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Cold Feet, Wool Sweaters and Blustery Winds

June 4, 2019

The sun is shining, the wind howls through the rigging and the locals say this is all very unusual. A sailing friend on his way north to the North West Passage is convinced to pull into Halifax due to bergy bits off south-east Newfoundland. Other friends who returned to their winter-stored boat in Lunenberg still can’t take the shrink wrap off the boat otherwise the glue used in repairs will not harden.

All of the above have slowed our crawl north to Nova Scotia and our enthusiasm for cooler weather sailing is waning. Our eight years in the tropics is turning us into sailing sissies. Where’s our Canadian hardiness gone? I say “don’t just turn the heater on, turn it to max!”

While I paint a gloomy picture of the north east coast weather we are making the best of it. When we left Norfolk the temperature was in the mid 20s but by the time we reached Cape May the temperature had dropped to the high teens. Still bearable considering the sun shone and the water temperature was in the high teens. But still it did feel a lot cooler.

Business like Connie getting ready to depart Cape May. Note lack of short sleeves and shorts!

Cape May was a bit of a trial – three days ‘on the hook’ in winds up to 35 knots. Dragging anchor, shallow water and no showers. Well, no showers until the third day when we said enough is enough let’s go to a dock. 2 nights and US$239 later we say enough is enough and sail out. Yes, US$120/night and believe it or not that’s a common price for a 38 foot boat in a marina on the east coast. And no clean sheets are provided, no-one turns down the bed in the evening and then on top of that one also has to have the right change to pay for a shower! Should have just checked into a hotel and believe it or not it would have been cheaper!

We like Cape May. It’s an old resort town with a great history, a lovely pedestrian-only downtown and with numerous bicycle pathways to explore and no hills. On top of all this it has a very active offshore fishing fleet.

A myriad number of masts and a constant stream of fishing boats in and out of the harbour

To compliment the fishing industry are restaurants galore serving up great seafood. One of the oldest and largest restaurants is the Lobster House

Yeah, but we had crab cakes

So, on a full stomach it’s time to head north so it’s out of the harbour and under beautiful sailing conditions parallel the coast to our next stop Atlantic City. Atlantic City? Yup…

Our view of Atlantic City

This stop was not really planned but rather driven by weather conditions. What was to be an overnight stop turned into three nights trapped on the boat anchored in a river with a 3 kn current. Having spent all our gambling money in Cape May on 2 nights in a marina and no great music at the venues we stayed on board and, then, on the third morning hurtled out of the anchorage with the ebb current and out to an overnight sail to Block Island. The sailing was great despite the continual drop in temperature. There weren’t many ships in sight other than numerous cruise ships heading in and out of New York. We kept seeing helium ballons floating in the water that must have come from celebrations onboard the cruise ships – more plastic in the water!

Block Island – remote, windy, desolate but come July 4th there are apparently 2,000 boats that anchor in the bay. For us there were three boats. That was the first sign that we were early in the season. The wind howled and it was another 2 days before we got ashore. We took advantage of the opportunity, rented bikes and cycled completely around Block Island. Beautiful landscapes but sad to see there were almost no active farms left on the island. Most land has been bought by wealthy mainlanders using the properties for vacation homes. There were beautiful stone walls that encircled once productive fields but few of the old farmhouses still stood.

A sampling of one of the older properties

The landscape reminded me of Ireland. And I am sure many Irish settled here as this would have been one of the first islands the settlers saw upon arriving in the New World.

Almost every tourist town has one of these

Not my choice for chair colour but….

Sage is on the very right hand side about a mile from the closest landing spot. The bay is peppered with mooring balls

Now we are really feeling the cold. With water temperature of about 14C and 30knot winds we’re screaming ‘let’s go south’…

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2019 20:54

    Thanks for the update, Tony and Connie! By the way, have you read Island of Seven Cities by Paul Chiasson? He’s convinced that there were once Chinese on Cape Breton… Might be a good book to curl up with somewhere warm!

  2. Barrie permalink
    June 4, 2019 21:22

    Great to see you posting again! We anchored in the Great Salt Pond the summer of 2009. It was armpit to armpit in the anchorage. If I recall we had to anchor in something like 80 ft…not something you do often (or gladly) with a manual windless. Hopefully you are too early for the fog and horizon to horizon lobster pot floats off Maine. Sunny and a warm low 20s back here in Victoria. TTFN Barrie and Sandra

  3. June 4, 2019 22:48

    Tony/Connie: Well it looks nice. I follow your travels on Google Earth and the names are quite romantic. It looks lovely despite the weather. Hope things improve once you’re back in Canadian waters.

  4. Darrel and Loretta Smith permalink
    June 5, 2019 00:02

    OMG you two are tough! We are impressed, but can’t say we’re inspired to do any cold-water sailing. But we are headed back to Canada in late June and will spend a night on a houseboat in a northern lake in Manitoba and, thinking about it, are already shivering.

    We have great memories of sailing around the areas you were talking about. I don’t know if you ever read my book “Sailing from Canada to Thailand” … I too have some stories about heading up with our newly purchased CanKata and then sailing south, finally saying good-bye to winters.

    So – are you going to buy some moccasins?

    Take care, our dear brave friends, and keep that heater on max. Love, Loretta & Darrel (who has goose bumps just from reading your story)


  5. June 5, 2019 00:24

    Why don’t you guys JUST COME HOME?…
    To Victoria that is?
    We would welcome you with OPEN ARMS but I will miss the postcards which I dearly LOVE Connie as you know!!!
    Annie B.

  6. Mark and Deb permalink
    June 5, 2019 08:43

    Much warmer in SC. Charleston next stop for us. Enjoying Folly Island for 4 days.

  7. WILLIAM MCDOWELL permalink
    June 5, 2019 10:35

    Hi Tony and Connie Thank you very much for your news delighted to hear from you and your experiences along the east coast .yes it is tempting to go south but against the Gulf Stream weather on the west coast is a bit warmer. It light winds ridge of high pressure here at the moment .Enjoy your northerly trek and I hope the weather improves in your favour Saludos mi amigos Bill.

  8. Jim Heflin permalink
    June 6, 2019 01:03

    Why I’d recognize that bowsprite figurehead anywhere … its pirate babe Connie McC vying for the Page-3 foldout feature in some risque Cape May tabloid. Tony probably put her up
    to it … trying to recoup costs for a pricey 2 night tie-up in the marina.

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