahead of a beautiful little schooner.

Not a night I care to repeat, but all turned out OK.


1. Stay the h___ out of Pulpit Harbour in any forecast cold front passage where NW winds could build very uncomfortable conditions inside.

2. Even the "old" anchors work just fine in good holding ground with proper rode and scope. I had two larger ones and the engine as insurance, but didn't need them.

3. Despite such occasional annoyances, cruising in Maine is GREAT!

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