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Madcap Sailing
Developing New Skills
Beth / rainy, windy, yucky
10/10/2009/12:05 pm, Shelburne/Halifax

This business of waiting out weather is taking our patience skills to a whole new level. We left Chester on Friday, Oct 2. (we have since been reminded about the superstition that Friday departures are a bad idea) and spent 2 days getting to Shelburne. Madcap has been on a mooring ball there since Saturday, and we came back to Halifax on Tuesday evening. We had planned to go back for a Friday or Saturday departure to Maine. When that weather window disappeared, we thought we'd go back today (Saturday) for a Sunday departure. That seems like a bad idea and now we are looking at Thursday!!

We had no idea we might wait this long for an autumn opportunity to leave. We knew weather windows are harder to find this time of year ... but this?

So ... we wait. And we try to adjust our thinking and balance and equilibrium. When I told Jim this morning that I'm feeling the mixed emotions of fear and sick-at-heart, he said that is exactly what he is feeling too. The fear is from the idea of going out there and trying to push our limits a little and be more adventurous sailors - of becoming able to say, "You should have see the storm we went through!!" - of managing 25 to 30 knots with gusts to 35 and 2-3 meter waves. Madcap is the kind of boat that can do that. But are we the kind of sailors who can go knowingly into that situation? What is our limit? We have sailed in 20 knots and 2 meter waves. How much is too much? And how do we find that out except by testing ourselves? We wouldn't try going straight over to the US in that, but could we move on a little bit? - perhaps find anchorages a little further on or go around to Yarmouth and break up the trip? Add in the tidal component of Bay of Fundy/Gulf of Maine (highest tides in the world) and the combination of high winds and opposing current and the whole thing becomes even less enticing. If we keep waiting for a good weather window, will we still be here when the snow starts to fall? Our stomachs are in knots.

The sick-at-heart feeling is from hanging around home. Yes, it is warm and cosy and there are things to do here. But our deal with Mary Beth and our other housemate, Denise, was that we would be away from Oct to May and the house would be theirs. We are feeling a little like squatters. Weird - and having absolutely nothing to do with anything they have said. It's just that we are not supposed to be here now! Our things are on the boat and we are mentally there, (but physically here because let's face it - it is a whole lot more comfortable in a house than on a boat when the temperature drops to the single digits at night!)

As I ironed shirts this morning, I was trying to pay attention to these emotions and reformat them. We checked in with cousin Russell - our personal weather guru and information supplier. He agreed that this is not good weather to go sailing. Our friend Mary (s/v Strathspey) gave me the name of a boat at RNSYS that is waiting to travel Halifax to Shelburne to Newport (s/v Nelleke). When I looked up their blog, I discovered they are planning to leave Shelburne on Oct 17th and don't seem worried about it being too late. So maybe there is time yet.

Maybe taking a step back from this and not pushing ourselves into something we are not comfortable with does not mean we are wusses. Maybe we will make it out on Thursday (the next possible opening) and Jim can quit his extrapolated thinking that each delay means we will never leave Nova Scotia. Maybe spending Canadian Thanksgiving in Canada means we can pay attention to things for which we are thankful: a good solid mooring ball at Shelburne Yacht Club, a reasonably accurate weather reporting system (even if the reports are for cruddy weather), the chance to spend more time with friends and family (even though we know they are muttering, "We thought you'd be gone by now!) The picture above shows our three "kids" and Jim at the Halifax Farmers Market.

The current plan (noon on Saturday) is to drive down to Shelburne today and move back on the boat for some of the time. We'll spend the next few days waiting and watching and puttering and fretting and deep breathing and talking with our fellow cruisers and trying not to throw things at each other or at the marine radio! And we'd better unclench our teeth and untie the stomach knots so we can eat a fine turkey dinner too!

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Mother nature is Still in Charge
Beth / windy
05/10/2009/1:11 pm, Shelburne, NS

It was warmer Saturday morning as we motored out the western channel to head south again. Speaking of heading south - from here we are going almost due West in order to get to the southern tip of Nova Scotia and across the Gulf of Maine.

We made much better time - still motoring but not fighting wind and current as much. The boat that had been anchored with us in Port Mouton turned into Shelburne but we kept going as we debated our course of action and the weather reports. The window for crossing the Gulf was nonexistent so we abandoned our previous idea of continuing on across to beat the coming winds. Instead, we opted to tuck in behind Cape Negro Island in the hope that we would be well enough protected for the night, and would be in position to continue if Sunday looked better. The difficulty is that West winds are forecast for the next several days and those are not good winds for us.

Once the decision was made to stop, we turned off the engine and leisurely sailed along at 3.5 knots. It felt good. We were adjusting our plans to suit the forecast, and we were travelling as a sailboat is meant to travel. Just before 4 p.m. we dropped the anchor, switched on the radio to catch the updated marine weather and decided we needed to change our plans once again. We were too exposed for 25 knot SE winds, and if the weather continued as forecast, there would be no chance of getting out the next day. So... the anchor came up again and we turned back to Shelburne. (This is the first time we have ever actually turned back anywhere, I think.) It took just over an hour to retrace our path to the entrance to Shelburne Harbour and more than that to reach the mooring field at Shelburne yacht Club. It didn't feel so good any more, but by 7 p.m. we were secured for the second time.

I had put a pork tenderloin with vegetables and maple-mustard marinade into the oven as we travelled so we were able to eat as soon as we got settled. I brought a couple of Nova Scotian Crystal wine glasses with us this trip so we enjoyed box wine in elegant goblets in a lovely harbour - even if it was not where we really wanted to be.

I woke up at 2:49 on Sunday morning to an absolutely still boat - no rain or wind - and thought, "Drat! The forecast was wrong!" but by 4am, the wind was moaning in the rigging and we had a gentle rock happening. We were very happy to have made the move because the rest of the day was miserable. It rained off and on, the wind gusted up to 20 knots and we could feel Madcap tugging on her mooring lines. We read, did boat chores, stowed all the things that we had just tossed onboard and whiled away the day.

On Monday morning, we were still making power as the wind generator twirled around. (It' s a KISS and the blades make hardly any noise, but there is a vibration in the pole that we have to get rid of - rattle rattle moan moan!) The sun came out and it is a perfectly lovely day. We dinghied ashore and met folks on Nauti Rowdy, and Petite Ourse who are also waiting to cross. That is the lovely thing about passages - there are always other folks doing the same thing. A conversation with Rick at the Yacht Club yielded lots of information on southern destinations, as well as shared stories of encountering US Border Protection rules and regulations.

The trouble is that the forecast is still nasty: W up to 25 today and tomorrow, then SE which is OK but up to 35 knots which isn't. At the moment, Friday looks like NW20 diminishing to light. That's great if it doesn't change again while we are out there in the Gulf.

Rather than wait here, we called Mary Beth this morning to see if she'd come pick up her parents and take us home again for a few days. Sweet girl that she is, she agreed even though I'm sure she thought she was rid of us for a few months. It's less than 3 hours to get back to our cosy house in Halifax so we'll take ourselves and our dirty laundry back there until the weather looks better. Good thing we are flexible!

The picture above is of our mooring field at South Shore Marine at dawn on departure day. What is that saying about red sky in the morning??

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05/10/2009/2:36 pm | Nancy Montgomery
Just discovered your blog for the first time. You capture the cruising life as we know it very, very well. So picture us being the ones at home, glad to enjoy a glimpse of being "out there" through your eyes.
05/10/2009/4:49 pm | Nancy Aadland
After a summer as CLODS, we are getting so anxious to be back on board. It's wonderful to have friends who have already started the cruising season. You are getting us back into the spirit again. Can't WAIT to see you down the waterway.
06/10/2009/11:16 am | Jeannie Lea
We are joining Seabird in being the armchair cruisers this winter so keep those blog postings coming
The Estelle crew
06/10/2009/12:25 pm | Karen
The weather has to improve for you eventually! We're all looking forward to you being safely on your way. Bon voyage - we'll be following your journey.
07/10/2009/5:02 pm | Mireille Masse
Better safe then sorry. I think you made the right decision and I wish you fair winds for your next leg of your voyage. Bon voyage my friends!
Off on Another Adventure
Beth / hat and glove weather
02/10/2009/1:02 pm, Carter's Beach, Port Mouton, Nova Scotia

We are off again!!

After a summer filled with land based activities, we finally dropped our mooring lines at South Shore Marine and turned our bow south. Our intention had been to leave on Thursday, but in true retirement fashion, when we were madly racing around to be ready, we looked at each other, said, "Why are we doing this?" took some deep breaths and postponed our departure for a day. Mary Beth delivered us to the dock on Thursday evening; we got a good sleep and left on Friday morning with the intention of getting as far as we could - maybe Shelburne, maybe further. The skies were grey and the air crisp - 8 degrees C when we woke up. Our departure was very low key - unlike when we left Trident Yacht Club in Ontario two years ago.

First lesson from Mother Nature: The seas are not always with us. We bucked along against the wind and current for 10 hours or so and, once again, said, "Why are we doing this?" We were watching the fishing fleet leave Port Mouton and were nearing the entrance to the lovely little anchorage at Carter's Beach so we headed in there.
We have our cockpit enclosure up, and are still well wrapped up in layers of clothes complete with hats and gloves. These guys are out there in open boats, wearing shirts and coveralls. Makes me think of them and send a little "Thank you" when I eat my fish!

We lit our propane fireplace to warm up the cabin, dined on chili and fresh rolls followed by a couple of bites of chocolate, and then crawled under our down comforter for a quiet night.

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