Hello One and All
Our time in Putnam, Connecticut with our grandchildren was such a joy. We stayed with our son-in-laws parents, where our daughter and and son-in-law are living until they settle into jobs. Tim and Marcia were wonderful hosts. A GREAT BIG THANKYOU to you both. As they both work we were needed to mind the Munchkins. Summer in Connecticut is beautiful. We did outings, and when home Tim and Marcia have set up a wonderful back yard. It is a real children's playground.
Then it came time to fly back to Florida and pick up SHAMAL and keep heading north. We had been called back to Grandparent duties once again at the beginning of August, so decided it would be best to sail directly up to Rhode Island, and do the site seeing on the return trip.
Our return flight took us through Detroit then on to Orlando where once again Ed and Aubrey came to our assistance, picking us up from the airport and driving us back to their home on the waterways in New Smyrna Beach. Aubrey took us out shopping to stock up as we were sailing straight through, a trip of about a week.
So Tuesday 21st July sees us saying farewell to Ed and Aubrey and heading off to the fuel dock. This will be another long leg and we don’t anticipate stopping. We hope to head out to sea and pick up the Gulf Current which should give us a good push along.
As we are about to depart the fuel dock a squall passes through putting visibility down to zero. We wait for that to pass over as we have a mile of water way channels to negotiate on the way out. Then just as we pass through the entrance we are hit by another squall bringing visibility right down. Thank goodness for the AIS and radar. We are able to pick up three large fishing trawlers just ahead of us. All clears and we are on our way. We find the Gulf Current, and in the first 24 hours have done just over 160nm. That is with winds only between 10-15kks.
Things went well for the first couple of days, then we lost the wind, thunderstorm clouds started to build, and Military exercises were going on which shipping was asked to change course to avoid. By now we were about 100nm off the coast of Georgia. It becomes very hot and humid. Just before midnight we have a line of thunderstorms showing on the radar some 30 miles long and 7 miles wide!!! We get a call from a ship who sees us and asks if we have had an update on the weather situation, which was nice of him. He has just passed through the thunderstorm line. We can see there is no way we can outrun this, so Alec makes the decision to down sails, run parallel to the line of them, and once they are upon us we will turn into them and pass through. It really is our only choice. Not being a fan of fork lightening I unplug everything that is not needed, e.g. microwave, washing machine etc. and make the decision to take my beanbag down to the office area and ride it out there unless I am summoned on deck to help with anything!!!
An hour later we are out the other side unscathed.. Fork lightening has been dancing all about us. We have heavy rain, and wind gusting to around 47kts, but the seas were not big which was good.
For the rest of the trip we had a mixed bag of weather. More thunderstorms were about with lightening, but we managed to avoid them. Winds were too light and we did a lot of motor sailing. We were joined by dolphins on different occasions, I tried fishing, but no luck there, and, more warships were doing exercises offshore which we were asked to avoid. But worst of all around Cape Hatters we lost the Gulf Current. We stayed well off the Cape as it does not have a good reputation !!! We picked up a south flowing current which did not help our progress.
Around 0245 of day eight we had a call from the Coast Guard asking our position and our ETA into Rhode Island Sound. At that time of the morning and with winds so light, I had no idea what time we would arrive. The family had now been wondering where we were and made some calls !!!!!
By 1800 that evening we had tied up to a mooring buoy which had been made available to us by Dan’s brother Chris’s father-in law. We had just completed 975nm. We have been so lucky with the generosity of the people here. Nothing seems too much trouble. Dan, our son-in-law, daughter Brigitte and the boys were there to meet us and spent the night on the boat with us. They returned home the next day to leave Alec and I to do our clean-up, then, picked us up the following day for Grandparent Duties yet again.
We had only been in Putnam three nights – where the family are staying, when we had to take Alec back to SHAMAL. He was keeping an eye on the weather each day and saw that thunderstorms with strong winds had been forecast. He spent the night onboard. Around 0600 the following morning the blast came through the Bay. Alec said the winds were 60kts plus, and strong enough to cause a blinding spray to come off the seas. He was unable to see the boats moored around him. When he could see, Gene, who’s mooring we were on and who had a small yacht moored next door to us, had damage to his boat. The jib had unfurled and ripped and was in the water, and the mast had broken in half. SHAMAL came through unscaved.
Before Dan headed off to work flying for a corporate company, and Brigitte headed off to Europe again crewing on a private jet, we took them out to Block Island about 30nm from where we were in Rhode Island Sound, but only 8nm from the mainland. We had a lovely weekend visiting the Island from our anchorage in Old Harbour. It has a mixture of gingerbread and Victorian style homes, and a slightly rolling hill landscape. The island is 7.5miles long and 4 miles wide with fresh water ponds all over the place. Alec Dan and Brigitte got into the water to give SHAMAL’S hull a quick clean. We even took the boys to the beach for a swim. A little on the cold side for my liking as it is now around 24 degree c.
Also when we motored into Great Salt Pond on the western side of the Island, there was another Seawind 1160 at anchor. “Courageous Couple” owned by David. Alec and I went over to say hello, but it was a short visit as we both had guests aboard, but, we left our card and we hope they will get in touch with us again.
While looking after the boys we returned to SHAMAL every few days to check on things. On one of these visits we found our front deck had been used as the “bombing range” by the sea gulls, who would fly to some height with their crab catch, let it go so it would smash on the deck, then come in for their meal. Oh help you can imagine the mess. We had the carcasses of about 10-12 crabs to clean up along with dried bits. The deck had to be scrubbed down completely.
So, after another fortnight on land we moved back to SHAMAL and started heading north again. We are heading for Martha’s Vineyard. Again we stop at the fuel dock before leaving Rhode Island Sound. We have good winds and are able to sail the whole way. We are in an area of shoals, reefs and rocks, but the channels are well marked with red and green lateral marker buoys,and most have huge bells or horns on them due to the fogs that can descend here very quickly, we are told.
About an hour out we hear a Pan Pan call. It comes from a 45ft launch which reports smoke coming from one of its engines, and they are taking on water. We were the closest boat in their vicinity being only a mile away so offered to go to their aid. They were very pleased to hear from us and said they would appreciate us coming over and standing by for them, which we did. It did not take them long to sort the problem and they radioed us back to say things were under control enough for them to make it back home.
Our first anchorage on Martha’s Vineyard is at the western end of the Island at Menemsha. We went into the harbour, but came out again and anchor off the beach as it will be too shallow at low water inside. There were a couple of mooring buoys in the fishing harbour, but they are already taken, and the rest of the area is full of lobster boats. The following morning we take the tender into the harbour to visit the town. It was here that “Jaws” was filmed. The quaint weathered fishing shacks still stand that were built for the set. Menemsha is a small village. There are lots of little antique and second hand shops along its two main roads, and places selling clams,oysters, lobster etc.but they were quite expensive. We had a good look around then found a nice place for coffee before returning to SHAMAL.
We then headed along the coast for 12nm to Vineyard Haven where we picked up a mooring buoy. It was here we replaced our anchor chain. When we bought SHAMAL she came with 60mts of 8mm chain and 50mts of rope. Alec changed that for 100mts of 8mm chain. We have been very happy with that, but the time has come to replace the chain. So in the mean time we have gone back to our original chain and rope which is still in excellent condition. Hence the reason for us spending a night on a mooring buoy. We changed that over the following morning before heading into town. Later, when way out to sea in deep water and away from anything, we had a burial at sea for that old chain !!!!!!
Vineyard Haven is a very quaint area which has a 19th century charm about it. Main Street is full of antique ,jewellery, craft and clothing shops. Many of the buildings also throughout this region are weatherboard then finished with wooden shingles. These weather giving that lovely greyish look to the buildings. We are also amazed at the number for old sailing boats and ships which have been beautifully maintained and are seen sailing around here. Many are used over the summer to take tourists for sails. Martha’s Vineyard, like the next door Island of Nantucket, are also famous for their whaling history. In fact this whole area around Cape Cod is steeped in whaling history.
Nantucket was our next stop. This island is really pretty with grassy moors, salt bogs and blueberry fields. We have been eating blueberries every morning since arriving in the States. That’s how much we have been enjoying them. Also lots of sandy beaches, but with the water temperature now around 23 deg. c. swimming has not been on our list of ‘must do’ things. Some of the more hardy locals are taking a dip off the back of their boats. We anchor in the lagoon in Nantucket Harbour. We have a steady wind blowing of 15kts and the sun is shining so we are making good power with the wind generator and the solar panels.
Our trip ashore was most interesting. Again a very quaint town, actually the nicest so far, with cobbled streets in the old heart of town and lots of lovely shops. We visited the Whaling Museum which really is a must see, giving the history of the whalers, Quakers and Island life. Whaling ships left Nantucket and ventured off to different corners of the world for up to three years at a time chasing their catch for its prized oil.
Our second night at anchor in this harbour was not comfortable. We are now getting into areas of greater falls in tides and stronger currents. At 04.00 we were both woken with SHAMAL really swinging about doing a 360 deg on the bridle, then swinging back again. We must have been sitting right in one of these tidal streams. By 05.30 we had had enough of this and we had enough daylight to raise the anchor and head on out. We were on our way around Cape Cod.
It was a full days sail of 70nm from Nantucket to Provincetown which sits just inside the northern tip of Cape Cod. The first part of the trip was across Nantucket Sound dodging shoals, but the area is very well market with buoys. Then we stated sailing along the coast of the Cape with it’s windswept dunes and beaches, and towards the northern end with high cliffs. This area is really exposed to the Atlantic weather, and many wrecks are testimony to this. It was also along this coastline we see our first whales. They really are quite majestic as they rise and fall back into the ocean. Some were very close and others some distance away. It was a thrill to be among them, but, I do like to keep my distance. As we got closer to the top of the Cape we were seeing more and much closer in. Boaties are asked to keep a distance of about 500 yards away from them, but no one has told the whales this !!!! At times they were coming up just meters away from us. I was never quick enough to get a good photo. Later when we were at anchor in the bay off Provincetown we had two visit us. Alec was in the shower and looked out the window to see one come up about 10 mts away, and again in the afternoon one swam around us.
We also had a huge pod of dolphins with us along the Cape coastline, but, also hundreds and hundreds of lobster pots which need to be avoided. They are marked with a buoy, often with a rod on top, but some are so close together. That can be quite a challenge when you are sailing. We arrived into Provincetown exhausted as we had both been on watch all day, just as the sun was setting. On our way in we passed a lovely restored sailing ship, and Alec passed the comment that we would be arriving before the pilgrims!!!! Our anchorage here was perfect. Excellent holding, and we were well protected from the wind and seas by the Cape. When the tide was out sandbars appeared with lobster pots sitting on them, and yes they held a catch. The local fishermen can just walk out to clear these ones.
Provincetown is where the pilgrims from the Mayflower first set foot on US soil. They stayed here for five weeks before sailing to Plymouth and settling there. A huge granite monument to honour its first visitors has been built which can be seen for miles. One can climb to the top and also see for miles, which we did. We also visited the museum, and again wandered the streets of the town finding a nice bar on the waterfront at the end of MacMillan Wharf for an evening drink before returning to SHAMAL. Again this town had a long whaling history. This area is also the home to the endangered right whale.
Well we will sign out for the time being
Love to you all
The Admiral and The Commander