2007 New England Reports

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Course Advanced Coastal Cruising; Mystic to Bar Harbor
Date July 20- 27, 2007
Students: Stuart Whiddon, Bob Hickey
Captain: David Appleton

Another NEW CRUISE! ACADIA NATIONAL PARK to MYSTIC!   This cruise was an extremely rewarding experience.  We found it memorable for all it had to offer.  More fog presented some navigation challenges, and clear days offered spectacular views of the Maine coast and other New England vistas along the way.  Night passages gave us plentiful opportunities to practice using lighted navigational aids to guide us through tricky areas. And visits to some storied New England ports provided more sight seeing than we could have hoped for. 

Wednesday, July 18:  Maintenance And a Pleasant Visit
While finishing up some boat maintenance work this afternoon, I received a surprising visit from a neighboring boat, a pleasingly trim Oyster 53, S/V OSPREY, that I had been admiring for a day or so.  The owner, Tim McCarthy, stopped by with his young daughter, Molly Rose, to say “Hi!”  Tim had sailed with Maryland School from Bermuda to Norfolk in 2000 on HOT WATER, an IP 420, a voyage I skippered.  He recognized HALIMEDA in the harbor and wanted to thank us for what he had learned with the school years before.   He had bought a Beneteau back then, and moved to this Oyster years ago.  And he has been sailing to Northeast Harbor every year for the last six years, enjoying a superb boat in this spectacular cruising ground with his family.  I must admit I envy Tim and that boat.  What a beauty! 

Thursday,  July 19:  Arrivals
Bob Hickey called at about 0900 saying he’d be in Northeast Harbor about 1100 and would arrived aboard then. I picked him up with the dingy and we got his gear aboard and stowed. Bob took the new auxiliary rowing dingy ashore to take a free bus tour and continue exploring Acadia park, while I continued cleaning up the boat.  At about 1700 Stuart Whiddon arrived and I dinked him out to our mooring and got his gear aboard.  We then met Bob ashore for dinner.

Friday, July 20:  Northeast Harbor to Seal Harbor
With Stuart’s experience previous experience aboard HALIMEDA on our DELMARVA and Bermuda cruises, and Bob’s enthusiasm for sailing, we condensed our prep seminar for the voyage and got underway just after noon, leaving the mooring for a short hop to Seal Harbor around the corner a few miles to the east. We stopped at the Clifton Dock fuel dock to top off our water tank, fuel the dingy and get some ice, then went on through the fog to exit Northeast Harbor.  We were immediately challenged by the thick fog masking both navigation buoys and lobster trap floats.  So we slowly and carefully negotiated the short passage of less than 4 miles to Seal Harbor. At 1400 we entered Seal Bay and cruised around carefully in the 30 to 50 yard. visibility and were disappointed to find the whole harbor was a mooring field, leaving no room to anchor.  But we finally found a suitable place at the mouth of the harbor, dropped the hook, and dingied ashore to explore.  We found a lovely bucolic neighborhood, very quiet, but harboring a beautiful yacht club which was hosting some sort of function and was quite crowded.  After walking around some, we returned to the boat, had dinner and turned in for the night.

Saturday, July 21:  Seal Harbor to Friendship Harbor
Today we began in Seal Harbor where media diva Martha Stuart keeps a Maine summer home on the hill just east of our anchorage. And we ended where the famed 19th Century Friendship Sloop fishing sailboats, indigenous to and character of Maine, were originally built. We had much less fog and more traditional navigational challenges along the way as we headed southwest weaving through the island chain along Maine’s southern coast.  Along the way we passed many pleasant anchorages and quaint little villages where it would be enjoyable to spend a day or two.  With Stu serving as the “con” we navigated the tricky passages including the very narrow Bass Harbor straits at the southernmost point of Mt. Desert Isle.  We continued on through Mackerel Cove, a very fine anchorage, and then on to the Deer Island Passage.  There we passed the village of Stonington, which looked like a pleasant place to spend some time.  They even have an Opera House near the center of town, so Bob (a lighting designer) and I (a former stage director) contemplated what it would be like to do summer stock here. 

1200: The fog is burning off a bit as we make our way across Penobscot Bay to Camden Harbor, which we entered and cruised around admiring the variety of vessels docked and moored there.  We continued on to cruise through Rockland Harbor under sail, and then headed out to the Mussel Ridge Channel and on to our destination for the night in primarily working Friendship Harbor, where we arrived and anchored at 1920 with plenty of daylight left.  There Bob demonstrated his culinary skills preparing a fine stirfry chicken dinner, which we enjoy under clear a sky… a nice change.

Sunday,  July 22:   Friendship Harbor and then to Sea
Friendship Harbor awakens early as the many working lobster boats get underway by about 0500.  We weren’t too far behind, weighing anchor at 0600 and heading out to our day’s destinations, Booth Bay Harbor and then on to Casco Bay.  Stuart is Captain for the next two days since he is using this cruise to satisfy some requirements for his Royal Yachtmaster Certification.  He guides us through Muscongus Bay and on south of  Linekin Neck on then North to Boothbay Harbor.  We arrive there at 0930 and take a bit of time to tour this picturesque classic Maine harbor before heading out for our next destination, Potts Harbor on Harpswell Neck in Casco Bay where we plan to pause before undertaking the overnight offshore passage Stu has planned for us. We’ll spend a few hours there before leaving on a night passage to our next port of call, Gloucester, MA, the storied fishing port made famous again in recent years by the book and movie PERFECT STORM

1430 We enter Potts harbor, find a suitable anchorage, then settle in for afternoon naps in preparation for our next overnight voyage.

1830: I put together a spaghetti and meatball dinner while Stu and Bob plan the passage.  We leave the harbor at 2030 so we still have some daylight left with which to negotiate this serpentine, fish trap strewn channel out of the harbor into Casco Bay and on to the Gulf of Maine. 

2130: We are passing Halfway Rock Light to port and head south on a course of 210° M and are well on our way to our next destination, Gloucester, MA. 

Monday, July 23:  Gloucester, MA and Marblehead
The overnight voyage from Casco Bay proved uneventful, actually disappointingly so since I had hoped the crew would be challenged by encounters with other vessels as well as navigational experiences.  But we had little traffic and our rhumbline course, motorsailed given the light northerly winds, was easier than I had hoped. 

0700 found us just off the coast of Cape Ann with Gloucester in sight.  The wind picked up to over 10 knots and stratus clouds closed in threatening rain.  So we secured the engine, rolled out the headsails and tacked into Gloucester Harbor.  Once there, we doused sails and cruised through the harbor, sightseeing as has been our wont. We decided to continue on to Marblehead Harbor to spend the night.  Bob has a cousin there, whom he called on cell phone.  And this fine cousin, Art Capstaff, helps us arrange for a mooring with Boston Yacht Club; and then with his wife, Diane, treats us to a fine barbeque dinner at his own Eastern Yacht Club, one of three major clubs in Marblehead and one of the oldest yacht clubs in the country. This visit was the highlight of the cruise.  Art seemed to enjoy hearing about our voyage and the Maryland School's many ocean adventures, and we thoroughly enjoyed hearing about his sailing adventures and the history of EYC and touring of this splendid facility. We experienced  the kind of instant bonding that sailors enjoy, the “gamming” Herman Melville was fond of discussing in his maritime novels.  

Tuesday, July 24:   Marblehead to Provincetown
0700: Underway again, weaving our way through the multitude of moorings and vessels in Marblehead Harbor; quite a display!  We set a course of 155° M to Provincetown, another sight-seeing port of call.  We are able to sail on southerly 11 knot winds for a while, but by 0930 we resort to the iron genny and motorsail for the rest of the way.  On the way we are able to practice getting fixes by various means. One, doubling of the bow angle, we try a very long shot, using the Pilgrims Monument in Provincetown only 20º M off the bow and some 16 miles distant. But, the exercise didn’t work out well due to the shallow angle and long distance. 

1515: We are in Provincetown Harbor, moored, and Stu and Bob are getting ready to go ashore for a bit of a tour.  This is Stu’s first time in Provincetown.  While they enjoy the town, I enjoy some chores on the boat then a bit of relaxation. 

Wednesday, July 25:  Provincetown, Buzzard’s Bay and Newport
Today offered the best sail of the voyage so far.  We started off in Provincetown and ended up on Newport after a fine sail through Buzzards Bay and Block Island Sound.

We started off early rising at 0500 and getting underway by 0520.  Last night Stu and Bob had calculated that the best time to transit the Cape Cod Canal was 0930 during the ebb current which flows toward Buzzard’s bay. We motorsailed the Cape Cod Bay leg in light winds taking advantage of the clear weather to practice more coastal navigation techniques, taking bearings to establish LOPs and fixes along the way. 

0900: We're approaching the Canal and prepare for the transit by dousing the mainsail.  We have timed our arrival perfectly and enjoy a 2+ knot following current. As local knowledge in the cruising guide and Coast Pilot predicted, winds in Buzzard’s Bay proved stronger than those in Cape Cod Bay.  So once clear of the restricted waters of the Canal we hoisted the mainsail and unfurled stay and genny, and got into sailing.  We had good wind in the 11 to 15 knot range, but unfortunately it was out of the SW, exactly where we wanted to go.  But we enjoyed the challenge of tacking and making good progress to weather.  We even entered a tacking duel with an IP 38 during the afternoon. 

1800: We are in the vicinity of Cuttyhunk and decide to continue on to Newport.  Both Stu and Bob want to have time to spend ashore there. So we sail on out of Buzzards Bay on into Block Island Sound. 

2200: We practice a night entrance into a new harbor at Newport.  I don't think I've ever entered it at night as a matter of fact.  We are approaching Brenton Reef of Newport, with Beavertail Light and Castle Hill Light in view.  We negotiate the waters entering Narragansett Bay using these and the lighted buoys to round the point at Fort Adams and find our way to our anchorage. 

2310: We enter the harbor and anchor in the designated anchorage on the south side of the harbor, and set an anchor watch then get some sleep. 

Thursday, July 26:   Newport Liberty Call! Overnight to Mystic
We slept in this morning, until nearly 0800.  After a quick breakfast we launched the dingy and explored the harbor finding a place to take a free shower at the Seaman’s Chapel.  After enjoying this treat, Bob and Stu went ashore to explore Newport, this being Stu’s first visit to this particular sailing Mecca. 

1930: Stu and Bob return from their shore leave and sightseeing in Newport and we prepare to get underway.  I’ve already hoisted the dingy aboard so all we have to do is weigh anchor, which is accomplished quickly now that we’ve practiced many times. 

2000: We're rounding Fort Adams and I take the first watch since I’ve had a chance to nap this afternoon.  Bob and Stu hoist the mainsail and we set off on a course of 180° M for the first leg.  The southwest winds demand we make this course motorsailing  with the mainsail to make the most efficient use of wind and motor until we can fetch Point Judith to our west. 

2200: Well past Point Judith we tack over to a westerly course, secure the engine and sail and begin enjoying the peace of an engineless passage for a change. We resume the 3 hour watch schedule that we had used on our previous overnight passage; Stu will take the midwatch and Bob will take the 0300 to 0600. 

Friday,  July 27:   Newport to Mystic
0300:  I check with Bob on watch to find we are getting too close to shore, and the wind is dying.  So we tack to head southwest and start the engine. 

0600: I assume the watch again and we have little wind.  We are motorsailing on a course for the Race, intending to take Race Rock to starboard then turn into Fisher Sound charting a course between the Dumplings at the west end of Fisher Island. 

0800: We cruise past our planned anchorage, just off Mystic Shipyard, and scope out depths planning where to set  the hook, then go off to nearby Brewers Marina for fuel where we take on 60 gallons.  Yikes, much more than we’d like but we’ve had to motor much more than usual due to foggy, no wind, low pressure for much of the voyage. 

0920: We drop the hook in the designated transient anchorage just off Mystic Ship Yard at buoy 30 in the Mystic River.  Here HALIMEDA will rest until we can take a berth at MSY on the 31st.  We lower the dink and head to the marina for showers.  I then take Stu and Bob into Mystic to have a bit of a tour, which included some time in that wonderful museum. 

1930: I get a call from the boys ashore and dink down town to pick them up at the draw bridge.  They’ve had a good time.   We return to HALIMEDA to pack, turn in and get ready for yet another early morning to get Stu to his 0600 train on time. 

Saturday, July 28:  Crew Departure
0530: We’re up and moving to get Stu to the Mystic Amtrak Station for the train to Providence airport and his flight home to North Carolina. I’ve left my car at the marina for just such service.  The station is only a five minute drive  from Mystic Shipyard in the early morning no traffic, so we make it in plenty of time and then head off to fetch Bob’s car, which he has left at the Groton Airport.  This accomplished we returned to the boat to pack Bob up and send him off by 0730. After this I set about cleaning and maintenance work for the rest of the day in preparation for the next leg of HALIMEDA’s summer voyage. This will be from Mystic to her home port in Rock Hall with Captain Joe Kliment conducting another ASA 106 Advanced Coastal Training Cruise beginning on Tuesday with a new student crew. 

The northbound cruise to Bar Harbor has been an especially pleasant experience for me.  I had sailed to Maine and Nova Scotia a few times before and knew these waters would present extraordinary navigational challenges and spectacular vistas, as well as some special ports of call for our students to experience and enjoy.  I was not disappointed. So we plan continue offering these cruises in the future. 

Captain David Appleton
Anchored by buoy "30", Mystic River, CT
Sunday, July 29, 2007 

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