Saturday, May 31, 2008

Not all sun drenched glamour

[Maryanne]I know we have not posted for a few days (just a splurge today), but that is because this last week I had mostly been busy with dull chores (yes life cruising on a sail boat is not all glamorous); I had to get a propane tank filled at a store over a mile away (thank goodness for my little hand cart); tend to our dinghy rudder problem; lots and lots of little jobs that just take time.

This next week I hope to do a little bit of sightseeing in Portland, so you can expect a few posts with pictures to show you of this wonderful city, with its active working water front (local and international ferries, lobster men, etc), cobbled streets and great history.

Today I had originally planned to help with some beach/island clean up, but it was canceled at the last minute. I briefly thought about a grocery run, or some sightseeing - but the weather is very rainy, with lightning and thunder to boot - so I'm staying on the cozy, warm boat to do "house" work.


[Maryanne]Ever since I stepped off the conveyor belt of "normal" life, and started to make my own choices in life (about age 30) I have found I like to volunteer my skills and services. I don't do anything, but I find something I can do, and an organization I like and help out. This has always been easy when I have had a base, and I didn't want to stop doing it now we are cruising and only spending days or weeks in any area. It is a great way to meet people, know an area better, and of course gives you that warm feel good factor.

I generally try and find something that I will learn from, or that I will enjoy, as much as something that is needed (I'm not totally altruistic!) - so what to find in Portland? In the past I have designed databases and systems for historical/archaeological organizations (both for documenting church buildings and protecting historic wreck sites of the UK with the ADU, now the ADUS); for several years I monitored water quality in the Elizabeth River (well I did LIVE on the river!); I taught scuba diving at St Andrews University, even worked for a short while as a Emergency Medical Technician (EMT / ambulance driver). These things are simpler to do when you actually LIVE somewhere.

We knew we would be spending a full 12 days in Portland, ME so in advance I researched for something I might do. A fellow Gemini owner had mentioned the Main Island Trail Association was based in Portland, and then before we arrived, MITA came up again and again in books we were reading - so that seemed an obvious choice. I contacted them in advance of our arrival, we bumped into them when we were in Jewell Island, and I finally popped into their office to volunteer my services this week! Yes I was back in an office; but on my own terms and hours and quite happy to help out. The MITA team are incredibly enthusiastic and friendly; a great group to do this wonderfully valuable job. I'm glad to be able to do my little bit to help.

Posting Comments

[Maryanne]I have had two folks say they posted comments but were frustrated/confused at having to enter a friend's email.

It turns out they used the "email a post" icon, and were not posting a comment at all! And we never received the comment. What a shame; we would hate to miss a comment.

If you want to post comments, at the end of the applicable blog post, click on the word "Comments" (just before the envelope icon). Of course if you want to email the blog post to a friend, then you can use the envelope too, at which point it will obviously ask you for your friend's email address!

Remember you don't have to register or sign in to post a comment, we have left the anonymous feature available - if you use that, please just end the comment with your name so we know who you are.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Touring the National Historic Landmarks of Maine...

[Maryanne]Tuesday was to be a our one day together to explore Portland... given the events of the previous day, that changed, instead we hiked/trawled the malls, looking for new glasses and to swap over Kyle's now defunct (waterlogged) phone - all so he can be functional at work tomorrow! Nothing like a deadline!

We did get to see one of Maine's National Historic Monuments - not one that was originally on our schedule - and not really terribly exciting; while navigating on foot between Malls, we crossed over the Maine Turnpike, and a sign that revealed itself to be a - National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Now I wonder just how many people have come to Portland to see that!

I'm hoping that the rest of our stay in Portland is a little less expensive, and a lot safer!

Jewell Island to Portland

[Kyle] The next morning after sleeping in a little too long, we left Jewell Island for Portland. There is no direct route between most places in Maine, so we got to weave among the islands on a beautiful clear morning with plenty of wind. We are finally starting to see other boats. This gorgeous Memorial Day weekend has been perfect for everyone to start this boating season.

We topped up our fuel and water and picked up a mooring right downtown from Portland Yacht Services for about a zillion dollars. I had been to Portland a few times at work and always thought the place was really cool. I couldn't believe we had just sailed here in our own boat. It's been 973 nautical miles since we left Norfolk.

We had a day planned of unglamorous stuff: showers, tons of laundry, cleaning, etc. We took a walk along the waterfront during a drying cycle and decided we were hungry enough to get dinner as well. We had a nice meal (they don't skimp on the lobster!) at a crowded little place with plenty of local flavor called J's Oyster. There were lobstermen and boat crews at the bar exchanging sea stories. The place looked like it hadn't changed since 1975.

We got back to the marina and changed our laundry over. I offered to take the current finished load to the boat and make the bed while Maryanne tended the rest. She helped me carry stuff to the dinghy and was standing on the dock as I loaded up. The harbor is very busy and there is a lot of swell and wakes. When I finally went to get in the dinghy, the dock went up and the dinghy went down. I had originally planned to make the ungainly plop down to the center of the dinghy and then just keep low until the painter (the line to the dock) came taught. What really happened was that I built up a little momentum with the longer drop, then I landed slightly off center, then the painter, which was tied shorter than usual, pulled the dinghy short before I could get my weight low. What it looked like was that I got one foot in the dinghy and then just rolled over it into the water on the other side. I managed to get a hold of the grab line on the side before I went in so I didn't go all the way under or anything. The force of me on the grab line, however, rolled the dinghy toward me with enough force to launch one of the oar handles directly into my face. The thing came straight at me and the end of the handle hit me directly between the eyes, adding injury to insult. I assume it must have broken my glasses but I never did see them again and - AND my cell phone was in my pocket. Everything else fortunately stayed in the dinghy. It was also getting cold and windy outside. Maryanne and I were washing all of our warm clothes so we were already getting cold in our shorts and t-shirts before I had to row to the boat in wet stuff - brrr! I am really glad we have heat on the boat. Looks like instead of sightseeing tomorrow, we'll be spending a bunch of money we hadn't planned replacing all of that stuff.

So, what did I learn? Always, always get in the dinghy slowly and carefully because you never know what's behind you and always carry a cell phone in a ziploc bag until too far from the water to throw it in.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Jewell Island

[Kyle]From Quahog Bay, we sailed the short distance to Jewell Island arriving by mid-day. We anchored as close to the head of the cove as the tidal range allowed, although there were a few power boats that had arrived at high tide, and were now high and dry on the beach.

The anchorage is a long horseshoe shaped cove which becomes two separate islands at high tide, we anchored in the shelter of both sides of the horseshoe. We were met by the summer caretaker for the Island (Ross), who had a team of people collecting trash from the island. He was very friendly and handed us a map showing the island trails. The island is one of the many managed by the Maine Island Trail association, and what a great job they do. They keep the islands and trails open for visitors, campers, etc, all from voluntary donations. This was the same organization that managed Little Snow Island in Quahog Bay, a place we had earlier explored.

As it was the start of the Memorial Day weekend, and the weather was great, we found ourselves for the first time in ages in an anchorage with other boats (about 3 when we arrived, and over the weekend as many as 20). The place was very active with lots of people dinghying back and forth to the beach to see the trails and set up camp. There were sea kayakers exploring too, the weather was so good. We rowed ashore and dragged the dinghy high up the beach in anticipation of the rising tide, tied it to a tree and set off on a hike across the island (which is just about a mile long).

Jewell Island was used as a lookout post in both WW1 and WW2, (housing about 400 troops) so it is littered with old army buildings, including look out towers and gun turrets. We could not resist climbing the towers for a spectacular view of Casco bay, probably stretching 30 miles or more. We also got our first introduction to Maine's notorious mosquitoes, voracious but luckily only in a few windless patches of the interior of the island. The trail took us over the island, passed the old battery ruins, where along with two 6" guns and four 90mm anti-aircraft guns, officers' quarters and barracks sat in an underground bunker which we had come prepared with a flashlight to explore.

From there we descended to the other side of the island to beaches offering yet more beautiful views of Maine through a crystal clear sky - and great camp sites from which to enjoy them from; sea views and the sound of surf crashing - perfect. We briefly considered packing our camping equipment for the night, but as the forecast was rain we thought better of it. By the time we returned to our dinghy we noticed most of the camp sites (particularly the more accessible ones in the cove) were getting full. One group of about a dozen said they were celebrating a bachelor party and spent most of the day hauling enormous amounts of camping supplies and equipment up 30' of cliff, bucket brigade style.

On returning to the boat we rowed around the now separated Little Jewell Island and ended the evening enjoying a splendid sunset from Footprint.

The next day (Sunday) after sleeping in and catching up with household chores, we found ourselves in just over 3 feet of crystal clear water, and could see the bottom clearly all the way to the anchor (still no fish). We rowed to shore and hiked the remaining trails of the island. In the afternoon I had planned to sail to a nearby archipelago to get a better view of the wild birds. There was plenty of wind, so we anticipated a great afternoon of sailing in the dinghy. Part way out, however our rudder cracked, and was in danger of breaking altogether. We decided to return to Footprint, and our only option was, to row back. We pulled down the mast and sails, we were only about 0.8 miles out. By then the wind had increased, and the tide was starting to ebb - we had to work against both to get back. Our GPS estimated a 2 hour row. During gusts and heavy waves our progress would stop, but then we would make progress during the lulls. I hunkered down for the long row back and after about 30 minutes (0.2 miles) a powerboat offered us a tow - which I was very grateful to accept! Even though we had not met the residents of the power boat, they knew which was our boat, and towed us all the way back to Footprint; this was no easy task in a crowded anchorage at slow speeds towing two fools in a dinghy. All the boaters we had waved to on the way out under sail, seemed surprised to see us returning under tow! Lost some sea-cred, but glad to be safe!

A big thank you to our new heroes on Booked Off, that rescued us!

Once back at Footprint, we decided it would be prudent to spend a quite afternoon with no further adventure nor chance of drama.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Quahog Bay, Maine

[Kyle]After the morning excitement, and Maryanne was dried off (see previous post) we went out to explore the many islands and inlets of southern Quahog Bay. Rowing upwind and sailing downwind. We landed on the south side of one island, walked to its northern tip and had a picnic lunch. Later, Maryanne went up to see a lighthouse on Snow Island, although I must confess, even though Maine is lousy with light houses (like Rhode Island), they just don't seem nearly as impressive

Since I had noticed that the seals liked to come on beach/rocks at low tide, I decided we would get up very early the next day to try and observe them on the next low tide. There was a little bit of wind, so we setup the sailing kit in the dingy and sailed all over the bay hoping to find seals. We did have one guy who kept popping his head up out of the water from a safe distance to look at us, but other than that - no luck. So we spent the rest of the afternoon tacking in and out of all the remaining inlets of the bay, before returning to Footprint for our next trip.

[Maryanne]Early does not begin to describe it! We must have spent 10 hours in the dingy this day... I didn't agree with Kyle's sleuthing about seals and low tide, so I was resistant at climbing in the dinghy at 6:30 am - but off we went. I had to amuse myself through the day - but paid for it on the way back! Oops - I guess Kyle doesn't like my jokes!

Poor Maryanne

[Kyle]This is what it is like to be Maryanne....

Our first morning in Quahog Bay I had a fit of industry and decided to clean the windows to better enjoy the view. Maryanne in her own fit of industry decided to ready the dinghy for a tour of the bay. The scene opens like this....

I hear a barely audible cute English sounding squeak. It says "help!". "Oh!" I think to myself, "Maryanne must need me to help her with the dinghy, I'll finish what I'm doing and get right there". One window later I hear another slightly more audible (but still weak) "Ummm Help!". "Yes dear", I say, "I'll be right there". I think to myself, "I'll go after this window". Half way through that window I hear "Help..... now". Exasperated, I say "OK, I'm on my way", and speed up finishing the window I was cleaning. Next I hear "A bit faster than that please!". "I KNOW!" I bark, "Gees" I think to myself, "I'm almost done, what is her problem?".

"I've actually fallen in the water... I'm not completely in, but I'm still quite a bit in the water". "yeah, yeah, yeah, I know - I said I'm coming".

"One of my legs is getting very numb, and I think something might be gnawing on it". "Alright already! I told you I'll be right there" - Darn, another smudge I have to attend to.

"Ummm, I'm feeling a bit lightheaded, and I think, I can see a light". "LOOK, I told you I'm on the way, I'm busy doing something, just wait!".

"My", I think to myself, "It says streak free on the bottle, but it really isn't is it?".

"Honey", comes a little voice, "should I go to the light?". "Whatever, I'm kind of busy right now".

This whole thing didn't actually happen, I got to the dinghy after "A bit faster than that please", and found Maryanne hanging face down, over the side of the dinghy with one leg in the water. I grabbed the dinghy with one hand, and Maryanne in the other and shoved her into the dinghy. She flopped over and looked at me and said "Where were you?".. "I was cleaning the windows, If you needed help, why didn't you scream HELP?".

It turns out that Maryanne has a little trouble with expression of surprise and alarm. On more than one occasion when sailing along, Maryanne will go inside the boat and let out a blood curdling scream. Expecting to find her come running up and telling me there is 2 feet of water inside, or something is on fire, I scream "What's wrong?" and she will say "I dropped a box of tissues and it almost hit my foot". Or she will come outside and look behind me and with an expression of complete horror scream "Holy Sh!t". I'll whirl around, expecting to see a ship about to run us down, and find nothing and say "What?, What's wrong?" She will say "your not wearing a hat - aren't your ears cold?".

So the problem is that she scares the cr*p out of me over nothing, and not when she should. She says "Well you're supposed to stay calm in an emergency". Poor wife.

[Maryanne]What actually happened here was I was stepping from the main boat into the dinghy, and found myself with a foot in each boat, quickly separating from each other. I dived for the dinghy, but didn't fully make it, and my balance was such I could not pull myself in to the dingy! Kyle and I are now working on a more urgent call for help!

Kyle has found this whole incident incredibly funny, and continues to crack up for a full 5 minutes whenever he even thinks about my call for help.

Kyle the Gentleman!

[Maryanne]Kyle and I share most of the work pretty evenly, but I do need to say how wonderfully he has been looking after me while gunkholing! He hauls the dinghy ashore, he does the rowing, and he even gives me a piggy back from time to time to save the need for me to get my feet wet. I know I'm capable, but it is sooo nice to be spoilt also. I love my husband!

This picture is of Kyle re-launching the dinghy after we had landed for some exploring in the Basin and returned to find it high and dry. Even once the dinghy was back in the water, it still needed to be dragged over a very shallow patch, before he brought it round to a ledge for me to board - my feet were still dry (can't say the same for Kyle).

The Basin to Quahog Bay

[Kyle] After leaving the Basin, we had planned to go to the little harbor at Sebasco, just a little bit south. when we came out of our sheltered inlet, however, we were hit with a strong headwind and heavy chop. We bashed our way down to Sebasco and found the harbor so crowded with lobster pots and moorings that it would have been tough to squeeze an anchor in. Also it was exposed to the predicted wind and the chop would have been uncomfortable to anchor the night. We decided to move on to the next planned anchorage in Quahog Bay.

We had an additional problem! Our fresh water supply that we had filled in the expensive Nantucket marina was bad, it had huge globules of white particulate floating around! So I had dumped all the fresh water, expecting to fill that day. Sebasco Harbor Resort had a dock with services that appeared to be closed so we turned around and headed up river to Cundy Harbor (almost all the way back to where we started), but found the marinas there either closed (too early in the season) or without water. We then headed back to Sebasco and wandered into the empty restaurant - and asked a surprised looking fellow where we could get service at the dock? He called around and eventually sent us to the front desk. At the reception they could not find any help (season still not started, all the staff are on short hours), but were kind enough to tell us to go ahead and use any spigot (tap) we can find.

On the way back to the boat we took a leisurely tour of the resort, it is full of really pretty waterfront views - so naturally we took pictures; what a great place to vacation in Maine! Once we got back to the dock, we found water, but the supply was turned off. I worked my way up the line, turning on valves but the mains at the building source was turned off, so still no water. We were just resigning ourselves to having to carry jugs of water to and from the restaurant, when a caretaker turned up and offered to turn on the water for us.. EXCELLENT. We then decided to flush the bad water out of the tank before refilling. Just about half way through flushing the bad water out, pressure stopped and a leak appeared at the top of the dock spraying water everywhere. By then of course the caretaker had left, and we were worried we would still have no water. Maryanne shut off the valve to stop the water flow, and I identified the problem (by hanging upside down under the dock) a connection in the dock line was missing a hose clamp and had blown apart. Maryanne went to the boat and found the right size hose clamp from our spares, and I installed it (still hanging upside down), fixing the resort hose. We filled our tanks and were VERY grateful.

The trip from Sebasco to Snow Island was (of course) beautiful (no really!). The problem with Maine is that it is so pretty everywhere it is hard to find a spot to like best. As we rounded the corner into our anchorage we were amongst dozens of little islands sprinkled throughout the bay, some of which had seals enjoying a rest. We managed to anchor in a tiny little spot between island that just had enough room for Footprint to swing.

[Maryanne]In Quahog bay we had intended to anchor at Snow Island, but a tip from our trusty Maine cruising guide book suggested we poke around a little more. The tide was low, so there were Islands and rocks everywhere - any route from A to B could be taken via any number of these rocks and islands... We eventually anchored by Ben Island.. Pretty, pretty, pretty - to get a view try these coordinates in Google/mapquest 43 49.2'N 069 54.2'W.

The Basin - Day 2

Portland Pudgy Dinghy and Footprint in the background - while at The Basin, MaineOsprey in the BasinEider Duck eggs in nestSunset at the Basin
[Kyle] On our next day in The Basin, we decided to have a little row around in the dingy and explore. The tidal range in the area is about 9 feet which increases by maybe 50% the available area to explore at high tide versus low tide. We left on the rising tide near high tide and rowed our way far up into the various inlets. We landed the dinghy in several different places and hiked up into the forest to places that had beautiful, expansive views of the anchorage. Footprint was the only boat in the little bay (we're still beating the crowds!). Most of the land surrounding The Basin was given by anonymous donation to The Nature Conservancy and there were trails crisscrossing the various peninsulas and even a few benches put out at scenic spots. This place is absolutely stunning and peaceful. The pine scented air and the soft, needle covered ground make me feel like I could just as well be at a remote lake in Colorado at 8,000 feet, except that the red-tailed hawks are ospreys and there are clam shells in the dirt everywhere.

[Maryanne] This was our first real gunkholing of the trip, and we were terribly excited. While in the Basin, we both rowed and sailed, and really got to know our dinghy. More great wildlife, on this excursion (in Basin Island) we unfortunately disturbed an Eider Duck nest - it was in a tree trunk and as we walked by the poor female flew out and made us jump! Leaving behind (temporarily) a nest with 9 eggs. Eider ducks seem common around here. Learning about the wildlife, as well as enjoying the scenery is EXACTLY what is making this part of our trip so magical. Our binoculars and guide books are essential equipment.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Comments from friends and family

[Maryanne]We need to say a BIG THANK You to those posting comments on the blog. It turns it from a diary into a conversation and we both get really excited to read the comments.

Note you DON'T have to register to post a comment - you can post "anonymously" but then just add your name at the end of the text so we know who you are.

Kate - we guess the movie is Captain Ron, but have no idea (you win in the movie quotes for today!) Oh and the carousel is still there, but we didn't find it.

Angie - WOW - from not following any blog to posting comments - a true convert :-)

Thanks again all, and keep the posts coming

Monday, May 19, 2008

Nantucket to Maine

[Kyle] Our last night in Nantucket was spent on board Footprint while rain came down in sheets and the wind howled. The chop and noise was so bad we had a hard time sleeping. It felt like we were underway in a storm. By morning the wind was really blowing even harder out of the northeast and the rain was cold. A couple of times I ventured outside to check something and came running back in and shivering as if the weather was actually thirty degrees colder. Needless to say, this did not make us feel motivated to go anywhere, much less Maine.

After lunch though, the wind decreased and became favorable for our journey (just as predicted). We made a diversion to a local marina to top up our fresh water supplies, and set off for Maine.

Almost immediately the wind died completely and started to spin - this was before we had even left the Nantucket coast, leaving us drifting towards a rocky shoal with spectators to boot. This caused me to stomp around on deck doing my best Yosemite Sam impersonation. "Ooooh, I hates motorin'" (Maryanne watched on in good humor). The current drifted us closer and closer to Brant Point, where we discovered that rocky shoal was in fact a colony of seals on the beach (cool). Eventually the crisis was averted, the engine shut down, and the wind returned to its predicted state.

We were able to follow a direct course to Maine, and arrived even earlier than we had hoped - so early in fact we had to wait about 45 minutes for daylight to enter the harbor. (I wanted to be a able to see the lobster pots we knew would be there, and they WERE there).

Apart from being cold, the passage was uneventful. The scenery as we arrived was breathtaking - NO FOG, clear skies! I consider us lucky.

One of the better moments of our arrival into this beautiful place was when we turned into the tiny channel that led to our anchorage, having sailed with the wind behind us on the way in we had not had a chance to smell Maine until that moment - then it hit us, we were in the woods! Pine trees and wet earth, it reminded me of being in the mountains as a kid. The narrow channel opens into a gorgeous big basin that looks just like a mountain lake; pine trees and granite coming right down to the water.

We had made it to Maine, and it was even prettier than I had expected. Once again it turns out we are ahead of the crowds, the anchorage was empty!

On arrival we had a short nap (to recover from night watches), and then setup the dinghy to explore the basin. Maryanne had to act as spray dodger (begrudgingly) while longingly looking back to Footprint between enjoying the views. We ended the sail with a relaxing downwind sail back to the heated Footprint.

[Maryanne]Still no luck fishing, I tried some different lures on this trip - some I had to fight with just to bring back on deck - so I won't be using those again.. Either way, still no fresh fish dinner!

Our anchorage is in the East of Casco Bay, a cove called "The Basin" off the New Meadows river. Casco Bay is full of rocky islands, just hundreds of them, it is a stunning area. The sun is shining brilliantly, the trees are nearly all a lush green, and it just looks spectacular. It even feels great if you are out of the wind. You can check out the area using these coordinates (43 48.3' N 69 51.4' W) in Google or some such mapping program. We really had no idea what to expect of rural Maine, but we picked out a number of places with 5 stars in our sailing guide book - so far, looks like a hit.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Better know a seagull

[Maryanne]Since we have been in the NE (or maybe just away from urban areas), we have noticed the sea gulls a whole lot bigger and healthier than we are used to. They actually look more muscular and have very clean looking (healthy looking) feathers - no rag tags here! As we have observed them at the shore and in town, their diet is clearly different - they are eating crabs and shell fish faster than the locals. These birds are not eating out of trash cans! We have sat and watched the sea gulls catch, wrestle and eat crabs as big as themselves.

On our trip today to the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, we even saw plenty of sea gull nests - a first for Kyle and me. We tried to avoid the nests, but some of them were right on the trail - impossible to keep clear of. This one had 3 large speckled eggs in it - I'm not sure how long to hatching time! Anyone know where sea gulls nest in the city?

The main gulls in this area (If I understand correctly from my trusty Peterson Field guide) are the Herring Gull.

Since all this was new to me, I thought I'd share.

Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge

[Kyle] The next day, the forecast was for rain in the afternoon so Maryanne and I got up early for a quick upwind sail in the dinghy further up Coatue, landing right on the beach. We had the whole place to ourselves (we beat the crowds!). The place is a wildlife refuge mostly for the many nesting birds on the island. Maryanne and I dressed differently for this expedition. Maryanne had on several waterproof layers including sea boots. I wore shorts and a long sleeve shirt and went barefoot. This meant, of course, that I got to land the boat when we hit the beach and launch when we left. We walked through the sand and grass (very soft!) to the Atlantic side, back past the boat, crossed back to the harbor side and walked back up to the dinghy. At one point, we got to a crossing and I had (got!) to carry Maryanne through thigh high water in soft sand. I didn't mind. We were having fun. We got back in the dinghy and had another fast downwind sail back to the boat, again all smiles.

We put the dinghy back in lifeboat mode for our offshore passage to Maine and got everything ready for sea before retreating into the cabin just ahead of the rain. Footprint was coated in salt and needed a good fresh water rinse.

[Maryanne]The 2 mile walk around one end of the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge was stunning. Wild remote beaches, wildlife clearly not used to seeing humans. There were sand dunes, marshland areas, scrub, etc. I was glad we had such a nice day, as the area is fully exposed to the Atlantic. We beach combed, and came across lots of interesting discs on a string, which we guessed were the egg cases of some marine animal, but we had no idea what. A quick internet search afterward, and we discovered these are whelk cases - apparently each disc will contain upto 200 tiny baby whelks (Sea snails). Also we saw plenty of large horseshoe crab shells (mostly after the birds had finished picking at them). We have still to see a live one, but the evidence is everywhere. The place was full of wild birds, waders and sea birds, and some sections of the shore are marked as seed areas for Scallops (no collecting)... The walk along the beach gave me plenty of pleasant flashbacks to my marine biology studies, we really enjoyed ourselves; exploring like kids.

I once sailed a boat to....Coatue?

[Kyle]Which is part of the island of Nantucket. Perhaps I was being a bit too specific...

Nantucket Harbor is composed of a basin about 5 1/2 miles by 1 mile enclosed by a great sand spit that is between 150 and 450 yards wide ending in an area called Coatue. Since yesterday's sail presented us with a veritable mine field of a mooring field that was waiting to tear off any of our underwater appendages, we anchored about a mile and a half from town in a private spot off Coatue.

Our next day started out sunny with a light wind. We spent the morning readying the dinghy and when the strong current switched in our favor, I started the long row into town. By the time we finally got there, Footprint's mast was about half a pinky width high at arms length. We went to the town dock but could not find the harbormaster. The guy at the store next door said they take long lunches out of season and wouldn't likely be back for a while. We told him we were interested in showers and he said they were still locked up and turned off, try one of the marinas. He then asked if that was us he saw rowing in from way around the corner in the little orange boat. I said it was. He said he was concerned but that as long as we seemed to be making progress, he'd just keep an eye on us. He seemed pretty impressed that I actually rowed that far. More boat cred.

Once on shore, we went to the next marina and asked about showers. The young women in the Dockmaster's office told us they were all locked for the season, then remembered that they had just opened a couple on the other side of the complex and told us we were welcome to them. We also asked about dockage rates, mostly for curiosity's sake: $3.50 per foot per night off season, $5.50 in season, moorings slightly less. Holy crap!! Glad we anchored. The showers were marvelous, however - great torrents of hot water.

Refreshed and rejuvenated, we ambled into town. We had a quick lunch at a taco stand (Nantucket is well known for it's Mexican food - on Nantucket!), then went to the excellent whaling museum. Whaling does not seem at all like it was pleasant but it still beats being whaled. What a gruesome business. A bull Sperm whale had been dying and came ashore here in 1997. Many of the islanders were involved in first trying to save the whale, then processing the remains after he died. This gave many of the islanders a first hand look into the industry that was so important in the island's history and made for an interesting perspective into the presentations..

After the museum, we had a long walk around town. This place is just beautiful. I kept catching my breath at how pretty it all was and how lucky I was to be able to see it. The entire island is a national historic district. The houses were mostly weathered wood shingle with the occasional colonial brick thrown in. Many of the roads were cobbled with ballast from the old ships. It just looked like Nantucket.

We stopped at a grocery store for a few provisions, and arrived back at the dinghy after the harbormaster had left. We rigged the sailing kit (even more boat cred) and had a really nice downwind sail back to Footprint, talking about our day and laughing with each other as we went. It was a really good day.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Martha's Vineyard to Nantucket

[Maryanne]Despite spending 3 days in Martha's Vineyard, we only got to explore the island for one day - the other days were spent riding out some pretty rough weather, rowing to shore was not an attractive prospect. We did some maintenance on the boat, housework, read and just relaxed.

Kyle decided a bath was in order and despite the LOW sea temperature, and my calls of concern, he jumped in. He came out pretty quickly, but smells much better!

Eventually (Wednesday) the weather and wind was such that we could set off for Nantucket. We sailed for about 8 hours, and we had quite a range of sails and wind, we are both feeling so comfortable with the boat, reefing, changing sails etc was fun. For much of the journey we were sailing along at 8 knots just over 9 mph (very fast for our boat!). On other parts of the journey we were pottering along at about 2 knots. We were in no rush and enjoyed the ride.

I tried fishing again - several different lures, and still no luck. Luckily we have plenty of food aboard, if we were relying on my fishing talent we would be VERY HUNGRY. I suspect we will need to have a CPR team on hand if I ever do catch a fish. With my line out we passed a boat with 3 other fisherman, and I can't believe it, but as I passed they each pulled up a fish on their lines... That was just cruel! All I managed to catch the whole day was some seaweed.

Although still cold, it was very sunny, so we really enjoyed the scenery as we sailed along. There were plenty of trawlers in the area too (I know the fish are out here!). We also saw plenty of ferries again - I think on the Boston to Nantucket run.

So by early afternoon we arrived in Nantucket, my first visit ever. We passed another ferry leaving as we arrived at - as we entered the harbor we were amazed at the mass of mooring balls. It seems the public anchorage has been taken over here as in other places with the industry of making money. Very few boats were attached to these moorings (less than 1% occupied) - and we ended up over a mile away from the dinghy dock, which we have yet to row/sail to. The dinghy dock is hidden away, and hard to find, but apparently they have showers - and boy I really need a very long hot shower. We were quite disappointed to be so far away from the dock, and many of the obvious nearer landing sites are clearly private property - so Kyle will be getting a work out. We did however anchor off a beautiful nature reserve, and although miles from town, we plan to take the 5 minute trip to these beautiful remote beaches for a walk and explore while we are here in Nantucket. We spent the afternoon reading up on Nantucket in our boating and other guide books, and Thursday is expected to be a calm sunny day - perfect for exploring (and not too cold either).

Pictures: Maryanne Fishing, First Views of Nantucket, and Not all Nantucket Residents are rich.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Martha's Vineyard

[Maryanne]Martha's Vineyard was known even to me, a Brit, well before I ever came to America, I seemed I'd always known about it. Now were were here. We arrived and anchored in Lake Tashmoo, and despite the early season, there were more boats here than we had seen in other harbours. We walked the short walk into Vineyard Haven and looked into the houses as we passed; some were old, some very modern; some large, some smaller. We arrived in Vineyard Haven on Church Street, and turned onto Main St - full of small shops, mostly touristy but without any of the usual tacky nature. Even the bank fitted into the area being small, stone built and with flower vines growing over the facade. We purchased cakes from a small bakery and watched the world go by for a while.

We were surprised to find it so busy with tourists (I can't imagine what this place is like in the middle of the summer season!). Nowhere we visited here seemed snooty in any way, but very homely, nice. The Vineyard Haven/Tisbury Harbor was quite full - plenty of boats (again!), and lots of moorings - I doubt we would have been able to anchor here, and there is also a ferry terminal which seemed to constantly be delivering new tourists/visitors/locals both on car and on foot.

We walked onward, the 3 miles to Oak Bluffs, and along the way passed by quiet, beautiful beaches. Oak Bluffs originally started out as an annual Christian camp site, but as people returned each year, small houses were built, all quite distinctive "Gingerbread houses". Every turn off to a side street brings new treasures so we explored, and found ourselves in a nice pub (The Offshore Ale House) for lunch. Many of the towns on the island are "dry" - but Oak Bluffs is not, and the pub brewed its own beers (Kyle was happy). I liked it as it provided a visual sensory overload: old boats, the brewing vats, peanut shells on the floor, etc. Along with dinner we had a fantastic clam chowder. After the fact, we discovered this pub is well rated by the Times of London, and even Zagat's. Strangely this harbor had not yet put out it's mooring balls, and apart from a few local work boats, and one cruiser sheltering from the forecast blow, it was quite empty.

Although we had imagined such a picturesque and expensive area would have mainly older tourists and couples, we were surprised at the number of college kid groups holidaying here - there seems to be quite a business in renting cycles and mopeds and everyone seemed to be having fun just being here.

The whole time I was there I felt like a kid in a sweet shop / candy store - I WAS IN MARTHA'S VINEYARD (cool enough) and WE SAILED HERE - Wow. It feels like we are really living that dream.

Martha's Vineyard

[Maryanne]Martha's Vineyard was known even to me, a Brit, well before I ever came to America, I seemed I'd always known about it. Now were were here. We arrived and anchored in Lake Tashmoo, and despite the early season, there were more boats here than we had seen in other harbours. We walked the short walk into Vineyard Haven and looked into the houses as we passed; some were old, some very modern; some large, some smaller. We arrived in Vineyard Haven on Church Street, and turned onto Main St - full of small shops, mostly touristy but without any of the usual tacky nature. Even the bank fitted into the area being small, stone built and with flower vines growing over the facade. We purchased cakes from a small bakery and watched the world go by for a while.

We were surprised to find it so busy with tourists (I can't imagine what this place is like in the middle of the summer season!). Nowhere we visited here seemed snooty in any way, but very homely, nice. The Vineyard Haven/Tisbury Harbor was quite full - plenty of boats (again!), and lots of moorings - I doubt we would have been able to anchor here, and there is also a ferry terminal which seemed to constantly be delivering new tourists/visitors/locals both on car and on foot.

We walked onward, the 3 miles to Oak Bluffs, and along the way passed by quiet, beautiful beaches. Oak Bluffs originally started out as an annual Christian camp site, but as people returned each year, small houses were built, all quite distinctive "Gingerbread houses". Every turn off to a side street brings new treasures so we explored, and found ourselves in a nice pub (The Offshore Ale House) for lunch. Many of the towns on the island are "dry" - but Oak Bluffs is not, and the pub brewed its own beers (Kyle was happy). I liked it as it provided a visual sensory overload: old boats, the brewing vats, peanut shells on the floor, etc. Along with dinner we had a fantastic clam chowder. After the fact, we discovered this pub is well rated by the Times of London, and even Zagat's. Strangely this harbor had not yet put out it's mooring balls, and apart from a few local work boats, and one cruiser sheltering from the forecast blow, it was quite empty.

Although we had imagined such a picturesque and expensive area would have mainly older tourists and couples, we were surprised at the number of college kid groups holidaying here - there seems to be quite a business in renting cycles and mopeds and everyone seemed to be having fun just being here.

The whole time I was there I felt like a kid in a sweet shop / candy store - I WAS IN MARTHA'S VINEYARD (cool enough) and WE SAILED HERE - Wow. It feels like we are really living that dream.

Journey to Martha's Vineyard

[Kyle]We started the day before sunrise in Cuttyhunk. The place was quiet; probably everyone relaxing from the wild parties the previous night (NOT). The first half of the day we had favourable winds, but unfavourable currents. We sailed up Buzzards Bay in a light head wind to a gap between Nashawena and Pasque Islands called "Quicks Hole", there are other shorter routes, but this is considered the safest.

The Northbound current combined with the South bound wind made for a short chop through the gap, and cut our speed in half. Once we turned into the lee of Pasque Island, we enjoyed a brisk upwind sail in flat water. The sun was bright and the islands were beautiful. Maryanne commented that the private Pasque Island looked like someone had unrolled a carpet of trees atop the sandy island; pretty cool.

We saw a few fishing boats and Maryanne again decided it was time to trail the fishing lure - we stayed in the lee of the Elizabeth Islands as we sailed NE which gave us moderate winds and flat sea, and being against the current (still) gave us plenty of time to enjoy the views. The entire time the cliffs of Martha's Vineyard were visible to the south in the crisp, bright air.

Just before noon, we turned South and crossed Vineyard Sound, lowered the sails and motored into Lake Tashmoo, just around the corner from Vineyard Haven. The entrance here was narrow and shallow, but eventually opens into a wide bay, about 10' deep. The Lake is very petty surrounded by trees through which you can see moderate sized houses, all with docks jutting out, and boats attached. Like many areas in this part of New England, the bay was filled with moorings. We found a space, and after a 3rd attempt we managed to find good holding ground in which to anchor. Given the wind forecasts (strong, from the NE), we again put out our 2nd anchor (rowed out in the dingy, as we had in Newport).

We tidied up the boat, and rowed to shore for the 30 minute walk into Vineyard Haven - time to explore.

[Maryanne]As we entered Lake Tashmoo, there were people fishing - and no, I have still to catch a thing (even with my lucky lures from John Dickerson).

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Newport to Cuttyhunk

Cuttyhunk, Deserted on a Saturday night
[Kyle] Rhode Island is a stunning and special place that Maryanne and I loved enough to have easily spent the Summer. The time had come, however, for us to start making our way north to Maine. We had quite a bit of time for the journey this time so we decided that, rather than take the more direct route via the Cape Cod Canal, we would go around Cape Cod and explore some of the islands along the way. We decided that our first stop would be Cuttyhunk Island in Massachusetts. We had heard about Cuttyhunk from practically everyone we talked to and the many guide books we read on the islands. We heard basically two things: Cuttyhunk is not to be missed and Cuttyhunk is pretty crowded with all of the people not missing it. It's right at about the halfway mark between Newport and Martha's Vineyard so we decided we wouldn't miss it either.

The weather was still very rainy and cold when we left Newport which made it really hard to get the motivation to get moving. There was also a small craft advisory posted until afternoon. The night before, it sounded like we were sleeping in a washing machine. Maryanne got our two anchors up and we headed out on our journey, turning downwind out of the Bay. We enjoyed flying along under double reefed everything, snapping pictures as we went. We got into Rhode Island Sound and turned upwind towards Buzzard's Bay and Cuttyhunk Island.

Sailing a boat consists of two very distinct modes: Upwind sailing and downwind sailing. These have about as much in common as motocross racing and hang gliding. Upwind sailing seems to be an activity that is specifically designed to shake both the boat and its crew to pieces. It makes the cold wind colder and the stinging rain stingier. The only time that I think it's any fun is on a light wind day on flat water, then it's a lovely way to get a cool breeze going. Downwind sailing, even in pretty bad conditions, is much more comfortable and loads of fun. In a catamaran, it's also fast, too.

We didn't sail really close to the wind but we were still close enough that we got pounded pretty hard in the short 4-6 foot chop. The wind was 23 knots or so and was gusting just above 30 and it was COLD. We were pretty much just waiting for it to be over the whole time. The only other boat we saw out was a Coast Guard cutter going the other way.

At long last we finally spotted Cuttyhunk on the horizon and gradually watched it grow and creep towards us. We entered the harbor on the tiny island and found that Footprint was the only boat in the harbor - again. The moorings had not even been put out yet and were all just marked with their Winter stakes. The island supposedly has 26 year round residents but we looked and we didn't see any of 'em. The island has lovely houses on three hills surrounding the harbor. From our deck we can see right over the beaches into both Buzzards Bay and the Atlantic with the cliffs of Martha's Vineyard in the distance. This place looks very much like Scottish moor country and Maryanne commented that if they tried, she bet they could make a damn good whisky here.

The sun came out for the evening and we are going to enjoy an unobstructed view of our own private sunset. Cuttyhunk, deserted on a Saturday night, it is hard to believe, but we are enjoying it just so.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Stuck in Newport

[Kyle]Today we had intended to leave for Cuttyhunk Island (Massachusetts), but the weather forecast was for very strong headwinds, we decided yesterday it would be safest to stay in our Newport anchorage for another day.

We began today by rowing out a second anchor in the cold rain (via dinghy), and adding more chain to our ground tackle for the expected storm; the wind was forecast to be around 30kt, gusting up to 40 later. We were not the only ones out rowing in the harbor and wishing we were someplace warmer – the picture above is of a local fisherman.

Since it was still (relatively) calm in the morning, we decided to row ashore for a quick walk into town, visit a recommended nautical bookstore, and a enjoy lunch. Maryanne got some rowing practice, but was not exactly happy about it while I sat there smugly. Newport is filled with many trendy (expensive) little restaurants and boutiques, but we passed a very busy, very basic looking diner – “Gary’s Handy Lunch”. The place was filled and seemed to be where the locals ate, right across the street from the wooden boat restoration school, and alongside many other famous nautical storefronts. Lunch was very reasonable, but basic (e.g egg and toast, $1.75!) and we enjoyed eavesdropping on the conversations surrounding us. I swear one of the guys at the counter was the famous naval architect Olin Stevens.

We tried to see more of the town, but the drizzle and cold did not leave us feeling very touristy; the wind was picking up and we were eager to get back (to warm up and dry off) on Footprint before the storm started to build. We baked brownies and spent the rest of the day pouring over our new guidebooks for Maine. The wind is such that the wind generator easily keeps pace with our heater power consumption so we are snug and warm and safe.

Newport Tour

[Kyle]We were deliberately visiting Newport to meet up with fellow Gemini owners (Walt and Carolyn). We spent a lazy morning relaxing on the boat, and met Walt and Carolyn mid-afternoon. They took us on a drive along the scenic Ocean View Drive; passing ever and ever larger mansions along the way, with increasingly beautiful scenery. What impressed me so much was not the hugeness and decadence of the mansions as the absolutely beautiful settings they were in. Many of the estates had giant rocky areas and rugged ocean views. And also what was impressive was the density of these castle like estates in such an enormously beautiful setting. From there we headed into the main town, Newport reminded me of a cross between Sausalito and Annapolis – boat stuff everywhere, beautiful little storefronts and narrow, walk-able streets.

We were headed for a tour of their beautiful Gemini La Dolce Vita; Walt is irrepressible tinkerer who has engineered many modifications to his boat – we were impressed! We spent quite a while pouring over charts and gleaning a lot of Walt and Carolyn’s knowledge in preparation for the next part of our trip, and eventual return south.

It turned out Walt had seen us arrive the previous day, and had taken pictures of us – our first pictures of Footprint under sail (see above). We continued the evening together in local boat stores and ended the evening in a beautiful Newport restaurant – Canfield House, previously a casino for the rich, was stunning and had great food – where we continued to discuss boats, Geminis, and the various local cruising sites – we learned SO Much. Thanks Walt and Carolyn for a lovely evening, and of course, our first picture of Footprint under sail.

Leaving Apponaug

[Kyle]After what seemed like being at work forever and not sailing we finally said farewell to Apponaug, and the lovely people we met there. John Dickerson (Owner of the marina) kindly sent us off with new lures to attempt to improve Maryanne's fishing success. Our first stop on our next leg (eventually to Portland, Maine) was Newport, Rhode Island. We topped up our fuel and headed south, tacking down the bay into increasing winds on a sunny day. Sailing again – great!

We quickly reefed, and reefed again to keep the boat under control, as we neared the Northern end of Conanicut Island we were approached by Geronimo of Newport (RI). Geronimo was a record breaking 110' tri-maran, but the one on the bay today was a different Geronimo: a 68’ sail training vessel owned and used by a local school (nothing like the school I went to). Nevertheless, the race was ON. We enjoyed reeling them closer and closer as the day wore on. We even beat them to harbor (we are just not sure if they knew they were in any type of race). We also saw some beautiful 12m boats in the bay – they just looked stunning and great fun. We altered course to give way to one of them, and discovered a deck full of cold and miserable looking teenagers – not so much fun as we expected!

We anchored under sail by the public pier at Kings Park in the south of Newport Harbor. The windlass was a little sticky as we let the anchor out, so Maryanne decided an overhaul/service was warranted. Newport harbor is absolutely beautiful, filled with modern and classic boats of all types and lovely views in all directions.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

First time Scuba Diving in AGES - but not so fun.

[Maryanne]This last 10 days, Kyle has had only one day off work, so I've focussed on maintenance (we have a thorough maintenance schedule)- but we start sailing again TOMORROW :-), so we are both really excited.

Before we set out this year, Kyle had done most (all) of the boat maintenance and now I have started I'm learning lots more about the boat and feeling pretty proud of myself, I'm also learning what NOT to do.

Among many other jobs which I will not bore you with, I gave the winches their annual service and grease this week, and managed to drop a very critical part overboard! (oops).

And for those readers who know anything about winch maintenance, believe me I knew ahead I had to be careful: I had put sheets around the deck to stop anything falling overboard, and was working very slowly and methodically - this little sucker came off with the housing, and I didn't know it was in there - when I carried the main winch housing over to my cleaning area it fell out of the housing and bounced down the back steps - plop! overboard! All I could do was watch.

So I got to test out all my SCUBA gear. Although it had all been recently serviced, this is the first time I had used it in at least 5 years so I was quadruple checking everything, and working through every what-if disaster scenario I could just to be sure - but eventually I took the plunge AND found my bearing assembly. Luckily by the time I told Kyle it was all recovered, put back together and working fine. Hopefully my next dive will be a little more enjoyable.

Apart from the obvious stupidity on my part, our stay in Apponaug has been really great, we have met some wonderful people, and I in particular have appreciated all their kindness. To top it off the weather is in the 70's (F) this week - so nothing to complain about :-)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

WARNING: Science content!

[Kyle] Maryanne explained it best on our main website when she talked about the name Footprint "Our current boat – Purchased in 2007 and named with the conscientious travelers' saying "Leave only footprints, take only photographs" in mind. We hope to be mindful that we have an impact wherever we go, and wherever possible ensure that it is a positive one. After living on BabyCakes and Prydwen we learned quickly to have a small carbon (and other resources) "footprint", and although Footprint has many more facilities than we have ever had before (refrigerator, shower, pressure water), we also have solar and wind power generation options - so we hope to still be careful to limit our resource usage."

While walking the four miles from the boat to the Providence airport last week, I thought a lot about the impact Maryanne mentions above.

Footprint gets electricity from four sources: Solar panel, wind turbine, main engine driven generator and shore power. She burns three types of petroleum in four different places: Propane for refrigeration and cooking, kerosene for heat and diesel for propulsion and electrical generation.

First, electricity. - Our primary ethic with regard to consumption is to keep it as low as possible in order to reduce the need for generation of any type. With Footprint not underway in the daytime, our electrical consumption is around 14 watts total. It is possible for us to reduce our load to less than that in the event of depleted batteries but this is essentially the boat's base load with everything operating normally. In a 24 hour day, this amounts to just over a third of a kilowatt hour. Underway at night in fog, with many of the systems up, this number can be as high as 100 watts for short periods, but more typically is about 40 watts continuous or about 3/4 kwh/day. Compare this to the average Maine resident(America's lowest electrical power user) who uses about 18kwh/day or Alabama (the highest) at 43kwh/day.

Our largest source of electricity is our 100 watt solar panel. Our solar panel produces (depending on battery need) between 1/5 kwh/day on a cloudy day up to about 1/2 kwh/day on a good, sunny day with zero carbon emissions (not including the energy used in the production of the panel itself).

Our wind generator produces a wildly variable amount of power. Our first two days out of Norfolk during the storm, the wind generator alone kept up with all of our needs, even with most systems on and the batteries stayed completely charged the whole time. A more typical daily contribution would probably amount to 0.15 kwh/day. Again, with zero carbon emmisions. Wind generator production tends to be better when sailing and on cloudy, stormy days so it compliments our solar panel nicely, even though its overall production is less.

Only under the combination of several days of high load and cloudy, low wind conditions have we found it necessary to resort to using the engine to provide our electricity. For several reasons, I will not use the engine solely to produce electricity but instead will serve the dual purpose of getting us somewhere while producing electricity. Generally, recharging our house battery bank from 50% (effectively dead) to fully charged takes between three and four hours running time while underway and running many of the systems as well. While underway under power, Footprint gets about 10 nautical miles per gallon at 6 knots.

While plugged into shore power in the Winter, we use about 3kwh/day, which decreases to 1/2 kwh/day in the summer. We use more electricity when plugged in because using a space heater becomes an option and because the propane refrigerator runs off of electricity when the boat is plugged in.

Now for the Carbon part. A U.S gallon of Diesel or Kerosene weighs about 6.7 pounds or 3 kilos and, when combined with oxygen in the combustion process, produces just over 22 pounds or 10 kilos of CO2. Gasoline has less energy and has about 90% of those numbers. Liquid propane weighs just over 4 pounds (1.8 kilos) per U.S. gallon and produces 12.67 pounds (5.75 kilos) CO2 per U.S. gallon. At its peak output our engine driven generator puts out about 500 watts of electricity. This is probably more realistically half that number averaged over the battery charging cycle. If we use the diesel engine as an electrical generation plant and disregard its use as a propulsion engine, we find that it would take about 3 hours of engine run time to produce 1 kilowatt hour of electricity. This would use about 2 gallons of diesel and put 44lbs or 20 kilos of CO2 into the atmosphere at a cost of about $9.00. Contrast this with Narragansett Electric Co. (to which our shore power is currently connected), which produces 61% of its electricity from petroleum. NECs CO2 emmisions are .909lbs or .41 kilos per kilowatt hour at a cost of $0.15. The U.S. average is 1.363lbs/kwh and .62kilos/kwh respectively. This means that keeping Footprint's battery charged using the engine puts almost 50 times as much carbon into the atmosphere at a cost of 60 times (although, we know of many marinas that charge $10.00 to plug in a 30 amp shore power cord for one day which effectively makes the cost 100 times higher).

Since purchasing Footprint last year, we have used 100 gallons of diesel, 20 gallons of kerosene (for heat), 40 gallons of propane and around 1 megawatt hour of shore power (mostly in Virginia). This has produced 2200lbs, 440lbs, 520lbs and 1146lbs (Virginia's CO2 emission rate is higher) of CO2 for a total of 4306lbs or just under 2metric tons, or 1 mt per capita. This contrasts with per capita amounts of 16.64 tons in the U.S., 9.15 in the U.K. and 1.05 in India. The world average is 4.44 tons per capita.

There are a few ways for us to offset our carbon production, the main two being carbon offsets and energy credits. Carbon offsets are basically a means of creating a means of absorbing and thus offsetting a given amount of CO2, like planting trees. Energy credits are involved in the process of converting a certain amount of energy production from carbon based to renewables, thus reducing emissions. The cost of purchasing carbon offsets or energy credits is generally in the neighborhood of $10.00 to about $35.00 per ton, with a good mix in the $20.00 range. This means that offsetting our carbon production for the last year will cost us around $50.00 (we've wasted more than that on one mediocre restaurant meal) The cost of our diesel and kerosene would go up 20 cents per U.S gallon (you know it's going to do that anyway, might as well get used to it), Propane would cost us another 10 cents per U.S gallon. At today's prices, that's about 5%. I also have the carbon cost of air travel as a passenger commuting and hotel rooms to consider at work. These should cost us less than I've been tipping hotel van drivers.

Our first priority is to reduce our carbon footprint through conservation, our next is to offset/credit the carbon that we do emit. All of this should give us a neutral carbon footprint. With all of this becoming a bigger issue globally, it is getting easier and more convenient to find ways for people to do this. As cruisers, we are naturally interested preserving the world we have gone to so much trouble to see as a way of life.

[Maryanne]Wow, Kyle, that was quite a bit of research! To put it in more human terms, I know we live an unusually low energy life, and don't expect many of our friends and family to have any thing as low as us! But we still made lots of little changes to reduce our energy consumption even more (LED lights, manual pump for water, etc). We also walk or cycle more (even when we have a car available). But, don't think we suffer at all, I turn the heating on when I'm cold and have a pretty comfortable life!

Here are some of the web sites Kyle found useful when researching his opus

  • CarbonCounter.Org gives calculators to calculate your carbon emissions, tips how to reduce, and even allows you to purchase offsets.
  • To see what energy sources each USA electric company is using : Renwables? Nuclear? Coal? see the USA EPA web site
  • Finally, nearly all airlines now have links with some kind of company where you can understand and offset your travel carbon usage - you can even add the cost of the offsets at the time you pay for your flight! Cool! Here is one example (the one that Continental use)

Privacy Please!

[Maryanne]For some time now I have been planning to make some kind of window covering for the door and windows between the cabin and the cockpit. I had purchased some blinds that needed cutting to size and installing, but had not had the chance before we left to do anything more than stow the packages... Finally I installed them today - I'm really quite pleased with them. Kyle has yet to see them, but at least it will look like I've done some work while he has been away!

Sightseeing in Newport

[Maryanne]Newport is famous for a few things - Sailing (e.g. it is the historic start for the Americas Cup race), very, very rich people, and the summer cottages they built here (referred to quite correctly as "The Mansions"). It is also a very, very expensive place to visit (overnight dockage for our boat would be around $180, and they don't provide breakfast, nor change the sheets for that!).

I decided to give myself a day off and explore. I especially wanted to see the Mansions, and also a much raved about "cliff walk". Many of the houses are not yet open for the season, or not open the day I arrived, so I changed my original plan to see two, and just went to visit the Breakers. The Breakers was the summer cottage of the New York City based Vanderbilt family (it only has 70 rooms, their main house 140), built from 1893-1895. The main entrance leads into a ball room, the Music room was built in France to order, and shipped over and reassembled, and well - every room is extravagantly wonderful, lots of marble, frescoes, mosaics, just GRAND! We were not allowed to take photographs inside, and I can't find any good web sites that show the rooms, I really wish I could begin to describe the decadence and beauty. The best I could find was a National Park Service write up.

I followed that very girly sightseeing with a brisk healthy walk along the Cliff Walk. This is 3.5 miles of walk between the Atlantic Ocean and the gardens and the rear of the Mansions, the walk has some very easy parts, and some areas where a bit of scrambling was required. In some places the walk goes through tunnels (I guess to avoid disturbing some of the views from the Mansions). I really enjoyed it, and I'm not surprised as it was voted by National Geographic as one of America’s 50 must-see places. (in the Paradise Found section - "Destinations that are often remote, but that shimmer in the mind as retreats of the first order."). Now how could I miss that? Although I would probably put a few other cliff walks ahead of Newport's, who am I to argue with National Geographic?