BBB – Back to Belhaven & Beaufort!

Norfolk to Belhaven

Friday (9/17) – Belhaven, NC

Today we started out not knowing where we would end up, but we had hopes of making it to Belhaven, NC, with possible stops at the Alligator River Marina, or even Coinjock. The reason we could not be certain was due to the bridges, a lock, and a fuel stop that we would have to get through. With a little luck, we would not have to wait long for any of the openings (bridges & locks) or for fuel dock space. Also of consideration was how many sailboats we would get behind and have to pass in the narrow canal. Lastly, we were not certain that the conditions on the Albemarle Sound would be conducive to crossing by the time we arrived.

With all this in mind, we left Norfolk just before 8:00 am and made our way slowly through the no-wake zone and passed the first 3 bridges that were high in clearance, or were in the “usually up” position. Our biggest concern was the next bridge, the #7 Norfolk-Southern Railway Bridge which was undergoing maintenance and had a close schedule we had been working around. Fortunately for us, the bridge maintenance was not scheduled for today, and we confirmed its opening just before we left Norfolk. We cruised through it without issue, but had to pass a few sailboats who had to wait on an opening for the Gilmerton Highway Bridge; a bridge immediately before the NS#7, but one we can fit under if it is closed.

Our next challenge was stopping for fuel at Top Rack Marina, a place we have stopped numerous times before.  Luckily we were the only boat getting fuel and we were only delayed 20 minutes for our fill-up.

Top Rack Marina – Fuel Stop

Our timing for the Great Bridge Lock (GBL) was about as good as it gets; we only had to wait 15 minutes for its once-per-hour opening. Since they have to coordinate with the Great Bridge Bridge (GBB) opening, the schedule is very tight and we had to be ready to go when they open. There was little traffic on the ICW at this point, so there were only a handful of boats in the lock with us.  However, as the gates were closing we could see several large southbound yachts that were racing to make the opening. Unfortunately, they did not arrive in time and were forced to wait for the next opening.  We kind of snickered when we noticed that one of them was “Serendipity II” – the yacht with the condescending Captain in Norfolk.

In The Great Bridge Lock
At Great Bridge Lock Park
The Great Bridge Bridge

Once through the GB Lock and the GBB, we were able to get back up to our usual cruising speed, except for passing other boats, or when transiting the remaining bridges.  Finally, we made our way to the North Landing Swing Bridge, arriving in time for the 11:00 am opening.  It had taken us 3 hours to go 20 miles and it was one of the more efficient passages through these waters we have ever had.

North Landing Bridge

We continued heading south and made our way south on the ICW through the North Landing River, and out into the Currituck Sound.  It was windy and choppy, but not sufficient to keep us from stopping as the passage here was about 10 miles before we were back in protected waters. We then cruised through Coinjock, a place we have stayed several times while awaiting weather or northbound bridges to be fixed. We were happy that it was early enough in the day that we would not be stopping here this trip.

After a fairly easy crossing of the Currituck Sound, we were optimistic that we would be able to get across the Albemarle Sound, so we proceeded south. The ICW leaves Coinjock and soon thereafter broadens into the North River, where there is no land protection from the south. However, the wind was from the north-northeast and the low-lying land was just enough to block most of it. We cruised another 8 miles and then entered the Albemarle Sound to bumpy waves and some whitecaps. There was no land to block the now increasing wind. 

Albemarle Sound

We plotted a direct straight-line course towards the Alligator River on the southern shore, and again here the crossing was not long (10 miles).  It was a bit rougher than the Currituck, but the wind and waves were from behind so it was much more comfortable than if it was crashing over the bow; we were glad we were not trying to go north.

During the crossing we calculated the remaining mileage to Belhaven and realized we would be able to make it there for the evening.  Denise was happy we would not be staying over at the Alligator River Marina, although Mark was disappointed that he would miss this gas-station marina’s fried chicken.

Just after 2:00 pm we made our way through the Alligator River Bridge and continued south, still with wind and waves bumping us along from behind. At one point we got buzzed by a military jet (F35) that was so low and loud Denise thought it was something wrong with the boat. It wasn’t until it hit the afterburners that the sound was recognizable and we could breathe a sigh of relief. Meanwhile, Mark called the Belhaven Marina and secured a reservation for us for the night.

An hour later we left the Alligator River and entered the Alligator-Pungo Canal, a 20-mile stretch of the ICW where we had no cell signal.  There were no other boats on the water and the canal is lined mostly with state parkland and a few remote home sites. Eventually, we came up to the Wilkerson Bridge, and soon thereafter left the canal and entered the Pungo River.

Alligator-Pungo Canal – Wilkerson Bridge

Finally, five miles later we left the ICW and took the channel into the Belhaven Marina where we docked on a side-tie in almost the same spot as when we were here in early May. We had traveled 120 nautical miles and it took us 9 hours to get here. But we were very happy to have the bridges, locks and sounds behind us.

IO at Belhaven Marina

Once we secured the boat and checked in with the marina, we called and secured dinner reservations at Spoon River Artworks and Market. We have unsuccessfully tried to get into this farm-to-table restaurant on two other occasions, but they were closed on the days we were here. We were delighted that they could take us, and after quick showers and well-deserved cocktail, we made our way to the restaurant for a delicious meal.

In May, Denise had talked on the phone with the owner (Theresa) about the challenges with staying open during Covid, and trying to keep their staff.  While we were dining, she stopped by our table and we reminded her of our conversation. She was so apologetic for not being open then, and was delighted we came back. Then she took us back to the ‘wine room’ and gave us a free bottle of wine. It was a nice touch and we really felt appreciated. We highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who finds themselves in this great little town in NC. Even if you don’t want to eat there, the place is decorated very eclectically and you can buy anything hanging from the ceiling or off the walls. To learn more about this place you can click here.

Dinner at Spoon River
At Spoon River
Wine Room at Spoon River

We returned to the boat after dinner and spent time on the phone with family members, and a neighbor who was looking after our home.  We had two very long hot days on the water and we would be moving again tomorrow, so we went to bed early and fell fast asleep.

Saturday (9/18) – Beaufort, NC

Belhaven to Beaufort

Today’s journey was short compared to the last few days; it was only 60 miles to Homer Smith Marina in Beaufort, NC.  It was nice to sleep in and not be in a hurry to get off the dock.  We even managed to get some emails done before heading out of the Belhaven Marina at 8:45 am.

We made our way past the Belhaven Breakwater and headed back into the ICW and the Pungo River.  It was a little windy, but like yesterday it was from behind, and once again it was hot. In past years we were not this far south in Mid-September and it was much cooler; luckily, we have not had to face lightening or thunderstorms. Unlike yesterday, it was a beautiful cloudless day and made for a nice day on the water.

Belhaven Breakwater

We made our way through the Pungo River and eventually we came to the Pamlico River. The 5-mile crossing was uneventful and we were soon in the protected waters of Goose Creek.  Here we encountered lots of boats and it was slow going.  We were passed by several sport fishing boats, and we overtook a few other boaters who were enjoying this beautiful Saturday on the water.  Eventually, we cruised passed the USCG Station Hobucken and the fishing boats at RE Mayo Seafood stop; a known landmark for all ICW cruisers.

USCG Station Hobucken
At RE Mayo Seafood
At RE Mayo Seafood

Not long afterwards the ICW opens up into the Bay River and the areas on both sides of the ICW are more populated, although the houses are still far apart from one another.  We always know we are close the Neuse River when we spot on such house on the northwestern shore that sticks out from all the others.

House on point near Bay River – Pamlico Sound

We entered the Neuse River and headed west, then southwest on a diagonal crossing to Adams Creek. It was a little breezy and there were lots of sailboats enjoying the day on this large body of water. We cruised the 20 miles in relative comfort with the wind and waves behind us.  At 11:00 am we entered Adams Creek and headed south.  Here it starts out with a few homes along the shores, but eventually it becomes quite populated with many more houses and boat docks It was slow-going through this area now known as Core Creek, until the ICW widens and it becomes part of the Newport River.

Houses on Adams Creek – crossed the Neuse River
Homes on Adams Creek
Entering Newport River – near Beaufort

We then continued south a few short miles and pulled into Homer Smith Marina, located in Town Creek on the northern end of Beaufort. Our 60 mile cruise took 3.5 hours and it was still early in the day. 

Once we settled the boat we checked in with the marina for our three-night stay; relishing the fact that we would be staying somewhere more than just one night. We especially like Homer Smith Marina for many reasons including: Free laundry; free ice from the “ice house”; loaner car we can use to go to church; great restaurants in walking distance to the marina; and a great place for Denise to get in some runs.  One thing we do miss is their shrimp processing they used to do, but discontinued due to Covid. The marina is now in the process of building a new Cruisers building (with laundry, showers and captains/cruisers lounge) where it used to stand.  They also have plans to add 70 more slips in the marina.

Ice House at Homer Smith
Loaner vehicle
New Clubhouse at Homer Smith

In the afternoon our first chore was to install the newly repaired blind we had received from Ocean Air.  Unfortunately, they had also damaged it in the process of stuffing it into the shipping container, but Mark was pretty sure they could send us the parts to fix the piece that was broken.

Mostly fixed window shade

We then spent the rest of the afternoon planning our itinerary for the days after Beaufort, and made marina reservations for 3 stops in Wrightsville Beach, Bald Head, and Georgetown, SC.  We then used the marina loaner car to go to mass at St. Egberts Catholic Church for the Saturday evening vigil.

After mass, we went to Chick-Fil-A for dinner.  It had been months since we had a chance to eat at this fine dining establishment, and we had a craving. Plus, it was fast and we could press on with our other tasks.  We made a run to Walmart and were reminded why one should NEVER shop there on a Saturday evening; there is nothing left on the shelves.  They were even out of the oil Mark wanted for the boat engine.  Feeling frustrated we returned back to the marina with half our shopping list complete and with plans to return here and to Harris Teeters (grocery store) before leaving Beaufort.

Sunday (9/19) – Beaufort, NC

This is a great town for Denise to run in, with many paved residential streets not far from the marina and little to no traffic early in the morning.  Her out-and-back run took her to the downtown area and the waterfront where she checked out the handful of yachts at Beaufort Docks (marina) and at the anchorage. She continued along Front Street, all the way to the Boathouse at Front Street Village, checking out the homes that overlooked Taylor Creek along the way.  She returned back along the same path, and arrived back at the boat in time for breakfast with Captain Mark. Here are some pictures from her run:

Today was laundry day, and Denise was able to get several loads done before others in the marina tried to do the same.  With only one washer and dryer it took all morning and a bit of the afternoon to get it all done.  Meanwhile, Mark had work to do as his team has a project for a client that can only be done on the weekends (when the clients don’t have anyone on their computer systems). Later in the day, we used the loaner car and went to AutoZone to get the engine oil we could not get at Walmart yesterday.  We also went to Rose Seafood, a 7th generation family-owned market that had purchased some of the processing equipment from the owners of Homer Smith Marina when they shut down their shrimp processing in December 2020.  We met Mr. Rose, one of the owners who waited on us when we purchased some fresh shrimp for dinner, and another portion we put in the freezer for a future meal.

Rose Seafood

Once back at the marina, Mark changed the engine oil while Denise did some mending, read some articles, and then prepared a shrimp and pasta dish for dinner.  In the evening we spoke with family on the phone, and then spent the rest of the evening relaxing and streaming a few shows on TV.

Sunset at Homer Smith

Monday (9/20) – Beaufort, NC

Today was not very adventurous and there is little to write about.  In the morning, Denise took the loaner van to the grocery store and picked up a few perishable items to get us to Charleston. While she was away, Mark had a series of conference calls with clients. We spent the rest of the morning handling business issues, working on the blog, and talking with people on the telephone.

In the afternoon, we spent time working with Denise’s sister on re-planning our trip to Corning, New York the first weekend of October (10/1 – 10/4); Denise & Claire were running in the Wineglass Half Marathon on Sunday (10/3). Our original plan was to try and reach the top of the Chesapeake Bay by the end of September. Claire and her husband John were going to drive to meet us somewhere along Chesapeake and we would ride in the car with them to and from Corning.  However, we have had a few issues that have developed since our original plan, and we needed to be closer to home for after the run weekend.  This has also been one of the reasons we have been pushing to get south faster than originally planned.  Our revised itinerary now had us arriving in Charleston, SC the last week in September. With this new schedule and destination, we now were within driving distance of home.  So, we decided to leave the boat in Charleston, rent a car and drive home, and fly to NY out of Orlando. Since we had soon-to-be-expiring companion tickets, we were able to do so more affordably, and save Claire and John a very long car ride.  Once Mark was able to secure us a rental car in Charleston (not as bad an issue in SC as in Maine), we were able to then book our flights.  Everything seemed to fall in place, so now all we had to do was get the boat to Charleston.

Also in the afternoon, Denise contacted the Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune to inquire about live-fire exercises for tomorrow. Some of you may know from our previous blogs, that if there are live-fire exercises, the ICW is closed through the base for extended periods of time. They also put up restricted areas off-shore, making it very undesirable for an off-shore passage down the NC coast in this area.  If there were going to be exercises we would have to time our departure to arrive at the Onslow Beach Bridge for the 1:00 pm opening; the only one that day. This would significantly impact our ability to get to our intended destination of Wrightsville Beach tomorrow.  Luckily, there were no exercises planned, so now all we had to do was time the bridge opening for the half-hour openings. We considered going offshore, but the wind out of the east and rain possibilities made us stick to the ICW for the day.

During the day, the wind picked up considerably and things were really blowing hard. This was as forecasted and one of the reasons we chose to stay in Beaufort for the additional day. It didn’t keep a local sailing fleet from enjoying time on the water, and we watched them as we enjoyed our happy hour at the end of the day.

Sailing on Town Creek

Another Long Day!

Annapolis to Norfolk

Thursday (9/16) – Norfolk, VA

Denise started the day with a quick run through downtown Annapolis and then through the neighborhood around the marina in Eastport.  It was near dark when she started, but captured a few pictures of downtown Annapolis at dawn.

We left Spa Creek just before 8:00 am when the tide was low enough for us to once again squeak under the Spa Creek Bridge without requiring it to open.

Approaching Spa Creek Bridge

We cruised out of Annapolis Harbor and into the Severn River, finally turning right at the buoy and headed south on the Chesapeake Bay.  Less than 30 minutes later we were passing the Thomas Point Shoal Light. This is one of the most photographed lighthouses on the Chesapeake, and we are always thrilled when we pass by it.

Thomas Point Shoal Light

It was a nice calm day on the Chesapeake, although overcast. We made as straight a course heading as possible for Cape Charles on the Southeastern shore for the first few hours. However, it was not long into the journey that Captain Mark suggested a change in plan.  The window for a comfortable passage from Cape Charles to Wormley Creek on Friday afternoon had shut, and now we were rethinking our overall plans. After much discussion, we changed our plans for Cape Charles and Wormley Creek in order to get into safe harbor for the evening. Friday through Monday was going to be really rough on the Chesapeake and the best option for us was to go all the way into Norfolk tonight. However, we needed to see Denise’s brother as he had several packages for us, including the main salon window shade we had repaired. We had discussed going to Norfolk, renting a car and driving up to see him, but after several scenarios we chose to just take the boat up the York River to Wormley Creek for a quick stop over on the way to Norfolk.

With this in mind, we altered our course to hug the western shore and ran close to the LNG facility at Cove Point, near Solomons.  For the first time here we actually saw a ship docked at the pipeline.  And right after that we passed the Cove Point Lighthouse.

Ship at Dominion Cove Point LNG facility near Solomons
Cove Point Lighthouse

As we continued south, the water continued to get calmer and we made pretty good time.  We ate lunch along the way and around 12:30 we passed the Smith Point Lighthouse.

Smith Point Lighthouse

It remained calm as we continued cruising; at one point we could see the eastern shore of the Chesapeake near where we would have gone in if we were going to Cape Charles.

Calm Chesapeake near Deltaville
Looking towards Cape Charles

Just after 2:00 pm we passed by the New Point Comfort Light house and shortly thereafter we turned right to go up the York River.

New Point Comfort Light

The wind had picked up a small bit, but it was at our back and we were fine. We were a little concerned with what we may face on our way to Norfolk, but so far it all still looked good.  Meanwhile, we had been in constant communication with John (Denise’s brother) who agreed that a meet-up at Wormley Creek Marina was the best alternative all around.  So we made our way back to the place we stayed in the spring, and he met us for a quick hello and package exchange.

Wormley Creek Marina
Denise & John

In less than an hour, we left Wormley Creek and headed back out on the York River.  It was a little bumpy as we were now facing the wind from the east, and the current was also against us.  But it was certainly tolerable and we knew that we only had 1.5 hours left to go before arriving in Norfolk.  Along the way down the Bay today we had cancelled our reservations at Cape Charles and Wormley Creek (all without penalty), and made a reservation at Waterside in Norfolk.

We entered the Chesapeake and immediately were faced with increasing chop.  It was not very comfortable for the first 30 minutes or so, until we rounded the Poquoson Flats.  But, as we neared Ft. Monroe we were able to change to a more southern (less easterly) course and that made it a little better. 

We then crossed over to the eastern shore of the main channel heading into Norfolk where the land blocked the wind and things finally settled down. As usual, there was lots of boat and barge traffic that required Captain Mark to keep a sharp eye and steady hand on the wheel. It was here that we passed the USCG sailing vessel “Eagle”. It was a thrill to see this beautiful ship up close.

USCG “Eagle”

We entered Norfolk harbor and the US Naval Shipyard where we were amazed at how many boats were in port at the same time. Wasn’t this not supposed to ever happen again after Pearl Harbor? 

As we moved up the channel to the “no wake” zone, we approached a large yacht (“Serendipity II”) trying to pass a barge and attempting to raise him on the VHF. After several miscommunications between the two vessels, the yacht made their way around the barge without issue, as we did too.  We then both approached the Waterside Marina about the same time, but we were requested to hold outside until the yacht was docked.  Once it was tied-up and settled at the outermost dock, we were instructed to come into our assigned slip in the marina’s basin. As we entered, Captain Mark had to make a tight left turn near this large vessel, and our stern turned towards the yacht.  The Captain was on the deck of the boat looking down and gave Denise (standing in the stern) an awful scowl. What he couldn’t see from his vantage point was that we cleared the hull of his boat by at least 10 feet.  He had nothing to worry about and just minutes later Mark successfully docked our boat around another yacht in even tighter quarters.

Finally, we arrived in our slip and secured our boat for the night.  It was 5:15 pm and we had traveled a total of 156 miles, including a side trip up and back down a part of the York River.  We checked in with the marina to get the usual information, and poured ourselves a celebratory cocktail.   We were disappointed that we would once again miss Cape Charles, but we were glad that we would now be able to head south before the NS #7 railroad bridge was locked down.

When we arrived at Waterside there were several other yachts in the marina, including a Berger Yacht we saw in Portland, ME (“Wrigley”).  Then we watched another handful of boats pull into the marina, including a 60 foot “Downeast” boat from Key West called “Indigo”.  We did not have a chance to talk with them, but we did like the lines of this older but beautiful boat. Unlike in the spring when the marina if full of “Loopers”, the majority of the boats here were larger yachts who were like us, trying to get south.

“Serendipity II”

Before it got too late, Mark hosed the salt off the boat and Denise prepared a dinner on board.  We took a short walk around the marina, then retired for the night. Like in the spring, the handful of restaurants remaining at Waterside were blaring music quite loudly and it barely faded us. It had been another long day!

Waterside in Norfolk

Enamored with Eastport – and Annapolis!

Wednesday (9/15) – Southern Annapolis Yacht Center (SAYC) – Eastport, MD

After yesterday’s long day, sleeping in was what we had in mind. However, Denise woke up at the usual time and so she decided to go to the early mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in downtown Annapolis. Since our boat is actually in the town of Eastport, this meant a one-mile walk first to, then across the Spa Creek Bridge, then a quick left turn up a side street to the church. It is a beautiful church with a K-12 school also on the grounds, located right in the heart of the city.

After mass and on her walk back to the boat, she encountered several groups of students on their way to school. A few were willing to stop and chat with her about the school, and they were all very engaging and personable.  Once back on the Eastport side of the bridge, she discovered the older kids would park their cars along the residential section of Eastport and then walk over the bridge to class.  This is smart, and if you ever drive to here by car, this is the thing to do as there is almost no place to park in downtown Annapolis.

Once back on the boat, we settled into a day of work, boat chores, cataloging pictures and blog writing. Throughout the day we got to witness all sorts of usual and unusual watercraft that made their way up into Spa Creek.

In the afternoon, we sat down and planned out the next few days of travel, taking us down the Chesapeake to Cape Charles on the eastern shore, then back to Wormley Creek on the York River for a quick visit with Denise’s brother, John and his wife Cathy. One of the things we were having to consider in this scheduling is the planned closure of the Norfolk-Southern railroad bridge (#7) south of Norfolk on the ICW. It was scheduled to be locked down for 25 hours early next week, when we would otherwise cruise through there and need it opened.  Without losing days for this, we were trying to get through it on Saturday or Sunday if at all possible. That of course had to be coordinated with a stop where we can attend mass on Saturday evening or Sunday morning.  This is why it took us nearly 2 hours to come up with our eventual plan.

When we were with them in Maine, our friends Mark & Jenay (“Ravello”) had recommended we visit “Lewnes”, an old established steakhouse in the Annapolis area.  We were able to get last minute reservations for the evening, but only an early seating (5:45 pm) was available. That was ok with us as we generally don’t like to eat too late anyway.  Since it is located in Eastport we did not have far to walk for the dinner, and enjoyed seeing all the locals out walking during this time of day. It really is a lovely community with some small and some gorgeously large homes.  We had a fabulous meal (probably the best steak ever) and we were glad we chose to eat here.  We had hoped to make it back to the Davis Pub this trip, but we will have to put that on the agenda for our next visit.

Lewnes Steakhouse
Dinner at Lewnes

After dinner we walked along the northern shore of Eastport, overlooking the harbor towards the Naval Academy.  Then we meandered back to SAYC and walked all around the docks, and the new townhomes being constructed adjacent to the marina. We have been very happy with our choice of this marina, both from a location and amenities standpoint. It is so convenient to everything, but quiet and away from the crazy touristy areas in Annapolis. We would highly recommend it to other cruisers, however in so doing we risk the fact that it will become so popular that we might never be able to get a slip in the future.

Before retiring for the evening, we checked the latest marine forecasts for the Chesapeake Bay. It still looked good for us to head south tomorrow, but we may have to limit our stay in Cape Charles to one night; Saturday and Sunday were not going to be good days to be in the lower Chesapeake, let alone crossing it.

A Long, Long Day!

Atlantic City, NJ to Annapolis, MD

Tuesday (9/14) – Annapolis, M

Before heading out this morning, Denise had managed to get a speed run in around the casino and park grounds, including a few loops around the parking lot at the adjacent park. And when she returned to the boat we noticed that fog had appeared. 

Morning fog in AC

Just yesterday we had been talking about how the weather conditions would be conducive to it, and that we had not had to deal with this since leaving Maine.  We spoke too soon. But fortunately, it dissipated rapidly and by the time we wanted to leave, it was all but gone.

Our intention was to get from Atlantic City, through Cape May and up the Delaware Bay as conditions there looked good as well.  We had identified several stopping points for the night, including possible anchorages if necessary.  Our hope was to be able to make it to Annapolis, but we were not going to make any overnight arrangements until we were sure we could make it that far.

With fingers crossed for a forecast to hold, we left Farley State Marina at The Golden Nugget in Atlantic City just before 8:00 am. Although there was a lingering haze, it did look to be a nice day and the Atlantic Ocean had certainly calmed down.

Leaving Farley State Marina
Leaving Atlantic City – USCG Station
Entering Absecon Inlet
Harrah’s Casino

We found the Atlantic Ocean to be quiet calm with less than 1’ swells and no wind or chop on the water. It was a pleasant change from yesterday and we have never seen it so calm.  Denise prays for days like this here.

Calm on Atlantic Ocean

Just after 9:00 am we passed a trawler that looked familiar; it was “Grump Stump” whom we met at Somes Sound in Maine in July.  Unfortunately, he was too far away to get a good picture.  Just like yesterday, we hugged the coastline and shortly after seeing “Grump Stump” we passed by the numerous amusement parks at Wildwood.

With the calm seas we were able to cruise at 20 kts and make good time.  At 9:45 we entered the Cape May Inlet and headed through the very familiar harbor, passing the USCG Station and turning right, then left to enter the Cape May Canal.

But first we had to make a fuel stop. We turned up the Cape Island Creek and stopped at Miss Chris Fishing Center for a fill-up. Forty minutes later we left and headed back through the Cape May Canal on our way to the Delaware Bay.

Soon we passed by the ferry terminal and at 11:00 am we entered the Delaware Bay, greeted by an entire school of frolicking bottlenose dolphins.

Ferry Terminal
Entering Delaware Bay
Dolphins at Cape May Canal

We were also pleased to see the marine forecast had held and we had calm seas in this body of water as well.  Additionally, we had the current in our favor as we made our way up the Delaware and we were able to make good time.  By 12:30 we had passed the “Ship Jack” (aka Ship John) Light and we were looking good to make it to the Chesapeake Bay today.

Calm on the Delaware Bay
Fishing boat on the Delaware Bay
Ship John Shoal Light

Before long we rounded the point where the Salem Nuclear Power Plant is located, and made our way across the channel to position for entry into the C&D Canal. We were now out of New Jersey and entered the state of Delaware. Here Captain Mark negotiated around a fuel ship and took a left turn into the Canal Entrance.  It had taken us 2 hours instead of the usual 2.5 hours to get up the Delaware Bay.

We cruised the C&D Canal with relative ease, although now we faced a 2 kt current against us. Along the way we left Delaware (it really is a small state) and entered into the state of Maryland. We passed by Chesapeake City (a possible stop for the night), and continued under the Chesapeake City Bridge into Back Creek (one of many in these parts). It was 2:00 and although we had already traveled a long way, we were pretty sure we would make it to Annapolis, another 2.5 hours away.

We exited Back Creek and entered the Elk River to very calm and flat water. Here the western coastline is hilly with nice houses, then the Elk Neck State Park, then more houses, until the park that leads to the Turkey Point Lighthouse.  On the eastern shore we pass the Buttonwood RV Park, a landmark we use and think it has to be the most expensive RV Park in the country, with its spectacular view.  You can learn more about this place here.

Near Elk Neck State Park – Homes on Elk River
Buttonwood Beach R.V. Resort
Turkey Point Light

About this time we heard the boom, boom, boom, over the boats engine and remembered we were not far from the Maryland Proving Ground, a U.S. Army facility on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. We were finally on the Chesapeake Bay!

We were now pretty sure that we could make it to Annapolis and Mark called the Southern Annapolis Yachting Center (SAYC) and secured a two-night reservation. We had been told of this place by several of our cruising friends. It is located on Spa Creek, but on the Eastport side of the creek, and past the downtown moorings.  We had to go under the Spa Creek Bridge with its limited opening schedule, but if our timing was good we would be able to sneak under at a lower tide and not require it to be opened.

But first we must get there. We still had 2 hours of cruising on the Chesapeake Bay and it was very calm.  We did pass by several tugs pushing barges, but it was the USCG Cutter that we passed that was the most exciting.  We always play the “guess that boat type” game when in these situations, and Captain Mark scored 100% when he suggested that it was a buoy tender.

USCG Buoy Tender

Eventually we passed the intersection with the Patapsco River (to Baltimore) to our west, and Rock Hall on the eastern shore, where we have stayed many times. Here the wave action kicked up a bit as it is known to do. The windy breeze was a welcome relief in some ways as it had been hot all day and we were really missing the tinting on our old (but leaky) windows in the main salon. However, we knew that we did not have long to go so we endured and pressed on. Finally, we passed under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and we could see the numerous container ships at anchor just south of it.

Leaving the Chesapeake Bay Bridge
Ships at anchor Chesapeake Bay

We took a right turn through the channel to the Severn River and saw several groups of sailboats in racing or evening sailing classes near the US Naval Academy.

We cruised through the harbor and made our way under the Spa Creek Bridge and into Spa Creek.  We pulled into the slip at the Southern Annapolis Yachting Center and was greeted by live-aboard resident Dave, who helped us with the tie up.  It was just after 5:00 pm and we had cruised 117 miles in 9 hours.  We were tired, but so very happy with the progress we made today.

Dave – at SAYC

After getting settled, taking showers, and having a cocktail, we walked the half mile to Boatyard Bar and Grill in Eastport for dinner. Not wanting to wait the 45 minutes for a table, we chose to immediately sit at the bar and ate a terrific meal. We had been here before, as have several family members, and it did not disappoint this time either.

Boatyard Bar & Grill
At Boatyard Bar & Grill

After dinner we walked back to the marina and settled in for the night. We were both totally exhausted and could not stay awake. Finally, at 8:30 pm, like a couple of old folks, we went to bed – it had been a long, long, day!

Oh No – NOT AC Again!

GKYC – SI, NY to Atlantic City, NJ

Monday (9/13) – Atlantic City, NJ

At 7:00 am this morning we watched our friends Bill and Barb (“High Spirits”) leave GKYC and head out of the harbor.  We had shared contact information and they had agreed to let us know how the Atlantic Ocean was once they rounded Sandy Hook and settled into a course that would run down the NJ shoreline.  In the meantime we ate breakfast and readied our boat for our departure, confirming the forecast and current buoy observations were as expected.

Bill & Barb (“High Spirits)

At 8:00 am Bill called and said the seas were 1 -2’ as forecasted and things were going well.  This was encouraging and with that information we said goodbye to our friends at GKYC one more time.  Our hope was to make it at least to Cape May, but we knew if it got rough we could pull in at Manasquan inlet and run the inside portion of the ICW down to Atlantic City, adding about 1 hour to our expected 6 hour trip. The forecast did call for waves to be a little bigger around Manasquan (2’-3’), but from there south they were forecasted to flatten at Barnegat Inlet, be back at 2’ south of Atlantic City, and even more calm as we got closer to Cape May.

The Raritan Bay was pretty calm and we were through it in no time, rounding Sandy Hook in 45 minutes and had a nice view of the lighthouse. 

Sandy Hook Light

We ran close-in to the shore, using the land to block the winds and keep the seas a little calmer.  Around 9:30 am we passed by Asbury Park with things going well, and soon thereafter passed Bill & Barb (“High Spirits”). There were many boats on the water, including a few we have seen in our travels this summer. We communicated via VHF with one (“Course Change”) whom we saw in Bucks Harbor, ME.  

Before long we passed Barnegat light and things started to get a little bumpy, as expected.  By the time we got to Manasquan, things were not great, but tolerable. Remembering they were supposed to get better, we decided to press on. But it stayed bouncy, and then it started to get worse, not better.  At one point we slowed our speed because the waves were now bigger and more frequently spaced apart. Instead of 2’ waves 6 seconds apart, we had 4’ waves 2 seconds apart and it was not fun. 

As we approached Atlantic City, we had to decide to continue on to Cape May and expect the same conditions for another 2 hours (even though the forecast was supposed to be better), or call it a day at 85 miles and go south tomorrow.  We quickly checked the forecast for tomorrow which looked even better than today’s forecast, so we decided to take our chances and call it a day; even though it was only 12:30 pm. 

At the very last minute, Captain Mark made a quick right turn and we entered Absecon Inlet (Atlantic City). We called Farley State Marina at the Golden Nugget and secured a slip for the night.  We have been here before and this is the one place we really did not want to get stuck. Aside from the crowd that comes to gamble at the casino, the area outside of the marina and casino grounds are not too safe (as told to us in 2019 by a security guard).  But the main reason we do not want to get stuck in this state is because it is a bad place to be if a hurricane comes, and there is no easy access to an airport.  We were pushing to get to the Chesapeake Bay should we have to worry about either of these things.  Plus, by getting to Cape May, it completes one more large-body of water crossing, relieving Denise’s anxiety level and allowing her to better enjoy the rest of the trip. We were now counting on the fact that tomorrow’s forecast would be more accurate than the one for today, and that we would have calm enough water to get out of New Jersey.

Approaching Farley State Marina

Once we got our slip assignment, we secured our boat, ate lunch, and attempted to check in at the marina office. But the dockmaster was fueling another boat and we ended up doing it all virtually (via the Dockwa app and text messages).  Although we were disappointed we did not get to Cape May, we used this opportunity to get some chores done. The boat was covered in salt, so Mark washed the boat.  Meanwhile, Denise did some laundry. She did not mind the fact the laundry building was a quarter mile away in this very large marina, it was that it was so bloody hot, with no clouds or shade. After 2.5 hours and 6 trips back and forth, it was finally complete and it was time to cool off and relax.

Marina laundry facilities

Meanwhile, one by one other boats started coming into the marina.  One was a Sabre 42 (“Surf Rider”) that ended up in the slip to our right, and another was a sport fisher (“Electric Bill”) that docked to our left.  Other cruisers we had passed during the day also came in and we heard from Bill & Barb (“High Spirits”) that they too pulled in and anchored at the nearby anchorage.  Every crew on these boats all said the same thing: It was much rougher than expected and we were tired of being out in that mess.  We no longer felt bad for changing our plans.

We spent some time talking with Jay & Sherri (“Surf Rider”) about our Sabre/Back Cove boats, as well as some other boaters and people on the docks.  During this time, “Rob”, the first mate of “Electric Bill” came and brought us each a huge piece of fresh Yellowtail Tuna they had recently caught.  We had already planned to eat dinner on the boat, but our entrée choice was now changed to enjoy this great gift.  We cut up the fish for dinner and the remainder went into the freezer for 2 more meals in the future.  Then, with some rice and a salad, we had a delicious meal of seared sesame tuna to enjoy.

Fresh tuna for dinner

After dinner we ended up talking with Jay & Sherri (“Surf Rider”) about their intended plans, our plans for tomorrow and overall cruising the east coast.  Like us, they intend to leave tomorrow but at a later start time.  We bid them safe travels and went in for the night.

A final check before bed of the marine forecasts for tomorrow looked good, so we set plans to leave no later than 8:00 am in the morning.

A side note:  I failed to include in the last post (GKYC) that Mark was able to deduce and repair the dinghy fuel issue we experienced in Essex.  His theory that it was the fuel pickup tube in the gas can proved to be correct. Within 15 minutes he had repaired it and put in a fix to prevent it from happening again.  It is so nice to have a captain who can repair things when we are cruising.

Great Friends at Great Kills!

Thursday (9/9) – Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY

As expected the winds continued through the night and the forecasted rains joined in on the fun.  The slap of waves on the hull of our boat was so loud Denise moved to the settee in the main salon to try and sleep. It was only after putting on a movie (“Sleepless in Seattle”) that she was finally able to nod off and get some rest.  Mark too was a bit restless, but managed to get some shuteye still in the main stateroom.

In the morning, the rain subsided for a bit, but it continued off and on for most of the day.  We stayed pretty close to the boat doing work for clients, catching up on emails, cataloging pictures, and writing for the blog.  Mark also was able to schedule a diver to come and install the zinc on the boat shaft.  “Larry” showed up in the afternoon when the rain had abated and was able to complete the task as well as inspect the prop.  We had another successful year of dodging lobster pots in Maine and once again came through without any issues.

Diver “Larry”

For the last few months, John C has been working to upgrade the WIFI system and when we checked in yesterday was happy to report that it was nearly complete.  But we still had a few issues with it and the boat’s WIFI catcher, so when the installation guys showed up today, Mark was able to talk “techie” with them and get it resolved. We ended up having the best connection we have ever had here, making it an even better place to visit.

Today, was the 32nd anniversary of the day we said “I Do”, but since we were not really sure until yesterday where we would be, we had not made any big plans.  However, once we knew we would be in Staten Island, we made reservations for a nice dinner at Fiore Di Mare, a local restaurant on Mansion St., not far from GKYC.  We have never eaten here before, but some cruising friends who did so in the spring, highly recommended the place to us. We dodged the raindrops and walked up Mansion Street to the restaurant, wondering why we even needed a reservation; the place was nearly empty.

It was very nice and we had a mini celebration that we kept to ourselves, while enjoying some delicious food.  However, we noticed that the whole neighborhood was remarkably quiet compared to the crowds that are here in the early days of summer.  When we were here in June, even on a Thursday, these streets were very crowded and all the neighborhood is buzzing with cars and people.  That was not the scene tonight, and the restaurant was hardly busy.

A quiet Mansion Ave

After dinner we walked back to the boat and ended up streaming the movie “A Rainy Day in NY”. This was a quirky Woody Allen movie with multiple subplots, and we enjoyed it enough to stay up past our normal bedtime to see the ending.

Friday (9/10) – Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY

Today was a beautiful day with warm temperatures but not too hot. However, it was very windy as the remnants of Hurricane Larry stirred up the waters off shore (6’ seas) and sent winds our way. We were not going anywhere for a few more days, so we decided to make use of the time and get some things done.

Morning on IO at GKYC

John C was kind enough to lend us his car, and we were able to go to the grocery store and get a few items.  A trip to any grocery store in this part of the country is an experience. No matter the time of day, they are always crowded, and with “Help Wanted” signs everywhere, there is insufficient help.  Every time we shop somewhere else, it has us longing for our favorite supermarket: Publix – where shopping really is a pleasure.

Once back on the boat, we got busy with work, cataloging pictures, writing on the blog, and handling a few personal items.  During the early afternoon the boat “High Spirit” pulled in behind us, and we met Bill and Barbara.  They too are headed south, but will be leaving their boat at Atlantic Yacht Basin in Chesapeake, VA for the winter. 

“High Spirits” at GKYC

In the evening, we decided to patronize our host club (GKYC) and go to the bar for socialization, postponing our usual happy hour.  The drinks here are very reasonably priced ($2 and $3 each) and they come with quite the punch. We went with Bill and Barb, and ended up meeting another local couple, Kevin & Cheryl (“Our Holiday”), whom we had spoken with on the dock as their boat is near ours. We ended up spending a lot of time talking with them about cruising, which they would like to do now that they are empty nesters.  The club was packed because tonight there was a “members meeting”: at 7:00 pm all the men (except Mark & Bill) left the bar and headed to the meeting room while all the women stayed behind. This is an old school club, but still warm and welcoming to all. 

With the party now broken up, we headed back to the boat for the night and took a look at the weather forecasts.  It still looked good for us to leave on Monday and run down the NJ coast, but the window was closing and we were starting to wonder if we would be able to leave as planned.

Saturday (9/11) – Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY

This morning Denise went for a long run to a part of the Great Kills area that we have not yet explored; the state park that forms the north and east side of Great Kills Harbor. To do so, she had to first run along Hyland Ave. for about a mile, a busy main road with sidewalks. She took this to the park’s main entrance, then ran paths the rest of the way.  It was an out-and-back run to the end, passing the Great Kills Marina and a beach that overlooks Raritan Bay.  Here are some pictures from her running adventure:

Path in Great Kills Park

The weather today was pretty spectacular and we were wondering if we should have left today. However, once we checked the actual “observations” offshore, the  forecast of high winds and waves were proven to be accurate due to the effects of hurricane Larry; now downgraded but still a factor for Atlantic marine interests.  We were then happy we had stuck with our previously agreed to schedule of leaving Monday morning. Looking forward a few days out, we did see the window to leave slowly closing, and that if we didn’t leave on Monday, we may be stuck here for 4 or 5 more days.  John C informed us that he did have another boat coming south, and we would have to give up our dock for a mooring in the harbor if we did not leave as planned.  We were ok with that as a backup, but set our sights on heading south as planned if the forecast held.

It was a slightly laid back day with Mark doing some engine maintenance while Denise did some food prep for the week. We also found time to work on the blog and do some reading. Mark attempted to finish another book (without Denise interrupting him every 5 minutes) while Denise processed a series of articles that were in her reading queue.

We also had a chance to chat with several of the locals in the club about where they were on 9-11-2001.  Few people want to go to any of the local remembrances, and everyone knew someone killed that day. Their stories are compelling as this club has many retired members of FDNY, NYPD, and the various trades (plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc.) who were in Manhattan on that day.

In the evening, Mark’s sister was hosting a birthday dinner at her home in Oviedo for his mother, who celebrates her 92nd birthday tomorrow (12th).  As we were unable to be there, we had scheduled a surprise Facetime chat with her. It was a lot of fun and we were grateful for niece Kaitlyn to be present on their end to help those who were more technically-challenged with this great feature.  We laughed and had a great time celebrating virtually, and his mom loved our joint gift: a new backup camera for her car – a terrific help for this very independent woman who still drives.

Sunday (9/12) – Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY

Our day started with a one mile walk to St. Clair Catholic Church for the 8:00 am mass.  We have visited this church before, and love this parish the community.  It is also a beautiful church and they still had a memorial up inside the church, for those from their parish that died as a result of the events on 9-11.

Church of St. Clare
Inside Church of St. Clare
911 memorial inside Church of St. Clare
Flag of Honor – 911 tribute flags
Saw lots of these on way home from church

After mass we stopped by ““Frank & Sal’s on our way back to the boat.  This is a terrific Italian Deli that we have shopped at in the past.  They have a small produce section, a large meat counter, shelves with imported Italian food items (think pasta, olive oil, etc.) and a small bakery case with delicious cookies & pastry.  However, their deli is terrific with lots of precooked entrées, sides and every day specialties.  We came for tonight’s dinner and managed to leave with a few Italian cookies in the basket as well. (Note: we wrote about our visit here in the spring, which you can read about here).

Once back at the boat and after storing our purchases, we spent time on the phone with family and friends that we had not connected with in awhile.  It was great to hear what was going on with them, especially since we did not fly home for a weekend this summer as we have in year’s past. However, this still did not dispel Denise’s homesickness and readiness to be in her own home.

In the afternoon, Mark had some engine and other boat maintenance tasks which required him to lift the main salon floor.  Rather than being inconvenienced by this, Denise took her computer and went up to the GKYC Clubhouse to work where it was quiet. While she was there Bill (“High Spirits”) came by and said Mark had sent him for help with setting up PredictWind and AquaMaps on his iPhone. These are apps we use for weather forecasts and boat navigation. He is a very low-tech kind of guy and needed hand-holding through all the steps, as well as a tutorial on how to use the apps. For the next hour or so, Denise helped him and got to know him a little better. This is where we learned that he had never been married and that Barb has been his partner for the last 20+ years. They went boating on their first date and have been boating together ever since.

During this time the bar at the clubhouse was getting a little busy, and Bill offered to buy Denise a drink for all her efforts. Mark was called to come up and join us, and when he arrived we all discussed the weather forecast and outlook for tomorrow’s departure. Bill and Barb have a trawler and will cruise slower than us, but are only expecting to get to Cape May. On the other hand, we are looking to take advantage of the predicted flat afternoon on the Delaware River and go as far as Delaware City. However, we must first get down the New Jersey shore which will be the first 6 hours of our trip. Our mutual departure times were discussed (they would leave earlier by an hour) and then we walked back to our respective boats.

In the evening, we warmed up our “Frank & Sal’s” dinner and had a delicious meal on our boat.  We then spent time working (and finally) publishing a blog update, and for the first time in a long time we actually tuned in to watch the news of the world. Remarkably we were seeing an abomination unfolding in the Middle East, and 20 years later wondering if this will lead to another attack like those on 9-11.  We went to bed heartsick for the lives lost or forever changed because of this evil, and grateful for the warmth and generosity of the wonderful people at GKYC whom we consider friends.

Straight line through Long Island Sound!

Essex to GKYC – Staten Island, NY

Wednesday (9/8) – Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY

Sunrise at Essex

We left Essex, CT and headed down the Connecticut River at 6:30 am in order to get as far down the Long Island Sound as possible, before the expected south east winds kicked in.  Our hope was to be able to get all the way to Staten Island today, but we knew if it got too rough we could bail out at Port Washington for a free overnight.

Thirty minutes later we past the Old Lyme Bridge, then, the Lynde Point Light, and the Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse.  It was a beautiful morning on Long Island Sound, and we were hopeful it would last as long as possible.

We ran down the Connecticut side of the Sound for a while, and there was some chop, but not too uncomfortable.  After the first hour we noticed the waves were developing a “freshening”, indicating that the wind was picking up and decided to take our chances running on the Long Island side of the Sound for more protection.  However, instead of crossing it directly, we made our way on a more diagonal track to meet the encroaching coastline, as the Sound narrows as we headed south.  This had us in the middle of the Sound for about 2 hours of our journey, passing only a barge or two, and a few fishing boats.  While the waves did not really settle down, they also did not get worse, and for this Denise was grateful.  By the time we got to Execution Rocks Light, we knew we could make it to Great Kills Yacht Club (GKYC) where we had already secured our dockage for 4 nights to wait out weather.

Execution Rocks Lighthouse – LI Sound

By the time we got to the Port Washington area, the waves were pretty flat and we easily cruised around SUNY Maritime, LaGuardia airport, and Riker’s Island Prison. 

SUNY Maritime College

From there we took turned into the East River, this time hugging the eastern shore of Roosevelt Island in order to avoid the NY Ferries on the western side. We were fighting a current against us, but it wasn’t as strong as it could have been. However, it did have us longing for the 3 knots in our favor we had when heading home in 2019.

Before we knew it we were in NY Harbor with the Manhattan skyline behind us; a sight we never get tired of seeing from the water.

Leaving Manhattan behind
Lady Liberty still standing – so far

Captain Mark maneuvered through the numerous ships anchored or under way in NY Harbor, and of course the Staten Island Ferries that zoom by at rapid speed.  We crossed under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and turned right into Raritan Bay.  Here we expected really rough water as the forecast called for 3 foot waves and chop.  Fortunately, we had arrived early enough in the day that we did not face this and made our way into Great Kills Harbor and the GKYC without issue.  By 12:30 pm had traveled 108 miles, and had the boat tied up to the dock. We were greeted with hugs by our friend John Calascibetta (aka “John C”) – our Looper Harbor Host, and another friend (Tony) whom we are always happy to see. After socializing for a bit, Mark washed the salt off the boat, while Denise cleaned up the inside.

In the afternoon the winds did pick up as expected, with some strong gusts.  Unlike in past visits, this time the assigned slip was on the t-head at the end of the dock, with our bow facing out towards the harbor entrance.  As the wind blew in from Raritan Bay it really rocked our boat and slapped the water against the boat hull.  Despite this, we stayed on board for the rest of the day as we both had lots of work to do. We also planned a tentative itinerary for the next week that would take us down the NJ coast, and hopefully up the Delaware River in calm seas.

With bad weather forecasted for the evening, we decided not to go out to eat even though there are a plethora of choices (albeit mostly Italian). But we didn’t feel like cooking either. Instead, we ordered a take-out dinner (salads with protein) from Marina Café; one of the local restaurants up the street from GKYC.  The food was good and we were happy to stay hunkered down for the rest of the night.

Passing the Narragansett – On to Essex!

Fairhaven to Essex

Tuesday (9/7) – Essex, CT

As soon as it was light and we ate a quick breakfast, we left the Acushnet River Safe Boating Club (ARSBC), rounding Crow Island and leaving the New Bedford-Fairhaven harbor behind.  We made it through the hurricane barrier, passed the Butler Flats Lighthouse and Fort Rodman and cruised into Buzzards Bay. Unlike 2 days ago, it was a beautiful day on the water.

Because of our stopover in Fairhaven, we no longer needed an interim stop in Stonington before reaching our desired destination of Essex, CT.  This is a place we have wanted to go to for a while now, and with a beautiful day like today we should have no issues in getting there.  Of course we still had to cross the Rhode Island Sound, the Narragansett Bay and Block Island Sound; all three are open bodies of water that are notorious for being unruly in certain conditions. Denise’s main goal was to get past the Narragansett without having to go up it to outrun a hurricane.  In our last two adventures coming back from Maine (2017 & 2019), we ended up in Wickford, RI for extended periods of time which lengthened the journey home. Today we are hoping to break that pattern.

Given the open water and so few boats in our way, we were able to cruise at 20 knots on a course heading mostly south, making our way through Buzzards Bay.  We slowly turned southwest and scooted through the channel at Dumpling Rocks spotting the beautiful Round Hill Mansion on to our right.

Afterwards we turned on a more west-southwest course, crossing the state line into Rhode Island and saying good-bye to Massachusetts. We were now in the Rhode Island Sound and started to feel the swells coming in from the Atlantic Ocean.  These however, were not the predicted swells from the remnants of Hurricane Larry, expected to be felt on the eastern seaboard on Thursday.  As we approached the Sakonnet River, just east of Newport, things got a little bumpy but tolerable.  Still, a bit too bouncy for picture taking.

As we approached Newport and the Narragansett Bay, things got a little more bouncy and uncomfortable, but nowhere near as bad as Sunday on Buzzards Bay.  We kept going, knowing that we only 15 miles to cross the Bay. Finally, just before 9:00 am we approached Point Judith and its beautiful lighthouse.

It was in this area that we could also see the outline of Block Island to our left. However, with our distance from it and the direction of the sun, we were not able to get a good picture.  We had 17 miles to go before we would hit our next milestone, Watch Hill and the Fisher Island Sound.  Remarkably, things settled down as we entered the Block Island Sound and continued to improve as we headed west.  Finally, we could see Watch Hill and the landmark Ocean House Resort to our right, and Fishers Island to our left. 

We entered state of Connecticut and skirted the NY state line to our left as we made our way through Fishers Island Sound.  We continued west until just before New London, CT where we pulled into the Shennecossett Yacht Club (SYC) for a fuel stop.  Captain Mark had shopped this and determined that if we got fuel here we should not need any more until we got to Cape May, NJ.  The channel into SYC is easy to spot because the UConn Marine Sciences center sits out on Avery Point and you can see it for a few miles.

After we finished with the fuel up, we headed back out the channel and into the Fishers Island Sound until it ends by merging into the Long Island Sound.  We cruised close to the Connecticut side of Long Island Sound, passing the landmarks of Seaside Sanatorium – a Connecticut State Park, and Dominion Millstone Power Station.

After another hour of calm seas and easy cruising, we turned right into the Connecticut River. The breakwater is marked by the very visible Saybrook Breakwater Light, and followed by the Lynde Point Light.  Over the years we have seen boats with a Saybrook hailing port, but did not know exactly where that was.  We now could see the nice houses that surrounded the entrance here to the river.

We continued north up the River, going under the Old Lyme Draw Bridge and the I-95 Bridge, and passing several marinas along the way.

Eventually, we came to the town of Essex on the western shore, but we were headed 2 more miles up the river to a mooring in nearby Hamburg Cove for the evening. We entered the cove and picked up one of the “rental” moorings.  It was a beautiful cove surrounded by lovely houses and was very well protected. 

We had traveled 84 miles arriving at 12:30 pm and happy to have made such great progress.  It was a beautiful day on the water and if we had not wanted to visit Essex, we would have stayed on the calm waters of Long Island Sound as far as possible.  However, we had reservations for dinner at the Griswold Inn and definitely had to visit this much talked-about town.

The Griswold Inn goes back to the American Revolution and has a rich history, including its use in movies, TV shows and books, which you can read about here.   But it is the connection (perhaps in name only) to it by one of our business associates (Bob Griswold), that really made us want to come. Bob’s ancestry dates back to Windsor, CT in 1638 when “Edward”, came over from England with his half-brother, Matthew. Edward was a solicitor for the colony and later moved to Killingworth, CT; named for his English hometown Kenelworth.  Killingworth is now Clinton, CT. Matthew moved to Old Lyme area and one of his descendants later became governor of the colony, and later established the town of Griswold near Jewett City. However, Bob is not sure if the Inn was ever owned by a Griswold from his direct heritage, but he certainly came from the ancestry.

As the afternoon wore on it got hotter on the boat, and the well-protected cove offered no breeze for relief. It also got a little buggy, and we were contemplating turning on the generator to run the ac.  We also learned the mooring ball rental was not $25 but $40. As we considered the distance from the town and how we will have to take our dinghy back from dinner in the dark, we started to wonder if we made the right call in choosing this location.  After a few phone call inquiries, we located an available mooring at the Essex Yacht Club (EYC) back in town, and left Hamburg Cove to move the 2 miles back into the Connecticut River.

Once at the EYC, we were directed to mooring about 200 yards from shore, and were informed the launch service would end at 6:00 pm. We would have to use our dinghy to come and go for our town visit and post-dinner transportation back to the mooring. That was fine with us, so we launched the dinghy, went to the dockmaster’s office at EYC and checked in.  Here are some pictures of this lovely yacht club.

After checking in with the dockmaster and getting the requisite information, we walked the quarter mile into the downtown area.  It was later than we would have wanted and because of that we missed visiting the Connecticut River Museum which closes at 4:00 pm.  However, we still discovered a lovely town with buildings from the late 1700’s and 1800’; many still lived in by local residents. We walked around for a bit and went into a few of the stores that were still remaining open (most closed at 5:00 pm), and then went to the inn for our 6:00 pm reservation.

The Griswold Inn
Griswold Inn Store
At The Griswold Inn

We were a little early, but they were able to accommodate us so we got seated right away.  The dining room is filled with some very old original paintings of all things nautical, and because of this it is dimly lit.  However, it was so fascinating to eat around all the rich history, and to learn a little bit more about the inn. Along with the guest rooms upstairs, there is the dining room, an outdoor eating area, and a bar (called the Tap Room) with its own rich history.  It is truly an interesting place to visit and we were glad we came.

Inside The Griswold Inn

After dinner we walked by a few other marinas, and the small ferry (think boat launch) that takes people the 100 yards away to Essex Island, where there is also a marina and a restaurant.  Here we saw the beautiful classic yacht “Annie Laurie”.

“Annie Laurie” at Essex Island

We then went to the public dock and the museum for a nice view of the moored boats in the harbor, including ours – in the middle of all those sailboats.

CT River Museum
CT River Museum
Moorings for Essex

Finally, we headed back to EYC and launched the dinghy to head back to the boat.  And that’s when the dinghy engine stopped, as if it had run out of gas.  We were 100 yards from our boat and after several attempts to restart it, began troubleshooting the problem. We had gas, but it seemed the engine was not getting it. There were no leaks in the line, but no fuel either.  Finally, as the sun was getting lower in the sky, we broke out the oars and rowed the remaining way to our Island Office, then stowed the dinghy for the night. We were resigned to the fact that we will have to solve this issue when we are back in a marina and have some daylight.

All of this played out while we watched the sailing club send out launches to rescue their sailboats that got stranded when the wind died, wondering if they could also rescue us. And about the same time we watched as another classic yacht (“Black Knight”) pulled up to the dock at EYC.  It was a beauty and nice sight to stare at until the sun completely set on our adventure in Essex.

“Black Knight” at EYC

Favorite Friends in Fairhaven!

Sunday (9/5) – Fairhaven, MA

Boston to Fairhaven

We were up early and left Constitution Marina just before 7:30 am as we had a long day planned. Although it was overcast skies, the wind was fairly light and we were hoping it would stay that way so we could go a long distance today. Our ultimate goal was to reach Stonington, Connecticut, but that was quite aggressive and we would be happy to even get to Newport, RI if that was as far as we could make it.

We headed out of Boston Harbor, leaving this ever-growing skyline behind and made our way through the south channel to the Bay of Massachusetts.  This route took us around several rock islands and not far from the Boston light.  It was a little bumpy on the Bay, but very tolerable at this point.  We had bailouts planned for the entire route, including at Situate, a place we have wanted to stay, but not on Labor Day weekend.  It was only 1 hour out of Boston and we were comfortable enough to continue with our journey.

Leaving Boston
Boston Light
Old Scituate Lighthouse

We ran somewhat along the shoreline, but only because we had to stop for fuel.  Around 9:30 we pulled into Green Harbor near the town of Marshfield and pulled into Taylor Marine to fill up our tank with diesel.  This is the cheapest fuel in all of Massachusetts and they go through about a 1000 gallons a week supporting the local fishing fleet and other cruising boats.  One of the Taylor family members assisted us with the fuel up and shared the history of this multi-generation marina and fuel stop.  He also told us how the area was used in many movie shoots including “The Finest Hours” – a terrific movie about a daring Coast Guard rescue off of Cape Cod during a blizzard in 1952.

Entering Green Harbor River – Marshfield
Green Harbor signage
Taylor marine family member

After our fuel stop we headed back out to the Bay, and soon afterwards we passed Plymouth Lighthouse and the town of Plymouth.

Plymouth (Gurnet Point) Lighthouse

Just 20+ miles later we approached the Cape Cod Canal.  It is easy for us to know where it is as just inside of the canal is the large power plant that is visible for miles offshore. 

Approaching Cape Cod Canal

We entered the canal and although we had tried to time it so we would have the current in our favor all the way to the western end, it didn’t work out that way. It was neither slack nor outflowing, but more like conflicting currents that moved our boat around a bit.  We had to cruise at a slow speed because of our large wake (the canal has a speed limit too), which made fighting the cross currents a bit more challenging than if we could have powered through it. But Captain Mark handled it well and we cruised along under all the bridges and past the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

US Kennedy at Mass Maritime Academy

And as we headed south, so did the water conditions.  We went from a bit bumpy due to conflicting currents (expected) to full blown unexpected rough seas in no time.  We were now on Buzzards Bay but still within the breakwater, and the conflicting currents against the west wind bounced against the breakwater and really stirred things up.  Add to that the boats that passed us throwing huge wakes, and we were looking at 4 foot waves with whitecaps and chop coming at us from all sides.  Mark had to slow the boat down and Denise had to sit in her helm chair to keep from falling.  We decided we would not stay on Buzzards Bay, and immediately considered our bailout options, knowing wherever we ended up would be a two-night stay due to impending weather.

Of immediate consideration was Marion, where we stayed in 2017.  It is not a well-protected harbor but it was only 2 miles away.  Mark suggested we at least press on to the New Bedford-Fairhaven area, but it meant 8 more miles in the sloppy waters.  Denise agreed and thankfully, the new course put us into a somewhat more comfortable ride so we could speed up the boat to 20 kts again.  However, it was still a miserable 8 miles until we could turn into the channel and be protected by the land to our south. 

In the meantime we had called Brian (“Pennywise”) the TowBoatUS operator and our friend at the ARSBC who told us when we left in July that we would always have a slip when we wanted one.  He put us in touch with PJ, the dockmaster there, who confirmed they had a spot for us on their guest dock.

By the time we got to the breakwater, we had been in communication with Jean, who was at the dock to meet us, along with her husband Marsby and another of our friends (Anthony) to help us with the tie up.  They gave us a great “welcome back” greeting, set us up with key fob for entry into the clubhouse, and Wi-Fi pass code.

It was just before 1:00 pm and although we had already gone 77 miles, we were disappointed we did not get further. However, this is part of the adventure, and in 2 days we would continue our journey further south, hopefully getting past the Narragansett Bay.  For now, we will wait out the coming bad weather and enjoy our time with our old friends at ARSBC.

Once we settled the boat, we were now hungry for lunch, but today we felt like we deserved a bit of a celebration with our usual fare.

Well deserved liquid lunch

Brian came by to say hello once he got home from his (TowBoatUS) tow, and advised us that Penny was out of town for the long weekend; sadly we will miss her.  We chatted for a while and once again he offered his generous hospitality.  Mark requested information about a diver who could put the zinc on our shaft as the one in Boston was unable to do so before we left.  Brian said he did, but the guy had a commitment for tomorrow and since we would be leaving the next day it wasn’t going to work out.  This will have to wait until we are in a location for more than a day or two.

All afternoon it was very windy and it remained overcast, eventually the rain came but it was just drizzle and not the heavy rain that was expected.  We spent the rest of the day hunkered down: Mark had some catchup emails to work on and Denise worked on a blog posting. We chose to eat dinner on the boat, in part because we had learned that nothing is open in the area on a Sunday.

Monday (9/6) – Labor Day, – Fairhaven, MA

We woke up this morning and it was still overcast, although it was forecasted to clear up.  Because it was still windy and the boat was bouncing a lot, we chose to go up to the clubhouse to do some work. Yes, it was a holiday, but we had work to do and wanted to take advantage of the WIFI which was much stronger at the clubhouse then on the dock.

The clubhouse was quiet and comfortable, we had the whole place to ourselves, and we were able to get a lot of things accomplished.  We left only for lunch, then returned back afterwards for a good bit of the afternoon, enabling us to even get a blog posting done. It was really weird how the ARSBC was so quiet now compared to how it was when we were here over the July 4th holiday.


Since the weather cleared up during the afternoon and it was nice and sunny, we decided to grill out for dinner.  Mark cooked us steaks on the club grill while Denise roasted some potatoes and made a salad. We then confirmed our plans for departure tomorrow and settled in for the night.  Mark had his nose in a Tom Clancy novel (there was actually one he had not yet read) while Denise organized and cataloged pictures until we went to bed.

Sunset over the Acushnet River

Boston Again!

Tuesday (8/31) – Boston, MA

Snow Island to Boston

Tuesday (8/31) – Boston, MA

Denise was up very early this morning, craving a cup of coffee, but with the generator not working, she was not going to get one.  She would have to tough it out, even though she was sleepy; she had a restless night as she was anxious about the open water passage of today, hoping not to get seasick and concerned about encountering big waves.

The Snow Island anchorage area was as still as it could be and was breathtakingly beautiful.  There was no wind and the water was so peaceful. At 5:30 am the large yacht (“Sattori”) at the north end Snow’s Island pulled up its anchor and soon thereafter headed out of Quahog Bay. About 5 minutes later its wake met our boat and created the only ripple on the water.  

Mark was up early too, and at 7:00 am we disconnected from the mooring, and headed out into Quahog Bay.  We made our way down the bay and into the Gulf of Maine.  We had plotted a direct course that would take us right by the Twin Lighthouses of Thatcher Island, just off the coast of Gloucester, before turning towards Boston harbor.  This meant we would be running up to 15+ miles offshore in some places, just like when we headed north a short 7 weeks ago.

Leaving Quahog Bay

It was an overcast morning with some salt spray in the air, but no fog, rain or high winds. Thankfully, we had flat seas and it was smooth going.  Our course had us bypassing some places we have already been (Portland & Kittery) and missing places we have wanted to go to, but once again cannot make it into our itinerary (York, Isle of Shoals, Gloucester).  There were many boats out on the water today, but most of them were sport or commercial fishing vessels. However, about 2 hours into our trip we passed “Satori”, who was cruising along at 13 knots heading south.

Gulf of Maine – pretty flat out there

Just before 11:00 am we could see the windmills on the shoreline of Rockport, MA, and then we bypassed the Twin Lighthouses of Thatcher Island.

We then changed our course heading more west-southwest and picked up the channel to enter Boston Harbor.  It was here that we faced the roughest water all day, and most of it was caused by the traffic in the harbor.  We passed a large ship at anchor, but the wakes from the barges in tow, the dredge boat, the high-speed tour boat, and other watercraft had us bouncing around a bit. 

Finally, we approached the Charles River and the Constitution Marina, where once again we were able to secure transient dockage for the next week, hoping to leave right after Labor Day.  It was just before 1:00 pm and we had traveled 106 miles without issue; for this we were very grateful.

Unlike in past visits where we were tucked further into the marina, this time our slip assignment was on the outer dock facing downtown. At first we were not too happy with the assignment as it meant we would take the brunt of all the passing boats (mostly recreational) all day long.  We would also have the new (Washington Street) Bridge construction right off the bow of the boat. We were told, however, that after the weekend we would be able to move to another slip. 

IO at Constitution Marina

After settling the boat and checking into the marina, we went back to the boat to get some work done.  We had emails and calls to make, and we made contact with our Back Cove cruising friends Chuck & Victoria (“Argento”), hoping to be able to see them while here.  We spent the entire afternoon cocooned to the boat, only leaving for brief breaks to talk with some of the locals, as well as a cruising couple from Pensacola.  We also watched the motor yacht “Sattori” whom we had passed earlier in the day, pull into the marina on the long dock.

We were tired, and as much as we wanted to venture to the North-end for dinner, we decided to stay in the Charlestown neighborhood where the marina is located.  We walked the half mile to Monument Tavern, a place where Victoria & Chuck took us in 2019 and had a terrific meal there (again).  On the way home, we went for a walk through the marina, checking out “Sattori” and the Fleming boat that was docked by them. Come to find out it was “End Game”, whom we met here in July, and saw again in Southwest Harbor Maine.  However, the owners were not on the boat and it looks like they were away for the weekend.

Once back on the boat we attempted to stream a movie (“Suicide Squad”), but we didn’t get very far into it before Denise was falling asleep. It had been a long day after a short night’s sleep and so we went to bed to get a good night’s rest.

Wednesday (9/1) – Boston, MA

Fully refreshed from a good night’s rest, Denise went for a run this morning, only she took a different route than usual when here.  This time she went north along the Harborwalk Boston path, running past the USS Constitution, up and down the piers around Charlestown Marina, and up to the Spaulding Rehab Center that overlooks the Mystic River. She then turned around and came the same way, happy to finally have some flat land to run on.  Unfortunately, the hills around Boothbay Harbor last weekend wreaked havoc on her left leg and now she is nursing a possible injury.  Here are some pictures from her run:

Benches and corn hole at Pier 6

After breakfast and getting our day organized, Mark worked on the generator impeller issue and was able to get everything fixed.  He was also able to schedule a diver to install a new zinc on the shaft, reducing the opportunity for electrolysis to eat away at the metal. Our previous protection (prop shaft brush) had deteriorated and needed to be replaced, but is no longer made so a substitute was required.  Mark had done the research for the alternatives, ordered it, and had it delivered to the marina.

In the meantime, Mark had previously reserved a rental car, which we will use for the next 2 days. We have a lot to get accomplished, including driving 1.25 hours to visit Denise’s Aunt Judy who lives in New Hampshire on Thursday.  Right after lunch we got picked up by Enterprise and we were able to then spend the afternoon running our errands.

Our first task was to ship our starboard-side window blind in for repair.  It broke late last week and Mark had been working with the Ocean Air people to determine what the best course of action would be: repair or replace.  These are very expensive and customized to fit the angle of the Back Cove windows, so repair was the most likely choice. Of consideration is that they are manufactured for Back Cove as a complete set and to make a single new one would have had color-match and other issues to deal with.  Therefore, we had to ship our current one to the repair facility, and sought out to find a Fed-Ex location to do this. 

As you can probably imagine, the blind is a unique length and finding an appropriate container was a challenge.   We worked with the people at the Fed-Ex not far from the marina, but their largest tube was too short so we had to find a longer shipping tube, or come up with a different solution. We investigated office supply places, Walmart, Target, etc. all in the nearby shopping center, but most of these don’t stock the product; it has to be ordered from their website with a 2-3 day delivery.  However, it was at Home Depot that we found our solution:  the inner core from rugs or carpet sections that people buy pieces of.  We had 2 of the most helpful guys assist us with cutting it to length and then suggesting how to cap the ends for protection during shipment, which is just exactly what we did.  The one guy told us they have people come in all the time that have to ship their custom blinds back to the factory and this is exactly why he saves the tubes.  What a find and what great customer service!  Once we got that resolved, we drove back to Fed-Ex to ship the blind.

Nearby the Home Depot and not far from the Fed-Ex place was the Costco we were planning to visit as well.  So we stopped there on our way back to Fed-Ex and picked up a few things, including alcohol (yes, this Costco does sell it and wine in their store).  Once we were done with shipping the package, we went to the Whole Foods near our marina for a few items, and picked up ‘to-go’ dinners as we were not in the mood to go out or cook.  Mark got fried chicken and Denise a teriyaki salmon dish that was really delicious.  From there we went back to the boat with all our purchases and settled in for the night.

During the afternoon it had begun to rain a bit, first a little bit of drizzle and by 9:00 it was a torrential downpour. This was the remnants of hurricane Ida that we were anticipating and for which we came to Boston for safe harborage.  It was supposed to rain all night and it did. It poured and was so loud on the boat’s roof, that at one point it woke us up.  But it eventually calmed down and by the time we got up in the morning it had stopped and the storm was no more.

Thursday (9/2) – Boston, MA

Today our adventure took us north to visit Denise’s Aunt Judy in New Hampshire, via the rental car.  We left after 9:30 am to let the Boston traffic die down before heading out, and this worked well. We had no issues and made it there as scheduled. After visiting for a while at her house, with the assistance of her home-health-aid, we took her to Newick’s for a late lunch.  This is a local restaurant that is almost tradition for family to go to when visiting Judy, and it is always good.  It turned out to be a nice sunny day and we enjoyed our window view overlooking the water; the top of the Piscataqua River.

After we had lunch, we went back to Judy’s house and visited with her for the rest of the afternoon.  It was great to get caught up on what is happening in each of our lives, discuss politics, religion and our hobbies. But most importantly it was great to see her.  We have been fortunate to get up to NH and see her every year or two, and we really wanted to make this visit happen.  We stayed until we could see she was getting tired, so around 7:00 pm we said good-bye and headed back to Boston.

Taking advantage of the rental car, we stopped at a Walmart for a few things, and then Panera for a late dinner before going back to the marina. We arrived at the boat just after 9:30 and were so tired we went to bed almost immediately. It had been a long but fun-filled day and we were glad that our plans all worked out.

Friday (9/3) – Boston, MA

Although the sun was out in the morning it was quite windy and not a good day to travel or be on the Massachusetts Bay.  We were here for at least 2 more days until the seas settled and allowed for a comfortable passage south.  But the time in port was welcomed as it enabled us to get a few things done, and allowed us to have a little down time which we needed.

In the morning, Denise went to the 7:00 am First Friday mass in the chapel at St. Mary’s. It is as beautiful as the main church, which we always look forward to visiting when here.

After he handled a few work calls, Mark headed out to return the rental car, making a last-minute grocery stop to get our perishable items for the week.  Meanwhile, Denise started the laundry, taking advantage of 3 washers and dryers to get most of it done as expeditiously as possible. However, because our slip this time was so far from the marina facilities, it was a long walk.  She averaged over 500 steps with each trip back and forth, not to mention the gangplank to the docks that were a challenge at low tide. 

During one of these trips she stopped to talk to the captain of the yacht “Sattori”, who was washing the tender for the yacht that was docked in the corner of the finger pier we had to walk down to get to our boat. They talked about cruising down from Snow Island and he recognized our boat name as he had been tracking our AIS signal as we passed him. The yacht has a South Florida hailing port and they discussed the operations of the yacht, cruising from Florida and how the owners were coming aboard for the long weekend in Boston, then they would be staying on through Tuesday before heading south. She left him to get back to work, then returned to our boat, just in time for lunch.

We spent the afternoon handling some work items, reviewing upcoming weather forecasts and putting together a tentative itinerary for next week.  We also talked with a woman who lives aboard her boat in the marina, who informed us that later in the evening there would be fireworks in Boston Harbor.  They usually have them on Thursday before Labor Day, but because of the storm they had postponed them to Friday evening. She told us we would have perfect viewing from the bow of our boat.

Our dinner decision for the evening was easy: we headed across the bridge and over to the North End for a delicious pizza at Regina’s Pizzeria.  When we were here in July we let someone talk us into trying another place, but it we didn’t like it as much and we were anxious to get back to Regina’s.  We went early and timed it perfectly as we got a seat at a table right away.  Naturally, it was delicious and we had plenty to take some home for leftovers. When we left and saw the usual long line outside, we were glad we came early.  On the way home we were tempted to stop at Bova’s (24 hr.) Bakery and pick up some goodies, but we resisted the temptation and headed back over the bridge and back to the boat.

North End signage
Italian District – Endicott Street
At Regina’s Pizzeria

At 8:00 pm, the fireworks started in the harbor, but they were high enough we could see them over the buildings across the river; they were directly in front of our boat. We didn’t even need to go out on the bow as we had a terrific view just sitting in our helm chairs. It only lasted about 20 minutes, and it reminded us that on Labor Day weekend 2015 we were also treated to Fireworks in Chicago when we were on the Great Loop; you can read about that here.

Saturday (9/4) – Boston, MA

The morning started for Denise with a run down the Charles River near MIT; a route she has now taken many times.  However, unlike in July, this time there was no “Nancy” to run with. But, she was happy for a flat and familiar route that required no thinking about where to turn.  Although it did not bother her during the run, her left leg was very sore the rest of the day and now she is concerned with a possible injury. This is not good as she is supposed to run a Half Marathon in October and this could impact her future training long runs.

Morning run along the Charles River

We spent the entire day hanging around the boat, talking with some locals, and spending time on the phone with friends and family. It was a good day to reconnect with folks who were afar, but unfortunately, we were not going to be able to meet up with our Boston friends Victoria & Chuck on this visit. We will have to try and schedule a meeting with them when they are back in Delray Beach, FL for the winter.

In the afternoon we walked to church for the 4:00 pm mass at St. Mary’s.  This is really a beautiful church and we enjoy visiting it when here. Sadly, we have yet to attend a mass when it is even half full.

Inside St. Mary’s
St. Mary Catholic Church

For dinner we decided to venture to the North End and eat at an Italian Restaurant (Giacomo’s) that we had been to in 2017.  We thought we were sufficiently early to not have to wait (they are FCFS only), but by the time we walked over the bridge and got to the restaurant, the line was at least a 45-minute wait.  We checked out another place we had heard was good, but their first available table for non-reservations was seating for 8:30 pm.  That was just too late for us, and the lines at all the nearby places were getting long too. Plus, by now we were hungry.  We figured we could not go wrong anywhere on Hanover St., so we walked up a few blocks, checked out the Google reviews and settled on “Bencotto”. There we had to wait only 15 minutes before a table opened up for us, and then we were seated inside.  It was a delicious meal that was reasonably priced, and we were happy with our choice.

At Bencotto

On our way back to the boat we had decided to stop at Bova’s Bakery and pick up some cookies to take with us for our journey south. But once we saw the line here, we decided it was not worth the wait, and we really didn’t need the calories.  Just like the Charleston Bells by the locks (closed to pedestrian traffic due to the bridge construction), this too would be missed on this stop in Boston.  We made our way back to the boat and prepared for an early departure in the morning.  We had our sights set on a long day on the water, and hopeful to make it further south.

During our time in Boston on this visit, the “indoor” mask mandate was put in place, but only if you are in the city limits.  It has become a huge joke here as many of the surrounding towns are not requiring it and many people come into the city from those communities.  The Whole Foods near us required it, but the Costco we were in earlier in the same day did not because they are outside city limits (but only 3 miles apart). On Hanover St, some of the restaurants are enforcing it, and some are not; they are very vocal about having the government tell them how to run their establishments.

Here are a few more pictures from our stay in Boston this time:

Sailboat race in Boston Harbor
Bridge construction at sunset
USS Constitution

Tourists, Resorts, and Pristine Settings!

Friday (8/27) – Boothbay Harbor, Maine

We were treated to a glorious sunrise in five islands and spent about an hour talking with Doug, who had used his dinghy to come over to our boat and give us a boat card. Here we learned even more information about the area around Five Islands, Georgetown and Malden Island. He is so interesting and was a great conversationalist.  We also came extremely close to a sailboat that had taken up the mooring left by the even larger sailboat from the day before.  This is definitely not a good place for mooring boats larger than 40’.

We had a short cruise to Boothbay Harbor so we were not terribly concerned with getting under way; after all this was a pretty nice spot to just hang out.  Eventually, Captain Mark called the marina and confirmed that we could arrive early as our assigned slip was available.

Five Islands to Boothbay Harbor

We Left Five Islands Harbor, passing Malden Island to our right, and spotting Doug’s house on the point as we left.  We could have headed south and taken the Gulf of Maine Route around Cape Newagen, but instead we decided to take the “back way” through Townsend Gut again. 

Once leaving Five Islands, we turned north up the Sheepscot River for less than 2 miles, hugging the eastern shore, then we rounded Dogfish Head (and the wild house with its dog sculpture ) and entered Ebenecook Harbor. 

We cruised for a mile through the harbor and then turned right rounding Cameron Point and entered the Townsend Gut, heading south this time.  Less than a mile later we came to the Southport Island Bridge, only this time we had hit it at low tide and had sufficient clearance to get under without requiring an opening.

Approaching Southport Island Bridge

We continued through the Townsend Gut and at the southern end rounded Juniper Point and entered Boothbay Harbor.  Here we passed an outgoing large yacht (“Stay Salty”) towing their tender, and the American Cruise Line Ship “American Constitution” who was moored in the harbor.

We made our way around McFarland Island and into Tugboat Inn & Marina where we picked up our slip for the next 2 nights.  We stayed here in 2017 and once again reaffirmed this was one of the better places for us to stay. It is incredibly convenient to all the action, without being disturbed by the loud nightly music, and it is an affordable option.  Our main reason for coming back to this otherwise very touristy place, was that we knew they had a Catholic Church and we could go to mass there on Sunday morning.

Once the boat was settled and we checked in with the marina, we ate some lunch and then handled a few work items during the early afternoon. Later, Mark washed the salt off the boat and did a few maintenance items.

Denise went for a walk to the Hannaford’s located on the outskirts of town, to pick up milk and a few other items. We had been told there was a trolley that runs around Boothbay Harbor and out towards Hannaford’s but the route could take up to an hour depending on the direction. Not wanting to have to wait up to an hour at the store for the pickup, Denise opted for the walk. It was a mile each way and she wanted the exercise, but it was so hot (87°) that it almost felt like 5 miles. This was truly our hottest summer yet in Maine and we are missing the cooler weather of years past. Here are some pictures of sites along the way:

We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening hanging out around our boat, talking to some of the locals and then visiting the Tugboat Inn restaurant for a simple dinner. It was good, but nothing spectacular and we wanted to eat and get back to the boat for the night.

Saturday (8/28) – Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Denise started the day with a run that first took her out of the downtown area to the Hannaford’s, then back along the eastern shore of Boothbay Harbor.  She ran the route as far south as she could go until she came to the resort at the end of the road called “The Spruce Point Inn”; a mix of inn, hotel and home sites along the shore.  She then turned around and too a small side road near the water, returned back to the main road, then back to the marina.  Here are some of the pictures from her run around Boothbay Harbor:

After breakfast we got down to doing boat chores. Mark washed the boat completely (not just a salt water rinse off) and got all the bugs and other debris from our two previous stays away from a marina.  Denise concentrated on the inside of the boat, scrubbing just as hard.  This division of work allowed us to get our chores done without taking too much time.  But Mark had a “project” chore that he was going to tackle after lunch. He wanted to clean the bilge in the engine room and it is a very messy job that he had been putting off. It also requires lifting of the main salon floor to access the engine room.  Denise left Mark to do some “souvenir” shopping because it is easier for her to be gone from the boat when he does this. Otherwise, she would be confined to a small space in the main stateroom or guest quarters; as if 37’ of boat isn’t small enough!

Denise walked through just about every store (and art gallery) in the Boothbay Harbor area, and reaffirmed that this is definitely a touristy town.  However, there are some great restaurants here, and we ended up eating at one for dinner that our friends Mark & Jenay (“Ravello”) had recommended.  “The Boathouse Bistro” overlooks the northern part of Boothbay Harbor, and the pedestrian footbridge.  It was a lovely view and the food was very good.  Afterwards, we walked around the harbor for a little while, looking at the different marinas, once again confirming that we had chosen the better of those on this side of the harbor.

Boat House Bistro

Throughout the last two days we had a chance to talk with some of the locals, including a few who live aboard their boat all summer.  They told us how the marina is open year-round (we can’t imagine) and that those that leave their boats in the water get rearranged so the outer docks can be used by the lobsterman boats (who otherwise are on moorings in the harbor).  It really is interesting to see how everything changes here in the 5 months of summer (May through October) and that lobstering really does rule all of their lives.

During our stay in this busy harbor, we watched several tour boats come and go from the commercial harbor. Depending on who knows what criteria, sometimes they would pass very close to our boat as we were on an end-tie at the marina.  They were so close that a couple of times we could hear the narration of the tour, and even passenger’s comments admiring our Island Office.

Sunday (8/29) – Boothbay Harbor, to Sebasco Harbor Resort – near Phippsburg, Maine

Our day started early as we wanted to go to the 7:00 am mass at Mary Queen of Peace Church.  We took the footbridge across the harbor and down the street for the half-mile walk to the church. The mass was said by the same priest as we had in Bath last Sunday. He has 3 churches to support and the mass schedules are staggered to enable time to travel between the various churches. There is no Saturday evening service here, and we took the earliest mass time today as we were leaving Boothbay Harbor today.

Our Lady Queen of Peace
Inside Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church
Fisherman’s memorial at Our Lady Queen of Peace

After mass we walked back to the boat and made preparations to leave, which we finally did at 9:30 am.  Here are some additional pictures we took of the Boothbay area:

We didn’t have far to go (less than 20 miles), but our trip required us to go back out into the Gulf of Maine and we wanted to do that when the winds were calm in the morning; they usually pick up in the afternoon and then settle down again in the evening.

Boothbay Harbor to Sebasco Harbor Resort

We left Boothbay Harbor and entered the Gulf of Maine, with overcast skies, and light winds, but enough chop on the water to spray the bow of the boat with salt water.  Near 10:00 am we passed by Seguin Island and then rounded Cape Small. We took the near-shore channel through the ledges heading north, and made our way to Sebasco Harbor Resort, passing Sebasco Harbor to our right.  Sebasco Harbor Resort is located in Sebasco Estates, not far from the town of Phippsburg (near Bath).

When we arrived at the Sebasco Harbor Resort, we first went to the floating dock so we could hose all the salt off the boat. We then went to our assigned mooring for our 2-night stay, which was pretty much in the middle of the harbor.  There was a little wind in the harbor, but it was not uncomfortable and we were able to be comfortable on the boat while getting a few things accomplished.

Hosing the salt off the boat
Looking towards Casco Bay

During the rest of the morning and into the afternoon we spent planning and re-planning our next week of itinerary stops.  This became a challenge as we were juggling many things: certain destinations we want to visit on the way home; weather forecasts (remnants of Ida); visiting Denise’s aunt in New Hampshire; ability to get/not get a rental car; boat parts requiring shipping points; and our goal to be in the Chesapeake Bay by the end of September.  We also had to take into consideration the cancellation policies of any potential marinas, making sure we could be near a Catholic Church on a Saturday or Sunday, and coming up was Labor Day weekend – an expensive boating weekend in New England.  All of this can make one’s head explode!  Given this, we chose to leave the Casco Bay area and go directly to Boston (once again) on Tuesday, directly from Sebasco.  Here we knew we could rent a car, drive to see Denise’s Aunt, provision the boat well for the trip home (think Costco), and easily go to church.  We could also enjoy the weekend a bit in a fun city. With this settled, Mark called Constitution Marina in Marina and made reservations for us to stay until Sunday.

Later in the afternoon, we took the dinghy to the Resort to explore the area.  It is a very nice place with a very large swimming pool, tennis courts, golf course, recreation center (including candlepin bowling), fitness center, spa, ice cream shop, coffee shop, and plenty of outdoor picnic areas with beautiful gardens.  The resort has an inn as well as condos, and several different size cabins to rent (perfect for a family reunion). They also offer daily fishing charters as well as boating charters (sail or motor yacht) with a captain.  There is free use of bicycles, kayaks, paddleboards, etc. and is geared for all age groups.  It is a beautiful, if not older resort in lovely surroundings. You can learn more about Sebasco Resort here

Unfortunately, the main restaurant (The Pilot House) was closed last year due to Covid and did not reopen for public dining this season. However, the Ledges Pub and Patio Bar was open and we had a very nice meal on the patio, overlooking the moorings and our boat.  After dinner we walked around a bit more, then took the dinghy back to our boat for the rest of the evening. 

The wind had picked up a bit and the moorings were a bit rolly from the waves out of the south. Reviewers had commented on this feature, but it was certainly tolerable for us for the night.  We agreed to review this for tomorrow if it got any worse, but for now it was not as bad as our night at Hurricane Island.

Monday (8/30) – Sebasco Harbor Resort – Snow Island, Maine

We woke up in the morning and checked the weather forecast for the day.  It was already getting rolly in the harbor and the winds and waves were expected to pick up as the day went on.  We really didn’t want to stay if it got worse and considered our options for leaving.  We originally were going to Dolphin Marina (near Harpswell) for our last night in Maine, but on this day they were closed for an employee appreciation day prior to their fall hours. Plus, we had reserved for 2 nights at Sebasco and were not sure we would be able to cancel the second night’s mooring fee.  We also knew that Snow Island was between Sebasco and Dolphin Marina, and offered great protection if the wind was going to blow out of the south. We had visited Snow Island in 2017 for the very same reason.  Further making this an attractive option was that Ken & Kim (“Reel Tradition”) whom we met in Portland offered the use of their mooring ball in the cove there.  Since we were headed ashore for some morning fun, we agreed to talk to the dockmaster then about canceling the second night.

We took the dinghy ashore and Mark addressed the issue with the dockmaster, who immediately issued a credit for the second night, without a hassle (have we mentioned how much we love Maine).  We then got the free bikes and drove all around the resort, including a few areas we are sure we weren’t supposed to go to because they were “off property”.  After about 30 minutes of riding the one-gear bikes over dirt roads and hills, we went back to the resort and stopped near the inn for a game of “ring toss” (like they have in some bars but this one used an old tetherball pole), and then returned the bikes to the golf pro shop.

Having now made the decision to move to Snow Island we wanted to get underway before the wind and waves got too bad. It was a short cruise through inland waterways with it all from behind, but we also had things to do.  When we arrived at the float to get in the dinghy, it was already blowing quite a bit. The dockmaster told us things were going to get really bad when it came time for high tide, and he fully understood our decision to leave. We hurried back to the boat, secured the dinghy and stowed our items, and got ready to leave Sebasco Harbor Resort. 

At 10:25 am we unhooked from our mooring ball and headed out of the Sebasco Harbor, turning right and making our way through the marked channel around the ledges (rocks). 

Sebasco Resort to Snow Island

We came through the pass at the top of Yarmouth Island and entered Quahog Bay. This is a beautiful bay that runs through the middle of Sebascodegan Island and is lined with lobster wharfs and oyster farms.  At the top and in the very center of the bay is Snow Island, and there are anchorages and mooring balls throughout the area.  It is really a beautiful place buffeted with high trees and lots of wildlife. It was also one of the first places we visited in Maine in 2017, and we fell in love with the place back then.

We turned just south of Snow Island and slowly made our way to the cove where the mooring ball for “Reel Tradition” was located.  Before leaving Sebasco we had confirmed with Kim (& Ken) that their ball was available and we could use it for the one night. As we approached the cove we could see someone else was on their ball (done all the time in Maine), but they moved when we told them we had confirmed permission to use the ball for the night. We had traveled only 5 miles in less than 30 minutes and it was like we were on another planet.  The water was very calm and the land to our south blocked most of the winds that had continued to pick up all morning.

We settled into getting some work done, emails and working on a blog post, in a spectacularly beautiful setting.  During the afternoon we had a chance to watch a bald eagle land and perch in a tree on the nearby land. It was an awesome sight and this time we caught it on camera:

We also were visited by a pump-out boat, offering free services in order to keep the area free from human waste and pollution.  Although we were not full up, we took advantage of this, but offered a small contribution to the cause.  The pump-out boat is part of the Quahog Bay Conservancy, a not-for-profit started by the owner Snow Island in order to cleanup and preserve Quahog Bay’s delicate ecosystem.  It is so successful that Snow Island Oysters are some of the best known and desired in all of Maine. You can learn more about this wonderful organization here.

That evening Captain Mark took cooked some delicious burgers on the grill while we watched boats and wildlife all around us.  As we were cleaning up we decided to run the generator to charge the batteries and our electronics, a nightly thing when at anchor or mooring.  But tonight it would not stay on, and we knew it most likely meant the impeller had to be changed.  Having done this before, Captain Mark got out the spare, raised the floor of the main salon and went to work to replace the old impeller.  While he did all this as normal, there was still an issue with a slight leak of water due to a pinched gasket (small rubber part) and it worked, but not without the water leak. Since it there was no pressing issue to run the generator, and since it was getting dark (and he was already using a light), we decided to forego the additional work necessary to pull it all apart and replace the small gasket.  Denise could live without coffee in the morning, and we could repair it when we were at Constitution Marina in Boston. In the meantime he ordered a spare via Amazon who should have it to the marina in Boston by Friday.

We settled in for the night and watched another great sunset; our last in Maine for 2021. Tomorrow, we will leave this great state, bypass New Hampshire and make our way south to Massachusetts. We are headed home!

Sheepscot Surprises!

Robinhood to Oven Mouth Cove

Wednesday (8/25) – Oven Mouth Cove, Maine

Before heading out today, Denise was went for a short walk around the marina property and Riggs Cove, including near the original Riggs home built in 1785.  She ventured to the cemetery where Riggs family members were buried, some dating back to the early 1800’s.  It was not easy to get to as it is located behind the marine center and where there is equipment blocking the entrance, but it was worth the adventure to see more of the history of this area.

We were not anxious to get under way as it was forecasted to be another hot day and leaving the dock meant no air conditioner unless we ran the generator all day.  However, we had stayed at Robinhood long enough, and we figured it would be breezy once we got on the Sheepscot River.  Also, since we were going to an area where people frequently swim around the anchorage, and we may be tempted to do so as well. Finally, around 9:30 we left Robinhood marina and made our way around the ledges and into the channel on the Sheepscot River.

We cruised north up the Sheepscot River dodging lobster pots everywhere, including in the middle of the channel.  We were surprised by how many there were, even 8 miles upriver from the Gulf of Maine.  But the scenery was lovely and the numerous houses on both sides of this wide river was beautiful. This is a much more populated area of Maine, as it is not far from Boothbay Harbor.

We turned up the Cross River, also lined with beautiful homes and wonderful scenery, and eventually turned into the channel to Oven Mouth. Here it became very narrow and we had to stay in the middle of the channel to avoid the shallow (and rocky) shoreline at low tide. 

Once through the narrow channel we entered Oven Mouth Cove.  We discovered this much-touted place was more like a lake then a cove, and could clearly handle 50 boats at anchor; it was very wide open and there was a lot of room.  We sought out the shallowest spot (13’) as identified on our charts, and recommended by the many Active Captain reviews.  After driving around for 20 minutes and unable to locate it even at low tide, we settled on a spot in the 19’ range, dodging the numerous lobster traps in the area.  Fortunately, we have sufficient anchor chain and rode to handle the depth when it is high tide (10’ more) and still feel comfortable that we will not move even if the wind started to blow hard.  Unfortunately, it did not.  But the best part was we instantly spotted the cell tower and had terrific cell coverage.

Cell tower and great coverage

It was a very hot day, and despite it being a large cove, the air was blocked by the hills around it.  We were able to stay in the shade and spent the day doing a little work, publishing a blog update, reading, watching the lobster boats check their traps, and observe a few recreational boaters come in for a swim, then leave.  In essence we had the entire place to ourselves.  At one point Denise stuck her feet in the water, and although tempted to go for a swim, it was still way too cold for her.

In mid-afternoon it got really hot, with no breeze.  We considered leaving this beautiful cove to move closer to the ocean where we might get the prevailing southern wind to cool us off.  But, we decided to stick it out. Finally, in late afternoon when we were dying of the heat (89°), we put on the generator and cranked up the air conditioners.  We ended up running them for 3 hours, allowing us to eat dinner in a bug-free and cooler setting.

Shortly after dinner we received a very unexpected and welcomed visit from Troy (“Band Aids”) who is the AGLCA Harbor Host for mid-coast Maine.  We had been in email communication with him and he had been tracking us on NEBO the whole time we have been in Maine.  When he saw we had finally made it to Oven Mouth Cove, he came out on a small boat to visit us; his house is located not far from where Cross River splits off of the Sheepscot.  It was a delight to have a visitor and we enjoyed talking to him for a while. He informed us that the dock we could see at the south end of the cove was where John Monroe (famed telecom billionaire) has a house, and his large yacht is usually parked there.  This explains the cell tower and terrific signal strength in this area.

Billionaire John Monroe’s dock

Troy left as the sun started to dip behind the trees and it wasn’t long thereafter that it got dark.  We saw millions of stars in the sky in this area of little light pollution, and it cooled down enough for us to get a good night’s sleep without having to run the generator again.

Thursday (8/26) – Five Islands – Georgetown, Maine

Oven Mouth Cove to Five Islands

As the sun came up, we were treated to a spectacular sunrise and a few seals swimming in the harbor.  A few lobster boats came in early to pick up their traps, but we were the only boat that spent the night in the anchorage.  Denise went out in the cockpit to take a few photos and was shocked.  During the night we had been inundated with millions of bugs, and they were all over the boat. It was disgusting!

Sunrise at Oven Mouth Cove
Bugs everywhere!
IO at Oven Mouth in the morning

It wasn’t long after Mark got up and finished breakfast, that he suggest we head out to our next adventure: our destination was 8.5 miles back down the Sheepscot River and to Five Islands Harbor near Malden Island. Around 9:00 am we pulled up the anchor and made our way back through the narrow entrance and into the Cross River.  We then turned left and headed south down the Sheepscot River, reversing our trek from the day before.  We cruised just past the area where we would have turned into Robinhood, but continued a little bit further south, passing MacMahan Island to our right and entering into the channel for Five Islands Harbor.

Approaching Five Islands Harbor

We made our way around the many moored lobster boats and pleasure crafts in search of one of the free moorings offered by the Five Islands Yacht Club (FIYC).  As we were struggling to figure out where these were located, we pulled close to the dock on Malden Island and asked a guy on a sailboat at the dock there for directions. He gave us the information we sought, and we were able to secure a mooring in a great spot.  However, we did notice that there were several boats (including a large sailboat) that were much too large for the mooring field and one of these boats was incredibly close to us when the wind shifted us all around. One of the Active Captain reviews had warned of this and we now understood what they meant.

Too large a boat for the mooring
IO at 5 Islands looking north

We spent the rest of the morning finishing up on some work items, and then we ate lunch.  We also noticed the sailboat from the dock on Malden Island was now on a private mooring ball next to ours. We later met “Doug” (“Kalitan V”), the guy who helped us out, but will discuss him later.

In the afternoon we published the last blog update, and then decided to go ashore and give our legs a little time on land.  Mark took the dinghy out for a quick spin around the harbor and to identify the dinghy dock, then came back to get Denise. 

Mark checking out the neighborhood
IO at Five Islands

From there we went to the mainland, which is part of the village of Georgetown.  This area is on the same peninsula as Robinhood and is bordered by the Sheepscot River to the east, and the Kennebec River to the west.  The village is a misnomer as there is no real main street, but there are a few spots of interest besides the Five Islands Harbor area. One such spot was the Five Islands Farm, located about a half a mile from the wharf on “5 Islands Rd”.  We walked up the hill along the road, which had no shoulder, but because it is all residential there was little traffic and most of the passing cars went slow.  We arrived at the Five Islands Farm where we purchased a tomato and some tart apples, but did not buy one of their freshly made blueberry pies (it was tempting).

Five Islands Farm

We headed back down the hill towards the wharf encountering a few interesting sights along the way:

Flag on house in Georgetown
We found our thrill!!!

Once back in the harbor area, we went to the Five Islands Harborside General Store, a small souvenir shop that overlooks the water and is also a fuel stop.  It has a few convenient food items, but mainly here is where people come to buy their wine and beer and take it back to the Lobster Company (lobster pound) as they do not sell any alcohol there.

Harborside General Store

We left the General Store, figuring it was getting late and we should get in line at the Lobster Company before the line got too long.  When we arrived we discovered there was already a line and we were going to have to wait a bit just to place an order.  This is an interesting lobster pound because the rolls and sandwiches are ordered in the first (main) building on the wharf, but the lobster dinners, steamers, muscles, and oysters are ordered in another building behind it.  Mark wanted a lobster roll and Denise wanted steamed lobster so we had to split up and each get our own meal. We then grabbed one of the few available spots on the picnic tables overlooking the harbor to enjoy our early dinner.  It was a beautiful day, even though it was hot, but the breeze off the ocean made it very comfortable.  We were glad we came early as the lines that formed after us had people waiting at least 15 minutes just to order, and another 20 -30 minutes to get their meal. It is definitely touristy and more expensive than several of the other lobster pounds we have been to, but it was just as delicious. We did pass on the ice cream which is located in a 3rd separate building on the wharf.

Five Islands signage
Five Islands Lobster Co.
Ice Cream stand and picnic area
Malden Island from mainland

After dinner, we took our dinghy back to the boat and talked with family on the phone. We also noticed Doug was on his boat, and had a talk with him across the water between our boats.  Here we learned he is a 5th generation landowner on Malden Island, the exclusive island located just south of the moorings.  He gave us a lot of information about the area, and told us a lot about the 9 homes and their owners on Malden Island. There is a dining hall that is on the premises and has a full time chef and staff (or did until Covid hit) and the islanders can eat all 3 meals there. There is an expected minimum number of meals they must eat (like a country club minimum) and most of the islanders are from the original founding families like himself; although that is changing. It was fascinating to hear his stories, and to learn that he lives all but a few months of the year on the island; he spends the winter months on the mainland because his island home is poorly insulated and has no heat. We ended the evening watching a nice sunset over the harbor, but were so busy talking to Doug that we forgot to capture it in a picture. 

Doug (“Kalitan V”)

Tomorrow we leave for the weekend in Boothbay Harbor, but we are very glad we came here. It is a beautiful spot and comfortable, even with the crowded moorings and we were pleasantly surprised at how much we liked it here.  We will come back here again!

Out-running Henri!

Friday (8/20) – Derecktor Robinhood marina, Georgetown, Maine

We had left Port Clyde early to outrun the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred that were forecasted to provide deteriorating sea conditions as the day wore on.  Although not a threat to us because it was so far offshore, the waves it produced will eventually make their way north and impact our comfort level. As much as we hated to leave the Penobscot Bay area, we needed to press on west in order to hit the few remaining places we hope to visit before heading south towards home.

When we headed out of Port Clyde, we immediately hit fog, once again (and for the last time) crossing the Muscongus Bay.  However, the fog lifted soon after entering the Bay, and we were able to turn off the radar due to increased visibility.

Running in fog with chart plotter & radar

We rounded Pemaquid Point and the Ram Island Lighthouse, only this time instead of passing south of Squirrel Island, we turned into the channel towards Boothbay Harbor.

We cruised north of Squirrel Island heading west, passing the Burnt Island Lighthouse (not to be confused with the Burnt Harbor Light in MDI area) and turned up the channel that is known as the Townsend Gut.  This is a back way to run up towards the Sheepscot River, and other waters. We arrived in perfect timing to hit the half-hour opening of the Southport Island Bridge, a swing bridge that has restricted openings in the summer.

Just before the bridge is a cove with a popular restaurant on the water (Robinson’s Wharf & Tugs Pub) we have read about, but never visited.  It was too early to stop for lunch, so we pressed on through the bridge and continued through the Gut, dodging the ledges (aka rocks) that lie just outside the channel.

We eventually came to the Sheepscot River where we crossed it and made our way around the top of MacMahan Island into Riggs Cove; location of Derecktor Robinhood Marina and our home for the next few days.  We pulled into the fuel dock for a fill-up and then moved over to our assigned slip.  . 

Once the boat was settled, we went to check in at the dockmaster’s office.  We were pleasantly surprised to learn that in addition to a BoatUS discount on the fuel, they also offered a discount on our dockage. We reserved the loaner car so we could use it on Saturday afternoon to go to Bath (15 minutes away) for church, and then to dinner.  We then went for a quick walk around the marina complex and then back to the boat to do some work and further planning.

Our main reason for coming to Robinhood was the protection it offered. We had been tracking hurricane “Henri” and its forecast track had it turning right and skirting the New England coast.  We wanted as much protection as possible from the swells that would come up the rivers, and the marina was also preparing accordingly.  We were advised that we may be asked to move to a mooring, or to turn our boat around in the slip (bow forward), but they would make that call on Saturday. Meanwhile, the protection it offered, also provided a stillness on this hot day, and we found the humidity brought out the bugs and especially the mosquitoes.  We were forced to run the AC once again.

In the evening, we hoped to have dinner at the “Osprey”, the restaurant on-site that had been recently taken over.  It had received rave reviews and we had remembered the old one from 2017 as being mediocre, so we walked over in the afternoon to put in a reservation for a table. Unfortunately, they had none available, but we could take our chances at the bar, or at their 3 small patio tables outside on a FCFS basis. We chose instead to order pizza from their wood-fire stove they had installed in the spring.  As they limit their take-out orders during the rush hour, we opted for a 5:30 pm pickup and Captain Mark agreed to walk up the path to the restaurant to get it at the appropriate time.  It was pretty good food and we enjoyed it, but we are still missing Antonella’s back home in Winter Park.

Wood-fired Oven at Osprey

That evening, the marina was hosting a local folk-singing artist for a small outdoor concert near the gazebo in the middle of the grounds.  We were reluctant to attend in part because it was not our type of music, but also because it would require sitting outside with all the bugs.  However, we could easily hear the music from our boat, but it was not so loud it kept us from a good night’s sleep.

Robinhood marina – Gazebo area for music performer

Saturday (8/21) – Derecktor Robinhood marina, Georgetown, Maine

It being a Saturday, it was a day for Denise to get in a run, even with the hills and a shoulder-less road. By leaving early she was pretty sure she would not encounter much traffic (she didn’t) and she had mapped out a path that kept her off the main highway. Outside of the marina property, the entire area is full of private residences, most of which are summer “cottages” and some are rental property. At the corner of one of the roads, there was the Robinhood Free Meeting House where they have community concerts and Tuesday through Friday they offer a breakfast. The entire route was very really pretty, but the heat and humidity had her feeling like she was back in FL on this August day.  She did see a few other runners, and one other walker out along the course, so that gave her encouragement to keep on with the run.

Robinhood Free Meeting House
Temperatures at run time – Like FL in the morning!

The rest of the morning and early afternoon we spent working on boat chores, cataloging pictures, and then starting on a blog post.  In the late afternoon, we got the marina loaner car and drove over the Kennebec River, and into the town of Bath.  We went to attend the 4:00 pm mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and to grab some dinner in this very cute town.

After church, we went to Beale Street Barbeque, located on Waters Street in downtown Bath.  Denise suggested to Mark that they probably got the name from Beale Street in Memphis, as it is a famous street there, and known for its barbeque places.  This particular joint was celebrating 20 years, and they served up a good amount of barbeque ribs (Denise) and brisket (Mark) enabling us to take some home for another meal.

Since we had the car, we took advantage of and went to a local “Shaws” grocery store.  It is not our favorite New England grocery chain, but it sufficed for a handful of the basics we required.  Afterwards, we drove back to the boat and settled in for the rest of the evening.

Meanwhile, all day we had been watching the forecasts for the remnants of Henri, now headed north through Connecticut and New York.  If we were going to get anything, it would be rain on Sunday. Therefore, the marina did not request us to move to a mooring or change our boat around. But in the morning, they had moved a large “California” yacht from an end-dock to just behind us, near the haul-out wharf and across the dock. At high tide, this acted as a barrier between us and the dockmaster’s office where the WI-FI antennae was, and we were unable to get a signal.  Since cell coverage was almost non-existent here, this was a real pain because we could not even carry on a phone conversation with family and friends, all of whom were concerned for our well-being.  It also meant that we could not stream any shows in the evenings, so we reverted to reading our books for a nice change.

Sunday (8/22) – Derecktor Robinhood marina, Georgetown, Maine

It was a foggy and overcast day, but the weather was not nearly as bad as was forecasted earlier in the week.  We knew there would still be rain and wind later in the day, but it was now diminishing in its intensity, which was now expected in the afternoon.

Over the last few days we had conversations with a couple on a Caliber 38’ sailboat (like our old one) who were a few slips away from our boat. They had told us that the laundry at the marina was not in great shape and they found another one near Brunswick, just west of Bath. So, shortly after breakfast when we learned no one had requested the loaner car, we used it to go to their suggested laundromat and get done a few loads of laundry.  It just so happened that it was near the Walmart and near a NAPA auto store, so we could also get a few other errands done at the same time.  Mark dropped Denise to do the laundry while he went to Walmart, then on the way back to the marina we stopped at NAPA to return an item; one less thing to carry on the boat.

In the afternoon the rain and winds finally came, and we took advantage to work on the blog, read, and to cook a delicious dinner on the boat.  It was much less intense than originally forecasted, and for that we were grateful.

Effects of “Henri”

However, at 3:00 am, we were awaken to an electrical issue (surge from the dock power?) with alarms going off and our electrical panel flashing; it was crazy. We were able to turn off all systems and circuits and investigate, but found no breakers thrown, even on the dock power pedestal.  Mark reset everything anyway and we did not find any issues. When he turned everything back on it was all ok, so we went back to sleep, mostly.

Monday (8/23) – Derecktor Robinhood marina, Georgetown, Maine

Today was a most uneventful day.  It was rainy off and on, but no wind to speak of and once again hot.  We spent the day working inside, conducting business, working to publish a blog update, and began work on the next one.

In the morning, the marina moved the big California yacht out from the wharf and haul-out area, enabling us to get a good Wi-Fi signal. This was great as we were able to receive and send phone calls, which we spent a large part of the day doing, both with clients, family and friends.

At one point we took a break and went for a walk around the marina complex, just to stretch our legs.  There is much history with this marina, which originally started as a trading post, then a shipping port and was originally known as “Riggsville” after one of the founding landowners. Within the complex they have several of the original buildings including: the General Store, which now serves as a marina business; the Library; and The Gallery, originally the Post Office and now a museum of the history of the area. However, it is very much a working boat yard and marina, with constant activity and a “home base” for many seasonal boaters. You can learn about this fascinating place and its role in history here. Here are some pictures of the area:

We also had been admiring the “Mary E”, a schooner that was in the marina, but we saw no one take out for charter or work on all weekend.  We learned from a local that this was a charter boat that had capsized in late July in the Kennebec River with 15 passengers and 3 crew on board.  We had remembered hearing about the story and wondered if a cause had yet been determined.  Apparently there is no official information out there, but you can read about the story here.

The “Mary E”

That evening we had a low-key dinner on board, and we streamed a movie for a while, until Denise started falling asleep.  We both went to bed early hoping for a better night’s sleep and no surprises.

Tuesday (8/24) – Derecktor Robinhood marina, Georgetown, Maine

Denise started the day with another run in this very hilly area, but a shorter one than on Saturday. She took pretty much the same route and saw the same houses.  The rain had stopped and the sun was now out, but it was a very hot 82 degrees, especially for Maine.

We were supposed to leave today and our plans called for two night anchoring in Oven Mouth Cove, a night at 5-Islands on a free mooring (if we could get it), and then to Boothbay Harbor for the weekend.  All of these destinations are no more than 5 miles from where we currently are and we had some flexibility in the schedule.  We made the decision to stay another day, taking advantage of shore power to run the air conditioners, and to get some projects done. Once the marina gave us the ok to stay, we settled into getting some of them done.

Denise managed to publish another blog update, and Mark tackled the tedious task of replacing our port navigation light.  This required emptying everything from the anchor locker, which he put on the deck of the boat, and then crawling into that small space to get to the light. It is a real pain, but he did it and now we have a working port-side running light again.  We also had some client work to do, and we laid out an itinerary for the following week of adventure.

Mark inside anchor locker – he’s really in there
Port light replacement project

In celebration of our hard work for the day, Mark used the marina grill and cooked us some delicious steaks for dinner. We were happy we got so much accomplished and that we had decided to stay another day. Tomorrow we would leave and head out for another adventure to a few new locations we have yet to explore.

Port Clyde Revisited!

Portland to Port Clyde – Trip 2

Thursday (8/19) – Port Clyde, Maine

We were in no hurry to leave this morning as our trip to Port Clyde was only 20 miles and it was mostly open water where we could cruise at 20 knots.  Denise went for a quick walk around downtown to take a few last minute pictures, and then after breakfast settled down into work for a few hours.  We were quite happy to wake up to a dry main salon with no leaking windows, despite the rain from last night.

Finally, at 11:15 we left Rockland under cloudy and overcast skies, with minimal wind. There was a little fog hanging around the cliffs at Owl’s Head as we rounded the point and took the channel through Owl’s Head Bay, but visibility was good and we didn’t need radar at all.

We cruised along passing lobster pots and the islands along Muscle Ridge Channel and Whitehead Light as we had now done 2 other times on this adventure.  Finally coming up to Mosquito Island and entering the channel to Port Clyde with the Marshall Point Lighthouse marking its entrance.

Marshall Point Lighthouse

We arrived at the mooring ball just off Larry & Diane’s dock, hooked up without issue, and Larry was on the porch with a hello wave.  We settled in for a quick lunch, then deployed our dinghy over to their floating dock and tied up.  We spent a few minutes of meeting with them, and then we went off for a walk into town to do some exploring. Along the way we passed a nice park (Annie Jones Collins Memorial Park), the Post Office, the Ocean House Inn, a few churches, and finally the General Store. Here we purchased some milk and then headed back to the dinghy, then back to the boat to get ready for our meet-up with our Port Clyde friends.

During our afternoon the fog came in pretty thick, and rain had been threatening.  We managed to make it from the boat back to Larry and Diane’s for drinks, and Dolly & Mack joined us.  Here we got to see Larry’s car, a “Minor 1000”, made by Minor Motors in the UK which he has fully restored. You can read about these cute cars here.   Mark even got to ride in it as we all headed out to “The Barn”. 

Larry’s car – Morris Minor 1000

And that is when it began to sprinkle.  By the time we arrived at The Barn, it was pouring raining, which probably kept the crowds to a minimum. But shortly after we arrived, the place started to fill in with the locals.  Of course our hosts know everyone and we met some of their friends. 

The Barn is owned by Linda Bean (of LL Bean) who also owns rental property and has the Andrew Wyeth gallery in town.  It is definitely a locals spot and is located across from the General Store. It is eclectically decorated (to say the least), and the focal point is the u-shaped bar that takes up over half the room.  The rest is filled with overstuffed chairs, couches and benches for socializing.

Inside “The Barn”
Dolly, Denise & Diane – at The Barn

After a few rounds of drinks and socializing, and when the rains seemed to subside, we drove to the Black Harpoon for a second visit and had another wonderful meal.

Dinner at the Black Harpoon again

Finally, the rain subsided and we said good-bye to Mack and Dolly before heading back to Larry & Diane’s.  Although they welcomed us to stay awhile and visit, even spend the night, we knew we needed to get back to the boat and prepare for tomorrow.  We thanked our hosts for another wonderful visit and promised to come visit again.

We took the dinghy back to the boat, hoisted it back on Island Office and settled in for the night.  All night long it rained and our boat was cozy and dry on the inside.  We were so happy to have the new windows and this issue now behind us.

Replacements in Rockland!

Seal Bay to Rockland

Saturday (8/14) – Rockland, Maine

In the morning of this beautiful place (Seal Bay), there was a bit of fog hanging over the rocks and trees; it was so eerie, but so Maine!  And in no time after sunrise, the fog burned off and we were treated to a seal feeding on the fish.

We could have stayed here for days, but we were not going to be able to. There was bad weather forecasted, we needed to go to church, and we had now two appointments with Back Cove scheduled.  So, just after 9:00 am we pulled up the anchor and left Seal Bay.  Here are some remaining pictures of this beautiful place.

We left the channel at Seal Bay and rounded Calderwood Neck on Vinalhaven, with an interesting structure sitting on the promontory point.

Leaving Seal Bay – Structure on VHI

We headed back around Widow Island and the eastern end of the Fox Island Thoroughfare, passing the boats in the harbor at North Haven and eventually heading out across West Penobscot Bay. 

North Haven moorings

It was a short destination today (<20 miles) with a direct shot into Rockland Harbor from the Fox Islands Thoroughfare.  We passed the Breakwater Lighthouse to our right, and dodged the ferry and lobster boats, both creating large wakes that smashed across the bow of our boat.  Additionally, it was Saturday and there were lots of pleasure craft and sailboats all around. It was difficult to set up the boat for docking until the very last minute, but finally we were able to pull into the assigned slip at Rockland Landing Marina.

Once the boat was settled, we went to check in at the marina office where Kevin, the owner provided us with the necessary information for our stay (Wi-Fi password, bathroom codes, etc.).  We then went back to the boat, ate some lunch, and then worked on emails, cataloging pictures, and starting the next blog posting.

IO – 1st slip at Rockland Landing Marina

All morning we had watched the forecasted rain get pushed out, and we could see on weather radar that it was eventually coming. Finally, around 3:00 pm the bank of dark clouds could be seen just over downtown Rockland, and then it started to rain.  With it came some very violent wind and lightening, not unlike a summer thunderstorm in Florida. Fortunately, it didn’t last all night and it cleared up in the late afternoon.

Big storm in Rockland

In the evening, we walked into downtown for dinner at “Rustica”, a restaurant we ate at in 2017 and were anxious to go back and enjoy.  There were no tables available, but again there were seats at the bar that we took and were happy to reconnect with “David”, the bartender who waited on us then.  Denise loved their eggplant parmesan, so she ordered it, and Mark got his usual: chicken parmesan. Both were as delicious as we remembered and we had a great time talking with David and hearing about their 2020 and 2021 challenges in the restaurant.

“David” at Rustica

After dinner we walked around town a bit and took a few pictures of some of the sights of Rockland.  We then walked back to the marina and were treated to a beautiful sky at sunset.

Sunday (8/15) – Rockland, Maine

One of the benefits of returning to places you have been is you know what is there and how to get around. We knew there was a Catholic Church in Rockland and had looked up the mass times on the internet, double-checking for any Covid-related changes.  We also knew it was a mile uphill from the marina, and with fair weather we could walk to and from church, which is exactly what we did. We attended 8:00 am mass at St. Bernard’s and was happy to see they were not suggesting the wearing of masks (like so many other churches now).

After mass we walked back through the downtown area and saw artists at work painting the murals on the sides of an old building. This community is very arts-oriented with the Farnsworth and Wyatt museums located right downtown, and the Transportation Museum located out towards Owls Head and the airport.  We visited all of these museums when here in 2017 and you can read about our post here.

Once back on the boat, we had a series of boat chores to do; Mark worked mostly outside while Denise worked inside.  Defrosting the refrigerator took less time than expected because it was so warm outside.  However, it is still a big job and by the time it was finished it was time for lunch.  But not before Mark got in his favorite domestic chore of all – vacuuming!

Mark’s favorite hobby

During the day we had a chance to meet some of the seasonal slip holders, all of whom have been very nice to us. Mark began talking to one who offered the use of his car.  Denise started talking with a guy (Ray on “Seal of Approval”) who come to find out knows Kenny Eaton in Castine; Eaton’s is where we stayed in 2017 and 2019.  He also knows Bill Weir, Denise’s business associate from Winter Park and Kenny’s stern-man on his lobster boat. They are all friends and Ray has gone “lobstering” with them.  We chatted for a long time and then Denise felt compelled to contact Bill and tell him we were not going to Castine on this visit, but would connect with him in Winter Park when we are back home in the fall. We also met Ray’s wife Marion, and they both offered us the use of their mooring ball should we go to Holbrook State Park, near Castine. We are so appreciative of the generosity of the people we meet, especially in Maine.

Ray & Marion “Seal of Approval”

In the evening we walked to “Claws” for a dinner of lobster rolls. This is one of our favorite spots to get a lobster roll, as they pile on the lobster meat.  We took the Rooks clan here when they were with us in 2019, and they too were impressed.  But even though we arrived early for dinner (5:30) there was the longest line we have ever seen here.  We had to wait a while, but because of a newly added deck, there was plenty of seating.  The food and view were terrific and the view is one of the best in Rockland.

On our way back to the boat we strolled through the downtown area and took note of which places would be open on Monday and which would be closed (many).  We then returned to the boat and settled in watching a little TV for the rest of the night.

Monday (8/16) – Rockland, Maine

Denise started the morning with a long out-and-back run on the footpath around Rockland Harbor, past Sandy Beach and up around the neighborhood and out towards Owl’s Head.  Here are some pictures from her run:

Today was a work day and a day committed to working on the blog; we are way behind at this point.  While Denise spent most of the day on this task, Mark was able to borrow one of the local’s car and went to the grocery store.  When he returned, he spent the rest of the day on conference calls or working for our clients.   He also confirmed our meeting with in the morning with Jaime (BC National Sales Manager).

We also had a few conversations with local boaters who would temporarily tie up to the end of our dock and pick up crew.  One such conversation was with a woman Denise met named “Janet” who looks very similar to a running buddy (Doreen). The resemblance was uncanny and forced Denise to do a double-take when she saw her from afar.

Come to find out Janet was on a Kady Krogen and knows our friends Mack & Vicki (“Confetti”) whom we cruised with on the DE Loop and had dinner with in Beaufort, SC in April.  Another small world story.

In the afternoon, Keith (BC Manufacturing Engineer) came by to see about our windows. He came dressed in work clothes and wanted to meet us then take a look at the windows. He did so and then said he would be back tomorrow to test out a few things.

The rest of the day was unexciting, and other than a short walk after dinner onboard, we were treated to a very nice sunset.

Sunset over RLM

Tuesday (8/17) – Rockland, Maine

Today was a busy day, starting with our breakfast meeting with Jaime (Back Cove).  We had a nice conversation getting to know one another and discussing our many adventures on our boat.  He said he was unaware of anyone that had put more miles on a single boat; they have some people that have had several models and cumulatively they may be close to our 22,000 nm. It is possible they may want to do a feature on us in the future, but right now all the marketing information is about the introduction of the new 37’ model (called 372) they are launching at the Newport Boat Show in September. We really don’t care either way and it will be interesting to see how this develops.

After our meeting, we split up in order to accomplish a few errands: Mark went to Walgreens then back to the boat, while Denise went to the Post Office to retrieve a package they were holding; apparently the USPS does not recognize the marina’s address, only their PO Box. Funny UPS and Fed-EX deliveries come right to the marina. After the PO stop, Denise did some minor souvenir, and gift-shopping at a few stores downtown, and stopped by Hamilton’s to pick up a boat cleaner before returning to the boat.

Meanwhile, Mark went back to the boat to meet with Keith (from BC). He tried a few things and they ran a test, but it didn’t work. He decided it would be best to replace the plastic tracks on which the glass slides, and would return on Wednesday with a set. He also mentioned that they have one remaining set of windows in their inventory that they have no use for (they changed the windows out on the new model and they are no longer building the old one). He had been in discussion with customer service, and suggested the windows could be taken out and replaced with those in inventory.  This is a big job and one that will require lots of scheduling on our part, so it is really our last resort. We discussed our options for this and decided that it would be best to do that while we were in Rockland and have the Back Cove resources available. We would have to work around some incoming bad weather, now forecasted for Thursday, and Keith would have to investigate the resources to do it. However, he was still hopeful that the plastic tracks would fix the issue.

During our first day’s stay, Kevin (marina owner) mentioned that we would need to move our boat if we stayed past Monday as the seasonal slip holder was returning. Since we were originally planning to stay until Wednesday morning, and now we needed to possibly stay until Friday, we were going to have to move the boat.  As soon as the previous occupants left the new location, we moved our boat to a side-tie on the main dock – about 50 feet and directly perpendicular to where we were.

Based on the information that Keith shared, that afternoon we cancelled our plans to go back to Perry Creek on Wed. and extended our stay in Rockland. Mark confirmed with the marina that we could do the work there, and that we could stay through Friday in order to get this resolved.

Meanwhile, we had already put the newly acquired steaks in the freezer for a future night at anchor. But since we had nothing defrosted to cook for dinner, we decided to go back to Rustica.  Once again we sat at the bar, although David was off tonight. We still had a terrific meal and highly recommend the place.

Wednesday (8/18) – Rockland, Maine

Taking advantage of being tied to a dock (and not an anchorage or mooring) Denise went for another quick run in Rockland.

Shortly after she was back and we had breakfast, Keith returned with new plastic slides and he went about replacing them in both sets of windows. It didn’t take very long and when he and Mark did a test, we still had water coming in the starboard side.  Our only option now was to replace the windows in our boat, and since we are in Rockland where the factory is, it makes sense to have it done here. Keith already had the team at Back Cove working on how they could make it happen, and communicated they would start at 1:00 pm today.  We were still worried about the weather impacting this project as well as our travel plans, but everyone felt like this was the best option.

Just before lunchtime, Chris (Back Cove) came to the boat and introduced himself, to see our boat, and what he and his team would be facing.  He said he would be back after lunch, and at 1:00 the team showed up.  Besides Chris, there were 3 other guys (a mix from Production and Engineering), and they were absolutely amazing.  Within 30 minutes they had both windows out. We were shocked because originally they were talking about doing one on Wednesday and the other on Friday. Now it meant they would replace both sets today.

All afternoon they prepped for the new windows, then insert them into the holes in our boat where the old windows were.  There is some millimeter adjustments that they had to make and they used a new material that acts like a popup sponge and expands to fill gaps; it never contracts. This is very different than the old hard gasket that was part of the older (9-yearold) assembly process.   

Doing the water leak test, one of the windows was not setting properly. At one point they swapped out one of the team members with the “windows guy” from the plant. In fifteen minutes and with the help of his “tools” he had the adjustments all done and we now had windows that did not leak. 

Taking out the old windows
Unwrapping the new window
The Back Cove Team – IO at side-tie
IO during window replacement
The Replacements
Water leak test

By 6:00 pm the team was done and we had our boat all put back together: we had removed all the salon cushions and personal items, and stowed everything from the galley in the guest stateroom. We celebrated with some much deserved cocktails and dinner on board.  And in the evening it started to rain and we had no leaking windows.

Now we had a decision to make: when to leave Rockland?  Should we stay through the weekend, or go on to Port Clyde as planned so we can join our friends for Thursday nights at “The Barn”.  Of significant consideration was the tropical storm Henri, who was threatening to be a hurricane by the weekend and would bring rain and wind to the coast.  It would not be a good time trying to make a passage across any of the bays after Friday, and Port Clyde is so close to the open water it would not be a place to stay beyond Thursday night.  With this in mind, we decided to leave Rockland in the morning and go to Port Clyde for one night. Then we would head up the Sheepscot River, just west of Boothbay Harbor and go to Derektor Robinhood where we stayed in 2017. It is extremely protected, and they have a loaner car we can use to drive to the nearby town of Bath and go to church.  Mark called for slip availability and we were able to get in, so that became our plan for the next few days.

Here are some other pictures from Rockland: