Back in Maine

Well it took us twelve days to cruise from St Peters to Southwest Harbor, Maine. Leaving Bras d’Or Lake the same way we arrived we transitted the St Peters lock/canal on a beautiful day and followed a sloop on thru. Since the weather was cooperating we decided to make it a long day. So eleven hours later we inched into a very small anchorage behind Tuffin Island. Desolate and beautiful Tuffin Island is one of those anchorages you want to do in settled weather. It’s tight and narrow with a rocky coastline. The evening was perfect.

Leaving the lake thru St Peters lock

Leaving the lake thru St Peters lock

Smooth seas

Smooth seas

Gotta love autopilot

Gotta love autopilot

Tuffin Island

Tuffin Island

We awoke to nasty weather. It had been forecast but the change in wind made this anchorage untenable. We knew a protected anchorage lay four hours west so we weighed anchor at 7:30 and left. While it was the right decision to leave this particular anchorage the seas we encountered were the worst in our nearly four years cruising. The wind was a consistent 20 knots but the waves were steep and nasty. I did not want to tax the autopilot and hand-steered the entire way. Four hours standing at the wheel is tiring and we were glad to drop the hook at Tangier Cove and regroup. We ended up staying two nights as the weather did not abate. But on the second morning things looked promising and we pulled out. It was to be another long day but when we pulled into Cub Basin eight hours later we knew we had chosen the perfect spot.

Cub Basin

Cub Basin

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A trip to Nova Scotia isn’t complete without a visit to Peggy’s Cove. We had been there a month earlier by car but after leaving Cub Basin we cruised up the coast to get a look from the see. It is definitely a tourist attraction as the crowds onshore attest.

Peggy's Cove Light

Peggy’s Cove Light

After passing the lighthouse and crossing the bottom of Mahone Bay we turned to starboard and motored into Lunenburg Harbor. The town of Lunenburg became a favorite of ours on the voyage up the coast and another stop on the way back home was essential. The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic is well worth a visit although the attached aquarium was laughable.

Going out for a Lunenburg dinner

Going out for a Lunenburg dinner

Lunenburg at night

Lunenburg at night

Our last stop before our long run to the states would be Carters Beach. Located approximately 50 miles Northeast of Cape Sable the anchorage offers not only a protected basin but the nicest beaches on Nova Scotia. With real sand! We had been told they rivaled Bahamas Beaches and while I think that’s a stretch they were beautiful. We met two couples on the beach who were traveling on a sailboat together. One couple was from VT. We invited them on board that evening for cocktails and found out they ski (Stowe) in the winter and live onboard in the summer. Sounded familiar.

Carters Beach kite flying

Carters Beach kite flying

The beach

The beach

Big Smile and our new VT friends boat aptly named "Deep Powder"

Big Smile and our new VT friends boat aptly named “Deep Powder”

Two days spent at beautiful Carters Beach was a perfect way to end the Nova Scotia excursion. We had spent 45 days cruising Canada and covered about 1,000 miles. While the weather could have been better we very much enjoyed the trip. The people were all friendly as were the boaters we met along the way. The 27 hour trip back to Southwest Harbor was uneventful. We leave again in about an hour for a few days cruising around the Maine Islands and a stop in Rockland. The weather looks perfect.

Halifax to Bras d’Or Lake

Our last night on Bras d’Or Lake and we are anchored in St Peters a quarter mile from the St Peters Lock. Our plans were to transit the lock today but with 15-20 knot winds and more importantly seas measuring 8 @ 8 we have decided to wait a day for things to settle down in the Atlantic. Anchoring near St Peters Marina is great as the dinghy dock is free and their free wifi reaches out into the harbor with our antenna booster.

The 170 mile trip from Halifax to St Peters took us five days but that includes a rare turn around day. There are numerous anchorages along the route as you make your way up the eastern shore of Nova Scotia. These anchorages however, while protected, offer no services, only a place to drop the hook. The weather was not very cooperative. Cool, overcast, foggy with rain and thunderstorms. Our turn around happened after our second anchorage. We left Liscomb Harbor and headed into the Atlantic. A half mile of pounding convinced us to turn around and drop the hook in Spanish Ship Harbor which is off Liscomb. It was the right move as seas the following day were much nicer.

Picking mussels in Tangier Cove

Picking mussels in Tangier Cove

A fast moving front

A fast moving front as we cruise up the coast

We left our last anchorage in Tor Bay just before 7AM. Seven hours later we were transiting the St Peters lock and canal to start our two weeks cruising the lake. The lock, completed in 1869, connects the Canso Straight and Atlantic Ocean with the lake. It is the only “double” gate tidal lock in North America. The double gates are required to compensate for the difference in the timing of the tides between the lake and the ocean.

Locking thru

St Peters Lock and Canal

Locking thru with "Second Sally"

Locking thru with the sailboat “Second Sally”

Swing bridge on opposite end of canal

Swing bridge on opposite end of canal opens as we approach

We started our Bras d’Or Lake adventure in St Peters just as we are now ending it. Bras d’Or Lake is really an inland sea. It’s water is partially fresh and partially salt. The lake is enormous. It measures roughly 62 miles long, 31 miles wide and has a maximum depth of over 900 feet. Fortunately for boaters the depths in the many coves average only 15 to 30 feet. And better still the holding is glue-like mud. As I write this the wind is howling and spinning Big Smile on its axis but our anchor has not budged.

Our goal was to explore some of the small anchorages in the lake but also spend some time in Baddeck and rent a car. Baddeck is the counties “Shire Town”, or administrative seat and is home to the Bras d’Or Yacht Club. The four days we picked to spend in Baddeck coincided with the annual Bra d’Or Yacht Club Regatta. This week long event starts with an opening day boat parade. We happened to be anchored right in the middle of the event. They did not ask us to move, they just sailed around us.

The opening day parade

The opening day parade

Front row seats for us

Front row seats for us

Lighthouse on Kidston Island protecting Baddeck anchorage

Lighthouse on Kidston Island protecting Baddeck anchorage

We both really enjoy Scottish and Irish fiddle music and step dancing. We were thrilled to attend our first Ceilidh (pronounced Kaylee). Ceilidh is Gaelic for a gathering or social event involving music and often dancing. Our first Ceilidh was in Baddeck and featured Buddy MacDonald and Howie MacDonald. They are not related. A small room in an old church hall has been holding the Baddeck gatherings for years. It was great music and fun.

A Ceilidh

A Ceilidh

Also in Baddeck Cath decided to give paddle boarding a try. An hour on the board and I think she liked it.

First time on a paddle board

First time on a paddle board

After leaving Baddeck we slowly traveled to Ben Eoin Marina where we left Big Smile for a couple of days while we explored the Cabot Trail by car. I had not driven the trail in 40 years. It is spectacular scenery with several links golf resorts along the way. The Keltic Lodge is one of them.

View from Keltic Lodge

View from Keltic Lodge

Hiking the lodge property

Hiking the lodge property

Although the 185 mile Cabot Trail is paved many of the Cape Breton roads are unpaved and many still turn into un-passable dirt paths. We managed to turn our rented Ford Fusion into an off-road vehicle.

On the dirt

On the dirt

A beautiful country road

A beautiful country road

On the western coast of Cape Breton is the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail. It is an old rail bed now a mixed use, 57 mile shoreline trail. We hiked only a few miles of it but we will return someday. It is gorgeous.

Celtic Shores Trail

Celtic Shores Trail

View from the trail

View from the trail

We stayed at the Duncreigan Inn for one night. It is in Mabou home of the Red Shoe Pub. The pub is owned by the Rankin family, a well know music family. We had dinner at the Red Shoe but for entertainment we drove five miles to the Glenora Distillery. There, a fiddler and piano player entertained us in the bar.

A must stop 30 miles or so south of Mabou is the Celtic Music Interpretive Center. It is part restaurant and part museum. We ate lunch and listened to two fantastic musicians.

Celtic Music Interpretive Center

Celtic Music Interpretive Center

A long drive back to Ben Eoin Marina and our car trip was over. But since it was Friday night “wing night” at the marinas bar/lounge it also included a rocking fiddler and guitarist. Great way to end the marina stay.

Ben Eoin Marina

Ben Eoin Marina

It’s 4:30 in the afternoon, the wind is still piping and boats come and go. We will leave tomorrow and catch the first lock opening at 8AM. With luck the winds and seas will have subsided.

The Cape Breton experience has rekindled my Scottish heritage research. Tens of thousands of Scots came over in the 17 and 1800’s. Cath and I have never seen so many Mac’s and Mc’s.

One of thousands

One of thousands

My father would approve

My father would approve

Firinneach

Firinneach

 

 

Nova Scotia: Shelburne, Lunenburg, Halifax

We left Southwest Harbor, Maine on July 10. We crossed the Gulf of Maine and pulled into Shelburne, Nova Scotia. The trip took exactly 24 hours. The weather cooperated and we had very smooth seas and light winds. Cath took her usual 8PM to midnight shift and said it was uneventful. However my shift got very busy at about 3AM. In the span of two hours no fewer than eight southbound sailboats crossed my path. Two encounters required course changes. These boats, it turns out, were returning to their respective ports having just competed in the Marblehead to Halifax race. It was fun to track them all on radar.

Shelburne is an official maritime port of entry into Canada. The Shelburne Yacht Club assists visiting boaters by allowing them to tie up at the fuel dock to contact Canadian customs. Our call went very smoothly. Often they will come to the boat and inspect you but we received our document number over the phone and were done.

We anchored in Shelburne Harbor for two nights. Shelburne is a small but beautiful hamlet founded in 1783. Many of its building date to 18th century. It still has an active fishing industry and shipbuilding industry.

Sunrise on the Atlantic

Sunrise on the Atlantic

Shelburne, NS

Shelburne, NS

Shelburne Yacht Club

Shelburne Yacht Club

Big Smile at anchor in Shelburne Harbor

Big Smile at anchor in Shelburne Harbor

Lunenburg was our next port of call as we began our slow crawl up the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia. The eleven hour trip was again perfect with no wind and smooth seas. We did have the thrill of seeing many Minke whales. One we almost hit but at the last second it dove under the bow. I was not able to photograph any of them but below is a pic from the web. This is what we saw; back and fin only as they briefly surfaced.

Minke Whale

Minke Whale

Cath on the lookout for whales

Cath on the lookout for whales

Lunenburg is a town of fair size with a population more than double that of Shelburne. The harbor has plenty of room to anchor and is fairly well protected. Founded in 1753, Lunenburg was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The town is replete with restaurants and shops many in historic buildings. The town has been a factor in many wars from the early 1700’s through WWII. The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic is here and the replica schooner “Bluenose II” is operated by the museum and based here. On our second day in port we watched the Bluenose depart. Turns out it left for Halifax, our next port of call, and we would be its neighbor on the Halifax piers.

Bluenose II

Bluenose II

Charter boat "Eastern Star" passes Big Smile

Charter boat “Eastern Star” passes Big Smile

Lunenburg is also home to the Canadian Dory Racing Association. Below is the fascinating history of this Association and its sister club in Gloucester MA.

In 1951, Lloyd Heisler of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia and Tom Frontiero of Gloucester, Massachusetts, met in a bar in Lunenburg. They began a conversation that turned into a debate about which dory rowers from which fishing town were the superior rowers. They decided that the only way to settle the matter was to challenge each other to a race. Tom took the idea of this challenge with him back to Gloucester and the process of the International Dory races had begun.
In June of 1952, Lloyd and his dory mate arrived in Gloucester, Massachusetts to settle the bet. Although the race did go to the Canadian team, the competition and comradery that developed between the two fishing towns could not be forgotten. Every June since 1952, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia sends their best teams of rowers from each category to race against their American counterparts in Gloucester, and every August since 1952, Gloucester teams take their turn coming to Lunenburg to race in Canadian waters. This year will mark the 63rd anniversary of dory racing and the tradition is still going strong. These past 63 years has continued to strengthen the bond between these two fishing towns, and every year we once again look forward to some fun and competition with our American friends. Dory racing is a part of our heritage and we hope to continue this tradition many years into the future.

Lunenburg dory

Lunenburg dory

We loved the town and will stop again on our return to the states.

Fog. We weighed anchor at 6:30AM in pea soup fog. With our fog horn automatically blasting every two minutes we crept past Battery Point light house and down the bay to the Atlantic. The fog remained and we navigated the six hour trip by radar and chart plotter. As we approached Halifax harbor the fog lifted slightly but than returned not lifting till we were just off the commercial piers.

Halifax Harbor

Halifax Harbor

Three masted charter boat

Three masted charter boat in the fog

The next couple of days would bring near perfect weather and no fog. Our pier assignment was also perfect. There is no real marina on the waterfront and a development group runs the piers and assigns the berths. As luck has it we were berthed next to Bluenose  II. We were also the smallest boat berthed. About a half mile down the waterfront are the cruise ship berths. In for two days was the Queen Mary 2 prior to departing for Southampton England.

Halifax is a small, manageable city with a population just under a half million. Named after the Earl of Halifax it was founded in 1749. The harbor is the heart of the city but also saw one of the greatest Canadian disasters in history. Know as the Halifax Explosion, this catastrophe occurred on December 6, 1917. The SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship fully loaded with wartime explosives collided with the Norwegian vessel SS Imo. The French ship caught on fire igniting her cargo and causing a cataclysmic explosion. More than 2000 people were killed and over 9000 injured. The blast was the largest man-made explosion prior to the development of nuclear weapons.

Aftermath of Halifax explosion

Aftermath of Halifax explosion

The current city is a major cultural center. It retains its maritime and military traditions and is home to a sizable Canadian navy. Fort George located on Citadel Hill was first fortified in 1749. The Citadel was never defeated because it was never attacked. The story told is that numerous commanders including General George Washington spied on the fort but declined to attack due to its impenetrable design.

78th Highlanders Regiment of Foot re-enactment

78th Highlanders Regiment of Foot re-enactment

The waterfront is the heart of the city on the weekends and we really enjoyed the crowds and show.

Big Smile dwarfed by Bluenose II

Big Smile dwarfed by Bluenose II in foreground

The Halifax Public Gardens are a must see. Established in 1867 the Victorian style formal gardens encompass 16 acres. The original bandstand, circa 1887, was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee and still stands today.

1867 bandstand

1867 bandstand

In the gardens

In the gardens

 

Berthed at Museum wharf we had a really short walk to the Maritime Museum. It is a fascinating museum with scale models, full size boats, and exhibits about the Halifax explosion, the Cunard family (Cunard Lines) and other historical events.

Big Smile from inside the Maritime Museum

Big Smile from inside the Maritime Museum

Farmers Market

Farmers Market

We rented a car for a day and drove to Peggy’s Cove, a picturesque cove an hour from Halifax. I was last there 40 years ago and tourism has taken over. It’s still a nice landscape and cove.

Peggy's Cove lighthouse

Peggy’s Cove lighthouse

On the road to Peggy's Cove

On the road to Peggy’s Cove

The cove

The cove

Exploring the coast

Exploring the coastal towns

We leave tomorrow and won’t see another marina for at least a week. Our last night in town will probably find us at The Old Triangle Irish Ale House. There is a band playing tonight who we caught a couple of days ago.

Big Smile

Big Smile

 

 

 

 

Southwest Harbor, Maine

We never would have thought that seven weeks could go so fast. We arrived Memorial Weekend and now several days after July 4th we are finally letting go the dock lines and departing Dysart’s Marina. It’s been a wonderful experience.

Mount Desert Island or MDI is a diverse island with friendly people, great food and an incredible shoreline. Acadia National Park located on MDI is a gem in the National Park Service system. We bought a year pass that allowed us to visit the park and use all of the facilities whenever we like. We took advantage of the pass as often as possible. The numerous hiking trails are well marked and incredibly scenic. There are miles of carriage trails available only for foot traffic and horse drawn carriages. Many of the hiking trails hug the granite cliffs and rarely do you find a fence blocking access to the cliff edge. We downloaded an App that provided running commentary as we drove the 24 mile perimeter route that culminated on Cadillac Mountain. We found June to be a perfect month to visit. Cool weather, perfect for hiking, no bugs and few visitors. With a year pass to use we will be back for a few more hikes in the year ahead.

Beech Mountain Fire Tower

Beech Mountain Fire Tower

View of Southwest Harbor, Somes Sound and Cranberry Isles from St Sauveur Mountain

View of Southwest Harbor and Cranberry Isles from St Sauveur Mountain

Cath at the edge of Cadillac Mountain

Cath at the edge of Cadillac Mountain

Bar Harbor in the background from the top of Cadillac Mountain

Bar Harbor in the background from the top of Cadillac Mountain

June was not all land based exploring. One of the reasons for planning a month in Maine was to have a couple of shake down cruises. Big Smile spent a winter on the hard at Hinckley in Southwest Harbor. She had never been out of the water for more than a month prior to this winter. We knew some of her systems would need attending to but what we did not plan on was the repairs that would be necessary due to shoddy work by Hinckley.

The first problem noted was our non-working inverter. We rely on our house bank of batteries and our “Outback” brand inverter to provide 120 volt AC from our 24 volt DC system. While our genset handles most of the AC loads and all of the 230 volt load it only runs a couple of hours a day. The inverter needs to work and it was not working. I hired a tech from Outback and he discovered that two of our six house batteries had been disconnected and in fact had suffered a collapse. These are special AGM “Absorbed Glass Mat” batteries and are quite pricey. Replacing the two batteries and properly reconnecting the system fixed the inverter issue.

Our first trip out was a five hour down east run to Mistake Island. This pristine anchorage is noted for its seal population and as we were the only boat in the small anchorage we had a front row view. They seem almost human as they lie about on the small islands at low tide, grunting and playing the day away. As the tide rises it becomes feeding time and dozens swam around us.

Seals at Mistake Island

Seals at Mistake Island

A curious Seal

A curious Seal

Moose Peak Lighthouse on Mistake Island

Moose Peak Lighthouse on Mistake Island

While lowering the large Delta anchor Cath noticed that the port chain wheel on the dual capstan appeared to be spinning off. She was operating the starboard side, the side that had been repaired. Fortunately there is a device called a stripper that keeps the chain wheel from falling off. However we did not want to strain the system so the next morning we weighed anchor and cruised back to Southwest Harbor. Hinckley came by a couple of days later and fixed the problem.

The last problem was one that really bothered us. The bimini had been removed by Hinckley in the fall to facilitate the lowering of the electronics mast. In the process they bent the stern bimini support. When the bimini was installed by us, (should have been re-installed by Hinckley) it now had a huge belly in the one year old fabric. We decided to take another one day cruise to check out more systems. This cruise, up the beautiful Somes Sound was a delight. However, during the night a deluge of rain came through dropping possibly an inch overnite. In the morning we heard a loud bang as we sat in the pilot house. The bang was our entire bimini collapsing under the weight of the collected water.

Back at the dock with a collapsed bimini

Back at the dock with a collapsed bimini

 

Hinckley was contacted and told to fix the mess.

Fortunately for us we had planned to get to our house at Lake George for two weeks leading up to July 4th. That gave them time to fabricate new stainless supports and make any other repairs to the system that were required.

At the lake: The main reason for the lake trip was to see our next door neighbor and help another friend launch his sailboat. The weather cooperated and the launch was successful. We managed to get in a couple of fantastic sails pitting our neighbors Capri 18 vs our friends Capri 22. Perfect weather and perfect company. The 22 always won but no-one cared.

John's Capri 22 blowing by  Bob's 18.

Bob’s family grinning as they pass us

Andrew and Mitch managed to join us for a couple of days and we sailed and fished in that short period of time. Mitch easily won our informal fishing contest.

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A fabulous rainbow

A fabulous rainbow

The winner

The winner

 

 

 

Back On Board in Southwest Harbor Maine

It’s been many months since the last post. Big Smile spent the winter safely huddled indoors at the Hinckley yard in Southwest Harbor Maine. The Hinckley yard is enormous. The waterfront site is where boats are stored and maintained. Their manufacturing site is inland about 30 minutes away. According to the locals it was a brutal winter so indoor storage turned out to be a good investment. That said, despite Hinckley’s pristine reputation, I am not happy with their service. From what I have been told by several boat owners and a marina manager, the Hinckley operation suffered through a couple of debt ridden takeovers. Staff was cut and morale suffered. There are new owners now and improvements are being made but damage was done. They are busy however turning out new boats, a testament to an improved economy for some.

Indoors at Hinckley

Indoors at Hinckley

Our many months ashore were very busy. We got to spend some time at Lake George and more importantly time with our friends Bob and Tibby and John and Marion. Bob and John each have sailboats on the bay and fall sailing is a delight. Bob also has a deck boat and his “toe dipper” cruise helped celebrate our wedding anniversary.

John and Cath sailing Moonshadow.

John and Cath sailing Moonshadow.

Toe Dipper cruise

Toe Dipper cruise

Inspiration Point with John and Marion

Inspiration Point with John and Marion

After closing up Lake George we returned to Vermont for the balance of the fall and winter. While some dread the winter we enjoy it. This season Vermont was blessed with over 150 inches of snow. This made for some awesome skiing and snowmobiling. Temperatures remained below freezing the entire winter so the snow just kept on piling up, at least here in the northeast. Elsewhere, like Colorado and other parts west, it was a different story. Snow was scarce.

Unfortunately Cath broke her ankle at Smugglers Notch the first week in January. Since we had a 10 day trip planned to Colorado she had one goal. Recuperation. The doctor said it would take about six weeks to heal enough to ski and that was enough time to allow her to ski on vacation. But she missed some great skiing back east.

At the top of Snowmass

At the top of Snowmass

Elevation 12,500'

Elevation 12,500′

After a week of skiing at Snowmass with Tara and Andrew they returned home and we continued on to our friends home in Breckenridge. Jim and Beth we had met the year before in the Exumas. They are also skiers and their home has an awesome view of the Breckenridge slopes. It was a fun three days and we thank them.

Jim and Beth cooking for us

Jim and Beth cooking for us

Life after skiing

Life after skiing

On a more somber note, while we were skiing at Breckenridge we learned that John and Marion’s son Matt had a tragic accident in Tahoe. He hit a chairlift stanchion and broke vertebrae resulting in paralysis from the chest down. As of this writing he, with the help of countless friends and family, is slowly recovering and adapting to a completely different way of life. Cath and I wish him the best.

Matt and his mom

Matt and his mom

For a few years now my “employer” Stratton Mountain has held a 24 hour charity ski event. This year I decided to join the Resort Host team. While I was sick as a dog that week and was not much help to my teammates we finished in the middle of the pack. Not bad considering how small our team was.

Resort Host Team

Resort Host Team

Early AM shift for me

Early AM shift for me

So the winter ended and April arrived. In order to avoid some of the “mud” season in Vermont we planned a trip to Spain with a quick first stop in Portugal. It was a fantastic 15 day tour. All of the 23 tour mates were great and Antonio, the full time tour guide, was superb. Lot’s of photos here.

Tour groups last supper

Tour groups last supper

Before leaving Vermont for Big Smile we decided to pull the trigger on a large home project. It will include an addition and land clearing to provide views of the Green Mountains across the West River valley. The land clearing started two weeks prior to our leaving so we were able to get an idea of what the cleared view will be.

The land clearing starts

The land clearing starts

This machine does the heavy work

This machine does the heavy work

So we are now on Big Smile for the next six months or more. We will spend a month at Dysart’s Marina in Southwest Harbor. Since we have a car we will also do lots of land exploring. Southwest Harbor is located on Mt. Desert Island (MDI), home of Acadia National Park. Acadia is the oldest national park east of the Mississippi and was originally named Lafayette National Park. In the fall of 1604 Samuel de Champlain observed the island and named it Mt Desert.

The season here in Maine starts late and ends early. We launched before Memorial weekend and maybe 5 percent of the boats were in the water. Each day more Hinckleys splash and many come to Dysart’s Marina for a couple of days before moving on to their summer destination. It’s a beautiful parade of classic sail and new Hinckley power boats.

Classic Friendship sloop. The 1899 Alice E

Classic Friendship sloop. The 1899 Alice E

1966 Hinckley across the dock

1966 Hinckley across the dock

Foggy morning on the dock

Foggy morning on the dock

Hiking Acadia along "Ships Harbor"

Hiking Acadia along “Ships Harbor”

Nantucket to Southwest Harbor Maine

We dropped the Nantucket Moorings pennant and left the harbor for the five hour run to Naushon Island. Part of the Elizabeth Islands, Naushon has been owned by the Forbes family for over 150 years. On the northern end, across from Woods Hole, are two anchorages providing excellent holding and protection. We chose the outer less sheltered anchorage knowing the weather was completely benign. This anchorage also afforded an easy trip to the Cape Cod Canal entrance. We wanted to catch slack tide on the canal as currents can run upwards of 4.5 knots.

Kayaking in Hadley Harbor.

Kayaking in Hadley Harbor.

Cape Cod canal provides easy access to Cape Cod Bay and Massachusetts Bay. It also eliminates approximately 135 miles of potentially treacherous waters around the Cape. The idea for the canal dates to the early 1600’s. Numerous planning attempts were made thru the 18th and 19th centuries but it was not until 1914 that the canal opened on a limited basis. This past summer the canal celebrated its centennial. The canal is only 7 miles long but approximately 14,000 trips are made each year.

 

 

Approaching the only lift bridge on the canal

Approaching the only lift bridge on the canal

Once through the canal our destination was Provincetown. Cape Cod Bay was like a pond for the 22 mile crossing. While it was great for us it was not so good for the classic yacht regatta being run that day in Provincetown Harbor.

Provincetown Regatta

Provincetown Regatta

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We were hoping to drop the anchor behind the Provincetown jetty but there is barely room to motor through. We instead called the harbor master who directed us to call Provincetown marina. They operate most of the mooring balls and had one available for our size boat. You can’t beat the location. They also provide free and very prompt launch service. We enjoyed the area so we ended up staying three nights.

At mooring in PTown

At mooring in PTown

Provincetown is one of those places difficult to describe. It is liberal, colorful and fun. It also has beautiful beaches and great dining. Many people find it hokey and touristy but we had not been there in over two decades and enjoyed our stay immensely. One of my cousins has lived on the Cape for many years and joined us on board for cocktails. We than took the launch in and ate at the restaurant owned by his wifes family. The Lobster Pot is an institution and always crowded. But being family there was no wait.

Me and cousin Doug

Me and cousin Doug

Cape Cod National Seashore is part of the National Park Service. With nearly 40 miles of beach and over 40,000 acres to explore the park is rich in history and beauty. Biking is a great way to see PTown and there is a bike trail within the park that is a must ride. We rented two bikes for the day and rode to the beaches and throughout the park. We also did lots of walking and discovered some unique shops in addition to the very unique clientele of PTown. Being a beautiful weekend in early September the ferries were packed with visitors and the streets were crowded. My cousin gave us a primer on the various parties and weekends that occur in PTown including Baby Dykes and Bear Week. We easily could have stayed a week.

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Riding in the National Park

Riding in the National Park

A very unique metal shop

A very unique metal shop

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Downtown

Downtown

We left early Sunday morning with Gloucester MA as our destination. Arriving at 2PM we had hoped to drop a hook in this harbor but like PTown we thought it too full of moored boats. Instead we called the Harbormaster and he had one mooring left that could handle our size so we grabbed it. A gritty working class town Gloucester lays claim to being the oldest American seaport and birthplace of the US fishing industry. Gorton’s has been a Gloucester institution since 1849. The waterfront is varied with the inner harbor completely commercial and the outer harbor surrounded by homes and marinas. We spent two nights and on the second night we were treated to one of the most spectacular sunsets we had seen all year.

Gloucester sunset

Gloucester sunset

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Gloucester Gig Rowers

Gloucester Gig Rowers

It would be all Maine after leaving Gloucester. Kittery was our first Maine stop. Due east of Portsmouth NH Kittery claims to be the oldest incorporated (1647) town in Maine. Badger’s Island, part of Kittery and located on the Piscataqua River, was an important shipbuilding center during the American Revolution. The very first vessels of the US Navy were constructed here including the 1777 USS Ranger commanded by John Paul Jones. We anchored in the shadow of Fort McClary located at the mouth of the Piscatagua River.

Fort McClary

Fort McClary

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Kittery coastline

Kittery coastline

Twenty five miles up the coast is Cape Porpoise. Touted as a good short term stop we steered for the harbor entrance. Entering was not simple as expected due to the narrow channel and scores of lobster buoys. I’ll never begrudge someone making a living but our first three days in Maine found us saying there has to be a method to the madness. There just can’t be that many lobsters for the taking and there has to be some sort of regulation stating you can’t completely block an entrance channel with lobster pots. We did make it in without snagging a pot but once inside the harbor we found an anchorage completely encumbered by private moorings. We knew the harbor was narrow and planned accordingly. After a couple of attempts we got the hook to grab between some currently unoccupied moorings. We were on a short scope but with the wind out of the NE we felt good about the situation.

We dinghy’d ashore and did some walking. It is a quaint community. It also has several restaurants including one at the main wharf. My tide chart indicated a nine foot range. Dinghying back in for dinner we saw that the tide chart was certainly correct. We parked the dink at the end of the dock and had a great dinner at Pier 77.

Our plan was to leave early the next morning. Unfortunately the wind had shifted 180  degrees during the night and we woke to find ourselves with the stern stuck in the mud. Because we were on short scope my anchor alarm never sounded to notify us of a wind shift. We could not budge Big Smile. It would be three hours before the tide rose enough to lift us out and allow a safe start of the engine.

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Dinghy dock at low tide

Dinghy dock at low tide

Cape Porpoise Harbor

Cape Porpoise Harbor

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Stuck in the mud

Stuck in the mud

Finally free we beat a path out of the harbor thru the lobster pots. We were now beginning to make good use of of our pilot house. It was a cold and rainy trip to Portland and we pulled into DeMillo’s Old Port Marina mid afternoon. We had a reservation only for one night but managed to cram in a lot of walking and a dinner with Cath’s cousin at the marina restaurant. During our walks we found a wonderful seafood market and an awesome bakery. The weather cleared that evening and by time we let the lines loose the next day it was blue skies again. We enjoyed Portland and will spend more time the next visit.

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Shopping for seafood and bread

Shopping for seafood and bread

Leaving Portland Harbor

Leaving Portland Harbor

With scores of anchorages to chose from we decided to set a goal of about 25 miles per day and whatever anchorage fit that goal was fine with us. Leaving Portland we had about 125 miles to Southwest Harbor, our final destination. This meant only four more nights at anchor. Next up was a hurricane hole aptly named “the basin”. Roughly a half mile square the basin is entered thru a narrow, dogleg cut in the Maine granite. Once inside the basin opens up to what looks like a small lake. There are some homes barely visible thru the trees but much of the surrounding land is a preserve. In 2006 an anonymous donor gave 1910 acres to the Nature Conservancy including four miles of coastline. We landed our kayaks at one of the Conservancy’s trail head and hiked thru beautiful woodlands.

 

Anchored in "The Basin"

Anchored in “The Basin”

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Hiking the Conservancy trails

Hiking the Conservancy trails

From “the basin” it was on to a much more touristy stop, Boothbay Harbor. While Boothbay Harbor is a nice protected anchorage the town itself reminded us of the NJ shore. If you wanted a t-shirt this was the place.

Anchored in Boothbay Harbor

Anchored in Boothbay Harbor

Our next stop was a nice surprise. We expected to anchor on the outside of Tennants Harbor but instead found a large anchorage just off the harbor called Long Cove. Easily entered and nearly devoid of lobster pots it was perfect. The cove hosts a small fleet of lobster boats who were polite and idled past us in the early morning so as not to create a wake.

Cocktails on the bow waiting for sunset

Cocktails on the bow waiting for sunset

Sunset looking west

Sunset looking West

Sunset looking East

Sunset looking East

Our last anchorage we hoped would be special and it was. The destination was Seal Bay on the south side of Penobscot Island. Penobscot itself is tucked inside Vinalhaven Island and thus is a well protected anchorage. The entrance in is challenging and Maine granite will meet your keel if you are not careful. There is one mooring, ownership unknown but available if unoccupied. We arrived just as a sloop was leaving and so we grabbed it. The surroundings were pristine and we were the only boat. The kayaking was some of the best we had done all year.

Seal Cove

Seal Bay

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Seal Bay to Hinckley Yachts in Southwest Harbor was bittersweet. We had left Sunset Bay Marina on March 9th and now many months and 1,800 miles later we were dropping Big Smile off for the winter. We chose the Hinckley yard for several reasons. We wanted Big Smile in heated, indoor storage and there are not that many places that can handle a 60′ LOA boat. We needed a place we could trust and also wanted to be able to fly in if necessary to check on her and ready her for next years trip to Canada. With Bar Harbor airport nearby Hinckley fit the bill.

We spent two days unloading and preparing her for the winter. Hinckley would do the heavy lifting ie systems shutdown and long term storage requirements. We packed our rental car and left for VT and the lake.

The last sunset from the Hinckley dock

The last sunset from the Hinckley dock

 

 

August and we are back on board

After a wonderful month at the lake we packed up a rental car and drove to Washburns Marina in Solomons, MD. A couple of days of provisioning and we were on our way taking the slow path to Maine. Our goal was to get to Southwest Harbor Maine around September 20 and as I write this we are sitting in Gloucester Harbor on September 7 so we are making progress.

The new master stateroom cabinets installed at Washburns match the existing perfectly and all of the other contracted maintenance work was completed. Only the Garmin chart plotter warranty replacement was not ready as Garmin did not ship it in time. The unit installed last year works but quits if you flush the head, use the thrusters or engage the anchor windlass. Quirky to say the least. Garmin has agreed to allow Hinckley to replace it this fall so we have learned to reboot the system after each flush.

Our first two days traveling were perfect. Light breeze and brilliant sky. Night one was spent on the Sassafras River and we had the privilege to witness the “supermoon” while at anchor.

Supermoon on the Sassafra

Supermoon on the Sassafra

From the Sassafras it is an 11 hour run to Cape May NJ. The trip takes us through the C&D canal and down the Delware River to the Cape May Canal. We were last on the C&D in 1988 when we purchased our classic, 1966, Morgan 34 sailboat and sailed her back to Long Island Sound. That trip also showed us how dangerous alcohol stoves can be as we managed to catch the curtains on fire in pea soup fog. This trip was less eventful. The C&D is an interesting waterway. Originally conceived in the 1700’s actual construction took years with lack of funds a big impediment. Finally in 1829 it opened for business. Since then numerous improvements have been made to accommodate larger ships and the current version is 14 miles long, 450′ wide and 40′ deep.

C&D Canal

C&D Canal

The lower Delaware river does nothing for us and we powered down it as quickly as possible. On the NJ side is the Salem Nuclear Power plant giving us another good reason to move quickly.

Salem Nuclear from the pilot house

Salem Nuclear from the pilot house

Cape May is a fun town and since we had not been there in decades we were looking forward to our stay. We had originally planned to anchor in the harbor and we did the first night. However upon waking in the morning we found a sailboat practically tied to our stern and decided to grab a slip at South Jersey Marina. It was perfect. Tara decided to drive down from Philadelphia to join us and we spent a fun two days visiting the beach and walking the streets looking at the old Victorians.

Cath and Tara in Cape May

Cath and Tara in Cape May

Cape May

Cape May

Cape May still has a sizeable commercial fishing fleet and the boats looked to be in good shape. There was a superb retail fish market a short walk from the marina which we visited both for dinner and fresh fish.

Cape May fishing fleet

Cape May fishing fleet

We decided to make a big push from Cape May and travel the entire length of New Jerseys Atlantic coast and anchor somewhere behind Sandy Hook. We left Cape May shortly before 10AM and headed north. Passing Atlantic City the first building we noticed was Revel Casino. It was the newest and already it has closed.

Atlantic City

Atlantic City

We rounded Sandy Hook after midnight and found our preferred anchorage inhabited by dredges. The only other choice at that hour was tucking in behind the Atlantic Highlands jetty. We found a spot and dropped the hook at 1:30 AM with the NY skyline to the north.

The next morning dawned clear and cool. It was not a typical August day in NJ. We had reservations for Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City. We know it well having kept a power boat there for two years and of course because I worked in Jersey City. The view of lower Manhattan is always thrilling no matter how often you see it. By water its a powerful sight to behold.

Verrazano Bridge

Verrazano Bridge

Approaching New York

Approaching New York

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Our two days at Liberty Landing were busy. Friday we walked the state park that abuts the marina. It is a great public asset and draws visitors from all over. You can access the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from the Park or just enjoy the over 1200 acres of landscaped landfill that was once the terminus of the Central Railroad of NJ and the Lehigh Valley Railroad.

If you were alive on 9/11 and have any connection to New York you cannot help but notice the void in the Manhattan skyline. I watched that day unfold from my old office in Jersey City. I will never forget it and we made plans to visit the recently opened 9/11 Memorial and Museum. We took the ferry directly from Liberty Landing to lower Manhattan and walked to the museum. We had 3:30 entrance reservations which we had purchased online. Suffice to say it is a powerful museum and should be visited by all. We spent hours viewing the exhibits and watching the films.

That night we got together with an old business friend and his wife at a nice Italian restaurant in the Village. The following night we had dinner with another old business friend and his wife after cocktails on board Big Smile. It was a fun whirlwind stop.

Leaving Liberty Landing we proceeded around the tip of Manhattan and up the East River. Many iconic photos have been taken from spots along the river and I need to post a couple of my own. The day was perfect and we hit the current at the right time.

Colgate Clock in Jersey City

Colgate Clock in Jersey City

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Liberty Tower and Woolworth building

Freedom Tower and Woolworth building

United Nations and Chrysler Building

United Nations and Chrysler Building

The cruise out Long Island sound was uneventful. Our goal for the day was Northport on the north shore of Long Island. I had been in contact with a friend I work with at Stratton Mountain and we both wanted to show each other our boats. We managed to raft up the next day and give each other a tour of our respective boats. Jorge’s boat is a brand new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey which contrasts completely with our trawler. It was good to see Jorge and we wished him fair winds.

Jorge's Jeanneau Sun Odyssey

Jorge’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey

Northport Harbor

Northport Harbor

From Northport we continued on to Port Jefferson a harbor we had not seen in decades. We then bounced across the sound to Connecticut and anchored in a picturesque little community called Sachem Head. Many beautiful homes dot the shoreline including one with a minature version of Stonehenge.

Stonehenge on LI Sound

Stonehenge on LI Sound

Continuing our trip eastbound we pulled into a small harbor on Fishers Island. Although only a couple of miles off the Connecticut coast Fishers Island is actually part of Suffolk County NY. It is also very exclusive with a year round population of about 200. Kayaking was superb and the waters were exceptionally clean.

Anchored off Fishers Island

Anchored off Fishers Island

Newport RI was our next stop and we were looking forward to going ashore as again it had been many years since we were last there. On approach we came upon two great sights. First was the USS Saratoga. This Forrestal class supercarrier was commissioned in 1956, the year we were both born. She was decommissioned in 1994 and after many attempts to preserve as a museum it was sold for scrap to a Texas company. We happened to have seen her as she was being towed out of Newport where she had been stored after decommissioning.

USS Saratoga

USS Saratoga

Entering Narragansett Bay we came upon the Newport Bucket Regatta. These are not your typical sailboats but very large yachts with professional crews. The photo below is of “Meteor”, a 52 meter monster.

Meteor

Meteor

Nantucket Lightship

Nantucket Lightship

The old Nantucket Lightship has been converted into a luxury yacht and is available for charter. Newport is a fun town and a boating paradise.

Now it was time to head further up the Narragansett to visit Cath’s brother Barry and his wife Rebecca. Their beautiful home on Touisset Point has a gorgeous south facing view down the bay and fortunately for us it also is a relatively short dinghy ride from a well protected anchorage on the Kickemuit River.

Driving up Narragansett Bay

Driving up Narragansett Bay

After two great days with Barry and Rebecca we headed back south to Jamestown RI where we were getting together for dinner with some friends from NJ. Jamestown is a more laid back town directly across from Newport. We picked up a mooring at Conanicut Marina in the center of Jamestown and had a fun two days exploring the island by foot. Also a great dinner with our friends Gordon and Janet.

Cath and Gordon on Big Smile

Cath and Gordon on Big Smile

Leaving Narragansett Bay we headed east to spend a few days on Marthas Vineyard with my cousin Nance and her family. It was a fun 7 hour run which took us up Vineyard Sound and past Cuttyhunk Island and the other islands of the Elizabeth Island chain. Interestingly all but two of the islands are owned by the Forbes family. Cuttyhunk and Penikese are the exceptions.

Our Vineyard destination was Oak Bluffs harbor as we had slip reservations at the Oak Bluffs Marina. We got a great slip assignment closer to the jetty and away from the town noise. Not long after securing the lines and plugging in the electric Nance and her daughter Kelly were on board. The next three days and nights we caroused with my cousin, her husband Rob and two grown children Kelly and Dave and their respective boy/girlfriend. It was a blast. They have been vacationing on the Vineyard for many years and know it inside and out. We had only been there once before. I will let the photos below show how much fun we had. Cath and I thank Nance and family for being such gracious hosts.

On the deck overlooking Vineyard Sound

On the deck overlooking Vineyard Sound

Nance and I

Nance and I

Yup even a beach

Yup even a beach

Kelly and pup on board

Kelly and pup on board

Dave and Sarah cooked and awesome dinner

Dave and Sarah cooked an awesome dinner

Celebrating Dave's birthday sans candles

Celebrating Dave’s birthday sans candles

Eventually we had to leave and head to Nantucket. It’s an easy 4 hour motor eastward and upon arrival we contacted Nantucket Moorings for our mooring assignment. They run a first class mooring operation with clean, sturdy gear. We had reserved five nights and were glad we did. We fell in love with the island and its architecture. We learned there is an architectural code as well as a dress code so of course I purchased my Nantucket red hat. We rented a “barely” two up scooter for a day and also bought a three day public bus pass. Both modes of transport worked well and we got to see most of the island. There is certainly no shortage of money here but what impressed us was the access to the beaches. They were all different but all accessible.

He blew by us on the way to Nantucket

He blew by us on the way to Nantucket

Brotherhood of Thieves. A good lunch spot

Brotherhood of Thieves. A good lunch spot

Our scooter

Our scooter

One of the many homes Cath chose for us

One of the many homes Cath chose for us

Nantucket Harbor

Nantucket Harbor

Nantucket at night

Nantucket at night

One of the many beaches

One of the many beaches

Classic

Classic

Nantucket ended the month of August for us and we pulled out Wednesday after Labor Day. The weather for the month was beyond expectations. It was cooler, no doubt, but with little to no humidity. Also barely a drop of rain. We are on our way to Maine.

 

Lake George and Vermont

The month of July is ending and soon we will be back on Big Smile. Our anticipated departure from Solomons MD for parts north is delayed about a week due to the delay in shipping of the cabinets from China to the east coast. Washburn’s Boatyard did email some pics today of the newly arrived cabinets and they look beautiful. Can’t wait to see them installed.

The lake has been superb with gorgeous, dry weather and temps averaging in the 80’s. We have had a number of guests including an aunt and uncle, a cousin who had not been here in 22 years and both our kids. We also had the pleasure of helping launch our neighbors sailboat and our friends sailboat all on the same, glorious day. The six of us had not been together since last summer.

After a full day of launching and sailing

After a full day of rigging, launching and sailing

Our sunfish got a lot of use in July. It may be small but it’s big on fun.

Uncle Rick

Uncle Rick

Cousin Doug

Cousin Doug

We also had lots of fun fishing. It is not the same as saltwater fishing from Big Smile but Tara’s boyfriend did catch a 27″ lake trout which we cooked up. The taste of lake trout paled in comparison to the Black Fin Tuna and Cero we caught in the Bahamas. Many smaller, uneditable versions jumped on the hooks but even an unsuccessful day on the lake is better than “a day at work”.

Mitch with his 27" lake trout

Mitch with his 27″ lake trout

Baked lake trout

Baked lake trout

Tara with a much smaller catch

Tara with a much smaller catch

Doug was happy with his catch

Doug was happy with his catch

Tara's birthday

Tara’s birthday

Our friend John came over for a last minute sail to end the month of July. A very unusual sail we had as the wind was from the west which carried us all the way to Anthony’s Nose, a prominent feature on Lake George.

Last sail for July

Last sail for July

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Back to Vermont for several days then down to Washburn’s to pick up Big Smile. We are hoping this years hurricane season remains as serene and problem free as last years.

 

Back to the states

Friday morning we dropped Andrew and Nicole at the Great Guana Ferry dock. Albury’s Ferry runs regularly scheduled service to Marsh Harbor. From there a quick taxi to the airport and back home in a few hours. Our trip would take much longer. The plan was to head thru the “Whale” to Green Turtle Cay where we would spend a night at the Bluff House Beach Resort and Marina. Weather was perfect and no Atlantic swells kept us from transiting the whale. Three hours after leaving Great Guana we were at the Bluff House dock. As it was Memorial Weekend a Big Bill fishing tournament was taking place. Between Bluff House and Green Turtle Club we counted over 25 fishing boats that night. Bluff House has a small but nice beach with a beach side bar. We spent the remainder of the afternoon sitting in lounge chairs.

Bluff House beach

Bluff House beach

Fishing Boats at Green Turtle club

Fishing Boats at Green Turtle Club

After breakfast we headed out for the 8 hour run over to Great Sale. The weather was good and so was the fishing. We alternated between catching Cero which we kept and Barracuda which we cursed.

A very nice Cero

A very nice Cero

Battling a "Cuda"

Battling a “Cuda”

Last Bahama sunset

Last Bahama sunset

This last leg was to be our longest yet. Great Sale Cay to Charleston SC was a 385 mile run. The multi day forecast called for light winds and small, short period seas. The first 65 miles are on the Little Bahama Bank where water depths are consistently 12-20 feet. With auto pilot steering we spent the day looking for sharks and other sea creatures in the crystal clear water. It is easy to know when you have left the bank. In the span of two miles you go from depths of 30 feet to well over 1,000 feet deep. Color changes are quick and fishing, at least for us came to a quick stop. We caught only one immediately after leaving the bank but it turned out to be the largest Cero we caught the entire trip.

It is approximately 320 miles from the exit point of Little Bahama Bank to the Charleston SC Harbor entrance. It is also a straight line with a compass heading of almost due north. After leaving the bank, wind and seas remained flat for hours. Around 4:30 PM our radar began to pick up thunderstorms building to the west. We could see the sky darken and while pelting rain is annoying it is lightning that always concerns us. It never rained but what we saw at about 5:15 two miles off our bow was something we had never witnessed. Dropping out of a cloud was a large waterspout. NOAA identifies two types of waterspouts, tornadic and fair weather. We were ignorant of the distinction at the time and all we thought about was the strength of a tornado. Since our radar showed the line of storms moving to the northeast we altered course to the west and proceeded to put away anything loose and check all our tie downs. By time we were done the waterspout had disappeared. Getting back on our heading we got a camera and waited. At 5:30 another one appeared two miles or so off our bow and heading slowly towards us. This one we were able to get a picture of as we altered course to port. The waterspout only lasted a few minutes but it was intimidating.

Waterspout heading towards us

Waterspout heading towards us

The line of thunderstorms continued for a couple of hours but we did not see another waterspout. Unfortunately the storms wreaked havoc with the seas and the rest of our trip would be much less pleasant. Seas built out of the northeast and as we approached the Gulf Stream the collision of the two elements kept our stabilizers working overtime.

This was a 51 hour trip requiring two overnites. It is very difficult to adjust your biological clock to the watch system you have set up. One night is easy. By the second night my midnight to dawn shift was tough. It was made tougher by the fact that we were approaching Charleston SC shipping lanes.

2:13 AM and 43 miles to go

2:13 AM and 43 miles to go

At 2 AM radar and AIS showed several ships within twelve miles all heading in different directions. The Port of Charleston is big, ranking 8th in the US in dollar value of goods handled. The entrance during the day is straight forward although you do pass container ships at very close range. At 9:30 AM we pulled into Charleston Harbor Marina, 51 hours after leaving Great Sale Cay. Our friends on Silver Heels would arrive the next day having left the Bahamas 70 miles east of our jumping off point.

Two days later we left Charleston for Wilmington NC. We arrived at the mouth of the Cape Fear River at 2 AM and had to drop the hook right off the channel for a few hours sleep before continuing up the River to Wilmington.

Port of Wilmington

Port of Wilmington

Big Smile docked in Wilmington for about two weeks while we headed north by car. On June 17th I flew down to pick her up. I left Wilmington the next day and six days later we were docked at Washburn’s Boat Yard in Solomons, Maryland. It was my first long distance single-handed cruise and all went smoothly.

Entering a turbulent Beaufort Inlet

Entering a turbulent Beaufort Inlet

Made it: Solomons Maryland

Made it: Solomons Maryland

Big Smile will spend the month of July at Washburn’s getting some upgrades and maintenance work completed. We will rotate between Vermont and Lake George. If all goes according to plan we will leave Solomons by August 1st and head to Martha’s Vineyard and beyond.

 

The Abacos

Since we had been to the Abacos the prior two springs this years trip would be shorter. We were, however, able to get to some different anchorages having come from Spanish Wells to the south not from the US east coast. Lynyard Cay would be our first stop. Our friends Jim and Beth arrived an hour later and dropped their hook. Lynyard Cay is a small island but it provides good protection from the Atlantic swells and is a dinghy ride from the well known Pete’s Pub in Little Harbor. The next day the four of us dinghy’d over to Petes for drinks and dinner. As funky a place as you will find in the Bahamas Petes also serves good fresh seafood. A couple of miles to the west of Lynyard Cay is a bay that goes by the name of “Bight of Old Robinson”. We had read that there was awesome kayaking thru mangrove swamps, blue holes and the bay itself was filled with what one trawler owner described as “turbo turtles”. After towing the kayaks over with our dink we found the mangroves. We also found the turbo turtles. These dark shapes zipped thru the shallow water at breakneck (for a turtle) speed. We could only get within about five yards before they would dart away in a zigzag fashion. There were scores of them. The mangroves were fascinating and one could get lost if not careful. We never did find a blue hole but three divers died several years ago after getting lost in the blue hole.

Bight of Old Robinson

Bight of Old Robinson

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Flying a kite on a deserted beach

Flying a kite on a deserted beach

Our son Andrew and his girlfriend Nicole were joining us in Marsh Harbor. This was the main reason for cruising back thru the Abacos on the way to the states. After Lynyard Cay we had a couple of days to relax prior to their arrival and chose one of our favorite harbors to try out a newly refurbished marina. Hope Town on Elbow Cay has a small, well protected harbor with moorings and a recently updated facility, Hope Town Inn & Marina. We booked two nights but stayed four and would eventually return with Andrew and Nicole. It is a beautiful, first class facility. Probably the nicest we have ever stayed at. Located on the west side of the harbor it even provides a free boat shuttle to the small town on the east side. As we have written about in past years, Hope Town is incredibly picturesque with small pastel painted  homes and cottages. It also boasts a lighthouse which you can climb.

Marina shuttle

Marina shuttle

At the marina pool

At the marina pool

Hope Town Inn & Marina

Hope Town Inn & Marina

Big Smile at the dock with our friends boat Silver Heels in background on mooring

Big Smile at the dock with our friends boat Silver Heels in background on mooring

Day sailing in Hope Town Harbor

Day sailing in Hope Town Harbor

Hope Town Harbor Lighthouse

Hope Town Harbor Lighthouse

View from the top

View from the top

Andrew and Nicole arrived from Washington DC and took a cab to Mangoes Marina in the heart of Marsh Harbor. While Marsh Harbor is an oft used convenient stop for boaters it is not a place we would want to stay for long. You can stock up on food, booze and fuel and leave. It is, though, a very convenient stop to pick up guests.

Mangoes Marina

Mangoes Marina

Arrival at Mangoes

Fueling up in Marsh Harbor

Neither had been to the Abacos so we decided to do some back-tracking including Hope Town and the Bight. Since we all love to eat, especially Andrew and Nicole we arranged for a favorite restaurant to pick us up at the Hope Town dock and transport us to dinner. The restaurant known as “Firefly” is superb. The outdoor dining during a beautiful sunset is hard to match. And the food is spectacular.

Sunset at Firefly

Sunset at Firefly

Our agenda for the 6 days was loose. We made stops at Tahiti Beach, Man O War Cay and of course Great Guana Cay with the famous “Nippers” and magnificent beach. At Nippers we caught up with our friends who coincidently had a couple of their kids visiting for the week.

Andrew at the helm

Andrew at the helm

Tough life

Tough life

Nicole leads Cath in yoga on the bow

Nicole leads Cath in yoga on the bow

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Nippers Beach

Nippers Beach

Man O War Cay

Man O War Cay

Nippers

Nippers

Swimming at Nippers

Swimming at Nippers

 

Rest Period

Rest Period

The six days went real fast but the weather was perfect as was the company.