As of this writing, Mosey On and crew have had a marvelous trip back down from Maine. Sunny days and smooth waters crossing the Gulf of Maine, Massachusetts Bay, the infamous Buzzards Bay, and down Long Island Sound, Along the way, we’ve been able to visit with family and friends, dine in old hang-outs and discover some great new ones. We took-in the bazaar that is the Newport Boat Show then cruised up the river to see Bristol, RI and sit out a strong Northerly in their sheltered harbor. Bristol was home to Nathaniel Herreschoff, the designer of many of what we’ve come to call classic yachts of America’s ‘gilded age’. His old factory is now a fantastic museum displaying not only his work, but the genesis of the America’s Cup boats from their earliest days to the present. For a fancier of beautiful boats, this was close to Nirvana.
Schooner “Brilliant” off Mystic Seaport
The weather did not provide a sufficient window for an offshore passage from Block Island to Cape May (the reverse of the route we had taken Northbound), so we adjusted our routing to proceed down Long Island Sound. Mystic Seaport beckoned and we indulged ourselves in their marvelous exhibits. Their centerpiece, the Charles W. Morgan, is the last whaling ship in existence. I saw her there when I was a kid in 1964. At that time, she was sitting on a gravel pile in the water – a static historic relic. I remember being fascinated by the complexity of the ropes and spars of her rigging. I still have a photo of just that rigging taken with my Kodak Brownie camera. In an extraordinary effort of privately funded preservation, she has been fully restored to Coast Guard standards for a commercial sailing vessel! They have wonderful video of her sailing with the migrating whales along Stellwagen Bank in Massachusetts Bay. While the slaughter of whales would sicken my 21st century sensibilities, I can only marvel at the skills and industry of the shipyards that built and maintained the whaling fleets 165 years ago.
On Sunday evening, we pulled into Port Washington, a favorite spot of ours on the western end of Long Island just short of the passage through New York City. Mosey’s crew enjoys the uncrowded anchorage, good eateries, and grocery right on the harbor front to re-provision. But most importantly, it seems to be the best place we can find to await and ride-out the approach of currently nasty weather off the Jersey shore to be followed late week by Tropical Storm Joaquin (we hope not a hurricane). Not a good time to mosey off-shore. We are advised by our weather folks that we ‘hunker down’ until the 5th – “at the earliest”! [Note: there was a short window of opportunity to make a run for it down the Jersey coast on Monday and in port by Tuesday mid-day. As luck would have it, world affairs and associated security concerns forced the Coast Guard to close the East River through New York opposite the U.N. Such are the times…] But we are not alone. Literally hundreds of cruising boats are ‘bottled up’ in protected ports in SE New England and Long Island Sound waiting on a good window to continue their annual migration south to Norfolk and beyond at this turn of the seasons. We will be here at least a week. So much for schedules. They are, indeed, the most useless thing aboard!
Moseyin’ On Hold
The local folk attested to it and now we have witnessed what a delight cruising Maine’s coast in September can be. The winds and waves have clearly picked-up offshore this week with gusty fronts working their way up toward Nova Scotia. But behind the myriad islands, in the coves dotting the coast and up the tidal rivers it has been truly delightful. We experience the same scenery, but without searching to find room to anchor. It would seem that recreational boating is finished here after the Labor Day weekend. It just isn’t done…it seems we “didn’t get the memo”! As long as we have food & drink in the ship’s stores…and there’s the rub.
Grocery stores, as most of you know them, simply don’t exist in the fishing villages that dot Maine’s coast and islands. Of course they exist, but are always located out near the highway (10 minutes by pick-up truck ). On the other hand, raw lobsters can be had (literally) anywhere and homemade blueberry pies baked that morning. But if you need some butter (to melt), corn on the cob, red potatoes, and cold beer to make a proper dinner of ’em, they’re not to be had…unless you’ve a friend with a pickup truck! To be fair, the big cities of Bar Harbor, Belfast, and Rockland have small markets within walking distance of their docks….but even in these cities the supermarket is ‘out near the highway’. It’s a story of economics and local markets everywhere, not just the towns and villages of Downeast Maine. So to expand our diet beyond a lobsta’ and blueberry pie regimine, Colleen insists that we periodically plan a ‘major provisioning’ to acquire vegatables, dairy, and the like….even non-blueberry fruit (to prevent scurvy, I presume). So we have had to add “grocery store” as a criteria for picking our anchorages enroute back home to North Carolina. I suspect it was ever thus. Note: Before setting-off, adequate stores of rum were seen to by the Captain for an extended voyage.
All of which ties in to today’s mini-adventure. We’ve found a beautiful and totally secure anchorage for Mosey On in a cove quite aptly named The Basin a short way up the New Meadows River. It’s reported to be a rough day offshore…so we’ll sit here and enjoy our surroundings. But for a treat, we left Mosey On at anchor, and hopped in the dinghy for a quick ride across the river to the village of Cundy’s Harbor and their highly reputed lunch counter cum hardware store. Lobster rolls and pie a la mode were on my mind! We couldn’t identify this gastronomic oasis from the water, so we pulled alongside a lobster boat refueling at the local gas dock. “Can you point us toward Holbrook’s?…We hear it’s good food?” we asked. “ayeah…(Maine for ‘yes’)…but it closed Tuesday.” “Was there anywhere else to eat?” we presssed. “Ayeah…pizza or hotdogs at the gas dock…” For the “full Maine experience” we split the last available piece of pizza and a hotdog off that roller machine…
Maine is as beautiful as ever this September!….and the tourists are gone, and Holbrooks of Cundy’s Harbor has closed for the season. That pretty much sums it up!
Moseyin’ On…in search of provisions
The Admiral (Colleen) is back on-board, which means (among a host of things) that Moseyin’ can confidently resume. While she was on shore-leave for almost two weeks to welcome our new baby granddaughter, I made two short hops from Belfast to Castine and back. I waited for benign winds and seas, sunny skies, and favorable tidal currents. Wind and current are the main concerns when maneuvering Mosey On in close quarters. Normally, we have ample power and directional control to keep her in hand at all times. We can also use our dock lines to counteract an adverse current as we may need to move the bow or stern away from the dock without threatening boats tied-up in front or behind us. You can read all about it, understand the techniques, but experience and coordination between captain and crew keep the blood pressure within limits! Getting away from the dock in Belfast was really just a problem of preparing Mosey On to be able to go clear ahead as the last line was let go. It was ultimately the stern line holding Mosey in her spot alongside the dock against the current which prevented her from being pushed into the yacht tied-up ahead. Mosey On has an auxiliary throttle and rudder control in the starboard stern. This is also where the stern dock line was tied. So the plan was: 1) Check that there was no traffic approaching from ahead or astern 2) from the pilothouse, swing the bow to port (away from the dock) about 45 degrees using the side thruster 3) step quickly aft to untie the stern and using the auxiliary throttle, power forward on the main engine 4) return as quickly to the pilothouse and helm Mosey On out of the harbor. The plan went smoothly enough, but if it sounds a bit like a fire-drill….
When I got to Castine, a friend had graciously offered me the use of his mooring (a buoy about 3′ in diameter, supporting a length of chain secured to a large granite block on the harbor bottom. A heavy mooring rope is usually attached to a ring on the ball.) This mooring was most welcome, as it put off the issue of docking single-handed. All I had to do was approach the mooring ball from down-wind or down-current (whichever was stronger), bring her to a dead stop, then leave the helm and run forward to the bow. There, reach down with the boat hook to grab the attached line to bring it aboard and cleat it down. After a brief tussle securing the heavy line (as Mosey On was ever-ready to drift away) I declared victory and resolved to stay put until I had a good reason to move Mosey again!
That good reason came when I heard from Colleen that she’d be returning to Belfast on Friday. I started thinking again about how I might bring Mosey On back to the dock… I’ve seen many skippers of small powerboats pull up to a dock, step off the boat with a line in hand, and make fast. If the boat is still moving (slowly) they are strong enough to hold her by hand or with a line on a cleat. To leave, that same skipper can usually just untie, push off the dock as he steps aboard and be on his way. You can’t step off Mosey On (jump… and hope to land on the dock uninjured perhaps…)! And I’m too old to even think of trying to stop a moving Mosey On by myself with one dock line! (That’s where that big John Deere diesel is applied in reverse.) So if I’m to control her with power and thrust as we approach a dock, who’s got the dock lines to tie her up? We aspire to the cruisers creed of self-reliance. But single-handed on Mosey On…I discovered that sometimes you must depend on the aid of others. Boaters know this, and will almost always lend that hand.
I also learned that while single-handing Mosey On is doable, I’d really rather not…
Moseyin’ On…..together again.