Monthly Archives: August 2014

Marie, a truly “gastroMarieque” experience.

Sailing aboard the 180′ superyacht Marie in the Newport Bucket Regatta last week was an experience, that’s for sure.  And even beyond the thrill it was blasting around Block Island Sound at 10+ kts every day for three days, the parties that we were treated to each evening were just as memorable.

As Ratty famously said to Mole in the beloved book, The wind in the Willows, “There is nothing- absolutely nothing- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”  I’d have to add to that that good food aboard ranks up there as well worth doing as well.   Yes, there is absolutely nothing that goes better with sailing than good food.  And, what tops everything is “yachting” (eg: sailing on boats bigger than yours) and eating food that’s been prepared by someone else.  Yes, that’s the best.

Well, let me tell you, the crew of Marie know great food and they know how to throw a great party.  While it “takes a village”, or crew to put on a truly great party, the heart of the operation is the chef and Tami on Marie is a great one.

Chef, or is that “Cheffess” Tami grew up on boats and it’s obvious given the way that she manages to produce great meals, one after another, seemingly without breaking a sweat. Here’s Tami looking right at home in her galley aboard Marie

The galley is the full width of the boat on starboard with the crew mess to port.  Yes, it’s a big galley but it starts to look pretty small when you see how many great dishes she turns out when things are hopping aboard.  Lunches were terrific with sandwiches served on freshly baked baguettes.  Would you care for a lobster roll and bean salad for lunch?  Well, yes!!!  I won’t even mention what was for desert!!!  Frankly, it was so decadent you should get a permit to eat one.

On each day of the race, she turned out over 50 lunches for racing crew, guests and the permanent crew.  That’s amazing and that doesn’t count snacks along the way.  Her days over the course of the event began at 04:00 and ran to nearly midnight.   At least she was able to catch a few ZZZs while we were racing between meals.  I guess she’s right at home on the water to be able to sleep while we were blasting around the race course at double digit speeds.

On the first night, after a full day on the water, the crew put on quite a feast for the “Yacht Hop”.  I wrote about this a few posts ago.  And, as you’d expect, Marie was in great form and ready to “compete” with the best of them.   What a nice spread.Even in costume.  But, more about that later.When superyachts congregate there is competition on every front.  And Tami is “superchef” competitive.   I understand that there is a chef competition at the charter show in the Caribbean and I am sure she’s already thinking about how to take top honors.

On day two we really saw what Tami and the crew are capable of when they threw a theme party aboard Marie for the racing crew and guests.  The regatta hosted a Beatles review band under the main tent so it seemed only natural that Marie would have a 60s Beatles theme too.  In fact, they won an award for the best crew theme.   Here’s the cockpit all decked out and ready to party. (you can click on the photo to make it full screen)Tami, “with a little help from her friends, er, crew”, came up with a wonderful collection of nibbles to feast on, all with a Beatles theme.  How about these to make your “fab four palate” water?

Let’s try “Let it Brie”, “Sargent Pepperoni Pizza” and “Here Comes the Sunkist Tomato Salad”.  Would you care for some “Chicken Wingo Starr”, “All the lonely Pita Chips” with “I am the Humas”.  Still hungry?  How a bit of “Veggie Dip La Di, Dip La Da”?  Try saying that three times fast…

And who could resist “Ate Days a Leek” or “I am the Egg Man” a twist on, always popular, deviled eggs.  They even had an abundant supply of dangerous sounding “LSD”,  Little Shrimp Dumplings.  OK, OK,  a bit of a stretch but fun.

How about “Love, Love Me Noodles” and everyone’s favorite “The Long Winding Toad in a hole” and my all time favorite, “I Wana Hold your Lamb Kabobs”.  Yumm…  

Of course, each “course” was labeled so you could get the full effect.  Speaking of “effects” there was plenty of punch, wine and beer for all so the effect was very nice.  Brenda looked like she was having fun too. Right?  Nice shades!

Would you care for a “I wanna Hold Your Lamb Kabob”, served with a smile. You bet, I’ll take two. Everyone had really wonderful time. And to top it off, Tami even made a mountain, or “tower” of “tie-dyed” cupcakes.  Even the insides were multi-colored or should I say “dyed”. Amazingly presented.  YUM!  

Perhaps even more amazing is that all of this party stuff and the serving trays are aboard Marie all the time.  I guess that “super storage”, for everything, is also included aboard Marie. And, as if that’s not enough, the 8 permanent crew dressed in costume for the event.   Yes, I’d give them an “A+” for this one.  A bit blurry, but everyone was by the time we got to the dance.  What fun. And, Marie looked just wonderful in her costume too. And to cap things off there were fireworks for everyone to enjoy although given everything else that was going on, I’m not sure everyone noticed the show. I can say with confidence, and trust me on this, that the food and parties aboard Marie was indeed a “gastroMarieque” experience.  

Oh, what a night, what a party, what a yacht.  

Marie: That’s two off my “bucket list”

It’s Wednesday morning, 3AM.  actually, that’s “3-days-After-Marie”.

There is plenty of talk about “bucket lists”.   You know, the list of things that you are supposed to do before you die?  I understand that some folks get a bit crazy about making their list and then checking these items off.

Perhaps I am missing something but I don’t actually have a formal list.  However, I am a pretty practical guy and there are plenty of things I’d like to do but would never put on my list even if I had one, knowing that  I would be unlikely to be able to achieve them anyway.  Well, being in a race on one of the largest sailing yachts in the world is one of those things that I would hesitate to put on that list. as I frankly, “wasn’t expecting that” as being something that I’d ever do anyway.  Thanks to Ed, owner of the superyacht Marie, I was able to  quickly put that on my list and, just as quickly, checked it off.

Bucket list:  Sail on a super yacht.  Check…  Sail in a regatta for super yachts.  Check… Spend three days on the BIGGEST yacht in Newport Harbor.  Check… Do it all in one weekend.  Who knew?  A bucket Marathon?  Perhaps.  

Now that I think about it, there are plenty of things that I can put on my Bucket List but not a lot like these.  Sail to the Bahamas on my own boat.  Check… Sail to the Caribbean?  Sail across the Atlantic to the Med? Hmm…  I’ll have to think about those.   Sail around the world?  Not likely.

As I told a friend about our weekend of sailing on Marie, his response was simply, “Bob, how are you going to top this?”  Not sure I can, actually. However, I’ll sure try.

Marie is the “superyacht” Marie and Brenda and I just got back from three amazing days sailing aboard her in Newport over the weekend.   Marie, for those who might have missed the many posts that I have done that have mentioned her over the last year, is a 181′ Dutch built ketch from the Vitter’s Yard.   She is a remarkable yacht and built to exacting standards. Her owner Ed, made an interesting comment to me over the weekend when he remarked, about the quality of the work that went into Marie, “if it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much”.  Well, I don’t have a lot to compare her to but my take on the whole thing is that Ed is accurate in his statement.   And, if that’s a true statement then Marie is perhaps the “fairest Dutch girl in the land”.

I have tried to describe Marie to some of my boating friends as I have shared our experience with and am finding myself at a bit of a loss.  Even when I tell them her length, 181′ I am pretty sure that they have no real clue about what that means.   And what’s more, the level of care that went into her design and construction, setting aside the ongoing up-keep, isn’t something that most can relate to.  Perhaps the closest comparison would be to compare her to a fine Swiss watch, and a 600,000+ pound one at that.  

It took some four years from start to finish to build Marie.  And I am sure that probably way understates the magnitude of the project.  However, when you look at her details first hand, you begin to understand.  While I didn’t see every corner of the boat, ship, yacht, I saw plenty and here are a few details to consider.

First, she’s massive.  Did I say that she’s big?   She weighs in at over 600,000 lbs.  Her main mast is a soaring 210′ tall.   She’s nearly 40′ wide.  Well, again, it’s hard to fathom what all this means.    Here’s a shot of her main mast with sails up. Every day someone goes up the mast to be sure that all her rigging is in perfect shape.  It’s hard to see but there is someone up there in this shot. Here’s a closeup.   Must be some view from up there.  Me, I’d have my eyes screwed shut clutching to the mast.Her winches… There are plenty and most are big enough to be a comfortable seat.  Here I am sitting on one that controls the running back stays for the main mast.  Here’s a crew member setting the running backstays under sail.  They have to be reset every time the boat tacks. And the huge masts have to be supported by massive hardware.  Here’s a turnbuckle.  It must weigh several hundred pounds.  Notice the stereo speaker at it’s base.   They blast rousing music before the race to get everyone in the mood.  I recall Michael Jackson’s Beat It as one of the more memorable tunes. It seemed just right.The masts and rigging, all made of carbon fiber, were made in New Zealand and shipped all the way to the Netherlands.  I understand that each shroud is carbon fiber and every one was fabricated to size as a single piece using a single thread run back and forth dozens of times in a continuous loop to complete the shroud.  No cutting the wire for the rig from a spool of wire for Marie.  This is Custom-Custom.   Bespoke actually, again, like a fine watch. 

The gooseneck, that connects the main boom to the magnificent piece of work.The main mast is spare in some ways and amazingly complex in others.  It’s beautiful in it’s simplicity or complex.  Art actually.   Nice mast boot.   Pandora has a mast boot.  Well, that’s about where the similarities begin and end. Speaking of art, these are Dorade vents on Marie to let fresh air down below. However, the AC was running the whole time so perhaps they feed air to the engine compartment.   Whatever they are they are certainly a feast for the eyes. Down below is light an airy with plenty of outside light streaming down through skylights port and starboard.  Theye are magnificent.  Notice the detailing in the teak decking surrounding them.  And, in spite of their delicate beauty, they are tough enough to withstand tons of seawater crashing down in a storm.  Amazing varnish. The spinnaker is a massive 16,000 square feet.  Heck, Pandora’s entire sailplan is 1/16th the size of that one sail.  I was told that pressure sensors on the rig show loads of near 70,000 lbs on the backstay. The engine room is beautiful.  I was given an hour long tour by Rich the engineer.  I’ll save the details for another post but the main engine is a whopping 1,100 HP.  What a magnificent piece of machinery.  The engine room is large and just packed from end to end with all sorts of gear.  Note the red flasher above the engine.  It’s so loud in there that the only way to know if there is an emergency is with a rotating flasher to get your attention.   Amazingly, in spite of all the noise, when you close the door to the engine room room, latch it and step outside, it’s suddenly completely silent.  You can’t even tell when the engine is on beyond a very subtle vibration in the decks.  More to come on the engine room in a future post.  So much to say, so little time…

The level of detail in the living areas of Marie is really something.  There’s even a baby grand Steinway piano.  And it plays itself if needed.  I am sure that Brenda would have loved to give it a try.   She didn’t.The main salon, quite a spot.  Note the stair rails.  They are all gold plated to avoid tarnishing.  Of course, why didn’t I think of that?Nice spot to sit and enjoy a quiet moment.  Yes, works for me.  I’ll take another Gin and Tonic please. Ed collects antique weapons and there is a miniature coat of armor in the aft hallway.  Not a great shot but I just had to include it.    Beyond is the owner’s cabin protected by a brace of antique cannons.  His cabin leads to a private cockpit.  Off limits to all but a chosen few.  Alas… I didn’t see…  Beautiful carpets everywhere. Not exactly what you’d expect to see out at sea.  Note the red leather lined shelving and the great floor lighting.  Speaking of cannons, there are two aft on deck that are fired regularly.  The engineer, Rich took time to show me exactly how they are prepared for firing.  I’ll save that for a future post.  For now, just a look at them.  I believe that they are from the 1600s. Beautiful pieces of art.Let’s just agree that Marie is magnificent in ways that defy description.    I could go on all day about her but I have to stop somewhere.  I have lots more to say than you probably have the patience to read.

Tough luck.  It’s my blog and I am going to write more although perhaps not today.  Besides, I need to get back to reality and the yard needs tending. Believe me, yard work is definitely NOT in my bucket list.

Alas, real life beckons…

Pinch me, I must be dreaming, aboard Marie…

It’s Saturday morning and I can’t stop thinking about our sail yesterday aboard Marie.  We were competing against other superyachts in the Newport Bucket Regatta.  And, what a day it was. The wind was just enough to be interesting and yet not too much to have things get hairy.  Well, to be true, I expect that the 20+ crew members on hand would have made about anything look easy.   I took loads of photos and a few great videos which I will share in the coming days. For now, I’ll just put up a few choice pieces.  This is a shot of Marie making her way as we left the dock.  With both stern and bow thrusters, she can be maneuvered sideways into impossibly small areas.  Well small by Marie standards at least.  Marie is berthed, for the series, in Newport Shipyard, home of most of the superyachts visiting Newport.    Marie was the biggest of the lot at 181′.    The owner, Ed, likes to make a statement with his antique cannons as we leave port.  Actually, he likes to make a statement of some kind with them at most any opportunity.  However, he’s very considerate of guests who are issued earplugs and warned of the impending “salute”.    We did just that as Marie left her berth for the races.   The “charges” for the cannon are made up specially for these cannons as they are antiques and not your normal type that shoot blank shotgun shells.  What a BOOM!There are plenty of crew hired to run the boat with 8 on board full time and perhaps 20 more brought in for the races.  It’s quite a production and amazingly well choreographed.   And, it has to be as they are racing against other massive yachts.  A collision wouldn’t go over well.  Here’s Meteor crossing Marie’s bow.  Meteor is about 160′ long and a real icon.  Happily, she’s not nearly as fast as Marie. The racing crew kept the stewards pretty busy in the galley making lunches and snacks.  Between sail changes, and there were plenty to keep the crew busy, food was passed up on deck and served to the crew.  Stewards, Georgia, Christen and Jen were everywhere making sure that everyone was well fed.   It was an amazing production.  Here are Georgia and Christen delivering snacks on the foredeck ,between sail changes,as we blasted along at 11kts.  They make it all look so easy.  Filet of beef sandwiches on fresh baguettes anyone?   And save room for the gooey brownies that will come after lunch for desert. Speaking of sail changes, Marie has a spinnaker that’s 16,000 sq ft.  It’s massive.  To see them jibe the chute is amazing.  On Friday evening we were treated to a “yacht hop” meaning that we could go, or hop from boat to boat and be served drinks and food.  EVERYTHING about super yachts is competitive, especially the chefs.  And compete they did.   What great fun.   The food was fab.  We were treated to lobster rolls, lobster in the shell and shrimp that could easily pass as little lobster tails.  One yacht had this amazing raw bar.  Mmm…As twilight progressed the setting was magical.  And everyone enjoyed walking the docks saying “Did you try the amazing pulled pork?  Or the fab sushi on Marie?”   Yes, yes and yes. Plenty of that an more. What a fabulous day it was.  I can’t wait for day two, and three… I hope it never ends.  And yes, it does seem like a dream in a good way, a very good way.

This Newport “bucket” flows over.

It’s Friday morning early and today Brenda and I head to Newport, in a car, not by boat, to sail aboard the sailing yacht Marie in the “Newport Bucket Regatta”  today, Saturday and Sunday.  You may recall the post that I did over a year ago that lead to our visiting Over Yonder Cay in the Bahamas last winter.  Ok, ok, you didn’t see that post, or can’t recall any others for that matter.

Well, over a year ago I was reading an article in a magazine that I get here at home and was intrigued by a guy, Ed Bosarge, who was profiled.   The article mentioned his island, yes “his” island, in the Bahamas, Over Yonder Cay as well a HUGE sailing yacht Marie.

I had to learn more so I did a bit of research (Yes, that means Google searches) and wrote this post.   That was back in June of 2013.   It seems that Ed, I hope that I can call him Ed since we are sailing with him, read the post and must have liked what he saw.

Fast forward to February of last winter and I got a comment on this blog from someone writing that they were contacting me on behalf of the owner of Over Yonder Cay and that we were being invited to visit the island and would we be interested.   Hmm… Visit a private island that rents for $75,000 a day…. Tough call…  Well, OK, we could fit it in, and actually, we were only a few hours sail away.

OF COURSE!.  We visited and it was amazing.  You can read about our visit to the island in this post.  Quite a place.

So, fast forward till a few weeks ago and I get an e-mail from Ed, the owner of Marie, inviting us to sail for three days aboard Marie in Newport.   Well, the answer of YES didn’t take long to come out.

The Bucket regattas take place in Newport and also in St Barts and these regattas are for “super yachts”.    In this case, “super” has to do with “huge”.  I can’t wait to do a post about this little outing and as I woke up early today I just had to take a few minutes to put some thoughts down.

I think that it’s safe to say that the owners of the yachts that will compete have “buckets” that are pretty full.  Well, me?  I feel like my bucket is pretty full too having been invited aboard the Yacht Marie.

Here’s a slide show of last year’s race and participants.Wish us luck, win, loose or draw, it’s going to be quite a spectacle.






The “boats” of Newport.

I’s Monday here in Newport and we are enjoying a peaceful morning aboard Pandora.  The harbor is already busy with the constant coming and going of small craft as they ply the harbor buzzing from here to there.  The ever present harbor patrol just passed looking official with his black and aluminum inflatable.   With this many boats I expect that absent the harbormaster things would be pretty chaotic.  Today he’s towing a large log around behind his boat.  Better to get it out of the water than to be hit by some unsuspecting powerboat.  Yesterday he and one of his other “official” friends came to the rescue of two boats that had tangled their anchors near us, a common theme in this busy harbor. 

Brenda and I had out own “patrol” last evening as we took a “cocktail cruise” on our way to dinner at a nice little Italian spot downtown. For nearly an hour we slowly “putted” around enjoying the sights, and plenty of sights there were.

There is a marina in the harbor that caters to the “superyachts” and there are plenty in attendance.  To us it looked like business is very good as there wasn’t a single open slip in the place.  And, there were plenty to compete for the title of “my yacht is bigger and more opulent than yours”.   This one actually had a sign on it with the details.  She’s 90’ long and was just launched in 2013.  How about that for a varnish job?This gives a good feel for how massive these yachts are.  Plenty of room for “toys” inside of the stern of this baby.If you are into speed and multi-hulls, this should tickle your fancy.  Hard to say how long she is but the mast is tall enough to trigger a nose bleed.  I’ll bet she rips along.This view gives a feel for the variety.  How about this for a “clipper bow”?  And a great contrast to the motor yachts beside her.I was particularly struck by the contrast between this traditional sailing yacht on a mooring out in the harbor and her “mate” a ultra-modern go-fast racer.  It’s not uncommon to see two yachts rafted together.  Often it’s a huge motoryacht and a racing sailboat.  “heavens Roy, you can’t expect me to sleep aboard that little sailboat.  She can’t be an inch over  50’.  Reeaally!!!”  It seems that there is a trend among the “uberwealthy” to have multiple yachts.  But of course, Buffy wouldn’t have it any other way.Newport is also the home of IYRS, the International Yacht Restoration School.  IYRS takes students who want to learn yacht restoration and teaches them the skills to work on old classics.  It’s a terrific program and has turned out some great graduates that now work on some of the most iconic yachts.  In particular, Coronet, the last surviving yachts from the Victorian era is undergoing restoration.  She is being bankrolled by a wealthy benefactor who is footing the bill on this massive undertaking.  Coronet is over 100 years old and has been around the world several times.  She is 130’ long and just massive. This photo is of a poster depicting her in all her glory.  Quite a sight.Her interior was painstakingly removed years ago when she arrived here and is in storage.    The plan is to restore the hull and then put all the interior pieces back in place.  It is a massively expensive undertaking and it’s hard to imagine how one person can fund such a restoration.   It will be years until she is back in the water. 

Look at the massive timbers.  They are about 10” each. The stern is lovely and a LOT bigger than it looks here. For those with pockets that, you might say are “shallower”, IYRS also restores Beetle Cats, the iconic catboats loved by many.   They always have a few for sale.  The deal is that you can donate your old boat and then buy it back after it’s restored by the students.   They look great.They even have a good supply of boats that have been donated and are ready for a willing buyer to foot the cash for a rebuild.  A very appealing concept, in my book.  Hmm… pick one.  It’s just sooooo hard to choose…Anyway, thinking about wooden boats isn’t getting our day underway.  Perhaps we’ll take a tour of an equally unattainable restored mansion.     As the NY Lottery once said, “all you need is a dollar and a dream”.   Perhaps a few dozen million lottery tickets is more like it.

Well, I’ll just sail into the sunset on my little Pandora.  Yes, I’ll dream about that instead.

Visiting the Wizard. In Bristol, RI that is.

It’s Sunday morning and we are anchored in Newport harbor where we will be for the next few days.  Yesterday we motored down from Bristol into a light SW breeze, an easy run of about 10 miles.   It was remarkable to see how many boats were out on a perfect Saturday afternoon for a sail. I would guess that there were literally hundreds of white sails dotting the water.  And, the boats that weren’t out on the bay were motoring around the harbor.  What a busy place. However, in spite of the crowded harbor, we were able to find a place to drop the hook for the night. 

Along the way we were passed by the sole remaining member of the NY 50 class, Spartan, built by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, a boat builder from Bristol that dominated the yachting scene from the mid 1800s through the 1930s.  Spartan, was rebuilt over several years in a no expense spared restoration.  I had seen her at the Wooden Boat Show at Mystic several years ago when she was fresh from her rebuild.  Yesterday she sailed by us with topsail flying.  Imagine a 70+ foot long daysailer.   Yes, she has some bunks down below but it’s not a big boat inside.  What a sight to see the huge sails billowing in the light wind. It was fitting that we should see Spartan as we left Bristol where we had been the prior day with the Essex Yacht Club cruise as we had visited the yard where she was built, the Herreshoff company closed in the 40s and now lives on as a museum dedicated to the many yachts that the yard turned out.  The museum has an impressive collection of boats built there.  In particular, they display the half models of nearly every design that the yard developed, some built and some just ideas of yachts he’d have liked to build.  Nat Herreshoff the dominant force at the yard for many years and a brilliant designer, was dubbed the “Wizard of Bristol” and was sought after by many yachtsmen of great wealth to have him design and build yachts for them.  The yard was a dominant force in the early America’s Cup yachts turning out many winners.

Nat’s designs were done first as half models which he carved out of wood and then they were measured  and the lines taken off so that a proper set of builder’s plans could be drawn and it was from these plans that the actual yachts were built.   The museum has a remarkable set of these half models on display.  There are a lot of them representing every yacht that the yard turned out throughout their rich history.  The walls were just covered by them. The tour was particularly interesting as we had an expert guiding us and giving us interesting anecdotes along the way.  They even did some work for the US government during the two world wars including the hulls design and construction of some flying boats.  In particular, the NC4 which was the first plane to fly across the Atlantic, albeit with stops for fuel along the way.  This is a particularly nice model of the design, if a bit blurry.And, it appears that the Navy did this short movie of the historic flight. I haven’t watched it though as I don’t want to burn up bandwidth.  I hope it’s good.

They also designed fast torpedo boats for the Navy including a design that is noted for being the first to launch a motorized torpedo at speed.

They have a remarkable collection of Herreshoff built boats on display, many of which are in perfect, like new, condition.It’s a wonderful museum worth visiting.   Check their site out. 

Now we will be in Newport for a few days prior to heading to Fisher’s Island for the wrap up event of the Essex Yacht Club cruise.

Today we will head ashore for a bit of exploring in Newport, a busy but fun place to visit.

Perhaps I should call it a “wrap”, put this post up, make some coffee and get on with my day.  Yes, a good idea and it’s a beautiful one at that.






Wickford RI, old friends and new babies.

It’s Friday morning and was a chilly 63 degrees in the cabin when I got up.  I mention this as I wasn’t expecting to be “chilly” as I had recently installed a new Espar diesel heater to replace the old one that had given up the ghost and the plan was to turn on the heater at such times and enjoy the warm air.  How simple…

However, it’s never as simple as it should be with boats and as is so often the case, and getting things right has turned out to be a long drawn out process.  First, getting the parts took FOREVER to order as the dealer was busy, it would seem, with “bigger fish”.  I wanted to order it from a location that was fairly close to home and chose a dealer in New Haven.  Anyway, it is sufficient to report that it has taken a few months go get all the parts in place and FINALLY get the unit installed.

However, getting the unit operational didn’t work out as well as I had hoped.  The mistake I made was to try and use the old wire harness from the old “mort” heater and just match up the individual wires on a junction board instead of snaking all the new wires through the bilge.  My brilliant idea was to avoid ripping up the floor a project that I have done one too many times and didn’t want to repeat.  How simple, I surmised, to just label the wires, color for color, and note that the “new” red with white stripe wire in the new harness matched with the “old” brown with green stripe wire.  Simple, right?  NOT!!!

Here’s what the new-to-old wiring looks like.  An impressive mix of new and old.  It looks tidy enough to work…Besides, the heater looks great all snug in it’s new home, working or not.  Speaking of snug, working under the cockpit is really tight. It’s like wriggling in a cave, and a very small one at that.Anyway, when I installed the unit, before leaving on our trip, I came up short on a single plug for the fuel pump and had to wait till I was here in Wickford RI for it to be finally delivered. You’d think that the dealer would have provided a plug to go with the pump as the harness didn’t come with one in the first place. I guess that’s asking too much.  So, yesterday the part finally arrived and I decided to spend a little time getting everything in order.   Mistake…

After a few hours, I had plugged everything in and the heater wouldn’t start.  I called the tech support folks in Canada multiple times and finally figured out that it was the little red wire, one of many wires, that wasn’t working right.  I won’t bore you with the details except to say that I ended ripped up the floor anyway, which took a few more hours;  the very thing I had hoped to avoid by using the old wires.   That was clearly not a good decision at all.

So, after blowing the day messing with everything, I finally gave up and decided that I would just wait till I was back home where I will just rip all the old wire out and put in the wire supplied with the unit; something that I should have done in the first place. I’ll bet that my brother Bill, who’s good with such things, wouldn’t have taken such a shortcut.  I’d like to say “live and learn” but I fear that the future will show that while I have “lived”, I likely didn’t “learn” and will make such stupid mistakes again and again…

So, no heat this morning, and that’s why I am mentioning this at all.  Besides, it’s August and it’s supposed to be HOT.  Where’s global warming when you need it?

As you can imagine, Brenda wasn’t too pleased with me frittering away a beautiful day yesterday but happily, she has forgiven me and, as they say, “today is another day”.

For the last few days we have been on a dock at Pleasant Street Wharf,  our favorite spot here in Wickford.  It’s a favorite as it’s home to our great friends Eric and Sandy, old time friends, with the emphasis on the “friends” as opposed to “old” from our catboating days.  Sappho, a catboat and our second boat, which we sold to Eric over 20 years ago, is still here and in great shape, perhaps better than when we sold her so long ago.  Pretty amazing.   We had a great dinner with Eric and Sandy the other night.  It was fun to reconnect.  We hope that they will visit us in CT.  

While it’s not Sappho, our old catboat, there are plenty of these little yachts here in Wickford. Here’s one that sailed by the other evening.  It’s easy to see how catboats remain so popular.We also visited with our friends Teri, Mike and their daughter Julie who now has two children.  It doesn’t seem like very many years ago that Brenda braided Julie’s hair in the cockpit of Sappho when we were out cruising together.  However, if the truth were told, that was way back in 1990, 24 .lyears ago.  Time sure flys and it was so sweet to see her with her two boys.

We also visited my cousin Pat and her husband Bob who just built an amazing home overlooking the bay nearby.  I think that their garage is nearly as big as our home.    What a spot.

So, here I am, sitting in Pandora’s cockpit typing away thinking about our years past aboard and somehow everyone has grown up.  As my mother likes to say, “how is it that you have gotten so old when I am still so young”.  Me?  I really don’t feel like I am in my “upper mid 50s”.

The view from Pandora’s cockpit is lovely. Life is good… And, we are here yet again in Wickford among friends.

Today we head up to Bristol for another day with our Essex YC friends.   Last night we had a fabulous dinner with the group at the Wickford YC.   I ate too much.  It was a seafood extravaganza, prepared by our own EYC chef Michael.  We had quite a group. 

While many came by boat, some arrived via the “Tabernacle Choir Bus” from Essex, owned by one of our members.  It seems that the “church bus” is actually a party bus in drag.  The “tabernacle choir” is completely fictitious, made up by our member in a jolly moment.  I don’t expect that he will be stopped by the “Constabulary any time soon.   How about this shot of the “sacred” spot framed by a rainbow.  Perhaps they do have someone looking over them.  

I guess Brenda and I do too.   What a great day here in Wickford.



Pandora making tracks. Happy to be aboard.

It’s Sunday morning and we are motoring into a light breeze on our way to Stonington CT and the first night of the Essex Yacht Club cruise.   It’s been years since we have joined a club cruise and as relatively new members of EYC, we are looking forward to spending time with everyone.

It’s been hectic getting ready to make this run as we have had non-stop guests for about the last week.  Don’t get me wrong, I love having visitors, especially if it’s family and to have our son Christopher and his friend visit for a few days was a great treat.  However, it’s remarkable to see how quickly the fridge empties only to be refilled to bursting and empty again.   And getting everyone on their way and preparing to leave for a few weeks is pretty intense.

On top that, Brenda hosted a group of lace makers, or “tatters”, twelve of them, for a day of, you guessed it, tatting.    If you don’t know what that is, you can always “Google that”.  My contribution for the day was to stay out of the way and to make well timed appearances to do the dishes when required.  That, combined with running out between the raindrops to get Pandora ready kept me pretty busy yesterday.   To see all those women of a certain age sitting around our dining table made me feel pretty estrogen deficient.   I didn’t quite have the nerve to say it out loud but I was thinking that the group should rename themselves “tits for tat”.   Perhaps better to keep those thoughts to myself.  Actually, Brenda corrected me that they actually did “bobbin lace”.  However, the joke wouldn’t work so I prefer tatting.

Alas, as usual, I digress…

So, here we are, underway and nearly to Stonington.   We had to get going very early today as the tide was going to turn against us later in the morning and I didn’t particularly feel like motoring into both the wind and current.

Over the last few days, as I was struggling to get everything aboard for our two weeks and accepting the reality that we were going to motor the entire way and likely do so in the rain, I couldn’t help but wonder what I was thinking as I signed up for a series of club cruise events, prepaid of course, knowing that I’d have to “get there or else” regardless of the weather.  As they say, “the most dangerous pieces of equipment aboard a boat are the clock and calendar”.  When you “just have to be there”, well, that’s when you get into trouble.  Add to that the loss of power at our home an hour before we were scheduled to leave for our trip that certainly complicated things.

So, here we were making last minute preparations, washing dishes and a bit of ironing (yes ironing), when the power shut off.  Out came the flashlight, digging into the depths of the fridge deciding what to bring.  Well, we did pretty well and only forgot a few items.  We’ll see what lurks in the dark recesses of the fridge when we return.  Perhaps the next time I open the fridge I’ll have to arm myself with a hammer, or worse.

It will be also be interesting to see what lights are burning after two weeks.  Who knows what was on, or off, when the power quit.

However, today, not a lot of trouble as it’s very calm.  However, I was stressing about the “have to leave today and be sure and make that first thing or else” deal and wouldn’t you know, it was raining steadily as we shoved off at 07:30 this morning.

Well, while it’s still overcast, at least it’s not raining.  That’s good and the next few days are going to be very nice, if a bit windless.   However, I am struck by the huge difference in cruising with a schedule verses the sort that we do all winter in the Bahamas, where we don’t go anywhere except when the wind is convenient.  Well, almost never.   Of course, there are always exceptions but that’s another story.

So, we’re off for two weeks and it will be fun to get to know others from Essex Yacht Club as we make our way, probably under power, from place to place.  It’s certainly way more organized than the sort of cruising that we are accustomed to but it will be a nice change of pace.

As I finish up this post, we are on a mooring in Stonington, home quite a few really nice boats.   Here’s a great little wooden powerboat near us.  I’d hate to pay for the varnish work each year. And, another great design by Bob Perry, who designed Pandora.   The Valiant 42 is considered one of the greatest cruising sailboats ever designed.  We have met quite a number of folks who own and love this design.  I think that they look particularly great in red.Of course, another classic is the Hinkley Bermuda 40.   This was, at one time, a best seller for Hinkley Yachts.  Alas, they stopped production a while back to focus on boats that were much larger.  I understand that this design is still being built, but by another builder that acquired the rights.Before I break, I should mention that Brenda and I particularly enjoy listening to names of boats that call each other on the radio. It’s pretty funny how often boats traveling together have names that somehow seem to go together.  We have heard some great combinations over the years and was reminded of this when I heard a boat on the radio today.  It was Liberty and they were calling Get Away.  How perfect, a boat “on liberty” calling one that wants nothing more than to “get away”.  Yes, that’s me and I am happy to be “getting away” for a few weeks.   

Yup, happy to be back aboard even if I was totally stressed getting ready to go.