Fri 13 Jul 2012
Docked in Smith Cove, Gloucester, MA
[photo: Diva Di at our host's dock]
We really hope it gets repetitive to say what a pleasant night it was. We delayed a bit so as not to get to Gloucester too early in the day and rob our generous hosts of all their time alone. It was less than a 3 hour run, and that included stopping for fuel at the nearby marina. By 1100 we were tied up along their private dock with Anne catching our lines.
Diane went ashore immediately to be with Anne, and Duane took care of some boat chores and then joined them just as Bruce was coming home. We had a nice chat over iced tea and then we made a few trips from the boat to their lovely little garden cottage next to the main house. Clyde was curious and skittish at first, but grew quickly to like this place that doesn't pitch, roll, or make engine noises.
Once settled in, we had a nice lunch on the porch overlooking the Smith Cove portion of Gloucester Harbor. After that, Bruce and Anne drove us around and we got a terrific tour of Cape Ann. Bruce's family history here goes back a ways and Anne has been here, too, for a fairly long time. They met at the Gorton's fish factory here, where they both worked.
This is a lovely part of New England, and while Gloucester is very much a working man's town and very active with fleets of fishing/lobster boats and even a large fish processing factory, there are many beautiful mansions and innumerable quaint, historic homes in the area. Diva Di looks quite at ease at the end of the dock, even though her Florida-style Bimini and large RIB dinghy on the davits makes her pretty unique in the harbor. While Bruce and Anne applaud our accomplishment in coming this far, it is really just a simple task of taking one day at a time, and paying attention.
After brief naps for most of us, Bruce took us out at cocktail hour for a narrated tour around the inner harbor and some of the outer harbor, as well. It was nice to know a bit about all the things we were seeing from a long-time local's perspective. Dinner was delicious marinated chicken, grilled to perfection by Bruce and equally delicious rice and carrots prepared by Anne. Eating on the porch with the sun dropping in the sky was terrific.
We lingered there for the full sunset and then basked in the glow of the twilight as we observed the water traffic moving about. Anne says Bruce gets "mesmarined" by the view and we can see why. By 2100, we had enjoyed a wonderfully full day and retired to the cottage for a brief bit of TV and then bed.
We will be at the halfway point later this morning, but here are the statistics so far:
Statute Miles Traveled 2,180 (avg 21.2 per day)
Engine Hours 363
Diesel Fuel 225 gals (9.7 statute miles per gal)
Water Used from Tanks 580 gals (approx)
Anchored 41% (of the time)
Provisioning (food, beverage, household supplies) $2,405
Meals ashore $1,915
Repairs $1,280 (some portion of the total was not included in this 'cruise" report)
Land Transportation $340
Total $11,408, Daily average $111
Thu 12 Jul 2012
On mooring ball at Marblehead, MA
[photo: a sea of masts as you enter the harbor]
[note: You might notice the numbering of the days has changed. Somehow a few days got lost a month ago.]
I know it is redundant, but we are thrilled to say it was another gorgeous night for comfortable sleeping. We took our time getting ready and departed at 0800. It was a quick run out the channel to the open water of Massachusetts Bay, which is really the Atlantic Ocean. The weather was perfect for power boats with almost no wind, and what little there was coming from the S, directly astern.
Our passage under engine only was uneventful. It was nice to see the lobster boats out plying their trade, but we noticed for the first time that instead of a single buoy for every lobster pot, this one boat was employing the "trot-line" method we saw used by crabbers in the south. A buoy marked the ends of a long line that had lobster pots tied. To deploy them, the pre-baited pots were simply hauled out one after another as the line grew taught, where everything sinks to the bottom except the end buoys. That is far superior from a boating standpoint that having to dodge a buoy for every trap.
The details of the land and the man-made objects grew more distinct and we, once again, could see why cruising up here is so scenic and pretty. When we rounded the peninsula forming the large, deep harbor, we were somewhat amazed to see well over a thousand boats (over 2,000 per the cruising guide) in front of us.
The first place we called (Marblehead Yacht Club) had no moorings open for tonight, but the Boston Yacht Club did. We had to circle around the mooring field for 20 minutes until the launch came over to direct us to a spot. To say the harbor is crowded with boats is a major understatement, but we got one spot just for us for $45 per night, including launch service. We didn't see a single anchored boat and have no idea where you could even find room to anchor. We had a light lunch aboard then got cleaned up and called the launch to take us and our bikes ashore.
Much of the waterfront area of the town can be done just walking, and there are enough hills to make our single-speed bikes a chore to pedal, but we are glad we brought them. We rode about 3 miles at a sedate speed to enjoy the many historic homes, waterfront parks, and the downtown areas; we say that in plural because there was one section of shops and establishments in the older section of town and then another closer to the center. The hills were getting to Diane a bit, so we did not bike over to the "Neck" and explore that.
We did manage to bike just a little past our closed-circle route to get to the Pub for a beer. Duane decided to get a lobster roll to split, even though it was only 3 hours since lunch. It was tasty, but for the $18, it was only half the size of the $20 roll in P'town. We had quite a few people remark about the curious design of our bicycles and that made for some nice conversation. One woman on the launch found out we were from FL and it turned out that she rents a home in Punta Gorda most winters.
Speaking of the launch, we can now say that we have been underway in a Hinckley (a very expensive and quality vessel made in New England). Back on Diva Di, we relaxed with our books until the stronger winds forced us to close up the dodger. At sunset, the Boston Yacht club fired its cannon, and we lingered with a beverage for quite a while as the light faded. The closer you are to the equator, the more quickly the light fades; up here in these latitudesit takes noticeably longer.
Tomorrow, we will have only a 2.5 hour run to Gloucester, our turn-around point. We expect to be there approximately 5 days (with Bruce and Anne) to attend to various boat projects and allow Diane and Clyde (Duane, too) to get to sleep in a land-based bed for a few days.
Wed 11 Jul 2012
On mooring in Scituate, MA
[photo: sailors getting ready for the Wed night race]
The wind blew moderately, but apparently steadily, through the night near 8 knots out of the SW. When we dropped the mooring pennant at 0640, it was a short run past Long Point and then we were motor-sailing. As forecast, the wind lessened and then moved from SW to NE over several hours as a weak front passed, so for the middle of the almost 6 hour run, we were strictly motoring.
We were passed by the first fast ferry from Boston to P'town around 3 hours into the passage and I remarked that it would get to town, unload, load, and pass us again before long - and it did. Thanks to the AIS system on our VHF radio, I could see that the one ferry makes 28 knots and the other 31.5 knots.
When the wind was near calm, the water was a quite beautiful shade of green, not being deep enough to be blue. Passing a whale watch ship, we kept a sharp lookout for whales, but saw none. It was surprising that even in 190 feet of water, there were lobster pots.
We arrived in beautiful sunshine, by the way, at Scituate, MA just after noon and had difficulty with all the different organizations offering moorings. We finally got the "Boat Club" and at first impression by the launch operator, we are glad with this choice.
Following lunch, we called for the launch and took our bikes ashore. First we rode to the lighthouse where we met some friendly locals and then some friendly folks from PA, where we used to live. We next rode along the waterfront street into town, and were quite impressed with what this little town offers to cruisers. Within a short distance from the harbor there was a big grocery store, 2 liquor stores, a hardware store, and quite a few bars and restaurants. It looked like the marine supply store was going out of business, although there may be another somewhere nearby.
The homes near the waterfront almost all have cedar shake siding. We asked a local if it was an aesthetic requirement and he said it was just what held up the best in their harsh winters. When we complimented him on his lovely home and lawn, and what a pretty town it was, he smiled and said to come back in winter when it is icy and freezing and he is in his Vero Beach, FL condo.
After our ride, it was time for the traditional stop to get a beer. The only 2 stools left at the outside bar overlooking the harbor placed Diane next to a single young woman and Duane next to a sailor of about his age. We each had interesting conversations for the next hour. As we were leaving, we ran into that PA couple again and gave them our boat card since they wanted to follow our blog.
With all due respect to the citizens of other places we have visited in the northeast, we have met more friendly local people here than in any place since we left VA. The people are generally friendly and helpful enough if you should approach them, but it has been an absolute rarity that anyone would ever say hello or make the first effort for conversation. It may just stem from a widespread custom of "minding your own business."
Back at the Satuit Boat Club that manages our mooring, we were intrigued to see dozens of people of all ages milling around. It was Wed night and there was a weekly sailboat race. We shared the launch with quite a few people as they got to their boats and passed many more already on their boats getting ready. It was quite a parade as they left the short harbor to get into the ocean for the race in decent winds. Once again, you get a strong sense that these New England folks, perhaps partly because of their short sailing season, really make the most of it.
Dinner was sliced roast beef converted into cheese steaks on flat bread, with delicious fresh peas. We both read in the cockpit for a while, but Duane did something quite unusual in closing his eyes below and not waking up until after dark when Diane came below for bed. Rather than attempt to stay awake, I just went right to bed and slept until 0600. I must have needed it.
Tomorrow we leave for Marblehead to sample its offerings.
Tue 10 Jul 2012
On mooring at Provincetown, MA
[photo: famous bench on the wharf with lobster pot buoys representing all the lobsterman in P'town]
It was another gorgeous night with comfortable temperatures, although it warmed rapidly after about 0800 when the sun was already fairly high in the sky. We researched and then planned this last day in P'town, called for the launch, and then walked to the town center. The trolley was there and we found out from the very congenial driver/tour guide that the reason she never showed up yesterday was that two trucks had blocked traffic from passing on the narrow one-way street and she had to get the police involved to finally get moving after being stuck for 40 minutes.
We sat on the trolley awaiting the 1000 tour and when we were the only passengers, she very apologetically said she can't run the tour with only two. We said we would try to come back later, so Diane rearranged her haircut appointment for 1400 and we strolled quite a ways to the E down Commercial St. We got back in time for the 1100 tour and there were many there, but still good seats available. It was really a worthwhile experience and Duane was more than entertained and impressed by the way the driver negotiated the street poles, signs, traffic, and crazy pedestrians.
We have both been impressed by the number of establishments on the two main streets and all the little streets and alleys in between them and leading to the water a block away. If you elected to eat one meal a day at every eatery, it might take you 2 months. After the tour, we had to retrace our steps back E to the print gallery where we bought our souvenir for the trip.
Next, we went another block to Pepe's, recommended by our friends Gwen and Norma, and dined on the covered patio overlooking the water. Diane had the best lobster roll of her life (for $20 it had more lobster meat than the 1.5 pound whole lobster she had the other night). Duane's fish and chips platter was delicious cod, and hand-cut fries. We were both very happy, stuffed, and therefore so glad we had not ordered our customary cup of chowder.
Back on our feet to the W this time, we took our time checking out shops until we got to the spa for Diane's haircut. I waited inside with the air conditioning until the proprietor said he had a new kid giving chair massages and he could use more practice, so I could have a free massage. Never having had a massage before, I was curious and accepted. Diane suspected it was also good advertising to have someone in the chair. The chair was on the street with people passing by constantly but you didn't really notice with your head buried in the headrest. The young Bulgarian immigrant did a good job as far as I could tell and I gave him a nice tip. He asked lots of questions about Florida; I was surprised that he had never heard of Key West before.
Diane's haircut turned out very nice and we headed W again toward the dock to get the launch back to Diva Di. Too late, we started looking for a jar of peach plum preserves and never found it. Those are the fruits Diane and I had seen growing wild on the dunes during our bike ride and learned about them on the trolley.
Back onboard, we relaxed for a very short while and then got in our beach attire. We took the dinghy over the bay to Long Point, but this time avoided the tip where the ferry wakes would be worst. We were careful to ensure no wakes approaching when the Diva was disembarked at the surf line, and then I anchored the dinghy in 3 feet of water about 25 feet from shore. I am rarely comfortable lying on a beach and we had brought no towel for me to lie upon, so I elected to stand in waist deep water next to the dinghy with my arms and book resting on the rubber tube. Diane enjoyed her time on the beach in the bright sun and comfortable temperatures.
Just like yesterday, I felt something scratching lightly at my toes and this time I saw that it was a small crab (maybe 3 inches across). While it wasn't using the claws, it wasn't something I wanted to continue, so I kicked him away. Sure enough, he came scrambling back to check out my toes. Maybe they are territorial and I was in "his spot," so I decided to move.
While at the beach, we saw 2 tall ships come into the harbor. They appeared to be some of the same ships we saw in Newport. After about 90 minutes in gorgeous weather, we came back to Diva Di. The wind picked up after a while and we closed most of the hatches to keep from getting too cool. That is far better than sweltering, to be sure.
Our plans keep changing with events, so now we are skipping Boston on the way up and will get there on the way back. Tomorrow will be Scituate as a convenient place to lay over for the evening. Next will be Marblehead, and then to Gloucester on Fri. Our friends, Steve and Penny, will be visiting Gloucester on Sat and our hosts, Bruce and Anne (also in the same cruising club in Punta Gorda) have graciously invited them to join us for dinner. It will be a nice reunion.
Mon 9 Jul 2012
On mooring at Provincetown, MA
[photo: view of the dunes from the visitor center]
The evening was comfortably cool; in fact, Diane grabbed for extra covers at some point. The day dawned beautiful, clear and dry, and we were looking forward to a nice day of activities. We started by doing all our morning boat chores, then getting dressed and packed up for the launch to take us to shore. At least for our $55 per night on this mooring ball, we get the services of a large launch to take us back and forth at no extra charge.
Once ashore, we paid for 2 nights and got some great info on biking by the young woman at the desk; she also recommended a nice restaurant serving many specialty beers downtown. The bike ride took us to the northern tip of the cape along some park roads, and then through miles of winding and undulating paved trails through the beautiful sand dunes. Most of the time you could not see the water, but the dunes alone were very scenic. We did not know there was that much varied vegetation. It was just over 8 miles by the time we got back to the dock.
We are still very glad to have the bikes we do, but the one-speed design left us walking up several of the longer, steeper hills. It was a good cardio workout and eventually we arrived at the visitor's center at what appeared to be the highest elevation around. You could see for over 25 miles to the E end of the Cape Cod canal where there is a tall smokestack from a power plant.
The path we chose back to town was the road, and as we suspected, it did not undulate like the dunes and was more or less downhill all the way. When we got to Bradford and then Commercial Street, we were a bit shocked at the activity and abundance of storefronts. We had both forgotten just how quaint and interesting the Provincetown experience was. Anyone having visited here knows that the people you see along the street are the most interesting of all. It is definitely a place for those living alternative lifestyles.
With the bikes locked up, we strolled W along Commercial until we got to the Chamber of Commerce where we learned about the trolley. We waited for the 1130 trolley but it didn't arrive, so we called and were told they were only running on the hour now. OK, we waited until 1210 and called again and the woman who manages/owns it was not happy to learn that her trolley driver had still not shown up. We decided to forget it for today and walked much further W looking for the Nor'easter beer garden restaurant. Of course, we enjoyed the sights and sounds along the way, but eventually we stopped to ask directions, only to discover we had missed it.
Taking the other side of the street back, we found it and had a delicious lunch of fish tacos, home cut fries, and chowder. We split the meal and cup of chowder and had three ales between us. It was plenty and we enjoyed it.
The liquor store was on the way back to the bikes so we got two bottles and then rode to the Stop n' Shop which turned out not to be too far, but up a long hill. Then we discovered a liquor store right there that would have saved us the trouble of carrying the load up the hill, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Diane reprovisioned and got some stuff for a picnic supper on the beach. We will launch the dinghy and go the 1.5 miles to the very tip of the cape, called Long Point.
One very notable item is the number of bicycles in town. In just a few hours we saw hundreds of bikes riding just as fast as (or faster than) the vehicular traffic (5 mph on average) on Commercial Street. No one seemed to get too worked up about whether you are on the sidewalk, road, or even going against traffic. At the supermarket, there were 3 huge bikes racks and perhaps 3 dozen bikes there with people shopping. Surely these are not all homeless people or those with recent DUI convictions; they just use eco-friendly transportation and get some good exercise doing it.
Back at Diva Di, Diane stowed the provisions and we relaxed for a bit until it was time to stow the bicycles and lower the dinghy to go to Long Point beach. It started out fine, but when we got to the beach, Duane got out in waist deep water which did not feel all that cold. I walked the dinghy in toward the surf line 20 feet away to let Diane out. Little did we know that the fast ferry had just left the dock and had started its high speed run back to Boston. The first we knew of it was the crashing sound of its wake, amplified by coming into shallow water very rapidly, hitting the shore 50 feet to our left. Next thing we knew, there were 3 foot breaking waves slamming me in the back and tossing the dinghy up even higher, with Diane in it. Worse, she was holding both of our drinks but she did not let much spill.
We endured 4-5 more of these waves, during which at least 30 gallons of water sloshed into the dinghy and soaked most of our beach gear, plus Diane. Because we decided to go to the beach in mid-afternoon, we had chosen not to bring our picnic supper; that proved to be a fortunate decision. Diane finally disembarked and trundled inland 20 feet while I anchored the dinghy in 3 feet of water to help guard against another assault such as this. Pulling the dinghy onto the beach would only expose it to other wakes and flood it again.
This was not how Diane wanted to enjoy the beach, soaking wet with (to her) cold water and all our gear soaked as well. I elected to sip my beverage in chest deep water hanging onto the dinghy and enjoying the gorgeous weather and scenery. I asked several other people what temperature they thought the water was, and got some ridiculous answers, so my best guess is 70F. About 40 minutes later, we agreed that we would try again tomorrow (yes, we are staying yet another day) and hope for a better time.
We had our "picnic" supper aboard Diva Di: seafood salad, sushi, and avocado slices. The early evening was delightful, in fact, cool with the waning sun and NE breeze off the Atlantic. The only thing making this less than ideal was the wakes from the occasional large boat in the harbor.
We are very excited to be visiting with our good friends from home (Punta Gorda, FL), Bruce and Anne, in Gloucester starting Fri. Staying here an extra day will not change that plan as we will simply adjust what we do between here and there. No weather issues appear to be of concern this week.