Bryan and I returned from our 5 week adventure on his 2-person Grampian sailboat from Long Island to Maine.
- Day 1 Thu 7/23 Departure and Brief Storm
We packed provisions, spare parts, plenty of flex-tape and duck-tape, and departed Fire Island Inlet at 9:30am on Bryan’s 1974 30-foot Grampian sailboat, several hours earlier than we had anticipated, as a nice sailing breeze came up. Bryan and I both saw a couple dolphins gracefully leap out of the water, only two waves away from us. We hit some rain and thunder, and I discovered the “rain jacket” I brought with me was not really waterproof. Then the wind calmed down, but not so the waves, meaning a bouncy motor-sail for much of the way. Bryan manned the tiller almost the entire time. Ah, so nice to come into port at Shinnecock inlet.
- Day 2 Fri 7/24 Block Island
An early departure gave us a breeze for a short while, on the silvery gray-blue water. Onboard, I started writing a tune for the winner of the contest from my last livestream concert. We crossed over to Block Island, which has been kept delightfully much the same for many years. Upon anchoring at Great Salt Pond, we heard a shout “Andiamo!” which meant cannolis and other Italian specialties were being delivered by boat, as they had been for 50 years. Yes, we waived them over and ordered one. At the moment the sun dips behind the horizon, it is a tradition here that all the boats toot their horns and toast a beverage, as all the masthead lights twinkled on across the harbor.
- Day 3 Sat 7/25 Dolphins
We left on a light breeze, so Bryan put up the spinnaker, or rather a large asymmetrical green “flasher” sail. The early morning fog gave way to sunshine. Heading east at 3 to 4 knots towards Cuttyhunk, we were soon joined by about 100 dolphins who surrounded the boat, passing us on both sides with occasional graceful leaps out of the water. Bryan and I took turns hanging off the back ladder of the boat for a few minutes to cool down in the rushing water. We anchored at Cuttyhunk, picked up some ice for the coolers and then took off, past a lighthouse with elephant seals sunning on the rocks, to spend the night in a completely uninhabited little cove, Kettle Cove. Bryan and I watched shooting stars, satellites, and what we think was the space station passing by in the clear night sky.
- Day 4 Sun 7/25 Exchange at Sea
Well, we found out why we were the only boat at Kettle Cove. Some west winds picked up, and likewise waves. Bryan tied a second anchor to pull the boat from a straight beam to the waves, so things didn’t fall off shelves, but still the boat swayed and bounced all night, meaning not much sleep. Morning was lovely and we rowed to the beach for a walkabout before heading up Buzzard’s Bay. As we approached the Cape Cod area, I called a friend, David Isenberg, who happened to be out fishing and he pulled up alongside our sailboat. I tossed a copy of “Acoustic Chef” into his boat, and he recommended a harbor for the night. He met us there, with a bag of fresh lettuce and zucchini from his garden, and a much needed raincoat for me to borrow.
- Day 5 Mon 7/27 The Rescue Operation
We were sailing towards Provincetown, Cape Ann, when I spotted a small inflatable boat. When I checked with the binoculars, I noticed there was a motor on the boat, but someone was rowing against choppy waves. I told Bryan to sail in that direction, and saw that it was a lady. I threw her a line, and we towed her back to the marina. It turns out in addition to her motor dying, she had hurt her wrist, so it would have been hard for her row that distance.
- Day 6 Tue 7/28 Humpback Whales
We started sailing from Provincetown across to the central coast of Maine. A few hours out, we were in an area with a natural shelf from the 80 foot seafloor to several hundred feet, called stellwagen bank, and spotted a humpback whale. As we got closer, it’s pouted and then dove underneath the boat, to rise up and splash his tail right by the stern. Later two whales floated by us, nearly close enough to touch, quietly sunning on the surface of the water.
- Day 7 Wed 7/29 Arrival and Fin Whales
Bryan and I took turns manning the helm for about 4 hour shifts through the night. Fortunately for the one at the helm, there was a moderate wind which meant we could use the jib & mainsail and string up the self-steering, an ingenious apparatus which adjusts for the wind and tiller, requiring only occasional adjustments instead of the constant attention to the tiller. However for the one off duty, it also meant waves that rocked the boat aa it creaked and complained, making actual sleep more challenging. I got the treasured shift of late night into the morning, with beautiful starry skies that made way to sunrise over the water. It was my first crossing, and we were blessed by good weather and calm winds. In the early morning light Bryan and I both spotted some larger whales, with a fin on top, and many sunfish – a very interesting fish about the size of a shark with a large top fin like a sundial, large head and tail with nearly no body. We arrived at Monhegan Island, Maine in time to take a walk in the charming town, and to go to a little shop by the water for a lobster dinner!
- Day 8 Thu 7/30 Pleasant Island
We met some sailors the previous evening who told us we could use the Port Clyde ferry mooring for the night, but were politely chased off the following morning as the ferry made her entrance. So, we sailed towards mussel ridge, and ended up dropping anchor at Pleasant Island, a beautiful rocky cove with only one little house in the distance so thoughtfully tucked behind the trees it becomes part of the landscape. We rowed to the shore and lifted the dingy onto a large flat rock. Bryan worked on fixing the rope rub rail around the dingy with a drill and strong twine, while I enjoyed hopping across the rocks, finding all sorts of beautiful driftwood and lobster buoys that had drifted ashore. I had my guitar case on my back, and sat down on a rock to work on the tune I am writing for the tune contest winner from my last livestream. My feet were getting splashed as the tide was coming up quickly. I had to leap further across the rocks to get back to the dingy, just about the time Bryan was finishing up his repairs. We rowed back to Avocet as a light shower rewarded us by a brilliant double rainbow across the entire sky.
- Day 9 Fri 7/31 Jam in Rockport ME
Our only contact in central Maine was a luthier, Nicholas Apollonio, who had built an instrument for my friend and my former student Bob Peterson. We sailed into Rockland, docking on a slip graciously loaned to us by fellow musician Gordon Bok, just outside the Steam Power & Sail Museum. Nicholas met us at the slip and invited us for grilled tuna steaks on his screened-in porch at his home in nearby Rockport. Before and after the meal we jammed on Celtic style music together on instruments he built including a fiddle and 12-string guitar. We had all been carefully isolated for well more than two weeks, so we allowed the usual 6-foot distance to be reduced to 3-foot distance for the jam. We shared sailing and music stories, played original and traditional tunes, and life seemed normal again.
- Day 10 Sat 8/1 Small World
Bryan and I went for a short walk along the road by the harbor where there were vey few cars. Someone in a pickup truck motioned to us, and as we approached Bryan recognized that it was a neighbor, Bill Froehlich, from his little town in Long Island. In our conversation I asked if he knew where we could find a welder to fix a small fitting on the traveler. It turns out Bill is now working in Maine in a boat building/machine shop!
That afternoon Nicholas invited us to a social-distancing outdoor jam session of performers who would have been playing at the Sweet Chariot Music & Art Festival in Swans Island this weekend. There I ran into Lisa who I met 20 years ago in CA and Doug Day who still had my card from 40 years ago in Chicago.
We loaded up on ice and Nicholas dropped us off at our boat for a nice still night on the water. We checked the weather again to track a storm which may be moving in our direction in a few days, making contingency plans for safe harbor.
- Day 11 Sun Aug 2 Finding safe harbor and boarding 1871 schooner
While Bryan moved the boat from our borrowed tie up and anchored, I joined in on a weekly jam session in front of the sail, steam and power museum. It was hosted by Captain Jim Sharp, a true salt who sang and played charming old tunes and shanties. We bought his book on his sailing adventures. Gordon Bok returned to his floating dock where we had tied up, and we had a short visit on the deck of his houseboat that he designed to accommodate his wife who lost the use of her left side due to a stroke. He’s 80 years old and still plays the occasional show with his wife on harp. It was poetic because we ended up visiting Rockland through a series of circumstances beginning with a guitar student, Bob, who only wanted to learn Gordon Bok tunes.
We are following the progress of hurricane Isaias, so we set off to find a hole in Longcove in Vinalhaven Island, where there are many coves and small islands to break the wind. I sat on the bow to direct around the many lobster pots while Bryan took the tiller. When we sailed into Bryan’s chosen spot, we found another boat had also taken anchor there, a beautiful 1871 Windjammer charter schooner, the Stephen Taber. It seemed like a lively crew on board, so after anchoring nearby we rode over with guitar on back and announce we were taking over the ship. Captain Noah seemed happy to be relieved of his duties temporarily, so he invited us on board. I gave him a CD as a ship-warming gift and after playing a couple tunes, he divulged that he is a guitar player also. He took out his guitar and we jammed on blues and old jazz tunes, well spaced apart on the breezy deck. We rowed back, cooked a late spaghetti dinner with a glass of wine, and slept well.
- Day 12 Mon Aug 3rd Hunkering down for the storm, reversible waterfall
Our friend the Stephan Taber raised his sails and left to return it’s charter to Harbor, leaving Avocet alone in this part of Long Bay. Bryan rowed the dinghy further to a more secluded harbor to find a few boats and several empty mooring balls. Upon talking to a sailor on one of the boats, he learned that there was a very hearty mooring which would be no problem for us to tie up to. The owners had gone to Costa Rica and because of Covid regulations, had been unable to return. We moved the boat to that mooring, thus reducing the chance we would drift off anchor should there be a strong winds. Although the water was still gentle, there was still a great difference in tides, so much that there is a reversible waterfall, flowing one way going to high tide and the other way going to low tide. Bryan rowed out to see it while I watched a harbor seal repeatedly swim underneath the school of fish, followed by a great “whoosh”, a fountain of fish jumping into the air. A lone bald eagle was watching the top one of the tall pine trees.
When Bryan returned, between repair projects, he sat on top of the four peek to read the book we bought from Captain Jim Sharp at Sunday’s picking party. The first chapter opened with the story of how Capt. Sharp bought the Stephan Tabor, the very boat we were anchored next to. He only had six paid passengers on his maiden voyage, so he invited a crew friends including Gordon Bok, who eventually ended up living on the boat for the entire summer.
- Day 13 Tue Aug 4 Gentle Storm
In the morning I rowed out to the wider bay where we had been previously anchored, to see if any texts had come in about the progress of the hurricane as it moved up the east coast. In the center of the bay I can occasionally get a few seconds fo signal, enough to receive a text but rarely enough signal to send a text. At low tide Bryan rowed to some flat rocks near the shore to collect mussels,. A collection are now hanging off the boat in a net bag where the mussels will spit sand out for a day or two before ready to clean and cook. We learned from a neighboring sailboat that in this area if we see a lobster boat, we can hold out a bucket and put two fingers in the air, and the lobsterman will drop two lobsters in the bucket, for $5 a piece regardless of the size of the lobsters. It was a day of boat repairs and waterproofing before the rain, and I played guitar and composed a bit. The wind and rain came that evening, rocking the boat even in our small protected cove. We were lucky that the bulk of the storm had dissipated inland.
- Day 14 Wed Aug 5 Fog
The previous night’s tropical storm left us with some cool weather and a fine sailing breeze. From Long Cove we went to North Haven, and snaked through the lobster pots and lobster boats on the Fox Island thoroughfare. We had a beautiful sail to Stonington at 6.5 knots and were heading towards Coombs islands when the fog socked in so thick that Bryan turned back to known waters, to anchor for the evening. After a row about and a frolic around the rocks and shells, we moved the boat around to the other side of the little island to escape the sound of a tv blaring from a nearby catamaran, a stark contrast to the sound of the gulls we had become so accustomed to. We cooked up a lobster we had bought from an old fisherman and some potatoes, and peeked out at the misty grey and white scenery diappearing into the fog. As quickly as it came, the fog lifted revealing a brilliant moon. The calm waters were disturbed at 4 am with dishes falling out of the cupboards and the boat rocking wildly from the wake of a lobster boat, then another, as a cavalcade of boats zoomed right by us for some ridiculously early lobstering.
- Day 15 Thu Aug 6 Great White
I saw a big splash in the otherwise calm ocean, and a little while later I saw a small seal floating by with a bite taken out of it. We learned today that there is a Great White cruising around the bay, unfortunately for a lady who was swimming here last week.
Well, the water is 55 degrees and we haven’t thought much about swimming anyway.
- Day 16 Fri 8/7 A Cold Swim
We arrived at a most beautiful spot in a series of islands called Merchant Row, and anchored in front of Coombs island. A small inlet connects two pine-covered islands, edged by weathered granite ledges with green ground cover that hangs just over the top as though designed by an expert.
We rowed to the island where at high tide there is a beach of coarsely tumbled shell surrounded by granite boulders. Ok, so we couldn’t resist but swim there a bit, chilly as it was. No concern about our neighborhood shark, it was fairly shallow there.
Tomorrow we will head towards Swans Island, and then start checking the weather for a window to start making our way back southwest. In the mean time, All Star Guitar Night Online is coming up August 29, and I will be looking for someplace with internet to start putting together details. For the past two weeks I’ve only had occasionally enough signal to text our updates to Lady Pamela, now dubbed “second mate” who updates them on the Captain’s Log here.
- Day 17 Sat 8/8 Swan’s Island
The first lobster boat sent its waves in our direction at 3:55am, but after traps were checked and re-baited, there was a period of calm for us to catch a little more shut eye. Later in the morning we rowed to the beach for some more climbing about, and I sat on a rock with my guitar to work on a couple tunes I’m composing for Frank and for Tom. A cool breeze kept us from going for a swim this time, but lovely for wading, as the temperature was 57F. Not intending to stay long, we pulled the dinghy up several feet onto the shore without securing it. It’s a good thing I went back to check on it, as it was already starting to drift off only about a half hour later. The tides vary here by 10 feet, and come up quickly as we found out.
At the picking party a week ago, we met Doug Day, a singer-songwriter who lives on Swan’s Island, and also the person who has been hosting the after-parties at the festival on Swan’s Island, Michael Wilson. They both invited us to visit, so we sailed in that direction looking for Doug’s boat moored by Michael’s house. In addition to all the lobster pots, Mackerel Cove has many rocks to negotiate around, “sunkers” which are under water at high tide. I stood on the bow to watch for both, while Bryan was at the tiller to negotiate around them.
We rowed ashore and sat outside for a grilled shrimp dinner, songs, and stories with Michael Wilson, Dillon Bustin, Doug Day and his son Jackson. Michael’s house is in a stunningly scenic location, probably to be our furthest point east on this sailing trip.
- Day 18 Sun 8/9 Destination
In the morning we reconvened with esteemed folklorists and musicians for breakfast, jokes and stories in Michael’s porch. Doug had many stories about his life in the folk boom of the 60s-70s. We have a number of mutual friends from the Chicago folk scene.
Dillon Bustin Had an interesting story of how a joke was useful for him. A Farmer was by himself when his cow was giving birth but it was a breech birth with hooves first, Flag down the first car that cameFlag down the first car that came by for help. It was a city boy, who agreed and drove his Mercedes onto the field. The farmer connected a chain hoist between the car and the Cavs hooves and the boy put the car in gear and pull the calf out. The farmer, being very grateful as a breachedbirth can kill both calf and cow, offered the boys some money. The boy refused and said “I just would like to know one thing. How fast was that calf going when he ran into the cow?”
Well, years later Dillon was asked to take care of a farm for a friend who went on vacation. because it was pregnant and sure enough the calf was breached, coming out with hooves first. He hooked up the tractor to the calve’s hooves and managed to pull it out. The cow survived but the calf was stillborn. Being conscientious, with great effort he took a pickaxe to the frozen ground and buried the calf. When he called his farmer friend, he said, “what? That’s veal, dig it up, skin it and put it in the freezer!”
Which, he actually did.
Bryan and I said our goodbyes and sailed to a spot between several small islands. On one of the islands, someone had left a picnic table and a grill! We rowed over, cooked a steak dinner, accompanied by a beautiful sunset. I picked up some bits of debris that had washed up on the shore, and we left the site very clean for the next lucky visitor.
The only sounds were the seagulls, waves, and a distant bell buoy. Beautiful views in every direction. Yes, this is what we were looking for, if just this moment.
- Day 19 Mon 8/10 Photo op
We stayed anchored in the same place and spent the day catching up on projects including creating a virtual ensemble of harp guitarists from around the world playing “The Water id Wide” for the upcoming All Star Guitar Night, slated for Sat Aug 29 on Allstarguitarnight.com. It is challenging putting together all different sorts of audio and video to make a musical statement, but a fun project all the same.
We also took some photos with the carbon fiber harp guitar. There is an interesting story behind it. Lou Alano was interested in one of my harp guitars for his small hands. As he was trying it out, he mentioned that he had a carbon fiber harp guitar and offered to loan it to me to use on the boat at by the ocean in Long Island. It’s an Emerald harp guitar made in Ireland by Alistair Hay. I was amazed to see that it had 7 bass strings and half step sharping levers just like mine. It turns out Lou had it custom made, inspired my my harp guitar. I remembered how Alistair had given me and my parents a ride from the festival where I was playing in Ireland to the Giants Causeway, with the condition that I’d talk to him about harp guitars the entire trip. After that, he started making harp guitars. I recently contacted Alistair after all these years and he was amazed how it had come full circle, and now I was playing his harp guitar so suitable for me.
- Day 20 8/11 Burnt Harbor Lobstermen
We upped anchor at Buckle Island where we had spent two lovely evenings, and headed to Stonington and Burnt Harbor. We had been without full internet and without access to news for the most part for two weeks. With All Star Guitar Night coming up, I had some files to download and to send so we set off to look for a library. Bryan anchored in the harbor and took care of small boat repairs while I rowed to the nearest dock where other dinghies were tied up. I managed to remember how Bryan tied a bowline knot and secured the dinghy. A lobster fisherman with a heavy Maine accent somewhat resembling “Car Talk”politely informed me that it was a commercial lobstermen dock and they were about to get busy, and the public landing was around the corner or I could snake through the pilings. I did the latter, tied up again. I asked an old fisherman if there was a library nearby. After joking around for a bit he revealed that it was the first building I would come to. After rowing back to the sailboat we went around to the other side of the island to go to the one grocery store and a nice Ace hardware store No sooner had we set anchor that a heavy fog set in. We changed plans and stayed in harbor for the night. It was a good thing I was delayed at the library or we would likely have been in the open ocean in fog surrounded by miles of lobster pots.
- Day 21 Wed 8/12 Meteor Shower
Bryan developed an unusual pain in his hip, and it was bothering him today. Nevertheless we rowed to a small island , separated by its parent island at high tide. A small boat came by and dropped off two people, a man and his son, on the island. It was our first time having company on one of the small islands. The man asked us where we were from and what we did for a living. When I asked him the same, he said he was from Texas and was an orthopedic surgeon. I mentioned Bryan’s hip. He asked three questions and had an immediate diagnosis and treatment. It fit all the symptoms of greater trocanteric bursitis, He recommended the dosage of ibuprofen or allieve and said to continue taking it for 1 week even if the pain is gone, and recommend specific stretching exercises. I am happy to say that Bryan’s hip is now recovering quickly.
That night was the Perseid meteor shower, and the sky was so clear as to see the milky way more vividly than I had seen it before. Bryan rowed to a shore with his tripod for a long exposure photo and managed to capture two of the dozen or so meteors.
- Day 22 Thu 8/13 The Lobster Handoff
Lobster boats were doing their rounds inthe morning near our boat, anchored at Hen Island. I grabbed my red bucket, held out two fingers and leaned over the rail. The lobsterman and lobsterwoman fished out two lobsters and dropped them into the bucket, not without a few words about political conspiracy opinion. I passed over $5 per lobster, the going rate in these parts for fresh catch without a middleman.
The biting black flies inspired us to set sail again. We made a stop at Perry Creek, a beautiful estuary that Bryan had visited before. He was happy to see it was still undeveloped, save the same small quaint houseboat with hanging lanterns. Bryan thought it would be fun to see how far we could take the sailboat up the inlet as the tide was dropping. We anchored briefly at the most shallow possible spot, had a quick lunch and a swim in the brackish water, silty but a pleasant temperature due to the spring water mixing with salt water. Coming back, I stood on the bow to direct around rising ridges of rock at barnacles as Bryan safety negotiated the boat back down to deeper waters just in time. Whew.
We dropped anchor again at the now familiar Rockland Harbor. I called Nicholas and he supplied an extra lobster, corn and butter to join us on the boat deck, with Bryan joining from the galley so there was enough space to spread out. We shared a most delicious lobster dinner and some Irish tunes.
- Day 23 Fri 8/14 Looking for Charlie Stone
I took advantage of a morning with full cell phone signal to contact Jess at Guitars in the Classroom to work on details for the upcoming benefit for them, All Star Guitar Night on Aug 29 allstarguitarnight.com and to check weather to find a good window for the passage back to P-Town MA. There was a storm and small craft advisory for 2 days, but the wind direction was favorable for the sail back SW. Bryan figured that the worst of the winds would be Fri night, and if we left from someplace en route Saturday morning, we would be trailing the storm for the long stretch across ocean to P-Town Saturday into Sunday. Besides, it’s common sailor lore that one does not leave for a crossing on a Friday lest it bring bad luck.
This was a good opportunity for Bryan to look for Charlie Stone, a lobsterman on Ragged Island, one of a pair of tiny islands far off shore, in the basic direction we were heading.
Our sail was glassy smooth, disturbed only by one small whale that rose and dove like a giant dolphin. We arrived at the reddest hour of sunset to a tiny fishing village suspended in time. Bryan rowed ashore to look for his old acquaintance, Charlie Stone, but to no avail. In the morning he went to shore again, and several villagers assured him the Charlie was around, but when he was still not to be found, Bryan left a DVD of our “Wonderlust,” DVD on his doorstep, with a note. It was time to leave on our crossing.
- Arrived in P-town
Just a quick note to say we arrived safely in Provincetown after some rather interesting moments during our passage from Maine. Will fill you in later. Getting some rest now.
- Day 25 Sat 8/15 “Where’s Andy” Escapes at Sea
The dinghy trails from the back of the sailboat. Bryan named his dinghy “Where’s Andy” in honor of his longtime sailing partner, next door neighbor and often tardy free spirit Andy. On sailing adventures over the years they lost their dinghy 4 or 5 times and each time ritually named the new one “Where’s Andy.”
We left for our crossing to Provincetown in rough waters and grey skies, knowing there would be significant waves, but we were following a storm that drew the winds in a favorable direction for the sails, and going with the waves and wind in a storm is at least tolerable. Three hours into our crossing, the dinghy who had been flung from one wave to the next finally broke loose from its painter (the rope from which it hangs behind the sailboat) by breaking a little chunk of the fiberglass bow to which the line attaches. Bryan was determined not to lose another Where’s Andy, and besides, it is our ride to shore. Bryan turned the boat around into the crashing waves and handed me the tiller while he fished out a small Bruce anchor from the locker and attached a line. I headed towards Where’s Andy who was intermittently in sight when cresting a wave and Bryan heaved the anchor into the dinghy to snag it. On the second pass he got it and started to pull it in, only for the rope to come loose from the Bruce anchor! Bryan lunged to grab the boat while I stood ready to grab his legs, and he managed to get two fingers on the rubrail, and pulled it in. Where’s Andy is actually a sailing dinghy, so it had a convenient mast hole where attached the painter. We were off again in the right direction, but not without a rip in the mainsail that Bryan repaired with sail tape, hanging on as the boat heaved vigorously. Some time later the jib sheet came unattached and Bryan had to reattach the flapping sail as I tried to keep the boat on even keel. I was glad when he got a vest and tethered himself to the boat for some of the tricky parts.
Late at night the waves finally calmed down enough for him to attach the self-steering contraption and he was able to doze for short periods in the cockpit while I tried to rest below, although still too rocky to really sleep, so I checked on him from time to time. We were rewarded by a firefly-green plume of light off the back of the boat as thousands of phosphorescent sea creatures lit up.
- Day 26 Sun 8/16 Another Rip & Land Ho
I had managed only brief moments of actual sleep when the waves quieted down in the wee hours of the morning, and Bryan even less, resting in the cockpit on watch. But 5:30am brought the orange glow of sunrise on the horizon and the return of 7 foot waves and blustery winds. I took the tiller while Bryan scrambled around the deck adjusting the sails to accommodate the changing wind gusts. He noticed another tear in the mainsail, so he reefed the sail above the rip, to repair it later. We hope this sail will make it to the end of our voyage and are glad we have a new sail on order, thanks to our friend Tom Hankinson, who’s birthday gift I put towards the downpayment on a sail, setting the process in motion.
We spotted land, Cape Cod, but it was hours before getting there. Once we rounded the cape which is shaped like a curled up fist we had the current, waves, wind and rain all in our face. We finally dropped anchor at the first beach that was protected from the wind, exhausted and finally in calm waters, we prepared to bed down and called our new friend Nicholas. He told us of an east weather system coming our way, and we were anchored in quite on the wrong place. So, we pulled anchor and motored to the other side of the bay for a cozy quinoa dinner down below, and a full night sleep with the gentle sound of wind and rain on the deck, to set sail again in the morning .
- Day 27 Mon 8/17 Like a Movie
We figured 5 hours for the crossing from Provincetown to the Cape Cod canal, so we left at 6am to arrive with the current going the right direction through the canal. Once we cleared the cape, the wind and waves were no tamer than the previous days and we had such a strong wind that we could have made it in 3 1/2 hours. Bryan added another reef to the main, and had only a handkerchief-size jib out, and still we were trying to slow ourselves down so we wouldn’t arrive with the tide going out. This only amplified the roll of the waves. It was like a movie, grey, raining, blustery with Bryan in his yellow rain gear yelling directions while I was getting splashed by bucketfuls as the occasional wave splashed into the cockpit right over the lifeline. I went through three changes of clothing for want of a pair of rain pants.
Once we came to the canal, it stopped raining, we were sliding along flat waters at 8 to 9 knots. I called my parents, as this was their old stomping ground and took pictures of the railroad bridge for my dad. This seemed like a different world than from which we came.
We had a lovely, gentle sail from there to Quissett, anchored in the inner harbor and accepted an invitation for homemade dinner and a hot shower from our friends Paula and David Isenberg. They have excellent internet, so I was able to do my weekly 8pm FB-live spot from there.
We returned to the boat and it happened to be the best night of the year for the glowing jellyfish, or sea walnuts. As we rowed out to the boat, our oars revealed a carnival of loops and ribbons of light on both sides.
- Day 29 Wed 8/19 Mystery of Dead Gulls at Weepecket Island
It was a hot day so we thought we would look for a beach at which to swim along our route. We stopped at Weepecket Island. The last time we were there we were watching and a kite border who had a hydrofoil board. He was flying elegantly up into the air and was followed by a boat with a professional camera crew. He was doing a video for his sponsored gear, as we found out later. Bryan was also filming him from our boat when his board came off his feet at a good height. He flipped upwards, and came down into the water head first. When he didn’t come up right away I yelled to Bryan, “Row over there, he may be hurt!” Their motorboat arrived first and the photographer jumped into the water, retrieving the kiteboarder and hoisted him into the boat. The crew tended to the injured athlete while the photographer was drifting further and further from the boat. Bryan picked him up and brought him to the boat, then they sped off full throttle towards the shore where they had arranged an ambulance to meet them. I hope he recovered, we were never able to find out.
Today the island was calm. We rowed to the shore. I saw a dead sea gull on the beach, then another, and another, perhaps a dozen, and one gull eating a carcass. They all seemed to be juveniles. I eas wondering if someone was doing target practice until I saw a gull walking slowly and awkwardly near us, with disheveled feathers, obviously not feeling well. We left without swimming.
We sailed a couple miles more to kettle cove for a quick swim, and headed again towards Cuttyhunk. The weather changed suddenly, and we ducked into Quicks Hole until most of the wind and rain passed, making our way to Cuttyhunk in the evening.
We anchored next to an interesting looking small green schooner that sat low, drawing only 19 inches into the water. Bryan figured someone with a boat like that must be an interesting person. We rowed over that direction for a chat with the owner and his wife , Bro and Phoebe. It turns out they are part-time musicians, and were interested in the harp guitar. They encouraged me to go back and get it for a jam. Bro used the sides of the cockpit as a cajon, and quite a good boat-player he was! As we were packing up, Phoebe asked if we were hungry, and sent us off with a Tupperware container of pasta with meat and pico do gallo, that was much appreciated.
- Day 30 Thu 8/20 Small World in Great Salt Pond
We returned the tupperware container, together with a music gift, to Bro and Phoebe, anchoring next to us. Bryan had further repairs to do on the sail before we could depart, so I worked on editing The water is wide her guitar orchestra, for the upcoming All-Star guitar night,while Brian was occupied with thread and needle. We set sail about 8:30 AM. It was a day of continuous changing of sails, as the wind couldn’t figure out just exactly what it wanted to do.
When we reached block Island, instead of a more solitary cove along the other side ofthe island. we opted for the social atmosphere of the Great Salt Pond where hundreds of boats were anchored. . Boats filed in like a parade. We finally found a spot. A dinghy came by, it was Jim from Orion, who we had met I believe last year! We happened to anchor right next to his boat.
- Day 31 Fri 8/21 Mission Montauk Abandoned
The Italian bakery boat came by in the morning shouting “Andiamo” (“We’re coming” in Italian) as it has for many years in the Great Salt Pond harbor in Block Island. We grabbed our masks as usual and flagged it down. Chatting with the two young men in the motorboat we learned that business was very light this year, so we were happy to support them in the form of two cheese pastries.
The wind was coming out of the west, the wrong direction for our return to Fire Island Inlet, but nevertheless Bryan figured we could fight the wind waves as far as Montauk Lake, to arrive in time for dinner, as we have a standing invite for dinner outdoors at the Roos’s house, where I had spent many a happy summer vacation. Bryan figured when he thought the tide was going out, but as soon as we left the harbor, the wind and waves picked up so much that even with the 20hp motor, we were only going 3 knots. It was straining the sails so much that we didn’t think our old mainsail would last through the end of the crossing, So, even though Anne’s cooking would almost be worth it, we reluctantly turned around and sailed back to Block Island. The winds would be lighter the following day.
Back at harbor Bryan stitched a corner by the clew of the sail and we worked on “The Water is Wide, I Can’t Coss O’er” video.
That sundown was met by a festive chorus of boat horns, so I called Pamela to join us via phone, and then called Tom to enjoy the last of the horns with us.
- Day 32 Sat 8/22 Sail-by, Then Everything Goes Wrong Day Redeemed by Whale
With the winds predicted at 10 knots instead of 15, we decided to cross over to Montauk and continue to Shinnecock Inlet, expecting to arrive a little after nightfall. For the first few minutes all seemed to be going fine, until in addition to wind and waves picking up we found we were also fighting the tide, which seemed to run north instead of south at this point. We called our friends in Montauk and instead of swinging around the end of Montauk towards the harbor, we continued towards our destination, nearing the coast for a cordial waive as we passed by. In reality, we were scrambling to tack away from the shore as the stay on the jib sheet came loose and Bryan had to run up on the deck to re-attach it, all the while our friends were waiving blissfully.
The wind picked up again and we had to motor-sail a zigzag course, with the stay again often coming loose. Finally Bryan taped a makeshift repair to the stay that had pulled apart, only for the jib sheet to catch on the forward winch handle on its way over, and thrust it into the ocean where it quickly sank. Now with only one winch handle we were extra careful to keep it safe. The boat was heaving and bumping the entire way, and Bryan and I both regretted not heading for Montauk Lake instead and enjoying a dinner with the Roos family. To give ourselves something to look forward to, we set the GPS for a way point, James Schainuck’s house in Amagansett, where we did a sail-by further out, dots of light greeting each other via our flashlight and his from the shore. Our progress was getting slower and slower. Bryan angled further out into the ocean so we could have a longer sail in before having to tack in again.
Twice Bryan saw a spouts coming from the ocean, then I saw one, and we wondered if there could be a whale as we were in only 50 feet of water. Seeing a whale in these waters is good news, a testament to the clean water act which has reduced pollution from the Hudson river. Then, just as we were watching, Bryan and I both cheered as the whale raised up and breached the water. Somehow, that made the frustrations of the day melt away.
It was still a long bumpy motor-sail ahead, and we finally came to the mouth of Shinnecock Inlet at 1:45am. More to that, I’ll fill in on tomorrow’s log.
- Day 33 Sun 8/23 Where’s Andy Survivor & Treasure at Sea
(moved from previous night’s post) I was exhausted, so rested while Bryan was at the helm for much of the night. At 12:30 am I asked if he needed anything, and he said, “yes, a rest.” I took the helm and headed towards the Shinnecock buoy. As we neared the entrance I tried to rouse Bryan to no avail, but once the depth alarm went off signaling we were close to shore he jumped up. He was sure he had only dozed for 10 minutes but it was 1:45am. We were again going against the tide, and at Shinnecock it goes suddenly from deep waters into a small entrance with dramatic waves. Bryan was swearing like a sailor as we watched as the dinghy behind us catch a wave, zoom ahead of the stern, then back so that the painter snapped hard, throwing the dinghy sideways at an 80 degree angle, where it very nearly missed being filled by a cresting waive, then teetering on top of the next wave like a water skier. I told Bryan to look forward where we were going and I’d watch the dingy. I calmly kept him advised that Where’s Andy was still connected by its improvised bow fitting as it continued its acrobatic stunts. When we finally passed through the entrance and anchored we toasted cups of apple sauce to Where’s Andy, faithfully trailing sailboat Avocet.
After several hours sleep we were off again, this time with calmer winds and buttery sunshine. We watched many sparkling pods of silver bunker fish pass by, the occasional dolphin and whale spout in the distance, and for a couple hours the winds were just right to set out cushions and sit together on the bow while the self-steering was able to handle the boat in the right direction for our tack. We chased down balloons that were floating by, and Bryan tried to snag them with a large hook. I wish people would stop the practice of releasing balloons. From sea they look like buoys or a person swimming, and then the plastic and metallic ink breaks down, fish and sea animals eat it. While scoping for balloons I saw an object that looked bigger. We sailed up to it and it was a large sealed plastic case. Perhaps it is pirate booty thrown overboard, perhaps some other treasure, or perhaps just a float that would be an annoyance for a small boat to hit. Whatever the case, it didn’t belong in the ocean so I encouraged Bryan to hoist it aboard and we will check it out when we return to shore.
- Day 34 Mon 8/24 Coming Home
We got to Fire Island Inlet at 9pm the previous night, and opted to anchor there at the little bay formed by a breakwater called the Sore Thumb. We woke to a silvery morning, and as the serene quiet started filling up with noises and activity, and the wind finally going in our direction, we pushed off towards Oak Beach. Neighbors along the coast often waived as we sailed by (photo by Karen George), and our neighbor Andy was there to meet us.
When we rowed to the house, we found the leaves on most of the trees were strangely brown. Hurricane Isaiah had hit there and sprayed the trees with salt water, then little rain to wash it off. However, our basil plants had withstood it all, and were tall and thick. Much pesto to be made this week.
Bryan and I both felt like we would welcome the opportunity to stay sailing another month, something that surprised myself. He also told me that in sailing trips the bad days tend to be forgotten, and the good days stand out. This I have found is true. Perhaps that can be a model for the rest of life.
Now, to prepare for the online All Star Guitar Night this coming Saturday. Please join me! www.allstarguitarnight.com