The Voyage of S/V Estelle

Cruising from Maritime Canada to Florida in our Bristol 41.1

22 September 2015 | Somes Sound, Mt Desert Island, Maine
15 September 2015
25 July 2015 | Oromocto, NB
22 July 2015 | Cambridge Narrows, Saint John River
15 June 2015 | Somes Sound, Mt Desert Island, Maine
01 June 2015 | Cuttyhunk, Mass
31 May 2015 | Portsmouth Va
19 April 2015 | Whistler BC
30 November 2014 | Charleston City Boatyard
19 November 2014 | Hazzard Marina, Georgetown, SC
16 November 2014 | Barefoot Landing SC
15 November 2014 | Bald Head Island
13 November 2014 | Seapath Yacht Club, Wrightsville Beach, NC
06 November 2014 | Tuckahoe Point, Alligator River, NC
01 November 2014 | Deep Creek, Va.
22 October 2014 | Spa Creek, Annapolis, Md.
15 October 2014 | Worton Creek, Md.
09 October 2014 | Barnegat Light, NJ.
04 October 2014 | Oyster Bay, Long Island NY

Mid-coast cruising in Maine

22 September 2015 | Somes Sound, Mt Desert Island, Maine
Sunny, wind SW@12, Temp 74F
Folkboat moored off Hog Island

September 3rd, Prettymarsh Cove
In mid-morning, we had enough water to clear the bar and leave The Mud Hole. With still a couple of hours of current opposing us, we headed out and along the coast towards Northeast Harbor on Mt Desert Island.
With our course S-W and in a SSW wind, we hoisted the main and began to motorsail. But after a few minutes we decided to tack south and sail far enough offshore to lay our course. So an hour later we tacked back and enjoyed a nice afternoon sail with the current now pushing us westward. In the late afternoon light, we dropped the sails and motored in to Northeast Harbor where we picked up a mooring for the night. Ashore we stretched our legs and bought a few supplies for supper, then back aboard. In the morning we motored around to Somes Sound to the John Williams Boatyard. We stopped for the day to allow the yard to re-install our Lombardini genset, back from the supplier where it was shipped to correct the third major problem in the first year. Lets hope for better performance in future.
The stop also gave us the opportunity to use our car to re-stock with supplies.
Back aboard, we just motored up to nearby Somesville Harbor for the night.
Next morning we were off for more cruising in the beautiful late summer weather. In the morning calm we motored out the Western Way and past Bass Harbor Head and into Blue Hill Bay. Our plan was to head for Blue Hill, but with the light airs, we slowly worked our way up the bay, and were off Prettymarsh Harbor in mid-afternoon. Here we anchored, landed for a nice walk, then a short dinghy exploration trip and the day was over.

Blue Hill Bay

September 6, Pulpit Hbr.
From Prettymarsh Cove, we had another drifter and in mid-afternoon were tied up at the Kollidgwidgewaulk Yacht Club. We filled our water tanks then picked up a mooring for the night. With a late afternoon high tide we were able to dinghy in to the Blue Hill dinghy dock. It dries out at low tide and is accessible only at half-tide or more. We strolled through the town, finding yet more essential supplies, and a few non-essential, leaving the dinghy dock just as the bottom began to make its presence known.

McGlatherty's Island

Next morning we got an earlier than usual start, about 9am, to try to catch the last of the falling tide as we sailed down Blue Hill Bay. In light headwinds, we just motored, through Sand Island Passage and into Jerricho Bay. Then into Merchant Row, we rounded up and motored into the McGlatherty's Island anchorage. McGlatherty's is a favorite stop, and we headed ashore to hike the trails for a couple of hours. Lots of boats, sail, kayaks, and motorboats.

McGlatherty's Island

The picture is of the grave site of the last known inhabitants of McGlatherty's. It must have been a very bleak existence.
From McGlatherty's we headed out into East Penobscott Bay and enjoyed a nice breeze until mid-morning, when it died leaving us being swept out the bay. So we motorsailed into Fox Island Thorofare and anchored for lunch off the pretty village of North Haven. After lunch we went ashore and wandered its quiet streets for an hour.
Leaving the thoroughfare the wind returned giving us a nice brisk sail to Pulpit Harbor. Rounding up in the now 20 knots of wind, we ran in finding a dozen visitors like us, a surprise for the late season. We picked up a vacant mooring and headed for shore again.
In the breezy evening, our new Dickeson BBQ proved its worth, holding its flame in the windy harbor. Nights are now closing in early with temperatures dropping quickly, so that we are now eating dinner below most evenings, and starting the mornings with the Espar.

Our good cruising buddies Nancy & Bruce Montgomery, Bucks Hbr.

September 9, John Williams Boatyard, Somes Sound

From Pulpit Harbor, we headed out for Bucks Harbor at the top of Penobscott Bay. We set out with 2 reefs in the main as the forecast was for 25 knot southerlies. Out on the bay we found a very different picture. We quickly shook the reefs our and worked our way north between the islands in warm sunshine and a 10-15 knot breeze. By noon we were drifting off Hog Island and anchored for lunch. Its name doesn't suggest its beauty with a wide sandy beach and gently sloping shore.

Nice powerboat,moored off Hog Island

The breeze never returned so we just motored the last 5 miles to Bucks Harbor where we met with our old friends, Bruce and Nancy Montgomery. They had driven from their home near Bath to have dinner with us.
We met them ashore, wandered the deserted roads, sat on the veranda of the now deserted yacht club and talked, reminiscing about past shared adventures. We traveled with them to Jamaica, Panama and through the Western Caribbean, so had lots to talk about. The warm evening meant dinner in the cockpit, Chicken Teriyaki with fresh local vegetables and Nancy's delicious cookies with fruit for dessert. As they left, we still had lots to talk about, both past and future adventures. They will be heading south again this winter while we head to Whistler BC for a winter of family and skiing.

Wooden Boat School Dock House

Next morning we motored out into a flat calm Eggemoggin Reach, so we just motored down the reach. We decided to head into Center Harbor for lunch where we picked up a mooring and took a harbor tour in the dinghy. Center Harbor has a reputation as the wooden boat capital of the USA east coast. And it is well deserved. It is also the home of the famous Brooklyn Boatyard, formerly owned by Joel White and now run by his son, maintaining its reputation for high quality work on wooden boats. The evidence was there in the harbor as the gleaming paint and varnish sparkled in the sun.
After lunch we ran out around the Torry Islands and in to Ridley Cove, home to The Wooden Boat School. We picked up a guest mooring, dinghied ashore and walked up to the School's workshop where Jeannie's brother Fraser was taking a course in traditional dory construction. Taking a break, Fraser showed us around the School. Then we went into their very interesting store where we failed to resist the urge to purchase some very nice mementos. Then we toured the rest of the School's facilities, and headed to the boat for dinner with Fraser.
This was the last evening of our cruise, and it could not have been nicer. Another warm evening, and we sat in the cockpit watching all the activity in the harbor as three windjammers came in to anchor and small Hershoff 12-1/2's drifted among the moorings. A beautiful end to a great summer of cruising.

Wooden Boat School Anchorage

Wooden Boat School Anchorage

Wooden Boat School training boat

Wooden Boat School

Jeannie and her brother Fraser Robidoux at the Wooden Boat School

With Fraser at the Wooden Boat School workshop.

Next morning, we woke to a thick fog, and groped our way the 25 miles back to Northeast Harbor. Just as we arrived, the fog lifted, allowing us to tie up at Clifton Dock and top off the fuel tanks for winter. Then the short run around to Somes Sound, where we drifted up the Sound to the boatyard. Cruise complete.
So Estelle is now away for winter and we are spending the beautiful fall in PEI, then off to BC for the winter.
Next summer, Plan A is Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

Down East Cruising

15 September 2015
Bald Eagle in Jemseg Creek
August 16
We arrived back in Oromocto two days ago to find Estelle safe and well. As it was late in the day, we just unloaded our gear and arranged supper. As we worked, we chatted with the friendly members of the Oromocto Boat Club. Estelle was well taken care of, and we enjoyed the camaraderie of this very friendly club. In the morning we headed out on the standard pre-cruise chores... groceries, wine, etc. One task was re-fill one of our propane tanks. But we found out that it was out of date, so we will have to be careful to conserv out remaining propane. We carry two 10 lb tanks, each of which lasts about a month, so we should be OK as we just switched to the second tank a few days before we arrived here. But we will be careful. In mid-afternoon, I returned our rental car to the airport (5 km from the marina). And in late afternoon we were off down the river.
It was a light wind on the nose, so we just motored, and by early evening we were safely tucked in to Ram Island anchorage where we stayed on our way up. As it was a weekend, we passed up a couple of other anchoring options that were filled with local boats enjoying the nice summer weather, and found ourselves alone in this beautiful spot.
Next morning we had a swim after breakfast and coffee, then set off downriver. We re-traced our steps to Gagetown where we tied up to re-fuel, then another short walk through the town, stopping for fresh vegetables at the farmers market, lunch at the Creekview Restaurant, then off to Colwell Creek. The forecast fresh winds never materialized, and we had another beautiful night in this beautiful anchorage.

Jemseg Creek Entrance
19 August
From Colwell Creek we headed up two miles to the mouth of Jemseg Creek, the entrance to Grand Lake.
Grand Lake is the largest body of water on the Saint John River system. It is about 15 miles long and about 3 miles wide at its widest. And it provides the best chance of sailing on the River. But we motored into a flat calm lake, and headed for its main harbour, Douglas Harbour. The Fredericton Yacht Club maintains an outport club and moorings here, but in mid-week, all was quiet. Ashore we wandered the quiet rural road, and found an excellent combination of gas/diesel/grocery/propane/liquor store next to a small farmers market outlet. All that a cruiser could need!
Back aboard, we headed out into the rising breeze and enjoyed a beautiful sail to the far end of the lake where we pulled into the complete 360 degree protection of Flowers Cove where we anchored for the night.

Entrance Channel, Grand Lake, NB

Next morning we began our descent of the river. In the still morning calm, we motored down the lake and out into the river where we pointed our bow downstream. By noon, a fresh southerly breeze on the nose meant a day of motoring. In the evening we were anchored in Kingston Creek, a small creek off Belleisle Bay. In the hot afternoon we swam to cool off, enjoying the warm fresh water. And I took the opportunity to replace the prop zinc. Another beautiful evening.

Quiet evening on the Saint John River

From here, we motored downstream to an anchorage in Milkish Channel behind Kennebecasis Island. Ashore, we wandered yet more quiet country roads, with the industrial stacks of Saint John just hidden by the island. In the evening we dinghied up Milkish Creek where we watched the locals diving and jumping from the local covered bridge.

Summer fun

Departing Saint John NB

August 24
Our trip from Saint John to St Andrews can best be described with one word..."Fog".
Exiting the river through the Reversing Falls requires some timing. We were heading out at the "Slack After Low" meant waiting for 3 hrs, 50 Min after low tide in the outer harbour. But this is only approximate. If the river level fluctuates, then so does the time of slack. Because the river seemed to be 1' or so low, we decided slack would be about 15 minutes late. Well, we were about right, but not precisely at slack, but made it through with the last of the ebb pushing us on.
Naturally, we were met with fog as we sailed into the cold salt water of the Bay of Fundy.

Fog along Bay of Fundy Coast

As we motored out the harbour channel, we hoisted the main and turned on the radar. Plan for the night was another night in Dipper Harbour where we stopped on our way up.
Heavy Fog on a Spider Web
In the light winds, we sailed in and out of the fog, easily seeing the anchored ships awaiting entry to the port with their AIS signals. And we watched carefully as we watched the radar contacts come and go, sometimes seeing the cruisers passing us heading towards the river.
Groping our way into Dipper Harbour, we watched the huge breakwater materialize when 100' away. Inside the fog lightened enough to work our way between the moored fishing boats, where we grabbed an empty one.

Dipper Harbour
Next morning we headed out of Dipper Harbour again into thick fog. We set a course clear Point Lepreau, where its huge nuclear plant was hidden in the fog. From there we aimed for the entrance to Letang Harbour. I have read a number of accounts about its beauty, so we decided it was worth a stop. One guide assured us that the headlands were sufficiently large that they would be visible in the heaviest fog... Wrong!!
As we approached, I watched the Grand Manan ferry's AIS signal showing them approaching the harbour at the same time. I called the ferry who assured me he saw us both on radar and with our AIS signal. I told him we would wait for him to pass before we entered.
Watching his AIS show him safely at the dock, we began to grope our way in. By the time we were anchored, after three miles of fog, we had seen nothing but a couple of salmon pens showing vaguely in the fog.
So, we can say we have been to Letang Harbour, but we can't say we have seen it!
Next morning we saw the same scene... nothing. So we groped our way out again, then through Bliss Harbour and Letite Passage. Again I called the Deer Island ferry, and we agreed we would let them pass ahead.
Letang Hbr. salmon pens where we spent a night seeing absolutely nothing except this.

Breaking through into Passamaquoddy Bay, the fog finally fell away. We had decided to come into St Andrews both because we enjoy the beautiful town, but also to wait out some heavy (rain & wind) weather.
St Andrews Tour Boat
Our original plan was to spend two nights in St Andrews. But the weather never materialized. We enjoyed two sunny warm days where we toured the town, enjoyed the restaurants and historic homes.
Ready to leave, we were told that Customs & Immigration at Eastport were not open on Mondays, so... another night in St Andrews.

25 August
Today we headed out of St Andrews to Eastport, where we check in to the US. And, as usual, a nice coating of fog made it a project. Running down the Western Passage from Passamaquoddy Bay, we enjoyed he following current but were careful to avoid The Old Sow, reputed to be the world's biggest whirlpool. We watched for it, but saw nothing.
In Eastport, we tied up to the only dock we could find... the main one was being re-built after it collapsed last winter.
Checking in at Eastport is not a very formal process. You tie up (having hoisted our "Q" flag) and seek out the Customs office. Having been here before, we found it in the basement of the post office. Here we went through the formalities with the most friendly Officer we have ever met. Formalities over, he then proceeded to give us a very extensive tour of the town (and glancing at our boat as we passed). Among other things, he guided us to Quoddy Bay Lobster where we were served the very best lobster roll and lobster chowder we have ever tasted... BAR NONE!!!

Hiking on Cross Island

26 August
Yesterday we left Eastport after our excellent lunch and some very needed grocery shopping (there is an excellent bakery in Eastport). As it was late in the day, we just motored into the Head Harbour Passage and into Harbour de Lute, where we found another isolated and sheltered anchorage. Although in Canadian waters, we did not land ashore, so felt we were OK.
The forecast for today was S-E@20-25. This would be a beam to broad reach, so we thought it would be fine. At least better than the next days forecast of winds on the nose. And the wind was about on forecast. But we neglected to consider the impact oc the strong outgoing currents from the Quoddy Narrows, between Campobello Island and mainland USA. Very confused seas... washing machine effect! But past there, except for the drenching rains and fog, a beautiful sail.
By evening we were safely anchored in Cross Island, where we had anchored the month before on our way up.

28 August
Next morning we took the dinghy ashore. Cross Island is owned by the National Wildlife Refuge. It has a number of poorly maintained trails which we explored. With a hand-held GPS, we managed to avoid getting seriously lost. And about noon, we headed out. Destination for the night was Moose Snare Cove, reported to be not only beautiful but a hurricane hole. Well, it might be, if not for the lobster pots. There was no way we could anchor in the narrow channel with the pots everywhere. But anchored just outside, we took a dinghy ride in and enjoyed the scenery.

Curious House on Foster Is. in Machias Bay

Roque Island

From there, we wandered through the islands of Englishman and Machias Bay. We sailed through Johnson Cove. past Shopee Island, into Shorey Cove on the north side of Roque Island. Rounding the west side of Roque, we entered its beautiful southern harbor where we walked its famous beach. Heading west, we nosed our way through the Thoroughfare and out into Chandler Bay.
The Cow Yard
Rounding Black Head on Head Harbor Island, we began to work through the lobster pots into Head Harbor, and then inside it, into The Cow Yard. Although it looks open to the swell, the cruising guide said it was protected, and with the anchor set, we agreed!

Dinner in The Cow Yard

Anchored, we took the dinghy and ran over to nearby Mistake Island where we stretched our legs. After using the GPS to find our way back (passed the wrong cove) we settled in to a quiet night.

Estelle at anchor in The Mud Hole

August 29
This morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we worked our way out of Head Harbor and in past Mistake Harbor and across Eastern Bay, about 3.5 miles in total, and into The Mud Hole. Just at the mouth we met a single boat exiting. To enter or exit requires half tide at greater to cross a mud bank that crosses the mouth. And at the same time avoiding the large rock in the narrow entrance. Safely in, we anchored and began to fond a place to land in the dinghy. With no natural landing, we searched the rocks until we found a spot where we could scramble up the rocks, leaving the dinghy with a stern anchor to ensure it wouldn't by hanging stranded high on the rocks on our return. With 12' tides, this is essential. Ashore we found the trail and spent the afternoon hiking the trails and rocks of Great Wass Island.
Returning to the dinghy, we were pleased that our mooring system worked and we could ease ourselves down the rocks and back aboard for the night.

Hiking on Great Wass Island

From here, back to the mid-coast area for more cruising.

Quiet River Cruising

25 July 2015 | Oromocto, NB
Air temp 17C, wind SE@12-15 kts, cloudy with sunny breaks... all in all, not great!
Estelle at the Oromocto Boat Club guest dock

After a quiet night in Colwell Creek, we headed in to Washdamoak Lake and in the calm airs motored up nine miles to Cambridge Narrows, for us, the limit of navigation. Somebody decided to install a bridge with 35' clearance, blocking the upper 5 miles from cruisers like us.
Like many other communities, Cambridge Narrows is a small fraction of its former self. Now there is a closed restaurant and store, one small church, a few houses and cottages and the community library in the former school. For us it was the free WiFi and a chance to re-connect with the world that attracted us.
But it also seems to be a community hub as there were more than a few hushed conversations going on, incl our conversation with a local cottage and boat owner we met last year. Like many conversations in the Maritimes it focused on the incredible winter and mountains of snow.
WiFi completed, we took a short walk on the quiet country roads and decided on another night in Colwell Creek where we sat quietly out of the freshening winds and occasional thunderstorms. We had company as three motorboats arrived in late afternoon, loaded with children and tied to the wharf for the night. Lots of running, yelling and splashing meant lots of fun.
On Thursday we started a cool breezy day with scrambled eggs, back bacon and english muffins. After a slow start and a couple of boat jobs, we headed out to the main river and motored up to the village of Gagetown. Here we began to see our first sign of other cruisers. Ashore we walked the quiet streets, checked out a few shops and had an excellent lunch at The Creekview Restaurant. Jeannie had fishcakes served with home-made relish and I had liver and onions, something never served at home and a favorite of mine All served with fresh cornbread and local new vegetables. Too full for dessert, we ordered a coconut cream pie to take with us for supper, and walked it off through the afternoon.
By mid-afternoon we were ready to head off, but found ourselves locked out of the boat with a combination lock that wouldn't open. Fifteen minutes later we were in, thanks to a substantial set of bolt cutters borrowed from the marina attendant. Heading up Gagetown Creek back to the main river, we passed tiny Mount Creek where we saw a fleet of over 20 boats tightly packed in for the night. It is the annual summer cruise of one of the local clubs.
Our anchorage for the night was a tiny channel behind Ram Island. We crept slowly in and found a spot to anchor with 8' of water and a width of no more than two boat lengths. Luckily the current was strong enough to keep us in mid-stream. A nice dinghy cruise up Swan creek and it was time for dinner... BBQ steak with fresh vegetables, a nice Cabernet-merlot, and for dessert, coconut cream pie!
Ram Island Anchorage

Then, in the morning, we carefully reversed our course and crept out of the very snug anchorage. Off up the river, we passed through a few shallow areas, but by careful navigation, we found ourselves off the Oromocto Boat Club where we had reserved a berth for Estelle for an extended stay.
In the mean time, we will head to PEI for a few days then off to BC for a family wedding, then back to cruising... stay tuned!

Summer Cruising

22 July 2015 | Cambridge Narrows, Saint John River
Sun/cloud, 26C, light winds
Northeast Harbor, Maine

One week ago today we returned to Estelle, driving down from PEI to Mt Desert Island and finding Estelle waiting for us and ready to go... almost. Our new genset, is off to the suppliers shop for yet more repairs. This makes three major issues with less than 100 hours on it. Not sure about this, but not a good feeling. Time to go to a wind/solar combo, I think. But rather than wait while yet another part is flown in from Italy, we were off. After provisioning, we just motored around to Northeast Harbor where we topped up the fuel at Clifton Docks, the best fuel dock we have found on the entire US east coast.
Estelle at anchor in Northeast Harbor

We picked up a mooring for the night, had a walk and next morning we were off. Heading deeper down east and into the Bay of Fundy, it was time to take the tides and currents seriously, so we were off early Friday morning, catching the beginning of the flood. In light winds, it was a motor-sailing day, and by mid-afternoon, we were anchoring behind Cross Island. Across the gut stood the impressive array of radio towers of the US Navy's Cutler Station. Not sure, but I think they use the station for ultra-low frequency communication with submarines.
After a couple of failed attempts at anchoring, we were finally set. The kelp here is very impressive and calls for careful work when anchoring.
In the dinghy we motored across to a small beach where we headed ashore. Cross Island was once a Coast Guard lifesaving station and the old house still stands, open to all, and used by an Outward Bound group. We walked some trails then headed back to the boat for the evening. In the fading light the lights on the antenna array presented an eerie and impressive picture.
Next morning we were off, again early and catching the flood tide. In the Grand Manan Channel the currents reach over 2.5 knots, so we shot up, with a fresh southerly breeze assisting us towards our destination, Saint John, NB. By mid afternoon we had lost the current and a fog and rain had set in, so we altered course for nearby Dipper Harbour. When arriving in Saint John, the best plan is to time it to pass through the Reversing Falls (at slack water) and not try to spend a night in the outer harbour with its ever-present swell. So when we lost our boost from the tidal currents, we lost our chance to get through the falls that night.
Entering Dipper Harbour, we passed the massive breakwater and circled the moored fishing boats deciding on where to anchor. But with a 23' tide it was apparent that the harbour would be pretty well dry at low tide, so we tied up against The Twelve Apostles, a fishing boat tied to the wharf. That meant we didn't need to worry about the rise and fall. Ashore we spoke to a retired fisherman who welcomed us.
Dipper Harbour, NB

A low tide

A short while later his wife presented us with a box of delicious freshly picked strawberries! We walked the quiet roads and lanes, and can confirm that Dipper Harbour is a quiet place. The one restaurant closed a number of years ago, so there is now nothing commercial except the lobster processing plane and that too was quiet on a weekend with the lobster season closed.
Next morning we took another walk, scaling the 25' ladder to the top of the wharf. We were in no rush to leave as slack water at the Reversing Falls was forecast for 1720 hrs. So we took another walk in the cold fog and drizzle. At noon, after a lunch of seafood chowder and scones for warmth, we were off. With more current than we expected, we watched on the AIS the busy coming and going of shipping in the harbour, and idled in to the inner harbour to await the slack. At 1655 hrs we started up towards the falls, 1.5 miles away, accompanied by one other boat. That gave us some comfort, as we assumed he was a local and knew what he was doing. Turns out we were a bit early and in the still-incoming current, we shot through the falls and squirted into the river.
Through the Reversing Falls

A bit more exciting that we would have asked for, but safely in. It turns out the river is a couple of feet low, meaning that "slack after high" is delayed by about 15 minutes. Slack after low is early, so we'll have o watch it when we leave.
But inside the river, the fog cleared, the air warmed and we motored in the quiet waters to an empty nearby anchorage. So now cruising the Saint John River.
Monday morning's first project was to call Customs to clear in, and that was all taken care of over the phone. Quick and easy. Project number two was to re-provision, with some food supplies, but mainly wine, as we are allowed only 4 bottles when entering the country. We picked up a mooring at RKYC, and two hours later were off again, motoring up past the Westfield Ferries with their cable crossing to anchor in Wheply Cover. Here we were surprised to meet four other cruising boats, as we had seen not one since Northeast Harbor in Maine. With dinner of BBQ Chicken Teriaki and the last of our US wine, we enjoyed a quiet warm evening in the cockpit.

After a quiet night in Wheply cove, we said good-by to Bruce Russell and his Hallberg-Rassy Monsun31 as he headed downriver and we headed up. We met Bruce the previous evening when he rowed over from his mooring behind us. Bruce is a retired fisherman from Whitehead Island, part of the group of islands around Grand Manan. We chatted about cruising the area and he gave us lots to think about when we head out... Digby, Annapolis Royal, Whitehead Island, all sounding like interesting stops.
On the river we enjoyed a quiet day sailing slowly upstream against the slight downstream current. At Evanstown we crossed another cable ferry, and passed the Evanstown Inn, the last remaining river inn from the steamer days. Today it seems to be maintained more by road than river traffic, although their small marina was busy.
At noon, we drew into a small offshoot to the main river where we anchored for lunch. After lunch we continued our drift, passing the site of the former village of Queenstown, with nothing remaining but a slowly decaying wharf. Then we crossed the main branch of the river and headed up Colwell Creek where we anchored for the night. In the dinghy we headed ashore, landing at another old steamer dock, this one still in good condition. The Saint John River Preservation Association is maintaining a few of the docks for boaters, an excellent project. Given the number of docks we passed, the river must have been a busy place in the steamer age. But today it is mainly used by pleasure craft.
Ashore at Colwell Creek we walked a quiet country road, seeing just two cars in an hour. Back in the dinghy we explored a couple of side creeks, disturbing only the herons and a large bald eagle.
Colwell Creek Wharf

Storm clouds reflecting on Colwell Creek

Back aboard, we tucked in against the rain that was forecast during the night,

Catchup Time

15 June 2015 | Somes Sound, Mt Desert Island, Maine
Sunny, warm
Harbor walk, York, Me.

June 3rd
Well, I don't know if there was a better choice than Cuttyhunk, but we certainly learned how small Cuttyhunk is. In the off-season (which it was during our visit) there are 15 residents, including two elementary school children and a teacher. Add the harbormaster and assistant, and a few others, and that's it. And during three nights there, I think we met just about everyone. All very friendly, but we were anxious to move on. But we did have some nice walks, and saw some areas we had never visited before on walks. On day two, we thought we could probably leave, but after one hour of bashing into the short steep seas of Buzzards Bay and making only two miles, we accepted defeat and turned tail, scooting back in the entrance channel 15 minutes later.
But today, in light northerlies, we set out and picked up a vacant mooring in Pochasset Harbor, just 2 miles from the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal. This set us up nicely to catch the early morning flood tide that would sweep us through into Cape Cod Bay. We enjoyed a chat with a local boat owner who seems to specialize in cruising Newfoundland and Labrador, adventurous cruising!Then ashore for a walk and time for dinner.

June 4th
We were up early today, dropping the mooring at 0615 hrs and off to the canal, catching the current at its peak. We were swept through at 9 knots, and had breakfast as the scenery swept past. The canal was lined with fishermen (Americans seem to be extremely keen fishermen) watching over six landings of very substantial fish. Not sure what they were, possibly Bluefish or striped bass.
In Cape Cod Bay we set sail in the light winds and spent the day looking for signs of whales. No luck, we were too far inshore. We dithered about our destination, finally settling on Gloucester. We called the Harbormaster, and were tied to a mooring by 1515 hrs. Ashore we stretched our legs and enjoyed a walk on the nicely restored Main Street. Gloucester is still very much a working harbour and town, but it is a great stop. Just about everything a cruiser needs is accessible with a short walk.

June 11th
OK... I have taken a break, so here is executive summary. From Gloucester we had a beautiful sail in yet another south-west wind, rounding Cape Ann and across Scantum Basin to York, Maine. We were here for the first time in the fall and enjoyed it, so decided to come in again. It has some beautiful walking trails and excellent restaurants, so is a great stop. And we sampled both during a two night stay , waiting out a contrary wind. Dinner at York Harbor House Inn was excellent in its quiet elegance and comfort. Then on Monday, we set out for a long day up the coast and by days end motored in the mouth of the Sheepscott River and into Love Cove for a quiet night in perfect shelter from the strong southerlies blowing in the pines surrounding our anchorage. Next day we headed over to Robinhood Marine where we picked up a mooring and met with friends Bruce and Nancy Montgomery for a great day and evening of dinner. Next morning we contemplated the forecast and decided that it was best to push off and take the last of the still strong southerlies to push us further on. In late afternoon we were overtaken by a thick fog, leaving us in light winds groping our way up the St George River and into Maple Juice Cove where we anchored with the shores completly hidden from our view. In the morning we woke to a nice spring day with warm winds and clear skies. Back down the river, through Port Clyde Harbor and out into Penobscott Bay, we headed east in the last of the winds, or so we thought. All day we sailed north-east, up Muscle Ridge Channel, across the bay, through Fox Island Thoroughfare, across Isle aux Haut Bay, through Deer Island Thoroughfare, across Jericho Bay and into Buckle Harbor, a favorite anchorage, for our last night. Next morning we were unloading the boat and off to PEI, our spring cruise of 1153 nautical miles.

Long Island Sound

01 June 2015 | Cuttyhunk, Mass
52F, cloudy, showers, wind NE@15-20

May 29th
We have spent the night in Manhasset Bay a number of times, but only went ashore once, and only fleetingly. But today, with a short day planned, we called the water taxi and headed in. Port Washington has moorings that are free for 48 hours, and the water taxi is $30 per day for unlimited trips. If you pay for the mooring ($30), the water taxi is free. Hmmm
Back in North Carolina we discovered that our dinghy gas tank had begun leaking over the winter. Although there was not much to see, there was an oily patch under it. All was quickly cleaned up, but without it, the dinghy was not very useable. It is a rough row. Port Washington was our first opportunity to replace it, so we headed ashore to the West Marine store and came away with a replacement. We passed lots of excellent shopping for cruisers, groceries, hardware, electronics, etc.
Back at the Shop & Save dinghy dock, one of many in the harbour where the water taxi will drop you, we headed for the fuel dock, filled the tank and were back in action with the dinghy.
We dropped the mooring at 1030 hrs and headed out for Port Jefferson, and in mid-afternoon were picking up a mooring at the Setakut Yacht Club. Like our visits to Port Washington, we had been here before, but always in late fall, only anchoring for the night. So today we had a nice tour of the attractive town. Back at the boat, we stowed our purchases, Chicken Pot Pie, Pear tart, and an excellent selection of cheeses. In the quiet evening, we had BBQ lamb chops with a nice red zinfandel, and turned in for a quiet night.

May 30th
We have had constant south or south-west winds since we left Norfolk, six days, and the forecast was for two more before it shifts to a nasty nor'easter. So we were anxious to make as much progress as possible before we were halted by the weather. Target for today was Stonington, 65 nm away. So we sailed off the mooring at 0700 hrs and out the harbor as the first ferry of the day left. Outside on Long Island Sound we bore off north-east and had yet another beautiful sail on 15-20 knot southerlies. Again we lucked out with the tide and had the very strong currents in The Race with us, keeping our speed over 8.0 knots for most of the day. We arrived at Dodson's Boatyard in mid-afternoon, picked up a mooring and went ashore for a good walk in the pretty and historic town. Another quiet night.

May 31st
Today is forecast to be the last of our southerlies, so again we wanted to get as far as we could. We settled on Cuttyhuunk, the outer-most of the Elizabeth Islands, at the mouth of Buzzards Bay. Another fine sail as we passed through Fisher Sound, through Watch Hill Passage into Block Island Sound, then Rhode Island Sound, rounding up into the tiny harbor at 1500 hrs. We expect to hunker down here for at least two days. In the dying southerlies, we headed ashore for a walk, returning just as the winds began to shift. In 15 minutes, the dying southerlies were replaced by 20-30 knot north-east winds, accompanied with a plunging temperature, ending eight straight days of southerlies. We are sharing this very popular anchorage with only one other boat. Not surprising given the forecast.
Down below, we turned on the Espar heater for the first time this year. Last week we were sleeping with fans cooling us. Not tonight! But our chicken pot pie from Port Jefferson warmed us nicely. Based on the forecast, we are here for at least two days until we can move on, and then still facing the dying nor'easter.

Moving Through The Big Apple

01 June 2015
Sunny, 25C, winds South@15-18
The East River

May 24th -25th
Listening to the weather forecast for five days of moderate southerlies we quickly got underway. Our original plan was to spend another day in Portsmouth but the forecast was too good to pass up, so at 0800 hrs, we were motoring down the Elizabeth River.
From the marina, down the harbour and across the bottom of Chesapeake Bay is a distance of 22 miles. But assisted by a strong outgoing current, we were bearing off northeast in light southerlies at 1100 hrs.
Aircraft Carrier in Norfolk

At 0800 hrs the next morning we gybed and headed in to Cape May, NJ where we anchored at 1030 hrs. Not wanting to launch the dinghy and with no particular reason to go ashore, we just spent the day aboard, resting and cleaning up. At noon, we were joined in the anchorage by Swift Current with Howard and Lynn Bradbrooke aboard. They had arrived a few days before, having started their cruise from Annapolis where the boat wintered. With drinks in the cockpit, we discussed plans, and agreed to take advantage of the continuing excellent forecast.

May 26th
We set out at 0800 in the continuing 10-15 knot southerlies, and by days end were anchoring in the excellent protection of Barnegatt. And a good thing too for the protection, as the forecast had changed, and we spent the night in 25-30 knot winds. But with the protection of the anchorage, we felt nothing.

May 27th
Swift Current exiting Barnegatt
Swift Current exiting Barnegatt

We got an early start on our planned run up to Atlantic Highlands, the last leg of the coast of New Jersey. Exiting the Barnegatt inlet provided some entertainment with the wind opposing the outgoing current, but we were safely out and bearing off in the continuing southerlies. The forecast was for continued southerlies but increasing to 20-25 later in the day. Well, they were right about the increasing part, but not the timing. So we spent the day romping up the shore in 20-25 knot winds, wing on wing... an excellent sail! Rounding Sandy hook, we doused the sails as the wind made up to a nice steady 30 knots. With Swift Current close behind, we motored down into the excellent protection of Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club where we picked up a mooring. This is an excellent and welcoming stop.
Ashore, we made a beeline for the grocery store to replenish supplies. On the way we noted The Flakey Tart bakery and a few other interesting stops. Back aboard, we headed over to Swift Current for a great dinner and evening to Celebrate our cruising, as we would be parting in the morning, SC staying to visit NYC and Estelle off through NYC harbour and the East River.

May 28th
The timing of the East River is everything. There is no point in a sailboat trying to buck the current. So when we looked at the current charts, we decided there was no point in leaving Atlantic Highlands until noon. That gave us time for a trip ashore to the Flakey Tart for pastries and for an excellent breakfast at the Hudson Cafe... VERY highly recommended! Another stop at Giannni's Specialty Foods for some excellent bread, salads and meats. Atlantic Highlands is a great stop!
At 1100 hrs, we were off, coasting up through New York's Outer Harbor and under the very impressive Verrazano Narrows Bridge into the inner harbor. Down the harbor and past Governor's Island with its very impressive Coast Guard base, we headed up the East River. We have done this trip many times, but never fail to be impressed with it. Being swept up the river past The Battery, the UN building, the upper east side and Roosevelt Island, through Hells Gate, we were spit out into Long Island Sound where we tucked into Manhasset Bay for the night. South winds still holding...

Spring Cruise Part 1

31 May 2015 | Portsmouth Va
Sunny, hot, perfect!!!
Deep Creek Lock

May 10th
We arrived in Charleston in early evening after a boring and uneventful flight from Vancouver. Checked in at our hotel, we just had mother's day dinner at the nearby Fish House. Very nice.
May 11th.
Picked up a rental car and arrived back at the Charleston City Boatyard in Wando to find Estelle well and ready for the water. I checked out the systems that could be checked on land, all OK. A few more jobs and the unaccustomed heat forced us to quit early. Dinner that night on nearby Sullivan's Island at a restaurant called The Uncooperative Daughter. It was very nice and very popular. We were fortunate to find a table without a long wait.
May 12th
Arrived back at the boatyard to find Estelle afloat and well. Engine and genset checked OK, so all systems working... excellent! We did a major shopping expedition for groceries and lugged them to the boat and began the process of stowing everything. Since the refrigeration was not on until launch, we bought only non-perishables, but still filled two shopping carts, one devoted solely to wine. An excellent dinner at The Post House, a favorite restaurant of ours in Mt Pleasant.
May 13th
Today we managed to fill another shopping cart at the local Harris-Teeter, this time with perishables. So we had another major stowing project. I am sure we will never see half of what we have stowed in the last two days until we clean the boat out next. While waiting for the tide to turn, we got the main sail on. Then at one thirty pm we cast off, just as Jeannie injured her back. As we motored down the river, she just sat hunched in the cockpit in very visible pain, unable to move. And our arrival at the Charleston Maritime Center was a bit exciting. With Jeannie unable to even throw a line, and the dockmaster's lack of understanding of the use of a spring line, our landing was not pretty, but we got tied up without serious damage. Ashore, we immediately made for a drug store for some pain relievers.
May 14th
Jeannie's back dominated the day. By day's end, she had seen a doctor, been diagnosed with severe muscle spasms and perscribed with a host of medications that we picked up at the nearby pharmacy. The Charleston Maritime Center is a great location, close to downtown Charleston with groceries close by. But its docks are completely open to the fresh easterlies that were blowing, so we endured two jerky nights.
May 15th
By now, we realized that our plans for an offshore overnight hop to Beaufort NC were off. With Jeannie's back in ocean swells and on heavy medication, heading offshore was not in the cards. So we chugged up the ICW. Project number one was to get past the skinny area at Sullivan's Island. Last fall we were the only boat out of five to get through without grounding. Not quite so lucky today, we ran hard up on a bank but were able to back off and work our way through. By the time we got to the next trouble spot near McClellanville, the tide had risen enough to allow us to pass through without incident. By day's end we were settled in the warm evening with the anchor set in Minim Creek, a new anchorage for us. Dinner in the cockpit with warm winds blowing made a perfect night.
May 16th
From Minim Creek we set out and motored into Winya Bay. We were considering heading offshore from here until we spoke with a boat coming in from an overnight sail down. His description of no wind and swells on the beam quickly changed our minds and we headed up into the beautiful Waccamaw River. In the flat calm we motored up admiring the beauty of the moss draped live oaks and the lush vegetation. But at the top we headed in to the ICW where it passes through Myrtle Beach. Last year we came through this area on a holiday weekend and vowed we would never do it again. As we approached the Little River inlet in the late afternoon, we were met with literally hundreds of motorboats streaming in from a day's fishing. Although not as bad as last year, the traffic was enough that we were glad to see it end as we dropped the anchor in Calabash Creek. But life quickly quieted down and we enjoyed the anchorage with only one other boat.
May 17th
We have always found the run from Little River to Cape Fear River a nice outside hop, relieving the tedium of the ICW, and enjoyed a quiet run of 25 miles. Approaching the Cape Fear river with its strong outgoing currents opposing the onshore breeze, we had a few bouncy moments, but were soon motorsailing up the river. A slow job against the 3-4 knot current, we finally chugged through Snows Cut and by evening were anchored in Wrightsville Beach among a few other cruising boats.
May 18th
We had an early start to the day and set off through Masonborough Inlet for a long day's sail across Onslow Bay to Cape Lookout. We coasted in , anchored with two other boats in the beautiful anchorage, surrounded by san dunes, and had a quiet evening after a long day.
May 19th
After a leisurly breakfast, we motorsailed back 5 miles against the fresh southerlies to the entrance to Beaufort. Here we re-entered the ICW, motoring through Adams Creek to the Neuse River. Here we shut the engine down and drifted down the river until late afternoon thunderheads chased us in to the very comfortable River Dunes Marina. With our dock lines secured, we just closed things up and let the heavens open up above us. After ong hot showers in the marina restrooms, we had dinner in the restaurant watching yet another thunderstorm unleash its fury on us. We chatted with a few other cruisers. Unlike last time we came north in July, this year we are seeing more cruising boats. We are well behind the mass snowbird migration, but there are still a few laggards like us.
May 20th
Our plans for an early start didn't quite work out, but we did get away by 0900 hrs, for a day of motoring in absolutely flat seas. And by days end we found ourselves in Tucahoe Point, our least favorite anchorage on the ICW. With the anchor down the wind very kindly came up to give us a bumpy night, another non-fun night at Tucahoe Point.
May 21st
The forecast SE winds failed to read the forecast and stayed East with just enough north in them to make sailing down the Alligator River impossible, so we motor-sailed its 20 un-scenic miles. Out into Albemarle Sound, we bore off for the Pasquotank River, 15 miles away and had a great day sailing up to Elizabeth City. Through the bridge, we dropped anchor off Lambs Marina where we rowed in for a few supplies. Then up to Goat Island anchorage where we waited out today's thunderstorm, complete with dire warnings on the VHF of possible golf-ball sized hail and tornadoes. But all we got was some light rain, so we settled in for a quiet night, alone in a beautiful anchorage.
May 22nd
Dismal Swamp
Dismal Swamp Canal

Today we headed up the Pasquotank to South Mills where we locked up and into the Dismal Swamp Canal, one of our favorite sections of the ICW. With no commercial traffic and a speed limit of 5 mph, it is a quiet and beautiful trip. At Deep Creek, we were locked down by Robert, the always welcoming lockmaster.
Jim & Robert at Deep Creek Lock

Down in Deep Creek, we headed for the Elizabeth River, the headwaters of Norfolk's busy harbour. Running down the harour, we approached the Gilmerton Bridge, the only opening bridge left in the harbour just as a tug and barge ran through. Commercial traffic has precedence over road traffic, so there is no waiting for them, and we quickly snuck in behind them, saving ourselves a good half hour wait for an opening. Pulling in to Tidewater Marina, we passed Mile 0 of the ICW. From Charleston to here, 460 statute miles.
Vessel Name: Estelle
Vessel Make/Model: Bristol 41.1
Hailing Port: Charlottetown, PEI
Crew: Jeannie & Jim Lea
About: Flag Counter
Extra: Summer 2015 will be cruising the coast of Maine and New Brunswick as well as the Saint John River.
Estelle's Photos - Tikal and Flores
Photos 1 to 4 of 4 | The Voyage of S/V Estelle (Main)