Pandora, on the move, if only briefly

Well, it’s Wednesday morning, it’s a beautiful sunny day and I am on dry land.  Hmm…

At least I was aboard Pandora for a few days, even if it involved a lot of motoring as I returned to the CT River from New Bedford MA over the weekend.   It’s hard to get a favorable wind to head west when the prevailing winds are from the SW and about the only time that winds have an easterly component is when there’s a front coming through.  Unfortunately, that comes with rain and clouds.  A great sunny day rarely has winds from the east in these parts.  I guess a weather man/person might say “never”.   Me, I can only surmise.

So, after overstaying my welcome with my friend Patty in Fairhaven, using her mooring for a few weeks, I retrieved Pandora and she’s now back on the CT River, if only for a short time.

Anyway, she’s now in CT for a bit of upgrades and maintenance prior to me and Brenda heading out to RI on a club cruise for two weeks at the end of the month.

Returning to the CT River, we were blessed with one of an easterly wind combined with a fair tide that carried us from New Bedford all the way to Essex and we were able to make that 70 mile run in a single day.  Of course, it helps to have the help of the tide in keeping things moving in the right direction.

While the wind was pretty good, we were headed with it so I still had to run the engine much of the way, albeit at a low speed.  I was happy to put some hours on my new Autoprop, which performed very well.  I will be interested to see what sort of mileage I get with that prop verses the evil Max Prop that gave me so much trauma.   I do get the impression that the improvement in performance is certainly in the 10% range with regards to fuel efficiency.  We’ll see.  Before I get all excited about “good” mileage, even with an efficient prop, we are talking about 6-7mpg.  Pretty pathetic, actually.  Good thing that Pandora’s a sailboat.  With wind, pretty good mpg.  I guess that would make Pandora a true “hybrid”.  That’s wind and diesel.  Many powerboats count their mileage in gallons-per-mile.   A boat burning 4-5 gallons per mile, going say, 11kts, would be getting less than ONE mile per gallon.   Pathetic actually.

Anyway, enough detail.  It’s been a while since I have made the run down Buzzard’s Bay, through Block Island Sound and into Long Island Sound. Having spent so many summers moving my boats through these waters , over the last 30+ years, but not recently, it’s a real treat to do it again.   I enjoyed seeing one of my favorite island homes perched on what is more of a rocky hump than an island at the entrance to Buzzard’s Bay.  I love the wind generator and the “ancient” columns.  It’s a nice contrast of the old and new.  Pretty nice spot.There are plenty of great spots to look at in passing Watch Hill and Fisher’s Island.  The old Simmon’s mansion, built by the founder of the Simmon’s Mattress company.  I guess old man Simmons sold a lot of beds.  Pretty good digs.  I was hoping to find some information on the mansion, perhaps the biggest on an island with lots of big homes, but alas, not much there except that it was built in 1934.  I guess that the depression was good for the mattress business.  It makes sense.  You’re depressed so you just sleep.   Good for Mr.  Simmons it would seem.   Interestingly, after all these years, they still make a mattress branded “Fisher Island”.    How quaint.   Anyway, nice house.Another beautiful building is the Ocean House Hotel, high up on a bluff in Watch Hill, this beautiful hotel is built on the grounds of a hotel that was built in the early 1900s.  The original hotel was open for many years but ultimately closed in 2003 as it was really beyond repair, a victim of age and changing tastes.  This is a postcard of the old hotel.  Pretty nice. It was always a destination of the wealthy but now you really have to have money to visit, and be particularly willing to part with it as the rooms start at $725 per night.  Yikes!!!   The original Ocean House had 159 rooms with the new facility only boasting 49 rooms and an additional 15 suites.  I guess that modern taste tends toward bigger if more expensive accommodations.   The Ocean House clearly continues to cater to the elite but now I guess the 1% crowd is an even smaller group.   I checked the availability for a room and it seems that there are plenty of  1%rs visiting as there isn’t anything available till September.   While the new hotel is very different, they designed it in keeping with the original spirit of the place.  Interestingly, it has the same number of windows, 247 if you are wondering.  I’d say that they have done a nice job of keeping the feel, and exclusivity, of the place.  Actually, it looks a lot more like the old hotel than this shot would suggest.  

This photo from the water shows how much it looks like the old hotel.  And indeed, that’s a lot of F$%@&*$ windows to wash. And, the porch, what a great spot to read the NY Times.

Speaking of the 1% and where they wile away their time reading, the homes on the point are pretty impressive.  And, at least a few residents must be concerned about their homes sliding into the ocean.  How about the biggest retaining wall you have probably ever seen?  I can’t even imagine how much that wall must have cost.  ”Well Bob, if you have to ask you can’t afford it”.  Well put.A few years ago Brenda and I walked around on Watch Hill, near the hotel. Really nice homes.  Great gardens and wonderful views.   Nice neighborhood. While I had to motorsail the whole way from New Bedford to the CT River, it was very relaxing, even with the swell coming in from the east and even that mostly went away a few hours after the wind shifted from the east to the north.

I can’t even count the number of times I have passed through those waters in the 30+ years that I have been sailing between Cape Cod and Long Island Sound.  It was nice to do so again.

So, now it’s time to get serious about getting Pandora in order for running her south again in September.  The list is long.

However, first things first, and I have to cut the lawn.   “Get on it Bob!”

Sailing vicariously… for now.

It’s Thursday morning and I feel compelled to write something.   Especially since I woke up at 4:45.  Why, why, did I have to wake up that early?  It wasn’t even light yet.  Not a bird chirping.

Oh well, I am awake and I haven’t been aboard Pandora for a week.  And it will be at least another week till I return to New Bedford to head out again so anything I post will have to be about OPB (Other people’s boats).

So, what’s there to write about when I am just an “armchair sailor” for a few weeks?  I have to say that still feels a bit odd to me to be mostly landlocked during the summer these days after so many years of summer sailing with the boat “on the hard” for the winter.  However, life’s not too bad as I do spend nearly 6 months on Pandora these days, just not the summer part.

However, being aboard full time when the weather turns nasty here in CT (That would be ALL winter in my book.) is great and I am already thinking about moving Pandora south this fall.

Speaking of south, it looks like I will be running Pandora to Georgia in late September after the fall Annapolis SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association) gam.  And, I’ll likely leave Pandora in Brunswick for a few months till I return to her in early January to run her down to Miami.   I say GA because we can’t put her south of the FL/GA border prior to November 1st due to insurance requirements.  The rub is that we are planning some travel from mid October to mid November so Pandora will have to be settled prior to the time that it’s ok to move her to FL.  Anyway, in GA she’ll be until I return in January to take her the rest of the way to Miami.  I  expect that the temps in GA in January will be a bit on the chilly side compared to south FL.    However, it should be better there than here in CT by that point. 

For now, I’ll just have to think about those folks that are sailing this summer while Pandora sits patiently on her mooring up in New Bedford.  Happy to have access to my friend Patty’s mooring there.  

I guess that I will have to satisfy my sailing needs vicariously for the moment and I know of no better way to do that then to do a bit of perusing of videos on YouTube.    Yes, that site has something for everybody.  No, make that thousands of somethings for everybody.  Well, at least for me.

So, what’s interesting?  How about mast walking?  Now there’s an idea.  I have been up Pandora’s mast plenty of times, most recently to check out a problem with the VHF radio antenna which needed to be replaced.  And I did it the old fashioned way, in a bosun’s chair.  Brenda pulled me up using the power winch.  I can tell you I was gripping the mast with my legs, plenty hard. Here’s what it looked like from deck.   However, it seems that there are other ways to get to the top of the mast, especially if you have a thirst for adventure.   How about this as a way to the top?The “walker” is Alex Thompson,  the skipper of Hugo Boss, a round the world racer.   This video has been viewed nearly 1.5 million times on YouTube.  Not a bad promo for the Hugo Boss fashion brand.  Besides, Alex looks quite natty in his suit, doesn’t he?

So, what about me as a mast walker?   Hmm…  My first thought… I like my of getting to the top better.  My second thought, and it only took a second? Brenda wouldn’t be on board EVER AGAIN if I pulled a stunt like that.  As my son Rob would say, “Dad, quit it with the CLMs with Mom”. (Career Limiting Moves) Well said. For a girl that likes “being anchored” as her favorite part of sailing, I am thinking that heeling Pandora over at 50-60 degrees would be low on her bucket list.  No, not her first choice, not at all.

Even though it’s old news, our buddy Alex walked on his keel a few years ago. Interesting yes, but not as neat as walking up a 100′ mast. This one has had 2.4M views. He looks a little younger in this video but that shouldn’t be a surprise as he’s sailed around the world on that boat since then and that sort of punishment would make anyone a bit grayer around the ears.

Speaking of things that make you look older.  Here’s an interesting piece about Alex and his competition in the Vendee Globe, a round the world nonstop solo race.   Imagine doing this sort of race for three months, without a break.  Not for the faint of heart.  Some, like Brenda, might say “not for the normal”.I guess that Hugo Boss is getting their money out of that relationship.

So, as Pandora sits quietly on her mooring up in New Bedford I’ll have to get my sailing in through videos on YouTube and there are plenty more where these came from.

I guess that’s about all for now.   Have to get on with my day.  Fortunately, the grass isn’t ready to be cut.  A few more days till I have to do that again.

Whew…

 

 

Dan Alonso and a remarkable sea rescue.

A few weeks ago we held a GAM for the SSCA, Seven Seas Sailing Association, in Essex.  We had a great attendance of over 60, up from about 35 in 2013, our first event.  This year  we had some terrific speakers and this post is about one in particular given by ocean sailor Dan Alonso.

Dan spoke to us about a remarkable at-sea rescue he accomplished in 2013 in the Bermuda 1-2, a race where you sail alone on the run from Newport RI to Bermuda and back with one additional crew.   Dan’s talk was remarkable and very moving.  Most “guys”, when telling a story about sailing tend to make light of any emotion, seeming to say “it was nothing, anyone could do it” and they act like they were just “doing their job”.  Not Dan; he spoke from the heart and it was clear to everyone that he was changed by the experience.  This is his remarkable story, in his own words.

Here’s Dan. And his boat Halcyon, his Hallberg Rassy 49. So, I have reprinted Dan’s words and photos as published in the online publication, Scuttlebutt Sailing News.  Dan told me that he wrote these words for his wife Kathy so he could help her better understand what happened and how he felt.  

Here, in Dan’s words…  The race was off. Day one the winds were enough to get Halcyon moving. The second day it shut down. Doldrums. Fortunately, it didn’t last. When the wind returned, it would change direction and make this a reaching race.

The router shows the wind will be around 18 knots out of the south for days. I’m hoping it’s enough but more would be better. I need it big enough to shut down the other boats, Halcyon can take it. Heading to the entry point in the Gulf Stream, the wind continues to build. Halcyon is starting to go.

Out in front of me are two boats, Bent (S2 9.1) and Kontradiction (C&C 110). Bent is in my class. They are far away but good targets. The wind is getting strong. I am nearly at full sail, just a small reef in the main. I can feel Halcyon pushing forward. The water is now a steady sound, a crushing wave being pushed off Halcyon’s bow. It is “go” time, and Halcyon is a raging bull just driving through the building sea. After a few years of trying to race this “north sea” cruiser and getting killed in light air, we finally have the race conditions Halcyon thrives in; big winds and nasty sea state.

Since entering the stream, Halcyon has not dropping below 11 knots over the bottom and often in the 12s. We had spent over $5,000 getting the auto pilot repaired just days before the race, but I’m now listening to the motor over working and I’m feeling sick. I’ve just sailed from Charleston to Bermuda and then Bermuda to Newport solo with a constantly failing auto pilot – 1,400 miles of offshore sailing without a pilot. I just can’t bear the emotional stress of a failing pilot again.

Halcyon is no longer keeping her course. It’s happening again, no pilot.

The backup plan for this summer of racing was to use the Hydrovane, “Hydi”, a wind driven autopilot that we installed just before the Charleston to Bermuda race. At the start of that race, and just a few hours before entering into the Gulf Stream, Hydi broke off the stern. I was barely able to wrestle it back aboard.

Hydi is now reinstalled but completely untested. I’m not sure if it’s big enough to steer the boat or if the seas will tear it off the stern again. Fortunately in this whole mess, the wind is on the nose and likely to remain a close reach for the entire race. If both pilots fail, I take comfort knowing I can lock the wheel and at least balance the helm and get close enough to hand steer into Bermuda.

There’s no stopping Halcyon. Pilot or not. She’s crushing the ocean. I feel like I’m standing on a freight train and we’re reeling in Bent and Kontradiction fast. I finally pass them and start looking for more. Who’s next? A day later, I’m hearing VHF transmission. It’s from boats in the first class. I thought they would be long gone. Am I doing that well? Maybe this could be my race. Neither pilot is able to steer the boat on their own so I’m using them together. Hydi takes the load off and the autopilot steers the rest. My pilots are a team. It’s working and if I can hold it for a few days, I’ll finally have my race.

Then the call comes. Halcyon being hailed. Someone’s requesting assistance. He’s got an accent. I think it’s Kontradiction. Are you kidding me? This is my time, and the race I’ve been hoping for. I’m sick for getting beat in light winds. I’ve got no dependable auto pilot but it’s working and I have to stop? I’m pretty sure I’m the only boat in my class doing 9+ knots in this crap.

I think, “Assistance? What does that mean? ” We’re 250 miles from Bermuda in the middle of the ocean. There is another boat on it’s the way, but I’m closer. The sun will set shortly. He wants to know if I can help. The other boat is at the back of his class. He can’t win. Why stop my race? I’m thinking why me? I can win, Halcyon’s killing it. Why me? He’s 17 miles away and I’m 5. What’s the big deal?

And then it takes a moment, but it settles in. Assistance! This guy is leaving his boat! You don’t give assistance in this crap. It’s blowing and the seas are big. It’s freaking bad out here. This is an abandon ship. He needs to leave his boat. Something bad has happened and he’s leaving his boat. My race is done. This guy needs help

I douse the genoa and put away the main. I hail Mike Schum from Kontradiction. He had a strong accent and sounded just like the guy asking for assistance. I was sure this assistance call was Mike. Kontradiction hails back saying he’s fine. He doesn’t know what I’m talking about.

I was just talking to this guy. He told me he’s losing his keel and needs help, he’s abandoning ship. I quit the race and he’s fine? What the f#ck? Am I losing my mind? Did I imagine that? What’s going on here? I hail back to the distressed boat. He responds. The vessel’s name is “Solid Air”, it’s not Kontradiction. It’s real and this was a glimpse of my potentially fragile emotional state. I actually thought I may have imagined it. No kidding, questioning my mind.

Solid Air communicates his lat/lon. Just writing it down is a task. Every time I leave the helm to communicate or work the plotter, Halcyon breaches, leaning over a good 30-40 degrees. Without the pilot and in these seas, everything is crazy hard and now I’m breaching every fifth wave. I finally create a waypoint and get going. He’s downwind and it looks like it will take about 45 minute to get there. I’ve got to hand steer. I’m sailing with our small wheel and the steering is stiff, just turning the wheel is a workout. I’ve got the auxiliary on and just the storm sail up. The seas are about 8-12 feet. I’m running with the wind and seeing 30-35 mph.

Halcyon is surfing down each wave. It’s hard to keep her straight. She wants to veer off. How the hell am I going to get his guy aboard? I know the life sling drill, but really? In this sh#t? After about 20 minutes I hail the skipper to work out our plan. He’s thinking of putting out a few fenders. Right! I hail back, “Skipper, you’re going to get wet.”

The tension is building. I know I’ve got to get him but I’ve got no pilot, can’t steer the boat worth a crap and it’s really really awful out. I’m getting closer so I call to update his lat/lon. He now gives me coordinates that are different. I’m not talking drifting a half mile different. He’s 8 miles upwind, where I just came from.

The sun’s going down, 8 miles upwind an hour a half ride and you’re where? What the f#ck? Where are you? Kontradiction is listening and also takes the lat/lon. Mike, skipper of Kontradiction, is a comforting voice and another mind working on this feels good. I’m terrified of wasting more time motoring to new positions where he is not. Dousing the storm jib, I realize it’s windy, really windy. The sail lifts me off the deck with ease.

The drive upwind was nuts. The waves were now pushing 15 feet. The bow was launching into the sky. Things that had never fallen in the cabin after years of storm sailing were now flying about. With no canvas and a big sea state, Halcyon is pitch poling, badly, in all directions. Steering is far beyond difficult, nearly impossible.

I start thinking it was beyond me. I can’t do it. After years of being proud as “Mr. Bad-Ass-Ocean-Storm-Sailor”, I can’t do this. I just can’t do this. It’s too much. What do I do? I still don’t know where he is. What if this new location is also wrong? The sun’s on the horizon now and I’m an hour and a half downwind. Are you kidding me? I’m broken. This should be for helicopters but we’re too far offshore. What do I do? I can’t do this.

As a wrestler, you could break my arm and I wouldn’t quit, but this is too much. Just steering is a monumental task. It takes all my focus and energy. Mike had offered help and I had turned it down. How is that going to help? Two boats? More boats to crash into each other. I’m suddenly overwhelmed with the consideration that I simply will not be able to find him. Here I am terrified of the pickup and I can’t find him. I ask Mike to stick around. Two sets of eyes are better than one. I request a flare. I’m hoping for something visual. Solid Air feels we’re too far apart to see the flare and wants to wait. It makes sense, so we wait.

In Mike’s effort to join the rescue, he loses his jib while dousing and wraps a jib sheet in his prop. I’m already being pushed. Pushed beyond what I’m able to handle and now I’m thinking, is this going to turn into two rescues? Solid Air hails. He’s using AIS to try to get a heading. He tells me I need to head 135 degrees. This makes no sense. This is not in the right direction. It’s a least 100 degrees off. Where is he? I’m just sick, getting my ass kicked heading upwind, the sun’s down and I still don’t know where he is.

While Mike is trying to recover, Solid Air fires a flare. I see it. Thank God , I see it. What a beautiful thing. A SOLAS rocket flare hanging in the sky. I look at the compass. It’s about 180 degrees. I realize that I need to turn on the compass light for the next flare. It’s too dark to read it. When I leave the helm, the boat falls off and is slammed by a wave. More crap flying around the cabin.

I’m cold, soaked and struggle to climb the companion way to get the boat back up wind. Another flare. This one is closer and now at 220 degrees. I request he put all lights on so he’d be easier to see. As I approach, I finally get visual contact. I need to get near enough to evaluate this carefully. This could be really bad if we collide.

I come around and approach from upwind. I didn’t want him getting blown down on me and foul our rigs. I’m really close, 200 feet. Each wave is a pitch poling nightmare. All of a sudden he’s gone. He was just right in front of me and now he’s gone. Lost in the dark.

I climb out of the cockpick to try and see him. Having left the helm, Halcyon is veering out of control again. I’m about to hit him. He’s right here somewhere and I can’t see him. The seas are huge and Halcyon will crush him if we collide. I know I’m only seconds from impact. I can’t see him. Maybe he turned down wind and his lights are faced away. I finally see him and climb back to the helm. With all my might, I’m straining to keep him in sight. I can’t lose him now.

I later learned from Jan that he had put the boat away, turned off the lights and secured the cabin at my approach.

Solid Air is leaning funny. Her stern to the wind. And she’s lurching strangely. Halcyon is wanting to surf each wave. It’s just too much. Docking a 27 ton boat, healing 35 degrees while surfing at 10 knots. This is just insane.

I had decided earlier to use the sling on a spin sheet. I wanted the heavier line for winching and more mass to throw. The line that comes with the sling floats and the spin sheet does not. I’m risking a prop wrap if I miss and that just CAN NOT happen. The line is now carefully coiled, short and sitting on the stern quarter. It’s time.

I head to Solid Air. Halcyon is charging at her stern quarter. At about 40 feet from collision, I turn the helm to port. I know she would fall off like a breach and as she does, I run for the sling. I’m now about 20 feet away from him but heading away. I throw the sling and it hits him in the chest. I scurry back to the helm to back down on the auxiliary and ditch as much speed as I can. Halcyon’s breaching.

Jan, skipper of Solid Air has his arm through the sling. I run the line to the winch and with a power drill begin hauling. Halcyon’s momentum launches him from his stern and he’s skipping across the water.

I got him.

Thank God I got him.

I knew this had to fly first shot. A second try would be in total darkness; he would be impossible to find. As he approaches the rail, the battery quits. I try to lift him but it is not going to happen. I go to the winch and start to crank by hand. It’s taking too long. He is being slammed under the Halcyon’s hull with each wave. We can hear each other. He is being battered under the hull but is okay.

I suddenly think of the boarding ladder. I quickly dig it out and put it on the rail. It is still too high. I continue to winch. Just a little higher. He is finally able to reach it. I lean over and together with a last effort, he is aboard.

Halcyon is still bare poled and out of control. I raise the storm jib and put out some mainsail. With Halcyon’s helm balanced, I can lock the wheel and get us under control. I am back under way but hardly a racing clip. I have no idea what had just happened. I am wet and miserable. Jan calls the race committee to update them while I shower. How nuts. Still in a storm, just completed a rescue and I want to be showered and dry. Needing to wash off this trauma.

Jan showers next. I give him dry clothes. We eat paella I had made the day before. I put him to bed and turn Halcyon back towards Bermuda. Pulling an email from the Sat phone, I discover that Aggressive, the leading boat, is in front of me. I want to race but I’m struggling. I’m struggling to find the drive, the courage to sail aggressively. I have smaller sails up.

Balancing the helm with bigger sail area and autopilot issues is too much; not now. I’m still freaked out and feeling timid. Before the rescue, Halcyon was cranking along at 9.5 knots in what was approaching gale conditions. We were now comfortable and going 6.5 so I set my alarms and sleep.

Waking, I find that Bent is in front of me and beatable. Jan explains to me that I would be given back the lost time from rescue. So once again, it’s “go” time. I tell Halcyon “Bent’s in front of you”. Like an excited puppy, she lights up as we start chasing him down. I pop the Genoa, unfurl the main and she is powered up again. At 9.5 knots she is quickly closing the gap. I know the dream of winning first in class is not likely. I just want to cross the line ahead of Bent. I need to find the racer in me, something stronger than the broken rescuer.

It looks like I’m going to roll Bent again. The winds are blowing 28 and Halcyon’s loving it but there’s a problem. Without a pilot I can’t come off the wind. I need another 30 degrees to avoid hitting the reefs. It’s still too far to hand steer. I’m catching up quickly but I’m going the wrong way. If I reef, I may be able to come off wind and get my heading but I’ll lose boat speed. With only a few miles to go I reef. Halcyon loses speed, and I know it’s done. With a few tacks the race is over. My battle with Bent is done and it’s time to just stop.

Arriving in Customs, I am greeted by Jan’s wife. She is crying, hysterical. Barely able to make words, crying “thank you,” calling me a hero. “Thank you for saving my husband.”

I don’t even understand. I am so blown away by her. This moment is a powerful shift. It cracks open my emotions. This was more than picking up another racer. In the harbor, alone again, anchor finally down, I lie on the fore deck and just lose it. Just cry and cry.

Everything had gone fine, and I’m just emotionally destroyed. The guy just needed assistance. Right! What is assistance 500 miles offshore? It’s not bringing a guy a fan belt. It’s one scary thing that leaves you depleted, damaged and grateful to have pushed through when you thought you could not.

On corrected time, Halcyon finished 2nd in class and 4th in fleet… with a little detour.

As you can imagine, Dan didn’t have any “PowerPoint slides” and yet he told his story in a way that you could almost hear the wind and feel the waves, his words were so vivid.  Having been offshore in rough conditions a number of times, I have always had crew aboard and to attempt, and accomplish, a rescue such as he described alone, and with no autopilot, is hard for me to imagine.

In recognition of his achievement, Dan was awarded the Seamanship Award by the Ocean Cruising Club in 2013.

Me, I was moved and will surely think about Dan’s experience the next time I take Pandora offshore.

Charles W. Morgan, in fine sailing trim in New Bedford

It’s Thursday and I am back home after a short trip to New Bedford MA for a few days.  My friend Burt and I sailed Pandora from the CT River to Stonington and then on to New Bedford.

Happily, we were able to sail much of the way with good winds and covered a lot of distance in just a few days.   Interestingly, as we passed Newport RI, home to lots of mega-yachts, we were passed by the yacht Marie, a 181′ Vitters built beauty, on her way to Booth Bay Maine.   Vitters builds world class megayachts and mega,mega yachts.  Check out their site for a “sight” of some of their projects.   These yachts are “toys for really big boys”.  I know this boat through Dr. Bosarge, the guy who I wrote about in my blog last summer.  And it was that post that led to our being invited to his Bahamas island, Over Yonder Cay.

It seems that Brenda and I will be sailing on the yacht Marie this summer as we have been invited to sail on Marie and visit Dr. Bosarge’s home in Booth Bay.  Now, that should be a fun time. He wasn’t at Over Yonder Cay when we visited there so it will be fun to actually meet him in person.

Here’s link to a series of photos of Marie.  What a boat.

Speaking of sailing yachts, we left Stonington CT at 05:30 on Sunday with very light wind and as we headed east toward  New Bedford, we spied this lovely schooner.  She was, no doubt, headed home from the Wooden Boat Show that had been held in Mystic Seaport over the prior weekend.  Very pretty lines. Seeing her was getting me in the mood for seeing the Morgan in New Bedford, following her refit at the seaport.

So, as we headed east the wind piped up and as we entered Buzzard’s Bay and were into the final stretch, the wind was gusting into the low 20s.  It was a brisk ride.  Along the way we ended up sailing on company with an Oyster 59, a much bigger boat than Pandora.  I was thrilled that she wasn’t able to pass Pandora in spite of being a dozen feet longer.   No, it wasn’t a “race” but any time two or more sailboats are near each other, IT’S A RACE.  You know how it goes, try to make the boat go as fast as possible while looking like you aren’t trying at all.  ”Oh, that boat.  I didn’t see her…”

Anyway, we made covered over 50 miles under sail on our way from Stonington to New Bedford at a nice clip and picked my friend Patty’s mooring for our visit.   The next day we headed ashore to see the Charles W. Morgan, who had her “homecoming” to the harbor for the first time since she was an active whaling ship a century ago.

New Bedford harbor is an amazing place with what seems like hundreds of fishing boats tied up at docks in every corner of the harbor.    This shot, from on top of the Whaling Museum, gives you a good feeling for how many there are. You can see the lightship Nantucket, in her distinctive red paint,  in the distance.    The Nantucket, has been around since the 50s and was only retired by the coast guard from her station off of Nantucket, in the mid 80s.  She was anchored off of the SE corner of Nantucket for many years warning ships of the shoaling waters that run 30 miles out to sea that have claimed hundreds of ships over the years.   And, about the Nantucket, if you have an hankering to have a lightship of your own, she’s been recently refitted as a yacht and is for sale.

As if that’s not enough, you’ll never have a problem finding a place to drop the hook as she carries her own 7,000 lb mooring on her bow. How about that for self sufficiency?  And to be sure you are seen, there’s even a locomotive headlight on her bow. Who needs AIS, or radar for that matter, when you have a gazillion candlepower light to let everyone know where you are.

Interested?  Check out the for sale listing here.  She’s clearly a show stopper. I wonder what sort of mileage she gets. Brenda always says that her favorite part of boating is being anchored. Perhaps Nantucket would be the perfect boat for her.   Looking pretty smart in this “glamour shot”.   The interior isn’t too shabby either.  Setting aside the Nantucket, everywhere you look there are fishing boats.  I’d think that it has to be tough to make a living when your boat is tied up at the dock.  With the restrictive quotas imposed on fishing boats these days, It must be a very difficult way to make a living.  And, as my grandfather used to say “you can’t catch fish when you’re lure isn’t in the water”.  Or, perhaps more to the point, “you can’t catch fish if you aren’t fishing”, and given the number of boats in the harbor, they aren’t catching many fish right now.   In spite of this New Bedford still lands more seafood in total dollars than any other port in the US.  It seems that the success of the scallop fishery is one of the reasons that New Bedford is on top as a fishing port.

Here’s a tour of a modern scallop dragger.  What a machine.  And, if you’re interested, here’s a video of a scallop dragger from 1951. What a contrast.  Today’s boats are huge compared this.  I’d imagine that one of the reasons the modern boats are stuck at the dock is that they are just so efficient that to let them out every day would destroy the fishery in a few years.   So much for modern innovation.

So, heading back in time, the Charles W. Morgan, the last surviving whaling ship from another era and another fishery. She had her “homecoming” to New Bedford where she sailed from in the 1800s.  She’s been at Mystic Seaport since the 40s and has recently undergone her most extensive refit since she was launched in 1841.

Yes, I’ve seen the Morgan many times over the years, but always as a static museum ship.  And,to see her now, fit for sea, was a real treat.  Perhaps the most amazing thing of all was to see how much manila line she has on board.  The literally miles of cordage that comprises her rigging is a sight to behold.  To me her lines look like spun gold. Beautiful.  Here’s her mainmast splendidly draped with cordage. And, to look up to the sky.  Not sure I’d want to climb up there.  She looked lovely tied up the pier.  I guess that when you are talking about a ship, they are tied up to piers and not docks. Even the dock that I tied up my dink to had a great view.  How about this for contrast?  Whale boats and rubber boats, all nestled under the bowsprit of the Ernistina, an old fishing schooner.I liked this view even more.  However, don’t try to head out into the harbor in a 9′ boat when one of the “big boys” is getting underway. New Bedford has EVERYTHING.  And speaking of rubber boats, they even have a rubber whale. This would look so great in my front yard.  Perhaps it would cut down on the amount of lawn I’d have to mow.  That would be good.  Have I mentioned that I have a BIG lawn?  Thought so.  And, if you want to learn more about whales the New Bedford Whaling Museum is a must.  It’s been recently renovated and expanded.  And, of course, one of the original displays in the museum is a half scale model of the whaling ship Lagoda, some 65′ long, a successful whaling ship that sailed from New Bedford. The model was built in 1916 when the museum was founded.  I’ll bet that it’s the largest ship model in the world.  Is there a bigger one?  On a serious note, fishing offshore is a dangerous business and many mariners have lost their lives over the centuries while plying their trade.  And in New Bedford, there is a chapel, the Seaman’s Bethel, that has plaques recognizing the ultimate sacrifice that many have made when heading out to sea.  This sanctuary has a very unique pulpit shaped like the bow of a sailing ship.  It is said that Herman Melville drew his inspiration for Moby Dick from New Bedford and this chapel.    It sure looks the part to me.  The building has been beautifully restored.  Anyway, Pandora will be in New Bedford for a bit prior to my bringing her to Narraganset Bay for some cruising with Brenda. Perhaps we’ll take a few days to run back there to see the sights as New Bedford is indeed a wonderful port to visit.

Did I mention how big my lawn is?  Well, it’s big and the grass needs to be cut so I’d better sign off and get the mower out.

I’d rather be sailing, or visiting New Bedford…

Lazing around for the summer? Not!!!

It’s Sunday morning and I have done it again.  I have lapsed for weeks since my last post.   Yes, I have been bad.

Well, there’s been a whirlwind of stuff going on since we returned from the Bahamas.  How I long for the lazy days with not much to do.  I won’t talk about how big my lawn is but let’s say that it takes more than one bag of fertilizer to cover it with one application.  Enough said.

Anyway, since my last post we successfully had a great SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association) rendezvous with nearly 60 in attendance and some coming by boat from as far away as VA.  And, that’s not including folks like us that had spent their winter in the Bahamas and came to Essex on their way to Maine.    This event is one that we have been having annually and will continue doing here going forward.  We hope to have 100 attendees in June of 2015.  We had a number of terrific speakers over the three days of the event and I’ll be writing about one in particular, a sailor who performed an at-sea rescue last year in the Bermuda 1-2.  His talk was very moving and I expect to write about his amazing story soon.

Beyond spending time on this event and all that led up to it, I was also studying for my HAM radio Technicians exam, which I passed.  YEAH!   I have very much wanted to have a HAM license since getting my SSB radio a few years ago and it feels good to have passed it.  I read the book, a number of times, over the winter (during those not so busy days aboard) and studied like mad for a few weeks prior to the exam.  Now I’ll be studying for the next level.  I expect to take the next exam in Annapolis at the SSCA September Gam.   Wish me luck.

I also decided to GIVE UP on my MaxProp, which has given me fits for as long as I have owned Pandora and sprung for a new Autoprop.  My MaxProp has been rebuilt TWICE in just a few years and I was still getting vibration in the drivetrain.   Yes,  I have written, and whined, time after time about this so finally I said “ENOUGH” and purchased an AutoProp.

It’s a very odd looking propeller with three blades that each can spin 360 degrees on the hub.  For the life of me, I can’t imagine how it works.  Beyond that, I can’t fathom how someone even thought of the idea.   However, I have a few friends with one and now that it’s installed,  WOW!

It’s amazingly smooth under power and I have gained more than a 10% efficiency in speed.  That’s sort of like getting a 10% discount on fuel I guess.  Anyway,  I am also told that the pitch of the propeller adjusts automatically as the boat speed and sea-state changes.  I am very much looking forward to seeing how it works in various conditions.  I’ll find out soon as I am leaving for New Bedford today.  More about that soon, read on.

Anyway, here’s a  photo of the AutoProp installed and in “normal” operational mode.   Looks normal, right?And, when you stop the engine, the prop blades rotate a bit and go in line with the water going under the boat.  Normal again…However, the weirdest part of all is how the bladed can flop around at at random when the boat is sitting still.  Now that looks very odd.  It’s hard for me to imagine just how things line up and work when the blades can orient themselves any which way.  However, it works and the actual blade alignment changes based on the RPM of the engine and the pressure on the blades.  I guess it’s like a thermos keeping liquids hot or cold, “it just knows”.

However, the most amazing thing about this propeller is just how much it costs.  Without being crass and giving the exact amount, let’s just say that it cost nearly as much as my first new car.  Yes, that was a long time ago, but still…

Happily, the propeller vibration problems are now history and Pandora will surely be happier now when the engine is running.   Me too.

So, what’s next?  As I wrote about a few weeks ago, the Charles W. Morgan whaling ship is in New Bedford for a few weeks and I am going to head up there to see her.  It’s been nearly 100 years since she last called on that port, when she was an active whaling ship and it will be fun to visit.   This video is of her leaving Mystic Seaport where she’s been since the 1940s.

Here’s a video of her sailing for the first time in 90 years.    I expect that you will agree with Brenda that it’s about as exciting as watching grass grow.   Well, wait a minute, this surely isn’t something that you see every day.  Right?    But don’t fear, it’s only 1.5 minutes.  You can handle that I hope.My good friend Patty has a house on the water in New Bedford harbor and has offered for me to put Pandora on the mooring for a bit.  So, today my friend Burt and I will make the run from the CT River to New Bedford.

It will be good to put Pandora back in commission and sailing again.

So, I hope that you are convinced that I am not a slug lounging around in my lawn chair and shirking my “blog post duties”.   I have been busy, indeed.  Now it’s time to do a bit of sailing.

Perhaps I’ll close with some historic footage of the Morgan back in 1926, surely a simpler time.  

Here’s to fair winds.  More to come and soon…

 

Camden, a “Maine” favorite for Pandora and a bit of whining.

It’s Thursday morning here in CT and it’s cloudy, again.  After a winter of SUN in the Bahamas, I am amazed with how cloudy it’s been here in the last few weeks. We have been trying to find a few days to head north to Vermont to celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary (Yes, I know, we look like two kids just playing house.   37 years?  I wish we looked more the part too.)   Anyway, the weather has been cloudy more often than not.  We’ll give it another try early next week.  Who wants to head out on a “mini-vacation” for a few days in the rain?  Not I, no make that Not We.  Well, wish us good luck and a few sunny days.

However, June is nearly half over and I am NOWHERE toward getting Pandora in shape to do a bit of cruising this summer.  As I have moaned about to anyone who would listen over the last year or so, I have been frustrated by an ongoing vibration problem in the running gear on Pandora.  It seems that we have vibration that comes and goes and I am about out of ideas as to how to  correct the problem.  

Last summer I sent out the Max Prop for rebuild, it’s second visit to the manufacturer, because of vibration problems.  Unfortunately, this did not solve the problem and after getting the engine aligned and having the prop shaft tweaked a bit, the problem just won’t go away.  No, make that, the problem won’t stop and sometimes happens and as quickly goes away as the vibration is intermittent.  In any event, I decided “enough is enough” and ordered another type of propeller, this time an Autoprop.

First, here’s a video of the Max Prop (the one that has been giving me fits), an elegant piece of machinery if there ever was one.  Don’t worry, the video is only about 30 seconds.  However, be warned that the “speaker” isn’t going to get an Oscar for his delivery.  In concept, this prop is a wonderful piece of equipment.  However, it needs a fair amount of ongoing maintenance as it has to be filled with grease three or four times a year.  And, unless you are an occasional cruiser that hauls their boat at least once a year and doesn’t put many miles on it,  this means swimming down under the boat with a grease gun to get the job done.  And, if all was well and the prop ran smoothly, I’d be ok with that. However, after years of frustration, Max is Min for me so it’s time for a change.

So, what to do? A number of fellow SAGA 43 owners have spoken highly of the Autoprop and after fussing with my current prop for several years, I have ordered one of these.  The reason I waited as long as I did is that these puppies are pretty pricey and spending that amount of money for something that I can’t even see has kept me focused on trying to make my Max right.  However, after a winter of nursing it some 4,000 miles I decided “enough already, it’s time to make a change”.  Just for fun, here’s a video of how the Autoprop works. It’s a very odd looking beast.

I can’t imagine how someone came up with this concept. Oddly, it’s actually “self pitching”, meaning that it adjusts to the right pitch to get the maximum power out of your engine, depending on sea conditions.   How does it know?  I guess it’s sort of like a thermos keeping things hot or cold.  It just knows. Hmm…
I sure do hope that the effort, and cost, of pulling Pandora out of the water to make the switch proves to be a good decision. For sure, it’s an expensive one. Fingers crossed that I am not just swapping one set of problems for another.

Ok, enough about “what doesn’t work”.  How about I talk about where I want to be? Yes, that’s good.

How about Camden Maine? Yes, that’s a good spot.

Camden Maine is located in the heart of what is referred to as “Mid Coast Maine”, on the western shore of Penobscot Bay.  This body of water is one of the nicest cruising areas in Maine and a great jumping off point to explore other ports, all within an easy day sail.

Whenever we head to Maine our visits always include a stop in Camden where we enjoy taking a “harbor float” within the “inner harbor”.  The main harbor is very nice but it’s somewhat exposed to the prevailing SW winds so any boat in the harbor is subjected to what is known locally as the “Camden Roll”.  Unfortunately, there is nearly always a bit of swell finding it’s way into the harbor so enjoying a quiet evening aboard isn’t always as quiet as it should be.  Fortunately, there’s a way to avoid that and that’s to tie up to one of the small floats in the tiny inner harbor.

We generally take one of these floats from the Camden Yacht Club as they charge a bit less than the commercial yard that owns the bulk of the floats, Wayfarer Marine.   Both operations are very friendly and when all of the CYC floats are in use, we just go with one from Wayfarer.   One way or the other, being in the tiny inner harbor is a great spot.  Actually, it looks bigger from up high than it seems when you are there.

As you can see, the harbor is filled with small docks all moored in a line. It’s a great way to pack a lot of boats into a small harbor and very orderly.  Here’s a view of the harbor from high up on the nearby Camden Hills.   You owe it to yourself to take the hike up to the summit to see this view for yourself.  As if the view from the top isn’t enough?  The view from Pandora, just as nice. What a spot. Just to our stern in the shot above is a dock used by some of the local schooners who take folks out for a week of sailing.  Going out on a “dude schooner” would be a real treat?  Want to learn more?  Visit the schooner association website.  These majestic beauties are one of the real treats of a visit to Maine and Camden. To see these boats sail into a harbor at the end of the day is breathtaking. And they have to sail as they have no motors.  It’s a good thing that the captain and crew are well seasoned on sailing in close quarters.  Pretty impressive boat handling.  Me, I prefer to anchor under power.  Ok, call me a wimp, I can take it.   “Bob, you’re a wimp”.   See, I didn’t even flinch.  Well, only a little.   And if you are one of the 1% you might want to have one of these.  Not into varnish and old wood?  Perhaps this beauty is more your style.  And yes, 1% club member, for sure.However, if you are carry a AMEX Black card and are a member of the .0001% club you can have a boat like Bystander.   Bystander was built in 2007 and was designed to look like a classic steamship from the 30s. This article will give you a feel for what she’s like.  Now, that’s real money.This spectacular ship is privately owned and acts as a “tender” to a magnificent classic “J” yacht Velsheda, once a contender for the America’s Cup trophy.   This classic sailing yacht has been “rescued” several times from near death to be rebuilt. She has an interesting history chronicled here.   She is now in fit condition, probably better than new, a perfect example of what an open, and unlimited, checkbook can accomplish.  To own a classic “J” is not for just anyone.  However, he’s not alone as there’s a “bakers dozen” of these beauties around now, more than were sailing in their heyday.  Check out the “club site” for an overview of all of the current Js.  Talk about an exclusive group.

It’s amazing that one person can own a classic J along with a remarkable power yacht like Bystander.

Well, these are just a few examples of what you can find in Camden.  Even if your bank account isn’t up to owing a multi-million dollar yacht, you can always go ashore and drown your sorrows in a bowl of ice cream.  Yes, that works for me. Besides, what visit to this lovely town would be complete without a stroll down the main street, another reason that Camden is indeed one of Pandora’s favorites. Warm summer days, cool nights, beautiful views, a chance to watch the folks with “giga-money” having fun and ice cream.  What’s not to like?

Perhaps if I finish this post I can get dressed and get to work on Pandora so we can go sailing again.  Now that’s a plan.

Oh yeah.  Thanks for listening to my whining.  I feel better now too.

Allen Island, summer home of the Wyeth clan. A Maine Favorite.

It’s Friday morning and I am feeling a bit guilty for not posting for nearly two weeks.  My goal, when we are “on the hard” is to post at least once a week.

However, I do find inspiration somewhat difficult when I am not out on the water. Well, I’d better get over it as shoreside is where I’ll be for a bit.   The good news is that later this month Pandora will be in New Bedford to celebrate the arrival of the Charles W. Morgan, the whaleship from Mystic Seaport.  New Bedford was the Morgan’s home port when she was an active whaler and this return visit will be her first since the 1940s.  After millions spent on her restoration over the last few years, this visit to New Bedford, for the Morgan is a big deal.  I’ll certainly be writing about this later in the month.  Stay tuned for that.

However, right now, Pandora is sitting patiently in her slip in Deep River with sails off and out for repair.  Speaking of self inflicted damage, Yes, an awkward segue, I know, I was shocked and more than a bit embarrassed to discover that I had furled the genoa on backwards, at least a year ago.  What I mean is that the sun cover, designed to protect the sail cloth from UV damage, was furled on the inside of the sail instead of being on the outside.  As a result, some damage was done to the leech of the sail.  It’s being repaired but I feel like a jerk making that mistake. Oops.   Well, the sails will be back in good shape soon.  All it takes is $$ to make things right.  Oh well….

However, enough fretting over this round of “Boat Dollars”.  For the uninitiated, a boat dollar is one thousand times more than a “normal” dollar.  Talk about inflation.  It seems that any visit to a sailmaker always leads to spending at least one boat dollar.  How is that?  Don’t know.  I guess that it just is…

How about something about moving around, no make that cruising on boats. Yes, that’s much better.

As I mentioned in my last post, I will be writing a series of “favorite places” over the next few months.  Hopefully, I will be visiting some of them again soon but for now I’ll just write about these great spots.  I’ll also be referencing past posts that I have written about those places in past visits.  I have also added a new “button” on the home page called, amazingly enough, “Favorite Places”.   Very creative, right?  

In my last post, “Yes, Bob, I guess you mean the one you wrote almost TWO WEEKS AGO”, (yes, that’s the one) I wrote about Booth Bay Harbor a wonderful place to begin a cruise in Maine. 

From there we normally head east along the coast to Muscongus Bay, an easy day sail with the prevailing SW winds, to Allen Island, summer home of the late Andrew Wyeth.  

Along the way to Allen Island, if you are heading east from Boothbay area, there is a great spot, Little Egg Island, that boasts a colony of puffins.  These little birds bomb along from the island to sea like little bullets. It’s fun to watch them.  This “puffin cam” is not actually on that island but it’s pretty cool.  It takes a bit of time to load so be patient.

On our last visit to Allen Island we spied his wife Betsy sitting on a bench outside of her home on the island.   I wrote about this in a post in 2011, photos and all.  Of course, Brenda enjoyed “knitting with Betsy” even if Betsy didn’t know Brenda was “with” her.   Well, we won’t be too picky on that point, will we?

The island is absolutely beautiful and is reminiscent of a Wyeth painting.  The island is a perfect example of what can happen when you combine wealth with good taste, in this case, an “artists touch”.  Of the many buildings that make up the Wyeth “compound”, this is one of our favorite. And no, the cross isn’t a family marker, it commemorates the visit of George Weymouth on the ship Archangel, explorer who visited the island in 1605. Interestingly, Weymouth kidnapped a number of local “savages” and brought them back to show off “at court” in England.  As you can imagine, they caused quite a stir with King George’s and his cronies.  Here’s a link to an interesting article about Weymouth’s visit, “savages” and all.

The Wyeth compound is actually made up of two islands, Allen and Benner.  There is no landing on the island without the permission of the owners.  Sheltered between these two islands is a lovely little harbor where the Wyeth family maintains moorings that visiting boats are welcome to tie up to for the night.  It’s a very nice service.

On the chart the harbor looks a bit daunting but getting in from either the north or south is easy.   Just be aware of the granite ledge to port as you enter from the south.  However, it’s well charted and is easy to see.  The harbor is protected from all directions and is very scenic.   Some of the local lobstermen store gear and their pots on the Wyeth docks.  I am sure that they keep the family in “bugs”, that’s Maine lobsterman talk for lobsters,  all summer long.

About three miles north, further up the bay, is a great spot to visit, Port Clyde. From there you can take a ferry out to Monhegan Island a lovely island known for their local artist community.  We have not visited Monhegan ourselves but hope to at some point.  Perhaps the biggest draw for me would be to take the mailboat, a wonderful old wooden beauty that runs from Pt Clyde to Monhegan island on a regular schedule.  While you are in Pt Clyde, you might want to have lunch at the general store.  It has a fabulous view of the harbor and the food is good too.  The store has a fairly good selection of groceries.  Not far from Allen, is Hog Island, home of an Audubon camp.  Actually, when we were last there in 2011 the camp wasn’t operating but we were free to explore the island.  It seems that the camp is back in business, at least according to their website.   They also have an “osprey cam”.  It takes a bit of time to load but it’s very cool.  If you’re viewing this post at night, well, come back when it’s light.  I understand that these guys travel south in the winter.  We saw some in the Bahamas this winter.  I wonder if it was the same ones?  Hmm…

The camp maintains (a relative term) several moorings for boaters to use.  We have picked up them in settled weather with good results.  These moorings are in such a picturesque spot we have used photo on our boat “calling cards” taken here for several years now.   Darn but I can’t find that photo.  Oh well.  Trust me, it’s a nice spot.

A nice day trip is to run from Allen Island north to Pt Clyde and then head up through Friendship and west to Hog Island.  It’s an easy run and will take you though some of the most scenic areas in Maine.

Well, writing about these great spots is making me want to jump aboard Pandora and head to Maine.  However, in spite of my recent ramblings about going there, our plans have changed, again.

Actually, I can’t stand the idea of missing out on a warm winter.   The idea of a New England winter with the cold that comes with that, is a bit of a non-starter for me.

This means that we have scrubbed our Maine for this year and I will again run Pandora south for the winter.  I don’t know if we will visit the Bahamas again or if we might try the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas.  That might be fun. Perhaps we can get down there early enough to visit Key West for New Years.  I am told that they have a “red shoe”, complete with a resident “drag queen” named Sushi, that drops to the street at the stroke of Midnight.  The gay community has a big presence in Key West and, based on this video, they are a group that really knows how to throw a party.  Would be a hoot, that’s for sure.Yes, a bit different than the ball in NYC but hey, it’s warm.  NYC at 10 degrees or Key West at 80?  Hmm…One way or the other, perhaps the best thing about Pandora is that we can take her anywhere we want.   For now it’s fun to think about what’s possible and it’s more than possible that we will head south for the winter, details to come.

Well, there you have it…   A single post that includes sail repair, puffins, ospreys, a classic wooden mail boat and a drag queen video.  How’s that for variety?  Some might say random is a better description.

More to the point, I have work to do on Pandora and the sun is out.  That’s all for now.

One of my Maine favorites. Boothbay Harbor

It’s Sunday morning on Memorial Day weekend.  Actually, I can’t believe that I am on dry land on a MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND, and don’t really mind.  Well, I don’t mind too much.  Old habits die hard, though.

For the 30+ years that we owned boats prior to my retiring, Memorial Day weekend was the official beginning of summer here in New England and it was took a “cold day in hell” to keep us at the dock or on the mooring, as it were, on this, the first long weekend of summer.

Actually prior to my “new life” of semi-leisure (I did cut the grass yesterday, and trim the roses and the cherry tree…), I can only recall a single memorial day weekend that we weren’t able to head out onto the water and that was years ago and a result of insurmountable mechanical “issues”.  No, I can’t recall the year and the exact problem, however.  And that is just as well as it was no doubt so traumatic that I repressed the memory.  To miss a long weekend…

However, it’s sufficient to say that it was a BIG DEAL.  Yes, there were rainy Memorial Day weekends but that generally wasn’t enough of a deterrent to keep us from heading out.  Sorry Brenda…   Well, now times are different.  At the very least, I just returned from several months in the Bahamas, but that’s another story and one that I have prattled on endlessly about in this blog.

So, what’s to talk about?   Maine!  Yes, Maine, where we will likely be heading later in the summer, after I complete my list of upgrades and repairs on Pandora.  However, it’s a holiday weekend and I don’t want to talk about things I have to do to get Pandora “ready” just now.

So, I’d prefer to talk about one of  my favorite spots in Maine and they are really great spots.  We have cruised to Maine many times, about 15 actually, not to put too fine a point on it. However, the last time we’ve been there was back in 2011.  Wow, that seems like a lifetime ago, alas I digress.

So, what are my favorite places to visit in Maine?   Glad you asked…  For now, I am going to just focus on one.  I’ll cover others in future posts, pretty soon, actually.  

So, Booth Bay Harbor:  This is a wonderful spot to begin a cruise “down east” as it’s in the mid coast part of well, “mid-coast” Maine.   There are some fun events scheduled according to the local chamber of commerce including an antique Lyman boat parade and viewing on Sunday August 10th.  There’s also a town wide celebration on August 22nd through the 24th in recognition of the 250th anniversary of the founding of Boothbay.  Sounds like fun.

One of our favorite ways to visit Boothbay is to take a mooring right down town from the Tugboat Inn.  The moorings are very close to town, a few hundred feet actually, and are protected by a tiny and very picturesque island.  I love the home that’s perched on it.   Not a bad view to enjoy coffee with in the cool mornings. This harbor is well protected and has most everything you might need including a good grocery about a 15 minute walk outside of town.    Of course, there’s plenty of “T shirt” shops but I wouldn’t hold that against them if I were you.

There are plenty of places to eat in town.  Two of our favorite are The Boat House Bistro.  We enjoy the third floor open air area with it’s great view of the harbor. We also enjoy a special meal at The Thistle Inn, just outside of town.   It has a very historic feel and the food is quite good. 

Of course, there’s lots more to do in Booth Bay Harbor but a simple Google search will give you more than I can in a single post.  For now, it’s sufficient to say that it’s a great place to visit.

However, one problem with this spot is that it’s a hard place to swap crew as there isn’t a car rental spot very close.   However, if you aren’t swapping crew.  Not a problem.  When I have to take on or relieve crew, my choice hands down, is Rockland.  Stay tuned for a post on that.

This is in no way a complete overview of Boothbay harbor but it will have to be enough for now as I have to get on with my day.  It is, after all, Memorial Day weekend.

That’s all for now.

Where’s Pandora…Going?

It’s Friday morning and it’s been a week since I returned home from the Bahamas.  Aside from cutting the lawn, planting gardens, setting mouse traps (a few moved in while we were away).  And, if you’re wondering, one down…

Anyway, in spite of a long “honey-do” list, I can’t help thinking about “what’s next” for us and Pandora.

As I have mentioned many times, being home during New England winters doesn’t hold a lot of attraction to me so one given for the 2014-15 winter is that we will be somewhere WARM.  Beyond that, nothing is certain.

One thing I am sure about is that I’d love to visit Maine again as it’s been several years since our last visit, 2011 actually, not to put too fine a point on it.

For many years, about 15 actually, we did visit Maine each summer and loved it. While I really enjoy the Bahamas, I might have to say that in a “shoot-out” I’d likely choose Maine.   I am in now way saying that I don’t like the Bahamas but Maine is just so magnificent.

No, you can’t swim in Maine unless you have the fortitude of a polar bear, but it’s just so, well, green.   There is nothing that compares with the water of the Bahamas but once you step ashore it’s pretty arid and I did miss the lovely shades of green that we have in the northeast.

So, what next?

One option we are thinking about is to make a run north to Maine this summer for perhaps a month and then we’d put Pandora up for the winter and fly somewhere.  As Brenda and I are splitting our time ashore and afloat, the options are winters afloat or summers afloat, with the balance of our time spent here on land.

However, it’s a tough call as the Bahamas are so beautiful… Although not too many places to eat out there and those nasty cold fronts that I wrote so much about last winter.

Maine, beautiful scenery, great spots to eat out.  But…the water is SO COLD.   No swimming in Maine.

Decisions, decisions…

So, the blue waters and secluded beaches of the Bahamas…Water so clear…. Yes, really clear.  Perfect scenery in Maine.   Camden, one of our favorite spots.  How’s this for a great view from the cockpit.  And a view from the Camden Hills of the harbor.  Pandora’s there in this shot.  She’s the white one.  Well, she’s there, trust me.  Besides, perhaps we’ll see Tenacious, owned by Dr. Bosarge, the guy who’s island, Over Yonder Cay, we visited in the Bahamas this winter.   I have written about this fabulous spot several times.  Most recently, following our visit in April of this year.  And last June when I found out about this wonderful island and its owner, Dr. Bosarge. 

While I didn’t know that we’d be visiting Dr. Bosarge’s spot in the Bahamas when I took this shot of Tenacious back in 2011 in Booth Bay Harbor Maine,  I just liked the boat, or should I say “yacht”.   Of course, the definition of a yacht is a boat used for pleasure that is bigger than yours.  Well, Tenacious, at 115′ certainly qualifies.  Besides, I was particularly struck by the cannons on board.   Now I know a bit about Dr. Bosarge and his love of antique weapons.  Cannons,  better than “blowing the conch” at sunset, at least in Maine. Who knows, perhaps he’ll be there again.  Maine it is… for sure, perhaps.  Well, we’ll see…

Of course, what does Brenda think.   Time will tell.

“Land” home. It’s good to be back.

It’s Saturday morning and Pandora will soon be on the hard again for some upgrades and repairs.  It seems like the process of keeping a boat “ship shape” is a never ending process.

Returning to the Essex Yacht Club a few days ago was fun and exciting as it closes a loop that began for me way back in September when I headed out for Annapolis.   Brenda was there to greet me as she had flown home from Nassau last week.

Approaching the dock.Back on dry land.  The run north from Nassau was uneventful if a bit light on the wind.  We had pretty good wind from Nassau to Cape Hatteras but from that point on, not enough. I had decided to head through NYC, as opposed to heading around Montauk,with the belief that we would have a better angle to the expected wind.  However, the winds were lighter than I had anticipated so that didn’t really help.  Actually, we motored most of the way from Hatteras to Essex and I ended up motoring into a pretty good easterly wind down Long Island Sound.  Perhaps it might have been better to go the other way past Montauk.  Alas, enough of that as I covered the trip in nauseating detail in posts last week.   

In any event, I am back and Pandora is about ready to be “decommissioned” for a bit after being underway for nearly a year.  It’s funny how “gremlins” take over on a boat as the months roll by.  In Pandora’s case, some of these issues cropped up and then mysteriously, resolved themselves.  Unfortunately, more often than not, most “issues” do not go away on their own.  Wishful thinking.

One thing that I was not counting on for this spring is hauling Pandora out of the water so soon.   As I have mentioned in past posts, perhaps in excessive detail, are the “issues” associated with my MaxProp and vibration in the drive train under power.  After sending the prop back for a rebuild last summer, I STILL have problems and am at a bit of a loss as to what do to.  Fortunately, the folks at MaxProp seem open to working with me but at this time I am inclined to just get a new prop and get rid of the old one that has caused so much annoyance.   The cost of a new prop is just part of the answer as the cost of putting Pandora on the hard is a significant expense as well.  Hope that gets resolved, once and for all.  

Even though Pandora will be out of commission or a while, I will continue to post regularly.  What I’ll write about is a mystery for me but I expect that I will be inspired as I go along.  I hope that you will be too and continue to come along with me over the coming months.

So, with just a few days at home since arriving here earlier in the week, I am already thinking about next winter and where Pandora will take us.  There are a number of options but for now I’ll leave that topic for a future post.

Today my son Christopher and his girlfriend Mercedes will join me aboard Pandora for the short run up the river from the Essex Yacht Club to a marina in Deep River where Pandora will sit while work is done on her.    It’s funny, as others are scrambling to put their boats in the water for Memorial Day weekend, Pandora’s about to take a rest ashore.

Speaking of resting, I have to say that after a week of disrupted sleep aboard Pandora as we made our way up from the Bahamas,  I am finding myself a bit “boat lagged”, if  such a condition is possible.   One way or the other, it seems that I have been working hard to catch up on the lost sleep over the last week.   Perhaps voyaging on small boats should carry warning.   “Do not operate heavy equipment while using this product.”   No wait, Pandora is a piece of heavy equipment.  Hmm…

Perhaps it’s not the lost sleep at all but more a issue of being on dry land with so many more chores to do that has me dragging.  It’s harder being on dry land. Aboard Pandora it seems that not much takes place before noon.  I am afraid that shoreside living is much more like work.

Work!!!  Work, now that’s a scary concept.    I am so glad I don’t have that to contend with.   

On dry land….  All is not lost as we live close to the water so “aquatics” will never be far from us.  I look forward to enjoying lovely views along the CT River over the next few months.  It’s great to be home, indeed.