Reflections

16 Jul

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It is just over a week now since we got home. Gypsy is reorganized for summer living onboard and we are getting ourselves organized. The trip is becoming a memory – and a good one. There were just so many facets to our first distance cruise. It was a voyage of learning and discovery in so many ways.

Shakedown…
First of all, this turned our to be our shakedown cruise – ok admittedly a rather big shakedown cruise but invaluable. We have learnt so much about the boat and its systems, about living onboard and about dealing with all the questions of moving to another unknown place each day. Having made the southbound trip, it was neat to head north, revisit some places and discover those we missed the first time past. Southbound we were in a bit of a hurry, late leaving NS, and with the lost days to Hurricane Sandy and the nor’easter. Coming north we had a bit of a deadline too, but the days were so much longer that it allowed us to do and see so much more.

Kicking back…
We travelled over 4000 NM (4600 miles) – probably at an average of 5 knots. It forced us to slow down a bit and just be. It was an education in patience for me! I chomped at the bit sometimes with the small frustrations and delays. Weather became a focus of our life – and that was a test as it is just not something you have any sway over. When you are “storm stayed” – you just stay put – and put up with the weather. I gained a huge appreciation for things we take for granted in our North American lifestyle – particularly running water and electricity – even the freedom of having a car! Overall we had so many experiences, saw so much and met some great people. We discovered a side of USA that we hadn’t known – and we totally enjoyed the small communities, the people and the fantastic scenery.

Adjusting…
Then there is the daily and sometimes more mundane aspects of the cruising life. The endless quest for wifi – hoping the next time we were in a marina they really would have wifi or alternatively, lurking in cafes (learning coffee shop etiquette). Many household “chores” like laundry, take longer than at home and eat into your time. Provisioning is constant as storage is less and stores can be a distance from the boat. Boat maintenance is always a priority and it is essential to keep up with everything or it will come back to haunt you. As the months went by both David and I got to know our boat better and better – and David now has a very close relationship with our engine! We have done improvements along the way – nothing major but small things that make systems work better, more efficiently and more reliably.

Flexible as a (cooked) noodle…
That was one of the biggest adjustments. From the work world we have dashed along at high speed, working to be efficient, multi tasking and planning. Well cruising requires a slightly different skill set. The most important was flexibility. It is great to make plans but you have to be ready to accept that Plan A often does not happen and it is Plan B or C or…. you just have to learn to go with the flow. I guess that is part of the adventure which is all about the unknown and discovery!

Home on the water…
Gypsy Mare was a star. The Cheoy Lee 41’ Offshore reputation as a seaworthy and sea kindly yacht was proven to us and she became home. All our work and upgrades were well worth it. The refrigeration, furnace, all renewed interior, dodger and bimini, new aluminum rig, new plumbing and electrical, our nav pod, dinghy (Caribe) and davits, wind generator, solar panel – all good! We had pretty much all imaginable bits of safety gear – GPirb, liferaft, ditch bag, flares, first aid kit, jacklines, harnesses and tethers and so on. The engine has had some challenges but one by one they got sorted out and the engine continues to be sound. There is some wear and tear (no surprise) so David and I both have our work lists. I have more brightwork to do and some existing maintenance varnish work. Beyond regular boat maintenance, other tasks include getting our SSB and AIS functioning properly (still not quite there), getting hot water functional and David has plans to further fine tune and paint the engine this coming winter.

Thanks for the memories…
Gypsy looks pretty good right now, sitting on our mooring at at the end of our dock. She took us many miles and let us discover and experience so much… so many memories. Thanks Gypsy!

Summer onboard…
Now for another adjustment – living onboard here at home.

I’m signing off for now…
I do have plans to do a post on our boat renovation – kind of after the fact, but a good way for me to capture some of that. For those folks interested in boat stuff, this might be interesting.
For those interested, I plan to add a list of guidebooks and charts used that we found useful and perhaps some other comments on facilities and stops along the way as well as some other notables along the way.
(Don’t miss the July 16 blog post just below this one with our final days of the trip.)
That’s all for now…

Our final days of this first Gypsy Voyage

16 Jul

Goodness!! it’s time to catch up. I can’t believe we’ve been home on our mooring for just over a week! Things have been busy and the old blog got neglected.

Guillemot

Guillemot


We left Boothbay for a short jaunt up to Tenants Harbor. It was heavy fog so Avril and I took turns watching for the lobster pots. Ocean swell combined with chop made for an uncomfortable ride but it was a short one. We picked up a mooring in Tenants Harbor at 1215 then dinghied in to explore the small community. Tenants is a great stop – laid back with a protected anchorage. Throughout the journey we have seen so many birds species and have added Guillemot and Wilson’s Storm Petrel these past few days to our “tick list”.

A Classic Friendship

A Classic Friendship


An early start at 0630 in heavy fog – back on lobster pot watch. From Tenents Harbor we went out around Vinylhaven, then Isle au Haut and on to Southwest Harbor through Western Passage. Seas were lumpy at first then smoothed out. It was another cold day – discovered lying on the floorboards over the engine warmed me up nicely! At the harbor entrance we passed two US Coast Guard training whalers – sails up, oars out and bare a** to the breezes! No kidding – there was a young fellow sitting on a chem toilet in the bow of one whaler – too funny! 1530 we reached Dysarts Great Harbor Marina and docked in Southwest Harbor. We walked to Hamilton Marine in search of warm gloves and jib sheets – thankfully got gloves.

Avril at the helm

Avril at the helm

Crossing the border

Crossing the border

Off watch

Off watch


We’d been monitoring weather on NOAA, Environment Canada and PassageWeather – and the most accurate forecaster, Sean (McDermott). We decided to leave Southwest Harbor July 2 as it looked like it might be better than the days ahead. We prepped all morning – jack lines, harnesses and life jackets, stowing below, thermos’ of hot stuff, snacks, warm gear, fuel, engine check and so on. At 1515 we set off to cross the Gulf of Maine and Bay of Fundy, an overnight passage. The first several hours we made really good time and conditions were pretty fair. Through the night it was thick fog and a few hours of topsy turvy which I found disorienting in the fog and dark. We crossed the US-CDN border at 0127 AST – yahoo!! We saw a gannet – what’s he doing this far south in July? We saw one light from a fishing boat in the night, one as we neared land who waved to us like crazy, and two as we entered harbour. The first radioed back to his buddies; “anyone leaving harbour, there is a sailboat coming in” – nice to be announced. We averaged just over 5 knots for the crossing. We called the marina and he said I have a 210′ dock with no one so I think I can squeeze you in. (Later when I asked for loonies for laundry he offered me the two guys yarning at the office door – ha!) We docked at 1215. Jane and Don met us. We had our customs visit and were cleared in. The afternoon was a bit of a haze as we each had maybe 1.5 hours sleep during the crossing. Avril left and Jane came onboard. David Arenburg was great lending us his truck, feeding us coffee and most exciting of all took me for a short flight in his nifty float plane – truly awesome!! The fog closed in before David could go up for a tour. We all slept soundly that night!

Yarmouth - Avril disembarked, Don met us, Jane embarked

Yarmouth – Avril disembarked, Don met us, Jane embarked

We left Yarmouth with the plan to get a boost from the ebbing tide to head south and round the corner at Cape Sable after the Tuskets and then get a boost from the flood tide up the other coast. Unfortunately due to slower boat speed we missed the timing and lost our 8.7 knot ride getting as low as 2.8 bucking the current for several hours. Foggy again. We didn’t make Cape Negro but got to Port Latour before dark. We saw a fog image that Jane named a “fogbow”, with pots of gold either end! Entering harbour, we emerged from the fog to a beautiful evening on land. We tied up in an empty spot on the public wharf amongst fishing boats, a great little harbor and friendly.

Leaving Port Latour at 0800, it was a short hop up to Lockeport. We set off in fog which cleared as we approached Lockeport – and the westerlies (20 knots) came up. We were tied up at the marina by 1230 with blistering sun and over 30C!! We went in search of our friends. We visited Leo and Sonja and then reached Jane and Ed who came to see our boat. The 7 of us had dinner on Jane and Ed’s deck and it was a spectacular evening – warms, sunny, good people and conversation.

Early Saturday morning (0700) we set off with plans to go to Brooklyn(Liverpool). After so many days fumbling through the fog of New England and around Yarmouth, it was wonderful to see blue skies and sun. Another glorious day – and with the kite (spinnaker) up we took off and blew by Brooklyn! We all had great fun taking turns steering with the kite up – it was one of those magical Novie days. Along the way we passed the Fraser’s on Nor’easter buddy sailing with Mike Mulrooney. We turned into LaHave River and tied up at the Bakery at 1945. To our delight John and Phyllis (Harries) were there having tea and came to greet us! Shortly after David (Himmelman) came down river for a visit. It was a gorgeous evening in LaHave.

Our last day of our voyage home… Sunday, July 7. We set off early again and again it was a gorgeous day. This time we galloped along with “jib and jigger” (jib and mizzen sails). Then we heard Al (First Light) on the VHF and had a brief radio chat with him. It was such a beautiful sailing day – so lovely and warm. En route we saw seals, some harbour porpoises and most exciting of all a big lazy sunfish lolling beside the boat! We arrived at our mooring at 1230, met by Carol and Charlie. Thane and Patti came by on Ellagator for a visit and later Carol and Charlie were back and we all swam off the boat at the dock in 22C water! What a day – simply perfection. These past two days were some of the most wonderful sailing days (and weather) of the trip – or is just that we are in NS?

Boys! - there's a sailboat coming in out of the fog!

Boys! – there’s a sailboat coming in out of the fog!

The fog!

The fog!

"fogbow"

“fogbow”

Lockeport

Lockeport

still in Lockeport

still in Lockeport

Beautiful spinnaker day

Beautiful spinnaker day

Novie coast

Novie coast

Arriving home

Arriving home

At our mooring

At our mooring

At our own dock

At our own dock

We have spent the past few days excavating boat lockers, taking off excess stuff (lots!), cleaning and reorganizing things for a summer living aboard in the Chester area. We don’t plan any big sails this summer – time to enjoy our own backyard, relax a bit, get our barn loft built and take in the best part of summer – time with friends and family.

Did you know it is foggy in heaven?

4 Jul

It’s been several days since Booth Bay. We went on to Tenants Harbor then Southwest Harbor – and I’ll tell you all about it later – both neat places. then an intersting crossing.
Just a quick note to say we are back in CANADA!!! We arrived in Yarmouth yesterday afternoon and I couldn’t seem to get on the interest, but I couldn’t find my sock either so I think it was me after about an hour and a half sleep. David Arenburg has looked after us and I took a short flight on his float plane in the fog – very cool!
Setting off today – in the fog – hoping to get to Cape Negro. WOn’t have wifi for a couple of days now.

Snug in Booth Bay

28 Jun

After our false start and brief parking in the mud, we consoled ourselves with a great coffee at *158 Cafe then tried again at 1030, successfully. It was a long cold damp day. The fog gave us as little as 1/4 mile visibility and with lobster pots everywhere, the three of us were watching for them most of the day. We had the tide against us then it turned just as we did. The wind was on our nose all day even though we altered course twice. It was just one of those days. We averaged 3.7 knots – I think we can walk that fast! We tried sails once but no joy – as we were pulling lines David sat back to get better leverage and sat in his PBJ sandwich – a belly laugh moment. Nearing Booth Bay, a blob loomed out of the fog and it was “Shearwater” an Alpine Ocean Seismic Survey vessel – it reminded me of that scene in Happy Feet. Entering Booth Bay Harbour we came across Sherman Zwicker a schooner proudly sporting dress flags, the US flag atop the (taller) aft mast and our beloved Canadian mast atop the (lower) fore mast. There are a few NS built boats here – they call them Novie boats! We picked up a mooring at Tugboat Marina at 1915 and put on the furnace to thaw out.
We’ll wait out the coming weather snug on this mooring in sheltered Booth Bay.

lovely to see!

lovely to see!

Sheman Zwicker

Sheman Zwicker

Seismic vessel

Seismic vessel

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And on up to Maine

27 Jun

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Isles of Shoals
We spent a couple of days enjoying Marblehead. It is so charming with the higgley piggley streets, wonderful old houses nestled into glorious gardens, great shops and a harbour stuffed with over 2500 boats. Next week the Marblehead Halifax race boats start to arrive. I learned from Jim that Gypsy fits in a class “plastic classic”… hmmm. Our front row seats on the Harbour Master mooring were perfect on our last night as there was had a thunder and lightning show and rain squall after a stifling hot still day of 90F.

We often seem to end up doing a slightly different cruise than planned. Instead of heading directly to NS we have decided to get a glimpse of Maine cruising so we’re off up the coast and will jump off either from Booth Bay or Northeast Harbour.

Avril says we operate a mighty fine cruise. Accommodation is good, so is the food (?) and the daily entertainment is always different and exciting. Today it was the lobster pot routine. We left Marblehead about 0730 and set off past Gloucester, around Cape Elizabeth, heading for the Isles of Shoals. Just off the Salvage Shoals, the engine suddenly made a horrible sound and David turned it off immediately. Lobster pot – and we were hooked. We got the dinghy in the water and tried to see how badly wound, David then tried to tow the boat or at least turn it as we were very close to the rocks. He even thought of going in the water – 16C!! There was a lot of current but little wind, but the lumpy seas made it extremely difficult to manouver the dinghy. We then dropped anchor to keep ourselves off the rocks. A recreational fishing boat came close to look and toasted us with their beer before they continued… c’mon! We called our buddies (Towboat US) and an hour later a boat appeared with a diver – recently moved here from Hawaii! He donned full scuba gear and spent 20 minutes with a knife getting us free, it was quite a chore. We had been still attached to the lobster pot like a second anchor and both the prop and rudder were well wrapped. We don’t fool around. We typically monitor VHF radio channel 16 and today was a busy day for USCG – a search for a missing person and then another search for a missing kayak. We continued on and about 1730 reached Isles of Shoals. The Portsmouth Yacht Club has moorings there that unofficially were available, so we picked one up then settled in for another thunder and lightning storm with rain squalls. Isles of shoals is owned by both NH and ME. There is a retreat here and we were entertained by the whoops and hollers as a stream of kids ran across the lawn and jumped off the dock. A fellow on another cruiser was playing a recorder.
We got another early start at 0600. Fog and lobster pots… we must be in Maine! It is amazing really how often we are totally alone on the water even in popular cruising areas. The only action today was dodging lobster pots and somewhat more exciting, when a lobster boat, Foxy Lady bore down on us at full speed and then pulled alongside for the fisherman to yell: “I beat Halifax in football 40 years ago!” (with a big grin). Our entire day on the water was milky calm but just as we docked at 1500 the rain and wind (20+) started – timing! We got settled in, David checked in with customs – we have also found out that they don’t require us to surrender our cruising permit or even officially clear out when we leave US waters. That seems so weird after they have been monitoring our every move since we got here.
We planned an easy start as it was to be a short hop to Booth Bay so shoved off at 0800 – and promptly got stuck in the mud (marinas never tell you the reality!). So we shimmied back to the dock to wait…

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Back in New England!

23 Jun

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Off at 0615 and we toddled down the channel of Milford River and back out into Long Island Sound. It was a romp of a day with a brisk and bracing NW wind. With jib up and just a little engine assist we tore along hitting 8.4 when the current was in synch. The only time we went faster was on our trip through New York around Hell Gate where we hit 10.4 knots – that is blitzing fast for Gypsy Mare! It was a rocking day under sunny skies as we danced back and forth over the whirling current lines.
We reached Stonington at 1500 and picked up a mooring at Dodson’s – what a progressive pro yachting facility. They also had wonderful launches. We wandered ashore and explored a little and toured the docks (always a favourite pastime for David). There were twin $1M Friendship yachts, really gorgeous. The launch driver said all his customers had been exclaiming about our Canadian flag – not so common here. The drivers wanted to hear all about our trip. It was a lovely calm evening and Gypsy gently bobbed away next to Concordia and other classy yachts.

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welcome

welcome

megayachts to all kinds here

megayachts to all kinds here

FAST hydrofoil thing!

FAST hydrofoil thing!

winch furling jib on a megayacht?

winch furling jib on a megayacht?

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calm departure Stonington

calm departure Stonington

Watch Hill buoy

Watch Hill buoy

At 0615 we were off again – to Newport. The winds and currents were not particularly helpful so it was mostly motoring. As we neared Newport the fantastic yachts began to appear. We are now seeing far more sail than power – exactly the opposite than in Florida. Today was a world of schooners, 12 Meters, beautiful mega yachts, racing machines – you name it, it is here. The sights and activity were amazing. Our mooring at just $1/ft gave us access to a dinghy dock and full facilities in the Maritime Centre, amazing. We were also moored right behind La Forza del Destino of Halifax! We spent a few hours ashore wandering and enjoyed the sits both onshore and in the mooring field. There was a really neat little hydroplaning sport boat with hydro foils like a windsurfer that lifted out of the water, looked a bit like an iceboat too. We had light winds for our sail but it piped up once we were moored to 25+ knots and held steady well past 7pm resulting in rather wet dinghy rides for us!
David called US Customs (as we are required to, every time we change position) to report in. The agent was charming and friendly with a few great comments when looking at our file “… well you’ve been everywhere… where haven’t you been?… I see you are almost back where you started with us…” They know all!

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20+knots of wind… 8 foot seas… 1 UFO! – What a Day. Ok it was pretty much saltines for me, no relaxing steering for David but great sights for us and Avril. We left Newport at 0615 and the winds and seas built as we went. The current driven waves were not easy – steering or keeping down breakfast! But we managed and made good time. Our goal was to hit the tide change at the west end of the Cape Cod Canal at 1410 and we hit it bang on. Most exciting of all was the UFO that appeared ahead of us, it really looked like one. When we got close we saw that it was Tûranor Planet Solar the solar powered vessel about 65′ wide by 100′ long. We took photos of them and they all came out to take photos of us – a mutual appreciation moment. It was really cool. Sadly we also saw a sailboat powering through the Canal with his mainsail torn and flogging – his in mast furling was jammed. We reached Sandwich and docked at the marina at 1530. The wind continued to howl but we were in calm waters. We three were very tired and conversations were rather muddled.

Jim T racing Rhodes 19

Jim T racing Rhodes 19

Still Jim racing

Still Jim racing

very cute tickitiboo tug

very cute tickitiboo tug

Gyp moored in Marblehead

Gyp moored in Marblehead

crooked buildings, crooked streets

crooked buildings, crooked streets

and wonderful flowers

and wonderful flowers

We putted out if Sandwich Marina about 0600 – too many early starts. I was a far more gentle day in the water, we all steered and took turns snoozing… great snoozes. Not much action on the water until we got to Marblehead where there were several fleets out racing, including the Rhodes 19s, which our friend Jim Taylor races. Jim had arranged for us to take the HarbourMaster’s mooring which was a stone’s throw for the town dock. We settled in and went for a walk to see what has changed in our old neighbourhood.

June 24… Monday… Still in Marblehead enjoying it all. Tomorrow we head out – either along the coast of Maine or straight across…

A Taste of Things to Come

18 Jun

Fog! The day started calm and clear but after we left Port Washington and headed up Long Island Sound we got into the fog. Minimum visibility was 1/4 mile or less, radar is lovely! We had an uneventful day – love that too! – And very peaceful in contrast to NY, NY!! We got to Milford, CT at 1500 and went back to Milford Landing where we spent the nor’easter last November on our way south. No snow this time! Milford is not actually a harbour it is a river that accommodates 5 marinas and hundreds of boats. Some boats are docked on floats anchored in the middle of the river, one boat each side. I have never seen that set up before. Off to Stonington tomorrow…

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