Saturday, September 6, 2008

Preparing for Hanna!!

Our First Tropical Storm
Today was spent preparing for Hanna. Tonight she will be unleashing sustained 35 kt/40 mph winds with gusts to 45 kt/52 mph. Yikes! We’re in a slip in Falmouth, MA on the south shore of Cape Cod. It’s a pretty protected harbor for waves, but the winds will still beat on us but to a lesser degree.

How do we prepare for a tropical storm? We had no idea! Luckily we were aided by the DeFever Cruisers Forum. An experienced member had posted on the forum a list of hurricane storm prep activities. That was incredibly useful. We had a few other questions that were answered by a call to fellow cruisers Steve and Di Koch who have a boat like ours based in Florida but are currently in Long Island Sound (and also preparing for the storm). A big decision was whether or not to take down the isinglass from the bridge—we decided to do it —putting it back up may be a BIG JOB. It kept us warm while cruising in cool northern winds and sheltered us from rain, but we may not even want it up when we reach southern climates. (We can always drive from the pilot house in inclement weather.) The big question is how the freezer will fare in the rain, unprotected by the isinglass. That’s a question for tonight, but also a question long term. We may need to find a different location for the freezer if we don’t re-install the isinglass.

Here are some of the things we did to prepare for Hanna…(you won't recognize Tide Hiker--she's Bare. Doubled the dock lines. Placed fenders to keep us away from hitting dock and the boat next to us.
Removed everything from the bridge and boat deck that could blow away. The bikes are sitting on the dock tied to pylons; the new kayak is stored in the marina shed; the lounging chairs and settee cushions and dinghy cover are stored in the forward stateroom. Everything else that could blow around is stored in the eyebrow (really, the eyebrow! – boat people like to speak in code - it’s the name for the storage area on the front of the bridge (that’s the sky scraper top of the boat that we drive from).
More…………..we taped down the instrument covers on the bridge and anything that could fly up, open, or allow water incursion. Our first moment of consternation was when we discovered that we didn’t have any of the right kind of tape aboard. We had duct tape which leaves tear-your-hair-out sticky residue and painter’s tape which would fly off when wet. Luckily, the West Marine across the street had ‘clean removal’ duct tape. We’re counting heavily on the ‘clean removal’ description because we bought the giant roll and used the whole thing! If it doesn’t live up to its promise, we’ll be counting on Roger and Lisa (our friends in Delaware) to once again come to our aid when we get there. (They removed much of the sticky residue from last winter’s escapade with shrink wrap tape which was used to seal doors and window—now that’s a good friend! )
More……………we removed pop-in screens from the portholes. And a bunch of other stuff.
Storm preparations were done by 3:00. So, we won't miss cocktail hour at 5:00. It took 6 hours with about a 10-minute lunch break. We decided to take a walk down the dock to check out everyone else’s preparations. It was evident that people had removed or tied down things that would fly around, but no one had taped anything – not hatches, not doors, not nothin’. Several still had biminy tops up and many had isinglass. The word ‘overkill’ came to mind as we compared our preparations to others’. We’ll see. At this point, we’re comfortable with our readiness, and hope for some sleep and that no one else breaks loose and careens into us. We’ll let you know tomorrow.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Rubber Boat in the North Atlantic???

We’re at Woods Hole MA, site of an amazing amount of brainpower researching all things marine. There are tours here of the Oceanographic Research Institute and the Marine Biological Laboratory which would be very cool, but are only offered in season – July and August. So, we are left with watching the seals being fed at the NOAA Aquarium. Another item of interest—we are just south of the Cape Cod Canal which separates Cape Cod Bay from Buzzards Bay. But the tides north of the canal in Cape Cod Bay are 10 ft. They are 4 ft in Buzzards Bay and only 18” in Falmouth, just off Nantucket Sound where we will be docked tomorrow through Sunday waiting out Tropical Storm Hanna.

You’ll recall that on our way north in June some things were closed because the season hadn’t yet started. Now, in early September on our way south, things are again closed because it’s after the season. The New England boating season is July and August. What a waste. June was lovely here and September is beautiful so far. Having lived over 20 years in Milwaukee, we know something about short boating seasons. There’s a huge difference in mindset about short seasons in New England and in Milwaukee. In Milwaukee, we stretch the season by taking advantage of every nice day, even if it occurs in May or October and we certainly count June and September as summer months even though it can be chilly on the water. Goodness, the ice cream stands in Wisconsin stay open into November. We’re proud to be hearty Midwesterners!

Speaking of weather… we’re preparing for Hannah or her remnants to come up the coast. The forecast is brutal for Saturday/Sunday with wave heights of 15 feet outside Nantucket Bay and winds of 40-50 mph. We have reservations for dockage in a harbor at Falmouth MA on the south shore of Cape Cod just a few miles east of here. We’re not worried about waves; they’ll be far less in Nantucket Sound and less yet in harbor. But, the winds will be fierce – we haven’t been in winds that strong on Tide Hiker.

We had a big scary lesson yesterday. We’re at Hadley Harbor, an anchorage across the channel about 1.5 miles from the town of Woods Hole. By the way, look at the channel entrance to this place...the red and green markers are only about 30 ft apart. Once we got through, though, we found a great surprise. Hadley Harbor is a "gunk-holish" type anchorage/mooring field. If you get here early enough you can just catch a mooring ball and its free.

We dinghied to Woods Hole yesterday and then started to dinghy back and realized that our path didn’t look familiar. We were lost! And, here’s the lesson – didn’t have a chart with us to figure out where we were or where we should go. We backtracked to Woods Hole intending to ask for directions and discovered our error when we arrived back in the Woods Hole Harbor. We had missed a turn and had headed across a six mile expanse in THE NORTH ATLANTIC toward Martha’s Vineyard in an 11-ft rubber boat in 2-3 ft waves. Yikes! From here on, we take a chart with us and follow it! Or, as Norm says, this is a good reason to have a hand-held gps/plotter.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Whales - Almost!

Beautiful cruise yesterday down the coast of Massachusetts from the Merrimack River to Scituate. A new sight - we saw the spouting of whales, four times. Didn't see the whales, but they were there. Would sure like to see one. We've given up on the moose - that's a reason to go to Nova Scotia in the future.

Today we cruise through the Cape Cod Canal. Planning to anchor at Pocasset tonight and go to Woods Hole, the oceanographic research center, tomorrow.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Bon Voyage, Gypsies

The Gypsies held their Bon Voyage party yesterday at Portsmouth NH. These are the folks who also have a 49 DeFever Pilothouse. You can see it in the background directly across the pier from ours in this picture on the right. Our dinghy and kayak are bigger too.
We met them when they landed on dock B in late May on their way home to Kennebunkport and had dinner with them at their home in late June. The two couples, Doug and Tammy and John and Colleen, are now on their way to the Bahamas and Caribbean to cruise for three years. We’ll cross paths with them and plan to link up periodically along the way.

The party was great! They’re all happy to be underway after more than a year of preparation. Also, the reality of leaving is starting to set in with mixed emotions for everyone except for Doug who is just happy as a clam. Doug is so ebullient that even the coolant leak they had on the first day of their voyage (from Kennebunkport to Portsmouth) was an adventure to him. He very wisely observed that ‘attitude’ is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure. So true and yet… picture coolant spraying ALL OVER the engine room… on the FIRST DAY of the voyage… we’d have to indulge in some serious positive attitude enhancer to make that anything but an ordeal!

The start of their voyage made us think about our three months of this new life. Vicki says the first month everything was new and difficult and a combination of highs and lows… the second month it wasn’t as new and exciting, but still difficult and was a low period (she even stopped blogging for a couple weeks)… the third month things settled in to a good place – routines and experience made things easier and Vicki discovered how much she enjoys the adventure that every day brings – there’s something new around every corner and it’s quite exciting. For those of you interested in a meltdown update – there haven’t been any for a long time. It feels like the initial hurdle of adjustment to the new life has been completed. Norm says the last month has been the best for him--wonder why!

We’re on our way today to Scituate MA , then on through the Cape Cod Canal on Tuesday. Planning to spend a week or so in the Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket area. We’ve never been there, so if any of you have suggestions on what to do, let us know.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bad Luck, Good Luck

Yesterday we rented a car and drove to Lynn, Massachusetts – home of Vicki’s ancestor, John Cooper, when he arrived from England in 1635. We went to the Lynn Museum and Historical Society which, contrary to their posted hours, was closed. Serious bummer. Vicki had hoped to surprise her Dad with something from the historical society for his birthday. He’ll just have to be happy with a tie (just kidding, Dad).

Next was a kayak purchase. Vic had researched kayaks and decided on the Frenzy model by Ocean Kayak – it’s short (to fit on the boat deck), light (for ease of deployment), a sit-on-top (for ease of stepping in and out from the back of the boat), it’s stable and will tote stuff, and it’s relatively inexpensive. Vicki finagled a good deal. We intended to purchase the kayak from the Kittery Trading Post. Vicki had spoken with the manager over the phone beseeching her to offer the Labor Day sale price before Labor Day, but the manager wouldn’t budge. We decided to buy it anyway because we had a way of getting it to the boat (a car), and we could get it on the boat because we were at dock, and the price was still lower than REI’s price, and the Frenzy model has been difficult to find along the coast, so we weren’t sure when all of these stars would align again. As we were driving toward the Kittery Trading Post, we happened upon a West Marine and had to stop (of course). It turns out that the store will be closing in a month making them susceptible, we hoped, to bargaining. Sure enough, Vicki told them about the sale price at Kittery, offered the same amount, and we had a deal. What great luck! Norm was challenged to fit the kayak in the speck of a car we had rented, and he succeeded as you can see! All we had to do then was avoid any uniformed traffic police since the Frenzy stuck out the back of the car longer than the length of the car. At least it seemed that way. We did get it to the marina with no problems and stowed it up on the boat deck.