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

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

September 20 to 27 -- NO SAILING and Five Nights In Our Apartment.

Yes, the last night of the prior post and five more during this one were spent ashore. My plan to sail after services during the afternoon of the second day of Rosh Hashona fell through due to lack of interest. Two folks nibbled but no one bit the hook. A wider cast net will be deployed nest year. But on that day I returned to ILENE, to pick up a few things we had forgotten to take with us, and to pick up Mark and Liz of s/v Saving Grace, who took a mooring in the Harlem field. They spent three nights in our den and are what I call good travelers. It was their first visit to New York and they filled each day at hour home and later from their mooring with seeing the sights; Highline (shown here at 30th street amidst a whole new city that is under construction over the old railroad yards at the extreme west side of Manhattan),
Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty,
9-11 Memorial, Empire State Building, Met Museum of Art, and a ball game at Yankee Stadium. Whew! They are high energy folks!

We had dinner on their boat,
one at a restaurant in our neighborhood and one in our apartment. Lene taught them her favorite easy card game, "Oh Heck," but it seems that it is almost the same as their game of Wizard except that Wizard has a few extras including four wizard cards which trump any trump card. Mark has very good card sense.
I read their blog: www.svsavinggrace.com
They have lived aboard for six years but until 2016, remained in the Great Lakes, where it is very cold in the winters. Last year they sailed to the Bahamas via Bermuda. They like longer passages such as North Carolina direct to Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia direct to Boston, so Maine and the rest of New England except Boston is a virgin cruising ground for them. I read the part of their blog that dealt with their arrival in Nova Scotia to Baddeck and thence to New York. We were on the same journey but in Nova Scotia they went to many places that we jumped across and we likewise visited many that they missed out on; reason for a return trip.
I took in a very inexpensive short one woman musical off Broadway. There were one evening and two days of religious services and I got a gastrointestinal problem which slowed me down quite a bit.
We did a lot of chores in getting our house ready for the painters who are at work in it now, the car inspection, laundry, groceries, etc.
I checked out buying a new section of elkhide to recover the portion of the steering wheel at the top where my hands have worn through it during the last twelve years, and figured out what is wrong with and cleaned up the Magma kettle grill.
But the biggest deal is the addition of a 1250 pound slab of lead to the bottom of ILENE's keel, where it will do the most good in correcting her "tenderness" problem -- her bad habit of heeling over too much when the winds are strong. Making the pendulum (which is the keel) longer and heavier will diminish this bad habit but will also increase her draft by less than two inches, so we will have to see that our mooring is moved further from the Clubhouse into slightly deeper water. The slab of metal will be shipped from Mars Metals in Ontario, Canada to Harpswell, Maine, where it will be installed at the Great Island Boat Yard in Casco Bay during a week to be determined next July or August. So having decided to do the work in Maine we thereby decided which direction to sail to next summer and are now booking a winter storage spot at the Huguenot YC in New Rochelle for this coming winter.
We had lunch with the old salts on Wednesday, but decided that I was not up to the sailing part. I did not even do any of the boat chores that require effort, but just lolled about trying to get my strength back. This too shall pass.
We discovered another thing during our time in the City and then returning to the boat: out cats like the boat better. Smart cats. Sunset over The Bronx: lovely.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September 13-19 -- The First Week Back

Only one sail and that on Bennett's Ohana with the Old salts the day after we got back. The meeting was very well attended and we packed some fifteen folks onto Ohana and Deuce of Hearts. I sailed on the former for about two hours with Bennett's new sail, a "code zero" -- a sort of light weight spinnaker that furls upon itself and is tacked to the anchor roller and hauled up by the spinnaker halyard. The furler is operated by a continuous loop line led from the bow, next to mast and back to the cockpit. It is going to take a bit more time for us to learn how to use the new sail effectively, and then it will provide more speed. Lene joined the luncheon and the sailing but went back to ILENE during the libations section of the afternoon.
We took the subway to Manhattan with a family whose boat was on a guest mooring at the Harlem. They had sailed here from Copenhagen and planned to go on the Nova Scotia. I put them onto this blog as a reference work. We went into the city to get our car and mail and as to the latter, it was a good thing because a check we had mailed out in June had come back as "undeliverable" so I got to pay the vendor by hand delivery.
Our apartment was in great condition and we had planned to live on ILENE for the first three weeks while the apartment is painted, but the forecast proximity of Hurricane Jose caused us to move ourselves, our stuff and the cats back to the apartment for a few days during the encounter. The strongest winds predicted are only gusts of 40 knots and we have ridden out stronger winds on our anchor but a course change for Jose of just two degrees to the left would mean much stronger winds. Fortunately the hurricane seems to be northbound, passing east of us, giving us the gentler winds of its western half and from the north, without a long way to work up huge waves in Eastchester Bay. But hurricanes are large, powerful, dangerous, full of hot air and capable of moving in any direction at any time (sort of like the incumbent in the White House) so it pays to take precautions.
We had an unhappy experience at the Club's dining room: The food was great but service was so slow that our alfresco dinner turned out to be eaten in darkness. This is a problem that will have to be fixed. I can't invite guests there, who have schedules to meet, if they may have to wait 90 minutes for their food.
We met up with PC Mark and Marsha of Leeds the Way, for a beer on their return to City Island, met them for breakfast the next day, and helped them haul out, deflate, roll up and store their dinghy.
We attended a party given by our financial adviser, Tom Mingone in his lovely home in Rockland County, NJ. Tom has sailed with us but has a power yacht. At the party we unexpectedly met Seth and Sue, who belong to our congregation and have sailed with us aboard ILENE. We ddi not know that t hey were clients of Tom.
Sunday we drove up to Kent CT with our friend Sheila to visit Fran. Both Fran and Sheila have sailed with us.
At Torah study class I invited the whole group to sail with me after services on the second day of Rosh Hashona. But the hurricane may mess that up this year. The holidays are about repentance and the Rabbi said that repentance for our failings is analogous to tying back together the two pieces of a rope that connect us with God which get severed by our sins and failures. His point was that the resulting rope is shorter, bringing us closer to God. But I later pointed out that the rope is also weaker because a knot reduces the strength of a rope. Only sailors will see the negative corollary in the metaphor he described,
We met up with Christine and Heather who have sailed with us in New York and Miami. Christine who has a way with birds, is a volunteer at the Greenville Animal Shelter in Westchester which we visited with them. This huge American bald eagle is injured and cannot fly -- but he has a home here.
And my book group met at the home of Lee and patty (who met us in Red Brook Harbor on the Cape a couple of weeks ago) to discuss Robert Massie's Catherine the Great, which is a land book except for voyages on the river and the Baltic and battles at sea with the Turks. (Did you know that American naval hero, John Paul Jones, had a brief and unhappy professional relationship with Catherine? She imported his talent but her Russian naval brass made his life miserable.)
Leaving the boat on Monday was after pickeling/winterizing the water maker and turning it off electrically for the season and securing everything above decks below, tying extra lines around the sails, pumping the bilge, carrying off eleven bags of stuff including food, and taking the dink to the dock, hauling it up, removing its water retaining plug and securing it firmly to the dock. A lot of work to prepare for the worst.
Still, an easy first week back.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Days 86 and 87, September 11-12 -- Clinton CT to the Black Rock YC, CT to HOME at the Harlem Yacht Club --35 and 37 NM

We have stopped several times at the Fayerweather YC in Blackrock CT, but whenever we tried to visit the Black Rock YC,

about half a mile less far up the creek, they were too busy, having a regatta, sold out, etc. This time they were open and a very nice club it is, founded in 1928, with a large modern club house with a swimming pool and tennis courts. But the restaurant is closed on Mondays so we cannot report on the cuisine. Like the Harlem it an all-moorings yacht club served by a launch, but unlike the Harlem is has no dock that sailboats can use, even to tie up temporarily near high tide to wash or take on water!
The passage here held promise, but the winds got light, with periods of sailing interspersed with periods of motoring.  Elapsed time of 6.25 hours.  We had two miles getting out into the sound, a straight shot of due west for 28 miles and then a bit more northerly and going in at the end around this damaged daymarker.
Tide was with us almost the whole way.

Our final day was likewise almost uneventful with the primary waypoint, Good old Execution Rocks,  a straight shot after clearing
black Rock and the Penfield reef behind it.

Such a windless day that we did not even put up even a single sail. We had tide almost the entire 5.25 hours underway. We gave the diesel its annual workout, intended to burn off carbon deposits that will accumulate if it is not worked hard occasionally. We ran for half an hour at 2500 rpms. Maybe that is not fast enough?
The passage was not totally eventless however, including a first in my life of sail. We were motoring along off Huntington Harbor with auto pilot steering when this craft came up rapidly behind us and close to us.
I slowed to three knots and the voice came over "Have you had a safety inspection in the last year?" "No, not in the last 28 years!" They closed to two feet from our port side, I opened the gate and two of the four Coasties aboard jumped onto ILENE and politely asked for my driver's license and the boat's registration papers. I showed them our life raft and EPIRB, not required on their check list, and the fire extinguishers and life preservers. They did not check whether we had flares or whether they were up to date. They noted that the manufacturer's inside label in our life preservers was worn and gave us a clean bill of health. I believe that cruisers like us (evident by our dinghy hanging from its davit) tend to have the required safety features and more. It is the casual day sailor who is likely to not be so well equipped.
Dave, our senior launch operator, told me that the Club had rented our mooring from almost the entire time we were away to the owners of a boat that did not sail much. That is why our new bridles, installed this spring, were so clean.

As you know, this blog will continue, but the summer cruise of 2017 is now concluded. I enjoy being away but there is no place like home.Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Day 85, September 10 -- Block Island to Clinton CT -- 49 NM

Avid readers may recall that day two of this summer's cruise involved the reciprocal course. But that day, as I recall, the weather was wild and foggy while today it was clear with light winds. Both times, though, our transit of The Race was aided by tidal current. We left at 9:15 with reefed main and small jib but soon it was apparent that the bigger sails were needed. Our speed varied with the wind and several times, including the last two hours, we were motoring with the main up more from stabilization than for speed. neither Columbus nor sailboat racers can do this but we can and not being purists, we all to often do.
We had planned to stop in North Cove in the Connecticut River, a slightly shorter passage. But obtained local knowledge from Mark and Marsha whose "Leeds The Way" got stuck in the mud there which was confirmed by an official of the Yacht Club there in a phone call during our passage today: The place has silted in and is only good at high tide. So we considered alternatives and Clinton won the debate. On the way north we stayed at the Cedar Island Marina. They offer free rides to the local supermarket but the rent they charged was over $200 for the night. Lene called the Town Dock, operated by the Harbor Master. "No we do not have any moorings, but we have space at our dock for our off season rate of $1 per foot. We could take a cab to the supermarket and back and still come out ahead. Several times over the years we have had submarines coming to or from their base in New London across our path. This year we saw a slightly older  watercraft.
We arrived at 4:30 and once tied on, while Lene was talking at the Harbor Master's office, a very nice couple, Lawrence and Alyson, offered us a ride to the supermarket and even gave us a tour of the town beach (which we had passed on the way in. Across from the supermarket was Taste of China, a restaurant with pretty good food. After dinner though, no cabs. So we went back to the supermarket and another nice lady gave us a ride back to the dock.
No matter how enjoyable a travel experience is, as the last of its days approach, a longing for home sets in. I have reached that stage in this cruise.  Our exciting new cruising grounds are in our memories and these days we are just enjoying each day as a passage bringing us home. We have lots of time, no deadline, but the end is near.

In the morning before casting off, having provisioned the night before, we watered the boat, I washed her and we fueled her up. (When she was diving into the crests of waves in Hog Island channel, as the large volumes of water rushed aft over her top, they brought out a large number of bits of black composting vegetable matter: leaves and such which had gotten caught in the channels under the top through which the lines run aft. they washed out onto the coach roof and the cockpit and were washed away today.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Day 84, September 9 -- Cuttyhunk to Block Island -- 38 NM

A rather uneventful passage. we were underway 6.5 hours. Wind was supposed to be from the north to our going west for a nice beam reach. Our sails were up immediately out of the channel, full sails, anticipating lighter wind. But once all set and on our way they only moved us at three knots so the motor had to come on again. I took an off watch to do some paperwork and during that hour the wind came up. I shut down the engine and we sailed at 6.8 to 7.1 knots, on a close reach for over two hours until the wind got shut off, or more specifically got very light and from the west, dead in front of us. So we furled the genoa and motored the rest of the way.
Post labor day rates for the town's moorings are only $25, rather than about double that when we were here in June. But we got an even better rate by anchoring. The last time I anchored here was on my 28 foot Pearson with Jesse, the sailing dog, as my companion. We spent a lay day here, hunkered down during a noreaster. "Active Captain" which publishes the unfiltered views of sailors who had been here, presented conflicting views of whether this is a good place to anchor. One problem is that the large central portion of the pond is too deep. Another is that as a result, in the busy season, the area for anchoring is small and there are many boats. I've always though anchoring in these circumstances was a disaster waiting to happen. But this time of year there are few boats and the forecast was for light winds so we anchored. In June we went ashore and shopped and dined. This time we did not lower the dink.
The anchoring area is in the NE part of the pond, furthest from the frenetic area of  "The Oar." We dined aboard. If "Leeds The Way" had been here, we would have dinked in and dined with them, but they made it to Martha's Vineyard today, the objective of their cruise, and I congratulated them.
Nice sunset, tranquil, not like the wild weather we had here on our way north in June.
This is what scattered showers look like.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Day 83, September 8 -- Mattapoisett to Cuttyhunk -- 16 NM

During the night, the hook of the snubbing line fell off the anchor chain. So we were not snubbed and the anchor was "noisy during the night.
Today's sail was longer than the nominal 16.4 NM. We put up sails in the harbor and these were double reefed main and genoa. The Admiral feared a rough passage and it was a beat but with gentle winds from the SW. So as we beat we were heeled but it was sunny and comfortable and with the short distance and an early morning start, the four knot average speed was all we needed. We began and ended on starboard, on the mostly westerly course, interrupted by half an hour on port, headed north.
Cuttyhunk is frequently quite crowded but not not after Labor Day; those white dots are not lobster pots but mooring balls.
No reason to lower the dink: none of the attractions of the shore remain open.We anchored in the square of dredged inner harbor, toward its NE corner, in 14 feet of water at high tide on 50 feet of snubbed chain.
Cleaning  the boat, cooking and planning where to go next were major afternoon activities. Block Island is the winner for tomorrow, with a possibility of connecting with Leeds The Way there. The two also-rans were: Point Judith Pond and the little bay just inside the western headland of the Sakonnet River. The former had the advantage of permitting me to confront and overcome the memories of a very bad night there in a Noreaster about seven years ago. But calls for local knowledge generated intelligence that the upper portion of the channel we would have to traverse to get there was not recommended except at high tide. Sakonnet had only one advantage: I have never anchored there.
After Block we currently plan to pick two harbors, each about one each third of the way home, which, subject to change, would get us home on the twelfth, two days ahead of the non-schedule.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Day 82, September 7 -- Redbrook Harbor to Mattapoisett -- 12 NM

I read an interesting "column" by Tanya Aebi, last night. She circumnavigated (solo, except for one short leg on which a boyfriend hitched a ride), as a teenager on a 26 foot sloop back in the 80's, I believe. Her column was in the summer issue of "Cruising Outpost," the quarterly magazine by Bob Bitchin, formerly the publisher of "Latitudes and Attitudes", both of which magazines support:  Bob's life afloat, beer drinking, and the liveaboard lifestyle. Kingman Yacht Center is one of the authorized outlets for the magazine. A copy was given to us in a nice cloth totebag, along with the right to use a mooring, for $50 per night.
Tanya described her experiences as a leader of group charter cruises for folks who save all year with the wanderlust dream to go charter a sailboat for a week or two in paradise. And when they get unpacked on their boat, their temporary home in their great tropical location, most (but not all) of them decline the opportunity to get off the boat and explore that paradise on foot, preferring instead to remain aboard their comfortable temporary home and look out on paradise. Tanya thought it noteworthy but while I like to get off the boat and explore my new surroundings (more often than Lene), I too am often content, as in Isles of Shoals, Plymouth, our second night at the Kingman Yacht Center and tonight in Mattapoisett, and many other places we have visited, to remain aboard and eat the delicious food Lene cooks and enjoy the comforts of home. We enjoy each other and quiet time and there is always something to do -- I have a "to do" list that seems to be getting longer.

This morning I called Brian of Headsync, the installer of ILENE'a Spectra Ventura watermaker. It has been making water all summer but water is readily available here and we do not really have to make our own. And funny noises and lights suggest to me the need to have it looked over by a pro. This will be next summer. I got to thinking how useful the watermaker was when we were  in the tropics where potable water is neither readily available nor inexpensive. But the needs to service our toy once each five days while it is in commission, and twice a year,  are a minor nuisance up here. I will get a gallon of pink antifreeze and "pickle" and winterize the system as soon as possible.

Well the rain eventually went away late in the morning but the strong SW winds did not. We set out at noon and used only double reefed main and engine the whole way, tacking twice and helped by the ebbing tidal flow, arriving in Mattapoisett after only 135 minutes.

We started west and crossed the extension of the Hog Island Channel behind two big tugs with their barges that crossed in it in front of us, one set going each way. Then south and finally west again. The wind and waves were not as big as on our last passage, just uncomfortable.

With the big SW wind we anchored off the west side of the harbor between and 100 yards from each of two empty moorings. 60 feet of snubbed chain are out in 14 feet of water. After dinner Lene is watching the US open on her Ipad. The winds have died down for the evening.

More adverse wind is predicted for tomorrow but slower in the morning so an early start is indicated.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Days 80 & 81, September 5-6 -- Plymouth to Redbrook Harbor and Lay Day -- 33 NM

This was our roughest day of the summer, caused by the wind, from the SW, at 20 to 25 knots, gusting to 35 and 40 and waves. Not so bad motoring the 4.8 NM out from Plymouth to Cape Cod Bay, nor in the Cape Cod Canal which we timed perfectly and during which the wind opposed us but was not as strongly as the 3.5 knot current which aided the engine in pushing us through at about nine knots.

The hard parts were the fifteen miles in Cape Cod Bay and the five miles in the Hog Island Chanel of Buzzards Bay, into which the Canal let us out.

As to the first, of these rough parts we sailed with double reefed main and small jib beating toward the entrance to the Canal, heeled to about 30 to 35 degrees and not going that fast, though we did cover the ground on "schedule" having left the mooring at 7:45 and arriving at the Canal entrance at noon. We started SSW, which took us out into the open Bay, I tacked back toward its west coast, with the partially successful hope that by being close to shore, we would have less  . During all this Lene was afraid and complained but kept her cool and did not panic. The errant batten popped out of rear end and quite a bit of its length out of its pocket, AGAIN!. This time I went up on the coach roof, fully slid the batten out  and stored it in the cabin. (As soon as we arrived on our mooring I reinserted the batten and sewed up the end flap of its pocket so it can't pop out again until I cut out the threads at the end of the season.) During the tack back toward the coast we were going slowly and our course was making our distance to the canal entrance longer rather than shorter. We tried to use engine as well as sail, but the propeller was cavitating which, I understand, is not good for it. Once we got close to the beach and tacked back to SSW, we made it to the Canal entrance without another tack, using both sails and motor, and then furled all sails for the passage through the Canal.
Hog Island Chanel, in Buzzards Bay, after the respite in the Canal, was worse, and here it was waves because we were not sailing. The wind had built up the waves for more than the length of Buzzards Bay, and they converged in a channel that the chart says is 250 feet wide. Big  steep waves, five to eight feet tall, were coming straight at us. The kind that come onto a beach after a storm. These were not the lovely ocean rollers, perhaps two hundred feet or more apart. Those are a pleasure as we ride up and over them gracefully, effortlessly and pleasantly. Our engine was powering us but most of our four knots of speed over the ground was due to the tidal flow pushing us forward against the waves. By getting to the Canal early in its six hours of favorable current, we had the benefit of that current out in Buzzards Bay. Whenever wind and tide run strongly in opposite directions from each other big close waves result. Our last experience of this was coming out of Government Cut in Miami, early in 2015.
Our bow faced directly into the waves and we were constrained to continue on this course by the narrowness of the channel. In hindsight, though, had I steered back and forth across its width, the effect would have been to prolong the unpleasant passage but lessen the intensity of the unpleasantness. The waves lifted ILENE's bow high out of the water, after which it slammed down into the trough in front of it with a loud crash that caused Lene to fear that the boat would break apart. Alpha Girl gave us her very loudest yell  - of fear, not a meow, and Lene sought to cuddle and comfort her. Immediately after plunging downward, the bow would plow through the top of the crest of the next wave, repeatedly sending gallons of water streaming back over the deck. A picture would have been useful here but I had my hands full. We closed the companionway hatch, but had not battened down the hatch over the port settee quite tightly enough: about a half gallon of seawater infiltrated onto the cushions there. They are drying out as this is written.
We were given a choice mooring by the Kingman Yacht Center in Redbrook Harbor; our mooring is very close to the dinghy dock. This is our fourth visit to Kingman, which is a marina. It is windy here but no waves get in. I had planned to anchor or take a free mooring in Pocassett Harbor, behind Bassetts Island, where we stayed last summer, a mile away. But our plans to meet up with Lee and Patty did click so we had to go ashore to meet them (they drove an hour to us and drove us to a supermarket and the restaurant and back; Thanks again, guys!) Two reasons persuaded use of the marina: (A) it would have been a rather long dinghy ride to shore in this wind and especially back to the boat near or after dark, plus (B) a glimpse into mouth of the anchorage area as we passed suggested that there were a lot more boats in there than last year. And heavy rain and thunderstorms the next day caused us to lay here, giving us a rest, a laundry stop and for me to get caught up on this blog.

Day 79, September 4 -- Gloucester to Plymouth -- 43 NM

In the morning the rain had cleared a nice sunny day for a longish transit across the wide mouth of the bay that includes Boston. Wind of 25 to 30 knots was predicted so the Admiral ordered second reefed main and small jib. And we wasted quite a bit of time at the beginning on the eight hours of the passage before I persuaded her that the winds were lighter than expected and that we could not make our speed without keeping the engine on unless we put up more sail. First we swapped the jib for the genoa. Next we shook out the reef. In that process, my instruction to Lene to come back to port "if we were losing it" was not explicit enough as to what "losing it" meant. So we ended up with backwinded genoa and not enough speed to get back onto course without turning on the engine for a minute, which I elected to do, or doing a 360. And for some inexplicable reason, ILENE's otherwise always reliable engine did not turn on (or even whine) until I combined, momentarily, the two battery banks. The next time we turned on the engine, that problem did not occur. Yet another of our boat's mysteries.
Though it was a bit hazy we saw the Boston skyline from the time we left Gloucester until the skyline was blocked off by the bluffs of the south coast near the end.
Unlike Nova Scotia, the waters were full of watercraft of all sort: tugs with barges, a Chinese container ship, fishing boats of all sizes and sailboats.
In the navy a crew member was assigned to keep a deck log of all the course and speed changes (except in battle when the log read, for the time period indicated "Steered various courses and speeds during exercise.") We don't keep such a log on ILENE; we don't have an extra guy with nothing to do but write such stuff down. But if we tried to keep such a log today, it would have had a long list of speed changes as we tried various combinations of sails, with and without engine, running at various rpm, to try to keep up a decent speed,  though it did drop as low as 3.3. And eight hours for 43 miles means we made just a bit over five knots, on average. The predicted wind did not materialize until we entered the bay that contains the harbor of Plymouth, 4.8 miles "upstream" through a channel marked by several very sharp turns. "Water, water,  everywhere" but most of it too shallow. I was impressed that the Pilgrims, who having decided that their first settlement, at Provincetown, was untenable, were able to find their way, with the ungainly Mayflower, all the way in here to Plymouth Rock in the now dredged inner harbor at the lower left end of the pink line. That line is now marked with eighteen red and green marks.
Just before the sharp southward curve is a rock and a light called Duxbury Pier, to be kept to starboard on your way in.
I was also very impressed by a ketch, operated by someone who is obviously a local sailor: he sailed the 4.8 miles, tacking across the channel. The dredged mooring field area is not very deep - as little as eight feet when we came in at low tide. The Harbor Master assigned us a sturdy mooring at the far end of the field and requested that we pay by "Dockwa" a new, to us, program that let's (makes) the sailors do the paperwork (and pay), electronically, which Lene, ILENE's electronics/ communications officer, struggled with, but finally mastered.
Dinner aboard.
Here is a view of the town, the mooring field and the protective seawall at the right, that was not here in the 1600's as seen on our way out next morning.

Days 77 & 78, September 2-3 -- Isles of Shoals to Gloucester and Lay Day -- 29 NM

As rough as it was yesterday, so was it calm today. We passed close by the east side of Isles of Shoals and saw, for the first time from the sea, the rocks of Star Island on which we had scampered in 2013.
Sort of like those at Peggy's Cove but not so large and with many fewer people, none at that hour. See Blogpost of August 2013. No foot touched on land this year.
Not much wind so the motor was on until near the end We put up all big sails, close hauled on a starboard reach; they did not help much until we passed the twin lighthouses of Thatcher island (why did they put up two of them?),

just off Cape Ann. and then more so after rounding Eastern Point, the eastern entrance to Gloucester.

We also passed Ten Pound Island Light inside the harbor.

Labor Day weekend in Gloucester - the good news and the bad are both the same: this is the happeningest weekend of the year -- Schoonerfest, so no moorings were available for us. During the two prior visits to Gloucester we took a mooring of Brown's Yacht Yard. This time no moorings; but they had one spot available for us on their dock. It cost more but put us at the center of the action. But first ILENE got her first real scrubbing since the spring, with soap and a brush as well as water (all except the starboard freeboard which was not very accessible). A lot of dirt got rinsed off and the plastic inserts in the dodger and the side panels now let in a lot more light.
Come nightfall the annual parade of powerboats, with lights and sounds. Right past our dock which was crowded with spectators. The participants did a lot of work and someone won a prize. My favorite "float" was a fishing boat that hung lighted lantern from its poles, appearing as colorful jellyfish slowly pulsating in the air as the boat moved slowly past us in the dark. Superman flew from another with the soundtrack from the movie. The last time we saw something like this was Christmas in Florida 2014: but it's too cold do this at Christmastime in Massachusetts. The parade was followed by a pretty good fireworks show for a town this size and all the while rock dance music emanated from a wedding party in a rental tent 150 feet away. In 2013 we "did" Gloucester --  its shops, artists peninsula and museum so we did not feel compelled to go touring here.
We had planned a short passage to nearby Marblehead the next day, as we did in 2013, but it rained, causing the lay day in Gloucester.
The port was full of schooners,

including the biggest of the fleet of them the one we last saw in Shelburne, Nova Scotia.
A schooner race was planned for Sunday but it got put off to Monday because of the all-day off-and-on rain.
So we read and wrote, I booked a trip to visit family on the west coast, tried to set up for a rendezvous with Lee and Patty, friends on The Cape who we had visited at their home in Hyannis last summer, and with PC Mark and Marsha, from the Harlem, who are cruising their 31 foot sloop, "Leeds The Way," hopefully to Martha's Vineyard; and we paid our bills.
In the afternoon it was "date night" We took a cab across town (around the harbor) to see the new movie, "Wind River," a well acted but gory detective story set on an Indian reservation with empathy for the plight of Native Americans, followed by dinner at The Causeway, a family seafood restaurant with zero ambiance, next door to the movie, that was full of people because it serves huge portions of pretty good seafood at very reasonable prices. We could have saved money on the cab rides had we lowered the dink and driven it to the other side of the harbor before the movie and back after, but in the rain, Lene said no. She is wise

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Day 76, September 1 -- Portland to The Isles of Shoals -- 49 NM

We put Yael on an 8:50 Greyhound bus to New York, stopped at a nearby supermarket, taxi'd back to Hamilton Marine for more stuff, filled our water jugs, hoisted the dink, put in a reef and were underway by 10:10 a.m. Portland's pretty light, seen from the Observatory yesterday, to starboard:
The distance was 49 miles and we got there in seven hours and five minutes, meaning average speed was almost seven knots with some hours at eight and a peak of 8.3. I'm rather glad that Yael was not with us because she would not have enjoyed the passage; Lene didn't! But we still have a long way to the Harlem Yacht Club and this will have been our longest passage between our entry to Maine and the Club. Many days at this season will be presenting strong winds in our faces, so one has to make one's "westing" when the opportunities present.
Apparent wind was sixty degrees off our starboard bow at 20 to 25 knots with higher gusts.  It was cold but clear and sunny. We started with first reefed main and small jib. But the reefing line, which was frayed and is a candidate for replacement next season, parted. So I put in the second reef. It did not slow us much. (In the calm of next morning I restored all systems. It turns out that the reefing line did not part; rather, though I pride myself on my knots, the bowline I tied toward the aft end of the boom shook loose!). Also, the Velcro closure at the aft end of the second-from-bottom batten pocket came out again. If this happens a third time I will sew it closed.
We were heeled at 25 to 35 degrees and the pressure on the rudder was intense. Autopilot could not handle it so it was hand steering. The rail was buried and a bit of one crest entered the cockpit. We furled the small jib which cut our speed to 3.5 knots (under just the second-reefed main)  so we put most of the jib back out again but did not trim it as tight as before, which corrected the problem. For the last five miles we motorsailed with just the main and were very tired at the end of the day.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that we were the only boat in the large unnamed cove created by a breakwater built between Smuttynose Island to the north (these pictures taken next morning when it was calm, and do not show the white surf crashing on the nearby rocks)
and Cedar Island to the south. (Another island in this group is called Appledore. I wonder where Harry Potter's names come from.)
Gosport Harbor (between Cedar and Star Islands). with its free moorings, is where we have stayed every prior time we have been in The Isles of Shoals. It has great protection against the prevailing southwesterlies. But it's totally open to the northwesterlies of today with their big waves rolling in. This picture show the top of the large dowager hotel on Star Island, over the top of Cedar.
The anchor set in 18 feet with 70 feet of snubbed chain out. ILENE is, as some restaurants call their dishes, "salt encrusted," providing a good reason for a dock tomorrow night, where she can get a bath and the electricity can provide heat through our air conditioner/heat exchanger because it has been cold.

Franks for dinner-- too tired to cook. Not a quiet night with some rolling, but not bad.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Days 73-75, August 29-31 -- Three Days With Yael: The Goslings, Jewell Island and Portland -- 20 NM

We had three lovely days with our niece, Yael, who is about to graduate from college. The only problem on the three short passages in the western half of Casco Bay was lack of wind. Clockwise from the top are South Freeport, The Goslings, Jewell Island and the City of Portland.
Yael and Ken arrived at about 10:30 and we loaded Yael's stuff aboard. Then up to Freeport for a mini clothes shopping spree for Yael and Lene. The Bow Street Market is a classy but not pricey supermarket where we provisioned, forgetting only butter, a non-essential, and plastic cutlery, needed by Yael's observance of the kosher laws. The latter was remedied at the Harraseeket Lobster Company, adjacent to Brewers Marina: I asked to buy five each of their plastic knives, forks and spoons, but they gave them to me, gratis.
Ken took off on his long drive back to New York and we left Brewers dock at 4 pm. On the way to the Goslings, I took a slightly longer but more traveled and buoyed route. Along the way we saw the head of a sealion which passed us swimming the other way. I had told Yael that we might see them and felt that this "promise" had been met. The anchor set well in mud, 22 feet below us. Only four boats in the anchorage.

We enjoyed keeping kosher with a Yael. She brought a pot, used for non-meat dishes and a pan for the chicken cutlets she brought and the Hebrew National hot dogs we had.
Her cooking knife was dull but I remembered that in the fall of 2010 I had acquired a fish filleting knife that was keenly sharp and had never been used for any food and hence was kosher. Frying the blueberry-mango-sweet potato pancakes was another challenge. We could not use the frying pan Yael had brought, because the pancakes had milk and the pan had been used for the chicken -- meat. But we had brand new disposable aluminum roasting pans and one of them did the trick. What about the spatula? All of ours had been used at various times over the past ten years for milk and for meat and hence could not be used. What to do? Well the paint scraper had never been used with any food and after thorough cleaning, it served as the spatula.

We took a ride in the dink

to the island where we had seen lots of seals in 2013, hoping that they had not found some other roost in the interim. We were not disappointed.

We went past the islet, cut the engine and drifted past it. These are not rocks but a portion of the seals.
(I will add a five minute video when I get better wifi. The audio is marred by my unsuccessful attempts to shush my two passengers.) Eventually, as the video shows, wait for it, most of them were spooked by our closeness and jumped into the water. Here are about 40 of them swimming
and a few brave  (or lazy) ones who stayed ashore.
I did put up sails during the passage to Jewell Island, but they did very little good. On our first drop, the anchor did not grab and we moved slowly toward a pair of rafted power boats. So we hauled and set her again, successfully, in 20 feet of water. There was one other sailboat and this home made trailerable ketch with larboards came in later.

The Punchbowl is an unusual geological formation on the NE side - the strata of rocks run vertical around the round basin.
We missed the concrete WWII observation tower and ended up at the southern tip of Jewell, where I had never been before during the four or five times I previously visited the island. There we met the only two people we saw on the island, a pair of men who had kayaked over from Peakes Island, quite far for kayaks, it seemed to me. Why were they planning to camp so far apart, I asked. "Well, my tent is on the only flat ground and his hammock needed the trees."  All told, I estimated our walk at about three miles through wooded trails.
We used full main, small jib and motor  for the passage to Portland, and chose  the  Passage, between  the  Islands. We were close reaching on port until about a mile before the passage in light air. Then, suddenly, there was strong wind but on a starboard close reach. We tacked sharply without changing course!

Then an afternoon's walk in Portland to the 1807 observation tower that Yael and I climbed, with a resulting good view of the Harbor,
the nearby Jewish Museum,

and a walk through the old town downtown area including a stop at Starbucks.
There we separated and I visited Hamilton Marine to get several small items: proper bolts, washers and nuts for the swim platform door, a better shackle for the mainsail's gooseneck, an oil filter, a postcard, boat soap, a part for the Magma barbecue to replace the one that had oxidized, and stencils to paint the registration numbers on the dink, because the stick-on numbers look crappy.

Day 72, August 28 -- Potts Harbor to South Freeport 7 NM

In the morning, I did more cleaning while Lene did the laundry -- after our free blueberry muffins and coffee was delivered by Dolphin Marina. We did not get underway until 1:30 and used the genny alone on a broad starboard reach the whole way, with gentle winds and a tidal assist. We closed with a dark hulled sloop which was headed more west to our north, and took the lead, both boats using genoa only. We furled and motored into the harbor past Pound of Tea island (The price paid for it to the Native Americans)
Add caption

But I got a bit confused about the course to follow: which side of the second small island, to the right or the left, should we go.
We have been into South Freeport at least four times before and yet I was confused about which way to go.The water was in the 30-40 foot range so we just went to neutral and circled permitting the dark hulled boat to catch up and then we just followed him in. Easy.
We took a dock at the Brewers Marina in South Freeport in anticipation of the arrival of our niece, driven by her dad, Ken, who is not a boat person, making docks easier for him than moorings. Same procedure as when Ken brought his son, Mendy to us in Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island in 2013. But a failure of communications: They are not coming until tomorrow morning, having booked a motel room in Portland. South Freeport, the view out past Pound of Tea, is a pretty harbor.
We fueled up, 8.5 gallons since Belfast, and took 1.5 gallons of gas for the dink. The marina gave us a ride into Freeport, a couple of miles north, and we did the shopping that Lene was burning to do, mostly clothes for me and shoes for her, none of which were needed, but...
Another quiet evening.