February 26, 2014
We are very excited that the boat is now back in the water and we are ready to go cruising again! We spent Christmas back in Saxapahaw, NC visiting our dog Jordan while Meg (his adopted mom) enjoyed a holiday in Curacao. He remains happy and healthy and we loved the chance to spend some more time with him.
Upon our return to Beaufort, it was a mad rush to get all the projects completed before launching the boat back into the water on January 23. Launch day was quite chilly with freezing temps and frost in the morning. But the launch went smoothly and the engine techs were soon on board to oversee starting the engines following their major servicing. Fortunately all went well and we were able to head to the nearby Beaufort Town Dock where Shear Madness would stay for the next month.
Bradley and I set off for some land travel, with both of us intending to fly to Florida to visit family and friends. But the Polar Vortex had other ideas as it was set to dump an unusual amount of snow on NC. Bradley decided to stay with the boat while my flight was postponed by two days. I did finally reach Florida where I had a chance to visit Bradley’s mother and sister, attend a birthday party for our good friend Richard, and watch the Super Bowl with our friends Wolfgang and Christeen and adorable daughter Sophie.
From 80 degree FL, I headed to -11 degree Denver, where Bradley caught up with me. There we visited my stepson Mike, my niece Robin and new husband Eric and his daughter Anya, my other niece Vicky and hubby Mark and ultra-adorable great niece Sophia. We also caught up with good friends Alan and Kathleen and daughters Sydney and Florence. Bradley even proved to be a good Taboo player, a great game in which you are guaranteed to laugh a lot!
From there it was on to Northern Virginia where we experienced another major snowfall – 14” at our friends, the Shanks house in Bethesda. After visits with Margy, Bryant, and Tyler, friends Lloyd and Arlene, a board meeting and dentist for Kathy, and an eye doctor for Bradley, it was time to head back to the boat and begin plans for cruising!
Since we had done a pretty good job emptying the freezers and cupboards, it was time for a major re-provisioning. In anticipation of this, we rented a large SUV for the drive back to NC, planning to stop for the first of multiple Costco/Walmart visits. When we had filled four carts, we decided to stop and see how much room we had left in the SUV before buying anything else. The answer – NOT MUCH! So we called it a day and drove on, stopping at the Nahunta Pork Center to squeeze in some amazing fresh pork products.
Arriving back at the boat at sunset, we still had several hours of work to get the groceries on board and unpacked. Provisioning a boat is a little more complex than just buying things and putting them in the fridge or pantry. Space is at a premium, so most everything that comes in boxes gets removed from its packaging before being stored. Meats are also unpacked with all the Styrofoam and plastic discarded and then it is repackaged into vacuum sealed bags for longer storage using less space and have much less refuse upon use.
Since food ends up stored in various places in the boat, we keep an inventory system so that we can easily find things when they are needed. All this takes quite a bit of time. Before departing, I would make another trip to Costco in Wilmington – where I would also visit my friend Nancy in Southport – and make several trips to Walmart for all those things you can’t get at Costco. (for all my Youtube fans, a video of this whole process is in the works).
We were very happy to attend an oyster roast at the home of our electrician and now good friend, Steve, where we had a chance to relax, gorge on oysters, and catch up with his family.
We are also very pleased to welcome Gary Sanders on board as our new deckhand. Gary is from NC, a graduate of UNC Wilmington, and has his Coast Guard OUPV (6-pack) license as well as some very good experience. We had the pleasure of meeting his parents, when is mother insisted on visiting with us to see who was taking her little boy to far away places. Mom brought Dad and his older sister for a tour of the Shear Madness and a great lunch, so we learned all kinds of interesting history about Gary!
We are planning to depart soon for Charleston, SC and from there to the Bahamas where we look forward to some WARM water and some fresh fish!
Photos of some of the work we did are included below. Click any photo to enlarge and please send us comments! We love to hear from you!
December 26, 2013
Since hauling the boat out of the water in early November, we have continued to spend time on land while working on many boat projects. Those boat projects will be summarized at the end of this post.
We spent Thanksgiving in Saxapahaw, NC (near Durham) visiting our dog Jordan and his “Aunt Meg”. You may recall that our good friend Meg adopted Jordan two years ago when we sold our house in Virginia. Jordan is nearly 15 now and still happy and healthy. He has a bad left shoulder and hip but he is still mobile and playful. The whole neighborhood loves Jordan and watches out for him. Our Thanksgiving visit was a lot of fun, with two turkeys, one with neighbors on Thanksgiving Day and one two days later that we cooked. We also celebrated Hanukkah along with Thanksgiving, a rare timing that won’t occur again for 79,000 years!
In December we traveled to Washington, DC for the interment of Bradley’s father, Theodore Rosenberg, at Arlington Cemetery. As a retired Army colonel, he received the full honors ceremony, complete with horse-drawn caisson, riderless horse, honor guard, band, and 21-gun salute. It was an awesome ceremony and he received the send-off he wanted and deserved. The event was well attended by family and friends and it was nice to have so many together in one place. Bradley gave a wonderful and touching eulogy and a 15 minute video tribute to Ted, created by his daughter Aldee, is available here. We had several family get-togethers, including a trip to the Kennedy Center to see Shear Madness (the play) in their newly refurbished Theater Lab. The show was even funnier than we remembered and one of the actors from our wedding performance in 1999 was still there (actually there again as he has not been there continuously, but off and on). This time he played the murderer while at our wedding he was one of the detectives.
While in DC, I also hosted a reunion for my old company, Landmark Systems. Although Landmark was acquired nearly 12 years ago, we had over 70 people attend and many more who wanted to attend but were not able to join us. For many of us, Landmark was the source of so many great memories and an experience that really shaped my life. Photos from that event are posted here.
We have returned to Sea Gate, the community where we are living while the boat is out of the water. Sea Gate also has a neighborhood dog, Jenny, who we met two years ago, She has come by several times to visit and continues to act at the “Mayor of Sea Gate”. She patrols the neighborhood, stopping in for visits and attending any neighborhood party or get-together. We attended a couple of Sea Gate parties where we caught up with many of our old friends. Cathy from Crystal Coast Interiors hosted an oyster and pig roast – a wonderful night of fabulous food and a chance to meet some new friends. Dave and Doreen hosted a party at their new house – when we left two years ago they had been starting to renovate an older home but eventually decided to tear it down and start over. The result is an amazing and beautiful home right on the Intracoastal Waterway. At their party we reconnected with most of the folks we got to know two years ago and had a great time catching up. And our friends Gary (who crewed on our last passage) and Patti stopped by for a visit in their Land Yacht on their way to Georgia.
Aside from the boat, our other major project has been converting from Windows laptops to Apple MacBooks. We ordered our new Macs and just before mine was due to arrive, the hard drive in my Dell crashed. What a pain! Fortunately I use an online backup service so all my data is safe, but the restore process is very slow. Why couldn’t it have waited just another week or two?? Oh well. As it turns out, ALMOST all my data was safe. The exception is video footage I took of the haul out and ongoing work which had not yet been backed up. So no new videos for now. Bradley and I are both taking classes at the Apple store to ensure we can make the most of our Macs. So far, we are muddling through, though I know we are not using them to their full potential! This blog is actually my first use of Mac Pages, which I am hoping will work well enough that I don’t have to install Office for Mac!
On another note, I am pleased to report that our blog has now been read on every continent. Here is a comment I received after our last post from our friend Simon, who lives in Tasmania but works for the Australian Antarctic Division:
“have just enjoyed reading your update whilst i sit at McMurdo Station Antarctica waiting for my flight back to Christchurch and then back over to Hobart”.
New book reviews are available here. Scroll down below first set of photos to see details and photos of the work we are doing on the boat. Click any photo to enlarge. We wish everyone the very best for the coming New Year and hope we will have a chance to re-connect with many friends and family in 2014!
Unlike two years ago when we were doing repairs due to a lightning strike, this haul out is for routine maintenance. Among the projects on the list:
1. Engine service. Our engines now have 5000 hours so were due for servicing. This included valve adjustment, replacement of both fuel pumps and transmission coolers, and new Walker AirSep filter units with new replaceable oil filters. We also purchased a spare raw water pump. We sent oil from the main engines off to be tested and the results came back normal, showing no problems.
2. Bottom paint. It has been 18 months since the last bottom paint. This paint held up well but it is ready for a new application. This involves a light sanding of the bottom and application of Sea Hawk Cukote Self-Polishing bottom paint (undercoat) and Cukote Biocide Plus for the top layer. Bottom paint is meant to prevent growth of organisms on the hull and needs to be re-applied periodically. In addition to the hull, protective paint is also applied to the propellers, thru-hulls, rudder shoe, and any other underwater metal surface. This time we are using Pettit Prop Coat Barnacle Barrier which has been recommended by several Nordhavn owners
3. It’s also time to replace the zincs on various places on the hull. Zinc anodes are placed in strategic locations to prevent the corrosion of other metals. To read more about how sacrificial anodes work, click here. We had some pretty good wear on several of our anodes – that means they are doing their job!
4. Rub rails. We have stainless steel rub rails on the outer side of our decks. These needed to be removed, polished front and back, and re-installed with new screws and sealant.
5. Bow plate. Similar to the rub rails, the stainless steel bow plate had some water leakage behind it, causing some staining. It had to be removed, polished, and re-installed.
6. Auxiliary battery charger. Our primary battery charging system consists of three Mastervolt 100 amp chargers. We have a separate, auxiliary charger which is supposed to put out 80 amps, but was actually only providing 40 amps. We replaced it with a brand new Mastervolt 100 amp charger. Now when we are off shore power and run the generator to charge the batteries, we will be able to produce 400 amps rather than 340. That will result in faster battery charge time and less time running the generator.
7. Tender. We have several projects on our tender. First, we decided to remove the radar system as it is old and we rarely use it. The eliminates weight and height on the aluminum arch. The arch itself was removed and (blasted) to remove the previous paint, which had some bubbling. We are going to leave it in its natural aluminum state. While working on the tender, we also discovered that the floor where our new leaning bar was mounted had a rotten spot in the core. It had to be cut, reinforced, and replaced. The leaning bar is now extremely solid -previously it had been a little shaky. We have also replaced the steering wheel lock which had broken and are investigating a possible leak in the hydraulic steering system as well as a problem with the port engine hydraulic lifter not staying up when set.
8. Electrical Bonding System – we have tested the electrical bonding system by checking connections at each through hull fitting to ensure it is properly connected to the bonding system. This is important because unless the metal surfaces are properly bonded, the zincs will not offer protection, putting the metal piece at risk of failure. We found several loose wires at grounding bars. We replaced the grounding bars with terminal strips.
9. Life Raft Servicing – on our way to DC we dropped one of our Switlik liferafts off in Norfolk to be serviced. We watched as the raft was unpacked and inflated. We reviewed all the contents of the raft and were pleased to learn that it even contains a portable watermaker! We always make it a point to be present when the liferaft is inflated – we like to be sure we know what it looks like and how it works. The service facility will perform some tests and replace any expired contents or components. We have provided an upgraded flashlight and some of our favorite sunscreen to be added to the contents.
10. Captain’s Chairs. We are upgrading one of the Stidd chairs in the pilot house to a high-back and replacing the cushions on both chairs with an ultra-leather finish in a lighter color. This is done through Stidd, who will send replacement cushions and a new back for the upgraded chair.
11. Other Interior projects. Crystal Coast Interiors is doing several projects. They have made a new cover for our kayak, one which should hold up much better than the off-the-shelf type we had before. They are also making all new cushions for the tender, modifying and re-covering the sofa in the salon, and making mattress covers and new sheets for the guest and master cabins.
November 7, 2013
After arriving in Solomons it was time for some land travel so Bradley headed off to Florida while I headed west to attend my niece Robin’s wedding in Sidney, Nebraska.
Our family festivities kicked off with a 70th birthday celebration for my oldest brother John, who made the trip from Oklahoma with his friend Jane. My brother Bob, father of the bride, and his wife Sarah came from Texas and my sister Joan and husband George came from Florida. The only missing sibling was brother Bill and wife Rose who had spent several months visiting the US from their home in Guam but did not know about the wedding in time to alter their plans to return home. After a fun birthday lunch, we relaxed for a bit before heading to the rehearsal dinner and my first chance to meet my soon-to-be nephew Eric. He and I have been playing Words With Friends but it was great to finally meet him in person! I also got to spend some time with niece Vicky (Robin’s sister), her husband Mark, and my adorable great-niece Sophia, who was soon to celebrate her first birthday. The wedding was a wonderful affair – beautiful, emotional, touching – everything a wedding should be! The reception was great fun and offered more time to catch up with family and meet new friends.
Joan and George like to visit the highest point in every state they visit, so the next day we set off for Panorama Point, the highest spot in Nebraska and the site of a geocache – both my sister and I like to find geocaches. It involved driving 30 miles on dirt roads, with vast farmlands and occasional elk and antelope sightings. There were even some dark spots that we thought might be bison. Oh, and lots of tumbleweeds! We reached the highest point, marked by a small monument, took some photos, and somehow took a wrong turn on the way back, leading to a bit of concern as there were many dirt roads that all looked alike! But soon we found our way out and continued on to Cheyenne, WY where we stopped for lunch and a bit more geocaching.
Then I headed off to Highlands Ranch, CO to visit my stepson Mike while Joan and George headed to the airport. Mike and I watched the Redskins-Cowboys game – not the outcome we wanted but we had a nice time catching up. I headed out for some hiking/geocaching the next day and found a great new spot – reached via a tunnel under a major road and some railroad tracks. This is the main reason I like geocaching – it takes me to places I otherwise would never find! I also picked up a travel bug – no, not a virus, but a trackable geocache item. In this case, it’s a little toy puppy that wants to travel the world.
After a very enjoyable trip I returned to Solomons, MD. Our friends Stacy and Vicky from Virginia came out for a visit to the boat and a wonderful lunch in Solomons. They are long time Chesapeake Bay boaters who are thinking of longer term cruising somewhere down the road. We hope they’ll join us to get a taste of the cruising life sometime soon!
Next, it was another road trip – this time by car. Our first stop was Northern Virginia where we visited good friends Lloyd and Arlene, then back to our old neighborhood where we visited Bud and Rita and took their dog Kaluha for a long walk. Bud is a car collector and had a beautiful new addition, a 1931 Ford to go with his 1929 and 1930. We also visited former neighbor Rosemarie, then headed back to our old house on Sweetwood Lane and visited with new owner Dan who showed us all the things they’ve done to the house. Most recently they have installed a geothermal HVAC system.
Next it was on to New York for a gathering of Rosenberg cousins. We stayed with Bradley’s first cousin Carlyn and enjoyed meeting her beautiful toy poodles. We enjoyed a night out at the movies where we saw Captain Philips – we highly recommend it! Second cousin Allan joined us for a night of magic at the wonderfully entertaining show Nothing to Hide at the Signature Theater. We also went with Carlyn to the Intrepid aircraft carrier and museum where we spent a wonderful afternoon. We met Robin, another second cousin, for lunch in Nyack, and attended a luncheon with yet more second cousins and aunts in the city, hosted by second cousin Mark who we had last seen in Nova Scotia when he visited the boat!
After our land adventures, we were ready to return to the water. We readied the boat and departed from Solomons on October 28, bound for Deltaville, VA about 60 miles away. There we met with Steve D’Antonio, a friend and renowned marine consultant who has helped us with some of our electrical issues on the boat. Steve came aboard to inspect and discuss our battery charging and power management systems and provided a lot of good advice and answered all our questions. We also met up with our friend Gary who was excited to join us for the passage down to Beaufort, NC. (Tyler, who had crewed with us for six months, returned to his home in Alabama once we reached Solomons). As soon as Steve departed, we pulled anchor and set off for the nonstop trip around Cape Hatteras.
Once again, Captain Bradley had timed the weather perfectly. Our passage was extremely pleasant, with light winds of less than 10 knots most of the time and very calm seas. We spent time in the flybridge with delightfully pleasant temperatures and enjoyed fabulous stars at night. Gary had spent several years traveling in a land-yacht (motor coach), so had a great understanding of the boat systems and enjoyed the experience of an offshore passage. It seemed like we reached Cape Lookout in no time and soon were safely anchored. The weather was predicted to get a bit nastier, so we headed in to Beaufort the next morning, Oct 31 and soon were secure at a dock waiting for the high winds and rain to pass.
We had a chance to catch up with some old friends for dinner. Billy and Linda, owners of the Nordhavn Southern Comfort in Beaufort, joined us for dinner along with our good friend George from Sweet Hope. We had a wonderful evening at The Cedars Inn in Beaufort – highly recommended if you are in the area. We also met a new friend, Jacob, a Nordhavn fan who has been following our blog. He lives in Beaufort and stopped by for a visit.
On Monday, Nov 4, Shear Madness was lifted out of the water and moved to Moores Marine where she was secured on blocks and will stay for the next couple months. During that time, she will have her engines serviced (5000 hour service), bottom painted, and various other small maintenance tasks. We are happy that we will be back in “our” house at Sea Gate, just down the street from the yard. This is the same house we rented back in 2011 while we were undergoing repairs from the lightning strike. It will be our base of operation for the next month or two while we work on the boat and do a few more land trips. For now, we are back in Virginia for a few days, picking up our car which we will drive back to NC. We have visited our friends Karen and Mark in Solomons and are now spending time with Bradley’s daughter Margy, son-in-law Bryant, grandson Tyler, and dog Rocco. Click any photo to enlarge. Book reviews will be coming with the next update!
October 14, 2013
We arrived in Provincetown, MA in darkness, carefully monitoring our chart and using our previous track to anchor at the same location we had stayed on our way north in July.
After setting the anchor and making sure all was secure, we retired for the night, planning to depart for the Cape Cod Canal in the morning. When morning dawned, we began to raise the anchor but soon discovered that some kind of line was snagged on the anchor chain. With our telescoping boat hook in hand, Bradley was able to free the line, but without knowing exactly what or where it was, we did not want to risk using bow thrusters or going forward as there was the possibility of catching whatever it was on a thruster or main engine prop. So we carefully backed away before turning and heading on our course. Only then did we see that the anchorage was peppered with lobster pots! This had not been the case back in July when we were last here and as we had entered in the dark we had not seen them the night before. Lobster pots are traps that sit on the bottom and allow lobsters to enter but not exit. Fishermen drop the traps from their boats and attach them to a line and a float that rises to the surface to mark their location. Later the fishermen will return to check the traps and retrieve any lobsters inside (crabs are also caught this way).
These pots pose a risk to boaters as the lines can become tangled in your propellers, causing big problems! The only way to navigate around these pots it to see them. Our main engine props are equipped with “cutters”, designed to automatically cut any lines that get wrapped around our props, but it is never desirable to use them! As we navigated out of the anchorage dodging pots, we wondered if we had run over any during our entrance – most likely we did! But all was well and we emerged with a clean anchor chain and freely spinning props.
It was a short run to the Cape Cod Canal which we passed through uneventfully. This canal has traffic control, so you are supposed to call and check in via radio, but there are no locks to pass through and on this day there were no large vessels passing through. We did pass one cruising boat that called us on the radio to say hello – it turned out to be the brother of Kristina from Summer Star! After passing through the canal, we continued on into the Sakonnet River. Bradley and I were flying out from Providence to attend a memorial service for Bradley’s dad in FL so we planned to leave the boat at the Nordhavn dock in Portsmouth. As we had a few days before our flights, we decided to anchor out for a couple of nights. We chose a nice looking area just south of Sandy Point and, soon were secure for the night.
In the morning I found an email that had come from someone on shore. She had seen us anchored right in front of her house, had googled us, and sent an email welcoming us. I replied and ended up inviting her out to visit us. She had a friend with a rowboat and soon Kathy and Nancy were rowing out to see us. We had a delightful visit with them which Kathy describes beautifully on her blog.
From there we headed on to Portsmouth and contacted our friends Dennis and Linda. Dennis is a big Red Sox fan and as they were on the verge of clinching their division championship I suggested we go to a game at Fenway Park, a place I have always wanted to go. Dennis said we’d never be able to get tickets, but a quick check of Stub Hub showed plenty of seats available at reasonable cost, so off we went! It was a great experience. Fenway was of course fabulous. We saw the Red Sox pitcher go 7 1/3 innings without giving up a hit before surrendering a home run, one of three we saw clear the Green Monster. The Sox won and the home crowd was happy.
We spent several days at the Nordhavn dock in Portsmouth and two guys from the factory in Taiwain were visiting to inspect another boat that was there. They came aboard Shear Madness and remembered her from when she was being built. They enjoyed the chance to see how well she has held up and we were able to show them many of the things we love about the boat as well as sme of the things that have been difficult to access for maintanence. It’s great to see the guys from the factory getting out to see boats on the water and talking with owners. That sort of feedback is critical to making continuous improvements in the design and build process. As usual, Ben, Dave, and Jen from Nordhavn were very helpful and made us feel very welcome. Also at the dock was Fotini, a brand new 68 foot Nordavn who we had met in Florida. It was good to reconnect with Andre, her captain, and Faith who along with husband Peter built and own her. We enjoyed watching some America’s Cup races together – what an incredible series. And though we were not initially fans of the super fast race boats, by the end we were marveling over what had been accomplished from an engineering perspective.
Our trip to FL was good – the memorial service was very well done – a great combination of humor and touching tributes with many people in attendance. It was followed by a Celebration of Life reception where we all remembered Ted. His final tribute will take place on December 11 when he is interred at Arlington Cemetery with a full military ceremony.
Upon returning to the boat, it was time to head south to the Chesapeake Bay. The weather looked good so we departed on Thursday 26 Sept for the ~375 mile trip. We arrived at the mouth of the Bay at 7 am on
Sat. September 28 and were feeling good, so we continued on to Deltaville, VA where we anchored in Fishing Bay. It was just about one year ago that we rode out Hurricane Sandy in almost the exact location where we were now anchored. Once again, the evening brought an email from a local resident who could see us from her house. We had no opportunity for a visit this time, but may meet when we pass by again in a few weeks.
Next it was on to Solomons, MD and we raised anchor and were soon underway. Upon entering the main waterway, we saw an AIS target appear on our radar and chart (AIS is a transmitter carried onboard larger boats that transmits identifying information and provides data on speed, closest point of approach, etc). When a target first appears, it shows up with an identification number only, with the ships name appearing only when you get a bit closer. As I watched the target I saw the name appear – it was Sweet Hope, the Nordhavn that guided us down the ICW after our lightning strike in 2011 and who we last saw in Halifax! We were going to pass very close to each other and had a chance for a nice radio conversation.
We arrived at Solomons Yachting Center and docked without any problems. We’ve had a chance to catch up with some friends who live here. We joined Amy and Barry for a wonderful dinner at Jerry’s Place, a great local restaurant with outstanding seafood and had a great dinner onboard with my old elementary/middle school friend Karen and her husband Mark. We also met up with Joe and Dawn, sailing friends who are at nearby Calvert Marina. We went out for Chinese food and also attended a local wine festival at Sotterly Plantation. There were over 20 wineries offering tastings and we had a great time sampling some of the up and coming MD wines. We returned to the boat to watch the Denver-Dallas football game as Dawn is from Texas and is a big Cowboys fan. It was quite a game, with 99 points scored and a last second field goal to win the game for Denver.
We found a local bridge club in nearby Lusby, MD and have played there a couple of times, meeting some nice people. We have also visited Calvert Cliffs State Park where we enjoyed a nice hike and I ran in the Calvert Medical Center 5K run/walk for breast cancer, placing 9th in my age group out of 97. Sounds impressive, but most of those 97 were walkers, not runners; nevertheless, it was a fun morning.
Now we are off on some more land travel – I to Colorado and Nebraska for my niece Robin’s wedding and Bradley to Florida to attend to some family issues. We will return in a few days and stay at Solomons through the end of October. Anyone in the area who is interested in visiting while we are here, please let me know! There is a 9-minute video of our passage availble by clicking here. Click on any photo to enlarge.
Sept 16, 2013
This entry is primarily written by Bradley, whose words are in Red, with comments by Kathy in Blue
This Blog is in Tribute to my father, Col Theodore R. Rosenberg (Ret), who passed away on 12 Sept. 2013, in the arms of his loving daughter.
Thank you dad for creating within me the courage, confidence and interest to cruise the world’s oceans. You taught me through example to take risks, try new things and most importantly pursue my dreams. I cannot imagine a better father-in-law. Your attitude towards life and those around you were indeed “Magnificent” and I am so pleased to have had you in my life for so many years.
My father’s passing was not unexpected, as he has been bravely fighting a rare form of cancer for the past several years. I had just spent 8 days with him in Florida prior to returning to Shear Madness. Our immediate objective was to find a weather window for the crossing from Nova Scotia to Provincetown, RI. Complicating our planning was Hurricane turned Tropical Storm – Gabrielle. We were getting towards the end of the season and comfortable weather crossing windows become very limited. With the prevailing weather coming from the Northeastern U.S. you have to patiently position the boat and wait for the winds to settle down and hopefully move to the NW or even N. The length of the crossing is around 275 miles depending on your actual departure location, or approximately 36 hours.
Upon my return to Shear Madness on 9 Sept., I immediately began studying the weather closely. I use four sites, with the NOAA and Passage Weather being my favorite. Passage Weather has been very good to us this year, helping make all of our passages very comfortable. I also find Windfinder quite useful, especially for detailed wind information on our current locations and coastal based stations. It provides the micro view along the coast where as Passage Weather is more a macro picture.
By Wed, it became clear that a crossing window was going to develop sometime the following weekend or early next week. So the question then became where to position ourselves to wait. We decided to head as far West in Nova Scotia with a good port for protection from the prevailing southerlies that often blow. While there are some ports further west, Shelburne is really the last very strong protection and,with Gabrielle coming, we wanted some place we had confidence in and were familiar with. We woke Thursday morning to find extremely settled weather and decided to take advantage to make the first jump west. Given the actual weather, and the expectation that we might have to spend several days waiting at our next port for the weather window to arrive, we elected to tow our tender rather than put it up. We do not often tow it in the ocean proper, but given we were coastal hopping and there were several bailout options on the way, we decided to get moving.
The trip started off well, but as we came out from around the First and Second Peninsula we had been sitting behind in Princes Inlet, there were building wind and seas. That first afternoon we decided to stop in the Bell Channel at LaHave Island and anchor. The plan was to let the winds settle back down that night, get up early, load the tender on deck in the morning calm and make a run for Shelburne the next day before the effects of Gabrielle reached us.
What is the expression; the best laid plans of mice and men. Actually the first part went well. Winds started settling late that afternoon and by late evening, the water was almost flat. We had a very comfortable sleep. We woke early, loaded the tender as planned, just before it started to pour, but of course by then some swell had started to creep in to the anchorage, so the Tender had to be loaded without being cleaned. It had been in the water over 3 weeks – that will be a job as soon as we arrive (note – loading the tender means lifting it on our crane. With a swell, it can become a 2000 pound pendulum, meaning a bit of adrenalin can be involved. But we got it up and secured without incident). Once underway we had a great passage with light but building winds and seas accompanied by pouring rain. By noon, it was clear Gabrielle was arriving a little earlier than we had hoped, right on time based on the forecast. We realized that if we pushed to Shelburne we would arrive late and maybe a little beat up. Wind had rapidly built into high 20′s to low 30′s directly on our Port beam and the sea state was building very quickly with 10 foot rollers starting to appear. Deciding discretion is the better part of valor, we elected to pull in to Port Mouton (our bail out port) and anchor for the day around 13:00. Shelburne was at least 4 to 5 hours away and we did not want to arrive late and then depart early the next morning. Beside it was Tyler’s Birthday and Kathy planned on baking him some homemade biscuits and a special Brownie desert. Both were enjoyed by all. I was completely amazed at how good the protection was at Port Mouton, as we had an extremely comfortable night. I figured the wind must have died down and we could have continued. Ha.
After spending some time studying the weather, it became clear that if we could slip out early Saturday morning past the effects of Gabrielle, not get slowed down by the easterly current that runs near Sable Island, and if the weather settled as predicted, Saturday and Sunday would be the perfect time to make the crossing. We were looking at a high moving in slowly and bringing with it very light and variable winds from everywhere but east. There was a chance that on Saturday evening we might experience wind around 15 from the NW, but it was predicted to move past our position quickly, and we could end up with an almost flat passage. After the experience of our fellow cruisers crossing back to the states in recent weeks, we were very cautious. One had even hired a renowned weather router, and still ended up getting hammered on the second half of the trip.
When we rose early on Sat to continue, we learned that the wind had not died down until much later Friday evening, because as soon as we came out form our protection, there were 8 to 12 foot swells rolling in. As the storm approached on Friday the Barometer dropped from 1008 to 997 in a matter of hours and did not rise to 1011 until Saturday afternoon (and by Sunday it was 1016) quite a change. We woke on Saturday to a heavy fog with visibility less than 100 meters. While leaving the anchorage we had our second close call with a floating fish farm – these are not marked on the charts and did not appear to be there the evening before, but we know it had to have been, it was just obscured by the heavy fog. We normally make a habit of following our track back out of an anchorage, especially when visibility is limited. This morning was no different, it was just that we were 100 or so meters to the right of our inbound track. We were moving extremely slowly, saw the fish farm in time and were able to comfortably miss it. Of course this did not happen on Friday the 13th in 2013, but on Sat. the 14th. We thought that was quite an interesting irony, as we also had a close encounter with a fish farm the very first night we arrived in Shelburne NS.
Once out, we had an interesting morning. Complete and total fog, with visibility limited to 1 to 2 waves in front of us. Some of the taller ones, looked like we were about to run into a mountain, as they came rolling out of the fog towards us. We were able to get a good gauge on their height, as some were taller than our bow, and we know it is approximately 13 feet above the water. As we headed south, the seas slowly settled and finally late that afternoon, the fog cleared and it turned into a beautiful night. Sea Temp is up from 48 this morning to 60, air temp has remained constant at 55, rather than falling at night and the seas are almost flat as I draft this blog on the 18:00 to 22:00 watch. We have a little traffic tonight with a few crossings and one 10 meter fishing boat that has been paralleling us for 6 hours, just a mile or two to starboard. Late in my watch, our “friend” decided to cross our bow with less than ¼ mile clearance and refused to answer any radio calls I put to him to coordinate his passing. It was an unusual experience, because during the entire season in Nova Scotia, we have found all the boaters to be very friendly. He crossed safely and was soon out of sight. Later that night, Kathy had no boats within 32 miles, except one vessel that was on a near collision course and she had to alter course to avoid.
So far the weather is acting exactly as predicated. Hopefully it will remain calm for the next 24 hours until we arrive at Provincetown. I just had some dolphins come by for a visit. At night you hear them breathing before seeing them. With almost a half-moon tonight, you can clearly see them swimming along next to us and playing in both our bow and side wakes. They are such creatures of beauty and grace.
Good Morning, today the sun is up, Temp is 60 and winds are wonderful. While they picked up to around 10 knots from the NW early this morning, they have settled nicely as has the ocean. We are seeing consistent wind speeds of less than 5 knots, from the S, W and North as the high settles in. Sea state is down to 1 foot rollers from the NW.
We are expecting to make Proviencetown RI, this evening around 20:30. Tomorrow we will have to time our departure so that we arrive at the Eastern end of the Cape Cod Canal at the right tide state. Once through the Canal we plan to head back to the Nordhavn Office in Portsmouth, RI for dockage, and fly to Florida to attend to issues.
In closing, I would like to say thank you to all of our new friends in Nova Scotia. Everywhere we went, we were welcomed by strangers as long lost friends. We had a wonderful time, and very much look forward to returning next year. May your winter be short and warm.
September 11, 2013
My last post was published prematurely (accidentally hit Publish instead of Save Draft), so I’ll begin where I left off and add the missing photos! We anchored in Mader’s Cove on August 26th where I set off to meet our new friends. First I met Susan and Paul, who own and operate the Edgewater B&B, a lovely place right on the water in Mader’s Cove. Next was Bob and Valerie, who live nearby.
Both these couples had provided specific instructions for finding their homes in their emails to me. I simply knocked on the door and said “Hi, I’m Kathy from Shear Madness” and it was like we were old friends who hadn’t seen each other in years rather than strangers who had never met. I invited Bob and Valerie to come out to the boat. “Oh, we’d love to”, Bob replied, “but we have a neighborhood party tonight”. About 2 seconds later he said “you’ll just have to come with us”! And thus we attended a Mader’s Cove neighbors party at the home of Hal, a hearty octogenarian who was full of stories. Here we met Bob and Betty, who shared an interest in bridge and soon a bridge game was arranged at their home.
Bradley needed to return to FL for another visit with his father, so we decided to move the boat around the corner to nearby Princes Inlet where we would be protected from any bad weather. Soon we were snug and secure, near the Lunenburg Yacht Club, which is located on Herman’s Island, five miles from Lunenburg.
It’s a friendly and welcoming club and a good base of operations. We also went ashore on the mainland in a neighborhood called Sunnybrook, tying up at what looked like a small community dock. It proved to be a private dock, however, and soon the owner, Graham, appeared – to tell us we were welcome to tie our tender there whenever we wanted. He then proceeded to ask if we needed a ride anywhere or if there was anything else he could do for us.
We were in the process of arranging Bradley’s trip back to Florida and trying to figure out how to get him to the airport in Halifax, a trip of about 60 miles from our location. Susan and Paul kindly offered to let us use their car so I could take Bradley to the airport. Soon he was off and I was back on the boat. Along came Ron and Nora in their small boat to introduce themselves and invite me and Tyler to dinner. Ron related how he had met another Nordhavn earlier in the year and had watched him cruise around the anchorage looking for a spot to anchor. When Ron asked him what criteria he had used to select a spot, the fellow said he had been looking for somewhere he could pick up a wifi signal! I related how our onboard system could see several wifi networks, but that they were all secured. We were not able to receive the Yacht Club’s unsecured connection from our anchor spot. So we had to rely on our limited and expensive Bell Alliant sim card for email access. Well, Nora soon came to the rescue. The next day she contacted neighbors near our anchorage and soon provided a password so we could connect and enjoy unlimited internet access – just in time for two days of pouring rain where we were mostly stuck onboard.
Princes Inlet offers plenty of options for exploring. There are lots of small islands, accessible by kayak, plenty of territory to explore by tender, a beautiful hiking/biking trail that goes to nearby Lunenburg, and lots of great walking. I decided to take a couple trips into Lunenburg and visited the Fisheries Museum, which was great. It also turned out that I arrived just in time to see the re-launch of the Bluenose II, the replica of the famous schooner which has been undergoing a 2 year refit. The museum tour included the chance to go onboard a couple boats, including the Theresa E. Connor, an old fishing schooner. Here I met George, who was there to answer questions. We got to talking and it turns out he is good friends with Rob and Tish from Kittiwake, who were our cruising companions for several weeks.
On Friday evening I went ashore to the Yacht Club and stumbled upon a cocktail party for the Nonsuch rendezvous, a group of about 15 sailboats who were together for a weekend of fun and racing. They invited me to their party and later to their dinner and it was a great chance to meet some new friends and learn about the Nonsuch boats. I exchanged boat tours with Jane and Jamie on Dexterity and must say I was impressed with the layout and space on their 30-foot boat. I also met Roy and Barbara, another couple who had emailed me in Mader’s Cove and who came by for a visit, bringing a huge container of blueberries picked from their backyard.
We enjoyed having Bob and Valerie and Ron and Nora over for dinner and I played some more bridge and did some local geocaching. Susan and Paul again loaned me their car so I could pick Bradley up at the airport on his return and we are now beginning to plan our trip back to the U.S. I’ve updated my book reviews and all previously posted videos are available on my youtube channel. I’m very pleased that there are no major technical issues to report, but I did promise some photos of our Spectra soft shackle for our snubber line and these are included at the end of the photo gallery. Finally, for those so inclined, please keep Wilfred’s wife (who I reported in my last post had suffered a fall) and Bradley’s father Ted “Mr. Magnificent” in your thoughts and prayers.
Sept. 8, 2013
I’m going to start this post by relating my last 24 hours. Yesterday morning looked like an ideal time for a bike ride, so I loaded our bike onto the tender and went ashore, tying the tender up to a dock owned by a local fellow who had said we could use it anytime we wanted. I offloaded the bike and proceed up the hill to the road. As I was adjusting the seat, a car came by and stopped. The woman inside said “Hi, I’m Claire. You must be Kathy. My husband said to tell you that if you need a car, take that one over there. The keys are in it”. On further discussion I learned that Claire and David are the parents of Alan and Ann Marie, who have allowed us to use their wifi for internet connection as their house is close to the point where we are anchored. David saw me bringing the bike ashore and thought perhaps I planned to ride it to the grocery store and maybe it would be easier if I had a car. I explained that I was just going out for some exercise and sightseeing. Claire pointed out her house and I saw David waxing his car in the driveway. I stopped to say hello and 20 minutes later, finally set out on my bike ride.
My ride took me along Second Peninsula Road and is probably one of the most scenic bike rides I have ever done. I am normally not comfortable riding on roads, but this one had little traffic and seemed tailor made for biking. It did, however, have some real hills! My first stop was at a beautiful cemetery where I searched for and found a geocache. Then I continued my ride for another five miles or so, finally reaching the point of the peninsula. The last house was a beautiful white house on a hill with amazing flowers along the front. There was an older man tending to the flowers and I said hello as I went past. I soon reached the end of the road and turned around, this time stopping to comment on the amazing flowers. “Well”, he said, “the really good flowers are around back. Ride on back there and see”. So I did. What a magnificent place this was. Perfectly manicured lawn – and not a small one! Flowers everywhere, house in perfect repair. I returned to chat with the man, whose name is Wilfred, and soon learned that he and his wife grow almost all the flowers, mostly annuals, in their house and hothouse. They take care of all the landscape themselves. When I asked if he was from the area, he said he had “lived here for 91 years, except for 3 years during The War”. One of ten children, he had built the house in 1951. On a sadder note, he mentioned that his wife had taken a fall earlier in the year and was now in a rehab hospital in Halifax. I could have stayed and talked to this man all day, but wanted to get back to watch some sailboat racing.
As I wound my way back along the road, I marveled at the scenery and tried to take it all in. I stopped again to chat with David and we arranged to get together soon for drinks. I hurried back to the boat, offloaded the bike and grabbed my camera to go watch the Nonsuch races (more on that later). Following the races, I came back to the boat, downloaded the photos I had taken and made a couple CD’s ot them, showered, then headed to the Yacht Club for drinks with the Nonsuch owners, many of whom I had met yesterday. They invited me to join them for dinner and I barely made it back to the boat before dark.
So that was today – and lest you think it unusual, it seems to be quite the norm here in Nova Scotia. When we last reported in, we were in Halifax. We departed Halifax and headed south to Chester, a lovely town in a beautiful bay. We enjoyed exploring the town but I was looking forward to returning to Mahone Bay to meet our “friends” there. We had stopped briefly in Mahone Bay on our way north, anchoring for a couple nights in Mader’s Cove. As we were departing Mahone Bay, I received several emails from people who had seen the boat, googled our website, and sent emails offering dinners, rides to town, or anything else we might need. Though we had not had the chance to meet any of these people on our first trip, I had started a nice email dialogue and we had looked forward to getting together on our return. Soon we were anchored back in Mader’s Cove and we began a great chapter of our cruising adventures.
August 29, 2013
We have continued to enjoy the Bras D’or Lakes with its majestic scenery, bountiful bald eagles, and plenty of wilderness to explore.
Tish (from Kittiwake) and I continued to explore by kayak and on land and Tish made a great discovery – wild blueberries! They were plentiful and ripe. When we first discovered them, we were not well prepared as we had only one small zip lock bag and insufficient bug spray for a lengthy expedition. We gathered a bagful which made some delicious blueberry muffins and returned the next day ready for pickin’. Soon we had several containers full – enough for a nice blueberry cobbler with plenty left for our morning breakfasts of fruit and yogurt.
We continue to enjoy the periodic company of Summer Star, Bluewater, Argo, and Kittiwake. Cruising as part of an unofficial, loose group has added a new dimension to our cruising. While we are not on any official schedule and often go our own ways and do our own thing, it’s fun to get together for dinner or golf or shopping or to brainstorm over some boat problem or to plan routes to various destinations. It’s definitely been fun getting to know our new friends and we are talking about cruising in this area again next summer.
Bradley returned from his visit to Florida for his father’s birthday party which was a big success. Lots of friends and family attended and Bradley enjoyed catching up with them all. Bradley’s cousin Mark from Oregon was not able to attend the party in Florida because he was vacationing in Nova Scotia! Turns out he was staying not too far from Baddeck, where we were anchored, so Mark, his wife Kris, her brother Kurt and wife Sally stopped by for a visit. As luck would have it, it was pouring rain but they survived the 20 minute tender ride out to our anchorage. We had a wonderful lunch, complete with local smoked salmon and homemade wild blueberry cobbler and enjoyed their visit very much. Fortunately the rain abated by the time we left to drop them off.
All too soon it was time to head back to Halifax where it was my turn to fly to Florida to visit my in-laws, then on to Virginia for a couple days. Tyler was also returning home to Alabama to attend his sister’s wedding. Summer Star was also heading back south, so we rendezvoused at St. Peter where we enjoyed a nice dinner out at the Bras D’or Lakes Inn along with their onboard guests JP and Diane. We traveled together through the St. Peter Canal, but then Summer Star, a much faster boat at a cruising speed of almost 9 knots, took off, leaving us to follow in her path.
After a brief stop in Little Liscombe Harbour, we were ready for an overnight run to Halifax.
Weather conditions were good, with light winds but fog set in just before our arrival at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. It was so thick we could not even see the docks and since it was a tight fit for us to get in, we anchored until the fog lifted enough to see where we were going. We docked with no problems and soon discovered a little hitchhiker – a small bird had somehow got itself stuck in the space between the aft step and the door. He seemed a little confused but after we opened the door and he sat for a few minutes to collect himself, he flew off.
There are a few new videos – two short photo slideshows of our little cruising group Part 1 and Part 2, one on anchoring, and one called “Why do we Cruise?” which shows some of the “good stuff”, including getting mooned by a bald eagle. Each video is 4-6 minutes long. Click on any photo to enlarge and don’t be shy about replying and letting us know what’s up with you! I’m happy to say that there have been no technical issues or problems worth reporting!
August 6, 2013
The Bras D’or Lake is the Nova Scotia equivalent of the Great Lakes – an inland sea in the middle of Cape Breton Island with beautiful harbors and sheltered anchorages. One key difference is the Great Lakes are fresh water, while this is 75% salted. This is perhaps cruising at its best! After passing through the St. Peter Canal, we stopped in the town of St. Peter and reunited with our friends Kristina and Atle on Summer Star. We explored the town and hiked back to the canal and along the shore. We had a nice dinner out with some live music. Then it was on to Little Harbor, a short trip north where we met up with Milt and Judy on Bluewater. Summer Star soon joined us and we also met some new friends, Tish and Rob aboard Kittiwake, a 75-foot custom steel boat. Rob is 86 years old and a lifelong merchant mariner. He joined the Navy in 1943 at age 17 and was aboard a Navy ship at the battle of Iwo Jima. Since then he has captained every imaginable kind of vessel, including super tankers, research vessels, passenger ships, and even sailboats. He is a walking encyclopedia of maritime knowledge and a delight to spend time with. His wife Tish is an accomplished mariner in her own right and she and I have had some great adventures together. We exchanged boat tours and enjoyed seeing the design of Kittiwake, which Rob and Tish designed and had built. Rob also gave some sextant lessons to Tyler, who is interested in learning celestial navigation.
Little Harbor is a beautiful anchorage and it was just our four boats anchored there. We explored the area by kayaking, biking, and hiking and enjoyed the feeling of quiet and solitude. There is a restaurant ashore, run by a German couple who have made part of their beautiful log-cabin home a restaurant, where we enjoyed a very nice meal. Aside from that, there is not a commercial establishment anywhere to be seen. The main road has very little traffic and there are many nice places to hike.
From Little Harbor, we traveled north to Baddeck, again meeting up with Bluewater and later also joined by Summer Star. We anchored in Herring Cove, a nice spot just north of the town where we stayed for a couple days. Baddeck is a great small town where Alexander Graham Bell had a summer house and spent a lot of time. We enjoyed visiting the Bell Museum and learning about Bell’s many interests and accomplishments aside from the invention of the telephone. Among other things, he was very involved in early flight and also developed hydrofoil boats.
Bradley returned to the US for his father’s 80th birthday party in Florida, so we moved the boat to a more sheltered anchorage at Indian Point in the Washabuck River where we would be safe during his absence. Only a few miles from Baddeck, which we can get to easily in our tender, the anchorage is peaceful and isolated – we see more bald eagles than people here. It also offers some great adventure kayaking and hiking. We were soon joined in the anchorage by Kittiwake and I was joined by Atle and Kristina and later by Tish on long kayak trips up the river. Atle and Kristina were anchored near the town dock, so we had to transport their kayaks to our anchorage; luckily they fit nicely into our tender. On every kayak outing, we saw at least one and often more bald eagles as the undeveloped shoreline of the lake makes it a natural attraction for them. Birds of many kinds are plentiful and we saw two families of ducks with large broods and many species of land and sea birds. Our kayaking took us through some areas that had not seen humans for awhile as we had to find ways around many fallen trees and other obstructions along the way. I also explored many of the small coves on my own, marveling at the feeling of peace and solitude and the sheer beauty of the landscape.
Though there are no real hiking trails that we could find, Tish and I did some wilderness hiking. We saw some trees that had been marked with orange tape, making us wonder if there was a trail. It turned out to be a property line that had been surveyed which allowed us to follow the markers for awhile but they soon ran out. Not to be deterred, when those markings ran out, we contined on, marking our own trail as we went. Just to be safe, we carried a hand-held GPS and VHF radio, as it is easy to become disoriented in the wilderness! After “bushwhacking” for nearly an hour, we ran out of trail-marking material and headed back, taking time to enjoy the forest with its beautiful pines as well as deciduous trees, many kinds of moss and ferns, and even some wild blueberries which were small but good! Bug spray kept the deer flies at bay and long pants protected our legs, so we emerged relatively unscathed and feeling like true explorers.
I enjoyed a round of golf at the beautiful Bell Bay golf course with views overlooking Baddeck Harbor, found a few geocaches, and discovered a couple nice hiking trails in Baddeck. I also took the free ferry over to Kidston Island, a 5-minute trip across from Baddeck where there are two lighthouses, a beach, and a nature trail. The “ferry” is a small platform with a little outboard motor used to make the 200 yard trek from the town dock to Kidston Island. However, it requires a “Safety Assistant” selected from the passengers to be in charge in case anything should happen to the Captain. On my trip, I was selected and listened as the captain explained that I was responsible for ensuring all passengers remained seated with their life vests fastened. He also explained how to turn off the motor and radio for help in case of an emergency. I even got to wear a “Safety Officer” badge. Oh, did I mention,there was ONE other passenger onboard. I’m please to report that we arrived safely in both directions!
Milt and Judy on Bluewater set off for Newfoundland while Randy and Rebecca on Argo arrived in Baddeck. One of the best parts of this season has been the opportunity to cruise with other people and we have really enjoyed the chance to spend time with our old and new friends.
There is a short (5 min) video titled Why We Cruise, which shows some of the highlights of our last month, including the unique experience of being mooned by a bald eagle! Check out the Shenandoah page for some new photos. I am way behind on book reviews, but will include some in my next update! See brief technical update below photos. I’ve included below a few more photos from our time in Lunenburg. Click any photo to enlarge and send us a reply or comment – we love to hear from you!
The last time I reported on technical issues we were awaiting receipt of a replacement inverter from Mastervolt. I’m happy to report that the inverter arrived shortly after that post and has been installed and working without problem ever since. In that same post I had reported on some modifications made to our tender to replace the large center seat with a lean-bar to create more space. Photos of the before and after are below.