End to End Issues

One of the projects we had set aside for New Bern was to  move the stern light.  The original position was on the pushpit just to port of the stern walk through.

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This was fine until you lifted the dinghy up in the davits.  The dinghy ended up at the exact height of the light and this caused 2 problems; the light could not be seen by other ships at night and the reflected light ruined night vision in the cockpit.

After some consideration, I decided to move the light above the bimini, where the flag pole was mounted.  It came out of the solar panel supporting framework.  I would cut the flag pole and attach some angled stainless plate to act as a light shield so that the light would not hit any equipment that hung off the back of the boat.  After cutting the flag pole, I cut out some cardboard, folded it and attached it to the pole.  With the light temporarily affixed I was able to shape the cardboard to ensure that no light hit the boat and it could still be seen by other boats even when we were heeled over.  I found a guy called the GrillMan who custom makes grills so I got out the bike and make the 17 mile round trip to see him.  I provided the flag pole stub and the cardboard and he told me it would take a week to make.

While the piece was being fabricated I pulled the old wiring out of the pushpit tubing and ran new cable from the breaker panel, through the pushpit tubing and up the outside of the solar panel framework to the lights new position.  For the return trip to pick up the new mount I borrowed a friends car, luckily we have good friends where this is sometimes an option 🙂

The pictures below show the final installation.

Now for the other end of the boat 😦

While Debbie was polishing the stainless she noticed that one of the bolts that held the bowsprit on was missing its head.  After inspection it was obvious that crevice corrosion had caused it to fail and fall off.  I decided to replace all six bolts that held on the bowsprit just to be safe.  I had to replace the bolts one at a time as the standing rigging was still fully tensioned.  Debbie’s keen eyesight had possibly saved the day as 4 of the 6 bolts had crevice corrosion that was so bad that the bold heads snapped off with almost no effort while trying to loosen them.

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crevice corrosion on 4 of the 6 bolts

Now I became concerned about the bobstay attachment fitting on the bow just above the waterline as the same bolts were used there. The bobstay is a part of the rigging which counteracts the upward tension on the bowsprit from the jib and forestay.

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bobstay attachment fitting with bobstay rod going up to the bowsprit

I slackened off the backstays and forestay so that there was no tension on the bobstay and then removed fitting.  Three of the four bolts that held it on were in good condition and the fourth had a small amount of crevice corrosion but not enough to be of any real concern.

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I bought all new bolts and washers just to be safe.  I then cleaned up the bow to remove all old sealant and check the fiberglass was all OK.

While polishing the bobstay attachment fitting prior to refitting, I noticed that there was stress cracking around the tang which the bobstay attached to.

As I could not tell how long it would be till this sort of issue caused a failure I decided to replace the fitting.  It is not an of the shelf item and therefore I cycled back to see Chris at GrillMan to get a new one fabricated.  To ensure it would not happen again, I decided to beef up the specifications.  I went from a 1/8″ thickness backing plate to a 1/4″ plate.  I also up-sized the tang from 3/8″ to 1/2″ thickness.  The end of the bobstay rod had space to allow the thicker tang.

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old fitting showing available space

Chris had the new fitting made in three days so bike ride number three was undertaken.  The old and new fitting can be seen side by side as a comparison.

It was then time to reinstall the new fitting.  It was through bolted to the hull.  Just to make the task that much more enjoyable, the space behind the hull is the holding tank for the forward head… yaay!!!  I had to reach down through a 4″ inspection hatch to get to the nuts at the back of the fitting at the bottom of the tank.  This involved getting my arm in the tank up to my armpit.  I volunteered to hold the wrench on the bolt heads on the outside but Debbie suggested that if I wanted her help I might want to let her take on that role.

After liberally applying sealant to all the bolts the job went relatively smoothly.  Now we have all new fasteners supporting the rigging at the front of the boat and a little more peace of mind.

The First 6 Months

Wow – I can’t believe it, but it’s been 6 months to the day since we left Waterford Harbor Marina to start our cruising life.  We have been having a blast and have not regretted the decision to quit our jobs and start cruising.  However, it has not all been as we expected, and although we are working on being relaxed retirees, we are still an engineer and an accountant, so we can’t escape our desire for facts and spreadsheets completely!  I thought I would put together a few facts, figures and observations about our first 6 months, which you may find interesting and potentially useful if you are thinking of taking off cruising in the not-too-distant future.

Where we have been

When we set out, we planned to anchor out as much as possible.  At the beginning of our trip, this didn’t work out quite as planned because the outboard for the dinghy wasn’t working, so we had to stay in marinas.  The outboard was eventually fixed while we were in Stuart, FL, and after that we were able to start anchoring much more.  This was great from a financial standpoint, of course, but more important, it gave us the freedom to stop where we wanted and enjoy the scenery and solitude.  When we have stayed in marinas since Stuart, it has been for specific reasons, such as my stay in Halifax, where I didn’t want to be at anchor alone, or Baltimore, to hide from Matthew, or New Bern, to carry out projects on Sol Purpose.  One thing we have learned is to study Active Captain, Cruising Guides, local websites etc. for free places to stay.  It’s amazing how many places there are, and whenever we have used them we have commented in our blog.

Here is the breakdown of how we spent the first 184 nights:

Overnight travel 26
At anchor 62
Free marina/moorings 14
Moorings 11
Marinas 71
184

When I sat down and read back through the logbook of the first 6 months, I could not believe how far and how many places we have been in such a short time – 5,161 miles, 2 countries, 14 states, 45 different anchorages/marinas.  Each state has something different to offer, and we have enjoyed the changing scenery as we traveled up and down the coast.  However, one thing has been the same wherever we have been and that is the welcome we have received, both from the boating community and the people in the  towns we have visited.   The link below shows the route of Sol Purpose since we left Kemah, TX.

Route so far

The Bottom Line

We really had no idea what we would be spending when we left, but we set up a tentative budget of $3,000 per month.  So far that has proved to be a gross underestimate!

First of all, we have had to make a lot more repairs to the boat than we had anticipated, but we are not too disheartened.  This is the first time that Sol Purpose has really been put through her paces, and it was inevitable that repairs would be needed.  We fully expect that moving forward, we should for the most part be looking at routine maintenance, rather than the major repairs we have had to make so far.  (Fingers crossed, anyway !).

Second, we really need to work on the eating out category!  Unfortunately, we both like to eat well and to hang out in the local bars – it’s a great way to meet people!  As you can see below, we need to curb that spending, but we are working on it.  As time goes on, I am getting better used to cooking in a small galley, and I’m now even baking bread etc!  I’m working on the numbers being much better when I prepare a report in 6 months’ time – who knows, maybe we could even lose a little weight if we eat out less!

The third expense which has been horrendous is the medical insurance.  We’re not sure what that will cost us next year – still checking out the options (see below).

I don’t really like to share details of my expenses, but in the hope that it will help others, here goes:

Category 5/12/16- 6/1/16- 7/1/16- 8/1/16- 9/1/16- 10/1/16- 11/1/16-
5/31/16 6/30/16 7/31/16 8/31/16 9/30/16 10/31/16 11/12/16
Fuel 527.96 317.19 154.65 193.81 381.50 48.91
Insure Boat 2,564.80
Registration 26.00
Other Boat 111.73 1,981.97 1.95 115.26 220.60 929.74 163.32
Dining 171.36 646.18 890.38 787.98 328.21 370.63 148.01
Ent. & leisure 270.51 930.64 812.30 395.57 249.09 650.64
Groceries 533.00 417.52 801.87 806.71 819.51 599.73 422.22
Household 101.78 83.31 256.87 90.12 97.36 560.47 92.00
Medical 1,057.18 701.33 713.51 721.33 691.77
Misc. 137.12 59.00 10.85
Travel to UK 288.09 74.52
Slip fees 709.30 448.90 310.00 746.24 510.00 607.95
Telephone 149.28 69.14 69.21 69.25 76.71 80.24 8.50
TOTAL 2,574.92 6,089.15 6,910.45 4,003.82 3,404.31 4,566.08 834.05

Useful information (I hope)

Healthcare:  we both worked  for the first quarter of the year, and so weren’t eligible for premium tax credits against the cost of health insurance.  That’s the way it is, so I wasn’t too bothered.  But when I discovered that I could not use my insurance anywhere outside Texas, I wasn’t best pleased.  My fault, as I should have studied the policy better before signing up.  However, I thought that things would improve in 2017, when we could buy a multi-state policy, and would be eligible for premium tax credits.  Now we run into one of the disadvantages of leaving when still of “working age” and being Texas residents – as we are living off savings, we have very little actual income, so fall below the income threshold to get credits.  Texas doesn’t give Medicaid to people of working age who have no children, so basically, we have to pay the full premium.  Added to that, the so-called Multi-state policies rarely cover you in more than one state (yes, please explain that to me!)  Ah well, at least we are exempt from the tax penalty if we don’t have coverage!  Now, no political discussion is being invited here – I’m just setting out the facts in case anyone is thinking of taking off and hasn’t thought about the healthcare implications.

Fuel:  we had romantic dreams of lazy days, with the sails set and just speeding along.  Yep – not so much!  Most days there has been not enough wind, too much wind, or just the right amount but blowing in the wrong direction!  On talking with other cruisers, we find that we were not alone in this discovery.  It’s not too bad, as we are rarely in a huge hurry to get anywhere, but please be aware, future cruisers, that you will need to factor in a larger budget for fuel than you probably were thinking.

Relationships:  I don’t care how close you think your relationship is, be aware that a sailboat is a very small space to live in!  The smallest, most trivial matter can get blown up out of all proportion when there is no way of walking away.  Take every opportunity to have some alone time or, even better, some “with someone other than each other” time!  I am not a big shopper, but I have been very fortunate to have cruising friends to have a “girls’ day out” with from time to time!  Remember why you chose to live this life, with this particular person, and you’ll realize just how lucky you are.

Well, on that note, I’ll sign off.  More baking to be done…..

Boat Projects in New Bern

Monday, October 10th – Tuesday, October 11th, 2016:  after several days of watching the weather and checking to see whether the ICW had been re-opened, we decided to start the trip towards New Bern.  After refueling, we sailed out, past the Zumwalt, which was in Baltimore for Fleet Week, past Fort McHenry and into the Chesapeake.  Given that the Annapolis Boat Show was just finishing, the weather was finally good, and the ICW had re-opened, we thought that there would be a lot of boats, but there were surprisingly few.  We made steady progress towards Portsmouth, with only one minor detour when we passed two army vessels at around 1am, who were concerned that we were too close to them.  So we changed course to pass 1 mile away from them, rather than the 0.9 mile distance we would have previously been!  Other than that, it was a pleasant, easy trip down to Portsmouth.  The approach was interesting, as there were several naval vessels heading out for a training exercise, and there was lots of radio communication between them and the various pleasure craft that were in the area.  We saw two submarines (well, just a little bit of the submarines!), and several other naval vessels as we came into the Portsmouth/Norfolk area.  Our plan was to go down as far as the free docks, where we hoped to stay, but thought we would be unlikely to find a space, so we carefully checked out the anchorages on the way.  Seeing that they were mostly empty, we continued on to the free dock where we were very happy to find one free space.  The people from two of the other boats came out to help us in, and while I started on dinner, Moray chatted with them.  The two boats were from Canada, and were travelling down to Florida.  One, Jimmy’s Junk, had started out with two sailors, but for various reasons was now being single-handed.  The other was Wonona, being crewed by Beatrice and Luc.  They were planning on leaving the next morning, and although we had originally planned to stay a couple of nights, we decided to go with them.

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016:  At 7:30am, our little convoy set off to start the journey down the ICW.  Our progress wasn’t too good, but we kept up with the other two boats, and made it to the Great Bridge Lock for the 9:30am opening.  This was the first time we had seen a lot of other boats, and the lock was absolutely full to capacity.  We were sent to the north side of the lock, which generally isn’t quite so good, as it is concrete, and requires a lot of fenders, but on this occasion, it turned out that this was the best side to be.  Once everyone was tied off and the gates were closed, the lockkeeper came along the north side, handing out Halloween candy!  The people on the south side may have got the safe bumpers, but they had to watch us eating the candy!!!!

As we departed from the lock, Moray realized there was something very wrong so after clearing the swing bridge, we stopped and tied off to the dock.  Moray got in the cold, disgusting, brown water and went under the boat to look at the prop.  He came back up with a piece of rope that had been wrapped tightly round it.

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That taken care of, we set off again.  By now, our two travelling companions were nowhere to be seen, so we just kept on going towards Broad Creek, where we planned to anchor for the night.  We kept an eye open for debris, but there was relatively little, so we were able to enjoy the lovely day, and the beautiful scenery.  As we approached Coinjock, we could see that this was where all the powerboats that had been with us in the lock, or passed us afterwards, were planning to spend the night.  We kept on going, and saw two sailboats pulling out from the fuel dock – it was Jimmy’s Junk and Wonona!  Reunited with our convoy, we travelled the last few miles down to Broad Creek, where we found a couple of other boats already anchored, one being Stephanie Dawn, who we had last seen in Cape May!

Thursday, October 13th, 2016:  the plan for the day was to travel to Belhaven.  This was a long passage for one day, so we set out at 6:30am, along with Wonona and Jimmy’s Junk.  There was a steady stream of traffic, but nothing too bad, but the amount of debris was noticeably higher than the previous couple of days.  We also saw a boat come very close to hitting the Wilkerson Bridge, because the water was higher, reducing the 65ft clearance to about 63ft!  He made it through, but I’m not sure if his antenna was undamaged, judging from the scraping sounds!  After a long day, we got to Belhaven anchorage at around 5:40pm.  Once everyone was anchored safely, we dropped the dinghy into the water and picked up the others to go ashore for a couple of drinks.  Jimmy, who was single-handing his boat, really needed a break – he has no autopilot, so had been unable to leave the cockpit for more than a few seconds at a time.  Not the most comfortable day for him L .  We headed to the Tavern at Jack’s Neck, where the manager greeted us eagerly, stating that he had thought Richard Branson was with us J  until that point we hadn’t realized how much Jimmy looked like Richard Branson, but he was right!  While we were sitting with our drinks, and chatting, a lady from the Chamber of Commerce came over to our table with goodie bags for each boat, and welcomed us to Belhaven!  And although we didn’t order any food, the manager came by with a pizza for us – on the house.  What a great town!

Friday, October 14th, 2016:  Wonona and Jimmy’s Junk left bright and early the next morning, as they wanted to continue their journey to Florida as fast as possible.  We slept in a little and headed out at around 8:30am towards New Bern.  On the way we passed several wrecks, where people had tried to pass through but had not paid attention to chart depths.  This was not a result of Matthew.

 

We were planning on spending the night in an anchorage about 20 miles before New Bern, called Hancock Creek, but we made good time and found another anchorage which looked more protected and was only 8 miles from New Bern.  There was a possibility that there would be some flooding issues, and we wanted to be somewhere we could have more room, with better holding, and Broad Creek definitely fit the bill.  It was an inlet off the side of the River Neuse, very wide and relatively deep, and surrounded by tree lined banks.  We anchored and spent a very comfortable night at anchor.

Saturday, October 15th, 2016:  as we only had 8 miles to go, we got a later start, and set off around 9:30am.  It was a pretty day, and we travelled slowly up the Neuse River, enjoying the sights.  Once under the Alfred Cunningham Bridge, we called the bridge keeper to request an opening for the bascule bridge, and came into New Bern Grand Marina at around 11am.  We settled into a slip and went to register with the marina that will be home for about the next month.  I took a quick look at the Farmers’ Market, which is held every Saturday morning, while Moray checked out the marina.  Tom and Joy on Belle Ile, which had been travelling about a day behind us, arrived today, much to Joy’s relief.  She had hurt her knee back in Maine, and had a doctor’s appointment in New Bern on Monday, October 17th.  With the weather and ICW closures, she had been worried that she wouldn’t make it, but Tom did a great job and they made it!

Sunday, October 16th – Tuesday, November 2nd, 2016:  our slip was great but only had a 30 amp power supply.  This meant we had shore power but no air conditioning.  Moray checked with the dock master who found another slip, opposite ours, with 50 amp power, so we moved the boat.  As we are planning to be here for a while, the additional power, and ability to run the air conditioning or heating, will be a blessing.

One of the reasons for spending a month here is to work on various repairs or improvements that we have discovered we need to make.  The first was to get the windex and anemometer replaced.  We had ordered the parts online and they were waiting for us when we arrived at the marina, so I winched Moray up the mast where he removed the mast cap complete with the broken parts.  On our journey here, the mainsail had been furled badly and was now stuck in the mast, so he worked on getting that released on his way down the mast.  He managed to release part of it, but by this time had spent a long time in the Bosun’s Chair, so it was my turn.  I brought him down to the deck and we swapped roles.  A combination of furling and unfurling the sail, while I pulled on it from the mast, finally released the whole sail and we were able to furl it in tidily and tightly.  The next day, after the new parts had all been fitted to the mast cap, Moray went back to the top of the mast, installed the new wind instruments and we are back in business!

My main tasks while we are here involve cleaning the boat.  I finished off the removal of the varnish from the teak, so that I can clean the teak and treat it rather than re-varnish.  The companionway will be re-varnished, but that is a small amount to have to work on in the future!  I am partway through cleaning all the stainless steel, which despite its name, starts to show rust patches after almost 6 months!  I am also making slow by steady progress on cleaning the cabins and galley, which get moldy and damp after time without air conditioning.  It’s a good opportunity also, to empty out the cabinets and reorganize/get rid of/repair items that have been stuffed into any available space for the last few months.  I also took the opportunity to do a little baking

new-bern-2-001Moray’s tasks include replacing a fridge shelf (the original broke during a storm when the contents got thrown around and cracked it), replacing the galley faucet, fixing the drive gear on the wind generator, moving the stern light, replacing the hatch covers and compounding and waxing the boat.  I think I got the easy tasks!

It’s not all work though!  New Bern is a great little town, very friendly and welcoming.  Bob and Clare, on Sofira, and Tom and Joy, on Belle Ile have been here many times, and have shown us around.  (They both have cars here, so they have been wonderful in taking us shopping etc. – thank you, thank you!).

Another thing about New Bern – it loves Halloween!   I went with Joy to a “lunch & learn” at the Tryon Palace Museum, to learn about the witch trials of North Carolina.  Then, Bob & Clare took us to a Halloween party at a friend’s house.  The four of us had about 30 minutes’ notice to get costumes together, but we didn’t do too badly!  Bob went as a lobster fisherman, Moray as a Scot (any excuse to wear his kilt!), I went as a pirate wench – but the prize for originality goes to Clare who was a red marker buoy number 2!  Bob, Clare, Moray and I also took part in the annual Ghostwalk.  Each year, the town selects 18 sites of historical significance (there are a lot to choose from), and the historic society learns something about the people who were connected with that site.  Many are private homes, but the owners allow the historic society to provide hosts and a ghost to guide us through the property and tell us about the people who lived there.  The Cemetery is one of the most popular attractions, as it is open once it gets dark, and you never know who will come out of their grave to tell you a bit about themselves!  On the second night we went to the catacombs of the Methodist Church to have dinner served by dim candlelight.  The same night, I enjoyed the Headless Horseman riding down the street in front of the Tryon Palace, but I think the highlight for all of us was on the final night, with the hooded monk playing music from the Phantom of the Opera on the Church Organ upstairs in the Methodist Church.  The Ghostwalk takes place over three nights and each and every one was a blast.

Well, it’s back to the cleaning for me!  We will be here for a few more weeks, finishing up tasks and enjoying this lovely town.  Then we will be heading to Stuart, FL to pick up our new sails.  So exciting!  In case I don’t write anything before then, Happy Thanksgiving!

Galley Sink Overhaul

After 22 years the galley sink was starting to look a little long in the tooth.  The fixtures were out of date and looking ragged.  Beyond that were the following issues…

  • the hole that was used for a pull out spray head for the faucet was now being used for the water maker sampling spout. This meant that the pull out spout, which we never used, now lay on the shelf under the sink
  • the tubing that connected the Qest water supply pipes to the faucet consisted of several pieces of tubing a lots of pipe clamps which was unsightly and invited the possibility of leaks
  • there was a small leak around the sink’s seal to the galley surface which allowed water into the cupboard below if the counter around the sink got too wet
  • the sanitation drain hose from the 2 sink bowls had a low spot which allowed gray water to partially block the line from time to time
  • the “plumbing” fittings from the sink drains to the sanitation hose were over complicated and took up valuable space in the cupboard below the sinks

For these reasons I decided to over haul the sink area.  I would alleviate all the issues listed above as follows…

  • a new faucet would bring the look up-to-date and remove the pull out spray head
  • proper Qest fittings would clean up the connections to the new faucet supply lines
  • remove the sinks and reseal with 4200
  • remove 4 inches of sanitation hose and move the cupboard penetrations to remove the low spot
  • change out the drains for Scandvik low profile drains with right angled drains

The work took about a day with the time required to wait for the fast cure 4200 to setup.  The before and after pictures can be seen below.

The only outstanding work to do is to epoxy the plugs that were drilled out of the cupboard penetrations into the old holes.  I will do this once the surfaces have fully dried out.

 

Boston and Our Nation’s Capitol

Monday, September 12th – Wednesday, September 14th, 2016:  Monday’s task was to fix the damage to the jib.  We dropped the jib onto the deck, and then pulled the Sailrite sewing machine up on to the deck.  There, with Moray stitching and me feeding the sail through, we fixed the tear and the Sunbrella which had come loose and Dacron.  That done, we hoisted and refurled the jib.  As the machine was already set up, Moray then fixed one of the sail bags.  It is as old as the boat and over the years, the fabric had worn almost all the way through.  Moray shortened the bag, which got rid of the threadbare section.

Later that day, Tom and Joy arrived on Belle Ile, and settled on a nearby mooring ball.  We arranged to meet them ashore and go for dinner in a nearby restaurant.  Joy is still in a knee brace and on crutches following an accident she had last time we met up with them in Rockland, so once we were all ashore, we took a taxi to the restaurant, where we had a good meal and lots of story swapping.  We arranged to meet up the next day on Sol Purpose.

Tuesday’s task was to remove the non-functioning Z-Ion filter, so that we could trade it out for the new part once we got to Newport.  While Moray was taking care of that, another boat came into the anchorage and got settled next to us.  We had a brief conversation with the captain, and then Moray got back to working, while I sat in the cockpit and read.  A little while later, I could hear someone calling to me but couldn’t see them.  Then I realized that it was our neighbor, Braden, who had swum over to our boat!

At this point, our plans changed as Tom and Joy managed to get their boat checked in for repairs if they could make it to the boatyard a little further down the coast that day.  They got there in time and although it took a while, their boat is now fixed and working well!

Later that day, our neighbor – Braden Toan – came over to our boat and we sat in the cockpit, had dinner and drinks, and lots of chatting and laughter.  Braden is a musician and conductor, and is an entertaining, interesting man.  So much so, that we had to repeat the experience on board his Hallberg Rassy, Meridian, the next evening!

Thursday, September 15th:  I have always wanted to visit Boston, so we left Gloucester and headed to a mooring ball in Waterboat Marina.  As we had been at anchor for several days, we needed to run the watermaker and charge the batteries, so we motorsailed the whole way.  We couldn’t have been happier when we arrived!  The mooring ball was the closest one to the dinghy dock, and the marina was right in the centre of everything.

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Moored 100′ of the end of Long Wharf right in the heart of downtown

We went ashore to take a look around, just to get an idea of where everything was so that we could make the most of the two nights we had the space for.  We explored South End which was one of the seedier places in Boston till the artists and gay community moved in.  It then became a des res area in Boston and is now becoming gentrified.  Hopefully it will not lose the cafe/gallery scene that it has now.

Later that evening, back on the boat, we kept hearing a train, but couldn’t make out where it was.  Then it dawned on us – it was the subway train, and it was under us!  The subway goes through a tunnel under the water to the other side of Boston, and it goes right under Waterboat Marina and the noise resonated through the hull of the boat!

Friday, September 16th, 2016:  we started the day early, as we needed to get the laundry done.  Once that was done, we started touring the town.  We walked along the Freedom Trail and saw several of the important sites along the way – the Old South Meeting House, the Old State House, the Paul Revere House, the Old North Church and Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.  The Freedom Trail is marked with a red brick trail so that you can walk from site to site easily.  The Old State House was really interesting, with several period-costumed docents to entertain and inform.  The Old South Meeting House was very moving with displays about issues that have shaped Boston through the years, not just that infamous Tea Party!

Having seen Chinatown on our walk the day before, we decided to get dim sum for lunch.  The restaurant was enormous, in an old Chinese theater, and we were about the only non-Chinese people in there.  The surroundings were amazing and the food was fantastic – and it just kept on coming!

After lunch we went back to the Freedom Trail and took a look at Paul Revere’s House and Old North Church.  Everything was really interesting, but one of my favorite places was the print shop near the Old North Church.  The two printers are dressed in period costume and speak in the manner of the late 18th century.  They demonstrate how the printing press worked in the time of the Revolution, and actually print out copies of the Declaration of Independence while you are watching!  And yes, you can buy a copy for $17.76!

Friday night, we decided to try out a couple of bars, so we started out with a drink at Dirty Nellie’s, and then walked round to the Bell in the Hand.  We had intended just having one drink in there, but there was an excellent live band, the people in there were very friendly, and … we were watching the Red Sox beat the Yankees, in a Boston Bar on a Friday night – what could be better!

Saturday, September 17th – Sunday September 18th, 2016:  our original plan was to leave Boston and head for Provincetown, anchor there for the night and then head through the Cape Cod Canal the following day.  However, as the day progressed the weather forecasts were changing for the worse, so we decided to make this an overnight trip and head straight through the Canal with the midnight tide.  As we approached the Canal, we started to hear Coastguard notifications that there were military exercises going on right at the entrance to the Canal!  We could see the exercises going on and could definitely hear them, but they wrapped up about an hour before we got to the entrance of the Canal.  We went on through the Canal and started to head towards Block Island, but the weather and the waves were very unpleasant and rather than persevere with a very uncomfortable trip, we turned back and headed into Onset Harbor.  We don’t like going into anchorages in the dark, but we had been here before, so we used the track on our chartplotter and radar from our previous visit and anchored quickly and safely.

Monday, September 19th, 2016:  we contacted various fellow South-bound boaters to find out where everyone was, and to see whether it was going to be possible for us to meet up somewhere.  Clare told us that while they had been approaching the Canal, she had heard Braden on Meridian trying to hail us on the radio.  So we contacted him and found out that he was moored in a very pretty place called Hadley Harbor.  The weather forecast for the day was not too good so we hadn’t planned to move but the idea of meeting up with Braden again, and the added attraction of being able to use a free mooring ball during bad weather, was very tempting, so we took the three hour trip and found an empty mooring ball. Shortly after we arrived, the heavens opened, so we settled down to spend a quiet afternoon, reading and listening to the rain.  Around 5pm, the rain stopped, so we took the dinghy over to Meridian, where we spent a great evening with Braden and Kyle.

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Braden and Kyle leaving the next morning on Meridian

Tuesday, September 20th  – Thursday September 22nd, 2016:  the next morning, the weather was clear, so we dropped the mooring ball, said goodbye to Hadley Harbor, RI.  We had ordered some parts which were waiting for us in Newport so we planned to anchor there for a few days, to pick up the parts, make the repairs and if necessary, ride out some bad weather.  Within an hour or so of our arrival, the fog rolled in!  It was quite creepy, as there was a cruise ship anchored nearby and its foghorn was LOUD!

By Wednesday morning, the fog was gone so we started the day’s tasks.  We took the dinghy to the mariners’ center, and then, carrying bottles of used oil and empty propane tanks, walked to UHaul to rent a truck.  While Moray went to pick up the parts, buy new oil and drop off the used oil, and refill the propane tanks, I went grocery shopping.  I took full advantage of the fact that I wouldn’t have to carry everything!!  Moray picked me up and we drove back to the mariners’ center where we loaded everything into the dinghy.  Remembering what happened the last time I was in Newport (when I couldn’t get the motor started), I was nervous, but I took the dinghy back to the boat, unloaded all the purchases and then made it back to the mariners’ center to pick up Moray!  Yay!

Thursday was a work day – Moray made the repairs that were needed to the watermaker, while I baked bread and made soups for the freezer, so that we would have plenty of food for overnight trips to come.

Friday, September 23rd, 2016:  the fuel dock opened up at 8am, so at that time we were waiting at the dock!  We filled up with fuel and water, and headed out for an overnight trip to Port Washington.  We knew that Sofira and Stephanie Dawn were already there, making use of the free mooring balls but that they were intending to leave on Saturday.  They had been unable to leave earlier, as the East River in New York had been closed, for the security of the United Nations Assembly.  We made really good time, and arrived at 4am, so we grabbed a mooring ball between Sofira and Stephanie Dawn, and settled down for a few hours’ sleep.

Saturday, September 24th  – Sunday, September 25th, 2016:  we had planned to stay a couple of nights in Port Washington, but after looking at the weather forecast and talking with Bob & Clare, we decided to leave with Sofira and Stephanie Dawn at 3pm.  The New York chapter of TMCA (!) went through Hellgate and down the East River, through New York Harbor, arriving at the Statue of Liberty at sunset!  We had a great photo session!

That done, we passed under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and out into the Atlantic for an overnight passage to Cape May.  It was a lovely night and we had a great motorsail all the way to Cape May.  We arrived at the anchorage in Cape May around 1pm, which proved to be very good timing.  It appears that many people were finally heading south after being held up in New York, and by nightfall there were many more boats in the Cape May anchorage.  Sofira was also in the anchorage, but Stephanie Dawn took a slip in one of the marinas, because at this point, the TMCA northern chapter was about to split in two!  Stephanie Dawn’s plan was to head offshore down to Portsmouth, but the weather wasn’t looking good for that passage for a few days, so they decided to stay in the marina until a weather window opened up.  Sofira and Sol Purpose were going to take the inside route, up the Delaware River, through the C&D Canal, and then down the Chesapeake.

Monday, September 26th, 2016:  after refueling at 7am, Sofira and Sol Purpose headed out from the Cape May anchorage, and motorsailed up the Delaware River.  There were a lot of boats headed up the river and we were concerned that, like us, they were all heading to Reedy Island.  This is a little inlet, just off the river, right before the opening to the C&D Canal.  We needn’t have worried, as when we arrived it appears that all the other boats had either decided just to keep on going or had found other spots to stop for the night.  We both tucked in behind the little island and spent a perfectly comfortable night in breezy conditions.

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016:  at 8am, we set out to catch the current that would help us through the C&D Canal.  As yesterday, it was a fairly busy day on the water, but we had a pleasant morning of motoring through the canal, and by 2pm we were at Worton Creek.  We decided to stop here for the night, rather than push on to Baltimore.  Within five minutes of anchoring, Moray was swimming!

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016:  after discussing amongst ourselves and with Sofira, we had decided to head to Anchorage Marina in Baltimore for a week.  The weather forecast was appalling for a couple of days at least, and we wanted to spend some time in Washington D.C. also.  So we left at around 7am and were safely in our slips by 11am.  This was a good thing as by 1pm, the rain was coming down hard.  It was nice to be safely tied off to a dock, with electricity!

During a short break in the rain, we took a quick walk around the area to see what was around, before heading back to Sol Purpose.  After dinner, Moray headed out to meet up with Dana, a friend he hasn’t seen for about 6 years, but who happened to be in Baltimore on business – what a small world!  I get annoyed with Facebook from time to time, but when it helps us keep in touch with friends like that, I love it!

Thursday, September 29th, 2016:  the heavens opened with a vengeance, so it was a quiet day on the boat, watching TV and relaxing.  In the evening, Bob and Clare came over for dinner, and we had a great evening catching up with what we had been doing over the past weeks, since we had been together in Belfast, ME.

[Moray’s note: she cooked a beautiful Salmon En Croûte!]

Friday, September 30th, 2016 – Saturday, October 1st, 2016:  there was hardly any let up in the rain either day, so we just spent the time reading, working a little on the boat and relaxing.  The highlight of Saturday was watching Alec Baldwin’s impersonation of Donald Trump on the season opener of SNL!!!

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016:  the weather finally cleared up, so we decided to take a walk around Baltimore.  We walked down to Fells Point and then to see some of the historic sites, for example, the cemetery where Edgar Allen Poe is buried.  Later, we headed back to Fells Point, where there was a two day street festival, with vendors and live music.  We had hoped to go on Saturday, but had been put off by the rain.  On Sunday, the festival shut down at 7pm, but we had a good time and saw a couple of good bands.

Monday, October 3rd, 2016:  we got up early and walked into town, where we jumped on the free bus to Penn Station.  There we took the train for the 45 minute ride into Washington D.C.  We started our sightseeing at the Capitol, where we took a tour with a great guide.  We saw the Rotunda, with all the statues, learned about the artists who created the friezes and heard various anecdotes about former congressmen and presidents!  When the tour was over, we picked up passed and went to the Senate Gallery.  Unfortunately, they weren’t in session, but we were given lots of interesting information and managed to get a feel for the place.  Next we took a brief tour of the grounds, though it was somewhat abbreviated because several parts are being prepared for Hilary’s inauguration so they were out of bounds.

After that, we lookd around the Library of Congress and walked along the Mall to the Washington Monument.  This is incredibly impressive, though I think Moray was a little disappointed that we couldn’t go inside as it is closed for repairs.  (Between you and me, I was relieved that I didn’t have to go up that high!).

Next we continued our walk to the White House.  At first, we thought that we weren’t going to be able to see anything, but as we continued our walk around to the Pennsylvania Avenue side, we got a great view!

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Our next stop was the Lincoln Memorial.  This again is huge and very impressive.  It was a wonderful view from the Memorial Steps, over the Reflecting Pool, to the Washington Monument and finally up to the Capitol.  After taking it all in for a while, we made our way back towards the Capitol, stopping for a short while at the World War II Memorial where we were able to find the section for Texas.

After all this walking, we were hungry, so we headed to Indigo, an Indian restaurant just behind Union Station, which Moray had found through Trip Adviser.  What a find!  We both had vegetable samosas, then I had chicken with mangoes, ginger and garlic, while Moray had lamb curry – both were amazing!  After a great dinner we headed back to the station and got the train back to Baltimore.

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016:  another early start saw us back on the train to Washington D.C.  Once we got there, we took the metro and then a bus out to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.  We walked through the door and Moray looked like a kid at Christmas!  So many planes, with the very first one being a Blackbird!  The museum offers free guided tours, led by docents who are incredibly knowledgeable.  Our tour lasted over 2.5 hours!  During that time we saw so many aircraft I can’t name them all, but the highlights were the Blackbird, the Space Shuttle Discovery, Concorde and the Enola Gay.  After the tour we saw a very good IMAX 3D movie about the D-Day landings, and then went to the Observation Tower to watch the planes coming in, while listening to air traffic control.  After 5 hours at the museum, which really could have been more, we started the long trek back to Baltimore.

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016:  we had originally planned to stay in Baltimore for a week before heading south towards Portsmouth and then New Bern.  However, with Hurricane Matthew heading towards the East Coast of the US, we decided to stay put for another week.  While it doesn’t look as though the hurricane will come here, we don’t want to be sailing towards it.  We have a long list of tasks that we were planning to do when we get to New Bern, so we will spend the week getting some of those done.  It’s irritating but there are a lot worse places to be stuck!

Cape Breton and the Bras d’Or Lakes

Wednesday, August 24th:  after a late start (Moray didn’t get back to the boat until 2am, after 36 hours of travelling), we took a walk to Downtown Halifax, so that Moray could see some of the sights.  We spent several hours at the Citadel, which is the original fortification and barracks for the Scots Guardsmen of the town.  The Citadel is very well preserved, and there are several exhibits inside, showing the history of the barracks and all the wars the Halifax soldiers have been involved in.  There is even a reconstruction of the World War I trenches which you can walk through.  The tour guides are all in costume, and are knowledgeable and entertaining.  But the highlight of the tour has to be the demonstrations of musket and cannon firing!  All in all, a great place to visit.

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Musket firing by guards who wear the MacKenzie tartan since the regimen was raised by the Head of the Clan

Thursday, August 25th:  after preparing the boat, and re-fueling, we said farewell to Halifax and started an overnight trip to St. Peter’s Canal, the entrance to the Bras d’Or Lakes.  Our dock neighbors in Kemah, Philip & Sharon, know the area very well and had recommended it to us.  They had also given us a great Cruising Guide which covered just about every spot we could hope to visit in the Lakes!  The weather was great and we had a stiff breeze so we managed to sail the whole way, which was wonderful.  We arrived at St. Peter’s Canal at around 6pm, only to find that, due to budget cuts, it closes at 4pm every day.  That wasn’t a problem, as there is a long dock you can tie to, while waiting for the locks to open.  So we did that and settled in for a relaxing evening.

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the approach to St. Peter’s canal where we tied up for the evening

Saturday, August 27th:  At 8am we were up and ready for the lock to open, as was one other boat that had waited at the dock the night before.  The lock keeper opened the gates and we both went in.  Once the water had risen, and the lock gates were opened, we had to wait so that the lock keeper could drive to the swing bridge to open that also.  Once we got the signal, we left the canal and headed the short distance round to St. Peter’s Harbor, where we going to anchor for the night.  The Harbor has laundry facilities, wonderful showers and internet access, so we made full use of all of that, getting weather forecasts etc.  Then we headed back to the boat where we were visited by the fisheries guys.  They wanted to ensure that we knew all the regulations for keeping the Lakes clean, but also to welcome us to the Bras D’Or.  One of them regaled us with various stories, including the reason why there are no skunk or porcupine in the Bras D’Or.  It has something to do with a Shaman curse on a porcupine stopping it crossing over the peninsula….. don’t ask 🙂

Shortly after they left, the RCMP showed up to check our cruising permit and to again, ensure that we knew what the rules were for keeping the Lake clean.  After a short conversation, they were on their way.  Once they had left, we headed back to shore for a walk around the town.  First of all, we walked back down to the Canal, where we chatted with the lock keeper for a while.  It turns out they are in the process of building a new swing bridge that is 2 lane so they can keep traffic moving in both directions while the bridge is closed.  We then headed back into the town for a drink and to buy a few groceries before going back to Sol Purpose to eat dinner in the cockpit, while watching the deer grazing on the side of the lake.  Wonderful!

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Sol Purpose at anchor in St. Peter’s harbor

Sunday, August 28th:  mid-morning, we left St. Peter’s Harbor and headed towards Marble Mountain, enjoying the amazing scenery all the way.  We arrived at about 3pm, and anchored in a sheltered quiet little cove called Clark’s Cove.  There was a sandbar nearby, and several boats had pulled up onto it.  There were people enjoying the water and gathering mussels.  It looked like they were walking on water…

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We went for a swim around the boat.  The water was not exactly warm, but not unbearable and it was so nice to swim.  Afterwards we took the dinghy to explore the cove, and found a shallow spot with hundreds of mussels.  Moray gathered lots, and we brought them back to the boat, where he cleaned them.  I made a broth and cooked the mussels, which, along with some fresh bread from the co-op in S. Peter’s, made a wonderful dinner.

Monday, August 29th:  we awoke to pouring rain, so we decided to just stay put for a while until it cleared.  Our next planned stop was only an hour away so there was no need to rush.  At around 4:30 we set off, arriving at Little Harbor about an hour later.  There is a narrow entrance to Little Harbor, but then it opens out into a huge sheltered cove, surrounded by amazing trees.  We had come here on the recommendation of the Cruising Guide and the lock keeper, to try out the Cape Breton Smokehouse restaurant, so we anchored as close to the restaurant as possible.  There were two other boats in the cove, but as there was room for more than 60 boats, it was not at all crowded!  After calling to check that the restaurant was open, we took the dinghy over to the restaurant’s dinghy dock and headed up the path.  The restaurant is in a beautiful log cabin, on a hillside overlooking the cove.  As it was coming to the end of the season, we were the only diners at that time, and so we had the best table in the house – at a huge picture window, looking out on to the water.  The menu was small, but the food was superb.  And we had a great conversation with our hostess, who is the owner of the restaurant.  She and her husband are German-born, but moved to Cape Breton, and built the restaurant, which is also their summer home.  After the season is over, they take their sailboat, Nessie (which was one of the other two anchored in the cove) and travel to the Caribbean!

Tuesday, August 30th: mid-morning, after I was treated to a birthday breakfast in bed, we set off on the 5 hour trip through the Barra Strait into the Northern Bra D’Or Lake, and to the town of Baddeck.  As soon as we left the cove, Moray realized that there was something wrong with the alternator, so we turned back into the protection of the cove, switched off the motor, and drifted around for 30 minutes, while Moray re-wired the alternator where a fed wire had broken due to vibration (one more thing to add to the project list in Ne Bern as the fix is only temporary).  That fixed, we re-started our journey.  On arrival at Baddeck, we found a great spot to anchor and got settled in.  While I took the opportunity to read for a while, Moray took the dinghy to investigate further up Baddeck Bay where there clipper Yankee sunk at anchor.  You should be able to see from the surface, if the conditions are right.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of those days, but he got a chance to go speeding around in the dinghy without me begging him to slow down!

Dinner was Mac and Cheese, a la Moray, for a treat…

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ham, onion, mushrooms and three cheeses… decadence.

Wednesday, August 31st:  we spent the day sightseeing around the town,  The highlight was the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.  We discovered that there was so much more to AG Bell than the invention of the telephone, as if that wasn’t enough!  He had made Baddeck his home, and it was there, with his wife, family and friends, that he studied flight, water speed, animal husbandry and genetics, amongst other things.  He was a great philanthropist too.  It took several hours to do the museum justice.  I was very impressed.  After that, we stopped in at the Yacht Club for a drink, where we met Rick and Sandra Norton.  They were travelling round Canada in their RV and had so many wonderful stories to tell.  They were planning to spend the following day driving the John Cabot Trail, which goes round the north end of Cape Breton, through the National Park.  They asked if we would like to join them.  We don’t often get to see anything other than the coastline, so we took them up on the offer.

Thursday, September 1st:  at 8am we met Rick and Sandra on the dock, and set off on the John Cabot Trail.  The weather wasn’t wonderful, but we had great company and saw lots of wonderful sights.  At one spot, we stopped and walked up to a waterfall.  At another, we looked around a Scottish shepherd’s hut, called a shieling, which had been built to commemorate the Scottish ancestry of a large proportion of the population.  We also took a walk through a huge forest of sugar maple trees – stunning!  After stopping for an early dinner, we headed back to Baddeck, crossing over a waterway on an old cable ferry!  On arrival back in the town we found that the main road had been closed for a street festival, with craft vendors, food vendors, a couple of bands and some street entertainers.  It was a nice end to our stay there.  Thank you so much to Rick and Sandra for their generosity in spending part of their vacation with us.

Friday, September 2nd:  we set out from Baddeck, heading for St. Peter’s Canal.  We had heard that the weather was beginning to change so it seemed that this would be a good time to start heading back towards Maine.  We pulled into the fuel dock at St. Peter’s Harbor to refuel and to use the internet to get the weather forecast.  It looked as though there were going to be storms that evening, so we decided to go through the canal and then tie up to wait the weather out before leaving for Halifax.  The passage into the lock was hairy for a while as the winds were very strong, but we managed to get Sol Purpose tied off and safely through the lock, where we docked and waited for the morning.

Saturday, September 3rd – Sunday, September 4th:  we had planned to sail overnight to Halifax, but the winds were so good we managed to make good headway, and changed our plan to continue on to Lunenburg.  We anchored in the harbor and spent the evening playing Yahtzee with the world’s smallest dice and scorecards!  Thanks, Mum, for a great birthday gift – waterproof and tiny – just what is needed on a boat!

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Monday, September 5th – Wednesday, September 7th:  rather than spend a couple of days getting to Yarmouth, taking the shorter crossing over to Bar Harbor, and then a few days to get to Portland, we decided to take the longer crossing directly from Lunenburg over to Portland, ME,  a distance of about 300 miles.  We anticipated that, given the predicted winds and weather, the trip would take about 50 hours, which would be fine.  As usual, the winds we saw didn’t quite match up to the forecast numbers, and so that, combined with the currents around the Bay of Fundy, and the fact that our fuel wouldn’t be sufficient to motor all the way, meant that we would be under sail, however slow the progress, for some of the journey.  So long as we had sufficient fuel to motor safely into the busy port of Portland, the time taken to make the crossing wasn’t too important.  In fact, dodging lobster pots when we came back into Maine waters would be a lot less important if the motor weren’t running!  So we started a slow, but actually peaceful and enjoyable sail back to Portland.  On a couple of occasions, the progress was so slow that we had to turn the engine on for safety’s sake, but otherwise, it was a pleasant.

While we were looking forward to getting back to the USA, the crossing was bittersweet.  We had an amazing time in Nova Scotia. The scenery was stunning, the towns were boater-friendly and above all, the people were fantastic – so welcoming and friendly.  We were given rides when we needed the, guided tours, and even the cars stop to let you cross!!!!  That plus no lobster pots till November… bliss!

During the passage, we took stock of what we had on board and realized that we had a lot of fresh produce, which can’t be brought back into the country.  So Customs and Border Patrol, or CBP, Stew was born – a 5lb bag of potatoes, chopped; two onions, chopped; a few carrots, chopped;  a large can of sweetcorn and peppers; a can of mushrooms; a little flour and butter; stock; wine – all put in the pressure cooker and cooked for 15 minutes!  Yum!

The other “treat” was that we heated up some soup and put it in the thermos flask, so that we could have a hot drink when we were alone on watch at night.  Delicious and comforting!

What we were not able to do, however, was plan the arrival time into Portland, so of course we arrived at night!  Rather than try to cross over the harbor, tired, in the dark and unsure of our fuel level, we decided to anchor just before reaching the harbor in Simonton Cove.  We dropped the anchor, but couldn’t get it to set, so started to raise it to try again, when we realized we were caught on a line.  Moray managed to free us, but by now the fog was setting in!  We decided to just grab one of the private mooring balls so that we would be safe for the night.  We checked the diesel level and found that we had come in perfectly on fumes 🙂

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That done, we raised the yellow quarantine flag and settled down to get a few hours of sleep before an early start the next morning.

Thursday, September 8th:  we got up early to get to the Spring Point Marina Fuel Dock just round the corner from Simonton Cove when it opened at 8am.  Having filled up with fuel, we headed over to the Portland Yacht Service slip which we had reserved.  PYS offer a great service to boats which are coming into the US and need to clear customs – one free night at a slip, with electricity and water.  We took up the offer and one additional night so that we would have a couple of days to relax.

Once Tom, the dockmaster, had us safely tied off, Moray called the Customs and Border Patrol.  They arrived about 30 minutes later, asked us a few questions, checked our passports and then welcomed us back to the US!  Yellow flag down, and we were free to leave the boat.  After a couple of hours relaxing in front of the TV(!) we headed into town for a drink at the Porthole, and dinner at Hi Bombay, before having an early night.

Friday, September 9th:  while doing various chores during the day, we discovered that of the 6 crew members of the three boats on the transient dock, 5 were British and 4 had ties to my home town of Bristol!  So that evening, all 6 of us were sat in the cockpit of Sol Purpose, exchanging sailing stories, Bristol memories and generally, chatting away!  Thanks Brad for the bottle of 20yr old Plantation Rum, which made the small party go even better!  Thanks also, to Tino and Lisa, of Sweet Emotion and Roger and Nick of Iona.  Turns out the Roger is an author and he very kindly gave us a copy of one of his books “a girl from Zanzibar” which Moray is currently reading. We hope to meet up with you again in the Caribbean, and Nick – we need to know how the visit went 😉

Saturday, September 10th:  the journey south started in earnest, when we said goodbye to Portland and Maine and headed for the Isles of Shoals, NH.  We arrived just at sunset and took a mooring ball for the night.

Sunday, September 11th:  we headed out from the Isles of Shoals, towards Gloucester, MA.  We had a little scary moment when we were caught in a squall, when the winds doubled in strength and veered through 180 degrees, but it was soon over and the boat under control, with us continuing on our way with only minor damage to the jib which we would later repair with our Sailrite machine on the deck of the boat in Gloucester.  We arrived in Gloucester at about 3:30pm, and marveled at how large the approach and the harbor were when not shrouded in fog!  We’ll be here for a few days, as it looks as though there may be some thunderstorms coming, but then we will continue south – next stop Boston, MA.

Dwarfed by a wharf….

Wednesday, July 27th:  After a beautiful sunset the night before, we re-fueled the boat, saying goodbye to Laura and set off northwards again.

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It was another beautiful, but calm, day, so we motorsailed to Burnt Island.  We anchored in the cove, with one other boat.  Moray made the long awaited repair to the outboard and took it out for a test drive (read – went out at a crazy rate!).  Burnt Island is an Outward Bound centre, and there were a couple of people out in kayaks.

Thursday, July 28th – Saturday, July 30th:  we spent a quiet morning waiting for low tide.  There is a little beach between Burnt Island and Little Burnt Island at low tide, where it is possible to land a dinghy.  We walked around the tiny island, which has lots of wildflowers and is very pretty.  We even found a few wild raspberries which were very tasty.

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Just the two of us on Burnt Island, Sol Purpose in the background…

We headed back to Rockland, once again arriving in the fog!    On Friday, we met up with Rick and Valerie Stewart  (s/v Moon Eye) .  They were in the Journey’s End Marina, having some repairs taken care of.  They have a car, so we spent the afternoon with them, touring around the area and sightseeing.  It was  nice to see some more of the countryside and towns.  It also gave us some ideas for stops on the way back south!

On Saturday, we headed into town to make use of the internet connection at the public library.  There we met up with Tom and Joy Merritt (s/v Belle Ile).  After a walk around town, we went to the Time Out Pub where we spent time catching up.  Great afternoon!

Sunday, July 31st:  first thing in the morning, we headed over to Belle Ile and rafted up next to them.  Tom had a whisker pole for us (here’s hoping that we actually get to sail more!) and we wanted to say goodbye before heading out towards Southwest Harbor.  The plan was to do two day-hops, but we made really good time, so we continued directly there and were safely at anchor by 4pm.  There was some beautiful scenery along the way.

Monday, August 1st:  We took the dinghy into town, and walked around to the marina.  The marina manager had lots of information about customs and immigration, both into Canada, and returning to the USA.  We made use of the free wifi at the public library to do some research and bought  few groceries.  We spotted a place that was selling live lobsters for only $4.99 per pound, but unfortunately they had sold out.

Tuesday, August 3rd – Wednesday, August 4th:  at the library, we had checked the regulations for boaters in Canada, and found that we needed a few more flares.  So Moray headed back to Hamilton Marine to get those.  As he had to go into town, Moray decided to see whether there were  now some more lobsters available – success!  He came back with three live lobsters!  As we wouldn’t be cooking them immediately, we put them in cardboard boxes, covered them with seaweed, and put them in the fridge.  We then called the nearby fuel dock but were told that they wouldn’t be able to take us until the afternoon.  So we called another and were given the same answer.  It appears that there was a regatta that day, and every boat in the area was re-fueling!  Luckily, the third place we called – Clifton Dock –  said that they could take us immediately, so we didn’t have to change our plans.  These were to start the crossing over to Nova Scotia.  As it would be a 24 hour crossing, we left around noon, so that we would arrive during the day.  It was a great crossing, although, once again, there was no wind .  At one point during the trip, we watched an amazing show of dolphins hunting and playing.  Some of them were leaping incredibly high.  It was just like a show in an aquarium, but so much better knowing that they were doing it because they wanted to, rather than because they had been bribed!  There had to have been 50-60 of the dolphins in the group spread over about a 1/2 mile circle

While we were crossing, I put together a packet with all the documentation we would need to enter Canada.  To clear customs, Moray would need to call once we arrived.  We knew what the questions would be, so I also put together a list with the questions and answers, to use on the call.  As we approached Yarmouth, we hoisted our yellow quarantine flag for the first time!  The arrival in Yarmouth was very easy, as the marina manager was waiting on the dock to take our lines.  Once we tied off, Moray called Customs.  Five minutes later, we were officially welcomed to Canada, lowered the quarantine flag and raised the courtesy Canadian flag.

We went for a walk around the town, got a few groceries and checked out where to have dinner.  We settled on a nearby waterfront restaurant, which had live music and a great patio.  We tried the local “delicacy” – rappie pie.  It’s a bit like a shepherds pie, but the potato is grated and squeezed through a cheesecloth, which gives the pie a somewhat gelatinous texture.  It looks a little odd, but it tastes delicious.

Rappie pie, a local delicacy

Rappie pie, a local delicacy

Thursday, August 4th:  after making use of the marina’s laundry facilities in the morning, we set off toward’s Clark’s Harbour.  While we were on our way, the fog rolled in again.  We called ahead to the harbourmaster at Clark’s Harbour, and he said we tie off to one of the wharves, behind a visiting mega-yacht.  The fog was pretty thick, but suddenly the wharf appeared in front of us.  Everything was ready, and it was probably a good thing, as it meant that I didn’t have time to think about the fact that I was going to have to climb a ladder, carrying the line, and tie off at the top of the wall!  It was low tide, and there is a 10ft tide there, so we had to take all of that into consideration.  Finally, the boat was secure and we could relax.

The mega-yacht was the Serendipity II, a Cayman-registered boat.  There appeared to be a constant stream of people driving up to the wharf, getting out of their cars and taking a look at the boats.  After talking to a couple of the visitors, we found out that there was a bar about 5 miles away, and it had been mentioned in there, that the mega-yacht was in the harbour – hence all the visitors!  Apparently Ben Affleck was aboard.  Moray took a stroll around the harbor and got some nice misty shots.

Friday, August 5th:  Moray went to the Coastguard station to get the weather forecast and any local knowledge he could glean.  They were very helpful!  It was still foggy, but a fishing boat was heading out, so we followed him out – radar is a wonderful thing, we were able to shave about 8 miles off our initially intended course by following him through some shallow areas!  We headed to our next stop, Lockeport.  We anchored in the outer harbour and took the dinghy into town.  We picked up a few groceries and then stopped at the Aly Kat Lounge, for a couple of drinks and dinner.

Saturday, August 6th:  the day was foggy, but finally there was enough wind to sail!  We sailed all the way to Liverpool, our next stop.  When we had been planning our route, this stop was a no-brainer.  The small town of Liverpool is directly across the river Mersey from the town of Bristol.  Given that my home is Bristol and i went to Liverpool University, it was only right that we stopped there!

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About an hour before we arrived, out in 200ft of water, we had a scare.  We hit – or were hit – by something hard and large.  There was nothing on the chart, and we couldn’t  see  anything around.  We checked inside the boat, and could find no damage or water.  Once we were anchored in Liverpool, Moray used the Go-Pro to check under the boat and everything looked fine.

Sunday, August 7th:  we set off reasonably early as we wanted to get to Lunenburg.  Unlike the previous day, it was a lovely sunny day, but no wind.  We took a little detour to take a video of an ocean sunfish.

When we approached Lunenburg, it was like approaching a fairy tale town!  The buildings are all painted in bright colours and their style reflects the German history of the town.

Monday, August 8th:  we started the day in the public library, making use of the free wifi, and then set off to explore the town.  although the town was founded by the British, the town was laid out, designed and built by Germans, as is very apparent from the style of the majority of the architecture.  We looked around a couple of the town’s churches, in particular, St. John’s Anglican Church, which was almost destroyed by fire in 2001.  Since then, there has been a painstaking reconstruction of the church, and it is almost back to it’s former glory.

We also spent time on the waterfront.  The town has a seafaring and boat-building tradition, which is honored in the museums and sailboats all along the waterfront.  There are also several restaurants and bars along the street.  We stopped at one of the bars for a happy hour drink, but then made our way into the town, to The Knot pub.

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This is a local bar which has a very good selection of local beers and good pub food.  After dinner, we headed back to the dinghy and Sol Purpose, to prepare for the final leg of our journey to Halifax.

Tuesday, August 9th:  we left Lunenburg at around 9am, to head to Halifax.  We had made a reservation with Armdale Yacht Club for my two week stay, while Moray was in Scotland.  We were arriving a day early, so we decided to anchor across the river from the Yacht Club.  The trip up the river was stunning – high dollar homes, beautiful gardens, and lovely boats.  We passed the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, and then arrived at the Armdale Yacht Club.  Its sits on Melville Island and is joined to the mainland by a causeway.  It has been used for various things over its colorful history but mostly for detaining prisoners.  The yacht club have a lease on the property which costs them $1CAN per year 🙂

While we were sitting in the cockpit having a drink, another boater rowed over to us, and gave us a lot of useful information about Halifax and Cape Breton.

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coxed crew passing in front of the Armdale yacht club

Wednesday, August 10th: we headed over to the yacht club, and got settled into our slip.  The manager, Larry, was very friendly and helpful.  The yacht club has a shower, but no laundromat.  There is a bar and restaurant, and lots of active boaters.  Every Wednesday and Thursday evening they have races.  We went over to the bar for a drink before heading into town for a pre-anniversary dinner.  One of the club members, Ken Bell, heard Moray ask the bartender for the number of a taxi firm and insisted on driving us himself.  not only did he drive us to the restaurant, he gave us a guided tour of the town, with suggestions of places we should visit during our stay.  He was very knowledgeable and interesting, and gave us some fascinating insight into his home town.

Thursday, August 11th – Tuesday, August 23rd:  At 7am , Moray left to start his journey – three buses to Halifax airport, a plane to Boston, another to Copenhagen and finally one to Aberdeen and I started my two week vacation!

During those two weeks, I did a mixture of sightseeing and boat work.  My main task on the boat was to strip the varnish from the teak on the deck.  We have decided to leave the teak unvarnished so that it weathers.  It will look very nice once it has weathered properly, and will need a lot less upkeep.  I also gave the inside of the boat a good clean, as three months of sailing leaves the boat a little damp and dirty.

I have also managed to get a lot of exercise.  Halifax is very easy to get around on foot, and I have taken many walks around the various parks and downtown.  Like Lunenburg, the waterfront area has been developed, and is a wonderful place for tourists to visit and to get to understand the history  of the town.  There are a couple of museums, my favorite being the Immigration Museum at Pier 21.  This is the actual Pier where the boats used to arrive in Halifax, bringing people wishing to start a new life in Canada.  The tour guides are very knowledgeable and the Museum is very well set out.  I would highly recommend it.

Next door to Pier 21 is the Farmers Market.  This is open 7 days a week and has all kinds of stalls, selling local produce and crafts.  Again, this is a great place to visit.

I can highly recommend the Armdale Yacht Club for a stay in Halifax.  They have both slips and mooring balls available to visiting boaters.  Just contact Larry at dockmaster@armdaleyachtclub.ns.ca and he will take care of you.  The members of the club have all been very friendly and welcoming.  I have been given rides to the laundromat and the grocery store, and had several people stop by the boat to chat during the day.  They have also provided a lot of information about the Bras D’or Lakes, where we plan to go next.  If anyone is planning to visit Nova Scotia, whether by boat, plane or car, please visit novascotia.com  This is a website that a former tourist information employee told me about – I met her down on the path while we discussed the seal that had shown up in the marina!  I don’t think anyone in Halifax has ever met a stranger!