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Entries about sailing

An Easy Day

sunny 68 °F

Monday, June 11, 2018


Woke up early with plenty of time for a not so rushed morning. We did not have a stopping place in mind. There were several places we could stay, the farthest not but about 30 nm, maybe less. This lack of destination is quite uncharacteristic of us on a boat or any other time: Focus! Plan! Execute!

As we were working with lines to get going this Canadian Goose approached the boat. I think that it was actually begging, folks probably having given it food before. Regardless, the bird was not put off by humans or their activities.

The boat was moored in an awkward place; easy to get into, not a lot of easy options getting out. As mentioned previously, this boat has a sail drive propulsion system, something generally found on catamarans, not so often on mono-hulls. For some reason, which I don't understand, in reverse it backs up perfectly straight. Regular drives, as we had on our boat, pull to port or starboard depending on the direction the propeller turns. So, I decided to try something that I had heard could be done, but had never tried: I put the boat in reverse, walked around to the other side of the binnacle, steering from there. From that side the helm responded exactly as it does from the rear side going forward. This is kind of "inside boating" stuff but it was really cool, after years of looking like an idiot on our boat.


We had a tricky passage about an hour into the day. To get to it we passed through the Northumberland Channel on our way to Dodd Narrows. In family terms, the city of Victoria is the beautiful daughter; Nanaimo is the less attractive one that works very hard, an overachiever. It is a commercial place. Along the channel we saw some of that commerce in action.

No surprise here, logs, lots of logs.

Next to that was this operation. It's a silly picture for a blog but what struck me is that the vessel being loaded is one that we saw going into Vancouver, one of many that was laying at anchor. From Vancouver to here is no more that a couple of hours for this type of vessel. I have no idea what the pile of brown-ish stuff is, but it must have some value, somewhere because a load was heading out soon, most likely to China by the boat's name and home port.



At the end of the Northumberland Channel is a spot called Dodd Narrows which must be transited to go south inside the Gulf Islands. There is a lot of water on both side of this real estate and it must follow the passage of the moon, it being difficult to repeal the law of gravity. The upshot is that the current there, passing through the narrow place can generate very powerful currents, currents that exceed the ability of this boat's engine to manage, i.e. 7 -10 knots. The trick is to go through at slack water, the few minutes between rising and falling tides, which today was exactly 0900. We were there with plenty of time to spare, saw a sailboat coming through at about 0830 so decided we could do it too, which we did. Carol did the required sécurité, sécurité, sécurité to notify other boats that we were entering the Narrows. Actually, it was mostly a non-event. It was no more than a quarter mile long.

What we did get to see was this on the other side: a tug with a raft of logs in tow also heading for the Narrows. It was being helped by a smaller tug that was working on the sides and back of the raft to keep some shape to the bunch. Best guess is that the raft of logs was at least as wide as the Narrows. It's also a safe bet that these guys know how to make it all work. During the safety meeting at San Juan Sailing, a frequent hazard to navigation that they mentioned was floating logs. Now we know why.

That was pretty much the excitement for the day. Heading south and east this was what we saw after the Dodd Narrows. In many ways this could have been what we saw last year in Maine; the same piney woods, mostly low islands, with the tops of the trees not reaching 100-ft.



What was different was the high rise of mountains in the interior of Victoria Island. As we got farther down the chain of islands there was some higher land, one peak measured at about 1,000-ft. The area was much built up, some smaller places, what you would expect for a rustic summer cabin; other places were almost mansions.


We decided to go to Montague Harbour (no adjoining Capulet Harbour that we cold find) . This was Galiano Island, on our port side, as we approached the harbour entrance. We intended to get a mooring buoy but had lost the boat hook over the side during the Great Boom Vang Debacle of Sunday, June 3d. There are work-arounds but we decided to moor at a a dock, unashamedly the path of least resistance. There are some walking trails which interest Carol, and maybe we'll go to the bar tonight for a gin & tonic. As the title says, an easy day, earned or not.

Posted by sailziveli 15:24 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats Comments (0)

I Do Know What I Don’t Know

overcast 60 °F

After yesterday’s modest weather debacle, some research seemed in order. I had dialed up the Weather Channel for the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, as this area, north of Vancouver, is called. I checked the weather for the region this morning, as must always be done before making weigh. Same forecast as yesterday. I tried the weather channels on the VHF; found a couple of stations in French, despite being more than 1,000 miles from Quebec. I found an English language channel that sounded like a BBC broadcast, very proper, you know. Couldn’t understand a word over the VHF radio.


Finally, I did a Google search for marine weather and hit the jackpot: marine weather for the Strait of Georgia north of Nanaimo. Dead solid perfect. What a difference. There is a low-pressure system coming in this evening. Winds 10 – 20 knots today; 20 – 30 knots tomorrow. Sounds about right.

We had planned to head inland today through the Agamemnon Strait. That would have put us in narrow-ish waters flanked by very high mountains. In Chicago, the Windy City, winds were greatly accelerated by the tall buildings. This was due to the venturi effect. I don’t know if that would happen in this geography, but I also don’t want to find out that the answer is yes. Where we were going to anchor has not great protection to the south; it would have been our first stern tie anchoring. It was easy to say that the downside risk outweighed very little upside benefit. So, in Pender Harbor we will remain for a while. It’s secure, we have power, and a couple of down days were built into the schedule. And, in truth, we are both a little tired having pushed very hard since last Wednesday. However, right this minute that seems like a bad decision.


We are, probably, 40 miles north of Vancouver, and the hillsides around the harbor are very built up with many nice houses. There is not an uninterrupted road connecting this area to Vancouver; a ferry passage is required somewhere to connect to a road along the coast.

The large harbor, has several smaller alcoves called bays, each one discreet from the others. To get from bay to another can only be done on the water. The geography makes that seem reasonable. It’s hard to imagine how people even get to their houses. But, as the picture shows, it is a lovely place.

On Saturday, taking the boat out of the marina, I was uneasy about my knowledge of the boat. Now, having set up the chart plotter to my needs, having gone through the charts, and been on the water a few days, it’s all come back. At the house our routines are whatever we want them to be; on a boat our routines are whatever the boat requires for cruising and safety. We have to work a little harder at them now, they are less ingrained, and we are applying them in a new context.


One thing that has been different on the north side of the border is the Great Canadian Anti Cleat Conspiracy. This is our second stop and there haven’t been any dock cleats for mooring. Big surprise. Instead, they use a rail system using 4x4’s. Short pieces are attached to the dock and then long pieces are run on top. Lines go under and around the top pieces. I suppose, if it’s what you use daily, not a big deal. I like cleats better if for no other reason than I avoid all the splinters in my hands and fingers. This was not an anticipated contingency and it’s hard to find a pin or needle to get them out. I have been using a not-very-sharp compass point that mostly works.


  • This has been our first experience with a diesel heating system on a boat. It works like a radiant heat system, circulating warm water in front of fans. I must work pretty well; I am comfortable and Carol is too hot.
  • I haven't had too many successful pictures so far. It's pretty simple: the water has been so choppy or rough that auto focus cannot keep up. Frame a shot, and by the camera goes click, and I am as likely to have a picture of the sky or my foot.
  • We went out to dinner and walked around some and the area is striking; it is Snow Falling on Cedars, remarkably lush and green. Most of the trees are Spruce, Fir, Cedar with the occasional Maple. Dinner was pub fare. Carol tells everybody everything, a well known fact to all reading this blog. So, she told the owner that this was, sort of, a 50th anniversary deal. He, being a nice man, prepared and served us a tasty flambé dessert.
  • Just a few days into the trip we are running short of two critical commodities: toilet paper and scotch. Fortunately, there is a small store nearby that sells both.
  • I have been using this website since day 1 in our boat, that being 2007. Having studied and learned to build web pages, I am increasingly frustrated with this resource. It is, probably, 1995 technology, and not very good even for that year.

The weather forecast has remained the same but there has been a 24-hr. shift back. It now looks like Saturday noon will be the earliest we can safely leave the dock. When we arrived we were the only boat; several have since come in, presumably, for the weather. A certain stoicism is required to survive boating: weather happens. Our worst time was in the Bahamas, at Emerald Bay, when we were stuck for 10 days, not being able to safely navigate the channel to open water. Last year in Maine we got fogged in for several days before we were able to leave the dock even for the first leg. All cruisers should remember the last line of the poem “On His Blindness,” by John Milton: They also serve who only stand and wait.

Posted by sailziveli 08:48 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats Comments (0)

A Salty Day, Indeed

storm 53 °F

It seemed like a good idea at 0640 this morning. The weather forecast looked pretty decent: mostly sunny, single digit winds from the ESE. What's not to like about that forecast? So we cast off our lines and headed out False Creek into the mouth of Vancouver Harbor. There must have been twenty various types of ocean going freighters at anchor. All sorts of national registries, all sorts of colors, all sorts of configurations save oil carriers. Every single one was riding high in the water, waiting for a load of some kind. Timber might be a good guess; also a lot of phosphate and potash come out of Canada.


Getting through the maze of metal behemoths was easy enough; just go around their sterns to avoid any possible encounters with anchor chains. We saw this lighthouse going north. Not so many lighthouses have snow capped mountains on their flanks.

I had been concerned about how far to push north having given up some distance to clear customs in Vancouver. I wanted to get to a place called Pender Harbor which would a great jumping off place for the next legs of the cruise. I wasn't really sure we could make it there, so I had a bailout plan just in case. This boat travels comfortably at 6 knots, with an occasional tenth or so on a good day. So, putt-putt along at 6 knots we did.
A few hours out the wind began to freshen, a bit, coming almost dead over the stern. This can make for some fast sailing since the wind literally pushes the boat. It also makes an uncomfortable ride; you usually get a great deal of side to side motion as well as fore and aft. Having proven we could manage the foresail without an imminent disaster out it went. Pretty cool, we were now making 7 not 6 knots. It seemed like Pender Harbor could be a possibility.


Fast forward another hour or so, and the wind is blowing a steady 15 to 20 knots and we are making 8 knots. Maybe more good fortune than we needed. There was about 50 miles of open water behind us and that is a very large fetch. The waves were building and, for the first time ever I felt unsafe in the cockpit of a boat. Of course, our boat had an enclosure of canvas and glassine; not impossible to go overboard, but it would have taken an unusual set of circumstances for that to happen. This boat did not come equipped with a jack line, tether or safety harness. So, Carol and I bought and brought our own. Prescient. I sent Carol below and attached the tether to a backstay. My hands were hidden because I did not want to show my white knuckles.

Given another hour we were getting getting gusts of 25 - 30 knots. So I reefed the already foresail and we started hitting 9 knots. At one point the wind overpowered the autopilot and we did a dangerous 360o doughnut. I am critical of this boat on several issues, but there is some first class equipment on board, one piece of which is the autopilot. It must be piston driven, and, attached to that hyper responsive rudder, it did a very good job of handling the weather. I don't know that I could have done half so well; machines don't get tired.About five miles out from Pender Harbor we came into the lee of some islands and the water quieted down a bit.

We hit the way point for the entrance to Pender Harbor and I thought that the issue was solved. Not even! We had to pick our way through a gantlet of islands without any navigation markers. Long story short, the trip I thought might take until 1800 was done by 1400. We took on fuel and water and buttoned things up for the night.


Posted by sailziveli 19:10 Archived in Canada 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.


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.


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


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.


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.

cecilia_layout.jpg ,

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.


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.


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)

Isle au Haut



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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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


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)

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.


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.


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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