Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Brief visit to Portland

Sunsets and sunrises in Portland, Maine

[Maryanne]With Kyle safely off to work, I again was left to flit between chores and exploring. I love Portland, but this time the list of chores seemed overwhelming, we were especially low on provisions and this had to take priority. I even looked into renting a car, but eventually persuaded a local grocery store to deliver to the boat. That process didn't go quite as smoothly as I hoped, but eventually all was delivered, and I was very happy to have had the chance to fill up the cupboards without having to lug it all by hand.

I also spent significant time (and money) in the local discount boating store; I finally managed to replace the decaying horseshoe life ring with a more sophisticated life sling, along with a host of other upgrades and minor repairs.

I did a lot of walking around town, even squeezed in a movie at the local Nickleodeon cinema, and by coincidence passed by the Historical Society just five minutes before a town walking tour was to start. I paid my ticket fee, and then found I was the only customer - a private tour (and the guide was very convincing in assuring me he didn't mind in the slightest that I was his only customer, and of course they would still run the tour). Entry fee included a guided tour of the home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which was donated with all furniture and family items, and without any modern conveniences (no power, no mains water supply, etc) to the society by his sister who owned the house and lived in it all but two years of her life.

When Kyle finally returned, I was able to bombard him with all my new found town knowledge as we walked back to the boat (via the Ice cream shop, just one more time, he really can't resist).

[Kyle]The day I returned from work the weather was perfect for the trip south to Rhode Island: sunny and warm with winds out of the northeast at 15 knots. By the time of night that I would actually make it home, though, that great wind would be fading fast. This meant that, yet again, we would have to leave at the very first possible minute after I got home. The forecast for the foreseeable future was increasing headwinds and it was to be our only chance to get out relatively unscathed for at least a week.

Since the profusion of lobster pots makes Maine unwise to sail at night, I actually had the luxury of a couple hours nap before we could set off at 3:30am. With the wind decreasing from five to zero knots, we motored in flat seas for the first 10 hours. After that, the headwinds gradually started to build and turn, causing us to leave our direct course and begin tacking the rest of the way.

By nightfall, we had just failed to clear Cape Ann. We tacked and headed back out into deep water, then I went off watch. The wind continued to increase during the night and Maryanne had to reef and reef again in the building seas.

As usual, after a stint at work, I was on about my third night with little sleep by then. This meant I was out cold minutes after climbing into the berth. Every time she would tack or reef, there would be a bang as the sail was freed, then the rattling sound of the flogging sail followed by her cranking it in. Everything would get quiet again and then the sound of the water rushing by outside would gradually increase. Every time the cycle would start with the first bang, I would wake up totally disoriented. Sometimes I thought we were still on the mooring and the adjacent boat had swung into us. Sometimes, I thought I was in a hotel room on a layover and the people next door had let their door slam a little too hard. I was still exhausted, but relieved when Maryanne woke me up for my watch at 1am.

We kept heading offshore for another hour or so, and then I tacked us back, this time putting us on a line that looked like it would almost miss Boston Harbor. We were heading more directly into the building swell and the ride started to become rougher. As we passed over the shallow underwater portion of Cape Cod, which extends another 25 miles into Massachusetts Bay from Provincetown, the ride became downright wild.

The wind continued to shift toward the south, necessitating a gradual curve in our course to the west and then almost northwest. It now looked like we would miss Boston Harbor the other way. At least sleeping conditions for Maryanne had improved. I made it as far as Nahant Bay on the north side of the harbor before tacking again back out into deep water.

When I woke Maryanne, she was expecting us to have made it almost to the Cape Cod Canal by then. Instead, I pointed to the Boston skyline over my shoulder. She looked so deflated.

The good news was that Nahant Bay was sufficiently west for our next tack to be on a good line for the canal. We were able to skirt the southern shoreline of Boston Harbor and then toward Barnstable, only nine miles east of the canal entrance.

We tacked again and arrived at the canal entrance just as the current started to turn against us. The wind was gusting into the twenties by then from ahead and I knew we would have no hope of getting through the canal against it and the five-knot current. The next favorable current was after dark, so we pulled off to the side and anchored off Scusset Beach for the evening.

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