2014-06 At Last – the Summer Cruising Season Begins!

June 24, 2014

This post was written by Bradley contemporaneously during the trip in three separate segments as we cruised from Portsmouth RI, to Shelburne and Lunenburg Nova Scotia.  It was edited by the accomplished and charming blogger Kathy Clark.

Bradley's Dad and Cousin Barry at Barry's 85th birthday in 2012

Bradley’s Dad and Cousin Barry at Barry’s 85th birthday in 2012

The last 12 to 15 months have been very personally challenging.   My father passed away in Sept.  from a multi-year battle with cancer and his brother passed away the day after his internment in Arlington Cemetery in Dec. following a 10+ year battle with dementia.  Then two weeks ago, my oldest cousin, who was also born on April 27th, my birthday, passed away.  The silver lining has been seeing a lot of family I have not seen in years – 30+ in some cases and even meeting some family I was not aware of.  (Classical story, family feud at the grandfather level that began to thaw in the 90’s and now our generation just laugh at the history.)

As you know from our earlier post this year, we had a nice time in the Bahamas, but experienced a few setbacks upon our return to the States, putting us three weeks behind our original plan to arrive in Nova Scotia in early June.  Given the current temperature, our delay may have been a blessing in disguise.  We have overcome the challenges – we are now on our way to Shelburne, Nova Scotia.  We are both extremely excited and a bit apprehensive for our summer season.  We are meeting a sister ship in Halifax – a Nordhavn 68 named Migration and Captained by Gulliver, a golden doodle and his two crew.  We plan to work our way north to Labrador and if the weather/wind god Zeus, the sea god Poseidon/Neptune and the ice gods are in agreement we will cross over to Greenland.  We plan/hope on cruising the west coast of Greenland and then return via Newfoundland in Sept.  This winter Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Greenland set 30 year records for ice formation & cold temperatures, so we were hoping for a long warm (by local standards) summer and fall season.  We do not plan to return to the US until Oct.

Bridge at the Cape Cod Canal

Bridge at the Cape Cod Canal

We departed the Nordhavn docks in Portsmouth, RI on Saturday morning at 8:00 AM with three people aboard – me, Kathy, and Taylor, who is onboard for the summer.  As we cruised south on the Sakonnet River we were able to wave to our good friends the General and Ms. Burney.  We then turned northeast in Buzzard Bay for the Cape Cod Canal.  The trick there is to make sure you enter the western side just as the flood tide begins; otherwise you can face a 3 to 5 knot current against you.  Our timing was perfect, as going up the bay the ebb was in its last hour and then we started to get a little push on the flood.  Going through the canal, we reached speeds of 12.2 and averaged well over 10 knots in a speed zone of 8.5.  We were going so fast, we were concerned about a getting a speeding ticket – can you image a Nordhavn getting a speeding ticket?  On top of great timing, we were having perfect weather – mid 60’s and sunny.

Really calm seas

Really calm seas

Once out of the Canal we headed across the Cape Cod Bay towards the northeast corner of Cape Cod – Provincetown & Race Point on a course of NE.  At 18:00 we rounded the point and picked up our route and new course for Shelburne – a heading of 68 degrees.  Until the sun set, we had an afternoon sea breeze blowing from SE at 10 to 15 knots, but once the sun set, the wind behaved exactly as the weather forecaster had predicted.  Sometimes it does happen.  The wind clocked to the S, and then through the night moved west, and dropped to low single digits.  The ocean had been calm to start with having only 1 to 2 foot swell from the SE, but it too settled and moved around to the WNW at less than 1 foot.

I am drafting this update, as we are 8 hours outside Shelburne, just 50 nautical miles West by South West of Cape Sable.  The Air Temp is 58F and the water 50.   I am sitting in long sleeves, with sweater (Jumper for all my Australian/Kiwi friends) and have slippers on.  I just did our standard hourly engine room check – all is fine – and took humor in the fact that the general temperature of  the engine room is 80, with the fans only on half speed.  It is not uncommon for the engine room to be 110 to 115 with fans on full speed.

Shear Madness underway

Shear Madness underway

We have had  “one of those perfect days on the water”.  This morning (Sunday 22 June) I was on watch from 0300 and by 0400 the glow of the rising sun lit the sky in a brilliant red and bright blue glow.  The sun made its appearance at 04:43 and will not set until 20:09 this evening.  The seas have been flat – in fact so flat, that we have yet to engage our stabilizers – large computer controlled fins under the boat that greatly soften any effects of waves on the boat.  If we make it all the way without them, it will be a record trip for us.  We have also seen many elusive sunfish.  They are large fish 5 to 10 feet, which float lazily below the surface with a fin sticking up above the water.  In one case, I had to pull the throttles to neutral to prevent from hitting one, who barely moved, sliding lazily down the starboard side of the boat.

While we have been trailing two fishing lines all day, we have not had a single nibble.  These waters require a different fishing approach, but we thought we would give it a try.  We always bring the fishing lines in at sunset.

Giday – I am back after a nice early morning sleep.  Temp is 65 degrees and will drop into the high 50’s as we cruise north this morning, with perfect blue skies and a light 5 to 10 knot breeze from the South East.  The pleasure of not being hot or sticky and needing a shower every couple of hours is hard to describe.  One can always add some clothing to fight a chill, but there is only so much one can take off at our age, before it gets frightening and very sunburned – LOL.

Sunset from the flybridge

Sunset from the flybridge

Upon leaving you last night as the sun set, I caught a couple hours of sleep, as I knew I would be on watch well into the morning, becasue our arrival time in Shelburne was projected for 02:00.  One of the most challenging aspects of cruising is entering a new port or anchorage; it is made even more challenging when doing it at night without the moon (it did not choose to make its appearance until we were about to drop the anchor).  After catching a couple of hours of sleep, I came on watch around 22:00.  The first part traveling up the coast was not too difficult, as it is a well marked and lit coast and we have great charting software.  The more challenging aspect was making the port (left) turn into the Shelburne River and heading up the five miles to find an anchorage.  We know from experience (see last years blog) that there are some unmarked fish farms on the way up the river.  The good news was we had marked our chart from last year, had last year’s plot line on the chart and the night was fog free.

As you travel from country to country via boat, you have to check in upon arrival with Customs.  Some countries use it as a opportunity to supplement customs salaries with tips and gifts, others like most French countries, just make it difficult and then there are the select few like Canada that have wonderfully effective systems.  Upon arrival, there is an 800 number you call, you are asked a series of questions, some data bases are searched and if approved you are given a clearance number to post in boat windows.  We dropped the anchor and turned off the engines at 0300 on Monday 23 June.  Our check in process when smoothly and by 04:00 we had a quick drink and were off to bed for nap.

Wake at the stern during Wide Open Throttle run

Wake at the stern during Wide Open Throttle run

Kathy and I awoke around 9:00 am and realizing we had a perfect day – light winds, favorable tides – we elected to make the leap to our next port of call – Lunenburg, rather than launch the tender here.  We also know the weather was supposed to change and we might be stuck in Shelburne until Friday or Saturday.  While Shelburne is a lovely little town and we will definitely spend some time there on the way home, we wanted to take advantage of the perfect conditions to move north.  In Lunenburg there is a wonderful museum, a great hiking & riding trail that goes on for hundreds of miles, a golf course, and some of our new friends from last year are close by.  We will wait in this area until Gulliver & Migration joins us.  Their expected departure from Belfast, Maine is Saturday 28 June.  We need some R&R.

By 10:30 we had the anchor up and were underway.  It is a perfect day.  On the way out of the Shelburne river, we met sailboat Hold Fast that we had exchanged radio calls with on the passage, they were just arriving – the advantages of a trawler, especially in such light winds is that we had already had a nice night’s sleep.  While we were looking forward to having drinks with them, we could not pass up this weather to keep heading north.

Below is the first of what I hope to be many pictures for my dear friend Kim in New Zealand of the local lighthouses.  This one is Gall Rock.

Lighthouse at Gall Point

Lighthouse at Gall Point

Another day with no stabilizers and a perfect cruise.  I hope we are getting a taste for how the summer season will go, and not spoiled by the perfect conditions.  We arrived in Lunenburg at 19:30 local time, just as the sun was setting.   We are anchored, will launch the tender tomorrow morning during the Generator run and go ashore for a long bike ride – Bradley and a run – Kathy.

We did have one funny incident today (in retrospect) – as we were cruising along, we elected to deploy the fishing lines.  For the first time in my 30 plus years of boating, one of the Canadian government’s illustrious maritime regulatory organizations came roaring up directly in our stern and managed to run directly over our fishing line.  Kathy was working on her computer and heard the line being taken – she started yelling Fish! Fish! not realizing we had actually hooked a boat! So much for one of our favorite lures and some very expensive line.   When I asked him if it was his normal pattern to approach a boat in its blind spot his reply was he had never seen a boat like ours fishing.  It goes without saying, we did not catch any fish and they did not have a clue regarding sea etiquette.

Check out updated book reviews and latest recommendations. Click any photo to enlarge.

Hope you enjoyed the beginning of our adventure.  Look forward to hearing from everyone.  Have a great summer/winter.

The Sea is Selective, slow at Recognition of Effort and Aptitude, but fast in Sinking the Unfit.  – Felix Riesenberg.


  1. #1 by Anonymous on June 25, 2014 - 3:53 pm

    Thanks for the lighthouse photo, filed with comments. Take it easy,I know you will.


  2. #2 by Cedric Rhoads on June 25, 2014 - 2:28 pm

    Great post, Bradley. Brought back lots of great memories, from RI, all the way through to Lunenburg with you last year (Fish Farm, anyone?!?). Very much looking forward to your posts as you progress toward Greenland (hopefully). Smooth seas and favorable winds to the crew of SM.


  3. #3 by GEORGE VANISH on June 25, 2014 - 12:27 pm

    Good stuff, Thanks

    George R. Vanish GVANISH@YAHOO.COM


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