Saturday, 28 November 2015

You need to look at this

Imagine you'e sailing along, trussed up as per the current thinking, in a pfd and harness. You're working on deck, the boat lurches and suddenly you're over the side... Well something like that happened to me a few years back, except I wasn't wearing a harness or a pfd. That story is here and if you wonder why on earth I wasn't wearing a harness etc (and perhaps think "well it serves you right") then take a look at this article.

People fall off boats, it's a fact of life; a risk we are aware of and take into account in our travels. Sometimes a mistake is made but on the whole we know that the boat is really a narrow path with a steep drop and you need to be very aware that death is a short step or stumble away. Go forward only on the windward side; keep your body low and crawl if need be; one hand for the boat, one for yourself always. I'm not saying this is the right way just the way we chose to work. Life jackets and harnesses may have a role but they are not a sure fire way of saving your life.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Port bound

A month drifts by as we settle into this dockside routine, hunting and foraging for cheap food and wood and getting ready to brew up some home made wine. Can hardly wait..

Belfast - early morning

With the tides dropping away we took a chance on being neaped and slid onto the scubbing berth at 5am one morning. We wanted to scrub, clean the prop and check whether our altercation with a growler in the summer had done any damage. Well it hadn't other than removing some anti-foul making us thankful we don't own a grp version of Hannah. What we did discover was this: When we painted back in the spring we used two different brands of anti-foul. One side had a tin we bought in the UK from Gale Force and might be described as "cheap and cheerful" whilst the other was Petit Trinidad. No doubt about which side had less stuff clinging to it and although the Trinidad is significantly more expensive than the other stuff it was clearly far more effective.

Bow end with bow thruster lowered.......
As mentioned in the last update the Shipyard now dominates the waterfront in terms of buildings and acreage. The docks don't appear too busy but perhaps given the time of year it's hardly surprising. At the end of the jetty we're on, lurks a massive shed and out of it recently came a 125' sail boat. It remained slung in the travel hoist supported fore and aft by a combination of stands, a cradle and a shipping container whilst it was rigged and made ready for the water. The rigging crew were lifted aboard via a “cherry picker” to attend to the mast stepping process and even the forestay had to be supported by crane as the weight was too much for humans to manipulate it across the foredeck into position. It remained on the dock for a week whilst various, who knows what, tasks where carried out then left for south at a rate of knots. Clear of the harbour it motored at close to 13 knots, arriving in Newport RI (about 200 nm) some 18 hours after casting off. Bound for the Caribbean, of course, to charter....$65,000 per week.

Here in reality we took our own journey; venturing up to see Philip and Helen in NE Harbour. We had been before we headed north and love the security of it. Little if any surge seems to enter and whilst it would normally be off-limits to us because of cost, in the winter the HM takes a relaxed view about those still wandering. The day we chose to sail up was dictated, naturally, by the wind. 25-30 with gusts of 35 from the NW would suggest we might have a good sail. It wasn't good it was brilliant! 
7 knots down Eggemoggin
 Not bothering with the main we ran with a reefed mizzen and #1 heads'l, the boat was light, comfortable and romping along. Whilst the tide was against us about half of the way it seemed to make little difference as we roared down Eggemoggin Reach with not a soul in sight. The wind seemed to be consistently around 27knots but no real seas until we crossed Blue Hill Bay when they picked up, covering the boat and us with solid water and spray. The sky was blue, the sun shone and it was pretty cool, probably high 30's F but just a wonderful day to be out on Hannah. The last few miles against wind and tide we used the engine as the sun was sinking quickly and a mostly
cloudless day meant it would rapidly get cold. Into the harbour to find Philip watching from a nearby dock as we tied up. About 7 and a bit hours to cover the 43 miles. Great company, a lasagne and wine to die for that night completed a wonderful day.

During the few days we spent with them they kindly took us off to see a friend of theirs they thought we might like. They were right. Donna lives off grid in eastern Maine in a house she and her late husband built. Her near neighbour is Geri, they have been friends for decades and were part of the “back to the land” movement of the '70's. The houses were stunning, both very different and their lifestyles have captivated us since we visited. Yes I know that we live off grid too for the most part but there is something about a simple house with solar & oil for lights; wood for cooking and heating that has such a pull on us. They share a well but neither has a pump so water is carried to the houses. Too much work? We don't think so and as we sat around a table drinking home made wine and cider exchanging stories both me and Bee knew we will want to get back there to learn more. It might be a couple of hours drive from here so more difficult to organise but next time, and there will be a next time, we'll see if Donna and Geri are ok with us photographing the visit. 

At the moment the weather is pretty benign ( for Maine at this time of the year) with temps rarely falling below 5C. In fact we can judge how cold things are within the boat simply by checking the washing up liquid which, in Labrador, would thicken to a gooey paste rather than its normal translucent runny self. But we are thinking about building a shelter, then believe we have a few more weeks before we might need it, then wonder if we should take advantage of the still weather to build it anyway....but these wonderful crisp days with the huge attraction of great anchorages a few hours away keep us shelter free. You can see when we do build by checking here ......Bee uses the webcam to check if her coast his clear to escape from the boat into town
  And finally. Some years ago our very good friend Cary gave us a gift. Well, many actually but this one in particular is special as it had come from his dad. 
 A Tamaya sextant, new and unused and as Cary would never go back to sea again he felt it would be fitting if I used it. I never have as what little I learnt has long been forgotten through neglect. It may be about to change as a bunch of sailors get together weekly to learn the skill thanks to a keen tradionalist who runs a boatyard. Early days yet of course  but this time, assuming I learn the skill, I hope to use it rather than lose it. Not because I think that the GPS will collapse as many armchair sailors would have us believe but simply because it is interesting.

Belfast, Me.