Madcap Sailing

06 April 2016 | Riverside Marina, Ft. Pierce, Florida
23 March 2016 | Riverside Marina, Ft. Pierce, Florida
20 March 2016 | Vero Beach, Florida
16 March 2016 | Vero Beach, Florida
12 March 2016 | Key West, Florida, USA
07 March 2016
06 March 2016 | Key West, Florida, USA
06 March 2016 | Key West, Florida
05 March 2016 | Key West, Florida
04 March 2016 | Marquesas Keys, Florida, USA
03 March 2016 | Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, USA
28 February 2016 | Puerto Isla Mujeres Marina, Mexico
27 February 2016 | Puerto Isla Mujeres Marina, Mexico
13 February 2016 | Teotihuacán, near Mexico City
12 February 2016 | Mexico City
11 February 2016 | Mexico City
07 February 2016 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
05 February 2016 | Puerto Isla Mujeres Marina, Mexico

Yahoo! We Made It!

30 August 2007 | Northeast harbour, Maine

I wish to report the successful crossing of the Gulf of Maine and safe arrival in Northeast Harbour of the sailing vessel, Madcap.

On Tuesday evening, Strathspey and Barefoot left Shelburne to go out the harbour and anchor at Cape Negro, while we opted to stay in Shelburne to glean some local knowledge from some folks who have done the crossing several times. That meant a verrrry early start of 3am for us to meet up with them in Cape Negro at the agreed upon time of 6am Wednesday, but we were up for it - literally and figuratively!

The moon was bright, the air still, the water like glass as we quietly dropped our mooring line and turned Madcap's bow toward the mouth of Shelburne harbour. As we passed Charlotte and Leroy's house I waved our big spotlight in an arc to offer a silent farewell and thank you for their hospitality. Three hours later, we saw Strathspey and Barefoot moving out from their anchorage, and for the next several hours the three boats moved along within sight of each other. The rising sun cast a rosy hue over the water as it swirled around us. Then the fog moved in, and for much of the day we motor-cruised along with the sun shining over our heads and grey mist all around us, seeing the other boats only as blobs on the radar. Barefoot eventually peeled off to take another course for a destination further down the Maine coast. Strathspey generally travels faster than we do so they moved off in the distance ahead of us.

When the fog lifted, we caught sight of an occasional seal spy-hopping to take a look at us; a couple of whales surfaced and dove gently, and a group of porpoises (or dolphins?) cruised by. I had our bird book open in the cockpit for much of the time, trying to identify the birds we saw. I'm pretty sure some of them were Wilson's Storm Petrels - black with white bands across their tails - and some were Greater and Sooty Shearwaters. There were of course, the graceful terns and ever present gulls, and also small black birds that I still haven't identified darting in close to the boat and then swirling away. I'll have to consult with my bird expert brother-in-law! Apart from a few fishing boats early in the day, we saw no other vessels out there until we got close to the Maine coast.

Jim and I take roughly two-hour watches during the night. During daylight hours we are often both awake, but one person is at the helm and, if we are not sailing, the other gets to relax or do other chores. At night, we have learned to be really good nappers. We can both fall asleep almost instantly and then wake up in reasonably good shape to go back on watch. During one of my off-watch periods in the morning, I made a big pot of chicken soup and a pan of cornbread. The smells drifting up through the companionway apparently helped Jim perk up during a sleepy stretch, and there is nothing better than chicken soup on a cool day.

The temperature was quite comfortable during the day, but at night it was downright cold! I had layers of fleece on under my foulweather pants and jacket, two pairs of socks, wool cap and gloves. And I still wrapped myself up in the quilt my Healing Pathway friends in Ottawa gave me before I left.

We could feel the effect of the famous Bay of Fundy tide as it pulled us one way and then the other over the course of the trip. At tide changes, the water would get choppier and from time to time we'd see our knotmeter register a boost of speed as the tide helped us along, or a drop in speed as we moved against it. We thought we might notice a more dramatic difference but it didn't happen. The wind didn't rise past 10 knots so unfortunately we weren't able to truly sail even a tiny bit of the trip. We filled up with diesel in Shelburne, and set our engine to 2600 rpms for the first part of the trip - a setting that allowed reasonable speed and good fuel efficiency.

In hindsight, we'd have taken a more careful look at exactly what the time frame could be for the crossing. We were working on a rough figure of 30 hours, and wanted to arrive in daylight. The 6am start from Cape Negro was too early but by the time we figured that out, it was too late to change the prearranged plan. As it turned out, we kept dropping our speed back during the night so as not to arrive off the coast before daylight and we still encountered our first lobster pots before the sun was up. By the time that happened, our rpms were down to 2100 and we were trying not to make more than 4 or 5 knots an hour - a very odd feeling since we are usually trying to get the most speed we can.

And now for the lobster buoy part of this narrative! I don't think there is any way to truly know what the Maine lobster buoy picture is without seeing it with your own eyes. The closest description came from a friend of Mary's who likened it to a great scattering of smarties all over the water. For the first while, we encountered them in singles and duos - in the fog - and swerved our way around them. Madcap has a full keel with no protruding parts that are liable to catch, and we read extensively on the best methods to avoid getting a line wrapped around our prop, so we weren't terribly worried, but were determined to proceed cautiously. We wanted our super sharp knife, and wetsuit for the unfortunate person who might need to dive down to untangle a line to stay tucked away in a locker!

We took turns at the wheel and keeping a lookout on the bow, and soon got into the rhythm of it. I felt a bit like I did when I used to play with the children's Nintendo game after they went to bed - go this way, that way, around this corner, back on the track again. Thank goodness for the chartplotter and compass, because all this swerving around in the fog can get disorienting very quickly. We had to rely on the instruments to keep us moving toward our destination. Whenever we'd have a near miss, we'd put the engine in neutral so the propeller wasn't turning, and with our foresail picking up the little bit of breeze, we would slip on by.

Once we got close to the channel past the Cranberry Islands and along Mount Desert (pronounced like dessert) Island, the fog lifted to show us the most amazing sight of hundreds and hundreds of candy coloured buoys scattered all over the bay. These were in lines, but the lines crisscrossed in every direction. I have never seen anything remotely like it, and we were too busy weaving through them to take pictures. Because the water was flat calm and the sun picked up the colours, they were clearly visible and making progress was just a matter of looking for pathways and taking a zigzag trip along them. Soon enough, we came to the entrance of Northeast Harbour, turned in and wiggled some more along through lobster bouys and mooring balls. By the time we located one and hooked the line over a cleat, the fog had dropped again. We had a perfect little window to do this last bit. How lucky is that?

Jim had called the 1-800 number for Customs as we came in and received word that an officer would meet us on the dock. We had thought that perhaps our Nexus passes would allow us to do it all over the phone, but that wasn't the case. We dinghied in to register with the harbourmaster and just as we finished that, Officer Hutchins came along, climbed into our dinghy and came out to the boat to do the paperwork. It was straightforward and pleasant. We had our cruising permit already so he just copied down the information and welcomed us to the USA. Blair came by to take him go over to Strathspey, and we laid our weary bodies down for a few hours of sleep. It was a good trip, and a good beginning to this next stage of our journey.

Vessel Name: Madcap
Vessel Make/Model: Bayfield 36
Hailing Port: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Crew: James D Bissell (Jim) and Elizabeth Lusby (Beth)
About: Beth and Jim have spent the last several winters sailing southern waters on s/v Madcap. They love Halifax in the summer, but plan to spend the winters exploring warmer places - currently the Guatemala, Belize, Honduras area.
The Madcap crew left Ottawa in 2007 to go sailing in the Bahamas. After a highly successful year, they returned to Canada, settled in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in the fall of 2009 they left to do it again! Journey #3 (2010/11) took them back to the Bahamas and then on to Cuba for several weeks [...]
Madcap's Photos - Mad Cap Sailing (Main)
11 Photos
Created 6 April 2016
13 Photos
Created 6 April 2016
5 Photos
Created 6 April 2016
6 Photos
Created 9 March 2016
11 Photos
Created 9 March 2016
23 Photos
Created 25 February 2016
18 Photos
Created 21 February 2016
31 Photos
Created 20 February 2016
4 Photos
Created 20 February 2016
20 Photos
Created 19 February 2016
7 Photos
Created 9 February 2016
51 Photos
Created 24 November 2015
12 Photos
Created 28 October 2015
16 Photos
Created 9 October 2015
24 Photos
Created 3 December 2013
our Oct/Nov 2013 trip to New Zealand
36 Photos
Created 22 November 2013
9 Photos
Created 20 January 2013
Guatemala pics starting Nov 22, 2012
43 Photos
Created 6 December 2012
54 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 8 November 2012
trip to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park (via Las Vegas)
23 Photos
Created 4 November 2012
20 Photos
Created 1 November 2012
18 Photos
Created 12 February 2012
43 Photos
Created 29 January 2012
62 Photos
Created 19 May 2011
21 Photos
Created 19 May 2011
76 Photos
Created 19 May 2011
8 Photos
Created 19 May 2011