The captain probably said it best when he declared, “My drip bucket is half full.” Hurricane Earl arrived precisely at the midway point in our annual cruise, but his brief visit gave us an opportunity to learn a little more about our newly acquired boat and to take advantage of her amenities.

Through the wonders of wireless Internet and cell phone service, we had plenty of warning that Earl might be an issue. Like all prudent mariners, our first priority was to get to a place that offered good protection. Fortunately, Maine offers plenty of places like that, and we were lucky enough to grab one of the last rental moorings at Bucks Harbor in South Brooksville.

Big hills surround the harbor, and an island guards its entrance, making it a snug and comfortable spot to wait out foul weather.

The phrase “tropical storm conditions likely” was uttered often on NOAA weather radio as Labor Day weekend approached. On Friday, the harbor was in full storm preparation mode.

Like us, boat owners were stripping sails and canvas and adding storm pennants to their moorings. Boatyard workers were hauling some of the smaller boats by crane and putting them ashore for safekeeping.

We hauled our kayaks ashore and secured them in the woods. Keeping them on deck would add unwanted windage, and trailing them astern could get them knocked about.

Our boat, Imagine, had gotten a bit grungy on our cruise. So Friday, in the calm before the storm, we gave her a good scrubbing and saltwater bath, knowing she’d get a freshwater rinse from Earl. Since a deluge was coming anyway, we figured we might as well make productive use of it. Lemonade from lemons.

Following the boat bath, and use of the marina showers (Bucks Harbor Marine’s outdoor showers are the best on the coast of Maine, by the way), it was time to eat dinner and hunker down. The local radio station was also in storm mode, playing music with a hurricane theme, thus adding to the anticipation.

The rains from the first of many bands from Earl arrived promptly at 8 p.m. They lasted about a minute — just a taste of things to come.

The real rain arrived in earnest at 2 a.m. Saturday, and that’s when the drips started. The most prominent (for me, anyway) was coming from the small port above my head.

While some boat owners might consider leaks and drips part of the price you pay for the privilege of owning a boat, we’re not used to them. Our previous boat, Rita P, had only one leak, and it was not a huge problem. Imagine has a few.

But the good news is the rain was both heavy enough and of adequate duration that we now know where the leaks are (we hope we’ve found them all) and can set about fixing them. Hence the half-full drip bucket.

As for the winds, Earl had weakened to tropical storm status by the time he got to our part of the world. I don’t know if it was the storm’s weakening, a more favorable track or our fine choice of a hurricane hole, but the winds were barely an issue. This added credence to my Murphy’s Law-style theory that the severity of the storm is inversely proportional to the amount of preparation done in advance of it.

With the rain still falling Saturday morning, the customary coffee in the cockpit with bagels toasted on the rail-mounted grill was not an attractive breakfast option. Fortunately for us, Imagine has an oven — an amenity our previous boat lacked. I baked fresh muffins to enjoy in the cabin as the rain subsided.

midday Saturday, the sun was out, blue sky replaced many of the storm clouds, and a drying breeze was blowing from the northwest. Imagine’s decks were glistening. And bit by bit, we’re getting to know the new boat.

Gail Rice of Freeport and her husband, Randy, race and cruise their Pearson 30 sloop on Casco Bay. Contact her at:

[email protected]