Friday, August 31, 2007

Essex - Matthew Leaves for School

John McKinney left this morning at 6:00 am bound for Port Jefferson. He plans on returning to PYC on Labor Day, 9/3. Much later that morning we all got up to continue our more leisurely trip home. We took Lance over to the west end of the breakwater for his morning outing. We had found a tennis ball on the previous trip and we had left it in the dinghy. Lance jumped out (first out as usual) and after we was done, he headed for the dinghy with us shouting, "Don't go in, we're not leaving yet". But Lance still got back in the dinghy and immediately found the ball, jumped back out and laid the ball at Ann's feet. He was ready to play. It gives you some pause. He remembered where the ball was (out of sight when he was on land) and went to get it. I had thought that animals only thought in a "big present" with no thought of past or future but it's not true. Lance's fetch of the ball took memory and a plan for execution, neat.

We headed west around 9:00 am (three hours after John!) with a roaring current (full moon), averaging 8 to 9 kts over ground (GPS speed) all the way. We had reserved a mooring at the Essex Yacht Club ($40/night) and had a late lunch at the Black Seal. A tour of the Essex River Museum was next on the agenda, an excellent, hands on type of museum.

The sad part is that about an hour ago, Matthew left. He starts school on Tuesday and had to get back. We'll be by ourselves the rest of the way. Next stop - Branford where we hope to get the refrigeration fixed. We'll be meeting the same technician that repaired the first problem we had three years ago. We have high hopes that all will be working by the end of the day Saturday!
Follow our progress at Return Trip

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Stonington - We Meet Up With John McKinney

Hi it's me Matt. Today I slept in. Then we had break fast. I passed a Fluencies teswt for reading. Then we took off for Stonington and I put up the main sail. We went through the Watch Hill Passage and then I got to talk the main sail in. Then we picked up Mr. McKinney's mooring. Then we had tunafish melts for lunch and Mr. McKinney came and rafted to us. THE END.

We left Block Island with no wind so we motored to Stonington. The day was with bright sun, beautiful but with no wind! Upon entering the harbor we found McKinney's mooring empty so we picked it up. It was apparent it had no been used for awhile with the growth on the lines. We settled in with wine for happy hour when John arrived on his way back from Maine! It was the first time he used the mooring in a month and won't for the rest of the season. We decided to raft up since the night was predicted to be calm and we all had a nice chat about our mutual experiences. Tomorrow it's Essex where Matthew leaves the boat in time for the start of a new school year!
Follow our progress at Return Trip.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hi it's me Matt. Today I had breakfast and then I went swimming with the silversides. The silversides are small fish. Some really big fish were after them too. I got to scrub the dink too. Then Nama and I got to go to the beach. There were some big waves at the beach. Then Nana went swimming with me off the back of the boat. I also swam 86 feet around the boat. Then we had spaghetti and sausage. THE END TO Mom: People do live on the Block year long.

A nice day all around. Matthew swam off the back of the boat, at the beach, off the back of the boat, etc. - busy, busy, busy.... Block seemed to empty out some, I guess Wednesday is a slow day here. I still couldn't see any empty moorings but we're far from the main cluster so I could have missed a few. We off to Stonington tomorrow and, guess what, more swimming for Matthew.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Block Island - Some beach time for Matthew

Hi it's me Matt. Today I had breakfast on deck. Then we left New port and I got to drive. Then we anchored at the Great Salt Pond at Block Inland. We had tunafish sandwiches for lunch. After that I went swimming and Nana says that I do a good dives. Then we went to the beech. I made a sand tower and Lance ran around. Then we had stack with out stacksauce!Then we took Lane ashore.THE END OF MATT'S BLOG well for today.

Since Matthew enjoys swimming so much we decided to head for Block Island where he can not only swim off the back of the boat but also at the nearby beaches. Unfortunately, there wasn't much wind so we motored over to Block. Upon entering the Great Salt Pond, we took a turn to port after the first green buoy and anchored out. We didn't even bother looking for a mooring, anchoring is closer to the beach for Lance and more protected for Matthew's swimming with the back of the boat next to a "no anchoring" area.

After Matthew's swim, we dinked to the nearby beach and Matthew made a sandcastle while we ran around Lance. We then dinked into town and picked up the necessities of potato chips and oreos! Meanwhile, the refrigerator seems to be doing fine with block ice in the freezer and the internal fans blowing cool air to the refrigerator section. We can maintain 35 to 40 in the freezer section and 40 to 45 in the refrigerator part. We're hoping to get it fixed in Branford.

Tonight we had the most amazing moonrise. When it was dark I stepped out and tried a few handheld shots of the moon and the "city" of anchored boats, a beautiful sight!
Follow our progress at Return Trip.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Newport, RI - 25 Mile Sail!

Hi it is me Matt. Today I had breakfast and I went swimming. Then we left Cuttyhunk. The water was rough and I got seasick. It got calmer and we keep sailing all the way to Newport. Grandpa and Nana tried to find a toy store but it was closed. Then we had tacos for dinner.

On Monday morning, ice was a priority! The refrigerator is kaput! However, we still have the insulated freezer and refrigerator as well as the ice chest we took along for use when we had guests aboard so all we needed was ice. Well, Cuttyhunk doesn't wake up until around 11:00 am so we took off without the ice, hoping everything would stay cool enough until we arrived at Newport.

The winds were great today off the aft starboard quarter and we sailed the entire 25 miles to Newport. One crew member got sick (Matthew) when he paid too much attention to his Gameboy but he felt better once he used the aft swimdeck! As we neared land, the seas calmed and we glided on. We had called ahead to reserve a mooring at Jamestown but was told the cost would be $75/night - rather high! With that we headed for Newport instead and picked up a mooring for $45, still high but less high than Jamestown. The ride into town on the launch is now $6 per person roundtrip, also rather high since we have to make multiple trips with Lance. There were the typical super yachts in abundant evidence.

I first called the Newport dealer for Alder-Barbour and he said me might be able to get to me sometime next week! Big help he was! In calling the Alder-Barbour national rep later I learned that the unit I have was designed 20 years ago and is no longer made. He's to give me a call back on whether they can braze an adopter on the coil in the freezer so I can reuse that part. Otherwise, it's a custom made new unit! Oh the pleasures of boating.

Tomorrow we're headed for Block Island since Matthew likes to swim off the back of the boat about as well as anything and Block is excellent for that. We plan on anchoring out instead of getting a mooring.
Follow our progress at Return Trip.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

CuttyHunk - We Explore and Matthew Swims

Hi it is me Matt. I had a great time today. First I had pancakes and sausage for breakfast. Then I hopped off the boat. I swam for a long time.Then we went in the dink to the beach in shallow water. I made a sand castle too.Also I swam in the water. We had lunch and I SWAM 3 MORE TIMES. We went a shore and got some fish. It was good and I played my gameboy and that brings us to the end.

I think Matthew was in the water more than he was out. When he wasn't at the beach, he was swimming off the back of the boat. The cool water temperatures of low 60's didn't seem to deter him. I never got in but Ann waded in a ways at the beach.

I spent most of the morning redoing the mast tensioning and finally got it straight to my satisfaction. I bought local swordfish (fresh, never frozen) and we grilled it off the back of the boat, perfection! Shortly thereafter, we saw the most brilliant sunset I've ever seen. Everybody in the anchorage was on the bow of their boat watching the display!

While Ann and Matthew were doing dishes, they said they heard a grinding sound for a short period. I didn't think anything of it at the time. Later that night I got some ice out of the freezer and noticed that the frost had disappeared from the cooling coils, humm.... I could hear the fan running on the compressor but couldn't hear the compressor itself. I unscrewed the cover and found that the compressor was not running. It was getting electricity since the fan was okay and all the fuses were likewise in good shape. We're headed for Newport tomorrow and we'll need a new compressor I'm guessing. The grinding noise Ann heard must have been the compressor giving up the ghost! Oh well, the life of sailing is filled with adventure...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hi It is me Matt.Dad drove me to Marion to meet Nana and Grampa.Dad left at 7:oo AM. We took off and sailed.There were some big waves.It was fun.We saw a lot of birds. After all the big waves the boom fell or with a loud noise. It was scary, but we fixed it. Then we got to Cuttyhunk Island..I also started my model of the U.S.S. Missouri. and then we had dinner. the end

As you can tell from Matthew's blog, we had an adventure today. At first the adventure was the sailing with 10 to 15 kt winds and 2 to 4 ft waves (wind against current: short, steep waves). After awhile it became obvious that we would never make Cuttyhunk at that rate since the wind was exactly out of the direction of Cuttyhunk (what else is new?) So we pulled in the head sail and turned on the iron genny. With that "sail change" we made 7 kts towards Cuttyhunk although not without occasionally taking water over the bow and some pretty good splashes. Matthew enjoyed the spray and splashes!

All was well until we neared Cuttyhunk and decided to take in the mainsail. I noticed that the roller furler was rather stiff, unusual since it's always been an easy pull in the past. Looking up I was astonished to see the boom on the coach roof, free of the mast! Seeing something so unexpected, you're a little dumbfounded for a few moments before your mind re-engages. Once it did, Ann and I went forward (engine in idle on autopilot) and Matthew stayed in the cockpit. I called for a screwdriver and Matthew went below to locate one. A couple of the lines had to be released and Matthew did that from the cockpit, he was a big help. Meanwhile, Ann and I were wrestling with the boom in the waves and wind, trying to reattached everything and finding got it cobbled together after about 20 minutes of tossing about.

Once in Cuttyhunk harbor, I reattached everything correctly and tried my hand at finding out what went wrong. It seems that the boom is held in place on the mast by a single pin with a set screw. There is a place in the pin for a cotter pin but it was missing. Either is fell out or it was never put there when the mast was replaced in June. We were lucky that the pin and associated washers stayed on deck and didn't wash overboard! Replacing that pin would be an airmail effort from Florida and today was Saturday!

Well, everything is back in place now. I put a ring cotter pin through the hole in the pin so it will not fall out again!! Meanwhile, fog has returned and we can't even see the shore and Cuttyhunk is a small anchorage! We plan on staying one more day before heading west to Newport, RI. Such an adventure is sailing...

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Marion, MA - Matthew Arrives!

We left Sandwich in a fog, factually speaking (sometimes we're in a fog when there's no fog!) I thought we had escaped the fog when we left Maine, not true! The canal is eerie when there's dense fog. However, we have AIS installed on our GPS chartplotter which showed the location, speed, direction of travel of all large ships out to 15 miles ahead. So we knew what was coming enabling us to get over on the side of the channel before it loomed out of the fog. The canal seems awfully narrow in the fog when a very large ship passes you.

We motored to Marion and found it's packed with boats! There's supposed to be an anchorage area but it's not very big if it exists at all. They had some sort of regatta planned so they were almost sold out but we got the last mooring available ($40/night). Matthew arrived shortly after 9:00 pm. We took the launch back out to the boat in a full moon, a beautiful sight, a good omen for the rest of the cruise.
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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sandwich, MA - At the Cape Cod Canal

Today was another motoring day with a little misty rain mixed in. However, the seas were calm and we averaged 7.5 kts as we headed south to the canal. We had planned on picking up Matthew at Sandwich but instead he'll board at Marion, MA, tomorrow's destination.

We're at the Sandwich Marina ($2.00/ft) which is run by the town of Sandwich. There's no place to anchor so you have to take a dock. We ate at Seafood Sam's which was pretty good and reasonably priced. We happened to walk in right after a bus full of tourists arrived! However, the wait was relatively short, they had their act together. They had no waitresses, you ordered your own meal and then you were handed a "lobster" that lit up when your order was ready for your pick up. A clam dinner was only $8.99.

There was a visitor center that was geared to kids but also informative on the canal history and how it's run. We spent almost an hour going through it. Then it was back to the boat for some much needed cleaning to get ready for our new crew member tomorrow.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Scituate, MA - the Satuit Boat Club

Finally, a full day of sailing, all 25 miles of it from Gloucester to Scituate. The wind was steady from the east so we had a broad reach all the way down the coast. We had intended to stay at the Scituate Harbor Yacht Club but upon entering the harbor we were met by the boat launch from Satuit Boat Club who had a mooring available ($35/night) so we followed him in. It turns out he's a diver and he described that having 10 feet of visibility was a good day but still enjoyable in seeing what was going on below. He wore a 7 mm thick dive suit which is quite warm but needed for these cold waters. He told of diving at one spot and, wouldn't you know it - a lobster pot was about 15 feet away and the owner came roaring along in his lobster boat which annoyed the diver somewhat. The lobsterman asked if he was a professional diver to which he replied, "No, just as a hobby". The lobsterman then asked if he could dive to get a rope off his propeller! I thought lobster boats were immune to such things (cage around the prop) but I guess not. He offered to pay but our launch driver declined to accept. Then he was offered three lobsters which he could not turn down! A good day for diving.

We needed groceries so he offered to drop us off at the town dock near a grocery store and he came back to pick us up later. What a friendly club! Ann prepared a chicken dinner and we relaxed on the back of the boat.

On Thursday we plan on getting to Sandwich at the mouth of the Cape Cod Canal. Monique will meet us there with Matthew in tow. He's really looking forward to once again spending some time on the boat. He has to return by Labor Day weekend since he starts school the following Tuesday. One of his assignments from school is to restart his own blog which I'll publish each night.

Follow our progress at Return Trip

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Gloucester, MA - Where "Perfect Storm" happened

Gloucester is first and foremost a fishing village. Huge fishing vessels come and go all the time. At one point on the way in we were surrounded by six shrimp boats dragging lines. They were about a mile apart so we were okay but I steered clear of them just the same. The first thing you see coming up to Cape May where Gloucester is located was the twin lighthouses. I don't know why they have two, it would seem that one would be enough. The harbor itself is quite compact and densely populated with fishing boats. We had reserved a mooring ($25/night) since Gloucester is one of the few places that accept reservations for a mooring. By 4:00 pm all the moorings were gone. We saw one lobster boat go by that was VERY popular with the local seagulls (see photo). You had trouble seeing the boat it was so covered with gulls.

After eating out several nights, we grilled lamb chops on the back of the boat - back to basics on the food! It's been a little rich the last few days. We never tire of the sunsets since we seldom see them back home due to the high trees all around. Tomorrow we're on the move again with a good forecast, perhaps we can sail, we've motored the last two days due to light winds.
Follow our progress at Return Trip.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Portsmouth, NH - Wentworth by the Sea Marina

We got an early start (for us) at 7:00 am for our 46 mile journey to Portsmouth. We had no wind but then the seas were calm, the sun was out in full force and we motored all the way at 7.5 kts. We went by some of the landmarks that we've visited from shore in the past such as Nubble Light. Even with the sun, the high today only reached 65 in the cockpit and later when we ate at the Wentworth, they even had a fire in the fireplace!

The Wentworth is old New England. They have class. Their courtesy car was a Mercedes-Benz! There was no charge for its use so we took a tour of Portsmouth before dinner at the Wentworth. Tomorrow we are suppose to have more wind, hopefully, and we're headed for Cape Ann. You can follow our progress at Return Trip

Sunday, August 19, 2007

August 19 - Portland, ME

We started out today with the intention of anchoring out but the traveling weather was so good that we continued on to Portland. Sailed for awhile but we wound up motoring most of the way. The sun was out and the water was relatively calm and we made a steady 7 kts. We picked up a slip in DiMillo Marina ($3.75/ft) and found we were now in the high rent district of Maine. We'll only be here for one night at these prices. Our plan is to head for Portsmouth, NH tomorrow morning to take advantage of the good weather.

On the way in we saw a huge Coast Guard cutter pull right in front of us so we veered off to port and found that the cutter was leading a parade of equally large tugboats! It was tugboat day in Portland and we just happened to hit the start of the harbor parade! One of the tugboats sprayed water all over and nearly reached us. At the end of the parade, they all met in the middle of the harbor, bow to bow and let out a blast of their horns, all at once, deafening!

We walked through the renovated downtown area which has turned upscale. The table setting in the photo goes for $1299! After all the rich food, we just decided to have hamburgers for tonight and turn in for an early start tomorrow.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Boothbay Harbor - Reprovisioning

Several businesses got together and sponsored a free trolley to connect the aquarium, the mall and various businesses. We used it today for groceries and now we're all set for the rest of the cruise home. We had a "going away dinner" at Kale's, a local restaurant that we've found pretty good. Of course, both our meals involved lobster - when in Maine you concentrate on what they do best. At the restaurant they had a marine exhibit with lobsters, crabs, flounder and many other examples of Maine marine life. Especially of note was a rare blue lobster on display (see photo). They make the news whenever one turns up.

However, we have to move on and we plan on sailing (hopefully) further west tomorrow. We may not have cellphone coverage at our anchorage in which case the blog will be late but will still cover each day. In all, we enjoyed Boothbay Harbor as much as any harbor town in Maine. It's fun to watch all the boating activity, the town is spotless and has lots of restaurants and shops and the people are friendly. Great place!
You can follow our progress by clicking on Return Trip

Friday, August 17, 2007

Boothbay Harbor - Whale Watching

Today we booked passage on a whale watching ship. We went out 28 miles from shore to find where the whales feed during the summer, fattening up to survive the winter. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we had a grand view. We spotted a whale surfacing and blowing ("thar she blows!") and then diving again. They stay under for about 5 minutes before surfacing again. On the way out we saw an ocean sunfish and tuna in the distance. We'll look at the weather tonight and decide on whether we go on or stay over another day, it all depends upon the weather. On the way back they took us by a colony of seals sunning themselves.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Boothbay Harbor - A Work Day

Being on a boat for extended periods of time requires maintenance chores. I changed the engine oil yesterday, always a fun project. Today I replaced the fuel filter on the Panda genset and discovered that all I had to do was unscrew the old filter and screw on the new one. I didn't have to fill the new filter with diesel since I found out that the electric fuel pump fills it automatically. Knowing that would have save me several hours the last time I changed the filter. Also had to clean the knotmeter, there's some seaweed floating around and strands can stop the knotmeter paddlewheel. I put a fan in the main cabin in anticipation of hotter days as we had south, haven't needed one so far with highs only in the 70's.

Boothbay Harbor is very compact but there's a lot of activity. There's three whale watching boats that go out twice a day and we plan on taking one on Friday. There's sailboats for people to ride (see photo), lobster boats, tour boats, etc. You can just sit on the back of your boat and watch the world go by.

Of course with all that hard work one has to eat so we had a lobster roll at the Boothbay Lobster Wharf, it was packed with meat, excellent. The next stop was back to town to listen to music on the green. It was a great evening with temperatures in the 70's and friendly people, everyone wanted to pet Lance.
You can follow my progress at Maine Cruise

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Boothbay Harbor - Busy Place

We weighed anchor at 8:00 and started south towards Boothbay with the forecast of 10 to 15 kt winds out of the SW which was exactly our course. Yesterday we sailed all the way, today we motored all the way. The wind piped up to 20 kts on the nose and the waves increased to 4 ft rollers by mid-morning. However, as we turned the corner to Boothbay, the waves abated and we found the harbor calm. We picked up a mooring at Tugboat Marina ($25/night) which was one of the few marinas we found that would reserve moorings, most marinas use a first come, first served policy for moorings. The harbor is a beehive of activity with three whale watching boats, several ferries, lots of old-time sailing ship - and about 60 restaurants and about the same number of small shops. We plan on going on one of the whale watching ships later in the week.
Follow my progress at Maine Cruise. You can hear another installment of Maine Humor (click on underlined link) if you desire about bricks...