Jewell Island is exactly that. A jewel. Especially for the crew of the Full Monty. After having been at a marina for 2 weeks, and then a day in Portland, we were craving to be anchored with nature. Jewell Island was that first bit of nature and the quiet anchorage that we’d been longing for. And, what was even better? We actually got to sail there without any motors running!
It was overcast and rainy while we were still on the mooring in Portland. However, there was wind, so we decided to go anyway. We put on the warm clothes and foul weather gear and hoisted the sails. It was exhilarating! We actually hit 8.4 knots! The fastest we’ve gone under sails alone since we bought the boat over 3 years ago. We sailed right up to the harbor entrance before dropping sails. We wanted to hang onto that feeling for as long as possible.
Once at anchor, we noticed the vacant campsites at the edge of the woods near the top of the rocky cliffs. These campsites are free to anyone who wants to enjoy Jewell Island.
We spent the better part of a day exploring this little island. A good pair of hiking shoes and a flashlight are recommended. For some amazing views of Casco Bay, we climbed to the top of two old watch towers at the southern end of the island. During both WWI and WWII, Jewell Island was used as a lookout post. In addition to the watch towers, there are remains of gun turrets and underground bunkers.
Wil and the kids eagerly explored an old bunker. We didn’t have a flashlight, so Wil was using the flash from his camera to light the way. They followed the bunker through to the other side. I chose to take the path around. However, the thorns were too thick and I had to return to the bunker. Fortunately, there were some other people going into the bunker, so I walked through with them. However, they didn’t have any light whatsoever. It was somewhat spooky to be walking in darkness between musty, damp, concrete walls lined with spider webs. We had to shuffle our feet in order to make sure we weren’t going to fall in any holes, but then we’d still manage to step in puddles created by old, clogged drains. The whole scenario reminded of the Indiana Jones movies. Afterwards, I learned that the bunkers are said to be haunted by soldiers. No wonder they made me shiver!
We continued our journey to the northeast side of the island to wade in the Punchbowl, a large tidal pool that’s home to many mussels and small lobster, as well as a variety of other sea creatures. The cool water was a relief to the feet after an afternoon of hiking.
Our day at Jewell Island didn’t end there. Once we returned to the boat and had dinner, the skies began darkening to our west. A line of storms was approaching. Not knowing how the evening would turn out, we kept our foul weather gear at our finger tips. Sure enough, the wind kicked up and the rain poured.
It wasn’t long before we heard a voice next to us. A small sailboat had dragged anchor, and then the anchor dug in somewhere under our boat. That meant he was stuck there until the wind subsided. Everytime the wind gusted, he had to motor his boat away from our port side in order to keep from hitting us. We couldn’t motor forward because we couldn’t risk catching his anchor line in our props. When we could finally pinpoint the exact location of his line, we were able to motor forward and keep ourselves there until the storm blew over.
While we were busy with our problems, there were several other boaters scrambling to their decks as they floated down the anchorage. One larger sailboat caught a mooring in their rudder while they were dragging anchor. They continued to drag, pulling the mooring with them, until they finally stopped across from us. After witnessing the mooring relocation, we had confirmation that we will do our best to avoid usage of moorings. And, we continue to be quite pleased with our anchor and chain, as well as our choice of scope to leave out.
The next day we continued our northeastward journey.