I recently realized that I had not written a close to this year’s cruise. It was a wonderful adventure for us both. We visited new places, met some fascinating people, and learned more about our vessel and how to care for her systems. We also learned about patience in dealing with mother nature. Our trip from New York was all about biding our time while offshore weather was rough and then pouncing on the next fair weather opportunity to make some progress further south: two overnight legs offshore. Very tiring but no drama. Mosey On is now tied securely in her slip here in River Dunes, NC. We have a significant list of regular maintenance items as well as some larger projects aboard to keep us busy through the winter months. Ship and crew will need this time for all manner of catch-up. Although Mosey On is tied to her dock, Colleen and I have continued to travel. Colleen has been out to Oregon to see her family there, while I went to Boston to see our son and his family. Last week we both were in DC to see our daughter and her family and Saturday we leave again for our Thanksgiving family gathering in Chicago. And in early December, we have a trip planned to Florida and friends to see along the way.
These connections with family and friends are essential to us. While we cheerfully escape the heat and humidity of a North Carolina summer and idyll away the summer in Downeast Maine, we do miss the connections. It’s a downside of the ‘cruising life style’….Which is why we have chosen to spend at least part of the year ashore. We live to play catch-up…
In January, I’ve hopes of getting after those boat chores….
Mosey On and crew are still holed up in Port Washington….We came here to await the passage of an expected “gale” offshore before proceeding on down the Jersey shore toward Norfolk. Then we heard about Tropical Low Joaquin (soon to become a hurricane) and quickly came to the realization that we might have to wait a bit longer, perhaps a couple of days, before resuming our cruise south. We spent three nights on a town mooring out in the harbor, but the arrival of the leading edge of The Gale (these things apparently don’t warrant names) made the third night a bit too rambunctious and I stood “anchor watch” all night until we could assess our options in the light of day. [“Anchor Watch” is a slight misnomer…You can’t see the anchor well dug (hopefully) into the sea bottom. But you can see what happens if it loses its grip or the line to the mooring ball parts and you start drifting with wind or current. The bang or crunch of a collision with something in the wee hours of darkness should not be your first clue…]. The winds, rain, and chop in the harbor were not abating, so we called a local marina to see if they had space for us to tie up in a slip. It might still blow, but I hoped to get some sleep!
The morning also brought the chilling news that Joaquin might well be aimed right at us. Memories of Hurricane Sandy are still fresh on folks minds here. In truth, the weather gurus could find no consensus of where he might make landfall…so there was nowhere to run until we knew more. Port Washington is a very well protected harbor on the west end of Long Island just above New York at the head of the East River. If Joaquin came to New York, we were sheltered from storm surge, but not the wind. So to start our preparations for both the fast approaching gale…and the possibility of Joaquin, we set about securing Mosey On to the dock with every stout line we had aboard, wrapping the critical points with chafe protection, and securing anything that might blow or add to Mosey’s considerable inherent windage. We made lists of additional tasks to accomplish (like duct-taping doors, windows and hatches) if and when we had a more definitive indication of Joaquin’s track toward us. Then The Gale arrived. More than a hairy description for a windy day on the water, a gale is defined as sustained winds or frequent gusts of 34-47 knots (about 39 to 54 miles per hour). Marry that up with bands of rain squalls…Hairy enough!
Trussed up like a turkey
Mosey On and crew had come into the Marina on Wednesday, on Friday morning we learned that Joaquin had taken a turn out to sea and away from U.S. waters. That was certainly great news. But The Gale continues unabated. It’s Saturday night and the latest advisories call for it to continue in these waters at least through tomorrow night. I don’t know if this is just one terribly persistent gale…or a string pummeling us one after another. I do know that I have never experienced such unrelenting wind and squalls for so many days in a row! But we are safe…and I’ll get at least some sleep tonight (you become somewhat accustomed to the howling)….
Moseyin’ On …when all this blows over
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.
It’s a very foggy day over pretty much all of Penobscot Bay with a heavy mist thrown in….but this kind of weather has been the exception more than the rule. It’s a good day to sit warm and dry in the pilothouse and catch up on the writing I neglected on the gorgeous days we’d been enjoying while sampling only a few of the Bay’s many outer islands and “thoroughfares”. Thoroughfares are the favored, buoyed channels among groupings of small islands. As such they bear the brunt of the both commercial and recreational boat traffic . The lobster boats use them to run at speed to their favorite lobster grounds. Recreational boaters, often less familiar with the smaller channels between rock outcroppings and myriad islands, speed through them as well. But these well marked and heavily traveled passages are a mixed blessing in the fog…where speed and proximity to others are left to each skipper’s judgment. Not all cowboys drive pickup trucks.
Off the thoroughfares, the sheltered coves are quiet and unspoiled. Some of these small islands are privately owned, some owned by the State of Maine, and some by The Nature Conservancy. The great natural wonders of the American West were saved by Presidents Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, and Congress. But apart from Arcadia National Park, most of New England is truly in the debt of some far-sighted and generous private individuals who have understood the value of these island’s tranquility. There are no fees or permits to drop our anchor in such a cove…just the expectation that we leave it as pristine as we found it.
There’s another type of beauty on display here, too. On moorings, anchored in coves, or under sail or power there are more truly beautiful boats than anywhere I’ve been. Not the working lobster boats, the migratory cruising sailboats, mega-yachts of the rich and famous, or long-range trawlers like Mosey On…each might be pretty in their context. I won’t belabor the reader with my highly subjective definition of what I view as a “beautiful” boat, but submit the following as a small sample.
Now the test…how many lobster buoys did you spot???
And about the title of this piece…..I’m here puttering around aboard Mosey On while my beloved crew is on ‘shore leave’ in Chicago to welcome our newest granddaughter to our family (I’ll get my turn later). Mother and baby are both doing great. I’m a sentimental sort (if you couldn’t tell from the photos)….and I’d say this has been a very good summer!
When my crew returns, we’ll Mosey On
A good friend of ours, when talking about calling in a contractor to effect some ‘minor’ repair, describes that moment when (after peeling away however many layers to get at the problem) they say something to the effect that its a bigger problem than originally thought (hoped). Not a ploy or swindle, it’s usually just an honest assesment of the mess they’d found. It’s not gender-specific….The ‘Oh, Mister…’ is also in common use. We’ve all been there: the ‘small water leak’…somewhere, the electrical outlet that ‘doesn’t work’, the ‘funny noise’ from the furnace. Such a call from your mechanic is almost expected with today’s cars. We all know this, and learn to live with it.
And of course, so it is aboard Mosey On. I’ve written how we prefer to anchor out on our own ‘hook and chain’ as opposed to taking a mooring ball or tieing to a dock for the night. And we’ve done a lot of that this summer. But as we’ve cruised Maine’s coast, the anchor windlass (‘winch’ to landlubbers) has grown progressively noisy and its clutch more prone to slipping. I would tighten the clamping mechanism a bit and the slipping would stop so we could raise the anchor and its lengthy chain rode. We were having to do this more and more often. I knew there was ‘a little problem’ when a small metal clip fell out of the mechanism. After that, the anchor could no longer be raised by normal means. No trivial matter, our main anchor weighs 90 lbs. plus the weight of the chain (approx. 4 lbs/ft) between the deck and the bottom (typically 20′).
Once safely stowed back aboard, it was clear that another anchoring was not an option. As parts for this windlass are not readily available, I knew we would have to find a boatyard with ‘sources’. Kinda’ like the parts ‘jobber’ that only your favorite mechanic knows about.
Mosey On at Front Street Shipyard
Which has brought us to the nifty, small town of Belfast, ME and a boatyard with a reputation for quality work. As their mechanic set to work disassembling the mechanism to replace the broken part I’d identified, we had our first ‘Oh Captain…’ [more nautically appropriate & gender neutral]. More little parts were missing than just that metal clip. Soooo… the requisite parts were tracked-down, ordered and delivered. Today he would assemble them and we’d be on our way. You gotta’ know it doesn’t end this way…With the new parts neatly assembled in accordance with the manufacturer’s manual, one major part would no longer fit! ‘Oh Captain…!’
Not Moseyin’ On Just Yet