07 September 2014

Nostalgia: Manchester-by-the-Sea and Peddocks Island

It was fitting that we completed our LASVA at two of our favorite local places:  Manchester-by-the-Sea was where we did our very first overnight sail out of Boston Sailing Center on a J24 thus it has special meaning to us.  In addition, it is an absolutely beautiful and protected harbor that funnels in to this very quaint town.  Peddocks Island is one of the Boston Harbor Islands which we frequent when we have only an afternoon or late evening often dropping the hook and hanging out for a few hours or overnight.

PTown to Manchester-by-the-Sea:  In Search of Whales
We leave PTown Harbor promptly at 07:00 Friday morning to catch a positive current around Race Point and, more importantly, to provide ample time to get to Manchester-by-the-Sea via an extended arch along Stellwagen Banks, a national marine sanctuary and a popular feeding ground for whales and the target area of the whale watching tour boats out of northeast harbors.
Linda is determined to see whales today.  We stayed along the western edge of Stellwagen Banks which proved to be a mistake as we could see only with our binoculars that the whale watching tour boats were quite successful several miles away on the eastern edge instead.

At the northwest tip of the Banks we were fortunate to spot these two whales swimming in our opposite direction.  Interestingly, we were also visited by a whale right in PTown Harbor both of our two prior days anchored there.

After sailing about 9 hours with main and genoa most of the way, then main and spinnaker the last leg, we approach the rocky NE coast and dots of islands prior to the harbor of Manchester-by-the-Sea

Navigating in to Manchester Harbor
A quick boat maintenance  job needed attending:  the paddle wheel that measure STW (speed through water) has been hung up since leaving PTown Harbor.  We (Bob) normally dive under the boat to unclog the paddle wheel.  Linda, despite being a former PADI certified SCUBA diver, despises diving under the boat (gives her the eeby jeebies) but she did so reluctantly recently in Stongington Harbor.  However, there is a much easier way to unclog the paddle wheel - simply pull the unit out of the hull from the inside near the V berth and unclog the wheel (while staying warm and dry inside, and no eeby jeebies).  However, this entails willingly opening a two inch diameter hole in the hull of the boat under the water line through which water comes rushing in.  Given that this is the normal way to unclog a paddle wheel and "it's simple, everyone does it this way", it was time to try.
Linda successfully unclogged the paddle wheel from inside without letting Argon sink to the bottom of Manchester Harbor.  It was, as everyone says, easy.  No more diving under the boat to unclog the wheel.  Not too much water rushed in but it definitely feels better when that hole is closed up.
Linda's son, Joshua, and his girlfriend, Sharon, who are visiting here from Amsterdam join us again on our sailing trip - this time for dinner in Manchester-by-the-Sea.
Linda, Sharon, Josh and Bob on the dock at Manchester Marine
Saturday we began our trip home to Boston and our return to normal lives.  We have been rising by 0600 or 0700 each morning on our three week trip as we enjoy the early part of the day on the water.  We have "slept in" as late as maybe 07:30 perhaps only twice during this entire vacation.

The wind is directly on our nose at about 15kts so we motor a good part of the way.  Heavy thunderstorms are forecasted for the afternoon.

Leaving Manchester Harbor, coffee in hand

Large container ship en route to be unloaded at the docks in South Boston
The horizon is hazy and the temps are foretasted to be quite steamy at 90 on land so we decided to make a detour close to home and set anchor in Perry Cove at Peddocks Island, while keeping an eye on the weather and radar to ensure we return back to our marina before the thunderstorms arrive.  We relax and read for a couple of hours as the wind picks up to 15-20kts and gusts even higher.  Linda grumbles that the water is only 63 degrees and she is already missing the nice water temperatures we experienced most of our vacation.

View of home not too far away as we sit at anchor at Peddocks Island
Prairie Gold gives us a drive by while we are at Peddocks Island.  You can read more about Phill and Yolande's adventures at Treasures from Prairie Gold
Boston off Argon's bow as we head home with a reefed main in gusty 25kt winds

Winds sailing back in to Boston Harbor were variable in both intensity and direction.  Gusts were 25+kts but in the inner harbor would also fall to less than 10kts, and direction was sometimes S, sometimes SW, sometimes W.  Made for alert sailing on this final leg of our LASVA.
After cleaning up Argon, touching base with some dock friends, and hauling lots of dirty laundry and several computers back home, we close out our wonderful three week sail at our favorite local Arlington restaurant, Scutra.  A fitting end to a spectacular vacation.

Bob, Dieder (Scutra owner), Linda and Louis (Scutra GM, fantastic bartender and creator of Sailor Bob's Mule)
Stay tuned for Argon Voyages data and statistics up next!

04 September 2014

Cuttyhunk Fog, Red Brook Swimming and PTown Windswept Hair

Onward to Cuttyhunk
Midday Monday we said farewell to our Newport guests and headed to Cuttyhunk.  The wind had finally shifted to its normal SW direction and was swift as we initially motored out of Newport Harbor and then raised the sails and pointed to the southern tip of the Elizabeth Islands Cape Cod Massachusetts approximately 23 nm.

Entering Cuttyhunk

Mackerel skies
We have anchored in the majority of harbors this trip but for some reason passed up the opportunity to do so in Cuttyhunk.  The harbor was predictably sparse given that it is now officially off season. We grabbed a mooring instead and parsed out the $45 to the very friendly harbormaster. Then Linda anxiously awaited 1730 when she could radio for oysters.
VHF 72 to call for oysters from the Cuttyhunk Raw Bar
Linda has foregone oysters at every port during this trip waiting to be able to order from the Cuttyhunk Raw Bar.  It was worth the wait.

Bob strums and then some
Its no Taylor but still sounds lovely (not bad for a plastic guitar sez Bob)

Cuttyhunk at sunset
Good Morning Cuttyhunk
We have been extremely fortunate to have had spectacular weather this entire vacation. Almost every day has been sunny, warm and breezy.  Most evenings have been quite cool but Monday evening in Cuttyhunk was warm so we decided to lay out in the cockpit and watch the stars especially since there are no city lights anywhere nearby to dilute their brilliance. We both fell asleep in the cockpit (Bob way before Linda which is unusual) and awoke in the middle of the night to a layer of deep mist and heavy fog setting in. We were greeted Tuesday morning with a blanket of very thick fog.

Heavy fog the next morning as it is starting to lift.

Leaving Cuttyhunk Harbor in what we thought was lifting fog only to be hit by a heavy wall a few minutes later.

Sounding our one prolonged blast every couple of minutes as we motor carefully through the heavy fog keeping a good lookout as well as a close eye on the radar.  Then, after we raise sails and kill the motor, we sound one prolonged and two short blasts as good Captains do.
 Fog Begins to Lift - Time to Rig the Spinnaker

Fog lifts and winds were out of the south at 7-10kts - perfect for flying the spinnaker up Buzzards Bay en route to Red Brook

Poof!  Starboard tack 

Port tack now (Bill - We keep the tack line shorter now)

Narrow and shallow channel in to Red Brook Harbor in Pocasset MA

An unexpected and welcome lunch with fellow sailor and dear friend, Greg.  Check out Greg's adventures aboard his O'Day 23 Paio at Ruf Seas 
The Anchorage
The Anchorage at Red Brook is a strip that is parallel to Basset Island which is between 7 and 13 ft deep (Argon has a 6 foot draft). At low tide that night, we were swinging over a 7.1ft spot. On a full or new moon, this might have been a little tight and even resting on the bottom.

Leaving Red Brook
Low tide was at 08:00 and we wanted to hit the Canal for slack current at 10:30. So we planned our departure for 10:00. The depths were about the same as when we arrived the day before. We never saw anything lower than 8.5ft on the way out.
Examining the currents and tides 

A bit of work before pulling anchor.  Not a bad office, eh?

More beautiful skies

Sailing with only the jib as we enter the Cape Cod Canal

We let this rather sizeable rig pass us in the canal entrance channel

Under the Cape Cod Canal RR Lift Bridge
On to Provincetown
Our GRIB file readers showed that wind should have been north-west as we crossed the bay to Provincetown.We were expecting to be on a nice beam reach but instead were greeted with a north and pretty light wind that had us sailing as high as possible and still not quite on the course we wanted. As the trip went on, the wind built a little and lifted us to a better course so for most of the 23 nm, we had a fantastic sail. Then about 3 miles out, we were seeing true wind speed of 3kt. Not enough, so we made more hot water and electricity (ran the diesel).  We found a nice spot to Anchor in about 25ft of water near the Coast Guard Pier.

"Did You Just Get Off A Boat?"
Asked a girl named Suzan at the bar in 9 Ryder Restaurant when she looked at Linda's hair.  "Why, yes we did as a matter of fact".  Unfortunately we don't have any photos of this fashion faux pas. We had a nice dinner on land and walked around a relatively quiet (post-season/mid-week) Provincetown. Wind forecast was for zilch the next day so we planned to just stay put.  The next morning, we did some work (as in Job) and also attacked some mail and backed up paperwork that we brought along from home. We ventured in to town at near low tide and tied up at Flyer's dinghy dock.  At low tide, there is not enough room for the outboard to hang down as you reach the dock here.  So someone has to get out and pull the boat in.

No sense in both of us getting our feet wet.  Chivalry is dead.
Low tide in Provincetown. (not even an especially low one either)
The West End
Most people who visit Provincetown hang out in the busy town center. If you keep walking west to the wee numbers of Commercial Ave past the Coast Guard station, there is a whole nuther part that you shouldn't miss. There are some beautiful homes and a few Inns and Restaurants. But, there is also the huge salt marsh, jetty and you can begin to see the dunes. This is also the start of a great bike loop if you care to rent bikes for the day (and you should).
The Jetty and the salt marsh

After an invigorating walk and an awesome slice of pizza (Spiritus), we ventured back to Argon to swim in the warm waters and relax for the afternoon.  We are trying very hard to not think too much about this being Thursday of our last week of vacation.  Boy, has it been spectacular.
Linda's $5 floatie (and $2 gin and tonic)
After a final evening in PTown, we will do an extra long arch to Manchester-by-the-Sea tomorrow to pass through Stellwagen Bank and try to catch glimpses of whales.  We look forward to meeting up again with Josh and Sharon Friday night.

03 September 2014

Newport, Cannibals, and Miniaturizing Argon

Jamestown Distributors = Thumbs Up
Our last blog entry ended with us happily awaiting a new water pump from Jamestown Distributors.

Jamestown Distributors kindly offered to deliver our new water pump to Dutch Harbor Boatyard (we were anchored in the harbor).  However, when we connected with the boatyard, they were very displeased that squatters would think it was ok for them to accept a delivery.  Instead, we waited at the dock ourselves to receive the package.  The boatyard guy kept saying what a nice guy he was as long as we rent a mooring for $50.
Linda continues to try to make progress learning blue tasks.  The hum of the new water pump sounded beautiful!
Exploring Dutch Island
After a successful water pump installation, we set out to explore the deserted Dutch Island.

Every summer we take sand shadow pictures.  This time we decided to do a stone shadow picture on the rocky shore of Dutch Island.

The only paths on the island were from wildlife.  We encountered lots of thickets and a few clearings and saw a couple of deer.  No sign of poison ivy :-).
Sunset over Dutch Harbor
Spinnaker North, Motor South 
The wind was perfect Saturday morning to open the chute and glide proudly northward under the Jamestown Bridge.  We are getting better at jibing the asymm but Linda still cannot rig it independently (yet).

Then we had to steer eastward and round Conanicut Island and head southward in to the wind towards Newport.  We decided to motor the short 8 mile leg instead of beating in to the wind.  Newport Bridge is pictured above.
Ah, Newport
Newport is a unique mixture of activity and arrogance.  We have gone there many times on land and water and always enjoy it.  Immediately after going under the Newport Bridge, we encountered dozens of impressive wooden sailboats setting up for a race.  The inner harbor is packed with boats with a heavy preponderance of sailing vessels.

This holiday weekend we splurged for dock space a second time during our LASVA.  We opted for Newport Shipyard along the bridge to Goat Island vs. one of the (louder) options in the center of town.  We quickly learned that Newport Shipyard is a haven for enormous and elaborate vessels - both sail and power.

Bob practicing holding his martini glass Newport style 
Below are just a few of the impressive vessels that surrounded us at Newport Shipyard.  Argon looked small and modest among her neighbors.

This is a 120' sailboat up on jack stands and stored under a huge boat lift

Heading out for another race

To fit in a bit better with our upscale neighbors, Bob took to spending a couple hours polishing the stainless steel.  Linda went to a spa.
Bob labors for a couple hours getting Argon shiny....

... while Linda went to a spa
Newport Visitors
We enjoyed connecting with quite a few friends during our two days in Newport:
Matt LeDuc with Latitude Yacht Brokerage came for a visit with his kids Zach and Sophie.  Matt sold us our prior sailboat, Fujin, and was immensely helpful in so many ways.  We had a puzzling conversation about the consistency of a large bucket of bacteria (huh?).   

Newport streets and restaurants were packed this last official Saturday summer night so we gathered on Argon for late night drinks with sailing friends Emily and Greg from Constitution Marina and their brother and sister-in-law who were all in town to see the Amy Shumer performance.  

We were thrilled to meet in person the new owners of our prior sailboat (Fujin), Melinda and Greg.  It was great fun to learn about their sailing history and future plans.  We all shared some uh oh stories also.  :-)   Both Melinda and Linda got to know Bill Shaw of New England Yacht Partners very well this past spring through the sale / purchase of Fujin and commissioning of Argon.  We missed connecting with Bill during this trip.

Jeff and JoAnne from Bob's hometown in upstate New York regularly come out to Boston since their daughter attends college in the city.  During this trip eastward, Jeff and JoAnne were able to make a detour post Boston logistics and good byes and join us in Newport overnight.

Jeff and JoAnne posing on Argon's foredeck
Cannibal Ramblers
We enjoyed dinner and more good conversation and laughter at Perro Salado.  Then we ventured in to the back room bar and were surprised at what we heard.  Cannibal Ramblers sound as unique as their name implies and well worth experiencing.  (I will let Bob insert more sophisticated music commentary here.)  They captured the attention of both Bob and Jeff (two music gurus) which says quite a bit.

Jeff and Bob

Newport weekend ended with breakfast at Belle's located right at Newport Shipyard