"There is nothing more pleasant than cruising on a boat with the whole family."
Letter from Empress Catherine the Great

Friday, June 30, 2017

Days 10 & 11, June 27-28 -- Two Lay Days In Shelburne -- Zero NM

I have reported lay days in which we just sort of laid around, doing virtually nothing. Fun, actually. These, however, were not like those. Our friend Bob, of s/v Pandora, the 47 foot Aerodyne, has said that cruising a sailboat is the art of boat repairs in exotic ports. I set out to do one repair -- to find where the hose carrying pressurized fresh water had come apart. As a result of this break, when we turn on the pressure water pump, we get not only useful fresh water at the sink or shower, but water gets pumped into the bilge. From there, the bilge pump pumps it overboard. As a result, we ran out of water from the starboard tank only a few days after filling it. The way to search for problem, so as to be able to fix it, is to turn on the same electric pump and search for where the water is coming from. So I did not begin this fix while underway from Nantucket because we did not want to waste what water we had left in the other tank. We can still use the manual foot pump to get cold fresh water without wasting it into the bilge. In Shelburne I started to look for the leak but I did not get very far.

I also discovered that the new gaskets I made this winter for the viewing ports in the tops of the two water tanks are not effective: when filling the tanks, water flows out of the tops of the tanks!

But these water issues were put on the back burner to solve the problem of the water in the fuel tank. it is the one I'm pointing to disgustedly in the photo. Herb, the local mechanic took a look, heard that prior attempts to solve the problem were not successful and proposed the sure fire cure to make positively sure that there is no water left in the tank.
We removed the tank from the boat completely after siphoning out about 30 gallons of fluids using his industrial strength 15 gallons per minute electric fuel pump into six lidded five gallon pails that he brought and carted away. Then we removed the four hoses attached to the tank: fill, feed, return, and overflow, and the four wooden blocks that hold the tank in place against the sides of the well in which it sits. You can see two such wedges at each side of the tank. Two of them broke in the removal process and Herb created two to match. Oh yes, before we could do this I had to remove the salon table and the cabin sole of the entire cabin except the sleeping compartments. Yes the particular tank is located directly under the keystone piece of cabin sole to which almost all the others attach! And when Herb and his assistant had the tank off the boat for two hours I removed the scale of grease and mold that lined the space where the tank fits, using quarter pieces of paper towel and grease cutting Fantastic cleanser.
The picture was taken after about half the crud had been removed. When we first lifted the tank out I though: Why did they paint the hole black? And when the tank was reinstalled I got to put the cabin sole and table back together again.

I spent two long days doing this except for a lunch and two dinners in three local restaurants, playing trivial pursuit at the Yacht Club at the end of the second day, and making friends with Tom and Susan
of Gypsy Soul, a beautiful Gozzard sloop with a hailing port of Oriental, North Carolina. Witty went missing there for four days in November 2014 and our friends, Bill and Sandy live there. "Do you know Bill and Sandy?" I asked. "Yes we do." We expect to hang with Tom and Nancy for a while, though they plan to go a lot slower along the coast, and leave their boat here over the winter.

So Shelburne is a pretty town of 1000, named after the English Prime Minister in the 1790's, when it was settled by a lot of "loyalists" --  folks from the 13 US colonies who were unhappy about our revolution. They have museums and Lene got her hair done and did a grocery run but I did not really get a chance to do the town, or even get a postcard for my granddaughter. But we have to come back by here on the way home later this summer so maybe I will get a chance.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Days 8 & 9, June 25 & 26 -- Nantucket to Nova Scotia -- 272 NM

As promised by Chris Parker, we had perfect weather for our passage. That is: there was no rain and no headwinds. But we also had very little usable wind. It was mostly behind us on our port quarter, and large ocean rollers, three feet to eight feet in height at various stages, coming at our starboard quarter rocked the boat back and forth "shaking" what wind there was out of our sails.

From red buoy 2 to the buoy at Brazil rock was 222 miles on a course of 073 degrees magnetic. To achieve our average speed of seven knots so as to arrive before dark, we had to motor almost the whole way. That, combined with my own stupidity, discussed later in this posting, caused the anxiety that made the trip less than a pure joy.

272 NM in 39.83 hours means we averaged 6.83 knots (but the time includes a one hour stop).

But let's begin at the beginning, at 4:20 AM, in the predawn, when only sailors and fishermen (standing on the bow of his boat to the left) are awake in the predawn light. This picture also shows how many of Nantucket's moorings were vacant at this early point in the season.
We cast off at 4:40 and  enjoyed favorable tide and speeds of more than eight knots the first three hours out of Nantucket, at the sunrise shortly after five AM,

past Great Point Light at the NE corner of Nantucket,
and through Great Round Shoal Channel to buoy Red 2 -- the last Nantucket object. Of course, over a two day voyage we would experience several such favorable tides (and several unfavorable ones as well). As luck would have it we had favorable tide at both the exit from Nantucket and for the entrance into N.S.

Q: What did we see and when did we see  it? A: Not much.  1) A large container ship, probably bound for Boston in the shipping lanes, crossed our bow, five miles ahead of us, early Sunday morning. 2) A few hours later, a school or pod of dolphins decided to play with us. I missed their announcement of their presence -- an in-air summersault by one of them, Sea World style. But I do have some video and if Lene edits it, I will add it here. 3) A sunset.
4) At 11 pm, during my nap, Lene awakened me when she saw lights. I'd rather have such an awakening than experience what the Captain of the US destroyer that got whacked by the Chinese freighter a week or so ago experienced.  It was five lights of varying degrees of brightness spread out in what seemed to be a line across our bows. They did not respond to my radio call and did not appear on radar. We never saw the boats but they had bright working lights which obscured their red and green navigation lights. I concluded that they were fishing boats, going in our general direction, though a bit slower than us. It took several hours for us to clear them. 5) A sunrise.
6) We passed a sand bar. But wait! No sandbars pop up in 300 feet of water. It was white, maybe 30 feet long, maybe an overturned boat -- maybe folks hanging on needing rescue. So we turned to close it. But it was beyond hope -- a dead whale. We called the Canadian Coast Guard to report its position so mariners passing at night could avoid such a hazard to navigation. 7) About ten miles from the N.S. coast we passed through a band of fishing vessels, none of them close to us. 8). The coastline appeared and the light on Cape Sable.

We dressed very warmly at night- multiple layers, and while it was cold, it was not so bitterly cold as I had feared.

My own stupidity? We ran out of diesel fuel and the engine stopped! If (A) either Ilene or I had remembered to fill the five gallon jerry can with diesel when we topped off in Nantucket, or (B) there had been enough wind for us to have sailed for two hours, or (C) I had fixed the starboard fill fuel tank which has been contaminated by a bit of water since Christmas 2014 so we could have switched to that tank, then this would not have happened. It happened when we were about 27 miles from our destination. What to do? There was very little wind and calm seas so I put us on a course, away from hazards, parallel to the shore, so that I could do what had to be done with auto pilot steering and no risk of going on the rocks while I was not focused on navigation. I siphoned about 20 large 48 fluid ounce juice bottles of good fuel from the contaminated tank through the hose that brings fuel to the fuel filter on its way to the engine. I did this by disconnecting that hose from the fuel filter and inserting a hand pump. Ed Spallina had taught me how to do this earlier this year. Lene poured the bottles, one at a time, through a funnel into the good fuel tank. I reconnected the fuel hose, bled the air out and voila, we were back in business, motoring to our destination. Then it was time to clean up the mess. We lost about an hour due to this fiasco and motor sailed past Roseway Light on McNutt Island, guardian of Shelburne Harbor, claimed to the third largest in the world!
We took a mooring at the Shelburne Harbor Yacht Club, and ate the rest of the sausages, onions and peppers that Lene had prepared in Nantucket. We cleared into Canada in a telephone call to Customs and Immigration. The easiest clearance we have experienced and no fee charged. We were given a clearance number in case we are asked about it later, flew the Canadian flag at the yardarm, and slept for ten hours.
We've made it to NS! It looks a lot like Maine.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Days 6 & 7 June 23-24 -- Lay Days in Nantucket -- Zero NM

Nantucket is not just a stepping stone of the way to Nova Scotia, it is a destination in itself. Having dined out on our first night here, we dined aboard the last two. Lene was a whirling dervish of cleaning and cooking some delicious food including the one pot meal for our next two dinners, underway. We did have coffee and I had pizza and ice cream for lunch on our last day here. I usually eat with a more nutritious viewpoint. Not everything is expensive on Nantucket. Two people told Lene to check out the Hospital Thrift Shop on India Street for a pot she wanted, to replace the thin light compact one which scorched her rice. We found an excellent one there and she bought me a huge padded flannel over shirt, both for $14!
We thought about bike riding, which we have done in the past, but threatening weather plus Lene's lack of confidence in here diminished vision, had us opt for historical sightseeing instead. Having read Nathaniel Philbrick's "Away Off Shore", I knew a lot more about the history of this place than the average tourist, which enhanced the experience.
The Atheneum, named after Athena, the Greek Goddess of wisdom, is what they call their public library. My own goddess, Ilene, is in front. Like New York City's library, which was created originally by the merger of the private libraries of Tilden, Astor and Lenox, The Atheneum, (the first building rebuilt after the great fire in the mid nineteenth century that burned most of the town of Nantucket) was created by the donations of several Quaker businessmen.

"The Three Bricks" is the nickname of three identical large red brick homes that  successful whaler Joseph Starbuck built for his three sons. Across the street is "Hadwen House", built by a Starbuck relative,  to be even grander, in the Greek Revival style. Lene, sitting on the front steps, shows the scale of the place. Due to the lack of an endowment, this grand home is not furnished in the opulent manner that it's original owners experienced.
A walking tour of historic sites, is operated by the Whaling Museum. It was well led by docent McNab.

The Hadwen House has just a few things to suggest its former glory. I would have expected this painting over the mantle to show a
whaling ship, but I think not: no tryworks (to boil the oil from the blubber) nor whaleboats at the ready. The icebergs to the left suggest Arctic or Antarctic waters, where the whalers went in their search for the commercially valuable sperm whale. But no recognizable national flag is shown and the name on the pennant atop the highest mast made no sense either. It seems a good painting, but just one that the foundation acquired to suggest the type of art that Mr. Hadwen would have had. Maybe this one is a clipper ship, sleek.

Here is our docent in front of the Quaker Meeting House, Rows of plain totally unadorned benches are inside without the slightest hint of ornamentation. Though made of wood, this church was spared in the great fire because it was far away enough from the wharfs, where the fire started.
I met a nice couple from Australia on the tour.
The Whaling Museum itself is the third that I have seen in the past two summers after the smaller one in Cold Spring Harbor and the larger one in New Bedford. The museum in Provincetown has much information about whaling but that industry is not its focus. Each museum is excellent in its own way. This one features a video on Nantucket, narrated by Ken Burns to which Philbrick contributed and a presentation of the details of the process of whaling that was Melvillian in its detail. It also detailed the process by which oil was "pressed" out of blubber by huge commercial presses (like olive oil is pressed) and how candles were made.
Nantucket is different from most all of the other New England villages we have visited. They have signage on all the old houses to the effect built by (name of first owner) in (year) and the builder's profession. Not in Nantucket.
The next two days we will be underway, bound for Nova Scotia, putting more miles under our keel than in all of the prior passages of this cruise combined.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Day 5 June 22 -- Menemsha to Nantucket -- 40 NM

Well the prior three passages of this cruise involved mostly strong SW winds from near or aft the beam - fast. Southwesterlies are the "prevailing" winds in this area of the world, but one can't expect such ideal wind all the time. At least today's passage was not a beat, but it was a very light wind day. So the diesel worked throughout the six hour  passage, though I was able to fly the Genoa during three of the six hours of the passage, which gave us a half knot speed boost. What gave us a big boost during the first half of the passage, thanks to our 6 a.m. departure,  was the tide in Vineyard Sound.  It was sunny and warm and a pleasant passage. The crew likes such passages.
Several fast and slow ferries passed us near Nantucket.

Brant Point, marks the entrance to the well protected deep harbor from which Captain Ahab's "Pequod", and hundreds of other whale ships departed; and most returned. We had wanted to visit Nantucket last summer, having last been here during the Club Cruise in 1998. How do I know the year?  There was a heatwave and we escaped the heat by seeing  "There's Something About Mary" with Selwyn and Evie; that movie was released that year. In 1998 we still had my first boat, the 28 foot Pearson, "Just Cause", and it was Lene's first two week cruise.
But last summer the timing of our visits with Lee and Patti in Hyannisport and then Greg and Kathy in Provincetown left no days for Nantucket.  Having read Nathaniel Philbrick's history of this island -- up to the 1890's (when tourism replaced whaling) -- gave me a new appreciation of the place.

There's something about Nantucket though: bring money; it's expensive. Philbrick told me that the Quakers, who ran the whaleships, drove a hard bargain and so do the present day Nantucketers. Our mooring is $70 per night and that does not include launch service which is $5 per person, one way!

We contacted Chris Parker, the weather guru. He told us that a Sunday and Monday passage to Shelburne Nova Scotia, which was our target date, is actually the best weather for this trip in the next ten days, a mixture of good wind pushing us and light wind requiring the engine, but no storms and headwinds. I figure that with these conditions, we can average better than 6.8 knots and hence not require a second night out in the North Atlantic. We will Chris call back on Saturday to confirm; then the forecast will be more accurate. I recall that our passage from Saint Martin to Antigua in 2010 was delayed by about a week awaiting "clearance" from Chris for a safe "weather window".

We stopped at the fuel dock for 8.8 gallons of diesel, to top off for the long passage to Nova Scotia, and called a mechanic, Tim Lewis, to look at our dinghy outboard. He came with his assistant to our mooring on a work boat loaded with every imaginable hand tool and fixed the problem in ten minutes. Yesterday I had figured that the problem was not the Yamaha engine's fault, but in the hose. Well the culprit was not the hose either, but the plastic pickup tube in the plastic fuel tank that Yamaha sold with the engine. The tube picks up fuel from the bottom of the tank and feeds it to the hose. It had fallen off and was lying uselessly in the tank. Without that tube, the hose just sucked air from the top of the tank, and the engine won't burn air. A very high price for two men for their one hour minimum, but Tim had both the expertise to know the problem and the tools to fix it, he and came to our boat on short notice and gave us a discount and he has a good sense of humor. So no $20 round trip launch rides for us!

We each needed to sign documents before a notary, a service which Sharmia, the manager at a local Cape Cod Bank cheerfully provided for free. We did some shopping, took shore showers (free at the Harbor Master's office), had good tuna, freshly caught and imaginatively cooked by the chef at Pier 14 Restaurant, and chatted with some folks from Norfolk on their Island Packet at one of the docks. Then we were picked up by our new friend, Sally, who took us on a tour to Siasconset, the community at the eastern end if the island.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Day 4, June 21 -- Block Island to Menemsha, (Western End of Martha'sVineyard -- 42NM -

For today's post, I am copying most of Ilene's daily email to about seventy people, and augmenting it a bit with sentences in brackets.

We weren't in a hurry to leave Block this morning but we got underway nonetheless by 9:15 and followed out a bunch of racers.  Did I mention that this week is race week on Block Island?  These guys are serious and I did not want to be anywhere in their way.
[We overtook s/v Loulou and wished good luck to our sailmaker, Paul Beaudin of the Doyle loft on City Island.]

The first couple of hours were glorious. The sky was blue with wispy clouds… The wind was around 10 knots and from our side… And the seas were very calm.  I was in my favorite position lying on the side settee in the cockpit with Roger behind the helm and my Kindle in my lap as well as a feline or two. And then, as promised, the wind picked up… The seas picked up and we were off to the races. We were flying through the water at north of 8 knots. [42 miles in six hours means an average speed of seven knots. We had full main and Genoa flying on a beam and broad starboard reach.] And then at about 1:30 in the afternoon that nasty fog came in again.  Fog is very scary.  Even though we have radar it is still very difficult to be staring into this fog with maybe 200 yards of visibility all around you and see shapes and not know if it's a boat, a log, a buoy, a lobster pot or maybe just a whitecap as we had 10 foot high rollers again!  Or maybe it's just your imagination.  We have a fog horn that Roger blows every so often.  I hold my ears but I can't imagine what the kitties feel!  In this type of weather I keep them below.  [Radar picked up something dead ahead of us coming at us and it turned out to be a big fishing boat that passed us starboard to starboard, about 100 yards away, which is too darn close, in that we didn't see him till be was abreast of us.]
So, this is us on the first day of summer!

 You can see the fog in my picture. 

That's Roger stowing the mainsail in the stackpack when we were getting ready to enter Menemsha Bight and happily the fog had lifted. 

Finally, at about 3:45 we were safely on our mooring with the intention of showering ashore (more water and hotter water!) and then having dinner at the famous Larsons.
 The view is from our boat and although it looks so close...it isn't when you have no way of getting there!😔
I was waiting for a shoe to drop and it did this evening as our dinghy engine conked out when Roger went ashore to pay our mooring fee of $30.  He had to row back and although the distance isn't great, the current makes it very tough and he is tired after a day of powerful winds.
We have food aboard and since we are leaving for Nantucket at the crack of dawn [to catch the favorable tide], we will just eat on the boat and leave early and get the outboard engine fixed in Nantucket. [Actually, the engine seems to work fine when it is given fuel and the fuel tank is far from empty so the culprit seems to lie in the hose that brings the fuel from the tank to the engine.] We do sleep wonderfully well on the boat. The cats still wake me up at about 530 in the morning but tomorrow we'll be underway by that time.

The beach at Menemsha, with its view to the west over open water, is called Sunset Beach. From the boat the dock was in the way, but the absence of clouds - where is that fog when you need it - made the view less than spectacular.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Day 3 - June 20 -- Lay Day in Block Island -- Zero NM

With wind like yesterday and fog, the Admiral elected to have a lay day. And it was truly that-- we lay about all day, did not get off the boat and I did not even do any of the many chores that are always available to keep me busy. The fog cleared around midday and the racers set out to have their race, but we stayed put. We ate, read, played games and I guess one could say I did something useful in planning future passages, tomorrow to Menemsha at the western end of Martha's Vineyard and the next day to Nantucket. The latter of these involves a strong tidal flow through Vineyard Sound and we did the tides and figured out that it is best to leave at daybreak.

We discovered that I had left the Nova Scotia cruising guides at home and printed up a prepaid FedEx shipping label and asked AJ to send them to us c/o the Nantucket Harbormaster. Thanks, AJ!

The other passage plan is the very long leg from Nantucket to Shelburne, Nova Scotia. We had planned to leave at daybreak of the first day of this passage and arrive before dark the next day, about 39 hours later.  But based on the distance I plotted out, we will have to make 7 knots, on average, over the entire passage to get there before dark. We can frequently make much higher speeds than that, but what if there is no wind, or it is in our faces?  So a plan B is needed in case things slow down. We can either put into a cove on N.S. that is nearer than Shelburne, or keep going until the next daybreak, for another ten hours, to a port further up the island's Atlantic coast. We are also planning to contact Chris Parker, a professional weather planner to get advice as to which days to make this long passage.

I've been running hard to get the boat ready and the two long days of sailing prior to today made a day of rest  appropriate.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Day 2, June 19 -- Clinton CT to Block Island -- 45 NM

What exactly is a “small craft”? The government warned them not to put out today, and wisely so with predicted (and actual) winds of 20 to 30 knots and seas of five to eight feet. But those winds were from the SW and Block Island lies east, so the wind would be at our side and ILENE is 43 feet long and weighs ten tons. We were the only boat out there, departing Clinton at 8:15 and grabbing a mooring in Block at 1:30. Elapsed time of 5.25 hours made for an average speed of 8 ¾ knots and plenty over ten knots. The elapsed time included slow going while exiting Clinton and in the destination harbor. Well the tide was helping us but still! I put in the reef before we left the dock and used the small jib and we were flying. It was a rough passage; my friend Bob calls them "sporty passages".
One of our kitties lost his or her breakfast.
When approaching the race the radio announced  from an unnamed U.S. submarine: “We will be passing through the Race in ten minutes. Keep at least 500 yards away!” First I looked to port, thinking he maybe was coming home to New London, but the only upright object proved to be the Valiant Rock buoy. But then looking to starboard we saw his conning tower. he was headed southerly and we, easterly. I called back on Channel 16, identified us as the sailboat ILENE, asked if he saw us and told him that we were headed for Block Island, making 11.5 knots but that our speed changed with the wind and the tide. I said I had difficulty measuring the 500 yards in all that glorious wind. He replied not to worry and passed astern of us. Sorry, too busy to mess with the camera.
The only other excitement, and it was a slow moving excitement with all of our speed, was the advent of fog. It was overcast and hazy all day but then visibility was reduced to less than a mile, and in patches, to 200 yards. We knew that there were no rocks, buoys or any other fixed objects between us and Block Island, but other boats?  We took some comfort in our supposing that there would be very few if any boats out there this Monday, and kept a sharp lookout. We heard fog signals being made by a boat. The moans started off our starboard quarter and ended  off our starboard bow, but we never saw the boat that made them while it was overtaking us. And it was cold. fleece pants, the heavy foulie top and gloves were used to avoid hypothermia.
In Block Island the coveted chartreuse town moorings were readily available. After lunch we went to shore. Lene did not want to take the dink because while the ocean waves were not there, much of the wind was. Old Port Launch Company charges $4 per person each way, so it was an expensive trip. We walked to the old town, were given a ride back and dined at The Oar, probably the most popular dining establishment on the island and a favorite of cruising Harlemites. The décor is simple and totally donated. It is still “pre-season” here except that it is “Race Week” bringing avid racers and their boats from far and wide. Paul Beaudin of the Harlem and Doyle Sails is racing his J/105 sloop “LouLou” here, but we did not run into him. Good luck, Paul! Today’s race was wisely scratched for safety reasons – not due to excessive wind, but due to fog.
Similar weather is predicted for tomorrow, and our plans are not yet set, but we will not be going all the way to Nantucket in one shot as originally planned.

June 15 - 18 -- Three Hectic Days; Then "Free At Last" -- City Island to Clinton CT -- 65 NM

First came three hectic days: 1) Completion of the electrical installation of the new windlass by Ed Spallina, assisted by me. The old one had two heavy cables leading to the motor, one black and one red. The new one has two reds and a black, so I bought a 2.5 foot piece of zero gauge heavy duty red cable, to which Bridge Marine affixed 5/8 inch lugs at both ends. many other clever adjustments and eureka! It works!
2)  A day devoted to detailing our apartment in anticipation of the arrival of AJ, a friend who will be watching our apartment for us during our cruise. He has allergies so everything was dusted and all drawers including those in the refrigerator were made cleaner than they have been in the last ten years. We also packed up all the stuff we will need for transportation to the boat. A period of potential marital conflicts, which we avoided or settled amicably.
3) Saturday we broke our bonds to the shore at last and moved aboard. I met AJ’s flight at Kennedy airport at 5:35 a.m. Lene gave him a tour of our apartment to show how things work and we went on a long stroll through our neighborhood, pointing out the facilities he might wish to use. Then it was time to load the car with our stuff and AJ volunteered to come along.
We offloaded from the car into two carts, hauled them to the launch and then to the boat and stowed the stuff while Lene shopped for perishables at a local market. The only problem was that Ed had locked the padlock that stops entry to the boat. No problem, we carry a bolt cutter. But it did not cut. Plan B: the hack saw; but it was not making a dent either. Plan C: I used a file to sharpen the bolt cutter's blades and then with all of the strength of both AJ and me, it cut. Good thing too, because soon thereafter the heavens opened up and we had just enough time to get things below, but very little of the stuff put away. Lene came back with two more cart loads of food and all perishables were stowed while Whitty and Alfie got reacquainted with their home away from home. Then after lunch at the Club I drove back to our apartment to park the car for the summer, said good by to AJ, and took the subway and bus back to the boat, dined aboard and a good night's sleep, though very foggy and humid. But the third stressful day before departure broke the bond with the land, though not with New York City.
On Fathers Day we finally set off, one day later than scheduled, and Lene asked to avoid the overnight sail by making it two day sails instead. When to leave? Roger said earlier, Lene said later. We resolved it: When we are ready, which turned out to be 9:10 a.m., after removal of everything from the aft (storage) cabin and repacking it using the new plastic milk crates we had bought for the purpose. I also checked the battery water which was OK and stowed a lot of cat food with the batteries below the berth.  Where to stay for the night? We thought of the Marina in Mattituck, Long Island but they have raised their rates to $4.50 per foot, per night. Ouch! We considered several other places and ended selecting the Cedar Island Marina in Clinton, CT., less expensive but with good services.

At the beginning of the passage there was no wind so we motored but we put up sails off Manhasset and the winds just built all day. We had full main and genoa and were only overpowered for a little while. We passed south and close to Falkner Island and got this Hopper-like photo of its lighthouse.  

I saw this big boy from about eight miles away and saw that we were on a near collision course. On channel 13 we talked and he agreed to alter course to port to avoid us. Very polite.
It was a starboard reach all the way on a warm day of hazy sun and winds, from 10 to 30 knots, near our beam. Four times, when boat speed dropped below 5 knots, we turned the engine back on for from five to fifteen minutes, thereby disproving the accusation of some of my friends that I am a sailing purist. We arrived at 6:10,  underway for 9 hours and 40 minutes - an average speed of just about seven knots. The sail was a terrific Father’s Day present from God and we have broken free from home at last. Nova Scotia, here we come!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June 6 -12 -- A new record for ILENE : Eleven Souls Aboard Underway

There have been more than eleven folks aboard ILENE before, but never while underway.
From left to right: Marcia, Mark, Mark, Richie, friend of Claire, Sarah, Claire, Debra, Sandy and Mike. What made this overloading possible was the almost total lack of wind on Wednesday. We Salts motored out to the Sound and back and sailed across the Sound to Great Neck and back but maxed 2.8 knots with full sails on the way out and 1.4, declining gradually to zero knots on the way back. The advantage of no wind (and no wakes on a Wednesday afternoon) was that we were able to set up the cockpit table and break out the libations while underway. Mark, of "Deuce of Hearts" helped me attempt to remove the broken block at the starboard end of the jib track which has been frozen for years. (We sailed by jury rigging a snatch block to the post of the bad block.) you can see the crack in the lower side piece, the fact that stout line is running where the sheave should be and holding the snap shackle to the right and the semi stripped Allen head bolt which must be removed.
Repeated applications of PB Blaster (rust penetrant) and hammer have so far not produced a favorable outcome. I took measurements and photos to try to find the right Lewmar part number which will be needed before the old piece is taken off. Lewmar is poor at helping find parts for older equipment they have sold.

The other sail was more fun, with   (me, Lene, Joe, Tiffany, Robert and Tony
(three of Ilene's actor friends and the husband of one of them). We had lunch at the mooring and out of a superabundance of caution put a reef in the main and used the small jib. At one point we hit 8.1 knots. We went out of Eastchester Bay, up through Hart Island Sound and to Ex. Rocks before turning, too early it turns out, and beating back to Hart Island, the green off the west headland of Manhassett Bay and Throggs Neck. Tony had to be back by five which caused me to turn back too soon. We tacked back and forth across Eastchester Bay to use up our available time. Each of our guests took the helm, and did well. I took the helm only when we tacked in the channel by Ex. Rocks, and only until I could figure out which way we could sail in that channel. The guests took Uber from the Club to the Pelman Station (only $12 for three of them and only a twelve minute wait on a Sunday evening).

And three work days, total of  14.5 hours, during the period. Once we get underway on our cruise to Nova Scotia the work will not end but there will be no more work days. Getting underway is the challenge now. And the Admiral wants us to leave a day later than the schedule and transit to Block Island on two days rather than run overnight.

I finished waterproofing the bimini and installed it, tested the outboard and secured the dink with its straps and finished lubricating and cleaning the brass handles and locks of the door to the forward head, and reinstalled them. The door now closes without the need of a string to hold it closed if you want privacy. We also brought a lot of stuff aboard and stowed it.

But the biggest project was the installation, mechanically, of the new windlass, with the help of Ed Spallina. The electrical hookup remains to be done but I'm hoping that this will not be difficult. The mounting is stronger than it was before. Then four bolts, backed by fender washers through the 1/2" thick fiberglass deck held the machine in place. This picture shows the grey rubber gasket of the "footprint" of the new windlass laying over the hole in the fiberglass deck for the old windlass. The four small holes are where the bolts go so you can see that there is no fiberglass to hold the windlass to the deck, requiring us to build a surface there.
Now there are two pieces of 1/2" thick white plastic "Starboard", one below the fiberglass and one above, With another ring of starboard as a spacer, inside the two larger discs. all held together with 5200 marine adhesive and three bolts backed by fender washers. And the four studs of the windlass, backed by fender washers, go through this 1 1/2" thick  sandwich of plastic on plastic. The bottom layer of Starboard is wider than the hole in the fiberglass deck, requiring enough force to rip the fiberglass to pull the windlass from its mounting.

Excitement over our now increasingly imminent departure is mounting.

Monday, June 5, 2017

May 29 - June 4 -- More Of The Joys and Frustrations of Sailing

On the first and last days of this week two sail dates had to be changed to "other" dates due to rain. The first was with Debby and Peter, who have sailed with us over the years. Peter was one of the crew of ILENE's eight day passage from Hampton VA to Tortola, BVI in October 2010. It was dinner and a movie with them instead. And at the end of this period, a sail with Bennett and Harriet on "Ohana" was changed to a delicious home cooked lobster dinner, card party and movie at their home in Alpine NJ.

I did sail twice. The first was with the Old Salts on Mark's Catamaran "Deuce of Hearts" along with
Mark, the other Mark, Marcia, Sandy and Mike, on Wednesday afternoon for about 3.5 hours in very light winds. We did get up to 5 knots briefly in a puff. We sailed south slightly into Little Neck Bay before dying winds ahead caused us to gybe and go up the west side of Eastchester Bay to further up the Westchester River in the Bay's Northwest corner than I've ever been  -- close enough to see the Shore Road drawbridge. At high tide and with the cat's shallow draft, this was a nice trip with plenty of water under her keel. Then it was coming back out, rounding the Cuban Ledge buoy and heading for the mooring -- and the wine. Hot in the sun with such light wind.
The second sail was with Sandy, Danielle and Annette, shown here at the pre-sail lunch at the Harlem.
Annette had won a ride on ILENE at my synagogue's goods and services auction and had a great sailing day.

I got there early to clean up the boat and rig her for the sail, including putting the first reef in the main in anticipation of the continuation of thirty knot winds. A funny incident  that Annette, who was the organizer of the guests/crew has authorized me to tell you. We got to the launch and I directed them to step aboard. She thought that the launch was ILENE, for a few seconds which got a laugh from all. "What? Did you think the mast was going to rise up from the deck?" asked Danielle. Our course was out of Eastchester Bay and thence to near Rye, passing north of Execution Rocks on port tack. During which I "raced" and closed on a large blue Sloop with flat topped racing sails. This unnamed "adversary" started far ahead of us and held us off pretty well until she furled her headsail. Both Sandy and Danielle took a turn on the helm.
But with much lighter winds in Eastchester Bay, I had shaken out the reef and then the winds grew strong and gusty again. At one point the boat was rounding up and I had to take the helm. The trip back was all on starboard tack and we made a tide assisted eight knots for a while, giving the guests the thrill that I presume they wanted. We sailed past the Blauses, through Hart Island Sound, and through the  Kings Point channel, toward the Throggs Neck Bridge before tacking to head for the mooring. On the last tack the apparent wind came up to 30 knots so we furled the jib and then ran the engine after dropping the main. During this voyage I utilized the services of my guests/crew much better than usual; they became sail trimmers. Once under motor the heeling stopped and we broke out the wine. My guests are now my friends and plan to bid again at the next auction. I discovered a truth that had not occurred to me before: Goods and Services auctions, in addition to helping worthy organizations, and gaining a small tax deduction, are a great way to get crew and make friends.

Three other days involved work. One of the fasteners of the dodger was tearing loose so I removed that screen and brought it to the canvas shop for repair. The harder part will be putting it back on -- it is a very tight fit over its frames, requiring two people, one to haul it tight while the other inserts and twists the fastener. I also redeemed the outboard from the shop, wheeled it to the end of the dock and struggled to get it from the cart to the back of the dink. It is heavy and bulky to handle in a crouched position on a bouncing platform. Unfortunately, I did not have the kill switch, needed for to it to run so I tested it using a length of line in the groove into which the kill switch fits, instead, but had the dink towed back and hauled it up on the davit bar. Later I searched again for the cinching straps and the kill switch and found them all together, in the second search of the first place I had looked.

More time and effort, was spent with Ed, to remove the windlass, cover the hole in the foredeck temporarily with plastic, take it ashore and take it apart. Unfortunately, the grease with which it had been packed when new, was discovered to be largely greasy mud and rust.
I took the motor, not shown, to Bronx Ignition but they reported what Ed had suspected: that a new windlass is in ILENE's future. Then a search of the internet and calls with vendors and Ed ended with knowledge that Lewmar has ceased offering this model and that the replacement, by Maxwell, from Wolf's Marine, which is on order as of this writing, will undoubtedly require some sort of hard patching of the existing holes in the deck and drilling new and different ones of a new template. The windlass also takes the rose off the rose of my recent observation that this year's boat expenses will be well well below the average of prior years. Expenses, barring further problems, will still be below, but no longer "well below". Ive got to learn how to service and maintain the new toy so it will last more than nine years like the old one.
And yes, here is a view of our new fitted sheets for the pullman berth.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

What Is a "Page View"?

Numerically significant changes take place, suddenly, overnight, to the statistical view of the readership of this blog -- its "page views" The blog reports this statistic to me an a daily, and monthly basis. The changes happen without my knowing their cause, though it could, inadvertently, be something I do.

The blog was started in the fall of 2010 with our departure for what turned out to be Grenada. With the exception of July 2013, when over 5000 page views were reported, the views have averaged about 1350 per month, a bit less at the beginning and more when we are cruising than when we are "maintaining" and, with variations. 1350 per month is hardly what they call "viral".

However, for the nine month period September 2016 to May 2017, inclusive, page views ranged between 4777 and 9339, averaging 6163 per month,more than four times as many. And then, starting in late last month the number dropped, just as precipitously, overnight, back to around 30 per day.

I'm not sure what a page view is or what could cause such wild changes. I believe that for those who blog with a hope or expectation of financial advantage. i.e., "commercialize" their blogs, page views may "matter". This blog will forever remain non-commercial.

I write (1) for my own pleasure, (2) to aid my memory because recalling ones adventures is almost as much fun as planning and living them and (3) as a free gift to anyone who might be planning to go where I have been. Lene has found a blog by someone who has cruised to Nova Scotia! I'll read it.

So I'm not worried about page views, just curious.