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

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.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Major Black Cat

It is now 'officially' hurricane season and we have already had two tropical storms here in the West Atlantic and a couple in the Pacific as well - all before what the NHC predicted would be a benign season. We are watching the weather closely and because of our late start on the cruising season (due to the refit) will not be heading South to Panama and the Pacific but North to New England. The Bahamas have been quite nice so far (but shallow).

We have been snorkeling, diving, spelunking in the many sea caves, fishing, entertaining and being entertained by other cruisers, fixing little things on our and other's boats, bonfires on the beach, guitar sessions, etc.

Now having sashimi from the tuna caught on today's leisurely sail from Black Point (24d06.12 N, 76d24.12 W 8 ft! sand) out Dotham Cut (3kn current) to Hawks Nest Point, Cat Island (24d09.52 N, 75d31.34 W 10 ft sand) just off the resort with three other yachts. Tomorrow we plan to continue on to Conception Island which is uninhabited and is said to be quite pristine.