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.