Monday, February 24, 2014

Reliving our Summer Cruise: Part 2

As winter rolls on we did get a small glimpse of spring this past weekend which just whet our appetite for warmer days and sailing! We cranked up Mr. Perkins (our diesel engine) and he started right up! After months of dormancy, he was a total rock star and cranked up and purred like a lion (not as quiet as a kitten, let's be honest, it's an old diesel). Just the smell of the diesel and the grumbling of the engine in our home reminded us that this isn't just a floating apartment, but it's a vehicle to freedom and following our dreams. It feels so good to have had even the littlest promise of warmer weather and open waters. Not going to lie - this winter has been a tough one. 

So, in keeping with our escapism, we thought we'd write the second part of our summer cruise in Casco Bay. Last we wrote, we were moored in Cape Porpoise Harbor and were about to celebrate Tim's 34th birthday. We set off heading north with Chebeague Island as our destination. 
We cast off the mooring, the sun was shining, sky was blue, fog had lifted and it was a perfect breeze to unfurl ALL THREE sails. Though we don't have a lot of experience sailing ketch rigged boats we started very quickly realizing how great it is. There's a lot more options for sail configurations dependent upon the wind direction and strength. The mizzen sail is aft of the cockpit and that allows for a lot more stability on the back side of the sailboat giving the boat a better ability to hold a line. 
A very happy 34 year old skipper -great way to celebrate his birthday! 

 Sailing is very peaceful and there's also A LOT of time to sit and relax, enjoy and talk. 

One fun thing we did to pass the time was to read all about the travels of Captain Cook. This book is a modern day reliving of Cook's voyage with fantastic glimpses into Cook's original logs and travels. Juxtapose to our travels through Casco Bay this was a cool way to have your mind engaged while we sailed. Highly recommend this book! 

Sailing through the rocky coast islands of Casco Bay on our approach to Great Chebeague Island

We reserved a mooring off the Chebeague Island Inn, a classic 1920's hotel with grand porch up on the bluff overlooking Casco Bay. It was perfection AND the mooring was free for Inn dinner guests! 

Before dinner we took a swim, diving off the boat and had some birthday cake that I baked while underway - my first underway baking experience!
It supposed to say "Tim" in strawberries...good try! 

The mooring field and all the islands of Casco Bay off in the distance - absolutely gorgeous. 

The golf course leading up to the Inn, the mooring field basked in the pink sunset
We got all "dolled up" -- as best we can from a boat -- and made our way up to celebrate Tim's birthday dinner. 
A very happy birthday boy & the grand Inn in the background

Classically Maine 1920's lobby with the deck beyond

View from the porch - you can see Zephyr just beyond the house on the right

Dinner of lobsters, mussels, steak and wine finished with some birthday cake in the cockpit! Quite a perfect 34th birthday for Tim, and to think his 33rd birthday was celebrated aboard a training sailboat outside Newport - think we might be on the right track! 

The next day we decided to explore the island a bit on foot, we needed to provision and get some ice so we set off with Toby across the island. What a FANTASTIC island. The roads are narrow, forested and no joke, EVERY SINGLE person in a car waved at us. Apparently that's 'the thing' on Chebeague, the locals wave to everyone. What a fantastic feeling! We passed this funny little roadside bar called the Slow Bell Cafe, and the sign out front said - BAND BEYOND DESCRIPTION, yup, that's right, that night was going to be a Grateful Dead cover band - how perfect. We did consider sticking around on the mooring so we could go to the show but the nature of cruising and sailing is that you get itchy to move onto to the next adventure...Next up...we head further north to Potts Harbor and onto to Sebasco Harbor Resort in Harpswell. 

Stay tuned...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Reliving Our Summer Cruise: Part 1

So after another foot+ of snow fell on us yesterday and I'm battling another winter cold I thought it was a prime time to finally blog about our amazing 2-week summer cruise. I've been saving the pics and the stories until I needed to relive them and since my SAD and cabin fever has set in in a big way I think now's the perfect time. Since there's a lot to share I'll split it into a few blog's: preparations and casting off. 

The first step in planning a two-week cruise is mapping out the route. We looked at our charts, did some online charting and chatting with friends and fellow boaters and laid out our route. As is the reality in all sailing adventures, plans are like sand at low tide - ever changing. Weather, boat issues and winds determine more of your plans than anything else. But, we planned to cast off on Sunday, July 28th, we'd planned to sail east to the Isle of Shoals for an overnight just to kick off the trip and then point north into Maine. 

So, first we had to provision the boat. I'd done A LOT of reading of other bloggers provisioning lists, The Boat Galley cookbook's list and about a million other lists and created our 4-page master spreadsheet. 

 Seeing that over 6 months later we're still eating some of the provisions, I think it might have been overkill. Oh well, you can never have enough cans of black beans! The pink section of the spreadsheet - "Ditch Kit" is what we had put aside in case you know, we had to ditch out on the boat! It's important to have some non-perishable snacks and lots of water on hand just in case the worst happens. It was a lot of fun to plan out what we might eat day in and day out but the reality is that it's not like we were in some remote anchorage with no shore side services most of the spots we planned on staying at had restaurants and bars right on the water that we could dinghy into. Lesson learned, less provisions, more beer money! :)

That's a lot of food! Miraculously we stored it all away safely, this boat has LOTS of great storage. 
Labels come off of cans in the moisture of a boat
so instead of playing the guessing game, we mark them
Hammock fulla snacks. My co-worker Phil gifted us this hammock from his
 family's boat when they sold it. 
So after stowing the provisions, fixing last minute things, checking engine we were finally ready to go - and that's when the pea soup fogged rolled in. We made the decision to stay put with the fog and some big seas and the fact that we didn't really have to leave on Sunday to stay on track for our trip we sat put. 

The next morning we cast off the lines and headed to the Wentworth Fuel dock, well almost, as we approached the dock we stupidly went to the inside of the red nun and OOPS - we ran aground! Yup, about 10 feet off the fuel dock we were stuck. The saying goes that any boater that tells you they've never run aground is lying. So here was our first and most likely not our last experience. Spencer, the Wentworth Manager hauled us off the mud with the launch. They told us, "If this is the worst thing that happens on your 2-weeks, you're be doing great!" With red faces and a bit humbled we passed the breakwater and set off from Little Harbor at 11:15am. 
Still quite foggy but flat seas
2KR marks the entrance to Portsmouth Harbor

Sailing with the Auto Pilot & Chief Engineer, Toby on duty 

We made way at about 2 knots until we reached Gerrish Island and then decided to turn on the "iron genoa" so we could ensure we'd make it to Cape Porpoise, Kennebunkport in time for happy hour - priorities. We connected with the Harbormaster to see about any free moorings and there was one! We were in luck and it was FREE! Baird #47, my lucky number! We hooked the mooring at 4:30 and within 5 minutes of settling the VERY thick, pea soup fog rolled in and blanketed us. We couldn't even see the harbor channel we'd just passed through! 
The entrance to Cape Porpoise Harbor

Captain and Chief Engineer relaxing as the fog rolls in
Blanketed in by fog all around us 

Zephyr moored next to a lobster dock as we dinghy into shore, there were other boats around us, but the fog was so thick you couldn't see them!
We decided to dinghy into shore to walk Big Guy and explore the town a bit, maybe grab a happy hour drink or two. The harbor is so quintessentially Maine from the briny lobster docks to the fisherman's co-op to the dinghy dock full of old steel dinks. We wandered around Cape Porpoise which is gorgeous and decided to play fetch with Toby in a lot behind the local grocery. Well, Toby found the real treat behind the lot -- a mud pit. He came out and looked like a black lab. Our first night of the cruise and we've got a stinky, smelly, filthy dog on our hands - sweet! The local church's hose was a God send - literally. 
Cape Porpoise is so quintessentially Maine, worth a trip! 

Toby looks quite satisfied with himself - mud is always worth it! 
We walked a bit more and then hit up The Ramp, a fun, funky waterside bar that's part of

a nicer restaurant. Adirondack chairs on the harbor and cold beers, sweet! Toby waited for us tied on the dinghy dock while drying out from his mud fest. We then ventured back to the boat to cook up a feast of grilled chicken - we love our stern mounted propane grill and fresh corn. Asleep on the mooring, away from the docks was fantastic. 

The fog started to lift as we dinghyed back to the boat for dinner
Next up...the fog lifts and Tim celebrates his 34th birthday in the islands of Casco Bay. 

(And I was right, reliving this fantastic trip has totally helped get me out of my mid-winter funk and gets me excited for next summer, so stay tuned for more!)