Saturday, October 23, 2010

good bye maine, hello high seas!

autumn in maine ++++++++++++++++++ camden from mt. megunitook

goodbye maine. i'll miss you! ++++++++++++++ the crew

cricket in matinicus island

some of the last lobster bouys of the trip +++++++++ a little k-12 school on matinicus

a lobster dinner aboard cricket!

after a bit of provisioning, gathering of our small crew, and a few more jobs and sea trials to do on cricket we were off to sea, for the long haul south west from rockland, me to our old familiar chesapeake bay. we’ve made it to nantucket island after three days and two nights of exhausting sailing

i took cricket out for my first solo run! we (cricket and i) headed across the beautiful penobscot bay, around a few of the smaller islands that surround vinalhaven island, and back to our little mooring in rockland. it felt amazing to be able to sail this boat by myself, and the weather cooperated quite well. cricket did an amazing job, and i never felt like things were out of control thanks to the great way she sails! i even was able to get her to the mooring under sail! fantastic!

while in rockland i had a rental car for a few days, so i took advantage of it by driving to some beautiful spots in the area, and taking walks to soak in maine’s beauty one last time. i even got a chance to hike 1,385 feet up mount megunitook to soak in the awsome vistas of camden harbor, and west penobscot bay. it was good to keep some semblance of being in shape.

kurt joined the crew about a week and a day ago. kurt is a good friend that we met in deltaville, and is brave enough to go this long haul with cricket and me. while we were still in rockland harbor we got to experience what the weather can do in the fall, in these parts and waited for a good blow to blow by while we were at the mooring. sad to say, cricket was rocking and rolling enough to make me terribly seasick, and i had to give up the coffee i had drunken into the sea... this wouldn’t be the last time of this trip that the ocean would receive my previously ingested food. kurt was feeling a bit queasy too. what a fine crew we were going to make! we both put on little sea-sick patches behind our ears and got ready to gut things out with the waves. the patches seem to work better for kurt than for me, but hopefully in a week or so we’ll both get our sea legs (and sea guts).

we did have a very nice shake down sail across the bay to the fox island thorofare, around to seal bay for lunch. we even got to watch a sweet seal swim right past the stern of cricket while we were anchored for lunch! nice! we were met with contrary winds on the way back, and the sun was about to set, so we prudently decided to anchor for the night in a sweet little spot called pulpit harbor. we then motored our way back to rockland to have the last little bits of work done before we set out for the big one.

we waited for what we thought was a good weather window, and set out on the first leg . we sailed 10 or so nautical miles to the south to take a mooring on a cute little island called matinicus. this is a small “working man’s” island full of lobster boats. we got to the island just as the island’s working crew were pulling their moorings out of the water. we picked up a mooring that would have been pulled out within an hour of our arrival! what a stroke of good fortune! we talked to the harbor master, josh, from the deck of cricket to the deck of his lobster boat and arranged for him to bring us a couple of live lobsters for dinner that evening.

i went ashore to explore a bit. it was fun to walk the little gravel roads and see the one small church on the island, and the tiny school house in which all the island kids attend (k-12). it’s amazing to think about what life must be in this small community. when i got back kurt had the lobsters all cooked up and we had a great feast! kurt not only is wonderful crew, but is turning out to be a genius cook as well (even though he would humbly deny the fact).

from matinicus it was the first long haul southwest to nantucket 162 nautical miles, as the crow flies, away. of course, we couldn’t go the way of the crow... mostly on account of the wind blowing... yup. you guessed it... southwest! we beat to wind for the first day and night, making very little way. it’s kind of discouraging to make only 50 of those miles in the first day and a half. but noaa promised that the winds would build, and become west, and sure enough they did! we were still beating into wind, but now we were at least beating in the general right direction! wow! the winds were heavy, blowing between 25k-32k, and the seas built themselves up to 10-15 foot waves! cricket was a trooper! she danced and pranced her way through, but her crew was a bit green around the gills. a full day, and a full overnight, and a full day was enough to tire us out. we would take 4 hour shifts over night. 6-10 was kurt’s. 10-2am was mine. 2am-6am was back to kurt, and 6am-10am was me. it’s pretty light sleeping when the boat is a rockin’ and a rollin’ in those waves. it was quite an awsome sight to see the moon shining on those 15 foot waves! very humbling. we were happy to get to the harbor in nantucket just as the sun was setting! the sea seemed to try to keep us from going into safe harbor by piping up real good while i tried to take the sails down. whew! it was a lot of work pulling the wildly whipping main and staysail in in 32 knots of wind and 8 foot seas! but we finally made it into harbor, but the wind wasn’t done with us yet! it seemed to say, “if you want some rest, you’re going to have to really work for it!” it took quite a few tries to catch a mooring in those kind of winds! but finally we had cricket safe on a mooring, and i can’t tell you how relieving it was to know we could get a solid night’s rest! and now we’re waiting for the next weather window (looks like tomorrow), and while we wait, we rest, knowing that the next leg is even longer. we’ve got our clothes out on lines drying out in these 20-30 knot winds. nantucket is a beautifully, historic island, but we’re simply watching it from cricket on a mooring, taking it easy for a day.

note: it’s been wonderful not to have to worry about our electrical system, which we had worked on by ocean pursuits in rockland maine. it’s been working flawlessly! but i must say... i totally miss the best captain there could ever be upon cricket. i miss cap’t pam!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

ten ten ten ten

one of the amazing views on the way

a covered bridge

i bought some eggs and whoopie pies from these lovely women

the iconic adirondack chair

10:10, 10/10/10

it's about 10:10pm, on october the 10th. as i sit here on thestern, my first night back to our lovely, floating cricket, i wrap my new foulweather coat around me tighter to repel the cold and gaze to the east out past rockland's round, ample harbor. i look over thebreakwater wall with it's little lighthouse rotating every four seconds or so. way off in the distance i can see three red lights flashing inunison. these i now know very well. they are the familiar lights atop the wind generators on north haven island, 10 or somiles away. i have seen them not only from this port, but also from gazing eastward from camden's port, also theybeamed outward to us one night as we sailed back and forth far south of them to avoid lobster floats until morning light(unsuccessfully). looking even farther eastward i notice three stars in a vertical row risingtogether. could those be the stars that make up orion's belt? sure enough! there are his two shoulder stars, and his left footis above the horizon now, with his right soon to rise. strange to see this constellation now. this is known as a winterconstellation! i guess it's time to head this good ol' boat southward, which is the whole reason why i'm now here.

i've been traveling from minnesota eastward for a few days to get here to rocklandmaine. it was an absolutely awesome experience to drive, wander, and camp through the allegany and adirondack mountains! theautumn colors were perhaps just past their peak time, but seeing such immense hillsides ablaze withsuch colors was beyond breathtaking! it was an amazing time to cross over and through the appalachian mountains,even though the nights were a bit cold. it felt good to cozy up to the campfire each night, turning myself around like amarshmallow on a stick to toast all of myself, all the way i’ve gone and found yet another place to someday come back to and further explore!

but tonight here on the boat on the bay there can be no such fire. i’m just beginning to feel the cold northeast wind that will most likely intensify and drive me farther south to the land of warm. deep down there are feelings of apprehension, but further down, looking at the incredible sea world that i am allowed to be a part of i feel comfort. there are embers there that warm the heart. i will toast myself around those coals tonight. good night orion. time to crawl into my fluffy down sleeping bag. i’ve been sleeping on the solid terra-firma en route to here, but tonight it will be wonderfully strange to feel my bed move gently with the fluid waves. the feeling is a definite... 10!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

facing sailboat mecca

here we are in one of the sailing meccas of the usa. the island of martha’s vineyard. i am realizing now that we could’ve spent the whole summer visiting this area, and still wouldn’t have had enough time to get all the exploring out of the system! no doubt we will have to come back here with time to explore, and explore.

the little islands we were anchored near last night (the elizabeth islands) were mostly unpopulated. a new, refreshing sight after seeing so many houses along the waters of connecticut. it was wonderful to see rolling, grassy-rocky hills with nothing build upon them. these islands gave me the feeling i get when reading about the old times in new england, or ireland, in little fishing villages. i could picture sheep grazing on the gentle, barren slopes, and simple folks mending there nets near the rocky shores. i would have loved to stop and explore these wondrous islands, but we were dead beat by a good, long day of sailing, and were here for just the night to rest and move on... we’ve got to get going if we’re going to be able to explore maine at all!

last night was a windy, windy night at anchor in cuttyhunk. we were anchored in a spot that was well protected from the waves, but not from the wind. the land upwind was not hilly enough to block any of it’s force. after being seasick for most of the day, i was beat, so i conked out on the settee early in the evening, but when i woke it was blowing like crazy out there! i knew the winds were over 17 knots because i could hear the rigging whistling. thought i’d better check to see how cricket was sitting and went outside (pam was asleep in the bunk). whew! my bed-head hair was undone in a moment, transformed into windswept hair. i flicked on the chart-plotter to check the wind speed: 23 knots. 20 knots. 24 knots. 20 knots... never under 20. a hefty, steady blow. on the chart-plotter it looked like we’d moved a bit at anchor, but the boats around us appeared to be in the same place (hard to tell in the dark). into bed i got. got up a couple of other times to see if i could quiet those banging halyards. they like to start swaying in the wind, get going at certain frequencies, and bang against the mast and the shrouds. ting, ting, ting, ting... i can usually sleep through the noise, but i couldn’t sleep through it ‘cause i knew pam couldn’t possibly sleep through it. but after going out a couple of times i realized all the fuss was in vain. there was no quieting all the noises out there. just one of those nights...

waking, we found we HAD dragged anchor, quite a ways! we were well watched out for because not only did we drag in a relatively safe direction, but our anchor had rehooked on something solid down there and stopped us from dragging all the way to deep water, and to the open sea (or into a neighboring island). whew! thank you Lord!

it was just as windy when we got underway. as we motored out of our little bay the wind whipped up the seas into a frenzy! the waves were 7 feet tall, and at such a frequency that our dear cricket began to look smaller and smaller on these big seas. she was tossed way up to the top of a wave, and then plunged down into trough between waves. cricket was not complaining, even though it was quite a ride (roller coaster’s got nothing compared to this!). up and down. crash, splash! up and down, crash and splash! wow! salt, sea spume everywhere. on the decks. on the dodger’s windshield. on my glasses. on my face. amazing thing to experience! amazing to think how big cricket seemed when she was on the stands, out of the water, in the boatyard. how high we had to climb to get onto her deck, but now how small she seemed. small, but tough. tough and brave. she is taking very good care of us, for sure!

but poor lila! had no idea what was coming her way when we left anchor! early in the morn she was at her usual post, helping me winch up the anchor (which was stuffed full of weeds when i finally hoisted it up to the bowsprit), then lila her position on the foredeck to enjoy another day of sweet sailing... i was at the wheel, piloting through the amazing, wind tossed waves, when after a little while of these “bow up the hill, bow down valley” here came poor, wet lila stagger-running back into the cockpit. i would’ve liked to have scooped her up and hold her, but i needed to stay at the wheel. she was in a panic! her whole world was erupting into an unpredictable, uncontrollable chaos! she ran to her favorite hiding spot, under the kayak lashed to the deck. but this was no better than where she’d been before. up and down. splash, splash, splash... this spot had always worked before! back she came to the front of the dodger. i could see her meowing for help. pam waited for a moment when the waves allowed her to get little lila from the foredeck, and put het into the cockpit. she stagger-ran down into the cabin and went to her other place of refuge... a little locker by the bow bunk... even though this was drier than outside the boat, it was a far rougher ride than anywhere she’d tried yet! the bow of the boat was leaping up ten feet, and down ten feet at a time. poor lila! all her refuges where no good. she was crying out in misery. finally we pam was able to put her midships, on a settee, with pillows surrounding her to keep her from being flung around. she rode out the waves there... we’ll have to teach her that the stern of this boat is the best place in heavy seas. it is there that there is the least heaving motion. we’ll build her a little safety nest in the stern berth, and she will learn that this is a comfort zone for her in heavy seas.

once we rounded the corner, and went with the waves things settled down a little bit, and then when we got under the protective, windward shore of martha’s vineyard island, the waves settled way down, and it became a glorious morn/afternoon of sailing!

we’re now anchored in “vinehaven.” a lovely harbour, full of lovely boats, and a fullish moon giving a silver lining to the tattered clouds up there in the heavens. all is well. after some sailboat watching, a little salty swim, and a game or two of cribbage it is time to be rocked asleep by the hand of God.

tomorrow we’ll take a day to explore martha’s vineyard : )

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

a few days at sea brings us to nyc

here's a few sunsets from our days at sea:

and one sunrise:


i know it’s been a few days, and now i’ve got a lot of catching up to do, but i can explain...

when we were out at sea for a few days the waves kept coming and coming, and being newish to this sailing thing (at least this year) my inner ears were telling my brain and tummy that all was not ok. in other words, i was a little bit seasick. not terribly seasick, but just enough that if i were to try to read, or do a blog it would have put me over an edge i was unwilling to step over. my sealegs will come to me more and more as the summer progessses.

we are right now sitting on the deck of cricket right smack dab in the middle of new york, new york! it’s great fun being here, and was great fun getting here! in spite of being a bit seasick for a couple of days, i was able to very much enjoy being out at sea! it was an amazing couple of days of awsome (i admit that it was sometimes nerve wracking) wind and waves, usually with no land in sight. the moods of the sea are an amazing thing to behold! i will expound more on the trip later...

but in the meantime, here’s a few notes i took while at sea:

we've been sailing for three days and two nights now.

been feeling on the edge of sea-sick so i haven't blogged until now

july 3rd after visiting the farmer's market we left yorktown under motor

turned off motor when we poked our nose into the atlantic sea

sailed away from the sunset

at first it's always a bit nerve wracking to start with but we couldn't seem to get the auto-pilots to work, and our ais wasn't showing up on the screen

good winds from astearn, good sized waves for beginners

God is providing us with perfect testing grounds! just on the edge of our comfort zone

it's amazing to lose sight of land on this vast, vast sea

made it through to the morning, figuring out our issues as the night progressed. by morning they all seemed solved

working out our shifts

...july 4


bigger seas 3-6 foot waves

atlantic cities lights stayed on the port beam all night long. i wonder about all the people there. are they gambling? partying? sleeping?


by morning things settled down to calm seas and almost no winds

so calm i made coffee!

a dragonfly passenger landed on my hand it's amazing that there are bugs flying this far out at sea

i sit at the wheel waiting for the breeze to decide which way it's going to blow, but in no particular hurry because we don't want to make sandy hook at night.

it's 56 miles off

now trying to calculate the best way into sandy hook by morning light

i took my first atlantic dip! amazingly clear. could see cricket's whole hull

connected our honda generator

waiting for 4 to ssb with dick & ann on chinook wind

huge norwegian cruise ship coming and pam bravely hailed them on the vhf

beautiful, calming sunset

Friday, July 2, 2010

our first sail!

yes! cricket sails!
today we had the extreme pleasure of having our good friends anna, david, jason and becca vandewettering visit us aboard cricket! after jason kayaked anna out to the boat (in his own kayak), and pam kayaked david out to the boat (becca had to go to work for a while) we went for a most loverly sail! first sail of the year! and cricket loved it, and told us so! she danced and pranced in the waves, and sailed upwind with gusto, and sailed on beam reaches like she's been waiting all winter and spring long to do just that! we were making 7 and a half knots on 15 knots of wind... beating! the sun was shining. the temperature was a perfect low 80 something. and the kids, david and anna have a great time learning to sail a big boat, each of them taking several turns at the wheel. jason (dad) also loved to sail with us, learning a few things along the way as well. jason loves being on the water, and we sailed back and forth and forth and back, up and down the york river, passing by his place of work, where he wasn't today! jason works at the coast guard station here on the river.
the kids released a couple more of mark mettler's homemade, "sailing lake calhoun" boats, and that was great fun. (watch my youtube video, "on the wing of a gull") it took anna and david a long time to pick out just the right little boat for each of them to set free into the sea. david picked one of the littlest of them all, and anna picked out the largest. both beautiful, of course. we decided to wait for a launching moment when the winds died down a little bit, so that we could watch them sail away longer. when the right moment came each went to the stern pulpit and dropped his/her boat down to the water. anna's big boat went down and sailed off like a dream. it was large enough to watch it drop astern for a little while. but when david's boat dropped down it went sail (feather) into the water and the little keel just wasn't heavy enough to right her sail side up, and the tiny boat quickly disappeared into the distance... david kept a very good attitude about the "unsuccessful" launching. we sailed and sailed a few more times up and down the river. probably a couple of hours worth, and many miles when all of a sudden david yelled out, "there's my boat!" we all looked out in disbelief that he could've spotted the tiny thing again on such a big body of water after so long, but sure enough, there it was! and not only was she there, but the little craft had righted herself, feather-mast up, nad was cheerily sailing on a perfect beam reach just like all the other mark mettler boats launched thus far on the chesapeake! huge smiles on all the cricket's faces! wow!
after a little lunch on board, some ice cream ashore, a little swimming time at the beach, and some sweet, quality time with becca (who'd gotten off work now), it was time to load jason's kayak onto there car, say our good-byes, and be off. as the vandewetterings drove away in their car, pam and i set off from the yorktown dock back to our mooring to be rocked to sleep by the Hand of He Who keeps us afloat.

we've checked the noaa forecasts, and it looks like it's off to the mouth of the cheapeake bay tomorrow, and out into the north atlantic!

i haven't forgotten the pictures i've promised. they're coming... and some movies too! ...

happy anniversary baby, got you on my mind!

i'm sure pam updated you on all the details from yesterday, right? well here's a few of mine:

we had a very, very lovely 2nd anniversary! cricket was happy at her mooring, so we got to sleep in late, laze around in the morning singing,
"...We got everything
We need right here
And everything we need is enough
Just so easy
When the whole world fits inside of your arms
Don't really need to pay attention to the alarm
Wake up slow, yeah wake up slow..."
after finally rolling out of our cozy bunk we did a pile of chores on cricket to prepare us for our long sail to new york (like putting on the sails ; ) and then we hitched the next kayak to yorktown for a wonderful anniversary lunch at a cute little historic restaurant called "the carrot tree" and a wonderful walk through the bamboo forest and historic downtown. a few "business calls" while sitting in the shade, some more walking then a dessert of blackened tuna at a bar near the shore. then it was back into the kayaks, back to cricket, with lila greeting us with many meows, which meant, "where have you been! i've been worried about you! i missed you! i'm sooo glad you're back! you can feed me now! and fresh, running water if you please."
we lay down in the cockpit of the boat around 7:30 to take a short nap. i said to pam, "i race you to sleep," and then next thing i knew it was the next morning! i won!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

our new craftiness

ahhh, yorktown virginia! a lovely place to stop. tonight, just before writing this blog this evening the drum and fife corps played a long, wonderful set of greatest hits from the 1770’s! the music was wafted over the water from the nearby treed hills as pam, lila and i had a quiet paddle in our kayaks around cricket in the mellow orange glow of the evening sunset. there were more thrilling kayak paddles earlier today, but this evening on the water is of storybook proportions.

this morning i boarded a bobbing, jumping kayak in order to add a line to our mooring, which we thought could use a little more security in the wild wind and waves. we love how the kayaks bob like corks, and respond to our slightest finesse with the paddle to maneuver around. it’s not necessarily a dry ride, but at least it’s a fun ride without drowning. and the little water craft glide through the wind and waves without all that much effort on account of the low profile and less wind resistance. we were a little worried about getting in and out of them from cricket’s deck, but i think our vast past experience with canoes helps us with the balancing act required.

today, as mentioned, we used the kayak to add a line to our mooring ball. we also kayaked to the dockmaster’s office to pay for that mooring ball. it was somewhat of a frenzied ride, but lila came with us in pam’s kayak and did a fantastic job riding in it! last year owen hated riding in the dinghy even though he liked the shore leave at the end of the rides, but lila seems to absolutely enjoy riding with us on the water! as a matter of fact, when we reached the docks and put her ashore, she tried to jump back into the kayak! pam pulled back on her leash so she made it only halfway and soaked her stern most parts, but she was unperturbed. and you can imagine all the looks she got from the passers by on their way to their sailing tourboat ride!

our paddle back to the boat a couple hours later was much more tame. as a matter of fact, lila decided it was tame enough to ride on the small, curved deck on the bow of the kayak! more looks, comments and smiles from the shore. she hasn’t fallen in the water yet, but her day is coming. we want to help her respect the wetness and drownedability of the water in a controlled setting, so soon we’ll give her a little shove, and then a little rescue.

we tested lila this evening with our evening paddle, leaving her behind on cricket to see what she would do. she followed us around with her eyes, and walked to the part of cricket that was nearest us. she never seemed like she was about to dive in after us, but i think she was quietly meowing to us. when i returned to the boat she walked around to my kayak and jumped on it to join me for a nice last paddle of the day. we both enjoyed the ride greatly!