Friday, 31 July 2015

Fog and 'bergs......

The trip from St John's Hbr proved eventful in so far as the drone of the engine was suddenly pierced by Bee shrieking that she could see Orca's. And so she could; 3 in total and looking like 2 adults and a young 'un. They passed across our bow and then reappeared some distance of to starb'd giving us yet another tick off item. Walrus and Narwhal we're hoping to add to “seen that” Spent the night at St Barbe.
The forecast was for southerlies later in the day. Well it didn't arrive of course but fog did and by late afternoon we were moving slowly through a dense grey coating. Visibility was poor and then we heard the forecast was now for Sth 30 knots. Well we were heading NE so ordinarily we would welcome 30 knots from astern. But with little vis that made things a tad uncomfortable....I began putting in a reef as the seas were lumpy and the main gets thrown about in these situations. It was as I was finishing off the task that Bee remarked quietly....”..isn't that an iceberg ahead..”? And so it was – a large berg too and the situation suddenly altered as the prospect of fog, strong winds and bergs came together. 

Within an hour we started to see more and they were bigger – at least they showed up on radar but not the growlers or bergy bits and Bee spent some time on the bow calling out directions as we motored between them. By now we had decided to head into Chateau Bay and sit out the blow in safety and provided we could get past the bergs that seemed to blocking our course we would be there around nightfall. As we approached 2 bergs about a mile apart the engine suddenly cut out and stopped. Luckily we were far enough away to simply turn away and sort it out. The system we use for filling the tank on the move had failed (basically a syphon system using hoses and a 'bulb” to start the flow off. I'm guessing that with all the rolling we were under going the syphon had stopped working and the tank had been so empty that the feed to the filters had picked up air. Took a few seconds to check the guages and water then get fuel into the tank and we were moving again albeit slowly as we wanted to allow enough fuel to get into the tank. In the end we got past the bergs, altered course for the entrance , suffered a moments disbelief when it looked as though a berg was grounded across it before realising we had identified the entrance correctly. In we went sending hundreds of eider ducks to flight and dropped the hook so pleased to be in free of the trauma outside. By 6 the following morning we were on the move again as the wind had changed and we were now on a lee shore with about a metre under the keel. Chateau is a neat place but the shelf is tiny and drops away to 30 metres quickly so any anchoring involves getting very close inshore. Hence our sudden departure. We motored out of the bay and set sail for Ship Harbour. Not to be as winds became lighter then headed us before shifting again. We crept past Battle Harbour but gave up and headed into Fox where we could, at least get diesel. To our surprise there were 4 boats already there including Russ and Alison. The gut who gave us a lift to collect the fuel said he'd never seen 5 boats in the harbour at once which is indicative of something. Probably the fact that the weather has been so poor that no boat had yet left for Greenland had something to do with it. We have decided not to head that way ourselves for a variety of reasons not least lack of wind plus an abundance of fog and bergs.
We pushed on the next day for Ship Harbour but it wasn't a wise decision.The wind headed us, we motor tacked the whole way and fog was thick. We were passed (at speed) by a funky looking motor-sailor who were heading up to Occasional Hbr. Like us they'd been living on the boat for 15 years but had spent several winters marooned (by choice) in Greenland. We were stood in the cockpit dressed in warm, weatherproof clothing, steering as they motored by sat in their warm, heated environment clad, no doubt, in t-shirts and slippers.....

R&A joined us the following day and we left for somewhere north. In the end we had a lumpy sail and made it into Punchbowl barrelling in though the narrow entrance with the main still set and found 3 yots and a fishing boat tied up to the dock! R&A of course plus 2 more from Fox Hbr, Nomad and Vagabondelle, Austrian and Polish respectively.

Friday, 10 July 2015

The journey north begins........

With the deadline approaching we left Belfast on a glorious sunny day with a following breeze for MDI -Mount Desert Island. We had the Eggimoggin Reach to ourselves and enjoyed one of the pleasantest days sailing for a long time. Maine really is an exceptional place to be, particularly the area we were in and we can't recommend it too highly. We fetched up that evening in Goose Cove before arriving in NE Harbour the following day to visit Philip and Helen for a few days. And a fine time was had too – with us resisting P's efforts to take us hiking..
NE Harbour

Whilst we'd been in Belfast we had sold the Sea Hopper dinghy and had just missed out on two separate Pudgy's we'd seen advertised. We logged onto the internet whilst in NEH and found another one had been listed a few hours ago, emailed and then skyped the seller. We agreed the asking price on the strength of the photos and then set about organising how we'd collect it. John Tani was happy to run us down to near Portland to collect (almost 200 miles one way) and Philip dropped me off around lunchtime. We found the address, noted that a rowlock was missing but paid up anyway. A 15 minute journey into Portland got us to the company who build them, a pair of rowlocks bought and we were back on the road again. 
The Pudgy

Arriving back at NEH we loaded the two part dinghy (split) onto John's pick up and we were the very pleased owners of a Portland Pudgy. No it doesn't row as well as the one we had loaded onto the truck but it is lighter, has a number of very clever features and we now have a lifeboat!

We headed off for Nova Scotia intending to call in at Halifax and sort out a US visa. As the winds died we stopped at Lunenburg and found that no visas were being processed anywhere as the electronic system was down and we'd have to wait...and wait until it was back up and running. We headed out resigned to sorting it out on the way back. Made a couple of stops along the NS coast ( including one where a lobster fisherman asked if we needed anything – a welder I replied. He called his mate on the vhf and shortly the other boat came alongside. I showed the guy the damaged part of the self-steerer. He took it, returned the following morning, handed it over refused any payment and went back to his fishing...)and then left from Glasgow Harbour, at the northern end of Andrews Passge to sail around the outside of Cape Breton. All went well, if slowly, until I realised with horror that we had no charts of much of Labrador! In the past we have been able to borrow them from Henry Fuller who runs the Cape Breton Boatyard at Baddeck and after an hour I knew we needed to retrace our steps and enter the Bras 'or Lakes and go see Henry. It was 20 miles back to the canal, we arrived after hours and tied up alongside to await the lock opening. Through the next day, spending a little time with Jack and Glenda before pushing on to Baddeck. Henry more than happy to loan us the charts of course and I felt a lot better.
Hannah and Walkabout, Baddeck-pic by Wolfie off Nomad
A day or so later Russ and Alison arrived to join us but opted to stay at Baddeck to complete repairs before heading north in a day or so. We left, swept through the entrance at 9knots and turned the bow toward the SW tip of Newfoundland. The wind was out of the south, Hannah ran with a full main under the self-steerer and all was good. As the day progressed the forecast of what was to come that night increased to SE 35 knots with gusts of 70 knots in the Wreckhouse area. We altered course to Dingwall at the north end of Cape Breton and swept through the entrance around dusk, happy to be in to what turned out to be an excellent anchorage. Quiet with little effect from the wind outside we remained there until the Tuesday. We left hoping to reach the Belle Isle Strait in one jump but not to be of course. We drifted a couple of nights before anchoring in Keppel Harbour near Port Saunders. That day we had been surprised to see 3 sail boats heading along the coast, one we later found out was Russ and Alison and we met up a gain in Port A'Choix after they tempted us with showers and laundry at the Fisherman,s Centre.

For many years Bee has always wanted to visit St Johns Island and as it only 7 miles from PA'C we headed up to it on a day with stiff headwinds for anything further. Great place, 6 summer cabins but otherwise empty,excellent shelter, clean entrance and a great stop over as it is close to your route up or down the Strait.

Now we're motoring up the Strait,awaiting the arrival of the favourable winds....