Sunday, April 3, 2016
So there I was....rolling down the back roads of New York state in my SUV on my way to I'm Not Sure. I've gone to I'm Not Sure before so you would think I'd have an idea where it is but I haven't a clue. Not only that but when I'll get there and when I'll return is a mystery as well. What I do know is that it was time to go. I've been spending the nights in the Walmart Hotel, that is, I climb in my sleeping bag while parked in the corner of whatever Walmart lot I happened to be near at the time. The rates are the cheapest you'll find and buying supplies are about as convenient as it gets. Some great little breakfast places have been found along the way as I've moved my way South and East. Today I pulled into Hershey, PA. A few miles from there the whole road entering the town is colored chocolate brown and the street lights all look like Hershey kisses. How cool is that? Will tour the factory tomorrow and whatever else will tell me more about this American icon since this will be my first visit. How did I go this long without checking this place out? After doing my best to increase my cocoa knowledge I'll probably be heading for...I'm Not Sure.
Sunday, September 20, 2015
So there I was...hearing the hymn Amazing Grace wafting over the water on a very foggy day in Gloucester. I stepped out into the cockpit of Eventide to search for the source of this haunting sound. There, on the end of a dock, stood a lone bagpiper in full regalia playing this tune of hope, yet a sense of sadness permeated the air. A boat with several well dressed people aboard appeared out of the mist and headed for the Scottish figure. As it floated several yards off the end of the dock, I could see through my binoculars the people crying as they consoled one another. Suddenly, the vessel turned toward the open sea, slowly making its way out of the harbor on its way to spread the loved ones ashes on the outgoing tide. As I watched, it disappeared into the mist from which it came. And the piper played on.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
So there I was...anchored in Harpswell Harbor, found on one of the many islands speckled throughout Casco Bay, Maine. Only problem with this place was it was so calm and peaceful that I had no excuse to not get work done on the boat. And so I made strides with my list of projects but not before taking an early morning dingy ride across the channel to Orr's Island where, after tying up at the dock of the Salt Cod Cafe, I would climb the ramp to the place that hunger and satisfaction came to start the new day. Not only were the people about as nice as nice can be, but the Maine Blueberry Muffins were to die for. I would take my coffee and muffin to the deck overhanging the water to watch the lobstermen bringing their fresh catch to the dock of the local waterside restaurant. The scene was quintessential Maine. I stayed in Harpswell Harbor longer than expected, for obvious reasons, then made my way to another beautiful island anchorage where I got invited onto a Grand Banks 52' yacht for coffee, then drinks, then fresh lobster salad, then more drinks. He, Hungarian and she Australian were starting their adventure of living on the boat full time. They had so many questions about life on the water and entertained me with stories of their youth that were fascinating and often heartbreaking. I hope I run into them again. Today, I'm in Gloucester, MA. As I was coming over from Isle of Shoals yesterday, I caught a glimpse of a seal, fish in mouth and a guilty look on his face. He was right next to a lobster pot and I know the lobstermen use that same fish for bait in their traps. Bad seal. I'll soon pick my lovely wife, Kim, up from the train station as she joins me in exploring several other harbors but not before I dive on Jack's sailboat to clean his running gear(propeller and shaft) of growth and barnacles. Jack is a new friend that I met in one of the harbors I anchored in. He's from Holland but now lives on his boat full time in the Caribbean. He has the greatest accent though I must admit, there are times I'm not quite sure what he said. The water is too cold up here for him but it's to my liking so I'll get the underside of his boat ready to make the long trip south. This trip along Maine's coastline was on my bucket list and it has not disappointed.
Saturday, August 29, 2015
So there I was...coming out of Gloucester at 6 a.m. and entering into the Annisquam River, once I woke up the bridge tender with a couple blasts of my horn so he would raise the small drawbridge. This beautiful 4.5 mile river allows the mariner to cut through Cape Ann on the Massachusetts coastline saving many miles of travel if you had to go around. Halfway through, the mild fog became heavy to where a couple hundred feet was all I could see ahead of me. Making it to the end of the river I pulled to one side of the channel, dropped an anchor and decided to wait this out with another cup of coffee. In about a half hour I could see a couple hundred yards ahead so I set a course for the Isle of Shoals, a group of islands about 6 miles off the coast of Portsmouth, NH and Kittery, ME. On the way I had several sightings of Pilot Whales. Isle of Shoals looked like all those pictures you see of Maine. There is a large retreat center on one of the islands that allowed me to bring my dingy to their docks to explore the island as well as their facilities. They had the best ice cream in the snack shop. About three days and I was off for Portland, ME and Casco Bay where it resides. Had a Pilot Whale surface right in front of me on the way and a seal popped his head out of the water and watched me pass by shortly after. About 10 miles off of Cape Elizabeth, ME the fog came in with a vengeance, so I never saw the cape, nor did I see any of the many islands I had to weave through as I made my way up several miles into Casco Bay to where I predetermined to anchor. With about 200 ft visibility I had a close call with a large fishing trawler that came out of the fog fast and furious. Adrenalin is good. Once close to the anchorage, the fog lifted and the beautiful Maine coastline came into view making the 7 hour trip worth it. Dingied into the town dock and walked up the hill to find this sweet little general store advertising "Fresh Native Ice Cubes" for sale. I'm definitely in Maine.
Saturday, August 22, 2015
So there I was...moving at a good clip through the waters of the Cape Cod Canal. This canal is about seven miles long and effectively severs Cape Cod from mainland Massachussets and saves a mariner about 135 miles it would take to go around the Cape on the outside. If you go through with the right tide and wind direction, it is a pleasure. If you attempt the opposite of this you will have a very bad day. Once I exited the canal into Cape Cod Bay I headed north on my way to Boston. The seas were smooth all the way into Boston Harbor where I finally dropped anchor off the shores of the South Boston Yacht Club. After dingying up to their dock I crashed the yacht club for a drink. One thing tough about this anchorage is it is in the landing pattern for a lot of the planes coming into Logan Airport. Very low, very loud. So, early next morning I was out of there. Continuing north, I slipped into Gloucester Harbor in the a.m. and found an excellent anchorage deep in the harbor where all the stores and facilities were. Barely got the dingy in the water when I took note of a big 70+ ft multi-story yacht dropping the lines from a mooring nearby preparing to leave. There is this very handy and expensive addition on some boats called a bow thruster. It is basically two large holes that are cut out on the left (port) and right (starboard) sides of the front (bow) of the boat that is underwater. A fiberglass tunnel connects these holes together and a motor turns one or two propellers within this tunnel to create thrust that moves the front (bow) from side to side without the boat having to move forward. I have one and it is extremely handy when approaching or leaving a dock. You never use the thruster when a line is in the water. The yacht in this story had a very big bow thruster that sucked the just dropped lines into the blades, jamming the thruster and eating the lines. The massive boat was now hanging by the bow thruster and chewed up lines in a stiff wind. This had the potential of being a very costly mistake. I dingied over and suggested the guy drop me a line to connect them with the mooring again and after donning snorkel gear and a knife the guy dove from my boat as I assisted him in getting the bow thruster clear of line. Once fixed, away they went with a lesson learned. Talked to a nearby boat about what happened and that led into me being invited over to their boat for a most delicious dinner that night. My brother joined me the next day for a short overnight visit and we added a few calories at the waterside restaurants that you get to by boat. We poked around this working harbor, one of the oldest in the United States, where the true story "The Perfect Storm" that was made famous in book and film was based. Something new and different, and sometimes perfect, every day. But to me, this is just the norm.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
So there I was...getting ready to pull anchor and make my way out of the Mystic River and onto Block Island. While I was in Mystic I managed to catch up with old friends that stopped by my boat one evening and have breakfast with some other old friends at Carson's, my favorite breakfast place, in Noank, CT. Went through a wicked squall early one morning that killed a guy on shore when a tree limb dropped on his car. This happened the day after I avoided the very disturbed ex-Hartford cop that was loudly ranting as he motored his sailboat by me after being arrested for the third time a couple days before. I read he was arrested again once he got to New London harbor. Spent a couple hours on a Paceship 26, the same sailboat make and size I used to own, moored near where I was anchored. The owner, Jim, was a canvas guy and had taken this boat down the intra-coastal waterway to Florida. Finally, I stopped and spent some time with another couple I know that own the most beautiful deep green tugboat docked in Mystic. After a tour of the boat and a few stories exchanged it was time to leave for Block Island. Dropped anchor in Great Salt Pond (Block Island) only to realize that I was right next to another old friend of mine. Rob used to service the elevators in the library I worked at. He and his wife were gracious enough to invite me on their sailboat for dinner(s), coffee and a bit of storytelling. Coming back from my early morning dingy run to shore for coffee, I came across another couple I'd gotten to know from two of my previous cruises. I'd met them before out on Long Island and as always enjoyed catching up on our adventures. She has been kiteboarding for years and every time I talk to her I get excited about trying it. Two days ago I stopped to talk to a couple that had a 34' Mainship trawler, just like mine, and got caught up in a trawler tour with other owners of like boats where we dingied from one to the other, including mine, to see how each had customized. It was late and dark before the last dingy made his way back to his own trawler.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
So there I was...watching Eventide being lowered into the waters of the Connecticut River after more than a year and a half sitting on dry ground while I removed the entire upper helm station, cut off the top fiberglass, dug out all the saturated balsa coring, put new layers of fiberglass, balsa coring, more fiberglass, even more fiberglass, two part fairing compound, two part primer and deck paint. Then the upper helm station was painted with the most expensive two part paint I hope I will ever have to buy and after being craned back onto the top of the boat was fastened with some 50 screws and bolts that went into epoxy that I had poured into oversized holes that I had drilled in the newly fiberglassed floor. If this written description feels long and drawn out, you should have been there for the real thing. I have never sweat, itched, ached, or felt so tired in all my life. Now she (Eventide) was dipping into the element she was made for and alot like childbirth, so I'm told, the horrors of getting her to this point were a fleeting memory. NOT. I'm still tired! I still ache! I did stop itching...and I'm out here floating again where the stories are made and found.