Saturday, October 29, 2005

Saturday morning, and we're coming to you from the public library in Bar Harbor, Maine!

Finally, we're offshore. Wednesday and Thursday, the forecast was sounding promising -- not to much wind (though always, of course, in the wrong direction) and the sea state was getting flatter. We had dinner with Dad and Mary at Rudders and then stowed our stuff and grabbed a few hours sleep. (Just a note for other cruisers -- Rudders charged us almost $60 per night to tie up at their dock, and there were no services on offer. Stay clear!)

Randy got up at around 11 and he and Tom got us underway at about midnight. By the time we were clear of the harbour, it was getting very bouncy in the forward cabin, so I got up and lurched into my long johns (thanks Mary), sweaters, various fleeces and foulies and took up my usual position under the dodger. I got a few hours of chilly nap later on the dinette, Tom got an hour around dawn, and spelled Randy several times, so nobody burned out too early.

Just after dawn it was very grey, and I was looking out across the water (you can get in a lot of that kind of activity on this kind of crossing) and I saw a small plume of steam, and though, "why would the ocean be venting steam?" As I watched the small vertical plume move eerily off over the surface, I though "I've seen a ghost. I'd better not say anything about this to the boys." Then, there was another plume of vapour, and a telltale shiny black curve underneath it, and with some relief, I shouted "whale!" It didn't surface again, but it was way better than seeing a ghost. In my humble opinion.

The seas did flatten out almost completely during the day -- just a small chop, but the breeze was a little stronger than forecast, right on the nose. We motored the whole way with the main up. Generally very comfortable. Randy made Canadian hamburgers for lunch (can't take Can. beef into the states), and we ate molasses cookies imported from Port Maitland (thanks Abbie!) and drank tea. Very civilized.

Randy sighted Cadillac Mountain around 11 am, and we motored into Bar Harbor just as the sun was going down. We travelled through the beautiful lobster fields of Maine for about two hours on the way in. RS wondered how any lobster has a fighting chance with that many traps to avoid. We managed to avoid them, and the tenders for the bloated "Sea Princess" cruise ship, and pulled up to the town dock right in front of the Harbor Master's office. He called customs for us, and they gave us clearance over the phone, and an officer came down from Bangor this morning to check us out and give us a cruising permit.

So that's a very big hurdle out of the way, and it went very well, thanks to the Capt. and the Able Bodied Seaman who kept us on course. We had champagne and curried chicken soup last night to celebrate, and got rather silly trying to say "let's find a bahber in Bah Hahbor..." And yes, we hit the bunk about 8:30 local time.

Things to address in Bar Harbor: The furnace (do we build a pyre and torch the bastard, or do we try to hunt down an Espar dealer?), and the Lectrosan doesn't seem to be working, the camera battery needs charging (no pics this post, sorry) and we all need warmer socks. It's cold down east. No kidding, the first American who greeted Randy on the dock said, "cold enough for ya?"

Monday, October 24, 2005

We figured we'd be on the other side by now. Thursday afternoon we left the dock at Shelburne Harbour Yacht Club after topping up with diesel and water. The afternoon before, the dreaded "pop, whsssshhh" happened again (the hose popping off the hot water heater), only this time it happened while we were all ashore. Randy arrived back to the boat to find the head awash and the bilge full of fresh water. The tank was not full, but what there was of it drained into the bilge.

New rule: always turn off the water pressure when you leave the boat.

We had planned to leave at around noon along with Philip and Matthew on the boat from Montreal, but extended conversation with fellas dropping by left us with things still to do, so we didn't depart until around 2 pm. Forecast was for diminishing winds, so we planned to do the crossing to Plymouth, Mass. Forecasted diminishment never happened, and we decided to pull in and anchor at Cape Negro Island. Nice anchorage after a rolly, cold and salty, if brief, passage, but we were sore disappointed when the furnace failed to come to life. Worked just great at the dock. We warmed up with chicken curry, dried the salty gloves and mitts on the door of the oven, and turned in, early.

Left at the crack of dawn on Friday, primed again to enjoy the diminishing winds and seas that continued to be promised, but by about 4 in the afternoon, with the wind freshening on the nose and the seas very confused and just as exciting as they had been, we made a sharper turn than we'd hoped for, and headed for Yarmouth. A couple of times we had little birds chase us, looking for a dry spot to rest. One landed on board for about 5 minutes, too tired to worry about being this close to people.

I went below about 11 pm to try to warm up and discovered that the forward bunk was half soaked with salt water coming through the louvres from the anchor locker. I crawled up on the settee with a dry blanket and surfaced when the guys tried to find an anchorage at Seal Island. No luck. Rolly, blowing like stink. Moved on to Pubnico, finally ended up at the Pubnico wharf. Hot soup at 1:30 am, then to bed in the main cabin -- we just ignored the salty bunk.

In the morning, Tom found a phone booth on shore and called and left a message with Mary in Yarmouth (not long distance), and with Dad (long distance, so he called collect and got Dad's machine). When Dad heard the electronic voice saying he had a collect call, and then of course, no message, he naturally deduced we were on the other side. He told my 94-year-old grandmother the good news later that morning, so if anyone is visiting Peg, please don't tell her that we're still here. She's been worried sick and it would knock her for a loop to have to worry all over again!
Finally on Saturday, the weather we signed on for, a lovely sunny day with 10-15 knots of wind (on the nose, of course). So we had a most pleasant motor-sail around to Yarmouth through picturesque Schooner Passage with a fair tide giving us an extra three knots or so. Arrived at the floats by Rudder's Restaurant about 2:30 with Auntie Mary on the dock to meet us.Now does it get any better than that? Hot showers, warm dry beds.

It was tempting to head across to Maine but the forecast was for easterly gales beginning overnight so we couldn't have made it in before the weather started. Sure enough, it began blowing hard in the wee hours and was a gale by dawn, so much better secured alongside than bouncing around in the bay. Now we are watching hurricane Wilma, which is predicted to hit here Wednesday, hopefully much diminished from her present ferocity. We've moved from the dock at Rudder's (very expensive and we're not sure why) and are tucked into a better spot a bit further along the dock, but we are getting mighty frustrated. Time to get moving. Hope for decent weather post-Wilma. Oh, right, and then there's Alpha to think about....

Saturday, October 22, 2005

We're not in Cape Cod, but we are in Yarmouth (Nova Scotia, not Maine.) We're safe and sound at Auntie Mary's and I'll post the details of the last couple of days tomorrow. Just thought you'd like to know that we're not still slogging it out crossing the bay.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Wednesday, and we're still enjoying the hospitality of the Shelburne Harbour Yacht Club.

In true Nova Scotia fashion, we have discovered the usual two degrees of separation here. Turns out that one of the fellas we were chatting to at the club, Scott, is married to Christine, a good friend of my cousin who lives in Guelph, and they are good friends of a guy who has a villa in France -- my sister's family stayed there a few years ago, and Randy and his son visited them there. I sometimes feel that if we took the time to speak with everyone we run across that we'd find connections like these all over the place. Small world. Anyway, we were invited to Scott and Christine's last night for supper and had a great time.

Randy has been watching and listening to the weather reports from various sources, and it looks like tomorrow we'll start across the bay. This feels like the real beginning of the voyage -- leaving Nova Scotia -- and I am feeling various sorts of pangs. Mostly about my inexperience. The rest of the crew is up to the challenge, and I'll take care of the soup and the tea and the novel experience of standing watch. I'm told that I'll probably like sailing at night. I woke up night before last and went on deck to see the full moon, and it was beautiful.

The part for the furnace arrived and hey, presto, we have heat. It was touch and go for a bit -- the courier took it to the Yarmouth Yacht Club first -- but realized his mistake and it arrived yesterday afternoon. Two more leaks have been plugged, so we continue to gain in the comfort and joy department. We've had lots of visitors this week: Randy's mum and Edythe, Jaqueline and Bill, Auntie Mary, David and Joseph, and my dad. More goodbyes. Beat dad at cribbage. Sorry about that, Big Dad.

Next post will be coming to you from the US of A. We'll be leaving Shelburne midday tomorrow, in company with a boat from Montreal, and heading for Plymouth, Massachusetts, and we expect it will take between 36-46 hours, depending on the weather. Forecast is for NW - a fair wind, so think of us on the bounding main on our way once again.

(photo by Edythe)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

We're away.

Finally let go the docklines last Thursday morning (October 6) at about 9:30, and motored around the corner to the gas dock to top up. Said goodbye to the DYC fellas, and headed down the harbour. An emotional moment after all these months. Gene the yard manager said "Put a smile on your face, woman!" but it was all I could do to keep the chin from wobbling out of control. Anyway, Gene, I was really happy, we all were.

Waved goodbye to Lynne and Heather on the Dartmouth shore about 20 minutes later, and 20 minutes after that, we slowed going by the Maritime Museum dock and shouted goodbyes to Lisa, Marion and Marie from the NSBS. More tears. One more goodbye: Kim, Don, Lorraine and Greg were standing outside the former harbourmaster's office, waving and hollering, and we waved goodbye. And we headed out the harbour. Into the fog.

Long sail to Lunenburg in the fog, with just a bit of rain. We kept readjusting the layers and the head and foot gear until we all looked a bit like arctic travellers blown off course. The crew wasn't seasick at all, which was a very nice surprise -- and in a few interesting moments, we learned quite a lot about the radar and the other instruments when we started reading very very shallow water. Made it past that ledge with everything intact, and motored into Lunenburg before it got really dark. Ate homemade pizza snug in our boat at about 8 pm and opened a bottle of Chianti provided by Wayne and Deb and celebrated our first day as cruisers. Tom was the first to hit the bunk at about 8:20. Rest of the crew followed 10 minutes later.

Nice long visit in Lunenburg, thank you. Weather was consistent, and the exterior (and much of the interior) is sufficiently sluiced with fresh water that we consider ourselves content with this washing period, and would be very pleased if we could progress to the drying cycle. Several new leaks have made themselves known (and felt, particularly the one seeping in from the anchor locker and sogging the bottom foot of our bunk). Our nameboard (once gold) is now green. Obviously not real gold leaf as advertised. Another job to add to the list when we get south and get so damn bored that we can't bear another coat of nail polish on the toenails.

The wee furnace has been a constant source of f-ing irritation for the captain. It works, or doesn't work, on a completely random set of rules. We are puzzled as to whether it's the damp, the fuses, the fuel, the filters, the glow-plug, the air intake, or the fairies. We are consulting the stars in hopes of finding some guidance. If none shows, we'll try some professional sort of poltergeister/small engine wizard in Shelburne.

We rested comfortably at Brooklyn Marina on Tuesday night, a great little stop just outside of Liverpool. We had an excellent sail from Lunenburg, in spite of the continued rinse cycle. We are dressed for it. If you get tired of pictures of us in these outfits, go right ahead and pray for a change in the weather, cause I ain't taking these babies off until I'm guaranteed something other than WET. I gave the fellas a break on Tuesday -- they'd been steering all morning -- and I just lucked into the following sea/strong wind coming round the corner, and maxed her out at 9.2 knots. Rock on. I'll be retiring shortly with a hot water bottle on my shoulders, but hey, the glory, the glory. Average speed today was 7.2.

We laughed over our post-Thanksgiving turkey tetrazzini about the many miles we've covered: "You've been off work for two months, and only left the dock 5 days ago, and you've gone how far? 97 miles?" Everybody stand up and do the wave! Okay. Okay. It doesn't sound like much, but this is major movement, folks.

Thursday morning and we made Shelburne last night after a long day in 25-30 knot winds with some heavy gusting. Big seas -- 3 m swell behind us and on the quarter with just the genoa up -- and most of our motion was up, down or sideways rather than forward, but after several millennia, we made it to Shelburne Yacht Club, safe, if rather salty. The crew wasn't sick -- too much movement to figure out where to upchuck. When we got into calmer waters, we cleaned up the cabin. We thought we'd stowed things pretty well, but stuff was everywhere, including the basket of lunch that early on had pitched off the cabin top where it was tucked under the dodger, and hit the cabin sole about six feet below. Tom ate everything that was still edible. One can of ginger ale was holed and drained into the refrigerator (Capt is cleaning as I do this update). Books in the forward cabin were all over the bunk, but otherwise, nothing damaged. We treated ourselves to dinner at the pub next door, then rum, then to bed. Probably about 8:30. Go ahead and laugh.

We may be in Shelburne several days (with luck, enjoying the dry cycle), until we get a perfect weather window for crossing the big bay. The yacht club is really nice, so we're happily doing laundry and cleaning the boat, and we'll see Randy's mum and friends tomorrow, and my dad is coming on Saturday. Auntie Mary stopped for a quick visit on her way to Halifax today. More goodbyes.

Also we should get parts for the furnace via courier while we're in Shelburne, so all hands are buoyed up with happy expectancy regarding dry heat in the cabin. All that and clean, dry towels and showers ashore. Life is good.

(photo of our departure is courtesy of the delightful Lisa Neily)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A very quick update.

Today is stow day, tomorrow is go day. We'll drop the car off at Anna's tonight (they're going to take care of selling it for us) and then we're leaving first thing in the morning. That's the plan, anyway.

The last couple of days have been crazy. We're having parts for the furnace shipped to Shelburne, and we've given up on the autopilot. Rich (above and beyond the call) Knowles spent two long evenings trying to make it work, but we've decided it's just not going to pull through, so we've put it out of its misery. Tom took a turn in the depths under the cockpit and removed the rest of the workings and did some other fastening and fixing while he was down there. Not to mention a bit of bilge fishing whenever he dropped a tool.

We're very ready to be on the road -- mentally anyway. We've got another load or two to get from Randy's sister Heather's basement (thanks, Heather!) and a few more things to return to Duncan St. The Dartmouth Yacht Club has been a great place to get ourselves sorted out to leave. The people here have been really helpful. I'll almost miss the sound of tons of gypsum being loaded on ships in the middle of the night, and the sound of the train whistles. There's a couple of tough goodbyes already behind us, and a few more still to come, lots of tidying up, and we'll probably be smacking our foreheads as we leave the harbour when we remember the various bits and pieces and loose ends left untied.

No matter, we'll be on our way.

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