08/29/2011, New Bedford, Mass.
CURLEW made it through the storm without a scratch. Quite a few boats here sustained serious damage though. Some of it due to lack of preparation, but some due to sheer bad luck. I saw a brand-new and well-prepared 46 ft Hylas on a mooring being hit by a boat that broke loose from its mooring. The Hylas ended up against the bulkhead of the marina and was later salvaged by Towboat/US. Another Hylas that was on a mooring ended up on the rocks. A large Bristol (?) and later a small sailboat hit the big powerboat that was docked against the marina's breakwater. A Cherubini (?), an Esprit 37 and a steel Trewes ketch ended up on the pilings of a neighboring marina early in the storm. The Cherubini lost both its masts, and the Trewes pounded the Esprit until it sank. All three boats were salvaged (the Esprit lifted) the next day. Numerous other boats sustained serious damage. Several boats on moorings dragged into other boats. Some of the docks in the marina disintegrated, and the whole marina would have been destroyed if the storm had lasted much longer or had been worse. I clocked sustained 45k with gusts over 60 during the first half of the storm. It got worse after 1400. When I started to worry that the marina itself might be at risk, I took all important papers and vital personal belongings off the boat and stayed ashore. I had done everything to prepare Curlew and there was nothing further I could do. I was concerned that the main floats of the marina that protected Curlew from the swell in the harbor would break up. So I did not get windspeed readings during the worst of the storm, but I guess the gusts must have exceeded 70 k at some time. The swell was the bigger problem though. When the wind turned from the SSE to the S and SSW the fetch in the harbor caused a swell in the marina of 3 feet or more. Fortunately, after 1700 the wind had clocked further to the SW and the swell abated. I moved back on board and from then on it started to calm down.
I put some dramatic pictures of the storm in the Photo Gallery on the side bar.
Today was a beautiful sunny and quiet day. I spent all day putting Curlew back together again. Out of here tomorrow.
08/26/2011, New Bedford, Mass.
I haven't been very diligent in updating my blog lately, but until now not much exciting happened. Until now: Hurricane Irene is approaching and it looks bad. Preparations need to be made.
To recap the last week or so: I stayed in Martha's Vineyard for a few days, rode around the island on my folding bike and visited Edgartown. Missed President Obama. He visited the bookstore on Vineyard Haven the day after I did and he played golf in Edgartown while I was enjoying a beer and a sandwich on the waterfront there. Left MV on Monday 8/22, sailed through Quick's Hole into Buzzards Bay and picked up a mooring in New Bedford. Left the next day, and spent an afternoon and night in Cuttyhunk. When Hurricane Irene appeared to be headed north, instead of turning inland in the Carolinas I decided to return to New Bedford and get a slip in a marina. New Bedford has a hurricane barrier that will be closed when a storm surge is forecast. (See Picture. Not very impressive by Dutch standards, I have to say.) So at least we should not have to worry much about surge, unless we get a direct hit from a category 3 hurricane.
Right now I am preparing Curlew, just like I did last year in Boothbay for Hurricane Earl. That hurricane had weakened substantially by the time it hid the Northeast, and moved further east at the last moment. This time looks much more serious. I took down the jib and staysail, secured the mainsail cover with a wrap-around line, deflated the dinghy and secured it on deck. Put out extra mooring lines, and will put out more on pilings tomorrow. My main concern right now is the powerboat next to me. Lots of windage, and directly upwind from me given the expected wind direction. If no-one shows up by tomorrow I will have to put some extra line on that boat as well. Still lots of things to do. Will be continued.
08/17/2011, Martha's Vineyard, MA
Yesterday I got up at 0600. Late, some other boats were already raising their anchors. Before I could leave I had to lower the wind generator that was hanging in the mast, take it apart and store, take the outboard off the dinghy, raise the dinghy and store it on the foredeck. So it was not until 0730 that I was finally underway. The weather turned out much nicer than the evening forecast. Outside we found a brisk wind from the NNE at 15 knots. Around noon the wind turned light and I furled the jib and set the large drifter. In half an hour the wind had disappeared completely and we were becalmed in a lazy swell. Time to turn the engine on. I wanted to check out the anchorage at Tarpaulin Cove on the south shore of one of the Elizabeth Islands but it seemed too exposed from the south. There was still significant swell from the S in the Sound and it looked like a very rolly anchorage. So I continued on to Martha's Vineyard and am now anchored in Vineyard Haven.
08/15/2011, Block Island, RI
I spend a few days in Block Island. The weekend was a circus. On Saturday a mega-yacht anchored in the middle of the pond, put out numerous jet-skis, fast RIBs and then inflated a gigantic chute from the upper deck. Someone told me that the yacht was under charter. It seems that the charter guests had a great time, and were not too much affected by the recession. Many took a double-dip in the cool water.
A couple, Jeff and Misty, from the Tartan 37 Tenacity, stopped by to inquire after my boat, and after showing them around they invited me for dinner on their boat later that day. You can see their boat anchored between me and the mega-yacht in the picture above. It was a fun evening with great food and great company.
Sunday the weather turned to rain showers and low clouds. I made it to shore in the dinghy for a sandwich and a beer at The Oar. In the afternoon I stripped the carburetor of the Honda generator. It had not run for nearly a year, and although I had drained the fuel and winterized it properly, it would only run with the choke almost closed, and did not get to full output. When I had the carburetor off and disassembled, it looked clean, except for the tiniest little speck of dirt in the jet. Once everything was put together again, the Honda ran fine and charged at maximum output.
Monday was worse, torrential rain practically all day. I stayed on board. I read most of the day: The Piano Teacher, on Mary's Kindle. It is about Hong Kong during the Japanese occupation, and the immediate post war years. Good read. The weather forecast for tomorrow is better; still a few showers, wind from the NE, and possibly some fog. We'll see in the morning if we go or stay.
I left the Cape May anchorage at 0545 on Tuesday morning. The wind was non-existent so we motored until 0900 when a light breeze from the SE made sailing possible. I engaged Taaie Toon, the Hydrovane windvane, and put out the Aquair towing generator, to keep the batteries charged. During the day the wind slowly veered to the SSW and increased in strength to 15/20 knots. Time to put a reef in the main. The afternoon was slightly overcast, with some light rain later. I could hear thunderstorms rumbling over New Jersey, but they dissipated before they reached us.
When broad reaching with seas on the quarter, Taaie Toon has a hard time keeping a reasonably steady course, so I turned on the B&G autopilot. I left TT engaged as well, as it will help the B&G and reduce its power consumption. Around 2115 the wind veered and settled in the W and I jibed to the port tack.
At 0220 on Wednesday morning I ran the engine for an hour or so to charge the batteries. At 0340 the wind increased to 25/30 knots from the WNW and I furled the jib. We were doing 8 knots and I did not even bother to unfurl the staysail. I guess you get lazy after a while. Between 0700 and 0800 the wind decreased and I unfurled the jib in stages. At 1000 I shook out the reef and within an hour the wind had become so light that I turned on the engine. I did want to be in Block Island before dark. No desire to spend a second night at sea. I was already using my kitchen timer, set to ring every 10 minutes, to prevent me from dozing off and, perhaps, falling asleep. Too much risk of running into shipping traffic.
At 1430 we were approaching Montauk, the east tip of Long Island. The wind picked up again and the engine was turned off. At 1700 I anchored in the Great Salt Pond of Block Island. A great sail, 200 nm in 35 hours. Not bad for a lazy single-hander on a heavy cruising boat.
I'll stay here for a few days, and then decide if I go further north to Maine, or stay in the Cape Cod area.
Pictures of this trip will be posted in the Photo Gallery side link, under "Summer trip to New England".
08/08/2011, Cape May, NJ
After a long winter and spring in Philadelphia I brought Curlew back to her slip in Baltimore in June. Time to do maintenance. Engine serviced, caprail sanded and varnished, and a million other small things done. I bought a new dinghy (an Achilles this time) to replace the disappointing Avon that fell apart after 7 years.
Last Friday I left Baltimore, and anchored a few miles away in Bodkin Creek. I stayed at anchor the next day to get settled, and swam a few times to cool off from the heat and the humid air. Sunday I motored through the C&D Canal and anchored in the afternoon behind Reedy Island on the Delaware River, across from the Salem nuclear power plant (picture). I waited for the current to stop, and then took another dip to cool off. Today I motor-sailed down the Delaware Bay and rounded Cape May through the unmarked Cape May Channel, and finally had a nice sail to the Cape May Inlet, where I now am anchored off the US Coast Guard station. The weather forecast is favorable for the 200 mile trip up to Block Island tomorrow and Wednesday. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
08/01/2011, Baltimore, MD
For most of my sailing life I was a single-hander. Not that I never sailed with crew, but it is rare that one has a crew who is both capable and good company. Then came Mary and everything changed. We lived together for a number of years and then married. We sailed together to Maine and New England several summers, we went south to the Florida Keys one winter, and to the Bahamas another. Two years ago she was diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer. Obviously sailing was put on the backburner for both of us, although she joined me for almost three weeks in Maine last summer and we spent a few days on the Chesapeake Bay in the fall. Mary died in May. It is not easy to pick up your life after losing your partner. So Curlew had a late start this year. It will be difficult sailing without her.