Saturday, June 28, 2008

Where are the Kids?

Yesterday we anchored in this lovely little cove with good protection except from the south. The cove is surrounded by rugged rocks with houses built above into the lavish green woods. There were tons of lobster boats anchored close by. One lobster-er surrounded us with traps just after we anchored. Luckily there was no fog this morning. Funny thing being on the water—sound travels greater distances. We could hear children playing somewhere on the Eastern Shore. I heard a young girl yell “dad” and I instinctively turned to look for one of my daughters and being disappointed not to see them. Then strong memories came back of them playing in the yard or in the family room and yelling for me when they needed an arbitrator or an answer to some very complicated childhood question. I miss them!

Vicki saw Tide Hiker’s first marine animal yesterday. A grey seal about 4 ft in length popped its head up just off the bow while we were underway. It looked very curiously at the boat as if deciding whether it would make a good playmate. So sweet. Vicki initially mistook it for a lobster pot until realizing it had whiskers! Since then, Vicki has seen several seals, all connected by a line to the lobster trap on the bottom.

This morning’s cruise was cut short because the forecasted 2-3 ft waves turned out to be more and very uncomfortable. Our efforts at battening down payed off and nothing was flying around this time. We ducked into a place called "The Basin" on the New Meadows River on the east end of Casco Bay. Its a beautiful rugged gunkhole also known to be one of the best harbors of refuge on the East Coast. Weather is supposed to get worse over the next couple of days, so this might be just the right spot to be in.

We decided to take the dinghy down and explore the basin. Robin was already paddeling in her kayak. Jim was chasing wires for their onboard TV system. The shoreline is pretty rugged and is under water by 9+ feet every 6 hours. Since the tide was flooding and the currents would be increasing, we scurried out.....after lunch, of course. We found what looked like a nice place to go ashore, but it turned out to be too shallow and too muddy. So, on we went to another place that was perfect. We tied up the dinghy to a tree with a long line and went on a hike. We discovered that the land was a nature conversancy. The hiking was good; it seemed like the place that Sasquatch would live. But it was the mosquitoes and poision ivy that sent us running back to the dinghy--muddy shoes and all.

There's a light haze setteling over the basin as I write this. Visibility is reduced and a good old fashion pea soup fog just might be in this nights future. Oooooooooo!!! Reminds me of an old Vincent Price movie.

Friday, June 27, 2008

We'll Be Getting a Bigger Boat Hook!

We’ve been at Donnell’s marina in York, Maine (south of Kennebunkport) for the past two days. Tiny marina consisting of one 60 foot dock which we rafted off of (tied Adventures to Tide Hiker which was tied to the dock). York is a beautiful town and the proprietor, Danny, very kindly took us into town and waited while we got groceries. The $1.75/ft dockage fee is the best we’ve found on the trip. Kennebunkport, originally our destination, wanted $4 - $6 per foot. The marina that charged $4 per foot said they measure boats and if over 50 foot, they charge $5 per.

Got a lot of work done – washed the boat, laundry, vacuuming, bathrooms, etc.
Yesterday’s big project was to measure the anchor chain which involved letting it all out on the dock and measuring the length between the colored markers on the chain. Now we can tell more precisely how much chain we have let out when anchoring. And, of course, since the chain was out of the chain locker in the bow of the boat, that led to another project – cleaning the sludge out of the bottom of the chain locker. Since Vicki could wedge her way into that small space better than Norm, she got the honors (see pic).

The highlight of the stay was dinner with the "Gypsies" on Wednesday night. (They’re not really gypsies, it’s just in the name of their boat.) Doug and Tammy, John and Colleen are retiring very early to cruise the Caribbean for three years starting in September. We met them a month ago on B dock. The night Vicki retired, there was another DeFever 49 RPH on the dock which has never happened before and which we took as some sign of fate. They were bringing the boat to their home in Kennebunkport, ME. We ooh’ed and ahh’ed over one another’s boats (mostly theirs, it's a much newer version), bonded over cocktails, and exchanged boat cards. A few weeks later, we received an email invitation to dinner at their home in Maine. We’re hoping to run into them frequently in the Caribbean because these people are fun! – lots of laughs. A bit of a competitive theme emerged among the men – many comparisons of sizes of boat hooks, engines, dinghys – some choice moments there! We’re also hoping to run into them frequently in the Caribbean (actually we will hunt them down) to wangle some more dinner invitations -- the women are gourmets -–lobster bisque to die for, barbequed salmon, lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, asparagus with bĂ©arnaise sauce, and key lime pie. We’re still recovering!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Few Things We've Learned

Friend Cindy suggested that we report a few of the things we’ve learned. So, here goes…not deeply insightful, but important stuff…

1. Sprinkling seasonings in the galley with the window open while underway results in seasonings on the sofa.

2. Shaving with the wind blowing in the bathroom window results in a whisker cloud wafting through the bedroom. (same principle as above)

3. Leaving a folder of papers in the pilot house with the pilot house doors open and the door to the bridge open will result in papers being deposited at various ocean latitudes, the galley, the living room, and the back porch. (same principle as above – we’re obviously not very quick learners)

4. Don’t put your fingers between the boat and anything that could pinch it.

5. Wear gloves when handling lines that have been in the water (e.g. mooring lines) because a. they may be slimy, b. there may be stinging creatures lounging on the line, c. they could ruin your manicure, and d. if pinched between the boat and line, fingers may slip out more easily if gloved (assuming the previous lesson wasn’t learned).

6. Holding the steering wheel steady doesn’t guarantee a straight path (wind, currents). [Yes, this was actually a learning for one of us.]

7. Only certain radio channels are designated for recreational boat use. [See previous comment.]

8. Thunderstorms are scarier in a boat than in a house.

9. ‘Green bags’ (which absorb gases from fruits and vegetables to extend their shelf life) actually hasten rotting when used with certain foods – tomatoes mold and onions rot.

10. The first rule of weather forecasting and navigating is “look out the window”.

11. There is never only one crab trap or lobster pot – they live in communities.

12. The toothpick rule: anything with a toothpick in it counts as an appetizer. (This alleviates the pressure to plan and prepare fancy stuff.) And the corollary to the toothpick rule: the number of toothpicks consumed is highly correlated with the number of hours required on the stair-stepper (aka torture machine).

13. Cruising attracts dust. It’s like a dust bomb went off on the inside of this boat in spite of weekly cleaning. We’re not sure why and will entertain all theories – bring ‘em on. (and no smarty-pants comments about seasonings and whiskers allowed)

We're now in York, Maine in a teeny-weeny marina at a slip. Having dinner tonight with friends from Kennebunkport... will tell you more tomorrow... gotta go shower now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One is the Loneliest Number

Sometimes, even when you are traveling with other boats, you seem so insignificant and alone in a giant sea. Its a combination of peaceful hours sometimes separated by seconds of shear panic, as the saying goes. Left, is a shot of Adventures, just a bottle cork in the wide ocean as we both headed to Plymouth, MA. On the right is another shot of Adventures on our cruise today from Plymouth, MA to Gloucester, MA. A world (or seconds) apart? (Be sure to double click on pic to expand it.)

We recently read a summary of the cruising grounds north of Cape Cod. It was described as Cape Cod Bay or "THE NORTH ALTANTIC". We've been very watchful of the tides, currents and weather in this unforgiving cruising grounds. We arrived Gloucester with intentions of dinghying over to town to have a beer at "The Crows Nest", (home of the characters in "The Perfect Storm") but thunderstorms kept us on board. That was ok, though, because we were a bit tired from today's fog-induced-stress. Instead we had a nice quiet evening aboard---watching the lightning. Again, moments and seconds!!

Before we departed Plymouth Harbour, we had to go to the Town dock to fill our tanks with water. With the 10-foot tides (and we arrived at the dock just before low tide), Vicki had to climb a ladder from our 9-foot bow to get to the office and water valve.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sometimes Things Just Work Out

Yep, Rambler (Vicki’s boat) pulled out all the stops to sweep from 3rd place to 1st place in the Newport to Bermuda race, bypassing Speedboat (Norm’s pick) which had been leading for most of the race and which finished in 3rd place. Vicki’s practice of selecting teams based on the color of their jerseys served her well once again (she used to win football pools that way); Rambler’s sailors were outfitted in a green similar to the shade of Tide Hiker’s living room. Donnybrook is expected to finish ...soon (sorry Robin). Vicki is mulling over her choice of dessert – perhaps key lime pie to pay homage to the color green (plus Norm has been lobbying really hard for key lime pie which is one of Robin’s specialities).

Fabulous day yesterday. Started with using the new exercise contraption pictured here – good aerobic workout -- gotta look out for the waves, though.

Stayed put and spent the day playing tourist in Plymouth, Massachusetts, home of Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower, and the longest continuous English settlement in the new world. Many fun facts learned today…

Based on our perusal of the cemetery, in the 1600s-1700s, you either died young or lasted a good long time. Surprising how many people died in their 70s and 80s. (We thought the lifespan was shorter back then, but it doesn’t seem so.) We also discovered that Jim can read Roman numerals with the letters M,C and L in them – a rare talent, indeed.

Incredible displays of yankee ingenuity from the 1600s. The Plymouth grist mill blocked herring going up river to spawn, so they built a fish ladder. The 2500 lb. grinding stone in the mill had to be cleaned regularly, so they figured out a way that one person could lever it up and turn it over. And yankee ingenuity from today… the wooden gears in the mill need to be oiled with vegetable oil daily which used to take 1.5 hours, but now takes just minutes thanks to Pam spray!

The New England coast had been explored by John Smith years before and the captain of the Mayflower had a map, so knew where he was when land was sighted. The Mayflower was bound for Virginia, took 66 days to sight land, started south toward Virginia but turned around due to weather, sent scouts ashore on Cape Cod who found little water, poor land and hostile natives. Someone on the boat had been with a previous expedition and remembered that just west across the bay (Plymouth) the land had been cleared by the indians but no one lived there anymore. It turns out that the native tribe that cleared the land had all been wiped out by measles except for one person who was taken in by a monastery in England. That one Indian ended up being the translator for the pilgrims and the native people in the area. They signed a peace treaty without which the pilgrims wouldn’t have survived. Sometimes things just work out.

Women had it tough under English colonial law. Women unescorted after dark could be arrested. They couldn't inherit. And the husband could legally beat her with a stick no larger than his thumb (origin of the phrase "rule of thumb"). You've come a long way, baby!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Norm and Vicki Getting Ready for Dessert

For those of you playing along at home, you know that the boats in the Newport to Bermuda race are about 2/3 of the way to their destination. Speedboat (Norm's pick) and Rambler (Vicki's pick) are each 1st in their respective class and running 1st and 3rd in the whole darn field. How's that for lucky picks?! Donnybrook (Robin's pick) is 7th in class and 19th overall. That's gotta hurt since she's the only one of us who knows anything about sailing. Jim had the good sense to stay out of the betting. The bet is that whoever is highest in class gets the dessert of their choice. Looks like Robin will be getting her baking dishes out soon. Having already sampled her Ghiardhelli triple chocolate brownies and homemade garlic, herb, and cheese bread, we know she's got the talent to rise to the challenge.

Aside from her baking talent, Robin has enriched our lives with some interesting nautical terms...

"Rail meat" describes the sailors whose job at the moment is to run from one side of the boat to the other whenever it heels over and lean as far as possible over the ocean to balance the boat.

"Harbor head" is the overwhelmed brain state when piloting in a busy harbor where there are way too many sensory inputs.

"Frisky seas" describe those that would warrant the magic pill to head off sea sickness.

"Virtual clink" is what you do at cocktail hour when anchored or moored near one another, but don't feel like taking the dinghy down to travel between boats to do a real clink.

"Potatoes" (this one came from a local, not from Robin, but is very descriptive) describe submerged rocks, sometimes marked and sometimes not!

We just passed through the Cape Cod Canal and are on our way to Plymouth, Massachusetts - home of the Mayflower.

We withstood NOAA's weather mis-forecast cruising today. We expected 5-10 mph winds and 1 ft seas. We got 10-15 mph winds with gusts to 25 and 2-4 ft seas. Typical!! Fortunately, we waited for the right tide conditions before we left Onset and cruised East in the Cape Cod Canal at about 10 knots. When we arrived Plymouth we discovered there was no "room at the inn", meaning the moorings inside the breakwater were full and there were no slips at the marina for boats our size. Adventures got a lead on a Yacht Club mooring and we decided to settle on the town mooring outside the breakwater. Catching the ball with strong gusts was fun!! We just tied up to the mooring and Adventures showed up to take the next town mooring ball because there was not enough "swing" room at the yacht club.

We called the "lightning launch" as it's called here, to take us to Plymouth Rock. They want $25 round trip. No thanks, we'll take the dinghy down.