Friday, September 7, 2007

The Return

It was calm this morning behind Wings Neck. I slept a bit late, not rising till about 7:30 and then somewhat stiffly. After breakfast I put the table up in the cabin and set up the laptop to write my morning entry. Then I sorted and semi-packed clothes into bags, and moved all the remaining perishables with the few remaining chunks of ice from the big boat cooler into the small carry-on cooler. I dumped some milk and humus I had forgotten to put away last night. When I was on deck a guy came over from a neighboring boat and basically welcomed me to Pocasset. We talked for a while. He offered to run me up the river in his dinghy into town, but I was eager to get on my way so I would get home before Nancy. I vowed to return and poke around in this corner of the Bay.

Buzzards Bay rarely disappoints. The breeze picked up from the southeast as I got the sails up and picked my way up the lee of Wings Neck. By the time I was out in Hog Island channel the wind was from the SSW and we were heeled way over. I got both sails in tight and picked the best upwind course I could. Then Autoleena took over. She does well upwind. We made it past the can off Bird Island without a tack, and in fact only made one tack all day, a quick one off Angelica Point. The last three miles or so we had fallen off the wind a bit and were just boiling along at 5.5 knots happy as could be. We sailed right up to the first buoys of the channel into my marina before I reeled in the sails. I tied up at my mooring at 2, was in my car by 3:30.

London is a small boat. I think you experience the sea and the weather more, shall we say, fully, in a small boat. The sea is right there. We can lean out of the cockpit and touch it, rinse our hands, or the supper pot.

Now back on land I realize how sore and stiff I am from being in the boat. I am covered in bruises and small wounds of whose cause and timing I have no idea. I am also recovering from a sprained wrist (Isle Au Haut) which I aggravated in the last few days of long 'Time And Distance' sails, probably by catching myself with my right hand when flung about by a wave or a gust of wind. The last couple days have been windy and strenuous. Yet I have had a wonderful time. I feel great.
Today is the first time I have been on land since Monday afternoon in Biddeford Pool -- that's three days afloat alone and about 150 miles. It was about another 130 miles from the Pool to Northeast harbor. So overall London probably sailed about 600 miles in the last few weeks. In the annals of seafaring this journey was not even a speck on the tiniest page of the smallest log book. But it is not about distance.

The weather has been fabulous, with only a little fog and humidity. Other than the rain at Biddeford Pool and Linekin Bay it has been dry. There have been calm days, but also days with plenty of wind. Although I wear a hat, sun block and spend much of my time trying to stay out of the sun, I am brown as a nut and feel thinner and stronger.
What more could one ask?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Buzzards Bay

Pocasset, Buzzards Bay, MA (Off Pocasset River)

The bluefish are feeding around the boat. A few terns have caught on and are flying overhead picking off the small fry forced to the surface. Ever since I rounded Cape Ann I have seen continuous bird and fish activity -- feeding frenzies. The number of seabirds in the air at Milk Island off Gloucester and at the eastern end of the Canal is absolutely biblical: scenes of diving and screeching, great waves and spiraling curls of birds fanning out overhead across the sky over silver fish tails slapping the surface, thousands of gray wingtips, pointy red beaks, and frantic black tern eyes.

The wind backed around me yesterday. We started downwind and brisk, then downwind and light. Those breezes blew from the northwest, then about lunch time, and beginning the second phase of the day, the wind began to sneak around to the east, first the northeast, then east and settled in, by the time I reached the canal, blowing from the southeast. 180 degrees in one day. Great stuff.

Off Plymouth was again the gustiest. It was too much for Autoleena, so I had to take the tiller for 3 hours to get us down to the canal. But we flew along at 5.5 knots and better for hour after hour. I made the canal earlier than I thought, and was in the entrance by 6. Unfortunately the railroad bridge came down in front of London so we turned just below the Bourne Bridge and ran up current. London's normal cruising speed was just enough to hold me in place. It is quite a sensation to face into the rushing turbulence of the canal's flow with the engine running full and look over at the bank to see we are going nowhere.

There was a French boat in the canal, sailing wing-on-wing until the patrol showed up. The boat looked custom, Trintella shaped, with a hull like a dark and a spectacular rigged dart. He entered the canal ahead of me after a beautiful show of sailing along the curve of the beach. Name: Rebel.

The other boating sight yesterday was off Duxbury, a twin hulled NOAA vessel, gray power boat with superstructure and many aerials was puttering along behind a man in a ocean kayak, several miles off shore.

I anchored last night off the Pocasset River in a spot I have used before coming and going through the canal. Dinner was Dirty Rice (New Orleans Style) with the last two turkey hot dogs and 1/2 bottle of red Rioja. Great dreams about when gravity becomes benign. I awoke with a big smile.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Time and Distance 3

Wednesday Sept 4. 10:30.

After passing Massachusetts Bay buoy BF, I took some pictures of the Boston skyscrapers peeking up over the horizon, a floating ephemeral city island across 20 miles of sea.

It is about 10:30 and the first part of the day is over. These days of making miles break into four or five parts. The first ends at about 10:30 with a snack. Then we start thinking about lunch, and dinner and where we will end up. There are always options. Today I want to at least get close to the end of the canal, if not go through it. The forecast has been for 10-15 with gusts to 20 from the NW. The breeze was good early but petered out (if you will excuse the expression) by 9:30. I am going dead downwind, which excepting going dead upwind, is London's slowest direction. The jib is in now, the main alone out and held in place with a preventer. Otherwise it would flop around in the light air and the following sea which makes the hull roll and corkscrew. Autoleena has made a few violent moves with the tiller this morning, one time through 160 degrees, but she seems to have caught on now.

I have been looking through the food lockers. Emptying them all out to see what's really there. Just had a fruit salad and then found another unopened Cadbury's Fruit and Nut chocolate bar. Must have hidden it from my sister and forgot all about it. Most of the food that is left is in boxes and cans, but I will get through the next two days.

Canal is 34 miles away. At current speed of 4.5 knots will get there in 6.5 ish hours. The current turns in my favor at 5pm which is just about when I should get there -- if everything stays like it is now -- which is unlikely.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Time and Distance 2

From Biddeford Pool, Maine at dawn (top picture) to Brace Cove in Gloucester (second picture) is about 60 miles. 60/5 knots = 12 hours.

It was a good sailing day. In the brief lulls I used the engine to push me along.

I saw a pair of birds today which were picture perfect adult Northern Gannets, all the others we've seen have been juvenils. In the tide rips off the Isles of Shoals I saw schools of small fish (4-5 inches long), dark on top silver underneath, jumping clear of the water. At other times there would be a tremendous turbulence and splashing on the surface. Judging by the size and violence of the splashes these were made by a large fish feeding on the surface .

Time And Distance

Tuesday AM

This morning I rose at 5 am when I heard the first skiff outboard start. The first fisherman out had a pony tail. A lobster-woman.
I dressed and ate breakfast, and cast off the mooring by 6am - high tide and the current in the pool was calm. Yesterday when I moved inside... into Biddeford Pool itself, the current was running in at 2 or 3 knots against a SW wind gusting to 20 or 25 knots. I had to choose between heading upwind or up current, I chose up current and it worked nicely. With the two opposing forces the boat almost hovered around its mooring, with the water racing by in one direction and spray blowing by in another. Once the boat was secure, I had a quick lunch, hailed the launch and went to the ocean beach for a swim. By the time I got back, several hours later, everything was much quieter.

By 8 am this morning Cape Porpoise was astern. I am sailing about three miles off the beach. I started on a broad reach with the engine at low revs, just to push me into the swell remaining from yesterday. I turned engine off about 9 am and am scooting along at 5.5 knots. A 9:45 am Boon Island is a bit more than 3 miles ahead. I know from my trip to Maine I should soon get a signal for my broadband wireless soon.
Today's goal is Rockport, MA, but it all depends on the weather. The sea is choppy from today's waves meeting yesterday's waves. I have the laptop strapped to the table with a pair of sail ties.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Biddeford Pool

Biddeford Pool Maine: Drift and Rhythm

The random noises seem a score. The rubbing of the jib line on the metal lifeline works like a bow on a string. The notes come in a quick group of three, a pause, and then two more, allegro. The wires in the mast snap like snare drums. The anchor rode squeaks in the chock. The water against the hull sings like a chorus, the hull works like a sound box and I find myself humming along, to my boat's anchored song. Underway it can be the same, the diesel plays a rumbling downbeat, the prop shaft an undulation.

I made a mistake two days ago and am paying now. When we had the strong NW wind we should have kept going Saturday evening on across Casco Bay. Now I am stuck for a day waiting for the wind to shift back to a more favorable direction. My timing was off yesterday, I got here a little too late in the day to make the next good harbor in daylight. That would be Portsmouth 30 miles down the coast. So now I sit and read and clean boat. I straightened up the cabin yesterday and then washed the dinghy. The good thing about being here is there are showers in the BPYC clubhouse. I have had two in the last 12 hours. The bad thing is there is no food in the local grocery.

Peter F ran out of time. I dropped him at the ferry dock at Chebeague Island about 8am and he arranged to be picked up at the ferry dock in Portland. He needs to get back. I am sure he's stayed longer than he planned. He is a good sport. By leaving him at Chebeague it allowed me to ride the last of the outgoing tide out of Casco Bay. I made good time until the SW wind started to blow in my face. Now it is howling, forecast 20-30 today. All the same if I can get away tomorrow. I should be back in Buzzards Bay by the end of the week.

After my nap yesterday afternoon it was dead high tide. I watched for my depth finder for a time, subtracting 10.5 feet for the tidal range and kept getting numbers too close to my 4' draft. So I hauled the anchor and moved myself further out. This is a difficult place to predict where the boat will settle: you need a lot of scope, it is windy and the current is strong. Having the wind and current at various angles leads to some peculiar situations. Last night the boat was being pulled one way and the dinghy another. The dinghy wanted to ride along the hull and bang it in the chop.

In the evening when everyone was out for the sunset I met the neighbors. A couple in a 28 Cape Dory just to my lee from York, ME. Their boat is same age as London - 30.
I got some good pictures of a group racing by in a dinghy and on their third pass they yelled over an email address for me to send them to.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Tenants Harbor, Potts Harbor

Friday - Tenants Harbor, Maine

Today's forecast for sailing was promising. There were even small craft warnings... gusts to 25 MPH. None of it happened. After a few wisps of air along the northern end of Egemogin Reach, the sky solidified into a solid gray mass hovering with no intent and the wind died. We motored from 11 am until nearly 7 pm when we pulled into Tenants Harbor just ahead of a fog bank. We did spend the day moving with the tide though which runs at several knots through some of these channels.

As we were about 5 days ago, we are again stuck under a stalled cold front. The forecast now says it will clear early in the AM and tomorrow will be very windy.

We ate tonight at the Cod End, a waterfront fried fish place right on the water. One of those places where you can dinghy over and the food is served right on the dock. I made friends with a dog, a small Belgian poof, or a fluff or a flossy or something. Little Oscar was frightened by his 'parents' smashing their lobster's shells with big rocks on the picnic table. He backed up into my lap. I scratched his ear. He was grateful.

It was on this very dock that on the evening of Sept 11, 2001. I learned about what had happened that morning in New York and DC. This evening I saw the woman I'd spoken to about Afghanistan that evening when I'd said, "We've got to got over there and got those guys in Afghanistan."

She'd looked at me and asked, "How are you going to do that?"

Saturday - Potts Harbor, Maine

When we left the harbor this morning, a short time after Oscar and his parents, it seemed at first the wind forecast had again been without merit. But we were soon flying along on a crisp sparkling day with the water boiling under London's hull. If you could have taken all of today's wind and divided it between yesterday and today, we would have had two good sailing days rather than one dead and one wild one. By 10 am we had a reef in the main and were altering our course to be more offshore and off the wind for easier sailing. At noon we had passed the mouth of the St John's river and then the island of Seguin a little after two.

Peter F. at the tiller off Seguin.

Heading up to beat into Potts Harbor for the night slowed our progress as the tide was racing out. But we had the anchor down a little after 6pm. We had hoped to eat at the Dolphin restaurant, but the groups of people waiting on the pier and along the shore, were the sign of a long wait. We ate the frozen beef stew Peter F had found in Tenants Harbor.

During the day we came upon one of those big birds we take to be Northern Gannets resting on the water. We also saw the flopping black fin of an Ocean Sunfish, several porpoises and seals, and one bald eagle.