Monthly Archives: July 2014

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.




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…