A Travellerspoint blog

Da' Blog .... Back on Line

sunny 75 °F

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Carol returned on Saturday, on the 1900, 7pm, ferry having left on Monday on the 1030 ferry. Things went well enough, her sister was well enough, enough of the right stuff got done that she was able to return to the boat. Her return was a good thing; the circumstances that allowed her to exercise the choice to return were good things. Those with very sharp eyes may be able to do the "Where's Waldo" thing and pick her out from the many passengers on deck.

Things always change. After eight days of unrelenting rain, bailing the dinghy once or twice a day; after eight days of unending winds, winds so strong that many days the wind generator had to be shut down and secured; after eight days where the sun never broke through the clouds .... the low pressure passed and was replaced by fair weather. In fact, the fair weather seemed a lot like actual summer ..... hot, way hot, with only desultory breezes to stir the air. Maybe it wasn't so much hot as it was the contrast, the contrast between cool, windy, rainy days and hot and still air that followed.

We talked on Sunday about the options: Maine remains an impractical option; it's too early to head back; so, we decided that we'll try to make lemonade of the situation by going to Block Island and then heading slowly West through Long Island Sound, topping along the way, then taking the East River through New York City and then hopscotching down the Jersey shore.

When we arrive back in Norfolk, VA, we will be in the boat delivery mode, headed south. That will probably entail a stopover in Charleston; Carol has an affinity for Hyman's restaurant, a purveyor of Carolina low country cuisine that seems to consist mostly of grits, grease and gravy. She likes it.

It should be fun; there are some good places to visit; we won't be under any particular time pressure to push a schedule. We'll have a chance to enjoy boating which we both dearly love.

Posted by sailziveli 19:03 Archived in USA Tagged boats boating Comments (0)

Still in Provincetown

storm 69 °F

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It has a certain beauty, I suppose, if beauty can be austere, maybe ascetic, without becoming an oxymoron. Days cast in shades of gray. The water ... dark slate punctuated with white froth. The sky ... charcoal, sometimes, low clouds thick, heavy and gravid with rain. The horizon .... light gray, sometimes, as low fog ebbs and flows, pushed and pulled by the wind, shrinking our visible world to just the few boats that are closest. That 252 ft. tower on the 100 ft. bluff ... might still be there, can't really tell, doesn't much matter anyway.

I thought it beautiful. This duck, however, seemed quite unimpressed with the aesthetics whole deal, more concerned about the immediate, practical implications of the weather, having to work quite hard to make headway against the wind and waves, a serious journey eclipsing our modest endeavors.

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We had had a couple of cloudy days, not much wind and the batteries were draining. Not serious, yet, but always a concern. Got up Friday morning at 0600 and we were down 75 Ah (amp hours), not quite 1/3 of the available power until the critical 50% point that should never be crossed. Battery central is on the rear bulkhead in the galley. No particular reason for it to be there. The top panel, for the solar panels, was there when we bought the boat. It seemed reasonable to put the, then, new Xantrex unit near it. Before 1800, 12 hours, the wind generator, BY ITSELF, had completely recharged the batteries, unprecedented during five years with both supplemental power systems. That is by way of saying that it has been windy averaging more than 20 kts., very steady, and well over 30 kts. in gusts.

Carol, generally unaware of such details, will be pleased, since we will probably be able shut the generator down for the night, to the benefit of her beauty sleep, and count on the wind to perform a similar miracle tomorrow.

It has rained over the several nights, once again filling the dinghy and floating the gas can. We have bailed and pumped the dinghy dry more times since we arrived at Lake Montauk than we have in all the years prior to that event. A dinghy ride to the dock to take a shower .... Fuggedaboutit‎! Clean and dry, I would quickly have become a wet salty dog if the dinghy made it back to our boat without capsizing. Had I tried that I would certainly have worn a life jacket, usually a needless appurtenance, despite the several laws requiring their use.

The harbor here is inside the "hook" of the Cape. That hook has truncated the fetch to about a mile and made the waves somewhat less severe. There is not enough height to the land to do anything about attenuating the wind, so it rumbles past us, and the duck, unabated. There will be more Magic Fingers Mattress Massager nights. You don't really need a water bed if your bed is on the water during nights like these.

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Everything is damp, the humidity at 100% although the Dew Point has not caused a problem; the inside walls of the boat are not dripping with condensation as happens occasionally. The fog outside the boat must also be inside the boat .... it's the same moisture saturated air, I think. Towels don't dry; cotton clothing left out wicks the moisture from the air and the clothing feels dank, clingy and unclean when worn. There has been enough rain that the cockpit is quite wet, high winds pushing the water through the openings in the canvas that accommodate the two backstays and the solar panels.

The barometer has been falling steadily for several days, now down to 29.56 inHg, the needle seemingly stuck there for the duration. The problem is that the entire East Coast is under the influence of a low pressure system; it's been there for a while and is forecast to hang around for a while yet. It is hard to see but there is a rainy section right over the tip of Cape Cod.

I have many failings as a human being; high on that list is patience, the lack of it. Boating has tried to train, encourage and foster patience, but that seed has fallen on barren ground. We waited for ten days in Bimini to head east; I think that we were almost three weeks in Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL, waiting for the right weather to cross the Gulf Stream. There have been opportunities to travel; for some reason the effects of the system are less troublesome in Maine than they are here. The governing principle is that Carol says when we leave based on her assessment of Joan's situation. We will not leave Providence until Joan leaves the hospital and that is still a date uncertain. So, as Milton posited, "They also serve who only stand and wait."

Posted by sailziveli 08:36 Archived in USA Tagged boats boating Comments (0)

Blog Hiatus

storm 72 °F

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The ferry itself is of no particular note. It's called the Fast Ferry to Boston, able to make the trip in about 90 minutes, twice as fast as the other ferry which does not call itself the "Slow Ferry," although it is. The Fast Ferry is a catamaran, twin hulls. What is notable about the ferry, at least as it appertains to the blog, is that it was carrying Carol to Boston, from which she would fly to Florida to be able to more directly and more easily manage the issues deriving from her sister's hospitalization.

We have no idea how long she will have to remain in Florida to deal with the process, hopefully a term measured in days rather than weeks, but there are no guarantees; this is a familiar script. The window for visiting Maine was always tight .... arrive around July 1st with no more than three weeks there. That window has closed irrevocably. We will not share any victory toasts to Remember (the) Maine!

So, Provincetown is the apogee of the trip. There might be opportunities to do some more things south of here before we head the boat "back to the barn;" there may not. It all depends on how things go in Tallahassee. More time there .... less time here. This is by way of saying that this may be the last blog entry for this trip.

Posted by sailziveli 11:02 Archived in USA Tagged boats boating Comments (0)

On to Provincetown

rain 66 °F

It was a vexacious morning, that Friday that we returned to Martha's Vineyard. We both woke up early, too early, and decided to get underway. In the event Carol threw off the mooring pendant at exactly 0500. I put the motor in gear and started to turn. After six years, two with this motor that just celebrated two years in service on 06/11, you accumulate many impressions, observations, sensations, cues, clues signals on how the boat feels, sounds, handles, behaves, performs. It all gets filed away into sort of an unconscious or subconscious marine database with the current accumulation, sensation and observations, being checked constantly against the historical sensations. I doubt that any captain could articulate and define everything that he/she knows. But the unconscious mind quickly isolates and disparities or discondancies. In about three seconds I sensed that the boat "just didn't feel right." Didn't feel right all morning. I was concerned enough that when we moored I donned my wetsuit and went over the side to see if there was anything tangled below. Murky water, very murky if it's hard to find a very large piece of metal, our fin keel. Nothing there, which, of course, doesn't mean that nothing was there. So, maybe the vaunted database had a processing error.

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The other problem was with the VHF radio, which to my mind is the single most important piece of safety equipment on the boat. It seems to work sometimes, other times not and there's no apparent pattern. I'm not sure that we can be heard when transmitting and it takes an extremely strong signal to break through and be heard on our set. I had first thought that the remote handset might be the issue; disconnected it and there was no change. The analysis is made more difficult by the fact that the antenna was changed in January. The old one looked ugly but worked fine. I have no way to tell if there is some problem with the new one. The problem is that the radio always is "busy" a state that can be caused by a keyed mic remaining open. Brought up the standby handheld radio; it may not work as well as the base unit.

So, for lack of a better plan we called Defender Industries to get a new radio and a new remote handset sent to Provincetown. They don't have to travel very far, half of Connecticut, across Rhode Island and out the Cape. Of course, in the way of these things, replacing a Standard Horizon radio with another Standard Horizon radio doesn't mean that the change will be easy. This radio is two years old and the sizes have ALL changed so I will have to recut the opening for the radio in the cabin. The car industry doesn't let manufacturers get away with that type of crap; for them a radio is a radio is a radio. We'll also replace the handheld in Provincetown or Portland, ME.

We were inside the breakwater at 1000, exactly five hours for the trip. We procrastinated with the dinghy; Carol had wanted to do laundry but there is no place available to do so. She had slept poorly last night and didn't feel well enough to go out to dinner. Crustaceans the world over celebrated that decision. So, we're "at anchor" on a mooring ball, a pleasing prospect to us both.

The story is that a man came to this island in 1971 and opened the Black Dog Tavern. Now, 40 years on, it's a business complex with a restaurant, a clothing line with several stores on the island, a bakery and, probably, much more. The much more definitely includes these two schooners, the black one Shenandoah, the white one Alabaster. I'm not sure why the one had sails deployed but both have the Black Dog pennant (a labrador?) flying. (follow on comment: there's even a store in Provincetown)

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The trip to Onset Harbor was fairly short. The rhythm of that trip was governed by arriving at the Woods Hole channel at 1013, the exact minute of slack water after which the tide would start to ebb, moving from Vineyard Sound to Buzzards Bay. There didn't seem to be any particular hurry to get to the starting point of the channel. It was only 7nm, so we left the harbor at 0831, waiting for the ferry that left a minute earlier. Got it right this time. We putted along to the first waypoint making good time, 5.4 kts. at 2,000 RPM's and turned the bow of the boat towards the Woods Hole channel. Almost all forward progress stopped .... we were down to, maybe 2.0 kts., with a big problem in hitting the mark on time. Cranked the engine up, up and up again to 3,000 RPM's enough for more than 6-kts. almost any day, just not this day. It was an interesting dynamic: as we got closer to the channel we came closer to the strength of the current; but as time passed the current was attenuating. Sort of like parsing chickens & eggs. The time component seemed to have won and we got over 4.0 kt.s and hit our mark at 1009 but had to push really hard to do that.

The passage was confusing on the chartplotter, only visible down to the 1.5-mi. scale. So I gave up and did what people had been doing for years: read the chart and keep the red buoys on the right. By 1024 we were out of the channel, much ado about nothing because we did it about right and didn't try to conquer the current and anger the boating gods.

The lighthouse to the left is at the southern entrance to the woods Hole channel. The other is of the Cleveland Ledge Lighthouse toward the northern end of Buzzards Bay. The name, Buzzards Bay, no possessive apostrophe, was given to this bay by colonists who saw a large bird that they called a buzzard near its shores. The bird was actually an osprey. That's what Wikipedia says although how could someone know which bird some Puritan guys saw a few centuries ago.

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From our position, we had about 10-nm to get to the mouth of the Cape Cod Canal, a few miles short of the actual canal itself. No hurry, this time it worked. We ran out the sails, turned off the engine and had ourselves a nice little sail. A brisk, bracing wind of 15-20-kts., a few whitecaps to add some "color to the day," and we were off.

We saw this sailboat crossing in front of three wind generators; only caught it with one. Seemed an interesting juxtaposition of the old and new uses of wind. We also saw this schooner sailing close to the wind, looking good, very good.

We got most of the way north under sail and reached a point where it seemed a good idea to take in the sails ..... and then the day's real fun began! We had a 15-20 kt. wind on the port quarter, sailing a broad reach, making good time, having fun, looking at the water with its picturesque whitecaps. In the space of a nanosecond we had 6-8 ft. waves breaking over our stern, something that we have never had happen before. Checked the wind .... no change, 15-20 kts., still from the SW . Checked the depth ..... no change, still 35-40 ft. Looked around and the waters to the west; looked normal. Couldn't break the code .... until it came: we were in the tide/current from the canal and it was running out and the wind was almost perfectly in apposition to it, maybe to the 180th degree. It was a northerly wind Gulf Stream scenario.

Ran up the motor against the current, but that gave us enough speed, just barely, to keep the waves from breaking over the stern. My butt was getting wet. My definition of boat handling is keeping the bow in a direction and the boat in a place of the pilot's choosing despite wind, waves and current. I've been in some situations where that was hard. This instance immediately broke into the top 10 and then, quickly, retired the trophy. At least, I hope it's retired because I don't want to have to deal with something worse than this .... ever! The boat was really getting pushed around and the pilot, moi, was getting beat-up and my butt was still wet. The worst of it lasted about 20~25 minutes, it seemed longer, but none of it was easy.

Regardless, we were anchored in Onset Harbor by 1330 an easy off-ramp from the "interstate" canal. The anchor dug in easily and well so we settled in the evening and a short night. Sunset in Onset Harbor over Wickets Island.

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Learning new stuff is getting old. If the Woods Hole passage took some thinking, the the transit of the Cape Cod Canal took some planning. The Army Corps of Engineers has a web page with the tidal flows. For Sunday, 06/23/2013, the current starting running East, the direction we wanted to go, at 0333 and would continue in that direction until about mid afternoon. It was fairly dark then so we waited until a little past 0430 to get up. The anchor was up by 0515 when the light was good enough to see the channel buoys. It was no more than a mile from the harbor to the canal. The demarcation between the side channel and the main flow could not have been more plain if there had been a dotted line painted on the water. Instead of dots there was a line of small white waves marking the edge between fast water and slow water. When we crossed that line we were going, maybe, 3.5 knots forward, across the current and 8.0 knots sideways with the current. Brought the bow around and the ride began.

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The canal is about 7 miles long, its width and depth about the same as the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal. At the Onset end of the canal were two bridges, three in all for the whole length. The first was a railroad bridge; about a mile on was a bridge for cars with an identical one toward the other end. Since the canal bisects the peninsula, that means that there are only four lanes of traffic, going and coming, to service the entire driving population. That's enough for January but is probably a stretch for July.

We hit the designated canal at 0530 and were out the other side by 0610. It was like a water slide .... except for boats. At one point we hit 11.2 knots. The only way I thought that the boat would ever go that fast was if some giant picked it up and then dropped it. The land around the canal was quite lovely, heavily treed, some rolling terrain to create a little character. We must have seen 100 or more guys along the banks fishing, this was before 0600. Some were even wearing waders which I thought very strange. I have no idea what they were after; we had talked to a commercial fisherman in Nantucket and he said that they were getting flounder so maybe these guys were too.

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It was going to be windy that day, starting about 1100; we were moored by 1000 and had little wind for the 20 miles from the canal to Provincetown. We launched the dinghy and had a walk about town. It was Sunday, and a very nice Sunday, sunny and warm. There are many of the ubiquitous ferries running here, from Boston, and there were people everywhere, very crowded, very busy.

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Of the many places we have been, the commercial strip here was probably the ugliest, no grace, even less charm, although individual places were quite interesting. Newport, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket all did it better. Carol saw a piece of glassware, rather like the one in Risky Business, except that it was remarkably beautiful. Inside the glass was a jellyfish with its tentacles ... sounds ugly, looked great, was great at the nominal price of $3,700. Carol bought a long sleeved t-shirt instead, saving us about $3,680.

While we had the motor running I decided to charge some stuff with a small inverter. Somehow, it blew a fuse, easy enough to fix but irritating to do. I was musing that we haven't had too many big issues. Wrong thinking. If we say that the trip started in Brunswick, GA, which it did, with a layover in Oriental, NC, then the list gets longer: a new autopilot, a new engine tachometer, a new fuel gauge sender, a new VHF base radio, a new VHF remote handset and a new handheld VHF radio. Replacing the toilet pump system seemed optional at the time, but in the end it was necessary. Sounds like a typical trip for us; throw in the near disaster of deep sixing a $2,000 O/B motor and we're maintaining our problem pace, might even be ahead of the pace.

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This building is on the pier with the dinghy dock, in this wind, it's over our stern. It truly looks like it should have been Quint's shark shack in Jaws. The birds on the roof's ridge line add a certain nautical ambience as well as decorative coloration to the dull asphalt shingles.

The wind arrived and then it really showed up. 25-kts. this afternoon. We took the dinghy for our first trip to town. It wasn't too bad heading downwind. Coming back, into the wind, we got wet, Carol's left side, my right side, based on our assigned seating. Going faster seems to be drier, up to a point, but it all comes down to degrees of difference: wet, wetter or wettest. When we went in for supper that first evening we had the marina's launch pick us up and, later, bring us back to the boat. Absolutely the dryest. Carol, of course, made up for earlier lost opportunities, and caused the demise of myriad crustaceans: she had shrimp for dinner.

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This town doesn't seem to have the historical sense that the islands had. Or, maybe it's buried under the signs for pizza and beer. But there are interesting vignettes that delight on a small scale what the town cannot do in the aggregate. The ship's figurehead, maybe a redhead, looked to be authentic. Most redheads are. Although she may be blond.

Of course, there was also the truly bizarre mega-vignette, this being a town with a bent in that direction, attention seeking for the sake of attention, shocking and exhibitionistic when necessary to garner that attention. I have know idea what inspired this collection of sculpture, statuary and stone along with who knows what else. It's a safe bet that this array is from the post-Puritan era.

I had known that Portuguese were part of the history of commercial fishing in Massachusetts. What I didn't know was that part of that history played out here. The town seems to celebrate that history in its own way: there were many Portuguese flags on display.

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The town and the whole of the end of the peninsula is dominated by this tower: the Pilgrim's Monument, built from 1907 to 1910. In the "I should have known that" category," it commemorates the Pilgrims' first landfall which was here, on Cape Cod, not at Plymouth Rock; that came about five weeks later. The Mayflower Compact, a pretty important piece of American and world democratic history was signed, about where the boat is, in the harbor of what would become Provincetown. The frieze at the bottom of the monument denotes that event.

It is, of course, made of yankee granite from Vermont and stands 252-ft. tall. I walked up most of those feet to the observation deck. No nose bleeds, but tired legs. Along the inside of the tower there were polished granite plaques, looking rather like headstones, from towns that had made contributions to the tower. Many Massachusetts' names I recognized from years of watching This Old House, a poor geography course because I would have no idea where those towns are in the state unless I were to see Norm Abrams and Tom Silva standing by their trucks. The bluff on which the tower stands may be 100-ft. high so the view from the observation deck was very good.

Two other buildings stand out, very notable from the water: the Universalist Church, (left) and the, now, public library (right). I can find no reference to confirm my thought, but the library just had to have been a church in some earlier iteration.

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The radios arrived on Monday afternoon via UPS. Spent that evening looking at the back of the new radio and studying the wires that I would have to connect; lots of wires but nothing that was a surprise. The back of the new radio looked a lot like the back of the old radio, mostly replacing one snarl of wires with a similar snarl of wires in a place that does not much accommodate room for anything.

Come Tuesday morning there was no way to procrastinate anymore; I had read every e-pub that is my wont. So, we started to unpack things with dedicated piles for new, old, trash, save, pretty much filling up the "free space" in the cabin. Having removed the old unit I got my first surprise .... a happy one: the new radio fit easily and securely into the opening of the old radio, something that the online literature indicated would not happen. No cutting a larger hole as I had thought would be necessary.

The power supply hookup was easy, as was the antenna, and the remote microphone; the GPS connections were new to me; I had hired that done to be hooked up the first time on the old unit. In fact, the only installation problem was with the installer himself, moi! This required several butt connectors to be installed, a shrinkable, insulated tube into which the ends of two wires are inserted and then crimped. The GPS wires were very thin and the two connections required six connectors because I was constantly letting one wire end fall out during the crimping. Old hands, I guess.

Did a bunch of checks; only needed one call to technical support to answer an esoteric question. It seems to work, having done a radio check with BoatUS.

I saved the remote handset installation for the next day. There was nothing very complicated about the installation; this was going to be the third time I had done it. The cable is 23 ft. long, and it had to run about 20 ft. along the port side of the boat. To access the cable run we had to empty the port side of the boat: all of Carol's galley cabinets and just about all of the lazarette. That left room to install the cable but not much room for the two of us to move around. Frustrating! I truly enjoy boating but have a growing dislike for the aggravation of boat maintenance.

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This visit has been very different from all the previous ones .... real life intruded. The aftermath of Joan's operation, Carol's sister, has not gone well and she had to be readmitted to the hospital. For now, the trip is on hold while that situation tries to find resolution. Thursday was the last weather window north for several days. So, regardless, it looks like we'll be in Provincetown for a while yet, Carol not wanting to be out of cellphone range for any extended period of time.

Where we go next, who knows. East .... definitely out; it's a very big ocean. West .... we couldn't go very far and it wouldn't take very long to get there. North .... that's the hope. South .... a guaranteed heading, just not a guaranteed date to do so.

Posted by sailziveli 10:10 Archived in USA Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises boats boating Comments (0)

Nantucket, MA

sunny 62 °F

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Martha's Vineyard was a microcosm of how the trip was supposed to have gone but had not yet done so. We arrived; we were able to do the things that we wanted; we decided to leave and did so. No weather constrained any part of the visit, although it did rain a couple of nights. On a one stop roll, we left early Tuesday for Nantucket. The forecast was clear, the radar screen was clear, no wind of any kind was predicted, the NHC had nothing going, easy-peasy .... Not! We got under way a little before 0600 and planned to eat along the way. I thought that it would probably have been a good idea to know the ferry schedules, we didn't, since 0600 seemed like an hour when things might start happening. As soon as we cleared the breakwater we saw one ferry headed into port; at 0600 the ferry at the dock headed out. We were able to get far enough west to stay out of their respective ways without any issues with shallow water. In doing so we passed close by this schooner, Shenandoah, part of the Black Dog business megaplex on Martha's Vineyard. It was cool to see it anchored in the outer harbor, no different than it would have been 150 years past.

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Along the way we saw this strange antenna (?) tower partly below the horizon along the southern coast of Cape Cod. My rough guess placed it near Hyannis Port. It looked like some sort of gigantic transformer toy, awaiting an ambitious four year old to rearrange it back into a galactic warrior.

It was just a short trip, 31 nm. We didn't think that it would take very long. About two hours out we hit a fog bank and the fog just got thicker and thicker and then thicker some more. I hadn't turned on the radar; we never use it is daylight. So I rebooted the system to get the radar up and running. There are several buoys that are also used as waypoints. I was using the GPS distance to the buoys to try to estimate the visibility. At one point we were barely able to see a very large object that was 0.1 nm away, maybe 200 yards. That seemed pretty thick. We slowed down a little just out of caution. Carol called a marina in Nantucket harbor to get a report on fog in the harbor; she was told that things were not too bad, maybe a mile or more. That sounded good enough to keep going instead of turning around back to Martha's Vineyard. About six miles out we must have hit a hole in the fog because things got pretty clear; that was encouraging. About five miles out visibility completely shut down as we were on a direct heading for the channel entrance; that was discouraging. The radar showed a lot of contacts on the water but we were surprised twice: first when a 50-ft. sailboat we had seen in Vineyard Haven appeared about 200 yards to starboard and then, five minutes later, a 40-ft. powerboat appeared about the same distance to port ..... never saw a hint of either on the radar scope. A few miles closer to the island we saw a large contact on radar moving very fast, guessed ferry and bore away. Good guess, it passed maybe a half mile off. I was getting quite concerned when, it's a miracle, about one mile out we saw the red and white sea buoy with the island faintly visible behind it. After that everything was easy and we moored at about 1120. I was later researching the island and found that is it called: "The Little Grey Lady of the Sea" because of its appearance from the sea when it is fog bound. I'll ditto that. Having passed the "boat handling in the fog" test once I'd prefer not to take it again but we're told that fog happens in Maine in the summer so, who knows?

If we did nothing else this trip I had declared a dream of sailing into Nantucket Harbor. In the event we got the "into the harbor" part just fine, but the "sailing" part, not so much .... there was zero wind and the tide was running out. Motoring was good enough. Carol had bought a bottle of "cheap" champagne to celebrate our arrival. Liking that beverage too much to drink that version we settled on my last Newcastle Brown Ale while Carol had wine. Since Europeans have been visiting here for almost four centuries and amerinds for untold centuries before that our arrival was not a conspicuous achievement save to ourselves. The dream was achieved in substance if not in style.

As my dear friend Big John is fond of saying, If you're lucky, sometimes s___ will do you for brains! A case in point, and a disaster dodged: after lunch we decided to put the dinghy in the water, which we did. When lowering the motor with the dedicated davit a stopper knot came undone, the line ran free and the motor plunged. There was a very small optimum target landing area: six inches one way and 85-lbs. land on my bare feet, six inches the other and those 85-lbs. sink straight to the bottom of the bay. The motor landed on the dinghy's transom, I was able to grab it, balance it and, then, get it mounted without letting it fall over the side. In Big John's terms: I was lucky since rarely do I position the dinghy directly below the motor. I do the rigging and the knots .... did that one a few years ago and have never checked it since. Obvious mistake on my part. I may blame Carol anyway.

On the knot: it's a type of stopper knot rather like a fisherman's knot. Its main attraction is that the knot is short, lying hard against whatever it circles. I have used that knot on three other critical pieces of rigging: the mainsail halyard, the foresail halyard and the mainsail outhaul which, probably, is under more stress than any other line on the boat. I have checked some similar fairleads and seen that they have sewn the ends of the lines together, a pretty good solution and something I may try to do since we carry sailmakers thread and needles.

A piece of blog trivia: just got an email from Travellerspoint that the Martha's Vineyard entry is featured on their homepage. More than 100 entries and we finally made the cut. The compensation, however, remained the same for the featured entry vs. all the others: $0.00.

It was an interesting night, our first in this harbor. I thought that Carol had put all of her carefully hoarded laundromat quarters into the Magic Fingers Mattress Massager because the bed didn't stay still the whole time. This is a fairly good harbor but is very open to the northeast. Got up this morning, looked out to see 2-ft. whitecaps rolling by the boat .... from the northeast. It's windy enough that the wind generator kept the Ah, amp hours, positive for the night, a rare occurrence. The generator was also very noisy ..... of the wake us up type of noisy, which it did several times. There are two bolts which I will need to tighten, bolts which haven't been checked in longer than the failed knot. The first evening here we went to the dinghy dock and the dock was crowded. Today we looked out and saw all the dinghies tethered behind their mother ships, like ducklings following mama. The chances of getting to the dinghy dock without getting soaked: 0%. The chances of getting to the dinghy dock without getting swamped: maybe 50%. So, we, like every other boat in the mooring field, had a quiet morning on the boat and waited until things calmed down a bit after lunch before going the half mile to the dinghy dock.

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The National Park Service cites the Nantucket Historic District, comprising all of Nantucket Island, as being the "finest surviving architectural and environmental example of a late 18th- and early 19th-century New England seaport town." So, Carol and I set out to see if that is a true statement.

Flower Boxes:

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Part two of Big John's aphorism about luck is this: we have hit these two islands at exactly the right time, no planning involved: it's before the heavy tourist season and it's also the peak of their Spring here because everything that blooms is blooming. There must be a law that says every old house must have flower boxes because all the houses here are old and most do. It's a New England thing, I guess. Regardless, it was striking to me. So, I took lots of pictures. Carol and I have no particular affinity for growing things, although she does have a few flowers in the front yard. This is just a sampling of all that we saw and only some of what I photographed.

The bottom two flower boxes got extra points for originality. The first used driftwood, pretty cool for an island. The second, hard to tell in the picture, is in the form of the hull of a rowboat, again, pretty cool for an island.

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Nice Front Doors:

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The old town had some substantial homes, but only one or two that we saw might have been for a truly prosperous owner. The homes of the merely well to do were good enough. Of course, there is the obligatory red door which would have pleased my mother who thought that they were a requirement, one that several of her homes had ..... red front doors.

Nice Houses:

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These houses were probably for well-to-do families maybe wealthy families. We may have missed more of these in our walk about the town; it just didn't seem that there were that many notable houses.

Regular Houses, Still Nice:

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There were lots of houses like these: modest in size and design. Of course, these are megabucks houses on the island which, I recall reading, has the highest housing prices in the U.S. The bottom left picture is of a house style called a salt box, unique, I think, to New England. This style house has a single story in the back, but two in the front giving it that distinctive roofline, sloping to the rear.

Brick Buildings:

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There were more brick buildings here than any other New England place we have visited. These two buildings, an inn and a bank, were just a few of the commercial buildings done in brick; they may have been preponderant. Nantucket had a very destructive fire in the 1840's like Chicago's in 1871. Chicago response was a building code that, in many cases, required brick construction. Maybe something similar happened on Nantucket. Probably 2/3's of the commercial district is brick. There were also several brick homes, generally done in the Federal style.

What is not clear is where the bricks came from. They're red clay, looking a lot like Georgia or the South, and I doubt that any of that unique soil exists on this island.

Houses with Roses:

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The roses were majorly in blossom here, with a pink variety clearly a gardening favorite locally. Many houses had trellises with pink roses climbing cedar shake walls. The clear winners, the two bottom pictures, were in Siasconset. It's not obvious in the first of the large pictures, but both houses had roofs covered in rose vines.

Steeples:

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There were a lot of churches in the main town of Nantucket, but only these two had steeples that rose well above the town to be visible from the harbor, i.e. our boat. It's a little hard to reconcile Puritan imprecations to modesty and a golden dome.

Widow's Walks:

Pictured are all of the widow's walks that we saw around town: exactly zero, which surprised me at the time. Many houses had built platforms on their roof peaks that resembled a widow's walk, but no real ones which require a flat section of roof. Of course, we might have missed them, not having walked in the right neighborhoods. My idle speculation is this: there was a great fire in 1843 which destroyed much of the town. By 1850 whaling, in general and at Nantucket in particular, was fairly played out, a time which was also concurrent with the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania. A walk atop the newly rebuilt houses may have seemed pointless.

Siasconset:

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On our second full day in Nantucket, we decided to go to Siasconet, in the southeast portion of the island. Nantucket is not big enough to warrant renting a car, so we took the bus. We got a senior discount on the bus fare, $1.00 each, each way, when Carol told everyone that we are 66. I, of course, let everyone know that she was not being truthful, her actual age being 67, that having already been accurately reported in an earlier blog posting (Pre-flight #2 - 2013; 03/29/2013).

The ride through the center of the island was interesting. The island is much developed, having some places that look like tract homes, if that phrase can be used with $1 million plus homes. The flora was mostly boring consisting of stunted, scrawny wind twisted pine trees and some sort of unimpressive deciduous tree. The western side of Martha's Vineyard is much more appealing.

It took about 20 minutes to get there and having arrived around lunchtime we stopped to eat at the Scisconet cafe where Carol had, what else, another lobster roll, part of her continuing program to "Kill a Crustacean Today!" At dinner the previous evening we had chatted with a couple that had visited Siasconset that day. The lady had remarked about the houses with roses on the roofs. Found those pretty quickly and it seemed that we had covered all the territory of interest.

We were just wandering around when Carol started talking to two guys who had just returned from a "bluff walk." They showed us how to access the path and we set off. The path literally does go along a bluff, maybe 40~50-ft. high. It also uses people's backyards for the pathway, well worn from many footsteps. To our right was the beach, the waters as calm, clear and blue as in the Bahamas. To the left were incredible houses. I took pictures of ones that were older, probably 60~100 years old. There were many newer ones. The top left picture is of a gothic-y looking place in a state of advanced decay, the only such one we saw.

The houses were special, each with an unimpeded view of the water; steps down the bluff to their own private beaches, probably owning land to the high water mark. These houses were well protected from storm surge but there was erosion. In a millenium or three the sea will claim all of these houses as it due.

We walked back on the road and I thought that I might be able to match up house front to their seaside parts. Unfortunately, every house had a privet hedge to provide some privacy.

All along the bluff there were these wild roses blooming; they seem to do well in the sandy, salty soil. We also saw this "sundial" on the side of a house, never having seen such a thing before. It was quite accurate.

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It Pays to Advertise:

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I have no idea what this store sells but it has one of the best ever "signs;" neon cannot compete with this. The door is also a contender.

Nantucket Conclusion:

First, is Nantucket the"finest surviving architectural and environmental example of a late 18th- and early 19th-century New England seaport town?" We're not even close to being smart or knowledgeable enough to respond to that issue. What we can say is that Nantucket is pretty impressive and that we would both rate it as a strong number two to Martha's Vineyard, followed by Newport, RI. Had we not seen Martha's Vineyard first we would probably have been crazy for the place. We enjoyed our stay here and, I think, would be open to returning. In American Bandstand terms: it has a good beat and you can dance to it.

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Carol, of course, loves flowers .... loves their scents, loves their colors. It's kind of hard to surround her with a trellis of irises; they don't actually climb very well. So, here she is in a halo of roses. Carol has gotten so skinny on this trip that, rare for a 67-years old woman, she looks exactly like she did in January, 1968, when first we married. Well, maybe not exactly, exactly. There's the hair, once long and wavy, now shorter and curly, suitably bobbed for life on the boat. And there are the scars on her legs, not there in 1968, but the reason she's here in 2013. Other than that, she looks just about the same to me.

I think that I had related in an earlier blog entry that Carol had promoted herself from ship's cook to culinary coordinator for the cruise. Of course, the more impressive title comes with prerogatives, not so much what to eat as where to eat. She had been doing fairly well with coordinating us to restaurants but, somehow, lost control of the process in Martha's Vineyard, where we ate on the boat every night. So on our second evening in Nantucket, to balance the scales, she chose a lobster restaurant for her first, 1 1/4-lb., Maine lobster. I know it was a lobster place because it had a lobster flag. It was not her first lobster ever, but first in many, many years.

Lobster eating is complicated, messy and involves a lot of details, like sucking the legs, cracking the chela and whether to eat lobster tomalley, mostly the liver, green when boiled. She comported herself admirably consuming all of the poor beast that sacrificed itself for her dining pleasure. I don't know what it is that compels her to such levels of crustacean cruelty, but she does it mercilessly, with much vigor and no remorse. The result of her serial crustacean depredations: crabs are now an endangered species, lobsters will certainly follow if we get to Maine.

Life on the boat seems to keep a person focused on very practical matters: weather, maintenance, fuel, etc. It does not readily encourage the contemplation of existential issues, save one, which has nothing to do with trees falling in forests: if I've been there and don't have a t-shirt how can I really know that. Of course, this could just be the advent of the aging process and the CRS syndrome (Can't Remember S___). I had not indulged that existential need for shirts and hats until we hit Martha's Vineyard which inspired me to purchase two shirts, neither from the park at Gay Head thinking that that wouldn't play well where men's fashion is mainly Carhartt and camouflage, both of which I own, and a hat. Nantucket was worth a shirt and hat, and I would have bought a sweatshirt but I refused to pay the stupid asking prices.

We spent much of the morning getting water and fuel on board. To head north we need to traverse Buzzards Bay. To get to the bay from these islands the easiest thing to do is transit the passage between Woods Hole and two islands: Nonamesset and Uncatena. The problem, per the cruising guide, is with deep draft, low power boats trying to handle tricky, shoaled, rocky waters with or against currents that can run to six knots. i.e. sailboats. So, we're going back to Martha's Vineyard to use it as a staging location to be able to access that channel quickly during slack water. After that it's a couple of days to Provincetown, our next planned port of call.

Posted by sailziveli 19:09 Archived in USA Tagged boats boating Comments (0)

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