September 2012 ~ Maine & Mass
Day 747 ~ Motocross in the HamptonsSeptember 30th, 2012
We joined the Yacoe's for Church in the morning, then Greens came by to take us to Sagg Beach in Southampton. Punching our destination into the navigation program on the iPhone, we soon were directed onto a dirt road that appeared to be for powerline access. After a few hilarious miles with the kids making appropriate roller coaster noises, the voice told us to turn again, only this new one was even smaller with grass in between the tracks. Eventually, we actually did pop out onto a nicely paved road with wide shoulders in a posh neighborhood and continued on our way to the beach as if nothing odd just happened.
We are pretty picky when it comes to beaches, having seen a few, but the ocean side of Long Island is pretty impressive. The kids had a blast running around and yelling with the Green kids almost as if we were both back aboard in the Caribbean. Hunger finally set in, so we wandered back to Sag Harbor for lunch at The Dock House restaurant before the Green's had to return to the hustle and bustle of life in Manhattan.
Joseph called to invite us to their house for a dinner of grilled Striped Sea Bass (which a neighbor had caught that afternoon). He also brought home a solo boater from Germany who he had met earlier in Sag Harbor. I get the sense that this is a common occurrence; Joseph's REALLY into sailing, boats and sailors.
Fantastic fish, good company and an enjoyable evening.
Day 746 ~ Seeing GreenSeptember 29th, 2012
The Yacoe's, being ex-cruisers, soon offered all the things boat people need the most: laundry machine access, a hot shower and garbage disposal. Lisa started laundry first thing, visited with our hosts and the kids played with their new friends.
The Greens, former cruisers we first met in Martinique, arrived from NYC around 1:30p and whisked the kids away to a nearby corn maze where they spent a good 2 hours running around getting lost, found and lost again. When they were done, they returned to pick up Lisa and I and we all piled in their rented Tahoe so they could check in to their hotel in Sag Harbor. We then headed over to an Italian restaurant, Il Capuccino, where they treated us to a meal I didn't have to cook and Lisa didn't have to clean up. A very gracious and generous offering.
Day 745 ~ Ripping to Long IslandSeptember 28th, 2012
It's only about 30 miles to Northwest Creek, but we certainly don't want to get there in the dark or once the wind dies as it is predicted to do by about 5pm.
We intending to leave by 10am but being only one of few boats in the harbor, I called over to see if anything was open. We need water and a few grocery items but most services were closed post-Labor Day. There's another larger marina nearby which, at least, had limited hours so I took Nina and the water jugs. We filled dinghy gas and took on a load of water, but passed up the $5 a dozen egg offer.
A rain cloud passed over. Setting sail in the rain is not fun, so we decided to wait and tackle some remaining cleaning projects instead. By 12:30p, we finally upped anchor and blasted out of the harbor with 20 knots of following winds. Once out of the shelter of Block Island, the seas grew and the winds ratcheted up a bit; 20-25 knots with 3-4 meter seas was the norm. Since we were sailing about 140 degrees off the wind the ride was fast and not too bouncy. But what a ride it was. We would occasionally surf down larger waves for a few seconds which would often tumble and break beneath us with a tremendous rush and crash.
The first hour we averaged 8+ knots with many highs in the 10s. The tidal current exits Long Island Sound at 2+ knots, and this was now colliding with the building seas from Bermuda. The waves steepened and broke almost continuously. If we had been heading southeast, the ride would have been total chaos but, running with the seas, we were just sloshed closer and closer to our destination. Since the current was dragging us out to sea, I was able to run nearly straight down wind and wave, nearly 30 degrees "off course" which smoothed the ride out considerably. I turned 30 degrees and our ride smoothed out some but we still averaged 7 knots for the next 2.5 hours against the full fury of the tidal river. Once we passed Montauk Point at the eastern tip of Long Island and fell into its lee, the waves subsided and we enjoyed the best sailing there is: fast, flat sailing, no slosh, no bash. Lisa slept, the girls relaxed. Happy family.
We worked our way slowly around the southern end of Gardiner Island, the only American real estate still intact as part of an original royal grant from the English Crown in 1639. It has been privately owned by Gardiner's descendants since that time. We soon sighted the Cedar Point Lighthouse and were forced to turn upwind and drop the sails. We chugged our way slowly into the wind and soon saw Joseph puttering out in his dinghy to pilot us through the narrow cut into Northwest Creek.
It's a good thing he did. There were few markers and the channel is always changing. There's absolutely ZERO chance I would have come in here without a local guide. Lisa did a picture perfect job of threading the needle which requires an artful "S" turn at just the right moment. As we reached the pinch point it felt like we could reach out and touch the sand bars on both sides.
Joseph and his family (ex-cruisers we had met via email) had invited us to dinner at their house. After closing up the boat in prep for any rain that might fall, we headed to land. Had a lovely time visiting. They homeschool and have similar kid-raising values so we got on great and the girls had fun playing off the boat.
Day 744 ~ Quick ExitSeptember 27th, 2012
Windy all night. Calm, warmer and cloudy by daybreak. Yindee Plus pulled up their anchor about 7:30a and headed to Mystic. Our plan was to sit tight for one more day until the wind shift appears that will power us all the way to Cedar Point on Long Island where there's a nice place to tuck in.
After breakfast and during lessons, the wind slowly shifted us around 180 degrees. However, this was not in the prediction. My itchy feet kicked in immediately. I downloaded more weather and made some calculations. If we get going immediately we should have a nice smooth sail to Block island cutting tomorrow's 57-mile day in half. That sounded good to the whole gang. Math books were dropped mid-lesson for anchor duty and the general mayhem that goes with converting a condo back into a boat.
We upped anchor and, for once, it came out clean. Raised the main and head sail, rounded Flint Point and headed to Block Island. It was slow for the first hour or two, but then the northerlies filled in nicely, and we cruised along between 6 and 8 knots, with a few nice 9.5 knot blasts.
Lisa used the smooth sail and cleaning energy to unearth and muck out yet another of the kids' rooms (Nika's turn), wipe mold off walls...again...and clean the depths of the fridge. Now that it's half full, we get a better picture of what's down deep. Ugh. In between watching for traffic and trimming the sails (someone's gotta do it), I tackled polishing the grill. A year and a half of accumulated grime in every nook and cranny slowly gave way to spit, polish and elbow grease. It's one of those 'someday we'll get around to' things that finally got done in the cleaning aura that seems to be all-penetrating.
Motored into a practically deserted inner harbor of Block Island, just the opposite of last year's crazy weekend zoo. There were about 5 other cruiser boats anchored against the eastern shore, as close as the markers allowed. We joined them and felt the peace that a nice jerk on the Bruce provides.
Day 743 ~ Happy Birthday, SueSeptember 26th, 2012
Windy all night but warmer in the morning by 10 degrees. GPS shows the anchor didn't budge an inch. Predicted to get windier this afternoon before turning calm again.
After all her recent attention, Sue insisted "no party" but that just wasn't going to fly with this crew. Since our cockpit can hold more bodies, we invited everyone over for dessert. Plus, who wants to clean up after a bunch of people on your birthday? The kids, of course, get very excited about these types of things and set off to work on cards, handmade gifts and dessert ideas.
Lessons went well as the girls thought about what improvements they would be making to their sand city. The wind from the south had a bit of warmth in it despite the cloud cover. By lunchtime, it was blowing harder making the boat rockier, but it was also time to explore terra firma for a change. Yindee, being of the same mind, agreed. We left the kids to play in the sand and walked to the nearby Sachuest Refuge Visitor Center. By the time we returned, the kids had improved on their sand village and each had made a boat and fishing poles out of grass and driftwood. Now, isn't that what kids are supposed to do?
We returned home, en masse, to finish birthday preparations. Nana went with Wilf to help make the cake and Sid came with us to help decorate the boat. A good time was had by all. Yindee leaves tomorrow for Mystic then New York City. We hope to catch up with them again in the Chesapeake area before they head for Florida in November, so the night was tinged with an edge of the farewell blues. We love you, Yindee Plus.
Day 742 ~ Gritty GoodnessSeptember 25th, 2012
Awoke this morning to 55 degrees, again. Sunny, but windy and chilly. The air smells like winter. Hmmm.
Mid-day the backhoe came back and dug up some more sand. This really got the girls going. New piles, new roads, new rivers. Just think of the possibilities. Lessons quicken their pace perceptibly.
Lisa and I were both keen to bike to Newport, now that we have more adults around, but by the time lessons and lunch were over, the wind had piped up to 30+ knots. Neither Chris nor I were comfortable leaving the boats and each put an extra 15 meters of chain. It's nice being in a large, mostly empty anchorage in this situation, we have 3 miles of empty water behind us, no boats or rocks to hit, or others to drag and hit us. Rocks do that you know.
I took all the kids to the beach with a radio and Lisa and I made some progress on the electronic survey in the quiet that followed. As the sun faded below the sea grass and mansions that define the southern edge of Aquidneck Island, the kids, covered in sand themselves, were far from ready to stop. They had built quite a city complete with roads, stairs, houses, trails and the like. We'll just have to go back tomorrow.
Day 741 ~ Reunion PlusSeptember 24th, 2012
Cold, clear and 54 degrees this morning with light breezes. Thankfully, the sun came out and slowly warmed things up. Yindee emailed at 9am to say they were through the Cape Cod Canal and leaving Onset's water and fuel dock. If the winds cooperate they should be here mid-afternoon.
With the promise of kid play, lessons kicked into high gear and went smoothly with a peek out the window now and again to see if Yindee was on the horizon.
Finally, at about 4pm, Nika spotted them at the river entrance. All mayhem of excitement ensued. We dingied over as soon as their anchor was down and everyone was talking at once. I took the kids to the beach for some much needed social sand digging although the sun sank too quickly for the crew. We headed back to our boat where we shared a leftover potluck dinner, complete with spaghetti sauce spread on slabs of homemade bread. The food was warm, the conversation lively, a perfect boat day.
Day 740 ~ A Slow Sail SouthSeptember 23rd, 2012
After a week it's time to say goodbye to Onset. I know it's not nice to judge a state by a single community, but I've seen enough of Massachusetts right here to want to head for Rhode Island. It's difficult to articulate the difference between these small eastern states. In so many ways they are so similar, but in others, they are so very different. Not sure if it's the trash littering the streets, the lottery and beer signs everywhere, the grouchy people or cracked shoulderless roads that make biking a life-threatening pastime, but something's different here, and that something isn't good. Compared to New Hampshire, this state is a dive. Come to think of it, Provincetown wasn't much better.
I made one last dash to the dock for water and then we upped anchor, or tried to. Bruce was buried so far in that it took several minutes of tugging to wrench him free. We ended up with slimy black goo everywhere. Then came Mrs. CQR on her 20 foot spectra tether and the gooey factor doubled.
Nina was working to help clean things up when our sea water pail, just the right size to get some water without risking loss of an arm, slipped off its knot. I was sure it was tied with a proper bowline but, plunk, there she went, straight to the bottom. If we had still been anchored and not rushing to catch the tide, it would have been worth going in after; this is the third for fourth thing we have lost in a month. My favorite boat hook, a coil of quality running line and now a bucket. This is not the preferred way to lighten the ship.
Lisa threaded us out of Onset inlet and into the ripping tidal stream. We wanted to get the sails up immediately, but there was tons of traffic, small boats everywhere and a huge barge coming straight for us. Turning across the channel in the melée just didn't seem smart.
So, we ground it out for 20 minutes more, finally gaining enough sea room and boatless channel to turn and get the main up. The winds were predicted to be light all day, but to fill in nicely. The engine was turned off, and we slipped along in blessed silence.
The wind was fluky throughout the day, shifting through 60 degrees of angle back and forth, fading, then building again with a rush. We hit 8 knots against the current at times, but averaged something more like 4 knots, with whole hours passing in the 3.5 knot area. Painful, but also peaceful under a bluebird sunny day. What's the rush?
We set the hook about 4:30p off of Third Beach at the mouth of the Sakonnet and promptly whipped up a batch of Swedish Pancakes, since our Sunday morning tradition had been comprised of mud cakes. They just don't smell the same.
After dinner, we headed ashore and enjoyed an hour of sunset time on the beach. The girls found treasures and made sand castles while the adults enjoyed some exercise. Most of the talk is about Yindee and when, and if, we'll see them again.
Day 739 ~ Louse Attack, Revenge of the NitsSeptember 22nd, 2012
Neighbor boat people woke us all up between 3am and 4am talking, laughing, hooting and carrying-on. Oh we love this town. Overcast morning, but almost 10 degrees warmer than yesterday. When you are surrounded by it, 63 is exponentially warmer than 55.
Nina is complaining of an itchy scalp now. Hmmmm. Did a visual check and found an egg, firmly attached to a folicle. Ahhh, the joys of land diseases. So, now it's her turn. While shampooing, we saw a dead louse in her hair. Two down, one to go.
The sun kept trying to come out. After lunch, we headed ashore to visit the local library, a modest undertaking, but new and clean. There must be a small minority of literate, caring people here. Lisa and Nina biked to the grocery store while Nana, Nika and I hit the library; at least it was climate controlled. Not able to fit the whole shopping list on the bike, the shoppers dropped off the goods and made a second trip. You go girls.
Day 738 ~ A Northeast ChillSeptember 21st, 2012
It's definitely warmer here than in Maine, but that's relative. Poor Lisa woke up cold this morning, and when I popped up an hour later, her lips were still gray. Ouch. Fifty-five degrees doesn't sound that cold, but when your home, your sheets and your shampoo are all 55, you notice. With chattering teeth, she finally whipped up a batch of rice pudding in hopes of warming the boat some, and it did help. The smell perked up the rest of us as well.
I started the morning off with the most sacred of boat chores, the toilet fix. The manual Jabsco toilet in Lisa and my bathroom has worked pretty good for 18 months straight so it's about time for it to complain. No worries though, in addition to having lots of spare parts, I have two complete replacements stuffed up in the port bow, where they have bounced their way nearly 8,000 miles. Maybe today was the lucky one.
No need to bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say that today's Jabsco is a marvel of value engineering. The entire thing costs less that $200 and the moving parts are all easily accessible from the top. In 10 minutes I had it stripped apart and, after a few more, had a new set of valves installed on the top. That would probably do the trick. Those first few pumps are a nail-biter while hoping and praying that deeper excavations won't be required. Whew, worked like a champ.
The kids flew through school. Now that the full routine is in swing, and there are no pressing kid distractions, the logic of buckling down and getting it cranked out seems to have permeated the collective conscience, at long last. By about 1pm we were ready to head for the local library, the theory being that there at least the space would be heated and poor Mom could warm her frozen bones.
A dinghy ride in the breeze didn't help body temperatures, but walking up through town was pleasant. We missed the library and then back-tracked. Still led i-stray by the phone, we finally used the old-fashioned method and asked a local. The trim building looked deserted. Turns out they are only open three days a week, and today wasn't one of them.
As we meandered back to the waterfront, the sun popped out. The football stadium sized beach was deserted, the hill blocked the wind and the temperature rose. Ahhh, may as well hang out right here to thaw out. Castles were constructed and sand ice cream cones concocted as they always are. Too bad Jaru isn't here to share the moment. We sure miss those guys.
Day 737 ~ Adding Some Lime to LifeSeptember 20th, 2012
Day broke sunny, with a "refreshing" northern breeze. Reminds me of many fall mornings in Alaska, just a little chill in the air. After some lesson work for the kids, and client attention from me, Nina and I mobilized for a trip to the post office and Wallytown. We need to mail back the Teleflex engine controls that, as it turns out, aren't needed after all. A nearly $500 relief.
Nana has been grousing about wanting to make Key Lime pie for a few days now. That girl does like to cook. We finally ate through enough yogurt and meats to leave a generous pie shaped space in the fridge. With Nina and I out of the way, Nana and Nika set to work.
Normally, Key Lime pie comes in a green tint. This is, of course, due to the judicious use of food coloring generally chosen to represent the fruit for which it's named. However, Nana sees things differently, sometimes going beyond odd and well into weird territory. She decided to get creative and, when all was said and done, the pie was lavender with a blue swirl. She wasn't too thrilled as purple really isn't her color, but hey, it's the taste that matters.
Later in the afternoon, Lisa took the girls to the beach for some exercise while I cranked out more client work. They returned about 6:30 with the usual rukus. After a quick chicken salad, we attacked the Key Lime pie as the main course, which of course, it should be. Purple or no, it tasted great. Go Nana go.
Day 736 ~ A Long MorningSeptember 19th, 2012
I tossed and turned for another hour, hearing a few awnings flapping. Finally decided it made more sense to just get up and fix them then lay there and stew. Stepping out in the heavy air I was finally yanked into full reality. It's not really cold, and there's no rain yet, but the air is wet and heavy with anticipation. I get the water tanks ready to switch into collect mode and watch our little triangle bounce around on the GPS chart for a while. As best as I can tell, we haven't moved an inch.
The sounds in a boat on a pitch black night raked with winds are a strange assortment of clatter and whine. I know most of them now, and can even pick out the occasional squeak of our 3/4" nylon bridal taking a particularly aggressive stretch. It's a common mistake to want bigger stronger lines for anchor rode and bridal. What you really want is line that is strong enough but not too strong. The more stretch the more shock absorption the line provides and the less strain your entire system will experience. In this sense, 3/4" is too strong, 1/2" would actually be better since it has break strength of 5,300 lbs and the bridal uses two of them.
The heaviest winds and rains should be coming between 1am and 3am. It didn't seem to make much sense to go back to sleep now. I puttered away on the computer until the rain began. I let the first couple hundred gallons wash the deck and then dashed out between microbursts to arrange the diverting hand towels.
Then it stopped raining. Ack! On the weather radar I could clearly see more coming. A half hour later it finally hit. Not sure if it's just the colder climate, but the rain here just doesn't seem to have the punch it does farther south. It took a full half hour of sputtering before our tanks were finally topped up. In the Caribbean, we can get the same result in 5-10 minutes. It was nearly 4:30am when I finally turned in. Tanks full, projects accomplished and anchors set seemingly in stone.
Lisa did her best to keep the girls under wraps in the morning and I managed to sleep until about 9:30. Once up, however, I'm not sure what got into me, but I decided to tackle the sticky shifter issue. It didn't take long to get free both ends of the starboard throttle cable. I was certain it was sticky and needed replacing, but to my surprise found that it moved freely. The engine throttle control arm moved freely. But when re-assembled, it was nearly impossible to operate. Not possessing a great engineering mind, this seemed impossible.
After some head scratching, and assembly/disassembly/reassembly, I realized that the connection between the throttle control arm and the cable was supposed to pivot, but in fact was seized. In a few minutes, the parts were in my hand; a few more passed and they were apart, buffed and lubed. Works like a champ now, no parts, shipping, taxes or further headaches required. And, we get to return the throttle control to the marine store. Sometimes things do go your way, even on a boat.
Sun came out. After lunch, the girls and I went to the beach while Lisa tackled some boat cleaning projects herself. Stay out of this girl's way when she has a vacuum in her hands.
Day 735 ~ Prepping for the Big BlowSeptember 18th, 2012
The day began a bit cloudy and breezy. The girls worked on their lessons while I took care of client projects. The wind picked up as the hours ticked by, driving ever-darkening layers of murk across the horizon and threatening rain at every puff. After lunch we decided to bike to the laundromat before the day got any worse. Lisa and Nana stayed and tended to the duty that always seem to fall to the mom. You just dump them all in, glug a bunch of soap and nuke them on Hot, right? Perhaps it's because Dad doesn't really mind wearing the same shirt four days in a row.
Nika, Nina and I explored the town of Onset by bike. We were yelled at, scowled at, honked at and, in general, made to feel welcome as only Mass. people can do. Oh, the open arms of Onset. I guess they thought my kids should be in a classroom being pwopoly edicated.
When you are new to homeschooling you take this friction a bit personally, second guessing if you really are doing the best thing for your kid. But a few years later, when they are fun, creative, balanced and able to converse coherently with adults and 6 year olds alike while spending hours of free time focused on a lego engineering marvel instead of a Wii, you just stop worrying about it.
The long-predicted weather front was starting to move in and even little Onset bay was showing white caps and had that oily look of impending trouble. To save weight, and maintain dryness, I took Lisa, Nika, 2 bikes and laundry for a first run in the Purple Flash and managed to keep everything salt free. Only one bike and 2 kids on the second run also allowed us to go fast and avoid a saline shower.
Back on the boat it was storm prevention time. Predictions varied from 40-60 knots of wind during the night. Because small bursts of wind are such a tiny part of the overall computer model, the super-geeks at NOAA generally publish numbers that are only a mid-sized fraction of true max. gust speeds. We try and give them some grace. We cleared the decks and tied everything down. I prepared The Monster for deployment, just in case. I carefully ran his lines out, around and over all the right pieces of gear so that during a dark and stormy night, hunched against a wall of bullet like rain, no thinking or untangling would be required.
I then finished a batch of chili for dinner. Somehow, a domino effect ensued whereby I had too much meat, then too many beans so I had to add more tomato stuff, etc, until we had an absolutely massive cauldron of porridge burbling on the stove. With no friends nearby to share with, the prospect of digesting the entire load in-familia was a bit daunting.
The worse the weather is outside, the more fun it is to be inside baking. Nana subsitituted lemons in her orange cake recipe and I made rice pudding. Since the storm is driving southerly winds, the temperature hovered around 70. Lisa got to eat dinner and dessert without her coat and hat.
As we made a small dent in the chili, polished off all the dessert and then read our evening story, the wind steadily built from a low hum in the rigging to a whine, with occasional shuddering blasts. Still, though, nothing much over 30 knots. Not much to do but set the GPS anchor alarm, tie off the wind generator, and attach our jumper cables to the port and starboard shouds just in case lightning decided to make an appearance.
About 11pm, I was only foggily aware of some new tones ringing in the rigging accompanied by some surging jolts against the 50 kilos of steel we have on the bottom. We weren't going anywhere and that's a great feeling.
Day 734 ~ A Louse By Any Other NameSeptember 17th, 2012
57 degrees in the boat at 5:30am. Sun came out and began the slow warming process.
Nana has complained of an itchy head for a few days now, but we figured that it was just time for a shower. After all, it's been a month since she was exposed to lice at the lake cabin. Well, as the girls were getting ready for the day, Nina decided to take a look. It didn't take long before we heard, "Mom, there's something moving!"
So much for lessons.
Thankfully, we're now close to a grocery store and Walmart, so Lisa and Nina biked to get the necessary supplies. Meanwhile, I set to researching on the internet. Once they were back with $30 worth of goops and solutions, I had learned that simple rubbing alcohol will kill on contact and has been found to be more effective than the lice killer brands. It's also much cheaper and worth a shot. So, Lisa doused Nana's head with alcohol (being careful to avoid all ignition sources) and let it soak, then began the long process of finding the eggs. Once that was done, it was time to double shampoo, heavily condition and hope for the best. Laundry is next, but we'll tackle that tomorrow. Enough drama for one day.
Day 733 ~ A Long, Slow DaySeptember 16th, 2012
2:00am - I take watch.
3:00am - Venus rises like an ion spark over a campfire of the gods. She's so bright that she throws a shimmering wedge of starlight over the writhing surface; icing on our torches of phosphorescence. The look is just like Jetson rock blasts. The iPad reads 9.6 kn for the moment, but we spend most of the time in the high 7s. If we are dragging a lobstah pot now the guys inside are having a spiritual experience, washed with a million gallons a minute.
8:00am - Still a lively sail in the 6-7 knot range.
10:30am - 87 miles in the last 12 hours.
11:30am - 4-5 knot range.
12:30p - We fly the genny, but a half an hour later the winds die almost entirely and we fire up the port engine. A puff occasionally helps us along. We roll up the genny about 2pm, still 15 miles from the mouth of the Cape Cod Canal. We are going to miss the best tide/current.
4:00pm - Had to wait some for a huge car carrier to go through the ahead of us then followed it in. We have a knot of current with us, but that will soon change.
5:00pm - With still a couple of miles to go the current changes against us. It's an incredibly fast transition, perhaps just 10 minutes of slack. With only one engine fully functioning, our speed soon drops to 4, then 3.5, then 2.8. It's a law of diminishing returns. The longer we are here, the faster the current gets, the longer it will take. I do some quick math and see the tipping point is nearly against us. At peak current, with one engine, our speed over ground would be less than .5 knots, taking 4 hours to go that last two miles.
I fire up the starboard engine, which runs great, but loses transmission lubricant at an astonishing rate. With that extra boost, and by hugging the inside shore where the current is less, we manage to get back to the 3.5 knot range. Forty minutes later, Lisa expertly weaves us into the narrow Onset channel entrance, crabbing us experty across the swift current. We set the hook and crash, another overnight passage behind us.
09/16/2012 03:59:28 AKDT
09/16/2012 12:18:59 AKDT
Day 732 ~ Southward at LastSeptember 15th, 2012
The last couple of weeks with Yindee in Seal Bay have been ideal cruising, the way the magazines lead you to believe every day will be. Great weather, a dream-like setting, good friends.
Watching the weather has finally paid off with a predicted 18 hours of favorable, counter-prevailing winds from the Northwest which should make the sail to Cape Cod Canal a nice fast reach (90 degrees to the wind). It'll be a little bouncier ride than a following breeze, but shouldn't be too bad.
Yindee Plus now has crew coming next week to help with their passage south. This most certainly involves an overnight and Chris would be hard pressed to do it without Sue's help. Matador is staying for a few days and can help them if the need arises thereby freeing us to take advantage of the wind and make our move.
Boys came over for another round of American hotcakes then went off exploring in Sea Pearl. High tide was at 10:30a so I used the extra depth to get to shore for the bikes. I then knocked out some client projects until the kids noisily returned about 1:30pm. The wind is predicted to kick in about 4pm, so we'll ride the falling tide out of East Penobscot Bay in the virtual calm and then pick up the wind once we clear narrow passages.
Lisa tidied and stashed. Boys stayed to help raise Sea Pearl and we were off at 2:15pm.
A beautiful motor out in sunshine. We set the sails as soon as we found bigger water, then worked our way slowly under power towards the open sea. The wind filled in about 3:30p. We cut the engine and ghosted along for the first couple of hours, entangling, and eventually freeing, two lobster pots before long. About 5:30 the wind filled in nicely and we took off like a rocket, holding in the 8s and 9s for several hours. The ride got more interesting, so the girls hunkered down and wedged themselves in.
I stayed out absorbing all the sights, and sounds of a fantastic sailing machine cutting a line through a ruffled sea of cobalt blue. Here are notes from the helm:
8pm -- ripping sail, often in the 9 knot range, averaging 8s. Lisa went below to sleep a few hours. Eighteen to 20 knots on the beam, confused seas due to wave reflections from the Maine's outlying islands. Flying off waves and crashing about. I'm having a blast while the girls grin and bear it as best they can.
10pm -- calmer now, wind down to 12-14, seas smaller and more even, speed down to low 8s and high 7s. We're sailing sweetly under a moonless canopy leaving a pair of glowing phosphorescent daggers in our wake, like jet contrails backlit by the rising sun. They extend a full boat length behind us, persisting where our keels and rudders penetrate most deeply, tapering off quickly on the edges with the most subtle greenish glow.
The effect is nearly a perfect cartoon rocket blast shape. Watching my girls tucked in, sleeping like babies in our self-contained embryo of life and flying through a cold heartless atmosphere of water, the spaceship analogy slips on easily and hangs on longer.
11pm -- Lisa relieves me on watch now that it's calmer.
09/15/2012 14:35:59 AKDT
Day 731 ~ Another Seal Bay DaySeptember 14th, 2012
Cloudy morning, that turned sunny by noon. Lessons. Lunch. Nina helped helped me trace out the main halyard so we could take the accumlated twist of 10,000 miles out of it. Worked like a charm though, sewing a runner on and then stringing it through.
Kids left to explore around 3pm and I was finally able to concentrate on client projects. Lisa mucked out Nana's room, a long deferred task. We rewarded a hard working mom with Strawberry Shortcake for dessert. Yum.
Day 730 ~ The Dutch Deliver, AgainSeptember 13th, 2012
Sunny again! Lessons, then lunch. Boys and Chris had taken a tour around the island with Sue's paramedic, who also happens to be a Land Rover fanatic, so the girls stayed around 'til they got back. Once the kids were off to explore, Lisa and I headed for town by bike, which included hauling our trash to the dump via our handle bars and basket (Lisa didn't want to put it in her backpack, go figure).
To hit the dump first, we went clockwise around the island, stopping first at the garbage transfer station. Once free of the smelly stuff and in town, we got a few items from the grocery store that we couldn't fit last trip and then decided to continue on around. The 2 large hills weren't as bad as we thought and we enjoyed 'new' scenery going the opposite direction.
Later, we headed to Bo for dinner. Matador had arrived in the bay so they came as well. Bo whipped up a Dutch-Indonesian curry with chicken and peanut satay sauce. Very tasty on a chilly evening. As we talked and ate, the stars sprinkled across a deep cool sky.
Sept 30th marks the anniversary that our cell phone took a swim at Larchmont (NY) Yacht Club, but it decided to celebrate with another quick dip, only a couple weeks early.
I was hoping to find better cell coverage on Bo, who is anchored a half mile behind us. But, alas, still only one bar of 3G so no-go on the call. I put the phone back in its waterproof case, slipped it in my coat pocket and forgot about it. When we got home, we couldn't find the phone, but I remembered that my glasses kept falling out my pocket as well. Cheap raincoat.
"I thought I saw something narrow and funny looking sticking out of the water as we were getting into the dinghy back at Bo," Lisa remembered aloud. "I commented but, assuming it was just a bottle, didn't pursue it." It was pitch dark outside and the tidal currents into and out of the long bay run nearly one knot at times, flushing out of the bay like a wide river.
Nina scrambled to look up the tidal state while I called Bo on the VHF. With a flashlight, Ronn immediately took off to look in his dinghy as I grabbed a light and headed for our dink. I was on the back step when the radio crackled with a heavy dutch accent, "Ve found it!" As designed, the yellow floating handle was sticking straight up which, on a flat surface with a flashlight beam shooting over it, stuck out like a sore thumb, or a thumb at least.
That's the second time the Dutch have saved the day. Bodyguard rescued us in Charleston and now Bo extends the record by finding an iPhone floating in a tiny yellow case in a sea of blackness on a chilly night.
The saving grace was the waterproof case, and the fact that the tide was right at the top of its swing – there was hardly any current. In the 10 minutes it took to realize it was missing, the phone had only washed 100 meters aft of Bo instead of a half mile out to sea. At just about any other point of the tide, we would have been in the market for yet another phone.
When we opened the case it had a single tear-size drop of water on its face. That $35 back in St. Maarten had finally paid off.
Day 729 ~ Yet Another Endless DaySeptember 12th, 2012
Sunny, clear morning, again. Lessons and lunch.
Sue came over at 2:30p so Peter and Chris could take Yindee out for a little day sail. Sue's getting on well and is quite comfortable sitting at the table leaning on a pillow. She's trying to wean herself off the pain killers, but still finds lying down very difficult. She and Lisa visited, the kids went out for their daily exploration and Chris and I had a nice reach out East Penobscot Bay and back again. Yindee sails surprisingly well for such a heavy boat, and the ride is smooth and solid. I see why Chris loves her.
Day 728 ~ Another Endless DaySeptember 11th, 2012
Sunny and clear, again. Lessons going well.
I tackled a leaking hatch lens that I last fixed last year in Gloucester, Massachusetts. You know you have been on a boat a while when you start having to fix your own repairs. Kids explore while Lisa, Chris and I head to town by bike. Took the counter-clockwise route this time, and remembered our wallets. Stopped at the store for a few things; had to put some back due to weight.
Bo and Yindee Plus joined us for large pot of Chili and games. Sue opted to stay home and rest. Eight cups of brown rice and 3/4 of a large pot of chili down the hatch. Chris, Bouke, Lisa and Nina played games, Ronn and I talked about all things boat. Lisa thinks I take 'light and lean' to an extreme, but Ronn, "Running water is a luxury" has me beat in spades. It's an alluring thought, the lean, fit sailing machine.
Day 727 ~ The Endless Days BeginSeptember 10th, 2012
Clear skies and sunny in the morning. So starts a string of magical days, one after another, in a seamingly endless train of sunshine, water and kid fun. With all three families (the Dutch boat, Bo, has 2 girls) enforcing school in the mornings, we soon settled into a routine of work in the morning, lunch and then fun in the afternoons. Lisa and I traded off the tedious work on the Parkinson's project which I interspersed with boat chores, such as scrubbing the hulls and greasing winches. Bouke came over with her girls and all the kids headed off in Sea Pearl to explore another area. The ladies visited and kept an eye on the kids until they all eventually came home cold and hungry.
Cake and cookies for dinner, Narnia and then bed for these exhausted souls.
Day 726 ~ Sue ReturnsSeptember 9th, 2012
Cloudy, super calm in the morning. Our last exchange with the emergency guys was about 1:30am to report that Sue was at the home of one of the responders and would be dropped off at a nearby beach sometime in the morning. We took that to be 10am or so.
At 6:30am the radio crackled with a call. Sue was headed down to the beach for a pick up. We scrambled our dinghy down and zipped over to get Chris. We wound our way through the narrows to Winter Harbor bay, and then to the pick up spot near the Mill River bridge. Sue gingerly walked down the the dinghy and we managed to get her situated. Thanks to the pain killers, she was able to move pretty much under her own power. We slowly motored back to Yindee over calm water and got her back aboard, thankfully.
With Sue back home, the boys needed to give her some space to sleep if possible. The kids rounded up all kinds of gear and set about building a fort on their own island. They took the loaf of fresh baked bread with them, insisting that it not be cut, but instead would be "broken", the old way. Nice.
Later in afternoon, Lisa and I went to find the lobsterman's location. Based on Sue's hazy recollections from her horizontal perspective, we eventually found the dock and boat. We continued on in the dinghy and explored all around Seal Bay. Saw a white and silver seal warming itself on a rock.
"Hey Bob, I just sar a seal."
"That's it John, let's name this here bay, 'Seal Bay.'"
Great idea guys.
Day 725 ~ Lobsterman RescueSeptember 8th, 2012
Calm night. Foggy and blustery morning. Cool all day.
Boys came over for American pancakes in the morning then spent the balance of the day engineering new rope swings and paddling around with the girls. Ronn and Bouke the Dutch couple from Bo took our bikes to town and left their girls to play on the boat. Explored the island near Bo's anchorage and met another couple anchored nearby.
We were just wrapping up another lovely day with a couple chapters from Narnia when the radio crackled to life. It was Chris, the Yindee Plus dad and hero from our engine debacles in Lewes, Delaware. His voice came through calm, but with an unmistakable edge.
"Sue's taken a bad fall, and I think we'll need to call the men in blue." (his VHF radio has been working on and off for months, but this was "off" month. He could transmit about half a mile, max.) "I don't think our radio is going to work, can you make the call?"
Of course. I first hopped on the web to figure out if there was an emergency clinic on the island. There was. Of course, it was Saturday at 8:30pm, so everything was closed. The cell call went straight to the answering service. The doc tried to call back short time later, but the cell coverage is so bad in Seal Bay that I never heard it ring. By 9:00pm, after of calling the answering service and not hearing back, Chris came over and decided it was time to give up on the locals and rouse the Coasties directly. He and Lisa traded places so that Sue had an adult present.
Hailing from our VHF, Chris got an immediate response, loud and clear. "Rockland Coast Guard, switch and answer 2-2-Alpha." Chris described the situation, not presently life threatening, but potentially serious. Probably several broken ribs which could lead to a collapsed lung. No nearby docks, pitch dark and predicted to blow 20-30 knots. Not a night to be threading one's way out of a rocky lobster pot strewn cove with your wife incapacitated and in pain below. Rockland Coast Guard had us stand by while they contacted the local search and rescue guys. "The Vinalhaven Fire Chief will call you on 2-2-Alpha." was their closing remark.
A few tense minutes passed when a calm, heavily accented Downeast voice called "Yindee Plus, Yindee Plus, Vinalhaven Fire." It was the Fire Chief. He informed us that the local volunteer team was responding and they requested our long-lat again. Chris came prepared and read it out them. "Ok, we are finding a boat near you now..." he concluded, "stand by on 22A."
Chris headed back to his boat where he could hear the transmissions, but could not respond directly. Moments later the fire chief called back that they had found a boat near us that was available and the team was enroute to the dock. Another 10 minutes - they reported that they were mobilizing to the power boat; Bo broke in saying, from their location, they could see flashing lights ashore and flashlights bouncing around.
Shortly after, the rescue crew puttered around the bend, carefully threading their way through the rocky coves. In true Maine fashion, it was a commandeered lobster boat driven by the owner himself, a local lobsterman who had intimate local knowledge of the rocky coves that surrounded us. They boarded Yindee and got right to work. Twenty minutes later, Sue came out on a backboard. Having 4 guys lifting made the transition up the gangway and over the lifelines smooth and easy. They puttered off into the blustery night.
The Fire Chief called a few more times to apprise us of their progress, "She's aboard the ambulance, headed for the clinic." Later, "We've picked up the doc, she'll be at the clinic shortly." About a half an hour later they called back to report that her examination showed broken ribs, but no lung puncture. Sue was going to spend the night at the home of one of the medics who assisted in the response.
The wind howled all night against a faint horizon broken with jagged trees and our thoughts and prayers went out to our neighbors who were missing their mom and wife.
Day 724 ~ Biking to TownSeptember 7th, 2012
Still and foggy this morning. Sun came out while doing lessons.
Boys rigged Tinker and sailed about until the girls were finished with our main meal. Then, they all piled into Sea Pearl for another explore around the bay.
Lisa and I took our bikes to shore and did a little exploring ourselves. Someone's summer home driveway is close to the water so we took that to the main road and turned right. We found the town and grocery store 3 miles away, but neither of us remembered to bring our wallets, so it turned into a window shopping expedition instead. Continued out the other side of town for some new scenery and finally found someone who wasn't drunk or under 18 who told us that, yes, in fact, the "Round the Island Road" really does go all the way around and end up at Seal Bay where we had started. I guess the lobster season has been tough and some of the locals have taken to the bottle, even at 4 in the afternoon.
The alternate route was slightly longer but we enjoyed the new scenery and it felt great to get off the boat and exercise a little.
Rice pudding for dinner snack, Narnia and then bed.
Day 723 ~ A CircumnavigationSeptember 6th, 2012
At last, a sunny day. We awoke to find a sparkling, beautiful anchorage. We did a full suite of lessons until about 1pm, then lunch. With high tide at 3:20, we mobilized and took a three boat expedition to circumnavigate Penobscot Island (not the Bay). Mainers suffer from a supreme dirth of naming creativity. On Vinalhaven alone there is a Seal Cove and Seal Bay on opposite sides of the island. Dropped the kids off along the way to explore on their own. The troopers paddled nearly two miles in total. Makes for a quiet evening after dinner. Ahhhh.
We invited Yindee over for some Tikka Masala, which was warmly received and heartily devoured. Great to be back with good friends in a new place.
Day 722 ~ Discovering Seal BaySeptember 5th, 2012
The surest way to make rain is to fill your water tanks at great expense in time or money. Since our tanks are topped up, it rained all night. It rained all morning. It rained through school. Finally, after lunch, it lightened and stopped raining.
The kids had a happy reunion and took off in Sea Pearl to explore. Lisa, Sue and I hiked a nearby network of trails that are part of the Huber Preserve on Vinalhaven Island. The similarities between Seal Bay and Alaska's Prince William Sound are striking. The same rocky shores, the same cocktail of huge conifers and older standing dead trees overgrown with moss and lichen, the same huge tides transforming the environment hour by hour.
We did a quick dinner and had a quiet evening, the kids exhausted from doing what they do best, and the parents relieved to have some quiet adult time.
Day 721 ~ Wet and WetterSeptember 4th, 2012
We met Kat at waterfront parking lot at 9am and headed out to make the most of our few minutes with wheels. Did quick stops at Walmart and Home Depot then wrapped it up with a frenzied half hour at Hamilton Marine where we restocked wooden paddles, which seem to get lost or destroyed at the rate of 2-3 per year. Got our propane bottle filled, grabbed our oil filters, dumped waste oil and loaded one last run of water jerries back to boat. Whirlwind doesn't quite capture the spirit of the morning.
All the craziness had a point, though. By 2pm, we were locked and loaded for another 2-3 weeks in the wild. Full fuel, full water, full provisions and a kid boat waiting just 17 miles away in Seal Bay. We even had some wind with which to travel. The port engine fired and we welcomed Bruce back to the family, complete with a week of slime and mud and, oh, that bottom-of-the-bay Maine smell. Yum.
We raised the main and sailed across Penobscot Bay making good time to the north end of North Haven Island, past Pulpit Harbor. A rain squall passed, then dark clouds descended. We tacked through the narrow cut between Oak Hill and Burnt Island while the rain filled in again. We tacked our way up East Penobscot bay. As the favorable current shifted and started to wash us north again, we tacked nearer the island in fading winds and finally gave up the noble fight. The port engine fired and we ground our way the last mile and a half into the mouth.
With Lisa watching both GPS charts, me foul-weathered to the gills at the helm and lobster pots by the dozen going by we threaded our way into a picture perfect haven for sailors. Tiny fjords extend left and right and, slowly, emerging through the drizzling haze, is a lone sailboat tucked into the farthest corner. Yindee Plus.
By now it was nearly dark, but the rain persisted. The kids talked on the radio and waved at each other through misty portlights. Play would have to wait another day.
Day 720 ~ A Day SailSeptember 3rd, 2012
Cloudy again and 60 degrees upstairs this morning. The plan is to tour the Lyman-Morse yard to see the boat they had just started last year and take Lance out for a sail on our boat.
Since we are down to 1/4 of an engine, it's time to get serious about the port fuel situation. Despite all laws of physics after replacing the fuel line, the flow still wasn't what it should be. Time to rip into the tank, where I expect to find a blob of black goo clogging the fuel line connection.
Fortunately, ours is a properly done stainless fuel tank with an 8" x 8" square inspection and cleaning plate on the top. After disconnecting the steering linkage and removing 14 tiny stainless bolts the plate popped off. Then it was just a matter of finding an appropriately sized tube, preferrable clear, and get the syphon going.
A little lip suction and up came the fuel. It took about 20 minutes to syphon out the 10 gallons. Handling fuel is never a perfectly clean job and doing it in your bedroom, right over your bed adds an entirely new layer of potentially disconcerting situations.
Fortunately, catastrophe was avoided and the tank was soon empty, or very close to it. With a pocket mirror and flashlight I was able to inspect the tank. Where I expected to see black goo, I found a pristine, spotless and hospital-like interior. I was shocked, and pleased, as you can imagine. Not only has my anti-growth additives been working, but the previous owner was obviously equally diligent. I finally found one small packet of sludge, about the size of an after-dinner mint. This was easily wiped up with a napkin. So, good news is the tank is clean, bad news is we still don't know why the fuel won't flow. There was one other possible culprit.
After the welded steel take-off, there is a metal 90 degree elbow connected to a valve. I can see to the valve and that the line is clean. There could be a blockage in the elbow. I ran pipe cleaners, the neon green and pink ones from the girls' craft box, in both ways towards the 90. They came out fairly clean. There was no good way to get to that elbow short of removing all the metal fittings. Hmmm.
Enter the shop vac. Using a leftover piece of new fuel line and rag wadded up in the shop vac inlet the forces where aligned. With some anticipation I flipped the switch. The shop vac kicked into high gear, screaming as it tried to brief through a 3/16" link. I could hear the air sucking through the tiny orifice. If that doesn't clean the sucker out I can imagine what will. Hooked it all back up and re-filled the tank. Still just a dribble. Ack! Then it finally hit me, 10 gallons wasn't enough to fill the tank to a level that made the system self priming. The tank tank-off was low enough, but there was a slight rise in the line as it looped over the hull and into the engine room. It just needed some suction. I remember wondering what diesel tastes like but didn't feel like finding out today. I sucked once, then again and shazam we had another fuel syphon in play...and plenty of flow.
It took about 15 minutes to prime the engine and she fired, didn't even need to jumper it to the house bank. Done by 1:00p. Called Lance to say the sail was back on. At 2pm, Ronn came over to say he was going to take his boat, Bo, out for a quick hour sail so his friends on another boat could get photos and was looking for some crew I invited Lance to save moving our boat just after an engine fix. It was a blast of a sail, great wind on a stiff fast boat. Learned sometime later that Bo won the Whitbread Around the World race in 1982.
Back by 5pm. Lance and crew went home and I took Lisa to start laundry and topped up our fuel by jerry cans. Tomorrow we'll borrow Kat's car when she comes in to bring her youngest to pre-school. I can also get a chance to get the filters I bought but forgot to pick up before the weekend and holiday.
Day 719 ~ Fireworks and CookiesSeptember 2nd, 2012
We joined Lance and the kids at their church for morning services. It was raining when we arrived and raining when we were done. Art class wasn't happening, radio controlled sailboat race had no wind so we huddled under the big tent watching nothing but rain and wet people. At 1pm, the Pirates of the Dark Rose gathered despite the wet, so we went to the park and watched them 'attack Camden' in the rain. Swords were drawn and cannons fired, including a really nice French 4 pounder.
Since we were hoping the sky would empty by the build-a-boat race, we opted to head out to our boat for lunch and to dry off a bit. Swedish pancakes hit the spot and warmed up the boat in the process. By the time we finished, the clouds appeared to be lifting so we caught the boat race partway through. The Navy's homemade boat had sunk moments after the gun went off much to the ironic pleasure of the crowd. Another craft got lower and lower in the water as they paddled around until the boys were floating in life jackets alone. The others made it to the turnaround point and back, if only barely.
I went to tour the Mary Day and ended up getting the last seat for the Navy Destroyer tour. Lisa and the girls hung out with the Skeltons and all the kids. They ended up getting a ride on an old schooner, the Vernon Langille, during the boat parade. Once the festival was over and on the way back to the boat, we decided to invite our friends in the anchorage to our boat for the 8pm fireworks. The girls cleaned and stashed to make it safe again for entering. Bo, the Dutch boat, Yindee Plus and Full Monty came over. I made cookies to warm us up which we munched with satisfaction as the fireworks burst overhead.
Day 718 ~ Identity ThreatSeptember 1st, 2012
Nika is a saver. As far as I can recall she hasn't spent a dime of her own money stash in a year or more. In fact, her last expenditure was a donation to the Camden-Rockport Animal shelter last year.
So, last night while dodging the rain, we ducked into a place that sells hats, sweatshirts and embroidery services. Nika spotted a captain's hat, complete with black bill and golden embroidered anchor. Her eyes lit up with a desirous gleam. She snatched it and tried it on; it fit perfectly. She looked it over for a price: $8.
"I want to come back tomorrow and buy this hat with my own money!" she exclaimed. I was taken aback. Nika, spend her birthday savings after all this time?
This morning broke sunny and warm, with a nice festive air. The lobster crate races were on today's agenda, along with the pirate attack and cannon firing lessons. Of course, there would also be plenty of time to run around and play with boat friends. We ate a quick brekkie, then Nika dug up her cash stash and carefully counted out $9 with nervous excitement (we told her that Maine will charge tax). She dressed in pure white, just like the USS Normandy's Navy sailors did when they came ashore.
We puttered into the harbor and tied up the dink. Nika was hot to trot, so she and I marched straight up the hill and into the hat shop. To Nika's great relief, the hat was still there, right where she had left it on that cold and rainy night so long ago, like 14 hours. She latched onto the beret and we wove our way through the packed racks to the cashier, an older lady with a friendly knowing expression. Nika was beaming as she handed her nine wadded bills, each severely wrinkled from numerous folding and packing. The hat was hers and she got some change back!
She proudly put it on and adjusted it, glancing quickly at a mirror nearby to make sure it was just right, then we marched out onto the bustling sidewalk and headed to our kid rendezvous on the library lawn. Nika held my hand proudly and wore her hat with a confident smile. She was aglow with Navy pride and I couldn't help feeling a flush of fatherly joy at seeing her so sure of herself, and so happy.
The sun was angling into the artfully decorated shops, the Windjammer Festival crowd was jamming the streets with bustle and hum. We were soon out of town and angling towards the grassy slopes of the library park. Pigeons angled and darted under a bluebird canopy of sky.
Then, suddenly, the full risk that Nika was blindly charging towards fell across my vision like the heaviest curtain in a tragic play. The first 3 seconds of our impending kid reunion could solidify Nika's self confidence or smash her to fragmented emotional shards. If Wilf or Sid laughed at her "silly" hat the entire experience would turn cynically sour. The anticipation, the precious money spent, the fun with Papa buying the hat, the matching white navy style dress would all turn to bitter ashes on her tongue.
But then I reflected on the audience she would soon command. The Yindee boys were full-on boat kids, spending long hours playing "Princess of Arabia", sword dueling, tree climbing and exploring beaches for useful flotsam. They are actual children living real lives, as opposed to hardened consumerists cynically analyzing the world for an angle. Nika was in good hands.
I watched their faces closely as we approached. Wilf and Sid caught sight of Nika at the same moment. Wilf broke into a curious smile, Sid's eyes lit up. "My, Nika, that's a Brilliant hat!" said Sid, with obvious envy. "Where did you get that hat?" Wilf inquired. Even Nina, who would love to embarrass Nika given the chance, couldn't stomach going against the will of the crowd. "You look great Nika!" she cooed. Nika couldn't help a bashful, proud smile. She was captain of the moment.
Fully Monty invited us over for a potluck dinner aboard and we had fun sharing boat stories, boat yard sagas and a few songs.