Amanda Seltzer keeping a lookout as the Amel 39 PANDA goes through a notorious Maine fog bank.

We thought the saying was to sail south until the butter melts and then turn west!? What the heck are we doing way up here in Maine? Our butter is far from melting, along with the coconut oil which used to be completely liquid is now rock-hard. Well, these are just a couple of the changes we are experiencing here on SV PANDA at 44 degrees north.

Although there are the slight inconveniences of constant under-bunk dampness, chilly nights and endless coastal fog, the positives far outweigh the minor difficulties. For starters, how about the view? Sailing into the Mt. Desert Narrows past Acadia National Park, downwind with our UK Sailmakers Genoa poled out to starboard, we squinted through relentless fog and endless lobster pots. We continued to joke throughout the morning about the great mountainous views of Maine, while we couldn’t see more than a few boat lengths ahead on our approach. But the ocean must have heard and, within an instant, the fog finally lifted to a glorious view of Cadillac Mountain. We were awestruck!

It had been over one month since leaving Puerto Rico and 1,690NM sailed, dreaming of Maine’s rugged glacier-cut, picturesque coastline; and now here it was, beautifully painted off the port side of our Amel 39.

Perhaps it was enduring the month-long voyage which made the view that much sweeter. We say a month, but in reality, it was a typical two weeks of sailing interrupted by a rather early tropical storm while quarantining in Bermuda. Our stopover at this remote Atlantic island was only supposed to last a few days, simply drop the hook, rest, bathe, and set on to Maine. However, just as we arrived, tropical storm Arthur was named, and had its intentions set on a curve-ball path to Bermuda. Due to the current travel restrictions, Bermuda was technically closed to any foreign visitors, but thankfully this warm and welcoming country was allowing transient boats safe harbor. And what a safe harbor it is! Almost 360-degree protection from the North Atlantic waters provided a safe and calm anchorage, even as Arthur passed over, straining our 10m snubber line and 60m of anchor chain with an all-night 40+ knot gale.

After exactly two weeks of enduring the torture of a blissful Atlantic island perfectly out of reach from the deck of our ship, we headed north to the lobster rich waters of ‘Downeast’ Maine.

Now what is next for SAILING PANDA? Iceland. Apparently, the butter is still too soft and the crew speaks of needing real glacial ice in their Sundowners. So, we will set sail again, clawing our way through more Northern latitude lines, past Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, across the Labrador Sea and make landfall at a distant and exotic corner of our world once ruled by the earliest of sea-faring adventurers, the Vikings.

Darren and Amanda Seltzer


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