I’ve been procrastinating on this post for a very long time!
January marked the end of a major chapter in our lives when we accepted an offer to sell Shear Madness. It was with mixed emotions that we handed her over to her new owners, a wonderful family who will continue to show her great adventures under her new name, Alchemy.
After spending much of the past 15 years cruising on Shear Madness – 7 years on our Oyster 56 foot sailboat and 8 years as full time liveaboard cruisers on our Nordhavn – we were ready for a change. It’s impossible to describe the lifestyle we’ve enjoyed over these years, the places we’ve seen, and the people we’ve met. We’ll miss that.
But we are looking forward to enjoying the next part of our lives in the mountains, with more of a chance to visit our land-based friends and family. We enjoyed a great ski season over the winter and in July bought a house in north Colorado Springs. We’re settling in and have plenty of room for visitors. It’s a beautiful area and the adventurous spirit of Colorado really suits us.
Over the coming months, we’ll publish some highlights from our cruising days, but for now here are just a few photos, grouped by year but not necessarily in chronological order.
September 21, 2017
We are continuing to truly enjoy and appreciate our time in Maine. We have had phenomenal summer and fall weather here. For the most part is has been perfect, with temps in the high 60’s to low 70’s during the day and dropping into 40/50’s at night. Winds have been light and from friendly directions.
So what have we been up to:
- Watched all three legs of the very famous three day wooden sailboat race from Castine to Camden to Woodlin (home of the Wooden Boat School). Bradley even got to crew on a boat in the Woodlin leg! He really enjoyed racing again. “Dodging lobster pots in the fog while racing was a completely new and exciting experience”
- We have anchored at Rockland, Seal Bay, Il Au Haut, Orcutt and Buck’s Harbor, Northeast Harbor, Somes Sound and other amazing locations.
- Visited and cruised with several old friends and some wonderful new friends/dreamers.
- We are enjoying some fantastic hiking and biking in Acadia National Park. Kathy is hiking up to 15 miles on some trips and Bradley is riding up to 30 miles. We are both trying to get in good shape for ski season, which we plan to spend in CO.
- The sights are unbelievable! We have seen bunches of bald eagles, seals, dolphins, and sea birds. So far have not seen any deer, or moose in the park, but still looking
- On one of our visits back to Belfast Harbor we went to the Belfast Harbor Fest and watched the boat building competition (teams of two build an entire boat in 4 hours or less). It was very interesting to watch. They also had a cardboard boat race, for the kids, and one of them did not quite make the entire course. It was a hoot.
- OMG – WE have Dodged a zillion or two lobster pots, often in heavy fog, which often means you barely see them in time. We are proud to say we believe we have only hit 2 pots so far. There are stores of boats showing up at the docks with many (think 10+) pots being dragged on their boat.
- Amazing Lobsters, very fresh. We eaten them in restaurants, at friend’s house, and purchased them directly from a lobster boat and cooked within hours of being caught. We have had soft shell lobsters, which are lobsters just after shedding the shell and the new one in the process of hardening. You cannot eat the shell like a softshell crab, but the lobster meat is noticeably sweeter.
- Used our fog horn (a lot!). Thank goodness several years back we updated our Air Horn fog system with an auto controller. Underway in the fog, its blows horn every 60 to 90 seconds depending on conditions.
Here’s a short video of our cruising and I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking!
We also had a very difficult month of August, as Bradley’s best friend lost his 7+ year battle with prostate cancer. A special tribute post to Alan Perkins will be posted soon.
Today is also the first day of the Jewish year, 5778. Shanah Tovah all – Wishing you and your families “A good inscription and sealing [in the Book of Life].”
August 10, 2017
It was finally time to get back to cruising so we decided to head up the Penobscot River to Bangor. This would give us a good shakedown cruise in protected water and position us close to Hamlin’s Marine where we’d need to take the tender back in for scheduled service on our brand new outboards.
Our new friends Jason and Rochelle joined us for the trip. Rochelle had emailed me when we arrived in Belfast, saying she was a friend of a friend of ours and had been following our blog. They invited us out for dinner and we invited them for a boat tour and we all hit it off, so we’ve been hanging out a lot. Jason is a drummer in a rock band (a hobby, not his profession) and you can hear some of their music here.
We had a great trip up the river, stopping for the night at Fort Point. We went ashore for a walk at Fort Point State Park and found some berries to pick – blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries! We then headed by tender north to Bucksport, where a street festival was in progress. We had fun wandering around and stopped in for a drinks and some snacks at one of Rochelle’s favorite places. We passed by Fort Knox – not the one where the gold is kept though – and under the Penobscot Narrows Bridge.
After a peaceful night at anchor, we continued on to Bangor where we had a reservation at the town dock. We arrived on Sunday morning, for the last day of Metal Fest! Our spot on the dock wasn’t available until noon, so we anchored out across from the main stage. Interesting, but not exactly our kind of music. Finally our dock was available. Because of the climate, Bangor has only temporary docks that are put out for the short summer season. We were assigned to a small dock just outside Sea Dog Brewery and Bradley deftly maneuvered the boat into our spot without a hitch. It turned out to be a great location – walking distance to everything and a fun place to hang out.
Bradley went for some bike rides, 24 to 37 miles max, and I had some great runs and walks around the waterfront. I found the Hollywood Casino, where I stopped a few times to donate some money. I discovered a harness racing track, so would go for early morning runs to watch the horses work out. We visited several great restaurants and Jason and Bradley decided it was time for haircuts. This was a much bigger event for Jason than for Bradley, but the result was very good for both! And Rochelle was extremely happy.
Bradley drove the tender down to Hamlin’s Marine where they changed the oil and made some other minor adjustments. We also made a list of items that need attention on the big boat and will return to Belfast to deal with them.
We had been carrying our old fire extinguishers around in the hopes of using them for some practice. Docked near us was a boat owned by the fire department and I noticed a group of firefighters on the boat. I wandered over and met Joe, a lieutenant who does training. He offered to take us to his house where he could set some safe fires and let us put them out with our extinguishers. It was a great exercise, providing us a very good refresher course.
We visited Jason and Rochelle at their house where we enjoyed lobsters and met Jason’s dad Jerry and his wife Francis. We enjoyed Bangor and extended our stay by a few days, but finally departed to head back to Belfast. Jason, Rochelle, Jerry, and Francis all joined us for the trip. We stopped for lunch in Castine, where we tied up to the town dock. Then it was on to Belfast and back to Front Street Shipyard for a short stay.
Here’s a video slideshow showing some of the work we’ve done on the boat:
And some more photos:
July 14, 2017
What ARE you guys doing??? Perhaps you’ve been wanting to ask us that question. Are we or aren’t we selling the boat? What are we doing this summer? Well, it’s all evolving. It’s true that we listed the boat for sale late last year. We know that at some point in the future, we will be done with cruising and will likely return to a home base somewhere on land. But we’re not in a huge hurry to do that. It will happen when the time is right.
In the meantime, the boat needed a bit of maintenance, so we headed here to Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, Maine. Since we were planning to do a fair amount of work, we decided we wanted to get a chance to enjoy it and planned a summer cruise north back to the Artic. But we ultimately decided that was too ambitious for this year. So the current plan is to cruise around Maine this summer, take a few months off the boat again in winter to ski in Colorado, and plan the Artic cruise for next summer. But, the old saying remains – cruisers plans are written in the sand at low tide. That is, they are always subject to change!
We did bid a fond farewell to Neil, our Aussie/Kiwi friend who had come to help us out while we were in the yard. Neil was a great help and we were fortunate to have gotten so much of his time! We have now welcomed our new deckhand Nolen, who will be with us for the next few months.
We’ve really enjoyed Belfast and spending a couple months here has really allowed us to get a great taste of Maine living. People here are incredibly friendly and welcoming and there is plenty to see and do. Some of the highlights include:
Parades! We LOVE Belfast parades. First was Memorial Day with a parade down Main St. It was not long – the entire parade passed by in less than 10 minutes! But the streets were lined with people and it was charming and somehow more heartfelt than some of the huge parades we’ve seen elsewhere. Then there was the Belfast Pride parade, similar in size and scope, with everyone just out to enjoy themselves on a great day. Each parade was led by a police car. We almost missed the third one – we heard a police siren coming down Main St and looked out to see a single police car followed by a yellow school bus. They came down Main St, turned around and went back up, with a small crowd cheering them on! Turns out it was the local middle school baseball team that had just won the state championship! So now whenever we hear a police siren, we think “oh, a parade must be coming”. That’s the kind of town Belfast is! The final parade was this past weekend as part of the Celtic Festival which featured a Dog Parade. Dozens of dogs were led around the waterfront by a bagpiper and drummer. Fun for everyone!
Freeport – we drove to Freeport, home of LL Bean and a bunch of outlets. Great shopping and lots of great restaurants.
Camden – another lovely town just south of us. We took our tender down, stopping at Dark Harbor and Isleboro on the way and returned by car to spend the 4th of July with old Landmark friend Beth, her son Jared, and her parents and other family.
Celtic Festival – A weekend long celebration including great music, food, and various competitions and demonstrations. The weekend also featured a sailboat race from Rockport to Belfast on Saturday and a return to Rockport on Sunday. I volunteered to be the official race photographer and we were able to get some great shots from our tender of the finish on Saturday and the start on Sunday. There was also an awesome fireworks show on Saturday night.
Hiking – there are plenty of great places to walk. The Belfast Harbor walk passes right through the boatyard, meaning you meet lots of people and dogs every day. This walk connects to the local Rail Trail, a 2.5 mile trail ending at a local railroad museum. This then connects to the Hills to Sea Trail, a 47-mile trail covering a variety of terrain between Belfast and Unity.
Golf – I did get out for a round of golf at the local course. Greens fees, a pull cart, a bottle of Gatorade, and a pack of crackers came to a total of $33. And that’s only because the peak summer rates had gone into effect! It was a great 9-hole course in excellent condition.
Community Events – there are always fun things going on. There is a new Saturday Farmer’s Market with lots of great vendors selling produce, meats, eggs, crafts, and lots more. Plenty of free samples too. There was the Chalk Walk where the Harbor walk was full of artists drawing on the sidewalk with chalk. Some amazing works! And there was a day when people came to paint lobster buoys (the small floats used to mark lobster pots). The 4th of July featured a local groups singing patriotic songs in the park.
We’re just wrapping up all the maintenance work and will report more on that in a future post. Now we are getting ready to do some exploring of the Maine Coast for the rest of the summer.
May 26, 2017
Our next blog will contain details of our upcoming trip north to the Artic for the summer. For now, we have taken Shear Madness off the market and will decide later this year whether we want to return to land soon, or continue to cruise for a couple more years. Stay tuned!
Warning – most of this blog is about maintenance projects. Not recommended for those who only want the fun side of the cruising life! Although we’ve remained focused on the maintenance tasks, we have had the chance to enjoy the town of Belfast. Our friend Gretchen came for a visit and we enjoyed some of the local shops and restaurants, including (of course!) Maine Lobsters! And we are enjoying a lovely (albeit sometimes chilly and rainy) spring!
We also chatted with a local reporter who writes about activity on the Befast waterfront for. See his story here (page down to second half of story).
We are working all-out on a list of maintenance projects at Front Street Shipyard (FSSY) in Belfast, Maine. This yard was recommended by several people we highly respect and so far have lived up to our expectations.
First, we were hauled out using their 440-ton lift! It sure makes Shear Madness look small! We’re now working long days, making good progress, but on a tight schedule. The good news/bad news is that everything we had on our list to service has turned out to really need that service or in some cases, complete replacement. Many items were at or arriving at end of life this season.
Among the things we are doing:
- ABT Stabilizer and bow/stern thruster system – Complete servicing, which involves removing stabilizer fins and shafts. The Stabilizers are indeed showing some wear, but did not show any signs of sea water intrusion. Although we had ordered anticipated parts back in October, we have had to order several more as we’ve progressed. We also had to have some special tools shipped to us on loan in order to remove the shafts. The Bow Thrusters showed very early stages of water intrusion but we had suspected and ordered the parts as part of original order. ABT has been OUTSTANDING to deal with. The level of technical support from their team and parts support from Steve are outstanding. Thank You!
- Shafts and Props removed. Props sent for re-balancing. Shafts sent for testing. They passed dye test (to determine any cracks/structural problems), but require a little work. Replacing Cutlass bearings. Working with FSSY, Bradley and their tech developed a new way to remove Cutlass Bearings, cutting the time in half!
- Raw Water exhaust for main engines – all 10” hose aft of water separators is being replaced. It is original – 12+ years old, was leaking in cold water and was showing signs of wear at the ends.
- New 140 Amp engine alternators are being added to main engines. The old alternators, 100 amp, were original and the starboard one was making some noises (bearings). We were even concerned it would fail on trip north. The new ones will give us additional power to charge batteries while running main engine, so will no longer need to run either generator or hydraulic Alternators, except for very high loads, like full boat A/C
- Crane service – Will be discussed in separate blog.
- Replacing some hydraulic struts leaking oil, on our hatches.
- Servicing hydraulic Alternator mounts and replacing rubber collar from hydraulic motor to Alternator. Also, some testing, as issues spotted by sharp eyed FSSY Tech.
- Some touch up wood work.
- Replacing Grey water pump that is 12 years old. Our project manager is amazed it is still working. Will carry old one as a spare.
- Servicing Vacuum pump on head sytem.
- Servicing all safety equipment. Life raft sent for testing/service. Fire extinguishers checked and serviced as needed. New flares ordered to replace expired ones. Ditch bag (abandon ship bag) reviewed/updated. EPIRB (emergency rescue beacon) tested and battery replaced.
- Large tender – full service on outboard motors (twin Yamaha 60HP). Fix to bimini mounting system top and bottom upgraded. Removal of old Navnet system and installation of holder for new iPad based nav system. Also removed and sand blasted tender chalks and leaving them raw aluminum – no more peeling paint!
- Small tender – inflate/test spare tender and service 15 HP outboard.
- Anchor chain – we inspected and decided to replace our starboard anchor chain (the one we use most frequently). We are also increasing length to 125 meters and will use new soft shackle to attach end of chain to boat and second one to attach extra 100 meters of anchor line to last link.
- Replacing one A/C air handler – Unit replaced under warranty due to a leaking coil, but we must absorb labor.
- Updated all charts and software.
- Several other projects we will discuss in subsequent blog.
As we start to complete some of these projects, we’ll turn our attention to planning our summer excursion north – hopefully taking us back to the Arctic to Nunavut and Baffin Island.
May 9, 2017
This post will detail our trip from Morehead City, NC to Belfast Maine. It was written (mostly) en route by Bradley.
We departed from Morehead City Yacht Basin at 15:00 on Saturday, April 29th. Our crew was our good friend Neil from New Zealand who will be spending the season with us as our engineer, and Bob, a great new friend who was introduced to us by a mutual acquaintance. Bob is the previous owner of “The Good Life”, a very familiar looking Nordhavn 72 which is now named Shear Madness! Needless to say, Bob required almost no training!
As we got underway, the wind was 15 to 20 knots, out of the Southwest, which was 50 degrees off our starboard bow for the first 4 hours of our trip. The boat was freshly waxed, washed and chamoised. Of course it was an ebbing tide, so we had wind over waves, creating short, steep and very wet waves. Within 30 minutes Shear Madness was covered in Saltwater.
Once we turned north after clearing the Cape Lookout bar, the trip became wonderful. Over the next three days we had wind from 15 to 20 degrees off our port stern to dead on the stern blowing 15 to 50 knots. Waves were 1 to 4+ feet, but the ride was just great. For the first 36 hours we ran a generator and air conditioning, keeping the boat closed. By Monday morning early we were able turn off a/c and generator, open the boat and use the flybridge.
Tuesday morning was a foggy, rainy (pouring sheets) and cold day, with temps in the 10c/50F range. No morning swim today ☺. It poured, giving us a good boat wash. After anchoring just south of the Cape Cod Canal around 11:30am, it was a popcorn and movie afternoon. We watched Lion, and if you have not seen it, highly recommend. Bob prepared an absolutely wonderful turkey curry for dinner, which we enjoyed while watching a second very good movie, and true story, Queen of Katwe.
Today (Wednesday, May 3) we are heading through the Cape Cod Canal and on to Belfast Maine, stopping each night along the way. Some weather tonight we want to avoid. Weather now is great with stunning blue skies, 13c/55f with temperature rising by noon. Sooo nice to wake up slightly cold, rather than hot and sweaty.
It is now Wednesday at 16:00 and we have continued north. We had a perfect trip through the Cape Cod Canal. Based on projected weather patterns we elected to coastal hop up to Belfast, rather than a non-stop 200-mile trip. This is because they were calling for 30 plus knots of wind on our nose and even worse if we took the direct route. So, we hugged the coast and stopped at Cape Hedge/Milk Island bay. Just as predicted the wind started kicking up in early afternoon and by the time we anchored at 19:00 it was blowing in high thirties. The blistering rain on Tuesday had cleaned SM, but she was again covered in salt☹.
We had good wind protection and not too much rolling, all slept well. It was a 05:30 start this morning (Thursday), but was a beautiful sunrise. We had planned almost a 100 mile run today and the weather came through as predicted, Dead clam all day, with winds building to 10-15 on stern late in day. We have a great anchorage picked out north of Burnt & Allen islands. That will leave us a 42 mile run on Friday. Temp. this morning was 4.5c/40 this morning but made it all the way up to 15.5/60 this afternoon.
Our final day on the water began on Friday at 6:30am. It was a pleasant day, with many lobster pots to dodge, and we arrived in Belfast by noon. Ben from Front Street Shipyard came out to meet us for some sea trials in preparation for the maintenance work we will have done here. More on that in the next post.
All in all, it was a great trip. Good conditions, outstanding crew, dolphin and whale shows, great scenery, good food. Not much more we could hope for!
April 29, 2017
Just a short update to say we are back on the boat, have been frantically working to get ready for a passage, and plan to depart later today to head north to Belfast, Maine. You can track us beginning tonight (technology permitting!) at:
where you will hopefully see a track going north from Morehead City, NC.
March 16, 2017
Shear Madness is still resting comfortably in Morehead City, NC. Before departing for some land adventures, we completed a few boat projects. First, the motor that lifts the TV in the salon had failed and needed to be replaced. Of course, that motor is no longer made, but the same company had an alternative which we finally procured. The problem was getting the old one out and the new one installed. With the help of the local carpenter, Robbie, Bradley was able to get the new motor installed and the TV now goes up and down as it is supposed to. The next project was to get some of the headliners in the pilot house and salon re-covered. These are the removable ceiling panels, covered with a material that over time deteriorates, resulting in sagging patches. Fortunately, we were able to order the same material in the same color. Removing the panels is not an easy task, as they are large and bulky and have light fixtures that need to be removed (and kept track of so they can be re-installed. Cathy and Cory from Crystal Coast Interiors assisted with the removal and soon had the newly covered panels ready to install. Finally, we replaced a failed bilge pump in the engine room.
If you read this blog purely for boat adventures, you may want to stop reading at this point as the rest concerns adventures on land and travel with friends and family. Before leaving NC to head to Colorado for some winter skiing, we attended a birthday party for our friend and electrician Steve and also attended a Christmas Eve celebration with his extended family. Since Hanukkah coincided with Christmas Eve, we also lit a menorah.
My friend Pam volunteers to keep an eye on the wild horses at nearby Rachel Carson Reserve and invited me to join her in servicing the cameras used to track the horses. This involves a bit of hiking, retrieving cards from the cameras, replacing batteries, and ensuring the cameras are placed in spots that will produce good info and secured so that they remain operational for several weeks. The cameras are motion activated and capture not only horses, but a variety of other wildlife including raccoons, foxes, rabbits, and more.
Finally, our friend Tony from St. Augustine stopped by on his drive back to Florida from DC and brought Otis, his gorgeous black lab. Otis was just a little puppy when we last saw him but he’s all grown up now, though still very much a puppy!
We headed off to Florida for a visit with family and friends. My two awesome “amigas” Nancy and Cynthia joined me in Florida for a long girls weekend. We also had nice visits with Bradley’s mother and sister and caught up with our friend Richard and other friends Wolfgang, Christeen, and daughter Sophie.
For New Years we traveled to the DC area where we visited Bradley’s daughter and grandkids, my stepmom, and various other friends. The new MGM casino at National Harbor has opened, so I paid it a visit. My old elementary school, Thomas Addison, is now the MGM Employment and Training Center.
Next it was off to Colorado. We rented a condo at Copper Mountain from mid-January through the end of March and are spending weekdays there skiing and snowshoeing. On weekends we travel back to Denver where we visit various friends and family. I’ve spent most Saturdays with my niece Vicky and her daughter Sophie, who is the same age (4 ½) as our friends Wolfgang and Christeen’s daughter Sophie T. Wolfgang and Christeen came out to visit us for a week of skiing so the two Sophies were able to meet.
Sophie T. came to Copper with her parents and spent some time in ski school where learned enough to ride a lift and ski down a green hill with her Papa. I introduced Christeen to snowshoeing and we had a wonderful time.
Our friend Ken and his son Elliott also came for a visit. All was going well until the morning we had about 4” of fresh powder. Bradley, Ken, and Elliott planned to head off to the back bowls while I was going to stick to the Blue trails. He boys were taking their sweet time getting ready, so I go dressed, grabbed my skis and set off for the short walk across the parking lot to the nearby ski lift. Unbeknownst to me, there was black ice under the fresh powder. Suddenly my feet flew out from under me and I fell – Hard! Unfortunately I fell on my left wrist. I returned to the condo and Bradley drove me over to the local Urgent Care Center where I received excellent care. The X-rays showed a Colles fracture of my left wrist and the doctor referred me for an emergency appointment with an orthopedic surgeon, who saw me the same day. The following day I had surgery to repair the break with a tiny titanium plate. Two days later I was back to snowshoeing, but skiing is on hold for a bit.
Cathy and Cory from NC also came for a visit. Cathy, a NC native, has seen snow, but never skied before. After a couple lessons, she was navigating green hills like a pro. Bradley and Cory explored the mountain and we introduced them to snowshoeing with a beautiful trek at Mayflower Gulch.
With my injury garnering a bit of sympathy, Bradley – being the competitor that he is – decided he needed to do something. So, while skiing with the “Over the Hill Gang” in Hallelujah Bowl, he took a spectacular fall, flipping and landing on his left shoulder. He got to ride down the mountain in a ski patrol sled and was then transported to the same clinic I had visited. He too received excellent care and X-Rays showed that he had a grade 2.5 separated left shoulder. Although his injury was far more painful than mine, he fortunately did not require surgery. Time alone will heal his injury.
We both hope to make a return to the slopes next week. The weather at the mountain has warmed up and it’s definitely Spring skiing now. Hopefully we will get a little more snow before we leave.
We head back to NC on April 3 where we will work on a few boat projects and get ready for a trip north to Maine at the end of the month.
November 30, 2016
Although NC suffered some serious flooding from Hurricane Matthew, Shear Madness survived just fine. We headed back down to re-launch and move her back to Morehead City Yacht Basin. Aside from the expected dirt from being in a boat yard, there were no other issues.
Once the boat was secured, we headed back to DC for a while, catching up with lots of friends and family and even attending some events where we had to put on “grown up clothes”! Then it was off for a stint in Colorado, where we visited more friends and family and rented our ski gear for the upcoming ski season. Biggest problem is that so far there is no SNOW!! But we are planning to spend a couple months at Copper Mountain beginning in mid-January, so are keeping our fingers crossed!
Sadly, the Washington Nationals didn’t make it to the World Series – I had some tickets at the ready if they had made it! But it was nice to see the Cubs win. Maybe the Skins will make it to the Super bowl! LOL, one can dream.
After Colorado, we spent a bit more time in DC and I even got to play some golf. Then it was back to the boat to finish up a few small projects. Although the boat is still listed for sale, we are expecting it to take some time, so have begun planning a trip back to the Arctic next summer. Hmmm, that means winter in the snow and summer dodging icebergs! Will have to make sure to stock up on hot chocolate!
It’s been a while since I’ve updated our book reviews, and there are 35 new books in this update. If you’re looking for good books, anything on our 4-star (150+ books) or 3-star (200+ books) list is recommended. And if that’s too much to sort through, or you just want a few suggestions for your book club, check out our short list of current recommendations!