Sunday, 28 October 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Last week we thought we could use the forecasted northerlies to get down to Cape May in one run. But as the days passed and the northerlies got closer it became obvious that they were the fore runner of Hurricane Sandy and it seemed prudent to wait to see how that would shape up. In the end we chose to remain in Maine rather than head south to meet it.... Now it seems that Sandy is combining with another front and it is HUGE.

So we're holed up in Smiths Cove, Castine in Penobscot Bay and have just been informed by NOAA that we can expect gusts of 60 knots on Monday evening so this is going to be a tad unpleasant for 24 hours or so. We'll let you know.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Sea smoke and south..

he time had come to leave Mahone and friends as a promised favourable wind sort of arrived. We set off on an evening tide but made slow progress despite the NE wind. As ever we hoped to get far but had to settle for wherever we could, a useful approach to cruising we find. In this case we thought we might make it to Barrington Harbour but the winds began to drop as we passed Ingomar Hbr. Both of these spots are close to where the currents pick up as they approach/leave Cape Sable and timing is important. We pulled into Ingomar and anchored for the night. The following day the wind blew out of the south and southwest and we remained where we were. A surprise visit by fishing boat from Forbes and Yola, friends from Shelburne, caught us unawares and it also gave us useful local info that the water continued to be deep for another 200 yards allowing us to move further over, away from the channel and into better protection. The following day we were disconcerted to hear a radio message for an "anchored yacht" As the radio had been turned down we'd missed most of it so turned it up and waited. The voice came back and was calling "the yacht anchored off Ingomar Habour with a British Flag" Turned out to be Canadian Customs and Border checking on us, Last Port, Next Port, CANPAS number etc. We can only imagine they must have been on shore with pretty powerful binos to spot our flag! We headed out the following morning but found ourselves entangled on an abandoned mooring anchor and spent several frustrating minutes rigging up a tackle to take the weight whilst Bee hung off the bobstay and unwrapped our chain from the shank of the thing. Eventually we were free and able to head off. We motored most of the way to Barrington a 20 mile trip. Although it is 9 miles up the bay it is an ideal spot to make the most of the currents and we were looking forward to checking it out. Approaching the last of the channel markers we were a tad alarmed at the number of buoys that lined the channel beyond the official ones...could they be oyster lines or some huge fish net..?? We crept forward slowly with Bee stood on the bowsprit watching for nets. But nothing appeared and we made our way slowly forward. The anchorage is alongside a causeway and it seems as though we were a boat length from it before the anchorage opened up. Plenty of depth (20') and several boats already on moorings. Hardly surprising as the place looks fairly bomb-proof. We dropped anchor, more to one side than we should have, but with little wind and no fetch we were safe. The fishing boat that was on a buoy, cast off and motored toward us. No, we weren't in the way, very little traffic in and out and we should stay where we were. We asked about the buoys that had caused us problems....seems they were race marks that had been left there after being gathered in from a local regatta and the boat was off to bring them in....
The following morning we were up and away for the leg to Belfast. Winds were forecast as easterly but the morning began light as we motored south past Cripple Creek (no ferry in sight though....Neil Young...) Nevertheless with the wind and current we had we managed to get 25 miles away from the coast before the tide turned although the motion, for the most part, was as unpleasant as it gets short of a gale. As ever, the winds died at night though not entirely but certainly enough to remove any hopes of a fast passage. 50 miles from the US coast we were reminded, yet again, that it may make more sense to leave NS at night and then perhaps we'd arrive in Maine in daylight. As it was we saw the islands, Mount Desert, Isle a Haut but by the time we closed it was getting dark. And cold. We sailed on, wincing each time Hannah clattered a lobster pot. We winced a lot.....As the evening wore on the wind backed, eased and speed dropped. By now we're beating and it is down to 2 knots. We fired up the engine and Bee stood on the bow with a small torch checking for pots whilst I was poised to wrench the lever into neutral. By now it is very cold but progress was being made into a headwind. When the course freed us we sailed and then up the east side of Isleboro, we beat for a while with a favourable current. With 4 miles still to go to round the island , speed down to under 2 knots and the wind easing the current turned against us and each leg sailed gained us diddly squat it seemed and so we reverted to the engine and a frozen lookout. Passing Isleboro freed us and we sailed the last 10 miles toward the town we regard as home.

Early morning and sea-smoke rises
 But not to stay We seem to have been cold for the last 18 months and whilst in Greenland we thought it might be a change to spend a little time further south where sunshine and rum are plentiful.....