Monthly Archives: September 2011

>Shelter Island NY and a Corinthians weekend


The season is winding down for us now that we have returned from Maine and back to “real life”.   We have enjoyed our summer aboard but it’s time to get serious again about catching up in everything that we have neglected while aboard for two months.  Brenda made an interesting comment the other day to me that she felt that being aboard was actually simpler than being home as there just isn’t as much that needs attention while being aboard Pandora.  That’s certainly true for me as our home is just so complex with the demands of maintenance and the items that need attention constantly.  When we returned home I spent most of the Labor Day weekend doing yard work to fix what had overgrown while we were away.

Fortunately, we had yet one more trip aboard to look forward to with this weekend’s visit with the Corinthians, a great group that I am involved with.  Each spring and fall the group has a rendezvous out on the eastern end of Long Island or Connecticut and this year’s fall event was on Shelter Island.  On Friday evening we were treated to a visit at a Corinthians past master’s home on the water for a lovely cocktail party overlooking one of the lovely harbors on the island.  The weather was perfect and company just great.  I’d say that about 30 showed up for the gam, some by boat and the others by car.

We took a mooring at the Shelter Island yacht club in Deering Harbor on the north side of the island just across from Greenport.  The club is wonderful and the staff very attentive.  Of the many clubs that I have visited, the dining room and bar opening onto the water, were perhaps the nicest views of the water and harbor of any that we have enjoyed.

The view is enhanced by the large fleet of 12 1/2 day sailors, a class designed by Herreshoff of Bristol RI back in 1914 as a small keel boat for young people to sail.  The design has endured over the years and they are still being built to the original designs to this day albeit in fiberglass.  The SIYC fleet must be one of the largest around totaling nearly 60 boats.  These boats are actively raced and it must be a sight to see the 25 boats that generally show up for a race rounding the marks. I have always loved the look of this classic design but have never seen so many in one place.

As many 12 1/2s as there are here, all the boats in the harbor don’t have classic lines with varnish.  This is a very modern take on the day sailor concept.  What a sleek craft she is. Very crisp design.  I’ll bet she goes well.

However, don’t drop something on the deck of the cockpit that can roll as it will shoot out the back in an instant.  Whoops, where’s little Buffy?

There is a ferry that runs from Shelter Island’s north end over to Greenport so we decided to head over there for lunch on Saturday.  There are four ferries running continuously and as a passenger you don’t have to wait long to take the 15 minute run over to the mainland.  These boats really move along and the loading and unloading of cars is very efficient.  I just love boats where “form follows function” and these are good examples of that.  While not particularly pretty, they get the job done.  The bridge is set high and gives the pilot great visibility.  With engines at each end, they don’t even have to turn around, just start the other engine and head the other way.  Wait, that means port and starboard as well as fore and aft depend on which way she is headed. Confusing.

As we pulled out another was headed into the slip.  With 4 boats underway at all times, we didn’t have to wait long.  I would expect that for cars it’s another story as the lines do get long on a busy weekend.

Shelter Island is home to many wealthy people and the architecture spans the decades from Victorian to the most modern.  Privet hedges are very popular and often quite elaborate as this one attests.

There are a great variety of boats on the waters here.  However, one common theme is that it tends toward the expensive end of the spectrum.  I’ll bet that this one burned more fuel in the time it took me to take this shot than Pandora uses all season.  It does give the feeling of power which might be the appeal.  I expect that the greater the horsepower of the yacht, the less hair on the head of the owner.  Better get some sunscreen on that dome.  Hmm…

On Saturday morning I was treated to a beautiful sunrise.  The start of a very nice day, it would turn out.

Today we head back to Mystic and will likely motor most of the 20 miles.  Perhaps we will get lucky and have the forecast easterlies shift a bit toward the south.  Oh well, better to be motoring into a modest easterly than siting on the hard.

>So, what did we do this summer? Had a great time in Maine.

>When I left Mystic on July 1st to head to Portland with almost the entire summer of sailing ahead of us it seemed like the summer would never end.  With some two months in front of us to explore the Maine coast, it was hard to even think about heading home, ever.  The longest that we had previously been aboard with Pandora in a single stretch was just over a month and two.  Well, that seemed to me in early July like it would be FOREVER.

So, you think that two months is a long time?  Enter live aboards…   Through the SSCA, over the last few years, we have met so many couples that live on their boats or at least spend 4-6 months a year aboard cruising, two months doesn’t seem like a lot of time.  It’s interesting that when we move aboard for an extended period your perspective adjusts to a much different frame of reference.  You are not in as much of a hurry to move to another anchorage, simple tasks take longer and you aren’t in as much of a rush as when it’s just a weekend or a week or two.

Someone said to me this summer that “the most dangerous piece of equipment on your boat is the clock”.   That’s actually true as most of the uncomfortable times we have had aboard are because we felt pressed to go somewhere to keep a schedule when we should be in port waiting for a weather window.

Returning from Maine this year is a good case in point.  With Hurricane Irene pushing up the coast, beyond making sure that we would be safe, I spent a lot of time thinking about taking Pandora back to Mystic.  My friend Roger, who was supposed to help me bring Pandora back was stuck on the West Coast due to weather delays and I JUST HAD TO GET BACK around Labor Day.  The weather window was going to open and close in just three short days and my crew couldn’t make it in time.

That meant a day long scramble to get the boat ready, get Brenda ashore and home and to find someone to help move Pandora.  It all worked out but the stress was absurd.    The point is that having a schedule makes boating a total pain.   After this trip I said to Brenda, “this is the last time I am using crew to move Pandora with a tight deadline”.    The proper way to handle a delivery like this is to continue to cruise and wait till the weather is just right and make a break for it.

My cruising friends almost never sail in less than perfect conditions and yet cover great distances.  It’s all about having a flexible schedule.  Something to strive for.  I guess that I will just have to work on that.

Enough ranting on that point for now.  Better to reflect on what we saw and enjoyed during our two months aboard.  Perhaps a bit of a somewhat random tour of what we saw along the way.

We saw a remarkable number of bald eagles including one that flew about 30′ from Pandora one evening when we were siting in the cockpit.  This one was drying out on a rock following a thunder storm near Snow Island in Casco Bay
 While we had great weather, there were an “appropriate” number of good old fashioned thunder storms with dramatic views to make the point. 
We were there through two full cycles of the moon.  Nothing like a full moon rising over the water on a calm summer evening. 
I did my fair share of blog posts, over 30 actually and many done first thing in the morning in the cockpit with an amazing view.   

And there were endless scenic anchorages to choose from.  We have been going to Maine for 15 years and never tire of the scenery.

There are plenty of mega homes in Maine but some of the best are diminutive.

Brenda knitted 4 sweaters and read 7 or so books.  Lots of time to stop and smell the roses.  In this case, Betsy Wyeth of the famous artist family was also knitting in front of her island home.  How many knitters can say “I knitted with Betsy Wyeth”.  Well, actually Brenda can’t say that exactly.  But she can say “I knitted while watching Betsy watch me knit while watching…”.    Well, something like that did happen and I have the photo to prove it.

There isn’t any shortage of big yachts in Maine.  This one even sports it’s own private cannon to salute the sunset.  Some of our cruiser friends blow on a conch shell, perhaps a somewhat more gentile way to celebrate the end of a day.

Some just seem to be sailing off into the sunset.

And some are really roughing it like these kids in one of the Outward Bound adventure boats.  Not my idea of  cruising.  I do need my shower most days.

Of course, there’s an endless number of lighthouses to love like this one in Port Clyde.

But, none is prettier than the Owl’s Head light. Perhaps my favorite.

The passenger schooners that take out groups for a day sail are a sight to behold indeed.   Here they await their next trip.

So many quaint villages and towns to choose from like Belfast with wonderful old buildings carefully maintained.

Some views can’t be believed and a great place to curl up with a trashy novel.

And, always plenty of  magnificent yachts to wonder about how they afford such luxury.  It’s particularly nice when money and taste are combined.

But taste doesn’t have to always be about money.  Brenda has a great way with flowers and there are always flowers on board Pandora.  Her hand woven table cloth, flowers and her knitting.  Now that’s good taste.

She also collected her share of treasures on walks in the woods.

Sometimes we were running between the raindrops.   Perhaps I should say “sailing”.

Some views are best enjoyed from afar like this lookout high above Camden.

Some views are much more up close and simple.

Some are dramatic.

Some views, or should I say trails, are well groomed and well worn trails like this one around Bubble Pond on Mt. Desert. 
There is no denying the importance of the Maine State Ferry System to make everything possible on the many islands. 
We had our share of fog in early August.  Sometimes it was so thick you couldn’t see 100′.
Plenty of beautiful backdrops for Brenda to knit by. 
A lazy day of sailing makes you want to take a nap.  It’s always nice to have a hammock strung and ready for action, or should I say “inaction”?
This schooner captain hot-dogging it in Pulpit Harbor was an impressive display of seamanship or perhaps I should say “hotdogging” in a crowded anchorage. 
Of course, you can’t forget to eat.  And, eat we did and often. 
What did we do this summer?  We had a great time with lots of wonderful experiences and more than a few great sunrises.  
Now with the summer drawing to a close there’s always next year and the Annapolis Boat show to look forward to.
Yes, we enjoyed being afloat in Maine on Pandora very much.  What a great summer.  Bummer that it’s almost over.  Here we are and it’s Labor Day weekend and you can almost hear the iron gate of summer slamming shut. 

>Across the Gulf of Maine and into home waters

>It’s Friday morning and as I write this we are passing Cuttyhunk Island, the southern most in the Elizabeth Islands Chain.  We left Rockland on Thursday morning at 05:00 under power and a light NE wind for the Cape Cod Canal.  The winds remained fair the entire way so it was a very easy run.  We probably have sailed nearly the entire way except that we wanted to keep our speed up as close to 7kts as we could.  While some of our sailing time was in the 6kt range, we were able to turn off the engine for a little bit more than 1/3 of the time.   The rest of the time we motor sailed.  With the winds on the stern quarter it was a very pleasant run and while the seas were a bit bumpy, we were steadied by the wind in the sails.

We did two hour watches beginning at 20:00.  For my watch from 02:00 to 04:00 I was treated to a moonless sky which meant that I was able to see the water sparkle with the jellyfish and other animals in the water that give off light when disturbed.  As we sped along the bow wave sparkled like millions of little green stars in the water around the boat.

We did see two whales off in the distance that I spied because of their nearly 20′ high steaming spout as the took breaths.  As they were perhaps a mile away, it’s wasn’t hard to imagine how easy it would have been to hunt these creatures in the age of sail.  

We entered the Cape Cod Canal at 04:00 on Friday making the 155 mile run from Rockand at an average speed of just under 7kts.   The canal is well lit with range markers and lights along both banks for the entire 10mile length but I missed it as I was down below asleep while my friend Keith took her through.  While I have been through the canal perhaps 20 times, I have never gone through in the dark.  Perhaps I will be awake next time as it is a very different experience.

Today is a glorious day with bright sun and clouds.  The wind continues to be fresh from the NE so we are booking right along at better than 7kts.  It continues to be amazing to me that Pandora can make those sorts of speeds with no more than 10kts apparent.  And, the motion is very nice.

I should note that I am sitting at the cockpit table writing this and the view is really nice.

The sun on the water over the Elizabeth Islands this morning. 
Perhaps not the most inspiring shot but I hate to have a post with just one photo.    This doesn’t do justice to the view of the water rushing by the hull.  It’s very nice.   
We will be back in Mystic later today where Pandora will spend the next month prior to my taking her to Norwalk to be hauled for the winter.  It goes without saying that after two months afloat with Pandora that I am not at all pleased to be calling the season over.  Yes, we will do a few weekends prior to hauling, but it’s just not the same as being aboard for an extended period.
That’s all for now. 

>Headed home to Mystic

>It’s early on Thursday morning and we headed out of Rockland ME at 05:30.  Next landfall will be the Cape Cod Canal over 200 miles away following an overnight passage.  My original plan was to leave over the weekend but with Irene the NE and E winds that generally follow a hurricane were favorable for a passage from Thursday through late Friday.   If I were to wait until Saturday we would have had to motor into a stiff prevailing SW wind, right on the nose.

Switching by a few days doesn’t seem like much of a problem except that my friend Roger, and fellow SAGA 43 owner who was going to crew with me on this run,  was stuck out west after his Monday (Irene Monday) flight was canceled.  By the time he was able to resolve travel issues he wouldn’t have been able to get to Rockland until Saturday, just to late for the passage to Mystic with the wind forecast.

With only one day to find a replacement crew, I made a slew of calls to friends with the hope of finding someone who could drop everything and make the run up to Rockland with one day’s notice.  To ask someone to take off two days from their life at the beginning of a holiday weekend was a tall order.

However, my friend Keith, again, another SAGA owner, was willing to come up from CT and is on board with me now.  I should note that Keith had mouth surgery on Tuesday and still was willing to help bring Pandora home.

It’s interesting that after making this run for 15 years now, I decided to have just one person join me instead of the usual 2-3 that I have more typically used in the past. My view has changed now that we have spent time with many couples that we have met in the last few years that sail long distances with just the two of them aboard.   I guess that if they can sail around the world with two on board, I should be able to make a 1.5 day run with two as well.

Well, no post is complete without a few photos.  Here’s the sunrise off to the east.  It’s overcast but will be a nice day.

One last look at the hills of Penobscot Bay and Rockland.  If we are able to head south next fall, it may be a while until we have this view again.

More to come as we transit the Canal on Friday.   Wish me luck.   Hopefully, we will have some good whale sightings on this run.