Monthly Archives: July 2021

Schoodic Point!

Monday (7/19) – Winter Harbor (Schoodic Peninsula), Maine

It was still damp and misty when we first woke, but the fog was not too bad.  At the end of Sand Cove (near our mooring) is a street and then just beyond that is the Grindstone Neck Golf Course where we have watched a few golfers attempt to play, despite the weather. 

But make no mistake about it, this area is a working cove for the lobsterman and there were posts all over the mooring field. When in these coves and working harbors, it is not unusual to have this.  As a result, in the early morning hours we are frequently woken up by the sounds of the lobster boats coming to retrieve and/or relaunch their pots (also known as traps).  When in a harbor where they also keep their boats, we first hear the sounds of their dinghy engine as they approach their boats (sometime around 3:30 – 4:00 am). Then we hear the roar of the lobster boat engine as it gets underway (around 4:00 am or later). Sometimes they are quiet and all we feel is their massive wake and the slap of water against our hull. Other times the lobsterman are blaring their VHF radios or music.  These differ depending on where we are along the Maine coast. If Downeast or on the more remote islands, the lobsterman rule and they make it a point to let cruisers know this is their turf. In the more touristy areas like Rockland, Camden or Boothbay Harbors there may be more courtesy for the cruising yachts and sailboats.  However, all of this is part of the atmosphere and we take it all in; it is what makes Maine so wonderfully authentic.

Just before 9:00 am, we called for the yacht club launch to come and pick us up.  The driver came out right away and took us to the WHYC where we checked in with the dockmaster who had just arrived. We then took a walk around the facilities to see this very old established club and during that time the fog rolled in and shrouded the entire cove. It was eerily quiet and still.

At WHYC

We then headed out on our adventure for the day.  We took the road that ran along the edge of Sand Cove and walked to the Village of Winter Harbor. 

IO in foggy moorings

We were going to go in the “5 & 10 Variety Store” but since the next Island Explorer bus was arriving in 10 minutes we nixed the idea and went to the pickup location. It was located right next to the Arts building, which was a former school house.

The Island Explorer bus has been a main source of transportation for us in years past. But, due to Covid, they have had to cut back on the routes so they could increase the frequency of key necessary routes. This was done as they cannot have anyone standing on the buses (“social distancing”) and therefore they needed to run the buses in these popular routes more frequently.  Since there are insufficient buses to add to all the routes, they have cut back on the routes and changed the stops and schedules.  The bus to Schoodic Point was still running as it takes people to the park of Acadia National Park that is on this peninsula, and to the Schoodic Woods Campground.  We took this particular bus which only had one stop at the campgrounds, and only took 20 minutes.

When we arrived at Schoodic Point the fog had lifted a bit but, it was still too foggy to see the Mark Island Lighthouse on a nearby island. However, we did get to see the beautiful water and coastline, not to mention the amazing rocks. This area was formed from the cooling of magma during past volcanic activity, and the mix of granite with large veins of dark basalt make it an amazing site.  You can read about this great place here.

We were expecting to stay only until the next bus arrived (20 minutes). But we were captured with the beauty of the rocks and the numerous colors.  We ended up staying until the next bus (40 minutes) which took us back to the Village of Winter Harbor.  Denise went into the “5 & 10 Variety Store” (local hardware, souvenir, etc.) shop that sells everything from household goods, t-shirts and fabric. After a few purchases, she met up with Mark who was trying to have a business call with one of our associates.

We have been very challenged to even have cell phone signal in this area, let alone internet services and we were told the Library had free open Wi-Fi.  We walked to the library only to discover they are only open from Wednesday through Sunday.  Fortunately, we were able to pick up their Wi-Fi signal on the backside of their building to make an important phone call; we were trying to reroute a package for delivery that had been delivered to the wrong building in Ellsworth instead of the dockmaster’s office (more about this later).

After the call was made at the library, we started to walk back to the boat, but stopped at the local lobster Co-Op.  Here we purchased two “shredder” lobsters for tonight’s dinner, and some fresh haddock to put in our freezer for a future meal.  The “shredders” are lobsters which have shed their shells and the new one is not yet tough. They are usually smaller in size and have less meat, but they are sweeter and tenderer.  They are also more expensive and rarely get shipped to restaurants and processors. It’s the hard shelled lobster that everyone usually gets.

Winter Harbor Lobster Co-Op
Winter Harbor Co-Op Signage

By the time we walked back to the boat, the fog had lifted and we got to see the beauty of the area. Unfortunately, it did not last and with the incoming high tide the fog returned. This time it was much thicker and we could hardly see even the neighboring boats.

We cooked up our lobsters for dinner and enjoyed a nice quiet meal aboard. Then went back to reading our books until we turned in for the night.

About the package:  Denise’s computer power supply had died and because it was under warranty, Dell sent us a new one. The package was supposed to be shipped to the Ellsworth City Marina where we knew we would be on a certain date. However, when the part-time harbormaster informed us (when we visited the day we had the Dysart’s truck) that packages must say to deliver to the “Harbormasters office” or they won’t get them.  This is what happened and the shipment was returned to Dell by Fed-ex.  We spent time trying to get the package re-routed to Belfast, ME where we know we will be at the end of the month. 

One of the benefits of staying in a cove or remote area is the absolute beauty of nature that we get to experience.  Sand Cove is no exception, and while here we have seen seals in the water, bald eagles in the air, and the most unusual fish who have a dorsal fin that protrudes above the water’s surface. It is almost like they are inviting the birds, seals and other predators to come find them and eat them.  It is something we have never seen before.

Tomorrow we will leave for Bar Harbor, and hope the weather and fog clear for easy cruising.

Southwest Harbor Surprises!

Perry Creek to SW Harbor

Thursday (7/15) – Southwest Harbor, (Mount Desert Island – MDI), Maine

We left Perry Creek right at 8:00, and could easily see the fog on Seal Cove.  We knew we would have it for some of today’s journey to Southwest Harbor, but we had hoped it would clear by the time we reached the Western Way Inlet so we could see the beautiful mountains on Mount Desert Island. 

Morning fog in creek

We left Seal Cove and turned east into the Fox Islands Thoroughfare and continuing through the eastern part of Penobscot Bay; all of it in thick fog with little visibility.  We entered the Deer Isle Thoroughfare and passed the town of Stonington to our left (barely visible) and Crotch Island (where there is still an active quarry) to our right. Stonington is a lobsterman’s town and there are not a lot of places for cruisers to stay. Additionally, there are stories of lobster boats intentionally causing uncomfortable wakes and scary close range passes near boats in order to discourage anchoring in the nearby coves. For this reason we have never stopped here to explore the town.

We continued our path east in fog, dodging the numerous lobster posts all over the place.  We left the Deer Isle Thoroughfare and crossed Jericho Bay, again in thick fog. Thankfully, there was also little wind and the bay was fairly flat.  On a clear day we would be able to see the northern shore of Swan’s Island (and parts of Acadia National Forrest on the island), but not today.

Finally, we passed Bass Harbor at the southern end of Mount Desert Island and rounded the corner into Western Way Inlet.  The fog had lessened a bit, but we could only see part of the beautiful mountains that make up this great place.  Several houses along the coastline (in the town of Seawall) were now visible, and fortunately, the fog was mostly gone by the time we approached the village of Southwest (SW) Harbor.  Here we had a reservation at Dysart’s Great Harbor Marina and contacted them for our slip assignment, to get fuel, and for a pump-out.

As we approached the fuel dock we were surprised to see a Fleming 55 that we knew from our 2017 and 2019 trips, but in Solomons, MD. We waved as we passed, and as we were fueling up, Mark (“Ravello”) came by with his visiting grandson to see us and to say hello.  We agreed to connect up later in the day, or definitely over the weekend as they are staying here all season.

After our fuel up, pump out and getting our boat settled into the slip, we went to check in with the dockmaster.  Mark had been in touch with the dinghy repair people and wanted to schedule the use of the marina courtesy pickup truck for early tomorrow morning. We needed to be in Ellsworth when they opened at 8:00 am, in order to give them the maximum amount of time to repair the dinghy, without causing delays in our trip.  The drive was about 45 minutes, and we would have taken it today, but the only major highway into town was closed as they were moving a house and it wouldn’t reopen in time for us to get there.  This is what life is like here in Maine.

Wanting to stretch her legs and knowing we needed milk, Denise opted to go into the village (half-mile away) to get some.  Unfortunately, she discovered the town market (Sawyer’s) was closed.  It has been sold and the new owners have not yet reopened; Covid being a contributing factor. She walked around town a bit doing reconnaissance shopping and seeing what changed since 2019, then returned to the boat empty-handed. 

Meanwhile, Mark had been on conference calls and coordinating the logistics of the dinghy repair. He was able to gain the assistance of the dockmaster and his assistant to help him get the dinghy engine off the dinghy, as well as taking the dinghy itself off the boat and hauling it up the ramp.  They then hoisted it in the pickup truck and set it up for us to take to Ellsworth in the morning.  The marina also agreed to store the engine for us while the dinghy is in repair, meaning we will have to come back to SW Harbor to get it once we get the dinghy back from the repair.

It had been a busy day and the fog came in during the late afternoon.  We were not in the mood to go out and decided to eat dinner on the boat and stay in for the rest of the night.

Friday (7/16) – Southwest Harbor (MDI), Maine

We were up early and saw how socked in with fog the entire harbor was. But that didn’t stop life on the wharf of this working marina.  There were two flatbed semi-trucks on the wharf delivering many plastic Gaylords of feed for local area fish farms. They unloaded them onto the wharf and queued them to later be loaded onto a work boat that would take them to their destination. Denise talked with one of the truck drivers and learned all about the Canadian company that owned the feed processor, the fish farms, and the distribution of this circular supply chain.

Around 7:15 am we got the Dysart’s truck and headed to Ellsworth.  In keeping with typical small-town Maine, the keys were in the truck, and (thankfully) so was our dinghy. We had an uneventful drive to Ellsworth and literally arrived as they were opening the door.  We dropped off the dinghy and Mark discussed the expected date for it to be done. We then drove to the town dock & marina, where we will be staying next weekend, and where we will retrieve the repaired dinghy. We wanted to check it out and make sure it was as advertised. Even though it was early we met one of the part-time dockmasters and were satisfied the accommodations would work.

Taking advantage of having transportation, and because we were in a big town (comparatively speaking), we went to the grocery store and stocked up on some much needed items, including milk.  The Hannaford’s grocery store here is bigger than the one in Bar Harbor and we were anxious to get a few things for the pantry.

We headed back to SW Harbor and arrived in time for low tide, just before 11:00 am.  This meant the floating docks were much lower in the water from the marina wharf, and the attached ramp was quite steep.  Mark took the dock cart full of groceries and very carefully lowered it down the ramp, all the while Denise was praying the cart didn’t get away from him and all the food ended up in the water.  Fortunately, the fear was unfounded and Captain Mark did a stellar job of getting it all to the boat without incident.

Once all the groceries were stowed, we walked through town and all the way across the harbor to Beal’s Lobster Pound for lunch. We had been craving lobster rolls and didn’t mind the pleasant mile walk. And here we got sticker shock once again.  Our two-beer and two-lobster roll lunch cost us $96 (with tip).  Yup, a full lobster dinner was only $29 but the rolls were $32.  We later were told that due to the closing of the Canadian border, the US is providing all the lobsters to both the US markets (restaurants, etc.) as well as offshore; China is the #1 recipient of these fine crustaceans.  Adding to the spike in demand is a shortage of labor to “pick” the cooked lobster meat out of the shells for the rolls, chowders, etc. and thus driving up the price for this commodity.  Ah the laws of supply and demand!

At Beals Lobster Pound
Expensive but delicious lobster rolls at Beals

We returned to the boat and figured we would finish up our Friday with doing work and other related tasks.  While we were concentrating on this activity another boater approached us and asked if we really were from Winter Park, FL.  He introduced himself as “Gator” (“Side Tracked”) and mentioned he is from Orlando. He had brought his boat in while we were at lunch, and was now side-tied on the dock behind our boat.  A quick conversation ensued and before long we learned that Gator’s younger brother (Tommy) was in Denise’s class at BMHS.  Additionally, he is a Looper and had his Great Loop impacted this year by the closed Canadian Border. What a surprise!  We chatted for a while and agreed to get together; he and his wife (Lisa) wanted to pick our brain as they were going to modify their cruising plans and wanted input on Maine and the Hudson River in NY. One thing led to another and neither of us were available for the rest of the day, so it would have to wait until Saturday.

So now here is a very funny coincidence about our boating life:  Over the last few years we have met 3 older brothers of Denise’s Bishop Moore High School classmates. Mind you, the graduating class was less than 200 people.  In 2017 we met Mark and his wife Jenay (“Ravello”) in Solomon’s, MD; the brother to classmate Jim. In 2019, we met Ken & Celeste (“God’s Grace”) at Shady Harbor Marina in NY; the brother to Captain Barry.  And now we meet Gator, and his wife Lisa; brother to Tommy.  What an incredible small world!

Early in the evening we walked into the village of SW Harbor for dinner. We wanted casual and based on a local’s recommendation we went into “Hearth & Harbor” to taste their wood fired pizza.  It was good and the ingredients were very fresh with an incredibly thin crust.  We liked it our meal and topped it off with an ice cream cone; a first in a long time.  There are some things that just taste better in Maine.

We walked back to the boat and spent the rest of the evening watching “Clarkson’s Farm”, a hilarious British series on Prime; our first streaming or watching of any tv in a very long time.

Saturday (7/17) – Southwest Harbor (MDI), Maine

For Denise, the day started with a run around SW Harbor, heading out past the town of Manset. Her route took her on the southern rim of SW Harbor before turning around and heading back towards the village, and then the marina.

Once back on the boat, and after we were done with breakfast, we took to doing routine chores, including doing some laundry (Denise) and washing the boat (Mark).  Later that morning, Denise got together with Gator and Lisa (“Side Tracked”) before they had to leave to take Lisa to the airport as she was flying home. She suggested places this Maine first-timer might want to stop, and educated them on some other benefits of the ALGCA and MTOA memberships we both shared. Then they left and Denise returned to the boat for lunch aboard.

After lunch, we spent some time deciding where we were going to go in the next few days.  Now that we are without a dinghy, we had to choose locations where we could stay at a marina, in a harbor with a launch, or be confined to the boat. For safety reasons this last option was not a real consideration.  We had been wanting to go 50 miles more Downeast to Rogue and Mistake Islands, where we had plans to overnight in 2019 on our way home from Canada, but weather kept us from that stop.  Now, it looked like we would once again miss the opportunity to head that way.  We did decide to go to Winter Harbor on the Schoodic Peninsula (not to be confused with the Winter Harbor on Vinalhaven Island), another place we had hoped to stop in 2019.  The Winter Harbor Yacht Club had a launch, so we put that down as our next destination, some 11 miles to the east.

Over the last few weeks we had been in communication with Looper friend, Herb (“Phantom”) whom we’ve known since 2019, and had drinks on his “back porch” at Croton-on-Hudson in June.  He was in Bar Harbor and wanted us to visit him.  Since the free Island Explorer bus was not running from SW Harbor and had limited routes this year (thanks to Covid), the only way to do that was to take our boat to Bar Harbor and get a slip at the town marina.  So we put that on the agenda as well, opting for additional nights.  With a tentative schedule for the next few days, we now relaxed a bit and watched all the boat activity in the marina.

Over the last two days, we saw a few large yachts come into the marina and we wanted to check them out. In the late afternoon we went for a walk around the docks. First stopping by to talk with Jenay (“Ravello”) as they had returned from their overnight adventure, but Mark was not on the boat.  We chatted with her for a while and made plans to meet up with Mark on Sunday after we returned from mass to share cruising destinations with each other.

We then went down to check out the real big boats, including the “Marie” whom we had seen in Halifax, NS in 2019. We later learned that the owner (Mr. Butts) CEO and President of HEB grocery chain owns another boat as well, a sailing yacht (“Rebecca”) which was docked just outside of SW Harbor. He also owns a Bombardier Challenger 300 private jet. You can read all about him here

Another boat observed was a large black and gray vessel that had initially docked at the end of our pier, but was now one pier over.  This yacht (“Annie S. Pierce”) was originally a fishing boat, then sold to a foreign government for military use, and most recently purchased by a single owner.  The boat has no furnishings on it and will spend the next 5 months in port getting it all outfitted for the new owners.  There currently is a crew of 5 and they are still trying to hire more. 

Both these boats are so very different from the other boats that are in the marina, which are mostly production boats by known or local boat manufactures. It is so fun to come here and see so many different types. 

By now we were hungry and it was time to eat.  Since we had not prepared anything for dinner, we went to the “Upper Deck”, a restaurant located at the top of the hill just outside of the marina.  Since we could not get a seat in the dining room we sat at the bar for dinner and ended up talking with the bar tender.  She barely had time to talk as they were short-handed.  She told us how overwhelmed with the crowds the entire staff has been this year, and can’t get help. It was no longer fun to come to work and they all looked tired on this Saturday night.  We left there and went back to the boat for the night.

Sunday (7/18) – Southwest Harbor, (MDI), Maine to Winter Harbor (Schoodic Peninsula), Maine

It had rained during the night and was forecasted to rain all day, so we had made arrangements to use the Dysart’s truck to go to 8:00 am mass. However, the truck was not at the office when we went to get it.  Fortunately, we had planned for this possibility and decided to walk to the church, even though it was a mile away, along the same road Denise had run the day before. Mark grabbed the umbrella just in case it started to rain.  We were no further than the top of the hill of the marina parking lot when Mark (“Ravello”) drove up and offered a ride to church. Since they are at SW Harbor for the whole season, they rented a car and he was kind enough to give us a lift. What a nice surprise!

We attended mass at St. Peter Catholic Church, one of 3 churches in the MDI area that offer a single mass at each site during the summer season, and the same visiting priest rotates between them; the other two are at Northeast (NE) Harbor and Winter Harbor on the Schoodic Peninsula. It’s a small community-oriented church and welcoming to the summer visitors as well.  They were finally serving coffee again in this post-pandemic period and wanted everyone to stop by after mass.  Having already had our breakfast, we passed on the coffee and since it was such it was a short distance, we started to walk back to the marina.  Five minutes later it started to sprinkle and we were thankful for the umbrella, but it was tough going on the small shoulder of the road with no sidewalk.  And then just like that, Mark (“Ravello”) appeared with his car to take us back to the marina.  He surprised us with his kindness and then apologized for his timing; he didn’t expect the mass to be so expedient and hoped to catch us right as we got out.  We were so grateful to him for this gesture and insisted he come by the boat; even though we were initially intending to leave for Winter Harbor right after mass.

Mark came by the boat and we spent about an hour going through charts, making suggestions to him about places in Maine, and he sharing places in Connecticut and Massachusetts. It was fun spending this time while also getting caught up on each other’s lives, including his brother Jim (Denise’s former classmate).  They will be returning to the Chesapeake in the fall and spend the next few years boating there again.  We said good-bye and hope to catch up with him & Jenay one more time before we leave Maine.

Here are some other pictures from SW Harbor and the area around the marina:

Downtown SW Harbor
Little Free Library in SW Harbor

After Mark left we readied the boat and left for what should have been an hour (at most) cruise to Winter Harbor.

Our path took us out of SW Harbor passing the entrance to NE Harbor and Mount Desert Island to our North, and Sutton Island to our South.  The rain held off, but it remained cloudy with a bit of fog as we slowly made our way east across Frenchmen’s Bay.  Fortunately, the waves were nothing more than swells and they were not large at all. Our course took us just south of Egg Rock Lighthouse and through a narrow channel between Spectacle Island and Turtle Island.  On an otherwise clear day this would have been beautiful cruising grounds. But with overcast sky, fog and mist in the air it was tedious, took us longer than planned, and the pictures didn’t turn out so great.

We rounded Grindstone Point and headed towards Sand Cove, where the Winter Harbor Yacht Club (WHYC) is located and here the rain really started to come down.  We made contact with WHYC to secure the location of the mooring ball we had been assigned for our two-night stay. At the same time a sailboat was also arriving and to our amazement, the young gal working at the club came out in the pouring rain and used the launch to show us both to our respective spots. We secured our boat to the mooring and told the launch driver we would check in on Monday morning. Given it was cold and rainy and would be so for the rest of the day, we had no plans to leave the warmth of our Island Office.

We spent the rest of the day reading our books and working to keep the boat dry. With all the rain we had today, a few minor leaks required some attention.  There are a few small spots around the window track on the starboard side which we have band-aided in the past. However, they are getting worse and will eventually need a bigger fix, but not before we get home from this adventure.  The other leak is coming from the mast area on the cabin top and we have fixed this one once before. But like all things on a boat, it requires constant diligence and attention to keep it all in order. In the meantime it is more of a nuisance and requires placement of towels and rags to absorb the water until the rain stops and it finally dries out.

Tomorrow we will go on an adventure into the Village in Winter Harbor, and then on to Schoodic Point.

Vinalhaven Islands!

Dolphin Marina to Hurricane Island

Tuesday (7/13) – Hurricane Island, Maine (near Vinalhaven Island)

We were hoping for clear skies today, but none were to be found, and the forecast was for rain in the afternoon.  We left Potts Harbor and the Dolphin Marina just after 8:00 am hoping we would not also hit fog, which looked possible. Our travels today would take us into the Gulf of Maine, at least until we go around Cape Small, then we would be able to take channels that ran inside between the numerous rock islands that line the coast.

We exited Potts Harbor around Haskell Island, passing Little Mark Island to our right, and Bailey’s Island to our left.  It was a fairly calm day and the biggest challenge was dodging the numerous lobster pots that were everywhere in our path.  In no time at all we rounded Small Point, and passed to the north of Sequin Island.  From there we had a direct shot through well-marked channels crossing the Sheepscot River and passing Squirrel Island to our left and the Hypocrites Islands (including Ram Island Lighthouse) to our right.  All through this area the water was tame and we continued without encountering any rain or fog.

As we approached and rounded Pemaquid Point there was less protection from barrier islands and things were more bumpy, but very tolerable.  The wind from the Gulf of Maine combined with the inflowing tide and river currents made for some short waves, but fortunately no whitecaps.

Our path was mostly a straight shot across the Muscongus Bay passing Easter Egg Rock Island.  We wanted to pass by this small rock island as this is one of only 3 islands in Maine where Puffins come to nest and hatch.  Eggs are laid in March and April, and by June and July they have hatched and the young birds are learning to fly. By Mid-August they are all gone to parts further north, but will return next spring. At one time these birds were nearly extinct here due to hunting, but with the efforts of certain Audubon groups, they once again have a thriving population.  Today we got lucky and were able to spot a whole group of these very small birds from our boat.  It took us a bunch of pictures to even get one to come out as the bumping wave action and distance from the rocks required careful navigation and challenged our basic photography skills.

Soon we were back cruising around other rock islands and had a smooth ride until we entered West Penobscot Bay.  Then things got bumpy again in the deep shipping channel, but then really calm as we approached Vinalhaven Island.  The large island mass truly was a shelter for the eastern side of the bay.

We entered the channel that took us to Hurricane Sound with White Island to our left.  Turning south we then entered the area east of Hurricane Island, where we picked up a mooring in the harbor.  Here there are several moorings that are available on a first-come, first-serve basis (FCFS).  They are courtesy of the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership (HICSL), located on the Island in what used to be an Outward Bound location.  The HICSL ask for a fee ($25) to help maintain the moorings and the fee is collected by putting the money in the jar attached to the pennant on the mooring.  It is based on the honor system, and we did our part to comply.  We had traveled 58 miles in 3 hours and we were ready for lunch.

We were anxious to get off the boat as it was getting tossed about a bit, due to wakes caused by passing lobster boats, the ferry to Vinalhaven Island, and a little bit of current. We launched the dinghy and went onto the island, signing the requisite guest book and reading the “rules” for guests.  The HICSL is conducting studies on scallops (farm raised vs. wild) and were using middle-school students in a summer camp to teach and help with some of the research. “Nate” on staff with the center shared with us about the organization and what they are doing, including the building of a future research lab where the old Outward Bound building used to be. It had just been raised last week and groundbreaking of the new facility starts next week.

Rules and paths
About HICSL research
(HICSL) Buildings

We took a trail map and headed to the south side of the island, passing tent and cabins for the HICSL.  The rocky shoreline provided a great view onto the pristine blue green waters Gulf of Maine.  Also in this part of the island there is a quarry.  This island was originally mined for its granite, and the remaining fresh water quarry it created is now the source of water for the island.  We walked up a bit (but not to the top) of the quarry before returning back to the welcome area. From there, we walked the trail north that follows the edge of Hurricane Sound and the mooring area.  If we wanted to, we could have continued walking all the way around the island (2.5 miles in total) or on inland trails that would have taken us to an overlook of the Penobscot Bay.  However, rain was coming and we didn’t want to get caught in it on slippery paths, so we headed back to the boat.

For the rest of the day we worked on the boat and prepared and published the last blog update. We were grateful that as the evening wore on, the boat traffic and wave action subsided, and things were much more settled (although not totally calm).  We were happy we had leftover clam chowder from Erica’s Seafood as that was our dinner, and it seemed to hit the spot. We just didn’t feel like cooking, and the light rain was such a deterrent that we didn’t barbeque as planned.

Usually this part of Maine is great for seeing millions of stars in the sky at night.  However, tonight’s cloud cover kept us from this, and when coupled with almost no light pollution, it was really dark when the sun set. Unable to keep our eyes on our reading, we both feel asleep very early.

Wednesday (7/14) – Perry Creek, Maine (near North Haven)

Hurricane Island to Perry Creek

A southerly wind blew through the rocks at the end of the sound and all through the night the boat rocked and rolled. The water slapping the hull was very loud and because we went to bed early, Denise woke up at 1:30, unable to get back to sleep.  At one point (probably as the incoming tide changed to ebb), she thought she was going to get seasick from the motion.  Eventually, she fell back to sleep, but woke again at 4:30, and was ready for warm coffee. It was 57° and we needed heat.  But she did not want to wake up the other boaters (or Mark) at such an early hour.  Finally, at 6:00 am she turned on the generator, put on the heat and a strong pot of coffee.

Mark too was up a bit earlier than usual, and although we were going to leave at 9:00, after breakfast we headed out to go to Perry Creek, near North Haven – another one of the islands that are part of Vinalhaven.  By 8:15 we were on our way and we didn’t have very far to go.  Our trip to this anchorage/mooring area was less than 10 miles.

We headed north through Hurricane Sound, then made our way through the narrow but well-marked channel north of Leadbetter Island (called Leadbetter Narrows).  It was here that we had a beautiful bald eagle fly right in front of our boat and up around behind us before landing on the rocky shore. We could not get the camera ready fast enough and missed the picture, but witnessed its mate join him.  It was a spectacular site in a spectacular setting.

We then entered West Penobscot Bay and in one continuous right hand turned entered the Fox Islands Thoroughfare.  From past cruises we knew the shoreline of this area to be lined with beautiful homes and lots of boats. 

We cruised past the small village of North Haven, spotting another Back Cove 37 on one of the moorings in the harbor.   We turned right into Seal Cove, rounding Hopkins Point and entered Perry Creek, a nice long and narrow creek that is lined with trees.  There are mooring here filling the cove, making anchoring next to impossible, but 4 of the moorings are free (FCFS again) with a request to make a donation to the Vinalhaven Land Trust, owner of the lands surrounding the creek.  We secured one of the free moorings and found the pristine location to be exactly what we needed. It was incredibly calm and peaceful, and the wildlife was amazing.  The only drawback was low-to-nonexistent cell phone (or internet) service.

Rain was forecasted for later in the afternoon, so we launched the dinghy and took it back to the village of North Haven.  But before going to shore, we stopped by the Back Cove we had seen when coming through the Thoroughfare.  We met Jeff (“The Dawn Treader”) and spoke with him for a while. He and his wife recently bought their 2019 model and he is still getting used to it. They are from Virginia Beach, with property and a business here in North Haven, and will be taking their boat back to VA in the fall.  We exchanged boat cards and other information, and then we headed towards shore.

Once on shore we walked through the only town gift shop, walked through an art gallery, and visited a very small market.  In the process we learned the only real market on the island is more than 4 miles away and is more accessible via Pulpit Harbor. Although we knew of this, we were hoping to pick up some milk and ice at something that might be closer to a 7-11, but alas no such establishment exists here. 

North Haven Ferry Dock

We then went to Browns Boatyard to see about maybe getting some ice, but they too did not have any.  It was here that a young boy explained his great, great, grandfather established the business in 1898, and it has been in the family ever since.  He showed us the “Wall of Shame”; a place on the outside of their boathouse of lobsterman’s tags with their license numbers.  These tags are on all the pots that allow for the return of lost lobster pots to their rightful owners. Their boathouse reminded us of Kenny Eaton’s (Eaton’s Boatyard) in Castine, and in fact they had one of Kenny’s tags on the Wall of Shame.

In Village of North Haven
Brown & Son Boathouse
“Wall of Shame”

Once we had seen all there was to see in North Haven, we got back into the dinghy and headed back to the boat.  The return trip was heading into the wind, and the waves were short and frequent.  It only took about 5 minutes, but it was a bit bumpy, until we turned into Perry Creek. Then it was peaceful and calm again.

During our trip this morning, Mark noticed the dinghy had water in the bottom, despite his bailing the remnants of recent rain water.  It appears the seam where the inflatable is attached to the aluminum bottom is once again coming apart.  We had this issue in 2018 in (we think) the same spot, so now we need to have that looked at before we take the dinghy on any long journeys.  So after lunch, and with limited cell phone service, Mark managed to make some calls to inquire where we might get this fixed.

Today we also made a decision to leave Vinalhaven a day earlier than planned to get closer to the Mount Desert Island area. We already have reservations at Southwest Harbor, but have moved that up a day so we can beat the incoming weather front (strong wind).

While writing today’s blog, we were entertained by a set of beautiful birds, who perched on the bow of the boat to do their preening.  It was fun to watch until they pooped all over the deck. Captain Mark was not too happy about that.  We also got see a seal swim around one of the empty mooring balls near us, and we watched the tide rise (some 10’) covering the ledges along the shoreline. And the fog, of course the fog appeared midafternoon and we were grateful we were not out in it.

Bird on bow of IO
House float in Perry Creek

Over the last two days we have been challenged with very low cell phone coverage and no internet, even with a hotspot.  However, the remoteness and beauty of the area is good for the soul and that is what it should be all about.  We have seen an amazing amount of spectacular wildlife including: puffins, bald eagles, small dolphins (porpoises), numerous unique bird types, and seals.  What a wonderful world!

Dolphin now Discovered!

Boston to Harpswell

Sunday (7/11) – Potts Harbor, Maine (near Harpswell)

The alarm rang early for Captain Mark, but Denise had been up earlier watching “End Game” first, then “Travail” pull away from the dock and head out of Constitution Marina.  Soon we followed them heading north, but we first stopped at Harbor Fuels in Boston harbor to top off our fuel tank.  Heading into remote parts of Maine, we didn’t want to run short of fuel in case it became harder to find and was a bit more expensive.

We left Harbor Fuels and headed out into Boston harbor. It was a quiet morning and it was very calm in the harbor. 

We were hoping that the prediction for calm seas would hold until we got to the Portland area, nearly 100 miles away.  We were not 100% sure where we would end up, but we had options in mind, including: downtown Portland, Portland Yacht Club, or all the way to the Dolphin Marina near Harpswell.  We have stayed in all these places and they are not far from each other.  But we didn’t’ want to make any final decisions until we were closer to Portland, less we encounter rough water and change our landing for the day.

We left Boston harbor and entered the Massachusetts Bay to very calm waters, and a hazy day. We had plotted a straight course first to just off of Cape Ann, outside of Gloucester and headed that way. This had us running close to the coastline and there were several boats out on the water, and many lobster pots along the way.  In what seemed like no time we were passing Marblehead and the islands that make up this area. Just outside of Gloucester we caught up to and passed “Travail” and shortly thereafter “End Game”. 

And then we came to Cape Ann, with its twin lights and rocky shoreline.  Here was where we would expect the worst of the seas, but we were pleasantly surprised that it was calm.  However, we did start to encounter many more lobster pots in this area.

We rounded Cape Ann and then plotted a course for a direct shot to Portland. Due to the curvature of the coastline, this meant for a time we were offshore about 15 – 20 miles and could not see land. We missed the beautiful but short coastline of New Hampshire and along the way the Nubble Lighthouse. However, we also encountered fewer lobster pots. Every now and then we would have a big ocean swell come our way, but for most of the way it was pretty calm and we only saw a few fishing boats.

As we got nearer to Portland we began to see the coastline and many more boats on the water.  And just before we saw the twin lighthouses at Cape Elizabeth (and the entrance to Portland Channel), we saw a whale.  It was so cool!

Once our excitement of seeing the whale died down and we knew we could make it to Potts Harbor, near Harpswell, we made a reservation at Dolphin Marina.  We have stayed here several times and love the service and the food at the restaurant.  But the best part is the blueberry muffins they bring to your boat in the morning, and serve with each entrée in the restaurant.

We made our way through Broad Sound Channel, passing Eagle Island to our right. Eagle Island is where Admiral Robert E. Peary lived after being the first man to discover the North Pole.  You can read about his story here and about this park here.

We pulled into our assigned slip and assisted by the dockhands tied up safely.  The place was hoping with lots of weekend boaters who come to eat at the restaurant, or at Erica’s, Seafood on the property.  We have never been here when it has been so busy and now realize this place has been “discovered”.

We had made our 100 mile voyage in just over 5 hours and arrived in time for lunch.  So once the boat was settled we ate on board, all the while watching the crazy boat drivers come into the marina for fuel, food and fun.  It was the last day of a holiday week that officially is the start of summer here, and everyone was in a post-Covid celebratory mood.

In the afternoon we noticed “Puffin”, a blue hulled Nordic Tug coming into the moorings, not far from our slip.  We met Peter in New Bern, NC in April, and he had helped Mark by taking him to the airport to get a rental car, and with a pump out when Denise had to fly home.  We made contact with him and his wife Kathy, and invited them for drinks on our boat, then we could go for an early dinner at the restaurant.  They took a launch into the docks and came over for a short chat before we walked up the hill to eat at the restaurant.  Because they were concerned with being done in time to make the last launch (7:00 pm) we took a “first available” option for dining.  They sat us at an outside table on the point, and the wind was not bad. But by the time the entrees were served the wind picked up and the temperature dropped.  We were freezing and hurried to finish our delicious meal in order to get out of the cold.  In our rush we forgot to take pictures.

Dinner at Dolphin Marina

During our time together, we learned more about Peter and Kathy. Although New Bern, NC is where they keep their boat, they originally are from the Gloucester area.  Peter had many occupations, including as a Sword fisherman.  They have boated all over Maine and shared with us places to go, many we have been to and a few more we did not know about.  We had a wonderful time together and look forward to our paths crossing again.

Monday (7/12) – Potts Harbor, Maine (near Harpswell)

Early in the morning it started to rain so we both slept in.  Finally around 7:00 am Denise got up and because the rain had stopped, she went for a run.  Taking the only road on the peninsula where Dolphin Marina is located, she did an out-and-back run along Basin Cove, getting caught in a slight drizzle for the last mile. It was a bit hilly, but a good training run in the end.  The view was beautiful even with overcast skies.

We spent a good bit of the morning planning out our itinerary over the next few weeks.  Doing so we read (for the 4th or 5th time) parts of the cruising book we use (“A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast” by Taft, et.al.), Active Captain (AC) and Waterway Guide (WG) reviews.  Our process is this: we think of a place to go see (or are told by others), investigate the location, and then look to see if we can get into it. If its moorings or an anchorage we look for any size restrictions or concerns, and if it’s a marina then we look for availability.  Other things we have to consider include where we can do laundry, and where we can go to church on Saturday evening or Sunday morning. This always takes more time than expected, but we now have a plan (allowing for bad weather and some delays), and enabling us to go to new destinations.  By then it was lunch time and we still had work to do, and a blog to post. However, at least the sun came out, surprising us because it was forecasted to rain all day long.

In the afternoon we had work to do for our business, and Mark spent a large amount of time with Dell trying to get a new power cord adapter for Denise’s computer, as it has suddenly stopped working.  A new one is on its way and hopefully we will be able to pick it up in Ellsworth when we are there on 7/24.

When we are on a public dock or popular marina, it is not uncommon for people to stop and look at our boat.  Many people in Maine cannot believe we have taken the boat this far and we are constantly interrupted by questions about the boat, or about our trip(s). One such couple (Mac and Dolly) stopped to talk to us, and come to find out the couple is from Oviedo FL (wife was raised in Winter Park) and now they have a summer house in Port Clyde, Maine. They had taken their boat (a Legacy – Downeast design) over to Dolphin Marina for dinner and stopped when they saw the hailing port on the back of the boat.  We talked for over an hour about the Oviedo area, Winter Park, and our mutual experiences in business (he was in banking).  Before leaving he offered us their mooring ball if and when we go to Port Clyde. Since we have it on the list of places we want to go, we most likely will look him up when there.

Once they left we went back to our work until dinner.  Denise had a late conference call, so Mark went up to Erica’s Seafood and got us lobster rolls and clam chowder (that is “lobsta” rolls and clam “chowda” – in Maine dialect); our first of the season. It was delicious and although it was overpriced (they used to be cheaper here) we loved it anyway. It was the perfect way to end our stay in Harpswell. 

“Chowda” & “Lobsta” Roll

Unfortunately, the sun did not stay out and it was too cloudy for a good sunset picture.  But here are some others of the area:

Funny roadside ornament
At Dolphin Marina
At Dolphin Marina

We have loved coming to Dolphin Marina in the past, but now we can see others have too. This time we experienced bigger boats (yachts), higher prices, less availability of services, and even facilities that need some touch up. It is not what it was 4 years ago when we were first delighted by them. We hope this is a post-Covid issue and it will change back to the way it was.

Déjà vu Boston!

Onset to Boston

Thursday (7/8) – Boston, MA

We had a weather window today to get up to Boston before the winds picked up, and trying to take advantage of the current through the Cape Cod Canal.  We left around 7:30 am and headed out onto Buzzards Bay. It was a little windy compared to yesterday, and Denise was very nervous about the conditions we would face once on the other side of the canal. The seas were forecasted at 1’ – 3’ and a northeast wind.  Every other time we have come through this way we have had near perfect weather and her anxiety for this passage was high.  Although our cruise north should only take about 2.5 to 3 hours, it can seem like an eternity when conditions bring on seasickness, or rough seas.

As expected, cruising the Cape Cod Canal was uneventful, even with the swirls of swift currents wanting to take our boat in different directions.  But with many pictures already of this area, Denise was light on the camera and only took a few shots of some uniquely spotted items along the way.

We exited the Canal and headed out onto the Cape Cod Bay on a course that would take us near the channel entrance to Plymouth, one of several bail-out locations we had identified should things get too rough.  It was quite bumpy and uncomfortable, but not so rough we couldn’t handle it.  There were periodic swells that came from the northeast, and about every 6th or 7th would be a 2-4 footer.  But the seas were a bit confused from the shifting wind direction of the prior days and in between the swells there would be a bump or two.  As we rounded the point around Plymouth Channel and the Plymouth Bay, things stayed about the same and we felt that if it didn’t get any worse we would press on with Situate as our next potential stopping point.  One thing we had going for us was that there was little true wind, so there were no whitecaps or tops of waves rolling into us.  Had this been the case it would have been miserable.

We entered the Massachusetts Bay and our course shifted slightly more northwest, making it slightly more comfortable. It also helped that what little wind we did have up until now had calmed down even more.  By the time we reached Situate we only had 10 more miles to go before turning into the south channel for Boston Harbor, and we knew we could make it all the way into Constitution Marina on the Charles River.  But it was still too rough to try and take any kind of decent pictures.

As we entered the south channel, the small barrier islands created a swirl of currents and chop and we were back to bumpy waters.  But they were short-lived and before long we were in the main shipping channel into Boston Harbor.  Captain Mark negotiated us around an anchored ship and dodged several sailing schools who were taking advantage of the wind to teach their students.  And of course under the landing planes at Logan Airport.

Most unnerving during this time we also heard on the VHF a call to the USCG for a pleasure craft taking on water, who was located just south of where we had just passed by.  The USCG launched two vessels to assist, along with a TowBoatUS vessel. As we entered downtown Boston area, the solo-captain radioed that he was able to get his bilge pumps to keep up with the inflow of water and eventually got a tow into Boston Harbor. Our hearts went out that boat owner and we kept thinking how lucky we are that there are two of us to work together should something like this ever happen to us. And then we arrived at Constitution Marina.

Our slip assignment was on one of the inner side-tie slips by the pool and marina office, requiring a tight right, then another right, then a left turn to get to it.  Captain Mark did an awesome job of navigating the tight turns and docking our Island Office without touching the boats in front and behind us.  Denise worked to secure the boat with the help of the dockmaster (Sebastien) who remembered us and welcomed us back.  And then as she turned to see the boat behind ours (stern to stern), and read the name she couldn’t believe it.  The boat “Travail” was there, as it had been behind us in 2017 when we first came to this marina. You can read about that story from our blog here.  The owner Bob was not on the boat, but was expected back to take it home to NH in a few days.  We were excited that we might be able to see him again after all this time.

“Travail”

Once the boat was settled, we ate lunch and mapped out our plan for the stay.  We had work to do, a blog to update and plans to make. But more importantly, we had to check on the weather.  The forecast called for rain to begin in the evening and Tropical Storm Elsa to hit the area on Friday. This meant we would be here for 2 nights at least. We spent the afternoon doing work for clients, and began planning our next destinations once we leave.  We had already decided we would not be stopping in Gloucester, even though we received a partial refund from on our cancellation.

Meanwhile, the threatening rain had not yet showed up and we decided to walk to the North End for dinner. We were going to go to Regina’s Pizza, but a local suggested we got to Ernesto’s instead and we agreed to try something new.  Denise was disappointed that the usual walk over the locks for the Charles River was closed to pedestrian traffic, so no “playing” of the “Charlestown Bells” along the route.  Instead we were forced back up on the North Washington Street Bridge, which was undergoing a major construction and rebuilding project.  Once at Ernesto’s we discovered a small pizzeria with limited seating, but award plaques on the wall with great reviews.  We thought the pizza was good, but the atmosphere at Regina’s is so much better and decided we prefer the pizza there too.

On the way back to the boat, we had to walk past Bova’s the bakery that is open 24 hours a day. Naturally, we had to stop and get a box of various Italian cookies; our favorite thing they sell. And as we made our way back across the North Washington Street Bridge it started to lightly sprinkle, but didn’t last long.

At Bova’s Bakery

That night we began watching the second season of “Lupin” on Netflix; a great robbery crime-drama that has English dubbed over French, but is very well done. We were so happy to finally have a good Wi-Fi system and that we could again stream a show in the evening without burning up our hotspot hours.

Friday (7/9) – Boston, MA

We woke up to the constant pitter-patter of rain and looked out on a gloomy looking day. It had started to rain during the night and continued throughout the morning, and the wind picked up, although neither were quite as strong as forecasted.  Meanwhile, the area around Cape Cod was getting pummeled by Elsa and we were so glad we were no longer there.  Again, we made the right call! 

Off and on throughout the day it was so foggy you could barely see the buildings downtown across the Charles River, let alone the tops of the taller ones.  We spent the entire day holed up on the boat, working and getting the last blog update done and pictures downloaded and cataloged.  We also spoke to family and friends, many who were concerned for our well-being (thank you!).  Additionally, the every-direction-changing wind pushed water into places that funneled into the boat.  We knew there were leaks, we just have not been able to find out where they originate. So far all we can do is use towels and catch basins to collect the water. It is a rare occurrence, but irritating nonetheless.

In the afternoon, the rains finally stopped and we had a chance to connect with Bob (“Travail”) who arrived on his boat mid-morning during the rain. We chatted for a while and made plans to get together for drinks and dinner, which we did.  Again we walked over to the North End, only this time we went to an Italian restaurant he knew of called “Limoncello”.  It was located right near Paul Revere’s house and was delicious, and yes, Mark got his usual (chicken parmigiana) and during dinner, the sun finally came out.

Afterwards we went to “Caffe Vittoria” for a cappuccino (Denise) and spumoni (Bob), as per Bob’s tradition introduced to us in 2017.  During the time together, we got caught up on each other’s lives and Bob suggested places in Maine, but most of them we had already been to, or are planning on going to this trip.

We ended the evening watching more of season 2 of the “Lupin” series and deciding that we would spend Saturday night in Boston as well.  This would allow us to be able to attend church here on Saturday evening, and allow for us to go all the way to Portland or the surrounding area on Sunday morning as the weather looked to be favorable for that.

Saturday (7/10) – Boston, MA

This morning Denise was so happy!  She was heading out for a run along her now-familiar route along the Charles River when she met up with another woman also heading out for a run.  “Nancy” did not know the area and so Denise took her down the Charles River to MIT. During the run she learned they were on a sailboat in the marina and also heading to Maine. They talked about all things running and places to go in Maine and learned a little bit about each other. Denise was elated to finally have someone to run with!

After the run, showers and breakfast, we both got down to doing some boat chores.  We had a chance to meet some of the other transients in nearby boats, including Lon and Pat (“End Game”) from Ponte Vedra, FL.  They were on a Fleming 55, hull #200 and we discussed all things boating.  They were planning to do the Down East Loop and because of Canada not reopening, they too are now headed directly to Maine. We hope to see them in the future.

“End Game”

In the afternoon we walked the quarter mile up to St. Mary’s Catholic Church for 4:00 pm mass.  It is a beautiful church and the closeness to this church is another reason we love Constitution Marina.  From there we walked another quarter mile to Whole Foods to pick up a few things for our trip.  This is our last true provisioning before Maine and we wanted to make sure we had enough fruits and veggies for a week.

We returned to the boat and talked briefly to Bob (“Travail”) and Lon & Pat (“End Game”), as we all were heading out in the morning to our respective destinations.  We then ate dinner on the boat and finished watching season 2 of “Lupin”.  Then we went to be early as we planned for an early departure (6:30 am) so we could be at Harbor Fuels when they opened at 7:00 to top off our fuel tank.  Off we will be to Maine, finally!

Old friend reunion in Onset!

Fairhaven to Onset

Monday (7/5) – Onset, MA

It was time to move on from Fairhaven, and we had a good weather day to do just that.  We would have loved to stay longer as these people were so great to us, but Maine is our goal and it was time to say good bye.  As we readied the boat to leave and eventually pull away, Pat, Anthony, Brian and Penny were there for hugs, handshakes and the wave goodbye.  The people on “C” dock were also out and about and gave us a warm send off as well.

Anthony waving goodbye

We exited the New Bedford Harbor and headed out past the hurricane wall to a nice day on Buzzards Bay. Our destination was the Village of Onset, near Cape Cod. Onset is on the mainland side and is the last harbor area before entering the Cape Cod Canal and transiting to the Cape Cod Bay.  The purpose of stopping here was to connect with Douglas, one of Mark’s long-time friends from Miami and groomsman in our wedding. His still-living parents have a summer home in Onset and many of the family members were going to be there.  When we found out he would be there as well, we knew we had to coordinate a stopover to see everyone.

The travel time to Onset was only 90 minutes and with it being a holiday, there were quite a few boats on the water.  We easily entered the channel for the Onset Harbor and made our way to Point Independent Yacht Club (PIYC) where we had a reservation.  We secured the boat, checked in with the dockmaster and attempted to make contact with Douglas.  We were a day earlier than expected so we were not surprised that it wasn’t until later that day that we actually connected; he had spent the day on the beach that surrounds this pretty harbor.

During the afternoon, the winds really picked up and the boat, which was side-tied on the outer dock was really rocking. Just to get off the boat, we walked the docks of the yacht club, meeting several of the members who were incredibly inviting and friendly to us. We talked with them for a while and they gave us suggestions of places to go and things to see. On their suggestion, we walked into the Village of Onset and went to Glen Cove Inn & Restaurant for dinner. To get there we had to cross a small bridge over the East River that leads to Broad Cove. Then in the next block stood this beautiful inn and restaurant, where we had a terrific meal. We returned back to PIYC and ended the day with a terrific sunset.

Glen Cove Hotel & Restaurant
Overlooking Broad Cove
Sunset over Onset Harbor

Tuesday, (7/6) – Onset, MA

In the morning we were able to make contact with Douglas and he invited us to come over to the house. So we walked the few blocks from the yacht club to where it was located, just one lot from the Onset Beach.  We visited with the family members there, including his mom & dad, cousin, two sons, nephews, etc.   We also had a chance to meet Sissy, who has been with Douglas for the last 10 years, but whom we had never met.  We sat around talking for a long while, getting caught up on each other’s lives and hearing about what is going on in Miami Shores, where the parents still live. It had been years since we had been able to see each other, despite several attempts when we were in the Miami area.

Sissy and Douglas wanted to see our boat, so we walked back to PIYC to give them the grand tour and snap a few pictures.

Sissy had afternoon plans with her son, daughter-in-law and grandchild, who were also visiting, but Douglas wanted to go to lunch with us. So the three of us walked into the Village of Onset for a late lunch at a place called Quahog Republic. Along the way Douglas would share stories of his adventures as a kid coming to this place, and how much fun it is to see his own sons (4 of them) participate in the same adventures.  We had a great time laughing and talking, and the food was good too. But the company and a nice cold beer was the perfect recipe for a perfect day

Douglas & Mark at Quahog Republic
Quahog Republic

After lunch we went back to the house for more visiting and meeting Sissy’s son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter.  We also learned more about this house that has been in the family since the 1950’s originally owned by Douglas’s grandfather, and now owned by his dad. Over the years, the house has been a summer gathering spot for Douglas, his siblings, and now his own kids and their cousins. It is filled with lots of traditions and history, and we learned about many of them as well as the surrounding area.

Douglas’ family home

Later in the afternoon, Douglas was kind enough to let us use his car for a quick trip to the grocery store.  Afterwards, Mark dropped Denise and the groceries at the boat, then he went back to the house for more visiting with Douglas and his family.  He stayed longer than expected, but Denise relished the “alone” time and Mark had fun with his old friend from “the hood”.  Mark returned before dinner, but since we had a late lunch we were not hungry and ended up with a light snack later in the evening instead.

We took some pictures around Onset and of the PIYC :

Onset Beach
Home in Onset with butterfly bench

Throughout the day we had been watching the weather back home and the tracking of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Elsa.  Our concern was for our home, which was not in the direct path, but we know from Hurricane Charley (2004) that things can change.  We also were watching the forecasted path for the storm and wondering when we should leave for Gloucester, MA, our next stop and where we had already made reservations for a mooring ball in the harbor. We decided to wait until the morning weather forecast to make a final decision.

Wednesday (7/7) – Onset, MA

Based on input from the locals we met in the yacht club on Monday, Denise went for a nice, but hilly run in the Onset area.  First she ran to and through a golf club community, and then through the Village of Onset and was able to capture a few sites in pictures.

In the morning, we looked at the weather and made the decision to wait one more day to leave. The weather looked good for Thursday, but we would leave early in the morning in order to catch the tide through the Cape Cod Canal.  We also had chores to do, so we immediately set out to get these done, including changing the boat’s transmission oil (Mark) and doing 2 loads of laundry (Denise) at the yacht club. We also talked with family who now reported that Elsa had a nominal impact on Central Florida, but was headed for the Carolina’s and up the eastern seaboard over the weekend.

After lunch Mark had several conference calls, and Denise went to the Village of Onset Post Office to mail a few things, arriving while they were still closed for the lunch hour.  Not wanting to waste time, she went window shopping through some of the stores in the Village until they reopened.  Once the errand was complete, she returned to the boat, passing by the town wharf that was now very crowded as the sunny day and now warmer temperatures brought many to Onset Beach.

In the afternoon, Douglas’ brother David came by with his wife Laura to see our boat.  We had last seen David in 2004 when we visited Onset by car on our way to Cape Cod.  We had a chance to talk for a while, but would not see them again as they were leaving in the morning to go back to their home in West Virginia.

Also during the afternoon a Tropical Storm Watch had been issued for the Cape Cod area and we did not like the weather forecast for Gloucester. The potential impact of Elsa had us concerned that we would be spinning on a mooring ball for 4 nights and through a tropical storm in a very large and open harbor.  We evaluated the option of staying in Onset, but we would be exposed here a bit too.  Then Denise suggested we consider going into Boston instead; we knew we would be protected at the Constitution Marina where we have stayed several times.  Mark called and confirmed they did had space and would be able to accommodate us.  He also called Gloucester harbormaster to cancel our mooring reservation, and was directed to cancel the reservation through DOCKWA, where we had made the original reservation.  We feared we would not get a refund, but agreed to deal with that later. We now had a protected area that we could ride out the storm safely.  We would still leave early in the morning and head now to Boston instead of Gloucester (10 miles shorter in distance).

Meanwhile, during the day we made plans to go to dinner with Douglas and Sissy.  In the evening we walked over to the house, and had pre-dinner drinks and more conversation with all the family.  Then Douglas drove us on to Cape Cod and the town of Catumet to eat at The Chart Room.  This is a very popular place and it was packed when we arrived, even on a weeknight. We knew in advance it would be a long wait for dinner and we were ok with that as this was a great opportunity to spend more time together before we leave in the morning.  The restaurant overlooks a marina, so we walked around the grounds, and took some pictures before our table was ready.  We had a terrific meal and a great time, staying later than we normally would.  Afterwards Douglas and Sissy dropped us at the yacht club and we said good-bye, promising to connect again soon.  We now have our eyes set on a Miami Boat Show weekend as a possible get together in February 2022, and David may even come down too.

The Chart Room Signage
At the Chart Room

It had been a great few days with these fine people and we look forward to another opportunity to get together again. PIYC is a terrific club and we really enjoyed the beauty and hospitality of the place. We just may have to stop here again on our way home.

Independence Day in Fairhaven!

Fairhaven, MA – Saturday, 7/3 and Sunday 7/4

Denise went for a nice run on Saturday morning, getting back just before the rain started again.  It was rainy all day and as a result the city cancelled the planned fireworks over the harbor, rescheduling them to Monday, July 5th.  Also the ARSBC made the decision to postpone their “Illuminations” event; this is where all the boats decorate for the Independence Day celebrations and give out awards.  We heard they were quite spectacular, but unfortunately, we were now going to miss it all.  With the notice of these cancellations, many of the boaters left on Friday night and we found it very quiet around the club on Saturday. 

We hunkered down on the boat and got caught up emails, paperwork, and calls to family and friends.  We even got some reading done and streamed a movie. Even the Canada geese disappeared and were nowhere to be found. Our only real excitement was watching Brian tow a new-to-him boat owner off the shoals at Crow Island….he obviously didn’t know that channel ran to his left near the fishing boats (and to keep the green buoys on his right). He is now a BoatUS gold member.

TowBoatUS to the rescue

On Sunday morning, we once again walked to St Joseph’s Catholic Church for mass. On the way back to the boat we were treated to some type of a short “old car” rally and parade to celebrate Independence Day.

With now clearer weather, after lunch we took the dinghy for a spin to see how the engine would work.  At first we had a few issues, but eventually Mark got it all worked out and we went on an adventure. 

First we checked out the boats at the Seaport Inn and Marina, located next door. We learned earlier in the day that Denise’s brother-in-law (JRII) has a cousin who keeps his boat there.  We found the boat (“Man Town by the Sea”) but alas, his cousin was not around. We then went over to the docks near Blue Harvest and checked out their fishing boats, including a few that were from Seaford, VA (where Denise’s brother lives).   We also cruised around Crow Island and got a close-up view of the statues and other buildings on this private island.

In the evening, despite the cooler weather, the great people on D-dock were gathering and invited us to join them.  We had a wonderful time socializing with all of them.  Anthony (“Wilco”) and his wife had decorated their boat and were anxious to talk with us about doing the Loop; they definitely want to do it.  They are also planning on coming down to FL this winter, and then jumping off to the Bahamas.  We can’t wait to see them again in our great state so we can return the hospitality.

“Wilco” all decorated

With all the bad weather now gone, we got treated to an awesome sunset and beautiful cloud formations to the east.

When it finally got too cold for us, we headed back to the boat and were discovered many of the neighboring communities were having their fireworks tonight, and we were treated to a 360 view of them all.  It was a great way to end our time in Fairhaven.

Fog to Friends in Fairhaven!

Block Island, RI to Fairhaven, MA

Fairhaven, MA – Saturday, 6/26

Timing is everything and today we were going to thread the needle between a foggy morning and a windy afternoon on Buzzards Bay. If we left too early we would have fog most of the way, and if we left too late we would have a rough time on Buzzards Bay.  We chose fog and left our anchorage at Block Island just before 9:00, on a journey that would normally take 2.5 hours.

We watched several sail boats leave and heard their Sécurité calls over the VHF as they departed the breakwater, and then they disappeared into the white abyss.  So we had no illusions about what we were going to face, and we were grateful for our experience of navigating in Maine fog; at least here there were not lobster pots all over the place to also dodge.

We spun up the radar, and left the breakwater relying on our AIS (automatic identification system) for others to see us, and our chart plotter to see others that have it.  And of course we put our good senses to the test, always looking around and listening for other boats.  Radar picks up all objects, but it is hard to discern if it is a boat, buoy or bird sometimes.  Many more recreational boats are using AIS today, and all commercial boats use it. But the small boater and some fisherman do not use it and that makes them hard to spot until we are right on top of them.  We did see two sailboats along the way, both of whom showed up on AIS and for that we were grateful as we didn’t physically see them until we came close to them as we passed.

We started out slowly, barely cruising at 10 kts.  There was little wind so the water was more of a rolling swell that was coming from the east as we headed north.  But the slow rolling of the boat made it a bit uncomfortable and after the first hour Captain Mark suggested we speed up a bit, which we did.  Denise was happy as it made for a smoother ride, even though we had to be all the more alert.

By the time we left Block Island Sound and entered the Rhode Island Sound we were doing 18 kts and had brief periods where the fog would give greater visibility, but not enough to relax.  Finally, we entered Buzzards Bay with the Elizabeth Islands to our right, and followed the western-most channel around Smith Neck to our port.  Soon we passed Ft. Rodman at Clark’s point and the fog was getting lighter; we could finally see enough to shut off radar.  We entered the Fort Phoenix Reach and followed the buoys marking the channel through the Hurricane Barrier.

This is the 3rd time we have visited this area: first in 2017 only to get fuel at Sea Fuels, and in 2019 on our way home for an overnight stay at Popes Island Marina after being in Boston.  This time we had reservations at the Acushnet River Safe Boating Club (ARSBC); our destination for the next week.  However, we first needed to get fuel and pulled into Sea Fuels to fill up our tanks.

After fueling, we crossed the New Bedford Harbor passing the Popes Island Marina and turned onto the Acushnet River and immediately in front of us was the ARSBC. Previous to our arrival we received communication assigning us to a side-tie on D dock, but there were no markings to identify which dock was D dock, and there is no one who monitors the VHF of this private club.  We pulled alongside what we thought was D dock, but later learned that we had tied to C dock.  There was another boat on what we discovered was D dock, and they were supposed to have been gone.  But we were told we were ok to stay where we were for now, but will have to move the boat sometime before the Fourth of July festivities began next weekend.

We settled the boat and were so happy to finally be out of the fog and back on “mainland” territory.  It took us 3.5 hours in tedious conditions, but we were now safe and happy to be tied to a dock.  We were greeted by one of the boat club members and given a tour of the facilities, a key to the clubhouse, internet password and other information.  We were very tired and chose to relax the rest of the day.  Mark did put some water on the boat and did a light hosing off of the salt.  But we were spent and didn’t want to do too much.

As forecasted the winds from the south picked up in the afternoon and created a chop in the harbor.  The waves slapping against the hull were quite loud, and the boat rolled a bit. We were very happy we had left BI early and didn’t have to deal with the horrible conditions we knew were now out in the Sounds.

In the afternoon we met a few locals and based on input from them, we chose Minerva’s for a take-out dinner.  It is a pizzeria located about ¼ of a mile away, but are also known for their fish n chips which we decided to give a try.  It was good, but a little too much breading for our tastes.  However, their portions were enormous and once the breading was removed, there was fresh white flakey fish that was delicious and we were happy.

Minerva’s Pizza House

There were many things we were grateful for today, of most importance was safe passage. Another was that we never encountered any big ships that normally make their way through Block Island and Road Island Sounds.  Another was that the wind kept the seas at a comfortable 1’ with some 2’ swells that were tolerable. Lastly, that the trip to Fairhaven was only 50 miles not 150!

Fairhaven, MA – Sunday, 6/27 through Friday, 7/2

This was an uneventful week from a cruising standpoint as we have not moved the boat out of Fairhaven, and will not until 7/5 or 7/6.  So here is a summary recap of our week:

On Sunday (6/27) we walked to mass and visited a new church; St. Joseph’s in Fairhaven. 

We spent most of the day working on things around the boat, and getting to know some of the locals who spend all their weekends on their boats in the summer.  The wind continued to blow quite a bit and created havoc for boaters who were returning from their weekend adventures.  The trawler in the slip across the dock from us had difficulty with the wind as they were trying to back into their slip. They were returning from a trip and, got twisted sideways, and the back of their flybridge caught the bow and anchor of our boat. Mark was not on the boat at the time and Denise was, but was below and didn’t know they were coming in until they hit us.  She immediately got out and helped them to get turned around and dock successfully.  Fortunately, there was not even a scratch on our Island Office, but their boat now has a bend in the support pole on their flybridge. Afterwards they were relieved that our boat was not damaged and told us about their awful trip across Buzzards Bay as they were returning from Martha’s Vineyard. We knew we had made the right call yesterday.

One thing we have learned over the years of cruising is that out of the generosity of other boaters comes new friendships.  On our first day we got to know Penny and Brian (“Penny Wise”) who were the most generous of all.

On Monday, (6/27) Brian was very helpful in taking Mark in his pickup truck to the service location (Rick’s Outboard) for the dinghy engine. He knows the people there and we felt confident they would do good work. Brian is one of the TowBoatUS drivers and we respect his opinion. Rick’s Outboard expected to have it back to us on Friday, as requested.

We were also offered the use of Penny’s car. The only stipulation was that we had to take her to work each morning for 7:00 am and pick her up at 4:00 each afternoon.  So on Tuesday and Wednesday we did just that and used the car for several errands. 

Our first errand was that we had to drive 20 miles north to Onset and Point Independence Yacht Club (where we are going after Fairhaven) to retrieve the motor for the shower sump pump; the package was waiting for us and we had a chance to see where we will be docking when we arrive.

Over the two days we were able to run several other errands including going to three different Walmart locations (no Chlorine tablets or oil), a grocery store, a laundromat to do some laundry, and tending to a few personal needs: Mark got a haircut and Denise a pedicure. We even found a Panera to grab lunch one day, and went to nearby Kyler’s Seafood for some fresh fish which we had on Wednesday night for dinner. Kyler’s is a local seafood processor and retailer in New Bedford and they get fresh fish, scallops, shrimp, mussels, etc. from the local fishing boats in the New Bedford-Fairhaven area.  This harbor has the largest fishing fleet in the USA and they line the shores of both of these towns.

On Thursday (7/1) morning we knew we had to move the boat to “D” dock and made plans to do so early before the forecasted afternoon thunderstorms and wind kicked in.  Meanwhile, we had learned that since this club is home to the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and is home port for the TowBoatUS boat, disabled boats are towed in here until they can be later moved for service, or get fixed.  So, when we went to move the boat we discovered a new sailboat had been pulled in overnight. However, they were smaller than the previous boat and we could still fit on the front part of D dock.

During the move we also wanted to turn the boat so now the bow would face towards the marina and land, and the stern out towards the harbor.  The main reason for doing this was that when the afternoon wind blew, the waves it kicked up would hit the stern of the boat and allow for quieter quarters and better sleep.  The other reason was to prepare for the Independence Day festivities to take place; fireworks are scheduled for Saturday 7/3 in the harbor and sitting in our cockpit we will have ring-side seats.

Finally, the rain came today to break the 90° heat that has plagued the area. It has been so hot we have had the AC running as if we were in FL. Unfortunately, the rain did not stop throughout the day, night, and into Friday.

On Friday (7/2), the rain continued all day, but didn’t hamper our efforts to get a few things done.  Mark was able to get our new D-dock friend Anthony (“Wilco”) to take him to retrieve the dinghy engine, now repaired. When they returned Brian and another boater (Pat) were on the dock and able to help Mark lift the engine and put it on the dinghy with ease.  Denise was grateful that she didn’t have to help with this particular task.

Throughout the week we worked on all kinds of other things; replacing the shower sump pump motor, work for clients, e-mails, travel plans for 2 fall trips and our itinerary for Maine.  We have also been intrigued by the activities in and around the harbor. Here are a few:

 There are several ferry boats taking passengers from New Bedford to Cape Cod destinations and they move at a good clip. However, they are nowhere near as speedy as the ferries in NYC.

New Bedford Ferries

The ARSBC is right next door to the Fairhaven public boat ramp.  This means we have had front row seats to watch the locals launch their boats to go fish, or just enjoy a day on the water.  It has been amusing to say the least, but not nearly as those we watch on YouTube’s “79th Street Ramp”. In fact, we have yet to see any real disasters occur.

Public boat launch near ARSBC

We also watched the big fishing boats coming in and out of the harbor, specifically the fleet of boats that are part of “Blue Harvest Fisheries”; a large fishing, processor and distributor located right near the marina.  They sell to the consumer (via grocery product) and wholesale to the restaurant and hospitality industries. They also have a fleet of boats in Newport News, VA. You can read more about the company here.

Fleet of boats at Blue Harvest

But the thing that has given us the most amusement is the flock of Canada geese that flutters between the boat ramp, the marina next door, and Crow Island – the private island in the middle of the harbor. The total number is close to 25, and sometimes they all travel together and sometimes they travel in 2 or 3 groups. We try to figure out why they move from one place to the next on what seems to be a whim.  Then for no reason at all, they turn around and go back to where they came back from. It really is a hoot to watch.

Canada Geese – our amusement

In addition to Kyler’s and Minerva’s we enjoyed dining one night at Elizabeth’s, a restaurant that has terrific food, and is reasonably priced, especially for the freshness and quality.  We even splurged that night and shared a piece of Orange Creamsicle Cheesecake that was delicious.

On Waters Street

During the week Denise was able to get in a few runs and walks.  For most of the week it was quite hot, reminding her of what it is like to run back in Winter Park. Along the way she shot some pictures of the area around Fairhaven, including many of the buildings that have such beautiful architectural features.  One day she ran out towards the hurricane breakwater and Fort Phoenix and the dike that provides a flood barrier from Buzzards Bay.  Another day she went out towards the western end of town near the High School and the Josh Slocum and John Cooke memorials. Here’s some pictures taken along the way.

Old Fire Department
Old Town Jail circa 1858
Fairhaven High School

The weather does not look too great for the Independence Day activities as it is forecasted to rain all weekend.  Our next post will cover what ends up happening and what we end up doing. One thing is for sure…we will be staying put in Fairhaven for a few more days.