Thursday, September 24, 2015

Marion, Buzzards Bay and the Islands

Sept 4th-11th 
Scituiate Light
Leaving Scituate, we finally got a good sailing breeze south to Cape Cod Canal and Buzzards Bay.
Buzzards Bay is known for its great breezes and warm temperatures, and we weren't disappointed.

Somehow the dinghy managed to keep up

Beverly Yacht Club, Marion MA
We were headed for our "blind date" with Boston Blackie, aka Lord Bowers. "Bill" aux intimes, at Beverly Yacht Club in Marion. We had been corresponding with Blackie online via the J-4x yahoo group website, where J-42 owners share tips and tricks about our boats.  He arranged a mooring and dinner for us at BYC.  What a treat!  The members are so friendly, the commodore came by on his boat to greet us.  And we had a terrific dinner with Lord and Lady Bowers (Bill and Linda) that evening.   They were our cruising guides extraordinaire for the coming week.

Saturday, we sailed the 10 miles south to lovely Hadley Harbor, nicely enclosed by small private and scenic islands.  In calm waters, it was easy to raft together for the night.
Egret at Hadley Harbor

Herreschoffs at Hadley Harbor 
The 2 Bills had a great time checking out the 2 boats.  Jarana is J-42 hull #2 and Blackie's Converjence is hull #3.  Converjence competed in the 2015 Marion to Bermuda Race and return trip this summer, so we had lots of offshore ideas to share.  Linda and Kathi discovered a mutual love of Costco, and had fun with that.

Breezin' up on Vineyard Sound

After a couple days in Hadley Harbor, we set out for Martha's Vineyard, in a fresh breeze.  The boats are closely matched in speed, so it was fun to sail together wherever we went.  It was the day after Labor Day, so we were swimming "upstream" against the flotilla of boats returning from the holiday weekend.  The first thing we did on arrival in Edgartown, was stop at the mid-harbor water dock to rinse off the salt and top off the tanks.  So convenient.  We rafted on a mooring for the night and went ashore for some sightseeing and showers.  It's a beautiful town.  
Edgarttown YC

Hard to catch
The next day, in more fresh breeze, we set off for Nantucket. We anchored and rafted just past First Point in a big, wide open bay, all to ourselves.
Normally, "during the season", Nantucket is packed with boats.  But after Labor Day, it really thins out.  However, there was a surprising strong current in the bay, and against the wind, the water sloshed between our two boats like a washing machine agitator and ruled out swimming off the boats too.  But we dinhgied to the beach and had a good walk and a bit of a splash.

The next day, we moved the boats closer to town and anchored just off the mooring field, for an easy dinghy trip ashore.  The charming town was still thronged with visitors and long lines at the ferry landing.  It is further distinguished by a large supermarket very conveniently located near the waterfront.

Add caption
Linda and I both had a ton of food (from Costco) aboard, but we can always use fresh yogurt, milk and bread, and sometimes beer.  Linda's sister Serena arrived by ferry from Hyannis and we had a great evening and a fine roast lamb dinner aboard Converjence. 

Thanks ,Bill and Linda for such a wonderful trip!   We were really sorry to part ways......
Nantucket is famous for its beaches, this one is on a protected bay

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Boston's South Shore

Aug 31st-Sept 4th - Hingham, MA
In hot and humid weather, we picked up a close-in mooring at Hingham Yacht Club.  Hingham Bay was a calm and peaceful respite from busy Salem Sound on the North Shore and busy Boston Harbor.  HYC was a wonderful base for us, on a beautiful bay, with a pleasant shoreside walk to a bus stop.

Because of (or despite) the heat, we took the bus and T downtown and spent 2 days at the Museum of Fine Arts. 

The collections are extensive and it seems no style or genre is left out.
Chinese screen from "...the New World Discovers Asia" exhibit
MFA Boston Asia Trade exhibit

It was wonderful to see old friends, Bob and Cindy Hidell, and Bob and Donna Foley.  And we had some lovely evenings together.  Bob Hidell loaned us his Mini-Cooper convertible, which was great until I accidentally turned on the seat heater and needed a long time to figure out how to turn it off.
Maxi's Fan Club
The weather was really hot, so I was pretty frantic until I figured it out.

Bob Hidell sailed (motored) with us from Hingham to Scituate and that evening we drove down to Marshfield with Cindy for the best tapas ever!  Yum! 

It was such a joy to me to see beautiful Hingham and Scituate again.  The area's grown a bit and there's new Boston train service to Scituate.  Our visit was way too short, but we had to move on....

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Back in Massachusetts - Boston's North Shore, Marblehead and Beverly

August 27th - August 30th   In the company of some fun guys we met in the Isles of Shoals, we found a mooring in crowded Marblehead. 
Where did we leave the boat????

 We enjoyed the hospitality of lovely Corinthian Yacht Club and its pool on a hot day.
CYC Marblehead

Jarana in a quiet moment in Marbelhead
 It was pretty bumpy and busy, so we moved over to Jubilee Yacht Club in Beverly MA.  We got a great mooring in the Danvers River next to a sand bar that protected us from most of the current, so it was quiet and calm.  JYC provided wonderful launch service, which was a huge convenience. 

We took adavantage by schlepping a huge pile of laundry ashore, renting a car, doing laundry, grocery shopping, Costco shopping and a trip to REI.  The club was very friendly and busy with a small boat regatta going on.

Our friends Bob and Cindy Hidell came up for a day sail with us on Salem Sound.
out for a family sail
There's always lots to see.  It was Kathi's birthday, so we went out for a wonderful seafood dinner in a lovely, restaurant on the Annisquam River.

Isles of Shoals, New Hampshire

In late August, after restive (not restful) night on a mooring in Kittery, Maine, on the border with New Hampshire, we set off for somewhere else.  But on a whim we diverted to the Isles of Shoals, a group of rounded mounds of glacier scoured rock just a few miles offshore.


What a treat!  I first heard of the Isles of Shoals in Anita Shreve's dark and wonderful novel, The Weight of Water.  However, the weather was mild and sunny and we didn't meet any permanent residents.  However, we did meet some other CCA cruisers there, that we hope to see again someday.

Old fashioned porch on Star Hotel

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Last stops in Maine

August 22nd we left Camden and made a couple nice stops. 
 Passing Pemaquid Point and on to Falmouth, home of Portland Yacht Club.
Pemaquid Light
The other Portland Yacht Club, in Falmouth ME

August 25th - Kittery Maine,
The mooring was a noisy bumpy thing, but we had a great walk ashore in the sun the next day.
morning fog lifting at Kittery

Rockport and Camden, Maine

August 20th - Bucks Harbor was a great anchorage.  It was a long day in the fog to get there, but it was far enough inland that we were rewarded with calm clear weather and very few lobster pots. 
Bucks Harbor Yacht Club

August 21st - Camden is Maine's iconic harbor village, where the windjammer fleet is based. Granted, because of tourism, it's a bit Disneyfied, compared to the more obscure villages.  But nonetheless it's a lovely natural setting with a very charming and busy village.
Camden Library

We tied up at a very convenient Camden Yacht Club float.  Camden Harbor is a very small scenic harbor, so in order to squeeze the most boats, small detached docks are lined up with a yacht tied on each side.
Nifty granite steps

Thursday, September 3, 2015

More Maine Cruising

August 13th - We made our way north towards Mt Desert Island, a high, rounded dome of granite, with a long narrow passage into the middle, known as Somes Sound. 

Somes Harbor fog
It's also a national park.  We found a CCA mooring in Southwest Harbor and got ashore for a short hike and a lobster dinner.  Then we continued north to Winter Harbor on the Schoodic Penninsula, which is also part of the national park.

Foggy fingers reaching Bar Harbor

Both towns were quiet, neat New England towns, with small restaurants and grocery stores.  The national park runs free buses around park areas, so we hopped aboard to see the scenery.

Then the fog was back.  It was really hard to sail through the fog and densely packed lobster pot buoys with toggles (a second float attached by several feet of line.) 

One day, we just turned around and went back to our starting point.  Usually, we would get some clearing around midday, especially farther from the ocean.  But nonetheless, we always could find calm, uncrowded anchorages, even near towns.  We were the only boat at Stave Island Harbor nearby.So it was all good. 

When we got away from the towns, we often saw eagles and ospreys, among the other seabirds around. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Penobscot Bay, Maine, and the CCA Cruise

August 3rd - Rockland, Maine

Rockland breakwater
Rockland was a terrific town for landfall:  the town dock gave us a place to tie up Jarana for half a day, showers, nearby good provisioning, etc.  On Wed, Aug 5th, we had a pleasant sunny (not foggy) passage via Owl Channel to Dix Island for the start of the CCA Maine Cruse.
Crowded Dix Is anchorage, currents swirling boats in all directions
Dix Island is shared by several families the low impact, simple and sustainable cottages.  It's a former granite quarry, and there are still some sculpted capitals and blocks strewn about.  At the opening BBQ, we got acquainted with many friendly local CCA members and had a great time.  And Commodore Tad Lahmon and Joyce were there on Lyric who brought our mail along.
North Haven
Among cruise stops were:  North Haven, Seal Harbor, Vinalhaven, Cradle Cove, Long Harbor, Hurricane Island and Billings Cove (Deer Isle).   The weather was mostly clear and sunny, with little fog.
Schooner arriving in Cradle Cove anchorage, Jarana in the background
What a great introduction to Maine!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Crossing the Gulf of Maine, Back to the USA

Aug 2nd - We left West Head, NS in sunshine and a light breeze for our overnight, 160 nmi passage to Rockland ME.  
 Several miles out, we passed between Seal Island and Mud Island, and ran into a strong (3-4kts!) adverse current, which came as a surprise.  Much of the current info we'd gotten for the area was wrong.  But anyway, we muscled through.  However, as we were sailing along, there was a big "thump" and the boat slowed almost to a stop.... Huh?  Then we started moving again... Theory:  sunfish, a big passive fish that floats near the surface.  But we'll never know for sure.  After that, fog came and went, we saw a few largish ships on AIS and eyeballs at a distance.

 It was a pleasant, easy, moonlit night's passage, reaching on a southerly breeze, until the next morning.... We arrived in Penobscot Bay, Maine and the fog set in and lobster pots sprouted.  Fortunately, AIS shows most vessels (except lobster boats and the US Navy), and we have radar overlaid on our plotter.  Many large vessel operators (US Navy escorts), make securite hails on the vhf as they are passing through the fog, to let other know of their presence in the local shipping lanes, so we had a chance of survival.

So we wended our way among the lobster pots.  One of the first AIS signals we found was Lyric, CCA Commodore Lahmon's boat.  We were able to hail them on the VHF for a quick chat.  That was a treat.  Anyhow, Rockland is a wide open, well marked harbor, and the fog lifted.
So between phone and radio, we arranged our customs clearance, tied up at the town wharf and all went smoothly.  We picked a spot in the big anchorage and had a good night's rest.

All's well that ends well...

Friday, August 21, 2015

Our last days in Canada

July 30th - After a couple pleasant days in Lunenburg, it was time to push on.  The weather was still clear and light SE winds were blowing.

Sea Caves near Lunenburg
We headed SW for 77N M passage to Cape Negro Island, a remote stop on the way Cape Sable, the very most SW point of Nova Scotia.  The day started OK with sun and breeze, but by afternoon the fog closed in.  It was really spooky going into a strange port in fog, at twilight, not knowing what it even looked like.  But Bill chose well, and it was easy enough to get in and set the anchor in the quiet and protected bay.

We stayed 2 nights, although, we never went ashore.  The fog lifted during the day and the deserted barbell shaped island had some nice beaches to explore. Bill was working on boat projects and the dinghy was stowed on deck. It's a lot of work to launch.  If we expect rough seas in open water, we bring it back aboard again...more work...
But I regretted missing some good exploring and exercise. 

Anyway, the next day was calm and sunny as we motored around the shallows and treacherous sandbars around Cape Sable.  (Sable means sand in French).  The lighthouse was built after many wrecks.  The final disaster was on a dark and stormy winter night in 1860 when the Hungarian, a passenger ship en route from Ireland to Maine foundered, the costing more than 200 lives.
Cape Sable Light

Fishing boat at West Head Harbor
In late afternoon, we tied up to a big lobster boat (like an Aussie cray boat) in West Head Harbor.  There are lots of fish and lobster packing houses there, but things were pretty quiet because lobster season is closed and it was a Sunday.

Since June 14th, we visited Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  Each has its own special spirit and we enjoyed every one of them.  Canada had been wonderful and we were sorry to leave.  The next day, August 2nd, we started our 160 nm overnight passage back to the USA, destination Rockland, ME.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Our Wandering Path

When we were traveling in the South Pacific, I kept a map that showed each day's position.  The map just showed a straight line path that connected each position, but did not show how we got from point A to point B.  It thought it would be nice to actually show our daily paths, which some of our overachieving blogger friends have been doing for some time.  It has taken some work to get this working, but I am now satisfied with the results.  If you click on the Track Us link near the top of the page, you will be taken to a page that shows not only where we are, but how we go there.

If you look very closely at the paths in Maine, you may think that the skipper was drunk with all the wanderings to and fro. But, there is a reason for this.  There is one thing that Maine is famous for above all other things, and that is lobsters.  And to catch lobsters, you need pots.  Lots of pots.  "Billions and Billions" of pots.  Well not quite that many, but you begin to think so after a while.  Depending on what you read, there are reported to be between 2 and 3 million pots in the water in the state.  And this in a state that has a population of only 1.3 million!

On the positive side, the fishermen are all using weighted line instead of floating line, which makes it a lot harder to snag one.  On the down side, many of the pots have two floats.  One, called a toggle, is between the pot and the float at the end of the line.  These two floats have about 50' of line between them, and if there is any wind or current, this line is stretched out just below the surface waiting to wrap around your keel and be sucked into your prop.  Every fisherman uses a different set of colors and patterns to uniquely identify his own gear, but often the two floats are different colors, which makes it harder to know where you can slip through.  And some fishermen have made the rather unfortunate choice of using blue or green floats, which tend to disappear in the bright sun.  And more than a few floats don't quite reach the surface.  One of these submerged blue floats went through our prop, but fortunately, it didn't get wrapped around the shaft.

This picture shows an area where the floats aren't too thick.  We tried to go into one bay where the pots were so thick as to be impassable.  We had to turn around and leave.

And when you add fog to the mix, it can get interesting.

So now you know why is appears that I can't drive straight.  (It's because I can't drive straight.)