Sunday, August 27, 2017

Gloucester and the Cape Cod Canal revisited and onto Padanaram

Thursday 24th August 2017 – we dropped the mooring at Biddeford Poole at 5.15am – yes seriously the sun was only half up but us and the Lobstermen were! There was a really shallow spot we had to creep over and then work our way out through the channel, we got to less than a metre under our keel but all was fine and the sunrise over a glassy ocean once as we rounded the cape was incredible, we had seals and dolphins all around us; I was so pleased I got up for this.
Sunrise on our window

We had a perfect day to motor 60 miles to Gloucester, mostly a glassy day with only a gentle swell and it really was starting to warm up. The reason for all these early starts is to get South West when the sea-breeze that kicks in most afternoons on calm days is SW and can bring up a fair chop, on this trip the favourable current was also in the morning – bonus!
Sundowners in Gloucester
As we were making our approach to Gloucester a loster boat went by called the Freemantle Doctor – we gave him a big wave but never got to hear why she was named after our Sea-breeze at home – what a shame.
Whales on the way Gloucester

BBQ on the way to Gloucester

Freemantle Doctor

We arrived in Gloucester at about 1.30pm and crashed out….. One of our favourite meals since we arrived in the US was in Gloucester last time we were here, so we cleaned ourseleves up and went out for a date night. Drinks on the wharf followed by another great meal at Tonno.

Entering Cap Cod Canal

Luckly we weren’t out too late as we were up again at 6am – this time with a mission to get to the Cape Cod Canal for the tide change at 12.48pm – Gloucester is 50 miles north of the Canal so we had a big day ahead. Another glassy day with light northerly winds and we were in a convoy – we arrived at the canal just on time with 5 other boats for a much easier transit than last time.
Railway Bridge - we heard on the radio it shouldn't close unless an 'unscheduled train arrives....'

Tugs at the entrance to the Canal
It was like another world when we came out on the south side of the canal – the water was now 24 degrees, we saw it as low at 14 in Maine, the sea was calm and a gentle north westerly breeze allowed us to have a slow sail down Buzzards Bay towards Apponagansett Bay. With a northerly wind forecast that night this seemed like a good spot, however I wish I had asked about the price of the mooring at New Bedford Yacht Club - $55!! Oh my gosh and the club was closed for a fundraiser that night so we couldn’t even enjoy the historic club house. We did get a free launch service though in their 1929 restored boat and enjoyed a sundowner at the Sailloft bar instead. Padanaram was a very cute little town, but very upscale.

Padanaram Harbour

New Bedford Yacht Club Launch

We had planned to head to Newport, Rhode Island the next day but the weekend was glorious so we decided to take advantage and had a gentle sail over to Cutty Hunk Island where we anchored and went ashore – we considered a swim, it was that warm, but jelly fish put us off. Instead we went for a hike ashore and met a lovely couple who lived on the island who gave us a history lesson and directed us as to where to see the best view. There is a school on the island with only 2 pupils, a library, a museum and a church – the population is just 52 and it’s quite different to other the other islands near here (Nantucket and Martha’s which we know), it felt much more like a community, there was farming on the island and everyone drives around in golf carts. We bought some lovely fresh veggies from a farm stand and enjoyed a lovely relaxing evening.

Cutty Hunk inner harbour - very busy

Cutty Hunk

Art in Cutty Hunk
Can you spot Askari? Anchored outside on the left

School House at Cuttyhunk
This morning we had a fabuous beam reach sail down the coast to Newport Harbour, we found a spot to anchor in Dutch Harbour and tomorrow will be heading to the Hinkley Yard where the work starts….

Sailing to Newport

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Boothbay and Harpswell Harbours

Boat yard party with Crystal Blues and Supertramp
Friday (18th August 2017) was an early start at 6am, which after a night out with the CBs and the Tramps was a bit tough, but we were keen to get to Boothbay Harbour before a South Westerley wind and rain arrived. As it turned out we only got a bit wet coming into the harbour and finding our mooring ball – it turned out that there was heaps of moorings but knowing the weather was going to be a bit rough we had booked ahead with the Tugboat Inn. What else to do on a rainy day (and this was torrential) but chuck on our fowlies and head to the pub! We had fantastic local food at the Inn – I tried Finnan Haddie, a smoked haddock and hard boiled egg creamy dish which came with red potatoes, absolutely delicious. Then we retreated back to Askari and waited for the rain to pass.

Full Foulies coming into Boothbay Harbour

Pedestrian Bridge in Boothbay Harbour
Beautiful Boothbay
Schooner from 1894 being rebuilt
Saturday turned out to be a glorious day and we went to explore the town and foreshore before meeting up with friends Tim, Nicky and their boys who were holidaying in Maine from Rhode Island. Tim dreams of going cruising today and Nicky is learning to sail so when we invited them out to see Askari in beautiful Boothbay Harbour they were pretty excited, but not as much as there boys were when Andrew gave them dinghy driving lessons and finally let Hunter have a whizz on his own. It was a really fun time with this beautiful family.

Andrew with the boys

Hunter whizzing along on his own

Andrew shows Shep the controls
Us with Nicky & Tim

Sailing to Harpswell
Sunday morning had a leisurely start on a lovely sunny day with light winds and actually got a sail in on our way to Harpswell Harbour, about 30 miles away. We thought we might spend a few days around Casco Bay, but when we arrived in a great anchorage spot with only a few other boats on moorings and Ospreys swooping all around we decided to stay and relax while the next wind came through on Monday. We ended up spending 3 days here and caught up on our maintenance, gave Askari and good wash and did all the laundry. We took the dinghy over to Bailey’s Island where we went for a nice walk and enjoyed a fantastic Lobster Roll whilst watching the eclipse. OCC members, Steve and Jodie on Ena Vigo also came on on Monday and we enjoyed a great sundowner with them and the strong winds didn’t end up being as bad, although there was still a really big swell running when we left on Wednesday afternoon.

A local guy lent us his welding mask to watch the eclipse

Watching the eclipse at Cooks Lobster House

At Cooks Lobster House, Bailey Island

Bailey Island

Bailey Island Wharf

Osprey returning to her nest
We were now starting to run up against our schedule a bit so left Harpswell and headed out to Biddeford Pool on Wednesday – it was a day that was just yuck! We tried to sail but the wind and sea was just awful, so in the end we just yanked the main sail down in the centre and powered into it for 25 miles – I have nothing nice to say about this trip and all the way we weren’t sure if Biddeford Poole was going to be a good choice – it looked like it could be rolly from the charts in the area we could get in to. However, when we arrived and grabbed a yacht club mooring it turned out to be just perfect. There’s a totally stunning white sand beach, a really friendly yacht club and a small store/restaurant in this upscale enclave at the end of the peninsular on the South of Saco Bay. We were sad it was only a pit stop as we certainly could have spent a day on that beach…. We had our last lobster roll in Maine and watched an incredible sunset as the tide rushed out leaving rocks and sand banks all around us. We forgot all about the yuckie passage to get here.

Stunning beach at Biddeford

Great spot for our last lobster roll in Maine

Sunset with the moon behind

Stunning spot in Biddeford Poole

Friday, August 18, 2017

Ile au Haut and Vinalhaven

Tramping with the Tramps
We woke to really foggy morning at Frenchboro on Tuesday (15th August 2017) and could only just make out the small islands behind as, however as people who regularly sail in these waters have told us, if you don’t go in the fog you never go anywhere. So we slipped the mooring and slowly motored out the channel, Andrew on the helm and radar and me spotting for pots and boats on the side deck. There was no wind but really strong currents that pulled the floats from the pots under the water.
Morning in Frenchboro

Fog up and down on passage

As the morning progressed, the fog lifted a bit and we could start to see land in patches, then it would come down again. We did see into the bay we fancied on Ile au Haut and it looked clear there so we gingerly headed in. The trip was only about 20 miles but it was pretty tense with such thick fog.

Ile au Haut

Ile au Haut, pronounced ‘isla ho’ is largely part of Acadia National Park and has a permenant polulation of 73; it’s a walking paradise however we didn’t get a chance to take any hikes as bad weather was due the next day. We did however have a nice walk around the small township and everyone was super friendly. They had the smallest post office I had ever seen and a great lobster shack however the thing that we found interesting is that many of the cars on the island were really old, quirky or had number plates from really far away places such as California and Alaska, however when we spotted one with a Tassie Plate we figured something was up….. It turns out that in Maine on islands with no state maintained roads and no regular car ferry registered island vehicles are exempt from inspection laws – there are apparently 13 of these islands and Ile au Haut is one and the islanders obviously enjoy having some fun with this rule. I wish I had taken photos of more of the cars…..
Church Ile au Haut

Lobster Art
Post Office
Check out the plate!

We had a really nice afternoon and a pleasant night, but weather was due Wednesday night so we opted to head into a more protected spot. Just 7 miles away on Vinalhaven we snuck into Seal Bay. This spot required very close attention to the chart and a lot of weaving between rocks, however the result was just amazing and one of the most beautiful, secluded spots we have been in. We managed to persuade Steve and Fi on Supertramp to come and join us, as they were close by and we had a great afternoon exploring by dinghy and a hike on one of the islands reserves. That night Fi treated us to a fabulous dinner and we supplied the Blueberry Ice-cream – a real Maine fav. It was a fun night with so many laughs that ended up with a few ‘Allens’ – this is brandy coffee, also from Maine that we discovered in Rockland on our last night out with these guys; a glass with ice, a good helping of Allen’s topped up with milk – delicious!!
Entering Seal Bay
Our View in Seal Bay
Always a fun night when these two boats are anchored together

This turned out to be one of our favourite anchorages and I would highly recommend it in a bit of a blow as we were snug as bugs.

Andrew did have a wake up call in the middle of the night, but this was only to hear that James had done brilliantly in his A-Levels and had got into his first choice of University – he is one super proud Dad!!
At the airport - parcels just left for their owners to collect

View from the walk

Our beautiful spot

Boys in the mud

Girls with Allens
Over the last few days we had started to make plans to haul Askari out in Newport, to replace the rudder that we damaged way back in Mustique. We felt we had sampled a good share of Maine and ticked off a number of places on our wish list, we were also ready for a bit of warmth. So next morning we took the stunning North Haven Vinalhaven thoroughfare and headed back to Rockland to refuel, check up on Ley and Neil on Crystal Blues for a night and then we started our trip South West early Friday morning.

Passing through the thoroughfare

Passing through the thoroughfare

North Haven