Welcome to the cruising blog of Wayne and Michele Sharp!

If you want to learn a little bit about cruising, satisfy your curiosity, live vicariously, or be entertained, I think you've come to the right place.

Feel free to ask questions or post comments in the comment section of each post; I will respond to all of them. You can also email us at reluctantsailor@me.com.

We've written a book based on the blog from our first journey in 2007 - Adventures of a Once Reluctant Sailor: A Journey of Guts, Growth, and Grace. It is available online from my website at reluctantsailor.net, and from Apostle Islands Booksellers, Copperfish Books, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. Your local bookstore can also order it for you. We've included over 170 color and black and white photos.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Captain answers some questions

"Brow beat Wayne into sharing a few blogs. He simply has a different perspective to offer. What he would share will be meaningful and insightful."

Michele: Um, excuse me? And what makes you think I'm even capable of "brow beating" my husband? I do have my powers of persuasion, though, so here goes:

Q: "I would enjoy learning what Wayne looks for when he studies the charts. What does he try to remember? How does that play into the actual sailing? You have referenced some of the challenges but to hear it from the captain would be great."

Wayne: I look for hazards to navigation such as shallow water, rocks, and strong currents. I use the charts to plan the routes and use the aids to navigation such as buoys, markers, lights, tall structures on land, islands, etc. I take mental note of hazards and usually stay well clear unless we must pass closer to go through a channel. This allows us to relax more.

When approaching a harbor or channel, I study the charts ahead of time to know what to expect. I enter information into the chart plotter so compass headings are readily available to provide headings. I always identify buoys ahead as much as possible. Often both of us will look for the channel buoys/markers in difficult areas. Binoculars are an essential tool to help locate buoys ahead.

Another challenge is entering a strange marina and trying to locate a slip, then being ready to dock in a tight area with currents and wind.

Michele: Wayne is extremely cautious and an expert sailor/navigator/pilot. Sure makes life on the water less stressful for me!

Q: "Just wondering how the mechanics (engine, generator, A/C) have been operating for you. Other than the seaweed, any other problems? Have you been satisfied with the generator? With all the tasks on the boat, what have you had to keep your eye on? Have you used all your sails at the same time?"

Wayne: The mechanics have been great (except for that seaweed issue). I already have 430 hours on the engine! It has performed extremely well, and has provided plenty of additional power on a few occasions when needed to fight 5 knot currents and strong winds.

I did have a few problems with the air conditioner water pump not working until I lowered the raw water strainer to keep it below the intake water level.

The generator has been great. We only have about 30 hours on it, but it has worked perfectly since I replaced the damaged heat exchanger before leaving Bayfield.

The other problem we had was an intermittent battery charger that completely stopped working about 2 weeks ago. Island Packet sent a new charger - covered by warranty - to the Summit North Marina where we will be the next couple of days (what great service!).

I keep a close eye on the Racor filters (a pre-engine fuel filter and water separator), and had to drain water from them 3 times in the first couple of weeks, but there have been no problems since then. I believe it was due to condensation in the near empty fuel tank over a couple of winters.

In addition to scheduled maintenance, I routinely check for leaks, water and oil levels, nuts and pins that may loosen, etc. All the electronics have worked great except the hailer on the ICOM 504 VHF (Michele wrote about this on one of her posts from Maine), which I have not had time to figure out.
I have had the main, genoa, and stay sails all up on a couple of occasions.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Prestigious company

We had some very prestigious company in Newport Harbor last night, and some diligent Homeland Security folks who were intent on protecting her: the Queen Mary 2. We were just minding our own business, i.e., leaving the harbor, and this Coast Guard boat with a machine gun  (I’ve since learned it might have been fake) came along next to us as if to keep us from getting any closer. I hope this was just routine Homeland Security or some VIP on board rather than an imminent threat.

The Newport waterfront was one hopping place last night! I can only imagine what it must be like at the height of the season. Since leaving Nova Scotia and Maine, it feels like we've jumped backwards in time from October to August; the tourists seem to be enjoying one last hurrah and the boaters around here do not appear ready to call it quits.

Of course, great weather makes all the difference in the world. Although we’ve been about a week ahead of good fall color, we have been blessed with gorgeous weather and today was no exception. Perfect winds and favorable currents, moving us along at 9-10 knots, made today one of the best on the water for us. Our hull speed (maximum speed under sail for our boat) is 8.5 knots. I sure hope this is the day Claus and Rachael are crossing from Nova Scotia to Massachusetts.

We’ve docked our rig in Mystic, Connecticut for the night. Our plan is to spend tomorrow night in Huntington Bay, Long Island (good thing you didn't wait around for us, huh, Greg and Darlene?) before passing through New York Harbor on Monday, which is bound to be a highlight of the trip. 

Suzanne (Wayne's daughter) is attending a conference in Philadelphia Oct. 8-10 and will join us for the weekend on Oct. 5. Suzanne has never sailed with us before, never even seen Wind Dancer or Lena Bea; of course we are delighted that she wants to hook up with us and are excited about her visit. After she leaves us on Sunday we plan to stop in Annapolis, MD (in the Chesapeake Bay) for the last day of the Boat Show on Monday. Whew!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Searching for mooring #355

We thought we were in good shape as we entered Newport Harbor at around 1:45, because we were getting in early enough to have the better part of the day in town for a change. But first we needed to find mooring #355, which Bill and Nancy (whom we met in Quebec City) graciously offered to let us use. 

Now, by some accounts, Newport, Rhode Island is the sailing capital of the U.S. and the harbor is huge; moorings are everywhere. Trying to find a specific one is like, well, trying to find a needle in the proverbial haystack. Wayne left a message for Bill after trying unsuccessfully to reach him on either his home or cell phone. Meanwhile, he motored around while I peered through the binoculars trying to find Bill's mooring. We did this for about half an hour before Bill called back and told us more specifically where it was. Great, now we'll find it...NOT. Motored around for another half hour and finally located it...ATTACHED TO ANOTHER BOAT!

Our cruising guide lists a dizzying array of wharves, docks, and piers in Newport Harbor, so we called one to arrange for a mooring (for $45 - dang!). By the time we finally got hooked up, it was 3:00; that's fine, we will still have plenty of time in town. Except Wayne decided it was time to CHANGE THE OIL, but it would only take about half an hour...RIGHT. That's fine, I'll just get online and update the blog while I'm waiting...SURE THING.

Now, I don't dare ask the Captain why it took THREE HOURS to change the oil, nor do I even want to know. But the job is done, I never did get online, and we're finally in the dinghy on our way to the wharf at 6:00, but when we get to the wharf we realize WE DON'T HAVE A FLASHLIGHT, so Wayne has to go back to the boat and get one...and IT'S 6:15!

Wayne's rebuttal: "Three hour oil change…not exactly! It did take about an hour to change the oil and filter, but I had to spend an additional hour cleaning up oil that leaked while removing the filter. This is under the engine in a very difficult area to reach, requiring me to hang over the generator upside down to get at it. It was, however, three hours from the time we picked up the mooring until the time we left the boat."

Add Newport to the list of destinations we'll return to by car some day.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

New day, new attitude

Sept. 27 - This morning as Wayne scrutinized the chart and our intended itinerary, it became obvious that something had to go. I had already conceded my willingness to trade a stop in Newport, RI for an extra night in Mystic, CT and forgo a layover in NYC entirely, but there were still too many stops scheduled for the time we have.

So we returned the rental car a day early and told the marina we would not be staying an extra night after all, and instead sailed over to Martha's Vineyard. We missed seeing the National Seashore on Cape Cod, but I was ok with that; I told Wayne that I didn't know if it's just the mood I’m in today or whether I’m becoming a bit tired of sightseeing, but right now I just want to move on and get to Florida. Maybe I have simply surrendered the struggle.

Today marks two months since we left the dock in Bayfield and the end is looming just below the horizon.

Wayne is so funny. Every time we go under a bridge, no matter how high it is, he freaks out, afraid that it’s not high enough. Our mast is 62 feet and we have yet to go under one that’s 65 feet, although we will experience many before this trip is over (I may have to sedate and blindfold him).Today's bridge was 120 feet and he told me to be sure to pass under the middle of it because it's a little higher there. I tease him and tell him that he thinks his mast is way taller than it really is.

Our passage through Cape Cod Canal was less than ideal because we had strong southwest winds opposing the tidal current. The combination created sharp, steep waves, making for an uncomfortable ride. On the Southwest end of Cape Cod is Woods Hole, and the channel there is narrow with many turns, confusing channel markers, and notoriously strong currents. Wayne had to fight 4-5 knots of current from the side along with 15-25 knot winds from the same direction, which slowed us down and wanted to push us sideways. Add in rocks to the right of us and shallow water to the left, and there was no room for error. We snaked our way through without incident, due to Wayne's impeccable piloting skills and my acute vision for spotting markers.

While we were at the fuel dock at Tisbury Wharf in Vineyard Haven, I got online (strong signal - yeah!) and reserved a rental car so we could do a quick tour of Martha's Vineyard. We left at about 4:30 and went directly to Memensha, a simple, serious fishing town. In fact, it’s one of several island locations featured in the movie “Jaws.” During our journey I’ve developed a deep fondness and fascination with rustic, smelly fishing villages, and this one fit the bill. It reminded me of Peggy's Cove near Halifax, but it’s more authentic.

I don't know what it is about old lobster traps, dilapidated fishing shacks, and grungy fishing trawlers that bring out the photographer in me, but they do and Memensha had it all, with a bonus. There was a woman there, a full-time artist who also teaches architectural drawing (by hand!) in the architecture school at Harvard. She gave me permission to photograph her and I thought she was a fascinating subject.

Edgartown is a lovely little town, as refined as Memensha is crusty, but not in a pretentious way. We didn't even get out of the car, though, because it was starting to get dark and we were hungry.

We had a hankering for some Mexican food, so we headed for the only Mexican restaurant we knew of on the island, Sharky's Cantina in Oak Bluffs. We were waiting to be seated when another couple came over to wait near us. The woman and I immediately recognized each other - Noreen works in the office at the dock! One of two people I've met on the island, hundreds of restaurants...what are the chances? We struck up a conversation with her and her friend Steve, the captain of a small luxury cruise ship currently docked in Vineyard Haven. Our table was ready and there was room for four, so we invited them to join us. Steve shared stories of how he unintentionally became a commercial fisherman after a night of drinking too much, and how he made the transition to cruise boat captain. He also had some great tips for navigating the east coast and places we should stop; Wayne took notes.

Captain Steve advised us against lolly-gagging around and strongly recommended that we look for a favorable weather window and do a straight shot from NYC to the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays. This time of year the weather can get quite nasty off the New Jersey coast, and we want to be in the Intracoastal Waterway if and when that happens. 

Four hours later we dropped off the rental car, pleased as we could be with our short time in Martha's Vineyard, and glad we chose it over another day in Cape Cod.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thanks and Frustrations

Our internet service has been nearly non-existent the past few days. If I'm lucky, sometimes emails in my outbox will be magically sent when I receive a momentary signal, but that's about it. Right now I am sitting in the marina office because their wi-fi isn’t strong enough to reach the boat.

Thanks for the encouragement you gave Wayne and all the great questions you asked him via the comments section and emails. He’ll respond, as will I, when we finally get a decent wi-fi signal (and time).

The struggle between staying to enjoy our ports of call and needing to move along is a constant, agonizing thing, and for me, the hardest part of this trip (thankfully!). A short distance by car can be the equivalent of a day or two by boat, and now that the days are shorter and traffic heavier, we can only do 40-50 miles a day. Once at our destination, we seldom have time to do more than just wander around and take a few photos - forget about seeing any museums or doing any serious hiking. We had to pass up our lobster dinner with lobsterman Peter in Hull, MA. (thanks for your kind and generous offer anyway, Peter - we really wanted to take you up on it), and may have to pass up a visit with Bill and Nancy in Newport, RI, but that remains to be seen. Wayne is still working on our route.

If there's one thing I’ve learned about myself on this trip, it's that I’m inclined to want to live in the moment - i.e., yes, I know there are other destinations and people awaiting us ahead that are equally important and I don't want to miss them, but we are here NOW and I like THIS place and I want to stay an extra day and are you sure we can't figure out a way to do it all?

That said, I think the hardest part of this trip for Wayne is dealing with me. (Wayne, please feel free to contradict me).

Sure, I have fantasies about selling the boat and redoing our route by car, but I really should not complain. It has been a fabulous voyage and I need to keep reminding myself that it's also a different kind of trip - not so much about the sightseeing as it as about the experience and the adventure. And we’ve seen so much by sea that would be impossible to see by land.

Today I was frustrated in a major way. Here we are on Cape Cod with two days and a rental car. We weren't able to get online last night to do any research and neither of us knows anything about Cape Cod, so we set off this morning with next to no information. I need to have information and a plan when I visit a place, and this was like groping around in the dark. I stopped at a bookshop to find a guide book, but didn't want to pay $15 for way more information than we could possibly use in one day. Wayne was with me at the second bookstore and I relented to buying the guide (partly because the info the shopkeeper gave us was worth the cost of the book); we will also use it on Friday when we go to Martha's Vineyard.

It’s not fair to base our impression of a place on such a ridiculously short visit. That said, our impression of Cape Cod today was somewhat underwhelming, although we did like Chatham and the drive along 6A, and I can see that the Cape would be a lovely place to rent a cottage on the beach and just chill out for a week or longer. Maybe it was because we have been to so many splendid places the past two months or maybe we just didn't go to the right places today, I don't know. We saw a little of the National Seashore today and will return tomorrow. We've heard positive recommendations about it and I don’t think we’ll be disappointed.

Ok, I think I am all whined out for today. Thanks for your indulgence.

Reunion with the Deckers

Sept. 25 - We had good winds and arrived at the Sandwich Marina on Cape Cod at 2:30, with plenty of time to spare until the Deckers came at 4:15. What a thrill it was to see them! Jacob has grown up so much since we saw him last. We also enjoyed meeting their friend and host, Meg.

We visited on the boat for awhile, then went for a drive to the Sandwich Boardwalk. This boardwalk crosses Mill Creek and beautiful marshes, leading to a lovely public beach on Cape Cod Bay. Stretching over 1000 feet in length, the original wooden walkway was virtually destroyed by Hurricane Bob in 1991. Residents and supporters rebuilt the Boardwalk by selling over 1700 personalized planks. We walked the length of it and enjoyed reading the planks along the way.
Mary and I had a few chuckles over the name of the town, especially when we saw the Sandwich Police. What do they do, bust people for putting too much mayo on their sandwiches? And of course there's the Sandwich Sandwich Shop.

We had dinner at a lovely Victorian Inn called the Painted Lady and got partially caught up on each other's lives. We'll see them again before they return to Senegal - on Christmas Eve at our house in MN. But this was a special time to visit with no distractions, and we returned to the boat feeling blessed to have had the short time together.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A semi-spontaneous visit with friends

Sept. 24 - We had one of those rare, relaxing mornings when we didn't have to leave at the crack of dawn, but I was antsy and ready to explore Rockport. First we needed to figure out the itinerary for the next couple days, since we decided to spend an extra night here. We are trying to figure out the best time and place to meet up with my cousin, Dave, his wife, Mary, and their youngest son, Jacob. They are missionaries in West Africa and are on home assignment for 7-8 months; they're from the Twin Cities but are on a driving vacation in parts of the northeastern U.S., visiting friends along the way. When Dave emailed me about meeting up, we jumped at the opportunity. Of course, we aren’t able to plan more than a week or so in advance, and even then our plans are subject to change based on winds, weather and whim. First we planned to meet in Maine, then it changed to Cape Cod, with other possibilities tossed about in between. On Cape Cod, we had a series of three designated meeting locations, based on where we thought we could get to at the right time. Whew! Fortunately, the Deckers are flexible (and patient). I am pretty sure we've nailed it down to Sandwich, Massachusetts late tomorrow (Wed.) afternoon.

Remember John and Diane, who we visited in Vermilion, Ohio? Well, they were attending a wedding in Cape Cod yesterday and were headed to Kennebunkport, Maine today. Since they would be passing by where we were, the two guys had discussed the possibility of hooking up again. As we walked around Rockport this morning, Wayne called John. He and Diane were an hour and a half away and would be stopping in Rockport to see us! Just as easy as that. See how spontaneous we can be? Not only that, but they found a parking spot and there we were, just across the street! It was so much fun to see them.
We strolled around town, stopped and ate lunch (lobster rolls, yum!), then took a drive to Gloucester and back. It was a beautiful autumn day, spent with great friends in a great place. What more could we ask for?

Even a boat needs to be cleaned

Sept. 23 - On this trip, Wayne is almost always up in the morning before me. It doesn't matter what time I go to bed, I don't get up easily before 7:00; 7:30 or even 8:00 is more my natural rhythm. Since most days have started around 6:00, if not earlier, it has been a struggle for (poor, poor) me, but it takes two of us to get away from the dock and I don't complain.

This morning I heard Wayne get up and asked him if it was foggy. Thankfully, it wasn’t. I then dozed as he went about his normal routine of making coffee, checking the weather, and doing final course plotting for the day. It wasn't necessary this morning, but if it's cold in the cabin - under 50 degrees - Wayne will turn on the heat to make it easier for me to get out of bed. What a guy! This morning I was even less eager than normal to get moving and decided to wait until he came and woke me. When I awoke it was 8:00 and we were well underway. Since we were moored and it was calm, he didn't need me and let me sleep. That felt like a luxury.

The extra sleep and the sunny skies energized me enough to clean the inside of the boat. We keep things tidy for the most part, and I clean the galley and heads (kitchen and bathroom to you landlubbers) regularly, but I had only dusted once and, aside from an occasional blitz with the hand vac, I hadn't cleaned the floor - yuck! My cleaning frenzy inspired Wayne and he went to work on the cockpit. It feels good to have a clean boat.

Yesterday I wore my winter down jacket much of the day; today I wore a tank top. What a difference a day can make!

We had some great sailing and anchored in Rockport, Massachusetts on the tip of Cape Ann at around 5:30. We took the dinghy in to town and were blown away by the quaintness of this old New England port town. Really cute little shops and galleries and photo ops left and right. I knew immediately that I wanted to stay tomorrow as well and Wayne agreed with me, but it will require an adjustment to our itinerary. We'll figure it out in the morning.

Fun and Games

Sept. 22 - We left our mooring around 6 a.m. in fog that got thicker as we went. As if that wasn't enough fun, we also had to watch for and maneuver around lobster pot buoys and countless lobster boats. It's not a good feeling to hear a boat engine and be unable to see where it's coming from. We have radar, of course, but that has its own set of challenges. Then there's the horn. If you're motoring and visibility is less than half a mile, you are supposed to sound your foghorn every two minutes. The automatic one doesn't work because the hailer is out of order, so I had to do it manually. We have a horn that looks like a water bottle with a contraption on it and you have to pump it up every time you blast it.
So every two minutes for about two hours I watched the clock, blasted the horn, and pumped it back up. While I played "Watch, Blast, and Pump," Wayne played "Dodge the Pot Buoys," "What's That I See On Radar?" and "Is That a Boat Up There?" Yep, it was a morning of fun and games.

The fog finally lifted, but the fun wasn't over yet. Wayne's favorite game is "Sails Up With Perfect Wind For the Whole Day," but we usually end up playing "Sails Up, Wind Dies, Sails Down." Today it was "Sails Up, Wind Dies, Sails Down, Sails Up, Wind Dies, Sails Down, Sails Up, Wind Dies, Sails Down" - my least favorite game.

It was probably a foolhardy decision to keep going in the fog, but we are in Maine and  could have spent who knows how long waiting for it to lift.

There are three marinas in South Freeport and the first two we called didn't have room for us because they were filled with boats waiting to be hauled out for the season. After a couple phone calls back and forth, the third one, Ring's Marine Service, told us they had a mooring and explained where to find it. Long story short, first we couldn't find it, and when we finally did, we discovered the rope was too short to reach our boat and a guy on a nearby boat yelled not to tie up there because we would end up dragging. We radioed Ring's and the woman on the other end said she would send her husband down to help us. We played "Idle For An Hour" and "What Do We Do Now?," but no one showed. We finally got out fenders and dock lines and prepared to tie up at the city dock, a game called "Now He'll Come For Sure."

Sure enough, just as I was tying us up at the dock, a guy in a dinghy came by waving and asked if we were waiting for Ring's Marine Service, then motioned us to follow him back to the mooring. He untangled the mooring rope so we could tie up and assured us it would hold. We asked if the shuttle into Freeport was still running, and he answered, "No, but the Thornton shuttle is." So after we got the boat squared away and dinghied to the dock, Thornton drove us three miles or so into Freeport for a game of "Shop 'til You Drop Or Until 10:00, Whichever Comes First," and told us to call him when we were ready to return to the boat. How's that for service?

There are a lot of outlet stores in Freeport, but we buzzed through them quickly and didn't buy anything, unlike the first time we were there back in around 1990. There were very few outlet malls back then, and we went a little crazy. This time we made all of our purchases at L.L. Bean. We were dismayed to learn that their outlet store had moved a mile away, so we didn't buy very much. The retail store had all fall and winter clothes, which we have plenty of and don't need as much of any more since we spend so much time in Florida. I was hoping to get all kinds of summer stuff on clearance at the outlet and we could have walked down there, but they closed at 6:00 (unlike the retail store, which is open 24/7/365). We didn't have enough time anyway.

I ended the day with a game of "Searching For Wi-Fi," but I lost and went to bed.

Friday, September 21, 2007

And now, a word from the Captain

Wayne here. Well, I really did not need too much prodding. After all, keeping a blog with pictures of our journey was always part of what I wanted to do with this and any other trip we may take. Michele agreed to help with finding out how and where we could accomplish this, and in the process took it on as her project. As you can see, she has done a tremendous job with it - far better than what you would be reading from me. When we stop in a port or anchor, the first thing we have to do is make sure we have a wi-fi connection so she can keep you updated! My only contribution to the blog has been the Google Map that shows where we have been.

As for Michele's contest, all of you who wrote responses are winners. We really enjoy hearing from you and getting comments. Since you are all winners, just don't show up all at once!

Knowing that Michele has kept you current on the details of our trip, I will only add that the experience has far exceeded my expectations. We have enjoyed all the places we have visited, and have especially enjoyed meeting and talking to people we meet.

We have motored more than I would have liked, mostly because we have had too little wind or a bad direction, and we needed to move on. However, most of the sailing has been very enjoyable, and often faster than motoring. Sometimes we motor and sail together to gain more efficiency.

As Michele mentioned in one of her posts, we have become accustomed to the boating routine and what needs to be done. Michele had claimed that she is not the sailor and does not know how to operate everything; …well, that is history. She can run the boat quite well now, and we work very well together for docking, anchoring, watches, and many other details.

One of my concerns was that we were leaving in a new boat with new equipment and electronics that I had installed mostly over the 90 days prior to leaving. We had very little time to learn and test everything before we left. Remember, she was commissioned May 30 and the first time we had her away from the dock was the weekend of June 30. We took her out again the following weekend, and aside for a couple of short sails with Gary around Bayfield to test the rigging and instruments, that was the extent of it until we left on July 27. We have learned and adjusted along the way and most everything has worked well, with only minor problems and adjustments necessary.

I am delighted with the boat. It is an Island Packet made in Largo, Florida. The boat sails and motors very well. It is a quality sailboat, beautifully finished, safe, fast, and stable. We enjoy the additional space, comfort, and other features. 

Thank you for reading our blog and sharing our journey. We hope you are enjoying it. If you have other questions, I will be happy to answer them.

Lobster capital of the world

Today marks eight weeks since we left the marina in Bayfield, and we're moored in Rockland, Maine, the Lobster Capital of the World. A celebration is in order, wouldn’t you agree? Hmm, what to do, what to do... I guess the only question is “Where should we go for our lobster?”

Speaking of lobster, we spent a while visiting with a couple of lobstermen from near Boston; they were fascinated with our journey. Captain Peter Mahoney made us an irresistible offer: if we come and visit him and his wife when we're in the Boston area, they'd serve us all the lobster we can eat in an evening! I'm willing to bet it would be fresh, and by then we might even be ready for more.

The day started out surprisingly warm and sunny, so we savored the beautiful morning as we sat in the cockpit savoring our coffee and breakfast, then took the dinghy into Camden (recommended to us by a friend - thanks, Tim) and walked around town. Camden is a quaint seaside town and we found it charming and tranquil. We meandered in and out of the shops, stopped to take photos and enjoy the scenery, and simply breathed in the ambiance.

We got back to the boat around noon and ate lunch on our way to Rockland, one of Maine's largest fishing ports. It's a busier harbor, with ferries, fishing boats, and other commercial vessels coming and going along with private boats.

Last night and tonight we've moored rather than docked, which is a lot cheaper - $30 a night instead of $90. So far, the marinas in Maine have been a lot more expensive than the ones in Canada, where the least we paid for a mooring or dock was nothing and the most we paid for a dock was $80 including tax (but only in the big cities; it was typically closer to $40-$50). We know it will get more expensive as we travel down the east coast. Some marinas charge as much as $4.50 a foot, so we will anchor and moor when possible, but there's often no option but to dock.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

An unexpected glimpse of family history

Sept. 18 - Northeast Harbor in Maine is a little town on Mt. Desert Island, also the location of Acadia National Park. We docked shortly before 4 p.m. and settled in. Since it had been a long day (we left Yarmouth at 2:25 a.m.), we were ready for an early night. I walked around town for a while and stopped at the grocery store before returning to the boat to make dinner.

After a good night's sleep, we were ready to explore. L.L. Bean, whose headquarters are in Freeport, Maine, sponsors a free shuttle bus service that will take you around the island. It runs every half hour and you can get on and off as you wish - a wonderful amenity and one we appreciated very much, considering our lack of wheels (we'll show our appreciation to L.L. Bean by stopping in Freeport in a couple days).

So little time, so much we wanted to do. Everyone says you have to go to Bar Harbor, so we did. What we didn't know was that there were two cruise ships docked with a total of 8000 passengers. We enjoyed our walk around town, checking out the little shops, but would have enjoyed a good hike in Acadia more. Oh well. We did enjoy the beautiful drive around the park, with its ocean and mountain vistas.

There was an unexpected treat in Bar Harbor, though. I saw a little clock shop on Main Street, and since I've always loved clocks, I had to go in. Well, the proprietor, Alexander H. Phillips, was an older gentleman who knows clocks inside and out - literally. He sells and restores antique clocks, so we asked him if he was familiar with McClintock clocks. He enthusiastically started talking about how well-made and desirable they were and pointed out that the bank clock outside was a McClintock, and he was responsible for maintaining it. At one point the bank was going to tear it down. When one of their wealthy customers heard about it, she said that if they tore it down she would withdraw all her money from the bank and so would all her friends.

When I told Mr. Phillips my maiden name was McClintock, that O.B. McClintock was my great-uncle and my grandpa used to work for him, he absolutely insisted - several times - that I write down as much as I could about the family history, especially as it pertained to the clock company, because nothing is known about it. Unfortunately, I remember nothing and don't know who would. The O. B. McClintock Company of Minneapolis manufactured a complete line of public clocks, many of which were purchased by banks, where they hung from the building or stood outside on main street, USA. Many are still standing in small towns across the country, including Winter Haven, Florida, where my Mom lives.

The company also manufactured burglar alarm systems. A few years ago I did a bit of research and discovered that, in 1948, they purchased the Waltham Electric Clock Co. from the Waltham Watch Company to make electric alarm, kitchen and wall clocks. I bought some of these McClintock clocks on eBay and gave them to my Mom and siblings for Christmas that year. They were flabbergasted because no one in the family knew the company made more than just public clocks. I don't even know if my Dad knew that. I bought three more on eBay a year or two ago. They were from a jeweler's estate and were new, in the boxes, with the price tags still on them.

This is probably of little interest to anyone but our family, but it adds something new and different to the blog.

Tonight we are moored in Camden Harbor, about halfway down the Maine coast, and will explore the towns of Camden and Rockland tomorrow. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do

Today is the day my sutures are supposed to be removed, and in the interest of adding a little excitement and suspense to this blog, I have decided to remove them myself. Besides...considering I don't see even a speck of land from here, much less a doctor, my options are limited. Have Wayne do it? Surely you're joking. As if I would let him get that close to me with a sharp implement after enduring my companionship 24/7 for seven and a half weeks! I bought some sharp pointy manicure scissors at PharmaSave yesterday, and I have a magnifying mirror and tweezers. Now if I could just get Wayne to make this boat stop rocking long enough to do the deed...It would be SO not funny to end up in the ER needing stitches because I accidentally stabbed myself while removing my stitches!

We caught a few hours of sleep before leaving Shelburne at 11 p.m. Sunday night. I went back to bed once we were out of the harbor and told Wayne to wake me when he needed a break, but he never did. I made the mistake of drinking coffee when we got up to leave at 11:00, so was unable to get to sleep until about 5:00 anyway, but I did sleep until 9 a.m. It has been very cold the past couple of nights, with frost warnings throughout the area. We have instrument displays in both locations, though, so it's as easy to navigate from the cabin as it is from the cockpit - especially at night when radar is necessary to "see" anyway.

An unsung savior on this trip has been our cockpit enclosure; traveling without it would have been downright miserable, even intolerable at times. It’s made up of panels that zip together and can be removed. The front part, or dodger (windshield to you landlubbers) has five panels (three on the front and one on each side) made up of special heavy duty plastic. When it's hot out, we pull the large middle one back and snap it up for air; it hasn't been necessary to remove any of the others. The middle side panels on each side are Sunbrella and can be zipped down, removed or rolled up and snapped. These are our primary "doors" for getting in and out of the boat. They block our vision somewhat when they are down and we may need to modify them later. Then there are four more panels, two on the back and one on each side rear. These are screens sewn to plastic, with plastic panels that unzip and roll down for ventilation. We also have Sunbrella panels that we can snap on to keep out the sun. The whole enclosure is covered with a roof: a dodger top, a bimini top, and a connector; they also zip together and can be removed.

Bottom line is that we are protected from the wind, rain (for the most part), bugs, and sun - a very comfortable way to travel. As the weather gets colder during the coming weeks, we will be ever more thankful to have it.

We docked in Yarmouth yesterday around 12:30. Our arrival coincided precisely with the arrival of the high speed ferry (40 mph and puts out a huge wake) from Maine, which blasted across our path to make its noon arrival. Wayne had notified Fundy Traffic of our presence, so the ferry captain knew we were there and radioed to let us know when he'd be passing and where to wait so we would be out of his way. We'll be crossing paths with the CAT again this morning.

We checked in at the restaurant that manages the dock and Wayne arranged to have some fuel delivered to the boat (no fuel pumps here). I did a couple loads of laundry and took a shower, then the two of us went for a walk around town. There was no internet access at the dock, and although we plugged in at the restaurant, we had no luck getting on there, either. Wayne and I grabbed our computers and went up to the library for awhile after dinner before going to bed early to prepare for our 2 a.m. departure fromYarmouth.

Our route today takes us from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to the Bar Harbor area of Maine. Wayne is downstairs getting some much-needed sleep.

So here we are. Another gorgeous, cloudless day. We are motoring, but that makes it easy to blog and do other things around the boat. That's as opposed to some of the more intense days of sailing and/or rough water, when it's inadvisable to be down below any more than absolutely necessary or have anything breakable (like computers) in the cockpit.

Now I will end the suspense and report that yes, I did remove my stitches, and without incident. End of story.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Calling Captain Wayne

I have asked Wayne a number of times to post a message to the blog, but he must have decided that he doesn't need to, since I've taken care of it so faithfully and, if I may say so, eloquently. It doesn't occur to him that you might want to hear from him, if only to be reassured that he is still captaining this boat. Because for all you know he could be bound and gagged and sitting in the sail locker...or in the belly of one of those big whales...or adrift off the shore of Newfoundland in the life raft...or he could have jumped overboard weeks ago, unable to endure another moment of my presence.

So I have decided to start a campaign of sorts to find out if, indeed, you care to hear from him. If you do, please add a comment at the bottom of this post. It's easy to do - just sign in and choose a password (I think). Once we have, let's see...enough comments, I will pass them on to the Captain and see if they are persuasive enough to tear him from his Important Captain Duties and spur him to respond. Come on, people, it's all up to you! I'll throw in a bonus: the person who posts the most persuasive comment, as determined by Wayne, will receive... something. Ummm...I know! A day of cruising with us, but you have to get to where we are. And we might not be able to drop you off at a convenient place, although we will make every effort to make sure it's on land. I mean the mainland, but hey! It will be worth it, really. And Wayne will be touched to know how much you care.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

An all-nighter to Yarmouth

Whew! It has been a challenging time here in Shelburne Harbor. We arrived yesterday afternoon under gale force (30-40 mph) winds and driving rain. We motored around the harbor for about an hour as we considered all our options, unable to get a radio response from the marina. Docking was not an option due to the conditions, and although we attempted to moor, it was far too windy, so we finally anchored. We would have preferred a slip so we could connect to shore power and charge our batteries, do laundry, take a real shower, get a few groceries, etc. It is cold and windy, but we will dinghy to the dock and maybe accomplish some of the above; the rest will have to wait until we get to Yarmouth in the morning.

The plan is to leave here tonight at 11:00. Why? you might ask. We need to time our passage to Yarmouth precisely to avoid having strong Bay of Fundy tide currents working against us. If all goes as planned, tomorrow night will be our last night in Nova Scotia, and yes, Canada. We've been in Canada since arriving in Port Colburne on August 8 (we also had a brief stay in Sault Sainte Marie) and will remember it fondly: The cities of Montreal, Quebec, Charlottetown, and Halifax...the Saguenay fjord...the whales, dolphins and seals...the small fishing villages of Matane, Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, GrandeRiviere, Escuminac, and Ballantyne's Cove...countless beautiful small towns, harbors, and anchorages...and the wonderful people we met along the way, as well as the people we traveled with (Claus and Rachael, Michael). My only regret is having had to rush through it all.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Two anniversaries

Sept. 15 - Today is our wedding anniversary - 29 years of marriage. It also marks one year since my Grandma died at age 101. It's not a sad thing, the fact that she died on our anniversary; it guarantees that we will never celebrate it again without thinking of her and remembering what a special person she was.

Friday, September 14, 2007

This and that

Another beautiful day in paradise: clear and calm with temps in the 70s.

We left Halifax this morning and are on our way to, according to our cruise guide, one of the most scenic anchorages in Nova Scotia - Port Mouton. I don't know if we can take any more "scenic;" Nova Scotia has been a succession of idyllic picture postcards.

I've been told we have a few new people checking the blog lately - if you are one of them, I would like to welcome you and thank you for joining us. I have a few hints to help you enjoy the experience more:
First of all, if you click on the 2007 section on the right hand column under "archives," you'll be able to scroll through the whole blog without clicking on a different page each time you get to the end of one.
At the bottom of the page is a Google interactive map that shows all the places we have anchored, moored, or docked. You can zoom in really close - sometimes so close you can actually see details (the marinas and buildings, etc. - of course, you won't see our boat there). This is a fun feature since it provides a visual of where we are. I recommend that you click on "view larger map" in blue on the bottom.

Also, I often post messages several days to a week before I get around to posting photos and providing hyperlinks, so it pays to check back to previous posts. Sometimes I even add text to the posts or edit them later if my writing is incoherent (late at night or when I'm rushed, which is usually the case). If you left-click on the photos, you can view them larger in a new window.

Finally, if you'd like to leave us a message, you can do so by clicking the "comment" area at the bottom of any post. If you want to read my response, you need to check back to the same comment area that you made your comment from. We welcome and respond to all comments (at least I hope I haven't missed any), although sometimes I email a response to people whose email addresses I have.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A souvenir from Nova Scotia

As I mentioned in this morning's post, today we drove down the "lighthouse trail" to Peggy's Cove, Mahone Bay, and Lunenburg, a beautiful, scenic drive along the southwest coast. Peggy's Cove looks like a movie set, with all the appropriate scenery and props of a fishing village set just so. I’m not convinced anyone actually lives there, but there certainly is no shortage of tourists.
At one point, Wayne pulled the car over so I could take a photo; while returning to the car, I stepped into a deep hole camouflaged with weeds, and fell. I don't know if I hit the camera or a rock, but there was lots of blood and a cut just below my lip. I stopped at a restaurant/gift shop to clean up and the proprietor gave me some ice to put on it. I looked in the mirror and realized I needed stitches, but spent the next few hours in denial with napkins pressed to my lip. Wayne noticed on the map that there was a hospital in Lunenburg, Fisherman's Memorial Hospital, and suggested we have them take a look at it. By this time I realized that I couldn't talk, smile, eat, or drink without my lip breaking open and bleeding again, so I reluctantly agreed to go. Three stitches, two hours, and one hospital bill later, we were on our way. The stitches really were necessary, so it's a good thing we took care of it.
I did get some good photos today, though; I'll upload them next time we have internet access, so do check back.

We were glad we stayed the extra day; a few more days wouldn't have been too many as far as I was concerned, but it is time to move on.

Good Morning!

We took a slip in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia Monday night and that’s where we’ll be until tomorrow. Halifax is an attractive harbor city with culture, history, and character. It offers all the amenities of a big city without being too big, and is easy to get around in on foot.

I'm just sitting here drinking my coffee, waiting for the boat to heat up so I can take a shower. It was 54 degrees in the boat this morning, which isn't so bad (a couple of times it's been in the 40s), but it is still too cold for me to shower. It's rather bizarre to sit in the cockpit in my robe eating breakfast and watching the people, some dressed in business suits, walk by on their way to work or whatever. They pass by only about thirty feet from the boat, but we're in completely different worlds.

Today Wayne and I are taking a scenic drive down the coast to Peggy's Cove, Mahone Bay, and Lunenburg. Looks like a perfect day for it - sunny skies and temp in the 70s.

The three of us arrived in Halifax Monday evening. On Tuesday we rented a car for the first time since leaving home. Michael wanted to see the tidal bore in Truro, so we drove up there in the rain. The Bay of Fundy, which is northwest of Nova Scotia, has the highest tides in the world - some as great as 54 feet! These huge tides cause tidal bores, which form when an incoming tide rushes up a river, developing a steep forward slope due to resistance to the tide's advance by the river, which is flowing in the opposite direction. Thus we have the phenomenon of the river changing its flow before your very eyes, flowing in over the outgoing river water.

The height of the tidal bore increases with the range of the tide and may vary in height from just a ripple to several feet. It wasn't a dramatic event that day, but was impressive nonetheless, considering the unusual phenomenon we witnessed.

Before returning to Halifax, we took a scenic loop around, then continued down to Peggy's Cove, a beautiful postcard town with a lighthouse you have probably seen photos of. It was raining, though, and I couldn't get many photos, which is why we're returning today.

Tuesday night we went out for lobster dinner; Michael had never eaten whole lobster before, so that was a must-do. He was not disappointed.

Wednesday we walked up to the Citadel and spent a couple of hours there; it was very interesting to learn about some of Halifax's military history.

After the Citadel, we browsed through some shops so Michael could buy a gift for Amy, then returned to the boat. Michael showered and packed, then we were off to the airport with no time to spare. We enjoyed our time with him tremendously, but it was too short, of course, and there was so much we didn't have time to do. All we can hope is that he had a good time and is glad he came.

After we dropped Michael off, Wayne and I decided to stay an extra day, so we will be here until Friday.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Halfway there!

Sept. 10 - We've reached a huge milestone: our approximate halfway point. We've traveled over 2200 miles and have about 2200 more ahead.

As we listened to the weather forecast this morning, it became obvious to us that the smart move would be to cancel our plan to go part way and anchor tonight, and instead head straight to Halifax, about 90 nm. Tropical storm Gabrielle is a couple hundred miles away and not a serious storm, but she's just enough of a nuisance to cause rain and possibly more winds than we care to sail in (30-40 knots). They are also predicting heavy fog for tomorrow, so all in all, it does not look like the best day to be on the water. Besides, if we get to Halifax tonight, we'll have a day and a half to sightsee before Michael leaves on Wed. afternoon.

Having Michael with us has given me the added bonus of a mini vacation from crewing; I am more than happy to let Michael help with the dock lines, fenders, sails and keeping watch when Wayne is busy with something else. Michael is more of a sailor than I am and enjoys that stuff more than I do, and frankly, I don't mind that Wayne has someone else to boss around for a while. Today it allows me to spend time in the cabin working on photos. And updating the blog, obviously.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A delightful treat of a day

Sept. 9 - We left around 6:00 and sailed until we reached Liscombe Harbor. From there, we motored seven scenic miles through the harbor and up the river to Liscombe Mills. It reminds us of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Northern Minnesota. We docked early, at 2:30, which left us plenty of time to explore a bit and take advantage of some of the facilities offered at the resort here, which were included in our dock fee.We started with a hike and walked past a waterfall, through the woods, and alongside the river; it was a welcome change for the senses to be surrounded by trees with the damp, musty smells of moss and pine. I lingered a while to take more photos while Wayne and Michael headed back - Wayne needed to fill the water tank and hose the salt off the boat. We grilled steaks for dinner, then headed up to the indoor heated pool and spa. Mmmmm. It felt heavenly. Today was a delightful treat.

He's finally here!

Sept. 6 - Today is the day! I feel like a contestant on the reality show "Survivor" who is getting a visit from a loved one back home.

With Michael arriving tonight and our guest cabin piled high with stuff, we were highly motivated to get things organized. After one day short of six weeks cruising, believe me, it had to be done. So we stashed away things we aren't using and found better places to put other things. This boat has a tremendous amount of storage.

I wanted to explore Charlottetown, so Wayne sent me on my way while he stayed behind to do laundry and get some boat things done. Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island is a lovely small city with many historical buildings, and the marina is conveniently located near all the amenities of the downtown area. I walked around town and browsed through the shops for a while, then Wayne and I both got badly needed haircuts, went to the grocery store, and had ice cream.
Back at the marina, we finished up the laundry and caught up with email. A shift in the wind made our dockage less than ideal, so the dock master suggested that we move our boat to a more well-protected slip. This would give us the added bonus of being farther away from the party-ers that kept us awake last night. Although there are a bunch of fishing boats at Charlottetown Yacht Club, none of them are used for fishing any more; people buy retired fishing boats, fix them up (or not), and use them as recreational/party boats.

Michael's flight got in at 9:00 and he took a cab to the marina. We had told him where to find us before we knew we would move, so when he found a 150' yacht tied up where we were supposed to be, he thought we had upgraded!

Michael hadn't eaten dinner, so we went out to a local pub and had steamed mussels, nachos, beer, and Michael ordered tuna. It is so good to have him with us. Thanks for letting him come, Amy - you get the daughter-in-law of the year award in our book. We wish you could be here too, of course.

Sept. 7 - We left at 9:00 and had to motor because there was no wind. On the plus side, calm water made it easier to spot whales, so Michael got to see a few on his first day out, as well as quite a few dolphins. We docked for the night in a lovely little place called Ballantyne's Cove, Nova Scotia, just south of Cape George Point.

Sept. 8 - Yesterday and today we've enjoyed warm, sunny weather with calm water and little wind. What a change from the 7-8 foot waves and 30 knot winds we experienced earlier in the week! I guess the variety of conditions keeps us from getting bored.
Later...We maneuvered our way through the buoys of St. Andrews Passage, which would have been scenic had it not been foggy. We saw a lone seal swim by the boat. The open water of the Atlantic Ocean welcomed us with more fog and waves. We anchored in a secluded cove with lots of little islands - Yankee Cove, in Whitehead Harbor. As we sat in the cockpit chatting, we were startled to hear voices; we looked out and saw another sailboat emerge from the fog and come in to anchor. I think they were as surprised to see us as we were to see them. The fog lifted as we ate dinner; it’s very pretty here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Favorable winds

Sept. 5 - Ahhhh...this was sailing at its best. Ok, maybe a bit too much of a good thing with winds at 25-30 knots and lots of 7-8 foot waves, but the winds were in our favor this time and we flew. We sailed 80 nm in 12 hours (I know - pretty darn slow to you landlubbers and power boaters) and never turned on our engine until it was time to take down the sails. We experienced several long, heart-stopping minutes when Wayne feared that the propeller had fallen off; he was running the engine in forward but the boat didn't go. The propeller screws on and is held secure with six cotter pins, so it's highly unlikely to fall off. Wayne got it going after a few minutes, but we have no explanation as to what happened.

We decided to skip a planned stop in Summerside so that we would have a full day tomorrow in Charlottetown. Docked at Charlottetown Yacht Club.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A much needed layover

Sept. 4 - It's a good thing we had scheduled today as a layover day, because I don't think I could have sailed. We were battered, beaten, and stressed to the max yesterday, both physically and mentally; we were exhausted and just plain bone-weary. Our bodies felt like we had done a week’s worth of sailing in one day. Most people think sailing is a passive activity, but we move around a lot, especially on days like yesterday, and use our core muscles constantly as the body compensates to maintain balance and equilibrium.

Today I used my core muscles to pretty much sit on my butt.

We slept until almost 8:00 and I sat in the cockpit the rest of the morning, editing photos and taking advantage of the strong wi-fi signal. I kept falling asleep, though. Sleep deprivation and downright exhaustion had caught up with me and I didn't accomplish much.

Claus and Rachael have electric bikes, so Wayne and Claus stuffed their backpacks full of dirty laundry, got on the bikes, and headed into town to the laundromat. It was our turn to cook dinner, so we made marinated grilled shrimp.

Claus and Rachael informed us today that the inevitable time had come: they had decided to stay in Bouctouche for an extra day or two, which meant we would have to part ways because we need to leave tomorrow to meet Michael in Charlottetown on Thursday. Claus and Rachael have become such dear friends in the short time we've known them, and we will cherish the experiences, the conversations, the laughter, the hugs, the dinners, the whales, the photos, and countless special moments we've shared on this crazy journey of ours. But we will meet up and travel together again, possibly even within the next few weeks; meanwhile, we’ll have Michael with us for five and a half days to help fill the void.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Not a fun day

Sept. 3 - We left Escuminac at 7:10 a.m. and arrived in Bouctouche, New Brunswick around 8:45p.m. What a day! We fought 20-30 knot winds head on and waves as high as 8 feet under sunny skies. It felt as if the boat had become possessed by a herd of wild mustangs. The waves pounded us relentlessly and crashed over the bow, sometimes hitting the dodger (windshield) with what seemed like the force of a fire hose. To make matters worse, we had to navigate our way around a minefield of lobster pot buoys - hundreds of them - and it would be a very bad thing to get one tangled in our engine.

Our diligence in avoiding the buoys did not help us avoid engine problems, however. Three times it overheated, Wayne turned it off, let it cool down, and went down below to investigate. The first time he added coolant, the second time he extracted seaweed from the filter, and the third time he discovered that the intake hose was totally clogged with seaweed. He managed to dig it out with a wire coat hanger (one of his favorite tools) bent into a hook on the end, but this whole process took a long time, and with each engine shutdown the wind blew us more off course.

Keep in mind that as Wayne worked, lying on his belly on the floor, the boat lurched, heeled, and catapulted itself through the wind and waves, oblivious to the fact that Wayne had all he could do to keep himself from being thrown about the cabin while using both hands to complete his tasks. He finally decided to “heave to,” which, in simple terms, means to stall the boat by turning it into the wind so that it drifts (relatively) calmly. This made it much easier and safer for him to work.

He finally made the engine happy, but were our problems over? Oh, no, they were not. Claus radioed us as we neared Bouctouche; they had just docked and were calling to warn us that there were five miles of channel markers to navigate to get to the marina and that we needed to make sure we got there before dark. Wayne looked at the chart and determined that we would arrive around 8:00, just at sunset, so we continued to plug along instead of stopping short of Bouctouche. We reached the outer harbor at 8:00, then realized we still had five miles, 35-40 minutes, and countless channel markers yet to navigate with daylight vanishing rapidly! It wasn't obvious from the chart that we were as far away from the marina as we were. We had no other option but to stay our course at that point, so I grabbed the binoculars to search for the buoys and guided Wayne through them. They would not have been easy to spot under normal conditions  because they were small and easy to confuse with lobster buoys, which dotted the entire channel. Shallow water surrounded us, so if we strayed outside the markers, we would almost certainly run aground.

It was extremely tense and the markers were getting harder to see as we went on. Claus radioed us with explicit navigational instruction given to him by the harbor master ("Go towards the church steeple, now turn right," etc.) We followed blindly and were guided in by Claus, standing on the break wall with a flashlight. It was the only way we could have found the marina, much less found the entrance and docked.

By the time we tied up and turned off the engine at 8:45, we could have kissed the dock. Instead, we gave a silent prayer of thanks and gratefully accepted Rachael and Claus's invitation for drinks and snacks on Kyanna.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Tongues and cheeks

Sept. 2 - Tonight we are docked in Escuminac. Along the way, especially in the small villages, people have been fascinated with our boats. Countless times we've been down in the cabin and looked up to see people on the dock checking out the boat or even peering in the windows. Often ours are the only sailboats, and in the last couple places ours have been pretty much the only non-fishing vessels in the marina. Tonight after dinner dad must have said to mom and the kids, "Hey, there are a couple of yachts in the marina; let's go check 'em out," because there was quite a parade of people on the dock. Everyone we've met has been so friendly. This afternoon we were chatting with a fisherman and asked about internet service; it wasn't available at the marina, but he invited us to come over to his house and use his internet service. A family came by and chatted with us; they were visiting the dad's parents and pointed out the house, saying, "If you need anything, just come on over to the house."

Tonight we ate dinner at Claus and Rachael's. Besides trout, Rachael served us cod tongues and cheeks - really! - which she bought at the same seafood market where we got the lobster. Well, it was unanimous: the cheeks were delicious (as was the trout) - think filet mignon. The tongues, well, not so much. In fact, they were awful - even Charlotte the cat turned up his nose at them (yes, Charlotte is a boy). They were all mixed together and hard to tell apart with their battered coating; although Rachael tried to separate them, I think each of us ended up with an extra tongue or two by mistake.

One of the fishermen we talked to said there hasn't been any cod this year, so what I’d like to know is, where the heck did all those tongues and cheeks come from??

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Change of plans

Sept. 1 - What is the saying? "We cannot change the winds, but we can adjust our sails." Something like that.

We intended today to be leisurely, having planned to cover a shorter distance and allowed time to hike, birdwatch, and take photos on Île Bonaventure, which has the largest colony of Northern Gannet in the world. The island has high cliffs with numerous ledges and fissures which make an ideal habitat for them, as well as many other nesting seabirds.

Well, it was tough sailing. The winds were too strong and the waves too rough to anchor, so plan B was to dock at Percé Village and take a tour boat to the island. Claus and Rachael were ahead of us scouting out our options. They thought the marina looked too small to maneuver and dock our boats in safely with the conditions we had, so we sailed past Percé Village, detoured slightly to photograph Percé Rock (quite impressive), sailed past the little harbor village, L'Anse-à-Beaufils, where we had planned to spend the night, and moved on to plan C. Claus and Rachael's next choice looked tenuous as well, so we went a little farther and docked at Grande Rivière.

We knew immediately that this was a fishing village (besides the fact that our navigational chart labels the waters here as a "fish farm"), and would have even if we hadn't been surrounded by fishing boats - the aroma made it obvious.

We tied up and relaxed for a little while, then set out to explore the village. Well, we only made it as far as the fish market, just a stone's throw from the dock, because dinner was waiting inside in the form of whole, live lobsters. We certainly weren't about to carry them around town or set them loose on our boats, although Charlotte the cat would have found that entertaining. I made it clear that I would have nothing to do with torturing and murdering the poor things myself, so someone else would have to do it (yes, yes, I am a shameless hypocrite). On the walk back I realized that I did not even want Lena Bea to be the scene of the crime, so I asked Claus and Rachael if they would do the deed at their place while I prepared the rest of the dinner. Thankfully, they agreed.

Now, before I bought the lobsters I mentioned to Rachael that we didn't have any equipment for eating them and she assured me, "No problem, we do." I was expecting nutcrackers, tiny forks, special knives, and individual butter warmers with votive candles, so imagine my surprise when Rachael walked in with tiny forks, special knives (of sorts), small stainless bowls...plus a wire cutter and an assortment of heavily-used pairs of pliers. We were not about to let the wrong equipment stop us from eating the lobster, though - sure, it took us a little longer, but the lobster was delish! Rust and all.
Tonight I proposed a toast in honor of it being our final night in Quebec. We love Quebec and the people are friendly and gracious, but after several weeks here, we look forward to the comfort of being in an English-speaking province once again.