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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Wednesday (9/8) – Great Kills Yacht Club, Staten Island, NY
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
After our fuel stop we headed back out to the Bay, and soon afterwards we passed Plymouth Lighthouse and the town of Plymouth.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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