Friday, September 19, 2008

View from our friends........

This blog is being written by Rick and Lynnie Tierney who were so very lucky to be invited by Vicki and Norm on Tide Hiker for a 10 day cruise in Maine. What fun!

We met Norm and Vicki at the docks in Portland, Maine, and set off the next morning, heading NE for Casco Bay. The scenery along the coast is nothing short of spectacular, until of course the fog rolls in. Then the anxiety level bumps up a few notches, and while sounding fog signals underway at about 5 kts, four pairs of eyes alternately scanned the radar, chart plotter, lobster buoys, and fog bank for when the radar blips turned into real boats.

We certainly had fun learning about the lobster traps. We read somewhere that at any given time there are about three million lobster traps deployed in Maine, all with their colorful floats. At times it seemed that whatever harbor or anchorage we entered, at least two million of them were there with us; endless opportunities for wrapping one of the float lines around a prop. We found them plentiful in anywhere from 15’ to 350’ of water, and then learned that as the season progresses, the lobsters move to deeper water, and the watermen follow. After a couple of days worth of dodging lobster buoys Rick began to consider the logistical challenge of sorting out who “owned” what color pattern for the buoys.

It always seemed reasonably obvious that each lobsterman has their own unique color pattern, but how is it that they’re all unique? There must be a master government regulated lobster buoy color pattern clearing house for the State of Maine! How else could order be maintained? Well, it turns out those folks in Maine have been doing this for a lot longer than there have been governments. Rick asked a couple of the locals and discovered that there is indeed a clearing house of sorts for buoy color patterns. It seems to generally fall on the shoulders of the local harbor master for a given area. He makes sure the color patterns are unique for that area only, so duplicates are possible in other parts of the coast. It seems to all work OK somehow. For those who relish knowing how much markup there is on a pound of Maine lobster at your local Piggly Wiggly in Georgia, we were told that lobstermen currently get about $2.50/lb out of the trap. Put another way, at today’s fuel prices, a lobsterman has to haul about 2 pounds of lobster per gallon of fuel just to maintain his vessel and break even. But the traps usually looked pretty full when we saw them pulled up, so hopefully the lobster folk are doing OK. After all, we always depend on their product for our New Year’s Eve meal in North Carolina, where the local Food Lion sells Mr. Maine Lobster for $12.99/lb.

Every day was an adventure. We visited some fantastic channels, harbors and anchorages with names such as Five Islands, Booth Bay, Tennants Harbor, Fox Island Thoroughfare, Carver Cove, and Rockland. I know lots of folks recommend restaurants, and it’s hard to avoid the cliché sometimes. However, if you’re ever in Rockland, and you want some really wonderful local fare, don’t miss Contes, located on the waterfront near the town docks. There you will have a most unusual dining experience, but get there before 7:00PM as that’s when the line forms. It’s hard to describe exactly, but we all agreed that great food was plentiful, and the ambience was very similar to eating inside a working lobster market, complete with restaurant supplies piled all around the paper covered tables.

We fondly remember visiting Mosquito Island; at least one of them, and took the dingy about 50 yards to its shore for a hike. There was even a summit to explore. Norm led the way, followed by Vicki, then Lynnie, with Rick, last taking pictures. We all had applied bug spray. However, it soon became apparent that whole-body environmental suits would not have sufficed. Shortly after Norm disappeared into the woods, he came running back down the hill, engulfed in a serious swarm of mosquitoes and black flies. We quickly launched the dingy and returned to Tidehiker to nurse the bites with wine. So much for island exploration in August. Later that evening, shortly before dusk, there were several people on the island, some wandering around, and others trying to harvest mussels on the low tide. So perhaps the bugs drop off as daylight wanes. We didn’t try again, however.

For Lynnie, there were some wonderful cooking classes with both Vicki and Norm. We laughingly remember how we did the Conga Line to Vicki’s music on the upper deck as Rick let the chicken burn on the grill. We put the table up out under the stars and watched the sunset. Magical. We hope to be invited aboard again to share some more wonderful meals!

Vicki also taught Lynnie a new card game called Blink. Lynnie still has no idea what the game is about since from the time the first card was played Vicki started laughing. Those of you who know and love Vicki know that she has an infectious laugh. Lynnie lost every game but would play it again tomorrow just to hear Vicki laugh. Rick was watching, and Lynnie was laughing harder than Vicki. Then of course, Norm and Rick followed suit.

We also learned about the value of Sippy-cups. We believe that every boat should have a few dozen on board. Everyone knows that at some time, when you least expect it, your adult beverage in a lovely wine glass may end up somewhere outside of said glass. Unfortunately, when it lands on a laptop keyboard, this can, in fact, kill a computer as did happen with the Tide Hiker PC. Fortunately, things are back to normal as concerns the PC, and we are all still friends. Amazing.

So, what do we miss MOST about cruising with Vicki and Norm in Maine? Hmmm, how about:
- we aren’t with Vicki and Norm
- we aren’t on Tide Hiker
- we aren’t in Maine.

We miss the natural exuberance of Vicki and Norm in the morning. Being retired guys, the Tierney’s don’t usually get up very early in the am. When we would emerge from the guest suite, there was always a smiling Norm, who was plotting out the day’s cruise, giving us a big ‘Good Morning’! Then a walk down to the galley for some much needed coffee and Vicki would add her own big ‘Good Morning’. Wow, what a wonderful way to wake up!! The rest of the day was an extension of those feelings.

We had a grand time. Thanks Friends!!

Talk Like a Pirate, Maties

Aye Maties! It's International 'Talk Like a Pirate' Day. Shiver me timbers!

Yesterday Scallawag Norm and his Wench put the bikes in the dinghy (a first - they fit just fine folded up) and biked the roads of Shelter Island (near Sag Harbor). It was gorgeous. We stopped for lunch in Derring Harbor at Dory's overlooking a pond - very picturesque. Also took a 6-mile hike at the Mashomack Nature Conservancy Preserve. We're anchored just off the preserve and got a view of the boat through the trees.

We've discovered that our preferred style of cruising is to select a destination to be at for a few days or more. It's more leisurely, we don't feel as rushed, and the dinghy doesn't have to go up and down as often which is a hassle for Norm. That's better than going to a new place everyday. We got tired and bored with arriving at a place in the afternoon, taking the dinghy down to go into town, walking around town for a while, going back to the boat and putting the dinghy up. There wasn't enough reward for the effort - the towns are lovely, but we're not big on shopping, we've seen enough museums for a while, we don't usually stop at a bar or restaurant because they're expensive and we're watching our wastelines. So we partake real home-made good-eatin on board. We love grilling and watching the sunset (not necessary together). We've seen several sunsets like this one lately.

Our next destination is New York City. We'll leave tomorrow (Saturday) and will be there Monday. In between, we won't feel compelled to dinghy in to each town which might make us want to walk the plank! We'll be back in Delaware in early October. The plan has us arriving around October 1. Doctor appointments have been made for the week of October 13. That allows ample time for weather or mechanical delays. We plan to leave Delaware October 18 or a few days later, going to the Annapolis area for electrical work, then Washburn's in Solomons Island Maryland for a few maintenance items, then on to North Carolina to buddy up with Rick and Lynnie aboard Rickshaw for the trek to Florida and the Bahamas.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Girl"noculars and "Boy"noculars

When we arrived in Jamestown at the Clark’s Boat Yard mooring in a driving rain, we thought we saw a yellowish lobster trap buoy about 30 ft from our boat. Then, it was gone. Where did it go? We reported the sighting to the owner and the harbormaster. We all arranged for a diver to come out to the boat and inspect. Yep, there it was on the bottom, but with no painter line. We must have cut it with our spurs on the shafts—designed for such events. Or, what we saw was already afloat and cruising by at that moment. Sam, the diver, ripped open the cage so no crustacean would get caught and starve to death. He also did an inspection of our hull and all was good (paint, no barnacles) with the exception of a shaft zinc anode that was loose. So, we had him replace it. (These zincs are placed on metal parts of the boat that are under water to protect those metal parts from electrolysis.)

We were in good company in Newport. This cruise liner was there and left the day before us. We are continually amazed at the size.

Yesterday, we cruised from Jamestown RI in Narragansett Bay to Montauk NY on the eastern tip of Long Island. We had a very nice cruise and due to the currents and winds, we averaged 7.1 knots using only 1500 RPM. We timed the notorious currents around the tip of Montauk well and arrived with little or none. We anchored in Montauk Lake in 12 ft of calm water. Needless to say, we got some good “ZZZZ’s” last night. We dingied to town and walked around among all the restaurants and shops. We spent most of our time there at Gossmans, a compound of restaurants and shops and a fresh fish market. Norm tried to make contact with a friend of our friend Roy Adler (from Annapolis), but could not get an answer on the VHF radio. Very unusual since this guy has a Sea Tow franchise up here. However, it is very “dead” up here now that the season is over. While the restaurants and resorts still seem to be open, we saw very little auto and people traffic. We had the whole town to ourselves.
We also got a tour of the Montauk Coast Guard Station – very cool – went on two boats - a small red one we see often on the water and one of the all-aluminum self-righting cutters The cutter is designed to right itself if by chance it rolls over. Occupants sit on seats that are mounted on air springs so they’re not jarred by the waves (hey- we could use that!) and they are strapped in like they’re in a fighter plane.Yesterday’s cruise was the first opportunity to use our new binoculars. They are fabulous – the automatic focus feature is ultra convenient. The ‘girl’noculars are now distinguished from the ‘boy’noculars by orange polka-dot ribbons attached to either side – very pretty.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Need Some Shut-eye

Saturday’s trip from Martha’s Vineyard to Narragansett Bay on the coast of Rhode Island was calm. Norm timed the currents and we were flying down Vineyard Sound at over 8 knots –whoohoo! The Sakonnet River forms the eastern part of Narragansett Bay. We tucked in behind Sachuest Point and anchored for the night. What looked on paper to be a great stop based on expected winds, turned out to be a mistake! The swells rolled around the point and prevented us from getting much sleep. It felt like the carnival fun-house where the floor shifts all around. We left early (6:30) Sunday morning because we just couldn’t take it anymore and to try to outrun incoming storms.

We cruised a few hours yesterday over to Jamestown RI across the Bay from Newport. It was an overcast day with seas around 2 ft. We cut a corner to make up time and ran into a “box canyon” of fishing nets suspended by barrels. So, we lost the time we had saved by circling back. The captain of the fishing vessel called to thank us for making the “U” turn. We arrived in Jamestown just in time for the storm and we moored in a blinding shower at Clarks Boat Yard. We took the ferry into Newport for the Newport Boat Show and had a great fish sandwich at the Brick Alley Tavern. Spent the afternoon at the boat show talking to vendors about some of the things we’ll be purchasing before crossing to the Caribbean (e.g. water maker, larger anchor). We also purchased a block and tackle for $100 less than West Marine was asking. It will be used with the Life Sling to hoist a person out of the water and (perhaps – we have to try this) to lower and raise the kayak from the boat deck.

The most exciting purchase was his and hers binoculars. Bushnell 7x50’s. They are too cool. You set each lens for your eye and never touch a setting again. The binoculars automatically focus on whatever you are pointing at. Amazing! What a convenience – no messing with dials to bring the object into focus. We had to each have our own pair because our eyes are so different (Vicki has monovision: one eye sees distance, one close up). Vic will be decorating hers to distinguish them apart…perhaps bicycle handlebar streamers and a bell?

Last night brought more sleep deprivation. The wind was gusting up to 35 knots at about 4:00 this morning. The boat was dancing around the mooring giving us a rolly/jerky ride… and the mooring line was making unsettling stretching sounds. All that kept us awake for a few hours. At one point Norm felt a “jerk” and wondered if we had dragged the mooring. He went out to check on the tie up and all looked secure so we just waited it out.

It’s a beautiful sunny morning. We’ll be here in Jamestown for another night because the winds are still strong. Perhaps a nap is in order.