Starting in the chilly north

31 Oct

Frost on the dock – time to go!

We left South Shore Marine on October 21, 2012. Thane (MacDonald) joined us for our first day onboard. We were bound for Liverpool but it was not nice outside – like a washing machine and not the gentle cycle! Neither Gypsy or I were impressed! After tossing the box of screws and fittings in the air, we decided to hang a right and head into the LaHave. David and Paula (Himmelman) came out on their boat to greet us and invited us to their dock at their home in Pleasantville. We hugged Thane goodbye and settled in to wait for a weather window. I was offered a warm cozy bed ashore and have to admit I jumped at the offer! I am happy to camp and cruise and have spent time in many cold places but the idea of warmth was irresistible those nights.

Monday and Tuesday were days to begin to catch our breath and get oriented after the madness of preparing to leave. It has been sheer madness the last couple of months – packing up our home, putting our life on hold and figuring out how to manage our lives while away and all the time working long, long days on the boat at a time when every setback seemed untenable. So for a couple of days we puttered on the boat, David still doing fixit jobs and me un-stowing all the things we had thrown aboard and trying to re-stow them in a sensible fashion. (I am sure I will so that a few more times!) On Tuesday afternoon, Avril arrived with two wonderful people – our crew!  Phil Wash and Donny Williams joined us to get across the Gulf of Maine. (I hadn’t been keen on our first shakedown being a crossing with just the two of us – particularly as I am prone to hanging off the rail!) I waved good-bye to Avril from the top of the mast. – Thank you for everything David and Paula.

At 0630 we  cast off and headed out under the last of the starlit night sky. It was Wednesday and the winds were NW 15-20 and we sailed all day and through the night. We left NS at Cape Sable Island around sundown. Overnight David reported shooting stars and a school of harbour porpoises who visited the boat for a bit. The seas were 2-4 ft and it was sunny and crisp. Thursday the winds and seas lightened and the sun still shone. We saw gannets, a couple of fin whales, more porpoises and had a lengthy visit from a pudgy little pinky red bird, later identified as an adult male white winged cross-bill (Simon says!). Thursday at sundown, we were roughly in the middle of the Gulf – and conditions lightened further so the engine was back on assisting by this time. Friday morning we sighted land about first light and the seas were pretty smooth and the winds light. All through the passage, Phil tinkered on various issues – after all, this is the shakedown cruise!! It was great to get some issues resolved and David is never happier than when messing around in boats – and with like minded company to boot! We thought we had conquered the DC electrical panel gremlin but no. We called US Customs and they were great – at the end of the call they said “the most important question is what plans are you making for this storm?” We were instructed to go to Onset to clear in. Officer Enis came down – she was great and all went well and we were issued our US Cruising  Permit – not even a criticism of my makeshift Q-flag (yellow tape over an Arrowroot cookie box)! Donny soon set off for Boston as he had an early flight home in the morning – thank you Donny, it was great to sail with you… now I have done a passage with you and Gill! Phil stayed on with us overnight and the next day as we sailed to Marion.

Ted Brainard had recommended Marion as a good hurricane hole and arranged for us to use the CCA mooring there. We tied up and went ashore in search of a new solonoid as we thought that might be the problem. As we stepped ashore, a fellow welcomed us and offered help and a car, etc. – it turned out his father did a double handed trans Atlantic with Ted! We also got a new (old style) bulb for our masthead tri-light. We had bought a fancy and very expensive LED tri-light bulb at home but into the first night realized that it was backwards shining red light through the green glass and vice-versa – we must have looked very odd to the others out there. Phil got the solonoid figured out and we now had a fully functioning oven. Around 5 Phil left us to join his friend Jo off to Newport where they were to set off on a Swan for Tortolla (after Sandy blew through) – thank you Phil! Larry Hall (CCA) came by to offer any help. Ed van Kueen (proposed CCA) came by to say hi – he has a sister ship to ours and did a single handed circumnavigation on her – in fact the boat has done 2! Gordie Goodwin (CCA) and his daughter, Wendy organized the mooring and privileges at the Beverly Yacht Club, the manager there was most kind. (Beverly is actually northwest of Marblehead. The sailors there decided they wanted better sailing conditions and so this yacht club was formed!).

Sunday morning Ted came to take us to breakfast and on a tour of Marion – what a lovely community. David and I spent the afternoon battening down – we moved to another mooring for a 70′ boat and more in the lee, took off the bimini and jib, Larry and Dan helped set out our Rocna as a storm anchor, added chafing gear, stowed everything below and lashed everything on deck – if David didn’t keep moving he would get lashed down too! The Harbour Master had said we could NOT stay onboard. So all prep done we went ashore. While waiting at the town dock another couple stopped to see if we were all right and offered to take us home! Ted and Liz picked us up at 5 and we spent the next couple of days enjoying their good company and kind hospitality. Larry also called with boat reports as his was close to Gypsy and he also took our inflatable to a storage shed along with his in case of a bad storm surge. Monday Sandy brewed all day with the peak winds (68 knots) around 1600 and peak tide (and full moon storm surge) at 2000. it was like a pause in time this 36 hours of the storm – time to chat, email, read and so on… another reprieve. We made trips to the Bascons lawn just off Gypsy Mare on the shore to check on her and she was riding like a duck.

Tuesday morning it was all over in Marion – and Marion (and Gypsy) fared well. We went to West Marine in the morning for a few bits then back to the boat to check on her. Onboard, all we could find was that the cookies had moved across the counter about 2 feet! We began to unlash things. Larry and Dan helped unwind our Rocna chain which had hopped under the mooring to cause a bit of a twist. The Rocna held like… a rock! We went ashore on a couple of errands, shared a thank you Scotch with Larry and Dan and then met with the Brainard’s to take them to dinner. Many, many thanks to Ted and Liz – we really enjoyed the time spent with them.

Wednesday we left Marion early, then nipped back in to hoist the inflatable on deck and set off again. After an hour or so of battling the leftover seas with the wind on the nose and making slow progress of about 2 knots, we decided we wouldn’t make Cuttyhunk or Newport that day so turned back to wait for the wind shift overnight. Back to Marion again for one more night and we set off early Thursday for Newport. Still rollicking and slow so adjusted course and bounced in to Cuttyhunk.

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