Monday, August 30, 2010

Martha's Vineyard & Block Island

Block Island, RI
41 11.5 N 71 34.6 W

We ended up staying in Red Brook Hrb for 6 days... 3 of those days snug inside Carina sitting out what turned out to be a stubborn nor'easter. We had heavy rain and periods of gale force winds that gave Carina's decks a great power washing.
We crossed paths with a flotilla of fishing
trawlers traveling up Vineyard Sound
on their way to Vineyard Haven to
demonstrate against the Fed's fishing
policies while Pres. Obama was
vacationing on Martha's Vineyard     

Carina anchored in Lake Tashmoo on
Martha's Vineyard. Vineyard Sound
and Wood's Hole on mainland Cape
Cod are in background.

We arrived at Lake Tashmoo on Martha's Vineyard on Thursday. We decided to rent a car this visit and play tourist for a few days of island sightseeing. The car was also way more convenient for grocery & booze shopping than our usual walking it back to the dock.

No need for caption. The sign says it all.
Sinbad looking regal on the helm seat
Sinbad is really enjoying the cruising life. He has gotten into a routine of spending time outside on deck each day. It is going to be interesting to see how he does while we are back at the marina next week. Barnacle on the other hand seems to be settled in to the more sedate life...eating and sleeping take up most of his day. He has definitely put on a few pounds.
Typical elegant street in Edgartown, MV

Clams harvested from Lk Tashmoo
Lake Tashmoo is prime clamming grounds so we got a clamming permit from the town of Tisbury and easily collected over 4 dozen clams in no time! We enjoyed clams on the half shell followed by linguine with clam sauce for dinner that night.
Gay Head light and cliffs on SW coast of MV

We left Martha's Vineyard on Sun. morning for the 50 mile long trip to Block Island. We had hoped to be able to sail but as usual the winds were either to light or right on our bow. The seas were also very unsettled and choppy during the morning. Needless to say it was not a very enjoyable day bashing into chop. In the afternoon we were visited for a short while by a pod of between 12-15 dolphins swimming along side & across our bows.
Dolphins swimming alongside while
enroute to Block Is.

Hurricane Danielle sea swells
produced impressive waves for us to
do some body surfing on Crescent Beach, BI

We are leaving Block Is tomorrow (Tues) planning to return to Farm River Marina for Wednesday in time to secure ourselves for whatever becomes of Hurricane Earl. This will also be our last post for a few weeks until we get underway again for points south as we'll be spending the following week at the marina while visiting family, attending a family wedding and reprovisioning.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Red Brook Harbor, Bourne, MA

Red Brook Harbor, Bourne, MA 41 40.8 N 70 37.9 W

Since our last post we have traveled from Portsmouth NH, to Gloucester, MA, to Duxbury Bay (near Plymouth,MA), back through the Cape Cod Canal to Bourne, MA (on the Cape side of Buzzards Bay).

Sunrise at Little Harbor.
We spent a total of 3 days and nights in Little Harbor in New Castle, NH…. just down river from Portsmouth. It was a nice, snug little harbor... but it also turned out to be one of the most uncomfortable places we've been in yet. Incoming sea swells generated by the winds we were intentionally sitting out combined with a strong current flow in / out of the harbor during every tidal change had us rolling beam to beam for most of the 3 days. It got so bad on Monday that we resorted to taking some Motion-Eze to reduce the woozy feeling.
Another view of Little Harbor
Unfortunately it was not very convenient to get off the boat and onto land either. There was only one resort type marina in Little Harbor:  Wentworth’s By-The-Sea, which is a 4 star marina/ hotel/ golf course resort that was described as “transient friendly” in our cruising guide. We called in advance to ask if we could use their dinghy dock. The response was it would cost $50 to tie up at their dinghy dock for a day… that is unless we were going to their dockside restaurant, in which case we could tie up for free. Translated… Kathy did not have to make lunch that day. We took a short walk after lunch in search of a market to purchase some much needed provisions but there was nothing nearby. Nor was it convenient to take in the sites of nearby Portsmouth with our dinghy due to the choppy conditions outside the harbor.
Morning fog lifting in Little Hrb
Over all, Little Harbor was not very memorable for us. We were anxious to get underway on Tuesday after the winds had finally shifted to a more favorable direction. Once again though, we were delayed waiting for a dense morning fog to burn off.
We were finally able to leave by mid- morning and motored to Gloucester with winds so light it was not worth raising sails. We ran into two more fog banks rounding Cape Ann, one that we were able to alter course around most of it but a second fog bank that did not clear until the Gloucester breakwater entrance.

Gloucester waterfront with
historic town center on hill behind.
We had never been to Gloucester by boat before. It claims to be the oldest fishing port on the east coast. The inner harbor is a mixture of old and new, both a working commercial harbor but still touristy; Commercial fishing boats of every size / shape alongside schooners, yachts and small recreational boats; Charming vintage houses that overlook the harbor juxtaposed against enormous dockside warehouses that receive and process seafood. You can smell the odor of fried seafood in the air and hear the background noise of enormous refrigeration  units cooling these buildings.
Fishing vessels of every size and purpose
tied up in Gloucester's inner harbor. 
We anchored in the designated anchorage area in the center of the inner harbor. A friendly harbormaster greeted us and gave us directions to a Super Stop & Shop where we were finally able to buy those provisions. That evening we dinghied over to the town dock and had a delicious Sushi dinner at a dockside restaurant.

Barnacle watching ocean tug leaving
the harbor channel just off our anchorage

We left Gloucester Wednesday under overcast skies but much less humidity resulting in unlimited visibility & no fog. The water was absolutely flat calm with no wind which meant another day of motoring. We traveled about 45 miles south across Mass. Bay to Plymouth MA. We were now past the dense lobster pot buoys and this was the 1st day in quite awhile that we were both able to read books in the cockpit while the autopilot kept us on a track without having to dodge pot buoys.

Looking south across Duxbury Bay to Gurnet Pt. and Saquish Neck.

Looking west over Duxbury Bay towards
Clarks Island & where Carina is moored.
We anchored in Duxbury Bay just north of Plymouth Harbor. The bay is about 2-1/2 miles in size and other than the navigable channels, the water depth is very shallow averaging about 2'-3' at low tide. Weenjoyed kayaking and walking along the sand beach in search of sea glass and other "treasures"

Mark pulling dinghy ashore for a walk
on Duxbury Beach. 


Kathy walking along Duxbury Beach.
Folks can drive their SUV's on to this beach.
Sunset over Duxbury Bay
from where we're moored

Carina anchored along Bassett Island
After spending two days in Duxbury, we left Friday morning, timing our transit through the Cape Cod Canal. We anchored in Red Brook Harbor along Bassetts Island which is in the town of Bourne, on the Cape side of Buzzards Bay. We were happy to finally be down in waters warm enough for us to want to swim in again as the 57-63 degree temp range of the water up north was not conducive. Mark had not inspected Carina's underside since leaving Onset 6 weeks before. The water in Red Brook Harbor was a balmy 77 degrees and Mark spent about an hour using the hookah breather to scrape both props free of barnacles, change the prop hub zincs and inspect the hulls. 
Sinbad checking out afternoon cocktails
We decided to re-anchored on Sunday moving to a more protected part of the harbor against gale force winds and heavy rains that were predicted for the next few days. The wind has been howling through the rigging and the rain has been heavy at times since last night but as we finish this blog on Monday afternoon, we are quite snug and 
comfortable (far better than our stay in Little Hrb. last week !).

We have spent today relaxing, reading, internet surfing, and planning for a game of scrabble during our afternoon cocktails as the generator hums in the background charging batteries and heating shower water. Once the weather breaks, our plan is to move on down Buzzards Bay, through Wood's Hole for Lake Tashmoo on the NW side of Martha's Vineyard. However, as in the past we know that our plans often change as the wind and sea gods may have other ideas for us. Stay tuned...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Little Harbor, New Castle, NH

Portsmouth, NH 043 03.30 N 70 43.37 W
We spent the 1st part of this past week cruising around Penobscot Bay with Mark’s son Alex and his girlfriend Genisa. On Wednesday we turned the bows south to start our way back towards Connecticut leaving Maine in our wake but taking many fond memories along with us. We arrived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire this afternoon.

Alex & Genisa arrived last Saturday afternoon. We met them at a dinghy dock and they drove us up to a supermarket for a necessary provisioning of food & booze. After we returned, it took two dinghy trips to bring the four of us, our grocery bags and their own packs back to Carina, which was anchored about a ½ mile off shore. We spent that evening in Rockland Harbor which just happened to be having their annual Lobster Festival. We decided to pass on the festival but we all had lobster at a restaurant in town.

Relaxing while underway
The trail around Warren Island
Next day was a nice sunny day with decent winds to sail north up Penobscot Bay with the Camden Hills as a backdrop. We picked up a mooring ball at Warren Island State Park which is located on the west side of the larger island of Isleboro. Later we dinghied over to the island dock and took a nice walk around the trail that circles the island. Alex & Mark went searching for mussels and came back with a pail of them that Kathy made into mussels in a sherry, cream & saffron sauce.
Monday we awoke to some rain showers and patchy fog but it began clearing by mid morning enough for us to drop the mooring and move on. We returned to Pulpit Harbor where we had been the previous week negotiating some lingering fog banks and dodging lobster pot buoys along the way. We broke out of the fog bank a few miles off the coast and it turned out to be a clear sunny day by the time we anchored in Pulpit Harbor. We spent the afternoon relaxing, eating, reading, kayaking and cocktailing. After dinner, the four of us went for a short sunset dinghy ride around the harbor.
Pulpit Rock at entrance to Pulpit Hrb

Pulpit Hrb
Tuesday we returned to Rockland but Alex & Genisa were in no hurry to leave. We tied up at the same Landings Marina dock as we had done the previous Friday to again take on water, empty trash, wash the boat and laundry and lastly have lunch at the Landings restaurant. We then went back out to drop anchor in Rockland Harbor. With much disappointment that their brief 4 day trip was coming to an end, Alex & Genisa were dinghied back to shore around 4PM.A thunderstorm on Tuesday night brought a favorable change in wind direction for the next few days that we wanted to take advantage of to start making miles back southwesterly.

Owl's Head & the Camden
Hills of Penobscot Bay behind
On Wednesday we left Penobscot Bay, traveling about 60 miles that day across the mid-coast region and around Cape Small back into Casco Bay. We once again turned up the New Meadow river with all it's dense lobster pot buoys, returning to the tranquil “Basin” were we had anchored about 3 weeks before.

Thursday we traveled about 35 miles, motoring for about an hour back down the New Meadow River until raising sails in the open water at the mouth. We sailed a southwesterly course across Casco Bay & Cape Elizabeth to Biddeford. While sailing along a decent size whale surfaced about 300’ from us. We anchored in Wood Island harbor outside of Biddeford Pool in very rolly - not so comfortable conditions because of incoming easterly swells. Conditions gradually improved by late afternoon into evening.

We were eager to get underway the next day to get to a more comfortable anchorage and to keep putting miles on while the weather was good but as fate will have it we awoke to heavy fog which didn’t clear until well after noon. The thick fog forced almost everyone in the harbor to stay put. Thankfully the winds were very light and had also shifted south making the anchorage conditions much calmer than the previous day and made for a much more restful sleep.

Sunrise over Biddeford

On Saturday morning we awoke with the sunrise and were underway before 7AM to take advantage of calm seas and light morning winds that were forecasted to strengthen on our nose in the PM. We motored the 35 miles to Portsmouth NH, arriving by noon.  While we were underway a few miles off the coastline we had a little “hitchhiker” join us for about 45 minutes. He was obviously very tired as he did not seem to mind our presence while he rested and hopped around the cockpit. He had no idea he picked a boat with 2 cats on board – Sinbad got a glimpse of him from the salon – thankfully Barnacle was napping and not aware we had a visitor. That could have been interesting.

We are now on a “borrowed” yacht club mooring ball in Little Harbor, which is a small harbor at the mouth of the Piscataqua River in the town of New Castle, just down river from the city of Portsmouth, NH. We expect to stay here for the next 3 days as 15+ knot southerly winds are forecasted until Wed. We don’t want to be motoring / bashing into winds/ waves right on our nose so we’ll hang out and explore the area while we wait for more favorable winds and seas to continue.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Rockland Harbor, ME

Rockland Harbor, ME
44 05.40 N 69 05.85 W

For coastal Maine standards we have been blessed with an unusually long period of absolutely perfect weather…. at least for the first part of this week’s posting.

After the worst of the climb was over
On Sat we went for a hike up Cadillac Mtn. in Acadia National Park. The free Mt Desert Island bus shuttle is a great plus. We can take one bus to Bar Harbor village green then transfer to one of 6 other busses going to different parts of the park. Mark convinced Kathy to take a steeper, but “shorter” trail up the mtn. We climbed the West Face Trail (which we knew from the trails map was already identified as a “strenuous” trail). In 1st 9/10th of a mile of trail we climbed 900 vertical feet. It was more like boulder scrambling…. straight up… rather than hiking and Kathy has vowed that there will be pay back for me selecting that particular trail…but wow, did we put the elevation on fast…. and the views looking out over the valley floor that dropped away below us were fantastic. What was more impressive were the views of the ocean and the countless islands visible as far as the eye could see. We were able to trace our own course between or around all the islands that we traveled past on Carina all the way from Vinalhaven Island, over 30 miles away.
Looking NW over Bar Hrb
from Cadillac Mtn
The summit of Cadillac Mtn is 1530’ high and also has an auto road so the actual summit was a zoo-rama of people all taking in the views under a perfectly clear day. Mark felt like he was back working in the CT state parks with all the vehicles parked in the summit parking lot - cars, SUV’s, motorcycles & campers … and the people - walking in flip flops or motorcycle leather, parents consoling cranky crying kids, dogs being walked on real long leashes. We took a different, easy trail back down the mountain, hopped another bus back to town where we treated ourselves to cold beers, steamers, lobster dinners and wild blueberry pie at an eclectic pub in town called Geddy’s.

Looking out over Somes Sound
from the Valley Peak Trail
On Sunday we awoke to another beautiful, clear day and we decided we wanted to try another hike. Mark agreed to choose a much less strenuous route and we decided upon a hike up a mountain that overlooks Somes Sound. We had seen and sized-up people up on the rock ledges along this trail on Friday as we were making our way up Somes Sound on Carina, so we figured we might as well take in the view ourselves. We hopped on the free park bus and arrived at the Acadia Mountain trail head which would put us on the Sauvier Mountain Trail leading to the Valley Peak Trail. The views from the ledges overlooking Somes Sound were spectacular. The trail was much more gradual and easy than yesterday’s climb making for a very nice hike and some spectacular views from the cliffs overlooking the water. Afterwards we came down off the trail and kept walking into the town of Southwest Harbor where we each ordered the double lobster special with a pitcher of local beer (we were both hungry & thirsty after the hike!) ... and we were able to get on the return shuttle bus back to Somes Harbor right out in front of the restaurant .

We left Acadia National Park and Somes Sound on Monday and made our way back west into Penobscot Bay via the Eggemoggin Reach. The weather over the next few days was predicted to be strong southwesterly winds and rain / T-storms as a front moved by on Wed. night so we anchored in another secure anchorage – Pulpit Harbor on the NW coast of North Haven Island. Ironically the last time we were in Pulpit Hrb. was exactly 10 years ago minus a week when we were on a 4 day Maine Windjammer Cruise with Mark’s son’s Alex & Ian. Needless to say we both remarked on fate and circumstances that led us back here on our own boat. We ended up staying In Pulpit Hrb from Mon PM until Fri AM.

Mark’s son Alex called after we arrived at Pulpit. He and his girl friend Genisa were able to get away from their jobs to join us for 4 days this upcoming weekend, so we’re just hanging out to meet them across the bay in Rockland, ME on Sat.

So what the hell did we do for 4 days ? It's not all relaxing and cocktailing as some folks might think.

We were in need of some provisions since our last real shopping was in Portland so on Tues. we dinghied over to the town dock and walked about ¾ mile along quiet roads to the North Haven Grocery store to get a few bags of food that we then walked / dinghied back to boat. Mark also changed water maker filters, serviced the generator and cleaned the streaks from the portside hull from the dinghy.

On Wednesday we did some other boat cleaning chores. Kathy has a certain cleanup routine she undergoes religiously every morning before we get underway... This consists of making the bed, cleaning the head, emptying cat litter box, cleaning floors or cushions of any Sinbad fur, shaking out area rugs, etc.); However, perhaps once a week, on a day that we are not going anywhere (and if we're so motivated) we tend to do a more thorough boat cleanup of cockpit, interior & topsides. We also have certain monthly tasks, like cleaning the shower sump, defrosting freezer, opening/ closing all sea cock valves so barnacle growth does not effect their operation.
So we took advantage of Wed. to do the more thorough cleaning.
Morning sewing project
Wed. was also the 2nd cloudy day without our solar panels able to charge our house batteries. After 48 hours, we also needed to make some hot water for taking showers. So, on came the generator for a few hours to charge house batteries and heat up hot water. Mark took advantage of the generator being on and brought out the sewing machine to repair a torn zipper on the main sail cover and sew a new organizer for the cockpit. The afternoon actually turned sunny, although it was a tad too choppy in the harbor to feel like any kayaking. The Schooner Timberwind came into the harbor in late afternoon dropping anchor next to us.
Sunny afternoon arrival of Schooner
Timberwolf at Pulpit Hrb followed
by next-morning departure in fog
Thurs. we awoke to fog. Timberwind departed at 7:30 on a schedule to return to Rockport. We never saw the sun the entire day as a warm front with high humidity kept us in fog. We spent most of the day reading books. We’ll typically watch TV for short periods to catch the morning & evening news / weather on a local station but that’s about all we care to watch.
On Friday morning the fog finally dissipated as the sun warmed things up. We traveled 10 miles across Penobscot Bay to Rockland. This is a large commercial harbor that is also home port to a large fleet of windjammers. We pulled up to the Landings Marina to top-off fuel, water and unload garbage bags. They were nice enough to let us stay tied at the docks for about an hour while Mark washed down the topsides and Kathy took 3 weeks worth of laundry up to the marina laundromat. While the laundry was cycling, we left the dock and anchored out in the harbor returning back to the laundry and lunch at nearby restaurant. This weekend also happens to be the annual Rockland Lobster Festival. Yummy... we still have not gotten our fill of "lobstah" yet!

Panorama of a portion of Rockland Harbor. With 4 Windjammers and the Navy
vessel USS Whidbey Island (LSD41) also enjoying the Rockland Lobster Fest.
As I upload this posting the cold front has just pushed through the anchorage. Should be another great 4 day window for Alex & Genisa who will join us tomorrow.