31 August 2012

Day 49: Padanaram to Martha’s Vineyard – 31/08/12

We need to leave with the correct tide so we slip the lines at 8 am and motor out.  Victoria had still been in bed and comes charging out indignant that Mike had not told her we were making an early start   Welcome to my world, Victoria!

There’s a lot of activity on the water today and we have good wind and a very, very helpful current pulling us along and giving us an extra three knots of speed.  We just sail with three-quarters of the genoa out and still do eight knots.

The 27 miles to Martha’s Vineyard means that we arrive at lunchtime.  It’s Labour Day Weekend (yes I know it’s spelt ‘Labor’ day in this part of the world but I just can’t bring myself to do it) and I expect it to be very busy.  I’m not disappointed. 

P1110291 Photo:  The lighthouse at Edgartown Point

As we go around the lighthouse at the end of Edgartown, opposite Chappaquiddick Island, we can see the mooring field stretching out along the edge of town and round into Katama Bay.  It is full of yachts and tinky winks and ferries and fishing boats, a veritable impenetrable hedge of maritime obstruction.  But of course there’s always more space to wind your way through than you think and as we leave Edgartown behind us and head south it thins out. 

P1110292 P1110296 P1110297 Photos:  Once through the town the usual beautiful houses line the shore

The channel markers disappear so Mike has me sitting at the chart table guiding him to exactly the spot marked ‘x’ on the piece of paper Bill gave us showing the location of his mooring, and there it is, number 463 Dingwell, written clearly on the side.

We moor up and have lunch, not quite sure what to do with the rest of the afternoon.  There is quite a strong wind blowing through from the north and it’s over a mile into town by dinghy.  Not a pleasant thought.  We will stay here another night and have a full day here tomorrow so in the end we decide to just relax for the afternoon and slob around in the pretty surroundings.

Since Edgartown was the setting for the town of Amity in the 70’s film, Jaws, we decide to watch it in the evening to see if we can spot anything still remaining.  After all, it’s only been nearly 40 years since it was made!  Comments from FB friends tell me there are a lot of sharks around at the moment.  If there were any thoughts of going in the water, slim at the best of times, there’s definitely no plan now!

P1110305 Photo:  Sunset at Martha’s Vineyard


Position:  41 deg 22 min N, 70 deg 30 min W

Distance so far:  2056 miles

30 August 2012

Day 48: Padanaram – 30/08/12

We meet Bill at the yacht club and he drives us to his house to see Ellie, his wife.  They have a beautiful house right on the water which they built on the footprint of the original one some years ago and we are all very impressed by Bill’s woodworking skills.  All the woodwork in the house has been done by him, including all the furniture and some beautiful boxes that he has made for Ellie.  Victoria laments that he lives so far away as she needs some new bits of furniture.

P1110281 P1110282 Photos:  Bill and Ellie’s lovely waterfront home and beautiful view

We stay for a cup of tea then go off to do our provisioning.  However, having made a late start, it is lunchtime before we head off in one of their cars.  They have recommended ‘the bucket’ as a quick lunch and somewhere to get the best lobster rolls in town.  We find it but it’s closed, much to our dismay.

P1110283 Photo:  No lobster rolls for us today

Driving through Dartmouth we are amused to see a sign saying “Thickly Settled”.  We have not noticed this before and giggle at it’s possible meaning.  Is this area full of fat people or stupid people?  We presume it to mean that the area is more densely populated but it doesn’t look like any different to the mile of road that we have just left behind.  It’s always the little things that amuse.

First stop is the local mall.  Victoria wants to do some shopping but it’s not the best one, although for Victoria it’s great as she finds a shop she falls in love with – Wet Seal – and ends up buying 5 tops for $70 – not bad as the quality is pretty good.

Given the slow pace that we go through the mall, Mike goes off, first to have lunch alone and then to sit in the car with a magazine and leave us to it.  For me the mall has nothing to offer which is a bit disappointing although Mike is pleased.  I end up with just another bottle of truffle oil and some shampoo.

After that it’s provisioning time and I stock up on store cupboard items.  America, land of a million shopping opportunities, does not believe in putting anything within reach of a marina and heaven help you if you don’t have a bloody car!

P1110285 Photo:  Beautiful but better seen over the sea

In the evening we go back to Bill and Ellie’s for dinner.  Ellie produces large quantities of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc and makes us a wonderful seafood stew, chock full of lobster, prawns and scallops and a fantastic fruit tart.  Now everyone who knows me well enough to give me desert knows that I don’t do cooked fruit but it looks so delicious that I try some and it’s as delicious as it looks.  I’d better not make a habit of trying this fruit stuff – they’ll be too many avenues of fattening food open to me if I do.

Of course, we are like Cindarella at the ball and have to be back at the yacht club in time for the last launch.  Thank goodness we make it otherwise Bill would have had to take us back to his house and take us down to Jeannius in the dark in his motor boat.

Tomorrow we will go over to Martha’s Vineyard where we will borrow Bill’s mooring at Edgartown for a couple of nights.


Position:  41 deg 34 min N, 70 deg 56 min W

Distance so far:  2029 miles

29 August 2012

Day 47: Sandwich to Padanaram – 29/08/12

Victoria and I are forced out of bed early today as we have the long hike to the toilet and shower block and need to be ready to leave by 9 am in order to get the favourable current through the canal.  Of course we are ready in time – by the skin of our teeth, but ready nonetheless.

It’s a beautiful day with a clear, blue, completely cloudless sky and not much wind so we motor – surprise, surprise.

After finding people less than forthcoming over the last few days, it’s Sod’s Law that all the friendly, talkative and interested people arrive on the dock ready to chat just as we are ready to leave and we are probably known as unfriendly Brits who couldn’t wait to get away.  Oh well.

We leave the calm of the marina and enter the Cape Cod Canal and are immediately taken and helped westwards by the current.  Well, when I say helped, we are mostly helped although the going sideways bit in the swirling whirlygigs is a bit questionable!

We go through some lovely waterside park areas, full of people cycling, jogging and doing other such sweaty activities but it’s all very pretty and the houses are of the usual architectural style – shingled, clapboarded, Dutch barn shaped, and BIG, let’s not deny it.

We pass under a succession of bridges and at our approach to the first one I can’t believe we’ll fit under it.  Jeannius has only been under one bridge – the Bridge of the Americas where the Atlantic Ocean officially meets the Pacific Ocean at the end of the Panama Canal.  These are definitely lower but Mike says our mast is only 61 feet high and we should get under.  We do.

P1110236 P1110246 P1110248 P1110249 Photos:  Bridges, bridges, bridges

The third bridge is weird but very clever.  It is a flat railway bridge, looking from a distance anyway, as though it is only just above the water level.  As we approach it though, the whole bridge starts to rise (pulled up hydraulically or by a pulley system, who knows) until it reaches the top level of its towers.  Very nifty!

P1110252 P1110253 P1110255 Photos:  Pretty clever bridge

The actual land-enclosed part of the canal is only about 7 miles long, the remainder being a channel through the surrounding small islands and out into Buzzards Bay.

Friends of ours who live in Padanaram have reserved us a mooring at the New Bedford Yacht Club so we head straight there.  The club launch comes out to meet us and takes us to our allotted mooring ball just inside the breakwater.  After attaching ourselves to it (much easier with Victoria’s help now she has remembered how to do everything) we settle down for lunch.  After filling ourselves up with fried scallop salad, Victoria and I head off to look around the village, while Mike waits aboard for our friend Bill to arrive.

It’s very civilised, very pretty and very, very quiet.  There are only a handful of shops – mainly overpriced clothes shops and establishments selling nice little things for the house, although there are a lot of estate agents.  Oh, and an ice cream shop, the busiest place around.  Victoria and I sample one and it is simply delicious, served in a thick, home-made waffle cone – totally slimming.  I look at the clothes shops and manage to find a white linen jacket on an outside clearance rail for £20 reduced from about £100.  I’m happy.

We walk around the neighbourhood for a while, looking incongruous on legs rather than in a car.  We are slightly surprised to find a sculpture of a trumpeting elephant in the front garden of one house –very strange garden art!

P1110262 Photo:  Oneupmanship on the usual garden gnome!

We take the civilised launch back to the boat and watch the Wednesday night yacht club regatta just over the breakwater.  Bill is racing in it and hopes to do well. 

P1110269 P1110270 P1110274 Photos:  The reflection of the sunset is better than the sunset itself

After watching the beautiful sunset we join Bill and his daughter Claire and son-in-law, Clay (or Beaver – he confusingly has two names) for dinner.  The club restaurant is so packed we don’t get a table until nearly 9.30 pm by which time I am somewhat light-headed (Bill managed to get the bar tender to find some Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc and I have been enjoying it).  The food is good but we have to leg it back to the launch afterwards as the drop off service is supposed to finish back at the club at 10 pm.  However, Eric is sitting in the launch waiting for us, even though we are late.  Being friends of ex-Commodore Bill certainly helps!


Position:  41 deg 34 min N, 70 deg 56 min W

Distance so far:  2029 miles

28 August 2012

Day 46: Plymouth to Sandwich – 28/08/12

It’s grey, miserable and foggy outside when I wake up.  For some reason I am waking up earlier than Mike even on days when my back doesn’t drive me out of bed (I don’t like all this tea making business) and as I glare out of the window at the grey in front of me, it turns even nastier and starts raining.  Looking at the weather radar we can see the bad weather stretches from the Chesapeake up to north Maine.  We are in the middle.

P1110206 P1110208 Photos:  Just the ticket – lovely weather

We all end up sitting in the salon with our various pieces of electronic equipment but immediately it stops raining, I send Mike into his black hole to deal with the generator. 

He primes it with sea water and starts it.  It starts but no water comes out.  Not good.  He primes it again.  Still no water.  After the third time he spits his dummy out and exclaims that we don’t need a generator anyway and we are leaving as he has spotted a tiny patch of blue sky and checked on the internet weather radar that the worst of it has gone through.

We pull the anchor up (nice and clean now that it has had a few days of being in sand rather than in mud) and motor out through the channel.  Browns Bank is just for the birds today – no boats are out there in the fog.

As we leave Plymouth and start the journey south towards Cape Cod the fog gradually lifts leaving us with a beautiful sunny day.  For the first time there are other yachts going in the same direction as us, probably also bound for the canal.  A ferry zooms past creating a huge wake, and instead of lessening it’s impact by turning across it as he usually does, Mike lets it hit us side on in the hope that it will force some water into the generator inlet cooling pipe then with fingers crossed, he starts the generator.  It immediately starts spewing water back out – fixed – hurray – and just as Mike thought, it was just in need of a good priming.  I’ll give it a bloody good priming if it plays up again, Basil Fawlty style with a large branch!

A huge cargo ship, probably a car transporter given the shape, appears on the horizon, getting closer and closer.  He is also heading for the canal and on a collision course with us.  Suddenly a tug comes zooming out of the canal entrance and the ship starts to slow down.  How he was going to take the corner of the canal on his course without clipping the edge I have no idea but the tiny tug keeps him under control and we enter the canal without having to worry about him.

P1110213 Photo:  You wait for something to look at then three boats come along at once

The Cape Cod Canal is hardly the Panama Canal but with up to 5 knots of current against you if you don’t time it right, it’s potential for mishap is high.  Mike has booked us into a marina just inside for tonight so that we can start the trip at high tide tomorrow morning which is 9 am.

We get moored up – as usual there aren’t many places to put a cat so we end up adjacent to the fuel dock, right by the Coast Guard boats.  As we enjoy our teatime cuppa the enormous car transporter starts it journey through the canal, an incongruous sight in such a narrow, constrained water.

P1110216 Photo:  The car transporter passing the entrance to the marina

P1110217 P1110218 Photos:  In the company of trawlers and coast guards

Victoria goes off to find the toilet block and comes back ages later saying it was a 4-mile hike down the road.  Prone to a level of exaggeration when it comes to some things, Mike and I go off if search of a shop and the toilet block.  She’s almost right.  Whilst not actually a 4-mile hike, it’s a bloody long walk out of the marina, along a road and across a car park, a long way if you fancy a pee in the middle of the night!

On the way back we get Victoria to join us in a trip to the local lobster and seafood store.  It’s all there - alive and kicking, freshly slaughtered or frozen.  What an amazing store and everything looks so good which is probably why we end up spending $175.  The freezer had better not pack up now.

I have already defrosted cod for dinner so we decide to have a lobster claw for starters.  And what a claw.  It is huge!  I wouldn’t want to meet the chappie it was chopped from!

P1110221 Photo:  One claw feeds three

The light over the marina is beautiful as the sun starts to descend but there are black clouds approaching and in the distance we see lightning and hear the rumble of thunder.

P1110223 P1110230 Photos:  The light begins to change as the clouds darken

Mike and Victoria hose down the cockpit.  So much dirt seems to arrive with the fog and the drizzle, then just as darkness falls the tell tale increase wind hallows the approach of a storm, one that doesn’t exist as far as Mike’s internet radar screens show, but the 40 knot winds and sideways driving torrential rain are real enough.  Victoria and I stand looking at the mayhem outside, securely moored to a nice solid concrete dock.  She feels that as long as she holds my arm and the door surround, she will be safe.  She’s probably right!  The lightning crackles and the thunder roars but it is short-lived and half an hour later we are back to normal.


Position:  41 deg 46 min N, 70 deg 30 min W

Distance so far:  2003 miles

27 August 2012

Day 45: Plymouth – 27/08/12

Having checked the tide tables we head over to Browns Bank to be there just after high tide.  When we arrive there is just a thin strip of sand, full of nothing but birds.


Photo:  Nobody there but the birds

Victoria sits on one of the bow seats and Mike shouts to her to hold on as we very slowly slide towards the sand.  Slightly earlier than we would have thought given the depth gauge, the keels touch the bottom and we stop and prepare to wait.

P1110169 P1110170 P1110176 Photos:  Playing the waiting game

It’s not long before a boat comes and beaches itself a short distance away.  It’s inhabitants look at curiously then set up camp on the beach.


P1110185 Photo:  No more Billy-no-mates of Browns Bank

P1110183 Photo:  A curious seal comes to investigate our boat

As the tide goes out we discover that our landing place might not have been the best after all, as we are on an area which slopes quite steeply just after our keels.  We find this out when Mike realises that although the tide is going out, the stern of the boat doesn’t seem to get any higher in the water as Jeannius starts to tilt backwards and her keels sink into the sand.  Fantastic. 

Eventually though, the propeller cone comes clear of the water and even though waves are still lapping around him, Mike goes down in the water and starts to dismantle it.  It’s unpleasant for him as the water is somewhat cold and this is not good for his arthritis.

P1110189 Photo:  Mike takes the propeller cone and the propeller off

Once this is off he has to wait for the tide to recede further before he can attempt to take the seal apart.  He doesn’t want water going into it.

By 1 pm Jeannius is high and dry but the way that the keels have sunk into the soft sand and tilt on the boat makes it difficult for Mike to work underneath – the prop-shaft is only just off the sand.  Victoria sets herself up as Mike’s gofer, sitting on the steps and getting his tools for him.

P1110199 P1110198 Photos:  Victoria the gofer, David and Mike

Mike removes one of the screws holding the seal on but the other refuses to budge.  A man arrives offering help in the way of muscle and tools.  David turns out to be a software developer too so they chatter away while kneeling in the shifting sands but the screw refuses to budge and by the time they give up trying to remove it, it has no head left at all.  However, on close inspection Mike spots that there is still some lobster pot line buried deep into the seal and digs it out.  There is the tiniest chance that this has been causing the problem but Mike is not optimistic.  Once that is off, they put back the one screw, drain the thick mayonnaise-like oil and Mike re-fills it from the engine room.  David says goodbye and we have another four hours to wait until we can re-float.

P1110201P1110191 P1110194 P1110196 P1110200 Photos:  Jeannius, up close and personal

During the afternoon boats have been arriving for a few hours on the beach.  Only a couple were curious enough to come and ask us what had happened and were we OK – not like up in Maine at all.  City folk not wanting to get involved obviously.  We watch as one by one the boats leave until we are once again Billy-no-mates of Browns Bank.  Amusingly, as we are waiting for the last few inches to get us afloat, a sea tow boat hangs around about 100 yards away, maybe hoping to be in the vicinity when disaster strikes and we get stuck but I’m afraid he is disappointed when 15 minutes ahead of high tide Jeannius gently pulls herself out of the sand and bobs around ready for her trip around the corner to the mooring field where once again we anchor all alone.

Just as we have the anchor settled, another British boat motors out of Plymouth.  It’s ‘Blue Guitar’, reputedly a boat which once belonged to Eric Clapton but now available for private charter.

P1110205 Photo:  Rocking along, red ensign fluttering, Blue Guitar

Of course, when Mike tries to start the generator, it won’t behave, obviously playing up like it did last time she came out of the water.  He knows all her little tricks but decides to deal with her in the morning.


Position:  41 deg 57 min N, 70 deg 39 min W

Distance so far:  1984 miles

26 August 2012

Day 44: Plymouth – 26/08/12

Mike needs to beach Jeannius again so we head out to one of the sand banks on the other side of Plymouth Beach to have a look at the lie of the land so to speak. 

P1110150 P1110151 P1110153 P1110154Photos:  On the way to Browns Bank

On our way we pass lovely beach cottages nestled between the dunes on the south side of Plymouth Beach but when we get to the other side it’s a completely different picture and Mike quickly realises what a good decision it was not to do it today – the exposed sand bank is already heaving with boats and people – there’s hardly room to swing the proverbial cat let along a real 44-foot one!  On the north side of Plymouth Beach, the other side of the dunes, the beach looks like a car park and there are merry campers, tents pitched at the ready!  Ugh!

P1110155 P1110156 Photos:  A day out on the sand back

So we sit back and watch tourists with boats, some of whom really shouldn’t be allowed to sit behind a helm of any size.

The harbour master’s patrol boat comes around a few times checking that all is well – they seem to be kept busy here as we here about possible accidental groundings, minor collisions and people running out of diesel over the radio.

We spend the day relaxing then head back towards Plymouth, stopping to anchor in the small town mooring field that no one else seems to use because it is so far from town.  The harbour master boat comes over hoping to charge us for a mooring ball but clears off disappointed when he realises that we have anchored.  No charge for anchoring.

Every time the fridge door is opened the (wonderful) smell of garlic wafts out and seems to permeate the whole boat.  I bought a bag of raw, peeled garlic cloves from the market in Boston the other day and they are STRONG.  They are in a plastic bag inside a plastic food container box that has a lid and still the smell gets out.  I am taking full advantage of us being an isolated little party of three and am using loads of it in my cooking – garlic scallops in salad for lunch, garlic beans with pork for dinner.  We must be oozing the stuff, just like the fridge.  Vampires beware!


Position:  41 deg 57 min N, 70 deg 39 min W

Distance so far:  1981 miles