final voyage

I departed Exeter this morning on a most solemn mission, one last look for Lizzie Marriott, the missing UNH student. Last week I had done a similar trip, and wanted to go out one last time, I just can’t get it out of my head. I am disappointed in recovery efforts to date and today the divers had no  luck recovering the poor soul’s body during a scuba search  around Peirce Island.

I wasn’t going to go out   again as the navigation buoys have been removed from the Great Bay. It really can get tricky if you try and  cross the Bay without buoys. I had to go though and asked my neighbor, a lobster-man  for a tip. It’s not that I haven’t done it before, a no buoy run early in the season, or a night run , but on these two runs my time was short and last weeks run was very rough. It’s  time consuming to have to “feel ”  your way across looking at depth readings.I had some adventures this season with  bottom contact, I did not want another just prior to putting up the scow. So my neighbor gave me a tip and I used it and everything went fine. I don’t have a chart plotter / GPS unit on the helm, just a  fathometer.

The skies this morning were dark with birds of all types, great clouds of them swirled overhead.

Given that Fall is for me a melancholy season, and the reason I am on the water today,  it’s difficult to convey the edge I was on.

You could and can lose your focus.

Can you see 3 stacks, towers, tanks? That’s Newington.

These are the two most easterly tanks.

So, after clearing the RR trestle and  running down Bloody Bank, you head across to the most easterly  tank, then as that disappears from view, you sight to the second, then  the third, which is a smokestack, over on the  Piscataqua River . Coming back most will concede, is a bit trickier and is today going  to be done with less water under my hull. The old timers would use a water tower in Newmarket coming home but that is now obscured by trees. I am probably making my own case  for a chart plotter for the  boat, but they are expensive , you should know your home waters,and really , it might not get used  that much and it removes all the potential  for on board drama.

In some cases when you mud out you can almost see other vessels change course, away from you and your sloppy navigation. “Geez, I think that guy might be stuck, don’t look over there Carol, look away , he  will figure it out, hand me a beer will ya”

“What are we gonna do now??

“Just sit tight, I will have to kedge us back into the channel”

“My hero!”

Kedging? That’s what you have to do when no  one will dare maneuver close enough to toss you a line and pull you off the mud.

You  heave your anchor as far as you can toward the deep water, then haul yourself in that direction, it helps too, if your mate can join you on  the bow, so your stern comes up a bit. Even that most tiny adjustment in weight  makes a big difference in re-floating your vessel.


I should tell you all  about the time I rescued two drunks from Newmarket in a swamped canoe, and actually thought one of them was going to kill me.  I did not allow him to dive off my moving boat after the rescue to recover a floating 6 pack. I had to lay down the law  to two very drunk and very salty dudes.I took them home all the way up the Lamprey River which is the worst ride on the Seacoast,the hairs on my neck were like porcupine quills.  That particular act of mercy  served to chasten my own behavior and now I will circle the scene a bit before diving in.

This seal was really close and stayed topside for some time.

I had no luck in locating Lizzie Marriott and neither did a dive team today in Portsmouth, off Peirce Island. I wish I could continue with my efforts,but the time has come to haul the boat . For me, it’s a great door closing, the end of the boating season, I will miss the water.

I motored out to the mouth of the Piscataqua and it was calm. So, I shut down for a bit, just floating  out there in that light. I was shivering, the water is just so cold. That cold comes right up and into the boat. During the  Great Age of Sail sailors did not, most  could not, swim. The last thing anyone wanted was to end up in the  water.


Joshua Slocum the great mariner, did not know how to swim.

This  photo I thought would be  the last of the season.  I took it last week coming back up the Squamscott River(feels so good to be in the river, under the trestle, with a few feet of tide left to get home) and that day our Harbormaster, Bud Field had informed  me of the Bay buoy removal. So I figured I was done. This morning though,  with a perfect tide window, a fair breeze, and some local lore, I was able to take one last look for Lizzie Marriott. I  feel better for it, and hope that she is recovered soon.


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