Saturday, 30 May 2015

A touch of fog...

Tues May 5th
We left the dock waving a sad g'bye to Robin and Jac as they continued with putting Blackthorn back together in preparation for their summer aboard. We sailed and motored slowly up river and out into the bay, seeing very little traffic and shaped our course for the entrance to Buzzards Bay. Before too long a breeze came in and we were soon bowling along at 6knots having benefited from a 4 day haul out and anti-foul. Day slipped into night and we were joined by a big red moon and it felt good to be back at sea and heading north. The first couple of days went well, the nights enlivened by 14 strong fishing fleets we eased our way through. The only issue we seemed to have was the self-steerer didn't seem as responsive as usual and we were reduced to steering by hand on a number of occasions. It would be some days before we checked it and found a part had been bent causing it to stick on part of the framework. Reversing the part cured it and we have subsequently had it rebuilt in Belfast, Maine.

On the 7th the fog came in and we crept slowly forward but mostly drifted. Sometime it would lift a little and we saw puffins and whales nearby. But mostly the fog lay all around us; visibility often as little as 100 metres but mostly around 500-800 metres. 

 We were far enough off shore not be too concerned about tugs etc but as we approached, at night, the northern most Traffic Separation Lane running into New York we could hear foghorns and see the traffic on AIS. We hove to to await morning and the vain hope it may have lifted. It didn't of course but it felt a little easier to be crossing the lane in daylight. With little wind and no sun we motored from time to time to charge batteries; it also enabled us to run the radar but the dense, dreary and dripping fog continued. We decided to head outside Nantucket rather than go through Buzzards Bay as drifting in light winds would be easier. 

A wise choice as we heard the forecast of 22knots inside the bay with zero visibility whilst we only had 10knots and limited viz. The following day they actually closed the Canal after Northern Right Whales had been spotted in it and several hours passed before we heard it was reopened. The fog continued. We worked our way around Nantucket and turned for Maine, the fog finally cleared on Tuesday May 12 when we were some 40 miles from Isle Au Haut and the wind, which had been in a general SW direction switched to the NW and picked up. So the last bit was more on the nose than we wanted and dictated a change of venue but we were so glad to be back in Maine that it didn't matter. We slid into Moores Hbr on Isle Au Haut around 8pm on Wed 13th May some 729 nm and 91/2 days after we left Portsmouth. Whilst open to the SW, the harbour offers great protection from northerly quadrant winds; good mud, silence broken only by the call of a loon and the place to ourselves. It doesn't get any better.

The following day we sailed up to Belfast via the Fox Island Thoroughfare; some beating but mostly just sunshine and emotion as we cruised up Penobscot Bay; passing the Camden Hills, Isleboro and so many places we are familiar with. A call to the Belfast Harbour had Kathy, the harbour-master, on the radio welcoming us in and by 6 pm we were tied up, greeted and so glad to be “home”

We've been here 14 days, seen friends we haven't seen for 3 years, wondered where the time has gone and made plans to leave.... the permit we have for the US expires in the middle of June; the ice seems to have cleared from Belle Isle Strait other than a few 'bergs and Greenland is the summer destination so a fair bit of sailing over the next 5 months.

With the passing of miles our main had become thinner and we were reduced to spraying adhesive onto the main and a patch then pressing them together. Luckily we had some spare material and a local sailmaker in Norfolk cut out the worst of the sail and added a new piece. Here in Belfast we have had another sailmaker repair the #1 and add a patch to the stays'l, so all is well we think. 

Belfast, Maine