October 10, 2008
In September we decided to head north again partly to escape the ravages of hurricane Hannah as it made it’s way north up the coast, and partly to finish sailing the eastern seaboard of the US, adding the waters of New Hampshire and Maine to the states we have visited aboard Harmony. We sailed up Buzzards Bay and through the Cape Cod Canal, our first trip under the canal bridges instead of the usual drive over them which was cool.
Casco Bay is gorgeous, and awash with hundreds of little islands with many excellent anchorages. However we arrived in the thickest fog I have ever seen, EVER! It was like being in the middle of a cotton wool ball, nothing but white puffiness pressing in around us. And it just so happened that we were approaching our first anchorage in Diamond Cove; I was on the bow straining my eyes to see anything, muffled fog horns blew and the bells on various buoys clanged, and a seal popped up feet away from me, the first of many we would see during our trip. Thankfully Dickie had the trusty GPS to help him negotiate the approach to the harbor, he was otherwise blind. We grabbed the first mooring we came across and breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. About half an hour later the fog lifted suddenyl and we saw to our shock and surprise a sheer rockface rising up from the water only yards away from us, that had been completely invisible. The next morning we were shocked to see a boat on the rocks too, it makes you shudder.
The next night we docked at a marina in Portland, as the remnants of hurricane Hannah passed through, it poured with rain but wasn’t too windy and we certainly made the most of the shore leave!
During the rest of the trip we had some very lovely weather and some not so lovely, we had a couple of chilly swims and some great sails and hardly used the engine at all. However on the journey back it spluttered to a halt when we were 12 miles off shore; thankfully it was flat calm, with hardly a breath of wind, so evetually we got towed into Gloucester MA by nightfall; there the tow boat deposited us at the dock of Brown’s Marina, a great spot. Gloucester is a historic fishing port and became famous following the book and film Perfect Storm, it is full of character and characters. Once again we met some really interesting people and had a grand old time shooting the shit over a few beers. After the mechanic we called didn’t arrive Dickie found the problem (a leaky fuel line) and fixed it.
We left at sunrise the next day and made it back home again without further incident. Thank goodness.
ps. Ill be posting more photo products here for sale if any take your fancy:
October 10, 2008
As we had suspected all these years prior to owning a boat, Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, provide everything you could hope for as far as cruising goes. This summer has been a joy, we have made many short trips around the local waters. We anchored in Nantucket harbor which is enormous and very sheltered on a couple of different occasions, which makes for a cheap way to visit this otherwise very expensive island; we also anchored in the Martha’s Vineyard harbors of Edgartown, Vineyard Haven and Lake Tashmoo.
Our biggest stretch aboard Harmony came in September when we sailed north for 2 and a half weeks to Casco Bay in Maine, and I have posted a separate entry on this blog about this trip. Unfortunately with the arrival of the fall, we must now haul Harmony out for her first New England winter in the historic port of Fairhaven MA. She and we would love to be heading south right about now, but given the current economic situation we will be staying put!
And now for the shameless bit: In order to fund our next big adventure aboard Harmony whenever that is and wherever that may lead us, I have posted some of the photos from this blog at the following web address where they can be purchased in the form of cards, calendars, and pretty much any product you could imagine that can have a photo printed on it (tshirts,posters, mugs etc). If you have a particular favorite photo let me know, otherwise Ill be posting a selection of them there. In particular, for all those ICW fans, there is a 2009 calendar available.
Here is the website address, I hope you like it:
May 23, 2008
And what a fabulous welcome. As we made our way up Buzzards Bay we could see tiny little people milling around on the Knob (the promontory that forms the northern side of Quissett Harbor!). As we got closer they got bigger and bigger and we could see they were holding a banner which said "Welcome Home Harmony". Dickie and I were SO excited and happy to be home, and quite emotional too, and the last few hours took forever. It had been an amazing journey and a real adventure, and to return to a place that is such an significant part of our lives was very special.
Jim Corbett and Peter, and the Prings were waving and shouting and I was sounding the air horn as we passed them by and we navigated our last harbor of this trip. We had a minor panic as the GPS had a funny turn just as we enetered the harbor channel, and Quissett is notoriously rocky, but all went OK and we were soon approaching the Quissett Harbor Boat Yard, where we docked perfectly and we were tied up by the time our welcoming committee ran back from the Knob. There were hugs and kisses and champagne, and much jollity all round.
it was hard to believe we made it but we did.
May 23, 2008
Another 5 am start, and blimey do I need a lie in. For most of the day, the weather has been perfect, just as it should be for our last day, blue skies, puffy white clouds and just the right amount of wind; the tides could certainly have helped us make better way, by being with us instead of against us, but you cant have everything.
It has been an uneventful day, apart from we spotted an uncharted navigational aid a long way to our south early this morning. I checked our chart, and dickie checked the GPS but it was nowhere to be seen, still it looked square and solid and was a long way off, so we weren’t too worried. Dickie went below, and I took the wheel and a few minutes later I glanced to starboard: there it was but much closer, and gaining on us; it took a while to realize it was a submarine, with only its turret (not sure of technical term) sticking out of the water. Apparently there is a sub base in Connecticut, where it must have been heading, although we did ponder whether we should call the coast guard in case it was part of a surprise attack. We spotted a lovely old schooner in full sail. Apart from that there has been much deck-swabbing, hatch-battening, and general cleaning up below, in preparation for our arrival and move back on land.
As I type we are in the middle of Buzzards Bay, Penikese Island is on our starboard beam, and Quissett Harbor is just 18 miles ahead, we should arrive at around 5 pm. It boggles my mind that the words and photo pixels of this, the last post can magically emanate from this laptop in the middle of the bay, and update our friends and families around the world of our progress: technology is a marvelous thing. After about 1800 miles we are happy to be so close to home, and I am really happy to have finally caught up with this blog.
Signing off for now
Helen and Dickie
May 22, 2008
We woke at 5am, and passed by lady liberty just as the Queen Mary 2 arrived. She was the first ship we saw Manhattan from when we did a transatlantic crossing back in May 2005, and it was nice of her to return for our passage through New York Harbor. Harmony is certainly a more humble vessel, but we couldn’t have been happier to be aboard her and heading for home. It is hard to say anything original about the splendid NYC skyline but it is all the more impressive from sea level.
We were in Long Island sound by 8 am and travelled another 70 miles or so till sundown when we reached Plum Island almost at the end of Long Island. En route the coast guard came by for a visit but only to check our boat registration. Thankfully they didn’t feel the need to board us, as they had done with several other boats, which we heard over the radio. We dropped anchor at sundown, had hot whiskies to defrost, and prepared for our last day of this trip aboard Harmony, Quissett Harbor, and home sweet home 70 miles north.
May 21, 2008
We woke at 6am, feeling like death warmed up, hoarse and hungover and not at all ready for another day of bad weather, but bad it was. This time once we left Atlantic City we had to carry on until Sandy Hook, 75 miles north, as there was no good inlets to come into, all of them too shallow or poorly marked. It was cold, freezing even, windy and rough, and it rained from when we left to when we arrived 12 hours later. Dickie was such a star, he kept me cheery inspite of everything, and we did make good time as we had both sails up and it was blowing just the right amount of wind, for most of the day anyway. We were very grateful that the cockpit has a full fixed cover and sides so we are protected from the worst of the weather, although by the end of the day everything was pretty wet anyway. We anchored about 12 miles south of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, that marks the mouth of New York Harbor, had hot showers and grub and crashed out exhausted.
The weather this morning was thankfully lovely, with blue skies and light winds, perfect for crossing NY harbor, we thought. We timed our departure so we would pass a particularly tricky section of the East River called Hells Gate, on the east side of Manhattan Island, at slack tide, as currents can be very strong there. However as we approached the bridge we could see a procession of war ships coming up the channel, and coast guard and NYPD boats were all over the place. I thought it was a bit of overkill to put on such a welcome for us, but eventually we realized that it was Fleet Week, a big event with lots of naval vessels on display. The coast guard announced security restrictions over the radio, so we could not pass under the bridge until they had finished going through which took about 2 hours! This messed up our carefully planned schedule, as we had to bob around below the bridge and watch, but it was quite a show over coffee and breakfast. Once we could continue we went to anchor just around the corner from the statue of liberty. We spent the afternoon catching up on email, and planning the last section of our trip home. Manhattan is amazing, awesome even, especially when approached from the water, it has been quite the day.
Tomorrow we are planning to leave here at 5 am, and head through NYC to Long Island Sound. We will have to anchor a couple of nights along the way, and the last stop before Cape Cod will be Block Island, which is in Rhode Island. From there we should make it to Quissett Harbor by saturday-ish weather permitting, where we will leave Harmony on a mooring and go home and spend long lazy days on the couch, watch TV and have giant hot baths at will. I CAN"T WAIT. Actually we will have to haul Harmony out shortly after we get home and paint her bottom and catch up on a million things, but I am focussing on the couch and tub for now.
May 20, 2008
We left Cape May, bright and early hoping for calm seas (as forecast) for our first outing on the Atlantic. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, and the winds and seas picked up a lot over the morning, which made for a very uncomfortable ride, pitching from side to side for hours. By the time we were offshore of the casinos at Atlantic City (about 30 miles north of Cape May), we had no choice but to head in and tie up at a marina. The ride in was something else: the waves got funneled in and built through the narrow inlet so Harmony was almost surfing the last mile. We were very relieved to reach safe harbor. The following day was Dickie’s birthday so we made the best of it: that night we hit the Trump Taj Mahal Casino, just about broke even after a couple of hours gambling and found an Indian restaurant for dinner.
The next day it was blowing 20 to 30 knots, too much to leave, but it was sunny so we had a great stroll along the boardwalk, breakfasted in a cafe wall-papered with dollar bills and had a lovely birthday lunch of leftovers on the boat; indian seems to taste even better the day after, and hotter too. Later three chaps passed by our boat in their dinghy and stopped for a chat; they were on their way home to Maine and it turned out that we had crossed paths back in Ft Pierce, Florida, the site of our first break down, many moons ago. They were musicians, and so we invited them aboard with their 2 guitars and a bottle of rum, and we had a great sing song until the wee small hours; the casino across the harbor was good enough to put on a light show too. All in all a grand finale to Dickie’s birthday.
May 17, 2008
We had planned to stop at Annapolis MD next, about 45 miles north of Solomons, but after the weather delays we felt we should make more progress; we are feeling the pull of home more strongly every day. So we left at sunrise, and headed back out to the Chesapeake where conditions couldn’t have been more different than our last sortie: flat calm, glassy smooth water, not a breath of wind, it was quite a relief. The tide was in our favor most of the way up the bay and the wind did pick up enough that we could raise the mainsail later on, so we travelled over 90 miles, our longest day yet. We passed by Annapolis around noon, and under the William P Lane Jr Memorial Bridge, a huge span across the bay. We dropped anchor just before sunset in the mouth of the Bohemia river and retired pretty soon after, knackered.
We were 8 miles south of the C and D Canal, and left before sunrise to catch the outgoing tide on the other side of the canal. We were dwarfed by all manner of cargo boats along the way, and passed under a bunch more bridges, and by several navigational aids in the middle of the Delaware Bay (see photo of lovely pink one), but with no wind at all we had to motor all the way. Dickie created another delicious mid-bay lunch and we arrived at Cape May in New Jersey after another 80 miles or so. There we anchored just of a coast guard training facility and could hear a drill sergeant bellowing at the recruits till late that night. The next day it was gray, cold and forecast for high winds, so we checked into a marina for a day or two to wait for better weather to head up the outside of NJ coast.
May 14, 2008
We left Deltaville and headed back out onto the CHesapeake by way of a small sandy hump in the harbor channel, but at least it didn’t go crunch like the last time we touched bottom. The forecast called for 10 – 15 knot winds increasing later in the day, and it was gray and chilly unlike the day before. We were headed for Tangiers, a teeny island in the middle of the bay, more of a sand bar really, that had been settled by cornish fishing folk in the 1600s, and was still mostly a crab fishing community. It sounded like an interesting place and we planned to stay a couple of days. However the winds increased and so did the waves and by the afternoon it was pretty lumpy and thunderstorms were now forecast so we decided to head for a protected anchorage on the west shore called Mill Creek. It was flat calm in there and beautiful and we thought we might have given up too soon, but storms did arrive later on and we had lots of rain and lightening and thunder overnight. The next day the forecast was even worse, wind gusting to 30+ knots, and it was gray, wet and cold so we decided to stay put another night hoping for better weather the next day.
May 09, 2008
We woke up and got ready for the 8am opening of Great Bridge bridge. Thankfully, all was much calmer after the day before and we locked through with 3 motor cruisers and travelled with them the last 12 miles of the ICW to Norfolk VA; there were several bridges which would have to open for us and the bridge tenders like you to stay in a bunch. Norfolk is a major city and shipping hub: there was loads of traffic on the river, navy ships, coastguard cutters, cargo ships, tugs and ferries, along with pleasure craft like us; it was quite something. As we headed towards Chesapeake Bay in the middle of Norfolk we passed red buoy # 36 and the official beginning of the ICW, mile marker 0. That makes 1080 miles aboard Harmony since we begun February 20th.
Chesapeake Bay is huge, about 200 miles long and 50 miles wide in places, and it is very impressive. The weather was perfect, blue skies and calm seas with 10 knot winds. We stopped for a swim and afterwards while I took the helm, dickie prepared the most delicious shrimp for lunch. It was a perfect day on the water. At about 7pm we anchored in Jackson creek for the night about 55 miles up the Bay, looking forward to another few days on the Chesapeake.