Two Months; Two Hurricanes

In a rented car we left Vermont in the rear view mirror and drove back to Brewer Cove Marina in Barrington, RI. We would be departing on August 26th but prior to that, fun was to be had with both of Cath’s brothers, spouses and some of the family.

Little Compton RI

Little Compton, RI

Brewer Cove Marina, Barrington

Brewer Cove Marina, Barrington RI

It was time to leave Barrington and the upper reaches of Narragansett Bay. We did not know that we would be returning to the area in just over a week in order to escape a storm. Prior to our return we managed to enjoy the continuing sunny and hot weather. Heading down Sakonnet River we once again stopped at Third Beach. The Sakonnet River is a tidal straight that flows approximately 14 miles from Mount Hope Bay to Rhode Island Sound. It is a beautiful body of water especially so on the sparsely populated eastern shore. Third Beach is a perfect anchorage for the prevailing winds. It is adjacent to Sachuest Point a National Wildlife Refuge. Several paths circle the point.

Sachuest Point

Sachuest Point

Tough Life at Third Beach

Tough Life at Third Beach

Leaving Third Beach we had an easy three hour run to Cuttyhunk in brilliant sunshine and temps in the 80’s. This was a one night stop but we managed to get in some good kayaking. It has been argued that Cuttyhunk had the first settlement in New England. In 1602 a small outpost was established for several weeks to harvest sassafras. Sassafras has many culinary, medicinal, and aromatic uses and has been cultivated for centuries. Cuttyhunk also has an old Coast Guard station that was deactivated in 1964 but has apartments that can be rented out from the Coast Guard.

Old Coast Guard station

Old Coast Guard station

It was now time to move on to the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. As we always do in the hurricane season we closely track the depressions and tropical storms that form off the west coast of Africa. There were nine named storms as of early September but all had been either pushed out to sea or made landfall way down south. So it looked for the coming two weeks.

This was our second trip to the Vineyard on Big Smile. Two years ago we took a slip in Oak Bluff but this year we had reservations for a slip in Vineyard Haven and after that a mooring in Edgartown. Vineyard Haven is not as quaint or touristy but the small marina was nice and besides we were really there to have fun with my cousin and her family. They have been coming to the Vineyard for decades and once again they treated us to dinner at their house and took us around to see the sights and a spectacular beach. Our marina reservation was for three days only and so we all hopped on board and motored over to our mooring reservation in Edgartown harbor.

Me and Nance

Me and Nance

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Cath and Nance

Kelly and Jay

Kelly and Jay

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Sarah, Dave, Nance, and Rob in the setting sunlight

Edgartown and the Chappy ferry

Edgartown and the Chappy ferry

Kelly and Rob

Kelly and Rob

Edgartown Harbor

Edgartown Harbor

Long Neck Beach

Long Neck Beach

Edgartown

Edgartown

Unfortunately our plans had to change. We had reservations for four days in Edgartown and then we were supposed to leave for a week in Nantucket. A Tropical Storm/Hurricane named Hermine decided to work its way up the coast. Hermine made landfall in Florida, the first since Wilma in 2005. It looked like it would cross the panhandle and blow out to sea. It decided however to track up the coast and the closer it got the more concerned we became. Edgartown, to their credit, offered refunds for those wishing to leave. They actually suggested we leave and that mirrored our own decision. So after only two nights on the mooring we left.

To escape the predicted track of Hermine we decided to seek refuge in East Greenwich Harbor way up Narragansett Bay. This turned out to be a great choice and we spent three nights on the hook without incident. We did move to the other side of the large harbor on day three as the winds had clocked and the bay became very choppy. Only three boats joined us but I could see numerous others on our AIS that had taken refuge.

Large trawler and ominous sky

Large trawler anchored near us and ominous sky of TS Hermine

If you live on a boat you learn to have a plan A, B, and C. In this case the plan change included our friends Pete and Kathy joining us in Newport instead of Nantucket. Newport is a fantastic town with great amenities for cruisers. Several years ago they refurbished an old warehouse and turned it into a large boating lounge complete with showers, bathrooms, reading area with tables and free wifi, all accessible from the adjacent free dinghy dock.

I picked Pete and Kathy up at the dock and they boarded Big Smile for the first time. One night in Newport Harbor and it was off to Block Island.

Newport Harbor

Newport Harbor

Block Island Southeast Light

Posing at Block Island Southeast Light

Block Island Southeast Light

Block Island Southeast Light

Block Island Southeast Light is considered one of the most architecturally sophisticated lighthouses built in the 19th century. It was completed in 1874 and deactivated in 1990. In 1993, the 2000 ton structure was moved to escape the eroding cliffs.

Me and Pete on Crescent Beach

Me and Pete on Crescent Beach

Cocktails at anchor in Great Salt Pond

Cocktails at anchor in Great Salt Pond

Sunset over Great Salt Pond

Sunset over Great Salt Pond

After a great 4 days Pete and Kath hopped on the Block Island ferry and returned to Point Judith. We headed off to visit the north fork of Long Island and Cath’s college roommate and her husband. We spent one night anchored in Cutchogue Harbor as it was where their marina was located. Rick and Sandy gave us a tour of their piece of the boating world including our first trip around Shinnecock Bay and thru the famous Shinnecock Canal.

Approaching Shinnecock Canal

Approaching Shinnecock Canal

Rick, Sandy, Cath and Scott

Rick, Sandy, Cath and Scott

We wanted to visit Shelter Island as neither of us had ever been there. Deciding to stay in Greenport for a couple of days proved fortuitous as we ended up signing a slip contract for the summer 2017 season at Brewer Stirling Harbor Marina. We had already decided to come back north from Florida and spend one more season cruising lower New England. The marina was getting ready to rebuild a large section of bulkhead and add new floating docks and they had availability so we signed up.

Greenport, it turns out, has a very funky downtown with many bars, restaurants, and shops. Stirling Harbor also has a very nice restaurant that is run by a friend of Sandy’s. Rick and Sandy joined us for dinner our last night in Greenport.

Ferry to Shelter Island

Ferry to Shelter Island

While walking around the waterfront we came upon a Nordhavn trawler we know very well. This trawler, named Jenny, is the reason why Big Smile has its name. It was very surprising to see Jenny again as we had seen her in Baltimore 2 or 3 years ago.

Jenny

Jenny

Next years summer home port

Next year’s summer home port

Big Smile at Stirling Harbor

Big Smile at Stirling Harbor

We had one more stop before beginning our long trip south. Orient and Orient Point are the last two towns on the north fork. There is a nice anchorage behind Long Beach and we spent two beautiful days at anchor. Long Beach is a state park and in 1980 was designated a National Natural Landmark. It offers some fantastic kayaking and we spent many hours exploring the salt marshes.

Long Beach

Long Beach

Doesn't look like Long Island

Doesn’t look like Long Island

Kayaking the marshes

Kayaking the marshes

It was time to head west towards NY City. We would need only one stop between Orient and Sandy Hook and we chose Northport. It was a nasty, rainy and foggy ride down Long Island Sound but we pulled into Northport Bay and dropped the hook near town. The skies cleared and we ended up with a gorgeous sunset.

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Northport Bay

Northport Bay

Northport Bay

Next stop Sandy Hook. Unbeknownst to us President Obama was speaking at the UN on the day we were transiting the East River. Anyone that has taken a boat thru the East River knows to time the tides. We left Northport at 5:45AM with the goal of hitting Hell Gate at 2:15 PM. At around noon we received a Coast Guard report over the vhf announcing that the East River would be shut down at approximately 2:30 to allow for the President to arrive at the Wall Street Heliport from the UN and take off. Having heard that, we increased speed, (and fuel burn) and managed to get to lower Manhattan by 2:15 and miss the shutdown. As we cruised under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge we heard the approach of Marine Corps, V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and the president’s helicopter, Marine One. It was a cool sight.

The President approaches

The President approaches

V-22 Osprey

V-22 Osprey

Lower Manhattan

Lower Manhattan

Sandy Hook is only about fifteen miles from the tip of Manhattan and we anchored in time to kayak ashore and walk around to the north end.

We decided not to do an overnite to Cape May but instead stop in Atlantic City. The cruise down the Jersey coast was very smooth. We purchased, this year, a folding stationary bike which works very well at anchor and cruising in smooth seas. We both were able to get a half hour of riding time while the auto pilot did its thing.

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The state run, Farley Marina, in Atlantic City is very nice. Unfortunately it is attached to the Golden Nugget Casino. The interior looks like it hasn’t been redecorated in three decades. We walked in to find a casual place to eat dinner but the place stunk so of cigarettes that we left and ate on board.

Docked at Farley Marina

Docked at Farley Marina

Revel Casino

Revel Casino

Revel Casino still closed as of September, 2016. Built in 2011 at a cost of 2.4 billion, yes billion, it sold in bankruptcy in 2015 for $82 million. Somebody took a beating. It is the tallest structure in Atlantic City and the second tallest building in NJ.

I dislike Atlantic City and was happy to spend just one night. Cape May on the other hand is a fun place with a beautiful stretch of beach and gorgeous Victorian homes. Our two nights there were very enjoyable.

Cape May beach

Cape May beach

Fins Bar & Grill: good but not great

Fins Bar & Grill: good but not great

The trip up Delaware Bay can be very tough. We exited the Cape May Canal at 7:45AM. It was going to be a long, twelve hour slog up to and thru the C&D Canal. The wind was brisk in lower Delaware Bay but by noon it backed down and the sun came out. There is little to see on the bay and only the Salem Nuclear Plant caught my eye. Actor Bruce Willis worked at the plant as a security guard before pursuing an acting career. Go figure.

Salem Nuclear Plant

Salem Nuclear Plant

One of the Chesapeake stops we made on the way to Baltimore was near Lankford Bay up the Chester River. Back in 1989 we purchased a classic 1966 Morgan 34 from a gentleman at Lankford Bay. We had not been back since.

Our first trip on "Lean Wolf" Lankford Bay to Connecticut circa 1989

Our first trip on “Lean Wolf” Lankford Bay to Connecticut circa 1989

I was finally able to fly our drone and got some nice video and aerial shots.

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Another quaint Chesapeake town that we had not been to in years is Chestertown. Located on the Chester River approximately 20 miles up from the bay it is the seat of the oldest eastern shore county, Kent County. Chestertown was put at its present location on the Chester River in 1706. The weather didn’t cooperate as it remained overcast and rainy for most of our two days but we enjoyed walking the village and will return some day.

Weighing anchor in Chestertown

Weighing anchor in Chestertown

On to Baltimore to visit Tara and see her new apartment. She moved there last spring but we had not had a chance to come south. Andrew was taking a train up from DC to join us on board for the weekend. We chose Baltimore Marine Center at HarborView as it was only blocks from Tara’s apartment in Federal Hill. The Baltimore waterfront, as we found out, is very accessible via a walkway along the water around the entire harbor. Tara actually takes a free water taxi across the harbor to Fells Point where she works.

Parents are expected to take their kids out to dinner and this weekend was no exception. We started off at the famous wing spot, Kislings Tavern in Fells Point.

Kislings Tavern

Kislings Tavern

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Baltimore Harbor Felfie

Baltimore Harbor Family Selfie

Tara’s office is located right on the waterfront in Fells Point. It is a restored warehouse structure with exposed wood beams and lots of charm. Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, does incredible work globally.

Tara's Office Building

Tara’s Office Building

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Cath and I had a cat for years and even had him/her on board for a season. Tara took Puddy a couple of years ago and Puddy has transitioned well from her apartment in Philadelphia to her new digs in Baltimore. We are happy Tara has Puddy.

Cath and Puddy in the apartment

Cath and Puddy in the apartment

We happened to be visiting the weekend of the Fells Point Oyster festival. We spent much of the day Sunday walking around the city and the festival. We even launched our dinghy and toured the harbor, docking it at a marina in Canton, next to Fells Point.

Touring the harbor by dinghy

Touring the harbor by dinghy

Fells Point Oyster Festival

Oyster Festival Weekend

It was a great three day weekend. Baltimore has a lot going on and the Inner Harbor redevelopment was cited as “the model for post-industrial waterfront redevelopment around the world” by the Urban Land Institute.

It was time to push on and at about this time I began to notice another hurricane, Hurricane Matthew, skirting the coast of South America.  On October 1 Matthew made a 90 degree turn to the north and within three days it was pummeling Haiti. Our path was southbound as we headed towards Florida. The forecasted tracks were all over the place with the spaghetti model tracks looking like blades of grass in the wind. It did not look good no matter what the track. We were on a collision course if we continued south. Big Smile was due for some maintenance work which we had planned for Florida. Instead I contacted Atlantic Yacht Basin (AYB) to inquire if they could take us on short notice and perform the work. They said they could do it and complete all the work by Thanksgiving. AYB would also provide a near perfect hurricane hole. So three days after leaving Baltimore we locked thru the Great Bridge VA lock and pulled into Atlantic Yacht Basins covered boat shed.

Cruising under the Chesapeake Bay bridge

Cruising under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Docked next to a classic 80' Trumpy "Annebelle"

Docked next to a classic 80′ Trumpy “Annabelle”

Atlantic Yacht Basin

Atlantic Yacht Basin

Packing up

Packing up the rental car

We left Saturday the 8th and Hurricane Matthew made landfall in South Carolina on the same day. North and South Carolina bore the brunt of this powerful hurricane. We made it back to Vermont in one day just ahead of the rain. We will return right after Thanksgiving and continue our cruise south to Longboat Key Florida. In the meantime we have been enjoying the beautiful Vermont foliage and even towed Big Smile’s old dinghy to Lake Bomoseen.

The old dink

The old dink

Kayaking on Lowell Lake with Magic Mnt in the background

Kayaking on Lowell Lake with Magic Mtn in the background

Backyard foliage

Backyard foliage

That’s it till we get back on board.

July: The weather continues

Our spate of incredible weather rolls on. Big Smile is safely docked in Barrington RI and we have just completed our two week rental on Lake George. We are back in VT for five days and I am way behind with this posting. So this chapter is a six week catch-up and it’s all been good.

Our last two weeks in Maine and our travels to New Hampshire, Boston and the Elizabeth Islands up to Barrington provided the same glorious weather. It’s been really amazing how much sunshine and how little rain we have had. Great for us not so great for New England farmers.

We began July back in Southwest Harbor. July 4th weekend was spent at Dysarts Great Harbor Marina, our home for 2015. The weather, of course, was superb. The 4th started with a pot luck dinner/cocktail party at the head of the dock. That was followed by a spectacular two prong fireworks display. The main display put on by Southwest Harbor was based on a barge in the middle of the harbor. Another smaller and simultaneous display took place behind us on a private pier. The effect was incredible including most of the docked boats receiving fallout from the explosives of the private display.

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July 4th

July 4th

 

Southwest Harbor is known as the quiet side of Mt Desert Island. Bar Harbor is the “noisy” touristy side. We like the laid back, Downeast feel of this community. The small town cares about its community and The Common Good epitomizes that attitude. It is home to the best popovers on the planet. Cost is whatever you can donate. We spent an hour sitting and listening to the music while sipping coffee and eating multiple popovers.

The Common Good Soup Kitchen

The Common Good

 

It was time to start heading south (and west) and Cranberry Isles, Maine was our first stop after leaving Southwest Harbor. The five Cranberry Isles hosts a small year-round community. We anchored off of Little Cranberry and went ashore to explore.

Anchored off Little Cranberry

Anchored off Little Cranberry

An entire beach of smooth, rounded rocks

An entire beach of smooth, wave-rounded rocks

 

A three hour cruise brought us back to one of our favorite anchorages, Hells Half Acre. We choose a different spot to drop the hook due to the prevailing wind. We endeavored to add to our lobster buoy collection and launched the kayaks to hunt for them. The kayaking was superb as expected and we were successful with our hunt. Here we are in action. Kayaking at Hells Half Acre

Continuing on we transited first thru Deer Isle Thorofare passing by Stonington, Maine, crossed East Penobscot Bay, thru Fox Islands Thorofare, crossed West Penobscot Bay and on to Port Clyde. We found a perfect spot to drop the hook just north of Hupper Island.

Port Clyde is the southernmost town on St George peninsula. In the 19th century it was busy with granite quarries, timber and fishing. The 20th century brought artists and writers. Three generations of the Wyeth family have lived here and Chief Justice John Roberts has a home on Hupper Island. It is also home to one of Maine’s many lighthouses, Marshall Point light. It is to this lighthouse that Tom Hanks ran in the 1994 film, Forest Gump.

Marshall Point Light

Marshall Point Light

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A quick, one night anchorage at Ridley Cove provided some good kayaking and better yet some local, soft shell lobster. We bought and ate two each.

Soft shell lobster

Soft shell lobster wrapped in seafood

 

Another one night stop in Potts Harbor got us ashore for dinner. Dolphin Marina, in Harpswell is a small, family run establishment with a great reputation and an awesome restaurant. I had contacted the owner the prior year to inquire about his place and although we did not stay there we could tell they were friendly. After a fabulous meal we met the owner Chris, at the bar, and talked with him for quite some time. He also introduced us to one of the other owners, his mother.

Hoisting the anchor in Potts Harbor

Hoisting the anchor in Potts Harbor; Dolphin Marina off our starboard bow

 

We decided to spend a night in Freeport, home of LL Bean. We have a “frequent cruiser” card from Brewers Marina and picked up one of their moorings. This card entitles us to discounts at their 26 marinas.

Harraseeket River, South Freeport

Harraseeket River, South Freeport

 

We had to make one quick stop in Portland before departing Maine. Our davit indicator light had been installed with the wrong voltage so Maine Yacht Center needed to do a quick fix. It was great for us as we got a free nights dockage and use of their loaner car to go grocery shopping. Of course we made a trip to Harbor Fish, Standard Baking and Hannaford’s, collecting provisions to last a couple of weeks.

Walking around Back Cove with B&M Baked Bean factory in the background

Walking around Back Cove with B&M Baked Bean factory in the background

 

At 5 AM on July 13th we left Maine Yacht Center and headed out to sea for the 55 mile trip to Portsmouth, NH.

5 AM departure

5 AM departure

 

The weather, of course, was superb. The  seas were flat and the auto pilot did it’s thing. Our destination was Wentworth by the Sea Marina, in New Castle, NH. What a place! The staff, docks, facilities, loaner car, and other amenities were incredible. The kayaking at low tide was lots of fun.

New Castle borders Portsmouth, NH, a quaint and historic seacoast town. We took an Uber over to Portsmouth for a visit and dinner.  We liked the area so much we stayed three nights. On one of the days we took a long walk and came upon Fort Stark. While some of the property is fenced off and inaccessible it is a fascinating look back on the evolution of forts over the centuries. It is one of seven forts built to protect Portsmouth Harbor.

Fort Stark

Fort Stark

Wentworth Marina and hotel in background

Wentworth Marina and hotel in background

Big Smile at the end of D dock

Big Smile at the end of D dock

Cath on the phone in the mud flats

Cath on the phone in the mud flats

 

Although we hated to leave the extraordinary facilities at Wentworth By the Sea it was time to move on. We left New Hampshire and motored 50 miles to Salem, MA. Along the way we passed Gloucester and many fine homes along the coast. Salem is of course well known for its 1692 witch trials which you can’t escape while walking downtown. However, Salem does have a museum that rivals any that we have been to. Peabody Essex Museum PEM traces its roots to 1799. The museum undertook a major expansion in 2003 having earlier consolidated two institutions in 1992. The collections are immense. The museum houses Yin Yu Tang, the only complete Qing Dynasty house outside China. While we were there a Rodin exhibition was in place; “Rodin: Transforming Sculpture”. This is a must see museum for anyone visiting Salem and I thank my old Haworth NJ friend, Laurie for telling me about it. We got to see and thank her in Boston.

Rodin: The Thinker

Rodin: The Thinker

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Peabody Essex Museum

Peabody Essex Museum

 

On to Boston. We had planned for three nights in Boston, arriving Monday July 18th and departing Thursday the 21st. We were staying at Constitution Marina which I had booked last winter. It quickly became apparent that three nights would not be enough and, pleading our case, we were able to add two additional nights to our stay. It is not easy extending stays in peak season as there are only a finite number of slips that can handle a boat our size. We lucked out. Our schedule was busy with different visitors each of the first three days.

Docked at Constitution Marina

Docked at Constitution Marina

 

On our first night we had the pleasure of going out to dinner with Laurie and her husband Alex. They joined us on board for drinks and then dinner at a restaurant in Charleston Navy Yard. This was my first dinner in the city of Boston and lots of fun. We met up with Laurie two days later at the visitors center where she works in the summer.

Me and Laurie

Me and Laurie

 

Tuesday our good friends Jim and Beth from Breckenridge, CO came by for lunch and to walk around the city with us. We originally met them in the Bahamas a couple of years ago when they were cruising on their beautiful Passport sailboat. We had not seen them since February of 2015 when we visited their place in Colorado. Beth knew Boston pretty well and we got the lay of the land walking with them throughout the city.

Cath and Beth

Cath and Beth

Me and Jim

Me and Jim

 

Wednesday was a full day and night. My cousin Nance and husband Rob arrived in the afternoon. They were staying on board for the night so the fun began. Dinner at Legal Seafood then our first Red Sox game and first time at Fenway Park. It was a great game with my new home team beating San Francisco, 11-7. Boston is their city and they know it well. They quickly convinced me to become a Red Sox fan.

Fenway Park

Fenway Park

Two Red Sox fans

Two Red Sox fans

Nance and Cath on the dock

Nance and Cath on the dock

 

Rob and Nance left after breakfast and since we now had extended our stay till Saturday we had plenty of time to explore the city on foot and also the Hop on/off tour buses.

On the tour bus

On the tour bus

The Boston frog pond

The Boston frog pond

Louisburg Square, Beacon Hill

Louisburg Square, Beacon Hill

Boston Public Garden; Boston Common

Boston Public Garden; Boston Common

Old Ironsides

Old Ironsides

The oldest naval vessel still floating

The oldest naval vessel still floating

 

Having a dinghy on board also allowed us to see Boston in a different way. Just 100 yards from Constitution Marina are the locks into the Charles River. We launched the dink, blew our horn and the locks opened up.

Charles River lock

Charles River lock

Sailing on the Charles River

Sailing on the Charles River

Harvard Boat House

Harvard Boat House

Exiting the Charles River with a tour boat

Exiting the Charles River with a tour boat

Boston from the Charles River

Boston from Boston Harbor

 

History being what it is, mistakes are often made and perpetuated over the years. We all learned about the Battle of Bunker Hill. However most of the battle actually took place on Breeds Hill, adjacent to Bunker Hill. Although Bunker Hill was a defeat for the colonists it was a positive in that they realized they could defeat the British and as such became more unified and defiant. A quote attributed to Brigadier General, Nathanael Greene goes “I wish I could sell them another hill at the same price”.

Bunker Hill Monument on Breeds Hill

Bunker Hill Monument on Breeds Hill

 

Saturday eventually came and our time in Boston was over. At 7AM we sadly un-cleated our lines and headed out of Boston Harbor.

Heading out of Boston Harbor; First mate ably handling the lines

Heading out of Boston Harbor; First mate ably handling the lines

 

We had 70 miles before us, thru the Cape Cod Canal and down Buzzards Bay. Like most of the month of July the seas were calm and flat as we cruised down the Massachusetts coast. That is until we exited the canal and entered Buzzards Bay. There the wind was blowing stink and the chop was short and steep. We only had 15 miles to travel on the bay till our anchorage near Woods Hole. We had to anchor outside the spot we wanted due to the numerous boats. This put us uncomfortably close to a rocky shore and when this storm approached I grew concerned but it passed over us and the anchor held.

Approaching storm

Approaching storm

 

The following day was a quick motor to Cuttyhunk Island. Cuttyhunk is the outermost of the Elizabeth Islands and quite pretty. It has a very nice beach.

Cuttyhunk public dock

Cuttyhunk public dock

Cuttyhunk

Cuttyhunk

The beach

The beach

 

On to Rhode Island. On our cruise to West Barrington RI, where Big Smile would spend a few weeks we made one stop. Instead of heading up the Newport side of the peninsula coming off of Rhode Island Sound we instead went up the Sakonnet River, stopping at Third Beach. It was a very nice, relaxing beach and a comfortable anchorage.

Tuesday the 26th had us pulling into Brewer Cove Haven Marina in West Barrington RI. Here Big Smile sits waiting for us to return in a few days. The reason for the respite was simple. We had rented a house on Lake George for two weeks and we needed a safe and secure marina that didn’t charge Boston prices.

On to the lake. Having sold my share of our lake house last fall we decided to rent on the east side for the first time. Last winter on VRBO we found and reserved a house big enough for our kids and their friends. Unfortunately Andrew and Tara both changed jobs within a couple of weeks of each other in late spring. In addition Tara moved to Baltimore. She could take no time and Andrew could grab only a few days. So we had a big, comfortable house mostly to ourselves.

Andrew and Taylor

Andrew and Taylor

On the dock of our rental house

On the dock of our rental house

 

But all was good as four of our dear friends were also up and we got to spend quality time together. Bob, Tibby, John and Marion motored up and across the lake to have dinner with us on the “sunny” side. It was a wonderful time.

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John and Marion also stayed with us for a couple of days before taking their own rental. John’s boat, “Moonshadow” was put to good use as the weather continued to be near perfect. Two weeks of steady south wind and temps in the 80’s only ended on our last day of rental.

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Hiking up Anthony's Nose

Hiking up Anthony’s Nose

 

We also attended a concert at Silver Bay on Lake George. “The Lonely Heartstring Band”, a bluegrass group that John and Marion had seen in Manchester VT, played a free 1.5 hour concert. They were great musicians.

The Lonely Heartstring Band

The Lonely Heartstring Band

 

It was a fun two weeks at the lake. We are back in Vermont till Thursday. Lots of outdoor items to attend to. Our lobster buoy’s are in place and the planting is complete. So ends the month of July and half of August.

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June 2016 cruising “Down East”

We left Maine Yacht Center on a beautiful, sunny morning and motored to our first fuel stop of the year. DiMillo’s Marina in the center of the Portland waterfront operates a 24/7 fuel dock where you can tie up before opening hours and pump your own diesel. We needed 500 gallons and as long as the credit card works it’s an easy operation. This is the only self service station we have come across.

Fueled and nearly 4000 lbs heavier we are on our way “down east” for six weeks. In two days we will pick up Barry and Rebecca at the town dinghy dock in Boothbay Harbor. Boothbay is an easy trip from Portland and the anchorage is large. Our rendezvous is easy. Our guests know the routine having spent a week with us in the Bahamas two years ago. The weather proves to be typically Maine-ish, breezy and cool in the mornings but the sun came out every afternoon. Unlike the Bahamas there would be no swimming but the hiking and kayaking was superb. So was the eating.

Boothbay Harbor

Boothbay Harbor

Barry and Rebecca

Barry and Rebecca

Our first anchorage was The Basin. A perfect hurricane hole with a Nature Conservancy trail easily accessible from the dinghy.

Denny Reed Trail; Basin Preserve

Denny Reed Trail; Basin Preserve

A few hours away in another beautiful anchorage was the Indiantown Preserve. Indiantown Island comprises 60 acres, 27 that have been preserved and 33 still private but accessible via an easement. It’s a beautiful hike with many birds.

 

Indiantown Preserve

Indiantown Preserve

Indiantown Preserve

Indiantown Preserve

Bird watching

Bird watching

I have to mention an app that Barry had on his phone. It is the Cornell Labs “Merlin Bird ID” app and it was fascinating. I downloaded it to my phone and recommend it to all who hike or just like to be able to identify and “talk” to birds.

Their several days with us ended too quickly and we continued down east. Our first stop was at the head of the John’s River, 8 miles north of the famous Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. We liked this anchorage so much we stayed three nights. The villages of Pemaquid and New Harbor lie near the mouth of John’s Bay. The history of Pemaquid mirrors that of many late 1600’s and early1700’s towns. Wars, indians, and disease took their toll and towns that flourished one year were gone the next. Pemaquid was a classic example. In 1729 a group of approximately 200 Scotch-Irish settlers arrived. Ironically this is the same year that my McDowell family arrived. Some remains of the old foundations are preserved and part of the fort was replicated. A link to additional information on the fort is here. There is a public dinghy dock which provides access to the museum, the town, and also a great casual restaurant which shares the dock. We made two dinghy trips to visit and enjoyed area and the food.

Pemaquid oysters

Pemaquid oysters

Top of fort overlooking Johns Bay

Top of fort overlooking Johns Bay

Pemaquid Beach

Pemaquid Beach

Anchored on Johns River

Anchored on Johns River

 

July 2nd and we are tied up at Dysarts Marina. June ended superbly. From Johns River we travelled downeast anchoring in Maple Juice Cove for a night. While not overly scenic and reminding us of the Chesapeake it did provide us easy access to a well known site, the “Olson House”.  It was here in 1948, that Andrew Wyeth painted his famous, Christina’s World. The Olson House would occupy Wyeth from 1939 to 1968. It is now owned by the Farnsworth Art Museum. I visited the house in 2005 as part of my week long photography course at the Maine Media College.

Olson House 2005

Olson House 2005

Olson House, 2016

Olson House 2016

On to Rockland for a night. This funky town on the western shore of West Penobscot Bay is a great stop for boaters with an active community and some very good restaurants.

Rockland skyline

Rockland skyline

Camden is another town on the western shore and one we had never visited on Big Smile. The anchorage is small and tight so we took a mooring outside the inner harbor. Camden is a beautiful, upscale Maine town. Gorgeous homes and inns, fantastic restaurants and a harbor packed with classic schooners both replicas and originals.

Kayaking Camden Harbor

Kayaking Camden Harbor

Camden Harbor

Camden Harbor Schooners

So far we have had fantastic weather. And to our surprise it kept on coming. After Camden it was back to what many describe as the most beautiful anchorage in all of Maine. We would agree. Seal Bay, on the eastern side of Penobscot Island, is a winding, tight and very protected body of water. The tricky entrance is strewn with lobster pots and approaching at low tide, as we did, requires slow and careful navigation. Inside the small bay are several places to anchor. We had dropped the hook here in 2014 on our initial voyage to Maine and headed for the same spot.

Seal Bay at low tide

Seal Bay at low tide

Seal Bay

Seal Bay

Seal Bay rainbow

Seal Bay rainbow

On to Isle au Haut. Located approximately 15 miles from Acadia, Isle au Haut is a 13 square mile piece of land in Penobscot Bay. 60% of the land is actually part of Acadia National Park. With a population of 73 (2010 census), Isle au Haut, like most Maine islands, is accessible only by boat.  We anchored off Kimball Island to the west and dinghy’d in to the town dock. Acadia National Park maintains 18 miles of trails but unfortunately for us the anchorage on the south side of the island doesn’t accommodate boats of our size. The bulk of the trails begin there. We still managed a several mile hike from our dinghy landing.

Hiking the beautiful wooded trails

Hiking the beautiful wooded trails

Life moves slow on Isle au Haut

Life moves slow on Isle au Haut

Continuing on our slow trek to Bar Harbor we next stopped at Swan’s Island. There are several anchorages to chose from and we spent our first night in Burnt Coat Harbor.

Before arriving at Burnt Coat we made a lunch stop at Marshall Island. The Ed Woodsum Preserve encompasses all of the 985 acre island.  It is one of the largest undeveloped islands on the eastern seaboard. The trust has developed 10 miles of hiking trials but the real allure is the spectacular sand beach on the southeast corner. Sand Cove is exposed to the ocean swells so a day stop is all that is recommended. What a beach it is. Soft, fine sand and crystal clear water.

Anchored at Sand Cove

Anchored at Sand Cove

 

 

Adding to our collection

Adding to our collection

Swan’s Island, named after James Swan of Fife, Scotland is a lobstering community with a year round population of 332 (2010 census). There is only one general store which we never found. Our second night we moved around to the northwest side and anchored in Mackerel Cove. The ferry dock is located here and the large cove has a number of summer homes.

Buying lobster in Burnt Coat Harbor

Buying lobster in Burnt Coat Harbor

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Burnt Coat Harbor light on Hockamock Point

We ended June in Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island. In 2015 we based ourselves out of Southwest Harbor but never motored over to Bar Harbor. We did make several car trips to the town last year. Bar Harbor is a big summer destination. Way too touristy for me. We were meeting up with our friends Kobus and Susie from NJ who were doing a Maine car trip. I did not want to anchor in the main harbor so instead we went around the “bar” and picked up a mooring from the College of the Atlantic.

Approaching Bar Harbor

Approaching Bar Harbor; yes that’s a cruise ship

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Schooner in the mist

Cadillac Mountain

Cadillac Mountain

Cadillac Mountain

Cadillac Mountain

Cadillac Mountain is located in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. With an elevation of 1528′ it is the highest peak within 25 miles of the shoreline of the North American continent from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and Mexican peaks 180 miles south of the Texas border. The park itself is a 47,000 acre recreation area with many miles of trails and carriage roads for hiking. The views from many of its peaks are stunning. We spent a full day in the park with our friends and also ate some delicious lobster at C-Ray Lobster.

Roadside lobster roll

Roadside lobster roll

Coincidentally our Bar Harbor visit was the same week as the Acadia School of Traditional Music & Arts being held at the College of the Atlantic. The College of the Atlantic is a very small, +- 350 students, college with one self-designed major. Human Ecology. Located on a beautiful 38 acre campus the college admitted its first class in 1972.  This was the 4th year hosting the week long Acadia School or Trad school as it is commonly called. During the week the school puts on many concerts and we were able to buy tickets for two of them. The first we saw was held at Gates Auditorium on the campus. We were treated to “Trad Blend”. Riley Baugus, a Clawhammer banjo player from North Carolina and David Greely a four-time Grammy Award nominee fiddle player performed individually. The last performers were Maeve Gilchrist and Nic Gareiss. Maeve is a Scottish born harpist who studied at Berkeley School of Music. Nic is a world class percussive dancer. They perform together several times a year and it was sensational. The three hour show was amazing and included performances by two young fiddle players.

The following day we attended an afternoon concert at St John’s Church in Southwest Harbor. We were treated to Matt and Shannon Heaton (guitar and flute), brother and sister duo Dan and Liz Faiella (guitar and fiddle) and Sean Heely a young Scottish fiddle master. A wonderful show featuring many traditional, Scottish and Irish, jigs and reels.

Gates Auditorium

Gates Auditorium

St. John's Church, Southwest Harbor

St. John’s Church, Southwest Harbor

So the month of June has ended. We are in for a glorious 4th of July weekend. Time to get outside.

First post for 2016

We are finally back on board Big Smile. Drove over from VT late last week and spent a couple of days unpacking and cleaning up from a winter of storage. We are sitting at the dock in Portland, Maine waiting for numerous items to be completed by the marina staff. It’s been a long time since we dropped her off at Maine Yacht Center and we are both anxious to get underway. However, it will take about a week for the marina techs to finish all of the maintenance and upgrade items.

It was a good winter albeit lacking in snow. We kept busy and had numerous friends and relatives up for holidays and simply to enjoy Vermont.

I will try to recap the last few months as they were extremely enjoyable. Photos will do it best.

Thanksgiving was spent at my cousin Nancy’s beautiful home in CT.

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Thanksgiving fun

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Christmas was a wonderful repeat of last year except without the snow. Cath’s two brothers arrived with their families. Last year we hiked in the cold and snow. This year; well as the pics below show it was neither snowy nor cold. In fact it was in the 70’s on Christmas day.

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New Years was again spent at The Landgrove Inn. The owner Tom, and his awesome staff, including our fav Karl made the event special.

The crowd assemable

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Jim and Robin made it north.

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As did Rob and Nancy

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And Andrew and Taylor

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Cath and Deb

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A day at the office

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Cath with her Green Mountain Ladies (photo by H. Schreibl)

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Chili cook-off day in Middlebury

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In February we escaped to Miami for the big boat show

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In March we escaped again over to Portland for a weekend of good food and music. Very coincidently our hotel was hosting a visit by Donald Trump on the morning we checked out.

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In early April, to end the winter that really wasn’t, we made a two week road trip to Charleston, SC. Our travels south took us first

To New York

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Then DC to visit Andrew and see his new apartment.

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To Morgantown WV to visit my Aunt and Uncle. Below is the New River Gorge bridge.IMG_1464

To Asheville, NC

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To a beautiful wedding in Charleston.

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And a few additional VT photos.

West River Trail

West River Trail

 

Rails to Trails

Rails to Trails

 

Billsville House Concert

Billsville House Concert

 

Bennington VT

Bennington VT

 

Base of Ball Mountain Dam

Base of Ball Mountain Dam

 

Our next door neighbor, Dana, celebrating a birthday with Cath

Our next door neighbor, Dana, celebrating a birthday with Cath

 

And now we are in Maine at the Maine Yacht Center

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Big Smile under the rainbow

Big Smile under the rainbow

Last Post for 2015

The last four days of August found us island hopping west of Southwest Harbor. A couple of anchorages had been recommended by cruisers we had met in the summer. Hells Half Acre was one of the them. We loved the name and the anchorage. The kayaking around the various islands surrounding the anchorage was superb as was the weather. As often happens in Maine we were joined by two beautiful sailboats.

Anchored at Hells Half Acre

Anchored at Hells Half Acre

Anchorage shared with two classic sailboats

Anchorage shared with two classic sailboats

A body of water well associated with Maine is called Eggemoggin Reach. In 1985 the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta began and it has grown to over 100 boats. It is a wooden sailboat Regatta held in early August and I have been told it is an amazing event. Maybe we’ll get to see it in 2016. We did get to cruise under the bridge and down the reach. Few boats were out on the water but it was a nice cruise.

Buckle Island had also been recommended and it would be our last anchorage before leaving Big Smile at Dysarts for nearly six weeks. The island is uninhabited and has a path around the perimeter. Along the way we came upon numerous “fairy houses” as they are called by some. Someone has spent considerable time building tiny stick homes tucked into notches of trees, under rock outcroppings and other locations. A door to the path was also built although the door is now on the ground.

Fairy house

Fairy house

No key needed

No key needed

Back to Dysart’s Marina and off to visit Tara in Peru. While this blog mostly follows Big Smiles travels I couldn’t leave out photos from our 14 days in Peru. It was a fascinating trip and Tara was a perfect guide for the ten days she was able to spend with us. Her Spanish is excellent and so is her ability to bargain. The highlite of the trip was Machu Picchu but the entire trip was well worth it.

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Machu Picchu with Huayna Pichu in background

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Tara and Cath climbed Machu Picchu Mountain

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Our Machu Picchu guide

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Riding at 11,000 ft in the Andes

Riding at 11,000 ft in the Andes

Tara's apartment (upper right)

Tara’s apartment (upper right)

Her kitchen "yikes"

Her kitchen “yikes”

And her office

And her office

Maras salt flats; Salineras de Maras

Maras salt flats; Salineras de Maras

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No comment

Wasn't all sightseeing

Wasn’t all sightseeing

We returned from Peru and it’s now mid October and the colors in Maine are tremendous. We hiked the Acadia Park carriage trails two straight days and really enjoyed the Maine foliage and weather. But weather was on our mind as we had a three day cruise to Portland ahead of us and we knew fall weather on the Maine coast could get rough quickly. So on October 17th we untied from Dysart’s one last time and headed west. Dysart’s Marina had already started removing their outer docks and most pleasure boats had left. Only two trawlers remained when we returned from Peru, Big Smile and a much bigger Nordhavn. Most of the remaining boats were working lobster boats including the boat pictured “Jennifer Lynn”.

Jennifer Lynn across from Big Smile

Jennifer Lynn across from Big Smile

Dysart's in the fall

Dysart’s in the fall

Beautiful sunrise

Beautiful sunrise

Acadia carriage trail

Acadia carriage trail

Acadia Park

Acadia Park

The trip to Portland was cold but uneventful. Temperatures dipped to 34 degrees our two nights at anchor but the heat worked and it was fine. The wind blew hard the last full day but we hugged the coast and avoided any nasty fetch. I just received an email from the marina in Portland and Big Smile is inside for the winter. Good place to be as a gale is blowing off the Maine coast as I write. 2015 was a busy and adventurous year. Looking forward to 2016.

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 sea. 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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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”