Friday, August 26, 2016

We make it to Maine

We have been in Maine for a week now and this is the first time we have had a good enough internet connection to do an update.

We left Gloucester Thursday morning and headed out for points north.  We had two options: go around Cape Anne or take a canal that cuts through the cape.  We didn’t like the looks of the canal and the currents so we opted for the trip around the Cape.  Winds were again too light to sail so we motored all day to our next destination: Isle of Shoals.  Not a very appealing name but a nice group of islands.  We picked up a mooring and settled in for the night.  The moorings are privately owned or belong to several yacht clubs but are available if the owners are not there.  We watched several boats having to move when the owners showed up but there were enough for everyone.  We dropped the mooring early the next morning and headed off for our next stop.  Four hours into the trip, once again motoring, we made the decision to skip this stop and push on overnight for Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park.  Everything was going fine until the evening when the auto pilot decided to stop working.  It would not hold its course and had a heading locked into it and wanted to go that direction, the completely wrong direction.  Once again we had to spend the night hand steering, trying to hold a course with no points of reference other than the line on the chart plotter.  In the morning, Saturday, with Mt Desert in sight the pilot decided to work again.  We made the decision to pull into Southwest Harbor and pick up a mooring.  There are several anchorages in the area but all involve a long dinghy ride to shore and are deeper then I care to anchor, not to mention a 9-11 foot tide.

One of the advantages of being in the area is its public transportation.  They run a fleet of propane powered buses sponsored by LL Bean and rides are free.  We started out by dingying to the town dock and checking out the village of Southwest Harbor.  After a tour of the town and harbor we were back on the boat for the night.  We planned to see Bar Harbor and take an island tour on Sunday.  The morning dawned with everything deep in a fog bank.  We dinghied to the marina we were renting the mooring from for showers and then caught a bus to Bar Harbor.  It was still a little foggy but we decided to do the tour anyway.  The fog cleared as we moved inland but was thick over the water.  We only saw about half the tour and the top of Cadillac Mountain was completely fogged in.  It was still a good time because what scenery we saw was spectacular.  We also figured we didn’t miss much since we saw the offshore islands as we came in.

Monday morning dawned with rain showers until mid-morning.  Cori found a new leak on her side of the boat so we went to work dealing with it.  One of the handrails was leaking so we removed that part of the headliner, removed several screws, caulked the holes and reinstalled the handrail and headliner.  It hasn’t rained since so we are not sure if it is fixed or not.  Some people describe cruising as “repairing boats in exotic locations”.  Not sure if Maine counts as an exotic location but that was how we spent the morning.  In the afternoon we went ashore again and caught the #7 bus, going the wrong way so that we could see the entire route and the small communities it goes through.  After it deposited us in Bar Harbor we caught the #5 and rode it to Northeast Harbor to check out that harbor and back again to Bar Harbor.  We made it back just in time to catch the #3 which makes a loop along the coast then through the forest as it returns to Bar Harbor.  By now it was time to catch the #7 back to Southwest Harbor and out to the boat.  A fun day of sightseeing at no cost, every sailors dream.  (Sailors have a reputation for being cheap).

Tuesday morning it was time to drop the mooring and move on.  We wanted to check out Somes Sound.  This is classified as the only fiord on the North American coast and cuts almost all of the way through Mt Desert Island.  Of course the “experts” can’t leave anything alone and it has been downgraded to a fjard, sort of a mini fiord, similar to what they did to Pluto.  We chose to travel part of the way up the fiord to an anchorage and then take the dinghy to explore the rest.  It is beautiful with the granite cliffs rising from the water and everything covered in deep green pine trees.  We got several pictures of Hi Flite at anchor with the cliffs rising up behind her.  I will post them when I get a better Internet connection.

Wednesday we left the Sound and headed off to our next harbor, we had decided to go to a spot next to Opechee Island where the guide book says we would see harbor seals and bald eagles.  Every time we tried sailing the wind would die and we were back to motoring.  I haven’t mentioned the lobster pots yet but believe me they are everywhere.  I almost feel like a slalom skier working my way around them.  There was a small misunderstanding about what bay we were going to and we went well past the planned stop.  Time for plan B, we went up to Herrick Bay and dropped anchor between several lobster pots.  In the morning we were rocked by the wakes from the lobster boats checking their pots.  We took the dinghy around the other side of the island, about 5 miles, to the headquarters of “Wooden Boat” magazine.  We checked out their store and then walked over to their school and workshops to see several wooden boats under construction and repair.  There are a lot of their boats in the harbor, all fine examples of traditional wooden boats.  After another five mile trip we were back to the boat to relax.

In the morning we woke up when the lobstermen checked their pots again and after checking the weather we pulled the anchor and moved on.  We again tried to sail but again the winds would die as soon as we raised the sails.  After several attemts we resigned ourselves to motoring again.  This leg brought us up Eggemoggin Reach, which is beautiful; we turned into Penobscot Bay and moved up to Holbrook Island near Castine Harbor.  Holbrook Island and the area around it are part of a Nature preserve and reminds us of our time traveling around Lake Superior.  We picked up a mooring and dinghied over to the island to check out the trails.  After hiking several trails we were back the boat to relax again.

Tomorrow we plan to make a trip into town and then back out to check out more of the trails.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Gloucester Massachusetts

We have made it to Gloucester MA and are stopping for a couple of days to let a front go by.

We left Coinjock early Tuesday morning. We have four bridges and one lock to deal with between Coinjock and Norfolk and hitting them on time for openings is a problem. More of a problem this year then previous. The last bridge in Norfolk is having problems and instead of opening on demand they are opening only at 9:00 am, 12:00 noon, 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm. If you miss one opening you have to wait for the next. We wanted to make the 3:00 opening and that meant we had to hustle. Problems started at the first bridge. We were about ten minutes early and called to be clear for the next opening. This bridge opens on the hour and the half hour. We were on the hour. For some reason he didn't open on time, he was five minutes late. The next bridge down the line also opens on the hour and the half hour. Unfortunately, because we were held up at the first we missed the half hour opening. We had to sit in place and wait for the next opening. The next problem was at Great Bridge, the third in the chain. This bridge only opens on the hour. We were on schedule to be there on the hour until we got held up on the others. We had to sit and wait for the next opening. What should have taken an hour took two, making me nervous about making the 3:00 bridge. The good news: we still made the opening and were in Norfolk. We continued through Norfolk and made the turn into the Bay and motored out the Bay entrance turning north to Block Island just before nightfall.

We were out in the Atlantic and on our way. The wind and waves were behind us and we set sails, shut down the motor and continued through the night. Morning found more of the same, following winds and seas. During the night Thursday, the wind shifted to the SW from the SE. This caused problems with the sails switching from one side of the boat to another, a very dangerous event. We chose to drop the sails and start the engine. Two days and nights of sailing offshore, one of our best runs. We arrived at Block Island about noon on Friday. One week of travel and everything worked out perfectly.

We spent the night at anchor and left Saturday morning for the Elizabeth Islands, aiming for Cuttyhunk the first night. Since we had an early start and we were making good time motoring we continued on to Hadley Harbor. Hadley Harbor is one of our favorite stops. Our friends Lee and Cheryl from Martha's Vinyard called and said they would join us for the evening. We arrived, launched the dinghy and ran over to their boat for dinner and stories. In the morning we went back for coffee, bagels and more stories. Soon they had to leave and we spent the rest of day exploring the harbor in our dinghy and doing a bit of clamming and harvesting mussels. Fresh clams for dinner, nothing better. Sunday is a very busy day with the locals but by evening most were gone and it was another peaceful night. Another high point was meeting another couple on their Pearson 424. They are the original owners and it was great to see one of our boats that was still in almost original condition instead heavily modified by several owners.

Monday morning we took care of a few things waiting for noon to come so we could pull anchor and move on. We needed to wait until noon to leave so that the tide would be right when we got to the Cape Cod Canal. If you try to fight the tide instead of riding with it you can have a miserable trip. Riding with the tide we picked up an additional three knots of speed. We exited the canal around 4:00 pm and turned towards Gloucester. We had planned to just continue up to Maine but our weather service was warning about high winds Tuesday night and Wednesday. Thus our decision to stop at Gloucester. The winds were too light to sail so we motored, however this time we needed to go as slow as possible. We had 50 miles to go and could do that in about ten hours. This would put us into Gloucester about midnight. We do not enter strange harbors at night, therefore we needed to travel as slow as possible and arrive at sunrise. It got to be a long night with a bit of excitement when we ran over a lobster pot line and got it caught on our propeller. We were fortunate that it came off without having to go into the water to clear it. As we got closer the harbor it was obvious we were still too early and since there was no wind or waves we just stopped and floated for a couple of hours. In the morning Cori watched a great sunrise as the lobster boats headed out to check their pots. We then fired up the motor and in a couple of hours were inside the harbor and maneuvering into the inner harbor to pick up a mooring. But first we circled and photographed an outstanding example of a square rigged tall ship that was anchored in the outer harbor. Once tied up we launched the dinghy and went to town to pay for the mooring and check out the town. After lunch and aimlessly wandering up and down the streets we went back to the boat with a stop at Ginger Nut, one of the cruisers we met last winter in the Bahamas that is here also. We plan to see a little more of the town tomorrow, pick up some fresh fruit, milk and vegetables and continue North on Thursday.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The next adventure has begun!

After two months of being tied to a dock we are off again. The time was well spent. We completed some projects and did some traveling. Cori spent a month with her parents and family in South Dakota and I arrived later to spend a couple of weeks. We both were able to attend our family reunions and it was great to get reconnected with extended family.

We have been talking about traveling up to Maine this summer but are now at least a month behind but are going to try anyway. We got back to the boat last Tuesday (8/2/16), we kept checking the weather, made a couple of last minute provision runs, swapped out stuff from the storage unit and decided it was time. Saturday morning we untied the lines, maneuvered to the fuel dock to top off the fuel and headed out. We had plans to stop downriver for the night with friends before continuing on but with the weather they opted out so we decided to continue. All was well until the storm caught us. It was short-lived but intense: 30 knot plus winds, pouring rain and lightning all around. After it passed we changed to dry cloths and continued on until anchoring just before sunset. We were up first thing in the morning to make as much progress as we could and continued on. We are motoring since there is little chance of sailing while traveling the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW). We missed several storms but finally got hit after dropping the anchor. We planned on stopping at Coinjock NC for a night so we got a later start in the morning and quit when we arrived at the marina making it a short day. We need to stop at Coinjock for several reasons. There are no good places to anchor between Coinjock and Norfolk so we need to start early to make that leg in one jump. They also have the best prime rib in their restaurant I have ever had. I order the large serving and have enough left over for several more meals.

We also need to rush to Norfolk because the weather window will not be open for very long and we want to jump out and make it to Block Island in one leg. The weather is forecast to be favorable for the rest of the week and we want to take advantage of it. Therefore as soon as we got tied up in Coinjock we started getting the boat ready for an offshore trip. We are hoping to get to Norfolk early enough to just continue out of the Bay and shoot straight across. If that doesn't happen we have several places along the route that we can duck into.

The next report should be from somewhere in New England.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Hanging out in North Carolina

We have been hanging out at our old marina here in North Carolina getting projects taken care of and making plans.  The thing about plans is they are always changing.  More on that later.

Cori has been working hard, Dale not so much.  She has touched up the non-skid deck paint, waxed and polished the smooth deck surfaces and the hull, made new sail covers, chaps for the new dinghy and has made many more bags.  The biggest project was the chaps for the dinghy.  The sun is brutal on the dinghy, even more so as we move south.  The chaps cover the tubes and protect them from UV damage.

She has been making many more bags and they seem to be popular.  They are made from old sails and from some banners that were going to be thrown out.

We spent a Saturday morning at the Oriental Farmers Market with a table selling some bags.  She had a pretty good day.  Oriental is a small town across the river, not a place where they sell Oriental Farmers in case you were confused (a small attempt at humor).  Thanks Dan for the use of your car.

I have checked off several things that need to be completed but still have more to do.  The biggest is to seal the portholes from leaks.  They are showing their age and are developing leaks.  I have several done and am using them as a learning experience to find the best technique and materials.  As long as it doesn't rain it is not a high priority, when it rains it moves up the list until the rain stops and then it drops down the list again.

Now about plans.  We kept working over different scenarios of where we are going and when we are leaving.  We both have family reunions the last half of July and are planning to attend.  The problem is deciding where to be with the boat so that it can be secured while we are gone, and makeing our travel plans.  Cori came up with the idea this week that we just stay where we are and start our trip north when we get back in August.  It may mean we don't get as far north as we have planed but it made better sense.  The boat is secure, the dockmaster and others keep an eye out for things that may go wrong and travel is easy flying out of New Bern.  Small airports are easier to deal with then the big ones, the lines are shorter.  The latest plan is for Cori to fly out early (next Tuesday) to spend time with her family and then for me to fly out mid-month.  We have a list of things that need to be taken care of since that is our legal residence so we need to have time for that.  Then we will drive to Minnesota for my family reunion and spend some time with family before traveling back to South Dakota.  Once back In South Dakota we will join Cori's family at their reunion in Colorado.  Then it is back to Hi Flite and hope for good weather to start our trip north.

Check back in August to see how all of this has worked out.

And just for entertainment here is a picture of a butterfly:

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Waiting out Tropical Storm Colin at Ocracke

We are at the dock on Ocracoke Island waiting for tropical storm Colin to move on by.  It is raining and winds are gusting in the upper 20's.  This is our second tropical storm since we arrived.

We left Matthews Point Marina on Tuesday, May 31, with winds on the nose and 2 foot seas.  The plan was to go as far as Broad Creek and anchor for the night and continue on in the morning.  After a bumpy ride we dropped the anchor in the calm waters of the creek and settled in for the night.  By sunrise the mosquitoes had found us and we elected to pull anchor and move on.  By 6:30 am we were on our way.  The winds had dropped considerably and the seas were much calmer but it was still a motorboat ride.  Breaking the trip into two segments allows us to arrive at Ocracoke early.  We were able to get a spot on the park service dock and paid, using my senior discount (half off), for a week.  Just after we got tied up the rain came.  This was the remnants of tropical storm Bonnie that had been hanging out in the Carolina's for the last week.  Thursday was almost a complete rain-out.  The music festival was scheduled to start Friday and there was water everywhere, at least eight inches flooded the area of the main stage.

Friday morning dawned with partly cloudy skies but the rain had mostly moved on.  The festival crew did a great job of pumping the standing water and setting up for the event.  By noon when it started there was just some areas of mud that had to be avoided.  This is the first year that they had music on Friday and it seemed a big hit.  There were a lot more people then expected with the weather.  We took in the performances, especially by one of our favorite duos, Beleza.  They did not perform the previous year so it was good to see them again.  After the music we checked out some of the other activities and caught the music prior to the fundraising auction.  After the auction Madeline and Berto  of Beleza stopped by the boat for a visit.

After an overnight rain just to keep everything wet the festival continued and I started celebrating my birthday.  As far as I am concerned the entire festival is all about celebrating my birthday.  I was disappointed that I could not find another t-shirt pointing out how I am getting old but Cori found one for me with an acceptable sentiment.

We caught a lot of the music at the various venues going into the late night.  We finally made it home about 1:00 in the morning.  We were able to reconnect with many old and new friends, even some we had met over the winter while in the Bahamas.

Sundays highlight of the festival is the final all star jam that we would miss by leaving Sunday morning so we could be back to work on Monday.  Having solved that problem we are able to stay for the full festival.

Most of the boats left early on Sunday or Monday to be home before tropical storm Colin arrived.  The rain started mid afternoon on Monday and continued off and on through the night.  The main brunt of it arriving early Tuesday morning with winds in the upper 20's.  Our only problem was a fender moving out of position letting the rail hit against the dock post.  By pushing hard when the gusts let up we were able to get it back into place and retreat belowdeck.  Fortunately this storm is very fast moving and is moving offshore quickly with a much improved forecast for the rest of the week.

We will be leaving here on Wednesday and plan on spending another week at the marina to finish off some projects then begin out trip north.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

We closed the circle

We have closed the circle.  We are now tied up at Matthews Point Marina for a little R&R, projects and visiting.

We pulled out of our slip at Palm Coast Marina early on Monday, stopped at the fuel dock to fill up and started up the ICW.  We were able to catch the 12:30 bridge opening in St. Augustine, raised the mainsail  and headed out the inlet.  We had talked to our weather advisory earlier when we thought we might be leaving and he gave us a set of waypoints to ride the gulf stream.  We set our first waypoint and we were off.  The weather forecast was for light and variable winds all along the coast so we didn't expect to do much sailing.  The problem we ran into was the forecasts we were using were for near shore conditions and we were nowhere near shore, we were heading to the gulf stream.  What we ran into was light winds out of the northeast every day.  Not bad conditions although sometimes the seas would build then lie down again.  At one point we tried sailing but there just wasn't enough wind.  It was going to be a motor boat ride.

About an hour after leaving the inlet Cori caught her first fish, a real nice sized king mackerel.  After that she caught a couple of frigate mackerels and since they are not as good to eat they were thrown back.  We started our four hour shifts and motored along.  Once we hit the gulf stream our speed jumped from 6 knots to 11.  We were screaming along.  As we continued from waypoint to waypoint our speed would fluctuate from 7 to 10 knots.  This is why we wanted to get into the stream, we had 400 miles to go and wanted to make them as fast as we could.  Monday night was uneventful, only seeing a couple of ships, we continued on.

Tuesday was another day for fish.  It started out with Cori hooking the biggest Mahi we had ever caught.  She spent about twenty minutes fighting it to the side of the boat so I could hook it with the gaff.  After gaffing it I tried to get it onboard and it slipped off the gaff.  Fortunately it still had the hook in it's mouth so I gaffed it again and got it onboard.   Fish do not like being on a boat and get real frisky when you pull them up.  This one was frisky enough to not only slip off the gaff, but to throw the hook on it's way back into the ocean.  Pretty disappointing.  A little later another Mahi took the hook and the fight was on again.  This one was a little smaller and when he got alongside I hooked him with the gaff, but again he slipped off as I was bringing it aboard.  This time he also threw the hook and off he swam.  Mahi's 2, gaffer 0.  I was not the most popular person on the boat.  We reviewed my technique and decided what to do differently.  Later in the afternoon when Cori was off watch sleeping another fish took the bait.  I got her up and the fight was on again, another Mahi.  At the end of the battle and when it was alongside I hooked it with the gaff and instead of trying to bring it up on deck we moved it to the cockpit and pulled it in.  This time if it got off the gaff it would not go overboard.  I was not quite as large as the first but measured in at an amazing 48 inches, the largest Cori has caught and gotten onboard.

The rest of the evening was quiet with another awesome sunset and a quiet night,  We came across fewer ships out in the gulf stream then we do when staying closer to shore so it is easier to be on watch.  I spend my time listening to audio books and Cori listens to podcasts she downloaded.

Wednesday morning we altered our course from following the waypoints to steering a straight course for Beaufort Inlet, our final destination.  By changing tactics we would travel a bit shorter route but lose a little speed.  We dropped down to about 7 knots once we eventually got out of the stream.  It is amazing how much of a boost you get riding the gulf stream.  We wanted a shorter coarse because we were running low on fuel.  We had wanted to do some sailing but the winds would not cooperate so we had to motor along.  At this point we added the contents of one of our jerry jugs to the tank and continued.  As we got out of the gulf stream the winds also changed.  Here were the light and variables we had seen forecast.  It kept switching around but never enough to sail.  Later in the afternoon we added the second jerry jug to the tank, our last one.  We carry eighty gallons of diesel and two five-gallon jugs.  This was going to be close.  We estimated we would arrive around six in the evening and were wondering if the fuel docks would still be open.  At mile 398, just 7 miles from the inlet the engine shut down,  We were out of fuel, not dead in the water since we still had a sail up but now down to 2-3 knots.  We have towing insurance in case of an emergency and we gave Tow Boat US a call and requested fuel be brought out to us.  The delivery is covered by the insurance but the fuel is out of pocket, fifty bucks out of pocket, for ten gallons.  We sailed on until the boat delivered, restarted the engine and were off again.  We had sailed about 4 miles.  We came through the inlet with an incoming tide and motored to the spot we had chosen to anchor for the night.  We dropped anchor, relaxed for a bit and watched the sunset.

Wednesday morning came much too early.  In the form of rolling caused by boats heading out to fish.  They get an early start.  About 8:00 we pulled the anchor and headed to the Morehead Yacht Basin to take on fuel.  Once the tank and the jerry jugs were filled we headed out on the last leg of the trip, back up the ICW to the Neuse River.  Usually on the ICW we get passed a lot and there is a technique to not getting hit with big wakes but this time we only got passed once.  Almost a record.

Once into the Neuse we cut across the the town of Oriental to pick up our new dinghy.  Since we had sold ours we had been shopping in Florida for a replacement and the best price we found was back in NC where we had bought the other one.  They were holding it until we got back.  We tied up at the free dock in Oriental and walked the one block to the store.  Our first time on land, other then the fuel dock, since we left Monday morning.  Once the transaction was complete and the new dinghy was tied on behind us we left for the last short hop to Matthews Point Marina, where we started back on November 2nd.

We had been gone for just short of seven months and traveled 2388 nautical mile on Hi Flite and about 400 miles delivering Release.  A total of 2788 nautical miles or 3208 statute miles.  Almost the distance from New York to London.  We could have crossed an ocean.

Now that we are back we have a couple of projects to complete.  Then we are taking off for Ocracoke Island for the music festival and to celebrate my birthday.  It is real nice of them to have a festival in honor of my birthday.  From there, depending on the weather and project lists we will begin our next adventure.  We will be heading north again hoping to get further then last year.  We hear Maine is beautiful.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Getting ready to move again

The mechanic has left.  The only thing yet to do is to pay him.  We are not looking forward to that.  The rebuilt injector pump and injectors are installed and it has changed how the engine is running.  Fortunately the change is for the better.  We now idle much smoother, should have more power and the noises from the v-drive have gone away.  We need to start looking for a weather window to move north.

We have not been idle while we were waiting, at least not all of the time.  We had made some lists of projects that needed to be done when we were back in North Carolina before we headed north again.  We have crossed most of those off.  We replaced the anchor chain; the old one had lost its galvanizing and was beginning to show too much rust.  While working on replacing the chain I got an idea to add an access port from the anchor locker to the chain locker.  We have access to the chain locker from the v-berth but if there is a problem feeding chain in or out we have to move everything in the v-berth to get at it.  Since the v-berth is now storage it involves moving a lot of stuff.  Usually the problem is from how the chain stacks up as it is fed in and since I changed from 150 feet of chain to 200 feet there is the possibility of more problems.  At the time I bought the chain I also bought an 8.5 inch waterproof port.  Borrowing a saw from our neighbor boat I cut out an opening in the anchor locker to give access to the chain below.  It came in real handy when I spliced 100 feet of rope rode to the end of the chain.  We now have the ability to put out 300 feet of rope and chain if necessary.

Our lifeline stanchions have needed to be rebedded for a long time and since it is such a miserable job I have always put it off.  We finally have them rebedded properly and should not have a leak for many years.  Several of our windows were leaking also, so we now know how to take them apart and replace the seal and interior sealer.  Two down six to go.  Our single sideband radio was acting up; we could receive but not transmit a clear signal.  We had it worked on while in the Bahamas but it didn’t get better so we ordered a new one.  We now have a new Icom M802 radio installed along with the connecting cables and all of the other stuff that makes it work.  Running the new copper foil under the floor was a major project in itself.  We also had the bright idea to remove two of the older winches and move the newer self-tailing into their place.  This should help with trimming the sails since it will only take two hands to do it instead of three.

Cori has polished the stainless steel, sealed the exterior teak and has been working on making new sail covers.

There have been a number of smaller projects completed along with the everyday maintenance a boat requires.

Now it is time to go cruising again.  We have been sitting at a dock for too long.  Fortunately, if we had to be stuck at a dock this is not a bad place to be.  We need to catch some good weather to move north since we have plans to be at Ocracoke Island for the music festival and my birthday.