January 3, 2015
This is the final post from our summer cruise written by Bradley in Sept as we headed from Nova Scotia to the Chesapeake Bay.
As I write this (Saturday 27 Sept), we are halfway between the southwest tip of Nova Scotia and Provincetown, MA. We have been having a perfect passage with wind in the single digits, sea swell less than half a meter from the port with 8 second period and most importantly, clear skies. No fog, no clouds, nothing but stars. We are one day into a new moon, so it is very black outside. Like a pilot, one must trust the instruments, especially our two radars. One is set for 2 to 3 miles and the other 12 to 16. Throughout the night, we have been dodging long line fishing buoys (high flyers with radar reflectors). Luckily for both the fishermen and us, they now set open ocean lines/pots with special radar reflecting poles 8 to 10 feet tall. One several occasions last night I was called on watch as we approached multiple targets. They are impossible to spot even with our huge spotlight without the radar to help direct the beam.
The sun just came up and it was a beautiful red morning sunrise.
Red sky at night sailor’s delight.
Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.
We know that weather is coming up from the south in the next couple of days. The only real question is will it arrive on Monday or will we get lucky and it arrives late on Tuesday – just as we enter the Chesapeake Bay.
I guess I need to start at the beginning. As you know from a previous blog we were in Port Au Choix, Newfounland. From there, we traveled non-stop to the Bras d’Or Lakes in Nova Scotia where we had to stop at St. Peters for a day. The St. Peters Canal had just gone to winter hours and does not operate on Wednesday, so as we arrived on Tuesday, we had to tie up and wait for the next opening. This was great as we had a chance to meet locals Greg and Dawn and an owner of several local fishing boats who generously gave us some wonderful halibut for our freezers. The it was on to Mahone Bay where we were able to catch up with several friends and have a wonderful dinner at the German restaurant with our fellow cruisers Rob and Tish from Kittiwake. Then it was on to Halifax, where we spent 6 days. Over all it was a wonderful stay.I was able to get a 30 mile bike ride in last Saturday, even with the wind blowing 25 to 30 knots all day.
We also had our challenges – because we decided to equalize or condition our batteries. Lately they had been showing their age, and only lasting 8 hours between charges. Without getting too technical, as batteries age, they can develop a buildup in the internal plates that reduces their effectiveness. By turning up the charging voltage from 28.8 to 31.4, you in essence slowly cook the growth off the plates. As it turns out we must have had a lot of growth, because as ours cooked overnight this past Sunday they created huge amounts of heat and more rotten smelling sulfur gas than expected. At one point the batteries were 150 degrees and the smell of rotten eggs permeated the boat. This meant that Kathy and I spent all of Monday and Tuesday wiping down the entire boat, including giving the Mechanical, Battery and Tank deck a very detailed cleaning. We spent hours and hours wiping everything down and changing our buckets of water, which were turning black very quickly. After the cleaning, I wiped all the metal items, like through hulls, and stainless with Corrosion Block a special marine lubricant and protectorant we use.
Also while in Halifax Matt – the deckhand who had joined us for the summer – decided the fun part of the trip was over and he was not going to remain with us through October as he had committed. Matt’s parents were hoping to replace Matt and do the trip south with us, but the timing was off by a week. We suspect we would have very much enjoyed the time with them. Instead, Matt’s father Peter very kindly put us in touch with a RNSYS member, Phil, who has extensive cruising experience and unlimited time, as he is retired and Phil signed on for the passage back to the US.
As we cleaned up Shear Madness, we were of course watching the weather for a window to continue our trip back to the USA. One of the primary differences between cruising north in the late spring and south in early fall is the general weather pattern. On the way north, one basically has periods of good weather, interrupted by short periods of unfriendly cruising weather. Heading south in late Sept, one has much longer periods of cruising unfriendly weather interrupted by opportunities to move south comfortably. The second major difference is the amount of daylight vs darkness, as we are now at 12 and 12, vs 15 & 9 on the way north. I key on sunlight and the more of it there is, the less I sleep. By Tuesday 23 Sept, it had become clear a weather window was going to open for a crossing. We decided to depart Thursday morning around 9:00 and move the boat south stopping someplace just before the sunset to anchor and have dinner on board. We knew the weather was not going to be perfect for this leg, but it would help position us for a move on Friday and then the 36 hour crossing on Saturday morning. The weather was looking like we would have single digit winds and flat seas, just what we were seeking after the last several moves had provided us double digit plus winds and seas on the nose.
We got underway about one hour behind schedule at 10:00 on Thursday 24 Sept, but it was a promising morning. The wind was less then predicted and since it was going to be on our nose that was good. Just that morning I received an email from Jerry and Dee, the new owners of the Nordhavn 68 Grace of Tides. They were only 60 miles away at Herring Cove near Liverpool & Brooklyn (Nova Scotia). They expressed an interest in trying to catch up, and we had been hoping to cross paths with them on the way south. We had met them early in the year in Old Port Cove Florida, just as they had taken possession of GOT. She was the first 68 to be resold. At first we were making such good progress, we thought it would be no problem to arrive at their bay by 18:00. As often happens, the wind decided to build and the currents were also working against us, so our average speed was in the 6.5 to 7 knot range – even with the RPM up a little higher than usual. What’s an extra 10 gallons, other than $40.00. It looked like we would not make it in until between 19:30 and 20:00. They very kindly indicated, No worries, they would like to invite us to dinner and even offered to pick us up in their tender, to save us having to launch our tender.
After dropping anchor we had a stunning evening with them. Dee prepared a wonderful meal of huge steaks & asparagus on the barbie, a very fresh salad, perfectly cooked polenta and ice cream Sundaes with fresh chocolate dipped strawberries. They served such a stunning wine, that I even broke my normal rule (24 hours bottle to throttle) imbibing 1½ glasses. We had come much further south than originally planned, so we would have only a short cruise on Friday to position ourselves for the Saturday crossing – or so I thought at the time. We very much look forward to returning their hospitality as they head south later this year.
Jerry returned us to our boat, which was safely anchored in the magnificent and calm Herring Cove around 23:00. So far, the newly cooked batteries were looking very promising, as their voltage was still above 26. Since we did not have a set departure schedule we elected to let the battery alarm wake us, expecting it to go off around 0500 or 0600. By 0700 it had not gone off, and the battery voltage was still well above 24, which is the indication that it’s time for a charge. We lazily got up, did the engine rooms checks, prepared SM for passage and did a weather download. We ended up with over 12 hours on the last battery charge, before we cranked the Generator and started the main engines. So the conditioning did seem to help!
The weather forecast had indicated it would be a perfect day with winds in the very low single digits, little to no waves or swell and not a cloud to be seen. We hailed Grace Of Tides on the radio, saying our goodbyes and headed off around 09:00. Once underway, we realized just how perfect the day was looking and started to wonder why would we want to stop in less than 6 hours. After carefully reviewing the weather and looking closely at the very strong tides around Cape Sable, we elected to continue non-stop on our crossing. Depending on our speed, we would arrive at the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal with favorable tides on Sunday morning around 0300. This would provide us with a great advantage as we are expecting adverse weather to develop by Tuesday morning, so it would be nice to be entering the Chesapeake Bay before then. This jump-start by 18 hours would help greatly with that goal.
It is now 09:12 and I have been on watch since 05:00 maintaining a watch, performing hourly engine room checks, dodging long line fishing buoys (high flyers with radar reflectors) and writing this blog. We just had an incredible dolphin show, with a large school feeding and coming straight for us from the port side. Hopefully one of the 100+ plus pictures I snapped off will be a keeper. Thank goodness for digital cameras.
Wow – we had a stunning crossing. The weather never got above the single digits, even if it was on the bow. We opened and used the fly bridge for the first time in 3 months, except when we used it to map a course through the ice flow in Greenland. We made such good time, that we even had to pull the throttle back as we approached the Cape Cod Canal. While our original plan had been to stop for the evening at Provincetown, it would have meant missing the tide at the Canal and in Buzzards Bay. Five hours out from the canal, I realized we would be arriving approximately 1 hour early. We pulled back on the rpm but our speed just did not fall enough. We arrived about 30 min. early, and experienced a 1 to 1.5 knot current against us, for the first couple of miles of the canal. However, it may have been a blessing in disguise, because as we came out of canal, we had a great push all the way down Buzzards Bay.
I came on watch at 00:15 Saturday morning and turned the watch over at 07:15 Sunday. I do not think I have had such an intense watch in a very long time. Coming through the canal at night was interesting and required a little more focus than cruising through in the daytime. Just as we exited the canal, while still in the control channel, we passed a tug pushing a fuel barge. Buzzards Bay is extremely well marked and on this Saturday evening was extremely busy. We had two tugs with barges that were anchored due to mechanical issues, one directly in the channel. Working outside the channel while shorter is easy in daylight, but at night the lobster pots and fish traps are much harder to spot – especially on a moonless night. In addition we were back in waters with extensive bouys, lights, markers and depth – pieces of information we had not had in several months of cruising up north. I was so busy moving between the pilot house where we have better information and the fly bridge where there is better visibility on dark nights, that at the end, I felt like I had a good workout. I went to bed and slept for 3 solid hours before hunger roused me.
The rest of Sunday was a wonderful day, with the winds staying in the single digits. We had a bit of excitement just before midnight. Phil was on watch, dodging the high-flyers when we were awakened by an ominous bang. We had hit one and its line became stuck on our stabilizer. All hands were on deck within minutes and the throttles were pulled back to neutral as we assessed the situation. Unfortunately, despite going in reverse and trying to maneuver our way out of it, the line remained wrapped around the stabilizer. We had no choice but to cut it free. In the meantime, the Norwegian Breakaway, a cruise ship, called on the radio. He had noticed that we had stopped and wanted to know what was happening as he was rapidly approaching us. We explained the situation and he said he would alter course to give us good clearance. Once the line was cut, we were free and continued on course. No damage done, but we kept a very vigilant eye on the radar after that!
After a near perfect passage, we entered the Chesapeake Bay where we anchored for a night before heading to Tidewater Marina in Portsmouth. On the way in, the Navy gave us a nice show, with a small aircraft carrier and a submarine passing close by! After giving the boat a good cleaning, we said goodbye to Phil, who flew back to Halifax. It was time for some relaxing after a strenuous summer.
December 8, 2014
Below are links to two new videos – the first features some beautiful polar bears, including an incredible swimmer (3.5 mins) and the second is a tribute to Migration, our cruising buddy for the summer of 2014 (3.5 mins). These and previous videos are available on my youtube channel.
We have received the beautiful Nordhavn 2015 calendars, which feature Shear Madness as Miss January. This is your chance to win one of the calendars. All we want to do is hear from you. Leave a comment or reply to the email you receive if you are a subscriber and mention the word Calendar. You’ll be entered in a drawing to win one. Please include a little more in your reply – with our lifestyle this blog is one of our prime ways of keeping in touch with everyone, so we love to hear from you! Entries close Dec 15th.
One last thing – we have improved our location tracking – you can see our current location, or a map of our travels since 2011 under the About tab.
Where You Lead
December 3, 2014
Note: This blog was written in September when we were still on our way back from Labrador. We are now in Deltaville, VA and will head soon to Norfolk/Portsmouth, then on to Beaufort, NC by year end.
(By Bradley) I put “home” in quotes, because we basically live on board Shear Madness. We have a wonderful little place in Naples Fl, but we do not consider it home. Shear Madness is our home. However, we also follow the methodology of scheduling a maintenance period every 12 to 18 months, where the boat is hauled from the water and we address a long list of both preventive maintenance items, repairs from our list and at this point – minor upgrades. Our goal when cruising is to have as few breakdowns as reasonably possible. Sitting for a week or two stuck while we wait for a part or even possibly a service tech to arrive is not our idea of cruising. We try to treat Shear Madness more like an airplane, with scheduled maintenance cycles. We have also found, when possible, having the same people we trust who know our boat, perform the work has added benefits. One of which is that in an emergency we can reach out to them via phone and they can often be extremely helpful.
We reached the northern most Latitude of our adventure (N 69. 23) in late August and now (8 Sept. 2014) are heading south down the coast of Labrador. We heading back to the Chesapeake Bay and ultimately Jarrett Bay, NC where the boat will be hauled out from January through March 2015. Part of this process is also beginning to plan our 2015 and 2016 cruising seasons. After this extreme season of cruising, we are leaning towards taking it easy in 2015, heading to Colorado for some skiing and visiting friends and family, then just cruising the east coast of North America in 2015 but then having the boat fully ready for another extreme season of cruising in 2016.
The goal of this blog is to give those who do not live and cruise on a boat some insight into the challenges we face and how different this is from living in a house, where your doctor, dentist and repair techs are available with just a simple phone call and where stores, neighbors and internet are within easy reach. For those who live aboard and/or cruise, you may want to skip this blog.
Also, let me state clearly we are not complaining. We have a wonderful life and are extremely lucky. We have our health and are living our dream. However we often get asked a lot of questions relating to: What do you do all day – don’t you get bored? And non- cruisers seem to think each day is filled with fun, play and relaxation.
While we do have lots of time to read, write, explore new places and meet new friends, there is more than meets the eye. Just two nights ago while in Makkovik, we were tied up at the dock for two days, because we knew bad weather was going to arrive. The second night the weather was so bad that I had to get up every two hours, go outside in pouring rain and bitter cold to adjust our fenders, check our docking lines for chafe and in one case, fish a broken 2×4 out of the water, that was banging on the hull. When we are in cruising mode, it is quite common for me to get up at least once a night to check our situation out. Often it can be done from the comfort of the pilot house, but not always. When I know I want to check our situation in the middle of the night, rather than go to sleep worrying, I just drink a large glass of water before going to sleep. I sleep soundly, knowing nature will wake me, and not some nasty alarm clock, in 3 to 4 hours.
This season we had the added pleasure of having to check for drifting ice to make sure none was headed for Shear Madness while at anchor. There was no dashing outside in my birthday suit, as in the Bahamas, to make the adjustments or check on things – way too cold! I tried to just throw on some pants once or twice, but within minutes you are so cold, you becomes less effective at what you are doing.
I suspect that most people can relate to the heading home Blues. After a wonderful vacation, where you had unlimited energy, you have to pack up and head back. Getting on that plane or in your car for the 1 or 2 day trip home, life starts to creep back into your head. Issues you set-aside for a week or two return and you get that combination feeling of tired and trepidation. For us the trip back will be over a month long. Most of it involves very carefully selecting weather windows to make 2 to 3 days hops, in this case away from the shore, to shorten the trip. And often when in port or at anchor the weather is not all that conducive to shore activities.
For us, we are beginning to plan our maintenance cycle and making lists. Lots of lists. We have the maintenance items, the personal items we need to remember to purchase – we both need new boots, Kathy’s hiking boots had the soles fall off. The first time, George was able to use some new magic adhesive he discovered in at the yard in Maine, to reattach the front of the sole, now the back has fallen off. For me, I will need new foul weather boats – mine dry rotted and leaked. We also have to track what inventory items we used, like filters, spare parts etc. and make sure we replace them –often having discovered some new spares we need to carry. This year we are planning on attending the Fort Lauderdale boat show for the first time in several years. We already have a list of 30 plus items to research before and at the show. We also have to figure out how to get our doctors, dentist and other personal appointments scheduled in a fairly short window. We have elected to keep most of our medical care in Northern Virginia, so appointments have to be pre-scheduled to match when we are in town to visit my charming daughter and her family. We have to make sure we have our taxes completed timely, often planning well ahead to sign them, and we have to figure out where we will be so we can vote. Not that there are many good choices from either party.
Once back in the US, with cost effective high speed internet, we will also begin researching our next cruising adventure. What charts, books and other specialty items (like the bear repellant) do we need to purchase. During the maintenance cycle, we will also need to re-inventory the boat, checking on our spares to make sure they remain ok and verifying our inventory is accurate.
I suspect with the exception of those few of you who live in high power outage areas, when you return to your house from being out, you do not give a second thought to power, water, food and fuels. For us, we are managing those resources each day. Every time we leave the boat for more than 5 or 10 minutes we turn off our water and head (toilet) pumps, so if they fail we do not end up with dead batteries or no water. We are constantly checking how much water and fuel we have, and what is the state of our batteries. When will we next run the generator to charge them, and do we need to make water, do the wash, cook, heat the boat or all of the above.
Just to reinforce an earlier point – we are not complaining about the challenges one faces living and cruising a boat. In fact, right now we are cruising south from Makkovik, Labrador to Battle Island or most likely Port Au Choix, Newfoundland. We departed Sunday 7 Sept at 16:00 and have been having an incredible trip. We faced some waves for the first couple of hours until we could turn south and then for the most part they were off our stern or port stern. Last night they got as big as 6 to 8 feet, but with the light winds, they settled right down. We have been averaging in the low 8 knot range, which for us is blazing speed. After three days of clouds, rain and wind, the skies cleared last night to reveal a full moon, which was stunning. We have not really seen a moon in several months. This morning, Kathy’s log entry states – “Beautiful morning blue skies and sun shining”. The sea remains comfortable with 15 to 20 knots of wind filling in off our stern, pushing our speed into the low 9’s this morning. Right now we are doing 9.4 and we are scheduled to arrive in Port Au Choix early Tuesday morning. I estimate we will in fact arrive around 13:00, as this speed will not hold. Looks like we will in fact make Port Au Choix, before the next weather front arrives Tuesday afternoon/evening.
Just as I was getting ready to do the 10:00 hourly engine room check, I did a careful scan of our situation, paying special attention to both the 12 and 3-mile radars. I will be in the engine room for 3 to 5 minutes, which even at this speed is less than a mile. On the 3 mile radar I note a very fast moving object off our port stern heading toward us. I scan the water but cannot find a boat. Looking up, I realize we are getting buzzed by some type of aircraft. It was so close, I could read the tail numbers. Not knowing if it was official or just a private sightseer, I elected to postpone the engine room check for 5 minutes. It is not uncommon for official aircraft to contact us via the VHF radio for some information. A few minutes later Speed Air 104 hails me on 16 – they are a twin-engine plane on pollution patrol. They have checked us out and in particular our wake confirming we are perfectly clean. No oil from the engines, or dirt from the bilges. What do they expect – WE ARE A NORDHAVN!
That is a first. We have been checked out by Customs, by the various coast guards, locals and by private aircraft, but never by a pollution control plane – good on you Canada!
As I sit here with a big smile on my face, one key aspect of our life, that is really different from living on shore is the potential penalty we pay for mistakes, or little mental slip ups. We always tell our guests, the sea is very patient, it will wait quietly for you to make a mental mistake. Some are major, others minor, but frustrating. If you end up with a dead car battery, locked out of your house, or caught in some bad weather on the way to work, it is an inconvenience, but for the most part not life threatening. Out here, things are a little different. Things do happen and contrary to perceptions we are not perfect, but we really work very hard to prevent major mistakes. Cruising is a mental game, more than anything else. These boats are complex machines and as anyone who has ever run one knows, it is very easy to do something in the wrong order, fail to open or close a value in the right order or make any of several hundred mistakes that can damage or destroy critical equipment. Shortly after we purchased Shear Madness, we made a mistake with a fuel return valve, that cost us close to $10k to fix. Luckily we were within Charleston harbor and were able to limp back to the docks to have the engines serviced.
When we are underway, everything has to be secured. We may start out in calm conditions, but sooner or later, the weather changes, waves arrive and things go flying. All cabinets must be secured and remain secure after each use. Refrigerator and freezer doors need to be locked and opened VERY carefully, as, like an airplane “contents may have shifted” while we were underway. Every item in the galley has to be cleaned and put away after use, or it may end up on the floor shattered. We do not use plastic tableware, as I cannot stand eating or drinking out of plastic. In fact on our sailboat we had a complete set of Wedgewood China – the only dish we lost was a washing accident. Even the simple things, like having a drink underway requires a closed cup, and the lid must be closed after each drink or it will spill at some point. The Sea is patient. We have special protocols for trash, discussed in an earlier blog, and while underway, meals have to be coordinated with watch schedules. Everything we do, we try to think though, anticipate what could go wrong and approach with caution. On our sailboat, in heavy weather, we sometimes boiled water while wearing our foul weather pants for protection in case of a spill. On this boat with the stabilizers on, it can be amazingly stable, but we still feel the waves.
As our many blogs demonstrate, this is a wonderful way to see the world, meet and truly get to know locals, and learn much about new countries, but it is very different lifestyle. It is not for the faint of heart, nor for the lazy. We have now been 3 months without live TV and for the most part news. It is not for those who like 8 to 10 hours of continuous sleep at night, waking up to a warm cozy room. Going out to eat can require a very wet ride in the tender and a severe limitation on drinking. However, we would not trade this lifestyle for anything. We love it and I hope this blog gives those who wonder about our sanity a little better understanding of what life is like living and cruising on Shear Madness. Be sure to let us know if you’d like to come for a visit and experience the cruising life for yourself!
November 17, 2014
Two new videos are available for your viewing pleasure.
This one shows what it was like to navigate through heavy ice in Greenland (6 mins)
This one is a tribute to the beautiful sled dogs in Greenland (4 mins)
Every year, Nordhavn creates a glossy calendar with a boat featured each month. This year, Shear Madness is “Miss January” with this photo:
And, with our aggressive summer cruising, we have now officially cruised over 20,000 nautical miles on this Shear Madness. We received our latest “Distance Pennant” from Nordhavn at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. See photo and write-up here.
November 6, 2014
As September approached, it was time to begin our journey south down the coast of Labrador. On Sept 1 we departed our anchorage in Williams Bay at 5:45am to head towards Nain, the northernmost town in Labrador but still a 36 hour trip for us. The base camp at Torngat Park, between our anchorage and Nain, closes down on August 31st, so there was no reason to stop in there on the way. At 10:00am we spotted 3 more polars bears on shore, bringing our total bear spottings to 18! These would be the last we would see. We did, however, continue to see some icebergs – not a lot, but enough to keep us on our toes. We did encounter one large one which had recently calved, creating lots of smaller growlers we had to avoid.
Conditions for this leg were ideal with calm seas and beautiful clear nights. We approached Mugford Tickle, a very narrow passage, during the night. But we had a good track line from when we had come through it on our way north in July and it was a very clear night, so we proceeded through with no problem. Despite being very narrow, with shear cliffs on either side, the water is actually very deep – several hundred feet!
At 10:00am on September 2nd, our log notes “spotted trees for the first time since July 27th”! Our latitude for that log entry was 57.13.9 and for the past six weeks we had seen only moss and small bushes – the environment is too harsh for trees to grow. As we approached Nain, we encountered a 2 knot current against us, bringing our boat speed down below 6 knots. But we arrived in Nain and docked at the large commercial wharf with no problems.
We visited the Parks Canada office and met with Judy who we had met on our previous visit to Nain and also Gary, the Parks Canada manager for the Torngat Base Camp, who we had met during our stop there in July. We met with them to brainstorm on some ideas about promoting the park as a great destination for cruising boats and hope that more cruisers will visit Torngat in the future. We also invited Gary aboard Shear Madness where we enjoyed a chance to relax and catch up.
In Nain, there was a groundbreaking ceremony for Illusuak, the new Inuit Cultural Center that is due to open in 2016. Nain is in a part of Labrador known as Nunatsiavut, which means “our beautiful land” and was created under a land claim agreement with the Inuit. It has its own government “to represent the residents of the land claim area and any Labrador Inuit living elsewhere in Canada. Nunatsiavut remained a part of Newfoundland and Labrador, but the Government of Nunatsiavut acquired the jurisdictional authority over health, education, and justice in the land claim area. Nunatsiavut operates under a consensus government within the parliamentary system of Canada.”
We attended the groundbreaking, where there were several speakers including the President of Nunatsiavut. We spoke to many locals at the well-attended event and enjoyed learning more about the Inuit culture. It seems that there is a resurgence of interest among the younger generation, with many young people learning the native language and customs. For us, there is a bit of a conundrum. We are in favor of preserving the culture, but there seems to be a lot of unwise spending going on with funds from various governments and trusts. For example, in Makkovik, a town of 360 people with no roads connecting it to any other town, they are building a $12 million ice arena. I’m sure it will be a nice facility, but really, is that the best use of that kind of money?
After our one-day stop in Nain, we continued on to Makkovik, departing on Sept 4th with an overnight stop at an anchorage near Hopedale before heading into the Makkovik town dock on Sept 5th. Here we would wait a couple days for some bad weather to pass. On a trip to the grocery store, I encountered a friendly man who struck up a conversation. He seemed vaguely familiar and we soon discovered we had met on our stop here in July. His name is Reg and he has two golden retrievers – we had stopped and talked to him while exploring the town. Reg offered me a ride back to the boat as it was now raining. First we stopped by his house to drop off his groceries and to check on the seal he was cooking! And yes, he did share his seal meat with us. It was interesting – a very strong flavor, very gamey but would be good with plenty of mashed potatoes! I gave Reg a tour of the boat and we exchanged contact information. He and his wife run a small bed and breakfast in their home so can provide accommodations for anyone wanting to visit Makkovik.
Once the weather passed, we were ready to continue on, destined next for Port Au Choix, Newfoundland. As for Labrador, it was simply a magical place. It is a vast, enchanting, scary, interesting, amazing place. Our only regret is that we had so much ground to cover in order to get to Greenland that we did not get to spend nearly enough time there. Thus, we are thinking of devoting the summer of 2016 to cruising Labrador at a more leisurely pace. Anyone looking for a great adventure, please let us know! We’d love to have other boats and/or guests join us!
October 23, 2014
Here’s the latest in our Summer Video series – it is a typical hike in Labrador. Click on the image to play.
We are also featured in an interview on the Pendana Blog – click to read it!
October 15, 2015
Here is the next video in our summer adventure series – Iceberg Encounters (7 minutes).
While cruising in Labrador and Greenland along with our friends on the Nordhavn 68 Migration, we encountered plenty of icebergs. In this video, we visit some up close in the big boats, position ourselves for some photos, and get even closer in the tender – with Captain Gulliver along!
We are now in the Chesapeake Bay but will continue to publish stories and videos from the summer over the next few months. In the summer and fall of 2015 we will probably stay in the US where we hope to have friends and family come to visit. So if you’ve talked to us about a visit, or are interested in joining us somewhere next year, please let me know!
October 8, 2014
Over the next couple months, I’ll be posting some videos from our summer adventures. The first one is 7 minutes long and covers the our trip from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland, then on to Labrador. Please let me know if you have any problems with viewing it.
“We met up with the Nordhavn 55 Adventure and our friends Brad and Lorraine in Little Harbor, Cape Breton, where we hid from Hurricane Arthur. We then cruised together up the Cape Breton Peninsula and on to Newfoundland’s Bay of Islands and Bonne Bay before heading in different directions. Adventure went on to circumnavigate Newfoundland while we met up the N68 Migration to head to Labrador and Greenland.”
Due to a bug in WordPress, those of you who receive blog updates via email may have noticed that the links to some of the photos in our last update did not work – if you clicked on a photo to enlarge it, you got a Page not Found error. I’ve included those photos again and hope that the links work this time – please let me know if they don’t!
After a wonderful day of exploring and seeing a polar bear up close at Williams Harbour, we had a day of miserable weather – cold, rain, and wind – that kept us inside watching movies and lazing around. The following day was better but not great, but we were determined to do some more exploring. So we bundled up and set off for an hour long tender ride to the Ikkudliayuk Fjord where we hoped to see some great scenery and possibly more bears. We were not to be disappointed!
Majestic, impressive, intimidating, harsh, stark, beautiful – these are all words that come to mind as we progress. We are in the part of Labrador which has the highest cliffs and combined with the long and very deep fjords, it makes for just a magnificent setting. As we entered the Ikkudliayuk fjord, it wasn’t long before we spotted a polar bear. We slowed for a look through binoculars at a bear well up on the cliffs, making his way quite easily along the rocky ledges. Seeing these magnificent animals in person is truly amazing!
As we continued, we spotted another, then another! Seems like we had indeed found a great place to see polar bears! A light rain had begun and it looked like it might get worse, so we decided to put up the bimini top (convertible roof) on the tender for some protection. It’s not difficult, but requires two people and a bit of coordination and a few minutes to get everything in place. With the engines in neutral and the tender drifting, Matt and Bradley began the process while I spotted another bear on shore. As I watched, he decided to go for a swim and soon was in the water not too far from us and coming closer. I watched the bear as Bradley and Matt continued to raise the bimini. They ran into a bit of a problem as one of the pins that secures it in place decided to break, necessitating a temporary fix. As we drifted along with Bradley and Matt occupied with getting the top secure, the bears path brought it closer and closer. Although he didn’t seem to be heading directly towards us, he was certainly going to pass not far off. Finally, the bimini was in place and we resumed our course, with a great view of our swimming bear as he continued on past us.
We wanted to go for a hike but had now spotted four polar bears since entering the fjord. Though they seemed a bit skittish of the tender with its engines running, it may be a different story if we were on land. So we had a good discussion about whether we should go ashore and finally concluded we would give it a try. Though we do not have a gun, we had come prepared with a loud air horn, bear spray, hand held flares, a flare gun, knife, and hiking pole. We have watched the video on how to handle a confrontation with a polar bear and, though we hoped we would not encounter one, felt that it was an acceptable risk. We found a great place to tie the tender and go ashore near a place that would allow us to walk on mostly open terrain with good visibility so that we would not sneak up on anything or vice versa.
We hiked for a couple of hours, climbing gently with remarkable views. We saw signs of wildlife, especially caribou scat and prints, plus a very old skin from a seal well up on land and some very old looking bear scat. We stuck very close together and were on high alert throughout the hike, but fortunately no live polar bears were encountered. We returned to the tender and found that the place we had left it appeared to have been used in the past as a hunting camp. We found many bones, probably of seals and possibly even polar bears, plus a skull that appeared to be a dog. Just as we boarded the tender, we spotted a bear off in the distance, on a small island. We again were thankful we had not encountered one on land!
As we began our trip back to the boat, we spotted a bear swimming not far off and decided to try for a closer look. We eased past the bear, who seemed unconcerned with us and watched him swim at more than 8 knots as we kept pace. We saw him occasionally put his head under water as if he were looking for something. Then he would raise his head and look around, swim a bit, and poke it back under the water. He eventually headed towards the shore and we watched as he got out, shook himself off, and set off over the rocks and boulders.
We had been gone for six hours and the wind was picking up as we began the long tender ride back to the boat. We spotted one more bear on shore and then as we exited the fjord and headed back to our anchorage, the winds really kicked up, creating a very chilly and wet ride! In the open water, we saw our final bear of the day, swimming and apparently hunting. He would occasionally dive underwater, head first, just as Bradley does when spearfishing. At first we thought he was trying to hide from us, but we slowed and watched and it looked as if he were hunting. But as the weather was getting worse and we still had a long way to go, we did not linger to watch but high-tailed it back to the boat. That brought our polar bear sighting count to 14 so far!
Although we were tired from a long day, we were also concerned about the winds, which were coming from the West, the only direction for which our anchorage offered no protection! So we decided to move to a better anchorage for the night, an hour away. It was a good decision, as once there, we were very comfortable as the winds kicked up to over 40 knots. Nevertheless, we got a good night’s sleep and we ready to head south in the morning.