Sunset in Jeddore Harbor

We are anchored in Fisherman’s Harbor on the coast of Nova Scotia tonight.  It has an abandoned fishing dock in a cove.  We did not secure ourselves to the dock, but anchored a few yards away from it in a protected cove. Protected from the waves, that is, not from the wind. The wind is blowing at about 15 knots consistently (even at night) with occasional gusts, however due to a ‘short’ fetch (weather term that determines waves and storm surge), the waters are very calm. No other soul is out here, save a few houses on the shore and some birds on a gravel breakwater.

One surprising thing along the entire Nova Scotia coast is that it seems well connected. Even though we are pretty remote, we still have an LTE signal. Good for us to keep in touch with family and work.

At anchor in Jeddore
At anchor in Jeddore

This is our second night at anchor since leaving Halifax. We arrived in Halifax early yesterday morning, around 1am and had a late start after getting the boat ready and provisioned. After a quick stop to get gas at the Royal Nova Scotia Squadron Yacht Marina (yes, that is a mouthful), we sailed on to Jeddore Harbor, getting there by dinner time. Typically, the predominant winds are southerwesterlies, however yesterday we had a north east wind. Eric and my dad had the gennaker set up and ready to go for the day, however, we ended up sailing close hauled all day long.

Dad underneath the gennaker
Dad underneath the gennaker

My dad is joining us for this journey. He is getting a little bit of everything: wind, waves, sun…a quick sailing inauguration on the open ocean. We had some pretty strong winds yesterday and it was a welcome reprieve once we got into port and settled in for the night. After dinner, another great sunset with fishing boats docked along the coast.

Today, we had the gennaker up all day. The wind was behind us all day. There were a few other sailboats out there in the morning, but most of the day we saw no other boat on the horizon. While we had a bit of weather early in the morning, it turned out to be a good day of sailing.  Some sun, plenty of wind.  We made up our half day by putting in about 65 miles today.

Tomorrow, we hope to get into the Canso Canal. It’ll be an early start and another long day, but this will get us into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which we are told is warmer, much more protected, and have a good chance to see humpback whales!



Marshall Islands in Maine?

Tortuga is on a floating dock in the Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, Maine.

On a floating dock at Front Street Shipyard
On a floating dock at Front Street Shipyard

We are leaving her here for a few weeks as we head back to Chicago. This shipyard opened in 2011 and is located on the revitalized and transformed waterfront.  They are a complete shipyard with over 100 employees working on anything from boat building to electronics to carpentry to cleaning. You name it, they can probably handle it. When we arrived, there was a tug boat being hauled in on their huge yacht lift and in its yard was Boston Fire Department boat undergoing repair. Some impressive private yachts were also tied up into the slips and on sticks. A town path along the waterfront traverses the town center, through the entire shipyard and crosses the Passagassawakeag River (don’t ask me how to pronounce it).

Marshall Islands Flag

We have seen this flag on a couple of boats and it was hanging in the Front Street Bar, where we grabbed a drink on land before dinner the first night we arrived. Turns out it is the flag of Marshall Islands, an island country located in the Pacific Ocean near the equator.  It is actually part of Micronesia.  Curiously enough, there is also a Marshall Island in Maine, out towards the open Gulf of Maine in Jericho Bay just south of Swans Island. It is one of the largest undeveloped islands in the eastern seaboard per Wikipedia.  Not sure if this flag is a play on Maine’s Marshall Island or really that the boats we saw with this flag really hail from Micronesia.  I’d guess the former.

Good food and home

Belfast is about a 30-minute drive from where Eric grew up and his parents still live. This city has really become a gem along Midcoast Maine.  Eclectic shops and a great food scene has transformed the Belfast that Eric knew, which was an industrial poultry processing area, associated with feathers, chicken fat, and not-so-good smells.  It is the county seat of Waldo County and is still full of agricultural history.

Young's Lobster Pound
Young’s Lobster Pound

There are some requisite food stops whenever we are here visiting family. One of them is Young’s. It is one of the best places to have a quintessential Maine lobster dinner with a killer view of the sunset. We always bring cloth napkins, unbreakable wine glasses, two to three bottles of good chardonnay or rose wine, and the requisite lobster picks and crackers for everyone and set it up on the outdoor picnic tables where people can enjoy the view and eat once they choose their fare from the live lobster pools. For us, the fare is always a ton of steamer clams with drawn butter for the table and 1-2 lobsters per person.  It is a feast, to say the least! And one that we had twice on this trip.

We also tried a new Neapolitan pizza place housed in a restored building in the center of town. ‘Meanwhile in Belfast’ is a true Italian pizza joint, run by an Italian, and is certified by the international association of Neapolitan pizza. It’s a charming place with delicious and authentic wood-fired pizza. I’d go back again, although they were sticklers in keeping to the menu and didn’t allow substitutions. Hopefully that will change in the future.

The rest of our time we spent with family.  It was good to see the parents, siblings, nieces and nephews who we haven’t seen since this past winter.  We avoided a string of rain storms that dumped a bunch of wind, fog and water on our “day off”, but Eric and I were able to take a day sail into Penobscot Bay where we tested our gennaker.  This sail is a cross between a genoa and a spinnaker and it is good for downwind sailing. I think we both found it surprisingly easy to set up and we were able to make almost 6 knots with the sail in very little wind! With that, we have now set up, at least once, all the different sails that we have at our disposal on the boat.

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

Home to Maine

Ashore in Maine
Ashore in Maine

We’re home in Maine for a few days.  One of the places that I wanted to visit was the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath.  The museum is really well done and is a truly educational experience into the tradition of shipbuilding in Maine, especially during the age of sail.  Remarkably,  within sight of the museum’s back windows is the Bath Iron Works, where they are now sea-trialing the latest “Star Wars-looking” guided missile destroyer for the U.S. Navy, USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000).


Time Zones Apart

Janet and I in Havana, Cuba

Janet and I are on separate coasts for part of this week.  She’s in Boston at the ACEP Conference, and I’m in Seattle for work.  Thankfully we can chat and text throughout the day to keep our life on track.  One item that we’re wrestling with is where to travel at the end of the year so that we bump up to the highest level of SkyMiles with Delta for next year.  We’re both about 10,000 miles short from Diamond status, and have become spoiled with our club memberships and automatic upgrades.  We have a friend that found himself in the same situation last year, and he flew from New Orleans to Finland, turned right around and flew back.  Bob’s your uncle 🙂


Home For A Bit

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Dad hanging out with a new friend

We’re back in Chicago for a few days as Tortuga sits in a slip in Virginia.  I plan to return to Deltaville tomorrow to begin the process of putting her up for the winter.  The list of “to-do’s” is pretty extensive; winterize the Volvo diesel engine, the generator, and the water maker, take the sails down, remove any food or other perishable items, disconnect the batteries, remove the wind generator and the antennae tree, open the sea cocks, drain the faucets and washing machine, etc…  I’m planning on two solid days of work before the boatyard shrink wraps the boat and puts her up on stands for the winter.

In the meantime my parents, sister and brother-in-law are in Chicago for a visit.  It’s always good to have family here and see the city from a tourist’s perspective.