08/23/2009, Somesville Hbr, Mt Desert Island, Maine
Seabird ghosts out into the fog
On Wednesday we left Little Cranberry Island heading for Frenchboro on Long Island just a few miles offshore. But just outside the Western Way, the southern entrance to Mount Desert Island's Great Harbor, the wind, light at best, swung to the south. So with that we changed course for Buckle Harbor, about 10 miles to the west. After a nice sail we were safely anchored in one of our favorite spots, and to our surprise, we were sharing it with only two other boats.
In late afternoon we spoke with Seabird in Frenchboro, just five miles away by VHF, and told them we would see them the next morning. Then we settled in for a quiet evening wandering the paths of the tiny Buckle Island.
On Thursday morning we pulled up the anchor and motored in the flat calm around to Frenchboro on Long Island. Frenchboro's greatest claim to fame is its wonderful lobster dinners served on he wharf, and we duly placed our orders for a 1.5 lb lobster. With corn on the and home-made pie, total price was $11.85 each! Then we wandered up to the town library where we used the free computers to check on Hurricane Bob's progress.
The town consists of about 15 fishermen and families and in summer, about an equal number of summer residents. A few years ago, the islanders, worried that the dropping numbers of school age children would see their school close, advertised free land to any families wanting to build. A few took advantage, but sadly didn't stay, leaving an out of place empty sub-division in the middle of the island. Later in the day we decided to take advantage of the low-priced lobster and bought three 1.5 pounders for $3.85/lb. While waiting for them to cook we spoke with the woman cooking and tending her girls about schooling. Her response was very pragmatic; when the girls reach high school age, they would simply have no option but to leave. She had no idea where they would go or what they would do. But life on the offshore islands, while picturesque, is not easy.
Friday morning it was time to take Hurricane Bob seriously. The forecast was for winds out of the north at 20-25 knots but seas out of the south-east about the same... 20'-25'. Although we would be protected from the seas in Frenchboro's harbor, we would be exposed to the wind and the accompanying wind waves building up over a two mile fetch. We would be safe on the substantial moorings, but not too comfortable, so we dropped the mooring and headed out into the dense fog we woke up to. After a lot of dithering, we decided to spend the night at Little Cranberry Island, and then head up to tiny Somesville Harbor where there are usually lots of spare moorings. We considered Northeast Harbor, but thought it may have been a bit open to the swell, and in any case the VHF traffic told us that it was not just full but over-full with some serious debate between some mooring owners and "squatters". Motoring up Somes Sound, we passed our boatyard and picked up a mooring at noon. During the afternoon, Jeannie went ashore for a walk and I fiddled with the generator which has decided to act up. After some adjusting of the governor it is working better, but still can only be loaded to about 30% of capacity. I suspect a dirty injector, but it is working well enough for this cruise, so the final repair will be left for the fall.
After drinks in Seabird's cockpit and still no sign of H. Bill, we returned to Estelle and had steak and bbq'd corn for dinner, accompanied by a nice red Zinfandel.
In the night the rain started and from midnight on it poured, but the wind never really got started until dawn and never got over 20 knots. So all our planning was unnecessary in hindsight, but better over-prepared than caught unprepared! Today we'll take the free bus down to Southwest Harbor for some groceries then head out tomorrow hopefully "downeast"!
08/18/2009, Little Cranberry Island, Maine
Frenchborough Harbor, Maine
Well, we've made some decisions.
First, we decided that we'll take the winter off from cruising to do some other family stuff and some serious skiing since we missed skiing last year, the first time in over 30 years.
Second, we decided that if we're not going cruising this fall, that we'd do some cruising here in Maine for a few weeks. So we arrived at the boatyard on Somes Sound (Mt Desert Island) yesterday and found the boat ready to go. But arriving late, we just bought supper and had it aboard then turned in. Today we headed back in to Ellsworth for some serious shopping. Then we cast off and headed round to Clifton Docks to top off the fuel tanks, and motored over to Little Cranberry Island, a total trip of about 8 miles.
At Little Cranberry we picked up a guest mooring and dinghied ashore for a walk. There's not a whole lot on the island except summer homes and about a dozen year round families, all fishermen. But its a quiet anchorage and the walking ashore is nice, so we had a nice evening.
Tomorrow we'll head out to meet Seabird with whom we have cruised on and off for the last three years. They are cruising with their yacht club, but plan to head further down east next week, subject to Hurricane Bill's plans. We're watching his progress. At the moment we seem fine, but a small change in the forecast could be troublesom, so we'll watch carefully.
07/06/2009, John Williams Boat Yard, Somes Sound, Maine
Friendship Sloop in Northeast Harbor, Maine
Well, we finally made it. Our original plan was for a trip of ten days to two weeks, not the actual 18 days! But at least yesterday's weather forecast was right.
When we awoke in Port Clyde there was a fresh westerly blowing and clear skies. So we were keen to get underway. John and Ev had asked Gerard to sail with them for the day, so I took him across in the dinghy.
Then we hoisted the outboard engine aboard and were off. Outside Port Clyde we hoisted the sails, turned off the engine and enjoyed the best days sailing of the trip! We ran up Muscle Channel, across the lower part of Penobscott Bay, through Fox Island Thoroughfare, across Isle Au Haut Bay and through Deer Island Thoroughfare past Stonington, out into Jericho Bay, through York Channel, across the bottom of Blue Hill Bay and into Northeast Harbor on Mt Desert Island, a run of 58 miles, arriving just before six pm.
To celebrate our arrival, we headed in to the Lobster Hut, a small seafood restaurant, and had a final dinner with John and Ev as they were heading for Shelburne NS the next morning.
In the morning we said good-by to Changing Lanes and headed in to Bangor to pick up our car that we had left at the airport on our way down to Virginia. We were fortunate to run into an acquaintance, Bob Briggs, anchored in the harbor, who loaned us his car, as we hadn't figured out how to get to Bangor, learning that we had missed the only bys that left at 8:00 am. By early afternoon we were back, and we sailed around to the boatyard where we tied up for the night.
Today we emptied all the perishables and the mountain of dirty laundry into the car and were off to PEI by noon, and home in the evening, the cruise over.
So no more blog entries until mid-August when we'll cruise the Maine coast for a couple of weeks.
ps: I have added the photos of the trip in a separate folder in the photo gallery.
pps: We heard from Changing Lanes. They reached Shelburne late today and will be on their way to Halifax tomorrow.
07/04/2009, Port Clyde, Maine
John and Ev from Changing Lanes at breakfast in the Port Clyde General Store
Well, there hasn't been much improvement in the weather. Yesterday we woke in Portsmouth to see the fog lifted, so we headed out. In light southerlies, we hoped to get to the mid-coast area, but by evening we were only approaching Casco Bay, so we headed in to Jewell Island.
Just six miles from Portland, this beautiful anchorage is usually crowded, and coming in on a Friday night of the July 4th weekend, I was concerned about finding room to anchor. But not a problem. There were only three other boats there, the crowds being put off by the continuing drizzle and fog, so we anchored and just stayed aboard. Changing Lanes anchored beside us and we chatted across, but nobody was interested in going ashore.
Saturday dawned as usual... light southerlies and dense fog, so we set off again with the radar guiding us through the fog and past the shoals. By noon it began to clear and as we headed in Muscongus Bay, it looked like we might have a nice sail in. But it was not to be. About five miles out of Port Clyde, the Coast Guard came across the VHF with a warning about intense squalls with lightning.
We almost made it in, being chased by black clouds. We saw some lightning and rain, but safely anchored and watched the storm pass to the south.
Clouds chasing us into Port Clyde
Ashore we paid for our mooring at the Port Clyde General Store, a real general store selling everything from Hardware to fine wine. Then we went on a stroll, checked out the restaurant, made reservations for five and headed back for a shower to warm up.
In the evening we went ashore to "The Harpoon" with the crew from Changing Lanes and had a fine meal.
Heading back to the boat at dusk, we were treated to a July 4th fireworks display.
Tomorrow's forecast sounds promising... a fresh westerly wind and no fog! Here's hoping!
07/02/2009, Portsmouth NH
Wildflower field in Cuttyhunk (photo by Gerard)
REST OF TODAY
E WINDS 10 TO 20 KT WITH A FEW GUSTS UP TO 25 KT.
SEAS 2 TO 4 FT. SHOWERS WITH A CHANCE OF TSTMS. WIDESPREAD DENSE FOG. VSBY VARIABLE TO LESS THAN ONE QUARTER MILE.
E WINDS 5 TO 15 KT...BECOMING S AFTER MIDNIGHT. SEAS 2 TO
4 FT. SHOWERS LIKELY WITH A CHANCE OF TSTMS IN THE EVENING...THEN A CHANCE OF SHOWERS AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIDESPREAD DENSE FOG. VSBY VARIABLE TO LESS THAN ONE QUARTER MILE
That's the forecast for today and tonight. But the chance of rain part is way off. Its pouring! We arrived here yesterday after deciding we didn't want to spend another day motor-sailing through dense fog. Isles of Shoals are just 8 miles off Portsmouth harbor so we motored in and picked up a mooring from the Portsmouth Yacht Club. We went in for lunch and walked around, finding a very attractive downtown core. Then back to the boat for the evening.
Today when we finally got up, we knew that we were here for another day, and the forecast confirmed it. So when the rain lets up we'll head ashore for lunch and to buy a few things necessary due to our extended cruise.
Hopefully tomorrow we'll be off again. It will probably still be foggy, but with no rain and with a southerly breeze for sailing.
Changing Lanes is still with us. They came in to a local boatyard to have some work done on the engine to find out why it kept dying. The diagnosis was... out of fuel!!! The boat is brand new to them and all boats take getting used to so now they have sorted out the fuel system and found the fuel guage.
So a rainy afternoon in Portsmouth for us. Based on what we have seen, the local flood warnings should be taken seriously!
06/30/2009, Islas of Shoals
Outdoor restaurant, Cuttyhunk
We left Block Island like we arrived, in the fog. We arrived about noon, in time to head ashore for a walk and lunch. "Changing Lanes" (John Lane and Ev Price from Newfoundland) arrived about an hour later. We had a greasy lunch, deep fried everything... shrimp, fish & chips and clam cakes. Delicious, but stayed with us for a long time. Gerard did some shopping, painful to watch, so I wandered ahead, and then we bought some groceries and back to the boat.Supper was sesame tuna steaks with a wasabi/soy sauce
In the morning we filled up with fuel and water (it's been a motor-sailing trip) and headed out into the fog. We motored north up the west side of Block Island, about 3 miles, then hoisted the sails and enjoyed the cool north breeze as we sailed through Rhode Island Sound to Cuttyhunk. The fog cleared by noon giving us a nice afternoon sailing. Cuttyhunk is a small island with a few houses, a small store, some nice walking trails and little else. But its a convenient stop and very nice.
"Changing Lanes" picked up a mooring beside us and in the evening we became the first official visitors aboard. Celebrations were appropriate for the occasion!!
Monday morning dawned as usual, foggy. We had a late start, as we had to wait for the small yacht club (mostly a junior program) to open for more shopping. By 0930 hrs we were off. In calm air and thick fog we motored up Buzzards Bay with one person constantly on the radar watching for targets.
As we approached the Cape Cod Canal, our our speed picked up, being pulled by the tidal current rushing through. By mid-canal (in clear air, as the fog again lifted at noon) we were motoring at 10.7 knots. We hoped to time it so that the video camera would record our passage, but missed it. Out in Cape Cod Bay we hoisted sails and enjoyed a nice afternoon sail across to Provincetown.
In Provincetown we picked up a mooring and headed ashore. Because it was late in the day, we just headed for the grocery store then back to the boat. With a stop at the excellent Portuguese Bakery. The sights in Provincetown are always entertaining.
This morning dawned... you guessed it, foggy. Thank goodness we have a good heater to warm and dry the boat. But the warmth contrasted by the cool dampness outside caused us to be slow in getting underway. And with a long day's run to Isles of Shoals, we needed to get going. So we were off, in company with Changing Lanes again, shortly after 0800. From Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod, we headed north, our course of 65 miles taking us out across Stellwagen Bank, a feeding ground for whales. We have never crossed it without seeing them and today was no exception. However today the fog never completely lifted. It would close in to less than 100 yds visibility then go up to a mile then back down again. So we again kept someone on the radar constantly. At noon, we had lunch of pasteries from Provincetown and the whales arrived. Gerard was excited! The only other excitement was dodging a high speed whale-watching boat bearing down on us. We saw him on radar and altered course, but on he came until he appeared out of the fog and came to a halt to let us pass.
But that was it. The rest of the day was spent in motor-sailing in the thick cold fog, arriving at Isles of Shoals at 1930 hours. Approaching the isles, we were paying very close attention to navigation as the entry between the rocks and granite isles is not large. Passing safely between the unseen White Island Ledge and Star Island, we rounded up and dropped the main then wove our way in to the anchorage between Star and Cedar Islands. Picking up a vacant mooring, we settled in for the night. Just 50 yards from the islands, Gerard was convinced we had anchored in the middle of the ocean as there was not a sign of land. But we were comfortable and coached Changing Lanes in until they picked up a mooring beside us. Down below for a hot meal and a night in the cabin!
The weather forecast continues to look poor later in the week, so tomorrow we'll do another long day to get us up to the mid-coast of Maine, where we can slow down.
06/27/2009, Great Salt Pond, Block Island
Lightning at sea
Well, our trip up the coast to Barnegat never quite happened. Through the night the winds remained light from the south so that we alternated between motor-sailing and sailing. By dawn we were opposite Cape May, about 25 miles out and the wind shifted north on our nose. I called Chris Parker, our weather guy on the SSB radio and he told me it would stay like that until noon when it would swing back to the south. So with that, we bore off and sailed in to Cape May where we anchored to await he wind.
In Cape May we met a boat from Newfoundland. At least its headed there. John Lane, from St John's, just bought a Caliber 38' "Changing Lanes" in Chesapeake Bay and is headed home with it. They too had just come in waiting for the wind. There were comments about not repeating last night's experience, but I'm not sure what that referred to.
When the wind shifted, about one o'clock, we headed out again. But it was now too late to make Barnegat, so we headed for Atlantic City. It was again a nice sail, interrupted from time to time by some motor-sailing, so that it was 7 pm when we finally anchored in a 3 knot current off Herod's Casino where we spent the night (in the boat, not the casino). Changing Lanes anchored next to us, but as it was late and we were all tired after our trip from Norfolk, we had dinner and headed to bed early.
Friday morning we were up and off by 7 am heading for Block Island, 177 miles away, meaning another overnight run. The forecast was for 10-15 south-west winds, but they didn't materialize, so we motor-sailed again. Passing the first of three shipping lanes into New York Harbor, we met our first commercial ship of the day.
All was quiet for the day until evening... as usual. Then all hell broke loose. We received an updated weather forecast around noon warning of severe thunderstorms in the evening. They were right. From out of nowhere, just at dark, the sky turned black, the heavens opened up and the rain teemed down and we slogged through 4 hours of intense thunder and lightning. The sights and sounds were indescribable. And just to throw in something different, we met and altered course for two commercial ships as we crossed the last of the shipping lanes. Even at 3 am after seven hours the lightning was still visible on the horizon. But we got through unscathed. And this morning we woke to dense fog. And finally, just to keep us amused, we have been attacked by a horde of small black flies with a sharp bite. So all day yesterday one of us was constantly swatting. The only good thing about the squalls was that it got rid of the flies! A bit of everything.
But we sailed on through the rain and fog using the radar and the charting program, Jeannie pleased to have an excuse to get out our ships bell. She spent this morning polishing it and ringing it whenever we approached a unknown radar contact.
We finally arrived off Block Island shortly before noon. For all our trials and tribulations we were right on our original ETA. Safely moored, I took our portable electronics (GPS, VHF, Computer, cell phone) out of our "Faraday Cage", the oven.
The plan is a lunch of Clam Cakes, a Block Island special which has never been available when we've been here. Then a walk to stretch our legs. It has been four days since we have been on dry land. I'm expecting some "Land Sickness" from Gerard. Its just a mild sensation that the land is moving like the boat. Kind of fun to watch people.
We'll spend the night here before, weather permitting, heading up Buzzards Bay and through the Cape Cod Canal to Provincetown. We also expect to see and finally meet Changing Lanes here. We chatted throughout the day and night, but after two days of chatting have not yet met them, so are looking forward to it. It seems that now they have had two exciting nights in a row!
06/24/2009, off the Delaware Coast
On Saturday we left PEI and drove through heavy wind and rain to Bangor where we flew back to Norfolk. We stepped off the plane into the sweltering heat of the 94F temperatures. At least there was a breeze!
After a short taxi ride we were back aboard Estelle and readying to head further north. On this leg we have an extra crew member, Gerard Watts, a friend from Charlottetown. We sailed with Gerard in our Etchells, racing at regattas through the Maritimes. After much discussion and multiple invitations and more than a few plans, Gerard finally made it down to sail with us.
But we wouldn't be sailing for a few days. The weather isn't cooperating, with an unseasonable cold front providing strong northerly winds offshore. So we have a couple of days to get ready. Sunday we re-stocked the boat and tidied up. Monday we went for a walk, took the bikes out for a ride. found some more stuff to buy and generally took it easy.
But the meals have improved... Gerard made an excellent Talbouli salad for dinner with our salmon and followed up with a sort of pizza for lunch. Its great having an extra chef (take note Eugene!).
By Monday evening we decided that we would head down through Norfolk Harbor to Hampton to spend the night, in anticipation of leaving Wednesday.
Behind us on the dock was a new 50' Nordhavn trawler, Northern Wanderer, with a couple from Toronto aboard. They are heading to Maine and getting some work done at the yard before heading out on their first major passage. We were invited aboard for a tour and saw the main salon with the TV rising our of a shelf, the galley complete with granite counter tops, trash compactor, ice maker and more gadgets than we have at home. The bridge has enough panels and switch banks to put a commercial jet to shame. Three computer screens that can do just about anything but cook. Very impressive. Down in the engine room we saw two men sitting behind the engine with room for two more. This was just behind the laundry room with washer and dryer. In the evening we had drinks with them sharing an excellent bottle of wine from his 350 bottle wine cellar on the boat. Altogether quite impressive.
On Tuesday we moved to the fuel dock and filled up, the first time since Guatemala (85 gallons) and passed through Great Bridge at its noon opening. Through the bridge and adjacent lock, we headed down through Norfolk Harbor. Its always interesting to go through Norfolk as it is both a busy commercial harbor and the US Navy's east coast base. Passing through the harbor, all 15 miles of it, we dodged numerous commercial ships, tugs pushing and pulling, navy ships heading out and in and lots of navy patrol boats.
Across Hampton Roads, we motored into a small anchorage between Old Point Comfort and the Hampton-Norfolk bridge tunnel. Here we anchored in company with two other Canadian boats. We dinghied over to one and discovered we had met them two years ago just a few miles from here. We then headed ashore and walked around Fort Munroe, the largest stone fort the US built. It is both a museum and an active army base. Back aboard we had dinner and readied the boat for heading offshore.
This morning (Wednesday) we headed out, raising the anchor at 0700 hrs. Heading out into Hampton Roads we joined the standard procession of commercial, military and pleasure traffic. Our plan is for an overnight run up the shore of Virginia, Maryland, across the mouth of the Deleware River and up the New Jersey coast to Barnegatt, where we'll spend the night. Then we'll cross to Block Island.
We crossed the bottom of Chesapeake Bay and headed north up the cast. In the light north west breeze we motor-sailed for an hour, then shut down the engine making a comfortable 6 knots in the 10-12 knot breeze. But by early afternoon we sailed into a dead calm, and then had a wind shift to the east, not in the forecast. But by late afternoon it too had died away and we began motor-sailing again. Hopefully the wind will return at dark as forecast and we can continue our sail in the warm breezes.