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Newport and The Sirens of Titan

June 12, 2019

You know, Kurt Vonnegut lived and wrote the Sirens of Titan here but the strongest sirens I heard and felt were those of old Nathaniel Herreshof. For non sailors this will not set off any sirens but for anyone worth their sea salt the name sends shivers down ones spine.

Nathaniel Herreshoff was of Prussian ancestry and the family gained notoriety through their innovative steam engines; but, Nathaniel was besotted by sailboat design. Through the early 1900s he designed and built a series of Americas Cup winners as well as building a line of sailboats which still grace the waters of Narrangansett Bay.

The actual Herreshoff boatyard is/was in Bristol just a few miles up the Bay. What remains today is the Herreshoff Museum which is located on the same property where the Herrshoffs built their boats..

A small sign denotes the mainn building

Inside are some of the most incredible boats built by Herreshoff but not any of the Americas Cup Winners of which Reliance – Reliance – was the largest gaff rigged vessel ever built.

Overlooking the floor where a number of original Herreshoff boats are on display

Connie’s favourite – Torch

Beautifully restored Torch

For those of you interested here is Torch’s history

And rooms full of half models

Although not a Herreshoff original this gaff rigger, Columbia, is a near replica to an Americas Cup winner at the turn of the 19th Century

Of course, Newport has money. Here are a few pics of some of the boats we saw.

Of course there are no power boats. I wonder why!

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’…

Hard At Work

May 14, 2019

Trying to get Sage ready for launching and the coming season of cruising up the east coast of North America – Nova Scotia, P.E.I., Newfoundland, Gaspe ….. Plenty of work to do and we were lucky enough to get a housesit across the water from the marina.

Now cleaned up Sage is almost ready to go.

And here is Connie with our newest responsibility – Nemo. Great name for a dog who can help with all the work!

Well, Nemo could at least keep the seats warm while we worked on the boat.

With work completed Sage heads for Sea

Waiting For Spring

March 9, 2019

It’s March not January. This morning, after almost a month of snow on the ground, it started snowing again WTF!

Brr -1C last night

Okay, look closely. After the snow stopped the sun came out, the temperature rose and it all started to melt. I felt like a puppet on a string. Whoever was pulling those strings was cruel…this is not supposed to happen on the ‘left’ coast of Canada.

Yes, in the background the white is snow on the branches of the evergreen

The warmest place in Canada today was Herbert Island just off the northeast tip of Vancouver Island. This is about 200km north of where we are located on central Vancouver Island.

Canadians love to talk about the weather – it’s either too cold or it’s too warm. For me, I have enjoyed our northern sojourn this winter. I have the luxury of staying inside and looking at the weather through large picture windows onto a beautiful landscape. No matter what the weather I always get enjoyment but then I don’t have go to work or go out if it pleases me.

The only evidence that spring is on the way are the snowdrops coming up in the garden. Even though they had to push through the snow this morning by the afternoon the snow had melted and we are left with the first signs of warmer weather to come.

In preparation for the warmer weather the chairs are out in the shade under the trees and all we have to do is wait for the snow to disappear…and

the hot tub to be filled….hope everyone gets to enjoy spring soon

It’s quickly disappearing

February 13, 2019


It’s all over too darn quickly. One minute we’re sitting in a restaurant in Richmond having driven there in the almost sunshine and the next we’re leaving the restaurant in blizzard like conditions.

We sail across the Straits of Georgia while seeing nothing of either the mainland or Vancouver Island. We arrive on the island, dig out the car and creep our way back home.

The next minute the snow slithers off the roof or slowly disappears one drip at a time. There’s little time to contemplate the beauty of the scene and take in this momentary interruption to our normal routines. Occasionally the sun pokes out of the bruised clouds and the light is incredible.

Important to enjoy for the little time it’s here.

Moosemeat and Marmalade

January 15, 2019

Okay what’s with the title and what does this have to do with a sailing travelling blog. Well, further down the blog line this will become evident.

To start, we were heading out for an early morning walk along the Chemainus River. The day was foggy and cold (1C) but promises of sun coming later in the morning.

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So where’s the promise of sun? Things are looking a little bleak

The Chemainus River is south of Chemainus which is located on Vancouver Island. We are house sitting not far from the river and have 2 dogs, a standard poodle and a portuguese water dog, to take care for 3 months.

We need to take the dogs for walks and this is one place we haven’t explored yet. So off we go….

With Fred, a fellow blogger and dog owner, walking the dogs along the estuary

With dimming hopes of sunshine Fred tells us of the beautiful views to be had on a clear day, the number of ducks to be seen and wonderful swimming holes for summer fun.

The ground continues to show signs of cool night-time temperatures and no sun to burn off the frost
Fall detritus covers the ground with the dying organic materials that should in following years provide great ground for mushroom picking
Not able to see very far we took pleasure in peering into the fog to imagine the incredible  array of wildlife this sanctuary would provide
A lonely woman and her dog!

And then as we were walking back to the car we looked behind us and out of the mist we saw what we thought were three hikers

Thinking how cold and miserable these campers must be we felt sorry for them and thought offering to take them for coffee might warm their bones

But then as they came up to us we realized they weren’t campers

It was Dan Hayes of Moosemeat and Marmalade fame

Dan Hayes is a trained British Chef who, working with Art Napoleon, produce a show called Moosemeat and Marmalade for APTN. Dan and his film crew had been out very early in the morning hunting for duck and were looking forward to heading back for a morning of lunch preparation.

Coddiwompling*

December 20, 2018
A quick bus trip to Ontario from Norfolk VA saw us braving one of the earliest winter storms in years and temperatures that plummeted to -20C. The Ontario sojourn confirmed our feelings that one has to be insane putting up with those temperature variations and snow storms. With temperatures fluctuating wildly; one minute the weather is forcing me into a snowsuit and the next day making me put on my rain-gear and slush boots of which I don’t have any. Despite it all I loved every minute of the weather in Ontario. It was such a change for us. After spending the better part of 9 years in the tropics the sun and humidity is pushing the body into a slow rot! Nothing to say about what aging does! The old harsh winter-like weather was like a spa to us. Although we know we couldn’t live in it permanently we had fun in the temporary break from constant sunshine and humidity.

It was -20C when we headed to the National Art Gallery and the twin bell towers were sparkling in the sunshine and made for an amazing contrast with the blue sky

After 4 weeks we’d had it with the cold and beat a hasty retreat south to Mexico via Washington DC. The mad shopping spree of ‘Black Friday’ was over but then it was time to get ready for Christmas. Washington DC was milder than Ontario but politically as hot as ever. Twitter diarrhoea was flowing down the steps of the White House, the courts were full of people going to trial for all sorts of shenanigans and the legislative bodies locked into a time warp turning the clock back on health care, the environment and anything else the corporate-military conglomerate wants. In other words a CEO’s wet dream! We spent our time in Washington DC catching up with our friends Amy and Arthur and heading to the Saturday market. Christmas is creeping up  and the theme of that weeks market was the crafty holiday season but there was so much great food to see on the tables.
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Serving the most glorious pogaca (Turkish cheese filled bread)

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And a selection of mushrooms to die for…

We had only a few nights in DC (Falls Church) before hopping on the plane to catch up with our favourite weather patterns – i.e. 22-28C, sunshine and water, not frozen other than that in our drinks.
flying in (2)

Flying into Puerto Vallarta from the east. So happy to see the mountains after the flat landscape of the east coast of America – felt like we were flying home to the Pacific

We were truly back to familiar territory. We’ve sailed here in the past, we’ve vacationed many times in Mexico and we love the pace of life in the area. Yes, we’re in a touristy area but it’s not a gringo area but rather a Mexican resort town (Rincon de Guayabitos) that is now only just starting to get busy. The Mexican kids are out of school on Tuesday and by the time we fly out on Christmas Day the beach will be total insanity! So, before it gets too insane we went to Chacala for a day at a quiet beach and the following day off to the Hot Springs not far north of us. *Coddiwompling (learned from a friend Fred Bailey)- travelling in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination