Wheelhouse windows mist streaked, I
Made solemn statement, “I have never
Been lost.” This was different. We had all
Seen things, mysterious lights, distant
Ships appearing above sea waves, early
Morning hours, tired, coffee cold, crew
Sleeping, binoculars peering into gauze-
Like fog, no stars or moon, cold owned
My home waters, foggy Gulf of Maine.
First long pull on the horn, lights burning
Aloft, Maine islands lay off the port bow,
Deep channels in between, then crashing
Waves, abrupt rocky shores, long list of
Deaths, heavy laden steamer with granite
Out of Stonington. Warm winds of southerly
Gale, we fought five-foot, foam-streaked
Chop, headway reduced to maneuvering
Speed, another deliberate blast of horn.
We could sense it, palpable, we were only
Ship on the Gulf of Maine to hear long
Moaning fog horn, we could sense it,
My inner voice saying, “Turn north.” Wind
At our backs, we ran with the storm, Bay
Of Fundy, Lubec, Maine shore, Grand Manan
Island, five nautical miles apart, tonight
Nautical needle threading, boat passing
Between hard shores, lighthouse beacons.
Waters never taken at night, too deep to
Drop anchor, another long pull of ship’s
Horn, faint echo returned, us or another
Ship, three bounding blasts sent, echoes
Answered, 3000 feet off shore. But what
Shore? Maine, Canada, pushing for Quoddy
Narrows, more horn and chop, glimpse of
Passing lights, ship or land? In one moment,
Ship saved or crew death-doomed.
In black night, looming steel hull crossed
Our bow, misty lights passing, hard rudder
Starboard towards her stern, close enough
To see moving rust-streaked hull, welded
Seams. Some said we passed at fifty feet,
Others said twenty, few wouldn’t say. We
Sought shoal waters, any anchorage, rattling
Chain sent steel to stone, holding tight off
Foggy Grand Manan cliffs.
Before radar, radio, GPS and AIS, ship captains were hard
pressed venturing into foggy waters, whether those of
Atlantic Canada or Maine. These photos are mine taken
in ocean gales and on foggy cliffs of Grand Manan Island.