17 July 2016

Sailing Nova Scotia = Brussels Sprouts

Captain Linda Perry Riera

Exploring Nova Scotia with our Home
5 July - 12 July 2016

Nova Scotia = Brussels Sprouts
Maine = Fresh raspberries on ice cream

Disclaimer:  Weather likely greatly impacted food equivalents

Key takeaways about Nova Scotia:
  • Seemingly only one point of sail.... downwind.  Whether crossing the Atlantic from Boston, sailing northward up the east coast,  sailing southward down the east coast, transiting around Cape Sable... all downwind. The initial prevailing south-westerlies decided to shift to a much less common northeasterly as if the wind was taunting and following us wherever we ventured.
  • Probably more picturesque than I was able to appreciate but fog cloaked the treasures.
  • Visited Shelburne, Lunenburg, Prince Harbor (opposite side of Lunenburg in Mahone Bay), Lockeport; did not make it to Halifax.  Shelburne was a welcoming first port of call; very much enjoyed exploring Lunenburg by foot; highly recommended.
  • Transited tricky Cape Sable successfully - check.
  • Very happy that we ventured here; tackled some challenging sailing honing our skills.
Tethered in on the bow dressed in full weather foulies and PFD listening and looking out for traffic in the fog.
Sailing to and exploring Nova Scotia was like Brussels sprouts...  good for us; sturdy and intricate; helped us be better, stronger sailors; there are plenty of places I have enjoyed more and it was most certainly never "wine and cheese" sailing but rather a tremendous amount of work and attention.

Note:  I actually like Brussels sprouts but had difficulty thinking of a vegetable I did not like.  You get the point.

Foggy coastline; there is beauty in there somewhere

Overcast coastline; there is beauty in there somewhere

Foggy coastline; there is beauty in there somewhere
Key takeaways about Maine:
  • Why have we waited so long to explore mid and northern Maine coast?!?  Love it by sea and land.  Acadia is a treasure.
  • I will never complain about the amount of lobster pots in Marblehead.... it is like a maze to navigate through the farms of pot markers in these waters.
More to come on Maine with the next post.

Here's the story:

Upon arriving in Shelburne, NS from Boston, we had planned to stay for two nights to sprinkle in some much needed rest and relaxation, but instead departed in the evening of day 2 to tackle a long overnight trip northward up the coast.  (We craved more healthy, crunchy, green vegetables.) The wind had been blowing us hard across our beam all day in Shelburne pushing us tight against the dock, but then politely lightened up as we were preparing to send off for the 80nm journey to even higher latitudes.

It was a long, eery sail overnight in the fog with both of us on high alert listening for traffic and continually examining the radar zoomed in, then out.  I was thankful for the relatively light winds although disappointed that the wind was still on our back.

The scarcity of any traffic was welcome but I kept questioning if it could really be that deserted... Was our radar working?  Was our AIS working? Where were the other vessels? 

Some sea birds, Terns of some species perhaps, were attracted to our navigation lights and would swoop and squawk by us revealing only a fleeting peak through the thick fog as they flew around us. We could hear them but not see them until they started landing on the foredeck and even one in the cockpit.  It was kind of creepy and I tried not to think of the Hitchcock movie.

Some sea birds, Terns of some species perhaps, were attracted to our navigation lights and would swoop and squawk by us revealing only a fleeting peak through the thick fog as they flew around us. We could hear them but not see them until they started landing on the foredeck and even one in the cockpit.  It was kind of creepy and I tried not to think of the Hitchcock movie

Continued vigilance sailing in the fog as morning broke
Daybreak brought some welcome brief glimpses of an attractive coastline. Little did we know this would be about all the coastline we would see for the rest of our days here.


Lunenburg is a picturesque yet authentic coastal town.  The buildings are mostly from the 1800's and early 1900's and retain their historical beauty.
I got to explore the town while Bob stayed on Argon writing code.  Dan take note.

Lunenburg is a picturesque yet authentic coastal town.  The buildings are mostly from the 1800's and early 1900's and retain their historical beauty.
Lunenburg is a true working town with a lively fishing and boating industry.  In order to compensate for the contracting fishing commerce, Lunenburg made a conscious effort to grow its tourism industry over the past decade or two to prevent it from succumbing to economic disaster that has afflicted many coastal fishing towns.  Although filled with shops and art galleries popular with tourists, Lunenburg lacks the sometimes artificial, sterile quality of many towns that have converted to tourism.  While beautiful, Lunenburg is also salty and genuine with abundant construction and working life activity. The couple of days in Lunenburg were my favorite of the Nova Scotia leg of this trip.

Although filled with shops and art galleries popular with tourists, Lunenburg lacks the sometimes artificial, sterile quality of many towns that have converted to tourism.  While beautiful, Lunenburg is also salty and genuine with abundant construction and working life activity. 
Adam and Knickle Ltd. Fishing company was established in the late 1800's and is a mainstay of Lunenburg.  The company is owned and operated by the third generation of the two original families, currently with a woman running the operations which is unusual for a fishing company. Originally focused on salt cod, Adam and Knickle shifted to scallop fishing in the mid 1900's.
Adams and Knickle Advantage Magazine 

Adams and Knickle is a third generation family fishing company and a cornerstone of Lunenburg
We spent two nights docked next to the Maude Adams.  This 49 Meter vessel was originally commissioned in 2003 but only recently purchased by Adam and Knickle and had a major refit doen in Spain. Maude Adams is one of three scallop boats for the company and is by far the largest and most modern.  In addition to catching and processing the scallops, she has the capacity to individually freeze the scallops immediately which the company is touting as optimal for the scallops that will be shipped further away. The Maude Adams was scheduled to depart on its first scallop run for Adam and Knickle the following week and will be at sea for about 14 days. When these big scallop boats return to port with dozens of young, recently generously paid and thirsty young (mostly) men, the town apparently gets a bit raucous.

Argon docked next to the towering 49 meter scallop boat, Maude Adams
I spent a lovely morning exploring the outskirts of Lunenburg by foot including poking around their weekly farmer's market:  https://lunenburgfarmersmarket.ca/

I had a nice chat with Jason about his honey and bee hives; bought local maple syrup and the best pancake mix available for my son Christian

Yes, I am in Canada
Gail Patriarche Gallery:  Gail is a self taught water color artist specializing in boats and seascapes. If I ever return to Lunenburg, perhaps I will ask Gail to do a commissioned painting of Argon.  http://gailpatriarche.com/aboutus.html

This painting is in progress
Gail was not there but I spent quite a bit of time chatting with her husband, John.  In addition to painting and sailing, we talked about Trudeau, Trump, Obama, Cameron and Johnson.  (We are politically aligned so it was not a contentious discussion.)  

Savy Sailor:  Settled in for a glass of red wine and cup of haddock chowder overlooking the lovely cloudy and rainy Lunenburg Harbor while I studied charts and cruising guides to figure out options for our next ports before leaving Nova Scotia for the states.

The friendly hostess at the Savy Sailor placed me specifically at Table 23 since this is the spot where the free town WiFi seems to be the most reliable.  Thank you!
Fishermen's Memorial:  During the peak of the fishing industry, Lunenburg harbor was dotted with hundreds of fishing vessels.  In the early part of the century, prior to sophisticated navigation aids and meteorology data, accidents and deaths at sea were common.  

Since the early 1900's, more than 600 men and 150 ships have that have sailed out of Lunenburg have perished in the North Atlantic.  Forty of the sunken ships lost everyone on board.

The Fisherman's Memorial is comprised of granite columns that form a stylized Compass Rose with its eight directional points.  The names of those who have been lost at sea are engraved and read aloud each September during the Annual Fishermen’s Memorial Service

There are particularly numerous names listed under 1926 and 1927 -- 130 men died at sea in these two seasons due to being caught in unexpected early season gales in August both years.  Notice that there are many of the same surname.  Some families lost all of their bread winners and were not only emotionally devastated, but economically ruined.  After 1927, no more than one man per family was allowed out at sea on the same ship.

After a couple of nights in Lunenberg, we did a short 15nm sail out in to Mahone Bay venturing up the very well protected Prince Harbor in to a very secluded anchorage which was only a couple of miles from where we had been docked prior.

We cast off our lines from the dock in Lunenburg to sail in a big U about four hours around the peninsula in to Mahone Bay ending up just 3 nm away from downtown Lunenburg anchoring for the night in Prince Harbor
We anchored comfortably for the night in Prince Harbor is just on the north side of Lunenburg near Lunenburg Yacht Club.

We indulged in chocolate chip cookies baked with dough I had mixed up while still in Boston the prior week
Another Challenging Sail - Ugh!

We set our alarms for 0430 the next morning to begin a long trek southward to Lockeport. We had anticipated a tough downwind sail with potentially large seas and our expectations were met during this extremely  challenging 16 hour sail, one of our top 5 most challenging trips ever.  In addition to being cold, cloudy, misty and somewhat foggy... this was the fourth day of north/northeasterly winds bringing the North Atlantic gushing down the eastern coast of Nova Scotia.  We spent an exhausting day of active steering downwind with 6-10 (and some 12) foot following seas.

Moods still good despite the huge following seas all day; we experienced hours of these monsters up our stern
Btw...  It is common for people to wish us well by stating "may the wind be at your back".  Although well-meaning, sailors generally do not like the wind at their back (unless consistent, light and accompanied by flat seas).  But high winds at our back create large seas and it is quite challenging to handle the boat and avoid gybing.  A better tiding would be to wish us winds across our beam.... or, perpendicular to the boat...  But I have yet to hear a pleasant, sing songy phrase that wishes perpendicular breeze or a beam reach.?  Suggestions welcome!

Bottom companionway hatchboard was inserted in anticipation of a wave washing over in to the cockpit; this would prevent our living room from becoming a wading pool; luckily, no waves broached the transom but many were close

Bob declared he was "in the zone" during a many hour long steering shift; one can get in to a nice rhythm with the seas

Most of the sailing along the eastern coast of Nova Scotia felt like sailing in November in New England
Rude Awakening:  I made the mistake of resting on the windward cockpit bench as it was a bit warmer (well, less cold) when a particularly aggressive wave came upon our port quarter and bumped me violently up and off; I hit my head and shin quite hard resulting in a couple new bumps and bruises.  Bob administered a cognition test (I was still about as smart), I took some ibuprofen, and then moved to the leeward side while Bob continued steering.

Messy lines not yet re-organized after more sail changes
The Elusive Coastline:  I suspect that the Nova Scotia coast is beautiful, but alas, we did not see much of it despite more than 200nm of sailing up and down the east coast.  

The depth of solitude of the coastline was surprising... where were all the pleasure boats in peak season?  What about all the fishing and commercial vessels?  Was everyone in port (except us) because the conditions were awful?  Even when we were sailing within 10nm of the coast.... rarely a boat in sight not only when it was foggy but even with decent visibility.  Even on AIS and radar... where was everyone?  Had the weather been clear, I probably would have relished in the solitude a bit more.  However, when having to rely on instruments, it was a bit odd.  Perhaps I have been a city dweller too long and overly accustomed to the Boston area sea traffic.

Bland Lockeport Harbor (perhaps I was tiring of the fog and grey)
I was very happy to finally be nearing our evening destination.  After negotiating a rocky and narrow channel in the early evening, we did a messy docking along the empty tie up in continued high winds in Lockeport.  Lockeport is a fairly bland little harbor with several lobster and fishing boats but seemingly no pleasure craft or ambition to be an attractive port.  It felt like a ghost harbor and certainly did not have the activity expected of early July.  We settled in for a restful evening and prepared for another early morning departure.

Bob is convinced that Terrance and Phillip is even funnier when watched in Canada
Preparing for Cape Sable and Bay of Fundy 
Our next transit would be a long haul initially southward around Cape Sable, northwest across the southern section of the Bay of Fundy, then westward skimming the Gulf of Maine back to the US. Ken McKinley from Locus Weather was in communication with us about the return crossing and suggested that Sunday would be a good day to depart for Maine. His prediction was that we would have ENE winds but they would slowly back to the Northwest. His suggestion was to leave as early on Sunday as possible (even though the weather would be rainy and chilly) in order to get as much of the trip done before the winds turned on our nose. After examining charts and tides, we set on another early morning departure to ensure we would round the Cape with the current.  We departed again in the fog focusing intently on the navigational markers, chart, and GPS to avoid the plentiful rocky shallows in the windy early morning hours.  Although the northeast winds continued, the seas where much more manageable compared to the prior day as we mentally prepared ourselves for the approximately 36 hour sail to Maine.

Rounding Cape Sable at the southern most tip of Nova Scotia needs to be approached with planning and caution.  The currents run strong, up to 4 kts!, and one should definitely avoid wind opposing current which can churn up the seas substantially in the fairly shallow waters.  We timed our arrival to grab the front side of a favorable current and were able to ride this in modest winds for about 30 miles. As we rounded Cape Sable, the winds were not really showing any signs of backing to the N or NW yet and we were making very good time.

We were able to perfectly time a slack tide in a variable but comfortable 15kt wind as we pointed about 300 degrees to thread our way south of Mud Island and north of Seal Island before entering the Bay of Fundy.  

We were briefly startled when a seemingly fishing vessel crossing our path abruptly changed course heading straight for us.  It soon became apparent that it was some sort of tourist boat (very odd given the complete lack of any traffic whatsoever) and the passengers were excitedly taking photos of us.  Perhaps they were excited to see another boat out on the vast waters.  They passed close enough for us to exchange good mornings across the misty water.
Just after passing between Mud and Seal Islands, we noticed the promised backing of the wind to the North. Suddenly, we had switched from sailing very low off the wind to sailing very high. We decided to "put some in the bank" and aimed slightly north of Bar Harbor. The current in Bay of Fundy can also be quite strong and goes hand in hand with huge tidal swings along the western cost of Nova Scotia up to 26+ feet!  We knew that our favorable current would be changing and slowing us down as we crossed the southern Fundy and in to the Gulf of Maine.

The difference between course and heading caused by the Bay of Fundy current set is very apparent in this view of our GPS track
I welcomed the refreshingly flat seas and... we were not sailing downwind!!  Instead, we were close hauled and still leaving our ultimate Maine destination to be determined by the wind.  Customs check in limited us to Portland, Camden, or Bar Harbor and we eventually targeted the northernmost of these choices as we beat in to a modest north then northwesterly wind able to average about 5kts against the current.   
Relishing the very flat seas and easy upwind sailing across the southern Bay of Fundy heading back to the US
It was decadent to sail overnight with clear skies and flat seas!!  The AIS remained eerily sparse with only a handful of fishing boats and a couple of tankers detected all night.  

Another beautiful sunrise at the end of a night of sailing; good bye Nova Scotia; hello Maine
Morning brought a beautiful sunrise but also a shifting wind, as expected.  We continued to sail high but eventually had to fire up the diesel and motor the remaining 30nm in to a headwind.  The first glimpses of Mount Desert Island were originally mistook for low clouds hugging the horizon.  But no, this was the 1500 ft elevation of Acadia National Park.  

Mount Desert Island appearing as we motored the final leg in to Bar Harbor
Maine has been an unexpected delight. Although I have lived in New England most of my adult life, I have been acutely aware that my Maine exposure has been scant.  We know of Maine being a sailing destination of course, but other than Portland, we have not explored the northeastern coast.  But boy, do I get it now!  From the first far away glimpses of Mount Desert Island, to weaving around dozens of rocky islands, anchoring in secluded harbors, and visiting coastal towns... More to come on my love affair with Maine.

05 July 2016

Sailing Boston to Nova Scotia - Shakedown Cruise

Captain Linda Perry Riera
1 July 2016 - 4 July 2016

For the short of attention span and/or uninterested (or red styles), an Abridged / Cliff Note version is provided immediately below.  Details and great photos are shared for sailing geeks and the otherwise curious.


The Good: We made it!! Boat and crew all safe. No seasickness. Dolphins. Whales. Learnings. Sunrises and sunsets. Increased confidence. We still like each other. We arrived relatively rested (un-exhausted?) thanks to sticking with our watch schedule.
The Bad: Wind directly behind us (requiring vigilance to avoid gybing and interfering with straight path). Misjudged ideal course causing slightly longer route (had a chance to put some in the bank Saturday but did not). Late with spinnaker both hoisting and dousing (resulting in slow progress for a spell, then quick broach and tangled chute in high winds).
The Ugly: Saturday night - heavy winds / bigger seas, hit something, flailing jib, scary venture on to foredeck. Humbling.

Stats: - Total trip distance 290nm, average speed 5.8kts, 4 Gal. diesel
Note: These are approximates because I unplugged the GPS receiver from the lap top that was tracking and saving our actual course. Whoops.
Departed Constitution Marina 0640 Saturday 1 July; arrived at Shelburne Yacht Club, Shelburne Nova Scotia 1210 Monday 4 July (54.5 hours which included about 5 hours of motoring).

Pre trip preparations studying charts

Unabridged Recount:

Shakedown cruise (def) - Sail conducted to assess the readiness of a vessel and crew.  Will serve to get the crew accustomed to the vessel as well as to adjust machinery and systems, and to determine additional needs prior to full commissioning.  Term origin is from when motor vessels were beginning to replace sailing vessels; the engines caused vibrations in the ships that were not present in sailing vessels, and engineers had scant experience with, hence upon initially commissioning it was important to see what would "shake loose" or "shake down" during practice runs.

Although this is Argon's third sailing season and we have logged over 3500nm already on her, a shakedown cruise focusing on open ocean sailing is prudent prior to the start of our one year trip that will involve several long open ocean legs. Open ocean / blue water sailing is fundamentally different and more challenging than coastal cruising.  Boston to Nova Scotia was chosen because it is a fairly short blue water trip (2.5 days vs. 5-8 days that are in the plan in the coming year; for reference, it can take 20 or 30 days to cross the Atlantic or Pacific).  In addition, we have never been to Nova Scotia thus would love to explore her beautiful coasts a bit.

Background - This was Argon's first open ocean voyage and a key milestone in preparing to sail off for a year starting in September.  We have been learning, installing, buying, doing, tweaking, and spending a lot over the past couple of years to get Argon and ourselves ready for blue water sailing and extended cruising. See the last blog post Converting a Tartan 4000. Although we have done extensive coastal cruising over the past 10 years including several overnight sails with solo watches, I have never sailed off shore; Bob has done just one open ocean passage to Bermuda last December crewing for a sailing friend on her boat.  See Melissa's blog at: Sailing Acedia Rhode Island to Bermuda.  Sailing to Nova Scotia was going to allow Bob and I to test ourselves and the boat, learn from our experiences and mistakes, and contribute to creating a final punch list prior to September, and importantly, allow us to assess if we can indeed handle Argon off shore with just the two of us.

Teamwork to prepare and execute our first offshore voyage
We had been planning to sail to Nova Scotia sometime in July based on a good weather window. During our recent Safety at Sea Seminar in Newport, we met Ken McKinley of Locus Weather and have since decided to use him as our weather router for off shore legs to guide us in selecting departure dates, and to provide valuable atmospheric and ocean data during the trips to help us plot our course and prepare for conditions along the way. Ken confirmed a good three day forecast if we departed the morning of Saturday 2 July. The prior week was full of non-sailing activities with Bob in NY and me finishing up my final week of work (I have resigned to take a career break for a year or two) so when we received the positive weather report, we had to scurry around all Friday afternoon/evening for final preparations (dinghy on foredeck, provisioning, chart review, systems review, new network router (because ours recently bit the dust), etc.  And, importantly, to get emotionally ready.  Late Friday evening Christian (my son) came by for a visit and well wishes - now I was ready (and so was Bob).

Some rules specific to off shore were established in advance (part of risk mitigation):
  • Life vest at all times; tether to jacklines whenever venturing out of cockpit (regardless of how calm the seas may seem)
  • Tether in cockpit when alone on watch or seas/wind at least moderate
  • Adhere to watch/rest schedule as much as possible to mitigate exhaustion
  • Prophylacetic sea sickness medicine; stay hydrated with plenty of water; eat light, healthy, carefully chosen food to go easy on our bellies
  • No alcohol
  • Take it all in; experience it; be in the moment
Some rules were added to the list above during/after the journey as our wisdom expanded (aka after making mistakes or not mitigating certain risks):
  • Foredeck and general check/inspection each evening prior to dark - to look for anything amiss.  For instance... Do both the jib sheets have stopper knots?? Is the furling line caught around the windlass??  See more below for why these items are called out.  Basically - is there anything that does not function properly that would require a risky and unnecessary trip to the foredeck?
First 24 Hours
This leg of the trip was the most challenging as well as the most informative.  It was filled with inconsistent wind, many sail changes, a few mistakes, and (to be honest) a scary night.

Watch Schedule:  After working together for the first four hours, we implemented a modified three on three off which included a couple of four hour shifts to hopefully provide better rest time.  Three hours off usually means only two hours of rest as there were many times that we were both needed to handle sail changes, confirm weather, prepare a bit of food, etc.

It took us an unexpectedly long time to even get out of Boston Harbor and the initial several hours of our sail were extremely active.  After first topping off diesel (maneuvering in the high and building winds) we decided to start with a reef main as we headed out the harbor alongside a docked battleship.  However, we had a foul in the reefing line causing the main to flog and flail violently in the now 20+kt winds and for the harbor police to blow their whistle at us to scoot us away from getting too close the battleship.
Harbor police had to direct us away from approaching this docked battleship too closely as we struggled with a jammed reefing line
The building winds unexpectedly softened and shifted direction but then were back up to 28kts resulting in lots of sail configuration changes.  By the time we hit Grave's Lighthouse (less than 10nm from home), we had tacked and gybed several times as well as reefed the main, unfurled the jib, unreefed the main, sailed wing on wing, furled the jib, unfurled the genoa, furled the genoa, reefed the main, unfurled the jib, etc.  

During all this wind shifting and sail changing, we quickly learned that the dinghy (secured upsidedown on the foredeck) was too aft interfering with the the jib sheets.  We nudged the dinghy a bit forward, re-secured, and switched the rigging for the jib sheets from the manual tracks to the self-tacking set up.

Finally, after passing The Graves, we were on a steady course of 74 degrees COG (course over ground) pointed at Cape Sable Nova Scotia about 250nm away broad reaching with a reefed main and genoa in 17kts of wind forecasted to increase.  Phew - a lot of activity during these first few hours...  And the Step App on my phone was sending me a message that I was not being active enough! I don't think so.

Finally passing The Graves Lighthouse Saturday morning almost 10 miles from Constitution Marina
My first solo watch began and I would periodically peer over my shoulder to see the Boston skyline dwindling.  Beautiful blue skies, comfortable temperatures, very few boats in sight as Argon pulled further away from land.

Pulling away from the Boston skyline

Boston now out of sight
The winds were lighter than forecasted all day Saturday (but stronger than forecasted at night, we would learn).  Our sail configuration during the day ended up being too conservative since we were anticipating stronger winds that did not come so we shook out the reef and hoisted the full main. After several hours of only 12kts of wind, we finally (later than we should have) dug the spinnaker out of the sail locker and hoisted her around 1600hrs. This was our first mistake of the day - we should have put up the chute much sooner as we lost about two hours given our modest speed.

Chute finally up; humming along beautifully; until the winds shot up.....
Enjoying the sun set from the foredeck
GPS showing us about a third of the way to Nova Scotia
After several hours of comfortably sailing under main and spinnaker, just after we had enjoyed a beautiful sunset, we made our second mistake of the day which was to leave the spinnaker up too long as the winds steadily and quickly inched to around 20kts and we progressed from broad reach to beam reach; suddenly we broached. The boat had been tipped to starboard severely (about 50 degrees) and the spinnaker dipped in the water during a gust.  The wind was consistently blowing over 20kts now (having quickly built) and it was a real struggle to get the sock down to douse the spinnaker. Bob was on the foredeck fighting with the spin (clipped in with tether!) while I steered and loosened the sheets. We messily got the spinnaker down and then quickly reefed the main bouncing around the building seas. We let out the jib back on a broad reach and composed ourselves.

Spinnaker tucked away as the winds built
By now it was time for Bob to begin his off deck time and he asked me if we I thought we should furl in the jib since the winds were a steady 20+kts.  I replied no, we were fine... third mistake of the trip.

Life vest on and clipped in with tether while steering in the cockpit
Less than an hour in to Bob's rest shift, in the pitch black moonless but starfilled night, I heard and felt a substantial thud under the boat, potentially on the rudder. Crap - I hit something but had no idea what. Nothing evident behind us or nearby. [Bob: I usually don't ask "what was that"? when I hear a new noise. But this time after the thud, I heard "Bob!" from the cockpit]  The steering seemed to work fine and I could only hope nothing was damaged but my heart was racing a bit.  More importantly, I was struggling to keep control of the boat as the seas were building to 6+ feet (coming up along our rear port quarter) and winds jumped to 30kts.  We needed to get the jib in and I could not do this alone so time to call Bob up again in the cockpit for help.

The jib fiasco:  The winds were whipping, the seas were tossing us around and it was pitch black (about 2200 hours).  The jib is always difficult to furl in when there is so much load on the sail but something was wrong.... the jib furler was jammed completely and we were unable to bring in more than a couple of feet of sail.  We were healing over severely since we were overpowered and then the jib sheet pulled out of the block and in addition to the foresail, this thick line was flailing violently in the wind forward.

Needless to say... there are absoultely NO pictures of this night as we had all we could do to handle the boat for the next many hours.

We were confused as to why the jib would not furl and now a bit frightened about how to fix this mess especially with the starboard side jib sheet loose from the winch. Whatever we did, had to be quick since the sail was up there flogging itself to death. The wind and seas were howling and with the added noise created by the angry snapping of the foresail, communication was difficult; throw in some subpanic emotions.  Bob then ventured up on deck with headlamp on and tether secured to jacklines to try to fix the jib.  Venturing on the foredeck at night in conditions like this is very serious and I admit I was slightly terrified.  Although he was tethered in, there are so many ways to get hurt in conditions like this; falling overboard while tethered keeps one attached to the boat but can result in hanging over the side getting banged up against the hull; there is no easy way to get back on the boat, especially at night in rough seas.  Having a flailing jib and not yet knowing what the issue even was, having a loose jib sheet, and being 100nm away from land in these conditions.... this definitely was a test of skills and emotion.

Bob was able to retrieve the jib sheet and thread it back through the various blocks (and re-tied the stopper knot!).  Apparently, when trying to furl the first time, the two jib sheets twisted upon themselves making furling impossible.  With the sheets now untangled, the jib could be furled in.  The next morning, we would also learn that the furling line was fouled around the windlass also interfering with furling (see new rule above).

With the boat and crew now under control (only a reefed main was out) and the winds 25-30kts and the seas tossing the boat around, I spent a couple more hours of active manual steering in the dark of night unable to even gaze up and enjoy the stars momentarily as every ounce of focus went in to controlling the boat and keeping an eye out for traffic (which was sparse, thankfully).  It was important that I be in the cockpit alone so that Bob could get some rest and, importantly, so that I could practice helming in these conditions alone as this is needed off shore. Bob came up to relieve me after midnight to continue the struggle through the difficult night while I went below to rest.  Several ours later, just as first light was appearing, I awoke to relieve Bob; the wind was calmer although the seas still 6-8 feet. We made it through a challenging night.

Second 24 Hours:
Except for sunny skies with mild temperatures, Sunday was dichotomous to Saturday. The winds were pleasant and consistent at 15-22kts from the W/SW.  We were averaging 6.5kts sailing lower than ideal as our COG was closer to 80 degrees instead of the target of 72, but the conditions were wonderful.

Beautiful ink colored water as far as one can see

Sailing happily enjoying the solitude
In the light of the morning after the sun had risen, we discussed the prior night critiquing and reviewing what had happened, how we handled it, what we should have done differently, what we did well; and we both admitted to being frightened.  It was probably one of the top three most scary times sailing we have experienced.  Had we not been so far off shore, we probably would have had much less fear.  We discussed that had we not been able to get the lines unfouled and the jib in, the next step would have been to release the jib halyard and pull her down (although getting the jib below deck would be quite difficult given that our forward hatch is covered by the tied down dinghy).  Experiences like this are humbling but help keep us alert and driven to be prepared.  And today, we enjoy the calmer conditions while staying alert for shifts and changes.

Enjoying the many visits from schools of dolphins

Calmer seas, good breeze

Another beautiful sunset
As we sailed in to our second evening, our speed increased as we rode a positive current. At times Argon hit 9kts SOG (speed over ground) and was consistently over 7kts. This night I took the midnight to 0400 shift and I was thankfully able to gaze up at the multitude of stars and clear cottony Milky Way.  I kept a close eye on the anemometer staying alert for signs of upward trend but the wind remained steady at 15-20kts all through the night.  The rolling waves coming up upon the stern quarter necessitated using the preventer to keep the boom from flopping in the swells and from accidentally gybing.

Temperatures drop during my night watch around midnight (I suspect most of our friends celebrating the holiday weekend in Boston were not bundled up like this!)
Slightly more northern latitude brings very cool mornings; seas are calm and we are close enough to our destination to enjoy a cup of coffee for the first time during the trip (we avoided coffee earlier to lessen the chance of getting sea sick)

The Final Leg to Shelburne:
Monday morning brought calmer seas and lighter winds.  Our previously positive current had now turned against us and with the lightening winds, we eventually fired up the diesel and motored our way along the southeast coast of Nova Scotia. As we were now only six hours from our destination, we both stayed up enjoying more visits from dolphins and whales as well as the first sites of land.

More than a dozen whales frolicked off our port about 15 nm off the Nova Scotia shore
Cape Negro Lighthouse
Sandy Point Shelburne Harbor

Motoring up Shelburne Harbor.  Hello Canada!!
Shelburne Nova Scotia is a beautiful coastal town with a population of less than 2000.  Fishing and ship building are the primary industries which used to support a population of five times the current.  Upon arriving to a new country by water (similar to by land) one must check in with customs.  Shelburne Yacth Club is an official port of entry for Canada so our first order of business was to obtain clearance from authorities.  The procedures and requirements differ from country to country but one commonality for boaters is that one must initially raise a small yellow "quarantine" flag upon arrival to indicate that permission to enter the country has not yet been granted but is in progress; the skipper of the vessel is to immediately initiate the procedure and, when permission has been granted, the yellow quarantine flag is replaced by a flag of the hosting country.

Hoisting the yellow quarantine flag in Shelburne Harbor
To improve efficiency and cut costs, the Canadian government has instituted a fantastically simple way for most boaters to clear customs.  The TRS/M is the Telephone Reporting Site/Marine and requires a phone call to the authorities from an official port of entry and provision of information about your vessel, crew and intent.  Then posting of your permit number on the vessel.  Not even a fee is collected here.  Thank you Canada!  Prior to each country to be visited, I will research the requirements and will add to a developing spreadsheet for quick reference as it is different everywhere.

Approaching the very friendly town of Shelburne and Shelburne Yacht Club
Various boat information needed to relay to customs official were prepared and handy to facilitate the process

Secured safely at SYC with Canadian courtesy flag flying after clearing customs
We will be in Shelburn only for two nights and then venture off to another harbor northward somewhere depending on our moods and the wind.  Until then, we will explore the area by foot, clean the heavy layer of salt off Argon, top off the water tanks, and rest up for our next passage (short passage!).
Post Script:  We stayed in Shelburne only one night afterall departing about 1800 the evening of the next day.  And.... we did not do a short passage but rather 80+nm through a very foggy night all the way to Ludenburg.  More to come about this trip!