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.