Saturday, July 30, 2016

Belfast at Last: Second Impression

We left Pulpit Harbor, saying hello/goodbye to nurse Paul who arrived on his Pearson Triton in the anchorage the night before we left. Such is the cruising life... Within an hour of departure, we were engulfed in thick fog. It was actually quite pretty to see the Camden Hills (500 or so feet above water) above the fog layer. We got to toot our fog horn a lot. I think someone should design fog horns with different tunes, so you can identify who is tooting, kinda like ring tones. The fog makes the sound echo and does not carry the sound in the direction you expect, so you really don't know where boats are coming from, which is a bit spooky - unless you are on AIS and the other boats are too (transmitting and receiving)! At some point we were called by name (thanks to AIS) on VHF 16 by another boat to avoid colliding. The best part of the call (on VHF16 that every boat listens too) was the captain saying "Alizée" with a perfect French pronunciation (A-LI-ZAY, not A-LI-ZY). Of course with a boat name of Chanteclair, the captain must have had some French or Canadian background. That was very cool!

Alizée on her float can check
on Puff when we are ashore.
Usually the fog dissipates by mid-morning. Not that day. Sadly the views should have been gorgeous given our closeness to the west side of Penobscot Bay but all we saw were the lobster pots to dodge and the two boats that came out of the fog close by (we knew... with AIS!). The wind followed its usual pattern of dying about late morning until mid-afternoon. Unfortunately at that time we were crossing a shipping channel, going 1.6 kt (did I say how much captain likes to use the engine before?) and feeling like a sitting duck when other boats under engine would blast by at 6 kts. But hey with AIS, why worry? I just went below for a nap at that point.
Belfast lies in Waldo Country

We arrived in Belfast mid-afternoon to tie Alizée to her float (a small dock out in the water away from land). We were so focused on docking in the current that we tied up to the wrong float. Ha! The dock hand came by, telling us how much he loves Boulder and that his sister graduated as the youngest graduate at Naropa Institute in Boulder. Small world! We easily relocated Alizée the next day to her assigned spot. Practice makes perfect. Her new float is a bit further away from the dinghy dock, which we care about a lot as we row to shore and the harbor has 3 kts of current at its peak. Unlike Pulpit Harbor where we saw more rowing dinghies than other places, in Belfast we seem to be the only ones rowing, but we do get a lot of compliments on Puff.

Historical walking tours in English
and French
We first saw Belfast about a month ago when we ferried Alizée's trailer and truck up here. We arrived late in the afternoon, it was blowing like stink, the stores were closed, our motel was meh... definitely a lukewarm first impression. Many folks who came by Alizée told us "you're gonna love Belfast", so I had to wonder. We now have seen more of Belfast and, indeed, it is quite a place. Reminds me of Salida, CO a bit with its funky stores - like The Green Store "a general store for the 21st century"- a McGuckin equivalent with all sustainable ecological stuff. Eat More Cheese has cheese I eat in France (Beaufort) that I don't see in the states and they have the Clos Alivu rosé we have been hunting for back in Boulder after tasting it in Corsica. The Moon Bat Bakery has croissants. I think I will like it here! Oh and Susan, don't you worry about bringing gluten-free stuff when you come, the Belfast Co-op has more gluten-free options than Whole Foods! They even have Bill's favorite beer, La Fin du Monde. Crazy sauce.

Belfast has a historical walking tour with signs in French and English. I definitely like this town!

Howie can sit there!
Shelby can sit here!
Art is everywhere on the streets. Howie, no need to bring your guitar, they have one right on Main St you can sit on.

The Front Street Shipyard, where Alizée's float lies (and where she will be hauled out for the winter), is quite a scene. Their travel lift can hoist 440 tons (yep, the zero is not a typo) and we have seen a huge tugboat on it. Quite an operation. Apparently it also dropped a 400 ton tugboat back in the drink when the tug's roll chocks cut the slings (no damage, just splash.) They are so busy they could not handle Bill's request to order the transmission part we have been missing. He had to call the Yanmar dealer in Freeport and ship it in from Georgia. It so happens we will be passing by Freeport anyway while making the obligatory visit to LL Bean on our way back from picking up Shelby and David in Portland. The guide says you have not seen Maine until you go to LL Bean. Works for me!

Front Street Shipyard 440 ton travel lift
(and they have others!)
Last night, we celebrated Shelby's graduation in her master in nursing from Vanderbilt at Meanwhile in Belfast, one of the insane number of restaurants here. We even had dessert to cover the full-time job position she was offered. You go girl. We may need some of your cash come September :) We had a wonderful dinner on their patio watching the 'arbar and the mosquitoes had an equally good dinner devouring us when we rowed back at dusk cuz we stayed out too late enjoying food and drink. Harsh punishment. Once on the boat we are safe from these creatures as Bill installed nets on the hatches.
We are landlubbers for several days: boat cleaning, pump-out, water tank refill, provisioning, laundry, haircut (captain, not me!), getting ready for Shelby and David's stay aboard next week. For play, we plan on visiting Camden during the Regatta Classic Cup and hiking the Camden Hills State Park. We should be back to sailing Wednesday.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Heaven in North Haven

We arrived at Pulpit Harbor on North Haven island Tuesday after six hours of slug-sailing in light wind but without having to use the engine, which we were not able to do lately. We seem to be the only sailboat usingour sails in light winds, even if we move at 1.6 kts, as long as we move. Everyone else is blasting by us with their engine. We eventually get there with a greater sense of satisfaction that we did not deplete any of our diesel rations or carbon credits. We do find sailors around here more competent than our previous haunts in the Bahamas and Caribbean, anchoring and picking up moorings solo and under sail. We really need to connect with more of them to share stories now that we are approaching our final Summer destination, Belfast.

The guide says Pulpit Harbor is not for those looking for secluded anchorages (no Scandinavian play here) and it provides one of the best sunsets in the area, so we opted for that harbor as our last stop before Belfast.  The harbor was pretty full when we got in, with about 15 or so sailboats and many lobster boats. There was even one sailboat from Utah; I was dying to ask them how they answer the so-common-question "how did you sail from there to here?". We need to come up with creative answer to that one.

Our brommies tucked in Puff
We did experience the pretty sunset and the bagpiping celebration that often goes with it (better than a fog horn chorus when there are no bagpipes in the anchorage that night). The lobster boat engines ruined a bit of the experience though.

Before getting to Belfast and having to deal with the engine maintenance, boat cleaning, provisioning and laundry, we treated ourselves to a visit ashore. Weather was gorgeous albeit hot (82F and 90% humidity) with no wind, so maybe biking would at least give us a bit of breeze. Uphills were cookers though. Transporting our Brommies in Puff ended up not being a big deal. Biking hilly New Haven, and hiking Ames Knob (a 15 min hike!) got those legs moving again, something they had forgotten this past month. Every car we crossed waved at us, as they seem to do with everyone. Very welcoming island (with its 350 inhabitants year around).

Locked brommies while we hike
Little traffic > safe biking!
The village is very small: one market, one gift shop, one print shop, and two restaurants (one closed on Wednesdays, the day we chose to bike). So we had a single option for dinner (other than baked beans on board): the Nebo Lodge. We called for reservations - full! - so we camped at their doors at 4:45pm to get one of their walk-in tables at 5pm and lucked out. The place is unique with veggies from the diversified organic farm (Turner Farm) on the island - last I remember eating tomatoes that tasty was in France when I was a kid), lots of French wines, and an eclectic cocktail menu. Bill could not resist ordering the Vesper cocktail in honor of our favorite AIS app that keeps us safe in the fog. That app informs us of boat traffic around us telling us about each boat, its type, name, speed, length, and 14 other things (says Captain), basically giving you a collision risk assessment. Being a deliberative person (always looking for what could go wrong and planning for it), I LOVE that app!

We ended up spending our dinner talking to the Boston couple at the next table who came from Stonington to North Haven on a boat captained by local boatbuilder Peter Buxton, who himself was eating at the bar until his charges were ready for the trip back. Bill had seen videos of Peter detailing aspects of boat building, so that was a hoot to have the two of them chat and share pictures of Alizée.

At the entrance of Pulpit harbor is Pulpit Rock with an enormous osprey nest that has been there for over 150 years. As we entered Tuesday, we were too busy dodging the rock and the lobster pots to remember to look for the nest. As we leave for Belfast this morning, we have reminders all over the boat to not forget to pull out the binoculars this time.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Shoulder-to-Shoulder with the Lobster Boats of Tenants Harbor

Upon entering Tenants Harbor, and Penobscot bay as a side effect, we ran through the VHF channels trying to contact any one of the three businesses offering moorings (no anchoring in the harbor). Helllllooo? No one. We gave up and grabbed a mooring figuring that either a pissed off lobsterman or someone to collect the rent would show up eventually. Turned out to be the latter. Fortunately for us, the price of moorings is dropping about as fast as the price of lobster as we head up the coast. A long hot shower? Whoah! We were soooo excited. Wifi, in theory, but not really. No cell coverage either. Oh well.

I'm not sure about the spacing of moorings in Tenants Harbor. Tenants is a working harbor full of mostly lobster boats. When the tidal current goes one way and the wind another, lobster boats and sailboats swing differently. Thump went the lobster boat. Wat? No harm because the gunwales lined up such that the lobster boat was bumping our ipe rub rails: hard as nails they are. Once the tide changed a bit we would be sorted out for the night.

We had a wonderful dinner (Ya, ya, I know, a shower AND a dinner ashore? Such excess.) at Corinna's Happy Clam. Oh yummy mussels, scallops, and haddock. Super nice folk as well.

At the first lobster boat, 5:15 am, I awoke to a foggy harbor. Sitting in the cockpit, I watched dozens of ducks roam the harbor. I wish I knew what kind of duck: nothing I've seen before. A lone seal also passed by, but shy. A small movement on my part and he disappears beneath the oily ripples. Feeling a chill in the fog, I made some coffee to warm the cockles and watch the harbor slowly come to life. A few recalcitrant outboards as the lobstermen ferry themselves to their boats. One tops off with fuel. Another exchanges some lobster cars at Art's Lobsters on the wharf. One by one they disappear into the fog. Some are friendly and wave as they pass astern of Alizée. Others, no so much. One remarks to me enthusiastically on what a fine day it is.

After Cath rolls out of the bunk, we have a light breakfast and hop into Puff and row ashore for a couple of tasty pastries (breakfast desert!) at the School House Bakery (next to the Happy Clam) and a morning walk. What a wonderful start to the day. As soon as the tide turns we head out to ride a fair current through Muscle Ridge Shoals up to Pulpit Harbor.

Harbor Island in MidCoast Maine

BoothBay lighthouse
After The Basin, we went east to Harbor Island in MidCoast Maine, another local recommendation, this time from friends of Alison via email.  On the way there, we went by Booth Bay, the Maine mecca of yachting, and its lighthouse connected to a land by a bridge. Plenty of pleasure boats in the bay and a J105 race we navigated right through. Thank goodness it was not a lobster boat race, which we heard take place in Maine.

Lobster boat passing by at full speed

Lobster boats are everywhere - and so are their lobster pots. Their engines sound like thunder, and when they pick up their pots, they go in unpredictable zig zags - well you can learn to predict them if you can tell what pot color they use. So far, we are doing pretty well on our lobster boat and lobster pot dodging - so far none snagged - but it definitely keeps you with 2 pairs of eyes on the horizon, and we anticipate the density will increase as we move north. Indeed. Coming into Harbor Island was crazy thick with them and no obvious passage through. We just had to have faith that we could figure it out on the fly.
Upon arrival, Harbor Island only had 4 boats anchored, one of them owned by a nurse from Baltimore who works 9 months out of the year and sails the 3 others. Paul was fascinated by Alizée. He invited us to go on a walk on the island with him to get all his questions answered!  Many of Maine's islands are privately owned but the owners are generous in letting visitors land on them and even walk around. The Maine Island Trail Association (MITA) publishes a guide that tells you what you can and cannot do on each island. We found our first wild berries on that walk - small, yet tasty, raspberries.

After 3 days of secluded anchorages - which we truly cherished -  we were ready to see some civilization, not to mention dropping our trash (stink!) and picking up some provisioning. We had run out of protein to grill and my creative cooking did not really please the captain, so it was time for some fresh produce or some dinner ashore. Sunday we lucked out on the wind and made it to Tenants Harbor, right at the entrance of Penobscot Bay where Belfast lies some 40 nautical miles north, exactly one month after attending the Wooden Boat Festival (nice post-show blog from Alizée's designer). Off to Bill to share our experience there...

The Basin in Casco Bay

We can finally stuff a modicum of bits into the Internet, so there's some catching up to do! Working off of Alison's recommendation (thanks!), we cruised up the New Meadows river of eastern Casco Bay to a little hurricane hole called simply The Basin. It felt for all the world like a mountain lake, albeit salty. Pine trees. Ospreys. Many birds we've never seen or heard before. We are ornithologically illiterate, which is a shame up here. We need an offline Shazam type app to tell us about the bird we just heard or perhaps of which we just took a picture. Next bookstore I'm looking for a pocket sized "Birds of Maine".

The guide says that The Basin may be the last chance for swimmable water before the cold is too much, so in we go for obligatory laps around the boat. Alison says it doesn't count unless you at least swim around the boat. The Basin is quiet and the slightest sound carries unattenuated over the still water; we feel compelled to speak in whispers, which is kinda weird. Sharing the anchorage with a few others, all but one do the same. By accent and tone, "the one" had a gaggle of drunk New Yorkers. Fortunately they didn't stay the night. Ahhhh, what relief when they lefeave

The next morning we wanted to leave on the low tide to catch a favorable current down the road. The bible says the bend has 7 feet at low on the outside of the shifting bar of the entrance bend. 7 feet? M'kay. Slowly we motor around the bend, but staying outside is easier said than done given all the lobster pots in the channel. The depth sounder is reading 8 feet when, phooey, we coast up onto the sand bar. First order of business is to set out on anchor so we stay put while the rising tide lifts us up and out of our morning pickle. Second order of business is to review the rule of 12 with Cath. For those non-sailors, you divide the tidal range by 12. The first hour you get 1/12, the second and additional 2/12, the third 3/12, and then back down. Given our 9 foot tide, we should get an additional 9/12 of a foot the first hour. In the meantime, it seems a most excellent time to recalibrate the depth sounder (8 feet, really?), which we do. It takes only 30 minutes until we float off on our way to Harbor Island, no worse for the event. Yea!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Jekyll and Hyde Anchorage in Southern Maine

Richmond Island: Darling sandy beach
We left Isles au Shoals which straddle New Hampshire and Maine yesterday and could not ask for better wind than we got, given our Northeast heading and the distance we had to cover. Bill seem to have a real blast flying the spinnaker manually for many hours. That was fun watching him fight the beast as the wind freshened. The forecast called for severe storms after 3pm so we had to find a place to tuck in early just in case. With the tip from Tim, whom we met in Gloucester, we opted for Richmond Island, south of Portland, just below Cape Elizabeth. The island is not very well documented so local knowledge turned out to be quite timely.

Richmond Island: Breakwater
The island has a man-made breakwater to protect the anchorage on either side which makes for a very a protected cove (Seal Cove). I love anchoring close to breakwaters: there can be as quiet as can be - with no rolling that trigger my quizziness -  on one side yet the waves can be crashing on the other. We anchored in front of a darling sandy beach we could have swam to, would the water not be 64F! The amazing part was that we had this place to ourselves for several hours, and no sign of storms, so we enjoyed playing Scandinavian. I swear the water is even colder without swimsuits. Then a boat came in, so we had to behave again. Pity. We enjoyed a serene quiet evening with grilled salmon steaks and frozen roasted vegetables in the cockpit while watching the sun goes down.

Severe storms and lighting at night
We went to bed at our usual 9pm hour, pretty much when the sun goes down cuz you know that same sun will wake you up at 5am. The sky was charged with lightning from the forecasted storms but the anchorage remained quiet. We did not even have time to fall asleep than the winds came up so strong we wondered whether the anchor would drag. Being so close to the darling beach suddenly became a liability. Bill setup a depth alarm that would tell us if we were dragging to shore. The winds finally died down and we could fall asleep.

Next morning the anchorage was even more serene as when we got there yesterday.

This morning, back to normal!
This morning we left Richmond Island to wave at Portland in a distance and make it as far as we could through Casco Bay, the bay of many islands east of Portland. No wind whatsoever so motoring we did. Captain not in a good mood at this point (he despises motoring), but a pod of dolphins and a couple of curious seals popping their heads out of the water got his attitude back on track. There seems to always be very little wind every morning around here (not like the trade winds in the Carribean), but we have distance to cover to make it to Belfast before visitors arrive so we leave early with the hope the forecast is wrong (which it has been several times but not that many times). No luck today. To keep things from getting boring, we got ourselves our first good little fright when the depth sensor dropped drastically from the 100 ft we were in to 7.5ft, sounding the depth alarm. We were in the middle of the bay with no sign of hidden rocks, so perhaps fish, or (oh oh) a whale, or (double oh oh) a submarine under us? Despite several power cycles it would read correctly and then begin counting down to exactly 6.1 feet (probably 2 meters internally). Finally it decided to behave again, randomly. We have no idea what caused that as Bill swam under the boat once we got to our destination and could not find any issues. Hmmmm... The idea of navigating around without a depth sensor is just a bad idea - especially here (well ok and in the shallow Abacos too).

We finally arrived at another recommendation from Barry's friend Alison - The Basin. Unlike the Jekyll and Hyde anchorage yesterday, this place is rated as a the hurricane hole for the area, which means a boat could actually survive a hurricane with the exceptional 360 degree protection it provides. We don't expect any hurricanes but more severe storms tonight. This time we won't have to set any alarm or even worry about dragging with the amount of trees around what looks like a mountain lake but is really a bay.

Panoramic view of The Basin in Casco Bay
Once the rain stops, if it does, we will put Puff in the water and row around the edges to gunkhole. Tomorrow, we are off again moving east, hoping the forecast of no wind is wrong (please please be wrong, we'll forgive you!) so we can make progress towards Belfast.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Gloucester & Friends

"They That Go Down To The Sea In Ships 1623-1923". The iconic Fisherman's Memorial of Gloucester with engraved plates listing the names of all the fishermen lost to the sea during this period. In 1879 alone, 249 fishermen and 29 vessels were lost during a terrible storm. A bit further down the harbor walk is the lesser known Fishermen's Wives Memorial, "The wives, mothers, daughters and sisters of Gloucester fishermen honor the wives and families of fishermen and t mariners everywhere for their faith, diligence, and fortitude." Both are a testament to the difficult and often tragic lives of the men and women of Gloucester, the oldest fishing port in the nation.

Gloucester still has the look of a working fishing port, albeit with fishing in decline. Many of the harbors we have visited remade themselves one way or the other when their boom industry, such as whaling in Nantucket, faded. Each 'pivot' is a unique story. Gloucester's story is still very much in progress. Word was that, like many working harbors, Gloucester was not a great place for transient pleasure craft. Most folks would prefer the outer harbor with the hospitality of the Eastern Point Yacht Club, rather than moor in the more industrial inner harbor, as we did. We're happy to report that this is changing. The new harbor master was friendly and helpful. They have a nice dinghy dock and launch service now. We had a couple of good, though not great, reasonably priced meals ashore. Clearly they are trying, but it does take time.

We would have missed an entirely different side of Gloucester if it weren't for a chance meeting at wine tasting. My uncle Jon Eric, lives down the road in Boston and suggested we might continue his hunt for the best lobster roll with a visit to Rockport and the Roy Moore Lobster Co. Picked us up (it had been some time since we've been in a car!) he did and we 'did' Rockport, including Motif Number One and Roy's. Jon Eric really has a thing going for lobster rolls: knows all the best places up and down the coast. Somewhat in passing, he mentioned that he met a sailor from Gloucester the previous evening and perhaps we might be able to visit his place in Gloucester and engage in a bit o' boat talk.

In the course of these events we had the pleasure of meeting Pat (last name elided to protect the generous) at his place on the granite ocean front just outside the Dog Bone breakwater of Gloucester harbor. He and his Norwegian wife have been living here long before it became more popular to Winter over. I could see spending seasons here in contemplation while gazing at the ocean's changing moods.

After some brief socializing, Pat took us for a quick tour around the Gloucester we had not seen, complete with a narrative on the struggles between the traditional Portuguese and Italian fishermen and the more recent upper class influx and artists to bring Gloucester into its new era: a story of conflict and cooperation. Pat also talked about his family's sailing history and gave us a tour of the swanky Eastern Point Yacht Club. The highlight for Cath was Good Harbor Beach, "It's sooooo cool!". All-and-all, Pat gave us a view, and a positive one at that, of Gloucester that we would have totally missed otherwise. Thanks Pat!

Just to top it off, a boat came in next to us asking if we were in Provincetown a few days ago. They took notice of Alizée while we were in the harbor there. We engaged in a little harbor gam. Being a friendly conversation, the tone of our voices was on 2. Being a conversation across some distance in a harbor, the volume of our voices was on 11. That's how it works. At any rate, Katie and Tim know the area and had oodles of advice for the next leg of our trip up through southern Maine and Casco Bay. Tim even sent us a data-plan-killing email with all the details! So many folks have been so helpful. That's a wonderful thing about the cruising life: folks helping folks. Always saying goodbye to them is a sad side of cruising...

From Gloucester we rounded Cape Ann and sailed in a fitful wind for the Isles of Shoals, where we lie at the moment. We sailed by more humpbacks! Note to self, don't try to fly the spinnaker while weaving through a field of lobster pots. I wrapped it on the headstay when I zigged for a pot when I needed to zag for the chute. Rats.

We're betting on incremental conditioning to the water temperature. Our friend Barry promised it would be balmy and said to jump right in. Seemed a little suspicious, but I went for a no-fear cannonball off the deck anyway. Yikes! A temperature check said 66°F. I checked the water temp at Bar Harbor in northern Maine: 61°F. Only 5 degrees to go. We can do this.

The harbor here is unique in that the New Hampshire/Maine state line splits down the harbor. We're not positive that we are on the Maine side, but we called it good enough and had a celebratory dinner with the Whispering Angel Rosé we've been saving for the occasion.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Provincetown: The End of Cape Cod

We departed Sandwich, MA without any wind, under motor, over a glassy sea so captain Bill took the opportunity to calibrate Alizée's compass - and North you go, then South, then West, then East, then round and round, slaloming around the lobster buoys to practice the skill before we get to Maine where we are told there are everywhere. By lunch we were pretty sick of hearing the engine so we just turned it off and ... the wind came. Not much, but just enough for Alizée to get going at 5 knots. She does not ask for much before gliding. Getting closer to Provincetown, the heat was so overbearing - despite the awesome helmsman awning Bill built - that it was time to hit the water. How do you jump in and make sure you can swim back as Alizée was moving? Just rig a line with a fender at the end and JUMP!!!! Poor captain stayed in the cockpit for safety reasons but Spence and I so enjoyed cooling off. We were in no rush to go on land with the crazy 85F and 100% humidity. Bill almost had a heat stroke when we arrived.

Awesome awning to cool off
Provincetown, often called 'P-town' is located at the very tip of Cape Cod and is a very diverse and accepting community. The guide even said "you can kiss whoever you want here!". An openly gay community, it seems to also have more foreign visitors - we heard French at least three times there, not once on Martha's Vineyard.

Similar to Nantucket, although not to the same scale, Provincetown was big in the whaling industry. Most of the P-Town whalers came from Portuguese families who kept the industry going when everyone else gave up. Those families' matriarchs are recognized on a very visible wall by the wharf. While Nantucket reinvented itself with tourism after whaling, ptown replaced whaling with arts. The number of art galleries for such a small town is pretty astonishing.

A couple more facts about ptown:
  • the Mayflower first landed here
  • its Pilgrim Memorial Monument - built from 1907 to 1910 is the tallest all-granite structure in the US. The granite came from Stonington, Maine which we will visit later. Its internal stairwell is well worth the 116 steps. The 360 view from atop was phenomenal.
  • it is close to the fertile whale feeding grounds on Stellwagen Bank where we got to see fin and humpback whales showing off. Hopefully the two videos below will show in the blog.
Pilgrim Memorial Monument (day)
Pilgrim Memorial Monument (night)
View from the Pilgrim Memorial Monument
    Can you find Alizée from the top of the monument?
    She is the only one with a yellow hull!

4 whales (4th blows)

Spencer, Cath, Barry, Ronan and Captain Bill
The best part of our P-Town stay was our friend Barry visiting with his 11-year old son Ronan from Boston via the 90 min high-speed ferry with their bikes. We rented bikes and joined them on the amazing biking trail through the dune Beech forest and the beaches. To beat the heat again, we all went on Alizée to jump off the boat and cool down afterwards.
Beech Forest biking trails
Race Beach

This ends the Cape Cod part of our journey. Do you know why Cape Cod is called Cape Cod? Originally, there was so much cod in here that you did not even have to get on a boat to fish.

Spencer returned to Boulder yesterday to get ready for his job in August. We'll miss him but, hey Spence, I grabbed my first mooring solo today without dropping the hook in the water (yea me), so I think I need another accomplishment certificate to supplement the "sailing Puff solo" one you gave me :)

This morning we left ptown at the crack of dawn to catch as much wind as we could on our way to Gloucester. Luckily it was not a foggy morning like many of them.

Foggy mornings
After an 8 hour sweet sail - more wind and, more importantly, better direction than expected - we are now taking a nap (well one is, the other one is catching up on blogging!) moored in Gloucester, MA, where we plan to stream The Perfect Storm tonight (if we can make it through) to honor the filming location.

Our Boston family gang - Jon Eric and Sherine - will come down to check on us and hunt for lobster rolls tomorrow. We love visitors!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Your personal beach in MA

Yesterday morning we left our beloved anchorage (Hadley Harbor) to mosey on over to the Cape Cod canal. We had to leave early to catch the current in the right direction from Woods Hole passage, but we had to wait for 2pm to go thru the canal and its fierce 4 knot current in our direction, so what do you do in the meantime? well, you call on our local friend to give you tips - and boy did Barry gave us the tip we needed. "you guys should go check out the Weepeckets islands, you'll feel like you're in the BVIs again". We looked up these islands in our cruising guide, they are not even listed. hmmmm.. a bit suspicious. maybe that's a kayakers only destination? we finally found some info on these small uninhabited (except for birds and loads of bird poop) and low and behold, we had them to our onesies. Wow!

it was so calm I row Puff ashore (I am loving a little rowing before our day really starts), except these mama seagulls made it very clear we were the odd bird out around here, so we resorted to our favorite activity: frolicking in the water, especially on a day where they called a heat advisory in the region. The water was amazingly refreshing.

By 11am, it was then time to approach the Cape Cod canal to time the passage at 2pm. An easy downwind sail where we just cooked under the scorching sun. Surprisingly, we were the only sailboat going thru at the time which allowed us to enjoy the bikers and walkers on the Cape Cod bikeways that follow the canal and the marvelous three bridges that take cars to eastern Cape Cod. The railroad bridge looks a bit like the London bridge. It lowers its top section when the train carrying the trash from Cape Cod goes by. We did not have to deal with that, unlike the Mystic's railroad bridge that always seem to be closing when we needed to get through.

By 3:30pm, we made it to the Sandwich marina at the mouth of Cape Cod bay, our final stop for the day to replenish on water and get our guano pumped out. We are one of the few sailboats as the marina seems to be mostly for fishing boats. After we a cool dinner in the AC of the Pilot House Seafood restaurant, we walked the 30 min to the Sandwich boardwalk - which made National Geographic's top 10 American Boardwalks list. The boardwalk goes over a very green marsh and a river. Local kids had a blast jumping off the bridge over the river.

After hurricane Bob (1991) destroyed the previous boardwalk, the city of Sandwich, MA, rallied to fix the boardwalk. Ingeniously, it called on its population to fund the project by selling dedication planks. It was a wonderful time chilling after a hot day.

This morning we are off to Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod. It likely will take us the whole day to complete the 21 nm from Sandwich, MA, as they expect no winds, and given Bill's reluctancy to use the iron genny (motor), I foresee experiments of spinnaker without sails and the like. Just hope he does not resort to asking Spencer and I to pull Alizée with Puff....