Friday, August 29, 2008

Photos by Tierney

Our guest Rick Tierney has an eye for the perfect picture. Here is a sample of his flare. Don't forget, most pictures will enlarge when you click on them. Some don't, but I don't know why. We'll work on that..............

Triple Current Day......

Thank goodness for Norm’s piloting skills! The last couple days have impressed upon me (Vicki) the value of good piloting skills. That may seem an odd thing to say because “of course they’re important”. I didn’t fully appreciate their value until we needed them three times yesterday and saw the consequence of someone else’s poor piloting skills the day before.
Yesterday was a triple current day. We encountered strong currents in a 90-degree bend in a narrow channel leaving York Harbor, then current crossing the mouth of the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth NH, and then roiling currents and eddies at the mouth of the Merrimack River on the way to Newburyport, MA. Yep, we were a lot of places yesterday! Our intention was to stay for 5 days at the Wentworth-by-the-Sea Marina resort, but their mooring balls wouldn’t accommodate us. They were too shallow, not heavy enough, or too close to lobster pots or other boats. So, we moved on to Newburyport, MA which is described as the Nantucket of Massachusetts. We’re excited to be here for a few days.
The other experience that caused my appreciation of piloting skills to rise was the observation of another boat in York Harbor. There is a lot of current in the harbor and that captain of a 44 Krogen (a vessel about our size) was unable to control his boat. It was ugly, the current pushed him sideways as he was going down the channel and he smashed into a small docked fishing boat. We had fenders at the ready as his beam began bearing down on us at the dock; but, he gained control at the last minute and cruised by us! He was at the wheel and she was screaming instructions while running forward to aft and aft to forward as the boat hemmed and hawed in the currents and changed directions. Norm hates screaming and we have worked out hand signals and use headsets to communicate when necessary.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We're Looking Good

The sandbar next to which we are moored kissed us a night ago. At 3:00 a.m. (low tide)we heard a scraping sound – not good. Norm cinched up the mooring line as far as it could go and the boat was still touching the sandbar as it swung. Yesterday afternoon as low tide approached again Norm and Gil (from the yacht club) put out a stern anchor to hold the boat away from the sandbar. That worked wonderfully.

Yesterday was ‘new do’ day – we both got haircuts. Norm’s was administered on the back of the boat using the clippers. He’s now proudly sporting a ‘#1 all over’. This was the second time Vicki had buzzed him and she’s gaining expertise – the hairline is even this time – he’s looking mighty fine. Vicki used a rigorous method of selecting a salon – walked into the first one with their door open, asked how much for a haircut - $15… that’s right, $15! You have to be a bit skeptical about what a $15 haircut will look like, but how can one resist such a bargain? It’ll grow back, right? It actually turned out to be a decent cut.

While Vic was getting the new do, Norm found a store with used DVDs for sale and got 7 for $11. No Academy Award winners in that bunch, for sure. We’ve been scavenging DVDs from whoever we can since we don’t have television and sometimes we want to see a movie and aren’t in a place where we can rent one. Norm’s nephew, Keith, gave us several when we were in Youngstown, including the Abyss –perhaps now the best choice for boaters, but we’re appreciative anyway. Rick and Lynnie brought several when they visited. Mom bought some for Vicki’s birthday and brought them out from Arizona. We’re hoping to be in a marina that has a take-on, leave-one policy so we can exchange the ones we’ve watched for new ones. That’s often the practice for books at marinas, we’re not sure about DVDs.

Good news about the Olympic opening ceremony on DVD – daughter Colleen recorded it and after she and Brian watch it (which we’re sure will be very soon, hint hint), they’ll be shipping it to us. Vicki can’t wait! She missed the Olympic experience a lot. We actually did buy a rabbit ear antenna – after all, Dancing with the Stars will be starting in September. It’s worked decently in some locations and not in others. We’re hoping to be able to see Barack’s acceptance speech this week( a cool moment in history), but if we can’t see it, we can get the speech on XM radio. Unfortunately XM radio is not a back-up for Dancing with the Stars-- Norm is worried that he’ll be shuttling the rabbit ears around the boat deck to get reception and keep it when the boat swings on Monday nights!

We’re heading to dock at Donnell’s Marina on the York River today. We were there in June, but missed seeing the swinging bridge. We’ll do that today and some laundry.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kindness Abounds

We have run into the most helpful people! This situation is just one example...

We blew a high pressure stabilizer hose on the way to Saco from Portland on Saturday. After anchoring near the mouth of the river, Vicki started calling around to find who could make a hose for us while Norm cleaned up the oil in the engine room (yuck). We called two local boatyards and, of course, they weren't open on Saturday. But then an amazing thing happened... we got call-backs from both on Saturday afternoon. And they went out of their way to figure out who could make the hose. One guy called around, found out that Napa could make it, called us back to tell us, and offered to take us there in his car. That didn't work out because we couldn't get to his boatyard in the dinghy and then to Napa before they closed. The other guy told us about someone 30 miles away who makes hoses and offered to take us there when they opened on Monday.
It turns out that we cruised upriver to the town of Saco, moored at the yacht club, and Assistant Commodore Gil took us to Napa in his truck... and also to the grocery store... and to the gas station to fill up the dinghy gas can... and would have taken us pretty much wherever we needed to go. We gave him gas money plus a tip and invited him aboard Tide Hiker for lunch. He does canvas work, so we gave him a dinghy cushion and the dinghy cover to repair which he did in an afternoon and delivered back to the boat.
Take a look at this bay. What a pleasure. We are moored in a narrow channel with the Yacht club to Starboard and a sandbar to Port. As we "horse" around on the mooring, we come within 10 feet of the sandbar. Gil told us when we arrived, "don't panic when you see the sandbar, but you will be ok with 10 feet of water under you". We trusted him and it all worked out alright. There are two towns here, Saco and Biddeford separated by the Saco River. We walked to both yesterday. We will stay 3 days here and relax and get hair cuts and pizza. You can see the sand bar below and the dam on our stern, also below. We'd come back here in an instant.

The cruise up the Saco River was beautiful. Here are a couple of pictures. We were the biggest boat on this river in a long while. We got lots of stares; but, we kept focus on the beauty as we motored north.

Today, we got the hose made at Carquest Auto Parts. And, we got a spare. Norm installed the hose and finished the cleanup of the engine room. Additionally, Rick Tierney gave us his old Autohelm 6000 unit since he was replacing his with a Simrad unit. Norm took the controller unit and installed it on the bridge so we will have total control of the auto pilot from the bridge as we have from the pilothouse. We'll tell you how this works when we leave on Wednesday.

We Love our Guests (Anyone Want to Play Blink?

Hi. We’re still here. It’s been almost a week since we posted a blog. .. partially because we were busy having a ton of fun with Lynnie and Rick. Tide Hiker’s first two sets of guests (Vicki’s Mom and Lynnie/Rick) have definitely spoiled us. They slid into the rhythm of boat life, learning the routines and fitting right in. We don’t need to ‘entertain’ guests, just incorporating them into life on board seems to be entertaining enough! Both Mom and Lynnie helped clean the boat (inside) making them a shoe-in to be invited aboard again. Lynnie got double bonus points for provisioning, planning and preparing every other day’s meals. (That’s a good model for longer term guests.) Rick and Lynnie also brought some serious goodies on board – a case of wine, and a huge jar of Nonni’s Biscotti which is now our favorite morning snack with coffee on the bridge while underway. Lynnie further cemented her open invitation aboard Tide Hiker by playing Blink with Vicki, something Norm failed to warn her about and you, too, can experience aboard Tide Hiker.
Rick and Lynnie stayed 10 days, shorter than originally planned, but life intervened and they were needed back in North Carolina. We’re hoping to buddy boat with them to the Bahamas this winter.
Blogging has been delayed for another reason, too… we’ve been busy getting a new computer up and running—actually Norm has been busy doing that. A libation was spilled on the keyboard, the computer sizzled and gave up the ghost. Thank goodness the hard drive was not damaged and our data recoverable. Fortunately Rick was here with all of his techie credentials- he and Norm bought a new computer and all the accoutrements at Circuit City in Portland and then proceeded to load it with data, software and whatever else the thing needs to support our daily lives. While there were many snags, hiccups, and a few expletives deleted, we’re now up and running and learning to cope with Microsoft Vista. Rick earned his perpetual Tide Hiker invitation by using superb troubleshooting skills to resolve issues that would have stymied mere mortals, and by (over the course of three days) loading all of Vicki’s CDs onto a file where they can be uploaded to her IPOD when we get ITunes loaded on the computer again (hasn’t been a high priority – imagine that).
We are now on our way south at our first stop south of Portland, five miles up the Saco River – beautiful river and nice town. This is primarily a river for small fishing and water ski boats, so we got lots of gawks on the way up. The river is dredged to five feet at low tide and since our keel is five feet below the water line, safety requires that we travel the river when it’s at least half tide (tides are 10 feet here). We can tell that we’re getting more comfortable because at one time the narrow serpentine river with low depths would have seemed too risky and we would have bypassed it. That would have been a shame.