Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Spinaker Aloft!

Just before we sailed into the Marsh Harbor Boatyard, we had the perfect opportunity to raise the spinaker we'd been storing below (and protecting our rowing machine out on the porch in Vermont for a year). We had a light steady breeze from behind and no other boat around. We lowered the dinghy while underway: Scott got in it with the camera. I sailed the boat and he took pictures. We used one on our boat cards. Not long after, we returned from the Bahamas to New England and will be there till February 27. Having time for family, friends, holidays and some work is important. The boat is safe on the hard in Marsh Harbor, Bahamas, awaiting our return.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Two Snow Birds Head South Again

Scott using the hose to wash the mud off the anchor as
the windless pulls it up
Well we tried to head south...but ran into a major snag. During our visit to Glouchester we took a sail over to Salem Harbor on 8/20 with Gail, her friend Marge, Harvey, Carol and Jonathan. We were maneuvering in a packed harbor to pick up a mooring when suddenly the boat stopped responding to the wheel and throttle.
"Turn right!", Scott shouted from the bow.
I explained and a quick swim (after shutting off the motor) confirmed that the shaft had pulled out of the engine. We were lucky we didn't lose the propeller. We anchored quickly but it wasn't a good spot. Luckily the Mid Harbor launch crew towed us to a mooring for the night and Bill drove down and picked us up.
Some of our neighbors at the Glouchester anchorage
Scott, Marge and Gail at anchor in Glouchester
Harvey and I 
Sunset at anchor Solomon's Island
Our cabin is a cozy place after a long day at sea.
The moonrise while at anchor off
Deltaville Marina

These shots here and below were taken on the Alligator
River Canal , north of Beaufort, NC

We couldn't have picked a better spot to have this happen. The Dion Boatyard was in Salem and we were hauled there. H & H Propeller was located right next door. It took a month to grind a new shaft and install it but on 9/22 we had the boat back in the water. We didn't know it then, but problems with the propeller were to haunt us for the next several years until we finally replaced it. It was too small for the boat/motor - although the recommended size by the manufacturer.
We had to be in Annapolis by 10/4 for a 3 day Weather Seminar run by the SSCA so that put us on a tight schedule. After a few days at Brown's provisioning and making small repairs, we were off on an two night sail down to Newport, R.I. The first night I had some nervous moments entering the Cape Cod canal in the dark. A few minutes later I was in the center of the canal approaching the first bridge, confused by the bright lights everywhere when a huge barge came straight at me from under the bridge. Wow - did I turn that boat fast for the edge. The rest of the clear moon lit night was lovely and so was the next one.
In our rush to get south we often had long days motoring
sometimes till the sun had already set.
We anchored off the Ida Lewis Yacht Club on 9/28. The next day a gale was expected and at the harbor master's suggestion we motored over to mooring #3 further in the harbor - top winds of 29 knots, not so bad and it cleared up that night. So the next morning we were off again and anchored at "The Gulf" behind Charles Island, CT, a lovely spot. An early start got us all the way through the East River, going 11 knots at time with the current, through the harbor and all the way to Sandy Hook, NJ. The next morning we did an overnight down the NJ coast rounding Cape May at 6am and up the Deleware River. It was a beautiful clear night and we had a positive current most of the way up the river - very different from our horror story fly infested first time doing this. Scott Free was in a slip at the Summit North Marina in the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal by 2pm 10/3. They had a courtesy shuttle for shopping and I did 4 loads of laundry. Scott cleaned the boat and we left again the next morning and by 6:45pm we were following racing cadets from Annapolis Naval Academy into the harbor. We anchored off the academy but a few days later moved the boat up to Weems Creeks when the weather turned bad.  Our meeting with Jimmy Cornell one morning was a challenge as we tried to dinghy to it in terrible conditions and were so late, he took another client. Happily he accepted our apologies and we had 1 and 1.5 hours of his time discussing our plans for cruising. He gave us a lot of good advice and was such an interesting person to talk to. Of course we attended the boat show, the SSCA Gam as volunteers this time and the Weather Seminar. Luckily the weather improved and we were able to return to our closer anchorage. It was a full week.
Autumn colors reflected in the still waters
This "Pink House" always caught our eye south of
Morehead City. Lots of lovely homes along the ICW
Scott in wet suit before diving to untangle our dock line
from the propeller in Wilmington

On 10/13 we pulled anchor and headed south again to Solomon's Island where we found a tight but quiet spot to anchor for two nights to do some shopping and laundry. The next leg was to Deltaville, sailing all the way but finding some rough water off the Potomoc River before entering through the narrow twisting channel to the anchorage off the Marina where we'd been before. We enjoyed guest privileges there the next day using their courtesy car and bicycles to explore and shop. We were also able to fill up our water tanks at the dock.
The next few days we moved fast, anchoring off Hospital point, Coinjock Marina and our favorite, Tuckahoe Point, all with sunny warm days and a nice breeze.
The Alligator River was so beautiful, many photos here, and we saw 2 bears in a tree! Our next anchorage at Broad Creek at mile 74 was nice until the mosquitoes arrived - first time for awhile that happened. Still sunny and warm the next day to Morehead Yacht Basin where we used another courtesy car to the supermarket and Boater's World. We stayed there two nights and I did loads of laundry and cleaned. Walked over to Beaufort and had dinner one night - scary walk over the bridge in the dark.
On 10/23 we made it back to Beach House Marina in Surf City but left the next morning as the weather was deteriorating and we had to make some decisions. A hurricane was heading up the coast and after much deliberations we decided to go out of our way up the Cape Fear River to Wilmington, NC. We got a spot on the town dock and tied up carefully. This is a beautiful town and our two days there were all too short. We were very impressed with the architecture, restaurants, shops and nice people.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Our Second Trip to Maine

A parade of boats in Burnt Coat Harbor
We didn't have a lot of time to spend in Maine as it's a long trip south to the Chesapeake for the Annapolis Boat Show and it gets cold up north early. Our two big dates were the Swan's Island Music Festival and the SSCA Gam in Islesboro. We  have gone to the first several times, last year in our own boat and this would be our second time at the GAM.
At our last posting we were in Kent Cove, Fox Island Thoroughfare. We waited in the morning for the fog to clear and then on our way to Stonington we picked up a lobster buoy on the rudder. Scott needed to dive (in his full wet suit) to cut it away.

Our beautiful Scott Free at anchor watching the parade.
Views from the trail at Fort Point Cove
We stayed for lunch and managed to get rid of our trash, but no market or laundromat. There were severe thunderstorm warnings on the weather VHF. We dodged some big ones and anchored at 5:15 in Burnt Coat Harbor, Swan's Island. We had only 2 nights to spend as various problems had delayed us sailing north. We lucked out and got tickets for one of the nights - they were sold out the other. There are surprise music happenings during the day as well as sea chanteys being sung on boats sailing through the harbor. Bob DeFeyter and "Bobcat" were anchored nearby and we had him and his guests Frank and Tasha Jost over for dinner the second night.
On 8/4 we left at 11am and sailed over on a beautiful clear day to Camden. We stayed only a couple of hours to shop and get our email at their beautiful library. We left late in the afternoon and motor sailed over to Broad Cove in Islesboro. It took us 2 tries but we managed to anchor there by 6pm and pick up lobsters from "Destiny". It was a wonderful meal.
The next night was the dinghy roundup (one dinghy anchors and the others all tie up to each other - we must have had 20 dinghies) cocktail hour, a hilarious time really trying to pass hors d'oeuves from rocking dinghy to dinghy while balancing drinks. Unfortunately it was cut short by an approaching thunderstorm. Everyone got back safely to their boats.
Sunday is the great pot luck with various presentations on boat stuff and round the world sailors. Richard and Kathy DeGrasse host this every year at their home. They spend their winters in Marathon, FL and were to see them there many times in the future.
A quintissential Maine scene, schooner and light house.
On Monday we motored over to Belfast, pulled up to the town dock, took on water and got rid of our trash. After picking up a mooring we toured the town and at 3pm continued on to Searsport. We intended to anchor there but the wind had picked up and it was uncomfortable so we kept on around the point to Fort Point Cove, peaceful and calm. The next morning we explored the fort remains and the unusual lighthouse. Trails led us along the coast with beautiful views of the water and Scott Free.
It was calm now in Searsport so we were able to pick up a free mooring from the museum and see that charming town for a few hours before sailing on to anchor for two nights in a beautiful cove SW of Castine between Nautilus and Holbrook islands. We spent a free day there at anchor cleaning and sewing. Our dinghy ride into the town for sightseeing and lunch was quite a ways and very rough returning in 15-20 knots of wind. It tested the stability of our little dinghy for sure.
The following day we went to Tenant's Harbor, had lunch at the Cod End Fish Market, took a walk, got our email from the library and bought 2 2.5 lb lobsters for dinner. Unbelievably good! After 2 nights there we were off again to Friendship Harbor where we had a long walk and visited the museum. The next morning off again to Round Pond Harbor where we were able to pick up the "Bud Memorial" mooring for free. Our old friends John Padgett and Wendy Griswold lived nearby and met us for dinner at the restaurant there with their children Ray and Olivia.
After two nights we circled the peninsula and took a mooring at Christmas Cove right off the Coveside Restaurant - the scene of many wonderful dinners visiting John and Wendy. They came over with Wendy's sister Gail and husband Bob to have dinner aboard at our next stop, Boothbay Harbor where we got a mooring from the Tugboat Inn after filling up with water at their docks.
It was getting time to head south again - much too short a time in Maine for sure. The next morning we left early and went straight to the Isle of Shoals off Portsmouth, N.H. and luckily were able to pick up a free mooring as it was 7:45pm. We were just in time to see the sunset and eat a happily already prepared dinner.
At dawn we witnessed a bathing ceremony on Star Island. With lots of cheering and coaxing everyone managed to jump off the dock and get out of the water FAST. Then we were off again and had a quick passage back to Glouchester. Passing by Harvey and Gail's house we got them on the cell phone and they watched us sail by with all of us waving. For the first time we anchored in the inner harbor - fun watching all the boats - for a few days.

The SSCA GAM in Islesboro, some of the cruiser crowd
Searsport - a lovely green surrounded by charming cottages and the old fashioned hotel line the waterfront

The lighthouse at Fort Point from the sea
And from the land
Scott admiring the bell
Scott Free at anchor through the trees
Sunsets are beautiful while on the water
Scott hard at work at his sewing machine.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Belhaven to Maine

Sean, James, Brent, Scott, Joshua and Daniel - The Garren Men
We returned to Bel Haven, N.C. after James' graduation and some time at Tall Timbers in Vermont. I was alone at the house when a serious thunderstorm struck. Scott had called me to warn me and a minute later I heard a roaring sound. I ran to the front of the house and saw the wind come across the lake, creating a wave, and then the tall pines at the waterfront started to crack and fall. I ran to the other end of the house fearing the ones closest to the house would fall on it. They didn't.
James' Graduation from Marlboro College, VT
It took quite a while for Scott and the boys to get back as the roads were closed and the telephones and electricity were out. They were a bit worried. I was alright and so was our house, but trees fell on the boathouse and canoe.
It took a while to clean up the mess. But we had fun visiting Montreal and the Barns in Essex, NY with Sean for a week.
Then we headed back to the boat to get it north before hurricane season. A few days in Bel Haven to prepare the boat and we tried to leave early in the morning but couldn't get out of the slip - stuck in the mud. Finally after an hour of rocking back and forth we pulled out. After two nights at our favorite stops we entered Norfork, VA where we had an exciting Fourth of July celebration anchored just off the hospital. The fireworks went off right over our head.
The next day we sailed over the tunnel section of the Chesapeake Bridge and started a three day journey to Newport, R.I.

with good weather. It didn't hold however and we battled wind and rain as we tried to round Long Island. The wind was coming straight at us and so were a group of fishing boats we could see on our radar (no visability outside and it was the middle of the night). They wouldn't answer us on the VHF and we had a hard time getting around them. Meanwhile the boat is bashing up and down.
"Do we need to get to Newport tomorrow", I said.
"What do you mean?"
"How about heading west to NYC and getting in the shelter on Long Island"

"You don't have to say it twice" He was out at the wheel and I trimmed the sails for a much easier reach and we said good-bye to those nasty fishermen. It meant 2 additional nights before reaching Newport but they were in comfort. And we got to sail into NYC at dawn - a beautiful sight.
It was an easy trip up the East River with the correct timing and a nice sail up Long Island Sound. We had friends waiting there - Roger and Francoise on "Starship Annie" and we took turns having dinner aboard both boats. My ski instructor buddy DeeDee  and her husband Eli Watson-Simon came aboard for dinner one night and she treated us to a great lunch out.

From there we sailed to Quisset Harbor where we took a mooring for a few days to visit Karen and Ted in Falmouth. Then off to Nantucket in the heavy fog. It was eerie and a little scary to hear the high speed ferry pass close to us in the channel and not even see them a bit. We made our way into the harbor slowly and carefully and picked up an empty mooring. Nantucket was a beautiful sight the next morning in the sunshine. We rented bikes and toured all over the island for a few days.
We returned to Quisset for a few nights. Russ and Ted joined Scott for a day trip over to Cuddyhunk and then through the Canal. We planned to stop in Scitate
Bel Haven has many lovely homes along the waterfront
The sun hits a skyscraper in Portsmouth
just across from Norfork.
once more but we "stopped" right outside the harbor when the engine cut off. No luck getting it restarted, it was getting dark and we aren't comfortable with sailing through a narrow channel and into a packed harbor. So Boat US to the rescue and thank goodness. They put us right on a mooring.
Sunset at anchor Duck Island Roads, N. Clinton, CT
Next day Scott replaced the impeller and we were off, back to Boston Harbor Marina. It was 7/22. We left Bel Haven on 7/2. Six days later after making some repairs we left and headed overnight to Portland, Maine. We left Scott Free at the Portland Yacht Services while we attended Sean's Family Weekend at Dartmouth (Sophomores spend the summer at Dartmouth). Once back we set sail again north at 6:45am 8/1 and by 6pm that night were anchored in Kent Cove, Fox Island Thoroughfare after a day often in thick fog.
More on our month in Maine in the next posting.
Russ and Marty Wolf on Ted and Karen's beautiful
front porch in Falmouth

Sunday, May 01, 2005

All Good Things Have to Come to an End!

Our time in the Bahamas was coming to an end. We needed to head north towards home. We stopped for a several nights back in Fisher's Bay and had Starship Annie, Myasotis and Dulce 3 over for a pot luck. We loved spending time at Nippers and on the beach during the day and joined a big pot luck at the Sunset Grill one night. On April 21 we made our way around the Whale again with good weather with Starship Annie leading the way.

Green Turtle Cay felt like an old friend and we had two good nights there before setting off again. Our next anchorage, Manjack Cay, was our last few nights with Roger and Francoise. We swam, snorkeled, ate & drank together. Scott and Roger shared computer knowledge and we all studied the weather. At this point we were waiting and searching for a good weather window ahead for the trip across the Gulf Stream and north.

We finally said our good byes and motored with no wind over to NW harbor on Great Sale Cay. This is a deserted island with good protection and a favorite spot to wait for weather before leaving the Bahama Banks. We planned to travel with Myasotis, Adagio, Renaissance and Sea Eze. Herb Hildergard is the weather guru for this area and we signed on for a week before getting weather reports. He gave us the green light for the passage but warned us that a big storm would be coming in with northerly winds the next morning.

We needed to be out and along the coast by then. So on April 26 at 6:10 AM we left Great Sale with 20 knots of SSW winds and made great time with genoa and main fully out. There was wind chop on the banks but once we exited at 3 PM into the deep sea the wind increased to 25 knots and big rollers combined with the wind chop to make a sloppy sea. We put a reef in both sails as it grew dark. We could see Myasotis and Adagio behind us but the other boats parted company. At 10 PM the wind dropped and the temperature went down suddenly. It was eerie. Then the wind came out of the north and howling. We saw wind up to 45 knots in gusts and it was steady in the 30's.
Fishing boats line the channel up to the Brunswick Marina
We took in additional reefs and sailed until the winds came around further forward at midnight so we took in all the sails and motored. When the northly winds hit the Gulf Stream current heading the opposite way mayhem occurs. Then the rain came in torrents. We couldn't see beyond the bow sprit. Scott was glued to the radar and I sat outside in my rain slickers peering into the darkness. Thunder and lightening seemed all around us. Of course several cabinents opened up and distributed their contents around.

By dawn we were off the Florida coast near Cape Canaveral. The rain had lightened up and we could see Myasotis and Adagio off our stern again. Talking to them during the night was a huge relief. Jeanette on Myasotis was a school teacher and had the kind of voice that commands respect. She called the big ships for us and made sure they knew we were there.
By 6:30 AM it was light enough to enter the channel and all three boats tied up at the Cape Marina. Sea Eze joined us shortly afterwards. Their jib had torn during the storm and all the other boats had their auto pilots fail to handle the tough conditions. Our's happily did! But we were all really tired. Never the less Customs and Immigration insisted on our taking a taxi to them immediately - no clean up or breakfast first!

Jeanette, Bill and Heather aboard Scott Free for dinner.
The next morning while we were sitting in our cockpit the tugboat and barge working across the channel backed up towards us. It hit the concrete piling only 12 feet from us and knocked it over. At that point someone on the boat finally looked back! We had to give statements to the marina before taking off at 1 PM. We had another night ahead of us but this time with much better weather. We had clear skies that afternoon and night with 12 knots allowing us to sail close hauled. A small bird hopped aboard and made himself at home. He went below and hung out on our stove for hours. Scott gathered it up eventually and sent it off, hopefully well rested.
Later the wind calmed down and we motored the rest of the night. In the morning the wind started up again and by the time we reaching Brunswick, GA we were in the 20's with choppy seas and long rollers. It was rather frightening to enter the long channel in those conditions sharing the space with enormous car carriers and other ships.
Myasotis had fallen behind us some time before as they continued to sail while we motored. Adagio called one of the ships coming out and politely asked their intentions (so they could move to the correct side). The response was "we're heading right down the middle and suggest you move way over to either side!"
The ICW crosses the Brunswich channel just inside and the huge numbers of different markers made it hard to find our way. Happily we sorted it out and arrived at the Brunswick Landing Marina at 4:30 PM. Happy hour was a treat and a good dinner. We helped Myasotis tie up when she arrived at 8:45 PM. Brave folks to navigate in the dark.
On May 2, after a few days relaxing there we were on a mission to get north of our insurance "line" before the start of the hurricane season.  We left the channel and sailed north with "Myosotis" and "Oz". It was a lovely evening to start but then the wind picked up and increasingly was on our nose so in the early morning we ducked into Charleston. We continued up the ICW all the way to Georgetown, exhausted and working hard to keep our focus as shallow spots were everywhere. I had a bad bout of cramps during the night but we were off again early in the morning and made it to the Coquina Yacht Club in Little River, S.C. We enjoyed a wonderful Italian dinner in their restaurant.
Off again early and this time in gray, rainy, gusty weather all the way to Southport where we pulled into the Southport Marina and stopped four feet from the dock (they assured us there was enough water). Deckhands managed to pull us in close enough to get off the boat after the tide came in.We stayed two nights in bad weather, walking the town in full foul weather gear. We waited for the weather to clear and then made it to the Beach House Marina - a favorite spot of ours. Our slip was again next to a pristine, schooner, shown above left. It was a beautiful day - we walked the beach and ate at a local seafood place. The next day continued fine up to Morehead City. And again the next day up the ICW, joined by Myosotis who had caught up to us by sailing offshore from Charleston. They joined us on the trip to Bel Haven and we had dinner on their boat that night.  This sleepy little town had the Forest Marina with a nice restaurant so that's where we tied up our baby and flew back to Boston on May 10 for James' college graduation from Marlboro.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Marsh Harbor

Anchoring in 8.5 feet of water with a 1.5-2 foot possible tide feels a little crazy but we didn't feel the boat on the bottom during our stay in Marsh Harbor. We were surprised to see another "Scot Free" anchor beside us! Their last name is Scot and he is of Scottish descent. Their boat name has a tam-o-shanter perched on it. We had heard them on the SSB net several times and had VHF calls from boats thinking we were them. It was nice to finally meet.

The first night we had Roger and Francoise over for dinner and made plans for a day's visit to Hope Town.The ferry leaves early in the morning to this lovely spot. The channel into the harbor looked very scary on the charts so it was nice to see it on someone else's boat the first time.

The town is a kaleidoscope of pastel colors and white trim. Houses crowd around the large enclosed harbor with the red and white stripped lighthouse guarding it's entrance. A beautiful sight! We walked all around the area and beaches. The swimming was terrific with nice waves to play in.

We found a great to place to eat lunch and admire the view. In the afternoon we climbed up the lighthouse and took panoramic pictures from the top. It was a lovely day.
Tomorrow was Heather's birthday and Roger & Francoise invited us over to their boat to celebrate.

And they know how to celebrate... There were streamers, a sign and a marvelous birthday cake with candles. Of course this was after the wonderful dinner Francoise cooked. She makes a homemade chicken liver pate to die for and it's beautifully presented with tiny cornichons fanned out. Of course, she's french! It was one of my most memorable birthdays. A great way to turn 60!

Marsh Harbor is the largest community in the Abacos and has a small commercial airport. We decided it would be a great place to have friends down to visit. There are lots of islands easily reachable while staying in the protected inside banks. Even the most timid friend would enjoy this. We'll talk it up at home this summer and see who bites!