When I woke up this morning, at 5:15AM, I had something on my mind. Mostly the fact that we are going home. We'd had another long night of heavy rain, thunder and lightning. All this weather, presumably warm air coming over the cool sea brings Maine's famous fogs. We are homeward bound so lots to remember, getting the boat ready for Ian and Fiona who arrive shortly to sail around for the month we are gone.
Anyway, the taxi was waiting, blowing his horn and in the early morning rain we started our long trip home. Trains and boats and planes with the odd dinghy ride and bus chucked in will get us to sunny Cardiff.
Maine, so far has been interesting. Rumour has it that before July there is a likelihood of fog. However, reality is that "likelihood" is actually a dead cert as evening and morning it's like living in a box, a giant Tupperware box or indeed, in Newcastle where I hear they often have fog on the Tyne.
The fog is so dense we have to take bearings on the dock or boat when going to and fro. Or indeed, back and furrit. With a strong tide of up to three or four knots running through the anchorage we need some accurate tidal offset planning to get us to the right place. Otherwise, you might just drift away.
You also have to be sure to climb onto the right boat. Island Packet must have had some very good years. Of the 15 or so boats moored here, 4 are IP's and there are two more on the slips.
So, transported here to Boston's Logan airport we are in the "all dressed up and nowhere to go" phase of international travel. Gone are the days of company sponsored luxurious lounges, free booze and lay flat seats. A Big Mac and a flavourless coffee are the order of the day while sitting on hard plastic seats with the masses prior to boarding cattle class for 8 hours with your knees up your nose while watching grainy movies on a screen the size of the cardboard sandwich they just chucked you.
Anne is off wandering, splashing money around at the various booths peddling manicures, re-vitalised skin tone and double chocolate muffins.
Only another 23 hours to go................
Prize to readers who spot and name the songs and their artistes! (Can you tell I'm a shade bored?)
That was and maybe still is the name of one of our kids favourite Disney rides when they were just wee.
Small Point is the name of the harbour we winkled our way into night before last, courtesy of OCC member John Chandler. Tight entry? Probably the tightest we've ever done. Got the heart rate up following John's wake apparently threading our way between sand banks that went from 2 meteres to 2 inches in 2 feet.
Past the banks we made our way up the sea loch to a pool outside John's house where we spent a beautifully quiet and sheltered night.
In the morning, John arrived with reinforcements to help us backtrack through the bar and on our way to Robinhood Marina and mooring field a few miles up the Kennebec River ahere we arrived at slack water. Its quite clerar we are farther north as the tides are now something to be reckoned with and passage planning and timing are critical. So much work!
We are ashore at Robinhood for a final lunch before we depart tomorrow. Once again, a family of Ospreys is outside the restaurant window. Mum is flying around the nest while the two chicks look on, quite uninterested at the propspect of flight, let alone fending for themselves.
For the last two nights we have had the full thunder and lightning shoiw complete with downpour. This morning, it was a complete white out in thick fog. This is a feature of this area right through until end July, or so the say. Other than that, a very scenic area. Maine is 95% tree covered and the smell of pine wafts across the water. With its 700+ islands its like a giant Loch Lomond.
We really thought the Portuguese had it nailed when it comes to laying lobster pots but compared to the New Englanders, they're amateurs.
Not content with having pot floats littering the sea they seem to have this theory that the best fishing is in the channels or around turning points. Up 10. Back 10. Up 20. Back 20.... until in the end you give up weaving around like Mutley in a high speed chase and just close your eyes and bash on through trusting to a long keel and a rope cutter.
All that dodging got us to Gloucester. Or Glow (as in "ow" that really hurt) Sester which is how the locals pronounce it.
Planning to only anchor off, sleep and leave we settled down for a movie night on the cockpit.
Twenty minutes later....."Hi, just thought I'd say hello. Lovely boat".
"Thank you" we replied and having noticed an accent commented that the owner of the voice was from out of town etc. etc....
"From Northern Ireland, 45 years ago" etc... etc...
"But we lived all our working life outside Boston in a place called.....Wayland. (Our home for four years).
"I've sailed a bit around the west coast of Scotland" etc... etc...
"I sail with a friend that lives in a small village called..." Yes, you guessed, our home town, Bridge of Allan.
So, for the first time in a while Pat and Huw's Bushmills was looked out and we talked until Roy finally gave in and invited us ashore for breakfast!
We retired to bed to be woken around midnight by a phone call from an extremely well composed son-in-law, Barry to tell us that baby Matthew had just arrived in Cardiff to join his wee cousin Freya in the growing grand childrens little league.
Double GP's in the space of a few months. All well etc... etc... GP's delighted.
And so, after a night of light sleep (Anne jumping around) we took up our invite to brekkie.
Roy snd Shelagh live smack on the waterfront in a beautiful, period gatehouse from an 1888 project to recreate Newport's "cottage" society in Gloucester.
Joining us for breakfast was their friend Colin who had driven all the way from Wayland to say hello to some fellow Scotsmen and see if we knew of any of his west coast and BofA friends (John Knox, Sandy Miller in Westerton Avenue)
Roy and Shelagh gave us a tour around the town and up to Rockport. Both old favourite haunts of ours.
We finally parted about 2pm and headed off to catch the breeze to whistle us further north bound for Isle of Shoals or maybe Portsmouth.
If you ever caught Hector on Real Radio (and if you didn't its well worth a YouTube) you will know of his exploits to deliver "twa ton o' haddock".
Well, the happy fisherman in Scituate will have been ecstatic yesterday when he delivered this 700lb tuna to the dock.
They say there's an obesity epidemic in the USA. Well, after this mornings breakfast in downtown Boston I can understand why.
To start: strawberries on a bed of chocolate and yogurt with nuts and fresh berries.
Next's: Two 1" thick slices of French toast dusted with cinnamon with, Anne - bananas, chocolate and maple syrup. Stuart - same two thick doorsteps of French toast with blueberries, cream and maple syrup. All with enough coffee to float yer boat.
Right now, 21:00 on Sunday, after three long blasts the Queen Mary inches her way out backwards from her berth half a mile away en route for New York. Last time we saw her we were in Alesund Norway two years ago.
Escorted by at least seven police RIB's, a bit worryingly she is reversing towards us presumably to give the guests a closer view of the nighttime Boston skyline and the fireworks that are meant to be appearing shortly.
The cops are chasing off the muppets who roar around the harbour in the pitch black in their powerboats. We just heard one being told to clear off as, they "are entering an exclusion zone". That and, cruising into the unlit fireworks barge which might be more of an issue. "Cap. You are entering a security zone. Turnaround now. No. Do a 180".
Meanwhile, the band plays on!
Hopefully the QM will miss us and the fireworks miss the Virgin Airways flight that Julian is on, about to take off overhead. (Poor Julian. Back to London for a weeks work!)
........what a fireworks display! Just brilliant, lighting up the bay, reflecting light and sound of the skyscrapers. We were going to leave today. Glad we stuck around. Funny thing is, we are so close, perhaps within 200 yards of the fireworks barge and half a mile of the QM, we and Time Bandit are going to be in the background of a thousand photos.
Meanwhile, as she sounds her horns again and slowly pulls away we have another truly weird Boston Harbour experience. One we've had for a couple of nights now.
Somewhere far beneath us the "T", Boston's underground railway, passes, taking its passengers across, or under the bay. We clearly hear the rattles and the vibration seems to gently shake the boat. It's a seriously strange feeling having an underground train pass beneath you as you lie in bed 200 yards offshore. Its like having Led Zep playing Whole Lotta Love. The clickety clack starts in your left ear, goes across your shoulders through your head and out your right ear. All under the boat. Weird and a bit spooky.
Also, the mooring field is just off the end of the Marriot Long Wharf hotel. Beside that is the tour boat dock and from about 07:00 to 23:00 or midnight the tour boats come and go. It can be a bit off putting to climb into the cockpit, eyes screwed up and blinded by the early morning sun to find 500 tourists looking down on you dressed only in your best "Y"'s giving a fine impression of Spike in that scene from Notting Hill.
We've had just a couple of days here as we dash north. Just enough to familiarise ourselves with our old haunts and some new experiences. One of these was a quick haircut in a very traditional barbers complete with old leather chairs, cut throat razors and giant bushy shaving brushes you could hide in.
I always thought Boston was a great city. Now, with the removal of the aerial motorway through its heart its just stunning. Better than New York in my opinion.
Anyway, time to head north for Maine and its frozen wastes.
Long long ago, in a land far far away, when we lived in Boston I'd
hop on my rice rocket (Honda VFR 800 motorbike - mid life crisis thing) and take a tide to the seaside town of Scituate just south and east of Boston.
The "guitar man" in the harbour grill played away while I had my Coke and burger. One of his best covers was Sting's Fields of Gold.
When we arrived just outside Scituate harbour Fields comes on the radio. How spooky is that!
Anyway, we had a good run up from the previous seaside town of Onset on the south shores of Massachusetts. Another 360* sheltered bay just off the western end of the Cape Cod Canal.
The 3-5 knot current through the canal fired us out into the bay and we had a cracking 20 mile reach in flat water all the way up to Scituate. It was misty most of the way but the cool air finally gave way to warm gusts, like a hair dryer, as we closed the shore.
My old Avery colleague Jeff lives in Scituate and was on hand to take us to gate crash his daughter's 16th birthday party. Steak tips, BBQ chicken, corn and ice cream gateau. Nice way to renew an old friendship and end the day.
Its been interesting over the last month to see familiar boats.
Cruisers who we last saw in the Caribbean are appearing in bays and marinas as they finish their "Snowbird" annual migration from east coast USA to the winter sunshine of the islands.
It reminded me of our own migration from Oban to Largs. Much the same but smaller distance and even smaller temperature difference.
Sad thing is that no sooner have we got here than the clock is ticking and, within the next 8 weeks we have to start heading back south.
You've no idea of the pressure we're under😎. Relentless. Just like the sunshine!
No, not just because I've been left on the boat on own for a couple of hours....it really is Independence Day, here in Bristol Rhode Island.
The parade here is the longest running in the USA and you can hear the bands practicing before kick off in about an hour.
I've hung back because Time Bandit's previous owners are about to arrive for a trip down memory lane.
Bristol is the last stop on our Ocean Cruising Club Southern New England Cruise. We've dined in fancy yacht clubs. Had the luxury of leaving the dinghy on the davits while Americas version of Jimmy the Boatman takes us ashore in the posh launch. Partied in peoples homes and on cruisers decks.
All whole seeing a great selection of New England's southern shores, rivers and Islands.
Great cruising grounds offering sheltered waters, good winds and mostly sunshine. Among those, the most memorable have been Cuttyhunk. 360* protection in a lagoon with quiet sleepy old fishing town feel. Mystic; up the misty calm river meandering through the fields and millionaires' gardens to the on river working museum. Ospreys flying around in Edgartown and the acapela of Vineyard Sound and Julian's OCC rag.
Tomorrow, after a visit to the Herreshof museum here we resume heading north for Boston for a reprise and Maine for lobster.
Some woffle from a few days on our Ocean Cruising Club cruise.
A glassy flat calm here in Edgartown this morning. The town is maybe the capital of Martha's Vineyard, a bustling tourist town of 2,500 year round residents swelling to ten times that number in summer.
The real weather is putting up a good fight against the dismal forecast and right now, blue skies are winning.
Meanwhile, whoosh...... there goes another one. Another Osprey, this time clutching a freshly caught fish on its claw.
It lands 100 yards away on its penthouse erie at the edge of the sandy beach on Chapaquidick, off Martha's Vineyard. We can watch mum feeding the chick through the binoculars. When you come from an are where Ospreys are protected and few and far between it seems odd to watch the fly around, common as seagulls back home. It it were Oban they'd be swooping down to grab a fish supper.
Annie and Fred, OCC members living in Edgartwon hosted a stunning BBQ for all us cruisers including a performance by acapela group the Vineyard Sound. Check it out on YouTube. (did you know that in bygone days pirates used to sing aaarcapela?)
Monday was the big day. Our passage from Marthas to Marion via the notorious, tide ripped and rock strewn passage through Woods Hole in the Elizabeth Islands. We were told td theres one guy who mKes his living solely from pulling people and wrecks off the rocks. 😟
Off we boldly set in making good time in sun and 20 knots only to find the notorious passage 2 or 3 times wider than Cuin Sound. Now that's a scary passage.
Later...... (Monday evening, Beverley Yacht Club, Marion MA)
We felt we couldn't be in the home of the movie, Jaws and not go and see the 40th anniversary showing. It's worn well and every single one of us jumped out our skins at all the right moments.
Martha's Vineyard is very nice but we tore ourselves away at 11:00 for a quick passage via Woods Hole bound for Marion arriving late this afternoon.
We are now sat in the swanky yacht club awaiting the arrival of my creme brûlée.