August 1 - September 22, 2005

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HIGHLIGHTS

Hurricanes

By now everybody knows that it's been a tough hurricane season. But you may not know that no place on the East Coast is really safe from those things. We have nothing to complain about compared to the poor people who got stomped by Katrina (and now by Rita), but still, since our last update we've been chased around by two hurricanes -- the last one in Maine, for crying out loud! Chicago is starting to look pretty good, winters and all.

We also want to point out the little known fact that the "K" storm in the Pacific this year was "KEN." Pacific "Ken" was pretty harmless, but if this had been the year for boys names in the Atlantic, "Katrina" would have been "Ken." We are very glad to escape the notoriety. Our Ken always wanted to visit New Orleans, but not like that.

Maintenance

Since our last update we have done major work on our watermaker, diesel heater, genset, rudder, and autopilot, along with lots of minor projects. We are happy to announce that as of September 22, for the first time since we left Virgin Gorda, EVERYTHING IS WORKING! These moments resemble solar eclipses -- they don't happen often and they don't last long.

Culture Shock

People in Maine, at least around Southwest and Bar Harbors, turn out to be unbelievably honest and trusting. Pretty hard for us Chicago types to get used to.

Fire

We got a close up look at what could have happened to our boat if that fire we had last year had gone on for another three or four minutes.

Boat Cleaning

Scrubbing away tough stains on the topsides

Being on the hard made a mess out of Eagle's Wings, and Beth was determined to fix the problem. Holding onto the boat while scrubbing was hard work.

  Reaching to scrub scum from the waterline

 

Beth recuperating after hard day of boat scrubbing After four hours of vigorous scrubbing, the boat looked great. Too bad you couldn't say the same for Beth. Ken conceded she deserved an extra ration of chocolate that night.

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August 1 - August 16, 2005

Our stay at Herrington Harbour was our first opportunity since Newport (seven months ago) to have anyone other than us work on the boat. Herrington Harbour has lots of very high quality specialists -- carpenters, mechanics, riggers, painters, and canvas makers. We hired all of them.

Newly painted bottom -- no barnacles! We got new bottom paint (see left), a new seacock for the watermaker, new packing for our rudder stock, new alternator for genset, screens made for opening hatches in living area of boat, and an additional winch added to boom for a fourth mainsail reef. All of the work was top quality.

An Extra 500 Lbs Of Water

Just before we were ready to launch the boat, we noticed that the little paddle wheel that measures our speed was missing. Replacing the paddle wheel takes about five minutes. Unfortunately, getting to the paddle wheel means taking EVERYTHING out of the forepeak -- an all day job.

There was a payoff though. When he finally got to the bottom of the forepeak compartment, Ken found it was under about a foot of water! Turns out that the float switch on the bilge pump had failed, and the natural accumulation of water through the "hawse hole" (where the anchor chain goes in) was slowly filling the forepeak. This compartment is watertight, so we weren't about to sink, but all this water wasn't good for our gear. Not to mention that carrying an extra five hundred pounds is slow.

One of the wires for the bilge pump switch had corroded through and broken completely in two. Wire failure on bilge pump switch

Ken also found that water had immersed the macerator pump that pumps out our forward holding tank. He ended up replacing the pump (with one of the three spare macerator pumps that we carry), and moving the installation to a higher and drier location.

Pump in foodsaver bag We vacuum seal our spare pumps to keep them from corroding in storage under the floorboards.

 

And we wrap the sealed pumps in ensolite to keep the vacuum bags from chafing through.

Now if we could just figure out a way to keep the pumps from corroding once they are on the job...

Padding to protect pump stored under floorboard

Anyway, it never fails -- whenever you start poking around in the boat, you uncover more problems!

In the future we will try to seal the hawse hole (a tough job) and will leave ourselves a spot where we can see the bottom of the forepeak.

There But For The Grace Of God...

Shortly after we launched our boat we began to smell smoke. It brought back bad memories, and we went into emergency mode to find the source.

Boat gutted by fire

Then we saw this 50 foot power baat creeping into the harbor under tow, still smouldering.

We had smelled him 100 yards away.

What an amazing sight -- the boat was totally gutted and barely afloat. The fireboat couldn't finish putting the fire out for fear that the burned boat would sink in the bay. (The EPA doesn't like that.)

We were hoping it wouldn't blow up as it passed about 10 feet from our boat.

Boat burned to the gunnels View of burned boat transom

We learned later that the 5 people aboard had been rescued from the water after abandoning ship.

Once they got the boat into the travel lift (so it couldn't sink), firemen poured foam and water into the boat for hours. Firemen putting out fire

 

Boat filled with foam and charred remains It was a heartbreaking sight. We never did learn the cause of the fire.

After the fire was out, the yard had to drain the boat for hours before the travel lift could haul it. Herrington Harbour was kind of stuck with this wreck -- they put it in a remote spot of their yard, right next to another big boat that burned up last year.

So, anyway, this is what we meant about how fiberglass burns. And if our fire had gotten out of hand we would have been a long way from fireboats and towboats. Did we mention that we now have two fire extinguishers in the galley?

Thoughts Of Escape

It gets warm in Maryland in July. Like 100 degrees in the shade, 95% humidity and 85 degree water. You can sit completely still and watch the sweat roll off as your body dehydrates. The boatyard people quit work about lunchtime. Dogs don't move. Ken worried about causing damage in the engine room because he was dripping so much salt water. We started to think about Maine.

We would have left right away, but when we tested our new alternator we found that it didn't rotate freely. To their credit, Balmar agreed to ship us a new one right away. But still the problem kept us there for a very hot extra week.

Then, just as we were ready to leave again, along came Irene.

To Flee Or Not To Flee

NOAA predicted that Tropical Storm Irene (soon to be Hurricane Irene) would come right over our boat. The little hand near the top of the projected danger area shows our location. Tropical storm Irene making tracks for the Chesapeake

So we had to make a decision. We could put to sea and try to reach the relative safety of Maine's cold water, hoping that Irene wouldn't catch us from behind. Hurricanes travel slowly, so chances were that we could outrun her. Or we could stay in port, where the two of us could get safely away from the water, but where Eagle's Wings would have nowhere to hide. (Herrington lost several boats in a hurricane last year.)

In other words, we had to decide whether to risk our necks trying to save our boat. We hesitated, momentarily paralyzed by indecision, while Ken wrote the following analysis:

To flee or not to flee, that is the question.

Whether is wiser in port to suffer

The slings and surges of outrageous weather

Or to make sail into a sea of troubles

And by running like hell, avoid them. To sail, to run.

To run, perchance to sink: aye, there's the rub;

For in that storm at sea what waves might come

And wash us from this mortal coil

Must give us pause...

Needless to say, we decided to stay in port. We were parked right in front of the travel lift, so Eagle's Wings would have had a good shot of getting hauled if the storm actually came to Herrington, and we kept the car so we could get ourselves away. Ken says it's a sign we are getting older -- ten years ago we would have gone. Beth says "Like hell."

Projected track of Irene on August 12

And in the end Irene took a turn and didn't come our way.

So we were a lot luckier than the folks down on the Gulf coast a few weeks later.

Breaking Away

Anyway, it was finally time to go.

Our 7 weeks with a rented car had spoiled us rotten. We hung onto the car until the last possible minute before we sailed away, and we looked hard to see if we had room to store it on board.

Later in Maine we found somebody who had solved the car problem. (Look closely at the top deck.) Of course this fellow has a little more room than we do. Land based transportation on deck

August 17 - August 23, 2005

We left Herrington Harbour with very light winds. As we left the Harbour, we glided by a set of pilings that (we think) surrounds a fish farm. If you look closely, you can see that each piling holds a comorant -- no doubt stuffed to the beak with fish from the farm.

Cormorants roosting on pilings  

Before we could get out of the Chesapeake we had to go north to the head of the Chesapeake, through the Chesapeake-Delaware (C&D) Canal, and then south through Delaware Bay. We made three overnight stops along the way. Winds were light (less than 6 knots) and on the nose so we motored most of the way.

Just before we got to the mouth of the Canal, the oil pressure on the Yanmar diesel dropped precariously low. With the light winds and little current, we turned off the engine while Ken cleaned the water strainer. It was full of mud and gunk. When the engine loses water it heats up the oil, which then loses viscosity and pressure.

The water around us was also filled with thick mats of coarse grass. This water is not very engine-friendly. We were looking forward to the ocean.

Typical brown cast to Chesapeake water

We never did get used to the red-brown water of the Chesapeake. The Bay teems with life, so the waters aren't really polluted. We were told the color is due to minerals in the soil runoff.

But you sure don't feel like swimming.

After spending a night on the west end of the C&D Canal, we timed our departure to catch the swift eastbound current. We had trouble getting off the dock, as we were wedged upstream of a large powerboat and we didn't want to get swept into it when we released our lines. After two tries, we finally got away, but at the expense of scraping along a piling (thank goodness for rub rails along the topsides) and popping off our Man-Overboard module. Fortunately we didn't lose it overboard.

Zooming along with the current on the C&D canal Normally we motor at 6.5 - 7 knots. With the current going our way, we really made tracks -- with our speed topping out at 11 knots. Boats trying to go upstream looked like they were standing still.

We tried sailing down the Delaware Bay, but it was tough going with squalls and flukey wind. We did about 7 sail adjustments within a 2-hour stretch -- raising sails, lowering sails, reefing sails... We're used to putting up the sails and letting them alone until next week, so this was an exhausting workout.

Schooner sailing near Cape Henlopen We anchored at the mouth of Delaware Bay behind Cape Henlopen, a well protected harbor of refuge. We pretty much had the bay to ourselves, although we did spot this graceful schooner out for an evening sail.

 

The holding was great at Cape Henlopen -- lots of mud -- as evidenced by Ken's hands after he lashed the muddy anchor to the bowsprit.

Beth suspects he just likes playing in the muck.

Ken with muddy hands after raising anchor

We left Cape Henlopen under hot, hazy, and humid conditions. We hoped the ocean would provide some relief from the heat, but with little wind it was pretty uncomfortable. At least we could look forward to Maine.

Ken set fishing lines as soon as we got underway, and we caught our first fish that evening.

Ken with fish and line tangle When you run with two fishing lines you have to deal with tangles. Here Ken tries to deal with crossed lines -- both of which have a large fish!

 

After a long fight we landed both fish -- two large jacks. In the tropics we wouldn't keep these fish, since they live on reefs and can carry the lethal toxin ciguatera.

Since we caught these away from any reefs, we thought they were probably ok. Upon further reflection, however, we decided to freeze them and wait to eat them until we could get a toxin test kit.

At this moment they are still both in the freezer.

Ken with two jack fish

A Sleeping Whale

The water temperature dropped to the high 70's and it turned beautiful. Beth stood her night watch in shorts. With a full moon, the visibility was great. About 2 a.m., she was startled to see a large, grayish, smooth object floating about 20 feet off the boat. It was probably a whale sleeping. We were very glad we didn't run into it.

Early the next morning the wind filled in from the southwest and we were able to sail again. It was great to turn the motor off.

Kamakazi Boats

We planned to sail to Buzzards Bay and take a shortcut through the Cape Cod Canal -- thereby cutting almost 60 miles off our route. But this put us into the intense boat traffic around Cape Cod.

About 60 miles south of Buzzard's Bay we watched a large sport fishing boat approach us at high speed. We were under sail, so we had right of way, but we watched him warily just in case. We kept expecting him to alter course, but he just kept coming closer and closer, finally crossing our bow by about 50 feet. As he went by we could see his helm clearly -- nobody home. He was doing 25 knots on autopilot with no lookout!

Ken yelled when he passed us, and the three fishermen busy in the stern looked up in shock. A collision would probably have sunk both boats.

Then early that evening we almost got run over again, this time by a Carnival Cruise ship. Ken saw the ship on radar (we had thick fog), and called on the VHF radio. The ship's watch officer assured us that we would clear him, so we agreed to hold our course. But it quickly became apparent that we would get mowed down if we followed that advice. We turned on the engine and altered course sharply.

The cruise ship passed in front of us, revealing a freighter that had been masked by the cruise ship. We think that the cruise ship never answered our hail and that Ken had been talking with the freighter. We were clear of the freighter, but not the cruise ship.

Never mind hurricanes, it's the people that you have to worry about. Out here you really have to drive defensively.

Cleaning Fish

Ken with Mahi Mahi

Finally we caught a small mahi-mahi and cooked it up for a delicious dinner. There was even enough meat left to freeze for another night.

Mahi-Mahi don't carry ciguatera.

On previous trips Ken had been cleaning fish while sitting down on the stern platform. The good news about the stern platform is that waves come right up and wash off all of the blood and mess. The bad news is that the waves also try to wash Ken off, along with the fish and the cleaning tools. Also, getting soaked by the waves is one thing when the water is 85 degrees, but it's not so nice in cold water.

During our stay in the Chesapeake, Ken had a brainstorm. He realized that the fold-down platform from our old liferaft cage would make a perfect, waist-high cleaning station.

Here Ken uses his new cleaning station. Standing up, teathered on, and wearing seaboots, Ken stays dry, safe and comfortable.

When he's done, the platform just folds back into place.

Ken filleting fish on newly discovered fish cleaning station

All Dressed Up and No Place to Go

As we approached Rhode Island Sound, the severe weather warning feature of our VHF started alarming. Severe thunderstorms were passing near us with winds predicted up to 70 knots. We quickly reefed down to the third reef and staysail, thereby dropping our speed from about 8 knots to about 3 knots. We then bobbed around for an hour or so while the storm never came. Better safe than sorry.

We timed our entry into the Cape Code Canal to coincide with a favorable east bound current. We zipped right through, hitting a top speed of 12 knots. Entering Cape Code Canal

 

Fisherman casting in the rapids along the Cape Cod Canal The water almost resembled a rapids at times.

Once we exited the Canal, we continued motoring in very light winds.

Beautiful afternoon sky The water temperature continued to drop -- now at 71 degrees -- and the conditions were gorgeous.

 

Our last sunset of this passage was breathtaking. That night the wind picked up out of the northwest and gave us great close reaching conditions under the watchful gaze of a 3/4 waning moon. Water temperature dropped to 61 degrees. Sunset over a placid ocean

 

Approaching Maine coast

 

Maine -- and no fog!

Our destination, Southwest Harbor, is located on Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park.

That's pronounced "Mount Dessert" by the locals. When Beth heard this she immediately voted to stay a while.

We began to see very traditional sailing boats, like this schooner. Schooner sailing out from Mount Desert Island

 

Looking out for crab pots We also began to see dense packs of lobster pots and we had to pick our way very slowly and carefully. Most other boats we saw just motored right over the pots, but we were worried about wrapping a line in our prop.

Our friends, John and Susan Bell (whom we met in the Caribbean last year), live nearby and had offered us use of their mooring in Southwest Harbor, located just off the big Hinkley boatyard dock. As we got close to the island, we phoned them up and John met us in a dinghy to show us where the mooring was. Wow, that sure was great!

You need a mooring here because the rocky bottom and 12 foot tidal range make anchoring difficult.

John and Susan are working on their beautiful boat, Tuppence (Hinkley 49), getting her ready for launching later in September. She's been on the hard for 3 years and they're sprucing her up from bow to stern. She's also for sale and this will probably be the last time they'll take her cruising.

August 24 - September 22, 2005

Southwest Harbor

Our stay in the cool climate of Maine was a welcome relief from the Chesapeake. With a water temperature of 57 degrees, the air temperature was very pleasant.

Beth in fashionable modified superman outfit Beth dressed for the weather in her modified superman outfit. Ken was particularly captivated by the matching hat and socks.

 

The weather tended to extremes -- either drop dead gorgeous -- or foggy, rainy, and damp. But even the fog had a mysterious, quiet beauty. Moored in the fog

 

Sunset in Southwest Harbor When the weather was clear, we enjoyed colorful sunsets.

This part of Maine gets 11-12 foot tides and we had to watch out for low spots when we were dinghying around.

Here's an example of what it looks like at high tide:

Dock at high tide Shore at high tide

Here are the same places at low tide, with new land masses sticking up:

Dock at low tide Shore at low tide

 

Lobster fisherwoman

Lobstering is a great big deal in Maine. The big boats go to deep water, but some little boats work right in the harbor. (Tells you how clean the water is.)

The "Mainiacs" are pretty easygoing, but picking up somebody else's lobster pot can get you lynched around here.

We got our lobster in the restaurants -- yum!

 

Like fishing boats we'd seen in other places, each boat had its own personality. Most of the boats were named after women (like "Dorothy Marie" at right) -- wives, daughters, and girfriends. Fishing boat Dorothy Marie

 

Toy fishing boat Kids get an early start on fishing training -- some even have miniature, play-size boats in their backyards.

 

People also fish for mackeral in the harbor. These kids are trying to entice a nearby seal with a mackeral treat. Kids enticing seal

 

Seal swimming toward free meal Prowling around the docks looking for a handout.

 

This fellow knows a good thing when he sees it. Seal getting a mackeral treat

Culture Shock

People in Maine are honest. That or they are crazy.

Unlocked hard bottom dinghies Nobody locks their dinghy. (Except us, of course. We're from Chicago.)

 

The lady in this house runs a self-serve, homemade jam, bread and vegetable stand.

Here Beth puts her money in the can to pay for some jam.

And the sign says if you need to make change, just open the can!

Buying jam at unmanned stand

 

An amazing sight we saw over and over -- unlocked bicycles, even in the "big city" of Bar Harbor. Unlocked bike on pier at Bar Harbor

 

Another unlocked bike in front of store that welcomes dogs

This unlocked bike is probably worth $2000. And the sign on the storefront says "Dogs Welcome."

Is this really the United States?

Beth Loses Her Wallet (again) But Gets Lucky

We had our own personal brush with Maine-style honesty.

One morning we heard a tap-tap on our hull and popped on deck to see who was there. A woman in a dinghy, from a nearby boat, said the Coast Guard was trying to hail us on the VHF radio. She had noticed our boat and picked up the call for us (we had our radio off). The Coast Guard wanted us to call the police and she had the number for us!

Ken called the number and the policeman asked if there was someone named Beth onboard, because they had her wallet at the police station. And not only that -- it still had all the money, credit cards, and ID inside!! We didn't even know it was missing.

The night before, we had taken the late bus back from Bar Harbor. The wallet must have fallen out when Beth was rumaging around in her butt pack.

We went right to the police station and got the scoop (and the wallet). A teenager on the bus found the wallet and took it home with him, and his mom brought it to the police the next morning. Officer O'Connor looked through the wallet and found our boat card (and checked out our website). He figured we might be somewhere in the harbor so he called the Coast Guard station at Southwest Harbor and they tried to hail our boat. That's when the woman on a nearby boat picked up the call.

Officer O'Connor on duty at Southwest Harbor. Officer O'Connor at Southwest Harbor

We were so impressed by the teenager, his mother, Officer O'Connor, the Coast Guard, and the woman in the harbor. It took us hours to track everyone down to thank. (We never did find the woman in the dinghy.) We gave the teenager a reward.

Exploring Mt. Desert Island

Pristine fire truck A truck from SW Harbor's volunteer fire department.

 

Fellow sailors Anne and Pete

 

We met some other sailors while moored at Southwest Harbor. Anne and Pete from England have been cruising for 4 years.

 

Pete was in the Royal Air Force and served as a rescue pilot for many years. He met Anne when he rescued her off a boat after she was seriously injured. Talk about meeting your knight in shining armor!

Then she taught him to sail, and they sailed off together.

We took advantage of spectacular weather early in our stay to explore many of the terrific hiking trails around the island. L.L. Bean donated a bunch of money for free bus service around Mount Desert and we used these convenient buses to get to different trail heads.

Acadia Mountain

For our first hike, we chose a "moderate" trek up Acadia Mountain.

Spectacular views on Acadia Mountain trail Wow, we couldn't believe how beautiful it was. This place rivals anything we've seen in the tropics for spectacular scenery.

 

The trail to the top of Acadia Mountain isn't that long, but we were tired nonetheless. Our legs had gotten pretty mushy over the last couple of months and we were so happy to be out hiking again.

Ken on top of Acadia Mountain

 

View of Somes Sound At every turn we saw one view more breathtaking than the next. Somes Sound is peaking through the trees.

One thing about the trails here -- they go straight up. When we hiked in California, we got used to switch-backed trails. Although the trails were longer, they were much easier to hike.

Here Beth is decending the "trail." If you look closely you can see two blue paint marks verifying that this is really the right way to go.

Beth descending trail on Acadia Mountain

 

Beautiful forest scene Granite boulders dot the island and make for some challenging scrambling.

We did fine going up and down the mountain but Beth took a hard tumble on flat ground when the loop on the shoe lace from her right boot got caught on the lace hook of her left boot. She went down like a chopped tree.

We don't recommend this. Hiking hazzard -- locked boots

 

Shoelace with 4 knots Now she does it this way.

One of our friends had an injury to his leg and got physical therapy to teach his brain to communicate with his legs again. Ken thinks Beth should get some of that.

Mountains

With the weather continuing to be spectacular, we did a lot more hiking, eventually climbing St. Sauveur, Gorham, Champlain, Dorr, and Cadillac Mountains.

On top of Dorr Mountain Resting on top of Dorr Mountain.

 

You can also climb Gorham via the "Precipice Trail." YOU can do it, because we didn't! Scary caution sign at the top of the Precipice Trail

 

Hikers Lynn and Tom At the top of Gorham Mountain, we met hikers Lynn and Tom resting in the sun. They asked us if we had come up the Precipice Trail. We said "Are you kidding? We're not nuts -- we came up the trail for normal people. How did you get up here?" Tom replied "Oh, we came up the Precipice Trail"! That shut us up.

 

Hope Ken doesn't take a step backwards -- its a long way down! Ken on the edge of Beechcroft Trail

Kayaking

The waters and islands nearby Mount Desert are popular kayaking areas. We saw lots of kayakers during our stay and after 4 hours of struggling to assemble our kayak, we took it for a spin.

We got a good workout kayaking around for several hours. As we got away from the island, the seas built and we felt a bit unsure. We'd never really kayaked in any kind of seas before. Kayaking near Southwest Harbor

 

Checking out cormorants roosting and sunning We were able to check out cormorants that were enjoying the sun.

Biking

Acadia Park has a very nice network of gravel "carriage trails" that criss-cross a large section of the island. Only carriages, bikes, horses, and hikers can use these trails -- no cars.

We rented bikes during Labor Day weekend and were pleasantly surprised that it wasn't all that crowded. The bikes were high quality, 24-speed mountain bikes and they worked great.

Ken on Mount Desert carriage trail What a fantastic bike ride! We cycled up and down gentle hills for about 5 hours.

 

The scenery was absolutely stunning and the air temperature in the low 70's -- perfect for biking. Lake off carriage trail

 

Beth resting and enjoying the scenery This was the first bike ride we'd taken since Beth's bike accident 2 years ago and she later confided that she was more nervous about this bike ride than any sailing we've done thus far on the trip. Fortunately she stayed upright for the whole ride.

Near the end of our ride, Ken spotted this Kubota tractor (below left) parked along the road. Out of curiosity, he checked the engine and sure enough, it was the same model as we have on the boat! It even had the same infamous dynamo (below right).

Kubota ractor used for maintaining carriage rodes Kubota dynamo Ken spotted on small tractor

Bar Harbor

Several of our friends told us to visit Bar Harbor, a town on the eastern side of Mount Desert, and we weren't disappointed. It's a tourist town --for hikers, kayakers, and sailors. We found great camping and kayaking stores, terrific restaurants, and wonderful fudge and ice cream places. What more could you ask for?

Schooner heading in at sunset at Bar Harbor Overlooking the bay at Bar Harbor. While we saw lots of tourists, they were extremely courteous and friendly.

We visited Bar Harbor in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and we met several people who were from the areas hit by the hurricane. Even though they didn't know if they still had a home, they were determined to continue their vacation! We were amazed at how resilient people can be.

Exploring Surrounding Area

John and Susan took us on a little tour off Mount Desert Island. Our main objective was a huge marine store where we had fun stocking up on hard-to-find supplies.

We also visited the Maritime Museum at Searsport. There were several hands-on exhibits that give you a flavor for what it was like to operate a sailing vessel in the old days.

Susan and Beth trying their luck turning the capstan Susan and Beth tried out this rotating capstan. On a real ship the crew would use this device to raise a huge anchor. Guess we'll keep our electric windlass.

Beth tried her hand at running along the spars. You are supposed to get your weight up on top of the spar so that you can reach over to furl and unfurl the sails. This was incredibly awkward -- her feet kept shooting forward into the sail.

Sailors run along the rope lines to furl and unfurl sails Attempting, without much success, to stand up on rigging

 

This was as far as Beth could get -- good thing nobody was depending on her to get those sails furled. Hanging on for dear life -- fortunately Beth was only 1 foot off the ground

Boat Projects

In between hiking, biking, and kayaking, we did work on boat projects. For the past several months, our watermaker ran at higher than expected pressures. The watermaker manufacturer decided we had a faulty pump and they swapped our old pump for a new one. The new pump works great -- pressures are back to normal levels.

Ken also installed a heat exchanger (see long white tube in picture at right) to extract surplus heat from our generator. We use the excess heat to make hot water for showers and to heat the interior of the boat. Heat exchanger for genset extracts heat for making hot water

We have a separate boiler that makes hot water, but it has been very unreliable. After a great deal of testing and talking with the heater support people, we finally sent it in for repair. Ken reinstalled it and after a few modifications, was able to get it working again. Since we also use the Yanmar engine to make hot water, we now have 3 ways to heat water. Four if you count shore power.

Beth also worked to track down persistent interference between our autopilot and single side band (SSB) radio. When we transmit on the SSB the autopilot goes beserk and the boat suddenly veers off course -- this can be very dangerous when the boat is under sail. We also hear loud groaning noises on the SSB when the autopilot makes a normal course correction, making it impossible to hear other people talking.

So far we don't have a solution. Everybody we talk to has a different (and sometimes conflicting) idea about how to fix this but they all say "this is a very hard problem and you might never be able to fix it -- you'll just have to hand steer when you use the radio". We've tried filters, shielding, and replacing the autopilot motor -- all with zero effect on the problem. We've decided it's all voodoo magic.

While working on the autopilot, Beth noticed one of the connectors had come loose, generating enough heat to melt the plastic of the connector. Burned connector on autopilot

We removed the entire brain of the autopilot and brought it to Jerry at the Hinkley yard for repair. He ordered a new connector, removed the old one (which was soldered onto the circuit board), and resoldered the new connector all within 2 days. Wow, that was terrific service!

The vibration of the boat probably loosened up the connections. We've decided we should recheck the connections after a passage.

While reinstalling the autopilot brain, Beth inadvertantly hooked two of the instrument feeds up incorrectly, almost frying the (very expensive) brain. Realizing her mistake, she told Ken he should fire her as electronics officer. Ken said he could only fire her if he had someone better to do the job. And since HE was the only other candidate, her job was safe.

Ophelia and Fog

Ophelia gave us our second Hurricane scare of the season, as NOAA predicted that it would pass just south of us, potentially bringing strong winds and surge.

Danger area for Hurricane Ophelia Ophelia's predicted track.

Our friends, John and Susan, advised us to leave Southwest Harbor for the greater protection of Northeast Harbor a few miles away.

Normally a trip like this would be very easy, but the fog was extremely dense and we didn't have much experience maneuvering in close quarters in the fog.

We made it safely to Northeast Harbor in the fog. We were socked in for 3 days -- Ophelia passed safely off to the east and we didn't see any winds over 15 knots. Moored in fog in Northeast Harbor

 

Sun reflecting off water in the fog The fog was eerie and beautiful. We thought the sun, reflecting here off the water, would burn it off -- but it was very tenacious and closed in tight during the day.

We were desperate to pick up our repaired autopilot part back at the Hinkley yard, so we decided to brave the fog and make the 2-3 mile trip in our dinghy. This was a scary proposition because we would be taking our dinghy out into open water, in dense fog.

Even though this was a short trip, we prepared as though we were going on a wilderness expedition. We practically sank the dinghy with all the stuff we took -- including a spare tank of gasoline, GPS, VHF radio, telephone, space blanket, die markers, flares, whistles, fog horns, maps, etc... Getting ready for dinghy ride in the fog

 

Navigating in the fog Before we set off, we plotted a course on the chart, establishing waypoints at navigation marks in the water. We wrote down all the bearings and motored with blind faith toward the first one. We were thrilled as we saw each mark right where we expected to find it.

You can't imagine what a vulnerable, yet exciting sensation it was motoring around in our dinghy totally surrounded by the thick fog. Without the compass, we would have been totally disoriented. Although we had brought a GPS, we didn't use it.

Future Plans

We'll be heading south again soon. Next stop is Newport, RI where we'll spend a few weeks getting last preparations done before going back to the Caribbean in November. We still hope to see more friends and family while on the East Coast. We're not sure yet if we'll jump off for the Caribbean from Newport or from a place further south (like Norfolk, VA).