Showing posts with label sailing New England. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sailing New England. Show all posts

01 August 2015

Sailing Marblehead, Salem and Machester-by-the-Sea

Final Leg of Summery 2015:  Cockpit Sleeping & TONE

Summery 2015 Comes to a Close
After a completely enjoyable few days in Marblehead (more so for Linda since she did not have to work) we departed under only main sail sauntering just a few miles in very light wind over to Misery Island to moor for the night.  Although very close to home, we find this area of the North Shore 
spectacular and it remains a favorite destination:  Marblehead, Salem, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and the islands that speckle the coast.

Teeny, tiny bit of sailing over to nearby Misery Island.

View today off our 'back deck' as we are moored by Great and Little Misery Islands for the afternoon and overnight.  We took a dinghy ride around Great Misery and explored the island on foot a bit.
Great and Little Misery Islands one of nearly 100 areas around Massachusetts that are maintained by The Trustees of Reservations which has over 100,000 members.
Misery Island is a most un-miserable place.  Moorings maintained by Beverly Harbor are in three coves.  We like the southern area at the inlet between Great Misery and Little Misery.
Some storms were moving across Massachusetts to bring in slightly cooler temperatures and push out the humidity.  We have been skirting sever weather systems during this entire three plus week trip and tonight was no exception with just a little rain whilst the strong storms moved by to the north and south.

Weather system moving through resulted in exceptionally beautiful skies as we remained moored at Great and Little Misery Islands for the night.

Final Summery 2015 night on the water.  We have been enjoying falling asleep in the cockpit most evenings on this trip.  The temperatures have been perfect and the air usually dry.

Tartan Owners of New England (TONE)
Our short sail (15nm) from Misery Island back to Constitution Marina in Boston presented variable winds anywhere from 15kts easterly, to 4kts westerly, to an abrupt directional switch accompanied by dramatic increase in velocity as we entered Boston Harbor.  We were looking forward to meeting other Tartan owners as part of the TONE events scheduled at our marina.

Hanging out being boat people with Amy & Adam and fellow Tartan owners Emily & Greg.

TONE dinner in the North End at Filippo's.  Wonderful Italian food family style and fun company.  Bob and Linda have committed to writing a couple of articles for the next TONE newsletter this fall.
Although we have officially ended our Summery 2015 sailing adventure, we took off again Sunday midday heading back up to the North Shore aiming for Manchester-by-the-Sea.  This lovely and serene harbor is probably our favorite not only for it's beauty and quaint town, but also because this was the destination of our very first overnight sail on a J24 (Blue Jay) from Boston Sailing Center back in 2008.  We both recall the excitement and nervousness at setting out so far from the security of Boston Harbor in a sailboat!  And we are happy to report that we still retain much of the thrill and wonder of it all!

The thrill remains!

22 July 2015

Sailing Newport to Marblehead

Showering on Starboard Tack, Racing Jeroboam, & Starving for Voltage

Third Beach Sakonnet River to Red Brook Pocasset (or not... again)
Bob awoke Linda abruptly Saturday morning at 0530 announcing that he would like to haul anchor and set sail.  Linda fumbled to the cockpit in her PJs to steer Argon gently as Bob worked the windlass and we were off.  We motored for just the first 45 minutes or so in to substantial chop as the current came in to the Sakonnet but we knew we'd be greeted with 10-14kt southerly winds in Buzzards Bay and a current in our favor for a nice 40nm sail.  We had our sights on anchoring in another favorite harbor, Red Brook, by early afternoon.  This would have been around 38nm distance.

Sakonnet Light as we leave Third Beach (just east of Newport) banging in to chop and current before smoothing out once off the wind and in to a favorable current in Buzzards Bay.
Conditions were superb as we hummed along at 7-8kts.  However, this certainly was not wine and cheese sailing by any means but rather very active sailing with constant helm work.  Given that we were on mostly a beam reach we were not heeled dramatically but our house was fairly un-vertical all day.

Bob sporting his new Helly Hansen jacket as he tightens up the genoa in 16kt winds.  The overcast skies and slightly chilly temps were actually a welcome reprieve from copious sunshine.
Linda went down below several hours in the sail to shower and had a heck of a time with the tilt and chop.  In addition, the head is on the port side with the drain towards center, thus our starboard tack resulted in a bit of water overflow in the head. Oh well, boats are designed to get wet, even a bit on the inside.

Starboard tack all day; several hours in to our sail with brisk winds continuing.
Given our early departure and the swift progress, we found ourselves in sight of the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge by 1000 and realized we would be anchored in Red Brook well before noon. Therefore, we checked the canal current and afternoon wind forecast in Cape Cod Bay and decided to keep going all the way to Provincetown nearly doubling our planned leg to 65+nm.
We bypassed our planned Pocassett / Red Brook anchorage and instead caught the current in the Cape Cod Canal
Cape Cod Bay side of the canal at Sandwhich.  Still overcast and with excellent southerly winds 15-20kts.

Continuing to work the helm in Cape Cod Bay about 60nm in to our day.
Track of our 60+nm trip averaging well over 7kts!

Although we preferred to anchor, we decided on the security of a mooring in this fairly deep harbor and to opt for a dry launch ride to land instead of a wet dinghy trip in the high winds.  The wind was blowing near 20kts as we turned in to PTown Harbor, called for a ball, and fumbled a bit in the crowded mooring field near the breakwater.  The launch driver saw us circling with uncertainty and offered us an alternative mooring that was a bit less crowded.  Linda felt a bit deflated as it's just a mooring... we can certainly pick up a mooring even in high winds, right?!?  We eventually got settled and secured with a double bridle.

Bob exhausted after an exhilarating day of sailing that started at 0500.  He was too tired to drink the glass of rum waiting next to him. Little did we know that one of the sailboats moored next to us (just out of sight in this picture) would be our competitor the very next day as we sailed to Marblehead.
Our original plan was to stay put in PTown for Bob's scheduled workdays.  During a leisurely dinner in town at The Mews Restaurant a bit north of the main tourist section of Commercial Street, we discussed options for the upcoming days and again examined wind and weather.  We could take a chance on Thursday being good to sail back to Boston, or we could capitalize on Sunday's conditions and sail somewhere to the North Shore where Bob could settle in for his work days.  We chose the latter and left early the next morning.

Racing Jeroboam
We departed PTown in some fog motoring in to the wind past Long Point.  In addition to making swift headway in to the wind, we needed to run the diesel a bit as we have been struggling to keep our batteries charged sufficiently ever since leaving Sag Harbor about 10 days ago.  More on this later.
Given the early morning fog, we had the radar fired up for a little while. We have high quality Navionics charts loaded on our Chart Plotter. A frustrating feature of  Navionics is the speckling of little pink birds to designate wildlife preserves.  Hmmm put RED objects all over a nautical chart.  Great idea!  To be more fun, they use exactly the same pink as Raymarine chose for the radar traces. This makes picking out the little pink potentially oncoming vessels a bit difficult.  Please Navionics - Nix the freekin' pink birds already!

Still a bit foggy as we pass Race Point but clearer skies were not far off.  This is also where we started to see some whales.
Linda's view skyward while relaxing on the fore deck after the fog had cleared.

Bob working the helm.  Linda, well, not working.
Shortly after rounding Long Point and passing Race Point, we spotted a sailboat behind us with a spinnaker flying.  When two sailboats are heading in roughly the same direction, at some level there is a race - whether or not the skipper admits it. This boat had AIS so we were able to see her name, size, speed and course. Bob noticed the speed of the boat first and could see that it was consistently doing 1+kt faster than us. At this point, we were not flying our spinnaker but had main and genoa out. Bob looked again later and saw that AIS was reporting she was 115 feet long with a 26 foot beam. (I think when they filled in the MMSI application for AIS, they may have filled in feet where they were asking for meters.)  "Oh - he's a huge sailboat. Of course he's going to go faster".  Finally we noticed the name. The boat name, Jeroboam, sounded very familiar and after some searching through neurons, Linda recalled that this 35' boat was in the New Year's Day race with Constitution Yacht Club (Linda & Bob crewed on another boat on New Year's Day), and she had had an e mail correspondence with the Captain/owner earlier in the year about an open ocean seminar.
We soon realized that the sailboat a couple miles off our stern and gaining on us was a locally well-known racing boat with a very seasoned skipper / racer, Jonathan Green.  We starting using AIS to monitor Jeroboam's distance and speed, and (given our broad reach direction) to anticipate wind changes that would come our way.  Initially Jeroboam was sailing one knot faster than Argon - we had to change this.  Here, Bob just had to get a picture of one of the rare moments when we were going faster than them.

Jeroboam is a Beneteau Oceanis 351 looking pretty with her spinnaker and stay sail.
After loosing ground the initial hour or so pre-spinnaker, the wind finally got around behind us enough to be comfortably flying our spinnaker too. From then on Argon maintained her .5nm or so gap with Jeroboam the remainder of the 30nm ride.  The wind continued to clock around behind us and we were both having trouble keeping our chutes full. We should have "put more in the bank" earlier in the day. Both vessels remained on a port tack trying to keep the sails full and speed up while sailing more downwind than we would like. We both jibed just before reaching The Breakers and headed due north for a short starboard run before dousing the spinnaker near Marblehead Harbor.
We deployed Argon's spinnaker when the wind got around behind us more.  
What was the result of our race?  Well, we got to Marblehead first but Jeroboam got there faster.  They left PTown probably nearly an hour after us and were only about 5 minutes behind us after the 42 miles. We've never officially entered Argon into any race and had a handicap established. The owner's manual says our PHRF (Performance Handicap Racing Fleet) rating is "84 estimated". A Beneteau Oceanis 351 has a higher PHRF rating than a Tartan 4000.  However, we were happy to be practicing our relatively novice racing skills and racing attitude by sailing Argon well enough to not allow Jeroboam to pass during this eight plus hour sail.  We reached out via e mail to Jonathan once in Marblehead to thank him for keeping us on our toes and briefly joined him and some other local sailors at The Barrelman for drinks. This little competition further sparked Linda's interest in participating in the 2016 Newport to Bermuda race.

Marblehead - Sailboat Heaven
Marblehead is a bit like a mini Newport with a tad less sailing cockiness (just a tad).  Power boats are definitely the minority with most of the sparse engines working to deliver lobsters to all of us.
Hundreds of kids out sailing dinghies for Junior Race Week in Salem Sound.  This town endeavors to embed the sailing bug while they are very young.

Marblehead Harbor crowded with masts - a lovely sight.

Linda's home study area while Bob works below.

Another beautiful sunset set looking out towards Salem.

Marblehead Harbor abounds with stand up paddle boards, kayaks, and floating craft of all sorts.
We enjoyed an evening of pizza and conversation with our friends Brenton, Jillien and family who live in town.  We met Brenton, owner of Black Rock Sailing School several years ago at the New England Boat Show and have taken ASA classes from him (and some private docking lessons as well).  His school is fantastic and we always enjoy getting together socially.

Brenton Lochridge is the owner and lead instructor of Black Rock sailing school in Boston, Marblehead, Warwick RI and BVI.  We have taken several sailing classes with Brenton over the years including ASA 104 Coastal Cruising, ASA 105 Navigation, and private docking lessons.  We highly recommend Black Rock Sailing School!!

Starving for Voltage
We mentioned a couple of posts ago about our rookie error mismanaging our electrical consumption. Ever since Sag Harbor we have struggled to keep the main battery at a reasonable charge and have resorted to running the engine simply to get the voltage up.  We have not been plugged in to shore power since NYC two weeks ago but this really should not be an issue if we monitor and control our usage.  However, between Bob's kick ass-hot running-electron sucking lap top cranking during his work days, and with frequent bursts of amps sucked up by the refrigerator, the alternator of the diesel is just not sufficient.  (Not to mention our two other lap tops, two phones, iPad, etc.)  For any sort of serious cruising in our future, in addition to learning to live with less power, we will definitely need to supplement at least with solar (and perhaps also wind).   Needing shore power will not work both for accessibility and expense.

After anchoring and mooring for two weeks, we secured one of the few dock slips in Marblehead and gorged on voltage all afternoon.  Bob was able to keep working his programming magic for Atlas without constantly running the engine to feed his computer.

The 116.2 VAC input and a proper charger made our batteries feel oh so much better.

Normally when we plug in to short power there is "bulk charging" for just a few seconds or minute.  Our batteries were so starved that the "bulk charging" (at 80+ amps) did not switch to floating charge (as shown above) for about 10 hours.  Our batteries are now fat and happy again.  We beat on Battery 1 pretty good this trip. Hopefully it's not damaged or else Bob will have to sell another kidney.
Several boat projects loom in our near future:  solar panels, potentially wind generator, satellite, supplemental heating for winter (do not want to think about winter too much yet), etc.  But for a few more days we continue to just enjoy Argon and sailing around in our home.

17 July 2015

Sailing Block Island and Newport

 Rhode Island and a Day of Quips

Block Island and Aldo Bakery
Having missed flanking storms once again, we arrived in Great Salt Pond Tuesday evening, looked around a bit for a place to drop the hook, setting in 23 feet for the night.  We are very impressed at the generous amount of space left for anchoring in this well-protected harbor.  In addition, amentities such as launch, water/ice, and popular Aldo Bakery service the entire harbor including anchored boats (anchored boaters are sometimes thought of as freeloaders even though we spend plenty of money on land).

We purchased Italian stuffed bread Tuesday night and pastries Wednesday morning from the Aldo Bakery skiff that makes rounds to all the moored and anchored boats selling their goods.
Who Has Superior Itinerary Planning Skills?
After studying wind, distance, and current, Linda recommended a 1045 departure from Great Salt Pond the next morning.  The current would be turning in our favor at about 1130 and the wind would start to pick up about then at which time Linda thought we could hoist the spinnaker for a downwind, gentle sail to Newport.  But by 0800, Bob was itching to get moving and since we've had mixed luck with the accuracy of wind forecasts (we use a combination of GRIB files and general weather reports), Bob recommended we haul anchor and get moving.  We ended up motoring the entire 20+nm journey, mostly in heavy fog, and against a current... arriving at the opening of Newport Harbor just as the fog lifted and a nice wind was at our back.  Oh, well.  Next time Linda might be more forceful in her recommended sail plan.

Awoke to a misty and foggy morning.

Very still,foggy, and beautiful in Great Salt Pond Block Island.
We left by 0800 hoping the fog would be short lived but it thickened as we ventured deeper in to the sound.  Visibility was was down to just a couple hundred feet at some points in the journey as we motored from Block Island to Newport.  We initiated sound signals to alert nearby boaters of our presence. Our radar was on and we were both on very high alert keeping watch and listening.  We strongly prefer sailing in fog when possible as we can listen better for power boats but the air was completely still.  We adjusted the gain and range of the radar a few times as we seemed to not be seeing some of the nearby vessels and were taken by surprise more than once when a power boat was suddenly way too close for comfort.  Even the green can navigation aid that Linda could see us approaching on the GPS came in to sight suddenly and very near.  It was most definitely not a relaxing journey for the first couple of hours until the fog began to lighten up.
Sound signal for motoring vessels in fog is one prolonged blast every two minutes.  If we were sailing not under power, we would have been sounding one prolonged followed by two short blasts to announce us as a sailing vessel.  We have come to favor this manually pumped horn over the more common cans of sounds.  
Cocky Newport (we mean this with affection)

Point Judith as we start to enter Newport Harbor (and the fog lifts and the wind picks up.... about 2 hours too late; or rather, we were a couple hours too early).
Newport is a favorite destination and this was our second sailing trip here this season (the former trip was in May for the Volvo Ocean Race; see prior blog post Overnight Sail to Newport May 2015).  Newport harbor is busy with a strong domination of sailboats vs. power boats and many high end racing boats.  There is a strut and cockiness that the serious sailors bring to the culture and tone of Newport.

Upon arriving, we stopped by Newport Yachting Center, topped off the diesel, filled our water tanks, disposed of garbage, and gave the deck & hull a good rinse before securing a mooring from Old Port.  The weather was very hot again so we took a swim off the back of Argon before venturing in to town on the dinghy.  Speaking of the dinghy.....

Bob no longer hates the dinghy.  Our new dinghy, Neon, in a very nice AB brand with an aluminum V bottom.  We have a 6hp motor that our power boat friends probably laugh at but suits us just fine and is much more powerful than our prior 3.5hp.  In this pic Bob is scrubbing Neon's bottom to keep her looking spiffy.
In addition, the dreaded davits which we thought would be in the way, look awful, and generally be an inconvenience are actually terrific.  After a bit of practice and fumbling, we now have a method that easily hoists the 150lb Neon keeping her secure in even moderately rough seas; and she is very easy to let down. Check out our davit project pic here Davits for Argon .  And, kudos to Kato Marine who were terrific to work with.  Thus Bob no longer hates the dinghy. And having a dinghy, especially on longer sails, is great for exploring nooks and crannies in harbors and avoiding the sometimes costly launch trips with limited hours of operation.

Back to Newport....
Given that we are in bustling Newport, we opted not to cook on the boat.  We had two thumbs up dinners Wednesday and Thursday night, both away from the America Cup / Thames Street main touristy area:
  • Perro Salado:  We've visited here many times now Perro's is a favorite go to place.
  • Malt:  On Broadway among the tattoo parlors, smoke shops, and consignment shops.  The anti-Newport neighborhood.
We were happy to have Linda's niece, Sam, take a drive over and visit us in Newport for the day.
Sam and Bob enjoying the dinghy ride in to town.

Sam relaxing on Argon before she and Linda ventured back in to town to get their nails done.  Sam opted for blue fingers nails and Linda for pink toe nails.
Not sure if many of our readers know both Bob and Sam personally, but they they both have a similar type of slightly off-kilter humor and throw puns back and forth as if they are a seasoned theatrical routine.  By the afternoon they were quipping back and forth non-stop with one liners and puns.
Sam:  "Why are rock bands called rock bands?  Because they get stoned."
Bob:  "No, because they are taken for granite."

The Bob and Sam Show Thursday's at 9:00p.m.  Try the veal.

Bono is apparently in town among his Boston concerts with his mega yacht, ROCKIT.  U2 can become a rock star, get stoned, and be taken for grantie.  Get it?  Ha.  (Linda is not so good at this.)
We did a lot of walking around Newport including a stroll through the impressive Newport Shipyard that boasts many enormous and opulent sailing vessels and a few mega power boats.
Sam and Bob standing alongside Zenji.  Note the deck hands on the vessels and how huge the boat is.  Zenji is a184 foot ketch / cutter built by Perini Navi that used to be owned by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.  It sold for about $25 million and is now a charter boat.  You can charter Zenji for only $200,000 per week including a crew of 8 to sail her and serve you.

Massive travel lift at Newport Shipyard to haul boats out of the water and put them back in.  The diameter of the tires are taller than Sam.

Beautiful dusk, Newport Harbor off stern of Argon.

Newport Bridge in the background.

Off to Quissett Harbor, or Not
We left Newport early Friday morning initially intending to do a 40nm slow downwind sail to Quissett Harbor (part of West Falmouth, just north of Woods Hold on the Cape).  But the wind did not want to kick up so we hooked to port and tucked in to another of our favorite spots, Third Beach, at the western entrance of the Sakonnet River.  We anchored by noon and had a kick back lazy day.
Little bit of spinnaker sailing in to the Sakonnet River. It was Linda's turn to rig and she did just fine.

Watching wind surfers around Third Beach wondering if we are still young enough to try one of these days.
Beach stroll late in the day.

Kicking back at anchor.  Another good night to sleep under the stars.
We examined the conditions and decided to plan to send off early Saturday morning for a long sail to Red Brook in Pocassett Cape Cod as we aim to be north of the canal by Sunday.  Plans certainly could change.