Brenda and me in Nantucket.  A proper arrival.

It’s Thursday morning and Pandora is anchored, for my second visit this summer, here in Nantucket.  Brenda and I arrived on Monday after a two day run from Stonington CT with a stop in Cuttyhunk.   As I mentioned in a recent post, Brenda and I have not been to Nantucket together by boat for many years so it’s good to be back. On our first visit, back when we were, shall I say “less mature” and boat was oh-so-much-smaller, our only way to get ashore was in a pathetic inflatable canoe we not-so-affectionately called “the green bean”.    Now, with our Caribe dink and powerful outboard, we can make it all the way to town without getting wet.  That’s a big improvement over our first visit here so many years ago.

Speaking of wind, there wasn’t quite enough wind for our run from Stonington to Cuttyhunk and the bottom was pretty nasty after two months of inattention, so under power Pandora was pretty sluggish and acted more like a heavy SLOW cruising boat than what I am getting used to.

We anchored in the bight outside of the harbor in Cuttyhunk and spent time with friends with them on their boat nearby.  It was a lot of fun.  I was particularly amused by this sight of “two men in a tub”, a very small and LOW TO THE WATER dink that went by.  They were getting soaked and the guy in the bow was pulling furiously on the painter with the hope of keeping some of the water out. Brenda wouldn’t have liked that at all.    It reminded us both of our “green bean”, only ours was even worse. Anyway, Pandora’s slimy bottom was calling, so I bit the bullet on Monday at Cuttyhunk and went for a swim to clean the bottom.  WOW!  What a mess.  It’s hard to say exactly how much slime there was but I’d say that there she was sporting an 1/8” to ¼” of “nasty” over her entire bottom.  The first layer was fresh water slime from her short visit in the CT River and after a few weeks in Wickford, salt water slime grew on the now dead FW slime.  Yuck…

I normally use a coarse Scotch Brite Pad to clean but that didn’t work as it just loaded up and pushed around the slime without actually taking if off.  I ended up using a scraper and then the pad, for two hours.  I was bushed.  Thanks to the hooka compressor, I was able to do the entire job without stopping.

Anyway, after that cleaning, even though it wasn’t a perfect job, we caught the tide past Martha’s Vineyard and on to Nantucket.  We carried the flood most of the way to Nantucket but were bucking about a knot of tide by the end.  However, with nice 15 kt breeze on a close reach, against the tide, we were still doing better than 8kts, over the bottom, for much of the trip.  It as a great ride.  And, as this was the first long run that Brenda’s done with me, she was very happy that Pandora’s heel was a comfortable 12-15 degrees.

As we approached Nantucket in the afternoon, some lovely old wooden boats and a few old 12 meter America’s Cup boats passed us heading west after participating in the Opera House Cup, a race for wooden and classic boats, that previous weekend.  I particularly liked seeing this Herreshoff NY30, a classic designed as a one-design class for the NYYC back in the 30s, I think.There is a lovely Friendship Sloop that gives rides in the harbor, several times a day. We enjoyed watching her sail by in the evenings.I particularly enjoyed this beautiful expedition yacht anchored nearby.  What lovely lines. We walked around town PLENTY on this visit.  At the end of the day my “dogs were aching”.  It was fun to see the sights.  I enjoyed watching this gentleman painting on Main Street.  We also visited the “oldest house”.  How old? Well, it was really old and to live in it would have been as rough as heading across the harbor in our old green bean dink.  Pretty though.  On a mooring nearby was Linx, a lovely schooner from Portsmouth NH.  She fired off an impressive cannon at sunset.  Quite a sound and lots of white smoke.  Fun. Speaking of sunsets.  We were treated to several wonderful ones while we were here.  After so many years of sailing New England waters, it is fun to be back in Nantucket.  And, with their hugely expensive mooring fees, we can now anchor and make it ashore dry and comfortable with our good dink and 15hp engine.  It’s nice to have “arrived” with at least a dink that can get us there without getting soaked along the way.

Today we will head to Edgartown for a day and then begin in earnest our run to Wickford by the weekend.  Happily, the winds remain favorable for the run back with SE forecasted for the next few days.

I guess that I’d better wrap this up or we won’t make it to Edgartown in time to enjoy the sights today.

Sunset moments aboard Pandora.

It’s Sunday morning and Brenda and I are aboard Pandora here in Stonington Harbor.  Last evening we were both so bushed from rushing around for our son Rob’s wedding last weekend and then catching up on everything that had fallen behind at home from being away for nearly a week and working on “the big event” that we both went to bed really early.  It was barely dark.  I slept like a log.  Or, as someone once said, “like a bowling ball, you toss it into the bed, it rolls to the middle and doesn’t move”.

Yes, we were pooped.  It’s funny, but even though we didn’t do all that much to prepare for the wedding, it wore both of us out.  Was it the food prep, long drive to MD, Brenda making her “mother of the groom outfit”?  Whatever it was…

Aside from the Mother and Father of the groom stuff, our part was the “morning after” brunch which did take a lot of prep but turned out swimmingly.  A good number of revelers came to Rob and Kandice’s home for the “after the event, event”, looking none the worse for wear, in spite of the festivities, and it was fun to see all the 30-somethings, although they were a lot less dolled up after a day of partying.

Never the less, Brenda and I, she still in her “upper mid 50s” and me a newly minted 60 something, were feeling plenty worn.  However, no rest for the weary as we were to spend a week on Pandora for a mini-cruise in Eastern LI sound and perhaps Martha’s Vineyard.

Some weeks ago, my good friend Ken told me that his mother had died and that it was her wish as well as his father’s, who had died some years back, that their ashes be scattered along the way on a line running from Watch Hill Passage to Great Salt Pond, Block Island, a path that they had sailed so many times over the year that they had “worn a divot” in the waters over the years.   Here’s a note from his will that Ken showed at the reception yesterday at the Stonington Harbor Yacht Club.So, when I heard about it the plans, I just as quickly volunteered to bring Pandora down from Wickford RI to help do the honors.  So, yesterday, family arrived, urns and flowers in hand, and off we went.

What a beautiful day and likely one very similar to the many that his mom and dad had enjoyed on their countless sails in Block Island Sound over the years.  We headed down the rhum line toward Block and when we crossed the 3 mile limit, the moment came.   Ken hoisted pennants, including his Dad’s private signal, from the starboard spreader.  Then he raised his dad’s American flag that had been flown over the White House and given to him in recognition of his service in WWII aboard the Coastguard Cutter Taney (the very same Taney that I saw in Baltimore last weekend and wrote about in this post)  Ken had also written an article about his dad’s time in the service.  The flag was then lowered to half staff.  The “crew” assembled on the leeward rail (note to self:  never, never sprinkle ashes from the weather rail).  Flowers were tossed into the water as the ashes were slowly spread over the waters that meant so much to their family.The flowers and ashes left a lovely soft trail behind Pandora. We tacked to head back and Ken’s brother, Harold and his wife, trailed off of Pandora’s stern as we sailed slowly homeward.    The “kids” had done this countless times when sailing with their parents, many years ago in these same waters and it seemed fitting to do so again as we passed through waters carrying their parent’s ashes.It was a wonderful trip and one that I was pleased to have an opportunity to share with Ken and his family.

The weather was perfect, with gentle breeze to draw us along…  Two brothers paying last respects to parents who’s actions had earned it.   Ken had told me years ago, perhaps when we were sharing watch aboard, that he had “chosen his parents well” and I guess that he had indeed meant it.

The experience was moving and reminded me of burying my own father’s ashes just about a year ago at the cemetery of the church in Weston CT that my parents had loved.

I can only hope that our own sons will someday be so moved when the time comes to do the same for us.

Forgive me but at the risk of carrying the “end” theme too far but it seems fitting to close with a photo of the sunset that I enjoyed as I rounded the point of Watch Hill with Pandora here to connect with Ken and his family on Friday night. 

 

Weekend in Baltimore. I need a nap.

I am writing this post as we head home to CT from Baltimore after a weekend visit to our son Rob and his new bride Kandice who got married over the weekend.  We had such a great time.   Yes, I know that this is a sailing blog but trust me, I’ll get to that soon, I promise.

For the moment though, a few photos from the wedding in downtown Baltimore.

The happy couple.How many weddings have you been to that included a dog in the wedding party, tie and all?A good time was had by all, even in the elevator on the way to the ceremony.Anyway, great weekend.  It’s going to take a few days to recover from all the festivities.  Forgive the major digression.  Ok, thanks for staying with me.  You’re still there, I hope.  Now, back to boat stuff.

Along the way, I was able to steal a few hours to walk around the inner harbor waterfront.  Interestingly, along with a number of marinas around the harbor, there is room to anchor in the small basin downtown.  However, the restrictions on where you can drop the hook are significant and I understand that there is only room for a boat or two.  It would be pretty annoying to schlep all the way up from the bay only to learn that there is already someone in “your spot”.

However, once you are there, by land or sea, it’s quite a hopping place.  With many inner city waterfront areas developed over the years, Baltimore was one of the early ones and remains a popular spot.

Of course, Pride of Baltimore II is good for a look.  Pride I sank years ago, with the loss of several lives.  Pride II incorporates safety features that Pride 1 did not have, as a result of the tragedy.  She’s a good looking ship.The “dragon” boats are a bit different and very popular. The lightship Chesapeake, one of the surviving manned lightships from along the East Coast, is there. She’s not in quite as good shape as Nantucket, now a B&B but fun to see, never the less.“Screw pile” lights were once common on the shifting sands of the Chesapeake Bay. With the exception of Thomas Point Light, near Annapolis, those remaining have been moved to waterfront parks and museums like this one in the inner harbor.There’s also a WWII sub, the Torsk, that is credited with sinking the last Japanese vessel in WWII. And a retired US Coast Guard cutter, the Taney an the last American vessel floating that saw action in Pearl Harbor. I walked around the waterfront with my friend Craig, who was also in town for “THE WEDDING” and along the way we found our way up Federal Hill, an earthworks built during the Civil war and used to protect the harbor then and in the War of 1812.  It’s an impressive pile of dirt and affords a remarkable view of downtown Baltimore.  The panoramic view on my phone tends to distort things but, with a little imagination, you can get a feel for the spot.Well, with the festivities behind us I’ll again focus on Pandora and some of the remaining projects including the new glazing that I am fitting between the bimini and dodger.  Last week I prepared a template aboard.  It was a bit annoying to do as the wind picked up to 15+kts as the day progressed, making it hard to keep everything in place.  I had to use extra masking tape in the wind.Once home I transferred the measurements and did some of the preliminary sewing in Brenda’s studio.This week I’ll head up to Wickford again to see if it fits (I’ll have my sewing machine in case it doesn’t) and install the zippers and final panel attachment points.  It will be a nice addition to the boat when we are out in unpleasant weather.  Without it, anyone at the helm when it’s raining gets pretty wet.  I prefer to stay dry and I KNOW that Brenda feels that way.

The last remaining project, not including painting the bottom in September, is the swapping of the watermaker so that we have more production capacity.  I don’t know if I am going to tackle that this year but I’d like to.  We’ll see what the next few weeks bring.   I have to be sure that we have enough water on hand to keep the washer going.  You know how girls like their jammies clean.

It’s hard to believe that I’ll be in Hampton VA in less than two months preparing to run Pandora to the Caribbean.  Wow, time flies when you are having fun, going to weddings (that’s great fun) or are at least busy and busy I am.

Whew… I need a nap.

Is Pandora a Yacht or a boat? Hmm…

As Brenda and I have progressed over the years from our humble beginnings sailing a 20′ Cape Cod catboat to larger vessels  I have often wondered when or should I say IF, we have made the transition from boating to the blue blazer yachting set.

Some say that the definition of a yacht is “any boat that is bigger than yours?”  That rings true for me but I expect that there are other, perhaps better definitions.

Webster’s Dictionary has a wholly unsatisfying one….  “A large boat used for racing or pleasure.”  Sorry Webster but that’s just not doing it for me.

Perhaps a better, more descriptive definition, such as it is, comes from  a recent article at www.boat.com  The author offers several categories that a boat must fit into in order to even be considered for “yachtiness”.

They include:

“Size and Price:”  As far as size is concerned, in an informal poll of those who should know the answer to such things, the minimum size that will qualify as a yacht is 33′.  I don’t know where that particular size comes from but have seen that referenced before.  Well, Pandora is 47′ so “Check” on the S&P scale.

“Yacht Attitude:”  Well, I’d say that Pandora, with her muscular profile and hard dodger, qualifies on that score.    She certainly turns heads based on the number of questions I get about her.

Next is “Time and Money:”  This question assumes that you are willing to spend the considerable time and money required to keep your yacht from slipping into the obscurity and decayed state of “boatiness”.  Well, I sure qualify on those scores. However, he goes on to suggest that for the owner to do the work themselves will lead to a large discount on the yacht quotient.

Oh well, I’ll have to think about that a bit.  But wait, all is not lost. I could sell Pandora and trade down to a 33 footer and hire someone to work on her with the money I save but that’s a real non-starter for Brenda so I guess the problem remains.

Finally, a key in all of this is about the attitude of the owner.  He says, “If you are more Grey Poupon than French’s mustard, more monogrammed than markdown, and more Topsider than sneaker…” This means that you are a yachtsman.

Well, I own several jars of Grey Poupon, use them up regularly so I have to buy more and have many mogrammed shirts, bags etc .  However, I can not tell a lie and I do LOVE getting stuff on sale.  I also have Topsiders. but they are a bit shabby.

So, how does all this add up for Pandora? Is she a yacht of a lowly boat?   Such are the pressing questions of the universe.

Still confused?  All is not lost and to sum this up in a more scientific way, he offers five questions to confirm, or not, your status.

Of course, not to put too fine a point on it,  but all yachts are indeed boats but not all boats are yachts.

So, is Pandora a yacht?    According to the author, “If any more than three of the following five items are true, you pass the test:”

“1. You refer to your boat as “she” rather than “it”. ”  I pass on this one.  Note that “she” is repeated often in my posts and several times in this one.
“2. Maintenance and upgrades are done by someone else.”  Oops?  I pay for those things that I can’t or won’t do.  If I had more $$ I’d hire EVERYTHING out. Promise…  However, I am not willing to trade down to be able to afford to have someone else do the work for me.  Besides, when I am cruising I have to be able to fix stuff as there isn’t anyone else there to do it for me. boat or yacht.  And, I hate being aboard a broken boat er: yacht.
“3. You deduct the loan payments by considering the boat as a second home.”  Hmm… That seems like a very materialistic way to look at it and in direct conflict with the “if you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it” set.   However, we spend half of the year aboard, so she’s a yacht on that point, deduction or not.

“4. Etiquette and clean feet are more important to you on board than on dry land.” Yahoo!!! A big win for me on this!!!  How may “yachties” do you know who have been dubbed “the nicest anal retentive person I have ever met”?  That would be me.

“5. Gawkers from the dock often say “Nice yacht,” with a straight face”   Hmm…  I guess you’ll have to stand on the dock and listen.

So, there you have it, I think.   Is Pandora a yacht?  Hmm… Well she seems pretty yachty to me and besides, when I am close to a dock, she seems HUGE too.

I guess that yachty, like beauty, is in the eyes of he beholder so I’ll have to ask you, dear reader, what you think.

Is Pandora a boat or yacht?

Before you blurt out your answer, this is Pandora, lest your memory is short. Still unsure?  Want more information?  You can go right to the source and read the full article.

I rest my case.

Their blog makes mine look, well, different.

After the last 500+ posts I have somehow convinced myself that my blog is pretty entertaining.  Well, it is entertaining for me to write and my mom likes it.  But then, even though I am “vertically challenged” she says that I am big.  Anyway, doting mother set aside, I have been pretty sure that my posts are more interesting than most, at least.  This is what I imagine I look like with a halo and all.   Mom agrees.I can say with confidence that some of my posts are more interesting than those who just put down a lot of waypoints that prove that they were somewhere and write something about what speed and compass course they were traveling.

However, today that warm feeling of superiority was all but shattered when I was reading FaceBook and stumbled on the blog of Cygnus III, written by a couple, well perhaps by the guy, or bloke as a true Brit, which he is, might call himself.   Now, with my blogging self image shattered, I feel more like I am marooned on a desert island with all hope lost.   “Bob, give us a break.  Stop it… NOW!”   OK, OK, yes, perhaps I’ll live and muddle through another day.  However, it’s apparent that the site of the travels of Mark and Angelina, a couple that live aboard their Oyster 45 sailboat Cygnus III. are setting the bar a bit higher for me and my lowly site.

They mostly dispense with the we-went-there sort of coverage and dig down to the “marrow” of what it’s like to live aboard and cruise, and they do it with flare.

In their own words, I give you…

So what’s this Cygnus III website all about?

Well, in 2010 we decided to sell our Dyson hoover and the house we kept it in to buy a sailing yacht called Cygnus III to live aboard.

We wanted to go sailing into a striking sunset, visit paradise and get free coconuts.

It was all pretty simple really. If we got lost along the way we could just pull in somewhere and ask directions.

What no one told us was how bleeding scary the sea is! There’s, like, rocks and storms and shit!

So these are the tales of our hapless voyage on our sailing yacht Cygnus III and the places and predicaments we have found ourselves in.

Well put, and as I read excerpts from their site aloud to Brenda, we found ourselves chuckling and sometimes laughing out loud at their observations about what it’s like to spend months together on a small boat and to live to tell the tale.

Often, when we are talking to fellow cruisers about what it’s like to live aboard, there seem to be a few basic truths about the questions we all get from those who have never left the dock or, ye gads,  slept aboard OVERNIGHT.

Here’s what the Cygnus crews have to say that and more…

How will you know when you truly become a live aboard?

If your living on a boat these descriptions may ring your ships bell?

  1. When staying in a house you always come down stairs backwards
  2. You find yourself bleeding from random places at random times.
  3. You and your wife define “taking a break” as moving about six feet apart and looking in opposite directions.
  4. You avoid telling people you live on a boat just so you don’t have to explain to them you actually sleep on it as well… again.
  5. You think butter only comes in soft or liquid form.
  6. You only have 3 cooking pots.
  7. When invited to dinner at someone’s house you spend all night turning unnecessary lights off.
  8. When invited to dinner at someone’s house you ask if you can do your laundry.
  9. The doctor assumes your body covered in random bruises is a sign of physical abuse.
  10. You are the only one who doesn’t want to win the big screen TV at the charity raffle.
  11. You think “Game of thrones” is something you do when two people need the toilet at once.
  12.  Kids think you’re the coolest person on earth. Adults think you have lost your marbles.
  13. When you don’t like the neighbourhood you just move.
  14. You are content knowing that sailing is code for boat repair in exotic places.
  15. You can assemble a gourmet dinner using only one pot and mouldy cheese.
  16. Doing laundry involves a net bag, a moving boat, and 50 feet of line.
  17. When asked for a piece of paper, you ask if they want course or fine.
  18. You don’t want anything for Christmas that isn’t on a Kindle.
  19. Cardboard boxes, wrappers, and packing are thrown away before getting onto the boat.
  20. You define a good anchorage as one where you can get Wi-Fi.
  21. Your wallet contains more boat cards than business cards
  22. You know what a boat card is.
  23. When visiting ashore, you wake everybody at daylight screaming “We’re aground “when you open your eyes and don’t see water.
  24. You define an easy chore as one where you don’t have to pull everything out of the locker first.
  25. You covet new solar panels more than a new car.
  26. You can identify boats by the sound of their halyard slapping against their mast.
  27. Removing things from the refrigerator is like playing Jenga.
  28. In shoe shops you go straight to the flip-flops.
  29. You accidentally put your life jacket on when you get in a car.
  30. You walk in the rain all the way back to your boat, carrying a backpack, a load of laundry,  groceries destined to fall out of their bag at any second… all while thinking how lucky you are.
  31. Filling the water tanks is a full day’s work.
  32. The only thing you do religiously on Sundays is wonder what day it is.
  33. The first thing you do after setting the anchor is to see what other boats you know.
  34.  You talk to your boat and give parts of it stupid names.
  35. You understand and pay attention to the entire weather forecast.
  36. You spend weekends sitting in your cockpit with a boat hook beside you, waiting to fend off the next holiday charter boat.
  37. Every time you consider buying something you have to decide what you’ll get rid of to make room for it.
  38. When visiting ashore you look for instructions on how to use a push button toilet.
  39. A three minute hot shower is pure indulgence.
  40. You covet your neighbour’s engine more than his wife.
  41. Ice cubes are the ultimate luxury.
  42. You have to strap a bag full of water to your boom & wait a few hours before you can take a hot shower.
  43. You’ve googled to see if there are any companies that make triangular bed sheets.
  44. You know that duct tape was invented by God.
  45. You only bring out real cups for fancy occasions.
  46. Trying to find a partner to sail away with you isn’t being romantic, it’s kidnapping.
  47. Your computer homepage is the Weather Service
  48. You’ve spent mornings standing naked on the deck of someone else’s boat, adjusting halyards, lashing lines & freezing your ass off.
  49. You have given up trying to defend your lifestyle and are content with smugly thinking…..they don’t know just what they are missing.
  50. Having sex always rocks your boat.

You can read the entire post here.

So, there you have it.  Whatever SailPandora is lacking, I can’t be accused of trying to hide those who do the “blogging thing” well.  You go Cygnus… Thanks for making us laugh.

A little jazz and getting excited about Virgin Gorda.

It’s Friday morning and near the end of July (where do the days go?) and yet another beautiful day here in CT.  Last night Brenda and I went down to the CT River Museum to enjoy one of their “Thursdays on the Dock” concert featuring the USCG Dixieland Jazz Band.  These concerts are held on Thursdays in July and August and are a terrific bargain, free to members and $5 for non-members.   It was a beautiful evening with a great turnout and wonderful music.   The last time I spent any time with the USCG they wanted to see my fire extinguisher and documentation.  It was more enjoyable last night. 7-24-15a 003A very nice group of guys.  One of the guys even had his mother visiting.  HI Mom!7-24-15a 006I tried to find a video of them performing that doesn’t take an hour to watch but no luck.  This one was filmed in nearby New London and features the same guys that performed last night.  You should at least watch a few minutes.

Seeing them brought back memories of many visits to New Orleans, back in my days as a “worker bee”.   They were terrific and attracted a great crowd to the museum.  I have enjoyed spending time volunteering at the museum over the last year.  The director, Chris, is a great guy.

Brenda and I will be spending the winter in the Caribbean  and I have begun planning my run to the Caribbean and the BVI and am getting pretty excited about it.  Making a 1,500 mile ocean run is a bit daunting as it will be the longest that I have made to date.    Just over 1,000 miles is the longest so far and I was never more than a few hundred miles from shore.   A few hundred miles is still WAY to long a swim to shore but on this run I’ll be much further out on this run and too far to be picked up by helicopter, speaking of the USCG, if things decide to go badly.

Anyway, we plan to make landfall in the British Virgin Islands, Virgin Gorda, home of the Bitter End Yacht Club, and the destination for the Salty Dawg Rally.   Not a bad spot.  Getting excited!Still lots of details to work out to get Pandora ready for the run south.

Oh yeah, I think I mentioned that the bow thruster wasn’t working properly and had feared that a major repair was in the offing.  Well, I went up to Wickford and Pandora this week, tools in hand, ready to perform surgery.  Good news, nothing more than a loose wire.  And, to make it even better, I found, and fixed, the problem without bringing in the professionals.  Well, not yet at least.  Let’s hope that the “thruster gremlin” doesn’t show up again any time soon.

Still need to do some canvas work to put a connector between the top of the dodger and the bimini so I’d better get going on ordering some supplies and quit it with this post.  That’s all for now.

On the hard and thinking of wet

It’s Monday and it’s been over a week since I was aboard Pandora.  She’s now in Wickford RI where she will be, less some time cruising now and then, until early September.

I still have plenty to do to get her ready for next winter’s cruising and the Salty Dawg Rally from Hampton VA to Virgin Gorda in November.   I have been recruiting crew and am about done in getting those details in order.

Of the recommended equipment that I will need on board for the run, one missing item is a parachute sea anchor, a large, well parachute shaped device, that can be deployed from the bow to keep the boat pointed into the waves in the event a storm with large breaking waves.  I don’t have one but have been offered a 12′ one by a friend.  Pandora is technically too big for that size as the recommendation is for a 15′ diameter one but the size rules are more like “guidelines” so I think that I will go for the 12′ and hope that I never have to use it.  The size recommended is really a function of the severity of the sea state so larger waves means larger parachute.  I am hoping that anything less severe than “OH S&^%” will be ok for a 12′ one.  I guess we’ll see.   I do have an EPIRB, no make that two, and a liferaft.  Others items that I surely hope NEVER to use.

I have also installed my SSB radio and will have the back stay insulators, for the antenna, installed in the next month or so.    Another item still on my list is to get the AIS transoponder name changed to Pandora. AIS is a neat item as it transmits the name course of the boat so that others, with AIS receivers, can see me.  All commercial vessels have this now and an increasing number of pleasure boats do too.   It’s a wonderful product and once you’ve used it you won’t want to be out without it.  The problem is that only an FCC certified tech can make changes to an installed system and there aren’t many pleasure boats with AIS so there aren’t a lot of places to get them serviced.  My unit requires special software and cable which I will have to bring to the tech so that the information can be changed.

There are also a number of smaller issues that need addressing aboard such as the bow thruster that crapped out recently and a mysterious oil leak on the engine.  Let’s hope that it’s indeed minor as I shudder to think about a problem that’s not…  It is a very minor leak but a few drips are ending up in the bilge, never the less.  Such are the trials of boat ownership and the larger the boat the larger the trials.

Brenda and I hope to spend some time aboard Pandora after our son Rob’s wedding in early August and may make a run out to Nantucket.  That would be fun as I really enjoyed my visit with Craig a few weeks ago.  You can see that post by clicking here.

I always have trouble finding topics to write about when I am not aboard and now is no different hence the ten day delay between posts. However, the other day I stumbled on some information about Hooligan’s Navy, a group of private sailing yachts, based out of Greenport LI, that patrolled the waters off of New England during WWII.  While I had heard of this group of sailors, I didn’t know much about them. This short video is quite interesting.
If your interest is peaked, click here to see a documentary , about 45 minutes, that tells the story in detail.  When I was at Cuttyhunk Island a few weeks ago, I was reminded about the U-Boat threat to the NE Coast when I climbed the hill to the center of the island and saw the observation bunker that was used to try and spot U-boats during the war.

As another update, Donna Lange, the grandmother of 11 that spoke at our SSCA Essex GAM a few weeks ago, will be leaving on her non-stop around the world attempt alone in about a week as her scheduled date of departure, from Bristol RI is July 26th.   The following is a short video of Donna talking about her upcoming journey.  I plan on keeping track of her voyage and will certainly write about it here.So, for now I find myself thinking about being out on the water but these days, for me, it’s more thinking and working to get ready and less about doing.  I guess that’s life, 90% perspiration and 10%… Well, I don’t recall the rest of the quote but it’s 10% something else.  For now I’ll call it doing.  Yes, that will suffice for the moment.

Yes, a post that’s perhaps a bit random.  But hey, it’s a lot different than some pictures of me sitting at my desk writing posts.  Well, I cling to that belief.

 

Martha’s Vineyard and a week of perfect sailing.

It’s Friday morning and we are headed from Vineyard Haven to Newport as we make our way to our final destination, Wickford this weekend.  Yet again, we have wind from a favorable direction as we close reach at between 7-8 and sometimes 9 kts in wind at just under 20kts apparent.   I love the fact that she’s so fast and doesn’t heel much either.   It makes for a very nice and speedy ride.

Craig and I have been out for nearly a week and have enjoyed nearly perfect sailing conditions.  When was the last time you went for a week cruise and were blessed with fair winds each day?

As we headed east earlier in the week we had solid SW and S winds and now, as we head back west,  a front has blessed us with NE winds that are making the return trip perfect as well.  I can’t recall when I have been able to sail this route with fair winds BOTH ways.  It reminds me of when parents quip “You don’t have it so bad. When I was your age, we walked hill to school, both ways, in the snow”. However, this week, it’s been nothing like that.   Perfect.

However, the hardship in all of this, as as we have been sailing so much it’s been tough to get warm showers as the engine just hasn’t been run enough.  Feel sorry for us?  No?  If it helps you feel better, I did get a bit of salt spray on my arm as we took the dink ashore the other day.  And, it rained for an hour this morning as we left Vineyard Haven.  Still not sympathetic?  I am  having trouble seeing the puffy clouds as I am having to squint into the sun…  Still?  Never mind…

On another note, we had a very nice visit on Martha’s Vineyard and took the bus from Vineyard Haven to Edgartown yesterday.

There are many beautiful buildings.  Every town should have such a nice town hall building. Here’s the Chappaquiddick ferry.  When we were standing on the town dock Craig noticed that there was another Aerodyne 47, like Pandora, on a nearby dock.  As there were only three made, seeing one was pretty amazing.   Note the Edgartown Yacht Club in the background and the Aerodyne in front on the left. Well, I trotted right over and introduced myself.  The owner, actually the boat has two owners, weren’t aboard but the “manager” invited us aboard for a tour.  It turns out that this is hull #2 and the owners live in NYC and NJ.  I understand that the boat splits it’s time between Edgartown and The Hamptons with the manager moving her around and taking care of her as needed.  I need a manager…

The boat, even though she’s the same design looks a lot different.  She has a hard dodger but it’s a lot shorter and down below the woodwork is teak and white, a much different look than Pandora.  Here’s the cockpit layout.  You can see how much shorter the hard dodger is.  Mine is about two feet longer.   I like the extra protection it affords.   So does Brenda and what she thinks is critical.  Down below, much more white.Here’s a similar shot of Pandora.She also lacks the second head stay that we keep our Code Zero sail on for sailing in light air. I expect that she has an asymmetrical spinnaker.  I gave my card to the manager and hope that he shares it with the owners. I also have the contact information for the owner of hull #1 so that will give us an owner’s group of three. It will be fun to compare notes.

After our tour, Craig and I stopped at the Edgartown Yacht Club for a drink.  It’s a beautiful spot.  Edgartown looks a lot like Nantucket with the major difference being that “competitive container gardening” doesn’t seem to have taken hold quite as strongly.  However, it’s a lovely place and the gardens are beautiful.

This is a very popular wedding spot.  I think that it’s perhaps the most perfect porch that I have ever seen. How about these gardens?  All that’s needed to complete the picture is a blushing bride.  I expect that one will arrive on Saturday. Enough gardens?  There is a real working wooden boat yard in Vineyard Haven, Gannon & Benjamin.   They have been in business for many years and have churned out a steady supply of beautiful boats, many of which reside here all summer. Well, thanks to a speedy run, we are almost to Brenton Reef where we will turn the corner toward Newport.  Besides, it’s lunchtime and I wouldn’t want my crew to get cranky from low blood sugar.  And, to add insult to injury, he may end up with a shower that’s only warm as we haven’t been motoring much.  Such are the compromises of cruising.

Craig!  Lunch is coming.

The gardens of Nantucket. Wow!

It’s Wednesday evening and Craig and I have returned to Pandora after a day ashore in Nantucket.  It’s been a long time since I have visited here and only the third time since I have been here by boat.  Frankly, the moorings, at $75 per night, are the most expensive of any in New England, and I can’t see myself paying those sorts of fees so I didn’t visit for years.  However, this time Craig and I opted to anchor beyond the mooring field, a half mile from the dock.  It was blowing like stink but with the great dink and a powerful motor, we made the run in minutes and stayed dry.   Fortunately, the harbor police didn’t notice, or care, that we were exceeding the speed limit.

The first time that Brenda and I came here by boat was when we had our 20’ Cape Cod catboat, TAO.  After making the run here yesterday, it’s hard to believe that Brenda an I braved the seas to do this trip in such a small boat.  The currents, as you come from Martha’s Vineyard and cross the shoals, are fierce and kick up a pretty nasty chop.  Perhaps even more remarkable than the fact that Brenda and I did this trip in such a small and fragile craft, is the fact that Brenda didn’t say “I’m out of here” and ditch me and tiny TAO, on the spot.  I guess that’s a story for another day.  Thank you Brenda…

When we were here the first time, so many years ago. we ate at the Brotherhood and even though it was more than 30 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday.  Craig and I had lunch there today.  It brought back memories. We also visited a very nice wine store, something that Brenda and I didn’t do when we visited so many years ago.  They were serving some terrific CA wines.  We enjoyed tasting them but I am still too cheap to pay those sorts of prices, larger boat or not.  We also walked the docks at the marina and saw, first hand, the “big kids” and their boats.  Well, we saw their hired help, at least.  This streets are paved with cobbles brought here in the bilges of ships for ballast.  The tree lined streets are very tranquil, in a “monied” sort of way.
I was struck by this flower stand.  If Brenda were with me we surely would have stocked up.  The local shops are very conscious about presenting their best “curb appeal”.   These window boxes just shout “buy something, quick!”.  Churches here are well supported and look beautiful.   Craig and I opted to climb up into the bell tower of this stunning one.  The view from up high of the harbor was spectacular.  Love the rockers.  What better spot to watch for returning ships. And, what’s a town full of beautiful homes without a few “painted ladies”.  This one is an amazing standout.  I’d hate to pay to keep this one in finery. I can’t say that I have seen such a profusion of gardens and planters ever in one place.  Perhaps it’s the cool Nantucket air or the deep pockets of the homeowners.  I expect that it’s both.

It seems to me that gardening here seems more like a competitive sport here on the island with each home more beautiful than the next. One look at this and Brenda would have me in the shop whipping up an arbor.  How about this wall of roses?One of Brenda’s favorites, Hollyhocks.Don’t like pink, how about yellow?  We walked by endless beautiful home perennial gardens.  Well, I could go on for ever but I think that you get the picture.  Besides, when Brenda sees this post I am going to be in a fix.  “Bob, I’d need a new garden bed.  I promise it won’t be a big one.  Honest.”

Good thing we don’t live in Nantucket as my protestations wouldn’t hold much sway with Brenda.  It’s clear that the mix of cool sea breezes married with owners who have deep pockets and Nantucket is indeed THE spot to garden.

Tomorrow Craig and I hope to head west to Martha’s Vineyard as we begin our run to Wickford where Pandora will be moored for the rest of the summer.   So far, we have been blessed with great winds for sailing so let’s hope that our luck holds.

Well, it’s “opening time” so I’d best wrap this up.

At sea again and thinking about old times.

It’s Monday morning and we are on a mooring in Cuttyhunk, a spot that brings back so many memories.   I am out with my friend Craig for a week as we head toward Nantucket.

I have been visiting this harbor since the early 80s and have visited here in each of our six, count em, boats.   Beginning with our first in the late 70s, that would be Tao and Sappho, our two Cape Cod catboats, Artemis, our 1962 Pearson Invicta yawl that I actually spied the first time, prior to buying her, here in Cuttyhunk,.  Elektra, our Tartan 37 and most recently Pandora, our SAGA 43.  Being here brings back so many memories of summers past.

Interestingly, last evening someone stopped to ask about the boat and when I confirmed that she’s an Aerodyne 47 he told me that Rodger Martin, the designer of the boat, was here in the harbor on his own boat.  I didn’t stop to see him last night and unfortunately, he left early today so we didn’t connect.  Oh well, perhaps when I am in Newport as that’s where his office is.  Better luck next time.

Anyway, Cuttyhunk is a special place for me.  I think that the last time I was here I think was when I visited here with my sons Rob and Chris and my dad.  Dad died about a year ago. That trip, about 4 years ago and the last time that Dad was aboard.  It was a very special trip.  As the sun set last night it took on a bright orange glow.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t show here but it turned a cherry red as it drifted toward the horizon.  I can still remember the ethereal light that surrounded us when Dad and the boys were here with me.  That day we hiked up to the top of the hill on Cuttyhunk and posed on a picnic table.  What a great day it was with three generations of Osborn boys.   A wonderful memory.Nearby, on another mooring, there is a lovely Marshall Catboat that is a dead ringer for our second boat, Sappho.  I love the little gig rowing nearby too. We left Essex on the 4th and spent the night at Fishers Island.   You’d think that we were heading out for a month.     From Essex we made our way down the Sound there wasn’t a breath of wind and  didn’t arrive at Fisher’s till after dark.  Along the way we were treated to a beautiful sunset which combined with the fireworks along the shore, made for some wonderful views.  From Fishers we headed here, about 55 miles yesterday.  The wind was right on our stern and freshened as the day progressed to give us a really nice run.  By the time we got here it was blowing about 20kts which meant that picking up the mooring was a bit challenging.  The moorings in the harbor are packed very tight so there isn’t much room for error.

Today we head up to New Bedford and dinner with my good friend Patty, a fellow Corinthian.  Patty was the first female Master of the group and is a great personality.  It will be fun to spend time with her for a drink aboard Pandora.

So much has changed since I first visited Cuttyhunk but nothing perhaps says it better than this picture of my friend Craig talking on the phone with our friend Brian.   “Can you hear me now?”  Not really as the service here isn’t great  but who back in the early 80s would have imagined that we’d have phone service from aboard much less the ability for me to post from aboard.  Pop quiz:  Who decided that blogs should be called blogs, anyway?  Hmm…

Well, writing this isn’t getting us on with our day so perhaps I should sign off and even though Brenda isn’t along for the week, it’s good to be at sea again.