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.)


St Margarets Bay and Lunenburg

July 25th - 29th
We left Halifax on a moderate, beam wind, but the waves were super steep and we only had the jib out, which doesn't steady the boat very much.  The boat was rolling so much that we clipped our tethers on in the cockpit. We usually only do that in the ocean at night.  Anyhow, once we got around the corner and turned downwind, things settled down.  We found a lovely, calm deserted anchorage in Cub Basin at the entrance to St Margaret Bay.
Himmelmans' beautiful home and boat
 The next day we motored further in to St Margaret Bay in search of a CCA mooring buoy.  As we went to tie up, the steward, Hans Himmelman, came out in his dinghy to welcome us.  Later we enjoyed one of the nicest evenings of our trip.  Hans and Dani, his lovely wife, invited us to dinner in their beautiful home overlooking the bay.  It was such a treat and made us realize how much we miss dinners like that with friends....

The next day we motored over to Lunenburg, not too far away.

Lunenburg Dock Dodge

Beautiful church rebuilt after a fire.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Passage to Halifax

We started the passage a little sooner than planned because a good weather window came along, meaning SE breezes so we could sail off the wind with the swell from a comfortable angle with a helpful current. (ie, "posi-water" per Liza Tewell).  On July 20th, we departed Canso Village for the 82 nmile passage to Sheet Harbor.  However, it didn't blow hard enough to keep up to our 7kt threshold, so we had to motor as well. which is really tiresome after 8-10 hours.   

However, at day's end, we found well protected, quiet, pretty anchorages, so we could relax.  Our charts are accurate and the dangers are well marked, so that reduced our apprehension about entering strange bays on a very rocky coast.  And so far, the Rocna anchor bites the bottom and seems to hang on securely until we're ready to leave.  It's all good. Check out the sv Willie Dawes link, below, lower left for a more detailed description of this challenging coast. 

The second day's 62 mile passage brought prodigious rain when we got really soaked. But at least it was fresh water that washed away all the salt.  These were coastal passages, but we were on the  moderate ocean iswells. 

Anyway, after a couple really long days, we arrived at Halifax, and anchored in NW Arm near the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, a beautiful and friendly club, in a beautiful and friendly city.

RNSYS from the water

Members and staff were very hospitable and helpful.  Some members are also CCA (Cruising Club of America) members and led to new friendships farther down the road.  We are so appreciative.

We walked over 2 miles to a great marine store.  It was a long way, but we needed the exercise.  Some other customers gave us a ride the short distance to the local shopping center and bus stop, so we could provision.
Halifax is a wonderful small city.  We especially enjoyed the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

The most unusual exhibit we saw were the "rescue breeches" used to save mariners from ships foundered on the giant sandbar known as Sable Island.  It's thought the island is formed by the confluence of the NE flowing Gulf Stream and the south flowing Labrador current.   It was the site of hundreds of shipwrecks and deaths until modern technology improved navigation.

Bill always has to check out the chandlery...

Cute waterfront tugs take passengers on harbor tours.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sorry for the radio silence

We are now enjoying sunny skies and balmy breezes in Maine.  Who knew?
There's lots to see and do (and eat lobster) and we're making many friends, as well.
We were getting kind of lonesome before.

Unfortunately, we are not enjoying much online access, so the blog is 3 weeks behind.
Bear with us, will start posting again eventually.

In the meantime, check out the Willie Dawes blog link (Links are on the lower right on this screen)
They are a ways behind us and have lots of great text and photos about the same places.

Email is hard to come by too, so call or text us sometime.