Boaters hauled in their vessels, lobstermen moved their traps and vacationers fled home, but then fickle Hurricane Edouard moved away from Maine Monday and became just a nasty storm.
Hundreds of vacationers poured off Mount Desert Island in a parade of RVs, travel trailers and other vehicles. But other hearty souls stuck around and had fun despite the heavy rains and winds whipping up to 40 mph.
Donald Kidwell, who makes a living clearing trees near power lines on New York’s Long Island, continued camping by himself at the Spruce Valley Campground in Bar Harbor. He wasn’t about to let the rain keep him from going hiking later in the day.
“The thing is I am here. I am not at home,” said the tanned, salt and pepper-bearded line specialist who lives in Babylon, N.Y.
Sipping a cup of coffee on the office’s front porch, Spruce Valley Campground proprietor Harry Luhrs reported the number of campers had plunged from 91 to 28 in just a day.
“I am stressed out. I just want to sit on this porch and wave goodbye,” confessed Luhrs who has dealt with hundreds of campers daily seven days a week.
Over in Northeast Harbor, Massachusetts sailors Darrow Lebovici and Meg Twohey were ensuring their Concordia 41 was firmly secured to the slip. Outfitted in oilskin overalls and slickers, the couple and their similarly clad friends, Bill and Peggy Cross, hiked up to the Mount Desert Chamber of Commerce building where hot showers and other services are provided to transient yachtsmen.
“We heard about the hurricane and called ahead. We feel lucky to be here,” Twohey said.
The two couples said they have spent their timeout from sailing, doing laundry, enjoying Maine shrimp and “jalapeno poppers” — fried jalapeno peppers stuffed with cheese — at the Docksider. They said their next stop was the bar at the Kimball Terrace Inn where they hoped to tune into CNN.
At the Appalachian Mountain Club’s camp on Echo Lake in Mount Desert, 35 Elderhostel participants were sitting down to steaming soup, sandwiches and fresh fruit. They’d already hiked around Sand Beach in Bar Harbor, watching the seals bobbing in the surf, and they planned to go for a sunrise climb up Cadillac Mountain today.
“The hurricane was going to hit in Massachusetts so what was the point of going home,” said Bob Degnan of Melrose, Mass.
For those visitors who remained on MDI, the best entertainment by far was the show Hurricane Edouard put on.
Hundreds of people flocked to overlooks along the 18 1/2-mile Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park. With the Egg Rock foghorn droning in the distance, they stood transfixed watching the milky froth shoot up and lather the pink granite slabs and cliffs.
Down on Sand Beach, Patty and Israel Jacquez marveled at the 10- to 12-foot combers rolling in and sweeping up to the granite staircase. Having just moved from El Paso, Texas, to New Jersey, it was the young couple’s first taste of blustery New England weather.
As Penobscot Bay swelled with the afternoon’s high tide farther to the west, there was little indication of the doom forecast the day before.
On the Rockland waterfront, boats gently bobbed at their moorings. Up the street, slicker-clad pedestrians walked downtown taking in the Labor Day holiday and Edouard’s northerly blow. Falling leaves swirled in the intermittent rain and breeze.
Harbormaster Ken Rich and assistant Hugh Lane spent Monday in the city’s work boat checking lines and looking for problems. The pair worked until 10:30 the night before securing docks and floats, and helping boaters haul out their vessels.
“We’ve been looking for chafing, making sure nobody’s in trouble,” Rich explained during a short break on land. “This is high tide and this is as bad as it’s gong to get.”
As Rich spoke, the three-masted schooner Kathryn B appeared under full sail off the breakwater. On its return from a six-day cruise, the Kathryn B normally ties up at the old fisherman’s pier, but Capt. Gordon Baxter decided to spend Monday night at anchor, Rich said.
Gesturing in the direction of the Kathryn B, Rich emphasized that “It’s a 40 knot breeze. Everybody loves to sail in that kind of wind. I’m a sailor and I’m having more fun today than in the weeks of summer doldrums.”
The Eastern Maine Chapter of the American Red Cross had prepared for the worst, setting up shelters in Rockland High School and other school buildings all along the storm’s predicted path. Spokeswoman Meg Woodcock expressed relief that the emergency mobilization never was needed.
“We don’t have any activity at our shelters,” Woodcock said. “At this point all the shelters are at standby and our people are ready to move.”
Camden Harbormaster Jim French was thankful that the storm’s timing provided mariners with the opportunity to prepare for the worst. As was the case in Rockland, much of Camden’s schooner fleet remained at home port, although a few took refuge in Castine.
Capt. Ray Williamson of the schooners Grace Bailey, Mercantile and Mistress said his passengers remained on the ships overnight and spent Monday visiting the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, the Owls Head Transportation Museum and taking in the sights of town. The vessels will embark at daybreak, Williamson said.
“It’s the best storm I’ve seen in a long time,” Harbormaster French noted. “We were probably the most prepared as I’ve ever seen. Sunday was nice, nobody was working and it was a beautiful day to haul boats. I think people took the threat seriously, but we’ve had a lot worse storms than this, that’s for sure.”
Capt. Alan Philbrook said he had planned to haul his motor vessel Lucky Lady but was unable to schedule a trailer lift in time. He was thankful that this hurricane did not turn out as forecast.
“Edouard was from France,” Philbrook observed. “He was very civilized. He just showed you what he could do and then went away peacefully.”
Although boaters were spared, the winds and heavy rain kept emergency crews busy. Scattered power outages and washed out roads were reported across Knox and Waldo Counties during the night. Belfast, Belmont, Montville and Islesboro briefly lost power, as did the Samoset Road area in Rockland and Rockport residents in the Simonton Corner and West Street extension neighborhoods.
The Waldo County Sheriff’s Department experienced intermittent blackouts, but back-up systems kept communications open.
Edouard didn’t deliver much of a blow to the Bangor area on Monday. Despite the occasional gust of wind and some heavy showers, many people in the area didn’t feel much impact from the storm.
“Actually, it’s kind of boring,” said Bill Green, area supervisor at the Bangor International Airport tower.
Green said a few flights were canceled on Monday due to weather conditions in the Boston area, but other than that, it was business as usual at the airport.
“It’s kind of a fizzle,” he said of the storm.
Randy Whitten of Brewer wasn’t too concerned about Edouard either as he sat in his car at Turtle Head Marina in Hampden. Whitten and his wife, Ruth, parked near the Penobscot River on Monday afternoon to watch the tide come in.
Whitten said he watched the water come in about 3 feet at the quiet marina. “I think this is the worst of it right here,” Whitten said as he watched the tide begin to fall.