Monday, September 3, 2012

Down East

(click photos to enlarge)
The day we left Nantucket was the last day of Nantucket Race Week for which the crowning event was Sunday's Opera House Cup, featuring two privateers, Lynx and Pride of Baltimore sailing through the starting line in a mock gun battle.

Entrants in the Opera House Cup must be wooden boats, must use yanked on headsails and leave their spinnakers on the dock, along with any exotic sail with high tech fabric.  

This is what those legendary yachts came for, and Moonshadow was out at the starting line and followed a safe distance to leeward on the first leg of the race.
1913 New York 50 (72 feet) Spartan

73' S&S yawl Bolero

Afterwards we set a course across Nantucket Sound for Hyannis, Massachusetts, which is where the Kennedy compound is located.

Teddy Kennedy's old schooner MYA was out for a sail with about 15 people aboard as we entered the harbor and anchored, only to find that we were just 100 feet from MYA's mooring.  She is a pretty design, but not the mega yacht you'd imagine.  In fact, the brightwork looked like it had not seen sand paper or a varnish brush in a very long time!

We had a beautiful evening with a walk on the beach in front of the compound trying to imagine JFK and Jacqueline doing exactly what we were doing.

 The weather forecast suggested we might have better wind by waiting another day before heading north around Cape Cod, so we found a fuel dock and a taxi to the grocery store where we loaded up with provisions, then got everything back aboard Moonshadow in time to enjoy yet another beautiful sunset from our anchorage behind Egg Island in Hyannis.

The trip to Maine around the outside of Cape Cod was 195 miles with the prospect of some great sailing, but the weather didn't cooperate.  Instead we had two knots of wind and glassy slick seas all the way.

These birds skim a millimeter from the water...
just not when you're holding a camera
Deb and I sat on deck for the sunset and agreed the conditions were perfect for a green flash.  We were about 40 miles offshore so the horizon looked like any other at sea, but with a high pressure and dry clear sky the horizon was as crisp as if it was cut from  a piece of blue cardboard with a razor blade.  

Sure enough we both yelled as the last of the sun disappeared and was momentarily replaced by a neon green spot!

We both had our cameras ready and took pictures, but auto-focus/auto-exposure delays interfered with the instant timing required to capture the moment.  We'll keep trying to photograph a green flash but they are pretty rare.  This was only our third!

Next up was a night with a billion stars, bright planets and the milky way.  Sorry, no pictures! As with the other overnight passages we've made, John went below to sleep and returned a couple of hours later with zero minutes of actual sleep on his logbook.  Deb doesn't have that problem so she went below and slept while John watched a distant fog bank grow nearer.

A couple hours later Moonshadow found herself just a few miles from Rockland stopped in really thick fog and surrounded by millions of lobster trap buoys.  They are not really lobster traps, they're cruiser traps!  Some have two floating buoys separated by 20 feet of line... motor between these and you prop is sure to be fouled.

Our radar and chart plotters made the job of feeling our way into port through the fog much less tense than the old days when a fathometer and compass was all anybody had, but still we kept the boat speed down around 3 knots, stopping every so often to listen  for (and hear) nearby fishermen going about their work, but not using any fog horns.  Moonshadow has an automatic foghorn that sounds every 2 minutes, so we're legal, but evidently the fishermen don't have them or don't use them... 

Still we were glad to finally "see" this buoy.  Can you see it? (not the lobster buoy - the channel marker!)  Even with the slow going until we broke out of the fog, our 195 mile passage from Hyannis to Rockland was  covered in 23 hours.  It is still hard to get used to making passages this quickly!

We spent two days in Rockland mostly recuperating from the overnight trip, picking up supplies we'd forgotten in Hyannis, and ordering others for delivery further along our path.  The 0900 morning "Magellan Net" we've joined revealed some of the cruisers we'd met earlier and others we'd only met on the radio waves would be in Rockland, so we arranged an impromptu cocktail party aboard Moonshadow to get re-acquainted.  The conversation is never lacking for subject matter in a group of sailing cruisers because there's so much everyone has in common from the weather to watch systems to charging batteries, places seen and future plans.  

From Rockland we sailed across Penobscot Bay to a twisting passage called the Fox Islands Thorofare, which is a narrow five mile gap between North Haven and Vinalhaven Islands.  

The sights along this waterway were just amazing and there were interesting water craft everywhere.

When we arrived, we found ourselves anchored in beautiful Seal Bay on the east side of Vinalhaven Island.   We felt like we'd just anchored in Yosemite's Tuolumne Meadows.

The tidal range in these areas is quite high, double our typical tide in San Diego and four times more than what we'd seen in Florida and the Chesapeake.

It is possible to dinghy into places at high tide where you would be stranded if you waited too long on a falling tide.

This passage was navigable by dinghy just a few hours before.

To celebrate our arrival, we liberated Leroy and Larry, the two live lobsters we had bought back in Rockland, cut their rubber bands off of their pinchers and let them swim free… in our lobster pot!

Best lobster dinner ever!

The next day we took a walk along a trail ashore through some beautiful wooded parkland with views of the bay where Moonshadow awaited our return.  Getting from the dinghy to shore turned out to be quite an adventure as the mud was like quicksand.

It was so shallow John had to kick up the outboard, get out, and walk the dinghy in to the shore for the last 100 feet, and several times nearly lost his sandals which refused to release from the suction.

Deb had to get out too which added a new dimension to her pedicure!

More of the Magellan Net Cruisers showed up in Seal Bay along with new friends we met, so Moonshadow hosted another sundowner evening. On board were Chris and Sue Bright and their twin boys Sid and Wilf from England aboard Yindee Plus.

Also aboard were North Carolinians Wil and Jenny Lang with their two children Justine and Colin from their catamaran Full Monty, and from New Hampshire, Dean and Kathy Mendenhall.

Dean Mendenhall built this beautiful sloop "Briar Patch" and the sailing skiff on his property in New Hampshire over several years launching her in 1988.  Now he and his wife Kathy spend their spring/summer seasons sailing the islands of Maine, which one can do for a lifetime without getting tired of the variety of beautiful islands and coves.

We spent four days in Seal Bay, just listening to the deafening quiet where the only noise is the wind through pine needles and the occasional Osprey calling it's mate.

Nearby Camden, Maine has an annual Windjammer's Festival which attracts 20 or more old gaff schooners, local crafted, music and fun events, so we sailed the twenty miles back to see what we could see.  

Camden was once a shipbuilding center launching a dozen big sailing vessels per year including the largest four masted schooner and the first six masted schooner ever built.  Maine is now a center for wooden boat building and restoration, a specially of Wm Cannell Boatbuilding, whose boathouse sits on a sloping waterfront bank with a marine railway extending down into Camden's inner harbor.

Just around the corner, a waterfall cascades into the harbor.  This one comes with a lovely lass who is part of the Moonshadow crew.

In Camden's "inner harbor" this is how you tie up your boat.  Rather than a marina, there are anchored floats to tie to, from which you can dinghy ashore or call the shore boat for a ride.  This one had a beautifully restored 40' Newporter ketch, a sistership to Mystere, the boat my dad owned in Hawaii in the 1960s, and my first introduction to sailing.  Fond memories!

Camden did not disappoint with the sights of salty old sailing craft and small town charm, and to make things even more fun, there are a half dozen boats here that we know in our ever expanding group of cruisers we've met.

Among the cruisers here in Camden are Kurt and Katy Braun aboard Interlude, which is a Deerfoot 73 with very similar lines and features to Moonshadow; and Steve and Linda Dashew aboard Wind Horse, their 83 foot aluminum FPB motor yacht.  Steve Dashew is the creator of (among others) the two Deerfoot designs and his own boat captured in this photo.  But these boats are quite a contrast to the examples of sailing craft on display in Camden!

Part of the Windjammer's festivities included a race across lobster crates.  Here is Colin Lang from the catamaran Full Monte making good time.  This was not easy to do.  The secret is to keep moving as fast as possible, and if at all possible, weigh less than 65 pounds!

San Diego Yacht Club friends Ken and Linda Ruppert, who own a Cal 29 named Flojo (a sistership to our old Cal 29 Blew By You, and tied next door back then), were out east taking their son to Dartmouth and had time to come to Camden for a visit aboard Moonshadow.  

They brought a bottle of rum. Then they took the bottle with them (empty) when the left the next day, so you can imagine we had a lot of laughs and a great time catching up with the old days when all our kids were little.

It's finally time for Moonshadow to move again.  This time we will be sailing down east* to Mt. Desert Island and the Acadia National Park.  This will be our northeastern most point in this year's cruise as it will soon be time to return south.  It may be some time before we can post again as the internet connectivity is rather scarce.  

Till then Cheers from Moonshadow!

* The term down east was used by the old time sailor men who sailed to Maine from Boston or New York.  East is obvious since Maine is east of these ports, but down refers to the fact that Maine is downwind from Boston or New York in the typical weather.  Sooo, Moonshadow will be sailing down east to Baaa Haaabaaa

1 comment:

Richard said...

I caught your blog from SetSail and have really enjoyed following your adventure. Thanks for sharing. I spent 3 years in San Diego as a 4-6 grader and have only made it back once after retreating to Florida. It was interesting to hear your adventures in Ft Lauderdale: my wife grew up for the most part there, and we recently traveled the intracoastal and up the River along Las Olas and danced the night away. A great place with way too many boats sitting around. Take care and thanks again for sharing the experience. Richard

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