Join Bryan and me on a sail from Long Island up along the coast of Massachusetts to Central Maine and beyond. The experience is inspiring a new album, and along the way we distribute instruments to kids’ music programs. The ukuleles are donated by Sam Ash and Hungry for Music, with strings by GHS.
Day 61 Passing Block
We left Cuttyhunk at 7:30 am on a brisk sailing breeze towards Block Island. We were making good time until 6 miles east of Block Island, and as we rounded the back of the island at 2:30 pm we found that we were suddenly against the wind, against the tide and against the waves. We turned on the motor so that we could continue moving forward for a bumpy, splashy 4 to 5 hours until we reached Montauk at which point the wind shifted to northwest. With the islands as our buffer the waves smoother out and I was able to heat up some dinner and then relieve Bryan to sail while he slept below. The stars were beautiful as we continued sailing through the night. As sunrise just started to lighten the horizon I had a question which side of buoys ahead to pass, so I woke Bryan who took the helm while I rested a couple hours before the morning would give us a pleasant surprise.
Day 60 Storm
While on shore yesterday we made the acquaintance of Dave, an extreme-surfer who invited us for dinner in his catamaran. We were enthralled by his stories of surfing in hurricane Katrina’s 30 foot waves. As we were enjoying some wine after dinner I noticed the wind and rain picking up. We piled into his inflatable dinghy and rode a short distance to our boat while the wind and waves whipped around. It was exciting to feel it coming in, and was glad that we had secured a mooring in anticipation of Ida’s early arrival. We all nestled into our respective boats and closed the hatches. The storm howled and rocked the boat from side to side all night. I could hear the creaking of the ropes straining against the 4500 pound mooring. Ida had taken a slight right turn, putting Cuttyhunk directly in its path. I could hear the storm easing as we approached the eye of the storm, then whipping again on the other side. Fortunately it had weakened from a hurricane to a gale, but still made for very little sleep.
As the sky was just starting to lighten, perhaps 5am, Bryan poked his head out of the companionway to find that the dinghy was nearly submerged. By the time he pulled the painter in, the rain and waves had submerged it entirely. He pulled it in, pouring out the water as much as possible. He then leaned over the side and bailed water out, still in the pouring rain, until it raised its sides enough to withstand the remaining rain. Finally the rain stopped mid morning. We heard that New York City and other areas had experienced major flooding.
Bryan and I talked about leaving for Block Island but the ocean waves were still listed at average 6-8 feet so we opted to stay another night in Cuttyhunk and rest up for another long day through night sail.
Day 59 Little Lady in Menemsha
Yesterday we saw some of the most picturesque of villages, the fishing huts lining the docks in Menemsha. This is the same village that appears in the opening scene of Jaws. The poison ivy growing up the sides of neglected fishing huts don’t take away from the painting-like charm of the community, still actively unloading shellfish on its docks as it had for generations. Before we even got into the harbor a fishing boat called the Little Lady passed us, with a chugging sound reminiscent of days gone by. It unloaded its wares on a dock surrounded by scallop shells, old traps, seagulls, and every manner of trappings of an old seacoast town. The boat and the entire scene looked like something you would only find in a child’s storybook. We pulled out of the harbor and sailed to Cuttyhunk, to find a well enclosed harbor in advance of the storm.
Day 58 Mystery of Weepecket
We stopped at Weepecket Island. Bryan anchored off shore and rowed in as I swam to shore, taking advantage of the warm day and finally a chance for real exercise. When I got to shore we saw many dead seagulls in the beach, and the juvenile ones walking around looked sickly. I remembered last year we had run into the same thing, only at this island. What is poisoning the gulls is still a mystery to me, but I didn’t spend much time there, and swam back to the boat.
There are two small islands off the side of Weepecket, called Weeweepecket, and Weeweeweepecket.
The afternoon’s activity was a visit to Menensha on Martha’s Vireyard, the quaint fishing town that appears in the opening scene of the movie Jaws. Definitely one of the cutest villages.
Day 57 Hadley Harbor and David’s Blue
We enjoyed a day at beautiful Hadley Harbor, rowing to the islands and watching the jellyfish gracefully dance near the shore. (I swam near the boat, where there weren’t as many of them.) We saw a familiar motorboat come alongside us. It was David Isenberg and we visited until it was time to do my Monday Live and also time for David to go fishing. At sunset we saw David’s boat coming back towards us. He had caught a huge bluefish that he filleted right there on the boat and gave us half of it. We will feast off of this for two nights. There is a photo of our bluefish recipe with the music to go with it in our Acoustic Chef book.
Day 56 Cape Cod Canal & Josef’s Treat
We set the alarm for 2:30am yet again, and managed to be off anchor and on our way by 2:50, so that we’d get to the Cape Cod Canal while the tide was going our direction the entire way. Popping out of the canal we called Josef, a new friend we met at the Sweet Chariot festival and who’s boat is harbored in nearby Pocasset. We anchored near him and rowed over to his boat for tea and fresh croissants he had picked up from his local French bakery. They were some of the best I have ever had, and he gave us some extras to take with us! I am still dreaming of those croissants. We had a great visit. He told me he had contacted a friend to recommend me for his house concert series. Funny, it was David Isenberg, our longtime friend who we plan to see tomorrow, and who’s concert series I have played many times.
Day 55 Valiant Captain & First Seasick Day
We left Isle of Shoals at 2:30 AM for the long crossing over to Provincetown.
Contrary to the forecast, the wind was at a stiff beam reach, and so were the waves, at 6 to 8 feet, plus the occasional big one. After the first couple of waves broke over the side, we both donned full rain gear. I asked Bryan if we could both wear life jackets and if he would tether to something should he need to go on deck to fix a sail or unhook a sheet. Fortunately he agreed. I was busy getting rain gear and such down below and the ride was so bumpy that I didn’t feel like eating much other than a ginger candy and cup of tea. Feeling a little green, I took a big sip of water. However, that water bottle must have been filled from some little used tap, it tasted awful and didn’t do much for my growing sense of nausea. Bryan was very valiant and manned the tiller the entire time. He didn’t ask me to do anything, which was good because I didn’t feel like doing ANYTHING – not sitting, standing, nor laying down, not eating and not not-eating. My first time seasick and I can now understand when people don’t engage and seize life, I’ll just ask them “are you seasick?” I was so glad to pull into calm waters some 16 hours later, and felt instantly better.
Day 54 Return of the Flies
It was sunny summery weather on our sail to Isle of Shoals, but our enjoyment was interrupted by invaders. Biting black flies continued to board the boat the entire distance. They must have been sitting on the water and came up to the boat as it sailed by. I had some fly catchers that I attached to the stern, but they filled up, leaving plenty more to swat. Our swatting exercise didn’t cease until we pulled into harbor at sunset.
I jumped into the water and swam towards the buttery horizon. The water here on these New Hampshire border islands is not as icy as we had experienced further north. It was a refreshing and beautiful moment to savor before swimming back to the boat and preparing dinner.
Day 53 Seal Cove & Richard Island
We passed some quaint lighthouses and did see a seals head pop up in the water on our way to seal Cove. We went to shore for a swim and collected some unusual rocks. Many were flat ovals. One was a smooth billy club, one a perfectly round ping pong shape, and a couple we will use for decorative cheese plates.
Bryan noticed that the motor was not sounding well, so he jumped in the water and found there was seaweed wrapped around the prop. Whew, an easy repair!
Day 52 Contrasts & Jewel Island 8-25
We sailed from Harpswell to Dolphin Marina, stopping to sit on the benches outside the harbor restaurant to do some internet. A big cruise boat was leaving just as Bryan was rowing to shore. The visual reminded me of the contrast between our sailing on a shoestring and the opulence of the cruise boat. Yet, both of us enjoy the same view.
We then continued in to Jewel Island, arriving at sunset. I worked on some lyrics for my song “Sparkles on the Water.” There were a number of boats already there, so we anchored near the back of the fleet and Bryan tied the anchor line along the toe rail to the side of the boat to twist the bow into the swells. This kept the boat from rolling too much from side to side and we had a restful night.
Day 51 Harpswell Visit
We upped anchor and left Boothbay, sailing to the bottom of Harpswell Neck, and then dropped the sails to motor up the long channel. We were met by a small motorboat . It was Frank, who had helped us a couple weeks ago with the important props in Bryan’s vignette film. (I am not yet permitted to divulge, it will be in an upcoming episode of the AcousticSailing YouTube channel.) He took us to his lovely home where we prepared steak chimichurri from our Acoustic Chef book. Frank’s wife Meredith had picked up beautiful cuts of filet mignon which Bryan cooked on the grill. It was some of the best steak I had ever tasted, and a memorable evening. Before dinner I taught their granddaughters how to make paper boats and after dinner Frank played some of his songs on piano and we passed a guitar back and forth. I was sorry to have to leave, but was quite fatigued and knew I needed rest for the next day’s travels.
Day 50 Surprise Scotch 8-23
Fortunately what once was hurricane Elsa has now fizzled into barely a whisper as it passed over us today. I spent much of the day figuring out how to get securely online for my Monday Live, and finally found a combination of sitting outside the Whale Tale restaurant within view of our anchored boat, tapping their internet into my phone and doing a hotspot to my computer. My tech guru Deb Cormish in NC was on hand in case my internet failed. The Whale Tail just closed for the season a day ago, due to lack of help but their internet was still open. I don’t understand this phenomenon I’m seeing as I travel, that it’s not even possible to hire people to do work at regular wages. I’m not sure if it’s because of fear of health reasons, or the unemployment compensation, but I am hoping to see a turnaround sometime soon. If you have insights into this I would be interested.
I was answering some comments live during my streaming, and one person commented how nice it was to be sitting with a scotch and watching my live stream. I said in jest “that’s what I’m missing.” A few moments later I saw an arm reach in front of me with a scotch on the rocks in a glass! It was Eric Ronsheiger from the houseboat “Working Remote” tied up to the dock. After the Monday Live was over I stopped at their boat and had a nice visit with Eric and his wife Louise, who bought a copy of my Acoustic Chef book. Louise has an instagram page called cookingontheboat. I may make some of her creations.
Day 49 Cloudburst Awaiting Storm
We had planned to be at Boothbay Harbor only a day or two but hurricane Elsa has been making tracks up the coast and we want to be securely on a mooring should the winds be strong. This is already the fourth day here, so we will pay the harbormaster for yet another day on the mooring as Elsa is now scheduled to come through this area tomorrow, although much weakened.
John and Deb were kind enough to give us a lift to and from the grocery store to pick up some fresh food. While we rowed back to Avocet there was a cloudburst. We and our produce were adequately re-rinsed. Wouldn’t you know it, once we got onboard it stopped.
Jim and Wijnanda at the neighboring Vandastadt boat invited us to dinner. They were great company. Wijnanada is Dutch and her scalloped potatoes were particularly excellent.
Day 48 Around the Campfire
Bryan connected with fellow boaters John and Deb Rapp, a couple he had met in harbor at Cuttyhunk a couple years ago. They were traveling by land and happened to be not far away so arranged to pick us up to share an outdoor dinner with new friends of theirs. It was at the home of George and Cecile who prepared shrimp skewers and a formidable cheese plate to enjoy around the campfire. I was surprised and delighted when they out guitars and played some beautiful songs. Cecile is a fine singer-songwriter, with a lovely crystalline voice. I joined them on my harp guitar and we had a lovely evening topped off with their local bakery’s blueberry pie, which, dare I say, was almost like my mother’s.
Day 47 Making Crepes at Bob & Peggy’s
We offered, or should I say Bryan offered my services to make crepes de blé noir from our Acoustic Chef book for everyone. I had many sou-chefs and each chose their customization. The first one was rather disastrous until I found the right temperature on their ultra-hot electric stove. Then they got progressively more presentable. The accompanying song “Prelude to a New Morning” played on the CD player. Everyone loved the crepes. It’s a way of making them I learned from créperies in Brittany, as I could eat those galettes three times a day. Mmm
Thanks to those of you who recently ordered Acoustic Chef! I hope you enjoy it and please let me know how the recipes come out for you. murielanderson.com/cookbook
Day 46 Boothbay Harbor
We left the mooring near Allen Island towards Boothbay Harbor. There we had arranged to meet Bob Krist, Bryan’s friend and former boss in his early years of doing commercial photography. When we rowed to shore Bob was at the dock to meet us. He and Peggy have a condo overlooking Carousel Marina where we were at mooring #1. We had an animated evening recollecting old times with them and their photographer/model friends Jerry and Linda.
They had offered to let us stay there on dry land, but we have gotten accustomed to sleeping every night on the boat so we rowed back out for the night. We have been for a month and a half on the water and from past experience, just like the first night on the boat I don’t sleep well, it’s hard to sleep well the first day on land as well.
Day 45 Allen Island & Mystery Island
En route to Allen island we went a bit south to get a better angle on the wind. This brought us close to Matinic Island. Bryan thought it might be nice to anchor there. However, there were sudden shallow areas and a buoy that didn’t appear on the chart. The island was rocky with something that looked like large illegible signs on it. Bryan sensed something unsettling about the place so we turned around and continued on to a small channel at Allen Island.
On one shore is the charming Wyatt homestead, and the other a winding lane with a few homes and a historic stone cross. Despite both sides of the channel being private they had several guest moorings. A gentleman and his college-age daughter Ellie on a neighboring boat invited us onboard for wine and cheese—very welcoming!
Day 44 Two Ships passing in the Day
We had hoped to see Nick Apollonio while we were in Rockland—luthier, actor in Bryan’s vignette film, and our very first friend along the coast of Maine. However, today was a rare good sailing day so Nick seized the opportunity to set out and convene with the his sailboat. I enjoyed a morning of composing music and Bryan of charting our next stops. I took the helm as we left the harbor. I was trying to avoid a boat coming towards me while dodging lobster pots. When we passed at close distance we could see it was none other than Nick, coming back from his sail. (OK, not the three-masted schooner in the photo, we saw that later while we were amongst the islands.) We waved and exchanged sailorly greetings, heading towards the beautiful group of islands called Muscle Ridge, coincidentally a spot where we had previously met up with Nick and his son on their boat.
Day 43 Back to Bok
We stopped back in at Rockland Harbor, Gordon Bok was away for some days so we tied up on his mooring. I walked to the gas station convenience store to get some provisions and was happy to find that they make pizza in the back. What a treat while we sat outside the visitors center to upload the next Acoustic Sailing episode and catch up with online work on their good internet signal.
It so happened this was the day the square-rigger sailing ship Corwith Cramer got hauled out of the water for maintenance. We watched the delicate operation with the huge lift.
We have been without a mast light for some time, one of many needed repairs. I realized we had a couple dollar store solar garden lights onboard, so Bryan climbed the mast and lashed one to the top. It worked! Only the best for Avocet.
Day 42 White Islands
After a rather marginal pancake breakfast from a box that dated back to Bryan’s early years aboard the boat, we headed towards the White Islands. We anchored near a few other boats. Bryan redeemed himself by making the bruschetta from our Acoustic Chef book for lunch. Mmm. We rowed to shore to hike about and see if we could circumnavigate the small island. A short ways in one direction we ran into a group of skinny dippers, so we tiptoed backwards and decided to go the other way around. The huge rocks edging the ocean became progressively steeper until even Bryan agreed to head back. I found a narrow strip of shell-beach where the water was slightly warmer, so went for a bit of a swim there while Bryan talked with Andy, the owner of nearby dinghy named “Hey Bub,” and they exchanged sailing wisdom and dinghy stories.
Day 41 Meteor Shower and Brimstone 8-14
I woke in the middle of the night to the sounds of two owls singing together. Bryan was not beside me, so since it was the night of the Perseod Meteor shower I figured he must have rowed out to the island to photograph the stars. I opened the hatch to hoist myself out without bringing in too many mosquitos. Right away, there were bright shooting stars coming from two directions. Then a little star falling downwards on the other side of the sky. I’d never seen such a display of meteors before. The milky way extended across in the sky, with the brightest stars reflected into the water. Then I saw another array of lights whisking across the water. It was the oars of the dinghy activating swirls of luminescence in the water as Bryan rowed back to the sailboat to get another camera. We both marveled at this triple display of lights as the owls accompanied with their hooting. Bryan made a second trip to the island, and when he returned I had just about finished swatting the last of the mosquitos that made their way into the cabin, and had written part of a new tune. We both managed to fall soundly asleep again even though a golden glow was already appearing on the horizon. The boat’s radio predicted thunderstorms in the afternoon and only patchy fog in the morning, so we thought we’d sail to a place that Bryan had wanted to see for some time, Brimstone Island, a small rocky outcropping inhabited only by birds, in particular an important nesting spot for the Leach’s Kestrel. The shore was lined with large pebbles, rounded by years of ocean currents. We climbed up on the rocks and mossy hillsides with a fantastic view on all sides. I played “The Gathering” there, and filmed it. Bryan wanted to stay anchored for the night at Brimstone, but the wind had changed direction, bringing huge swells that set the sailboat rocking. Reluctantly, he set sail for a more protected harbor. It’s a good thing, because we found out later that the bottom there is lined with kelp and the anchor wouldn’t have held!
Day 40 Mosquitos & Lobsters 8-13
I didn’t sleep much at all, as one mosquito after another from Pell island found her way into the boat’s cabin and insisted on buzzing around my head. In the morning during a short break in the fog Bryan and I went for a swim in the cold Maine water. That woke me up! Then the fog set in again with the accompanied drop in temperature.
We had tried unsuccessfully over the past days to buy lobsters from the passing by lobster boats. Even the lobstermen seem to be short-handed, and have many traps to check, fewer catches but much higher prices for each. Finally in the way to sealtrap Cove in Isle Au Haut one lobsterman stopped and sold us two lobsters for $10 each. Twice the price of last year but we were still very happy with this. We cooked up a delicious dinner, early enough so we could sit in the cockpit with candlelight and a light breeze, prior to the mosquitos once again descending.
Day 39 Leo’s Nudeln 8-12
Doug Day’s son Jackson had given us some mushrooms he had grown and we had just about all the ingredients onboard to make Leo’s Sherry Mushroom Nudeln (German for noodles) from our Acoustic Chef book. I rolled out the homemade noodles on a cutting board in the cockpit until the mosquitoes forced us into the cabin. The noodles weren’t very uniform, but delicious and we celebrated by opening a real bottle of wine. Box wine had sufficed (or cardbordeaux as we prefer to call it) up to this point. I forgot to mention, our kind neighbors at a previous anchorage bought a copy of Acoustic Chef, for cooking & music onboard. Glad to see people enjoying it, murielanderson.com/cookbook .
Day 38 Pell Island Fog 8-11
We awake to fog so thick that we couldn’t see from the boat to the water. Eventually the fog cleared enough to see the island, and a bit of sky cleared enough for some warmth to come through. I donned my swimsuit and we rowed to the island to get a brief swim near the shore. The sun had shone on the surface water enough to produce bands of cold and warmish water like a temperature version of a venetian blind. By noon it looked like the horizon was clearing so we set sail towards nearby Isle au Haut.
However, after a couple hours of gentle sailing the fog dropped down upon us again and I found myself on the bow watching for lobster pots, boats or any hard objects. I could only see about 3 waves ahead of me ar one point before the fog gradually began to lift. When we rounded our third waypoint by Pell Island it was so pretty that we decided to drop anchor there. We rowed to shore and hopped around the giant boulders dotting the shore’s edge.
Day 37 Secret Basil Transplant 8-10
We swung south to Mackerel cove, where we grabbed a mooring in front of Mike Wilson’s house. He had hosted a picking party both this year and last. Unfortunately Mike and his wife weren’t home, but Doug Day appeared in a motorboat at the floating dock where we had tied our dinghy, towing his son Jackson in his newly rebuilt antique sloop. Jackson bailed water regularly as the wood drank until the boards would swell and eventually become seaworthy.
In Mike’s garden I planted a scrawny basil plant, still with healthy roots. We had started it in Nashville, brought to NY, and had harvested on the boat all the past month. I hope it will spring forth new leaves and give them a nice Caprese salad or two before the winter sets upon them in Maine.
Day 36: A Magical Path 8-9
We left south Somes in the morning. Bryan spotted a group of three small uninhabited islands that weren’t mentioned in the Maine cruising book, so curiosity prompted us to anchor there and row ashore. The shore was lined by egg-size multicolored stones perfectly polished by years of ocean currents.
We made our was across the rolling footing and climbed up on the rock ledges. Leaving Bryan who was taking photos there, I found a little path through the woods lined with mosses, mushrooms and pine trees along the edge of the island. There was a lovely smell, similar to balsam but sweeter that got richer and more enticing as I walked, beckoning me to keep going deeper into the woods. I felt as though Ulysses with the sirens. At one point I sensed some reason I shouldn’t continue, and followed the path back. I suppose if I had continued onwards, this log would have a more interesting story. I believe this island is called Great Gott.
We swung south to Mackerel cove, where we grabbed a mooring in front of Mike Wilson’s house, where a picking party was held both this year and last. Unfortunately Mike and his wife weren’t home, but Doug Day and his son Jackson sailed by towing Jackson’s newly rebuilt antique sloop. Jackson bailed water regularly as the wood drank until the boards would swell and eventually become seaworthy.
In Mike’s garden I planted a scrawny basil plant, still with healthy roots. We had started it in Nashville, brought to NY, and had harvested on the boat all the past month. I hope it will spring forth new leaves and give them a nice Caprese salad or two before the winter sets upon them in Maine.
Day 35 Sailing The Boat & Neighbors Rescue Dinghy 8-8
We set sail through Somes Sound to make gradual progress westward. The wind was on the nose, but it was a beautiful sunny day so rather than motor the entire way Bryan decided to tack back and forth, making slow progress but enjoying being one of the few boats with sails gracefully unfurled. I watched him and wondered how much strength was needed to manage the sheets, while keeping the boat going forward and dodging lobster pots at the same time. He gave me the helm, and since my hands were feeling fine on this day I had no trouble pulling the sheets in. I sailed to near the shore and tacked over the other direction, loosening the sheets on one side while tightening on the other, and steering the tiller with my hip. This was the first time I had done all the tasks myself on the sailboat, with Bryan’s helpful coaching. After a fair number of tacks I brought her in between two sailboats in a small cove on the west side. for Bryan to drop the anchor.
One of the boats was running a generator, and the owner said something to us apologizing for the noise as we passed. We rowed over to say hello, and they offered us some beers. They were nice folks with an easy laugh. Once we got back aboard Avocet, Bryan accidentally dropped the painter to the dinghy, and it quickly started drifting off. Bryan was just taking off his shirt for a long cold swim when I saw our new friends heading to shore in their motorized dinghy. I waved them over and they retrieved our escape artist dinghy “Where’s Andy.”
Day 34 Direction: Somes 8-7
We motored out of Burnt Coat Harbor, not quite sure what direction to head. Bryan wanted to get as far east as Roque, but realized it might be a race to get back home in time for September gigs. The wind was light and variable, so not conducive to shoot further east, clinching the decision to visit more islands in this area and then start our way gradually back west. Bryan had read about Somes harbor in the Maine book I got him for his birthday, so we made that our destination. We rowed ashore and walked to a library where there was an open internet signal outside the building where we could upload files we needed to send, and post some First Mate’s logs and some tunes for my Monday Live. There is a new feature on my format that allows me to use some prerecorded content, so that I can respond directly to people’s texts in real time, provided I have an internet signal on Mondays.
Day 33 Tour of Swan’s Island 8-6
In the morning we took advantage of the B and B’s shower and laundry that had been arranged for us. Our first laundry of the trip, and I was surprised that we’ve been able to suffice with a very small wardrobe. Then we tried to hitchike to the only tiny grocery store on the island without luck. So, it was a long walk but I suppose needed exercise. Now, with two bags of fresh groceries, I decided to take a slight detour to Oddfellows Hall to see if there was anyone still there from the festival who might agree to give us a lift back. Several merchants were setting up for a craft show, but we spotted someone leaving the kitchen. It was Gary, the husband of Annagret who joined me onstage, and who had just finished the last of the cleanup from the festival. He was on his way to Doug Day’s house so we hopped in the car and went with him, to have another nice visit there, and then joined Peter and Lisa for a tour of the island in their car. There was a small freshwater quarry where people were swimming. I was impressed at how clean and algae-free the water was, with minnows swimming around. A local told us that a neighbor had spread across it Dawn dishwashing detergent earlier in the season. At the end of the afternoon Gary was so kind as to give us a lift back to the road that led to the dinghy dock.
Day 32 Another NASA Contact 8-5
It was a rainy morning, so we thought we’d wait until to rain let up to row to shore and make our way to the Sweet Chariot Festival festivities. However, every time the rain seemed to start to subside another deluge came down. At the record table the previous night a very nice guy with a slight German accent had requested one of my Nightlight Daylight CDs, which I had back at the boat. It turns out his boat was anchored nearby, so he called us and rowed over in full rain gear. We invited him onboard for a cup of hot tea, and had a nice visit. Josef works for NASA and was interested in my music, particularly “View from Space” to use for a possible presentation of their work. I’d love to be a part of his project. It seems I keep crossing paths with various branches of NASA many times as I tour.
The rain never did let up, so finally we had a late dinner onboard, making good use of the two lobsters hanging in a net bag off the side of the boat that we bought from the lobstermen a few days ago. A good consolation for our hermit-like day.
Day 31 Shanties from a Schooner 8-4
We had reconnected after 21 years with former guitar workshop organizer Michael Erkkinen, who happened to be anchoring in a nearby cove during my Monday Live. We sailed over to the other side of the harbor where he had dropped anchor. I donned my pirates cap and we rowed out to his schooner, insisting we were taking over the boat. The guys shared plastic cups of rum and I played some tunes on my McPherson carbon fiber guitar. We watched from there as the festival schooner filled with singers came by and sang shanties to us. There is a short clip you can see on my Youtube channel. I even accompanied them on the Sloop John B. Real stuff of memories. I didn’t imbibe in much rum, as I had a set to play in the concert that evening. Annagret, a German lady who played African drum joined me on A Baker’s Dozen and the French tune.
After the concert we got a ride to Mike Williams’s house where the famous after-party was held. There was great music there as well, and we stayed until late into the night.
Day 30 Sweet Chariot Festival 8-3
We enjoyed our last morning at the peaceful Merchant’s Island and bid goodbye to the gentle waves lapping up against the shore accompanied only by the sounds of seagulls and the occasional loon. Today we would change to a very different setting. It was a sunny day with even winds so we sailed off the anchor clear to Burnt Coat Harbor with sails unfurled and catching wind the entire way. This was a treasured afternoon for Bryan, indeed. The harbor was filled with sailboats that had arrived for the Sweet Chariot Festival, which has been called “the best festival you can’t get to… unless you have a boat.” We circled around to find a spot to anchor near the pier that Doug Day told us was closest to a B and B where we could take a shower and stay if we liked. We happily took him up on the shower and to later wash some clothes but were content to row back and sleep aboard Avocet each night.
About 4pm we watched a lobster boat take off from the dock filled with singers who passed our boat and circled around where most of the sailboats were, serenading them with old sea shanties. They did circle back our way and gave us a hearty chorus of “Heave Away Haul Away.”
We weren’t sure exactly where to find dinner, so we rowed to shore and started walking down the road. We walked a long way, passing only fields and charming houses without any confirmation that we had even chosen the right direction. I decided that hitchhiking was now in order, but there didn’t seem to be any cars. Finally we heard a vehicle behind us, and stuck out our thumbs. A pickup truck pulled over, and the driver said “hop in the back.” There was already another man in the open back cargo area, and we quickly climbed up the side of the truck, feeling quite like vagrants. He too had been walking towards where everyone was meeting at Oddfellows Hall, and the driver of the truck happened to be the driver of the lobster boat that had recently serenaded us. We were happy to arrive to a full taco dinner with all the performers from the festival, followed by a fantastic evening of music. The concert hall was in the same building, just above where we had dinner. Led by a trumpet, all the performers marched in singing “When The Saints Go Marching In” followed by “Happy Days Are Here Again.” The audience was beaming. For many, it was the first time being able to congregate since the onset of CoVid. By the end of the concert, you had never seen such smiles.
We will share video of much of the concert and shanties in upcoming AcousticSailing episodes. If you subscribe, you can also hit the little bell to get a note when each episode is live. YouTube.com/AcousticSailing
Day 29 Monday Live & Small World 8-2
I recorded last Monday Live while the tide was coming up, and had to keep running back to pull the tender higher up on the shore. It’s too heavy for me to bring it all the way up, and tides are stronger yet today, 11 feet or more. If you didn’t catch it, the link is https://youtu.be/HkM1HOYIkeQ Yes, to answer several questions, that is a McPherson small body carbon fiber guitar, steel string but I strung it with nylon for the trip. Of the many texts during the stream I got one from Michael Erikinnen saying he was on a sailboat in the very neighboring harbor. Was this the same Michael who hosted a multi-day guitar workshop back in 2000? Sure enough! We had already set sail by the time I read the text, so we agreed to meet at Swan’s Island. In the same string, I heard from Charles Bernier, another sailor who we plan to catch on our way back to Long Island. Truly, sailing and music are both small worlds.
Day 28 Mussel Pearls & Mink 8-1
We were enjoying the peaceful setting so decided to stay a couple more days. While I prepared for my Monday Live, Bryan rowed to shore and videotaped a mink amongst the rocks, to appear in a future episode if AcousticSailing I’m sure. Today Bryan cooked up some mussels that he had gathered and had been hanging off the boat to spit sand and cleanse for a few days. We found some small pearls in them. The mussel pearls are softer than oyster pearls, so I don’t think they would work for a bracelet.
Day 27 Sparkles in the Water
We set sail from Pulpit to Merchant Island. I had thought the shores would be lined by shops, but not so. This area is called Merchant’s Row, an archipelago of islands filled with natural harbors and… lots of lobster pots. The cove where we anchored on Merchant Island has a beautiful natural view on all sides, with only one camp house in the distance. I started writing a tune about the sparkles in the water in the late afternoon.
Day 26 Two Ships Passing
We enjoyed watching the classic boat regatta on our way towards Pulpit Harbor. There were two 1870’s wind jammers in the fleet, One was the Stephen Tabor that passed within 50 feet directly in front of us. We got a friendly wave from Captain Noah and remembered last year when we rowed over and boarded his schooner armed with guitar on back. Insisting we were pirates taking over his boat he welcomed us on board and said “I need a day off anyway”. It turned out he was a blues musician and we ended up jamming into the evening. Nice to see the Taber again. Pulpit rock was topped by a large osprey nest with two heads sticking up out of it. This nest must have aviary historic landmark status as we have been told there has been an osprey nest there continuously dating back to the 1600s. With good fishing on all sides it’s certainly prime real estate if you are an osprey. After anchoring Bryan rowed about and heard a greeting from a neighboring sailboat. Our new friends are Eric and Caelie and before long I gave them a concert on their boat as the sun was setting.
Day 25 Camden Rock & Roll
We heard there was a classic boat regatta in Camden, just a little north of us, so we sailed there and found a place to anchor behind Curtis, a small island. Nick met us at the shore with the harp guitar. We took him to lunch overlooking Sharp’s Point, a boat yard developed by Jim Sharp many years ago. After a run for groceries we returned to the boat, rowing back in a steady rain. Bryan had mused about continuing on to Pulpit Harbor but thought we would be protected from the waves enough by the small island we were anchored next to. Unfortunately the wind increased and changed direction, with a fetch clear across Penobscott Bay, coming in hard on either side of the island. The boat rocked and thrashed about, with the boat’s creaking sounds accomplished by pans & dishes clattering about. This continued until sunrise. Not much sleep was to be had this night.
Day 24 Captain Jim Sharp
We spent an extra day in Rockland while Nick installed a new custom pickup in the Emerald harp guitar. It was a good day for Bryan to interview Captain Jim Sharp at the Sail Power and Steam museum. Captain Jim was hosting a large lobster bake in a tent out back for a cruise ship, entertained the customers with lobster tricks, getting a lobster to balance on his front claws, and sang along with the band. He will be 88 in August and stays busy with many projects including building a whole new structure to house vintage ships. His love of sailing and the large schooners shines from his eyes.
As we were rowing back to the boat we saw Gordon Bok in front of his houseboat. I rowed back over to say hello and he told me about his early days starting as a dishwasher on Jim Sharp’s windjammer, the Stephen Taber. This is the same boat that we anchored next to and boarded last year. There is a fun video on that posted on Acoustic Sailing. I’m still awkward with rowing, and I don’t have the confidence to know I can outpace the swift tides in Maine. I will have to take some time in a bay to figure out some of the basics to maneuver the way Bryan does so easily.
We sailed to Rockport to be closer to Nick who was still working on the harp guitar.
Day 23 Living Out A Dream
Bryan has been talking about acting out a humorous dream sequence for some weeks, and put together an ambitious shot list requiring actors and large hard-to-find props. He solicited the help of his former employer and mentor, great photographer and videographer Bob Kryst. Bryan said when they were working together Bob was frequently referred to as “the Great One” because he was not only a brilliant photographer but also very kind and wise. It was a real honor and fun to work with Bob as well as Frank who helped facilitate and loaned me a lovely Larivee guitar for the shoot and Nick Apollonio who had a large acting part. Despite Bob’s initial concern that it was too ambitious to shoot in one day, we finished ahead of schedule. Now, Bryan has many hours of video editing ahead of him. I am not yet permitted to say more about this because it’s slated to appear as a surprise on an upcoming episode of AcousticSailing.
Day 22 Sailing to Rockland in Fog
We awoke to heavy fog, and the islands around us had nearly disappeared. Once the fog showed signs of letting up we relaxed and did some little projects around the boat, expecting the fog to continue to lift as it often does. We gradually prepared to sail to Rockland, 9 miles away. However, another wave of fog started to build, and we realized we should get a move on. Nine miles when you can see the destination seems easy, but when you can only see 100 feet it becomes an epic voyage. While I was at the helm, a lobster boat appeared seemingly out of nowhere, and one of the lobstermen motioned to us. We weren’t sure what he meant until we found the bell buoy to our port in the direction he had motioned. The fog socked in again so thickly that I went up on the bow to watch for boats and lobster pots, and yelling back “Lobster pot, 11 o’clock, lobster pot 1 o’clock” and Bryan sounded the horn when he could hear the ferryboat or lobster boats in the vicinity. We had gone too far to turn back, and despite the challenges, the fog was other-worldly and beautiful like a heavy snowfall. All the same, we were glad to see a buoy and Owls Head, a piece of land jutting out leading to the harbor.
Day 21 Silvery Images
We slept well and were surprised that the outward bound boat anchored near us was so courteous, and wondered how 13 girls on a 30 foot open boat could be so quiet. We also wondered how they slept in the makeshift tent of a sailcloth dropped over a boom.
We bid a temporary farewell to Nick, his son Ben and Ben’s daughters who had anchored on the other side. The next crossing from Muscle Ridge to Crain was rainy and blustery and we were happy to have found a beautiful spot between small islands before dense fog set in, transforming our surroundings into soft, silvery images easing into and out of view. I started writing a new tune.
We will keep you involved via our weekly Monday Live (when we have signal), my First Mate’s Log and Bryan’s videos on youtube.com/acousticsailing. Our patrons are very important to allow us to do this tour and to make necessary repairs. Again, thank you for joining us and for your support!
Day 20 Man of Manana Island
We rowed out to try to tie up at the coastguard landing only to find the pier was about 10 feet over our heads. Truly only accessible at high tide, and Maine has major swings in tide. The white haired man who lives of the island, Daniel, rowed out to us and offered that we could tie up behind his dinghy and explore the island. This was a real privilege, an island with only goat trails and the remains of an old tram that is seen in the background of Bryan’s favorite painting by his great uncle Junius Allen. When we reached the top of the island, views from all directions were gorgeous.
We then rowed the opposite direction to Monhegan and took the cliff trail to the highest cliff in Maine. Bryan walked right to the edge with the toes of his flip flops bending over the precipice to take photos and videos of the tuna boats scattered across the water, as the tuna were running today.
By the lighthouse was a museum and we had a nice interview with the docent, an older gentleman who knew Junius Allen and owned one of his paintings. We returned to the sailboat and motor-sailed to muscle ridge. We anchored at Dix island next to our friend, luthier Nicholas Apollonia’s boat. We played a couple tunes together and watched a full moon rise over the islands.
Day 19 Monhegan Island
We had the smoothest sail of the voyage so far, sailing along gently rippling ocean with the large green spinnaker style sail, at a modest 3-4 knots. We headed towards Monhegan, which was our first stop in Maine last year when we crossed over from Provincetown. When we arrived we found a patch of sandy bottom in which to anchor. Just as I was questioning the solidity of our anchorage a white haired man rowed over to our boat. “You WILL drag there,” he said. “You can use my mooring.” We exchanged gifts and stories briefly, he seemed to be a Chet Atkins fan. He now lives in the house on the facing island once owned by “the Hermit.” The island is still largely wild except for his sheep, goats, and chickens wandering about. He was very kind and charming although he told us he didn’t like when tourists would use his dinghy tie-up and come on his property, a rocky steep island sporting a view of Monhegan. He told us we could use the coast guard landing, only accessible at high tide.
There was still time to walk to the Monhegan lighthouse. In the photo taken from that point, you can see our boat Avocet just to the left of the Monhegan Inn, nestled against the facing Manana Island. It’s near the spot where Bryan’s great uncle Junius Allen painted a classic work shown in episode 3 of youtube.com/acousticsailing
Day 18 Damariscove 7/22
We awoke after a bouncy night. After last night’s distant thunder the wind had soddenly changed direction 180° which caused the waves to come directly into our previously protected harbor.
Since the wind was still coming from the north Bryan chose a destination with with a harbor entrance facing south and with a long and storied history. Damariscove is a tiny natural harbor known to fishermen for some 400 years. The Mayflower stopped there to resupply with cod on their way to Plymouth. Later they sent a ship back for food when the Pilgrims were starving. The residents refused any payment and resupplied them. There is also a legend of the headless Captain Pattishall who roams the island at night searching for his dog.
The island is now run by the nature conservancy and only ruins of the original dwellings plus a cabin, the restored lifesaving station and the caretakers residence remain. The caretakers were very friendly and told us about the island. We took the pond trail around the island, and enjoyed the sheer beauty and variety of surroundings, nourishing ourselves with ripe wild raspberries as we went. We saw many varieties of birds and the island hosts the primary nesting spot in the country for eiders, an unusual duck species. We noticed some clouds quickly closing in, and because I wanted to see just around the next bend before heading back we didn’t quite make it back to the dinghy dock. We found shelter under the canopy of the info sign. It was a good thing because the shower was short and it gave us a beautiful rainbow.
We rewarded ourselves by hiking further. The large pond separated from the ocean by a narrow strip of land also means lots of mosquitoes, so there was much swatting going on late into the evening.
Day 17 Sequin Island Lighthouse 7/21
I managed to drift back to sleep again after the wakes from several lobster boats set Avocet rocking wildly. We can’t complain too much, the lobster fishermen are suffering a bit as the warming waters are pushing the lobsters into deeper and more northerly waters, and there are ongoing discussions about regulations on traps when the endangered right whales pass through. For his birthday, I had given Bryan the book “A Visual Cruising Guide To The Maine Coast.” He located a lovely island only inhabited by the lighthouse keeper and his wife. Seguin Lighthouse is the second oldest in Maine, commissioned by George Washington in 1795. We tied up to a courtesy mooring and went ashore to walk up to the lighthouse. Despite it being his day off, the lighthouse keeper took us up to see the Fresnel light and walk about on the catwalk. The first order Fresnel light was originally a 5-wick candle fueled by kerosene. The 242 prisms of the lens had to be cleaned daily because of the soot. It was recently converted to solar power in 2020 because the underwater electric cable used for several years prior was deemed unsafe.
Day 16 Dolphin instrument Handoff 7/20
We sailed to Dolphin Marina where we met with a class of 14 middle school kids from the Harpswell Academy where they are starting a new music department. We happened to have just enough ukes, plus a student violin and a full size guitar that we were able to donate for their program. I did a workshop for the kids and then we rowed back to the boat, now with much more space in the forepeak where we had been carrying the instruments all the way from Long Island NY.
Frank and Meredith Wnek took us to a seafood dinner at the marina restaurant, which was quite good. In the episode entitled “News and Secrets” on our AcousticSailing YouTube channel, Bryan had referenced a secret, that Frank is helping to facilitate. I am not yet permitted to say more…
Lobster boats circling the marina set our sailboat rocking so vigorously that after dinner we left the mooring. After a short motor/sail we anchored between two islands nearby, hoping the lobster boats don’t check their traps too early. The entire area is peppered with lobster traps seemingly any place there is water.
Day 15 Visit to Bourgeois Factory 7/19
After breakfast at a local cafe dating back to the early 1900’s Dana Bourgeois picked us up for a tour of his factory. My brother-in-law and I had together bought one of his guitars only a couple years ago, so I was interested to see how the instruments were made. It was fascinating, such attention to detail. The entire area was an old industrial area with factories, some abandoned and some still in use, lining the river. Dana Bourgeois had loaned me a guitar for the concert and he let me borrow it an extra day to do today’s Monday Live show with guests Denny Breau (remotely) and Sean Mencher. After the Monday Live Sean, Bryan and I went to the last pizza restaurant still open, where after some gentle arm twisting, we took out our guitars and I showed Sean the variation to “The Claw” that Jerry Reed had shown me backstage so many years ago.
Day 14 Concert & The Flukes 7/18
We slept on the sailboat as we have every night of the trip. It rained through much of the night and into the morning, so Bryan had to bail out the dinghy and we rowed out in pouring rain. Even with rain jackets we were quite drenched. It’s a good thing all my instruments, gear, performing clothes, and a dozen ukuleles were already at the venue. The local ukulele group, the Falmouth Flukes, helped to tune the ukes and performed some spirited tunes for the kids who had arrived for the workshop and for the free ukuleles that we had brought with us, supplied by Sam Ash and Hungry for Music. The Flukes performed some spirited tunes and their sense of joy was contagious.
I grabbed a bit to eat and prepared for the 4pm concert. Bryan’s visuals behind me went perfectly, and it was so great to play for such an appreciative audience at Cadenza. As Chet Atkins would say, they were so appreciative they were throwing babies in the air! The concert will be live for a couple weeks at this link: FB.com/CadenzaFreeport/videos/233922851910504
Day 13 Lenny Breau Tribute 7/17
We set sail early and arrived in South Freeport Harbor, just past Pound of Tea Island. The island is just big enough for one charming house and the name describes its original purchase price from the Indians. We arrived in the morning with enough time to go two blocks from the venue to the famous LL Bean complex, an impressive collection of buildings. I picked up a nice hat with sun protection and a chin strap, but in the huge store still no luck to find pants with pockets deep enough that my phone doesn’t fall out and that fit me… nothing in size 1.
It was fun to swap stories about the late Lenny Breau and jam backstage with his brother Denny Breau, Sean Mencher and Hugh Bowden. We extended that energy onstage and the audience enjoyed it very much also. It was Lenny who taught Chet Atkins the harmonic technique that has been the basis for many of my tunes. More guitarists are now discovering his unique contributions to guitar music. The whole concert will be up for a couple weeks at https://www.facebook.com/CadenzaFreeport/videos/3035049310150946
12 Hour Sail for Day 12 7/16
This is the day we had to cover a lot of miles in order to arrive in time to join Denny Breau and friends for a tribute concert to his brother, guitar icon Lenny Breau the following day. I am looking forward to participating in the concert.
For only the second time in our trip the wind was going in a favorable direction and not only that, the tide was giving us an extra knot or so much of the way! After about 12 hours of sailing Bryan was ready to anchor anywhere out of the swells of the waves. We tucked in for dinner on the west side of Long Island, ME, only to find we were next to a popular boat thoroughfare and the wakes of passing boats were not much smaller than the waves we had experienced for many hours.
After dinner I suggested to Bryan we pull anchor and sail a couple more hours closer to our destination on the other side of the bay. Towards end of our sail it was by moonlight and I sat on the bow to watch for lobster pots. We lowered the anchor in near stillness and settled down for a peaceful night’s rest.
Day 11 Isle of Shoals 7/15
We sailed and motored against the wind again, but only went a short distance to the Isla of Shoals. That gave us time to row to shore and explore the little islands which were hosting a large Unitarian church retreat. We skirted around an energetic softball game with the outfielder standing in the graveyard. It’s really set up well for retreats, with a large main building, charming chapel and enclaves and little scenic views scattered about.
Day 10 Cape Ann Finns 7/14
It was another still and foggy day, with thunderstorm warnings now being delayed until 7pm—just when I would be finished with my concert! I had offered to play for the Cape Ann Finns, an organization only into their third year. Many of the members were friends or neighbors of my grandfather (sax player & band leader) and my great uncle Sylvester Ahola, a famous trumpet player in his time and character around town. I remembered him in his red jacket playing trumpet for us when we visited him. Then he would throwing sticks into the quarry behind his house for his yellow labradors, who leaped nearly the distance of a high diving board before hitting the water.
Bob McGlnchey kindly gave us a ride from the dock to the venue and we took a short detour down Nikolane Way, where I had spent summers camping with the family near the ocean and where my mother grew up. The three car garage was still there where I found my grandparents‘ film from 1929 that inspired the tune “A Fine Pickle.”
When I entered the Lanesville Community Center to set up for the concert I noticed a plaque with large photos of Sylvester. A neighbor came by and offered me some blueberries his yard, something hard to refuse for any self-respecting Finn. When I entered his yard he proudly showed me his free-standing sauna, and I was surprised to hear it was built by my mother’s ancestors. Robert Ranta had arranged a sound system and outdoor stage to the side of the community center, and Diamond Cove Music loaned us guitar stands. Soon the lawn filled with people. They were a delightful audience and at intermission many people shared memories of my relatives and the early Finnish community there in Lanesville. After the show the Rantas invited us to their house on “Finn Alley” where we enjoyed lobster rolls.
Day 9 Rockport 7/13
We sailed around the cape and tied up to a floating dock in the small Rockport harbor, with a view of an iconic red shack on pilings that has been the subject of many paintings over the years. Just behind are rows of quaint little shops, artist studios and ice cream stores. We enjoyed walking about and picked up some fish cakes and chowder to add to our meal that we shared with our good friend Demi who came down from Boston to join us. We enjoyed a nice visit and a meal together on the sailboat. I made some pickled ginger and threw the extra pieces in the ocean, thinking about some lucky fish who eats another fish and has a nice bite of ginger after.
Day 8 Gloucester family ties 7/12
There was a steady rain most of the night through the early afternoon. We set bags to catch the 4 relatively small leaks around the hatches and windows, and made a note to work on those areas later. When Bryan stepped into the dinghy all the water rushed to that area and nearly capsized it. Once the rain lifted we sailed into the inner harbor where the harbormaster gave us a place to tie up for a few hours right behind the coast guard boat and the beautiful large schooner “Adventure,“ once owned by Captain Jim Sharp who we will visit later in Maine. Elizabeth at the harbor was very helpful. I called John Orlando who owns my great aunt and uncle’s house just behind the fisherman’s statue, now converted into Harbor View B and B, to arrange a visit. (Elisabeth was surprised to overhear me calling John, as they are good friends.
Bob McGlinchey who has been following along our acousticsailing YouTube channel met us at the dock and gave me a great tour and inside scoops on historic Gloucester, including the fisherman’s wives statue where my grandfather’s and great uncle’s names are inscribed in the tiles. We swung by the music store where one of my old harp guitars is still in the window. I broadcast my Monday live from the from the harbor. We were going to head back to the outer harbor but found there was a small federal anchorage area right in the inner harbor! This is near the adventure schooner and all the commercial fishing boats but we realized that the boats on their way out of the harbor make less of a wake than in the outer harbor where they gain speed, so we settled down for a less bouncy night & early morning.
Day 7 to Gloucester 7/11
Since we purchased a mooring for the previous night in Scituate, we took advantage of the showers in the harbormasters office. Wow, a real shower! It’s such a luxury after our solar showers onboard, drizzling some water from a bag hanging from the mainsail boom. When we called the launch, a boat to bring us to shore, we were surprised that it was the same person who picked us up in Plymouth, Libby the launch lady.
On our way out of Harbor Bryan swing by a pretty pilot cutter style boat. This is a boat that was designed to bring the pilots out o the big ships, the pilots have local knowledge of the waterways. It’s a worthy tradition that continues to this day. (For instance, going in and out of Plymouth Harbor, we realized that the channels are small and there were many submerged rocks and sand bars. I wondered how the Mayflower made its way into that harbor. They anchored the large ship outside the hazards and used their small shallop to explore the narrow waterways and find the way in.) It turned out the pilot cutter was a famous boat, the Seraffyn, owned by Lin and Larry Hardey, a handmade boat without engine that made its way around the world.
We sailed out towards the ocean to take advantage of a breeze. We could see Boston to our port side, and in 5 1/2 hours we were in outer Gloucester harbor. Once again, we anchored just before the rain started so I sat out under the dodger and improvised a tune while the rain started falling.
I have many childhood memories of Gloucester and Cape Ann, so I am looking forward to the next few days in this area. I’ll be playing a casual concert for the Cape Ann Finns on Wednesday.
Day 6 The Mayflower Tuna 7/10
We took a launch back to our sailboat, moored only a few hundred feet from Mayflower. The two commercial fishermen in the boat next to us that Bryan had spoken to the night before had just returned and they called out to us. “Do you want some tuna?” They gave us…wow… a generous chunk of fresh caught fish. I handed them my Eclipse CD as a thank you.
We then motor-sailed 17 miles against the wind to Scituate, a little less than halfway to Gloucester. I played some guitar on the deck and a concert beautiful sunset and fireworks accompanied our seared tuna dinner.
Well, more to share but it’s late and time to turn in for the night.
Day 5 Storm Elsa 7/9
I awoke in the wee hours of the morning to an erie calm and misty pink & gray sky. I drifted off again until I heard the first of the rain coming down. We stayed onboard to await tropical storm Elsa, securely attached to a mooring. We only had a little while of howling winds and horizontal rain kicking up white misty froth on the water, bouncing the boats around in the harbor. Then the sky turned bright white and it was calm. I thought the storm was over until it came back again from the opposite direction, giving us a hint that we may have experienced the eye of the storm. It was cozy inside. Bryan has worked hard over the past weeks to eliminate interior leaks on old sailboat Avocet, but as I sit here with a drip hitting my head, this storm made it apparent there are still a number of small ones around the hatches and windows. Happy to be snug here at harbor in Plymouth as they were estimating 12-15 foot waves out on the ocean. We got the last mooring in the harbor, shortly behind the Mayflower!
Day 4 Cape Cod to Plymouth 7/8
The alarm went off at 4:30 in the morning and we got up and under sail right away to get to the Cape cod Canal by 5:30 AM for a nice brisk sail through the canal while the current was going in our direction. However on the north side of the canal the winds and choppy waves were against us so instead of continuing as far as Scituate Massachusetts we briefly considered mooring right at the north end of the canal, but decided to take our original mooring reservation in Plymouth. We got one of the last moorings available, #8, right near the Mayflower, a beautifully renovated accurate reproduction of the original.
We enjoyed coming ashore and seeing Plymouth Rock and several historical sights. However, it looks like the track of tropical storm Elsa has shifted, putting us right in its track. Fortunately our mooring is behind a breakwater and Bryan tied a second line to our mooring ball and secured the mainsail cover with extra ropes. The present calm reminds me of my piece for guitar and cello, The Calm Before the Storm.
Day 3 Shipwreck 7/7
We had planned to spend some days seeing the villages around Cuttyhunk, Menemsha, and Woods Hole to visit our friends Paula and David Isenberg, but getting a mooring further north, perhaps Plymouth, seemed to be better protection from tropical storm Elsa, expected to arrive Friday afternoon. We gave ourselves a little R and R time in the morning, rowing to the nearest strip of beach where, on just the other side, an old shipwreck protruded from the sand. We walked from there to the quaint town. After a walkabout and an ice cream we headed back to Avocet to set sail to a harbor just south of Cape Cod Canal. It was lovely, calm and sunny so I was able to change my strings and play guitar a bit under sail.
Day 2 Where’s Andy 7/6
Continuing along our journey… About 3am, Bryan called out that the dinghy had broken free. It is a patched together rowboat with mismatched oars, named “Where’s Andy,” but very important to get from the sailboat to shore. We lost sight of it when we turned the sailboat around, but Bryan was determined to spend until daylight ooking for it, as the chances of finding a small black rowboat on a large black ocean seemed small. Bryan dropped the sail and motored in a search pattern downwind while we shone flash lights on either side of the boat looking for our wayward friend. In about an hour Bryan spotted it. I maneuvered the boat in that direction while he snagged it with a long hook he had lashed together to the boat hook that afternoon to collect floating balloon trash as we sailed.
As the sun came up in the morning rounding Montauk Point, we caught a bluefish on the lure we were dragging. Then while I was at the helm, the dinghy came loose again and we repeated the rescue operation.
Finally we arrived in Block Island at about 9:15 AM. After a few small repairs including a leather sheath where the rope attaches to the dinghy and a couple hours rest, Bryan realized that we had dragged to the no-anchor zone. This was time to change to our new anchor that I had lobbied to get and finally won when we got our second patreon. Thank you Sebastien! By the time Bryan changed the anchor we were both awake so we decided to continue on to Cuttyhunk to get a little further from tropical storm Elsa while the winds were a broad reach. It was sunny but with 6-8 foot waves which on occasion splashed their whitecaps into the cockpit. As we were nearing Cuttyhunk we saw spidering lightning and a dark mass approaching from behind us. We were making good time so I was hoping the rain wouldn’t overtake us until we arrived at Cuttyhunk harbor. Sure enough, by the time we arrived there was thunder and lightning on two sides of us, but the rain patiently held off until we anchored. Then, fresh bluefish with garden vegetables and real sleep!
Day 1 Dolphins and Onward to Block Island 7/5
We departed on Monday morning, July 5th, after a weekend filled with Bryan’s family, close friends and neighbors who had convened for Bryan’s parents’ memorial service. Over the past few days provisions, guitars, and instruments to give away were rowed out to the sailboat in multiple trips without much organization. We took time to visit with everyone so figured we would arrange things while under sail, but the choppy seas lowered that on our priority list.
In the distance we saw our first school of dolphins all leaping out of the water at once, a welcome sight especially since they had been rare in the NY coastal area for many years.
Despite the waves and blustery conditions, once we reached our usual stopping place, Shinnicock Inlet, the wind seemed in a good direction to continue overnight to Block Island, so onward we sailed, Bryan taking the helm most of the time while I tried to doze between the boat’s usual creaking noises and motion of the rocking waves.