Thursday, July 29, 2010

A bridge too far

This morning, tired of the constant rocking at the "Cable Wharf" dock I decided to set out for St. John's. The result was good news and bad news. The forecast was for 20 to 25 out of the Southwest with showers and possible thunderstorms. I figured, what the heck, I can handle that.

As a proceeded out of Halifax Harbor with 20 to 30 on the nose and 2 to 4 foot swells the first rain shower hit. I was already nattily attired in my best Gloucester Fisherman outfit - West Marine (remember to buy from Trevor at the Highland Park, IL store - this message brought to you by a proud father) bright yellow foulies so the rain was more of a bother than a serious problem. But after about 3/4 of a hour banging along with several miles left to go to the sea buoy I decided to pack it in.

The good news: Reboot handled the weather, wind and waves like the great lady she is.

The bad news: The Captain was chicken. Well, not really. It is just that after five days of rolling back and forth and a day of the Cats 101 shoot my tolerance for discomfort was at a low. (Yes, this is a lame justification for going into the Northwest channel. More of that in my next post.

Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron

I have shifted from downtown Halifax to the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron - one of 7 "Royal Yacht Squadrons" in the world, and the third oldest.  To be a "Royal Yacht Squadron" requires a sponsor of British royalty.  The oldest is the one in the UK, at Cowles.  The original sponsor (who was also a member at Cowles) was George IV while he was Prince Regent.  When George III died (the King at the time of the American Revolution) the club name was changed to "Royal" as the King was a member.

This is a very pretty club on the Northwest arm of Halifax harbor.  I will stay here tonight and tomorrow until the weather clears and then head on to St. John's Newfoundland.

XO -The Cats 101 Photoshoot

Today was the day for XO to be the "talent" for Animal Planet's Cats 101 show. We started at about 9 AM this morning with some background shots on Reboot and then went for a sail down Halifax Harbor to Fisherman's Cove. Halifax Traffic was kind enough to ride shotgun with us and give us a nice clean shot across the harbor for filming.

We went ashore and XO got his first taste of ice cream. I expected him to lick it up but he was quite tentative. After a couple of small spoon fills he had eaten his fill and we headed back to the boat.

We had a nice beam reach sail and raised the asymmetric spinnaker for a short bit. It was a real handful with the changing winds in the harbor but we did get some good video footage. We then came back to Murphy's Wharf for a brief interview. We wrapped up with a walk along the boardwalk. It was shortened by a rock band doing a sound check that just freaked XO out.

We headed back to Reboot and I think both realized just how tired we were. XO is sitting in my lap cleaning himself and I am just relaxing.

Weather for the next two days is not very good but when we get the window we will head for St. John's Newfoundland.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Halifax Harbor

I arrived yesterday in overcast weather to Halifax. There was a brief period of drizzle and then it cleared. XO and I needed to find "The Cable Wharf" for the Animal Planet Cats 101 filming so I proceeded to the downtown Halifax area. The downtown commercial piers have be converted with floating docks so it is very user friendly.

I pulled in behind what appears to be a brand new Oyster 72. It is a very pretty boat but I realized that it was far more than I would want to have to maneuver. Plus the entire boat runs on hydraulics. It would make me uncomfortable to know that I could not trim if there was failure of the hydraulic system or I ran out of fuel to run the pump. Unfortunately the people on board are not particularly friendly, I asked them some questions about the local dock master and they were quite dismissive of me. Too bad.

The two downtown events this weekend are the Nova Scotia in water boat show and the last weekend of "Pride Week." I walked down to the boat show - about 15 work boats and five small sailboats all constructed in Nova Scotia. Then I went walking along the extensive Halifax recreational waterfront. The sun came out and the temperature rose into the middle 80's. What a beautiful afternoon. Since the boat is sitting on a downtown dock I also hosted a couple of passers by in the cockpit. Finally, XO and I decided to doze in the sunshine. I did not feel attuned to participate in pride week.

Evening resulted in another walk and a meal ashore. There are about 6 different harbor cruises - tall ships and the like - and also a lot of recreational traffic that leaves the area quite rolled. It was nice to get onto a stable platform for dinner. By the time I got back from my post dinner walk the fog had started to come in and the water had settled down. So I got a good nights sleep. XO even let me sleep in until 6 AM rather than the normal sunrise at 5:30. Such a deal.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Nova Scotia, not England although England is on some future agenda. I had a wild trip from Yarmouth to Liverpool yesterday. I left Yarmouth. The currents were in my favor for the beginning of the trip and I was moving along at a nice 7 knots. Then I got to the turn at Cape Sable Island where the currents can run as fast as 4 knots. Cape Sable Island is the southwestern most part of Nova Scotia. Even going quite a bit offshore I was still seeing 2.5 to 3 knot adverse current. That was also about all I was seeing as once again the fog was very thick. Turning the corner and heading northeast the speed picked up to about 4.5 knots but the visibility was still nil. In the middle of the night the rains came, followed by thunderstorms. About 10 nm from Liverpool I was seeing 31 knot winds on the beam. Even though I was sailing with bare poles Reboot still healed about 10 degrees. Thank goodness for the autopilot so I didn't have to stand out in the downpour.

I made Liverpool at about dawn. It is a small harbor dominated by a paper manufacturing company. I am currently anchored off their site. There is a marina next to the plant, but when I went in at about high tide I was only seeing 5 feet of water under the keel. The tidal range here is 10 feet so even if there was water at the dock I would be locked in until the next high tide. Fortunately I have enough fuel between the main tank and the jerry cans to make it to Halifax even if I have to motor the entire way.

At the moment it is not raining (but of course it is foggy.) A second storm is predicted to pass thru this afternoon so I intend to wait it out and then set off for Halifax tonight with an arrival during the daylight hours tomorrow. I will let you know how it works out.

Current Position

At 7:17 AM on 7/22/2010 Reboot (and I) were at 44°02.87'N 064°41.88'W
heading 155T at 0.1.
In port, Liverpool, Nova Scotia

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Yarmouth, NS

I departed Yarmouth, Nova Scotia after an overnight stay. Yarmouth is in the southwest part of Nova Scotia in an area known as the Acadian Shores due to its French heritage. The harbor has a long narrow approach channel. I arrived in dense fog (I could barely see the bow.) I completely missed the famous Cape Forchu Lightstation "The Beacon to Canada." It was less than one mile off my course!

I called on the VHF for local knowledge and was answered by one of the local fishing vessels. They had me switch to channel 10, slowed down so I could catch up, and after we had both established both radar and AIS contact they led me up the channel into the harbor. It was pretty amazing. Then they came down to the dock to introduce themselves and say hi.

The dock master at Killan Brother Wharf helped me with my lines as I nosed into the dock as minimum speed. The good news was I could now see about 100 feet, enough for a safe and gentle landing. Paul Pothier the marina manager is a person who looks out for his customers. The chart said that there was fuel at the dock but that was not true. However, Paul loaded up my jerry cans in his car and drove me to the station to get fuel. He gave me local directions including a great diner for a farm breakfast and check on the boat while I was off seeing the sights.

This was my check in point for the crossing from the United States to Canada so I also was visited by Canadian Customs and Immigration. They were professional, polite, and thorough. It was a bit weird having three people go thru Reboot and my possessions but I realized they were just doing their job. I paid duty for my extra cigarettes on board and they stamped and filled out all the necessary forms for my visit to Canada.

I am learning that fog is a constant here in Nova Scotia. When I woke up in the middle of the night Reboot was surrounded by fog. It did clear enough this morning for me to depart. The clearing lasted about 1 mile out to sea before it closed back in.

Yarmouth is a very old village seeped in fishing and marine commerce. The Killan family influence dates from 1788. At one point they owned or had an interest in over 100 ships. The village has a nice walking tour and a well stocked tourist center that provides free internet (as does the library.)

As I was leaving my fishing boat friends were returning from another night fishing. Unfortunately the fishing was poor but the friendship was great.

I am underway toward Halifax and XO's moment of glory. He is going to be filmed for Animal Planet's show Cata 101. That should be fun as should visiting Halifax.

Float Plan

Departing Yarmouth this AM for Shelbourne if the fog permits. It is 80 miles so ETA is 24 hours.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Current Position

At 1:09 PM on 7/20/2010 Reboot (and I) were at 43°50.21'N 066°07.37'W
heading 071T at 0.0.
In Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, the fog has lifted and I am off on a walking tour.

Current Position

At 3:18 AM on 7/20/2010 Reboot (and I) were at 43°47.08'N 066°18.53'W
heading 090T at 3.0.
O6 miles from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia in pea soup fog

A day of sixes

As in, six of one, half dozen of the other. Dawn was beautiful, the wind came up nicely on the beam. Set the jib and main and was on a nice beam reach to Nova Scotia. Then the afternoon thunderstorms set in and chased me all afternoon.

I am about 3o NM south of the famous Bay of Fundy with its very wild tides and currents. Not much to worry about this far South. I have less then 30 miles to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. I will be slowing down so that I don't arrive in the middle of the night.

Canada, Oh Canada!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Current Position

At 1:23 AM on 7/19/2010 Reboot (and I) were at 43°42.38'N 068°39.32'W
heading 086T at 3.0.
Off the coast of Maine. The sky is beautiful tonight, the stars are out in all their glory

How do you?

I still consider myself in the learning mode when it comes to sailing, particularly open ocean sailing. A big consideration on long transits is fuel consumption. Reboot uses anywhere from 1/2 to 1 gallon of fuel per hour. That does not sound like much until you realize that she only has a 38 gallon tank - and unless you want to spend a lot of time changing fuel filters and bleeding the injectors you don't want to get down to the last couple of gallons. In addition I carry 18 gallons in jerry cans on deck.

Fuel is also valuable in that the engine can charge the batteries. Battery power is essential to running the autopilot, without which single handed long distance sailing is difficult if not impossible. When I added the solar panel array it became possible to run the engine a great deal less but I still am careful. Several days of fog or rain can render the solar array less valuable. Since at the moment I am in Maine on my way to Nova Scotia where fog is commonplace I am very aware that I could lose the solar panel charge for a couple of days. In addition, the higher the latitude the less efficient the solar panels become.

This brings me to my current frustration - downwind sailing in light wind with a beam sea. The problem is that the beam sea rolls Reboot. The rolling motion creates continuous gybing. So the boom wants to swing from side to side. Of course one rigs a preventer to keep the boom from moving but that does not keep the mainsail from flogging.

My strategy has been to tack downwind, that is to alter my course so that the wind is more from the beam. In addition by turning the boat more into the direction of the waves the rolling motion is reduced. The problem is that the tacking angle necessary is extreme, usually 45 degrees off course or more. At 45 degrees I am adding 1.414 miles for every course mile traveled (remember the 1 - 1 - square root of 2 triangle?) and also putting myself 1 mile off track. That is not very satisfying. On a long transit once the wind picks up you can come back on course at a very shallow angle but you are still putting in a lot of extra distance.

The offshore winds tend to be different than the near shore winds. They are more constant in direction. They do, however, have the same tendency to die at sunset and then pick up later in the night. At the moment however I have gone about 8 hours in the light downwind beam sea configuration. The banging around of the sails and boom are really getting on my nerves but there is little I can do except start the engine. Since I consider these trips training for crossing the Atlantic next summer I am very hesitant to do that. So I am bobbing along at about 2.5 knots. At least the sky is clear and the milky way beautiful.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beautiful Sailing Days

I left Portsmouth, NH (Kittery Maine) yesterday for Portland, Maine. What a beautiful sail. The wind was just perfect, the swells pushed me forward, and the day was sunny and warm, but not hot.

Today is another of those days, at least I hope it will be. I am currently on a beam reach with beam seas. The wind forecast is for it to freshen but at the moment it is light enough that every once in a while the boat takes a roll or two and the sails bang. It makes me cringe.

I was reminded that sailing is something like golf. My golf instructor told me that every time I played a round I would hit a couple of good shots. As such I would believe that I could actually get better if I played a lot. Sailing can be a lot of work and very frustrating. But every once in a while it all comes together and that reminds you of why you love to sail.

I am off this morning along the Maine coast. This is the true "Down East." Rocky shores and beautiful scenes. "Down East" comes from the fact that in the summer months the prevailing winds are from the southwest, so when you sail down wind you are sailing "Down East."

XO has taken to sunning himself of top of the dodger. He also likes to stick his paw over the side and hit me on the head. My only concern is that he will slide off the side of the dodger and fall overboard again. But he has a lot of sunbrella to dig his claws into if he starts to slide. I am just, like all parents, concerned about his well being.


I am underway along the Maine Coast. I will drop anchor along the way to stay within my 24 hour single handed time limit for insurance. My ultimate destination is Yarmouth, Nova Scotia in about 2 days.

Departing Portland

I am departing Portland this morning on my way up the coast. My destination for this evening is Port Clyde.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Current Position

At 10:44 AM on 7/17/2010 Reboot (and I) were at 43°05.17'N 070°38.05'W
heading 020T at 1.6.
Underway, sort of, to Portland, Maine

Friday, July 16, 2010

Delayed departure for Portland

I have decided to delay my departure for Portland MA until tomorrow for a better weather window.

Portsmouth, NH

I had dinner last night with Rex and his wife in downtown Portsmouth, NH. At first I was struck by the fact that the women outnumber the men both on the street and in the restaurants about 5 to 1. After a bit it dawned on me that downtown is a shopper's heaven. The entire downtown is composed of very nice upscale shops. I understand that on the Kittery Maine side of the river there are also a large number of outlet stores.

We had a nice dinner in a local brew pub. It took me back to Milwaukee and Louie's Demise Beer and the Louie's Last Regatta.

This morning I turned on the sideband radio and heard a Japanese Ham Radio station in Tokyo. Even though sunspots have not been cooperating it seems that the 20 meter band is having some very nice openings.

Off in about an hour to Portland, Maine.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Departing Portsmouth/Kittery for Portland, MA. Should be a day trip - in port tomorrow night.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Current Position

At 9:31 PM on 7/12/2010 Reboot (and I) were at 43°04.67'N 070°43.54'W
heading 082T at 0.1.
At Portsmouth Navy Base in Portsmouth NH

Underway this afternoon

I will be transiting from Rockport MA to Portsmouth NH this afternoon. The currents require a sunset arrival.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rockport, MA

I spent the day walking around Rockport, MA on the Cape Ann peninsula northeast of Boston. This town is well know as a major art center on the East Coast, in fact at least half of the businesses in town are art galleries. Even the T-shirt shops seem more upscale than the normal tourist town.

Like many of the coastal New England towns Rockport has a long heritage of its inhabitants going down to the sea in ships. It was quite a surprise to find the harbor is very small and so crowded that every boat is both attached to a mooring ball and also has a stern anchor to prevent swinging. Lobstering is still a major local industry, when I first came in to the back beach area I had difficulty setting the anchor where I would not swing into one or more pots.

In an unusual tip to its Puritan heritage Rockport has no bars. Apparently about three years ago the town went grudging when from totally dry to permitting the local restaurants to serve alcohol but only to those who purchase food. Not only that, but apparently the total number of drinks you can purchase is also limited. What a change from Key West.

The wind has been out of the North, it is slowly shifting to the West and is forecast to be from the South tomorrow morning. My plan is to leave in the morning and head up to Portland, Maine.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Current Position

At 6:28 AM on 7/9/2010 Reboot (and I) were at 42°39.65'N 070°37.11'W heading 032T at 0.0.
Anchored in Sandy Bay Ledge near Rockport, MA

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Current Position

At 1:27 AM on 7/6/2010 Reboot (and I) were at 41°18.39'N 072°05.23'W heading 328T at 0.0.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Hell Gate

I did mention Hell Gate yesterday. I forgot that if you are not from NY City you most likely don't know about it. Hell Gate is the confluence of the Harlem and East Rivers. They are both tidal, in fact the East River is not considered a river at all, it is the tidal rip between Long Island Sound and the upper harbor of New York City. Hell Gate has currents to 5 knots and all sorts of whirlpools and other nasty things. In addition, going North (East)one exits Hell Gate thru a very narrow channel under the Triboro and Hell Gate (railroad) bridges. Of course the current is terrible under the bridges also. So one has to time ones transit so that you go thru when the current is in your favor, but not too much in your favor or you lose control. Of course just as I was making the turn from Hell Gate proper to get under the bridge I was met by a Southbound (Westbound) tanker. Fortunately since he was going into the current and we had chatted on the radio (thank you AIS!) the pass went without major incident.
Coming out of the upper East River past LaGuardia Airport I started to pick up lots of traffic in the other direction. These were all Long Island boaters making the transit to New York Harbor for the Fourth of July fireworks. They were timed for the current to shift so that they could go down the river in the other direction.
When another boat is coming directly at you do you know how to decide if you need to take extreme action to avoid them? Answer, if it is a powerboat doing 20 knots and he has all his fenders in the water it is a good time to find a place to hide. Lots of boats yesterday skippered by people who got their license at Walmart!
Everyone has something to be proud of. As you exit the East River you pass Rikers Island. They have a big, if old sign near the old ferry terminal on the Island. Why is this! funny? Rikers Island is the New York City prison complex.
I did have fun coming up the East River. I saw Obama Heaven (the UN), several riverfront restaurants where I used to dine, Metropolitan Life where my father worked for his entire career, my old apartment building, and several other landmarks that took me back to younger days. ("Slow down", you move to fast - yes, the 59th street aka the Queensboro bridge.)

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Obsessing is a fine art. I don't know if this problem is particular to me, is shared by other cruisers, or just shared by boaters in general.

Today I left Great Kills in Staten Island and transited the East River to Long Island Sound then on to Hempstead Harbor on Long Island. I am anchored with 150 feet of chain in 15 feet of water off the Hempstead Harbor Club where my parents were members when I was a child. I spent the entire 10 hour transit obsessing. Will the engine fail? Does that big ship see me behind the other big ship? Can I make it to Hell Gate before the tide turns? Why am I using so many RPM's and not getting the expected boat speed? Am I dragging something? Why does the fish finder not work? Where will I get water since when I fueled this morning the marina did not have drinking water at the fuel dock. (They were, however, more then willing to take my garbage for an additional charge - I love New York.) Then of course will the anchor drag tonight? Why is the wind 10 knots higher than the forecast? Would I be better off taking Reboot to the other side of the harbor for the night as it is more sheltered?

Of course there is only one solution. The "sundowner". Of course one has to postpone the sundowner until you are sure that the anchor is not dragging and you are not going to swing into any of the mooring balls or the channel during the night.

Of course after 5000 miles of cruising I am getting better at all of this. I watched two guys try to anchor their sailboat with a small anchor, 10 feet of chain, and about 50 feet of rode. They could not figure out why they could not get a set. Oh well, that was me once.

Cheers all!

Home again

I am currently at anchor in Hempstead Harbor, LI, NY in front of the boat club my parents belonged to when I was a child. Home again!