National Geographic : 1952 Sep
Down East Cruise Nomad Sails Along Maine's Rocky, Tree-clad Coast, Home of Yankee Lobstermen, Salty Fishermen, and Blue-water Sailors BY COMDR. TOM HORGAN, USNR With Illustrations by Luis Marden, National Geographic Staff THAT eminent landlubber, Dr. Samuel Johnson, once growled that "No man will be a sailor who (can) get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned . . A man in a jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company." To me, however, a cruise Down East from Boston on my 40-foot ketch Nomad, with five genial companions for a crew, seemed more like getting out of jail than into it. Freed from the constrictions of life ashore, we could look forward to a relaxed and reasonably care free voyage through some of the pleasantest waters ever charted-the 3,478 miles of Maine's deeply indented tide line, from Kit tery to Quoddy (map, page 332). Nor had we anything to worry about on the score of food. Nomad's crew included Col. William H. Speidel, on leave from the Army, and Robert G. Allen, cotton merchant, both veterans of many previous cruises in Nomad and skilled hands with a skillet. They pursued a rivalry in the galley which ensured a seagoing cuisine second to none. As for shipmates, it would have been hard for Dr. Johnson himself to have found livelier and more engaging company than Luis Mar den, of the National Geographic staff, who came along to record the cruise with his cam era, and Charles Renn and Frank Kellogg, GI students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who proved that a course in en gineering helps make a good sailorman. We set sail, then, from Boston with a lei surely wind and the best of spirits (page 335). Gloucester was our first port of call, and in a truer sense our real point of departure; the old fishing town had been the easternmost anchorage on Nomad's cruise the previous year.* Canal Makes Island of Cape Ann In Gloucester we tied up alongside Capt. Ben Pine's 72-foot schooner Blue Water. Cap tain Ben, last Gloucesterman to contest the International Fishermen's Races, advised us to await a favorable tide next day in the Annisquam Canal. The canal, joining the waters of Massachu setts and Ipswich Bays, makes most of Cape Ann an island (page 336). As we threaded its well-marked channel into the river, we passed beneath a new highway bridge under construction. Gaunt steel arms reached out from opposite banks. Running on the auxil iary engine, we passed under a gap high above Nomad's mainmast. Leaving the canal, we crossed Ipswich Bay, where sportsmen hook giant tuna; a 927 pound bluefin caught here in 1940 held the world's record for 10 years. Though we saw many boats with lines out, none, apparently, had found fish. Visibility was so fine we at first mistook Mount Agamenticus, inland in Maine, for one of the Isles of Shoals. But soon we picked up the light on White Island, and went in to anchor in Gosport Harbor. There the sea gulls were so tame they perched at mealtime on Nomad's mizzen boom and in the dinghy, patiently waiting for scraps. We weren't at all sure whether we had anchored in Maine or in New Hampshire water, for the State line, confirmed in 1740, passes right through the harbor. On the Maine side lies the island of Smuttynose, made famous by a crime. Tide Aided Murderer's Escape In The Murder at Smuttynose, and Other Murders, Edmund Pearson tells how Louis Wagner, on a bitter wintry night in 1873, came out to the island in a dory, killed two women whose menfolk were away fishing, and rowed back to Portsmouth with his victims' small savings. Wagner timed his savage mission to the racing tides of the Piscataqua River, but the executioner finally overhauled him. The Isles, rocky and uninviting, have a long and varied history. In 1614 Capt. John Smith charted the group as "Smith's Isles." Myles Standish journeyed "to the eastward" in 1623 to obtain provisions for the Pilgrims at Plymouth and may have visited the Isles. In 1636 Thomas Mayhew came up from Martha's Vineyard for a similar reason. At one time, there was a 270-foot ropewalk on Smuttynose. In 1650 the islanders were petitioning for repeal of a law barring women as residents. On another occasion, militia was sent to per suade the residents to behave better. * See "Windjamming Around New England," by Tom Horgan, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, Au gust, 1950.