Warm Weather Here We Come

On a brisk morning Aura quietly motored through the Beaufort channel, passing keen fishermen standing waste high in chilled water as the sun rose on the horizon. The air was still as we motored offshore. Tourterelle and Glyde were close by and we were soon joined by another yacht. Everybody’s intentions were clear. All four yachts were on the same course to warm weather and sunshine – Back to the Bahamas.

It wasn’t long until the forecast wind come in, we motor sailed and soon we gained speed and were able to turn the engine off. We had calm seas with an AWA (apparent wind angle) of 60 degrees, our sweet spot. It wasn’t long until we were well ahead of the other yachts. The sun was shining yet we had multiple layers of clothing to keep warm. I think the last time I wore gloves was March last year when boarding in Japan.

 

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We had coordinates (WPT (way points)) to enter and exit the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream is a strong current that runs from the warm waters of the Caribbean/Mexico Gulf along the USA/Canadian coast, crossing the Atlantic towards the UK. This current may be a narrow few miles or more than 100 miles wide. If the wind is against the current the seas may stand tall and be mountainous. With Kim’s careful planning and a third party consultation we had a perfect weather window and a short crossing.  That evening before our night shift started, we spoke with the other yachts and settled in for the evening. I was keen to put out the fishing lines as fish are plentiful in these warm currents however it wasn’t conducive on this cold and black night.

That evening the wind shifted more to our nose, so to maintain speed I altered our course missing our entry WPT by 10nm. Our exit was away from the rum line (direct course to Bahamas) yet it was thought to be the fastest. We had a small wind shift and with our new heading we would also miss the exit by a few miles. Not that this would matter, we were soon on a direct course warm weather.

The following day after crossing the Gulf Stream, we were unable to contact the other yachts. Our speed and amended course were the likely factors. As the sun rose and throughout the day we started sheading layers of clothing. I think the warm currents had an influential factor. We continued to sail at a good speed.

On day three, the winds dissipated and we were back to motor sailing. By this time we had discarded our socks and returned to t-shirts. We even had showers on the stern, the first in several months. We could almost smell the Bahaman air. The typical passage routines of sleep, eat, read, watch a movie/tv series continued.  That night our perfect wind and sea window was a thing of the past. We had 3 meter seas on our beam (side) as we slammed and rolled our way towards the Bahamas. We continued to reach out to our friends on the radio however we had no reply. Our AIS showed a few passing ships in the distance, there was very little traffic. I remind Kim that we were back in the Bermuda Triangle but there was nothing odd happening with our navigation it was just an uncomfortable ride.

On day four, we closed in on land. We couldn’t see it but we knew it was there. These islands are only a few meters above sea level so it wasn’t until we were a few miles away the sky cleared and we could make out some golden sand and rocks in the distance. Over the radio we heard a familiar voice, it was Derek from Ocean Blue. A few weeks earlier we had both departed Norfolk together however they had set a direct course Abaco. We called them to say hello, told them our current position and arranged to catch up the following day. We could then hear Tourterelle speaking with Derek, they were not far away, just a little further east than our course.

We crossed the passage at Nunjack Chanel with reefed sails into the vivid turquoise protected waters. Coconut Tree Bay (off Rat Cay) looked like a well-protected place to drop the anchor, celebrate with a glass of wine, a swim and much needed sleep.

 

< we have a technical issue with our Cannon camera thus the limited images >

 

Who turned down the temperature?

The day after Simon left for the airport, the weather changed. It went to a balmy 25c to a maximum of 12c and did not vary from that temperature. It just went from being dry and windy to wet and windy and back again. So while Simon was sunning himself in beautiful Noosa, I was experiencing my first teeth chattering weather for close to two years. Fortunately we did have reverse cycle air conditioner and Tourterelle kindly lent me a little portable heater that warmed up the saloon in no time.

Apart from the cold, the OCC dock in Norfolk was a lively and social in which to spend the next 10 days on my own. There were a number of other OCC boats also tied at the dock so my time was consumed by sundowners, dinners and a couple of nights of Mexican Train. I even watched my first rugby game for the year at the local Irish Pub with Ken and Jen from Lady Rebel. Fortunately Australia won against Wales.

 

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Elizabeth River is a wealth of activity with always something happening from war ships, to tall ships to barges making their way up the river.

 

My job while Si was away was to start provisioning for our trip to the Bahamas and Cuba. Provisioning in the Caribbean is often challenging as the offerings are minimal and expensive. Si enquired about a tub of ice cream, it was priced at $40. In the land of plenty, this is a huge different from the $1.80 a tub that you can buy at the local supermarket. Our local Norfolk OCC Port Officers, Greta (who assists Gary) kindly took Ann and I shopping. I don’t think she realised how low on provisions we were. After a visit to Costco and Walmart, the car was filled to the brim. Once back on-board, finding a home for everything is always a challenge but managed to find space in the end.

 

Apart from running around trying to get the bow thruster anode (zinc) replaced and a number of different “to do” items that Simon left me. He also set me a goal to take pictures of some of the local mermaids that reside in Norfolk at various locations around the city. 

 

 

Before I knew it, Si was back bearing plenty of gifts from Oz…picnics, corn relish, herbs and spices, rye flour. Yes I know that sounds strange but spices are crazy expensive and rye flour impossible to find. My sour dough starter would not be happy without it. Once he was home things all got a bit crazy. There looked to be a weather window for us to get around Cape Hatteras and into Beaufort (NC). As it was getting late in the season, the weather windows were getting less frequent and the winter weather pattern had started to set in. This meant that if an opportunity presented itself, we had to take it.

The trip to Beaufort is approx. 240nm or a bit under 2 days of sailing. Upon Simon’s return, we spent the morning preparing passage food, packing up the boat, organising lines for an easy get away and farewells to our wonderful host Gary and Greta and the other OCC boats. We left shortly after lunch to refuel before heading off. I had about 4 layers of cloths on (pretty much everything I own) in an attempt not to freeze to death.

The passage around Cape Hatteras was uneventful as we had nice wind and following seas. It only got a bit yuck when we came around Cape Lookout and had to head straight into the wind with the waves hitting our beam. After being nearly toppled out of bed, I convinced Simon that it might be a bit more comfortable to bring in the genoa and turn on the engine. After a bit of grumbling, Simon agreed and we waited for sunrise so to slowly make it through the inlet to Beaufort. As our anchorage is through a swing bridge that did not open until 8.30am, we dropped the hook and caught upon some much needed sleep.

That afternoon, we had a visit from the local OCC Port Officer, Dianne. She came bearing gifts as we had to divert a number of packages to her place due to leaving Norfolk in a hurry. We had a great evening with Dianne, Ian and Ann. We also soon discovered that Dianne was also our local social organiser.

 

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The following night we were invited to a ribs night at her local yacht club. It was great to meet some of the locals. That night there was some wind forecast so after getting back to Aura, we let out some additional anchor chain and settled in for the night. I woke up around 1.30pm to the howling of the wind. Everything appeared well so I headed back to bed. About an hour later the wind seemed to be increasing so I was on constant watch.  I heard a noise and stuck my head out the window only to see Tourterelle very close to us as they drifted by. I jumped out of bed and managed to throw on some clothes. Si didn’t bother with clothes as we both headed to the deck where we started yelling at Tourterelle in an attempt to wake them up. They narrowly missed hitting Aura by centre meters, they just drifted past and fortunately they didn’t foul or cause our anchor to drag.

We were successful in waking them and before long Ian and Ann were both on deck. They were only about 10 meters behind us and had drifted aground in the mud. They tried several times to pull their anchor up and launch Tourterelle out of the mud but the anchor windlass kept tripping (overload). Si helped them lay a kedge anchor in deeper water (that’s a second anchor) and they were able to pull themselves out of the mud and re-anchor.  This was all taking place as 35 knot gusts blew through the anchorage. Not something that you want to repeat again any time soon. Fortunately, no damage was done as their yacht is designed with a retracting keel (dagger board) and to sit on the bottom at low tide. I was not able to sleep so continued to keep a look out until the sun came up and the wind slowly decreased.

That day we went to the local historical society thanksgiving lunch at the historical town centre. All the volunteers were dressed in period costume. We started with clam chowder soup following by a turkey and ham dinner accompanied by colour greens, green beans, broad beans, mashed potato and stuffing. The culinary highlight was the cranberry sauce. This was followed by pumpkin pie and washed down with sweet tea (pronounced as “sweeteee) (we might have bought some wine that also helped with the lubrication). After the previous night, we all felt that we had lots to be thankful for.

 

Historical Society Thanksgiving

 

I finished off the day with a little retail therapy before heading back to Aura for a very early night. Thankfully the wind had totally abated.

The following day, Diana kindly collected Simon, Ann and myself for a small provisioning excursion. We had all told her that we didn’t need much...yeah right. After a trip to Walmart and Lidle there was not room for another shopping bag. We are now well and truly provisioned and ready for the Bahamas.

 

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Si completed the scheduled servicing, replacing the fuel filters, an oil change on the engine and he re-commissioned the water maker (As we are back in clean ocean water). We are now just waiting on the right weather window and we hope to be on our way. I can’t wait for that first swim!!

 

Thanksgiving @ Atlantic Beach

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Down the Chesapeake

We farewelled Annapolis, as we recommenced our passage down the Chesapeake towards the Atlantic. We left on a cool morning and by mid-afternoon, arrived at the village of Solomon Island. Like  so many of the towns along the Chesapeake,  there are more boats than people. Every inlet, river and creek has a marina lining the shore. 

We anchored in yet another creek next to Tourterelle, they had arrived a short time earlier.  There was no need to launch our dingy as Tourterelle already had theirs in the water. They had issues with their electric outboard and were paddling. We decided to explore the town, so we used our outboard on their dingy to make our way to shore. The town centre was difficult to find. The place was a sprawl of marinas with a boardwalk noting historic events such as captured ships from WW2, with a plaque noting they had been anchored offshore or sunk. Claim to fame or maybe just something for the tourists to look at. There was an ice cream shop, a café and grill, sea side village with a boardwalk without a beach. Unexpectedly we found the Solomon Winery on a nearby dock. It was open for tastings, a friendly environment with a range of non-vintage and flavoured wines; let’s call it a tourist attraction rather than a serious winery. Kim and Ann enjoyed the tasting and the chat with the host. We returned to the dingy and made our way further up the creek and docked at the Holiday Inn. We learnt that a micro-brewery was nearby so we had a mission. At least the brewery was true to the craft. We  met the owner Carlos, an Argentinian with a passion for beer, who after many years of engineering in the states decided to start a brewery. If you are in the area, I can recommend the IPA and the duck pizza

 

 

 

Solomon

 

The next day we moved on towards Deltaville where we planned to haul out. Tourterelle was on a mission to find a “close nit” community on a nearby island (I understand everybody is related). We motored our way down the Chesapeake. Late  that afternoon we found the Little Bay anchorage at the entrance of Antipoison Creek. That evening we were treated to a magnificent sunset and sunrise the following morning.

 

Little Bay (await comment from Nic)

 

Little Bay

 

The timing to enter the Deltaville yard was critical as we needed to enter at high tide. We crawled through the channel and found the thick mud. Fortunately a local yelled advice as to the direction for better depth and we made our way to the service dock. We had concerns with size of the travel lift, we had forwarded the lift plan with measurements and supporting notes. The following morning we met with the owner who explained that they lift yachts larger than us and talked us through the process. We felt comfortable enough to go ahead however my measurements told me the distance between the slings on their lift just wasn’t big enough for us. They carefully and professionally moved Aura by hand into the lift. A sling was caught on our keel and they dropped it so to drag it forward of the bow and then repositioned it. They then attempted to adjust the aft sling but it needed to move forward several meters, we’re just too big. We both felt relieved when the owner aborted the lift. We then had the same tidal window to make it out of the creek and back to deeper water. We did so at haste. Let’s go find Larus and Tourterelle, its time for a drink!

 

Deltaville Yacht Centre

 

We moved to the southern side of Deltaville, anchoring at Jackson Creek in front of the Fish Bay Yacht Club. We met a few friendly locals at the FBYC who were keen for a chat. They have a traditional and well maintained sailing club. Larus was at the nearby boat yard, they had been home to the UK and returned to finish maintenance work. We also met Bob and Anne on Baloo, another OCC yacht. We celebrated Ian’s birthday with a BBQ on Tourterelle and the bays OCC members (all of the above friends).

Anchored at Fishing Bay Yacht Club (Deltaville)

Anchored at Fishing Bay Yacht Club (Deltaville)

We created a new plan, haul out in Portsmouth its only 35nm away. There is a yard that caters for super yachts, so there is no doubt they can handle Aura. With a cold northerly wind we set sail for Portsmouth and again, passed another interesting lighthouse.

 

 

We hadn’t realised that the Portsmouth / Norfolk area was the home of the US Navy’s Atlantic Fleet and maintenance ship yards. The river entrance was lined with aircraft carriers and other scary warships. We entered the river being watched by a small navy vessel with navy helicopters buzzing overhead every 20 minutes. We made our way upstream with Ocean Blue in pursuit; we hadn’t seen them since Steve’s birthday in Johannesburg. We chatted on the radio and just after dusk we anchored at Hospital Point. We rose early the next morning and made our way to the travel lift. In perfect conditions we hauled Aura out of the water, the hull was pressure cleaned and she was blocked and on stands by lunch time. The yard started rubbing back the hull in preparation for painting. The yard didn’t allow people to stay on-board. Tourterelle and Ocean Blue had kindly offered us a bunk. We all enjoyed a scrumptious dinner on Ocean Blue and we caught up on each other’s travels and time away. The next morning we were invited by an OCC Port Capitan (Gary) to berth on a dock in Norfolk just opposite our current anchorage. We first assisted Ocean Blue with docking then Tourterelle. It was time to explore a new city. The dock was at the front of Gary & Greta’s condo with at least 7 berths available for OCC members. The immediate neighbourhood has cobble stone streets with heritage homes that date back to settlement. 

 

Norfolk @ dawn

 

 

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Aura safely returned to the water and we could return home after the extended and kind stay on Tourterelle. It was just in time as we'd organized the big five O celebration. Several of our cruising friends had battled in less than favorable conditions to join us in Norfolk for the 2nd November. With a little Google research we found a liquor store that offered a suitable range of Aussie reds and Kiwi Sav. Blancs. We gathered on Aura with warm sunshine for a fun afternoon, that merged into the evening. With amazement we avoided any new swimming awards.

 

 

 

 

A day later we were alerted to the escape of party balloons. These balloons had found the top of a neighboring yachts mast. The owner was less than impressed. I was booked to visit my parents and with an hour before heading to the airport I was in U.S Australian relations damage control. See photo below. A big thanks to Ian for his work on the winch.

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Home & Another Road Trip

With a little apprehension we crossed back into the US as we had been in and out of the country several times in the last few weeks. No issues and the drive home to Aura was over and so was our holiday away. We had a few more days catching up with Rob & Cathy. The largest USA boat show was happening in Annapolis. A few of our Barbados 50 friends (Kerpa, Tourterelle, Lady Rebel, White Ibis) and a few others from our travels (Perigee, La Perle Noire) were all there for the event. We had a lovely surprise when we ran into Earl and Joan (Wanderer). Earl and Joan date back to Turkey and our first day out on Aura….not the best of days……anyway it was great to see them. We even had a catch up with Jimmy Cornell, the man who wrote the book that Kim frequently uses to consider our ocean passages and the man behind the Barbados 50 event.

 

 

 

 

 

The week of partying continued with a party at Peter & Patty’s (Serendipitous) Annapolis home with a cast of fellow OCC members. Kim attempted to make a pavlova but the humidity meant that the nice crusty bit didn’t form…it was still well received and very yummy.

We extended our break to explore Washington DC for a couple of days. We stayed with Brian and Danni (Chinook). OCC members who we had briefly met at Hadley Harbour. They gave us an extremely warm welcome and spoiled Kim with pink champagne. We explored the tourist sites during the day and enjoyed their company with great food and wine in the evenings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Then it was back to work….as we had Aura in a marina it was time to utilise the endless supply of water and the convenience of the dock. Our batteries that we purchased in Turkey had failed…..they were only 1.5 year old …we concluded they were dual start/house not the ideal product for house batteries. The same physical size wasn’t available in the US so we ended up with golf cart size batteries, giving us a small increase in the capacity of the bank (now 600amp hour). We also had a road trip to collect our re-galvanised anchor and chain. Tourterelle had kindly taken our chain with theirs so it was our job to do the collection and road trip to Baltimore.

 

 

Somewhere in the week we also caught up with Keith and Emily. Keith is the US Beneteau broker and we had met Emily during the AC in Bermuda. An indulgent and memorable night, thank you!

 

 

We’re now back on anchor, the weather is cooling and we contemplating our return to the Caribbean. We had planned on heading to the BVIs with the Salty Dawgs but due to the hurricanes we had been thinking of returning to the Windward Island….maybe we should return to the Bahamas and make our way to Central America…..Aura hasn’t sold so we are still sailing……the time away has provided a little rejuvenation

 

 

Holiday Away

We’d planned a break from our nomadic ocean life to catch up with friends further afield. The plan was Johannesburg then Chicago then Toronto, a cottage at Halls Lake and then Niagara Falls before returning to Aura. We did post some pictures of our travels on FB, this is the blog account with a few more photos.

Aura was tied up at Pier 7 Marina and our Aussie yacht broker Keith kindly took me to the airport. The drive from Annapolis to the Washing DC airport (Dulles) is one and half hours on the freeway and if I was to take public transport that would have been 3 buses and a train…..in the States a car is a necessity.

It was an easy flight to Johannesburg; my first stop was to catch up with Rob and Nora. Since our last visit they had moved to a secure golf course estate. It was great to catch up, I don’t want to think how many years had passed but it was easy, fun and just like old times.

Kim had to rush home to Australia after her dad got sick and later passed away. She was soon on her way to JNB albeit via Singapore on a longer flight so she could spend a little extra time in Australia. She did get a chance to catch up with Paulie and Becfor a quick celebratory birthday lunch for Bec in Canberra before her flight.

I was able to join in the start of Steve’s birthday, “somethings to try before you die”. Yep as is fitting, lets brush up on our firearm skills and shoot a few guns. The catch up commenced, Milly and Will (Steve’s kids, well they are now adults…..time does get away), Dave from Brisbane and Bernice, Sean and Connor from Perth Plus many of Steve’s friends from SA, UK and Australia. Bang bang bang with a pump action shot gun …..Let the weekend begin! And just to name a few Glock, AK47 and the R5 Carbines.

 

Kim arrived early Saturday morning and we toured the grounds of the golf course estate, of course this was in golf cart. It wasn’t long before we found the 19th and with the time zone differences it was declared “its 5óclock somewhere”. As we do, a special restaurant was selected for lunch. We shared some fantastic Italian fare and SA wines. After a short nap we headed to our next engagement,  a birthday braaie. We had such a great time and we soon realised how much we missed our “Perth” friends Khatiza and Steve.

 

Early the next morning, I wasn’t feeling the best. What I initially thought was over indulgence actually took me several weeks to recover. We were soon Ubering our way to Black Head, well Zwartkop sounds better. On route, there was a water stop and an emergency vomi stop on the way. On our arrival, there was a helicopter and Milly bailed out. We watched the take off with the open van door that  filled the van with dust and grass….. Will that effect my Uber rating? While Steve is taking the scienic view of the track, Kim and I took the photo opportunity with his Ferrari 488. Ok let’s hit this, I jump in Steve’s GT3 with Will at the helm. We are hunting! Now last time I had seen Will he wasn’t old enough to have L plates. He is fanging this car around the tight track with just enough grip n slide to realise that know one is truly alive. He knows the car, the track and fortunately he has had a few lessons and many race track hours. I think Porsche needs to consider upgrading the seat belts as I’m lurched forward when Will hit the breaks to make each hard corner. Ok enough, time for me to purge………yesterday was fun but nothing like a catch up with one of the Barbados 50 yachts……what did I eat? While I took time to drink more water and loose it again, Kim was flying around the track in another Porsche. What model was that? Kim was then shooting around the track with Steve and his Ferrari. Next , Kim was the aerial view in the chopper. At least one of us is having fun. Oh and our Uber driver also had a great day, he had a few laps in the fleet of cars plus he took my spot for the helicopter ride……he will be talking about this Uber day for many years to come.

 

 

 

That evening we celebrated Steve’s birthday with the same race car theme. We had a wonderful time with Steve, Khatiza and their friends. It was great to see Di & Dave. We hadn’t seen them since a random encounter at our local Rosalie cinema. We had a surprise visit from Derek and Leanne(Ocean Blue) who so happened to be in the neighbourhood. We’d only just said bye to them in Rhode Island…..small world, he was close by visiting this Johannesburg office. Khatiza and Steve kindly invited them to join the celebrations.

 

There was a final farewell lunch and we were back at the airport……(Now if you sail and if haven’t heard the story next time you see Kim ask her about the Maltese Falcon).

Next stop Chicago with a stopover in Heathrow. I really didn’t need to reset my body clock as I’d only been in SA for 4 days. Kim needed a hard reset but she slept and she was perky when Rohan collected us at the airport. Sal & Rohan are friends from Brisbane; we first met in 2008 at the end of our last sailing adventure. Subsequently Kim worked with Sal, we’d go 4WD beach camping and boarding/skiing in Japan. Now these guys with little Maggie and V are living in the States. We settled in for some home-style family time and then explored the local neighbourhood including the mandatory brewery and gym. It was great to do a work out, something I hadn’t done since the marina in Barcelona. We felt at home, with such comfortable hospitality plus a chance to catch up. As every trip needs a high light, we headed into the city for our first base ball game. Beer and really bad hotdogs and nachos with a chemical type cheese…..ah it was about the game and we soon realised it was actually a social event for people to catch up that just so happens to have a  game happening in the background plus  great crowd watching…..similar to a game of cricket. A post game bar was in order. A few locals gave Sal and I a few shots at the “pong” beer cup game. It was a perfect setting for the one man band in the back ground. That day we ticked a few other boxes with a tapas meal followed by live blues music…….now that was a big day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were soon on our way back to the airport, next stop Toronto. We were greeted by Rob & Cathy with a sign. It was going to be an all Canadian trip, starting with a steak dinner at Keggs that was accompanied with a Canadian red. The next day we took in the local sights, Rob gave us the hop on and not get off tour of Toronto. The place has a great feel. We soon headed north and we had a lovely dinner with their close friends. And after another hour or so driving we arrived at the cottage. Picture perfect, just like in the movies with the cottage on the lake. It was time to relax, chill and even a sleep in. Of course a game of Mexican Train was in order, there was a spot of gardening, a hill top hike and a trip to the local dump…..yeah well that’s where you find the bears. Kim was dying to see a bear and when she did, it was immediately time to return to the safety of the pickup truck :- )

 

 

 

 

Road trip! We’re off to the famous tourist town of Niagara Falls. The pictures say it all.

 

Next up, back to the USA

 

Chesapeake Intro

The Chesapeake waters are a lovely coffee colour and surprisingly warm, well that’s warmer than Long Island Sound. After making our way through the Chesapeake/Delaware canal. We headed for the Sassafras River where we were greeted with a plethora of crab pots. It was decided to dodge these under sail as any errors wouldn’t be exacerbated with a line around the propeller. We anchored with Tourterelle at Lilly Pad Beach and enjoyed our new tranquil surroundings. We were well protected from the forecast wind, that didn’t eventuate. We weathered the rain with aMexican Train day and enjoyed a farewell drink with Ian and Ann. They’re heading to Europe to see their family and they needed to get Tourterelle to a marina south of Annapolis.

After a sad farewell (we have been sailing together on and off once for 5 months) we went in search of water and provisions. This took Aura a little further upstream to Georgetown. We found a great restaurant "The Granary" and worked off lunch by walking a few miles to the next town that had a supermarket. Georgetown is a good size but is wall to wall or dock to dock marinas.  In the US it’s just expected everybody has car (or an oversized ute / pickup truck). After an easy walk passing several farms and corn fields, we found a small grocery store that sold a few basics including some fruit and veg. We were good for another week.

 

Sassafras River
 

 


Walk to the supermarket

It was time for a change so we motored our way back down the river to the Chesapeake and towards the Corsica River. More wind and rain was forecast so another protected anchorage was selected. The wind was fickle so it was a day of motoring…..another pleasant anchorage and even more remote. It’s surprising how sparse the population is spread around these water ways.  The rain poured down but no wind. We passed the time with cooking and baking fruit buns. Once the weather improved it was time check out Annapolis.

 

 


Corsica River


We made our way to Annapolis on the Monday of what had been a very wet long weekend. Fortunately the sun was finally out and so was every motor boat, yacht and dingy making the most of the labour day long weekend.  We dodged the traffic out of the river and crossed the Chesapeake. Our timing for anchoring in Back Creek was less than perfect. The creek is lined with marinas and the first anchoring area is about 90 meters wide in soft mud. Lady Rebel had passed us somewhere along the way and made it to Annapolis before us. They had anchored in a prime position and advised two other yachts had just arrived taking up the valuable space, let’s call it the channel. We dropped the hook with a steam of yachts making their way home dodging around us. We found it a little stressful but the locals must be accustom to the challenge of anchored yachts anchored in their path. “All Good” we eventual got a good hold and it was time for catch-up sundowners with Ken & Jen.

 

Annapolis

 

Annapolis Walk



Technically we anchored in Eastport, sometime way back this was separated as a town from Annapolis but in reality its all the same place. We took Helios to the Fourth Street dingy dock (choice also with Fifth Street dingy dock), crossed the bridge (Spa Creek) and wondered around Annapolis. It’s famous for the Maritime Naval Academy and the State House (parliament). Their State House was established in 1783 and it is the oldest that is still in legislative use. It’s also famous as its where George Washington resignation of his commission and also where the treaty of Paris took place for the revolutionary war (1784). Annapolis has lovely architecture with different coloured plaques to signify the buildings age.

Kim was taking an opportunity to pop down to Florida and catch up with Monique however hurricane Irma put a stop to that. Monique evacuated and took the kids to New England. We had concern that Irma may run up the east coast but that didn’t eventuate. We watched the news and Facebook reports of the destruction that took place in the beautiful Caribbean islands that we had only recently enjoyed. Very sad for the loss of life and damage to so many people’s homes in what are very poor countries.

As the Annapolis boat show nears, the anchorage filled up. La Mischief arrived, they are also have travel plans departing for California and Australia. Naturally a sundowner catch up was required.

We received bad news about Kim’s dad being very sick and she rushed home. Unfortunately he passed away before she got home. Kim is now there supporting her mum and making helping with the funeral arrangements. She’s written the eulogy that is a celebration of his life. Our lives are short. We should all make the most and live them to the fullest. We are trying our best.

Aura is now at a marina in South River, we’re soon heading to Johannesburg to celebrate Steve’s 60th and then back to the States to catch up with other friends.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the one you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sales. Explore. Dream. Discover” – Mark Twain

Back in the Atlantic

We farewelled New York and followed the Hudson River towards the Atlantic Ocean. Our plan was some beach time at Sandy Hook however the weather wasn’t favourable so we anchored across the bay, behind the breakwater, near the town of Atlantic Highlands.  It was a well-protected anchorage not far from the marina and dingy dock. We went ashore to explore the town. It wasn’t the typical tourist town that we had become accustom…no ice cream or souvenir shops. It did had a “drive and park” station for the ferry commute to New York City We enjoyed the walk to the local supermarket where we picked up a few provisions before returning to Aura. The next morning in light winds we motored passed the sandy shores line of Sandy Hook with Brooklyn and New York City in the distance.

 

Atlantic Highlands

 

 

Sandy Hook

 

The entrance to Barnegat was said to be challenging with a long entrance that at times is impacted by shoaling and waves when there is wind against tide. It was uneventful. We anchored for the night and had a visit from a few locals, a neighbouring yacht and two guys in power boat who were keen for a chat.

 

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Barnegat

 

Our next hop was to Atlantic City where we anchored outside 2 large casino hotel complexes. This place had the feel of the Gold Coast but it was really broken. We went to shore with Tim and Nancy (Larus) and walked the famous boardwalk. Several of the huge casino hotels close to the beach had permanently closed, the board walk was wide and empty. We walked another kilometre before we reached a number of hotels that had remained in business. This place was lashed by hurricane Sandy and it really hasn’t bounced back. We felt sorry for the residents and comments were made that anybody who was able to leave had already done so…

 

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Atlantic City

 

Another day another passage…this time we managed to sail with the wind directly behind us. We had originally planned to anchor for the night at Cape May but we continued on as we had such a good breeze, we set the whisker pole and our sails ‘wing on wing’. With a small following sea we passed Cape May and crossed the mouth of the Delaware River and anchored off the beach at Lewes. There was a bit of wind forecast the following morning so we did not have to worry about getting around the cape into the Delaware. From Lewes it was a straight forward sail straight up the river.

 

That night we hosted a few quiet sun-dowers on Aura with Tourterelle and our new friends from Maddy and John (Indy). We had a great night but had an early start as we had 50nm to cover while the current was flowing up the river. (We did take a few photos of Bob and friends on his yacht Seas the Day. Bob please confirm your email address).

 

 

Lewes

The Delaware is a busy river system that services industries and ports near Philadelphia. We saw plenty of big cargo ships making their way up the channel. We had a fast sail with good wind coming from 60 degrees…Aura’s sweet spot. With a favourable current, we averaged over 8 knots, faster than the other boats that were motoring. We passed the nuclear power station and noticed that the size of the sea gulls where considerably larger. Not sure if it was coincidental but why spoil a good story. We crossed the “Kerpa’s Dike” at through the channel and we’d only recommend this for a shallow draft yacht or at high tide. The dike runs for several miles just below sea level. That evening we anchored behind Reedy Island so that we could make an early morning passage through the canal. We had a lovely view of the power station chimney that glowed in the dark. Not quite the Statue of Liberty but it was something different.

 

Delaware River

 

We had another early start so to time our departure near high tide while being able to pick up a favourable current through the canal. I set our alarm for 5:30am...only to discover that it was totally dark, not even a glow on the horizon. By about 6:10am we could at least see the anchor so off we went. We followed Tourterelle out towards the canal as this area can shoal.

 

The canal was very quiet. We were the only two boats on it for most of the way. No commercial vessels to fight for space with. The winds were very light so we just glided through with the current. There are plenty of interesting bridges on the way and the canal is fairly windy so plenty to keep us occupied. Once out of the canal, we put the genoa out and sailed down to the Sassafras River. A tropical storm was planned to form and move along the coast so we found a lovely protected anchorage and caught up on some much needed sleep. After 5 days, we had finally made it to the Chesapeake.

 

C&D Canal

 

So back in the Atlantic, then the Delaware and now the Chesapeake

 

East River to the Statue of Liberty

This passage took us to the western end of Long Island Sound, the East River, passing Manhattan to the Hudson River. It was all about timing as the tidal currents rip through the narrow river channel. The most notable section is called Hells Gate. We had assumed its name is derived from the current however this isn’t the case but I’ll get to that. Most of the scenery is lush and green. Once we passed the impressive homes, the river became a little industrial with an airport, prison ship and numerous chemical looking factories. It returns green along the water front and then it’s dominated by concrete and glass buildings.

Kim’s passage planning was perfect, so with precision timing we transited the East River and at times we had a favourable 2 knot current. This pushed us along at 7 to 8 knots (SOG). Our friends Larus set off at the same time as ourselves. The passage was rather uneventful, minimal traffic upstream with the only notable event being a barge that met us on a bend under a bridge…..ah plenty of space.

Hell Gate was named Hellegot by the Dutch who first navigated these waters in 1614. It was so calm that we did not even realise that we had passed through the treacherous body of water. Prior to the 1850’s, it was believed that one in fifty ships trying to run the gauntlet of Hell Gate was sunk or damaged due to the potential large whirlpools, standing waves and sharp rocks. During the late 19th Century engineers from the US Army blew up the rocks and reefs that plagued the treacherous tidal straights. As we discovered, if you time it right, it is a pleasant passage.

We passed the United Nations Building, under the Brooklyn Bridge and then the Wall Street ferry terminal and helicopter landing field.

 

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East River

 

 

 

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Financial District

 

POV with the Go Pro

 

The Statue of Liberty was a grand sight and we passed the island keeping the regulation distance from shore. As we were in full awe of this landmark we research its history. A project and gift from the people of France that commenced around 1865, with the statue built in separate parts with the help of donations and these parts shown in both France and the USA before it was assembled and completed in 1886. We anchored behind the Statue of Liberty, opened a bottle of champagne and waited in eager anticipation for the solar eclipse. New York was expecting 70% coverage. The day did seem to dull but nothing like the eclipse what we experienced as kids. That evening, the anchorage was a bit rolley but well worth it with an unobstructed view of the Manhattan skyline.  It was breath taking as the sky dimmed and the lights of Manhattan sparkled. Nothing like a billion dollar view for free.

 

 

 

 

The next morning in fog and a little haze we made our way down the Hudson and back to the Atlantic. A busy harbour that was dominated by fast moving ferries, we slipped past the many ships with almost all remaining stationary on anchor.

 

Morning Fog

 

 

Farewell New York!

Long Island and New York, New York

We bid a sad farewell to Newport, one of our favourite stops in New England and headed for Fishers Island. The plan is to make our way to New York with a few stops via Long Island. The first night we anchored in East Harbour on Fisher Island, just next to a world class golf course (Fishers Island Club). I was making chicken pie for dinner so we had plenty to go around when Tim and Nancy (Larus) and Ian and Ann (Tourterelle) arrived.  Later that evening Penny and Peter (Serendipitous) also appeared so they also came aboard for a couple of night caps.

 

Fisher Island

The next morning was an early start to catch the incoming tide to Mattatuck. There was no wind so we had to rely on the current to improve our speed. We had heard good things about Mattatuck, the anchorage is located up a river (more like a creek). We had to enter at high tide. At the entrance we saw 2.2 meters…not a good start. We wound our way through the river with Tourterelle not far behind us. It wasn’t until we saw Tourterelle come under a power cable that we gave ourselves an almighty scare…where did that come from? We must have only had a couple of feet clearance. There was no mention of it in the pilot book or active captain. Sure enough we did find it on our Raymarine chart and kicked ourselves that we did not see it prior to coming in. We made our way to the anchorage that looked to have a bit less water than we were expecting. The tidal movement is about 1.6 meters so even in 4 meters of water at high tide, we would only have 30 cm clearance at low tide. Not enough to for us to be comfortable so we waved goodbye to Tourterelle and made our way back down the creek. Even though we knew that we could clear the power cables, we still held our breath as we went under.

The next planned stop was Port Jefferson which was 26nm away. We still had a positive current and the wind was slightly up so we put the sails out and had a great motor sail. I think we even managed to sail without an engine for an hour...wohoo!! Port Jefferson was very much an industrial port with a big power station located in the heart of the bay. It was good enough to anchor for the night, once the ferries stopped running.

The next morning we picked up the anchor and headed to Oyster Bay. We had met some locals, Cindy and Neil in Newport who had recommended this place. Not only for its natural beauty but because you can also catch a train into New York. We arrived to lovely sunshine and calm weather. The anchorage lived up to expectations. We finally got the anchor to hold as it was soft mud and takes a little while to set. Shortly after arriving, we got a call from the broker that a guy from Boston was interested in looking at Aura. Considering it is a 5 hour drive from Boston we figured he might be serious so we got Aura nice and pretty for her first viewing.

 

Oyster Bay

We really liked Oyster Bay. We visited the local brewery and sampled their wares. We caught up with Cindy, Neil and Cindy’s mum with drinks on Aura. We waved hello to Billy Joel who had a big house across the bay and walked around Teddy Roosevelts place on Sagamore Hill. 

 

Sagamore Hill

 

While at Oyster Bay, we decided to visit New York. Although the train takes a bit longer, the walk is a lot shorter. Day one in New York involved a lot of walking. We caught the train to Penn Station and walked to the High Line. This was once an overhead train line that they have turned into a garden with interesting sculptures and good views of the city. From there we walked to central park via Time Square. What we had originally calculated as a 20 minute walk turned out to be over an hour. Once reaching Central Park, we found a nice tavern and shouted ourselves to a well deserved bottle of wine. We got talking to the bar attendant who pointed us to the John Lennon memorial (Strawberry Fields) then onto one of the best pizza places in midtown New York. I was so hungry I burnt my tongue :- (

 

Now that we had been revived with food we took the metro then walked to 230 on 5th Avenue. We found our way to a recommended roof top bar with great views of the Empire State building. We were not disappointed so had a glass of wine, took a few happy snaps and made our way back to the train and home.

 

 

 

Day 1 photos of New York

 

Just for the record, the fellow who looked at Aura decided to pick this day to drive back up to look at Aura for a second time. As we were not home, he bought a Sense 55 instead. A very keen buyer but it obviously was not meant to be.

The following day we picked up anchor and moved to Port Washington. This was to be our base for several days as we continued to explore New York. Port Washington is very cruiser and transient yacht friendly. We received a welcome pack from the local commerce association. They were extremely friendly and helpful. A short 15 minute walk to the train station, cafes, restaurants, pubs, good shopping and even a chandlery (West Marine) in walking distance from the dingy dock (equipped with phone charger station, rocking chairs in a shady area and water bottle refill station).  Note to Simon…be careful of the vicious swans. The harbour was also surrounded by a number of larger homes for the wealthy. Speaking of wealthy, we did note the 8 am morning overhead rush hour of helicopters ferrying the working important people to Manhattan…we assume Wall Street.

 

 

 

Port Washington

Day two in New York saw us explore downtown New York including the 9/11 memorial, Wall St, China Town, Little Italy and a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. The sun was out and we had some great views from the bridge…we even saw Trump fly out from the helicopter station near the Wall Street pier. For lunch we enjoyed Dim Sum at Jing Fong and really enjoyed the food and the whole experience.  It was just like being back in Singapore, a huge dining hall and we were one of only a few tables that were not Asian. After walking across crossing the Brooklyn Bridge we wondered through the nearby water front area then took a ferry to Wall Street. The New York Stock Exchange was kindly flying the Australian flag. Si was in search of the bronze bull statue however that we a few blocks away in the opposite direction… something for next time.

 

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Day 2 photos of New York

 

While I was having a rest day, Si went on a mission to find a super Walmart to replace our laptop that might have had a little bit too much red wine. He caught a bus to New Jersey via Manhattan. During his travels, he stopped at Time Square for a bit more of a look around.

 

More photos of New York

The following day was rainy so Si, Ann and I went into New York to go clothes shopping. We spent most of the morning at Century 21 going through rack after rack of discount clothing. Ann and I picked out about 20 items to try on but only came away with a few random items. Ann did find a dress for an upcoming party in Palm Springs so she was happy. I bought a new bikini so Simon was happy :- ). We once again stopped for pizza before heading home. On our return we were shocked at the amount of rain that had fallen, Si had to bail out half a dingy worth of water.

The following day we had planned to head into town again to see a Broadway show but I was worn out after a very busy week. Instead we organised a pump out of our holding tank, we then took Aura to the town dock to get water and went grocery shopping. Unfortunately Si who had been nursing a sore back had a relapse so back to square one…so easily done when you start feeling better.

On Sunday, we headed into New York for the last time. We would have liked to have seen a show but Si would not have been able to sit for three hours, even with intervals. We headed to the East Village which had a very different feel to mid and downtown Manhattan. We walked around until we came to a Moroccan café that was recommended for its great brunches. We were not disappointed.

 

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Brunch

 

From there we jumped on the sub way and visited Grand Central Terminal. Big and grand packed with people…great people watching venue. We started walking towards Times Square and decided to go via the New York Yacht Club. Unfortunately we were not able to take any photos but the architecture of the model room was impressive, very much an indication of a by gone era. On display, they have a model for every yacht that participated in the Americas Cup right from the beginning. We were even given the key to the library…everything old and stuffy but interesting. Thank you to RPYC for kindly organising the letter of introduction.

 

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New York Yacht Club

As the yacht clubs food and bar facilities are closed for the month of August. Our next was a quick drink at the roof top bar on 5th Avenue before heading to Masey’s to see what bargains could be found. By now, we were both tired so there was not much in the way of shopping, more just looking. As we headed home for the last time we felt a sense of sadness to be leaving this impressive city and only scrapping the surface of what there is to do and see. Here’s hoping that we will be back some day.

 

More fun

Our next blog, we transit the East River and make our way to the Hudson where we anchored behind and anchor at the Statue of Liberty.

 

Mansions, Jazz & a Road Trip

As is always the case, the wind dropped and the sun came out. It was time to leave Martha’s Vineyard and head back to Newport so we could collect our cabling for the solar panels and our water maker. On the way back we stopped off at Cuttyhunk and caught up with Tourterelle. It had only been 10 days since we had seen them but it was still great to catch-up. They headed into the village and purchased some locally caught sword fish and the yummiest scallops I have tasted.  Ian cooked up a feast as always and had a lovely dinner.

The following day we set sail for Newport. Much to our excitement we managed to sail just about all the way. We found a nice anchoring spot and settled in. We had a couple of the Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) yachts come over and say hi. This turned into sundowners…great way to meet new friends.

The next day we met up with Tourterelle and visited the Vanderbilt mansion called “The Breakers”. The Vanderbilt’s made there fortune through the railway. It is one of the many mansions that were built in Rhode Island in the mid to late 1800’s. Simon and I were both impressed with the opulence and the level of detail that was built into the walls and ceilings. Sadly the fellow who built this impressive house died within a year of it being completed. It continued to be occupied by Vanderbilt’s until 1948 as their lifestyle caught up with them and they could no longer maintain this beautiful house.

 

Mansions Tour

That night a few of the OCC crew and Tourterelle went to a concert at Fort Adam’s. It was a fusion of Indian, African and Jazz music. They were also accompanied by two Indian dancers who were fantastic. The final piece brought all the music together with both India and African dance. It was very different but a great night out.

On Saturday, we headed to Boston with Ian and Ann and their friends Karen and Michael. There were heading back to the UK so we decided to tag along. The drive there was wet but fortunately as we arrived the rain stopped. Si selected a lovely Italian restaurant where we enjoyed some fresh pasta and Italian wine. We also caught up with Steve and Dee who were anchored off Boston. After lunch we walked the Freedom trail and learnt some of the history of the American Revolution and the Boston tea party. We visited the Italian quarter, went to the fruit and veg market. A dollar sale was on, two punnets of blueberries for a dollar and the same for a pineapple. We spent the remainder of the afternoon visiting several Irish bars. The second bar that we visited was the oldest Irish bar in Boston (maybe the US but I would be making that up).

 

The following day was Ken’s (Lady Rebel) birthday so we all headed to the park for a picnic and a few celebratory beverages. The park has music every Sunday and this weekend coincided with the Newport Jazz Festival, we enjoy the sunshine and grass with two different Jazz bands playing in the background. It was relatively uneventful until it was time to go home. Ann was helping Ken into his dingy when he gently slid into the water. He only half went in but Ann and Jen struggled to get him back into his dingy. Fortunately we were going past at the time and Si was able to assisted with getting him back into dingy…incident diverted or so we thought. We had left a bag on the dock so Si went and retrieved it only to slip on one of the dingy’s on the way back and somehow managed to scissor Ken around the head (not sure how he managed to do it) and they both went crashing into the water with Simon landing on top of poor Ken. Ann was able to grab Ken by the collar and get his head out of the water. Si managed to get himself and Ken back out of the water. No one was hurt but poor Simon felt really bad and that was the end of the evening’s frivolities for him. I went over to Lady Rebel and poor Ken had also put himself to bed. As you could imagine it provided plenty of entertainment for the rest of us. The following day, every time I thought about it I would burst into fits of laughter.

Jazz in the Park

So Newport ended up being a very social time but we also managed to finalise the cabling for our solar panels and we are making lots of electricity. So much fun watching it trickle into our batteries. Si also re-installed the vessel for the water maker and it no longer leaks.

All good things must come to an end and it was time to more on once again….this time our destination is New York soo stay tuned for the next exciting chapter as we make our way through Long Island Sound to the Big Apple.

Farewell Newport

Marion & Martha

We waited for high tide to navigate the Red Brook channel and motored across the bay. Our life isn’t just turquoise water, sandy beaches, rum and margaritas. It was maintenance time and we had been referred to a long established boat yard business “Burr Brothers”. It is located at the end of the inlet in the seaside village of Marion. The harbour is totally full of yachts on moorings. We weaved our way through the many classic wooden yachts and motor launches. This boat yard is set in one of the most picturesque locations. Now, if you’re not interested in the technical stuff, skip the next paragraph.

Once docked and in no time at all, the work commenced. We had Aura in the slings and out of the water, the sail drive lube was being drained, inspections of the rudder, anodes and antifoul were underway.  Next we had our rig checked as we had covered a few miles since it was last inspected by a professional. They used a crane to hoist the rigger for the inspection. Our generator showed signs of a leak and I needed a little professional advice. I was told that we needed to replace the pump rather than just change the bearings….mmmm I guess that’s the world we live in today, throw that away and install a new one. I removed the old pump and made it ready for the replacement.  Our water makers membrane also had a minor leak. I removed the unit and as I hadn’t worked on this part before we sent it to a local professional (Burr Brothers do not work on water makers) and we hope to have that back soon. We had purchased 500 watts of solar panels and the plan was to have our bimini modified with Sunbrella and Velcro flaps to hold them into position. The sail maker made the measurements, the bimini was removed and a few days later we had it back in place. While the bimini was being modified we took the opportunity to polish the steel work. A few minor changes took place and we now have the panels installed. With some online guidance from Ryan in NSW and a hands on review by Gary (Takamoana) and with a loan of a crimping tool from Ken (Lady Rebel) I completed the controller/battery cabling. As Burr Bros didn’t have the required connector, we are now waiting for cable to arrive in Newport to complete the job.

That about covers the technical jobs.

 

Marion Boat Yard

Tourterelle was also at Burr Brothers having a technician work on their electronics that had been damaged by lightening when we were in the Bahamas. Lady Rebel (Ken & Jen) were also close by, they had a new track installed on their mast. Ocean Blue also popped in and joined everybody for Ann’s birthday celebrations, a fun night at Marion’s newest restaurant “Atlantic”.

 

Ann’s Birthday

 

We spent a week in Marion getting work done however we had a few outstanding jobs to be complete. It was the weekend and we had to vacate our dock space as the owner returning. We received an email from Gary and Louse (Takamoana) that they were heading our way so we agreed to meet them at Hadley Harbour. An easy 12nm sail (motor) across the bay…also one of Kim’s favourite spots. It was great catching up with them as we had not seen them since Christmas. As what always seems to be the case in New England, we had some cold, wet weather come through on the Monday. In an section of the harbour that is known for poor holding we dragged our anchor twice so decided to pick up a mooring and wait out the bad weather.

On the Tuesday we headed back across the bay to Marion to get some alterations done to the bimini. We spent a night on the dock before heading back across the bay to Martha’s vineyard.

Martha’s Vineyard is an island just off the coast south of Cape Cod. We anchored in 3.5 meters of water just outside of breakwater and town of Vine Haven.  After wondering the main street of the town, a road trip was in order. We caught a bus to Oak Bluffs where we wondered the streets then caught another bus to Edgartown. They are all lovely seaside villages, full of tourists with plenty of shops selling knickknacks, souvenirs and t-shirts. I played spot the Black Dog general store, bakery, bar and clothing shop (see photos). And as for the vineyard, misrepresentation! There are no grapes and no vineyard to be found. In the 1600’s the island was named such as it had a lot of wild vines on the island (not sure about Martha). We’re still at Vine Haven, the weather has changed from sunny summer back to winter. Strong winds are forecast so we’ve moved inside the lagoon. Lady Rebel and White Ibis are anchored behind us and another yacht nearby has laid 3 anchors. It’s time to rug up with a good book and later we’ll catch up with the others for some Mexican Train.

 

Martha's Vineyard

 

The Black Dog

 

Exploring New England

Time flies.…it has been two weeks since we arrived in Newport…where has the time gone? We did some exploring around the Newport area including the 4th July in Bristol. We did the 5km cliff walk that takes you in front of all the massive estates at that are perched on the water’s edge overlooking the ocean. Some are impressive…some are just gaudy. We did a lot of socialising with sundowners on a different yacht most nights. Aura hosted about 12 people one evening that included both old and new friends.  We worked on our plans for exploring the New England coast, Long Island sound and New York (thank you Cindy & Neil). We also worked on our recently replenished wine stocks (big thanks to Ken for helping out when we ran out!).

 

Newport Sundowners

Newport Sun Rise

 

We treated ourselves to lunch at the New York Yacht Club that has an impressive club house in Newport. The club is grand building on the hill that overlooks Newport harbour. We enjoyed a casual lunch of lobster rolls and wine with Tourterelle (Ian and Ann) and Ocean Blue (Leslie and Derek). The day was picture perfect with not a cloud in the sky. Perfect for enjoying the incredible view over Newport and walking through the gardens.

 

 

It was time to leave Newport and explore some of the anchorages on the Elizabeth Islands. We had booked Aura in for some maintenance work in Marion the following week so had a few days to do some exploring with the first stop Cuttyhunk.

We decided on a 6am start…keeping in mind that the sun rises at 5am. What started as light fog turned into rain with very little visibility. It was cold…Kim in her musto and socks and Si wearing his beanie. I’m sure our friends in Grenada and BVIs are enjoying a warm summer in the Caribbean. We’ll acclimatise soon enough and on that note, swimming in these waters for us is a brief experience.

We made it safely to Cuttyhunk outer harbour and anchored in 3.5m of water. The inner harbour is a marina and mooring ball/buoy field. Fortunately the fog lifted by the time we arrived but was back again by late afternoon. We had a lovely fish curry on Tourterelle and the fog gave the harbour a very eerie feeling. The next morning water droplets dripped from our insect mesh dripped onto our bed. It wasn’t raining, just an excess of moisture in the air. That morning we heard (Channel 16) of two incidents with yachts colliding with fishing boats.

We eventually braved the fog and took the dingy to town for a walk around the village…not that we could see much. We still had a pleasant walk up the hill and then across to a rugged beach. The fog lifted soon after lunch. On our way back to Aura we stopped by Ocean Blue who told us of an anchorage near Woods Hole, the aerial photos looked gorgeous. We picked up the anchor at around 3.30pm in light wind and set sail (with the motor running) for Hadley’s Harbour.

 

Cuttyhunk

Hadley Harbour is special as it is a natural harbour with incredible beauty. On arrival we anchored in the outer harbour but the following morning we ventured into the inner harbour and dropped the anchor south of Bull Island.   The entrance to the outer harbour is protected by a reef and the inner harbour is flushed clean with a smaller entrance that is protected by a dog leg. The morning was gorgeous…even ventured in for a swim and managed to stay in for longer than a few seconds. We took the dingy for a ride around the harbour only for the weather to quickly change to cold and rain. One minute I was in my bathers, the next I am in long sleeves and socks. We did host a sundowner with Ocean Blue (Derek and Leslie), White Ibis (Billy and Jade) and Perigee (David and Leslie). Si made expresso martinis and margaritas. These did help warm everyone up.

We enquired with the ferry man about taking a short 1.5nm trip across to the mainland village of Woods Hole but we were advised that the ferry is for private use only as they only service the local home owners. So that put an end to our plans for a visit to the town’s bakery and to access some free Wi-Fi.

 

Hadley Harbour

 

A new day and a new plan, well as we say each plan is written in the sand at low tide. We lift the anchor and motored towards Red Brook. Inside the inlet we found a comfortable 4m depth on the lee side of Bassetts Island. For us, the channel is not to be navigated at low tide. We entered on a rising tide and the same for the exit. Inside is a small anchorage and ½ a mile across the bay are two marinas with a large mooring field. We had read about a seafood barge/restaurant, it wasn’t what we expected so burgers and beer it was. On our return to Aura we were stopped by the Harbour Police as Helios, our dingy wasn’t registered. I made it clear that we were foreigners with a loud greeting “G’ Day”. They were understanding and kindly informed us that we needed to have life jackets (PFDs) in the dingy. We acknowledged his request and told them that we’d comply. A little over an hour later, we needed some extra Wi-Fi so I ventured back to shore, to send some documentation by fax to Customs. Oh yeah, on entry we didn’t receive our “Cruising Permit” from Customs and after multiple emails etc. we’ve trying the old fashion FAXing of documentation. Our friends have now being successful with this method so we’re also giving it ago.

Well on the return to Aura guess who gets stopped by the Harbour Police…again. I see the same officer and smile nicely. He asks “do you have a life jacket?” I reply “yes and I have my handheld VHF and a personal EPRIB!”. ”Great,” he says “it’s a no wake zone; it’s a 5 to 6 knot limit in these waters”. “OK, sorry about that”, I reply (yep I had some wake as I wasn’t on the plane and doing less than the speed limit). He goes onto saying it is about being an excuse for stopping the noisy jet skis. I think he just wanted to bail up the Aussie for another chat and make sure I’d complied with having a PFD. Anyway he smiled and replied “Stop breaking the law, this isn’t doing any good for Australian & USA relations” I smile and waved and I toddled even slower back to Aura. How popular am I?? On return we watch multiple other dinghy’s on the plane, motor launches in displacement mode creating a wake, that only a wakeboarder would enjoy ……not that it matter…the sun is shining and the chilly north wind has gone. Time for a quick swim ;- )

 

Bassetts Island

Happy Forth

We cleared customs in time to celebrate our wedding anniversary at the Black Pearl  restaurant that is renowned for its clam chowder. Newport has an annual clam chowder festival that the Black Pearl would win each year. So the organisers changed the rules so that the winner could not enter for the next three years…..mmmmaybe the organisers had borrowed the tactics from that famous yacht club? Anyway, lunch was great and the celebrations continued well into the evening on-board Lady Rebel. A fine night was had by all with only a few minor incidents with someone getting stuck in the companionway stairs and somebody else accidentally feed the Canada geese. We also caught up with Derek and Lesley (Ocean Blue) who had made passage from Bermuda.

As you do, we backed up the 3rd with the 4th. The plan was a 7:30am dingy ride to town and then we’d take the bus to Bristol. The parade was to start at 10:30am  and we’d be there by 9ish. Bristol is most famous for having the longest running 4th July parade in the world, well really that should be noted as “in the USA”. People travel from far and wide to see the Bristol parade with some even camping out overnight on the foot path to ensure they get the best position. We woke that morning feeling a little dusty from the night before and decided we could not miss the parade. It all just fell into place and we found ourselves on route with La Mischief and Lady Rebel.

Bristol and Newport are both picture perfect, they are pretty American towns something just out of a movie film set. Bristol’s was blocked off from the main road so we walked the last few miles. Every house looked manicured and proudly had at least one stars and stripes flag with many having additional decorations. A few entrepreneurial kids had set up a  home-made lemonade stand.

 

We had time to walk the parade route and look around the town centre. Everybody was in high spirts, with strangers greeting us with “Happy 4th!”. Strangely it was difficult to find a coffee for breakfast or anything substantial. Kim found a stall that sold pizza by the slice while the others…. believe it not, found a bar. How strange that our friends would find a bar at 9:30am so we settled down to have a glass of prosecco and a beer! The sun was now shining bright and we ventured back to the parade route where we found an elevated position on the steps of a town hall building. Let the parade begin. It started with police on motorbikes clearing the street, followed by marching police, parade committee members and a guy wearing period clothing ringing a bell. It just flowed from there…countless school bands, flag twirling, a bagpipe band, vintage fire trucks, vintage and current model sports cars. The floats included “Miss Newport”, a kids billy-cart (orange create) winners, US Coast Guard and much, much  more. There was frequent chanting “USA USA USA…” proud and happy people.

I’ve neglected an honourable mention of the tall man waving the flag (maybe a symbol of President Lincoln?) and we also had a photo taken with a real life Sheriff (who was on duty).

 

Once the parade finished we found ourselves a crowded Irish Bar to pass the time, letting the crowds dissipate and the roads reopen. We met a few Ocean Cruising Club members and a few Australian couple David and Linda, SY Perigee.

That evening with the usual crew, we reconvened on La Mischief for a BBQ and to watch the spectacular fireworks. I’m sure we should have had a dinner of burgers, fries and hot dogs but with our recent arrival we were not that organised. Earlier that day on the bus we had met Long Islanders, Cindy and Neil (Sea n Me), who also joined the festivities. We had a good American turnout on board as DeAnne had friends Barb, Joe and Richard who had also been with us in Bermuda. Steve put together all American playlist, fun was had by all.

Hope you had a “Happy Fourth”

On our way to the USA

Sailing Aura to the USA was never something that was on my sailing “to do” list. With the hurricane season fast approaching, it seemed like the logical thing to do. It also gave us the opportunity to visit the beautiful islands of Bahamas and Bermuda. Two places that had not initially been on our radar but we are very glad we went.

Getting ready for passage requires more mental preparation than anything else. Yes you need to ensure that you have sufficient food, fuel and gas but the thought of being at sea for five days, heading to one of the busiest countries in the world can be quiet daunting. Also picking that weather window can be tricky, especially when you are heading to a continent the size of America as weather systems can develop quickly off the mainland.  Oh and there is this thing called the Gulf Stream that we have to cross. This fast flowing body of water that can run a current of 4 knots can cause you grief if you cross with wind against current as the seas would get big and choppy.. There are also adverse currents that flow off the Gulf Stream that you also want to avoid. Did I mention an increase in marine traffic that means avoiding big cargo ships and surprisingly, a large number of sailing yachts. So this passage should be a walk in the park :-)

Day one was fairly uneventful except for the occasional squall and wind right on our nose. I woke after an afternoon nap to find Simon staring at a few black clouds behind us. “Can you hear the thunder?” he asked. I had a look and was not too concerned as it appeared that it had gone around us. I popped my head around the front to see if there were any other boats near us and had a “Holly Cow” moment.  While Si had been peering at the stern of the boat, some big scary black clouds had developed and we were heading right for them. After I had a moment of panic, we furled the head sail and continued on our way. Fortunately it was not as scary as it looked and we sailed through it. Only issue is that it left us with a wind shift with the wind very close on our nose so the next few hours we had to adjust our course so we could continue to sail.  Eventually the wind dropped out and we spent the night motoring.

The wind kicked back in on day two. I woke to find myself wedged against the side of the bed…a good indication that Aura was sailing at full speed at 60 degrees to the wind (otherwise known as her sweet spot). Definitely not my favourite wind angle as it makes everything on the boat a challenge as you have to continually hold on with one hand or alternatively, you can wedge yourself in a corner for support.  So as you can appreciate, going to the bathroom, putting on deodorant and getting dressed is a major undertaking and results in a few new bruises. I wondered out into the cockpit later that morning only to notice that we had caught a fish. My first thought was how the hell are we going to manage to land a fish in these conditions. Fortunately Si was slightly delayed and by the time he came on deck, the fish had fought its way to freedom. Must say I was slightly relieved to see an empty hook.

As day two progressed, the wind dropped out and it was back to motoring. It is a hard call to decide which is better…having to put up with background engine noise or moon walking around the boat. I would vote for the former but don’t tell Simon!! Day three put on one of the prettiest sun rises I have seen. The sea was flat and it mirrored the spectacular colours that were reflected by the clouds.

 

 

We had a great day enjoying the calm waters. We even had a couple of visits from dolphins that put on a display practising their breaching techniques.

 

 

By sundown, the wind was up again and we were sailing. Although the wind was at a better angle (90-120 degrees) the waves had increased in frequency and hitting us from the beam. Aura was all over the place so we reduced sail to try and stabilise her. Even with a reefed genoa and reefed main sail, she was still cracking 9 knots. It was shortly after that we took a turn north to commence the crossing of the Gulf Stream. As soon as we entered the Gulf Stream, the waves seemed to flatten out. We only saw an increase of 1 to 1.5 knots of speed due to the current. It was all rather non-event…not that I am complaining.

Day four started saw us leave the Gulf Stream at approximately 9am. We continued sailing north with good wind. A low front was expected to bring strong winds but we didn’t really see much more than 20 knots. The wind was at a broad reach with a following sea…a very comfortable sail. We were making such good speed over the last four days we hoped to arrive in Newport a day earlier but possibly at night. This is something we are usually careful to avoid especially a busy harbour like Newport but the prospect of a good night sleep is too much of a temptation and we decide to make a run for it.

The final day of our passage had squalls scheduled at dawn. I was on watch and Simon kindly helped me reef the genoa before he headed to bed. Fortunately it was light by the time the rain hit us. There was very little wind just lovely cleansing rain that washed the salt from the decks. It was not long after the rain stopped that we received a call from Lady Rebel who were approximately 10nm ahead of us. They had just hit fog. Si and I looked at each other blankly, can you have fog with wind and isn’t it summer? It was my turn to have a nap but when I got up, sure enough everything was wrapped in cold, damp fog. You could see the sun trying to burn through so we both decided that the fog would not be around for long. Wrong again, it stayed with us all day as we got closer to the USA. Fortunately we have our trusty AIS and could see that both La Mischief and Tourterelle where still close by. Not that you could physically see them.

 

 

As night fell we were still 5nm from Newport. We had good wind and calm seas so Aura made better speed than expected. Apart from trying to avoid the occasional fishing buoy and fishing trawler there was very little traffic. We were greeted by some spectacular fireworks to celebrate the 4th July holiday. We finally arrived at Newport harbour at 11pm and made our way to the anchorage avoiding the numerous crab pots and high voltage cable danger buoys. It was cold…we were both wearing several lays of clothing and reality hit that we had left the tropics behind. We got the pick down and were very proud of our anchoring ability in the dark. So it was only appropriate that we enjoyed a glass of wine to applaud our successful passage and safe arrival in the US :-)

 

Bermuda part III – Let the finals begin

The more time we spend in Bermuda, the more that we love the place. The biggest appeal are the locals. They are always friendly and helpful, wanting to ensure that you enjoy beautiful island. Now we are into the finals with Oracle Team USA and Emirates New Zealand battling it out on the weekends, we have had more time to explore Bermuda.

The Americas Cup has been great but maybe not as exciting as the L.V. Challengers Cup. New Zealand has shown their supremacy throughout the finals and now they have raced home in the lead for all but one race.  They appear to be a much faster boat and hold it together while Oracle USA make mistakes and put themselves further behind. We have had lots of fun on La Mischief with a range of different guests join us.  Here are some more pictures of our time on La Mischief.

 

 

The Annapolis crew….our yacht broker from Annapolis’ wife Emily, daughter Katie and three friends (Sharon, Gregg, and Kelly) joined us for a day. Great people and lots of fun.

 

 

During the week, we spent time at a few different anchorages around Hamilton. One of our favourite is Mangrove Bay. The anchorage is located between several small islands and reef. We had a couple of sundowners on the small local beach with Dee and Steve on Le Mischief and then another night with Tourterelle and Tina and Russel from Hugo. We also had a fabulous curry night on Tourterelle with all the Barbados 50 yachts. We were also introduced to Peter “Brush” who is Jen’s (Lady Rebel) brother who is now a Kiwi and the build manager for Softbank Team Japan.

 

One afternoon we decided to explore the local beaches…well maybe they weren’t that local. We followed the now disused heritage rail line, over the hill, through a nature reserve and after 6 km’s finally came to a beach. We walked another 2 km’s exploring the different beaches and coves until we finally arrived at Horseshoe Beach. It was pretty underwhelming for one of the world’s most beautiful beaches were full of people, seaweed and beach chairs and umbrellas taking up most of the beach. A popular spot for the guests of visiting cruise ships. We’re just no longer accustom to crowds! The good news was that it had a beach bar that sold Bermuda’s national drink, Dark and Stormies…after the long walk we definitely felt like they were well earned :-)

 

 

We also met super cool local Dwayne who has a part time job as caretaker of an island property. He invited us all over for a BBQ…though I don’t think he knew what he got himself into. He did warn us prior that sound travels and to be conscious of our conversations. Our entry to the island was via a channel with the world’s smallest drawbridge. Dwayne’s made sure we had a fun filled night, we enjoyed drinks off a sandy beach, a great BBQ and turtle spotting by touch light and a midnight swim.  Other highlights included our first visual of a Portraguese Man-O-War Jelly fish.