Lobster and mussels

Hiking on Little Stage Island

We’ve spent a couple of days sailing up the coast of Maine. After a morning hike on Little Stage Island we sailed into South Freeport and rented a slip for the night. The perspective from the water of coastal Maine in and around Portland is so different than what you see from the road. Lots of water. Lots of greenery. Lots of lobster buoys.

Harrasekett lunch and lobster
Harrasekett lunch and lobster

Also, as opposed to the Long Island sound and the Cape Cod area, almost all the boats are either sailboats or fishing boats. On the way into the harbor, we had our first seal sightings on the water. They are funny creatures, bobbing their heads out of the water to check out the scene and then dunking their heads back down and up again.

Instead of taking a taxi to Freeport for dinner, there is a popular lobster stand/restaurant near the public dock where we ended up eating.  When it gets busy in the summer, people are known to order and eat their meal on the hoods of their car if all the picnic tables are full. We ate our first lobster rolls on this trip, along with a pint of fried clams, calamari (Christopher’s favorite), and dessert.

Towards Georges Islands

Our stopping point is about half way from Freeport to Belfast in the Gulf of Maine. We have gone through Casco Bay, are in Muscongus Bay, and on our way to Penobscot Bay. We are now anchored in Burnt Island.  It is part of the Georges Islands chain, located about 4 miles offshore from Port Clyde. In the 1800’s, farming and fishing families lived on it. Today, the Hurricane Island Outward Bound outpost is there.  When we arrived, there was a group of about 12 people on a small wooden, primitive, viking-like boat floating on a mooring ball off shore. Our best guess is that it is an Outward Bound group, testing their on-the-water survival skills for the night. I don’t think that a large, kitted-out sailboat anchored in viewing distance helps. 🙂

Christopher and I rowed the dinghy onto Little Burnt Island, which is just to the north of the main island. I had read that depending on the season, this island is full of raspberries. We were hopeful. There were a lot of raspberry bushes, but no raspberries yet; end of June is still a bit early. However, what we did find hiking around the small island were a bunch of abandoned lobster buoys and lobster cages that had washed ashore, and MUSSELS! We gathered about 3 dozen mussels, which will make a great lunch tomorrow.

 

Whale sighting!

We entered into Maine today. Saw a right whale broach twice about 100ft from us on starboard! One of the coolest sightings so far. North Atlantic right whales are considered critically endangered. They are not massive like hump back whales. Reportedly about 500 survive. The Gulf of Maine is a protected area where they tend to summer and birth calves. In the past because of their high blubber content they were hunted for whale oil. Today most deaths are related to ‘ship strikes’.

imageWe are anchoring in Stage Island Harbor, north of Kennebunkport. We wanted to stay in a place where we would not have to worry about too much traffic and found this on the chart. Seemed ideal and it really is.  Quiet and calm, although there are a lot of lobster buoys at the entrance of the small natural harbor. One boat was anchored when we arrived and another anchored soon after we had set anchor. But that’s it. After making burgers for dinner, I took a quick jump into the crystal clear water to wash off. Cold, but refreshing, and now clean. Convinced Eric to jump in, but couldn’t get Topher in once he saw his dad ‘freeze’.

Our plan tomorrow morning is to row the dinghy over to one of the islands and explore, especially the one with an old abandoned brick house on it.

Sunset Stage Island
Sunset Stage Island

Are you a witch?

We stopped the night before in Onset Bay, the western entrance to the Cape Cod Canal in order to catch the flood tide and current through the canal in the morning.

Entering Cape Cod Canal
Entering Cape Cod Canal

The current can run upwards of 5+ knots.  Plus they say that if you cannot make the crossing on a head current, i.e. going against the current, in 2.5 hours, you may be liable to assist by a tug. The max speed is 10 knots, so as to control the wake. We left relatively early in the morning and were able to make the crossing in about 45 minutes with the flood tide, going pretty much at the max designated speed. Lots of fishermen were along the banks, including those riding along the trail with their fishing poles latched onto the back of their bikes to find the ideal spot to drop their hook.  Funny, we remembered running along that trail a few years ago when we visited Buzzards Bay for a wedding.  This time we saw it from a slightly different perspective. 🙂

Once through the Canal, we made our way north, past Boston and onto Salem. Yes, that Salem, where the infamous witch trials took place in the late 1600’s. Witch references are found everywhere throughout the town. But it is also home to the House of Seven Gables, made famous by author Nathaniel Hawthorne and a large historical maritime port.  We stopped there for the night and had a pleasant dinner at Pickering Wharf, a revitalized area on the water with a great view.

In front of the Salem Maritime National Historic site
In front of the Salem Maritime National Historic site

“Taken with an iPhone 5s”

5 am in Cuttyhunk
5 am in Cuttyhunk

Yep, this was “Taken with an iPhone 5s”, no edits, really!

Last night we anchored in the outermost island of the Elizabeth Island chain just south of Buzzard’s Bay in Massachusetts.  It has a natural harbor that protects you from almost all sides.  We were told by a friend that on weekends a fishing boat will motor up to anchored boats and sell seafood (clams, lobster, etc.) from their fishing boat. That would have been a sight to see.  Too bad we were there for only one night and it was a Tuesday.

This is my favorite photo so far on this trip.  I happened to get up just as the sun was rising.  Popped my head up through the companionway.  It was a crisp, cool morning; the overnight dew coated the deck. So peaceful, not even the occasional buoy bell was ringing.  I tiptoed up onto the deck and turned around and saw the reflection of the sky on the water.  The water was so calm, it was like a mirror.  I love these moments, watching the sun rise, hearing the birds singing the world slowly awake.

 

Mystic Pizza and a Haunted Captain’s House for Dinner

One of the nice things about sailing is that you have the freedom to choose when, how, and even if you want to stop for the night.  We had high aspirations to get near Mystic, Connecticut the first night, but we realized that it was a lot further away than we anticipated.  We anchored our first night in Branford, just east of New Haven, in a protected area about midway along the length of the Long Island Sound.

We had done our provisioning in City Island at a place that happened to also be an Italian grocery, so last night we had ravioli with marinara sauce and arugula salad for dinner.  On our first passage, we quickly learned that “one pot” meals are the way to go.  After a long day of sailing, people are hungry and not interested in a multiple course meal.  Plus, the fewer pots, pans, and plates that need to be cleaned the easier and the less water used.

The next day we headed to Mystic and decided to go into a slip.  Setting foot on land, a warm shower, hookup to electricity and water was very welcome. We also got to rig up our dinghy for the first time which took us into the town center of Mystic.

Christopher, the dinghy captain
Christopher, the dinghy captain

Even though we were in the town that a movie and a pizza joint had made famous, I was out voted as to where we would have dinner. As this was our first port in New England, we had to have seafood and lobster. So we headed to Daniel Packer Inn, an old fishing captain’s house that is rumored to be haunted. Despite the creaking stairs to get to the dining room and the bar in the cellar, no ghost sightings. The food was delicious though.

Mystic Pizza!
Mystic Pizza!

And ice cream with a view for dessert, a perfect way to end the day!

Mystic Seaport, largest maritime museum in the U.S., in the distance
Mystic Seaport, largest maritime museum in the U.S., in the distance

On our way….again

Nothing like some fresh New York bagels to start your day. We had a visit from friends who love to sail and were able to enjoy the sunny and calm morning prior to pushing off. New York bagels are the standard by which all bagels should be judged, and the ones our friends brought were superior. Fresh and warm with a whipped cream cheese schmear that melts just as it touches the bagel…they hit the spot!

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We flew back to New York and made our way to City Island a couple of nights ago to reopen all the hatches and get our boat ready to get our boat underway again. While not ideal, this is a version of what people call commuter cruising…flying back and forth from different ports of call while moving the boat to a destination. While many people will take several weeks to sail in a far off destination and then pack it up for a season, we are using this strategy to eventually get our boat to Chicago and to balance family and work obligations. Our next stop is Belfast, Maine.

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Tied Up in The Bronx

Tortuga Blog

We’ve been in City Island (The Bronx), NY for the last several days stepping through some of the To-Do’s on Tortuga.  I personnaly judge my days by if I fix more things than I break.  This has been a good trip, and I’ve gotten a lot of things done.  She’s just about ready for the trip up to Maine in late June.

Some of the things that were accomplished:

The Spectra Rowboat 150 watermarker had to be cleaned out.  It somehow got a biologic infection, which is characterized my smelly product water.  I flushed the system with an alkaline product (SC2) that is designed to fix that specific issue, and then set the system to flush itself with fresh water from the tanks every 2 days while we’re away.  We should be all set now.  I don’t want to attempt to make any water from where we are currently located, as the water here is terrible.  Best to use relatively fresh sea water.

I updated the B&G Zeus Touch chart-plotter software and electronic charts.  It’s been a struggle getting the right electronic charts that we need to take us from here all the way back to Chicago.  There are so many different makers of charts in an array of formats that work with some chart-plotters, and not with others. I think that it’s sorted out now.

I found a ready solution for the worn mainsail hanking system.  It’s an odd system where half of the points that hold the mainsail to the mast cars are done so with a white stretchy cord.  The cords have stretched themselves out and needs replacing.

Tortuga Blog (1)My plan is to do it with 3mm Spectra line, but I need Janet to help as we have to raise and lower the main sail as the line is being looped and tied on, and it also needs to be cut with a hot knife.

I’m having the local sail loft make sone new UV covers for the two AnkaTortuga Blog (2)rlina lines that are attached to the aft rails.  The heavy web lines are in great shape, but the neoprene covers that protect the lines from the degrading UV have given up the ghost.  The lines have a million uses but are mostly used for attaching a stern anchor or trying off to a distant rock or tree.  The loft is making covers from taupe Sunbrella fabric to match the rest of the canvas.

What else got done?  The Racor fuel filters were changed. The long-range Wave WiFi antenna was brought back on-line after I traced the loose connection.  Engine oil was topped up. The marine toilet (MSD) was serviced.

The more time that I spend onboard the more familiar I become with the various systems.  I feel very confident with all of the key systems, and am still learning about some of the more esoteric ones.

All good.  Next stop….Maine.