Sunday, 31 December 2017

Bermuda to Antigua

We arrived just over a month ago, taking seven and a half days to sail and motor from Bermuda.  We had a very much mixed bag of weather.  Lots of wind and squalls to begin with and ending with several days of motoring.

We are quite envious of a couple we met in Bermuda on a Catamaran called Balloo, who left a week after us and arrived in five days with pretty much perfect sailing conditions.  Ah well, you win some, you lose some.

Sunday the 26th of November we departed Bermuda.

 

The white building to the right is the Customs Dock and in the distance on the hill and in the closeup in the second photo is the home of Bermuda Radio, the Coastal Radio Station which was so helpful to us when we arrived.  As chance would have it, the same operator was on duty when we left as when we arrived.  He had a very distinctive old sea hand, West Country perhaps, type of voice.

  

The passage was most notable for the weather. First - the arrival of a line of low pressure called a trough, which replaced our lovely north westerly winds with no wind at all for about 24 hours.  This then developed into a rollicking sail through squalls with winds gusting to 30 knots.  The approach of another trough from the south west replaced windy squalls with big fluffy rain clouds and light winds, which made a fabulous setting for the full moon rising.

We were finally able to sail from north of Barbuda the final few miles to Jolly Harbour arriving

Antigua is an old stomping ground for us and after clearing in we moved around the coast to Falmouth Harbour and then English Harbour in search of wifi.  About a week before Christmas we bit the bullet and paid the most we have ever paid for wifi in our 5 years in the Caribbean, only to find out that it wasn't very good at all.  Tim complained to the provider and much to our surprise, it improved.

Over Christmas, I had the company of my friend Susan, who was very pleased to leave the arctic temperatures of Ottawa to entertain me and for me to entertain while Tim was skippering a catamaran of a very entertaining family over Christmas. A good time was had by all.

We wish everyone the best in the coming year, the one after that and the one after that, etcetera.  All the best from Tim, Nancy and Larus.



waxahatchee

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Bermuda

Wednesday, 22 Nov 2017

Today is a very good day for doing things on board.  There is a low passing over Bermuda and we've got quite strong winds in the anchorage. We're snug as bugs and getting on with things below deck.

Tim is having another go at our immersion water heater. Yesterday he replaced the expansion tank (where excess water goes as it expands as it heats up) with a larger one.  The original one wasn't large enough, would get over pressured and leak which caused the pump to run continuously.  He also clean the filter from water tanks.  Various repairs to the baffles in the tanks (they slow the water as it sloshes around with the motion of the boat -they keep unsticking themselves) with underwater epoxy have left sediment in the tanks.  This sediment gets filtered out before it can get into anything important, but we hadn't done this one for a while and it was quite full.  Cleaned out the pump is suddenly very noisy and has been running a little randomly, making Tum suspect that something isn't behaving as it should. So he is crouched down in the engine room figuring it out, while I sit in the saloon with a nice cup of tea and write about it.  I'm liking this division of labour.

We are back in St George's after a short visit to Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda. 



We managed a little sailing on the way there under mizzen and jib alone, and Tim is tightening the mizzen halyard underway.  Bermuda is very low-lying compared many of the Caribbean islands and has a very interesting geo - Bermuda Geology -  'Bermuda is a volcanic seamount located 1000 km off the east coast of the United States in that part of the Western Atlantic known as the Sargasso Sea. The island was created by a series of mid-ocean volcanic eruptions that began about 35 million years ago, at a time when the Atlantic Ocean was much narrower.'  (from the NOAA Ocean Explorer website).  Hamilton has a much grander flavour than St George's, the original capital. 



This waterfront view is very like other Caribbean and Mediterranean cities.  There is space for cruise ships and much of the buildings support the tourist trade.

We anchored behind a small island across directly across from Hamilton.  It was a short dinghy ride for us to go and have a look around.  We found a supermarket toward the back of the city and were excited by the selection available but subdued by the prices.  We bought the bare minimum of fresh produce, though now back in St George's, we find the prices in little shop here are around 25% higher things for like apples and oranges.

   

Hamilton didn't have the old world charm of St George's but amongst the shops were little gems like this wonderful lane.

It started out a dullish day and we decided to take the ferry to the National Museum of Bermuda.


The trip over gave us a nice view of the anchorage. Larus in the middle boat and the catamaran to the right of us is Baloo.  Baloo is home to Stephan and Serena for the next two years as they start their circumnavigation.  They are heading to Antigua as well and it will be their first time in the Caribbean.



The ferry serves as an express bus service.  Bermuda is a great crescent of land and, though there are buses, travelling by boat is often quicker.  It also gives you a view of the reefs that are as much protection from the ocean as they are hazards to boating. The beautiful building with the two towers is a shopping mall, but we hadn't come to shop or eat $18 burgers!

We came to visit the Commissioners House, which holds the National Museum of Bermuda.  (photo  from Bermuda-attractions.com as I didn't have one)

The Commissioners House is located in the Keep, the citadel of the Royal Naval Dockyard.  We purchased our tickets at the gate and were directed to go through the gate at the top of the ramp making sure to close it again to keep the sheep in.

The building is more beautiful up close than from a distance.  The views from the verandas are amazing, and I particularly liked the contrast for the stone, rust coloured railings and the brilliant blue water and sky.

 

The Commissioner's House is one point of interest on the African Diaspora Heritage Trail Bermuda.
Bermuda's history of slavery covered a period of 200 years and starting in the 1600's when Bermuda was first colonised.

Saturday 25 Nov 2017

We've had little time for sightseeing as the weather for the last few days has been wet and windy.  So wet and windy that going ashore means getting absolutely soaked, in the dinghy ride either there or back. It's not getting rained on that's the problem, it's when you have to motor into the waves.  It really can be quite miserable.

There was a break in the weather yesterday and we took a bus to a good sized supermarket.  This was a excursion as most of our travel around the island has been by boat, and in a boat with all the reefs you stay well out to shore.  To go by road was a treat.  They wound around the island's islands which are joined by bridges of various ages and types.  The buildings are mainly painted in pastel or bright tropical colours.  Every once in a while we'd pass a small irregular field of warm brown freshly tilled earth.  I did wonder what they were going to plant.

The floral here is a mix of tropical and English garden.  There were banana and hibiscus trees and roses and geraniums.  With better weather I would have searched out more gardens and farms.  I bought local carrots, but little less that I wanted was grown on the island.  Many of the Caribbean islands are growing things like lettuce hydroponically. The only lettuce we found here was imported.

It really is an amazing island and we could have spent much more time exploring.

We're be going ashore shortly, one last time as we will be leaving Bermuda tomorrow.  We need to do a little last minute shopping and get rid of the rubbish.  We want to do it all today as we can deflate and stow the dinghy below deck.

Our destination is Antigua and depending on the wind, too little is more of an issue on this passage than too much, should take us between 7 and 10 days.

So, we'll catch up with you in Antigua!



Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Beaufort, North Carolina to St George, Bermuda

Tuesday 07 Nov 2012

Tuesday morning, we started early to get to Wiggly Piggly, the nearest supermarket for our last top up shop and for Tim to clear us out with Customs before casting off just after noon. 

We had some help with our transportation.  A local decorator stopped us outside the supermarket as we were ordering an Uber car. He asked if we were sailors and did we want a lift to the marina.  Yes, please! And we got a little tour on our way there as well.  Once we got the groceries back on board, our fellow OOC members on SV Askari drove Tim to and from the Customs and Immigration.

   

We cast off just before one o’clock, caught the one thirty bridge opening and headed out past Cape Lookout, which is famous for the wild horses which roam the beaches.  Then off we went out into the Atlantic.

Our weather forecast was for light winds from SW for a day or so and then several days of motoring.  We had a nice wind and a pleasant sail overnight.  We hadn’t done any long-distance sailing for a while and it was a nice gentle start. It takes a while to get used doing all the things you do everyday on a moving platform.  When we were chartering the crews used to use the phrase ‘charter fit.’  The first few charters are hard and exhausting.  Weeks on, though the work hasn’t changed, it just gets easier as you get stronger and more used to the work.  It’s the same thing with sailing.

Wednesday 08 Nov 2012

The wind dropped as expected on Wednesday and at around noon we switched on the engine.  Tim went down for a nap and I stayed on watch.  I noticed that we had a bit of an exhaust smell in the cockpit, but with a following wind and the engine running, that is expected.  It got stronger and I thought I could smell something more than just exhaust.  I went below to check the engine and found a smoky steam in the ally way coming out of the engine room.  I shot back outside and switched off the engine calling to Tim that we had a problem. 

In the engine room, Tim found that coolant (water and anti-freeze) in the engine heat exchanger (effectively a radiator) was boiling.  We added more water and after further investigation, Tim found that the water-lock for the exhaust (a device that stops the water from syphoning back into the engine through the exhaust when the engine isn’t running) had a hole melted in it.  

This meant that until the hole was repaired or water-lock replaced we could not use the engine.

Tim decided that the engine overheated causing the water-lock to melt due to either a blockage of sea water coming in to cool the engine or the impellor which pumps the sea water to cool the engine had failed.  Tim checked for a blockage by pulling the inlet pipe off and opening the seacock – water came in so no blockage there.

Next Tim opened the sea water pump and found that impellor hand only one leg out six left. So this was the problem.  Impellors should last two years and this one had been replaced a year ago, but in retrospect we have done a lot more motor than we usually do, so that might have hurried this one’s demise.  Tim replaced the damaged impellor with a new one and started looking at the next problem – how to resolve the hole in the water-lock.

As luck would have it, we had a water-lock melt due to a closed seacock in Guadeloupe and with the help of our friend in the UK, John Hart, Tim by passed the water-lock with a length of exhaust hose and Tim had kept the plastic elbow that he’d use to join the two lengths of exhaust.  Hurrah.

Now we can use the engine as water will come in and water and exhaust will still go out while the engine is running, but once it’s stopped we must close the seacock in the engine room to stop sea water syphoning back into the engine.

With the sea cocked closed, we had to make sure we didn’t start the engine or would it overheat. To that end we removed the key every time we switched it off and removed it from the engine panel.

After a very long 3 hours, we were back in business.

We were a very perplexed as to why no alarm sounded when the engine started to overheat.  Checking the panel Tim found the wiring had become disconnected at some point.  He has also decided to install a water flow sensor on the inflow pipe so that as soon as the water stops flowing an alarm will sound giving us an additional warning.

While all this was going on, we were also thinking about options if we couldn’t use the engine. 

We wouldn’t be able to get back across the Gulf Stream without ending up further north, and we’d be in very rough seas if the winds came around to the NW against the current as was expected in the next few days.

The most sensible course would have been for us to bypass Bermuda and head directly for Jolly Harbour, Antigua.  We had provisioned for a trip of potentially two weeks and you can sail into the Jolly Harbour anchorage without any trouble at all.

Since we'd resolved the problem however, we had a nice cup of tea and motored on towards Bermuda instead.

Thursday 09 Nov 2012 to Saturday 11 Nov 2012

We knew from before leaving Beaufort that a cold front with fresh to strong winds would arrive late Friday evening and persist until Sunday.  We have been in similar conditions before and though we knew it wouldn’t be much fun, both ourselves and Larus were up to it.

The problem with leaving the US coast and heading south to the Caribbean as winter approaches is that the number of cold fronts increases that bring strong NE winds



In anticipation of rougher seas, we stowed to a much higher level.  Anything on shelves or in cove lockers that could not be secured was stowed away.  For about 36 hours, from late Friday until we arrived at near midnight in St George Harbour, Bermuda, we were bashing through ten foot seas with 20 to 30 knot winds, suffering drenching squalls, all the while making good progress toward Bermuda on a close reach, and not a thing budged or escaped.


Tim also dropped the main sail completely and double reefed the mizzen before the wind picked up.  Our jib is a ‘blade’, which is small and efficient.  It can easily be furled in to reduce its size if necessary without leaving the cockpit.  With Larus prepared, we just watched and waited for the wind to swing around to the north west.

Happily, Bermuda and her surrounding waters benefits from the Gulf Stream and the water and air temperatures were surprisingly warm.  This was appreciated every time a wave hit the bow and foamed down the length of the boat.  The sprayhood keeps much of the water off us but you’re still going to get a little wet and every once in a while a lot wet.  Once again, we discovered leaks into the boat we never knew we had.  A lot of them, we think, were just caused by the sheer force of the water rushing over the deck.  We always wore our lifejackets with harnesses clipped on while we were in the cockpit. 

It was tiring but never frightening, and if that had changed we could have turned and run before the wind or hove-to and let the front pass.  We weren’t anywhere near that point though, and opted for just getting it over and done with.

We did we some floral and fauna on our way to Bermuda.  The floral consisted of little clumps of the coarse Sargasso Sea Weed being deposited by waves and spray on the deck and occasionally in the cockpit.  It was funny to see the little tumble-sea weeds being blown around the bow.  They skittered around like little brown mice.

 

We're used to finding expired Flying Fish on deck in the morning, but we were surprised to find a little squid in the scupper.  We also had a pod of tiny dolphins target us and shoot out of the waves beside like little missiles.  They came up to us so fast and then slowed right down to keep along side us.  The last photo we took at anchor in St George Harbour.  We have no idea when this little guy came on board, but he must have surfed in on a wave.

The procedure for arriving in Bermuda starts 30 miles out when you notify Bermuda Radio that you are approaching.  You then call again at 20 miles and they very politely ask you loads of questions about the boat and about the equipment on board.  It also gives the Radio Operator the chance to say, ‘Bet you’ll be glad to get into our harbour’, and ‘Give me a call if there is anything I can do to help,’ and ‘She’s a good looking boat. I’ve just looked her up on Marine Traffic. Don’t leave without letting us get a picture of her.’  We also received instructions about how to enter the harbour with instructions to call them when we reached the first Cardinal Mark to have the instructions again.  Then there were more instructions about where to go to clear Customs and Immigration, which had to be done immediately on arrival.

After our first contact with Bermuda Radio, it was another 6 hours before we motored into the harbour and we were very glad to have arrived.  Customs and Immigration was just as professional, efficient  and helpful as Bermuda Radio and we were soon 'dropping the hook' and climbing into bed.

Monday 13 and Tuesday the 14 Nov 2012

Chores, chores and more chores were what we've been up to over the last two days. 

As well as the laundry and general cleaning and de-salting the interior, we had a number of more technical chores to work our way through.

We had a slide break on the sail for the mizzen so that has gone of to be repaired.  Part of the inflatable floor in the dinghy has a small leak that we will wait to repair just before we leave so the patch will have a good long time to cure.  We are also waiting for  the new water-lock for the exhaust to arrive from the UK, which Tim will install before we leave.  

We did go ashore for an afternoon walk around St George on Monday and were astounded to see the price of diesel at the pumps was $1.85 a litre.  We've gotten used to paying .65 to .70 cents a litre in the US.  Tuesday we decanted our 4 jerry cans of reasonably priced diesel in the tank.  We're back up to 'full' having only used 80 litres of the 320 we carry in the tank.




Over the coming days, we'll check the provisioning and top up the made up meals in the freezer. Tim has a hankering for fishcakes.  Tomorrow we are getting a bus to Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda.  We'll site-see and do a little shopping for fresh produce.  We expect the food prices to be just high as the price of fuel, so I'm not sure how much we will come back with.  It will be a nice day out regardless.


Monday, 6 November 2017


Tuesday, 31 Oct 2017

After a month out of the water in Deltaville Marina, Jackson Creek for maintenance and a nice long visit back to the UK, we are on the move once again. Our final destination is Antigua but there will be a number of stops before we get there.  Today we are heading down the Chesapeake to Hampton, or if we make good speed Norfolk where SVs Aura and Tourterelle are expecting us.

It’s a very fine sailing day, and after a very windy and wet weekend, everyone seems to be on the move.  We can see nineteen yachts sailing down The Chesapeake including ourselves.

With the wind on our starboard side from the WNW, we are on my favourite tack – the starboard tack.  Firstly, we have right of way over other boats on a port tack, and secondly, on a starboard tack, the galley is on the low side of the boat.  This keeps the stove low and stuff (me included) is more likely to fall into the galley rather than out of it.  Just in case you noticed a potential problem with that, we have a crash bar in front of the stove to stop one from falling onto it.

As conditions are so good, and my stock of pecans is replenished - with much thanks to Southern Cross (for the pecans) and Plover (for use of their dock in the windy weekend weather and transportation) and to both for their warm hospitality – I will spend the passage making Holiday Fruit Drop Cookies using the recipe from my Mom’s Betty Crocker Cookbook.  They are one of my favourites and we have them every Christmas at home in Ontario.

It’s also an especially good day for baking as our diesel heater is refusing to work and a hot oven followed by warm cookies will be most welcome.  When we crawled out of bed this morning, the interior temperature was 14C/56F and its only up to 15C/60F now at 1000.

I know that in our last blog we had just left Maine, and I am sorry about that.  Much has happened between then and now and I do intend to catch-up, but I’m intending to make NOW the priority so as not to have all inspiration crushed by the backlog of photos awaiting attention.  When we have time and good wifi, I will deal with posting photos past and present, but until that time I will just be telling it as it is.

Friday, 03 Dec 2017

We did end up in Norfolk as did quite a few OOC boats.  Simon, on Aura, celebrated his 50th birthday yesterday and Kim, with the help of Ann from Tourterelle, laid on a lavish afternoon spread of very substantial nibbles, followed by artisan pizza and a magnificent cake from a local specialty bakery.  An early start meant an early finish, which worked very well for us as we cast off at 0730 this morning to catch the 0830 bridge opening south further into the ICW. 

Norfolk itself rests on the banks at the very start the Intracoastal Waterway, the ICW.  We didn’t have do much sightseeing at all, but were impressed by the grand houses and cobble stone streets.  The cobble stones were brought from Liverpool as ballast in the 1700’s.  Once the ship had unloaded the cobble stones it was loaded up with American produce and products being sent back to the UK. They really were beautiful, but made for a suddenly very rough ride in our Uber taxi on the way back from the shop.

Most of our short time in Norfolk was starting the preparation for our journey from Beaufort, NC to Antigua.  It will take approximately 10 days to get there, sailing due East at first until south of Bermuda until the easterly Tradewinds arrive.  At that point we hang a right and head south to Antigua. So, the freezer is full to bursting with made up meals and ingredients that will become even more meals as freezer space allows.  I soaked and cooked black beans, chick peas and red kidney beans, which as well as making up the bulk of the chilli, are frozen in packets for future use.  I love cooking my own beans.  I think they are much tastier.

As we’re talking food, I have to say that the Fruit Drop Cookies I made on the way to Norfolk, are really good.  The recipe makes a satisfying mound of cookies and I was initially quite generous with them, giving a packet here and a packet there to friends and neighbours.  These cookies are very like fruitcake in that they get even better with age - the flavours of the fruit and nuts mingle with the caramelly buttery biscuit. I’m now looking at our dwindling pile and am a little more considering of who and what warrants a gift of cookies. 

Without photos to make it easy, I’m going to have a bash at describing our trip down the Intracoastal Waterway.

Around Norfolk the ICW buzzes with military ships: aircraft carriers, destroyers, hovercrafts and even a submarine went by us and all the while black helicopters buzzed past.  The area has huge naval dry docks and cranes with ships being maintained and possibly built. We’ve assumed all this because, even if we’d asked, I don’t think anyone would actually tell us all the things going on here.

We often heard warning messages from various ships and I found the wording a little odd.  The radio operators would always say, ‘and keep 500 yards distance from my ship.’ I could visualise them peering through their net curtains, ready to holler at anymore who crept within 499 yards of ‘their ship’.

As we left the open water and approached the first lifting bridge of the ICW, the area became more industrial.  We amused ourselves, while waiting for the bridge to open almost an hour later than scheduled, by watching a huge crane with big pincers unload big rocks.  It was exactly like the penny games on piers in England where you use a little grapple to pick up a toy.

There were lots of other boats waiting with us as the conditions are finally good for heading south.  Many were sailboats but there were also power boats, working boats, fishing boats, tugs and barges.  Meeting a barge being pushed from behind by a tugboat on a narrow waterway was a little exciting at first time.  We even saw one tug pushing two barges attached at their bows.  The square stern of the lead barge pushed up a substantial bow wave and couldn’t have done much for the tug’s MPG.

We passed by forested areas which gradually opened up into grassy wetlands or savannahs.  There was a lock that lowered us, and probably twenty other boats, a few feet down to continue on our way.

Considering it being just after Hallowe’en here in North America, it was quite amusing to see sunlight glinting off long find threads streaming from every bit of rigging, furled sail, stanchions and anything else remotely vertical on the boat.  We have often seen tiny spiders on the boat, but we had no idea how industrious they were.  Hopefully the photos I took will show how spectacular it looked, but I’m doubtful.

It was a long day and we just got to our anchorage of choice about a half hour before dusk.  The sunset was marvellous.  The winding river had opened up, and we picked our way through crab pot floats to a deeper part that would have been the one of the outer bends of the original river before they dredged a path right through it.  Well out of the main channel, we anchored up and moments after the sun truly set, opposite it, a full moon rose over the nearby grasslands.  It was absolutely calm, and we had an early dinner and went happily to bed in anticipation of our six o’clock alarm.

Saturday, 04 Dec 2017

At about 0420 in the morning, I woke to the sound of the wind blowing or possibly because the rope snubber, which takes the weight of the chain so that the movement of the boat doesn’t snatch the chain, had fallen off the chain, which needed Tim to go out and put it back on. I went into the cockpit to check that all was well and our beautiful clear sky was replaced by heavy clouds.  As expected, all was well, and we were still nicely anchored in the sticky black mud.  I was just going below again when I noticed a very odd vessel moving slowly down the main waterway.  It was a large boat or tug with lots of blue lights around the stern, the usual navigation lights and one huge spotlight that was lighting its path down the channel.  It didn’t occur to me that there would be any traffic at night, so I watched it out of sight and went back to bed.

In the morning, we found that all the cobwebs had been blown away.

Most of the ICW is made up of natural waterways connected by man-made canals and locks.  Its spanned every so often by bridges.  There are vertical lifting bridges, which are often railway bridges as well at the usual one end lifting. Today we passed through the Alligator River Swing Bridge, which was operated by the surliest North Carolinian accented man of few, but specific, words.  The opening bridges are all operated a little differently – some open at a specific time, some on request, some when they see you coming in the less trafficked areas.  The Alligator River Bridge seemed to have only one lane across the bridge, possibly due to construction, and so needed to be shared three ways.  We listened to the power boats ahead of us asking about the bridge opening.  They were asked their name, then how to spell it, then how to spell it again, then they were finally told to ‘Standby’.

We were too far behind two power boats and missed the first opening, so half a mile out from the closed bridge, Tim radioed to say, ‘This is southbound sailing vessel Larus waiting for the next opening. Larus is spelled L A R U S.’ After a short pause, where I picture the bridge operator thinking really hard to come up with a question that Tim hadn’t already answered, we were advised to ‘Standby.’

While we circled around in front of the bridge waiting, we watched one side of the bridge open to road traffic.  When everyone that side was on the bridge, some radioed the other side with the make and colour of the last vehicle.  When they were clear of the bridge, they did the same thing in the other direction.  Once the last vehicle was clear, the bridge slowly rotated on its axis and we headed through the starboard-side opening without a word being said by the operator.

There is a lot of radio chatter on the ICW.  Faster boats telling slower boats that they intend to pass on their port side and negotiate a ‘no wake’ passing.  Boats tied along inhabited stretches of the ICW will broadcast, ‘Slow down!  No wake!’ Sometimes naming and shaming the culprit. And everyone thanks to high heaven the bridge keeper who has let them through.  The British aren’t so chatting on the radio, so that sort thing doesn’t come easily, and the Alligator River Operator who never responded to their thanks, didn’t seem to appreciate it either.

It’s now 1700, and now we have traversed the long straight Alligator River – Pungo River Canal and are anchored in a wide bend in the river for the night. Hopefully we will be in Beaufort by tomorrow evening, but it’s the longest day motoring and we shall have to see.

Sunday, 05 November 2017

We had an unexpected early start when we thought we were getting up just before 7, only to discover the clocks had gone back an hour and it was just before 6.  This gave us a brief feeling of having more time to get to Beaufort until we remembered that not only did it get light sooner in the morning, it got dark sooner as well.

Another day of motoring, and one more night at anchor in the ICW.  Tim had planned to refuel during that last stretch to Beaufort but as that would have given us only a half hour of daylight to find a good place to anchor in a very busy area, we decided to have an early stop.

Interesting things that happened today were -  in order of excitement generated -  1) We ran aground briefly while moving out of the channel to let a faster boat pass.  It was a very soft landing in all that lovely mud that we keep having to wash off the chain and anchor, and we reversed off easily, but it does wake you up.  2) I made Tim a very nice sandwich for lunch.  It was a faux Ruben with shaved turkey, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and some mild yellow mustard on toasted brown bread.  3) We anchored early just outside the entrance to the canal we will take tomorrow.  It is has turned into a beautiful sunny day and we have a great view of all the big houses with great long docks with their power boats raised up out of the water on hydraulic lifts.  4) For dinner we’ll have souvlaki wraps with perfectly ripe Virginia tomatoes (Virginia is famous for its tomatoes) slivers of onion and a dollop of tzatziki.

I’ve been doing a lot of cooking as we go. We eat half and freeze the rest for an easy meal on passage to possibly Bermuda but definitely Antigua.  It will be nice to have something not ‘stew’ based.  I wouldn’t want us to be tired of chilli, curry or spaghetti Bolognese before we leave.

What has surprised us along the reasonably well populated waterways we’ve travelled, there hasn’t been the tiniest hint of wifi anywhere.  I really thought we’d be posting daily using our phone data, but even a mere 20 miles short of Beaufort, not a peep.

Mon, 06 November 2017

Hurrah for daylight saving time which means I’m now wide awake at 5 in the morning rather than 6.

It’s been a very foggy passage, but we are now anchorage off Town Creek Marina, Beaufort.  We had hardly got tea in our cups before the sun had cleared the fog completely at 1030.

It was a quiet trip and we stopped for fuel along the way.  As our tanks were full when we left Norfolk, we only topped up with 24 gallons.  They have distance markers along the ICW and with Norfolk at the start and Beaufort just at the 200 mile mark, we don’t think we did too badly to cover that distance with only 24 gallons. US gallons of course.  1 US Gallon = everywhere else gallons = litres.  There are lost of motor boats travelling the same route and I expect they used quite a lot more.

At last check, we appear to have a good weather window for starting out toward Bermuda/Antigua tomorrow evening.  It would probably mean three days of motor sailing in light winds, but getting across the Gulf Stream in the right conditions is our priority.  The Gulf Stream is very close to the coast here so we can leave with the most current weather report.  As the Gulf Stream heads north at up to 5 knots you don’t want to cross in a northerly wind as that is blowing against the current and can make a very uncomfortable sea state.  A southerly wind would be great but if that’s not in the offing, no wind at all will do fine. 

I spent the quite a lot of time underway doing all things cooking and provisioning.

There is a big pot of spaghetti sauce in the fridge waiting for when we can go ashore for the tomato puree I thought I had but obviously didn’t. It reminded me very much of a lovely pasta dinner we had with Tim’s Mum. The same thing happened there and the wait for the puree did not harm the sauce in anyway.  It was delicious and I'm hoping for the same result. 

I made more of the Holiday Fruit Drop Cookies this morning so that we will have something nice when I don’t feel like doing anything more challenging that reaching into a bag for a treat.

I’ve also started to get properly into provisioning mode.  I have four frozen chicken breasts I intend to poach today, freeze and then defrosted and used whenever a bit of chicken is needed.  This means I don’t have to deal with raw chicken underway, it just reduces the already slim chance of giving ourselves food poisoning.

To go with the chicken and use up the aubergine/egg plant and ½ a butternut squash left over from the chilli I cooked two days ago, I’ve sautéed onions till golden and added the diced aubergine and 2 large tins of chopped tomatoes and continued cooking until it reduced down. 

I’ve set aside half to freeze and have with some Puerto Rican chorizo, which is frozen uncooked ground pork with spices and lots of chilli.  I’ll fry some of that up, not too much as it really is spicy hot, and add the aubergine mixture to put on pasta, or add some of my cooked beans and maybe some chicken for fajitas, or use it to poach eggs in and serve with a soft tortilla or toast.

The other half stayed in the pan – and this is a stainless-steel skillet that I bought on a day out in July with my parents in Maine from a second hand shop. It’s been a really useful addition to my galley and I like remembering when I got it. I added grated ginger and curry powder and fried it a little oil in a bare patch in the pan.  Then I added the diced butternut squash, half a cup of green lentils and am leaving it to simmer.  We’ll probably have some for dinner tomorrow night (tonight we’ll have spaghetti once we get the puree) and then freeze the rest to have with some of the chicken or chickpeas from the freezer.

While I’ve been writing this, Tim has pumped up the dinghy and visited the marina and got us a berth for the night.  And it has free laundry facilities, so I know what I’ll be doing this afternoon.


Monday, 28 August 2017

Maine and back again



We started our trip to Maine via the Cape Cod Canal, a seven mile artificial waterway which connects Buzzard’s Bay in the south to Cape Cod Bay in the north.  The canal took 5 years to build and was opened in 1914.  Prior to that heading north from Southern New England would have been a long and potentially harrowing journey.

What an amazing geographic landmark is the Cape Cod Penisula. Can't you just picture the currents and storms fashioning that glorious hook? 


The canal is tidal so we left Buzzard’s Bay on a north bound tide.  The southern entrance to the canal is mark for all to see for miles around by the Cape Cod Canal Railway Bridge.  It’s a vertical lifting bridge and is raised and lowered by filling or emptying two huge tanks, one on each side of the bridge.



The canal might have been built for the use of marine industry but not only are its shores are lined with people (and herons) fishing along the banks as well as walking, cycling or just sitting along the paths  that run the length of the canal. I’ve also read that on occasion whales and dolphins make use of the canal.

I love the way the railway bridge looks so majestic towering over the canal, very London Bridge-esque.




In the canal; Boat speed - 5.4 is the speed the boat would be making in still water and the 10.9 is our speed over the ground thanks to the current in the canal; Approaching the end of the canal.

Once out of the canal we headed north east for Provincetown, located at the extreme tip of Cape Cod.  Provincetown is known for many things but top of the list must be that it is where the Pilgrims on the Mayflower landed in 1620.  


The tower is the Mayflower Monument and Museum but they wanted 25 bucks a person to visit so we just admired it from afar.


Provincetown waterfront and the Pilgrim Monument; Provincetown Latitude and Longitude;  High Street; Beach; The Dinghy Dock; Moorings and in the far far distance the anchorage.

We left Provincetown the next morning for an over night passage to Rockland, Maine at the entrance of Penobscot Bay.    The subject line of the email I sent on our arrival at Rockland Harbour read – Trial by Lobster Pots.  We had never seen anything like it.  They were everywhere! Everywhere included the ‘channel’ marked on the chart where they really shouldn’t have been at all.



The pots, the culprits, more pots.


Rockland morning panorama, even makes having to wear a jacket and long trousers worthwhile. That good looking ketch in the photo was our neighbour for the night.



Tim using the deckwash to rinse the mud from the chain - we are so glad to have it.  'Money very well spent' we say all the time.  When the anchor comes up it is heavy with mud as well.

Tim also uses it to give the deck a saltwater rinse. 

Freshwater would be preferable but we wait for the rain or when we're in a marina and can use their water.

Camden is remembered for the steep walk up to the laundry and the nicest little charity shop on the way up there.  It is pretty, but very pricey and limited for provisioning.  With our laundry was washed and dried we headed for our final destination in Maine, Belfast Harbour.


Maine has a very different flavour to where we’ve spent so much of our time cruising.  It feels very much like Northern Ontario and I often felt that I was in Canada. 

We spend in week in Belfast, Maine with family and really had the best visit.



We had a great day sailing with Dad, Mom, Uncle Rick and Brenda.  We anchored near an island and had a lunch of cold meat, cheese, freshly baked bread, crudité, olives and hummus.  Although we had to motor there, by the late afternoon the sea breeze had come up and we had a good sail back to Belfast.

Uncle Rick and Brenda left us that evening and the next day Dad, Mom, Tim and I head for Rockland to pick up the new hatch for the foredeck that Tim had arranged to be delivered to the Yacht Club.

This was the building next to the Yacht Club where my Mom and I looked around while we waited for Dad and Tim to collect the hatch from the office.

The tides are much higher in New England than we've seen for a long time.

They use a lot of floating pontoons in the harbour.  They aren't attached to the shore, but secured to the sea bed, and you'd need a dinghy to get ashore.  Stay on one of those would cost more then a mooring but you wouldn't swing like you do on a mooring and you're nice and close to shore.




Larus at Town Dock, Belfast where we were well looked after by Katherine, the Belfast Harbour, and her team; We had quite a few days with fog but not often as thick as this; Our favourite way of seeing lobster pot bouys; The Lobster Pound Restaurant on the opposite side of the bay from Belfast; View of Belfast from the Lobster Pound deck where we had our last lunch with my parents.

The same day my parents started their long drive back to Ontario, Tim and I started heading south.

We day sailed down the coast to Boston, and stopped for the night in Portland, Maine and then Gloucester, Massachusetts.

       

Boston from the sea and Boston from the anchorage across the harbour.  The ship in the foreground is a Columbian Ship, which put on a bit of a show most days.


Twice a day, the sailors climbed up the masts and out onto the 'yards'.

Once there the Columbian anthem was played loud enough for us to hear it from across the bay.

They did this morning and evening and in sunshine and rain.

It was really quite impressive, as was Boston itself. 






We currently anchored in Chesapeake City, halfway along the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, and for the first time in weeks we have really good and fast wifi.  Hurrah!  So I've been blogging like mad but are due to leave in 15 minutes when the tide will be high enough for us to get out of this snuggle little anchorage to get back into the canal without getting stuck in the mud.  As we haven't posted anything for such a long time, we will stop here, post this, and carry on with our visit of Boston as soon as we get more good wifi.

Tim has just started to engine so hitting 'Publish' now!