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Marionette's Delivery - Blue Hill to Bucks Harbor, Maine (a race, a strong breeze, and a meeting with a famous photographer - updated April 5, 2021  

September 20, 2014. These things can take a while. On August 28 your webmaster arranged to have Marionette 'delivered' from Blue Hill, Maine to Bucks Harbor at the top of Eggemoggin Reach. What she was doing up there is covered in Marionette's Log, Summer, 2014.

Marionette on her mooring - Click here for a larger view

Marionette's crew was daughter (and senior DFI) Nicole, and her husband Bruce, two very experienced sailors. They had beautiful weather and a 12-15 knot breeze forecast from the NW. It was a nice spinnaker run down Blue Hill Bay then, as they turned the corner at Neskeag Point the breeze picked up, and by the time they got to the Deer Island bridge, they had gusts to 28 - on the nose!

Made for an exciting sail, not only because this is one of the most beautiful sailing venues on the planet but, because Marionette is a 'pretty boat' (some would say beautiful), she attracted the attention of one of the top sailing photographers on the planet, who just happened to be cruising the Reach looking for pretty boats.

We were promised a special report from Nicole on this delivery, and after a short crew introduction and a chart view, here it is.

Click on the pictures for a larger view

Above left Nicole and Bruce on Bruce's J-105, Arbitrage, racing on San Francisco Bay last weekend in the Rolex Big Boat Series. And above right Arbitrage's winning crew at St Francis YC, Bruce holding the Commodore's Cup, and Nicole her new Rolex!!

The 'course' - Blue Hill Harbor, upper right hand corner, down Blue Hill Bay, around the corner at Neskeag, and up the Reach, under the Deer Island Bridge and into Bucks Harbor (South Brooksville).

Highlights of a Winning Sail on Marionette

I do a lot of sailing… probably too much for an amateur. So far in 2014, I have had some amazing experiences. I’ve match raced in California, team raced in England, and fleet raced J105s in Toronto, Canada, to name but a few. Perhaps the best sail of the year, however, was at the end of August on my dad’s Dolphin 24, Marionette. Bruce, my husband, and I made a delivery of the boat from Blue Hill Harbor to Bucks Harbor, Maine, pushed along under a clear blue sky by a fresh northwesterly .

Having grown accustomed to the competitive realm of sailing and the responsibilities on board as tactician, I have innate sensitivity to factors at stake in any given sailing endeavor. Unlike one design buoy racing, sailing along the coast of Maine involves a special set of considerations if one is to perform well. For example, you have to keep up appearances, both in the aesthetic sense as well as in terms of seamanship. Also, efficiency may take a back seat to degree of navigational challenge. In the case of Marionette, and my father’s long-standing summer campaign goal, success is also a function of the number of compliments volunteered by chance observers. And in Maine, you never know who is looking. So let me share a couple of highlights from this sail that make me believe it was a victory.

We sailed Marionette off her mooring in Blue Hill Harbor, despite rather close quarters with boats around her and a brisk morning northerly fanning 10-15 knot puffs down on us. A race-ready, fully crewed Olson 30 had left minutes earlier from the dock at Kollegewidgwok Yacht Club under mainsail alone. My dad and several locals stood watching on the dock as Bruce and I raised full main and 140% genoa on the Dolphin 24. As I cast us off from the mooring, Bruce held the helm slightly to starboard and trimmed the main while I took the forward third of the jib at the foot and backed it to starboard. As we came quickly to a close-hauled course, I hopped aft to take the sheets, and we sailed gracefully forward around the neighboring boats, then bore away to a dead run.

Here a Webmaster Note: The departure from KYC was interesting. I drove Bruce and Nicole over to KYC where we had moored Marionette for her final night in Blue Hill. As I was walking down to the dock, I heard a blonde woman surprise me and say "Hey Ron - is that you? "

Kaitianna, Olson 30

This particular blonde woman did not once have a Dolphin, but she knew all about them, particularly mine, and had seen Marionette on a KYC mooring near her friend's boat. And, Marionette was flying her Off Soundings Club burgee.

Years ago we had crewed together on a mutual friend's Morgan 36T in an Off Soundings regatta where she had to endure endless stuff from me about Dolphin 24's. (Webmaster Note: On years that Marionette does not race in the Off Soundings regattas, your webmaster sometimes gets invited to crew on a friend's boat. For more on Marionette's Off Soundings Club regatta history, click here)

Her friend's boat was an Olson 30 named Kaitianna, and looked like a tricked out racing machine. She had been single handed up from Sandy Hook in New Jersey by her owner. My blonde friend and the owner, along with 2 more crew, were just leaving to sail to Bucks Harbor - too!!!!


Click on the photo above left for a larger view

So, of course, I asked - wanna race? Lets see - the New England PHRF handicap for an Olson 30 is 108, Marionette's is 252, that's 144 seconds a mile x 25 miles = 3600 seconds or Kaitianna has to give Marionette 1 hour....

Click on all photos for a larger view - click the back arrow on your browser to get back here

When I leave this rather crowded harbor I am usually motor sailing with only the main up. This crew is committed to sailing off the mooring - knowing the owner is watching and wringing his hands in concern. Here she is wing on wing, weaving. Ok, back to Nicole's version of the story....

Wing-on-wing, we whisked out the channel, the beautiful ‘TEER in short-tow (for "TEER's story, click here). I imagined our audience on the dock, feeling a pleasant mix of astonishment and approval. For sure, there were other eyes on us from the shaded porches along the shore as we gybed out of the harbor and into the bay.From that point, our initial course was a perfect broad reach, and so we traded the genoa for the spinnaker. As the northwesterly built to the high teens we saw 8+ knots on the knotmeter, and contemplated our next turn at Blue Hill Bay Light and the necessary sail changes it would bring.

Kiatianna was nearly out of sight down the Bay

Marionette working hard to catch up (Marionette fans will notice she is wearing her 'cruising' spinnaker)

It should be noted here that Marionette is towing a dinghy, and pretty as 'TEER is, she does not make Marionette faster. Recent timed trials have indicated she costs about .3 knots. She was designed to fit on the foredeck but she has never been there - someday...

'TEER with Blue Hill on the horizon

Click on photos for a larger view

The harder two thirds of our trip to Buck’s Harbor started when we got to Eggemoggin Reach. We had to beat upwind the whole way because of the wind's direction, which by the afternoon had built into the 20s. We weaved through lobster pot buoys, a single reef in the main and the Atlantic jib laying us on our ear if we didn’t feather up in time.

Click on the chart for a larger view

Still another Webmaster Note. Turning the corner sounds pretty straightforward. Its not. As one approaches the Blue Hill Bay lighthouse located on Green Island off Flye Point, one becomes aware of numerous small islands and 'rocks'. Once clear and bearing right toward Neskeag one is confronted with several options - going inside Harbor Island where only Dolphins and lobster boats dare, going outside Mahoney Island and can C "11", the safe route, or as this crew decided, going up the middle, chart in one hand and eyes peeled.

Gradually, we progressed toward the Deer Island bridge, our human efforts masked by Marionette’s grace. Heads turned on the boats we passed by, even those of the working lobstermen. (One young boy watched us longingly from a wheelhouse as the men on board hauled traps.)

Deer Island Bridge - File Photo Looking West

We decided to reduce sail before heading under the bridge where the wind was funneling through at even greater strength. We switched the Atlantic jib out for the storm headsail, but then realized as we sheeted in that the sail would not set properly to either the forward or aft track. Both our VMG and appearance were in jeopardy.So, as we tacked frequently to get past the narrows, I managed to rig a satisfactory two-part floating lead on both the port and starboard side of the boat.

After some additional tweaking, Marionette sailed on with just the right balance of beauty and fortitude. Then, as the bright afternoon began hinting at the golden transition to evening, we were approached by a small, rather pretty motorboat, a bearded man at the wheel. The boat was light gray and white, and the name Wooden Boat was near the aft corner of the hull, subtle but there in green lettering.

photo © Deborah Brewster

As he powered along beside us, he asked if we were all the way from Connecticut (revealing his knowledge of Old Lyme, Marionette’s hailing port). He also asked us what type of boat Marionette is and if she was constructed of wood. I fielded his questions to the degree possible as we sailed along.

He then leaned down and picked up a large-lensed camera, and asked if he could take a few pictures. By now, we were pretty certain we knew who this guy was. We obliged, though a little concerned about keeping the boat properly trimmed while posing under the boom in 20+ knots!

Webmaster Note: Later Nicole advised that the bearded guy looked just like this bearded guy in the photo at left found on the Calendar of Wooden Boats website.

Stay Tuned - maybe we can get some good sailing photos of Marionette in a breeze!

Click the photo for a larger view

October 9, 2014. We did get that photo - by Benjamin Mendlowitz! Click here for a larger view

Bruce and I enjoyed the remainder of our sail to the northwestern end of Eggemoggin Reach and in to Bucks Harbor. We came into the dock at the yacht club there, my dad waiting to catch our lines. The Olson 30 was tied at the dock, and her crew was sitting in the rocking chairs up on the porch. I felt that familiar feeling of having completed a good day of racing. Dad was pretty sure we ‘won’ on corrected time by a wide margin, but perhaps it is more important that we did it in style.

Webmaster Note: Well, there was no 'official' race but your webmaster made a mental note of the Olson 30's departure time, about 9:15 AM, and Marionette's departure time about 9:30. As Marionette's designated ride home person I was standing at the Bucks Harbor YC dock and took the Olson 30's dock lines when she came in - her arrival time was about 4PM - 6 3/4 hrs elapsed time. Marionette arrived about 1/2 hour later - 4:30 - 7 hours elapsed time. Handicap time allowance 1 hour - Victory margin about 45 minutes....Plus she was towing a dinghy! Time for a victory drink! followed by dinner at Bucks, the restaurant behind nearby Bucks Market. Kaitianna's crew was there too.

Too busy to get a picture - at left is a 'file' photo of Marionette at the BHYC dock. The background is out the west channel of the harbor.


June 18, 2015 The Sparkman and Stephens Association picked up "Marionette's Delivery" story and ran it in a 6 page story in their 2015 yearbook. We were in nice company - there were several stories about member boats, including one about Dorade.

Click on the photos for a larger view

Click on the photo for a larger view

Would have been nice to have this photo as one of the 2016 Wooden Boat Calandar boats - we nearly fooled Ben but we have a fiberglass hull....

Sparkman @ Stephens Association Yearbook Editor's Note


January 9, 2020. Check out http://dolphin24.org/Marionette_crew.html


April 5, 2021 That photo above by Benjamin Mendlowitz was just one of several he took of Marionette sailing on Eggemoggin Reach that day. Here's one that appeared on the cover of the 2021 Mar/Apr edition of Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors magazine

Click here to read the Marionette article in the magazine




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