09/23/2010, Provincetown Mass
The House With Seven Gables, Salem Mass.
Tuesday morning dawned clear and cool with a fresh S-W wind as forecast. Our destination for the day, Salem,was just 10 miles along the coast, so we went ashore for a final tour of Gloucester. We checked out a couple of marine stores, but came away empty-handed as they cater primarily to fishing boats. I sat and read the paper while Jeannie did a bit of shoping, then at noon, we dropped the mooring and headed out. With the wind on the nose, we just motored the short distance. Salem Harbor is better described as a bay with Marblehead, Salem and Manchester-by-the-Sea on it. Plan A was to pick up a mooring at the Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead, but as we entered we saw all the boats rolling to the swell that has plagued us. Not wanting a rolly night, we headed out and into Manchester. Here we found the best protected (and crowded) harbor in the area. We carefully worked our way in between the boats in the tiny channel and picked up a mooring from Manchester Boatyard. Since they were closed for the day,we just took the dinghy ashore to explore. We found another beautiful town, a bedroom community for Boston, with all that the cruiser could want... full grocery store 100 feet from the dinghy dock, excellent restaurants, and great shelter. Back aboard, we had dinner and early to bed. In the morning I went ashore to settle up for the mooring and found out we could take a train to Salem, the station, again, three minutes walk form the dinghy dock. So I paid for two nights and twenty minutes later we were on the train heading in to Salem. We spent the day exploring Salem, a beautifully restores waterfront area. Watching a film at the visitor center, we learned there was much more to Salem's story than the burning of the witches. It was, at one time, the busiest port in the Thirteen Colonies, and surrendered to Boston, New York and Philadelphia only when ships grew in size so that the harbor was too small. And we took in the witch stuff, and finished with a visit to the Peabody Museum where we saw, among other things, an impressive exhibition of furnishings from China's Forbidden City. The museum is assisting with restoration and has the exhibit on loan. Time to head back, we walked back to the train station (everything's within walking distance) and back to Manchester. Some shopping and back to the boat. This morning we got up early (for us) to head across to Provincetown, hoping for another exhilarating sail, but the forecast 15-20 northerlies never really developed. So we motor-sailed and, as we do every time we cross the Stellwagen Bank, saw some whales. Arriving late in the afternoon, we just had time to catch the Portuguese Bakery for a re-supply of sweets, then back aboard for dinner, starting with Tomato, basil and mozzarella cheese, grilled salmon in an olive tapenade, a fresh salad and Smoking Loon chardonnay, and closing with a fresh pastry! Tomorrow will see us through the canal, a sort of imaginary dividing line between Maine and Southern New England. Plans past tomorrow are sketchy.
09/20/2010, Gloucester Mass
Our sail from Great Diamond Island down the southern coast of Maine was as usual, light airs and close hauled, but with a big swell from Hurricane Igor as it hit Bermuda. Again we were cautious about the forecast, strong winds from the north for the night. Usually we anchor in the Isles of Shoals, about 5 miles off Portsmouth NH. But they are completely open to the north, so we decided to head in to Portsmouth for the night, picking up a mooring from the friendly Portsmouth Yacht Club. And again we spent a quiet night in light winds. In the morning we cast off the mooring, still in light airs, not certain about our destination. In any case our first waypoint was off Cape Ann, due south. In light northerlies and the swell now at its peak of 7'-8', dead downwind was not a good plan. So we headed S-W and closed the shore near Seabrook NH. Scared off by waves breaking on the offshore shoals, we gybed just as the wind finally got serious. Now laying our waypoint on a beam reach in 15-20 knots, we raced across to Cape Ann where we gybed and headed down the shore. We decided to head in to Gloucester, a destination new to us, and as we approached the harbor, we surfed down a wave at 9.4 knots, a new record for Estelle!! Sails furled we headed in, unsure of what we would find. Our cruising guide describes it as a working harbor making few concessions to cruisers. Calling the Harbormaster about a mooring we were assigned one in the very protected inner harbor arriving at 3:45pm. After taking care of the "paperwork" ie. paying $25 for the night, we headed ashore, and found a beautiful town that has done a great job of maintaining and restoring its waterfront. In the evening we watched an anchor dance between two boats, one a 32' sailboat and one a 100' converted WW II hospital boat. The sailboat had anchored first, and the motor boat came in later and anchored too close. So the sailboat wanted to move but his anchor was stuck. Finally the Harbormaster came out and intervened. The motorboat skipper finally decided he "might" have dropped his anchor (350 lbs) in the sailboat's anchor chain. So as the sun set, they were trying to get untangled, drifting around the anchorage. Finally freed, the sailboat picked up a mooring and the motorboat re-anchored... very near us. But in the calm night all was well. Next port... Salem.
09/18/2010, Diamonds Edge Marina, Great Diamond Island, Maine
Diamonds Edge Restaurant
We drove from PEI to Maine on Monday, arriving on Mt Desert Island in late afternoon. We did a short grocery shop, so spent the evening unpacking and had a late supper then to bed. On Tuesday, we did some final shopping and I had a new radar reflector mounted. We cast off our lines from the boatyard in mid-afternoon to start our fourth trip south in Estelle.
I was alone on the boat as Jeannie was driving the car around to Northeast Harbor where we would store it for the winter. Five miles later, I was picking up a mooring in Northeast Harbor and we settled in for the night. Tuesday we did some final provisioning in Bar Harbor then dropped the car at Haynes Garage where it will spend the winter. Back aboard we dropped the mooring in late morning and headed out of Mount Desert Island.
Out the Southern Way, we headed west past Bass Harbor, across Blue Hill Bay to Casco Passage where we threaded our way through the narrow channel and its lobster pots. Across Jericho Bay and through Merchants Row and into East Penobscott Bay. From here we sailed across to Fox Island Thoroughfare and dropped the anchor in Perry Creek. Total distance sailed 23.5 nautical miles (nm).
Perry Creek is a beautiful anchorage, but we chose it because it is also extremely well protected, and with the forecast for 20-25 knot westerlies during the night, we wanted to be secure. Wednesday morning we awoke after a quiet and flat calm night. So much for the forecast! But I'd rather be safe than sorry. We followed another Canadian boat out of Perry Creek and into Fox Island Thorofare, then out into the glassy waters of Penobscott Bay across to Muscle Channel. Down through Port Clyde and into Muscongus bay we motored until the sea breeze filled in. We had a lively beat to windward across Muscongus Bay in 15 knot southerlies.
We reached Christmas Cove, our objective, with time enough to go for a walk ashore. We picked up a mooring from Coveside Restaurant, but they were closed for the season, so we found no one to pay. Below for dinner we had steak in the rising breeze.
Christmas Cove was our destination because of its great protection from the east, and the forecast for the night was again a windy night with easterlies 20-25 knots with gusts to 30 and heavy rain. This time they were right!! It blew stink for a few hours, then the rain took over.
By morning the dinghy was half full, so I spent the next half hour bailing. Off in light northerlies, our plan for the day was a short one. We circled through Boothbay Harbor while waiting for a bridge opening, then through Townsend Gut. Normally the line up for the bridge is at least six boats in each direction, but today we were alone. The season is clearly over here.
Out the Gut, we crossed the Sheepscott River and up Goose Passage with its strong swirling currents and into Robinhood Marine. Here we picked up a mooring for the night. Settled in early in the day, we took the Courtesy Car in to Bath for some shopping. We needed groceries, as we always seem to, and a new small inverter for me to use for the computer. Those tasks accomplished, we headed back to Robinhood and settled in.
We had called Bruce and Nancy Montgomery, who live in nearby Woolwich and arranged to see them in the evening. We met them the first year we cruised and have cruised with them on and off ever since. So we had a great reunion. Our plans again are similar and they will be leaving in two weeks, so we will be looking forward to seeing them in the future.
Saturday morning, we pulled in for fuel and water (I haven't commissioned the watermaker yet), then off again down the coast. Our destination was Great Diamond Island in Casco Bay. Just 3 miles off Portland's waterfront, we pulled in to the Diamond Edge Marina, run by the restaurant of the same name. Up to check in, the bartender just asked if we were having dinner. When we said yes, he just said "What time?" We told him and that was that. No check in, no marina fees, nothing.
We walked the length of the beautiful island, a step back in time in the shadow of a bustling city. Then in for dinner. I had Halibut in a bed of Gazpacho and Jeannie had Haddock in a lobster cream sauce. And a Simi Chardonnay, followed by Profiteroles! A great evening.
Tomorrow we'll be running down the coast trying to beat more high winds and huge seas from Igor! It will be a dull day, but it gets us out of Maine and truly on our way again!!
09/14/2010, Northeast Harbor, Me
09/09/2010, Charlottetown, PEI
"The Girls" and andy Robb at Victoria Park Tennis Courts
The hot summer weather is gone, and the calendar says its time to go! So after a perfect summer with lots of tennis and house renos, we're planning on heading down to Maine to pick up Estelle on Monday, 4 days away.
However, my project list is getting longer, not shorter. It's time to look at each item and decide if its really going to get done before we leave. Many items are house related, left over from a summer of renovations that itself was left over from last year's start. And thanks to Hurricane Earl, who passed directly over us, a few clean-up yard jobs are staring through the window at me.
But the boat list is, thankfully, short, thanks to our friends at John Williams Boatyard. Earlier in the summer we were down for two weeks of cruising to try out the new electronics that we finally installed, replacing the boat's original systems, mst of which were well past their "best before" date.
During the cruise, we decided to replace the refrigeration system, the last original on the boat, as it was running constantly and not really working, in spite of the recent re-charging of the system.
So Monday, we're off. Plans are to take the usual route, down the Maine coast, through the Cape Cod Canal, and up Buzzards Bay. From there we'll decide whether to head up Long Island Sound to NYC or jump offshore directly for Cape May, NJ. From there up Deleware Bay, through the C&D Canal and in to Chesapeake Bay. We'll meet our daughter Sarah for some cruising in the bay, then into the ICW and south to Fla.
From there, palns are very loose, except to continue further south. Too early to tell.
03/10/2010, Nanoose Bay
Jeannie & I with cousin Tim Armstrong, chef at Glacier Creek Lodge, Blackcomb
We stayed in Vancouver for a week of Olympic activity mixed with major renovations at Andrews. I painted the entire house inside, staying ahead of the new hardwood floor going down. His project to add a small section to the kitchen has now taken over every room in the house!
To recuperate, we headed back up to Whistler for another five days and enjoyed some more excellent skiing in the bowls of Whistler and Blackcomb.
And from Whistler we moved over to Vancouver Island where we'll spend a week or so exploring, then an end to our travels for the time being.
We're staying at the beautiful home of our good friends, Dave and Carol Morrison. Its a sort of extra house they have, and use infrequently. So while they winter in Palm Springs, we'll use it as a base for exploring.
Then back to PEI and Taxe (@#$%^&*)!!
I have posted more skiing pictures in the photo section. Its time to start thinkng about sailing again, only a few months away! This will be my last blog until we begin cruising again in summer.
02/19/2010, Big White Ski Resort
"Snow Ghosts", Big White
From Apex we wound our way down into the Okanagan Valley and into the town of Pemberton. Then we re-traced our steps north past Vernon and began our ascent eastward towards Revelstoke. Passing signs warning "Chain-up area ahead" we carried on in our summer tires. In Vancouver, where we had rented the car, there is so little snow that few vehicles bother with them.
But we were fortunate to have bare roads all the way to the town of Revelstoke where we found our condo. Next morning we headed up to Revelstoke Resort, only a few miles out of town Its a new resort with only one building at the base and very muddy parking lots. Although not a large mountain for skiing, it is noted for its excellent snow and challenging terrain. And in three days of skiing we saw lots of both!
And then off for the last stop on this section of the tour to Big White. We again wound down into the Okanagan Valley, travelling south back to Kelowna then up again into the mountains fo a single day of skiing at Big White. It was just a single day as we have to be back in Vancouver for Saturday to attend the Olympic short track speed skating.
02/12/2010, Apex Mountain, BC
SJL skiing the deep powder of Apex
Well, we left Silver Star on Tuesday and spent the night in Kelowna where we visited with friends living there. Then yesterday we drove down to Penticton and in 35 km in to Apex Mountain. And for 35 km we drove up and up and up! By the time we arrived at the resort, our ears were seroiously popping. And with the altitude came mountains of snow.
In Kelowna, the weather, typical for the Okanagan winter, was a warm 10C (50F) with not a sign of winter. In fact, we decided to buy a shovel and scraper for the car and had to go to three hardware stores before we found one. The winter stuff is all stored away, with the spring gardening centers opening! Some time I'll write about the many wineries of the Okanagan, where they produce beautiful vintages.
Up in Apex we found a small folksy base with few skiers about. We checked in for two days of skiing.
On Thursday we headed out to explore the mountain. We bought lift tickets for two days, and in two days, no one ever looked at them. Cecking out the mountain we found we were virtually alone. No lift lines meaning no skiers around! We got to the point where we felt crowded if we saw another person on our run.
In mid-morning we skiied down to watch the Chineese Aerial team practising... fantastic the heights they achieve! That makes three Olympic teams we have seen. We saw the Austrian Downhill team at Sun Peaks, and the Russian Biathalon at Silver Star. So we're clearly getting into the Olympic mood!
Today we headed out for more skiing into sunny skies and another 15 cm of fresh snow. And again no crowds. But we did see some vintage gear, rear-entry boots dating to the 1970's and some long straight skis!
By late afternoon, after a day of countless runs in the fresh powder and soft moguls, we were exhausted and headed back to pack up for our next adventure, up to Revelstoke, BC's newest resort in the Selkirk Mountains.