Sun 8 Jul 2012
On mooring at Provincetown, MA
[photo: Pilgrim Monument from our mooring ball]
The wind died near sunset and it was very still. I was afraid it would be too warm, especially when a very brief rain shower forced us to close the hatches. Fortunately, we could open them up in short order and it got better. The air temp dropped into the high 60s and the water temp was near that, so it was a comfortable night despite the lack of breeze.
Upon awakening, all the boats were facing the opposite direction due to the slight current change and no wind. The fact that all the boats were still nicely spaced is a testament to the sound anchoring decisions all the captains made. We had a leisurely morning until departure at 0750 and fought a slight opposing current getting back to Buzzards Bay (by the way, we never did see a single buzzard).
As predicted, there was a slight current helping us up the bay and as we got into the narrow channel leading to the Cape Cod canal, it got much stronger. In the canal itself, our speed was 10.3 knots at the peak and that is almost 5 knots faster than our nominal motoring speed. Generally, we averaged about 8.5 knots in the canal, but there were numerous eddies which kept the helmsman continually making large adjustments; for most of the way, I did not leave it to the autopilot to sort out.
We only had one bad incident and that was our own fault. We left the forward hatch open an inch for ventilation and then had that one congruence of events that made it a big mistake. The wind had switched from astern of us to ahead, and that put the wind opposing the current. The waves were getting bigger, but still manageable. It was at a particularly bad spot, however, that two large powerboats passed us coming the other way and their wakes (despite the 'no wake' zone) amplified the wind/tide waves into something that buried the bow and sent green water sluicing over the foredeck.
I realized water had gone into the forward cabin when I saw Clyde the cat jump off his shelf and run alarmingly aft. Diane immediately closed the hatch and then checked on Clyde, who had gotten somewhat wet. He wasn't happy, and now Diane had to quickly strip the berth to keep the wet linens from letting the mattress get wet. She wasn't happy either, but took it in stride and by the time we got to our destination, all was dry.
We elected to pay the rip-off price of $55 for a mooring ball. We may decide to move after tonight to an anchorage area. I have to say it was disappointing that the wind was of no use to us today as it was behind us at a low speed before the canal, and then dead ahead after the canal.
We remained aboard today after arriving near 1600. Dinner was the remainder of the chicken pesto meal from the other night along with a nice tossed salad and garlic bread.
Tomorrow we will take our bikes ashore, along with a lot of trash and recyclables. We will need to do some minor reprovisioning to get us through the week before arriving in Gloucester.
Sat 7 Jul 2012
Anchored in Hadley Inner Harbor, MA (near Wood's Hole)
[photo: sunset in Newport Harbor]
The evening was comfortably cool and a bit breezier than forecast. We got underway at 0740 and had fair current all the way up the northern coast of the Elizabeth Island chain in clear skies with haze limiting visibility to about 5 miles. The wind was moderate, but its direction compared to our course put it almost dead astern much of the way, so it was marginally helpful. Considering the short 17 mile run today, we could have used just the wind, but it would have then been a 6 hour run, rather than 3, and Diane would prefer the latter. Plus, we now have hot water for bathing.
The only tense moment came when we altered course and now had the headsail drawing hard on a beam reach. That was great until the next course change would force us to furl the sail up and we found the furler was jammed. This was easily remedied by going forward and moving the furling line from its fouled position. I suspect it happened for two reasons: we didn't secure the line on its cleat when we unfurled the sail, and the sail occasionally jibing itself downwind must have shaken the line enough to jam it. It is the first time it has ever happened and I am quite confident being diligent about cleating the line will prevent that.
The outer and inner anchorages have many boats, but it is not crowded. We have been very proficient in anchoring for a while now, but I erred this time by backing down too fast before the anchor had a chance to settle into the mud bottom. The second time around it was fine. As far as perception by other cruisers watching you, I guess it can go two ways: a) incompetent, or b) smart enough to re-anchor when needed. Since we use hand signals and hardly ever have to shout any commands, we don't give anyone too many reasons to think the former.
Relaxing aboard was all we had planned for today, and what a surprise it was for a sailor to approach in his rowing dinghy and introduce himself as someone following our cruising blog. Now we know how the celebrities feel. David and Heather own a beautiful Catalina 42 named Grayling and both live and sail in this "neck of the woods." We had a very nice chat and David tried to convince us to carry own to Maine, like every other person we know that has cruised there or known someone who did. I truly wish it would work, but it is not meant to be this time. David and Heather could not accept our invitation to Happy Hour as they are sailing back to pick up their kids and other guests.
The weather forecast is for t-storms this afternoon, and the weather radar is showing that or particular area should be spared the worst of it. I'll report later.
I had noticed that the bottom part of the furler drum assembly looked abnormal when I went forward to unjam the line and I tried to remember to check it after anchoring. Well, I forgot until a few hours later but when I did, I found it was very loose. One of the hex head capscrews had backed out, yet was still there by its captive design. The other screw was in place, but when I tried to tighten it, the head snapped right off due to corrosion. I very carefully separated the two pieces while lying on my side and trying desperately not to drop anything overboard. That part was successful.
Next, I had to locate a replacement screw, and those captive types are not common and not in my boat spares, so I used a Philips-style machine screw. That required drilling out more clearance in one hole, so it was again fortunate that I had my trusty portable drill and some decent bits. The reassembly used Loctite thread locker on both screws. Diane was pressed into service to help assure we did not lose anything overboard in the re-assembly phase.
It really should have occurred to me that if one capscrew had failed, the other could be ready, too, but it looked so good that I reassembled it with the remaining old screw in addition to the new one. Guess what? That one sheared off at the head while tightening it. So, I now have two replacement screws in there and they really should be replaced with the correct ones when we get to Gloucester.
There was another attempt to isolate the fresh water system problem and it showed that whether I isolated just the hot water section or the cold section, the same symptom occurred, so that might mean the pump itself is bad, although no amount of inspections shows any water leaking from the pump. I will replace the pump with the spare in Gloucester, as it means removing the A/C ducting and it is, like most boat jobs, a pain to do.
While this was all happening, Diane was giving me a running commentary on all the people, mostly kids, jumping into the 66F water. I guess one way to forget you are freezing is to scream a lot. I was glad I was down below with my head in the bilge. Again, we understand that is what kids do; it just doesn't make for a pleasant, relaxing afternoon.
Dinner was pan-seared salmon with a lemon, wine, caper, butter sauce served with a tossed salad and more fresh asparagus. It would have been yummy, but the salmon was rather tasteless this time. While we were eating, two boys about 8 years old came by in a motorized dinghy hawking home-made brownie cupcakes. They wanted $2.50 each, so I said that they must be pretty big. The reply was yes, but when he showed us, it was a standard cupcake although not even as tall, only 2.5 inches in diameter by 1 inch high. Being a softy, I said yes, but that it wasn't worth $2.50 at that size and he took $2. Even at that it was a big rip-off, but I admired their entrepreneurial spirit.
By 1800, most of the day-trippers had left for home and it got quiet again. Tomorrow, we head about 50 miles to Provincetown, MA at the tip of Cape Cod, after passing through the famous Cape Cod canal. Like the Chesapeake and Delaware canal, this has to be done with the current in your direction of travel when you have a slow boat. We plan to depart at 0800 to make that happen.
Fri 6 Jul 2012
On mooring at Cuttyhunk, MA
[photo: our first whole lobster in many, many years, chez nous]
According to the famous Eldridge Book, leaving at 0530 was supposed to have the current against us leaving Narragansett Bay, but with us as we got closer to Cuttyhunk. It was actually against us most of the way, and only helped a little at the end. What we had hoped to be 4 hours was just over 5 hours, but the weather was delightful (no winds to sail with, though) and we enjoyed the passage.
The plan was to stop for fuel first, but despite the sign with instructions to hail on VHF Ch 72, no one ever answered. The entire fuel dock was taken up by the Cuttyhunk Ferry and we finally gave up trying to get anyone's attention and grabbed a mooring ball right across from the fuel dock. It is a very well protected anchorage, but the surrounding land is low enough that the breeze comes through unimpeded, which is a good thing much of the summer, I am sure.
We lowered the dinghy and got ashore near the harbormaster's shack. The island immediately struck us as a really quaint place. The harbormaster took my $45 and offered no receipt, but rather than suspect malfeasance, we think that is just the way things are done here. We strolled the short wharf where several vendors were hawking ice cream, lobsters, raw clams and oysters, etc.
We were told to come back around 1400 to order lobsters, so we started walking into "town," of which there really is none. First, you come to the corner store (a gift shop and quite modern); next is Soprano's Pizza (which we hear is very good). Further up the moderate incline is the Market, which is not a bad little deli and grocery store, but the emphasis is on little. It reminded us a little of some Bahamian out island markets.
Continuing up the hill, you catch glimpses of the outer harbor and Gay Head of Martha's Vineyard between the homes and trees. When the road ends, there is a one-person wide "public" path of concrete stones that winds within mere feet of people's porches, back yards, between the home and shed, etc. At one point, the view was quite wide and beautiful, but our camera will never capture what the human eyes see. We turned around when it didn't appear to offer us any better views.
Retracing our steps, we stopped in the market for a loaf of bread and shunned the delicious-looking fresh bread for a factory loaf that will keep a lot longer. We got back to Diva Di after chatting with a few other visitors, and then the fun started. Diane was a little tired after being up at 0500 and because the one and only fuel dock wouldn't answer our radio hails, nor could we catch anyone's attention while circling earlier, we now had to leave the mooring and go 200 yards to fuel up. It was not a chore she was looking forward to.
We left the dinghy on the mooring, as boats were motoring steadily into the inner harbor hoping there was still a mooring available. If our mooring was open, whether we had paid for it or not, it would have been a major hassle sorting it out when someone else grabbed it.
We did a great job docking on the end of the T-dock that was completely taken by the Cuttyhunk Ferry. We had only 12 feet to tie up our 36 foot boat, but it all worked out fine. Diane did a yeoman's job of fetching the water hose and refilling the tanks as Duane attended to the fueling. Even getting off the dock in 15 knot winds pushing us toward the bowsprit of the ferry worked out OK.
Back on the mooring, we had an early happy hour beverage, and then loaded the dinghy for the beach. It was an interesting scene with large pleasure and commercial fishing vessels going in and out of the narrow channel, and dozens of dinghies, kayaks, and even the occasional swimmer competing for the water. We beached the dinghy on a nice sandy spot and set the anchor. Diane took to her beach chair and I to my towel for some relaxation and reading in the bright, but not blazing hot sun. There was a fantastic breeze and all was right with the world.
I guess we should not be surprised that even in 68F water, there were many people, young and old, who dove right in and stayed in for a long time. Duane got wet up to his thighs, but declined to brave the cool water fully at that time. After a few hours, we came back to the boat to relax in the shade and nice breeze. We noted many boats, mostly sailboats similar to ours, come into the inner harbor and we did not see that many come back out, so we have no idea where they found a mooring ball or found room to anchor.
Prices and weekend crowds aside, we can understand why much of the water from Long Island Sound up to Maine and beyond is considered some excellent cruising ground. The water itself is mostly clear (outside the harbors, anyway) and the topography is interesting. There are bluffs and rock formations and mature deciduous trees - all very different from our Florida cruising.
At 1740 we got in the dinghy to get to the dock to pick up our cooked lobsters. The experience was, as Diane likes to say, "a hoot." We had at least 5 other dinghies crossing from the mooring field to the dock and when we got there, it was jammed full with some dinghies two deep. Diane had to crawl across another dinghy to get ashore and I waited (with my trusty beverage in hand) at the dock. I observed another 20 or more dinghies arrive and precious few leave. No one was upset, and many came prepared with beverages of their own, but it was a fun circus to watch, to be sure.
About 20 minutes later, Diane came back with a plastic bag filled with our cooked lobsters. She remarked that it was quite an experience being in a long line of cruisers awaiting their freshly caught seafood. Did I mention that when Diane paid for them a few hours earlier, they gave her no number or receipt? Their checks against someone claiming another person's lobster order was to have the customers call out their names, rather than the other way around.
We had all the makings for dinner ready to go and steamed some asparagus and pan-cooked some garlic bread to enjoy with the lobsters. Everything was delicious and there was no waste. It is not surprising how good seafood tastes when cooked so freshly.
We cleaned up and then took clyde to the beach for his first excursion in many weeks. Due to the isolated nature of the area, we felt safe leaving his lead off and that made him much more comfortable about walking near Diane along the beach. Duane guarded the dinghy against floating away and 20 minutes later, we were heading back to Diva Di. Once there another couple, having owned a sistership of ours and now owning a 42 foot Catalina, stopped by to inquire about our solar panels. We wound up chatting for a long while and getting some good info about our next few stops.
It was dark before 2100 and we were tired from an early start and a day full of activity. It will be an early night to bed and we plan to move on to Hadley Harbor, near Woods Hole, tomorrow.
Thu 5 Jul 2012
Anchored in Newport Harbor
[photo: Diva Di's crew assisting Bounty crew in painting the transom]
Well, what a great and interesting day we had. It started as a fairly lazy morning, with Duane consulting cruising guides, charts, currents, etc. for the rest of the cruise north. Then Bruce called from Gloucester to give his recommendations and get word on approximately when we would be there. After that, we decided (tentatively) to visit Cuttyhunk, then Woods Hole, Plymouth, Boston, and Gloucester.
We next called Dan and arranged to meet him at a dinghy dock at the N end of the town's waterfront, away from the zoo of Thames Street downtown. We went back to their absolutely lovely little house with its incredibly beautiful gardens that they work so hard on. Both the daughter and son are in town with their mates, so our visit was a brief one. We had a nice chat in the garden, and then Dan and Duane went for some minor provisions and a plumbing fitting, while the ladies walked the dog and saw the park.
Upon return, we had a great lunch and then had to say our goodbyes. They will be traveling a lot coming up, but we will do our best to time our return trip to see them again. Along the way back with the dinghy we skirted close to the 7 or 8 tall ships intermingled with hundreds of very large sailing and motor yachts, worth a minimum of 10 million dollars each, and many were far, far more.
The most surprising part of the ride occurred while approaching the replica ship Bounty, made for the famous movie with Marlon Brando. There was a young woman in a bosun's chair dangling from a knotted rope off the transom. She looked to be trying to paint the trim but could not reach the other rope she was using to steady her. We came along and asked if she needed help. I expected maybe we could hand her the rope, but she said, "Sure; I can stand on your dinghy." We thought that was to be a very temporary thing, but she intended that we maneuver the dinghy so she could finish the job while she stood on our bow locker.
I guess we Diane and I were both a little shocked but quickly agreed. So, for the next half hour I sat at the stern and applied torque to a large chain so that the bow of the dinghy was where it needed to be for Anna to paint, and Diane held the work belt to steady her. I wasn't happy that she dribbled a fair amount of paint on the dinghy, nor that she had no rags to clean up, but I had a rag and between the 3 of us, we cleaned up all the spills quickly enough as they happened. Our painter (bow line) got some large globs of yellow paint that will not come off, so every time we see that we will be reminded of the time we helped paint the Bounty. Diane wittily remarked that now it truly is a "painter."
Anna was very appreciative of our help and offered a free and early tour. She climbed up some wooden "ladder" at the beam, but said we should use the dock. When we came to the dock, however, there was no gangplank ready. She, being about 20 and fearless, said we could just span the 4 foot gap between the dock and ship's side and find a way to get a foot on the ladder. I was game, but realized that a fall would have been really bad, so I made very slow and deliberate work of it. It looked a little scary from the dock to ship, but standing on the ship and watching Diane at the dock made me want to abort her try immediately; it was that scary. Fortunately, she aborted herself before getting into anything precarious.
My private tour was nice, and with all respect to those who sail her and maintain her, it was not what I expected. It has been modified greatly from a replica ship inside to accommodate the many boarding visitors. I was impressed with the spars (although the 3 masts were steel), the rigging, and sails, and that is about it. The return trip across to the dock was not as bad as I had expected, and I am sure that all the other crew who might get in trouble for letting me do that were relieved.
Just 100 yards from Diva Di, we were hailed by a couple about our age in a sailboat looking for some local knowledge. We were glad to help and they came by Diva Di a bit later to get the harbor map we were given when we arrived at the mooring.
We called Matthew and Margarita on the cell phone and discovered they were chilling on the bow with some happy hour beverages. We were invited over and got in the dinghy 15 minutes later to join them. They had friends aboard and it was a delightful visit amongst the 6 of us. Matthew and Margarita were charming and generous hosts, and their friends were very nice and interesting, too. As we always say, you meet really wonderful people when cruising.
Dinner aboard Diva Di was the leftover chicken pesto dish (actually better the second time around) and then we enjoyed a wondrous sunset with several gorgeous boats in the foreground. Tomorrow we leave at 0530 for Cuttyhunk to avoid the foul current and have a fair current much of the way.
Wed 4 Jul 2012
Anchored in Newport Harbor
[photo: early arrival of a tall ship named Gazela]
Hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Independence Day!
The day dawned cloudy and comfortably cool. There was one rain shower near 0900, but as of 1130 the sun is showing amidst the many clouds. Diane suggested that we first check other avenues for getting another mooring ball, but all were unsuccessful, as expected. She next suggested that we drop the current mooring and go to the anchorage early to get whatever spots there might be. We did so around 0930 and hailed the harbormaster to check our position relative to the cable crossing right next to the anchorage.
We had to wait 90 minutes for him to come by and he said we were fine as long as we were prepared not to leave the boat unattended for too long and to be aboard if storms approached. That is their rule for all anchored boats, probably because too many anchored boats have dragged their anchors and caused grief for others.
While we were waiting, one tall ship sailed in very close to us and then turned around and moved to the other side of the harbor for reasons unknown. We had lunch and got ready to take the bicycles ashore for some exercise and sight-seeing. We were not planning to do any touristy things during this brief stay, so we went ashore at Waite's Wharf on Extension Street, then rode S along Thames to Wellington where we turned W to head to Fort Adams.
It was a pretty ride for the most part, but there were enough hills that our one-speed bikes were difficult a few times. Turning around at the fort, we retraced our steps along Thames, which by then had become crowded with cruise ship passengers and other visitors (like us). We then walked the bikes to The Red Parrot for our traditional shoreside beer. Complaints about beers for $4.50 in Mystic must be shunted aside for the $5.50 beers here.
On the way ashore, we were somewhat surprised and certainly delighted to see Our Whim, a gorgeous sloop belonging to cruising friends we met in the Bahamas in 2008. We had kept up via email once in a while and knew they were bound for Halifax from western Long Island, but didn't realize we would see them along the way.
Right after getting aboard Diva Di, we were hailed by first names by a captain and mate from a Catalina 36 sailboat very close aboard. It was Matthew and Margarita from Que Chevere, a member of our association. They have been so generous with offers to meet with them and it hadn't worked out until now.
By the way, even with the protection from the wind waves out of the SW, there are so many boats of all sizes running in and out of the harbor that the rolling from the wakes is not pleasant. Getting in and out of the dinghy requires special care as the dinghy and mothership can suddenly and rapidly be going in opposite directions vertically.
At 1630 we dinghied over to Our Whim and had a very nice visit with Ron and Barbara. They were serving Painkiller's and what a great job Ron did with them. As Ron pointed out, at any one time there is only a relatively small community of people doing long distance cruising, so you do tend to run into each other more than you might think. We are not in their category of cruising yet.
Back at Diva Di, Duane made a dinner of chicken medallions, sautéed onion and mushroom, and artichoke hearts in pesto sauce (out of a jar, this time) over tortellini. We finished up the last of the really tasty fresh corn and enjoyed it all. During and after dinner, we watched as hundreds of boats from 20 to 100 feet moved into the anchorage and squeezed in for the fireworks display. No one anchored so close to us as to cause concern, and we assumed all would be leaving after the display.
Next up was the fireworks display at Fort Adams less than one quarter mile from our anchored boat. We enjoyed it very much, but we have to say that our fireworks back home in little Punta Gorda, FL actually generates more "oohs" and "aahs." It was cool enough in the moderate breeze that we both had jackets on now that the cold front has come through. Is it just me or have we had a lot of fronts moving through lately?
We will be visiting with our friends, Dan and Sharon tomorrow (on her birthday).
Tue 3 Jul 2012
On mooring ball in Newport, RI
[photo: as yet to be named hotel on the bluff entering Newport]
The hardest part about this morning was waiting to depart. We knew that leaving before 1100 was going to be very counterproductive due to the opposing current, so we tried to schedule a pump-out with the free pump-out boats that service the area. It looked like a close call as we know what happens; the boat goes to a place where it has been summoned, but then several other boats say, "oh, while you are here..." He finally arrived at 1045 and it was a quick and painless chore.
Then, we hailed the railroad bridge tender who said the train was coming and he was closing the bridge for 20 minutes. We waited for the countdown display to reach 2 minutes and then cast off the lines and exited the slip. When the counter reached zero and nothing happened, I hailed the bridge again and was told it would be a few more minutes. Fortunately, it was only that and we were on our way down river.
The weather was gorgeous and there was a nice breeze from the WSW. That helped us just a tad, as it was mostly behind us, but the small waves were also astern and we had a very enjoyable motor-sail along the eastern portion of Long Island Sound and turned NNE after Point Judith up towards Newport. We only had one large commercial ship coming southbound, but quite a few very large, beautiful, and expensive pleasure craft passed us on the way in.
We hailed the harbormaster to check availability of a mooring ball and were told there was just one left, so we took it. Only after we were committed did we find out the owner will be back tomorrow, so we have to leave it. We have two options: another mooring ball will become available tomorrow (unlikely since it will be July Fourth and the tall ships are coming on the fifth), or we anchor in the designated anchorage area and hope that all goes well.
We have now run 2010 statute miles since leaving home. I wonder if one traveled the same general route that we have, but never pulled off the most expeditious track to anchor or enter a port, how many fewer miles that would be. Surely, we have added 10-15% to the shortest distance by necessity and choice.
Dinner was the flank steak we grilled yesterday and some pretty good corn on the cob we got at Mystic (6 ears for $1; can you believe that?). We ate in the cockpit as the wind was moderate and the air comfortably cool. It started getting cloudy an hour after we arrived and it is likely to rain for part of tomorrow. We are very close to where the fireworks will be launched, and will likely be close even if we have to move.
By 2100, there were fireworks visible in several areas to the N and NW and then flashes in the sky and distant booms to the SW, which I only wonder if that was Block Island. It did rain a few times during the night, but it was quite pleasant.