Saturday, August 25, 2007

Boothbay Harbor

Gosh, how the days fly by. It seems like I just updated the blog, and now see that almost another week has gone by. We’ve made a few stops so I’ll start with Cape Porpoise and get us up to date.

August 19:
Motorsailed 25 miles to Portland, ME. Arrived in the harbor to see 6 huge tugboats racing each other. Then they went head to head in a push-a-war contest. Turns out they were having a charity event, and we were in the middle of it. The Coast Guard had several boats out watching all of the Sunday traffic. We did a “fly-by” of the harbor, and then headed for Peaks Island looking for an anchorage for the night. There was a mooring available in a yacht club area so we borrowed it for the night. This practice is common in these parts, but you have to stay on the boat in case the owner of the mooring shows up and wants it back.

August 20:
Motored back to the Portland harbor to get fuel and water. A moments’ inattention left us lightly grounded in the mud just outside the marina, so we had to wait 30 minutes for the incoming tide to float us off. Kathy and Rachel went on into town for some groceries while I waited on Stardust, and then docked at the fuel dock. The only damage was to my ego, but the dockworker helped when he said, “Don’t worry, you’re not the first”.
Kathy took the helm for the short 7 mile sail to Jewell Island. Besides navigating away from rocky shores, the only other hazards are the numerous lobster pot buoys. We anchored among 8 other boats in the narrow channel between rocky shores in this well protected spot.

August 21-22:
Rachel started 8th grade! She’s very excited to learn more and is willing to do any work Kathy or I put in front of her. After school we all hiked around this beautiful island with great trails amid the ruins of WWII sub spotting towers and gun emplacements. The US deemed the Maine coast the most likely to be invaded due to the proximity to Europe, and some German subs were spotted and attacked in these waters. I recall a movie made about some German sailors invading a Maine town but can’t remember the title, so if you know it please send me a note so we can watch it.
Whitefoot and I spent some time drifting over shallow water in the dinghy, watching crabs scuttle around the rocks in the clear water.
On Wednesday we motored to Boothbay Harbor, weaving in and out of the lobster pots through Casco Bay. This is a fantastic area of small islands, and one could spend an entire summer here, never anchoring in the same spot twice. We caught weather reports on TV of heat and floods everywhere, but we wore sweaters and light jackets in the 60-70 degree temps. It feels good to be in Maine in the summer!

August 23-25:
Boothbay Harbor is yet another beautiful Maine harbor with lots of boats, and several restored windjammers full of tourists sailing around the islands. There are more lobster markets and restaurants than any other type of establishments on shore, so we’ll have to have a lobster dinner tonight. Yesterday we did laundry and errands, and today I changed the Yanmar fuel filters and did some other light maintenance while Kathy and Rachel were in school. Some friends from the Jacksonville marina last winter anchored next to us, and we spent a few hours catching up on each others sailing adventures. Since Brad and Trish on Intuocean are headed back south and have been “down east” for a few weeks, they filled us in on the places to visit as we continue along the many islands dotting the coast, and loaned us a great Maine guidebook.
We’ll be here in Boothbay another day, waiting for a cold front to pass, and then head for Penobscot Bay.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Cape Porpoise

On Monday the 13th we motored in light winds to Gloucester. An expanding cumulonimbus bore down on us from the north, and it was a good thing we were motoring because it hit with 50kt winds, the peak gust being 58kts. Lightening was crashing down close so Kathy and Rachel stayed below away from the mast while I monitored the helm which was on autopilot so I wouldn’t have to be holding the metal wheel. I was comfy with the full cockpit enclosure up, and it was good that the sails were down or we would have been knocked down (where the mast touches the water) by that amount of wind. Visibility was down to 200 feet in the driving rain so we were going slow until it passed as quickly as it had come. Then we entered the Gloucester harbor and anchored in tight with minimum rode among the mooring balls. A quick trip to the store was made in between rain showers. Several large wooden schooners were at the docks.

The next morning we sailed to Kittery Point, a small town at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbor. I caught an 8 pound Bluefish on the way which provided 2 dinners for us. We shopped at the Kittery Market, the oldest in the US, which was conveniently located at the end of the town wharf. Usually we have to walk several blocks with the groceries so this was nice. We didn’t chain up Whitefoot since I had already taken her to shore, but she decided to jump ship and swim to shore anyway. Upon arrival back at Stardust to find her gone, we quickly spotted her in a rowboat headed our way with a friendly local. His granddaughter had said, “Look Grandpa, a seal!” as Whitefoot swam towards their backyard. We’ve seen a few seals, and can see how this mistake could be made.

Wednesday, Nelson and Julia Howe brought their 2 sons Silas and Henry out to the boat for a sail. A teacher friend of theirs, Rob Schneider, also joined us on a sail to the Isle of Shoals. It was a great hour sail over to the scenic islands where we hiked and skipped rocks. After another great sail back, Nelson treated us to a lobster dinner at an outdoor café. Thanks Nelson! It was great to see our old hanggliding buddy again, who showed up wearing a Wills Wing hat instead of his Southwest Airlines hat. The day was much to short to catch up with each other since we hadn’t seen Nelson and Julia for 8 years. They brought mail and Rachel’s new school books with them.

Rob came aboard the next morning with his daughter Jordan to give us some veggies and blackberries from his garden. We talked about stopping back by to give an “adventure” presentation to his high school class in a few weeks.

Next, we visited Fort McClary which overlooked our anchorage. This fort was begun in 1808, and construction continued on it until 1868 when new weapons made these types of forts obsolete. The remaining blocks of granite lie where they were when the construction ended.

After visiting the fort we hoisted anchor, bound for Cape Porpoise, next to Kennebunkport. I tried to fish, but there were so many lobster pot floats that I gave up trying to swerve between them and keep the lures from snagging the floats. On this 25 mile leg, we passed several thousand floats. Entering the harbor through a narrow gap in the rocks with a 3kt outgoing tide, the hundreds of floats in the channel didn’t help matters either. If we snagged one on the propeller and lost the use of the engine in a spot like this, the situation would be critical. We’ve been here in Cape Porpoise for 3 nights, going on 4, due to a flu bug which hit Rachel and I. This is our first illness on the boat, and we don’t know where it came from, but we’re over it now. Kathy, as usual, was a great mom and nurse. When I went ashore the first morning here, a lobster fisherman told me if I needed to get to a doctor to take his truck. Then later, when I docked at a private dock close to town for some grocery shopping, the owner there told me I was welcome to use his dock all I wanted. Everyone around here is super friendly, even the folks in the post office. A man in a huge twin engine black rigid inflatable with the words “US SECRET SERVICE” on the sides motored close by us and as I took his picture and said “nice boat!” he said he was admiring ours and would swap if he could.

We just returned from a visit to the lighthouse island just across from Stardust. The late afternoon light following the cold front passage last night was clear and wonderful. Now we’ll have our first real dinner after 2 days of soup, so gotta go!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Boston to Gloucester

The air was calm as we left Plymouth, so the trusty Yanmar engine took us 37 miles to Boston through the busy Saturday waters. We saw a new looking sailboat high and dry on a rock reef as we entered The Narrows at low tide, weaving our way into Boston Harbor through the many (30) islands which dot the harbor. High speed ferries shot this way and that, headed for Providence and Salem. Our destination in the harbor was the South Boston Yacht Club, following the directions of our friends Jay and Barb on Jupiter’s Smile, who loaned us their charts of this region.

After anchoring off the shore of the yacht club, I took Whitefoot ashore. Meanwhile, the Commodore of the yacht club, Frank Manning, took the club’s launch out to Stardust, and upon meeting Kathy and Rachel, promptly invited us to use their facilities! We had dinner in their restaurant, and used the dinghy dock to come and go as we pleased.

The next day, Sunday, we walked 2 miles to and from the JFK Presidential Library, and spent 4 hours there. Architecturally, it is a magnificent structure, and inside, the various displays, artifacts, furniture, photos, and films gave us an even greater appreciation for this great president. Kennedy had a love of the sea which was evident in the Oval Office by photos and models of sailing vessels, and his desk made from timbers of the Resolute.

Today we motored out of Boston Harbor in windless conditions (again), headed for Gloucester. Distant storm cells drifted our way, so we put up the cockpit enclosure just before a wall of rain and intense 58kt winds pummeled us for 10 minutes. The worst part was the lightening. But we made it through unscathed, and entered the beautiful Gloucester Harbor. Our anchorage here is a tight one, as usual, amid the mooring balls, but there are a few other boats anchored here as well.

Tomorrow we’ll round Cape Ann bound for Portsmouth to meet up with Nelson and Julia Howe.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Photos, top to bottom:
Rachel at sunset in Onset
Birthday pancakes at Nashawena Island
Rachel atop Nashawena Island with Stardust in the background
Mayflower 2

August 2:
After chasing an “air leak” in the genset fuel system for the better part of a month, and replacing just about everything in the line, the genset shut down and would not start. I traced the problem to a failed fuel pump, and after replacing it with a spare I had on board it cranked right up! All it took was an intermittent problem finally becoming a permanent problem so it could be found.

August 3:
We tried to sail out of Newport, but the anchor chain was wrapped around something on the bottom in the “designated anchorage”. The chain came taut with 60 feet of chain still out so we knew the anchor wasn’t hung up. We pulled the chain with the engine from different angles, but it was still stuck. I could feel the anchor chain grind each time we pulled on it. Kathy, Rachel and I talked over the plan before I dove in with wetsuit, fins, and snorkel gear. Following the chain to the bottom I found it wrapped around a piece of an aluminum sunken boat with a big gash where the chain was trying to pull through it. If we had tugged for another 15 minutes it probably would have pulled free. After surfacing and another short talk, Rachel put Stardust in forward for 5 seconds to give me the slack necessary to free the chain which was easy to do 20 feet down with 6 feet of visibility.
We then sailed 23 miles on a broad reach in 15-20kt winds to Nashawena Island. Rachel, Whitefoot and I went ashore on the rocky beach and hiked to the top of a hill where we could see the ocean on the other side. The sticker bushes we had been threading our way over turned out to be blackberry bushes with ripe berries so we ate a bunch and Rachel even managed to save a few for Kathy.

August 4:
Your intrepid blogger turned 54 today, and the old buzzard celebrated with a pancake breakfast and then another broad reach up Buzzard’s Bay, running wing and wing a large part of the day into Onset, RI on the southwest side of the Cape Cod Canal. Onset had their annual Illumination Night which was about 2000 red flares all along the small 2 mile long harbor. I unwrapped presents with Whitefoots help and found shirts, books, magnetic chess and backgammon boards, and other goodies. Rachel and Kathy gave me a sextant with all the necessary tables and plotting paper! I’ve got the basics down, and have shot the sun, moon and a couple of stars. Learning the math and the tables is the slow part. But is sure gives one an appreciation of the skill required to do this on a pitching boat at sea!

August 5:
We motored up the Cape Cod Canal with a following current going 9-10kts. The north wind gave us a rough ride when we entered the Cape Cod Bay but we only had another 12 miles to go so we motored close to shore to reduce the wave action. We made Plymouth, Massachusets in the early afternoon and found a tight anchorage among the mooring balls ($45/night) close to town.

August 6-8
We toured the Mayflower 2, a replica of the original ship. It was built in England and sailed across the Atlantic to its home in Plymouth. Actors and actresses in period costume talked with us as if they were the pilgrims on the ship; very neat. A great way to learn about the story behind this historic ship and the epic voyage. Then we toured the historic Plymouth Plantation, a replica town of 1667, and a reproduced Wampanoag village of the same year. More actors answered questions and talked to us. Rachel will study American History this year in school, so this was a very timely event to visit. Yesterday was rainy so we enjoyed a rare day on board just reading and playing games. Today is nice and cool, and we’re doing laundry and errands, and updating the blog in a wifi coffee house.

Tomorrow we set sail for Boston and points north.

Mystic and Newport Photos

Top to bottom:
Kathy and Rachel on the Cliff Walk, a 4 mile walk along the coastal stretch with the huge mansions
The Elms.
A 2008 Volvo race boat in Newport
A very large private boat in Newport
The Charles Morgan, a whaler in Mystic
The Nautilus sub
Rachel at the periscope