08/27/2013, Newport, RI
Here we are back in Newport for a quick visit overnight (ran out of Gran Marnier so had to "re-provision"!) as we slowly work our way back to the Chesapeake. The u-grib files and Chris Parker indicate that we have a good weather window with light air and minimal seas from Wed. afternoon through Sat. so we'll take advantage of it for the overnight passage from Block Island to Cape May. Although it's raining quite heavily at the moment, it should clear by noon for us to get to Block Island this afternoon.
We both have mixed feelings about heading home. While we're both looking forward to reconnecting with friends and family, we're sad to see this adventure drawing to a close. Time to start thinking about the next one...maybe next summer after Sarah and Brian's wedding. Although we originally thought about heading to the Caribbean with the Salty Dawg Rally this coming Nov., we decided to reacquaint ourselves with our skis and take a fee ski vacations this winter while our legs are still up to the challenge. Tahoe here we come!
08/25/2013, Brewer Greenwich Bay Marina South
My, how time flies when you're having fun! Sorry so much time has passed since the last entry, but updating the blog was difficult with poor internet access and low on my list of priorities. Too many fun distractions!
We finally had a decent weather window on August 16th to depart Shelburne Harbour, NS and sadly say our last goodbyes, with hopes of returning one day to one of our most favorite places in the world. We dropped the mooring line at the crack of dawn, even though, in Chris Parker's opinion (the weather guru whose services we've come to depend on for many smooth passages), waiting one more day would have been prudent. Our goal was to be in Newport, RI by Monday, August 18th, in time to meet our daughter Sarah at the airport. Fortunately, the passage was uneventful. With the expected 15 kt winds out of the SW and on the nose, the beginning of the passage with 3-5 ft seas wasn't exactly pleasant. However, as the winds calmed, so did the seas and the remainder of the passage to Provincetown, MA was rather boring...just how we like it! We arrived in Provincetown late in the day on Saturday with hopes of clearing in through Customs by phone, but, alas, no luck. So, up went the Q-flag, we picked up a mooring, and were unable to leave the boat until we cleared Customs. We later learned that Chris, Ingo's son, and the grandchildren, were in Provincetown--too bad, we just missed them by a day.
Passage from Shelburne to Newport:
Sunday proved to be a lovely day to cross the Cape Cod Bay and transit the CC Canal. Luckily the Cape Cod Challenge occurred the previous day...over a hundred paddle boarders crossing the Bay from Plymouth to Wellfleet (~20 miles). Now that would have been a sight, but I'm sure that boat wake would not have been unwelcomed! Canal transit was timed perfectly with a good 4 knots of current going with us. But just our luck, the railroad bridge was in the down position, so, for a bout 10 minutes, we had to turn around into the current to wait for the bridge to go up. We were then on our way and got flushed down Buzzard's Bay, arriving in Newport in the late afternoon, with time to fuel, clear Customs (very easy place to tie up in Perrotti Park for Customs to board), get a mooring, and still have time to have a nice dinner at Moorings.
A word or two about re-entering the US and clearing Customs. Although we had registered with US Customs and Border Protection using the Local Boaters Option, we came to find that the system in Port Canaveral where we had originally registered, didn't talk to other regional systems. Customs has since upgraded the system to standardize the individual regional processes, but our boater registration number was outdated and wouldn't let us into the new system to register a float plan. If you register a float plan, theoretically you should be able to report into the country by phone and avoid having to have a Customs official come to the boat for an inspection. So, Jeri then proceeded to spend several hours on the computer and on the phone with Customs officials in Florida (who were extremely courteous and helpful) to update our boaters registration information. Success! We're now in the system, so the next time we re-enter the US, we should be able to report in by phone if we file a float plan in advance. Hope we get a chance to try it out, i.e., have the opportunity to take Ladyhawke out of the country again. The downside is that all crew members must be entered into the system too, which involves an in-person interview at a designated Customs office. It looks like the closest one to our area is in Norfolk, VA. Sigh...so much for making the system user-friendly!!!
Tragedy at The Shack, Jamestown, RI:
The next day, Monday, we spent running errands with a rental car (Jeri's Kindle encountered an agonizing death on the passage, so we had to get a new one...Jeri went into serious withdrawal), and then on to the airport to pick up Sarah. As we crossed the bridge to Jamestown, stomachs grumbled indicating lunch time approached so we made a detour to our favorite "restaurant" for the best lobster roll in all of New England. Oh no! The Shack was still there--a little building on the waterfront in Dutch Harbor with picnic tables outside-- but new management and NO LOBSTER ROLLS! Jeri was devastated to say the least. (Coincidentally, the new owner is Tallulah's on Thames from Newport, but no relation to Tallulah's Table in Kennett.) However, all was not lost. They make the most wonderful, flavorful lobster tacos...a new twist on the lobster roll theme! We left smiling and sated!
Back to Nantucket:
Sarah's desire was to return to Nantucket for a few days, so off we went the next day, back to The Gray Lady. What a beautiful island in the sunshine, unlike the first visit early in the trip where the island lived up to it's name! We spent several lovely days together, enjoying some girl stuff like shopping in the unusual little shops. Sarah even designed/formulated her own perfume scent in the perfumery shop. Very fun! We enjoyed a 12 mi. bike ride to Madeket, several wonderful meals and, of course, the quintessential ice cream stop at the Juice Bar! It's ranks high on our list of favorite homemade ice cream shops, along with Cows from PEI.
We sadly departed Nantucket after two days in order to get Sarah back to the airport for her Sun. morning flight. Unlike the previous sail across Nantucket Sound, this one was quite rugged...20-25 Kts with 3-5 ft seas for several hours. However, we arrived safely in Hadley Harbor that afternoon and spend a peaceful night at anchor, including a great dinner, if I say so myself! Saturday took us to Greenwich, RI and a slip at the Brewer Marina South so Sarah could catch a cab to the airport the next day. We sadly said good-bye and started thinking about the return trip to the Chesapeake.
08/13/2013, Shelburne, NS
Back again in one of our favorite spots in all of Nova Scotia...Shelburne! And I just made dinner reservations at Charlotte Lane Café for this evening, our favorite restaurant. Can't wait!
So, here we are, the rain and fog are back and we're waiting for a good weather window to head first to Provincetown where we plan to get some rest after an overnight passage. Hopefully we'll be able to check in with Customs by phone from P-town, but if not, no worries since we don't plan on leaving the boat and will then head to Newport where we can definitely check in. For now, Thu through Sat appears to be the best opportunity to cross the Gulf of Maine and Cape Cod Bay. Keep your fingers crossed!
The passage from Baddeck has been thoroughly enjoyable. For the most part, good weather...sunny and in the mid-70s during the day with low humidity, 60's at night for great sleeping. The first day, after passing through St. Peter's Canal, we hoped to get to Port Howe, but turned around and spent the night back in D'Esscousse since the seas were quite lumpy and with wind on the nose. It was nice to see the harbor in sunshine this time! Since we didn't have to rush, we spent several nights in lovely anchorages along the way to Halifax, such as Horse's Head Cove in Beaver Harbour, a beautiful, snug cove surrounded by a breakwater and forested shores. In Halifax, we were able to do some chores and arrange for some canvas repair work (needed to replace a zipper in the side plastics that surround the cockpit...essential equipment to stay warm and dry when heading into the southwest winds which are on the nose, all the way back to Provincetown.) Since we had to rent a car for a day, we enjoyed a fun tour of the Alexander Keith's Brewery, followed by a lovely dinner downtown. So glad we opted to stay at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron instead of tying up downtown. We checked out the boats that did so, and saw just how rocky-rolley the floating docks were. Very uncomfortable!
Sadly, we said goodbye to Halifax and the RNSYS, left at dawn and motor-sailed to Lunenburg where we dropped the anchor for the night. Since early mornings before the winds picked up in the afternoon were the best time to move, we again hauled the anchor at dawn, and headed west, hoping to make it to Shelburne. The weather prediction was correct...light air in the morning, filling in to 15-20 knts in the afternoon out of the southwest. UGH! Although we could have bailed out, we decided to push on and endure a few not-so-pleasant hours to get to Shelburne. Glad we did, since we can now relax and rest before the next leg of the journey home.
My, how time flies when you're having fun! Here it is August 6th already and we've begun the long trek home. We dropped the mooring lines this morning, leaving Baddeck after a lovely stay and were greeted with a beautiful double rainbow over the town as we looked off the stern. Just gorgeous! Yesterday was spent doing laundry, picking up a few provisions for the journey, returning the rental car and enjoying our last lunch in town at the Bell Buoy. Great lobster sandwiches!
Today we enjoyed a brisk sail down the Bra D'Or Lakes, and passed through the St. Peter's Canal locks, with the hope of continuing on for another 25 miles. However, the weather and seas didn't cooperate--the winds built to ~20 kts on the nose with seas predicted to be 6 feet, so we bailed out, turned around and headed back to the lovely D'Escousse (means Scotland in French) where we had anchored previously. Since it was a short day, Ingo had some time to diagnose the failed pump on the watermaker, which decided not to work earlier in the day. After a brief conversation with a technical rep from Spectra, he was able to rewire the pump and voila! It's working! My hero!
Impressions of PEI:
We would return in a heartbeat! What a beautiful island--very relaxed way of life and very friendly people. The economy centers around agriculture, fishing and the services associated with tourism, at least in the summer. (From what we heard, winters are not so great unless you love snow up second floor windows!) We stayed for five nights at a B&B called Fitzroy Hall which was built in 1872 in Charlottetown, the provincial capital and perfect location since it is centrally located. From there were we able to take several drives around the island:
Day 1 - Drove to the north coast to St. Peter's Bay where we stopped at Red Head Harbor and learned about mussel aquaculture from some friendly fishermen on the dock, and then spent the afternoon at the Greenwich National Park to see the unique parabolic sand dunes and beach. To get there, the three-mile walk took us through woodlands, across wetlands on a floating walk-way, and up the beach to view the dunes. The weather could not have been more perfect and the views phenomenal. And, to end a perfect day, we stopped for the quintessential PEI dinner, a lobster supper in New Glasgow. Lobster suppers originated as a fund-raiser put on by the ladies of the church. However, they have evolved into a more commercial operation, but retain the "church hall" feel with seating at long tables in a hall-like atmosphere. Of course, all you can eat of seafood chowder, mussels, salads and dessert, but only one lobster. By far, the best lobster on the whole trip!
Day 2 - Drove to the west coast, with a stop at Summerside, the second largest "city" on PEI to check out the Silver Fox Yacht and Curling Club. Yes, yacht and curling club--good combination of summer and winter activities! The rest of the day included a lot of driving with little reward, with the exception of a visit to the Acadian Museum in Mecouche. Very well done! It was interesting driving around the area seeing so many Acadian flags in front yards. Clearly, the Acadians are proud of their heritage and are working hard to preserve their culture. We ended the day with another dose of Acadian culture by seeing Evangeline, a musical play performed at the Confederation Center for the Arts as part of the Charlottetown Festival. Magnificent, powerful performance and portrayal of Longfellow's epic poem of the same name.
Day 3 - Drove to the east coast to visit to Souris where the ferry departs for Isle de la Madeleine and the beach at Basin Head, but did not experience the "singing sands." Apparently, if you drag your feet through the sand, it makes a squeaky "singing" sound. After exploring some of the small towns along the coast and the beautiful river views, we ended the day with a lovely dinner at the Inn at Bay Fortune.
Day 4 - Spent the day walking around Charlottetown, including a visit to Founders Hall and an historical walking tour led by a young lady in period costume from 1764, the year that the Confederation Conference took place in Charlottetown. As she explained, this was the conference where the idea of a Canadian Confederation was conceived, but birthed at a later date during another conference several years later. We ended the day by seeing another play called Dear Johnnie Deere, another well-done musical with great foot-stompin' music and excellent performances. Very fun!
Almost forgot to mention another PEI icon...COW'S ice cream! OMG, it's right up there with Ben & Jerry's, with flavors like Wowie Cowie and Gooey Mooey!
Day 5 - Drove back to Baddeck, including a trip on the Northumberland Ferry (instead of crossing the Confederation Bridge as we did to get to PEI). Long drive but nice picnic lunch in Port Hawkesbury along the Canso Straits.
What a wonderful decision to get off the boat for a while and take a land cruise! [While the scenery is lovely and people encounters delightful, Jeri thinks the best part is being able to take a long, hot shower without worrying about water limitations on the boat! ;-) ]
First, we visited the Glenora Distillery for an afternoon trip to the west coast of Cape Breton. It's the only single malt distillery in Canada, and a fine product they make! One product is a single malt aged in French oak barrels and then finished by aging for a few months in ice wine barrels from Jost Vineyard. [A few days later we visited Jost Vineyard and discovered that they have a wine called Ortega that they finish aging in single malt barrels from Glenora. How's that for a symbiotic relationship!] After the Glenora tour and a lovely lunch in their pub with live Gaelic music, we went to the Broad Cove Concert, the 57th and apparently a well-known concert with performances by everyone who is anyone known in the area for their fiddling, bag piping, step dancing and Gaelic singing. A lovely way to spend a leisurely Sunday.
Monday, we sealed up the freezer and jumped in the rental car for the first leg of our journey to Prince Edward Island. After researching the Northumberland coast, we chose the Tatmagouche area as a good stopping point, so we could visit Jost Vineyards the next day. What a pleasant surprise! We stayed overnight in a converted train car at The Train Station B&B, which consists of the renovated Tatamgouche train station and about 10 converted cars, including a dining car with a first-rate restaurant and lounge car. The owner purchased the station when he was 18 because he wanted it preserved and not destroyed. Our car had a sitting area with sofa bed and separate bedroom, divided by the elevated conductor cupola where he would sit to see train signals.
More later...off for the day exploring more of PEI...
UGH! Another day of rain, but thank goodness for a well provisioned boat, music, good books, internet, heat pump to keep things dry, good company, and a lovely home-made lunch. With any luck, the rain will pause in time for an ice cream run to shore! With internet and cell phones, we were able to make a mooring reservation at Baddeck Marine, rent a car and reserve lodging on PEI for next week. Can't wait!