Our Mission: To boldly go until we are no more!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Canal Interlude

We are scheduled to transit the Gatun Locks (up to lake Gatun from the Atlantic) on January 4 around 1000 to 1300 PST. Then we spend the night anchored on Lake Gatun and go down the Miraflores locks to the Pacific on January 5 around 0500 to 0800 PST time. According to our agent yachts are no longer allowed to transit in one day unless they are 125 ft or larger. We are renting 12 plastic wrapped tires for $3 ea to supplement the 10 fenders we have aboard and our four required line handlers were easily found here in the marina from among the many cruisers coming and going.

Many of the Canal webcams are out due to lightning strikes but here are some links:

http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camara-animada.html
http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html?cam=GatunHi
http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html?cam=Gatun
http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html?cam=MirafloresHi
http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html?cam=Miraflores

Feliz Navidad prospero ano y felicidad.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Shelter Bay Marina

Touring Portobello with its historic Customs House/Museum, forts and batteries was worthwhile. We hiked up to the three levels of the San Fernando Fort Battery ruins above where Interlude was anchored for a spectacular view of the Bay. There is a morning VHF radio net on channel 72 at 0900 local where the cruisers swap info and gear. We meet a couple and their two year old (born in Kuna Yala) on a budget cruiser where the woman recently had her bursting appendix out via the Panama public heath system. She went in to get her appendix incision stitches removed while we were there and they discovered a secondary infection. We wish her well. There are private hospitals.

We are now in Shelter Bay Marina, Panama (9d22.13'N, 79d57.04'W, 16 ft) the only safe place to prepare for transiting the Canal from The Atlantic to the Pacific. The Panama Canal Yacht Club no longer exists and there is no place to land a dinghy if you are in Anchrage 'F' (the 'Flats').

The marina is very compact and fully booked even with the new 'E' dock. There are some really nice big yachts here as well as the ususal mix of cruisers and quite a few hauled out for storage or repair. Fueling is hit or miss. We attempted to fuel on the way in but the fuel boat (Panama Star) was just leaving. Propane and gasoline tanks are left in the marina office for filling within three days. Fedex sent to the marina is the best way to receive packages ie:

Yate en transito INTERLUDE
Shelter Bay Marina
30 Butner Street, FORT SHERMAN,
COLON - REPUBLIC OF PANAMA
Phone: +507-433-3581

We plan to spend the Holidays here at the marina where Chris the American executive chef running the restautant has a few parties planned. With over 130 yachts in the marina we have already run into some people we know including a guy we meet in Antigua December 2010 whose boat was wrecked at Palmerston Atoll and is now heading back into the Pacific on his replacement boat with new crew.

We are sure to make new friends as well and are hoping to meet and sign on the required four line handlers before our Canal transit on or about January 4th. Our agent says it is no longer possible to transit in one day and we will have to spend the night on Gatun Lake.

We wish everyone a happy Mayan New Year tomorrow.

Monday, December 17, 2012

In port at Portobello

Yesterday afternoon we arrived at Portobello Panama (9d33.51'N, 79d40.11'W, 50 ft) after a scenic 60 mile motorsail along the coast from the San Blas Islands. Of note were four unique to us fish farms with huge pyramidal nets up in the air near 9d42' N, 79d18'W. Another one was at the entrance to the Isla Linton anchorage. The coast is covered in lush jungle with hardly any civilization.

Portobello Bay is large and there are over 40 yachts here. We are anchored in a small indentation on the north side of the bay just off the San Fernando Fort Battery. Built in 1760 it has two levels with fourteen cannons on the lower and six on the upper.

Today we will will explore the town with the main fortifications, treasury and church with the famous Black Christ of Portobello (wooden Jesus statue with miraculous powers).

Sunday, December 16, 2012

So Long San Blas

Today, after three weeks in Panama's San Blas Islands, we begin heading for Shelter Bay Marina at the Atlantic Panama Canal entrance. We plan a stop tonight, Monday and Tuesday at historic Portobelo where in the 16th century the Spanish had a trading center and treasury to collect the gold plundered from the Americas. The fort was also much attacked by Drake, Morgan, etc. and Drake is said to have been buried at sea near Isla Drake just off the coast there.

San Blas or Kuna Yala as the indigenous people call their 'country', has been a worthwhile experience and to some a cruisers paradise. We found the many tiny islands picturesque with white sandy beaches, palm trees and surrounded by clear water when the mainland rivers are not spewing mud and debris when it rains. The coral and fish we saw in the limited snorkeling we did was OK but larger fish were rare possibly due to over fishing by Kunas and/or cruisers. There reportedly is no cigutera (neurotoxin algae) and barracuda are eaten. Biting insects can be a problem in calm weather and near mangroves. The Native American Kunas we meet were simple people living by choice on certain crowded islands near the mainland in thatch huts and getting around by sailing dugout canoes.

We made a special effort by water taxi (typical fiberglass panga style) to visit the village of Carti near the entry port of Porvenir. On one of the islands of Carti we found the Museum of Kuna Culture, Art and History and although the building and displays were quite rustic, Kuna religion, medicine, 1925 war of autonomy, handicrafts, natural history, etc. were all succinctly explained in English and Spanish ($5). The Mormon church has a prominent presence here with the best school and buildings.

The biggest industries we saw were selling handicrafts (molas) to tourists (cruise ships and yachts) and seafood (lobster, crab and octopus). They supposedly harvest coconuts for export and maybe that is why we were never able to buy any drinking nuts (taking coconuts yourself is strictly forbidden). Some Kunas are quite entrepreneurial selling mainland fruit and vegetables to your boat at anchor but the service is not regular. Our attempt at a river boat ride and hike to a waterfall at Rio Sidra was unsuccessful due to cancellation by the operator (Lisa the infamous Kuna transvestite). Mostly we encountered canoes selling molas and seafood and the occasional begging. Almost all asked us for Coca Cola (what a product) but we gave them water and used clothing.

Most of the yachts we saw here were certainly real cruisers (as opposed to charter yachts or short time mega yachts with owners flying in) although some do leave their boats at anchor or on a mooring for peroids of time in the Lemon Cays to go to Panama City or fly out. This is easily done from the West Lemons (9d32.76N, 78d53.80'W, 55 ft) by water taxi ($15 pp one way) to Carti where a 4x4 will tranport you ($?) in two hours on a muddy precipitous road to Panama City. People have also done one day shopping trips his way. Many however having in their eyes found paradise will never leave Kuna Yala. With an occasional yearly trip to Columbia to reset any permits and visas some have been here in hurricane free Panama for years and even set up restaurants, marinas, charter yachts (crewed), etc.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

San Blas

Checking into the morning radio nets (SW Carib. Net 1315 UTC 6209 USB & Panama Connection Net 1330 UTC 8107 USB, VHF 72 is cruiser hailing and standby) gave us some idea of where to start exploring. Names of boats, people and places were noted as well as what was available there.

After a day we headed for Salardup (many of the island names end in dup - it must mean island in Kuna). Here (9d30.37'N, 78d47.63W, 30 ft) we were to meet 'Lisa' who was to be our guide for a 'river tour' up the Rio Sidra. Lisa is the infamous Kuna transvestite depicted in the Eric Bauhaus Panama cruising guide. She lived down to her her reputation and did not follow thru with her promise of a guided boat tour/hike which we heard from others often happens. We did buy a very intricate mola (native needlepoint handicraft) not from Lisa but from an elderly woman in a canoe traditionally dressed with leg beads and nose ring. Molas can take a few months to complete and cost $30 to $60. Here we meet some cruisers and shared some music, food and drink. One yacht was headed for Cartegena, Columbia for an IOL (lens) transplant for the captain (half price there, not for glaucoma, just corrective). The other was a young pregnant couple who worked as mega yacht skipper and stew and now trying to balance a cruising lifestyle on their own yacht with a home in Hungary.

Our next anchorage was off the uninhabited islet of Myriadup (9d29.69'N, 78d45.30'W, 40 ft) where we launched our Hobie inflatable tandem Mirage Drive kayak. Here we pedaled around the island and then attempted an open fire cookout in the rain (ala 'Man vs. Nature') with the young couple. Kurt set up a computer program for them allowing use of their Iridium satphone for email (there is little to no cell phone connectivity here).

We moved on to the popular 'Swimming Pool' anchorage between BBQ island and Banedup in the Eastern Hollandes (9d35.36'N, 78d40.56'W, 50 ft). Here the water is the clearest in the San Blas being farthest from the mainland and all the rain runoff. Snorkling was good south of Tiadup and we saw a ray and some barracuda in the pass between BBQ and Banedup. There is a couple that have been coming to (looked like staying at) the Swiming Pool for fifteen years. They would have a potluck BBQ on BBQ island every Monday night, cleared the tiny island of all debris, set up tables and other amenities. Recently whichever Kuna village has jurisdiction has taken over control and now charges a $2 landing fee. Needless to say the cruisers are not happy and many now boycott BBQ island.

Having seen the clearest water we now moved to the reputedly most beautiful anchorage: Eastern Coco Banderas (9d30.72'N, 78d37.06W, 30 ft). Here we found a spot amongst the seven other yachts anchored in amongst the four islets and went for another kayak to meet more cruisers. Kurt was even given a new sun/swim shirt to model as a promotional for www.nozone.com We also meet our second expat Austrian in one day. It seem not only Americans get stuck here for years. They all start off with plans of circumnavigating and find this area too beautiful to leave. If only they had made it to the South Pacific...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Porvenir Panama

Three days after departing Aruba we made landfall at 1030 this morning dropping anchor off the tiny San Blas Island of Pornenir, in the province of Panama known by the local Kuna Indians as Kuna Yala (9d33.35'N, 78d56.88'W, 50 ft). Check-in was easy:

Immigration - 6 month visas $60 pp
Customs - Interlude Kuna Permit - $23
Port Captain - 6 month Interlude Panama Cruising Permit - $193

Ashore there was a small very basic hotel with restaurant and bar, air strip and a marketplace with 'museum' to give the occasional cruise ship passengers some handicrafts to buy. The ship would be bigger than the island.

On the way in to port we saw some cruising yachts anchored off other more picturesque islands and so after a quick lunch we moved a few miles to the East Lemmon Cays and joined about a dozen other yachts in the anchorage (9d33.67'N, 78d51.76'W, 20 ft). Before we had a chance to finish putting on the mainsail cover we already had purchased three lobsters ($20), and two bags of fruits and veggies ($18) from the Kuna canoes. So far only one family selling 'molas'. Molas are the local multi-layered needlepoint handicraft known worldwide for their colorful designs and detail. The Kunas are a tiny people - one size up from the Pigmies - more on them after we have been here a couple weeks.

Friday, November 23, 2012

After Aruba

Our one month 'vacation' on Aruba at the Renaissance Hotel Marina was relaxing and fun. Katie's sister and brother-in-law have a vacation home here we all had fun diving with Clive (Dive Aruba), shopping, touring and enjoying their home and the Resort.

Today we plan to leave for Kuna Yala (San Blas Islands) Panama for one month of remote cruising before spending the Holidays at the Shelter Bay Marina near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal. We plan to transit early January and make our way up the coast to cruise Costa Rica, Mexico and then be back in the San Francisco Bay Area in the spring.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Aruba Arrival

We took our time getting into port, slowing down to arrive at dawn. On final approach we turned on our new LED spreader and cockpit lights to gybe the reefed mainsail and were soon spotted and hailed by the Aruba Coast Guard. They came along side and asked us to talk on the radio but their's wasn't working. So we yelled a few answers back at them (no firearms, two persons, coming from BVI etc.) and they left us alone.

We entered Barcadera Harbor at dawn (as required now by new regulations) and  instead of tying up to a nasty concrete wharf or some slimy trading vessel we dropped the hook 100 ft off (12d28.74'N, 69d59.85'W, 35 ft) so the Captain could dinghy in for immigration and customs (right there in the harbor complex). A hour later (no fees) and we were hoisting anchor and heading for Oranjestad to inspect our new home for a month: the Renaisance Marina and Resort. Our reservation starts tomorrow and the marina staff is off today (Sunday) so we will remain anchored just outside (12d30.58'N, 70d02.11'W, 40 ft) with six other cruising yachts. We'll give a full report of the marina amenities later.

The weather fax shows two possible cyclone formation areas within the next 48 hours: One similar to where Rafael started (the storm that threatened us briefly in the BVI) and one just north of us. Looks like we got down here just in time.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Underway Day 3

With another squally night forecast and no reason to hurry into port for a night arrival, we shortened sail to stays'l and reefed main. With this combination we are still making a respectable 7 to 8 kn and can easily weather 25 to 35 kn squalls. The downpours have been spectacular though, keeping Interlude well rinsed of salt deposits.

There have been a few ships (mostly going east or west to or from the Panama Canal) and we have taken to fine tuning the radar to distinguish between hard targets and rain clouds.

Today is still overcast with scattered rainshowers and because we have been sailing without running the main engine for over 24 hrs, are now running the auxiliary generator and air conditioning (and charging batteries and making water). It is a little spooky how hot air can come out of those rainclouds and it is nice to be sealed up in our 'spaceship'.

1300 UTC position: 13d47'N, 68d39'W, course 232M, speed 7kn.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Underway Day 2

Motoring a few hours last night got us through some squally shifty rainy areas but on the whole it has been a pleasant sail in 10 to 20 knot East winds with slight to now moderate seas.

We are under full main and Genoa on a beam reach doing 8 to 10 knots. No fish yet. It is hot: 95 air & 85 water dictating frequent showering on the lido deck.

1600 UTC Position: 15d56'N, 66d43'W, course 234M, speed 10 kn. 280 nm to go!
Katie's sister and brother-in-law already have our Aruba itinerary planned with scuba diving, festivals, sight seeing, etc.
The Renaissance Marina where we have booked a slip for one month (not much cruising around Aruba) is in a resort complex which we will have full use of.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Underway Day 1

With no tropical storms forecast between the BVI and Aruba, we decided to make a run for the lower latitudes and get out of the Hurricane zone. A 'huka' dive on Interlude's bottom reveiled no surprises, only a few dings and wraps from Maine's maddening lobster pots. The 'captain' fired up our new dive compressor to top off the spent air while the 'owner' organized a few meals for the passage.

While heading out into the blue, cell phone reception from the USVI allowed us to catch up with friends and family before we go way 'down island' and incommunicado for a few days.

Sailing weather is great: beam reaching in 10-15 kn newly forming tradewinds with hardly any seas.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Peter Island with Peter

With the safe passing of T.S. Rafael to the east of us, Kurt's brother Peter and his crew on their chartered motor yacht were finally allowed to leave their charter base marina and with only one day left on their charter took a trip to Deadman Bay on Peter Island. After a morning spent aboard Interlude diagnosing some fresh water plumbing issues and replacing a pump head, we meet them there for lunch at Peter Island Resort's Deadman Bay beach bar. All seven of us all piled into their big RIB and braved a surf landing on the beach.

Although Peter Island Resort is the corporate getaway for Amway and is quite upscale in amenities, service (and price), they do welcome well behaved and dressed (at night) yachties.

We managed to extract ourselves from the bar and beach, said goodbye to our buddy boat and headed for Norman Island and the Willie T. With the wind now strong out of the SW, The Bight at Norman was a bit too rolly for us and we headed back to Soper's Hole on Tortola to prepare for our next passage.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Birth of a Hurricane

Last night the center of tropical storm Rafael passed 20 miles to the east of us (heading north to Bermuda). Most of the wind and rain was on the eastern side (40 kn) and we only saw 5-15 kn all night. The wind has backed from E yesterday to NW last night to W this morning and is forecast to go SSW soon. Gorda Sound is well protected all around and an anchorage can be found for any wind direction.

We were lucky that Rafael took a sharp right turn and left us on the side with little wind or rain. It continues to intensify and even though now moving away from us the barometer is still dropping.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Reunion & Rafael

We had a nice family reuinion afloat with Kurt's brother, nephew and the rest of the crew on their chartered 56 ft motor yacht. We hit many of the usual haunts here in the BVI but with it being early in the season many restaurants and bars were closed (opening next week).

Tropical storm Rafael now threatens the islands and we had to say an early goodbye with them being required by their charter company to go into a marina and us finding a safe anchorage.

We are anchored in Gorda Sound on Virgin Gorda (18d29.69'N, 64d21.66'W, 60 ft) and have secured for around 50 kn winds. The storm should reach us tonight with winds from the ENE going N then SSW as it passes tomorrow. Stay Tuned.



Monday, October 8, 2012

Land Jo (st Van Dyke)

We arrived at Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke at around midnight dropping the hook well outside the mooring field before moonrise in pitch blackness (18d26.36'N, 64d45.08'W, 50 ft). We had been there before many times and so knew the area well (the GPS chart plotter, RADAR and previous tracks also helped quite a bit). Inward clearance was fast and easy this morning at the police/customs/immigration building just across the path from the town jetty (to the left of Foxy's).

Surprisingly, our cheap prepay ATT cell phone worked to call Kurt's brother who was anchored with his chartered motor yacht in the next bay (White Bay). We arranged a rendezvous at Long Bay (Foxy's Taboo) for some midday cocktails and a hike to the 'Bubbly Pool' where we all had fun getting blasted off rocks by the surf and swirled around this big natural jacuzzi with 85F sea water.

Later in the afternoon we moved across to Cane Garden Bay on Tortola and anchored during a tropical downpour amidst the many empty moorings (low season). The rain augmented a much needed boat wash and we still needed to tidy up below to get ready for visitors.

We'll let those vacationers party it up ashore tonight and we will get some good sleep so we can keep up over the next week.

Passage Stats:
Distance (as the crow flies): 1427 nm
Distance (thru the water): 1392 nm
Distance (over the bottom): 1530 nm
Time: 7 days, 13 hrs (181 hrs)
Avg Speed (thru the water): 7.7 kn
Avg Speed (over the bottom): 8.5 kn
Max Speed: 15 kn
Best 24 hrs: 210 nm
Time Motored: 63 hrs
Least Wind: 3 kn
Most Wind: 25 kn
Coldest Seawater: 63F
Warmest Seawater: 86F
Fish Caught: 5 Dorado (Mahi Mahi)
Fish Taken: 3 Dorado

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Underway Day 8

We have been motoring for nearly 24 hours in light headwinds. Looks like we may not be able to lay our course sailing for the rest of the passage. In an optimistic moment we rigged the Code Zero (our biggest headsail) yesterday just to have it ready in case sailing conditions improve (and to make sure all the rigging still works).
Two more wayward canaries landed aboard yesterday afternoon but are now gone.

With constant power available from the main engine, we have done three loads of laundry and the new ice maker is working well (it likes to run longer periods of time, getting colder and making bigger ice cubes).

The captain got a haircut today, shaved and is ready for officialdom in BVI.

1200 UTC Position: 20d37'N, 64d30'W, course 199M, speed 9.0 kn, 130 MTG

We hope to make landfall at Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke, BVI tonight and clear customs Monday morning (10-8-12). Then we plan to track down Kurt's brother's charter boat for a rendezvous.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Underway Day 7

After two straight days of sailing we are now under power in light and variable conditions. There has been some rain and shifty wind all night and we may have to motor for a few hours until what is left of the tradewinds fills in. Unfortunately the wind will be from the southeast and not northeast as we had hoped for. A huge low in mid Atlantic combined with a trof to the west of us has killed the trades will bent them to be more southerly when they fill in.

1300 position: 24d04'N, 64d31'W, COG 180M, SOG 9.4 kn, MTG 315 nm
Looks like we will miss Foxy's Sunday Night Buffet BBQ but may get in some Bubbly Pool action Monday or Tuesday.

Katie's list of top five things she wants to do in the BVI:
1. Bubbly Pool, Jost Van Dyke
2. Happy Hour Pain Killers, Saba Rock
3. Drinks & Dinner on the Willie T.
4. See Eric Stone perform at Pussers, Marina Cay
5. Lobster BBQ dinner on Anegada

Friday, October 5, 2012

Underway Day 6

We caught two more Dorado yesterday and so will have some in the freezer.

The wind has been picking up all night, the waves are getting bigger and there is now convective activity (rain) all around us (no more fishing). We are still wing & wing making good progress along the rumb line to BVI.

1215 UTC Position: 27d13' N, 65d16' W, course 190M, speed 10 kn

Will need to gybe at some point after 'the owner' gets some sleep.

500 nm to go!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Underway Day 5

Fish On! Landed a nice little one eyed Dorado after having the line in the water only fifteen minutes. Our first fish since some throw-back barracuda in the Bahamas in May. Of course we hooked right after setting the whisker pole (now going wing & wing) and after setting all that sail the captain did not want to take any of it in so the owner had to reel in hard with the fish fighting the whole way.

Some minor repairs to the whisker pole car control line blocks: A three part tackle came crashing down on deck yesterday when the locknut holding the block worked loose. Now all repaired with the two portside blocks getting new locknuts.

1300 UTC Position: 30d25'N, 65d 27'W, course 191M, speed 7 kn.

For those interested in hearing us, we are checking in every day on two radio nets:
Magellan Net, 1300 UTC, 8161 USB and Southbound II 'Herb' weather net, 2030-2100 UTC, 12359 USB.

Both tropical storms Nadine and Oscar appear to be behaving themselves and staying well east of us.

BVI: 700 nm to go!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Underway Day 4

We are having a very smooth sail with only the mildest nighttime squalls getting the wind up from 11 to 15 kn and just a few flashes of lightning in the distance. We started receiving Bermuda Radio on VHF 16 120 nm away (!) and they have a notice to mariners about the Kings Cup racing in the lagoon (along with numerous buoys missing and navigation lights out).

The possible cyclone formation west of the Cape Verde Islands is forecast to go northwest and be absorbed into a huge Low in the mid Atlantic.

So at this point we are on track to bypass Bermuda and head directly for the BVI to rendezvou with Kurt's brother and crew on their bareboat charter powerboat out of Nanny Cay, Tortola.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Underway Day 3

After some motoring last night thru rain (boat wash) we are now hard on the wind heading southwest in moderate south winds. A small bird (canary?) landed aboard yesterday but did not survive the night. We passed thru the gulf stream and even though conditions were calm it still created a small bouncy chop. The water and air temps are now almost 80d. Large rafts of sargasso weed.

1200 UTC position: 36d09'N, 67d20'W, course 145dM, speed 7 kn.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Underway Day 2

We are having a good sail so far with 15-20 knot winds on the beam all night. The seas are a bit lumpy but the current is favorable at about a knot. We did shorten sail last night to 1st reef and stays'l for an easier motion but were still making nine knots thru the water. Thinking of piling on more sail this morning.
0700 local position: 38d59'N, 69d25'W, coarse 170 M.

The sea water temp has gone from 65 to 75 and we are not even in the gulf stream yet. Tropics here we come!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Underway Day 1

At 1100 hrs today we left Newport heading for Bermuda 620 nm to the southeast. We should be there in 3-4 days if we decide to stop. Otherwise we could head for the British Virgin Islands to meet Kurt's brother who is bareboat chartering there October 6-16. Or we could continue to Panama to be out of hurricane danger for the rest of the season. We will be atching the weather closely.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Newport

Our stay in Jamestown/Newport has been very pleasant with Interlude on her old mooring in Jamestown and now anchored in Brenton Cove, Newport Harbor (41d28.74'N, 71d19.74'W). Touring the mansions was the highlight and a trip to Mystic Seaport by rental car with some friends was a fun time.

We visited five of Newport's famous Gilded Age mansions. Now owned and operated as museums by The Preservation Society of Newport County these 'summer cottages' of rich industrialists (Vanderbuilt (railroad), Berwind (coal), Oelrichs (silver) etc.) are some of the most elaborate and expensive homes ever built in the US. The advent of income tax, inheritance tax, property tax, etc. rendered them unsustainable and slated for demolition. Recognizing this fate the non-profit Preservation Society was formed and many were saved (no taxes) with much of the auctioned furniture donated back to the original houses. A package deal allowed us to chose five of eight mansions for $31.50 pp. A better deal would be a yearly couples membership to the Society for $75 allowing unlimited access and further discounts on special events ( www.newportmansions.org ). We also enjoyed the Cliff Walk trail winding along the coast behind the mansion properties and leading to the new mansion district along Ocean Drive. Not as elaborate as those of the Guilded Age (a derogatory term coined by Mark Twain for the late 19th century and its conspicuous consumption) these are still quite spectacular. Continuing on across Newport Neck and past the County Club we ended our trek at Fort Adams State Park and the Museum of Yachting with its exhibit on the yacht Coronet (1880, being restored in a boatyard downtown).

Mystic Seaport is to preserving colonial maritime history what Williamsburg is to showcasing an early settlement. Many of Mystic's historical trade shops (sailmaker, mast hoop, rope, cooper, etc.) are open to the public and converted to museums. Several antique vessels are docked and open for touring and the last surviving wooden whaling ship is being restored at the cost of five million. We were a bit disappointed that the docents were not in costume like in Williamsburg and the price of admission was quite steep ($24 pp).
After taking on 226 gallons of diesel in Jamestown ($4.60/gal), we got outward customs clearance, prepared several meals and now plan to head for Panama with a stop in Bermuda if weather permits. Hurricane Nadine, mid-Atlantic near the Azores, is forecast to downgrade in a couple days but we will be keeping an eye out for further tropical developments.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cape Cod Canal


From Boston we had a nice sail back to Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod (42d02.27'N, 70d11.02'W, 55 ft) and from there staged a transit of the Cape Cod Canal the next morning saving us a day of travel in good weather and having to wait out bad conditions going around the Cape. Dreamt of by colonists, surveyed by George Washington, originally dug in 1914 and finally expanded and completed in 1940 the canal now allows commercial shipping and pleasure craft a safer, shorter trip from New York to Boston. With a tidal difference of around five feet between Cape Cod Bay and Buzzards Bay we consulted Eldrige's tide book again to ensure a favorable current (4 knots!) for our transit that day.
 
Once in Buzzards Bay we hoisted sail (no sailing allowed in the canal) and made our way to Newport RI where the Annual Newport Boat Show was in full swing. There we meet some old friends, made some new ones, scored some free tickets and enjoyed the Newport yachting scene. This included the Brockerage Show (free) featuring some enormous megayachts and walking the exhibitors tents on Sunday. Anchorage in Newport can easily be found between the Goat Island Bridge and the big bridge spanning Newport to Conanicut Islands: 41d29.81’N, 71d19.69’W,32 ft. Brenton Cove, just off the Ida Lewis Yacht Club is also an option (north of the extensive mooring field but south of the underwater cable).


Today we moved Interlude across the channel to where she was moored by her second owners off their home in Jamestown RI. Offered the use of a private dock, mooring (41d29.37'N, 71d21.69'W 15-25 ft), laundry, bicycles, wifi, etc. we couldn't refuse and will be here a week or so doing chores and touring Newport's famous mansions.



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Boston by Boat



Boston, with its high rises visible a mere 20 miles away beckoned and we found an anchorage in the harbor near the airport Hyatt. A dinghy ride across the channel and we were downtown with all the history, food and drink this old town has to offer within walking or subway distance. Some friends we meet while circumnavigating have now settled in Boston and kindly showed us around. We walked the 'Freedom Trail' featuring many historical sites from the Revolutionary War including the site of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere House and Old North Church (one if by land, etc.), Bunker Hill and 'Old Ironsides' the USS Constitution one of the first ships in the US Navy:  Visiting these historic sites gave us a renewed appreciation of the bravery, sacrifice and vision of the colonists and founders of this country.


Harvard University was a short subway ride away in Cambridge where we took a student lead tour of the oldest University campus in the US (Harvard Yard) and the environs of Harvard Square. She suggested a visit to the Harvard Museum of Natural History which has a world famous collection of over 3,000 botanically correct glass plant models (known as the Glass Flowers). A kiss under Johnston Gate is said to make sweethearts forever.


The Italian restaurants and Irish pubs in North End kept us well nourished and lubricated. Favorites include Lo Conte's Authentic Italian Cuisine, Regina's Pizza, The Sail Loft for casual drinks, and The Green Dragon Tavern for history buffs (the 'headquarters of the Revolution' where the Boston Tea Party was planned and Paul Revere got word of the British plans and  set off from on his famous ride).


We took a nice long walk thru the Boston Common, Public Garden, down Commonwealth Avenue Mall (stunning homes either side), past Fenway Park to the I.S. Gardner Museum. This palace completed in 1903 and built to house an eclectic collection of art and antiquities now sports a controversial Renzo Piano addition forming a new public entrance with performing arts center, shop and other amenities. Isabella Gardner stipulated that nothing was to be moved or altered and her bizarre juxtapositions remind us of Hearst Castle but with hoarding tendencies.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Mansions & Models in Marblehead

Marblehead boasts the largest concentration of pre-revolutionary war structures and the second oldest colonial cemetery on Old Burial Hill

Marblehead also has the Jeremiah Lee Mansion, one of the most important Georgian colonial homes in the US. Built in 1768 it has 18 furnished rooms on three floors.




Another attraction the Captain remembers reading about as a boy is Redds Pond next to the graveyard. This is where organized model yacht racing began in the US in the late 1800's and Kurt was able to catch an EC12 race and sail one of these radio controlled 12 meter scale models.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sailing to Salem

Salem is obsessed with witches and witchcraft with plenty of tourist shops and attractions taking advantage of the towns sordid past. We fell under its spell and visited the Salem Witch Museum featuring an audio-visual manikin show explaining the trials and hysteria of that time and then relating it to modern times by applying the Fear - Trigger - Reaction principle:
Witchcraft - Hysterical Girls - Innocent people imprisoned/tortured/killed
Japanese - Pearl Harbor - Internment Camps
Communism - Mc Carthy - Blacklisting
Terrorism - 9/11 - Patriot Act

We also visited the Peabody Essex Museum, an impressive facility showcasing art and culture gathered during Salem's globe circling maritime trading past. The National Park Service Salem Maritime National Historic Site shows some short films on the subject in their visitor center near Derby Wharf where the Friendship tall ship is docked.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Folk Festival Frenzy

Thursday we motored another hour back to Rockland to make preparations to visit Bangor by car for the 2012 American Folk Festival. Here we also picked up a computer dropped off a couple weeks ago for conversion to XP (Computer Solutions 207-594-5556) so it can interface with our navigation system and ordered some more boat parts.

Friday we drove 65 miles to Bangor to join the other 100,000 music fans at the Folk Festival and wandered around the fairgrounds between the four stages simultaneously featuring various acts playing Blues to Bluegrass and Salsa to Swing). We especially liked the salsa band La Excelencia who performed in the Dance Pavillion. Many of our cruising friendswere also there, some taking their boats all the way up the Penobscot river to attend.

On Sunday afternoons the Landings Restaurant in Rockland has a Reggae band and we got everyone dancing (after a few beers).

With tropical weather in full swing down south we plan to remain in this area for a while.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Windjammin' in Camden

Wednesday morning historic Camden beckoned and within an hour we were anchored in the outer harbor next to a mini cruise ship (on the edge of the designated anchorage area outside the mooring field, 44d12.52'N, 69d02.96'W, 35 ft). The town landing dinghy dock in the inner harbor is conveniently located and near the chamber of commerce info desk where they have walking tour maps and event schedules available. A waterfall cascades into the harbor nearby with ducks and cormorants instead of the usual seagulls in residence. Several old schooners now plying these waters in the tourist trade are based here. Called windjammers, we have seen them sailing all around Maine on day sails and overnight cruises. The Lewis R. French (1871), Grace Bailey (1882), Mercantile (1916) and Olad (1928) are the oldest with the Angelique (1981), Appledore (1978) and Mistress (1960) although built more recently still carrying on the sailing tradition.

The historic town center and surrounding homes are easily seen on foot and we enjoyed visiting many shops, galleries and even went to see a movie (Werner Herzog's documentary 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams') at the restored Opera House. Wafarer's Marine across the harbor is a full service boatyard including fuel dock. They are on the site of the old HM Bean shipyard where many schooners were built including the world's largest, a five-master and the first six master in 1900. Captain Hanson Crockett Gregory of Clam Cove is known for inventing the donut hole in 1847 when he poked a hole in a biscuit to allow it to be placed over one of the spokes of his ship's wheel. Although Clam Cove is actually closer to Rockland, Camden now has a Hole in the Donut Festival in June (nice of Rockland to not claim the donut fest as well as the lobster fest).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pristine Pulpit

Mount Desert Island is as far 'Downeast' as we planned to go this season and we have now backtracked with a nice sail to Pulpit Harbor on North Haven Island in Penobscot Bay (44d09.36'N, 68d53.27'W, 50 ft to avoid the inner harbor crowds). A cocktail party awaited our arrival at 1730 with the chance conjunction of a few boats summer cruise plans in the same harbor.

Pulpit Harbor with its hidden entrance guarded by a huge osprey nest on Pulpit Rock, is a beautiful and calm anchorage popular with local tall ships and cruisers alike. Ashore we found nice walking, friendly people and a well stocked general store within a ten walk from the dinghy dock (across the bridge and to the right then just past the cemetary). The walk to the left once across the bridge leads to an honesty stand selling local oysters for $10 a baker's dozen. The caterpillars were spinning huge cocoons in the trees with butterflies and wildflowers in profusion. Old wooden schooners sailed thru the narrow entrance into the small cove and dropped their anchors among the modern yachts to demonstrate for their paying passengers ample seamanship stemming from New England's deep maritime roots. Cruising friends we only knew from the morning SSB radio net arrived as part of a club rally (Ocean Cruising Club) and it was nice to put faces to names and share some sea stories in person.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Deserted Mount Desert

We are now about 15 miles north anchored at Somesville in Somes Sound, Mount Desert Island (44d21.58'N, 68d19.59'W, 40 ft). The bus system and hiking trails allow some great walks and Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor have enough pubs, people and parts to keep us civilized (Martha Stewart has a summer home in Seal Harbor).

Mount Desert Island / Acadia National Park was a great place to hike with trail heads to numerous peaks (1500 ft hills) and gravel 'carriage roads' for riding bikes everywhere. Somes Harbor at the end of Somes Sound (the only true fjord on the eastern Atlantic seaboard) was a snug peaceful harbor with a convenient dinghy dock and bus stop (walk up the private drive from the dinghy dock and flag down the number 7).

Bar Harbor is only a few minutes away and has connections from the village green to all points. Be sure to pick up a bus schedule and topo map ($5.00) at the info center near the bus stop. We recommend hiking from Sieur de Monts up Emery Path/Schiff Path to Dorr Mountain and back down via Homans Path. Cadillac Mountain although higher, can be reached by bus and so will not be as satisfying a climb. For a more level walk or bike ride go from the bus stop on the north end of Eagle Lake to the Jordan Pond House for popovers and a bus ride to wherever. The buses have bike racks.

For an excursion to Southwest Harbor, bus to the Acadia or St. Sauveur Mountain trails and walk to town after climbing the cliffs overlooking the sound. Take the footbridge over the tidal waterfall at the entrance to Norwood Cove just past the country club and golf course.

Somesville has a library, small museum, art gallery (Gallery at Frenchman's Bay, beautiful hand crafted wood furniture) and the Acadia Repertory Theatre where we saw Agatha Christie's 'And Then There Were None' (with all current PC changes). Bar Harbor is the biggest town and touristy with tall ship cruises, restaurants galore and transportation hub. Southwest Harbor is small but has the West Marine and Hamilton Marine chandleries, Hinckley and Morris Yachts and Sawyer's Specialties, a great wine and cheese shop. Northeast Harbor is suited to the ritzy homes at this end of the island. Katie bought a tatin cast iron enameled pan at a culinary shop worthy of Martha Stewart's patronage (she has a summer home in nearby Seal Harbor) while Kurt listened to a jazz quartet performing at an art exhibition.



Thursday, August 9, 2012

Swan's Sweet Songs

After a foggy day at anchor on Sunday with the Dashew's aboard for a cup of tea, we had a sunny day Monday to motor about 30 miles further Downeast thru the thick lobster pots of Merchant Row to Burnt Coat Harbor on Swan's Island (44d08.44'N, 68d26.79'W, 25 ft). Katie sat in the dinghy on the foredeck with the WH autopilot remote all day hitting the dodge buttons while Kurt navigated and made macro course corrections from the pilothouse.

We took the dinghy ashore at the lobster coop wharf and set off to secure tickets for the annual Sweet Chariot Music Festival held in the Oddfellows Hall. The General Store usually sells tickets but they were sold out for Tuesday and Wednesday and all Thursday tickets were collected and held by a local character named 'Shamis' whose last name no one knew. A kind woman named Carol drove us to the Oddfellows Lodge where some members gave us his number and we were able to secure two seats for the Thursday show. Carol gave us a tour all around the island and of her typical 1880's summer home. Of particular interest was the "Quarry Pond', a fresh water swimming hole.
 
The Sweet Chariot Music Festival on Swans Island was a hit and we were able to go Wednesday night as well. It was mostly a group of local artists and the rest from all over including LA, Bulgaria and New York performing folk music including sea chanties, celtic ballads, and original songs. Some artists even sang chanties in the afternoons from a yacht circling the anchorage.
The Quarry Pond allowed us to swim for the first time since the Bahamas two months ago. We and about a dozen locals had to share the warm clear fresh water with a flock of seagulls but they stayed on their side of a buoyed rope. Kids were jumping off rock ledges and sunning on a dock in the middle.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Gilkey Gam

Having overdosed on all things lobster at the Lobster Festival, we are now anchored ten miles north in Gilkey Harbor, Islesboro (Grindel Point, 44d16.77'N, 68d56.04'W, 35 ft) for a Seven Seas Cruising Association annual Downeast Gam. We had over sixty boats in the anchorage and everyone got together for a dinghy raft-up cocktail party Friday afternoon. On Saturday there were speakers and a huge potluck lunch. Also present were Steve and Linda Dashew the conceptual designers of Interlude and all Deerfoot yachts thru 1987 as well as Sundeer yachts. They now offer the FPB series of fuel efficient world cruising motor yachts the latest of which at 97 ft is about to begin construction in New Zealand.
The coast of Maine is now what we have imagined it to be: granite boulders with pine trees, occasional fog and lobster traps everywhere. We have almost gone about as far 'Downeast' as we planned to go (Bar Harbor) and will now slow down a bit to enjoy the area while making our way back "Upwest (?)" (the term 'down' refers to either decreasing latitude numbers or sailing downwind with the prevailing Southeast wind direction). Storms called Nor'Easters occur in the late fall thru spring which we could use to blast our way out of here and down the coast into the tropics for the winter.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Rockland Lobster Madness

We managed to sail most of the way yesterday to Rockland, ME but proptly took on 350 gallons of diesel ($3.69/gal at The Landings Marina 44d06.10'N, 69d06.27'W) We anchored outside the their mooring field (44d05.94'N, 69d05.75'W 25 ft LW) after being warned not to anchor on the foul ground near the barges.

Today we are going ashore to help consume 20,000 lb of lobster at the 65th annual Maine Lobster Festival. The Festivities over five days include numerous live bands, parade, coronation, eating contests, etc.

Some notes for future Lobsterfesters:

Their new and improved cooker can cook 200 lbs of lobster at a time so even though the chow line looks long it moves fast.

The all you can eat blueberry pankcacke breakfast is a good deal especially if you get there before they start charging the festival grounds entrance fee ($8.00).

A tour of the Navy ship is worthwhile to see what the military industrial complex is spending your money on.

There is plenty of room to anchor in the southwest corner of the harbor (but not too close to the barges which do move).

One or two days is enough.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Boothbay Birthday

Boothbay Harbor (anchored 43d50.87'N, 69d38.15'W 30 ft at LW) has many seafood eateries but our favorite was McSeagulls (14 Wharf St. at Pier 1). They have their own dinghy dock, a huge menu, full bar and best price lobster specials (even less than the bench seating, serve yourself Lobster Dock or Lobster Wharf chow houses. We caught some of the London Olympics on the big screen in the bar where they will also serve the full menu.
The Boothbay Harbor Shipyard right where we are anchored built a Deerfoot 67 in 1991-93 (Deer Dancer) and our cast aluminum ventilators are still being made at the Paul Luke Shipyard nearby.

Boothbay was a pleasant place to be on the captain's birthday but a party was brewing in Rockland downeast.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Portly in Portland

Although wakes of passing lobster boats and ferries made the anchorage a bit rough during daytime, we had a pleasant stay in Portland. The seafood was excellent either purchased at the Harbor Fish Market on Custom Wharf or in any of the many fine restaurants. We especially liked Street & Co. (33 Wharf Street, reservations required, 207-775-0887) for upscale dining, great oysters and martinis; Becky's for breakfast/lunch (390 Commecial Street) and Captain Sam's Ice Cream (136 Commercial Street). We also had fun sampling the numerous local micro brews and hard ciders widely available in all the restaurants and pubs.

The Portland Museum of Art (7 Congress Square) is one of the finest in New England with works by Monet, Degas, Renoir, Gaugin, Matisse, Picasso, Homer and Maine art by the Wyeths.

Segway Tours of Portland (25 Pearl St.) gave us a fun local history lesson and chance to try this new mode of transportation. Tours are one hour narrated plus a 20 minute lesson which is included in the price ($65/hr/pp). Segways are classed the same as electric wheelchairs and you operate as a pedestrian. Speeds are limited to eight mph.
There are good chandleries (Hamilton Marine, 100 Fore St.) and markets (Whole Foods 2 Somerset St. if the Commercial St. shops don't have what you are looking for).

Because of its destruction by Independence Day firecracker in 1866, much of Portland was rebuilt in brick. We found it ironic that the Portland Fire Department would not take our expired (1982 & 2003) signal flares and advised us to contact the Coast Guard. The Coasties told us to call the fire department. This runaround prompted us to call the State Fire Marshall who promptly got someone to pick up the hazardous items. We now have a new complement of 2015 SOLAS Catagory 1 flares as well as an arsenal of 12 gauge and 25 mm rockets. Orion even offered to replace our old Olin flare guns for free (mail in).

Portland Yacht Services will arrange for any repairs or parts but be aware that because of the rough conditions in their mooring field and alongside their dock, the buoys and floats could create more work for them (we remained at anchor just outside the moorings).

Yesterday we moved 40 miles further 'down east' to Boothbay Harbor just in time to witness what appeared to be a funerary lobster boat parade around the harbor and heard the bell toll. Not asking for whom, we thanked the anonymous fisherman for his services and hoisted a glass in his honor.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cape & Islands

After two weeks on Martha’s Vineyard and three days on Nantucket we are now anchored at Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Our plan to go to Maine to avoid the east coast summer heat and hurricanes is working so far. We also had the added benefit of exploring Martha’s Vineyard before the summer population explosion.

The explorer Bart Gosnold named the island Martha's Vineyard in 1602 after his eldest daughter and the wild grapes growing there. Great Harbour where the first white settlement was established in 1642 was renamed Edgartown to honor the new Royal heir apparent who subsequently died at the tender age of four (which explains why there are not many Edgartowns). Under the leadership of Pastor Thomas Mayhew the settlers dealt fairly with and respected the indigenous Wampanoag and there was not the typical bloodshed. This area became the global epicenter of the whaling industry which was first developed here when the Wampanoag taught the settlers how to kill and render whales. Whale oil and blubber lubed and fueled the early industrial revolution until petroleum was discovered in Pennsylvania and all the ships left on a one way trip to San Francisco hauling (18)49ers. The subsequent depression led to a halt on construction and renovation (similar to what we learned about in Charleston). Eventually discovered by summer holiday makers and preservationists, authentic Cape Cod style colonial architecture dominates throughout the islands with some structures built by whaling captains in their heyday sporting Greek Revival elements to show off their wealth. Local ordinances strictly limit architectural design choices and almost all buildings are painted white with natural or grey shingles. The seafaring tradition here is still apparent with junior sailing camps in full swing everywhere sporting Optis and 420’s. The adults are into classic Sheilds, Herreshoff 12.5s, all manner of gaff rigged catboats as well as modern racing sloops.

Our first day ashore on Martha’s Vineyard we took advantage of the excellent bus system and rode from Vineyard Haven to Edgartown to see the well preserved whaling captains homes and Old Whaling Church. Fish and chips on the Seafood Shanty’s upstairs deck offered a nice view of the hundreds of yachts in the harbor. Next door we presented ourselves to the friendly staff at the Edgartown Yacht Club who offered us reciprocal privileges. The return bus via Oak Bluffs allowed a circumambulation of the historical town center with its quaint shops and Flying Horses carousel, the oldest continually operated carousel in the States. A must see are the gingerbread cottages. In 1835 Martha’s Vineyard’s first annual Methodist Church meeting attracted more than 12,000 attendees to this site where attendees camped in tents. Over the subsequent yearly meetings family camp sites evolved into summer cottages with elaborate Victorian scroll and bead work painted in colorful and whimsical themes. Today the town is also known as a summer resort for many wealthy African Americans and depicted in the movie 'The Inkwell' (as the local beach is referred to). We were told the large power boat with helicopter anchored next to us belonged to Oprah Winefrey who frequents the area.

On day two we rented bicycles and headed for John Belushi's final resting place: Abel Hill Cemetery near Chilmark. Taking care not to make it our final destination we dodged the trucks and busses on the winding road and after some searching we found a headstone near the entrance stating: Here Lies Buried The Body of John Belushi, I may be gone but rock & roll lives on. For TV aboard ship these days we are rerunning the first five seasons of Saturday Night Live on DVD and felt compelled to honor John with the following original poem inspired by Blues Brother's lyrics inscribed on the brim of a black plastic party hat.

You forever brightened our lives
during your brief stay,
making us laugh
in your own crazy way.

Coming to us
on a dusty road,
good lovin’
you gave us a truck load.

Taking pills & cheap whiskey
to ease the pain,
the blues poured down
on you like rain.

We hope you are in heaven
with good souls near
Singin’: “Hey bartender
gimme some beer.”

Stopping at the farmer's market at Grange Hall in West Tisbury we bought two orchids from a local grower who was kind enough to deliver them to the bike rental shop. We continued on for a well deserved lunch of New England clam chowder while sitting on the rugged beach in Mememsha. This small fishing harbor was immortalized in the movie 'JAWS' as well as Edgartown (renamed Amity). That evening the local TV news reported a great white had been spotted off Chatham, a Cape Cod beach reminding us that Spielberg was quite correct in choosing this area to film Benchley’s novel set on Long Island.

On our third day of touring we biked to the orchid grower's farm to buy another orchid but only after the owner promised the captain that three was the limit. A picnic lunch by the harbor was followed by sampling some homemade ice cream at the many parlors in Oak Bluffs.

Two days of bike riding was enough for us sailors so the following day we walked around Vineyard Haven and special ordered some things including a Waterway Cruising Guide at West Marine Express. For lunch we dined at the Black Dog Pub, made famous by various celebrities wearing their T-shirts including Bill Clinton who purchased items for Monica. Black Dog also owns two tall ships which we saw taking guests for sails every day.

After five nights we moved the boat to the Edgartown outer harbor to secure a front row seat for the 4th of July fireworks. We were the first boat there but within a couple days our spot off the Chappaquiddick Beach filled up with dozens of other yachts with the same intent. With a few days to kill before the festivities, some alternative touring methods were employed: A dinghy ride to Cape Pogue Pond with kayak in tow allowed exploration further afield yet up close and personal. We hiked past wild roses on the east coast sand dunes to watch the local fisherman surf cast and kayaked Poucha Pond. A dinghy ride past the inner harbor to Katama Bay was also worthwhile to get a look at the many stately mansions along the shore. The ferry from Oak Bluffs to Falmouth on Cape Cod took us to some long time friends who spend summers at their lovely home nearby.

The Independence Day festivities started around five o’clock with a quaint small town parade, consumption of 'lobster rolls' and concluded with an hour long fireworks display from a barge a few hundred yards from the boat. With the arrival of our West Marine special order items and the demeanor of the island changing from laid back local to hurried hoards it was time to move on.

The ‘Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book’ is a must for this area due to the nature of the numerous shoals. The current charts are very accurate and after consulting it we decided on a mid morning departure for the twenty mile trip to Nantucket. With as much as three knots of current possible, variable winds and ubiquitous sand bars, our respect for the old whaling captains continued to grow. Entering the well protected harbor we found most of the anchorage area filled with moorings and turned left to drop the hook next to a big sailing yacht anchored in the navigational channel leading to the next bay. We paid the price for cheap seats however and had to put up with strong currents and wakes in the channel.

Over the next four days we visited the Whaling Museum (reopened in 2005 with a complete right whale skeleton), the Old Gaol (jail), the Old Wind Mill (1749), the Oldest House (1659) and climbed the restored First Congregational Church steeple for a bird’s eye view of the harbor. We strolled the cobblestone streets lined with the stately colonial homes of whaling merchants dating from the early 1800’s when the island had the highest per capita income in the world. With a new lease on life, the island’s residents again claim the highest per capita income on the east coast of the US. A two percent transfer tax on all property sales funds a land trust to purchase open space which is now over 50% of the land mass and ringed by white beaches and laced with hiking and biking trails. The overall result is a quaint historic town filled with upscale shops and restaurants where a 200 year old cottage in need of major repair sells for $2 million. In addition to the wealthy summer home owners, thousands of well healed twenty-something year olds swarm the streets and beaches (depending on the weather) for summertime fun.

Consulting Eldridge again, we departed Nantucket on July 10 and motored to Butler Hole, thru Pollock Rip (you can’t make names up this funny with Gay Head taking the cake) and around Cape Cod with 1-3 knots of current in our favor the whole way to Provincetown. With boat speeds up to 11 kn at times, dodging the thousands of lobster pots for hours became quite tedious. Rewarding were the numerous wildlife sightings which included dolphins, whales and seals.

We arrived in P-Town just in time for Bears Week with burley gay men from ‘sugar bears’ to ‘cubs’ milling about and filling every inn, bar, restaurant and fudge parlor in town. P-Town is known to host festival weeks catering to the LGBT community as well as having a large gay population. We had fun browsing the many art galleries and shops and were entertained by friends with summer homes there. The view from the 252 ft high Pilgrim Monument is worth the climb and the Provincetown Museum there at the Monument is also worthwhile.

We plan to be underway soon, bound for the wild Maine coast.
Cruiser Notes:
Guides: Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book, Dozier’s Waterway Guide – Northern 2012
Ferries: Vineyard Haven to Woods Hole, Hyannis to Nantucket (Steamship Authority 508-477-8600), Oak Bluffs to Falmouth (Island Queen 508-548-4800)

Martha’s Vineyard:
Bus: Ask for day or week passes for savings.
Vineyard Haven
Outer harbour anchorage: 41d27.87’N, 70d35.65’W, 15 ft HW
Free Dinghy Landing: head for beach side of harbour breakwater and continue on to first pier with floating dock.
Restrooms and trash: near pier.
Chandlery: West Marine Express

Edgartown
Outer harbor anchorage: 41d23.26’N, 70d30.05’W, 17 ft HW
Free Dinghy Landing: left side of the Edgartown Yacht Club pier all the way in (red piling floating dock)
Trash: Designated dumpster in street near the front of the EYC

Nantucket:
Anchorage: 41d17.43’N, 70d04.94’W, 25 ft on edge of buoyed channel
Free Dinghy Landing: Floating dock on Town Pier (last one on left, right side, all the way in to the beach)
Restrooms, showers and trash: near pier

Provincetown:
Anchorage: 42d02.20’N, 70d11.10’W, 60 ft (10 ft tides possible!)
Dinghy Landing: Fisherman’s Wharf (right side, call harbormaster to OK) or Flyers dock $10.00/day (near right side of USCG pier, dock on south side, all the way in to the beach. Do not lock.
Restrooms: Commercial Street near Fisherman’s Wharf
Chandlery: Land’s End Marine Supply, 337 Commercial St. 508-487-0784 or Conwell Hardware, 21 Conwell 508-487-0150 off Bradford
Propane: Days Propane, 9 Shank Painter Road 508-487-0041

Monday, June 25, 2012

Haven Interlude


We are now anchored at Vineyard Haven (41d27.87'N, 70d35.65'W, 14 ft) on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusets the largest island on the East Coast not connected to the mainland by a bridge. It includes Cappaquiddick where Ted Kennedy drive off the road killing his 'passenger' and is the summer home of many affluent New Englanders. We hope to beat these summer crowds when the population swells from 15,000 to 75,000.

Statistics from our passage:
Total miles thru the water - 650 nm
Time underway - 79 hrs
Time motoring - 43 hrs
Farthest 24 hr run over bottom 0300 6/22 to 0300 6/23 - 264 nm (with help from the Gulf Stream) 203 nm thru the water.
Top Speed Over Ground - 15 kn
No Fish Caught

Notable was the US Navy doing exercises all around us including a buzz from a helicopter at night.

Today we plan to begin exploring ashore and search for a current cruising guide.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Interlude Underway Day 3

Not sure if the East Coast heat wave is still ongoing but it sure feels cold to us. This morning we finally exited the gulf stream with the water temp going down seventeen degrees to 66F and we are now wearing clothes. Given a forecasted low with thundershowers and 20kn SW winds we are heading for the Martha's Vineyard/Nantucket area and plan to be anchored tonight. It may be fun to explore this area before the crowds arrive in July. We are still looking for a fun place to spend Independence Day (any suggestions?) with fireworks and a parade.

The local fishing fleet is out this morning as we approach Vineyard Sound prompting a bit of RADAR adjusting in the wee hours to avoid the small boats and bouys. With no moon out, even the Captain momentarily confused a rising planet under a cloud layer for a vessel. The darkness did however provide good contrast for the nutritious bioluminescance of these waters with Interlude's propwash glowing underwater behind us.

After a good sail yesterday we motored all night in the dying breeze and will most likely be under power all day to get in by nightfall.

1200 UTC position: 40d11'N, 71d13'W, 23dM, 9.5 kn, 60nm to go.

Interlude Underway Day 2

We have been making good progress with the help of 2-4 kn of Gulf Stream current. Yesterday we were in tradewind sailing conditions with the genoa poled out to port and the full main to starboard doing half wind speed. Top log goes to Katie who on her watch hit 15 kn per GPS (12 kn thru the water).

This morning some gremlins in the GPS requiring a cold start and the heading sensor (electronic compass) also needed a reboot. Maybe Interlude is still trying to find her bearings not having been this far North since Croatia.

1200 UTC position: 36d45.1N, 72d55.6W, heading 049M, 10 kn.

We took the whisker pole down this morning and are now on a nice beam reach heading for Cape Cod. The Gulf Stream is about to take right turn however so we will be losing our free ride.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Interlude Underway

This passage so far has been a motorboat ride in search of the Gulf Stream current. We did sail from 1900 to 0200 under full main and genoa in a dark and moonless night. This morning has us powering again with warships on the horizon hiding their positions without AIS transponders on.

Interlude 1000 UTC position: 33d23'N, 76d49.7'W

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Doing the Charleston

Our diversion from Cape Cod to Charlston has been much more fun than expected. Many of our new cruiser friends also made the stop (some of them their first in the USA) and some long time friends made a four hour drive from North Carolina to visit us for a couple days. With all the great restaurants in historic downtown we hardly ate aboard and touring the historical sites gave us quite a history lesson on the Civil War or as they say down here The War of Northern Agression/War of Southern Independence/War Between the States).



Although we took a ferry, it is possible to anchor off Fort Sumpter and dinghy ashore to the beach or the inside of the ferry wharf. Admission to the National Park is free and the ranger's talk was very informative.



The Charlston City Marina was very convenient and included free shuttle service to downtown, wifi, water and we were able to fuel right at our berth on the 'Mega Dock' ($3.83/gal). We also did a few more boat projects including replacing the rear main seal on the genset. We even hosted a dock party BBQ welcoming the all the foreign cruisers to America.

Last night we anchored across the channel from the marina (32d46.55'N, 79d57.15'W, 25 ft mud) to get ready to start our passage today up around Cape Hatteras and possibly Cape Cod. There may be some tropical weather brewing for the weekend and it is high time to head for more northern latitudes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Charleston Customs

This morning we entered Charleston Harbor running the gauntlet past Fort Sumpter and docked at The Charleston City Marina on their 'Megadock' (32d46.51' N, 79d56.94' W, 28 ft deep). Customs arrived within a couple hours and we and the boat are now officially back in the USA.

Any further progress up the coast toward the relatively hurricane-safe latitudes of Maine will have to wait about a week while the northeasterly winds are blowing. Meanwhile we will enjoy exploring the historic town of Charleston with its well preserved old buildings and famous restaurants.

Of course there is a list of things to fix while we are at a dock but quite a few of our Med buddies that we reconnected with in the Bahamas are here as well for some merry making.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Interlude Underway Day 2

The weather is not looking too good for our passage further North so we are headed for Charleston SC to wait for a better window. We will be crossing the Gulf Stream tonight and may have some squalls and then a front with NE winds on backside. We hope to be in Charleston by then.

1130 UTC position: 29d26' N, 77d12' W

Monday, June 11, 2012

Interlude Underway

After a relaxing time in the Bahamas (as relaxed as you can get during hurricane season), Interlude is underway again bound for somewhere along the Eastern Seaboard. We are heading for Cape Cod and on to Portland, Maine if possible but may need to pull into Delaware, New York or Rhode Island depending on the weather.

We are currently hard on the wind in fairly good conditions making good progress.

Our position at 1330 UTC is 27d15 N 75d53 W.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fun in Fernandez Bay

Wednesday afternoon we motored around Bonefish Point to Fernandez Bay where at low tide we anchored off Fernandez Bay Village Resort with its beautiful beach (24d19.16'N, 75d28.47'W, 10 ft sand). Immediately on arrival we were hailed by one of two other yachts in the small bay to come over for sundowners. The plan was to cool off by swimming over but the water temperature is now a bathwater 87F. After a few vodka tonics we got a ride back in their 20 ft, 140 hp tender which they have towed everywhere from Florida to Trinidad.

Thursday we went ashore in our Kayak to meet or new friends for lunch at the resort and helped ourselves at the 'honor bar.' Then Katie gave a kayak demo while Kurt took a ride in their 20 ft tender to 'Smith Bay' where the MV 'Who Cares?' was anchored with her tender 'So What?'

Friday we Kayaked up the estuary that connects Fernandez & Bonefish Creeks. That night we had a spectcular light show with almost constant horizontal and vertical lightning in the distance. The next morning the radio net announced some boats were damaged by lightning and hail in Nassau.

With the weather here in the Bahamas getting weirder by the day it is time to head North. Today Katie is preparing meals for our passage to the East Coast and Kurt is pulling charts and checking the weather forecast for the next few days. There appears to be an opportunity to at least get started on a trip to Maine where we can cool off and have a better chance at avoiding tropical storms.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hermit Bight

We have been very lucky with the wind direction and forecasting during our Bahamas cruise. Every time we move the prevailing easterly winds come around to an angle allowing us to have easy sails to our next anchorage. Today we had a very smooth light wind close hauled sail back to Cat Island. This time we anchored in the bight off the town of New Bight (24d16.61 N, 75d25.49 W, 10 ft (MLW+2) sand with starfish). On the VHF radio we heard the sportfishers out of Hawks Nest Marina complaning about the lack of fish and one even asked the resort to cook a frozen steak that he was bringing ashore. This made the tuna we caught the other day seem even more tasty.

The Bight has a jetty for landing the dinghy near the road that leads up to the Hermitage (30 minute walk). Also near the jetty is the town hall including police station, court and the obligatory BaTelCo antenna tower.


The Hermitage on Cat Island is a miniature Franciscan Monestary built by and for Fr. Jerome the hermit in the 1940's as his retirement home. Atop lofty Mt. Alvernia (206 ft) it overlooks the deep blue Atlantic to the East and the shallow Aquamarine of the Bahamas to the West. Complete with stations of the cross trail leading up, bell tower, chapel, kitchen, sleeping quarters, water catchment, and sun dial - all made from coral rock and concrete - it remains quite a tourist attraction with a half dozen people or so signing the guest book in the small chapel every day. Fr. Jerome lived to be 80 and is buried in a cave under structure.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Conception Conservation

We had a very nice time exploring Conception Island. Anchoring first on the east side near Booby Cay (23d50.12 N, 75.05.57 W, 18 ft sand) where there was a bit of swell which the owner did not prefer. So the next day we moved over to the west side and anchored off the mouth of the estuary (23d49.22'N, 75d07.55'W, 30 ft sand). We took our Hobie Mirage Drive kayak into the estuary at full ebb which would have been impossible without the the foot powered drives (of course we could have gotten up a little earlier and had slack water). Up the 'creek' we saw many small sea turtles, egrets, terns, small fish and one guy on a PWC who felt compelled to blast up there three times to show various guests. Of course they didn't se any wildlife and we had a very peaceful lunch floating back down stream once they had gone.

Although the diving is said to be excellent right where we were anchored on the west side we didn't feel safe given the strong currents and with only the two of us diving.

There is an SSB radio net every morning left over from all the yachts that crossed the Atlantic Dec/Jan called the Magellan Net (0900 local, 8161 USB). Some yachts went south to Panama and some like us are headed north. We are reconnecting with a few that we meet in the Med and it will be fun to eventually see friends again on US East Coast.