Finally Starting our long trek South…

October 1

What a beautiful day we woke up to.  Calm, sunny, and getting warmer.

Norm, the manager of RYCHB made a great surprise brunch of eggs and bacon on a bun. What a wonderful surprise! The temperature went up with the sun burning down on us while we ate and chatted on their terrace.  (www.rowaytonyachtclub.com)

We noticed that the resident swan at their the Rowayton Yacht Club was limping so the Animal Control was called.  Poor thing.  The kids called him Prince – after the Seven Swans story.

Around 2pm, our friends from Pegasus picked us up for a day of fun.   We went to Ambler Farm and had fun tossing apples at targets, seeing the animals, watching pumpkin tosses, hay maze, etc.  It reminded us a bit of the Pumpkin Farm in Niagara (although not comparable with pumpkin decorations).

Later, we went to Austin and Kathleen’s home where we met Bailey the dog, Cameron’s fish, and Muffin the chinchilla.20171001-13-Rowayton The kids played downstairs until it got dark when they played manhunt.  Kathleen and Austin, having already done a circumnavigation for 3 years, understand the life of a travelling sailor and they blessed us with their generosity in allowing us to do 2 loads of laundry at their home!

They also offered us some gifts from their backyard garden.  We had a lovely dinner of chicken quesadillas.  A fun time was had by all!  Thank you Kate and Austin for your warm hospitality!

October 2

As of today, we have now been living on the boat for 3 months!  Another beautiful day awaited us….sun glimmering, and John, the assistant manager from RYC came by to offer us the use of the kitchen at the club.  20171002-1-RowaytonWe headed over quickly, took our showers, and had yummy egg sandwiches.  Our friend, Ted O’Neil, dropped by to say good-bye (and to deliver a solar panel we had ordered).  Then by 10am, we were off back west – target for this evening:  Throg’s Neck.   Thank you so very much RYC – Norm and John, for your wonderful and warm hospitality.  This welcoming approach means so much to people like us who are far from home!

It took us about 5 hours to get to Throg’s Neck, NY (City Island near the Bronx) where we anchored for the evening awaiting the morning when the tide would be on our side to take us through Hell’s Gate in the morning.

October 3

Slight change in plans – today is the day we started our trek south.  Unfortunately, due to the fact that heavy southeast winds were coming up the coast for a 10 day period, it forced us to skip our 2 day adventure in the Big Apple of NYC.  The kids were very disappointed as they really had their hearts on going to the Lego Store at the Rockefeller Centre to spend their hard earned bracelet $$$ on some extra pieces of Lego.  Luckily they understood that travelling 150 miles against strong head winds was not a good choice and that they did not relish the idea of being stuck in NY until the frost came!  So, today was our first overnight leg of our trip to travel ~150 nautical miles to Cape May, NJ.   By 9am, after a big breakfast,

20171003-1-NYC from City Island ThrogNeck 20171003-2-NYC from City Island ThrogNeck

at a speed of 7+knots, we dodged airplanes in t20171003-5-NYC from City Island ThrogNeckhe East River,  danced through strong currents and standing waves in Hell’s Gate, passed all the tall NYC buildings and bridges, zipped past Governor’s Island, the Statue of Liberty, and all the crazy ferries and low-flying helicopters, and fought the many tugboats and cargo ships criss-crossing in the bay.

Whew!   Finally, peace & quiet out by Coney Island, then Staten Island, then Sandy Hook.  It went quickly with southeast winds allowing us to maintain 5 to 6 knots of speed.

While the ocean was very roly (5-8 foot swells), we got into the groove, and the next th20171003-17-NYC from City Island ThrogNecking we knew, the sun was setting behind NJ.  We stayed ~ 3 miles off shore, not in the shipping lanes.  By 10pm, it was my turn to begin the night shift/watch while Captain Christian took a long nap.  Luckily Serena agreed to stay up and keep me company.  We had a busy time checking the GPS charts, buoys, checking AIS software to determine speed/direction of visible boats, and chatting. 20171003-16-NYC from City Island ThrogNeckWe came across a Fishing Haven which looked like a cemetery for crocodile-shaped structures just outside the 3mile fishing fields.  We saw many tug boats and even were perplexed by the flashing lights of Atlantic City!  By 4am, it was time for Christian to take over.  I gave him a good over-view of all the oncoming/going traffic, the buoys according to lights and the charts.  Even one buoy light that did not show up on the charts.  Then we set the sails for the new west winds.

October 4

We continued cautiously through the rest of the night.   Jeremy helped Captain Christian during his shift by waking up before dawn and helping him navigate by using the GPS and apps along the shoreline.  By 9am, we were close to Cape May.  We decided to take shelter from the approaching heavier winds in 2 Mile Landing Marina for the next few nights before heading up to the C&D canal.  A lovely little marina with a great seafood restaurant.  For October, t20171004-1-Cape Mayhey are offering free docking (+ utilities) if you eat in their restaurant!  We took a walk to the beach through a wildlife refuge.  In the rollers at the beach, we saw 2 large turtles and 3 fins from dolphins frolicking in the waves.  20171004-2-Cape May

Back at the boat, Captain Christian awarded our 2 littlest crew members sailing medals 20171004-4-Cape Mayfor doing such a great job helping with the overnight crossing and navigating.  We were very proud of the courageous roles they took during their 2 hour shifts!20171004-3-Cape May

 

We had a crab/shrimp dinner very early and packed it in just after sunset tonight.  No surprises that we were tired!

October 5

Jeremy started the day by catching a baby Snapper Blue at the dock!  It is so beautiful here…we are right near marshlands and we see Egrets and Blue Herons all day long.

Then around 10am, we took a cab to Wildwood Boardwalk & fun park with the kids.  Surprisingly it was clearly stuck in the 1970’s…the motels, the rides, the decorations, the buildings.  Nothing seems to have changed since Christian last visited over 20 years ago.  There seemed to have been no development along the coast.  The beach was still as long and beautiful as Christian remembered.  As usual, we met many people on the beach.  One of them, Paul, had a lively little dog called Ginger with which the children played catch.  We spoke with him for 15 minutes on the beach and next thing you know, he is offering us a ride back to our boat.  After we walked on the boardwalk for 30 minutes, Paul picked us up on Pacific Ave. He then kindly offered us the chance to swim in his pool/to take a shower at one of his apartments. The kids had fun in the pool, Paul and his wife offered us refreshments.  Their daughter was a few years older than Serena and was interested in our travel stories.  Such a welcoming, generous family.  We found out that they used to own a sailboat many years ago and loved sailing in the Chesapeake.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We invited Paul to our boat when he dropped us off.  He was excited to be back on a boat again.   We even put up our special lights that Sergio gave us a few weeks ago…it added a festive touch!  20171005-9-Cape May

After he left, we went to the 2 Mile Landing Restaurant (50 feet across from the Crab Shack) for dinner….some more great seafood!

October 6

Another day of amazing weather in the 80’s.  It must be Indian Summer here.  We will not complain!  Easy day of cleaning the boat inside and out, lessons for the kids, and finally going to the beach for an hour in the afternoon.  The kids had fun playing 2 mind-challenging games that Paul’s daughter gave them yesterday.  Seafood snacks at the Crab House and early to bed.

October 7

Another beautiful day in the 80’s.  Today, Jill (Paul’s wife) offered to take us grocery shopping.  So at 11am, we all piled into her car, dropped the kids and Papa off at the Boardwalk and I went to ShopRite for a few hours of grocery shopping.  What a generous offer…I had quite a bit to buy, considering we would be gone on the Chesapeake for several days without access to provisioning.  Meanwhile, the kids had a great time with Papa Bear….Wildwood is off-season, but they were open today for the Columbus day weekend.  Because the children have been so good, Papa Bear allowed them a ride on the “wild side” – Musik Express.  We invited both Jill and Paul to our boat for dinner this evening.  We had a lovely evening listening to their stories and sharing some of ours.

October 8

Oh boy….yet another beautiful day…how blessed can we be?  Not only is it a lovely day, it is 85F and humid…just the temperatures that make me very happy!   It is 18:56 as I write and the temperature is 77F, feels like 97F!!!!  The proof for those who do not believe me: 20171008-4-Cape May

Despite the oncoming rain tomorrow, I don’t think we will be too sad with this week’s weather!  Here is a sample:  20171008-5-Cape May

Like I said, with the oncoming rains and wind, we decided to go to downtown Cape May to see the Victorian architecture.  What a walk!  Don’t tell the kids, but I think we walked approximately 7 km including a quick ride in an electric car taxi (that the kids LOVED).

As an architecture-lover/appreciator, the architecture in Cape May cannot go without due mention in my blog.  I have to say that the these gingerbread constructions, dating circa 1880, are not only in pristine condition, but their paint jobs are spectacu20171008-6-Cape Maylarly coordinated.  Christian and I figured there is a central designer in this town that helps to choose their paint colours because they go together so well (ie. forest green, eggplant, and dark beige)….Brenda – you would love it!  But not only do their exterior colours amaze the average pedestrian, their autumn/Hallowe’en decorations are ALSO fully colour-coordinated!  I am not sure who spends the time 20171008-3-Cape Maymatching Hallowe’en decorations with Mums and corn-stalks, but this town really takes it as an important task!  We really enjoyed the day and now back at the marina, we are going to treat ourselves to Happy Hour and then a 3 lb lobster dinner!!!!  MMMMmmmmmm!   Jeremy LOVED it.  Serena stuck to Caesar Salad.  Thank you Judi and Mike!

October 9

Today, was a stay-at-home day to get the boat ready to leave tomorrow through the Chesapeake.  We prepped the zodiac, washed the lifejackets, kids did some sc20171009-2-Cape Mayhoolwork, (Jeremy practiced his writing to improve it), and Mama marked some homework.  Even got Papa Bear’s hair cut!   The kids later had a PD day and played with some new toys (thanks Sergio and Ruby!). 20171009-1-Cape May20171009-3-Cape May

Winds from Hurricane Nate made it to NJ and were very strong and gusty all day.

October 10

Left at 6:40am, slightly after low tide, just as the daylight started to illuminate enough to navigate safely.  It was surprisingly calm after yesterday’s heavy winds.   We went back

out the Cape May channel and went around the Point of Cape May (rather than taking a short-cut through the Cape May canal which we felt was too shallow for our boat).  We had to go out an extra mile to avoid the dangerous shoals, but we were lucky to catch the current which helped us gain speed – 9 knots!  Just as we rounded the point, 2 black dolphins came out to say goodbye.  Not as many boats in the shipping lanes as expected. We kept our distance from this commercial lane nevertheless.  Just before lunch time, we came across several more dolphins, this time grey in colour.  They jumped just 20 feet from our boat, but they were not in the mood to play with us (perhaps due to the motor), so we left them jumping behind in our wake.  The nuclear power plant is an eye-sore, but a good marker just before turning left into the C&D canal.  The canal had several high bridges, we followed a tug boat so we felt safe knowing we would fit under all overhead obstructions.

At 3pm, we stopped ½ way in the canal at Chesapeake City to get fuel.  Unfortunately, when docking, the current caught our boat and we scraped a big motor boat’s swim platform.  I had jumped out to fend off, but my weak 115 lbs 20171010-4- Bohemia Riverwere not strong enough to avoid the scratches.  By 4:30, we were at the end of the C&D canal.  Serena took the wheel to drive us into the top of the Chesapeake which was full of red sand beaches and bluffs.  Very pretty.  We anchored near the mouth of Bohemia River where it was very silent and calm.

The kids were very happy with their accomplishments and adventure today!

It was interesting to imagine the days of the Tockwogh Indians and how they lived 200 years ago.   The place smelled of boreal forest and was very picturesque.  Sounds of Canada geese, 20171010-5- Bohemia Rivercrickets, and splashing fish kept us company all evening.  The temperature at 21:00 was still above 27C – very humid.

A very peaceful night.

 

October 11 & 12

Once the current was in our favour, we pulled up the anchor and headed further south to Sassafras River.  It was even more 20171011-2-Sassafrass Riverpicturesque with orange-red sand coloured bluffs, pine trees, and small bays.  We took a place that we hoped would shelter us from the east for the next few days of heavy winds.

Homework was getting to be a challenge.  The children were more drawn to reading than wanting to complete exercises.  They became engrossed in writing Hallowe’en stories that they hope will be published on our blog.  Serena has started trying to increase her French vocabulary and is using a thesaurus of colourful words to enhance her story.

Jeremy is writing his story in English.  His sentence structure is getting more complex and he is making great efforts to improve his handwriting.   Heavy winds with on and off rain today.  Temperatures were slightly cooler, but still very comfortable – not yet seasonal….I know the cold will be coming soon!

October 13 – 14

We sailed the 50 nautical miles from Sassafras River to Annapolis.  We stayed at Annapolis Landing Marina for the night.  Unbelievable how many crab pots dot the bay.  And they sneak up on you so quickly.  In some places, we felt that we were tip-toeing through land mines!  There was one every 30 feet and all different colours (meaning owned by different fishermen).  I am surprised that there is n20171013-1- to Annapoliso requirement to have a light on these crab pots…not sure how sailors navigate the bay at night.  As we sailed under the Chesapeake Bay bridge, we saw so many sailboats and tanker ships anchored.   Very quickly we were able to navigate our way into Annapolis Landing Marina where Ralph met us to help us in docking our boat.  Quite a challenge to get your boat nestled among the 20 foot pilings unscathed without bow-thrusters!  Our stay at Annapolis Landing Marina was short but very pleasant. Unfortunately, we missed the sailing boat show (one of the biggest boat shows in the US) by 1 week because we were stuck in Cape May due to the timing of the currents.  This week was the motor boat show, but it is of less interest to us.  Instead, we borrowed their courtesy van to go to the grocery store and West Marine.  We will definitely be back on the way home.

We left just after lunch on Saturday to make our way to St. Michael’s on Kent Island.  Passed many regattas, steamers, fishermen…the Bay was busy!

Ralph, from ALM, recommended this as a quaint place to go with lots of in20171015-1- St Michaelsteresting places to see, including a Maritime Museum. 4.5 hours (and 100+ crab pots) later, we arrived and anchored in a large tranquil bay.  There was a wedding taking place on land with lovely music and firepits.  We found out the next day that it was a wedding for one of the Dupont family.  Many boats were anchored in the bay probably as guests.

October 15

We dinghied into the small village of St. Michaels, MD to explore.  One thing w20171015-4- St Michaelse found surprising in this harbour was how low the docks and streets and properties were relative to the water levels.  Even if we were at high tide, it did not look like there was much more than 6 inches before the water went over onto land…they said that swells from hurricanes rarely reach them here (although we found out later that Hurricane Irene in 2003 really flooded the land).  After speaking with a nearby fisherman, we were informed that “crabbing” is as easy as sneezing here in St. Michaels.  He gave us tips on how t20171015-2- St Michaelso catch the blue crabs (tie a few raw chicken necks to a string, drop it to the bottom of shallow water and presto, you get a bite…we think he was dramatizing the ease with which we could catch these blue creatures, but we would try it later).  We fell in love with a little Inn at the entrance, toured it and then crossed the small channel to investigate, what looked like, the main street.   We met a lovely family and a dog named Covu at a crab restaurant who entertained the kids.  They told us about some nice spots to visit as we tour the Chesapeake.  They gave us some tips on Rockfishing too.  The town is very small (basically one main street), similar to Niagara on the Lake with its specialty shops, but only a few km in length.  We spent time at a local brewery to sample a flight of 7 home brews, tried the ice cream parlor, and just drank in the beautiful 27C temperatures and quaint scenery of the town.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The kids also had a blast when Mark and Covu gave them a quick tour around town in a tiny rented electric car. Mark highly recommended the Maritime Museum, which we checked out as we walked back to the waterfront.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Interesting history readings recounted how St. Michaels was a town “that fooled the British during the Revolutionary War” in the 1700’s.  Knowing that the Brits would invade at night, the town decided to hang their lanterns up in trees/masts/flagpoles anything high to give the impression that their town was on a bluff/hill.  Their ruse worked…the Brits shot 2 cannons high into the trees and hit nothing, and the town responded by shooting several canons at their ships from ground level confusing the Brits into believing that St. Michaels had tunnels for their artillery.  They quickly gave up the fight and left St. Michaels alone!  We were intrigued to return and learn more!

After 4 hours in town, we dinghied back to the boat for dinner.  20171015-23- St MichaelsThe boat needed to be prepared for the winds and anticipated “rocking” during the night.

October 16

At 4am, we were wakened by strong winds and big waves rocking our boat.  The wind had picked up and was gusting at nearly 35 knots and the 4 foot waves in the bay had whitecaps.  Despite the fact that a few hours later it calmed down, we determined to move in the morning.  Pulling up the anchor was not an easy chore with the 20+ knot winds that continued, however, we managed to get unhooked and went to explore where we could re-anchor.  There remained one place for a small boat to anchor closer in St. Michaels, but we were just happy to be in a more sheltered site and also closer to the museum!  Under overcast skies, we spent the whole day at the museum.  The kids LOVED the lighthouse with interactive learning (where they experienced the life of a lighthouse keeper with its challenges), they played on Thor (an oystering boat that had real motor sounds and kitchen sounds and working steering, etc).  There was so much learning and history about the Revolution, the War of 1812, and the abolition of slavery to be discovered, we became members of the Maritime Museum Association (where we can get into other Maritime museums along the coast).  Temperatures were dropping this evening so we cooked in the boat and snuggled up warmly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

October 17

Chilly morning…14C…but sunny and no wind, so not so bad.  Back at the museum, we befriended the dockmaster, Carl, who told us many interesting facts about St. Michaels (becoming one of the new Hamptons, increasing housing prices, the ACME town grocery store closing down last week).  He also told us about and gave us a tour of America’s oldest active racing yacht, the 1888 Elf. Restored to historically accurate condition and re-launched in 2008, Elf is a Lawley-built 30-foot class cutter. Elf pioneered offshore yacht cruising in 1893 by being the first small craft to race round-trip from Marblehead, Mass. to Halifax, N.S.

Later in the afternoon, Papa Bear had a desire to try his hand at “crabbing”, so he and Serena went for a 3.6 mile walk to the nearest grocery store to buy chicken necks and 20171017-5- St Michaelssupplies.  When we got back to the boat, we tied up the chicken necks to the string and tossed it overboard in 12 feet of water.  Within 3 minutes, there was a strong tug indicating something at the end of the line.  Papa started to pull it up – he saw a blue crab climbing up.  Unfortunately, he pulled a bit too fast and the crab dropped.  He tried again…within 2 more minutes, there was another tug.  This time success!  The crab was quite large and was quickly dropped into the net.  He struggled and was put into a pail, from which he fought to get out.  The next thing we knew, our boat was surrounded by hundreds of white jellyfish (sea-nettles).

They were everywhere – even interfering with our “crabbing” as their tentacles would get caught on the line.  Regardless of the globule distractions, we had another crab caught in 5 minutes.  Our third crab proved to be the most challenging as he climbed out of the pail and started crawling around the cockpit floor.  Everyone was on the benches to save their toes from the little pincher.  Papa Bear saved the day by harnessing the beast in the net and getting him back into the pail.  The cooking of these creatures was just as eventful where, sadly, they fought hard NOT to get into the hot water.  Their pincers clamped onto anything nearby that could keep them from the lid closing on them…the shrowd, the pot lid, the flagpole, etc.  At last we had 3 steamed blue crabs and their meat was very tender and sweet!  What a wonderful, yet exasperating appetizer! Next time, we will wear our waterproof armour before attempting this entertaining sport!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

October 18

We spent the morning cleaning up and homework.  After lunch, we went to the museum to learn interesting details about oystering and crabbing.  We even learned about catching eels.  We saw the oyster rakes, floats, and crab cages.  Also very interesting photos showing how easily a blue crab molts (losing its skin).  Funny to see how easily a crab can slip out of its shell, whereas we find it so difficult getting the tasty meat out of its tig20171018-3- St Michaelsht-fitting armour!   For the first 24 hours after a crab slips out of its shell it is considered a soft shell – and very delectable!  The displays at the museum were found to be interesting and well designed with many interactive areas for kids.  (See Serena try to catch a blue crab!)

October 19

Reports, math, and dictée were on the agenda this morning for the kids.  When they got that done, we wanted to reward them with a fun walk on the main street and even pick up a small treat for their dedicated work efforts.

We ended having a lovely “happy hour” with a couple from Vermont who we met at the museum on their boat.  They bought the kids a smart toy, they played while the adults chatted.  A nice end to a peaceful day!  Thank you Tom and Katrina!

 

 

 

 

Heading Back West before South

Sept 1

The temperature was VERY cold today.  Approximately 17C (65F). Went to the Oar to check out the restaurant and store.  Everything was 30% off because they were closing on Monday (Labour Day).  Went into town to buy sandals and a beach game for the kids called ProKadima (like beach ping pong).  We discovered Ballards’ Beach and had a lot of fun there on a relatively calm beach, hotter temperatures, and good beer and company.  Kids got crab claws to play with.

On the way home, we met April, a local artist who was making bracelets out of brass, leather, and recycled sand.  She suggested that we check out the Farmer’s Market tomorrow to find cheap produce.  Then we explored the Block Island Library.

Sept 2

At 10am, we went to the Farmer’s Market neat the Oar. I’m not sure what the locals call “reasonably priced produce”, but $7.99 a pound for green beans grown locally does not seem a bargain to me!  The eggs were no cheaper here than in the grocery store either ($8.39 for a dozen brown local eggs).  The children thought that they would bring their home-made elastic bracelets and Rainbow Loom in case April helped them to make special bracelets with charms.  Instead they decided to set up shop next to April on a rock bench.  Incredibly, they sold $26 worth of bracelets!  20170902s-1-BlockTheir price points were $0.50 per bracelet, $1 per necklace, and $3 for a “make your own” bracelet.  Quite the little entrepreneurs, I must say!

 

Jeremy and I went to the Library to update the blog (a 3km walk into town) while Serena and Papa went to the beach and filled up the water jugs.

At 3:30, we came back to get our lift home and found a Clam Bake at the Narragansett Inn where they were selling hamburgers, hot dogs, corn, beer for REALLY cheap while listening to a live band.  Guess what we did for dinner?

The rest of the evening was relaxingly cleaning the sand/salt from the boat and getting ready for the blowing winds and rain coming our way during the night.  And boy, did it blow!   The rain pelted down like nails in winds of 30 to 40 knots.  We were not the only ones being kept awake in the night.  You could see both spot lights and deck lights on neighbouring boats turning on to check their position relative to other boats and their holding.  The wind turned our boats approximately 45% during the night – we were pointing in one direction when we went to bed only to wake up in the storm not recognizing our position.  I kept watch for 2 hours – couldn’t sleep anyways – and at 3:55am, I watched 2 boats rafted off each other (a catamaran and a motor boat – strange pair) drifting directly toward our boat and the neighbouring ketch.  One of the boats behind started to blow their horn and we shone our lights on the loose boats.  They jumped to action quickly to advance their boats away from us, luckily before getting tangled in anyone’s anchor chain.  Not a pleasant time to be re-anchoring….

Sept 3

Well, after such a sleepless night, we were not very active in the morning – which was rainy and still very windy.  We took this time to clean up both heads and under the floorboards.  The kids did some school work (math and French).  At 3pm, the winds and rain slowed down.  Christian decided to go to the Public Library to access their Wifi to download a manual for our GPS.  Too slow to get anything downloaded, he came back and we had a dinner of Pad Thai.  Later that evening, we invited our neighbours, Matt and Kim (from a beautiful Mayflower named Orca) for a drink.  It was Kim’s birthday the next day, so we celebrated with candles on a Key Lime pie that Christian had bought at the store that day.

Very animated discussions were had in the salon while the kids played Lego and watched a movie in our forward cabin.

Winds continued through the night.

Sept 4

I believe that I forced Christian to leave Block Island today.  He did not like the direction or speed of the wind, but I was getting tired of being amongst too many boaters who did not know how to anchor.  We wanted to go to Mystic Seaport which was NW from our current location.  The wind was supposed to blow from the West, slowly backing to SW late afternoon.  I told him I felt we would be fine to get across the Sound to the North and then we could motor if necessary from there.  So, at 10:20am, we lifted anchor and followed the parade of boats out the channel (almost looked like an exodus!)…I guess everyone was leaving to go back to work next day.  20170904-1-Block20170904-2-BlockThe waves were in their usual “washing machine” sloshing, about 4-6 feet high with the wind on the nose.  We raised the main (with 2 reefs) for some stability and within an hour we had pulled out the genoa and were having a great 6.5 knot sail.  We were only 20 degrees off course, and that improved as the wind continued backing until we were heading right to Watch Hill Point, which was perfect as we wanted to go through Watch Hill Passage to begin entering through Stonington and then the Mystic River.  After going through 2 bridges (one a pivoting bridge, the other a lift bridge), we arrived in the Mystic Seaport at 3:30pm.  We got a dock right on the concrete pier and had access to water, electricity, water, and WiFi!!!!  We also had full access to the Mystic Seaport even after hours, so we enjoyed taking walks amongst the buildings when it was empty.   This place is a wonderful step back into history. It emulates a large shipyard town at the peak of whaling industry.   About a ½ dozen old boats that had been used for whaling, lobster & oyster fishing are on the piers, with the focus on the Charles W. Morgan ship.  The Charles W. Morgan is the last of an American whaling fleet that numbered more than 2,700 vessels. Built and launched in 1841, the Morgan is now America’s oldest commercial ship still afloat. Next to it is a Viking ship from Sweden. There is also an old bank, grocery store, cooperage, blacksmith, clock shop, chandlery, etc. to re-enact a typical seaport.  None of the buildings or boats are replicas, all are imported from somewhere (we are told this by all interpreters).  We spent a quiet sunny evening exploring the Seaport after it closed to see what we wanted to discover over the next few days.

Sept 4

Our next few days were packed: dozens of demonstrations (toy boat and candle-making, navigation/sextant use, furling sails, bagpipe and shanty singing, barrel building) and a several great places to stimulate a child’s mind (Children’s Museum, Puppet Theatre, Planetarium, Whaling Voyage, Discovery Barn) and the list goes on!  The displays vary from interactive, re-enactments, to interesting videos, and interpreters explaining concepts and historical facts.  So much information to digest, we were happy to have a few days to do it!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sept 5

Today was a continuation of the Seaport’s demonstrations.  We got to know many of the staff who were accommo20170907-3-Mysticdating, and a wealth of knowledge about shipyards, whaling, and technical sailing skills.  We witnessed a demonstration of how these square riggers “furled” their sails with the shanty songs…certainly not as easy as with our self-furlers!  We also explored outside a bit by walking the 2 miles to the nearby grocery store.  We spent our Happy Hour with one of the Mystic Seaport employees – we invited her onboard and she shared her sailing adventures with us.  In the evening, once the kids were in bed, we enjoyed a walk “after 2100 to explore pre-1900”.  It was a bit eerie to walk through a dark town with these ancient buildings and the smells of old wood and the creaking of the boats at the pier…you really felt that you had gone back in time!

Sept 6

Today, we were hit with a very surprising thundersquall.

The sky got very dark at 9:15am, just as we were about to go explore some more.  We told the kids to go into one of the exhibit buildings, to take cover.  As we did, a cold gust came right into our boat and the thunder and lightning hit.  Rain downpoured for 10 minutes and then it was over.  The rain continued on and off for the morning, so we stayed in the indoor exhibits and Home Port (the older kids’ playroom).  The kids learned alot about the aerodynamics of wind on a sail, how pulleys work, lifting heavy weights, the motion of the ocean on a boat, and even tying knots.

The sun popped out a bit in the later afternoon, but overall it remained an overcast, coolish day.  Our day was exciting due to all the interesting things we had learned.  We gave the children an assignment to write several pages on 3 things that they had learned about the whaling industry or life in a seaport in the 1800’s.  In the evening, Jeremy entertained us with a puppet show he had been preparing all day. 20170906-10-Mystic

We have been very sad to follow the news about the recent devastating hurricanes.  Our hearts go out to those who have experienced losses as a result of these storms and are praying for clearer skies for all in the south.

Sept 7

The children worked hard all morning on their “history of whaling” reports .  They also created crossword puzzles with new words they had learned from the whaling industry (ie. Blubber, square-rigger, whaling boat, harpoon, cooper, tryworks, etc.) Then they visited the Voyage of a Whaling Ship where they learned about the decimation of innocent whales in the Atlantic and globally…sperm, narwhal, bowhead, and right whales.  They had a chance to post messages on a wall to support the effort to save the whales. Information about lobster fishing and oyster fishing was gleaned by20170907-1-Mystic all.  The children also learned about lighthouses and how each one is different in terms of materials, coloration, sounds, and light blinks.  And the kids learned how the printing presses worked back in the 1800’s (and the backwards type).

20170907-2-Mystic

They also spent a few hours in the Home Port (children’s fun house) doing puppet shows for children – that they had written up and practiced.

The puppet shows were mostly about whales and mocking the whaling industry.  The peaceful evening was spent with the family of one of the employees of Mystic Seaport.

Sept 8

It was getting very cold at this point – 14C when we woke up!  We took off to our next destination to explore Stonington, CT.  The wind was brusque as we wound our way down the snaky Mystic River through 2 bridges.  The town is really very quaint. 20170908-6 - Stonington  Once at the mouth of the river, we headed back east, past Mason Point and Ender Island, to the sheltered bay of Stonington.  These little islands each have a beautiful house sitting atop rocky ground that resembles that of Georgian Bay.  I cannot imagine how these houses weather the storms that come from the south.  Anchoring in the harbour proved challenging due to the small area dedicated to anchorage and the strong west winds.  We explored Stonington’s harbour with the dinghy once we anchored…walking a few miles from Dog Watch Café to the point of Dubois Beach.  Small little stores lined both sides of Water Street – all with a history of more than 200 years.  Most of the houses also dated back to the late 1700’s.  The lighthouse 20170908-1-Stoningtonlooked haunted.  I have never seen one that was made of concrete blocks like this one.  Interestingly, we discovered a “book exchange” box at the beach – we agreed we would come back with a pile of books the next day to get a re-fresh of our boat library.  On our walk back, we saw some people outside of one of the houses we had admired earlier.  We engaged in conversation with them to understand their house history and we found out they had just moved in.  Next thing you know, they are offering us a bag of vegetables to take back to the boat!  The more we meet the locals, the more amazed we have been at how friendly and welcoming these “smaller town” people are.

One thing we will always remember is that Stonington is a town where chickens We ended off the evening with a great puppet show by Jeremy and a story reading from one of the kids’ favou20170908-2- Stoningtonrite authors (Julia Donaldson) by the campfire (we all crammed into Mama & Papa Bear’s cabin and we read to a “mock” fire).

Sept 9

Mission today was to go to the Farmer’s Market in hopes of finding butter.  This market was definitely more affordable than the one we attended in Block Island.  Many of the local farmers brought their pro20170908-3- Stoningtonduce to sell – ranging from milk, cheese, to vegetables and fruit.  There was even a stand that sold Gelato – the kids convinced us to buy them a pint at $5 to share.  We were intrigued by a product called Ghee – a side product of butter that contains no gluten and needs no refrigeration…so we bought a small pot.  We had informed Linda (the lady from Mystic Seaport) that we were in her town, so she came to meet us with her grand daughter, Abby.  We played with them in the kids playground for an hour, the weather was so warm.  Serena taught Abbie how to make an elastic bracelet.  20170908-5- StoningtonLater, Linda showed us a thrift shop where I loaded up on winter clothing for the kids and me to stay warm in the upcoming months.  I bought a few winter jackets, winter pj’s, shoes, and warm pants for under $150!  That included 6 TY stuffies for the kids too!

Reading the news (when we occasionally get internet access), we are horribly saddened about the stories on damage and destruction left behind by Hurricane Irma.  Our hearts go out to those in peril and we are looking forward to providing some aid when we arrive in the islands later in the new year.  Luckily, we are safe at the moment where we are and are keeping our eye on Jose (close on Irma’s tail).

Sept 1020170909-2a- Stonington

We liked Stonington so much, we decided to stay as long as possible before heading out to our next anchorage.  One thing I will always remember about Stonington is that believe it or not, chickens in Stonington are able to take “selfies”!  Look closely at the photo!:

After another visit to the Dubois Beach, a book exchange (Serena couldn’t wait to start her new found book!),20170909-1- Stonington a game of baseball on the beach, and lunch on the boat, we headed back east yet again to one of our favourite anchorages:  Napatree Beach (right next to Watch Hill Point).  No, we don’t like it because Taylor Swift lives there.  We like it because the access to beach is a stone’s throw away, it is clean, and best of all it is almost always deserted – no more than 30 people in view along the whole 3 mile stretch of beach.  So peaceful, even the dragonflies love coming here – we have usually 2-3 ginormous dragonflies (checkout the little finger beside!) a day that perch on our boat!   20170908-4- StoningtonDinner was late, but the night was calm.

Sept 11

Christian took off early to go to the beach for a long run – his first in 3 20170909-3- Stoningtonmonths.  The kids got caught up on homework.  I got caught up on marking their assignments and work.  Serena finished the book she got at Stonington (a novel about a modern-day girl in New York state who meets a ghost from the Revolutionary War).  She started writing her book report on it. Jeremy spent time writing the script for his next puppet show.  We spent time getting some little projects done on the boat and then went to the beach.

Sept 12

Warmer yet today – we have been so blessed with weather – 26C and sunny.  We wanted to enjoy this as the cold is coming soon.  The Pump Out boat came by to empty one of our tanks and when we spoke with the man, he told us that there were seals in the bay!  So back in August when we thought we saw a seal nose pop out of the water in the same anchorage (and figured it was a cormorant, but never saw it come back up), we may not have been seeing things!  I was hoping to catch another glimpse of one, so am staying on the lookout.  More projects on the boat and beach in the late afternoon.  Jeremy helped Serena with her rug hooking project, he played ProKadima with Papa and both kids spent a lot of time getting to meet / know each dog that walked by!

Sept 13

We decided to spend this last beautiful weather day at Napatree Beach instead of heading west.  It is too beautiful to leave.  We love the beach, the pe20170911-1- Napatreeace and quiet.  I will head to town to do a garbage drop off and buy milk/oj/bread.  It sounds like some pirates were in the area last night,  so I heard ; – )  so we did a Treasure Hunt for the kids when we did our lunch trip to the beach.

We got great news from Mami and Papi today that their home in Florida was spared by Irma, but sad to hear about their neighbouring homes.  Also, even better to hear that they plan to take their annual trip to Florida as Papi got great news on his health!  Papi – nous sommes tellement heureux d’entendre ces nouvelles!

Sept 14

Headed out today at 1pm (timed with the current) to the Connecticut Riv20170914-1- Essexer.  We are looking to take shelter from Jose in Essex (about 5 miles up the river).  Jose, a category 2 hurricane on the tail of Irma, seems to be coming up the east coast as it did a loop-de-loop on the Atlantic and gained more strength.  Today’s sail was AWESOME!  We hit 8.5 knots in speed, however, we had the current in our favour so that helped!  Entering the river was 2 welcoming lighthouses.  Katherine Hepburn’s house (where she died at 96 years old) was just beside the entry lighthouse on the Sound.   We waited for the Old Lyme Railroad bridge to open up for us, then we passed under I95 (80ft clearance); however, I have to say that we had a bit of a scare for clearance with the electrical lines that swooped down near the I95!   We took a tour of the river 3 miles up to see where we would spend the night.  Calves Island looked too narrow, not enough swing room, Nott Island even more narrow, so we found a nice spot on the side near some moorings (and underwater shoal rocks!) to anchor for the night.  Peaceful night with the sound of “flopping fish” (called bunkers) and crabs swimming by!

Sept 15

We woke up to fog thicker than what we got in Block Island!  We could only see the towels on our lifelines and saw a few crabs swim by.  After breakfast, we headed over to Brewer’s Marina to get a mooring.  What a wonderful treat to be moored only 300 metres from the gas dock.  So silent and calm.  But then the temperatures started mounting to high 80’s F.  We discovered a lovely restaurant on the property that had a sheltered terrace overlooking the marina.  They told us about a crow called “Edgar Allen Crow” who eats their jelly boxes!  The service was impeccable!  The kids got Wikki Stix and fun meals.  After lunch at Abby’s Restaurant, we explored the town of Essex in less than an hour – walking a circle around town and the waterfront.  20170915-1- EssexSuch a quaint little town!  The Essex museum looks interesting, as it talks about the British who burned approximately 27 boats in the river during the War of Independence! Also addressed the fact that this was the most active Steamboat harbour around for miles taking passengers upstream and to the Sound back in the 1800s.  There are 3 marinas/shipyards owned by Brewers and one Essex Corinthian yacht club all within 500 metres of each other!  A great ice cream and toy store up the street too.  The only big thing missing was a grocery store…not even a general store!  We found that the 3rd marina on an island (needed to take a ferry there) had their pool open.  The kids ended up spending the last 3 hours of the afternoon playing in the pool!

Serena made a friend named Bernie who was doing laps with her.  Bernie is a dentist who owns his boat with Terry, his wife, here in Essex for over 20 years!  A lovely couple who invited us on their motor boat to explore.  The kids loved the tour of their boat!

Sept 16

A day to do groceries, as we discovered yesterday we could not provision in the town of Essex.  I was not looking forward to this trip due to the fact that the temperatures were to rise to mid-90s.  At noon, Christian took me to shore where I walked up Main Street to pick up the local transportation bus (pick up every 2 hours; fare of $1.50) to take me into Old Saybrook (where Katherine Hepburn lived).   After a 30 minute ride, the bus dropped me off at the Old Saybrook Stop & Shop where Walmart was in the back, Verizon Wireless and a wine store beside in the same strip mall. Luckily I had the Walmart shopping cart to help me carry all the bags I bought.  I brought it loaded into the Wine Store in the last 15 minutes to buy a few more necessities.  I wheeled the shopping cart fully loaded to the edge of the strip mall sidewalk where the bus picked me up exactly 2 hours later.  He dropped me (and my 12 grocery bags) off at the Brewer ferry where the kids had been swimming all day.  After collecting the pool toys, we dinghied over to our boat to drop off the groceries and then headed back to Essex to check out the Griswold Inn.  Christian had been quite enamoured by it yesterday when he peak20170916-3- Essexed in.  It was an authentic tavern from back in the whaling days where Ishmael probably took a few pints when he came to land after 4 years at sea!  They had a popcorn machine which excited the kids who also got some Shirley Temples while we checked out the old Inn.

Sept 17

A day to do laundry at the marina – two loads! Temperatures were in the low 90s by 11:30!   Then at noon we had a visit by our friends Austin and Kathleen, Cameron and Alison, who we met in Block Island (Tartan named Pegasus).  They surprised us with hamburgers and hotdogs, cold salads and fruit!  We played in the pool all day.  The kids also challenged the adults at Shuffleboard (Jeremy learned to play).  Later, we took a walk in Essex, had an ice cream and then decided to take a few pints in the Griswold Inn.  A lot of fun was had by all!

Thank you Austin and Kate for making our day great!   When we got back to our boat, we had Mamadillas (like quesadillas) and soup.  Early night to get ready for Jose.

Sept 18

Due to the change in prediction of Jose (tropical storm watch, very heavy rain), we decided to take a slip at the marina rather than chance staying in narrow Hamburg Cove (just 2 miles north up the river).  By 10:30am, we moved from the mooring to the dock on the Brewer Island marina – across from Bernie and Terry’s boat.  Another reason for our move to the dock (rather than going to a cove – which tends to be a preference for us), is that we have been having difficulties with our fridge over the last few days.  Despite the extra refrigerant that Christian puts in, it seems to cut out after 15 minu20170918-9- Essextes.  Christian figures we have a “humidity” problem.  He thinks the compressor is ok.  But to be sure, we found a fridge mechanic to help us out at Brewers marina and figured it was worth it to stay and hopefully get it fixed.  The kids spent the day in the pool and playing shuffle board.  No wind yet…surprisingly VERY calm, but grey.  Something foreboding is approaching.  Christian and I spent the later part of the afternoon getting the boat secured for the upcoming winds and rain.  Hard to tell what the currents and water levels will do in a tropical storm.

Sept 19 & 20

I would like to thank all of you who have sent emails, blog comments, and texts to us concerned about how we were weathering Hurricane Jose.  We are doing fine and are very well protected in the Connecticut River in Essex.  We are happy that we did not stay at any of our other recent favourite places (like Watch Hill or Block Island, or Martha’s Vineyard) as these locations are definitely rocking these days!  Here, we have wind and rain and the water level is definitely up more than a very high tide.  Luckily, Hurricane Jose, while still a Category 1, is passing far enough from the coast that we only have a Tropical Storm Watch in effect….we are following the NOAA site closely for changes to that status.   We are very fortunate to be in this little piece of paradise.

A great marina in which to hide.  Funny though….it seems that we are one of the few (if not only) sailboats in the marina!  Also good news….our fridge appears to be working well!  Thank you Matt!

As for Jeremy and Serena, they have kept busy advancing in their homework (English, Science, Math) in the mornings and building Lego structures in the day.  They do not appear too concerned about the oncoming weather.  We found a games room at the marina where we all played ping pong, pool, and some games.

There was also a book exchange that interested us.  Jeremy was sure to get into the pool each day and the kids kept busy playing shuffleboard.

Serena and I took the bus ride into Old Saybrook again to do a grocery run.  We were like donkeys coming back with our backpacks, a cooler, and 3 bags each fully loaded.  Hopefully this will keep us through Maria who is now coming up the coast.  We are still hoping to get our boat insurance finalized so that we can travel south of the 40th parallel, however, insurance markets have been closed recently and no contracts are being finalized at this point.  We are keeping our fingers crossed because we know the weather is very soon going to turn cold and we do relish the idea of having frost/snow on our decks before we can go south!  Until now, however, we cannot complain because the weather has been fantastic!

Sept 21 – 22

We left Essex this morning to get closer to Long Island Sound (a 1 hour trip south down the Connecticut River) so we could push off early and cross the Sound to get to the NY side when the wind decreased.  However, the winds are still quite strong as Jose seems static just off the East Coast.  Maria is now coming up to join him (as lows attract lows).  We are not sure what the impact will be – continually monitoring progress on NOAA and a few other analytical sites.  We are trying to figure out where to go next.  We are very thankful to the Hurricane Hunters who brave their lives to got into these behemoths to measure windspeed, direction, convection, etc.  Thank you NOAA for helping us to keep abreast of the action!

There is a lovely Marina right at the mouth of Connecticut River (right next to Katherine Hepburn’s house) which will allow us quick access to leave.  We have decided to stay here.  It is called Saybrook Marina and is connected to the Old Saybrook Inn which has wonderful amenities like an indoor and outdoor pool, fitness centre, spa, restaurant, etc.  A really pampering for us!  We swim all day, I went to the gym 2x, and great to unwind!  Because the rocking of our boat at the dock is a bit overwhelming, we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to explore all these great amenities!

In the afternoon, we took a complimentary shuttle and went to the downtown to get a few groceries.  As for comments on this marina, we have been truly impressed with their warmth and hospitality.  Everyone is very helpful.  Even the swans are gentle and majestic!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

However, we have found our slip very rocky with this 40 knot NE wind, however, in a South East wind, it would be totally unsustainable as the marina opens fully to Long Island Sound.  The rocking motion increases dramatically during the change in tide.  We have found the boat “lurching” forward and back to a point where Serena started to get sea-sick and we felt like drunks that could not control where we were walking.  We doubled up on the lines for safety if chafing occurs, but it does not stop the lurching or the creaking/groaning noises.

Supper this evening was “seagull on a can”…It was so windy, we kept having seagulls hit the mast, so we ended up putting one on a beer can and on the BBQ.  Tasted just like Papa’s “chicken on a can” specialty back home!  ; – )   20170922-14-Old Saybrook

Tonight, we had a short Facetime call with Grammy & Grampy and gave Dane and Beth a tour of our boat!  Early start out tomorrow to cross the Sound…hoping it is not too lumpy after 7 days of strong NE winds.  Our hearts go out to those in Puerto Rico today who are facing the devastation of Maria.  We are hoping that during our travels south, we can help them in their re-building effort.

Sept 23

This morning we got up early to get the boat ready for our long distance trip (hoist zodiac motor, put zodiac on bow, prepare below decks for heeling, etc).  I also took some time to wash our 2 scuba diving bags on the sturdy dock with the hoses (they were showing some mildew).  The wind was already howling at 25-30 knot gusts, so our neighbour helped us untie and we were off the dock at 9am to catch The Race.  Just at the mouth of the Connecticut River sheltered by the lighthouses and land, under reefed main alone, we were already doing 8knots!  After passing the entrance, we opened up a Kleenex of the genoa and hit 10 knots of speed!  We were definitely in the tidal current….we maintained this wicked speed (~9-10 knots) for the next 2 hours.  8.5 knots was our average speed until lunch and as the forecast predicted, the winds slowed down around 1pm.  With this great timing of winds and flat water (had been north winds for a week, so no much c20170926-13-Northporthop on the CT side of the Sound), we were able to cut what would have been a 10 hour trip down to 8 hours.  We arrived at Northport (Huntington Bay) at 5pm and found ourselves to be surrounded by lovely sand beaches, quaint homes, and many boats.  What an exhilarating day! The temperatures were so hot during our trip (a high of 90F, 35C), it was great to be able to open that cold beer upon arrival!  Supper and to bed.  The evening was so very calm and warm, not a ripple on the water aside from jumping fish;  a huge contrast to the last few nights.

Sept 24

Our friends from Orca invited us to raft off in a little bay near Lloyd’s Neck to swim with other friends.  We ended up being 4 boats rafted off of each other – 2 motor boats, 2 sailboats.  We numbered 9 adults and 7 children (ages 4 to 11) all splashing on Airheads, paddleboards, etc.  It was a really hot day with absolutely no wind (> 90F) so being on the boat was a real blessing!

Absolutely unusual for the end of September to have temps like this, but it sounds like back home (Montreal) had the same, as Montreal cancelled its marathon for fear of heat exhaustion. Our friends from Shiva invited several of us back to their lovely boat (hugely renovated C&C40) for happy hour.

Our kids played with Finn until very late.  It was hard to convince the children that Finn had school the next day and had to leave before 9pm!  Shiva suggested that we stay on the yacht club’s mooring for the night. Late supper and to bed.   It was so calm, it was almost “loud” and I couldn’t sleep, so I went up on deck and was very shocked to see us touching our neighbouring boat.  Typically, moored boats all face in the direction of the wind, but with no wind, they all lay helter-skelter.  I’ve never been this close to a moored boat before!

Sept 25

Today, being another hot sunny day, we decided to take advantage and wash out the inside of the boat – any mildew on bags, boxes, etc. was washed off.  I started by cleaning out in the kids’ rooms and started in the v-berth.  Amazing at how much dark patches were starting to grow.  I felt really good about having cleaned up.  It gave me a chance to organize our “supplies”.  I started making a map of our boat where one could find supplies (ie. Under floorboards, in boxes, etc).  Later in the afternoon, Papa Bear took the kids to a beach – he towed them on the Airhead. 20170927-1-Northport

They had been doing quite a 20170925-1-Northportbit of homework and deserved a break.  We invited our friends from Orca to join us for supper.  Was an evening full of laughter and good stories.

Sept 26

After a very long foggy morning, we had another beautiful sunny hot day – in the high 80’s.  More projects – Christian fixed the fan in the bunk bed cabin and I did more organizing and cleaning.  20170926-14-NorthportLots of schoolwork today. The kids started writing their reports on their favourite topic.  Jeremy completed a 2 page description of “les animaux marins” (sea animals).  Serena is starting to look at writing her applications for secondary schools.  After their Math and French homework was completed, they got VERY creative!  Jeremy wrote instructions for a game he made up using Lego to build a volcano and dragon.  The game was called Fire Blast.  The objective is to get to the top of the volcano without getting taken as prisoner by the dragon.  Serena created a Pokemon-type game called MAEPOA (magical almost extinct pets or animals).  She drew over 25 manga-looking animals with multiple characteristics.  Each animal had many strengths and weaknesses.  She created membership cards for all of us – drawn with care.  We even got passwords.  When she opened the MAEPOA club, we were able to play.  Jeremy is now at Level 2 with his Lionheart character.  He has enough points to buy almost any pet, but he has his sights on Icy – the strongest!  Serena has really got him excited about achieving levels in this creative game! 20170927-5-Northport

Around 3pm, we went to another beach to collect shells.  The kids were towed behind the dinghy on the Airhead…they loved going over waves and doing stunts on the ride over.

The beach is a lovely little sand spit that seems to get covered quickly when the tide goes up…filling up little pools where the kids can find fish and crabs.

We collected 100’s of seashells that were golden and shimmery, very thin like a sand dollar.

The kids’ plan is to make wind chimes with them and sell them when we get further south.  I have no doubt that they will 20170926-12-Northportsucceed.  The kids have already started calculating what price point they will use for the chimes – incorporating the cost of raw materials and their time!

 

Suppertime was the start to a wonderfully calm evening!  We have really been blessed!20170926-15-Northport

Sept 27

Despite the AMAZING temperatures (87F), we spent another day focussed on homework and airing out the boat.  Serena did several chapters of Fractions, while Jeremy tried to finish his Français in Rafale.  After a hearty lunch, we went back to the beach with the kids in Airhead tow.

Tried to collect yet more of those beautiful shiny shells to make wind chimes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dinner was again very calm and warm.  We are either blessed o20170926-10-Northportr spoiled….Wow….while not great sailing weather, this is the best anchorage weather window we have had since Bahamas 2009!

 

 

 

 

Sept 28

Our friends from Orca left today.  We are hoping to cross paths again in the near future south!  20170928-1-Northport

We went into the town of Northport today.  Had to get groceries, water, pump out…you know the list by now…Shop & Stop is only a 20 minute walk, so that is great with our wagon!  Getting ready to head back to Connecticut tomorrow early.  Wind blowing around 25 knots all day.

Interesting thing that happened this evening that gave us great comfort…..Christian and I were sitting in the cockpit finishing off our sushi dinner at 8pm, while the kids were playing below, and we saw a bright blue flash in the Northport mountains that enveloped us.   And all of a sudden, all went dark.  City lights, sounds, even the lamps on the city dock/surrounding marinas were black.  For a second, it even seemed that the wind died down.  Funny thing is that nothing was affected on our boat.  The lights stayed aglow, the action continued below with the kids, our fridge continued to cool, our music continued to play.  But the entire city was engulfed in darkness.  Even the large motor boat docked behind us went black (we eventually saw a flashlight shining around their cabin a few minutes later).  But we remained unaffected by whatever lapse occurred in Northport’s energy field.  We were “off the grid”….and this was a great example to help us to reinforce that fact.  Our children also finally got what it meant to be “off the grid”.  It is such a GREAT feeling!   3 years ago, we met a couple that “lived off the grid”.  Everything they had was run by solar, wind, reusable, recyclable, etc.  Even their toilet was compost-style.  Now we know what it is like and we LOVE it!

Sept 29

Wind much calmer today.  We left Northport, NY around 10am to cross over to Rowayton, CT.  A 2.5 hour trek…luckily we were able to sail for about an hour, despite the north winds.  We arrived around 3pm and were greeted by RYCHB’s John.  Such a warm welcome and friendly smile!  We quickly got our shower gear together and went ashore to have a hot wash.  The kids even got a chance to sit in a 1980 Corvette!

The Rowayton Yacht Club has a beautiful view on the Norwalk islands and has a great property with several terraces over the water, 6 BBQ grills, and many picnic tables and luxurious lounge furniture.

At 4:30, Chris Hood (from IBM) came for a visit.  He brought huge jumbo shrimps, beer, wine, and an assortment of yummy desserts for the kids!  Because the weather was so warm and sunny, we stayed at the yacht club to drink a beer on one of their many terraces.  Then off to the boat to prepare Captain Chrisian’s famous salmon recipe (not had since we left Montreal).  It turned quite cool, so after the shrimp appetizers in the cockpit, we brought all the plates down below to eat in the cozy salon.  The evening was full of interesting, light conversation.  Captain Christian took Chris back to land around 10:30 pm in the dark cold stillness.

Thank you Chris for such an entertaining evening!

Sept 30

Rain fell throughout most of the night.  When we got up, the sun looked like it wanted to come through, but constant rain and drizzle continued.  At one point, the greyness was so enveloping, we could no longer see into the distance. We went to the yacht club around 9am because John had promised the kids that donuts would be served with hot coffee.  Because of the cold dampness, we ended up staying at the club until 2pm.

At 4pm, Sergio (from IBM) and his wife Amy came to visit.  We brought them to our boat to give Amy a tour and have a few appetizers/drinks before going on land for dinner.

Having dinner in a restaurant was a very nice change in pace – especially with the colder weather.  They treated us to dinner at a restaurant called Goose Bistro in the town of Darien. It started with a delicious pumpkin martini, awesome sole, and the shared desserts!  It was great seeing Sergio again.

The evening was full of great conversation.  The kids were surprisingly well behaved. Thank you again Sergio and Amy for such a lovely evening!

 

Long Island Sound and Nantucket Sound!

August 1

A hot day today…spent most of it at the pool at Shore and Country Club.  It hit 37C.

 

We took a quick tour of some nearby islands, a deserted lighthouse.  We have never seen so many shells in one place!   The kids went wild with their collection.  We also saw many large horseshoe crabs all over the place, washed up on the beach.  Unfortunately, it was at this point, that I dropped my camera.  It looked fine until I tried to close it.  The zoom on the shutter was no longer working – broken. Not sure how I will get another one quickly so I can take photos for our memories and blog….very disappointed with my lack of coordination.  Serena was the first to dive into the salt water.  Jeremy & Christian followed but quickly came out after a few baby jellyfish were spotted at the surface.

 

When we got back to the boat, we had a visitor….Sergio Boniche, a colleague from IBM, came with gifts from Joe Traders.  He had dinner with us and stayed until 23:00.  It was great to catch up with him!

August 2 – SINCERE APOLOGIES and thanks to your notes of concern!  ACCESS TO INTERNET IS NOT AS “ACCESSIBLE” AS ONE WOULD THINK ALONG THE COAST!  Verizon does not like non-US based accounts.

A late morning, spent most of the morning fixing little things.  Kids went to pool.  After lunch some thunder-boomers made their presence, spoiling some of our plans.  After spending 2 hours getting “Stewed” at Stew Leonards’ with 15 bags of groceries, we ended up in the safety of Ted and Keri O’Neil’s home for the rain and thunder.

Another wonderful evening of banter while the kids had fun together.

August 3

At 8:15 am, on our way back to the Shore and Country Club I got a text message indicating that we had another visitor at our boat – my boss, Chris.  He had dropped by to say hi.  After I unlocked the boat, we had a nice visit…unfortunately, very hot morning already (34C) with no wind.  I don’t believe Chris was expecting air conditioning, but I think he might have been overwhelmed with the heat, which cut his visit short.   20170801-18-T&KAfter he left, Keri offered me the use of her car to go to Best Buy and pick up a replacement camera (after I stupidly dropped/broke it on one of the Norwalk islands the day before).  It was a very generous offer, so I took it and quickly got the replacement.  To answer the questions you might already be asking, NO, my Android phone does NOT take good pictures…there is almost no zoom and the flash is non-effective.  It is a good replacement for a camera one evening, but not for a one year trip.  YES, my children have cameras, but we can never find them when necessary, and when we do, they either have a full memory or battery dead.  I cannot work with that…I need a camera at my side at all times, fully charged at the ready to take photos of anything that might spring up.  And I do NOT find an i-pad small enough to conveniently fit in my breast pocket.  Ok, enough said, I think most of you might understand….

After the errand, we ate a quick lunch and departed (filled up diesel, gas for dinghy, and free pump out at the Norwalk Cove Marina).  With no wind on the horizon, we thought we might be caught motoring all the way to Port Jefferson, our next planned destination.  Luckily, the wind puffs tempted us to roll out the genoa and then the main…good thing we did…next thing you know, we are going at 6 knots across the Sound to the New York border.  Not only was the wind on our side, but we found we were continually getting knocked, so on our next tack, we were aiming right at Port Jefferson channel.  What a beautiful sail…we averaged the last hour at 6.5 knots with a nice warm sunny sky.  Very invigorating!  Dad, I know you would have loved this sail and Mom too, as there were no waves!  The scenery was fantastic – the non-stop sand beaches and mansion-like homes.  Getting closer to land, you could smell the cedar from the thick woods at the water’s edge.

Entry into Port Jeff was a bit dubious as it looked so shallow.  The sand dunes were on both sides of the channel and looked like we would easily be caught on sand bars.  To make the entry more challenging after starting the motor, we realized that the transmission would not engage due to the fact that the transmission control cable had come loose.  Luckily Captain Christian came to the rescue by manually engaging below deck…something that needed to be looked at later.  Otherwise a very peaceful night.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

August 4

We awoke to gentle rain starting to fall on the boat.  We got up to close the hatches and heard cracking thunder all around us.  The storm lasted only an hour during which time Captain Christian started to work on fixing the transmission and Mama Bear began making pain doré.  After breakfast, we took the dinghy over to explore the sand dunes.  Breath-taking views from the tops of the dunes.  Smooth pebbles and rocks lined the beaches.  We played in the water and on the dunes for about an hour before leaving for our next destination:  Mattituck.

We were worried we would arrive late evening due to our late departure and the 30 miles of distance we had to cover.  But we had VERY favourable winds, flat seas (in the lee of the shore), averaging 7.2 knots of speed, we arrived at 5:45pm.  If we thought Port Jefferson entry was dubious…Mattituck channel entry only gave us 1.2 feet under the keel, beaches about 20 feet off both sides of the boat and a current that whipped up unexpectedly at the Old Mill Inn where the channel bottom dropped to 40 ft depths.

White egrets were on all sides of us, fishing for dinner as were beautiful homes.  We arrived at the end of the river to anchor in a quiet little bay.  Motor boats anchored (too closely) around us.  Very windy night.

August 5

We took our friends’, Ted and Keri’s, advice to go to Harbe’s Farm for the afternoon.  So after a sleepy breakfast and some homework, we started to head out.  Getting a cab in Mattituck is comparable to watching grass grow….unfortunately, it is watching grass grow with 2 very impatient kids.  There is only one cab company and when they say “30 minutes”…add another 30 minutes.   We spent some time at the bar at Strong’s Water Club while waiting for the cab.  A 7 minute drive and $20 later, we arrived at the farm.  Very nicely organized.  Great for toddlers, teenagers, and adults…something to interest everyone (trikes, sports ball toss, corn maze, water toys, singing hay ride, etc.  There is even a vineyard for winetasting where kids are allowed.  We really had a great time!

After a 70 minute wait for the taxi back (no surprise that it was the same driver), we sat out on the lawn at Strong’s to listen to a band with good music and watch the sunset.  The wind picked up and howled the rest of the night.

August 6

We had an early departure, despite the heavy winds.   Captain Christian navigated the channel back to Long Island Sound, luckily in high tide.  The current at the Old Mill Inn was still viciously strong. At the mouth of the entrance, the waves were kicking up and the wind was blowing at least 20 knots.  The boat was bobbing around like an uncontrollable cork and we worried about sea-sickness for the kids who were playing below.  We put in 2 reefs in the main and only opened up Kleenex on the genoa.  Then we were off – smooth sailing, taking on all the waves like a galloping race horse.   At some points, we were surfing off the waves at 9.2 knots!  Despite the fact that we had 33 nautical miles to travel to Montauk – the last bay before Block Island – we had no worries about arriving late.  We got in to a mooring we reserved at Montauk Yacht Club just before 3pm, had time to go in for a swim and a drink.  At 5pm, we went to discover the fishing boats.  Montauk is a huge fishing village and we saw at least 30 large fishing vessels (with the huge rolled nets and seagulls feasting) during our tour.  We also took a brief walk around the wharf area where there was a concert / band and many tiny shops welcoming the tourists.  We agreed it was a quaint little town, but went back to the boat to have chicken fajitas.  Everywhere we looked, the bay was filled with multi-million dollar motor boats, all with the hired staff cleaning and buffing the railings.  This was definitely a bay for “motor boats”.  Sunset was lovely orange/red, but typically that predicts good weather (red sky at night = sailor’s delight).

August 7

Despite the overcast skies and predicted rain storms, we decided to stay at the Montauk Yacht Club until 11am (after a nice swim, hot shower and sauna!).  We knew we had made today’s trip shorter by travelling the extra distance yesterday (33 nautical miles)…we only had 17 nm to travel today…so we felt safe leaving a bit later.  The sailing to Block Island was assisted 20170808-1-Monwith the motor because it was blowing lightly.  Uneventful except for the fact that the kids did their 2 hours of homework and Serena helped us for 1 hour by steering and keeping watch above.

With all my sailing/racing in Newport, Rhode Island, I had always heard that Block Island was a mecca for sailboats, but upon arrival, it was very clearly packed with sailboats.  Right at the entry was a > 150 foot sailboat from France that impressed us.  It was extremely challenging to find a “safe” spot with the large number of sailboats in the anchorage area.  After anchoring, we dinghied out to Payne’s marina/bar where we found our friends, Keri and Ted, and happily shared a drink with them while our kids went and watched a film with their kids down below.

Not much else to do in this dreary drizzly rainy weather.  Wind is supposed to clock 180 degrees tonight and gust to 30 knots with rainstorms.  So we are hoping for a restful night.

August 8

Today was our friend Ted O’Neill’s birthday.  Being a rainy start to the day, we took our time getting ready and then decided to go for a walk to explore the Old Harbour of Block Island.  The rain let up and we had fun going in & out of the quaint shops.  Old Harbour is full of colonial style houses – Water Street has quaint little shops where you could spend countless hours shopping.  Ted had rented a car for their whole gang…it was hard to miss given the huge inflatable American eagle strapped to its roof.  Just a note for those of you travelling to Block Island…do not expect their car rentals to be top of the line Hertz quality (typically a few years old, an empty tank of gas, doors that do not lock, you get it).  We piled into one of their vans and went on an expedition across the 7 mile island to discover an intriguing Gilligan’s Island type “play area” on a west-end beach (punching bag made out of a fender, basketball hoop, hammock, trampoline, etc).

On the drive, it was surprising to see so many fresh-water ponds/lakes scattered in the landscape. Wild turkeys also seem to roam at large in the fields.  Then we visited the lighthouse on the island that was “saved” exactly 24 years ago today by being moved 350 feet from the quickly eroding sand cliff.   The children enjoyed a refreshing Del’s (a real lemonade made with ice and lemon rind) which is made uniquely in Block Island.

Dinner was at Dead Eye Dick’s restaurant (just up from Payne’s marina).  We danced and drank until late, children we very well behaved – all was good.

August 9

Today was our day to discover the beach.  We thought the day would be cancelled due to a wall of fog that quickly enveloped our boat at 7:30.  It was so incredibly thick that it obliterated our view of nearby boats.  As quickly as it came, the fog dissipated, and we prepared for the beach.  A quick ride over to “Dinghy Beach” where there were at least 50 dinghies anchored, beached, etc.  7 minute walk across the road brought us to Scotch beach…very powdery sand and crashing waves.  The kids enjoyed the day by playing on bougie boards and surfing the waves.

August 10

Early morning visit from Ted and Grady got me a quick lift to town to do a grocery run (a 2km walk).  We were desperately out of milk, OJ, and eggs.  But replacing them is another story in Block Island.  The price for a dozen eggs is an alarming $9USD.  Orange juice without pulp (“with pulp” does not seem to exist) is $8.69 for a 2 litre box.  Cheese, yogurt, veggies, and other staples were also a 300% markup from what we typically pay.  Milk and apples were the only reasonably priced items.  Christian then picked me up at Payne’s dock and we went to the beach with the kids to meet the others.  Today, we brought the Airhead and all the kids had a blast playing on it on the waves.

In the evening, we met up for drinks with our neighbours on a Tartan called Pegasus who shared some great stories about when they travelled the world for 3 years on their boat.  Their kids were the exact same ages as ours and they had a great time playing together…. Jelly Bean tasting and Mad Libs.

August 11

We were very intrigued by the “service boats” that meander through the anchorage offering water, pump outs, ice, etc.  There is also a small boat that offers coffee & pastries in the morning and seafood/bread in evenings.  They are always calling out “Andiamo” – Italian for “let’s go”.  A bit pricey, but a fun idea for anchored boats not wanting to take their dinghies 10 minutes to Payne’s expensive snack bar.  20170810-9-BIWe decided to call the Pump Out boat for services.  It took 3 hours for them to come over, they were so busy.  In the meantime, we invited our friends from Pegasus for a coffee and chat.  Cameron, their son sailed his little Opti over and offered to take both Serena and Jeremy out for a spin.  They each took a turn learning how it feels to be closer to the water on a boat that is more sensitive with a tiller.  Then the kids played splashing on the Airhead behind the boat.

20170810-7-BI

Later, Serena and I decided to do “a girl’s day in town” where we walked into Old Harbour and did some good shopping…scouring the stores for deals.  The kids got bougie boards, I bought some earrings and a rain jacket (desperately needed) and a few more souvenirs.  Meanwhile, Jeremy went to the beach with Papa.

August 12

Rain day…All of our friends everyone left including the motor boaters and Pegasus.  We were able to get about 3 hours of homework done.  Papa was also able to repair some lights and the fan.  Despite the light rain, Papa took the kids to the beach to try out their bougie boards.

August 13

Last day to pick up a few necessities/groceries and a few hours at the beach.  We met some people on an Irwin that had come across from the UK.  They were planning the same southbound route as us but they would be doing a rally from the Chesapeake direct to BVIs in 12 days.

We went into town for the morning…got back around 2pm just in time to get to the beach.  The sun was out and the waves were frothing.  The kids had fun with their bougie boards.  A relaxing day.

August 14

Morning was spent planning the route for the next few days and 2 hours of homework.  Both kids were well caught up, given the time they took off to play with their new friends in the last week.  After getting the water tanks filled up, garbage dumped, and a last visit to Water Street in Old Harbour, we went to the beach for a few hours.  Dinghy beach was packed with zodiacs as usual!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was unbelievable how high the waves were given that the wind was at 0 to 5 knots.  The ocean was completely flat, but the kids were overwhelmed by the crashing waves.  One more lovely sunset, peaceful evening…the kids were entitled to play Lego till late!

August 15

Time to finally leave Block Island and visit Newport.

A short 17 nautical mile trip across the Sound.  A very pleasant day.  During the approach to Newport, we were greeted by many of their traditional lobster pots scattered about forcing us to keep diligent watch.  The entrance to Narragansett Bay brought back fond memories for me of my previous visits here for regattas (J24s, Women’s Rolex).

We found a great anchorage just south of the cable in the harbour.  We would realize a few days later that we were on Alex and Ani’s (the harbour shuttle) transportation route.  Because we arrived around noon, we had plenty of time to take a walk in the old harbour.   20170816-3-NewportThames Street was filled with tourists, but unlike them, we were searching for a grocery store.  En route to the Stop & Shop, we discovered a wonderful library – very modern.  We left the kids there to play Animal Jam on the computers while we bought $140 worth of well-needed groceries. When we picked up the kids, we discovered a book sale in the basement of the library and left with another bag full of books that each cost $0.50 (Serena stocked up on Nancy Drew, Jeremy on another mystery, and the parents got some Clive Cussler and Catherine Coulter paperbacks).

August 16

Took a long walking tour around town today starting at the Visitor’s Centre.  Yankee Candles store interested the children while Papa went hiking to the 7Eleven in search of a Verizon card (our internet still not yet working on the boat).  Then we visited the Newport Museum which was VERY interesting.  It took us through the Gilded Age with antiques set up in multiple booths to replicate the timeframe.  There recordings at each station to help explain the information.

Then we walked along Thames Street to check out the north end stores.  Then we went further up to Bellevue Avenue to sneak peaks at the mansions.  We passed a dozen mansions, each with a well mapped out explanation of timeframe, owner, and other history.  We got as far as the Cliff Walk and the Breakers mansion.

The kids were frighteningly exhausted but we encouraged them a bit further by fulfilling our promise to buy them ice cream….we stopped at the Stop & Shop grocery and bought a big tub of Cookie Dough ice cream.  To eat it, we settled in the nearby park and chowed down the whole box! IMG_1882 Mmmmm…!  Unfortunately, during the walk, someone stepped on the heel of my sandal and it ripped off the sole making it flap continuously (to the point of possible detachment) when walking.  Christian sacrificed his sandal and walked barefoot to help me out.  This forced a shopping spree where I needed to search for good walking sandals (that were NOT flip flops).  Not easy.  Rockport store came close with a great end of season sale, but only Christian scored new sandals there.  I found a cute little boutique called “Sole Destiny” where I found a pair of Tevas.  They look a bit thin too (easily breakable) but they will do for the next few months.  Dinner on the boat was simple but very late.   Everyone was tired and in need of a foot massage!  But gotta love the view if you are a sailor…definitely Sailor Eye-Candy 360 degrees around you…always action!!!

August 17

Today, ended up being beautiful weather.  We decided to go to visit Fort Adams.  Not easy to find the dinghy dock, but once there, easy to navigate the site.  We got on a tour which took us through many places not open to the public including one of the officer’s chambers, the watch tower, one of the tenace, and at the end we went into the underground tunnels which they used to listen to possible intruders who might be mining into the fort.   We found out it took a few years to build in 1851.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was one of the largest forts (it could hold 5 Ticonderogas in its interior) and the most advanced in terms of design.  Because it was never under siege, it ended up being a “training camp” for the military.   It finally became a “country club” for the military where they had a football field, a bowling alley, a theatre and golf!  We bought a few “wicking” shirts from the Gill stand outside to help with the humidity.

August 18

Today was a stay at home day and work on projects.  We understood that this week in Newport was the J Class boat regatta – these are not simple J24s…these are the 140 foot wooden classic boats that are all unique and have been shipped in from Australia, UK, Germany, etc.

We were continually intrigued when seeing a few of them far in the Bay with their black genoas and spinnakers.  Finally, when we saw one leaving our harbour, Christian and I decided to jump into the dinghy and fly out to follow it.  We got same great photos of the 40+ crew and them raising the main.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This was the original J boat called Valdera from UK.  The other one that was out today was Lionheart (Valdera’s replica built in 2010).   They were practice racing.  Winds were too calm and they ended up coming in shortly.

Later that afternoon, we did 2 loads of laundry (for $14) at Anne’s Pier where they have excellent facilities for transient sailors (also 7 minute showers, free use of maps/charts, book exchange, ice, garbage/recycling, etc.).IMG_1921

Dinner was live lobster that we picked up at the Stop & Shop.  We had a tug boat that was anchored behind us which we started thinking was haunted.  A woman came out of it daily for 15 minutes to look busy on the deck and then we never saw her the rest of the day…no lights at night either, yet her zodiac was always attached.  A bit creepy….

August 19

The weather forecast was for rain and heavy winds later today because Hurricane Gertrude was coming up the coast.  So in the morning we decided it would be a good idea to do the Historic City tour on the trolley and a tour of a mansion.  We had a delightful tour guide, Carlos, from Brazil who had loads of information.  He told us when/how Newport was founded, Indian relations, about its original settlers, industry, religion, black slaves, and of course, interesting gossip about the socialites of the Gilded Age.  The tour ended with a drop off at the Breakers mansion – owned by the Vanderbilts who got rich building the railways.  We were guided through the 70+ rooms with an audio tour explaining details in our ears.  These poor children each had their own rooms, private bathroom, walk in closet, their own servant and had to change clothes at least 7 times a day for the busy days of swimming, sailing croquet, bowling, each mealtime and napping.  Check out some of the photos!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Immediately upon our return from the tour, it began raining lightly.  We had just enough time to get back to the boat and the winds started to roar and the rain pelted down.  We hunkered in for the night as squall upon squall passed us.  Just a few times the wind gusted above 30 knots.  Ended up being a quiet night.

August 20

Surprisingly calm this morning.  Very hot.  Christian prepared us an AMAZING breakfast of Eggs Benedict!

Were we ever spoiled!  We had another exciting adventure chasing the J boats as they prepared to go to the race course.  We spent a few hours cleaning up under the floor boards after a few challenges were had switching from the tank system to the open ocean system.  Easy but “smelly” day that ended in one last trip to Stop & Shop and a good bye walk on Thames Street.  The children wanted to sit down at the Ann St Pier for awhile, so Christian and I took one last walk around the harbour to take in the sites.

August 21

Up at 5:55am to get the boat unhooked, took off to the floating water dock to fill up the boat with water (both are tanks were low to empty).

Our next destination:  Martha’s Vineyard – 52 nautical miles away.  Lots of lobster pots the whole distance and the ocean was like a washing machine with inconsistent swell and where the odd 6 foot wave would sneak up on our stern or beam.  It was disappointing that the wind was on a hiatus for the first 4 hours.  When it did pick up, it was dead astern – not ideal for lumpy seas. The Elizabeth Islands are lovely to pass, each with their own Native American name and hidden harbours. Currents around Martha’s Vineyard were very challenging, at some points slowing us down to 4 knots even with the motor at top speed.

Our last 3 miles was a lovely sail under genoa alone at 6.2 knots.  As we finished anchoring, Jeremy shouted out “un meduse!” (jellyfish).  We thought he was mistaken, but sure enough, we saw 5 more clumps that looked like pinkish cauliflowers flying by under our boat.  Within minutes, we saw another 3.  There were very big and moved swiftly with the current beneath the boat!  Obviously we would not be jumping off the boat for a swim tonight!

We visited Edgartown for an hour.  What a quaint little town…very Cape Cod style homes…almost everyone made out of cedar shingles.  Edgartown was established in 1642 as a colonial settlement named after the son of England’s Duke of York.

The first two blocks were full of colonial buildings of restaurants, ice cream stores, and clothing stores.  We walked up to School Avenue and then Church.  Home-made ice cream stores everywhere where 1 scoop was $6.  Restaurants were not an option for us on a budget! 20170821s-1-MarthaVin

By the way, did you know that there is no vineyard on the island of Martha’s Vineyard yet it has a brewery??!!  We were disappointed for being deceived by the name…not sure where it came from…as it was a big whaling port….not wine.  Edgartown was also the location where Jaws was filmed…it became the town of Amity where Steven Spielberg chose it to shoot scenes in the sear rather than a Hollywood studio tank.

August 22

Overcast day, lots of wind.  Went in search of South Beach (20 minute dinghy ride) but ended up on another protected beach about a mile down the road from South.  Only 2 families on it playing.  We beached closeby and got lots of helpful information from one of the families who have been coming here for their summers from Boston.   The kids got involved in catching horseshoe crabs, juvenile bass, and hermit crabs.

The tide went down as quickly as it went down.  Rain was threatening all day.  We left by 3pm after a very intimate day with nature.  Came back in time to prepare the boat for the heavy winds expected this evening…gusts of up to 45 knots.  We were anchored about 3 boat lengths from shore, so the water was very flat, despite the powerful gusts.  A very sleepless night for us both.  We were awoken by the “un-puff” at 3am….(the first moment of non-howling wind).

August 23

Sun was slow to appear so we took a lazy morning to make pancakes and do extra homework.  Into town around 11am where we took Bus #8 on Church Street to South Beach ($2.50 for a return trip).  There was a bit of a fight to go to the beach since we had no toys or bougie boards but at the end the visit was fantastic.

Swimming was forbidden at the beach due to the rolling surf and current from last night’s winds, but it was beautiful, foggy, the waves crashing into seafoam on the soft sand beach and wind eroded cliffs.   We came back into town after an hour visit and sat in Seafood Shanty on the harbour edge to eat a lobster roll and get internet connection!  First connection in ages!  On our way back to the boat, we did some jellyfish hunting, as they seemed to come up to the surface, encouraging us to follow the graceful beings.  Even though the locals say they are Man of War, we looked them up and found them to be the Warty Jellyfish.  Man of War float on the surface with a purple “puffy” triangular sail…these were pink and clearly globule all of whom floated just below the surface.

It was a bit frightening that we were spotting at least 5 jellyfish every 20m….not a place one wants to swim, that is for sure.   Due to the wind direction and the timing of the tidal currents, we decided to stay one more day before heading back west.  Maybe a beach day tomorrow?

August 24

The wind clocked North/North East during the night.  The rollers were hitting us on the side of the boat making it very uncomfortable onboard.  We did not relish staying in this swell for the whole day so at 6:15am, we made a decision to take a chance against the currents and begin our trip west.   After taking off the motor, hoisting the dinghy onto the bow, taking out the Rocker Stops, and securing items below, we got underway “motoring”, with wind on the nose, by 7:30am.  20170824s-1-MarthaVinWe had not yet planned our destination – either Block Island or Newport.  It was sunny and relatively flat, but the current started going against us around 8:30am, just on the west side of Martha’s Vineyard as there was a serious drop in our speed.  Several boats, similar size to ours, were passing us – all going in the same direction.  We thought they seemed to be in a rush to get somewhere, realizing at 9am, that it was “the current” they were trying to beat.   We slowed right down to ~3knots…very depressing knowing we had 50 nautical miles to cover and when our ETA calculator told us we would arrive in our destination (whether Newport or Block Island) by 22:15.  We frantically looked at the charts & guides to see if there was another place we could anchor in between.  Every possible anchorage area had a “cautionary” note stating non-locals not advised to navigate these shores due to the violent currents at ebb tide, etc…  So we continued on our course anxiously awaiting 3pm when the current was to lessen.  The kids stayed on the bow for “lobster pot” watch.  They ended up counting the endless jellyfish we passed.  For a 3 hour period, every 5 metres, we passed either a clump of jellyfish or a large school of tiny, shimmering fish.   It was alarming how many jellyfish were in the water!  The locals said it was the time of year, but I still think it unnatural to have so many jellyfish in one area.  Just as we approached the west tip of Cuttyhunk, we noticed a line of whitecaps.  We figured that the currents from Buzzards Bay, Nantucket Sound and Atlantic were converging and we’d come to a stop, but slowly, as we crossed the line, our speed started to increase!  About an hour later, the wind direction changed to allow us to hoist both sails in the direction to Newport.  Our speed averaged 6 and hit a high of 7.4 knots.  At 2pm we were excited to see 6 black sails on the horizon…the huge J-class boats racing just off Newport’s shores.   20170824s-1-Newport20170824s-2-NewportWe caught the start of their last race at 3pm.  How thrilling to see their aggressive approaches to the start line!  We stayed around with the other spectator boats until they rounded the windward marks and popped their shoots.  We had an awesome run to Newport Harbour and were lucky to find the EXACT same spot in which to anchor…next to the haunted tug boat, the Wallace Foss.

August 25

Today was an easy day of clean up, going to get some groceries, and checking out a few historic houses on Thames.  We visited the IYRS, spoke with some of the students, saw their projects under construction, and saw the restoration of the Coronet (from 1860) – has been going on for 12 years.  This time, we spent Happy Hour on a terrace near Ann’s Pier where the kids tried oysters for the first time.  Serena did not like the texture, but both children ended up eating 3 each.  The singer sang good folk songs.  After supper, Jeremy did a “Love Hunt” for us around the boat.  The party for the J-Class boats started around 9pm…a loud band.  Then, at 10pm, we were surprised with a fireworks display at Kings Park.

August 26

Beach day.   We took a cab to the 2nd beach since First Beach was full of red algae and smelled.  $16 later, we unloaded the bougie boards, pail/shovel, towels, tent, cooler, etc.  and had a lovely walk along the beach to find our spot.  The kids had fun making sand castles with dripping sand.  Another cab ride got us to the grocery store, our last provisioning before leaving for a week.   Jeremy also got 2 Hot Wheels to add to his collection (a Tesla and a Porsche) – he and Papa played with the track for awhile. 20170827s-3-WatchHill

Despite the fact that we were SO loaded down with not only refrigerated groceries (and ice cream!) but our beach things too, we walked back to the harbour.  Lobster for dinner again tonight!20170825s-3-Newport

August 27

We left Newport at the same time the Panarai Classic Boat Parade was starting.  The boats were all taking their positions just in front of our boat, making it a bit tricky to leave unscathed.  Our next destination was Watch Hill Point / Napatree Beach.  The ocean, once again, was like a washing machine with waves crashing against the opposing swell and additional motor boat waves to add to the mix – unfortunately forcing us to motor most of the way.  We arrived around 3pm because it took us an hour to fight the current and meander through the complex buoys marking the scary shallow water.   The canal to follow into the bay was no more than 100 feet wide and 10 feet deep.  The beaches were beautiful at Napatree…17 miles of almost uninterrupted powdery white/beige sand.

And almost no one on the beach!  The waves were about 4 feet high and made a rumbling noise when they crashed down.  A peaceful evening at anchor.

August 28

We spent most of the day on the boat.  Christian and Jeremy went ashore to see if they could find gas and a restaurant for my birthday celebration.  Aside from Block Island, this had to be one of the most expensive places we have been so far.  Restaurant prices were very high ($24 for a sandwich!)   In the late afternoon, we ventured back to the beach…and the kids got really creative with the sand!

Luckily we brought the tent because the wind was quite strong and getting autumn cool.  Papa Bear took the kids for a 1 hour walk down the beach…and then we packed up to go for dinner.

August 29

I woke up to have a lovely breakfast spread and birthday cards to start my day (and my next half century)!

Due to the cold wet weather coming in, we decided to do my birthday celebration as a late lunch, rather than a dinner.  Christian and Jeremy chose the Ocean House for my birthday meal.  Just before heading up the hill, we shopped around in the quaint shoppes on the main street…everything was on sale for end of season.  In the Ocean House, we were given a table in the “closed in” terrace overlooking the Sound and the crashing waves.  It was a beautiful view!  I had a lobster roll and Christian had the Bouillabaisse.  Jeremy tried New England Clam Chowder for the first time and Serena stuck with Chicken Caesar.  It was very leisurely.

Pete, our waiter, was very kind and interesting.  They surprised me with a little giftie of oil & balsamic vinegar.  The children discovered the dessert plate that was served at the hotel at 3pm, so they surprised me with a few sweet treats while Papa and I continued watching the waves.  The kids later found a wagon full of kids’ games and they got busy at Monopoly. 20170829s-6-WatchHill Later, they realized the table upon which they were playing turned into a chess board…so you know what the next challenge was!  After a quick tour of the hotel, we saw the clouds above and decided to take our leave.  We made it just in time back to the boat as the rain came pelting down.  It poured rain for the rest of the evening right until early morning!

August 30

A leisurely start to the morning due to the heavy winds that had been blowing all night.  Unfortunately, it was not a very restful sleep.  By noon, the rain had let up and we were ready to go to land and shop around.  Serena and I discovered the boutiques together, while Papa and Jeremy explored the beach and the lighthouse and the beach.    When we met up at 2pm, we walked to the beach together.  Unbelievable how high the surf was, crashing loudly on the beach.  Then we treated the kids to home-made ice-cream.  By 4pm, we realized that the wind had dropped completely, giving us a smooth path back to the boat.  We got bathing-suited up and went to the beach.  The waves were about 6ft high and sounded like thunder.

Serena was hesitant to go into the surf while Jeremy dived in.  Interestingly, there were many little bugs on the beach that were attacking us…perhaps due to the rain disturbing them.  So we went to the windward side of the beach and watched as the kids collected sea glass in the setting sun.

August 31

Time to leave this beautiful beach.  Despite the fact that our friends changed their plans due to upcoming weather, we decided to stick to the plan to go to Block Island.  Some heavy winds were predicted over the next few days and we felt that the Block Island Pond would give us good protection.  We left Napatree Beach / Watch Hill Point at 10:30am.  It took us an hour to navigate the snaky, low tide, narrow, shallow, swift current-filled (enough adjectives?) channel to the open Sound.  After a few lobster pots and clanging buoys, we were ready to raise the sails and set on our course to Block Island.  What a lovely sail at a steady 6.5knots (13km/hr) with 2 reefs in the main.  A simple beam reach to Block.  We arrived at 2pm (17 nautical miles).

We entered New Harbour, Block Island, in the company of several motor boats that were “bobbing and weaving” in the waves…we cannot imagine how a trip in a motor boat would be coming over in this disturbed water…luckily as a sailboat, we gain some stability with our mainsail.   The harbour was surprisingly empty of boats.  We were expecting several hundreds of boats anchored, as they say up to 2000 boats can be in the Pond of New Harbour for the Labour Day weekend.

 

 

 

July 2-3 Our New Home…

IMG_0810
First dinner on the boat!

The last week has been what I would call “discombobulating”.  We moved from a home of 3200 square feet to 180 sq ft.  It has been difficult convincing the kids to give up many of their books, toys, bricolage, etc.  Let’s face it….even for Mama and Papa Bear, we are finding it challenging to downsize on our toys/necessities.

IMG_1025_our garage
Storage in our garage!

Regardless of the 6 months of prep, the move flew by in a disorganized manner.  We were very fortunate to have Mami and Papi’s help to help us with multiple house projects and packing.   They helped keep us focused on the tasks at hand whenever we got side-tracked. Merci beaucoup Mami et Papi pour votre aide durant notre démanagement!  On vous aime!

The boat is now full with what we THOUGHT were “our meagre belongings”.

IMG_0817

Meagre or not, there doesn’t seem to be any where for us to walk these days!IMG_0814

 

The kids were very excited to start re-decorating their rooms though….

Now that we are on the boat, our days have been filled with mini-projects to get us ready to leave the dock:  fixing new found leaks, building shelving, installing internal house power / solar panels / SSC for fridge, installation of new GPS, re-varnishing, provisioning, beginning sewing projects, unpacking and re-packing, ….you get the picture.  All while trying to keep 2 young children entertained.

IMG_1020_tool organization
Downsizing/organizing tools

The stormy weather has had us moving our supplies from the dock to shelter multiple times a day.  We are challenged to keep track of where we last placed our tools and project parts.

 

 

 

 

July 4

Already we have begun making many friends.  Serena and Jeremy kickstarted it with they July 4 preparations, posting jokes and posters at the Marina for Elizabeth and Bruno.   IMG_0821The children even did their duty for Scouts by cleaning up the marina property of pollution and debris!

Then they befriended Amy, Maehley, and Florence with whom they spent the day and celebrated the fireworks.    We also made friends with Heidi and Rene who were on their way to Canada from Switzerland!  Thank you for your Rosemary, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and other gifties you left us!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

July 6 – 10

Luckily, we have Grammy & Grampy here now for 5 days to help us entertain the kids and assist with small projects on the boat.  The pool at their hotel is a real winner with the kids in this 90F weather.  Dinners out with Grammy and Grampy has also been a winner with me as there is no time to prepare meals. Thanks Grammy & Grampy for your wonderful, helpful visit!  We love you!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In between projects, shopping for supplies, and visitors, we are slowly making progress.  The goal is to push off the dock in the weather window of the 20th.  Keeping our fingers crossed for no more broken toes or tools to slow us down anymore!

July 11-12

Thank you everyone for your messages to us via our blog!  We read them today.  Your comments have been very encouraging and inspiring to us.  We will respond to you all once we get more accustomed to our new environment and spotty network connectivity! Photos will be posted on each blog later in July….

Earlier this week, on their own initiative, the kids took out their scIMG_0842hool books and started doing exercises to get ahead.  They also started their music lessons!

School work that the kids have begun:

Jeremy:

  • Working in his Trapeze Mathematiques – 17 pages done
  • Began taking photos of things he has never seen before
  • Started doing a research project on Dinosaurs. The dinosaur of his focus is: T-Rex

Serena:

  • Working in her Mathematics book
  • Doing exercises in her Arobas – Français – 4 pages
  • Started doing drawings each day to represent either an important event or something to remember each day.

I have been busy organizing school supplies.  Luckily, the supplies just went on sale at the stores, so helpful to find what we need.  Packing these supplies on the boat is another challenge.  With such lack of space, I have had to sew little mesh pockets for under the salon banquettes.  I am proud to say that they look VERY professional – the unfortunate part is that they are about 1 cm too small to store duotangs!  Another botched job…another re-work required….maybe on the trip through the canals I will get busy on fixing them…..

July 13 – Last Visit to Montreal

Our last visit to Montreal was Thursday July 13.  Many things had to be done:  re-packing/ organizing our storage boxes in the garage, storing the Porsche, getting last minute fabrics for key sewing projects, last bank visits, and buying all those favourite things we can only get at home – like vol-au-vent patisseries, lime chips ; – ) .  Additionally, this was our last “overnight stay” in Quebec for RAMQ.  I note it here to make it official for insurance purposes.

Thanks to our good friends Claude et Marie-Lyse, we bunked up the whole family in their extra apartment in downtown Verdun for the night.  Our visit with them was a lovely opportunity to help us wind down and relax for the first time – with the heavy lifting and non-stop pace we have kept up for the last few weeks, our bodies were really in need of a “pause”.  Thank you for your wonderful hospitality Claude and Marie-Lyse!  The kids enjoyed the pool, Si-Belle, and Camuel’s friendship.  The only thing we were missing was

 

 

a “massage” at the end of the evening!

July 15 – Continued preparations…

Back to the boat in Plattsburgh and our never-ending projects.  We are still having concerns with the fridge (even with the added refrigerant, it doesn’t seem to work on a regular cycle- anybody know how to repair a boat fridge without the need to replace it completely??), a bit of bilge water, and a bad varnish job that doesn’t want to dry properly.  We have been very lucky to have our good friends Pascal and Emma help us out with many challenging projects – including psychological counselling!  Thanks to Pascal, we got our refrigeration and electrical issues resolved!  Merci à vous deux!  On vous apprecie beaucoup!  Christian started building the struts to support the mast when we go through the locks.  I started making our mosquito protection drapes for the cockpit.  We seem to always be running to Lowes or Walmart for more supplies.  The days are getting hotter, but continually have us on the run to protect our gear in between rain showers.

With the hot temperatures and lack of wind, we have been taking the boat to Plattsburgh Beach for dinner and overnight.  Despite it being a refreshing break, to be able to swim and have cooler air circulating in the boat, it cuts a bit into the beat of the advancement of our projects….

 

 

The kids have been REALLY well behaved and I would like to recognize them publicly for this. Hours for meals, snacks, bedtime, etc, have been thrown right off schedule, but they continue to be flexible and keep busy reading, doing bricolage, taking photos, or playing with Hexbugs.   Serena even helped me with our first load of laundry!  The only TV and internet access they’ve had so far was when they went to Montreal 2 days ago.

Today, as a reward for their great efforts, we gave them a membership to Minecraft Pocket Edition…the hopes are that this does NOT distract them from their more important assignments.

July 16

After a long day of projects, we were pleasantly treated by our dear friends Pierre and Anne to a delicious dinner of thick tuna steaks and cheerful banter.  Pascal and 2 of Pierre’s friends also joined us.  It was a late night, but a great time to connect before our departure!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

July 17

Surprise visit to Quebec to see Mami and Papi.  Their plans have suddenly changed and we will not see them in Florida this November.  Christian wanted to have a quick visit, returning on July 18.  In the meantime, I continued working on my sewing projects for the boat.  IMG_0940

July 18 – 19

After returning from Quebec and buying a batch of groceries, we left by boat to both Canada and US Customs to obtain our Coastal Cruising permit.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The permit allows us to go offshore and sail in “international waters” and come back to continental USA without the need to go through Customs each time.  This was an added 2 days for us to go north and obtain these.  Very stressful trip when we had to pass under the bridge at Rousse’s Point and bent the antenna at the top of our mast.  We REALLY only had inches to pass!  Luckily no fast motor boats to cross or we would have had more issues.  After getting the permit, the last stop on our way south was at Barcomb’s Marina to meet up and have lunch with Claude and Marie-Lyse one last time before departure.    Overnight at Plattsburgh Boat Basin with a last grocery stop, the plan was to finally take off early in the morning after storing our cars.

July 20

Despite delays with the purchase of our health insurance coverage and last minute reparations, we were still determined to leave in the morning after dropping off our cars at the storage.  Unfortunately, 3 minutes after exiting the car wash, we were hit with a rain storm that was like a flash-flood.  The least of our concerns was that we wasted $$ on extra car wax treatment…our bigger concern was “did we close the hatches in the boat?”  Sure enough, upon our return from the car storage, we realized that we had left many hatches open….the worst room hit was Jeremy’s.  His mattress, clothes, and toys were soaked.  The rain had even trickled below the floor boards into the engine compartment.  Our plans to leave early had to be changed. IMG_0875_Shelburne storms

By 3:30 pm, with mattress tied on the bow and clothes + toys drying on the life-lines, we were off the dock (4 hours later than planned).  After a lovely downwind sail at 6 knots under genoa alone, we arrived in Shelburne Bay at 7:30pm -in time for a late supper and swim.

July 21

The day starts with splashing in the water, playing on the water toys and a big breakfast.  Then, work on the projects begins…again….Why is it that there is no such thing as a 5 minute job on a boat?  Even the simplest of projects seems to need to be re-done or is missing parts to complete.

We paid a quick visit to Shelburne Shipyard to thank our friends Aniek and Steve (Stitches Afloat) for our new bimini.

Their beautiful handiwork helped to create more cockpit space for us with a new added sun shade and reinforcement for our solar panels.  If you ever need a new bimini or dodger or sail cover, call Stitches Afloat before they head down south this fall!

We passed a lovely evening with our friends, Jodie and Eric.  Having a sumptuous BBQ supper and lots of entertainment by Baby Sylas was a nice way to help us continue to lower the stress levels of our change in lifestyle.

Thank you for your wonderful hospitality!  Luckily, the big storm passed just before we got dropped off at our wet zodiac for the 10pm ride back to our boat.

July 22

We headed south down Lake Champlain early.  The wind was in our favour….a beautiful 4-5 knots under genoa alone.  Never have we done this trip so quickly…skipping all of our favourite bays and inlets (like Converse, Kingsland, Basin Harbour), but we ended up spending the night in our favourite bay at Cole Island.  Peaceful listening to sunset taps at Camp Dudley’s.

July 23

Kickstarted the day with a treasure hunt on Cole Island.  As usual, pirates have a tendency to leave good “loot” on this hidden island.  Our kids were happy with their finds!

We passed one of our favourite historical landmarks, Crowne Point, around noon.  Passing under this bridge was much less worrisome than the one on July 19.

Passing Fort Ticonderoga at 3pm, the children were sad that we were not stopping to visit another of their favourite museums.  I found it hard to explain that preparing to take the mast down is more important than an educational / historic site.  Arriving at IMG_1015Chipman Point marina around 4pm, the weather was favourable and we had time to finish building the mast struts, fold the sails, take off the boom and halyards, and have a yummy ice cream!IMG_1013IMG_1016

July 24

The day begins with lots of rain and wind.  Not good conditions to take down a 53 foot mast.  We will wait for the clearing that the radar is predicting at noon.  We spent the day building the aft strut support for the mast and getting all the details ready for a safe take down.

Dinner was a nice warm chili to warm our bones after working in the pouring rain all day.  The temperature never exceeded 17C.

July 25

Up at 7am….Chip from the marina was ready for us.  We had the mast down and secured by 10:30am.  IMG_1032

In between we did a load of laundry with a propane dryer….wow VERY quick dry!  We pushed off the dock at 11:30 and started heading toward the locks.  Despite the very narrow channel in most places, we kept a speed of approximately 6 knots.   The landscape is very beautiful as we go through the Adirondacks.  It is interesting to see it from the water perspective, as we are typically seeing it from the highway.  IMG_1052We passed several huge eagle and hawk nests in the tops of the canal markers.  It truly seems like the birds used “tree trunks” to build their nests – they were so huge!

Our first lock was Whitehall – it was number 12.  It was 20 miles from Chipman Point marina and we arrived at 14:05.  It took us 15 minutes to go through it.

It was our first experience going through the Hudson River locks.  Slightly stressful experience as the water lifts the boat up, there is a significant current where you really need all hands on deck to keep the boat from hitting the lock wall.  Whitehall looks to be a very pleasant town with historical buildings.  The lock keeper was very friendly.

On our way to Lock 11 (Canal Mile 57.1), we passed some interesting wildlife that kept the children very entertained:  bald eagles, hawks and their nests, beaver dams, herons on the hunt and in flight.   The kids brought their crafts out into the cockpit to be able to quickly spot things. They found going under the low bridges a real scream.

Lock 11, we arrived at 15:35 (9 miles from Lock 12) – a bit less stressful as we knew what to look out for.  The canals are all managed by the same corporation, so they follow the same protocol and the lock masters keep each other informed of when a vessel is coming through and when to expect it.

We arrived at Lock 9 (Canal Mile 47.9) at 16:35….no we did not skip a lock….there no longer exists Lock 10.  The friendly lock master informed us that we would not make it to the next lock before closing (17:00), so we decided to spend the night on the wall at this lock.  This lock was given an award in 2015 – not surprising as the area was pristine like a park.  We were docked right next to a lovely waterfall.  The peace and quiet with nature’s sounds with not puff of wind were a great way to help us to continue to wind down.

The kids tried fishing as they could see the fish at the water surface.  Unfortunately, even with a new lure, given to us by a friendly fisherman, neither child had any luck in catching….lots of “bites” though.

I tried my new mosquito nets that took me more than 4 weeks to make.  This was a very challenging project (working with Velcro and this fine mesh material) but in the end, I was very pleased with the results!  We passed a very peaceful night in this place.

July 26

Up at 6am to get the boat ready for the next lock.  The fog was SO thick, we were not sure if we could navigate safely, but Captain Chris did a great job at getting us to Lock 8 (Mile 42) just before 8am.

Lock 7 was Fort Edward (Mile 39.9) where we stopped for breakfast at a very old fashioned diner.  We then checked out the interesting archaeological site of Rogers Island from the French and Indian War (1754 – 1763).  Rogers Island was home to hundreds of British tents, barracks, hospitals, and storehouses – the 3rd Largest City in America in the 1750’s where so many were scalped and killed off from Small Pox.  The children will write a small report on what they learned today.

By 10:30am, we continued going through Locks 6 (Mile 32), 5 (Mile 28.3), 4 (Mile 13.6), and 3(Mile 11.9)…some of the deepest locks – 25.5 feet!   We really got a good system going through the locks with everyone in the family having their important job to keep the boat well placed as the water levels went either up or down.   After realizing we would be 20 minutes too late to make Lock One before it closed at 5pm, we decided to stay in Mechanicville.  An amazing choice with quiet public dock (electricity/water) and hot clean showers!  Christian found an issue with one of the spreaders and asked the local police for a reference for a welder.  Within 20 minutes, Scott the welder was at our dock inspecting the job which he said he could get done by 9am next morning.  The people in Mechanicville are incredibly friendly!  We even be-friended several people on the public dock while eating supper.  They offered us plenty of good advice.

July 27

Early in the morning, Christian went to pick up the spreader.  He met us for breakfast at the Ugly Rooster in the pouring rain and then we left in a downpour for Lock 2 (Canal Mile 9.3).  Both this and Lock 1 (Mil3 5.8) went very smoothly despite the pouring rain.  Right at Canal Mile 2.6, in Waterford, we stopped at a small dock to do a quick grocery run at Price Chopper.  They own this dock which makes it very convenient for boaters to do their provisioning.  This was also our first opportunity to try out our new present from Pascal and Emma:  a collapsible wagon.  This was SUCH an amazing aid for grocery shopping!  The wheels spin just like luggage, making it really easy to move and it carries over $150 of groceries!  Saves on bags and handles weight miraculously!  Much better than a backpack…MERCI ENORMEMENT Pascal et Emma!!!!

When we got to the Federal Lock in Troy, we were quite disappointed that it was not equipped with hanging lines.  These lines help us to hold the boat steady as the current swishes us around in the lock while the water level changes and the gates open/close.  With 4 large cruisers in the lock with us, we did not have much room to manoeuver.

By 5pm, after passing through Albany (a very industrial / stinky area in the river), we arrived at Castleton on the Hudson and took a mooring for $25.  Aside from the loud trains, this place is very tranquil with tropical bird sounds on the west bank.

July 28

Happy Birthday Brenda!

Delayed until 8am due to fog, we motored to Catskill on a powerful tidal current…hitting 8.6 knots.  IMG_1128 We arrived at Hop-O-Nose Marina around noon (a lovely, secluded little place) and met William and Shawn who helped us put the mast back up by 3pm.  Every 15 minutes, music came from the nearby monastery which made you feel like you were in the mountains of the Sound of Music!  The kids were very fortunate that this wonderful marina had a pool where they spent 2 hours on 20 inflatable toys!  Dinner was eaten at their Creekside restaurant with an early night.

July 29

If it is possible to have an invigorating sail at the same time as an exasperating day, we had it today.  I have to say we had AWESOME winds from when we left the dock at Hop-O-Nose Marina all the way through to our overnight anchorage at Croton on the Hudson!  After 30 minutes under motor, we decided to roll out the genoa to help.  Captain Christian ensured we were in perfect time with the tide and we rode this beautiful current right until the wind picked up to 20 knots+.   IMG_1177 Boy….we never saw speeds below 6 knots…at some points we hit 8.8 knots at West Point Military Academy as well as in Peekskill, where the Hudson River bends, becomes narrow, and becomes very unpredictable.  We jibed appIMG_1145roximately 47 times – the wind changed so much due to the mountainous terrain surrounding us on both sides.….my arms were getting quite fatigued.

Meanwhile homework still continued….

But the scenery certainly made up for the unpredictable winds….how beautiful the mountains, cliffs, and the castles…many elegant homes as well.

July 30

Quick motor sail from our wavy anchorage in Croton on the Hudson to West 79 Street Boat Basin in New York City.  We went with the tidal current – a ferocious 6 knots – and arrived at low tide (10:30am).  The marina could not accommodate our draft (of 5’10”) and they said that the moorings were all under maintenance so we had to take a chance at anchoring near the wall just north of the marina moorings, near a bike path.  This was a very strange experience to anchor without needing the motor in reverse…the current carried us into place very quickly, the anchor held well in the clay-like bottom. IMG_1178

After lunch, we headed out for a hike around the highlights of NYC to show the kids.  Starting at 79th and Broadway, we walked south on Broadway…they kids were so excited.  Unfortunately, the strap to Serena’s sandal broke 15 min into the walk and we had to start shopping for shoes.  We went into a Bloomingdales Outlet store and, after 1 hour, found a great pair of Nikes for the bargain basement price of $73.99!  Needless to say, they were a good choice for comfort and Serena was happy.  With new shoes on, we passed many of the theatres (Lion King, Miss Saigon) and skipped to Time Square and showed the kids the “bizarre” sites (the Naked Cowboy, Cookie Monster, Mickey, Disney Princesses, and even naked women with the US flag painted over their private parts).  The children were relieved when we walked into a Disney store to get out of the street mania.  We searched everywhere for ice-cream, but could only find those soft serves from vans which cost $5 for a small (that is $7 CAD which is expensive when one has no income!) Finally, we ended up at Rockefeller Centre where I knew there was a cool Lego Store.  The kids spent an hour “building their figures” (each got 3 figures in a pack) where they could choose from 1000’s of faces/bodies/accessories.  For one of their 3 figures, they made “themselves” wearing an “I Love NY” t-shirt.  After finding a Ben & Jerry’s for some delectable ice cream treat, we walked to a subway to give the kids a ride back to the boat basin.   A cold beer was GREAT after that 10km walk.  And Serena, Jeremy, and I sat on the transom with our feet in the cool salt water (the current really provided an awesome foot massage).   NYC is very loud at night…even a Sunday.  The night was restless due to the huge swell, waves, rocking, sounds, etc….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

July 31

Up at 6:30am, very calm day….again Captain Christian timed the day perfectly with the tidal current.  We bid adieu to NYC waterfront by making the touristic stop in front of the Statue of Liberty.

Then curved up the East River to head toward Long Island Sound.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We were amazed with all the helicopters which all seemed to land at the same landing pad in Manhattan…we counted 8 helicopters in a span of 12 minutes.  IMG_1273We figured some very powerful executives all arriving for their 9am meeting!  We caught glimpses of the ruins of Roosevelt Hospital where Small Pox was contained many years ago.

VERY impressive views of the majestic bridges that generously arched over our mast…so nice to see they are used for dual purpose of train AND car traffic.   We made it through Hell’s Gate very serenely, thanks to the calm weather and timing with tidal current.  Coming out of the East River, it opened up as we passed Fort Shuyler at Throg’s Neck (built in 1812).   At this point, we could see hundreds of patches near the boat that looked like gusts of wind.  They were sparkling fish jumping out of the water all around us…one could see hundreds of little fins at the surface…all swimming in circles.  Amazing!  No sailing today….too calm.  We will make it to Norwalk tonight to see our friends, Ted, Keri, Grace, George, and Grady.

Around 4pm, when we turned the bend into Norwalk river, we were warmly greeted by the O’Neil’s 32 foot cruiser.  They led us into the Shore and Country Club guest quay, helped us dock, and we were offered some ice cold beer….what a wonderful welcome!  We then made plans to go to their place for dinner after the kids had dinner at the Club.  We spent a lovely evening at their 3 storey home near the beach.

 

 

 

Getting Ready for the trip…..

I am often asked…where did the work start?  When did the preparation for this trip begin?  I guess it depends which aspect….if you are asking about when we decided we wanted to do this trip, I would have to say it was about 10 years before we met each other.  Both living parallel lives, unbeknownst to each other, as active racing sailors (one in tIMG_1834he catamaran fleet, the other in keelboats) both working for Bell Canada in different provinces, both owning homes as young investors…..we had a dream to “live/travel on a sailboat”.   Luckily, we met each other at a favourite pastime – the Montreal Jazz Festival – on June 27, 2003.  It was that evening that we realized we shared the same passion.  So, I guess we have been planning this trip since then….

The real planning began with the request in 2016 to our children’s school and the Commission Scolaire to do “homeschooling”.

Then, we had to clean out th002e house, knowing we could only take 1/100th of our possessions on the boat.  Many of our toys were given away…we even had a garage sale.

Then the packing and organizing….with the house being rented, we needed to put our belongings in 5 categories:  “boat”, “leave in house”, “storage”, “sell”, and “waste”.

For an organization freak, it is not easy living in a house full of boxes for months.IMG_0794IMG_0798

While Mama Bear and the kids were working at organizing the house, Papa Bear spent his weekends fixing up the boat:   sanding and repainting the bottom,  i001nstalling new plumbing, new bimini, new sails, changing the batteries, building new storage, installing solar panels with controller, cutting and installing new mattress, changing light fixtures to LED, installing battery charger booster….and the list goes on….

Unfortunately even when we are on the boat, this unending list of “to do’s” will grow ; – )