Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Finally, a Nice Day for Messing About in the Water

[Kyle]I was so pleased when I stirred the next morning just before the 4:52 sunrise to find only a single tiny cloud far in the distance. I didn’t really need to be up for a while, but once I realized the sunrise was imminent, I just had to see it. It was cold inside the boat (about 40F, 5C), but since Maryanne was still tucked into the warm bed I decided to skip firing up the heater and wait for all of that glorious, unimpeded sunshine to warm the boat.

The warmth eventually brought Maryanne out into the salon, where I handed her a hot cup of coffee to help. We planned our day and readied Begonia for departure.

The wind forecast was for a whole morning of nuttin’. The sea was a mirror speckled with lobster pot buoys and slowly undulating with the remnants of the wakes of long-gone lobster boats.

We motored into relatively buoy-free water and optimistically set our spinnaker, hoping to catch what little there was of the wind. It turned out to be a refresher on making sure everything was rigged correctly. There wasn’t even enough wind to hold up the fabric against its own weight, much less pull a 12,000lb boat.

Calm morning has us motoring from start to end, passing Moose Peak Light towards the end before any hint of wind

So, we stowed the spinnaker back in its deck bag and fired up the starboard engine for the rest of our journey to Cows Yard, a tiny basin in the Wass Archipelago. Along the way, Maryanne continued with her pressure cooker experiemnts and prepared cornbread to go with the Chilli we were also preparing. It came out well – nice and moist and consistent all the way through. The only thing missing was a slightly drier crust. Cornbread is now added to our options for the meal planning aboard.

The Cows Yard is a pretty little basin between Harbor Island and Steele Harbor Island that is dotted with rocks and an assortment of pine-topped islets. It reminded me of an alpine lake. Later, as the tide receded, clusters of rock were slowly revealed all around us until we were eventually the sole boat in a small cove surrounded by trees whose tops had grown higher by 20 feet. I speculated that the name could have come from the resemblance of the brown rocks to a field of sleeping cows. Maryanne checked up on this, as she does, and learned a semi-related fact that a Cows Yard Tar is a Maine-ism for a fisherman that likes to farm or vice versa. Fine, but I like mine better.

The Cows Yard supposedly has room for several boats, but it took very careful placement of our anchor and rode to keep from fouling a lobster pot float. By the time we were secure, a breeze had started to fill the anchorage. Since we hadn’t had a chance to do any sailing that day, we lowered the Portland Pudgy and rigged its sailing kit for a tour of the anchorage. It was the perfect situation for use of the sailing kit; there was a nice breeze, there was more distance to go to see it than was reasonable by rowing, and it was just a beautiful, sunny afternoon.

Believe it or not, this was the first time we had ever sailed the Pudgy since we bought it to replace our old one. When it arrived, it was during the frenzy of the refit in Virginia. Since then, I was on a hectic delivery schedule, and then we were in New York, where I wasn’t in the mood to dodge heavy shipping with it. Anyway, fast forward a few months and we finally got a chance to break out the sailing kit. We loved spending the day pottering around the anchorages in our last Pudgy. It was nice to be cruising again and nice to be back in our little sailing dinghy.

Since our last version, the sailing kit of the Pudgy had been repowered. It now had a much bigger rig with both a telescoping mast and boom, which pulled us along nicely in the light, shifty winds. We spent a pleasant couple of hours playing the breeze as we weaved our way through the islands near the anchorage. We disturbed a couple of adorable seals sunning themselves on a rock as we approached a little too close in the strange, orange boat. Later on, we caught several curious ones watching us from the water as we passed by.

Compare the size of the boom and sail on our earlier (left) and current (right) model of Portland Pudgy sail kit

Since I knew there were rocks down there under the high tide line, I was conservatively keeping near the middle in order to avoid grounding the Pudgy’s daggerboards. Then Maryanne realized we have electronic charts on our Pudgy. Actually, we have a handheld basic GPS and spare batteries in the emergency kit we carry aboard. It gives position, speed, distance, etc., but no charts. Boy, times have changed since last time we sailed our Pudgy. This time, we had chartplotter, wind meter, camera and uh, phone, I guess, on our iPhones. I steered while Maryanne snapped photos and kept us in the deepest water. We even had a track display, so I could see how we were doing against the wind and current.

Kyle has fun, as he sails me around the island, I sit back and enjoy the views

When we got back to Begonia, I was still in the mood for more, so Maryanne started dinner while I went almost all of the way back out to the open ocean before making my way back.

Since Cows Yard has a relatively small space that’s safe for anchoring, I was eager to get a good look at the anchorage the next morning at the lowest tide of our stay, when we would only have a few inches under the keels. I came into the cabin and everything was gone! The fog was so thick, that all I could see was Begonia and about three of the local lobster pot buoys. The double tone of nearby Moose Peak Light could be heard. Maryanne joked it says, “Moose! Moose!”

The fog comprised the nice weather before the approach of a warm front that was forecast to bring wind and increasingly heavy rain as the day progressed. I used the nice window to re-stow the Pudgy and its sailing rig and prepared for another dreary indoor day. The next few days are forecast to be glorious and have us breaking out the sun cream.

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