07/25/2010, Marion, MA
Food, a subject that surely will get the Taraborelli family's attention
What did we eat on our trip north? Mary had prepared and frozen two containers of her wonderful jambalaya. This makes an easy meal at sea, as it only has to be defrosted and reheated.
Barry had brought on board two cans of hearty soup (Anybody for split pea soup on a hot day? They are still deep in a locker somewhere, waiting for the next snowy winter day.), several packages of oriental food (he took them back unopened when he left us on Saturday), and a large box of Tastycakes. Now I am not a native Philadelphian. This is a delicacy that you have to be raised on to be able to enjoy (same as with soft pretzels, cheese-steak sandwiches and processed cheese). When I first came to Philadelphia in the 1980s I saw them in the stores and immediately decided that I would never eat one. I have stuck with that resolution ever since, and now that I had some time to study the "ingredients" listed on the box (what else do you do at sea when you are not on deck doing sail changes?). I did recognize a few words, such as "hydrogenated", "modified", "soy", "corn" and "peach flavor", but the rest came right out of a chemistry handbook. But his wife Barbara had made a wonderful pork loin, which made great lunch meat. Due to events that will be described later, little of it was consumed while at sea. So even today (Sunday) I enjoyed a few slices for lunch.
I had told Tom that he only needed to bring something that he really wanted. I confirmed that there was no peanut butter on board, so that's what he brought. A sensible approach.
The first dinner underway was in the southern Delaware Bay, and everybody enjoyed Mary's jambalaya with a beer or a glass of wine. Once we had rounded Cape May and came into the open Atlantic, Barry started to wonder if he should have brought Dramamine after all. When I gave him two tablets of Stugeron (a very effective anti-seasickness medication, not available in the US), he took one, and went immediately to bed. I don't remember how many hours he slept, but it was definitely past his watch time. The next morning he felt somewhat better, but kept a bucket nearby, just in case (it was not needed). I forgot how he described it, but he did not like the side effects. Mary had the same complaints when she took one on one of our trips).
Next morning, when I asked what to do for next evening's dinner, it was agreed that we would eat Mary's second container of jambalaya, which I duly took out of the freezer. Nobody felt like spending time cooking in the galley.
During the day the wind had increased a bit. It came from the southwest, and with wind waves from the southwest and a swell from the southeast CURLEW happily cork-screwed herself towards her destination. The crew did not take too well to this motion and even Tom took one Stugeron. Did he expect the same effect it had on Barry and allow him to sleep past his watch hour? I don't know, but he said it had made him feel better, without the side effects that Barry experienced.
When dinner time approached the crew firmly decided that they would rather have dry pretzels for dinner, instead of jambalaya. I heated up a portion for myself, put it in a doggy bowl, added a teaspoon of Szechuan sauce to spice it up, and washed it down with a glass or two of red wine. No hot dinner better than one at sea.
07/25/2010, Cuttyhunk, MA
On Saturday Barry left us to return to Philadelphia. The launch picked him up around 0830. He was going to take the 1000 ferry to Point Judith and from there by taxi to the Kingston Amtrak station to catch the train back to Philadelphia. He tried to film us from the launch with his newly acquired movie camera, but, as was to be expected, it had run out of battery power.
Tom and I left the anchorage around 0900 and rounded the north tip of Block Island around 1015. In the distance we saw the Block Island ferry approaching, with, we presume, Barry on board. But while the side decks of the ferry were lined with people admiring CURLEW close by, we did not see Barry. (He did not answer his cell phone.)
We motored all the way to Cuttyhunk, the southern-most island of the Elizabeth Islands group. Normally it is a quiet place, but on this weekend it seemed as if all of New England had descended on Cuttyhunk, either by sailboat or ferry. We took a quick peek inside the mooring basin, but saw that all moorings were occupied; some even rafted two boats to a mooring. We dropped anchor outside, where other boats were anchored or on a private mooring.
Two thunderstorms came through, one at 2000, with caused at least two boats to drag. The second one was at 0330, with at least one boat dragging. This led to a lot of shouting between the husband on the foredeck and the wife at the helm before they finally re-anchored, after a few failed attempts.
Anchoring is always a hot topic of discussion between sailors, with strong opinions pro and con certain types of anchor, or anchoring techniques. I have them too, but will leave them for a future occasion (perhaps). Suffice to say that we still see too many boaters (sailors included) that seem to believe that you just drop your anchor on the seabed, veer out a rode with a few feet of chain), belay and go below. And then they are surprised that the anchor does not hold when the first wind gust arrives. Must be the fault of the anchor manufacturer! I try to avoid these crowded anchorages, but sometimes you just find yourself surrounded by latecomers and you hope for the best. I woke up with the first raindrops and wind gusts, went on deck, and made sure that no boat was dragging into CURLEW. Instruments on, engine at the ready, sit back and enjoy the show. It lasted about 45 minutes and a little after 0400 I went back to sleep. CURLEW's 60lbs CQR anchor plus plenty of chain held as usual.
07/23/2010, Block Island, RI
Tuesday July 20 to Thursday July 22
In the morning I moved CURLEW to the fuel dock to top up the diesel tank. Tom and Barry, the crew for the first part of the trip to Block Island, came on board and we left at 1015, at high tide to benefit from the south bound current down the Delaware River. The Delaware (River and Bay) must be one of the most boring stretches of water you can imagine. It is completely featureless (except, perhaps, for the Salem Nuclear Power Plant) and is very shallow outside of the channel. It almost always involves lots of motoring, and this time it was no different. We motored all the way down the Bay and around Cape May and did not get any wind until 0545 on Wednesday morning when a gentle breeze (10/12k from the SW) sprung up.
We set sail and turned off the engine. During the morning and early afternoon the wind shifted around a bit and dropped below 10 k for a while before it increased again and settled at SW 15/18 k in the late afternoon. That resulted in quite a few sail changes. First: main to SB on a preventer, and jib to port on the telescoping whisker pole. The whisker pole has its own fore and after guys, an extension control line and a topping lift, so including the jib sheets and the jib furling line there are 7 lines that control this set up. After the wind had shifted and we had sailed with the wind over the SB quarter for a while I decided to jibe. This goes as follows: Change course to port to bring the wind on the port quarter, release the boom preventer, winch in the main sheet, do a controlled jibe, reset the boom preventer, furl the jib, take the whisker pole down and move it to SB, reset all the lines and jib sheet and unfurl the jib.
This involves quite a lot of work on deck, so while you do all this juggling you wear a safety harness that allows you to move around while being attached to the boat with a tether. I admit that a safety harness and tether is important, but it also restricts your movements. It often just comes up short or ends up wrapped around some piece of deck hardware, or it somehow wraps itself around one leg and you have to untangle yourself before you can finish the job at hand.
After an hour or two the wind had become so light that I decided to furl the jib and hoist the big drifter (aka "Code Zero") to SB. This is set on its own halyard and has a removable furler with a continuous furling line. Of course it has its own set of sheets, so we just added 4 more control lines to the mix. Within an hour the wind started to shift and after a while I decided to jibe again and set the drifter on the whisker pole to port.
Around 1700 on Wednesday the wind started to increase and we furled and lowered the drifter and put the jib back up. The wind continued to increase and at 1950 we put in a reef. On the radio we had heard of severe thunderstorms in the New York and Long Island area, and after nightfall we could see cloud cover building from the west. They hit us around 2300 but seemed to have lost most of their punch. We got some gusts and sudden wind shifts besides rain, but I don't believe the gusts were over 35k. We had already furled the jib, and out of precaution I lowered the mainsail, but it was all over in 30 minutes. We were left with no wind and a confused sea. We turned on the engine and set the main (with one reef) to stabilize the boat a bit.
At 0215 on Thursday the wind had picked up from the northwest. We turned of the engine and set the jib. The weather forecast was for wind increasing to 15 to 20k, with gusts to 25, so I left the reef in the main. At 0420 the wind had increased to 18/21k and gusty, and we furled the jib and set the smaller staysail instead. At 0820 we were able to set the jib again and at 1045 I decided to take out the reef. Two hours later the wind picked up again to 19/22k and we put the reef back in. On 1445 on Thursday we entered the Great Salt Pond at Block Island and dropped anchor after 53 hours underway.
It was a very successful trip with some great sailing. Most of Thursday was broad reaching under jib and main with one reef; it does not get much better than that.
Despite some quirks the AIS box was informative (although it lost its GPS signals twice for no apparent reason) but we did not have to hail any other vessel on the VHF.
We saw dolphins, 2 pilot whales (briefly), shearwaters and stormy petrels.
Today (Friday) we are are spending a lazy day at anchor in BI (it's raining anyway).
July 14 to July 20
Our week in Philadelphia was easily filled with small projects (such as installing an N.A.S.A-AIS radar device, and changing engine oil and filters) and provisioning. Finally CURLEW is ready for her trip to Maine. To celebrate we had a small party on board, which almost emptied CURLEW's wine lockers, and the next day we had to do more shopping to fill them again. But it was lots of fun. On Monday I topped up the water tanks and the only thing left was to wait for the crew to arrive the next morning.
CURLEW is finally on the move again. This summer we are going back to Maine. The last few weeks I've worked on a variety of projects to get ready for the trip. Last weekend I put two coats of Cetol Gloss on the caprail and on Monday and Tuesday Mary and I took her from Baltimore to Philadelphia. Dodging thunderstorms and heavy rain we anchored in the Bohemia river for the night and on Tuesday afternoon we arrived at the Philadelphia Marine Center. Barb, the marina manager, was surprised to see us. They had torrential downpours and flooding in the morning, but we did not see any rain of substance on the trip up the river (Delaware).
In Philadelphia I have a week to finish a few more projects and when we're done provisioning we will leave next Tuesday. Mary will not be on board for the trip north, but she will join me later in Maine. For the first half of the trip two friends will crew, at least to Block Island. One crewmember possibly all the way to Maine.
I can see the tip of the mast from our living room window. The last time we had CURLEW in the PMC our building was still under construction.