A Travellerspoint blog

USA

Reflections

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I still hear the siren's song, music urging travel to distant waters breaking on foreign shores. I had another trip in the planning stages, charts, charters, certifications. But, on reflection, this is it, the end of the adventure.

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Now, the final curtain has fallen, the play has ended.

So …….. was it all worth it?

We owned our Živeli for six years; we have chartered sailboats four times. All told, we have way more than three full years on the water and have traveled way more than, or close to, 10,000 nautical miles.

In all those days, over all those miles we saw and experienced most of what nature has to offer in weather: dead calm, delightful weather, one tropical storm and more gales and near gales than can be counted.

In all those days, over all those miles we experienced the entire emotional spectrum: joy and despair; triumph and disappointment; confidence and terror; tedium and awe.

So …….. was it all worth it?

Carol and I purchased our boat on August 1, 2007, just a few months shy of our 40th anniversary. I am aware of no data in this area, but I will postulate that after 40 years of marriage the number of couples that share a dream is much less than 100%. Of that number, how many actually get to pursue that dream? Probably not so many; but we did. Many dreams prove false and end with the bitter taste of ashes. Our dream ended with a sense that we had great fortune in our adventures and misadventures. More importantly we have had great fortune in each other. We did something difficult, we did it together, and we did it reasonably well, not possible without a solid foundation of trust and respect, patience and love.

So …….. was it all worth it?

Most memorable good moment: it was probably February of 2009. Carol was invested with helping Joan during her time of trouble; we were moving the boat north in stages while Carol commuted between the boat and Tallahassee, FL. We were headed to Ft. Pierce, and the first leg was an overnight passage from Boot Key Harbor in the Florida Keys to Miami's Biscayne Bay. It was around 0400, I was at the helm. We were riding the Gulf Stream and were somewhere along that powerful river where East starts to transition to North. It was a clear, dark night. As always, there was a low cloud formation on the distant horizon and stars speckled the inky sky. As the moon started to rise behind this cloud bank, it backlit the clouds to an incredible light amber color, brighter in front of the moon, less bright and darker at the edges. Then, beauty became awe when a meteor shower rained down over the moon. If only I were a poet and I had the words.

Most memorable not so good moment: Actually, it was terrifying; I was sure that I was going to de-mast the boat. As recounted in the blog entry of 02/08/2010:

The hardest day of the trip is over, a transit of only three miles. St. Augustine is the flop sweat capital of the ICW. Since we decided to stay an extra day here before heading south Carol suggested that we move the boat south of the Bridge of Lions, which is undergoing a major renovation, a really good idea.

There is a big shoal in the middle of the harbor which requires a course almost into the ocean inlet before making a sharp "V" course change back southwest toward the bridge. There is a close-set pair of buoys, a gate, through which a boat must pass; if you turn to soon, the shoal will get you; the tow boat operators get rich on this mistake. I knew this from last year. So, Carol and I are intensely focused ... counting out marker numbers to get to Red 60, which is the turning point. And, we're doing great until I look at the depth meter ..... 7-ft. and getting shallower. Oooooops!!! We, I, whatever, were committed to and steering toward the wrong red marker. Big mistake! We dodged that bullet, got back into the channel and finally found the right marker.

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We arrived at the bridge about 10 minutes before the scheduled 11:00 am opening. Bridges never open on time, so I had to hold the boat in a waiting position, bow pointed away from the bridge and into the current, for about 15 minutes. There was a 4-knot current pushing us into the bridge while the wind was pushing us towards the mainland. I must have had a brain cramp, or something, because after one turn we were way too close to the unopened bridge, going stern first toward it at four knots. The engine has never worked that hard before and probably won't again. Somehow, I don't quite know how, we clawed our way back against the current and out of hazard.

The trifecta of troubles was complete when the operator only opened one span of a two-span bascule bridge because of the construction, and by the way, that span didn't reach true a perpendicular. Not only was the margin reduced by 50%, or so, the usual visual markers don't apply: you cannot center the boat between the bridge supports. So, I put Carol on the deck to give me hand signals. The thing is, that to control the boat, have positive rudder action, while going with the current you have to be going faster than it is. So, our accomplishment this day was to thread the needle at full ramming speed. The only good thing was that I could not see overhead because of the bimini, so ... I didn't have a reason to panic.

Places that quickened the heart: I wanted to limit this to three, but it has to be four. In alphabetical order:

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1. The Exuma islands: Shroud Cay and Waderick Wells Cay. These two adjacent islands form the bulk of the 176-square-mile Exuma Cays Land and Sea National Park, the Bahama’s equivalent of our Yellowstone or Smoky Mtn. national parks. The entire Exuma Island chain is a 130-mile long parking lot for boats. These islands are generally less inhabited than the Abaco Islands to the north. As a result, many still have a natural austerity and beauty, some places seemingly untouched by time or man.

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2. Nantucket Island. Nantucket was, until about 1850, the whaling capital of the world. I had read all of Melville’s books at an early age and any other books that I could find in libraries that dealt with whaling on square rigged ships. Had it occurred to me, I would have thought it ridiculous that I would ever sail, motor actually, into Nantucket Harbor. But, we did. The sense of history in these sorts of places is palpable, Nantucket being no exception despite the fact that a fire leveled the town in the middle 1800’s.

The Japanese have a meal concept, shun; the premise is that any food should only be eaten at its peak of flavor. Nantucket was our shun visit; we arrived just when the climbing roses, the American Pillar, were in full bloom adding a veneer of beauty to the commonplace, a veneer of resplendence to the already beautiful. It was a magical place at a magical time.

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3. Newport, RI. An unusual choice, not an island. Carol and I both have a deep interest in history. Newport fairly drips with history having been established about twenty years after the Pilgrims arrived. It was also the place of choice for robber barons of every ilk during the Gilded Age. Seeing that 250 years of history on display, in a continuum, street by street, regular houses next to mansions defies my ability to describe it. Only Charleston, SC comes close, but not very close.

What pushed Newport onto the list is its harbor. Annapolis, MD fancies itself the sailing capital of the East. Not so!!! It was beyond my imagination that we would ever moor our boat a few dozen yards away from America’s Cup entrants and America’s Cup winners. Sailboats of every type, size and configuration were moored or berthed there, including some private dreadnaughts well over 100-ft. long. Serious drugs for a sailboat addiction.

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4. Princess Louisa inlet. The only true fjord in North America and we were there … surrounded by mountains rising more than a mile from the water’s edge, capped with snow in June; the melting snow feeding dozens of waterflows that merge and become waterfalls, large and small, cascading thousands of feet down the mountains’ bare rock faces. Majesty and awe are not big enough words to describe it; no picture could ever capture it. It has to be experienced. It is our good fortune that we did.

So …….. was it all worth it?

YES!!!

Posted by sailziveli 14:59 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Friday Harbor

Last Stop on the Line

sunny 73 °F

Saturday, June 16, 2018
We got underway this morning, late again, expecting that others would have preceded us. Not so. Maybe, because it was Saturday, a weekend crowd was there for the duration. So, we were the first to leave the mooring field, opening up space for another boat to snug in for the night. There was a brisk, very brisk, wind so when we cleared the area into deep water, we put the sails up. Big problem.

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I had found a loose shackle on the foredeck, near the anchor, but did not know what its purpose was. It all became clear; it was the shackle that secures the bottom of the jib to the furling roller. It had come off. There is a sailboat 101 deal that has to be done: mousing the shackles, at least the critical ones,but it really should be all permanent shackles. Standard shackles have a hole in the pin; a soft, flexible wire is run through and around the shackle side to ensure that the pin cannot work loose under a strain. That had not been done; one end of the jib was flapping in the wind.I also noticed that two cars on the mainsail were not in the track. Bottom line: neither sail was usable. No sails, no wind instruments and, by the way, we had to do this to keep the chart plotter from overheating. Not exactly a peak sailing experience, but fun to be on a boat again.

All griping aside, today we were traveling with the current and got back the several hours that we lost going against the current on Wednesday. We are in Friday Harbor, on the other side of San Juan Island from Roche Harbor. An easy day until we entered the marina to moor in a slip. The marina people put us in a slip shared by another boat with the wind pushing us away from the dock and into that boat. Somehow, I got the boat into the slip without crashing into anything, but it was a very close call.

So, here we will sit for two days and then return to Bellingham, to leave the boat on Tuesday. We're renting a car and spending a few days in the area. No particular plan. A couple of days in Victoria and then a few more on the Olympic peninsula. Hope that it's fun.

On Wednesday, in Sucia Island's harbor I looked west for a sunset; seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Last night, by accident, I looked east. The picture does not do justice to the rose tint that the snow capped peaks took on. A pretty picture to end the blog,

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Posted by sailziveli 14:09 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Sucia Island

semi-overcast 63 °F

Thursday and Friday, June 14 - 15, 2018

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Carol remarked that it was unusual for us to be the fourth boat out, our days underway usually starting before zero dark thirty. We didn’t leave the dock until 0915, leisurely, time for reading the WSJ, unhurried disconnecting power lines, dock lines, unhurried everything. A nice morning. We had chosen as our next destination Sucia Island, rated as one of the two best places for cruisers to visit mainly because there are so many good coves and bays in which to anchor. Actually it's sort of a colony of islands, each having a separate name.

There is a navigational aid for this area of water that I have never seen or even heard of before. It is a chart kit, about 90 different charts, one of which plots the current flow for every hour of every day of the year; that is 61,320 hours per year. This matters because these islands are at the southern end and very close to the open waters of the Pacific. Huge, strong tidal flows constricted by all these islands.

The point of all this is that despite having used the book several times so for, I completely ignored it this particular morning. And it didn’t really seem to matter very much until we cleared the harbor entrance and headed down the channel. The water was turbulent and roiling. Bow on to the current our speed kept dropping: 5 knots, 4 knots, 1 knot. The chart book had indicated that there would be a current of N>2.5 knots flowing against us. In fact it was almost certainly greater than 5.0 knots because at one point we were making 0.5 knots of headway, basically standing still. We were in the deepest part of the channel, more or less trying to go up a funnel against the flow. Bad plan.

After a while, having accomplished nothing, I decided to try a Gulf Stream tactic: get close(r) to shore in shallower water and the current will be less strong. We moved from over 600 feet deep to about 150. This worked OK; we got up to about 3 knots.

I’m standing there thinking about Sylla and Charybdis, purported to be in the Straits of Messina, through which I have been, and the boat does a spurt, 7 knots. It was pretty clear that this was a back current and, sure enough, we passed by a large eddy/whirlpool and I’m trying to remember what Odysseus did. As if I needed it, this was another demonstration about the power nature, weather, gravity when they influence water.
When we exited the lee of the island we were back to standing still. However, we now had wind. So, out go the sails, no problems again, and with the sails and the motor we were able to make decent progress. After about three hours the tide started to turn and things were better.

Currents notwithstanding, it was one of the nicest days we have had. Sunny, pretty warm, a little wind. A good day to be on a sailboat and we were.
We had about 12 - 15 nm to travel; it should have taken about two and a half hours, or so. Actual time was closer to five hours. But, there was a secure mooring ball at the end of the trip, pretty scenery. When we entered the mooring field that afternoon there were less than a dozen boats. By sunset that number were more twenty.

I got the dinghy going, first time, and tried to find the park ranger station to pay our fee. We didn’t have the secret decoder ring and I never found it. The park ranger lady came by later to get our money.

It looks like we’re in for a run of good weather for the few days that we have left. We decided to stay two nights here, Sucia Island, no special reasoning for that. It's just a pleasant and safe place to stay. By about noon, most of the boats that were here last night have moved on. But by dusk there will be a new flotilla arriving just because it's a pleasant and safe place to stay.

Since we have no boat maintenance to do, days like this are leisurely and lazy. The phones and Kindles are in constant use, batteries draining, connections being maintained. As we were struggling against the current yesterday, I got to thinking about how boating today is different from years ago. I don’t think that we, or many of the folks with whom we share and have shared these and other waters, could do so without GPS and chart plotters. The GPS satellites, built and launched for the military, have democratized boating among other activities. Some of my earliest, strongest and best memories involve the beach, ocean and boats. The ocean has always had a fascination for me and I have had the opportunity to pursue that just because we wanted to be better at making war. An ill wind that blew some good.

Posted by sailziveli 12:52 Archived in USA Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats Comments (0)

Back in the US of A

sunny 70 °F

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

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Some general blog housekeeping because it's important to Carol, since she took the pictures. The first picture is me, of course, with my guaranteed, boat proof, not tippable, non skiddable, tea mug. It really works and has never failed to stay upright even in the most trying conditions. On the water, I fortify my tea with a dollop of honey, for quick energy.

We expected cool weather and have not been disappointed in that. We brought a lot of polar fleece clothing that doesn't absorb water, so it retains body heat. Being a certifiable, undeniable cold cold weather weenie, surprisingly, I have been quite comfortable. The only exception has been my feet and hands when wet, which they have been a lot, since there is no protection from the rain. What's been surprising is how much the temperature drops when the sun goes behind a cloud.

Carol solved a problem today. There is a small general store at this marina specializing in t-shirts, sundry drinks and fishing tackle. Somewhere in there she found a boat hook. Go figure. She purchased the entire inventory: one each. Maybe we will moor when in the San Juans.

We have eaten out a bit and Carol has done some grocery shopping, all in Loonies, of course. It's disconcerting to see the prices in Canadian dollars; they seem so high. It takes a moment to think through the conversion process. One Canadian dollar is about $0.78 US, roughly a 4:3 ratio. Maybe not exactly a deal, but OK.

If I ever decide that I want to be a financial mogul, I am going to roll up and consolidate all the shower stalls at all the marinas in the Pacific Northwest. There is no such thing as a free shower out here; $2 for 2 minutes, a deal was $1 for 3 minutes. And the first minute is wasted waiting for the hot water to circulate to he shower head. US, Canada, it doesn't matter. Cleanliness may be next to Godliness, but only if you are willing to pay the price. Last night, at Montague Harbour the showers were not only not free, they were cold water only. So, Carol convinced me to do something that I only did a few times on our boat: take a shower using boat water in the head. This violates every genetic imperative of boating, water conservation being the prime directive. The only times I did that on our boat was when we were in the middle of a three or four day offshore transit and I needed something to revive me, knowing we were going into a port where we could get more water. We got water today, we'll get water tomorrow and it felt really good to get clean. This boat even has a plexiglass shower door that folds into three sections. Very fancy.

Quick update. Last night we did have a gin & tonic at the pub but it was a hurried affair. We arrived at 1550; the pub closed at 1600. Customs people get exercised about unopened bottles of spirits. These have various taxes imposed and they seem to fear resale without the government collecting its few dollars. Having an unopened bottle of scotch on board last night, I had to open it to get through customs. I had long known that good scotch goes well with good dark chocolate. I recently discovered that it also goes well with Vanilla Wafer cookies. Sounds like an oxymoron, but they go down well together.

We have mostly overcast weather with little sunshine during the day. Finally, in Montague Harbour there was something like a sunset.

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The trip to Roche Harbor was quiet, As we got closer to the US we could see this mountains to port; hard to tell if they are in The US or Canada. Probably doesn't matter too much; they are majestic regardless.

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As we passed Saturna Island, we could say that we had arrived home. If you look very closely you can see the dotted line that is the international border between the two countries.

There was one interesting thing along the way. As we were in Boundary Passage I saw a whale, too far away to photograph, and too quick anyway. It was probably an orca. I could see a large dark body surfacing and what looked like the dorsal fin, which is distinctive to those whales. It surfaced about three times and then was gone. We probably did better than all the all of the dozen, or so, whale watching boats that were scurrying about trying to find something to watch.

Clearing customs was very pro forma, maybe five minutes. We moored and we were done. Bad weather on Wednesday kept in port. Off tomorrow, we hope,

Posted by sailziveli 19:46 Archived in USA Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats Comments (0)

Predictably, Chaos Ensued

semi-overcast 52 °F

At 0500 we were both awakened by a load thump. Being at anchor this is never a pleasant sound. Jumped up and looked outside to see if the anchor had dragged. No problem, so that was not it. Carol noticed that my toiletries bag had fallen from its hook. No more mystery. But what was mysterious was that our boat was doing 360's around the anchor. I had never, ever seen this before and would have been very concerned had not the other two boat in the anchorage been doing the same thing. Having had a few hours to think this through I am still clueless. Regardless, the anchor didn't drag and the boat was safe .... no harm, no foul.

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We got under weigh about 0630 heading north for Point Robert. To do so we had to share space in a major shipping channel, Rosario Straight. As we approached, there was a convoy of ships, freighters and container ships, heading south from Vancouver to the Pacific. It was interesting to watch as each ship repeated the exact same same movements as the one ahead as they changed their headings. It looked choreographed, which in a sense it was.

The weather was predicted to be rainy and windy. The forecast was precisely correct. As we entered the channel this island was to port with low hanging clouds; not even a hint of sun then or later in the day.

It took a few hours to get out of the shipping channel. Having done that it seemed time to practice raising the sails, so we did. The boat has immaculate documentation on how to do things, so I took the book to the cockpit and started going through the steps. Predictably, chaos ensued. One of the steps was to release the main sheet, which controls the mainsail boom. Having no restraints and no preventer line, the mainsail boom swung so wide, so violently, that it pulled the piston from the boom vang ( too complicated to explain). Regardless we had a broken piece of equipment and no solution. The on board tool kit had no screwdrivers, pliers, or other useful tools, unless I was going to rebuild the engine. I took a pass at trying to reassemble the two parts; no luck. Called the emergency numbers for San Juan Sailing; no one home. Since help and advice was not in the offing, the cruiser mentality took over. You are on your own, there are two people on the boat and only one of the two has a chance, however remote, of fixing the damn thing. So I did. Ended up with a small issue. When our phone call was finally returned I spoke with the company owner we decided that the small issue was not an impediment, so we turned the boat around and headed north again. We got our first look at the Canadian Rockies along the way.

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We had made reservations at a marina in Point Robert and arrived there easily enough. This was the second issue for the day: how to enter the marina all we could see was a 20-ft. tall seawall ..... no signs, no doors, no clue. Turns out that you entered from the side after almost going onto the beach. It was just one of the things where we had no local knowledge. We took on some fuel and with a little help because of the wind, we moored safely for the night.

We were told we could clear Canadian customs here; not so. Our next trick will be doing that. Then comes the awful moment; raising the sails again.

Posted by sailziveli 16:17 Archived in USA Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats Comments (0)

Northward Bound

Bellingham Bay

sunny 70 °F

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We're off and we are both playing to type: Carol is excited and I'm nervous .... what did we forget, what did we not do that needed doing, ad infinitum et ultra. In dealing with performance pressure, a sailboat is an interesting challenge because the pressure starts immediately; you have to get underway from the dock without wrecking any other boats or generally embarrassing yourself with lousy boat handling skills. There seems to be a law of inverse proportions for this situation: the worse you do, the more people there are on the dock to see you do it. Nail it, and there's never anyone around. I was adequate so, good enough.

We have a plan, sort of. We will head north on the eastern side of the Salish Sea, which is continental British Columbia, and return south along the western side of the Salish Sea which is the east coast of Vancouver Island. The prevailing winds here are from the northwest quadrant so, tougher going on the northern leg and, maybe, good running to the south. Of course, this plan is based on exactly zero experience, so, go back to sentence #1 .... I'm nervous. All plans are good until execution exposes all the flaws, and my first one was that I assumed that my Google Earth places were tied to my email address and that I could access them from my laptop. Wrong! They have to be physically transferred from my desktop to may laptop. How silly is that. This means that I cannot locate all the way points that I created from my laptop. Fortunately, I have marked them on my charts so we should be OK.

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Most sailors obsess over weather and those that don't obsess at least worry about it. My assumption is that weather will be a big factor on this trip. I suppose that we are on what could be called an inland sea, and will never be very far from some land. But, storms are what they are, and I expect one or two, and a fair amount of rain. I had thought that the weather here was influenced by the Japanese current. That was approximately correct, but the currents in the northern hemisphere of the Pacific Ocean are much more complex than I was aware. The affecting ones are the North Pacific and the Alaska currents. Regardless of the names, the issue is still the same: warm moist air collides with cooler air and it rains.

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It's inevitable, I guess; any boat we are on will be compared to the one we owned, for better or for ill. The Maine boat was older, 80's vintage, and smaller, 30-ft., than ours. It was a tight fit, not much storage, and the forward v-berth was not very comfortable for sleeping. This boat is much newer, and longer, 34-ft. It has a separate v-berth and another sleeping berth, like our boat had. As on our boat the v-berth is being used as a closet and pantry, a shambolic arrangement best kept behind a closed door.

Yardarm issue solved: scotch for me and wine for Carol. This works.

We had a "captain's" meeting with the charter service on Friday evening before getting underway. Didn't know what to expect; didn't expect what happened. First there was a one hour meeting on safety regarding hazards and related issues in these navigable waters. Tidal currents are going to be a much bigger issue than I had anticipated. Probably should have seen that one coming, but didn't. Next we spent a couple of hours on the boat with a young lady who acquainted us with how it worked. Several first impressions: this is a way nice boat. It was built the same year as ours, 2005, and cost at least 50% to 75% more, despite being shorter. Second, it is a serious sailing vessel. It has running rigging that I could not identify by name. Each sail has more lines than both our sails did together. It is set up really nicely. And nothing, not a single thing, seemed to be an analog of anything on our boat. Different places, different setup, different usage; at one point it felt like six years of accumulated knowledge was rendered useless. And, of course, when things go south, which they may, we'll have to translate old speak into new speak and do so quickly. I don't do "overwhelmed" but if I did, that would have been what I felt walking off the dock. The sole saving grace is that they have incredible documentation. The book remembers if you can remember to look in the book. Boat details, a home made chart showing all the places and hazards where people have screwed the pooch. They also have a pretty good inventory of spare parts, hopefully, not needed. However, the diesel heater works so, everything else is a detail.

Our plan for getting under weigh was simple: get there about 7 am; start schlepping stuff onto the boat; Carol would drop off the rental car early; then she would work on stowing things and I would work on clearing out the old way points from the nav system and putting ours in. Maybe leave the dock by noon, maybe not. Didn't really happen like that. It took us more than four hours to load and semi-organize the boat. Stuff was, and still is strewn hither and yon. We has the folks off load some things so that we would have better access to storage. Carol probably nailed it when she commented that this is a pretty boat, but it's tough to beat Beneteau for overall livability.

So, we got under weigh about 12:30 with the goal of going to a small, near by cove called Pleasant Bay. It was a pure Mongolian cluster ______ trying to use the chart plotter. This one is different and newer than any of ours. It worked just fine, but I could not get it to do what I wanted. And, what I wanted was pretty simple stuff. SO, a couple of phone calls, and an in depth read of the owner's manual may have solved the issues, or maybe not. The chart plotter was such an issue that we did not even think about raising the sails. That will be the Marx Brothers meet the Three Stooges. absent pies in the face. That will have to wait for another day and the motor works just fine.

We caught a lucky day, today, sunny and warm, almost sun tan weather which was good for getting stuff onto the boat. Tomorrow, rainy, windy, not so nice. And, we have a 35 nm to 40 nm run to get to point Roberts, which has a marina and where we can clear customs into Canada before going farther north. So, until then we will enjoy our sheltered anchorage in Pleasant Bay, aptly named, it is pleasant and this is what we see to the west.

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Posted by sailziveli 17:36 Archived in USA Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats Comments (0)

To the Water's Edge

overcast 59 °F

While sitting in the hotel lobby at zero dark thirty, waiting for a bus to take us to the airport, so we could walk to a gate to board a plane, to fly us to Seattle, where we would walk to a bus to shuttle us the the rental car place so we could walk to the car, I got to thinking about traveling in this day and age, the difference between travelling and a trip.

I am old enough to remember the 1950's, before Alfred Kahn deregulated air travel while working for Jimmy Carter, when people treated air travel differently, as a novel, and for many, a first time experience. That novelty meant suits and ties for men and, if the pictures are correct, dresses, hats and gloves for most women. Fast forward six decades .... what a difference. The jeans and t-shirts dress code is way better. The actual traveling,though, is an inconvenience to be endured not enjoyed, suffered not savored.

The Charlotte check in for the plane was fairly painless. Carol, in the full Nordic Princess mode, commandeered someone to help with the self check in process. Whether he was frightened by or fascinated by this lady towering over him by 8-in. or 9-in. I could not tell. Regardless, he made quick work of it and sent us on our way. Carol, having packed a bag the same size as a Greyhound bus, couldn't fit everything into it. Predictable. So she walked through the airport with sundry bags, articles of clothing, pillows and such festooned about her person like a bag lady in search of her shopping cart.

Today, Thursday, a disaster was avoided. I had gotten new glasses and frames in Asheville. I did not think that there were any mistakes left to be made: three wrong lenses, wrong frames, just a series of "never have happened in 60 years of wearing glasses" errors. I had scratched a lens and picked up a replacement on the way to Charlotte. They ordered the wrong prescription for the lens; I was almost seeing double. Fortunately, Carol had asked for the old lens and kept it with her. I carry a small glasses tool kit in my bag and, easy peasy, the old lens was back in. The scratch I can live with; the other would almost have ruined the trip.

After leaving Charlotte, with the temperature about 90o and the high humidity from tropical storm Alfredo's rain, Seattle was almost a shock. Very cool, in the 50's, overcast and very breezy. I don't think that there will be issues filling the sails; keeping me warm may be harder. We shipped ahead all our foul weather gear and fleece clothing. I'm sure that this will work out but it will not be toasty at the helm. I hope that the diesel heater performs well.

There were a couple of difficult questions packing for this trip. The first was: what electronics to bring since they all need charging. On our boat we probably had a dozen interior DC outlets, many of which I added myself. No problems. On the Maine boat there was only one interior DC outlet. Major inconvenience. Don't know about this boat. The computer was a simple decision ... no computer, no blog. Ditto the camera. We are taking both phones, just in case, and they will provide wi-fi hot spots when we can get a cell signal. We are both carrying our Kindle e-readers; lots of pages, no space and good battery life. I am also carrying a DC multi-outlet plug in case we have a similar paucity of outlets this time. Carol solved a major issue: cell phones. I had thought that we would have to buy an unlocked phone and get a plan from a Canadian service provider. Turns out that Verizon, which works on an older standard, has a roaming plan that will work in Canada. All we have to do is make a change in the setting for our phones to work in Canada, Pretty cool, very easy and way cheaper than the alternative.

The second question was harder: I know what gin & tonic weather is and this is definitively not it. The sun will traverse the yardarm sometime and all sailors want a healthy dram to celebrate its passage. We'll have to figure out what that will be. Carol is not much for dark beverages, e.g. scotch or rum. Other provisioning is always difficult with one person, guess who, viewing food as an emotional issue and the other seeing it as an existential issue. We will surely have more than enough food to survive and a sufficiency of choice.

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We seem to have come to the right place; this is a very big marina teeming with sailboats. The good news is that we are done with traveling for now; the trip will start when we are on the wet side of the water's edge, and we are only hours away from that time.

Posted by sailziveli 10:31 Archived in USA Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats Comments (0)

Will These People Never Learn???

We sold the boat in November, 2013, going on five years now. Last June, we got to complete the missing leg of our cruise to New England: Maine in Penobscot Bay and the area around Acadia National Park. And, it was good.

Carol's sister, Joan, had given us a book some years back about the 50 best places to visit on a cruising boat, one of which was the San Juan Islands, north of Seattle, WA. This, of course, got me thinking about and researching the Salish Sea, the waters between the western side of British Columbia and Vancouver Island to the west. The Salish Sea is about 130 nm long but not much more than 20nm wide in most places. The San Juan Islands are part of this geography.

Drilling down in Google I came across a reference to a Marine Park in British Columbia. So, I decided to use that as a search criteria and voilà ... it turns out that pretty much both the east and west coasts of the Salish Sea covered with National Marine Parks, the equivalent of our Yellowstone or Smoky Mountain national parks. This pretty much sealed the deal. We were not quite done with our watery ways.

Finding a boat was easy enough. Timing was a little tougher. The better and warmer the weather, the higher the charter rates. I opted for mid-June, just before the prices jump. We will get off the boat on June 19th; the rates go up on June 20th. The trade off is that the wind will be better when we are there than later in the season. It will also be cooler, much cooler, and rainier, much rainier, and the thing that makes this trip possible is that the boat we chartered has a diesel heater which will, I hope, keep my narrow body comfortable, or, at least, not freezing.

Carol and I divided the travel responsibilities in two: I did on the water planning and she did on the land planning, flights, hotels, etc. My part was different from anything which I had previously done. The charts we will be using are from the Canadian Hydrographic Office. In all the pages of charts there is not a single way point or located navigation marker. Big Change! Way points are useful to safe navigation; the premise is that if you travel the straight line between the two points there will not be any safety hazards: reefs, sandbars, obstructions, etc. From the charts. it looks like the water is sooooo deep, hundreds of feet, that the only way to cause a problem is to drive the boat onto the beach. Being a creature of habit, I spent a few hours on Google Earth making my own way points. This will make daily planning and route travelling much better.

The other new(ish) thing is anchoring. We have anchored a boat hundreds of times; not a big deal. We carried 200-ft. of anchor chain and in all those years we only anchored in water deeper that about 20-ft. once: Block Island. This boat carries 300-ft. of chain (see previous statement: the water is sooooo deep). The deal seems to be that there is not much in the way of flat bottoms in these places; the ground slopes very steeply away from the shore. So the trick is to run a line from the boat's stern to the shore and secure it there. Then, when the boat tries to move it will force the anchor to "drag" uphill making it unlikely to pull free. The first couple of times we try to do this we will probably look like clowns but we will not be as bad as when on our first trip south we tried to put out a stern anchor in Awenda Creek, SC. The other caution will be not to foul the propeller, something which I have done on several occasions. Nothing good ever has come from that, ever; the only issue is how bad!!!

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The boat we have chartered is called Cecelia, cue Paul Simon: Cecelia, you're braking my heart, you're shaking my confidence daily. It is a 34-ft. Tartan, Tartan's having a reputation as good boats under sail. That is 2-ft. shorter than our boat, but for 2 1/2 weeks, not a problem. Our boat had a main sail that furled into the mast; there were many practical reasons for having selected that set up. But, after having sailed with a fully battened main sail in Maine, last year, we will always sail this rig which Cecelia has.

We will be spending about 2/3's of the trip in Canada, probably having to clear customs on the first or second day out. Ironically, our old passports expired right in the middle of the trip so, we had to get new ones. This will be my 4th or 5th one, having gotten my first one at 17 right after graduation from high school.

We will depart Bellingham, WA on June 2d or 3d, depending on how long it takes us to provision and load our stuff onto the boat. We will be travelling in the couple of weeks prior to the summer Solstice and, being that far north, daylight will be about 17 hours long leaving plenty of time for longer days of travel. The farthest north we have ever been on the boat was Maine, about 44o north. On a car trip to the Canadian Maritime Islands we went to the north end of Prince Edward Island, about 47o north. We intend to get to 50o north which would put us on a parallel with Newfoundland. That's north enough.

This is something to which we look forward but not without concerns. Boating, and particularly boat handling, is not like riding a bicycle and it doesn't automatically all come back. The bigger concern is with the boat. What happens if there is a problem when we are way north. Probably no cell coverage and no way to communicate using VHF. I don't know the boat and I don't have a good tool set even if I could isolate the problem. We have sailed out of one disaster and I'm sure we could do it again but I not really looking for another merit badge. One is enough; actually one is one too many.

A nice lady we know is going to stay in the house while we are away. While we were having dinner and discussing things she said that one compatibility test for couples is to spend two weeks on a sailboat. Carol and I have passed all the previous tests; here's hoping that we can do it again.

Posted by sailziveli 09:35 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Swan Island Swan Song

Mackerel Cove

overcast

After Isle au Haut, we went went to Mackerel Cove on Swan Island. That trip took us through the Casco Passage. On the charts it looked involved. We went through on a rising tide so many of the hazards were not visible. Probably, a good thing for an aged and tired pilot.

About Mackerel Cove, there nothing to say. It was just a place to anchor, and not a very great place for that. Many people suggested this place to visit, but I cannot see why. There is a ferry terminal for the ferry that runs to Bass Harbor; there are a few rocky islands and a couple of buoys. Its sole and only gracing feature is that it is only about 6 nm to Bass Harbor which is why we made it our final stop.

We hit the dock at Bass Harbor about 2 pm, that time chosen for the tide to ensure enough water at the dock in case I screwed the pooch trying to moor the boat. In the event, I did not embarrass myself to any memorable degree.

We were the shakedown cruise for the year. So, I spent some time going over the issues with the boat; there were several but none that were critical. An hour or two to move stuff from the boat to the truck and we were on our way home.

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One evening while we were riding at anchor, sitting in the cockpit and having a drink, and looking at this scene, Carol remarked that she had never imagined that she would ever be doing that again after we had sold our boat. While we were heading to Bass Harbor we made a futile attempt to grab the little wind there was and to sail back; too little wind for that. While the sails were up and hanging mostly limp I also wondered whether that was going to be the last time I ever stood at the helm of a sailboat.

If that turns out to be the deal, then that's okay. For me the question is whether I want that to be the deal. Three quarters of the earth is covered by water and I have seen more of it than most people while standing on the deck of a boat. But there is so much more to see and, I hope, time to see it.

Posted by sailziveli 10:49 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Isle au Haut

semi-overcast

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I never studied French, but Google translate says that this means: Isle at the top. That is, more or less, appropriate. It has Mt. Champlain, some 530-ft. tall, which towers over most of the other islands, save for Mt. Desert Island which holds most of Acadia National Park.

It was also an easy run from Pulpit Harbor, maybe three hours. We were steaming against the tide which was running in. All the floats on the lobster pots were leaning against the tide with little wakes pointing the other direction. All the lobster pots must meant that we have left the “high rent” districts of Castaine and Belfast.

This was another one of those days. All that was needed to scream Fall was a yellow leaf or two. The sky, the clouds, the temperature felt like October, not the end of June.

Along the way today we saw many islands that must be privately owned. One acre, maybe three, with a single home. I don’t know why the idea of owning an island seems so outrageous to me. It’s probably not much different from owning 100 acres and we know lots of folks who do. We saw a good bit of this in the Bahamas. For some reason my mind rejects this. Middle class values, I suppose.

We anchored in Laundry Cove, at the northern end of the island. No hints; Carol did no laundry the entire trip. Last night, Tuesday, was our first night exclusively at anchor. There was a storm, some wind and rain, and we were still there this morning. The experience will not get added to our list of anchoring disasters, a good thing.

It is a mile or more from the anchorage to the town dock. The tide was low when we took the dinghy in and we were able to see all of the hazards listed in the cruising guides. I am glad we did not come in through the Isle au Haut Thoroughfare. That was scary stuff and it looked even more dangerous in the actual viewing than it did in the reading.

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We had seen a church spire from the water so we decided to check it out. It is a Congregational church and it is New England personified. Oddly, there was no road to the church only a boardwalk of some 200-yards up the hill. No parking spaces at the church. It is small; 100 people would probably have filled it up. It takes me back. It’s hard to accept that in days past the congregants might have burned a witch.

There is no town to see; a small market, a lady selling lobster, a notary public, the church and a floating dock. I get the idea that folks here don’t really miss the bustle all that much. It’s quiet and has many comparisons to Spring Creek. I cannot imagine, though, what it is like here in January after a nor’easter has blown through. Staying warm must be work. We saw some fuel oil tanks and some wood piles, but I doubt that much of the wood came from the island; very few hardwood trees. The summer folks all leave after Labor Day; but there are a lot of lobster men here that call the place home.

Two Fall days in a row. Today was sunny but with no warmth; breezy, but we were not under sail. So, we went for a walk in the park, a good day for that. The trails were clear but not marked by name, so we don’t really know where we went. One hour in and another hour back. There were some interesting sights. Lots of fir trees, maybe balsam fir, basically Christmas trees waiting for lights and tinsel.

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We saw these, I think they are swamp iris. There were lots of them growing in a swamp, anyway, and they are irises. We also saw these plants in low, marshy places. They look a lot like hostas but the veins in the leaves are a little different. So, maybe not. Mostly, it was just piney woods, ferns and some sort of igneous rocks thrusting to the surface. I don’t think we ever made it to one of the crests of the “mountains” here; there never were any clear sightlines to the water. Mt. Champlain is on private land so we had no chance to go there.

This island’s history is interesting. It used to be owned by proper Bostonians, Brahmins, who later deeded much of that land to the US Park Service. Today, the northern third is private and the rest is public. It also has something I have never heard of: a private ferry owned by the residents. We saw the town taxi, today. It looked like it was a 1930’s something from a movie about prohibition, except it had way more body rust than any car in the movies. Eliot Ness could have stood on the running board chasing a bad guy.

We’ll eat on board tonight. There is more weather coming through.

Posted by sailziveli 07:36 Archived in USA Tagged islands sailing sailboats maine Comments (0)

It's Just Simple Math

Pulpit Harbor on North Haven Island

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The math is pretty simple, probably second grade level. We saw it entering and leaving Belfast Harbor. When we went into the harbor the water’s depth was 26-ft.; when we left the next day it was 13-ft. So, it shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it kinda was.

The trip south to Pulpit Harbor was easy and short. Less than 20 nm, not quite four hours. The harbor’s entrance was a little tricky to see from the open water if you had never been there before; we hadn’t. Between the charts and the cruising guides, no big deal. The charts showed Pulpit Rock guarding the harbor. It was big, it was an obvious navigational issue and it looked nothing like any pulpit I have ever seen. Maybe some rum-soaked sailor was having an attack of conscience when first he spied the rock.

It’s a fairly sheltered place, a good anchorage for any vessel. The shore is lined with nice houses, many of which have docks to the water. There were many mooring balls, all of them private according to the cruising guide, most of them vacant according to a quick assessment. So, despite the vacancies, we decided to be good citizens and anchor for the night, not wanting to usurp another’s property.

Anchoring. Every sailor has stories of what happened during an anchoring gone bad. We have Ocracoke and Awenda Creek, and weren’t interested in adding to that litany. This is the first time we had even anchored with a nylon rode (rope). Our boat had a heavy steel chain and a massive anchor although we did carry spare nylon rodes and extra anchors. So, some aspects of this were new to us. Nylon stretches and stretches even more when it gets wet. First lesson: it becomes a 150-ft. rubber band, literally. It would stretch and then contract as the wind worked on the boat. Not a problem, just new information until on one of the stretches the rudder crossed the pendant of a mooring ball. That took a while to untangle and made us decide to re-anchor somewhere else with more swing room.

Fair enough, learn from your mistakes. It’s hard to pull a 12,000-lb. boat into a 20-knot wind without a windless, but we did and moved to a new spot. A couple of hours later, as the tide was running out I looked at the depth gauge: 6-ft. of water with a 5-ft. draft and a couple more hours before the tide was low.

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We were going to be aground before the tide had completely run out. Rookie mistake!. I had not done the math; the water was too shallow. It’s even harder to pull the boat the second time, but we did, again. All thoughts of good citizenship evaporated and we took and empty mooring ball for the night. No one showed up; no one complained.

We had never seen tides quite like this in all of our travels. Two high tides and two low tides every day, with about 10-ft. to 12-ft. difference between the high and low. Thus means that every hour of every day the water level is changing by 20-in. to 24-in. up, down, then up again.

There were two schooners in the harbor that stayed the night. They were from Castaine or Belfast, or both. This one left a sail up to help it betterr ride into the wind. It was having a cookout that smelled pretty good, but there were no invites.

We never made to the Pulpit Harbor Inn for dinner; closed on Mondays. So, we stayed on the boat and went to bed early.

Posted by sailziveli 10:15 Archived in USA Tagged sailing sailboats maine Comments (0)

Burnt Coat Harbor & Castine Bay

overcast 64 °F

My whole reason for doing this in June was to avoid the crowds. Did I ever get that right. In Blue Hill Harbor they were having a new employee orientation the day we were there. Tonight, we tried to eat at an old inn and were told that they hadn’t even staffed up yet. Clearly, mission accomplished.

So, left Blue Hill Harbor a little after 0800; got the boat into open water and futzed around with the sails which eventually we got up. Since there was no particular hurry we decided to sail the whole way. Slow going for the first few miles; just not very much wind. Then we came from the lee of Long Island, one of a dozen, or so, in these part with this same name, and things really heated up.

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Without trying very hard, the boat’s speed picked up, and up and up. At one point we were sailing over 8 knots, something that never, ever happened in our boat. This boat flies. Despite all that speed, this schooner went by us like we were at a standstill. That in no way diminished the fun. It was bright, it was sunny and we were sailing. What else could there be on such a day.

I had forgotten, I guess, how physical sailing like that can be. Sailing slow is easy; sailing fast is working the lines and fighting the helm to hold the line with the wind. Boats, sometimes, tend to move into the wind when the boat heels over and the rudder has less purchase in the water. This is called weather helm and it is a constant tug-of-war between the boat, the wind and the helm. Fun first, fatigue second and the sails came down the last mile or two.

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So, finally we made it to Burnt Coat Harbor. There are not any local legends, at least in the cruising guides to tell us whose coat got burnt, when the fire occurred or how the flames started. Inquiring minds will never know. The harbor is a working harbor mostly devoted to lobster, a few scallops, clams and mussels. It was interesting that the men had formed a co-op, vertical integration, it seems. Anyway, this place had a restaurant a couple of miles away in Minturn, which being old and tired, seemed like a long hike, so we did not even bother going ashore. We grabbed a mooring ball and called it a day.

We buttoned up the boat for the night and then there was the problem: no power for any of the boat’s systems. We could start the boat, but nothing else would power up. Big problem because without a chart plotter I wasn’t going anywhere other than to bed. We called Carlton J. who maintains the boat for the owner and he allowed that he would be out the next morning, by boat, probably fifteen miles from Bass Harbor.

I really figured that the trip was over. We would get towed back to port and disembark, then head back home. When Carlton came along side in his boat the next morning, he had brought his wife and two dogs, one of which was bigger than me. Turns out the problem was nothing more than a loose battery cable; easily tightened and power returned.

The weather forecast was lousy: rain, fog and high winds, too high for sailing. So where to go? We had planned on a place called Bucks Harbor but there are no mooring balls these and I did not want to anchor in a strange boat, in a strange place and rely on everything going right in bad weather.

We decided to traverse the whole length of Eggemoggin Reach and head for Castaine Bay with mooring balls and restaurants. It was a tedious day. Some rain but mostly just gray. No wind, so we motored the whole way intent on beating the weather, which we did.

What made the day enjoyable was lighthouses, three of them. One at the entrance to Burnt Coat Harbor, the second in Eggemoggin Reach and the final one at the entrance to Castine Bay. Lighthouses seem anachronistic in today’s digital world. But these areas have working boats with local residents, and sometimes electronics fail, and sometimes they fail on a dark and stormy night.

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This evening, after dinner, as we were walking back to the boat, we saw the fog rolling in, just like in San Francisco Bay. You cannot call Castaine Bay big although it is bigger than the other places we have been. It is a quaint village on a pretty bay.

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They claim to have real elm trees, 300 or so, that have not been infected with the Dutch elm disease. The leaves looked about right; this tree is in the town square next to the library next to which these flowers were blooming.

As we had driven, and now cruised around these coasts of Maine I have been struck by how lush the greenery is. In the woods you see lots of ferns, moss and such and reminds me of the Olympic peninsula in Washington state. It seems to be a kind of rain forest, just skip the word tropical.
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The weather has been a frustration, of course. But after all those years on our boat we know that it is just part of the deal. What has been getting me is the lack of good cellular coverage. Everywhere we have been on the trip has had only 1X coverage. This works for voice, but forget about data, it just cannot happen. I am at the library in Castine using their free wifi and I am greatly appreciative for having it.

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The fog is still with us but the high winds never did arrive. Laying over in this place was a good choice. We get to eat out both night, a haddock fish fry last night, get some ice and other supplies Tomorrow, Sunday, we'll head south to Isle du Haut, a remote island mostly owned by the US Park Service. It is considered part of the Acadia Nat'l Park and has hiking trails. The island actually has a little height, topping 500-ft. I think. There are only three places to anchor, no mooring balls, and all three anchorages have liabilities. I doubt that the cell phones will actually work there, but even if they do, no data so, no blog.

Posted by sailziveli 12:30 Archived in USA Tagged sailing sailboats maine Comments (0)

Game Not Quite On

Temporarily Delayed Due to Weather

overcast 66 °F

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We have not seen the sun since we passed through the thin strip of New Hampshire that borders the ocean. Not much of a problem; sun is not a necessary part of cruising although it does make it more fun. No, the real issue has been that ever since we approached Mt. Desert Island the entire area has been shrouded in fog, a real pea soup-er as the say in these parts.

We got on the boat Sunday morning as planned. Zero visibility, not even 100-yards, most of the time even less. Being acutely aware of my limitations, trying to get out of a crowded harbor using the Braille method seems like a bad idea. And even if done and done well, there is the issue of where to go and get there safely in the same fog. It seems that most of the lobster boats are still in the harbor today despite it being a work day.

And to top it off, the Coast Guard put out a small craft warning from Sunday night until Tuesday morning: heavy seas and high winds. I would not have tried getting underway in our boat; in a strange boat in a new place it seems seriously not too bright to try it, so we did not.

When first we boarded the boat it seemed quite commodious, having a very open main cabin. Then we started hauling stuff on board and it shrank a considerable amount. We got everything aboard and Carol, being a serial and unrepentant irridentist, immediately claimed all the storage space as her own. I will be living out of a travel bag for the duration but I do get to control the nav station.

The boat rental manager stayed with us a couple of hours explaining the boat's workings, all of which made perfectly good sense at the time. Everything seems vaguely familiar but nothing, of course, is quite the same. I suppose that we will have it worked out shortly, but there will be a lot of aggravation before that happens. There is so much to remember and it has been a while.

We have gotten a lot of advice on where to go, all of it well informed. I had planned on an loop over to Bar Harbor. That is now out. We will be cruising to the east of Bass Harbor over towards Penobscot Bay. Some of the work I had done on routes and times will probably still appertain, but most will not. The changes should be easy enough to do on the fly, I hope.

This boat was built in 1986 and I was struck by how much it is similar to that of our friend Victoria's. Hers was built in 1980 and is 36-ft. long so this could be its younger cousin. It's almost as if they copied that design.

So, tomorrow, Tuesday, we should get underway for somewhere if the fog will cooperate and the Coast Guard has lifted its advisory. My two most immediate concerns are: getting off the dock since the boat is, more or less, parallel parked and pointing the wrong direction; then getting out of the harbor to open water. At that point we will try to get the sails up. This boat does not have a anemometer so it will all be guess work about how strong the winds are. Reading the surface of the water and the waves provides a decent estimate but only after moving from a sheltered anchorage to open water.

So, we are hopeful for tomorrow, but who can tell?

Posted by sailziveli 16:24 Archived in USA Tagged sailing sailboats maine Comments (0)

Game on

As Yoda said,"Do. Or do not. There is no try."

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We had dinner here, the night before we left. By accident the restaurant is only a 100 yards from the dock from which we will leave. It shouldn't be surprising, I guess. There are no pizza joints around, no burger havens, no taco stands. There are many places that kill and cook great quantities of lobster, along with sundry clams and assorted mussels. So, it is good to like lobster. I had my first lobster roll today and it was good. They cook the lobster and then chunk up the meat and put it in something that resembles a hot dog bun, add a little mayo and some secret seasonings and you have a meal. There may not be quite as much meat as in a whole lobster, but it is about 10 times easier and 100 times less work than cracking a lobster and digging for the meat.

On our last trip, Carol's plan was to "Kill a Crustacean Today." Which, of course, she did wiping out the entire crab population of Chesapeake Bay, an unreported ecological disaster. On Friday she was at it again, lobster this time. It seems that crustaceans, like Montezuma, can extract their revenge. She got bad sick, but recovered quickly the next day. I have got some sort of insidious summer cold that will not go away. It has not blossomed but it just drains and makes me drag. No so much fun.

Mt. Desert Island is quite beautiful. It would be an easy sell to get anybody to spend a couple of summer months here. But, the same thing can be said about Spring Creek and we do get to spend more than a couple of months there. We do seem to be ahead of the vacation crush, at least so far.

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We have glimpsed one or two estate homes on the island. But, mostly it seems that there are lots of regular people living in normal houses with muddy pickups parked in the yard. There is no industry that we have seen; there seems to be the usual gaggle of artists and artisans; Bar Harbor has lots of places to drink beer and buy t-shirts. But every cove or harbor seems to have its own fleet of these craft from which lobster pots are set and gathered. That is probably a hard life. But, looking at the boats and their upkeep, things must be pretty good now for the lobster men.

Cell coverage on the island is very spotty except around Bar Harbor. ATT may be better here than Verizon, which we have. I am not sure how often I will be able to upload the blog.

Posted by sailziveli 16:55 Archived in USA Comments (0)

If It Itches

you just gotta scratch!!!

rain 57 °F

I have a friend who, among other things, writes songs. My favorite from his portfolio is, "I Get That Itchy Feeling." Well, I have had an itchy feeling for a while, a very long while, and it involves sailboats and Maine. On our last trip in 2013, Maine was in the float plan. In fact, Maine was pretty much the object of the whole trip. We made it as far north as Provincetown, MA, on the tip of Cape Cod. From there it was a only a 182 nm overnight run to Bar Harbor, ME.

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As is so often the case, life intervened, bad stuff happened, and we never made that run to Bar Harbor. Our last blog entry showed Carol on the bow of our boat with a for sale sign; the sale closed in November, 2013. Without a boat Maine was, seemingly, an itch that could not be scratched, but definitely unfinished business.

And, that's why the internet was invented. With too much time on my hands one evening, I Googled boat rentals in Maine and, voilà, endless possibilities. We can still do this, we said. It's only been 4-years, we said. Red buoys are still on the right hand side returning to port; starboard is still that side of the boat; the points of sail have not changed; a bowline knot is still made the the same way.... we said. Or, maybe, we said all that, hoping that the saying would make it so.

So, last June we contracted to rent a boat this June and the itching stopped and a plan started to form. We had seen New England after the 4th of July .... not pretty. Entire cities seem to disgorge their populace; that populace then is ineluctably drawn to beaches, parks and coastal climes. Too many people, too close together in too few small places, the exact opposite of Spring Creek. So, part one of the plan was to be off the boat before 07/04/2017.

The next part of the plan was harder: which boat? No boat would compare to ours; we spent the several years we owned her adapting the boat to our cruising needs. Any other boat would be a compromise. The boat on which we settled was the Diane, a 30-ft. Sabre.

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This is 6-ft. shorter than out boat but the same size that Carol and I trained on in May, 2007 at a sailing school. It's only for two (2) weeks so we think that we can live with this. Plus, Sabres have a reputation as being very good boats under sail. This boat has a fully battened mainsail. Ours had in-the-mast roller furling, a good choice but not a great sail. And, it has a 135% genoa, the same size as ours. This boat should really move.

It also seems fairly well set up and has radar and an auto pilot. This area will get fog and our experiences with fog on the last trip made radar a must have feature.

The third part of the plan was helped by blind, dumb luck. This boat is home ported in Bass Harbor, ME, on the same island as Acadia National Park, exactly in the middle of where we want to go. So, if you find this harbor and scribe a 15-mile radius, this is where we will cruise. No long runs; all pretty easy day cruises from one point to another; no merit badges, we have enough of those.

The last part of the plan was hard: what's the least amount of the right stuff we can bring onto a small boat and be both prepared and comfortable? I should also mention, in my case, being skinny and old, comfortable means warm. The June temperatures run to 55o for a low and 74o as a high. The water temperature right now is 50o and only 1/2-in. of non-insulating fiberglass is between us and the water. Cool nights will be the deal, of course not a problem for your average Nordic Princess, like Carol.

So, we made our choices and decided that the car would not be big enough. That's easy, just throw the stuff in the back of the truck. Ooooops! We filled that up and the overflow now takes up all of the back seat. Too late for a bigger boat. And Carol, well you have to appreciate the amount of stuff she needs to be her. I had told her she could only bring as much clothing as would fit into the canvas boat bags that we have used for years. Today, at an L.L. Bean outlet store she found a bigger canvas boat bag, probably big enough to hold a VW beetle; she's happy. The only things we saved from our boating days was our foul weather gear. I'm not sure why we did save the jackets but I'm glad we did. We seem to be in the middle on Maine's monsoon season. Today looked and felt like October: very cool, windy and rainy, not exactly what we had hoped the weather to be.

The trip north has been uneventful but expensive; every road is a toll road. We went over the George Washington bridge, from Ft. Lee, NJ, the place that got Gov. Christie in trouble; that was $20. We went through the "Big Dig" in Boston, probably the most expensive public works project ever. The romans spent less time and money on their aqueduct and it's still moving water two millenia later. Every toll booth has an outstretched arm since we do not have an EZ Pass.

Anyway, on Sunday, June 18th, we will board the boat. This will be our Fathers' Day gift to me. The adventure will begin. It will be fun, or not. We will be wet, or not. We will be warm, or not. Regardless, we will have dared something different, again; we will have refused to act our ages, again; we will make memories together, again. And, the itch will never be scratched, again.

Posted by sailziveli 16:43 Archived in USA Tagged sailing sailboats maine Comments (0)

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