"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders
Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret do cuments the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them intouch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…fornow.“Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not.Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.
August 22, 2014
Position: Southwest Harbor, Maine
Hello mis amigos, Egret is back in the U.S.A., Southwest Harbor, Maine to be specific. Of course we’re a bit premature just now because less than 2 hours ago TK was snubbed into his holder and the little Lady was under way from Lunenburg Harbour. The alarm went off at 2330 Sunday night, by 2345 the coffee was ready and the HLL was warming. At 0000 Monday she was under way. The buoy/lighthouse lights and chart plotting were in perfect agreement so it was an easy departure. Currently she is on a 34nm straight run offshore of the offshore marks. There is one exception on this leg where we split a rock to stbd and a marker to port. There is nearly a half mile clearance on either side of the course line and both will light up on radar so its no biggie. We are running both radars close to the coast, one at 1.5nm and the other at 3nm with the gain cranked to the point we are marking birds. There is little wind with a low swell running. Every now and again she pitches just a little but overall there is little motion. The Naiad’s are turned down and they aren’t working much at all. The weather is forecast to be better than forecast of the past couple days. If it is accurate, the weak front is moving faster than originally forecast leaving calm seas in its wake. Currently she is running 7.1 knots at 1500 rpm. So that’s it so far.
It is 1024 Monday morning. The wind picked up overnight and we’re getting into a more tidal area affected by the Bay of Fundy tides that on the fall a portion wrap around the Nova Scotia peninsula and head north. So this means the speed is down to 6.6 knots and she is pushing into a little tide. The current arrows on C-Map charting shows serious opposing current off the tip of Nova Scotia where we make the turn north west to Maine. The course takes Egret well off the rhumb line to miss the shallow water south of the N/S peninsula. The turning mark is 41.1nm from here so hopefully the current will swing by the time she get’s there so we can ride the incoming tide for hours.
The chart shows squiggly lines among the islands south of the mainland and squiggly lines means current overfalls and in fact, one area is called The Overfalls. We don’t do overfalls. If you want a thrill, give them a go. Then you won’t do overfalls again but you’ll probably whine about it to other boaters who don’t care because either they aren’t that dumb or they were and don’t want the memory. You get the picture.
There is a way cool way to use the tide arrows on electronic charting to your advantage. In 2003, Egret and N62 Autumn Wind met in Maine. We were running south together to miss a Category 5 hurricane forecast. AW is faster of course, however they were running in deeper water off the north side of Long Island. The current arrows showed a very big difference in speed as the tide swept over relatively shallow water close to shore. So Egret rode this free lunch tidal rush and kept up with AW.
Here’s how the story ended. Its pretty cool. As you know, a Category 5 hurricane is not survivable offshore, even in a ship. Its serious stuff and the storm was forecast to hit somewhere north of Chesapeake Bay in the Newport area and it is why we were headed to the Chesapeake as fast as the HLL could push her. AW (Bill and Arline) hooked up with Spirit of Zopilote (Bruce and Joan) on the VHF so we told AW to take off and catch SofZ and we would do the best we could. So they did. There was still time so AW and SofZ decided to anchor in the lee of Sandy Hook, New Jersey and head for the Delaware (Bay) at daylight. Egret kept going.
When you catch the falling tide at the south end of Long Island Sound and run somewhere in the mid 6 knot range once offshore, you ride the tide thru NYC and NYC Harbor (13.4 knots once in Hells Gate), around Sandy Hook, south down the New Jersey coast into Delaware Bay. THEN the tide swings and you ride the incoming tide all the way up the Delaware and into the C&D Canal that connects Delaware Bay with the Chesapeake. The incoming tide continues until half way into the C&D and THEN the tide begins to fall and you ride THAT tide into the Chesapeake as far as you wish. We usually make it 20nm into the Chesapeake and anchor under the cliffs of a peninsula and crash for the night. It has worked perfectly 3 times in the past.
OK, I got caught up in tides but here’s the scary part. Part way thru the C&D is a marina on the west side with a long face dock. As Egret passed we called the marina on the VHF to see if there was space. Nope. Some boats called ahead on cell phones and reserved the dock. Guess who? Dirtbags. So we kept going and ended up in a very sheltered spot up a fresh water river at the north end of Chesapeake Bay. AW and SofZ spent a horrible night on the dock when the blow started. (The storm turned toward the Chesapeake instead of heading north but fortunately it downgraded quickly before coming ashore.) Between the storm surge and super low barometric pressure both boats nearly floated over the pilings onto the dock. The electric box went under water which brought a brief light show. Sorta like welding. So it was a long night for the 4 of them. Egret floated like a little baby duck with 3 anchors set and 4 lines to shore*. No problem. Ho hum.
*Sorry, we can’t quit passing along the lessons learned the hard way. OK, so how long do you think it takes to set 3 anchors and take 4 lines ashore to trees? A couple hours? That’s what I thought. I was wrong. It took from mid-morning until right before dark without a break. It’s a Big Deal to get everything set properly. It took a full half-day to retrieve the anchors and line. It also took a few hours to clean the mud from lines a day later. Egret pushed thru a foot of soft mud on the way to a 9’ hole between two headlands. When she left the next morning there was 11’ under her keel where before there was one foot above her keel. Anyhow, its something to think about if you ever get caught in a situation like this.
We visited Bill and Arline last winter in California and later spent Christmas with them and their family. We’ll see Bruce and Joan tomorrow in Maine. This is what boating is all about. People. Or have we said that before?
This afternoon was interesting. On C Map charting there is an occasional little yellow square. If you select the information icon and click on the square it shows the tide for that spot. This particular square was near the overfall spot. So we knew that at 1600 the tide was running at 2+ knots and at 1900 the tide swung the other way. So the little lady was rocketing along at up to 9.4 knots but most of the time she was running in the mid to high 8 knot range. That was pretty cool. Of course now it is 2325 and she is slugging it out at 5.6 knots. Bummer.
We had lots of birds in the tidal currents. We took at most likely our last look at puffins paddling around. Gannets stole the show with their missile like dives. Giant flocks of gannets were diving at once. The shearwaters were around as well as seagulls. Dolphins were enjoying the feast. We thought we saw whales spouting but once we closed it was splashes from the diving gannets. Anyhow, it was interesting.
The night watch between Nova Scotia and Maine was one of Those Nights. It was calm. The sky was crystal clear. The stars were so bright it seemed they could be touched. There was no moon and it was still bright. It was warm enough we had the pilothouse doors open and quiet enough occasionally you could hear dolphins breathing. It was a great watch.
Closing on the coast we ran into large, deep water lobster boats working their strings of traps. We have always loved the downeast designs and these boats were pure downeast. Later closing with shore there were numbers of smaller downeast lobster boats working the shallower water. We heard from a Nova Scotian lobsterman that lobster spend the winter in deep water then begin the march into shallower water. So the deepwater boats fish first then as the lobster enter shallower water the smaller inshore boats get busy.
We called the Customs folks a couple hours out of Bar Harbor, Maine and asked where we could dock for Customs to stamp Dick’s passport and give us our cruising permit. We were told to go to the town dock and call from there and they would send someone down. They did. The two guys asked a couple halfhearted questions to trick us into saying we had more than we claimed. So we opened the liquor locker and showed them the sorry state of our stores (Remember the jerry jug with Rum? I think it evaporated or something.) No tobacco, no firearms, no nothing. Anyhow, it didn’t take long and they already had the cruising permit for a year in hand. After filling the water tank she was off to South West Harbor, Maine, a couple hour run back down the coast of Desert Island.
(Egret is registered in the British Virgin Islands so as Americans with a foreign flag we have to get a cruising permit. The permit allows us to come and go at will for a year.)
Friends Milt and Judy aboard N47 Bluewater kindly allowed us to use their mooring off the marine where BW was berthed. As soon as we picked up the mooring, down went the dink and off we went to BW. It is really nice to see friends you haven’t seen for a while. It’s like old home week. Anyhow, we chatted, got caught up and found that while we were away Milt has been writing quite a bit for Passagemaker Magazine. It would be worth your while to read his offing’s that are based on years of experience. Chatty articles are a pleasure to read but Milt’s, and other writers with tons of experience are where you learn.
Passagemaker, like most magazines in the last couple years got downsized to a shadow of it’s former self. Mary bought a PMM recently and it was a pleasure to see it regaining some of it’s heft. PMM is one of a very short list of inspirational tools that inspired us to make the decisions we did and sent us on our way.
After leaving Bluewater we had lunch overlooking the water. THIS is what Maine is all about. Check out the anchorage. How many N’s do you think are in the photograph? Hummmm, let’s see: N86, N68 and two N47’s. Egret is off to the right out of the photo. Pretty cool, eh?
Today we caught a bus that circles Mt Desert Island and rode it all day with one stop in Bass Harbor for lunch. The plastic boxes leading off the dock are holding pens for live lobster. After a seafood lunch, of course you eat only seafood in Maine, we walked to the Morris Yard where they manufacture American jewelry in the shape of a sailboat. Morris was finishing a 48’ offshore sailboat and had a 52’ day-sailor ready for sea trial the next day. 3.2m U.S.P. for an open day boat. Amazing. However, it will be beautiful of course. I think if I had3.2 to spend on a boat, I would buy a N63 and spend the balance charging around the world. Would that be cool or what? Disko Bay on the central west coast of Greenland would be a nice place to begin after sea trials. Wouldn’t it? And after? Hummmm?
Later we took on 500 gallons of fuel, got rid of the oil from the recent oil change and re-filled with water. The harbor is polluted even at high tide so we won’t be making water here.
The next day off we went by bus in the opposite direction to Bar Harbor, where Egret cleared. Bar Harbor has been a resort town for over 100 years. The buildings near the waterfront are the original shingled buildings from years past. So we did the tourist deal and wandered around. The highlight was lunch in a funky retro diner full of nostalgic doo-dads.
Maine is all about lobster and boats. These four boats are as diverse as you can get. First is a way cool ketch from years past. Tortuga is a Victorian appearing launch built in 1936. She is a sweetie in great shape that was returning from a day-trip towing thedink. This four mast schooner is a typical Maine tourist boat hauling dirt dwellers around the bay. However, if you aren’t a RealBoater this is your only optionand its still a pretty good deal. Look at the views. See the inshore lobster boat working in the background? And last is a swordfishing boat returning before dark. Swordfish are nocturnal feeders that feed very deep. During the day they float on the surface to sleep and raise their core temperature from the night’s deep ocean foraging. If you look carefully you can see the harpoon in the front of the extended pulpit where the harpooner stands ready to be directed by the person in the spotting tower. In the Straits of Messina between mainland Italy and Sicily is a small fleet of extreme swordfishing boats with pulpits extending perhaps 60’ forward of the hull and a spotting tower just as high. Both are often longer or higher than the hull. Docking one of these marvels is a bit tricky.
Today is Friday and time to fire this posting into space. Today is a work day with grocery shopping, laundry, propane and a little buffing & waxing. However it isn’t all work and no play. This evening, M&J – Bluewater , are coming over for a few of the world’s best scallops and perhaps a touch of cheap but good enough wine. Last night it was swordfish aboard B/W. It’s about the people or have we said that before?
As you know Egret is for sale. We announced the sale before leaving Iceland last fall for a reason. I believe the buyer for Egret will be a mom and pop like ourselves with their own dreams, just like us. Mom and pops typically can’t write a check for the purchase without making it happen and neither could we. We worked at it, made it happen and the rest is history. If you are interested in owning the best of the best, our e-mail address is at the end of the U Tube video linked at the bottom of the recent VofE’s. When you contact us via e-mail, we’ll send the complete information including the price, which is super nominal, along with our phone number. Now back in the U.S. our planned stops are here and there in Maine beginning with South West Harbor, Winthrop Yacht Club near Boston, Newport during the Newport Boat Show (Sept 11-15), Annapolis, Md, Washington DC, Charleston, SC and somewhere in South Florida. There will be stops along the way in addition to those so once we are contacted we can work out a place and time to meet.
Egret is for sale. http://youtu.be/AAR5wK-sWRs
August 18th, 2014
Position: 44 22.34N 64 18.51W Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, on anchor. (By the time this is posted, Egret will have arrived in Maine.)
Hello mis amigos, eh. Its Thursday Market day in Lunenburg. Last year on the way north Mary and I showed up at the Thursday Market at 1000 and went straight to the farmers stall that sell the world’s best bacon. He said a B&B had bought all the bacon. Bummer, but we learned to get to the market at 0800 when it opens. So this year we were at the market at 0800 and went to the same booth and NO BACON. We timed the trip on the way south around the Thursday Market. Bummer again. However, he did have thin slices of ham smoked at the same time as the bacon so it will taste exactly the same. We bought a lot.
Then we bought coffee from the coffee lady and went over to the far corner to buy a sweet treat from the bread ladies. So Mary got a miniature rhubarb pie, Dick got a blueberry pie, I got an apple pie and then we sat at a table to watch the show. We love markets like this. What you don’t find at this market is jewelry and junk made overseas. Housewives bring what they picked the night before from their home gardens and put them on display like this lady. She had two dozen extra eggs so she brought those as well as you see in the photograph. The line at the bread lady was never less than ten. Some like us just wanted a snack to eat with their coffee. Others bought bread for a week. In this photograph we wanted to show a portion of their booth and the line outside the booth. There were stacks of more inventory out of the photograph. Then there was the Hat Lady who is here every year and even she was in line for the Bread Lady.
After coffee and a treat we wandered the rest of the market. Mary bought some cider that is just cider. The fellow explained they don’t use spray on the trees, they don’t add water or sugar, just apple juice. He had two types from two different apples. Mary chose the more tart of the two. Then Dick bought wild blueberries from a vendor only selling blueberries and a loaf of bread from the Bread Lady.
At the front door a family kid band was going at it with violins, guitar’s and drums and other musical things. The band here every Thursday Market during the summer. We’ve watched them grow up the past 4 years.
All the while locals are chatting with other locals. It’s a weekly small town happening. We love it and always try to make the show.
Today the wind is puffing up to 27 knots or so and steady over 20. Most of the cruisers going ashore arrive with DB – dinghy butt. For those of you that haven’t had the pleasure, when you run a small dink in a chop, spray soaks your shorts. Of course with Egret’s large tube 10’ dink and having been down this road a few times before, we load balance where the windward side of the dink is raised and I stand and run the boat holding a long tiller extension in one hand and the bow line in the other. We also give the engine enough throttle to squat the stern and raise the bow. For those cruisers with little rat dinks and rat engines, it’s a different story. Of course we had rat dinks in the past and know the lesson well.
Here’s a tip if you do end up with a rat dink (RD) or even a larger dink in really rough water. Tack. Yep, run directly up sea or down sea and you’ll stay a lot drier. Sometimes is pays to run in calmer near shore the wrong way to line up the waves on the bow then return to the boat.
It appears we may have a weather window to leave Sunday at midnight for Bar Harbor, Maine. At 6.5 knots it is a 36 hour trip. However, there are wicked currents from the southern tip of Nova Scotia all the way to Maine. We don’t know how it will play out in the end. By leaving at midnight, IF she averages 6.5 knots, she will arrive at noon on Tuesday. If not, there is a lot of daylight to play with on the back end. We mentioned in the last VofE that arriving or departing Lunenburg Harbour either in fog or at night is no biggie. There is only one mud bank obstacle and it is well marked by flashing markers and the chart plotting is dead accurate.
A windy day is a good time to clean the fuel tanks. So we did. The port tank was very low so it didn’t take long to transfer all but a couple gallons of fuel to the stbd tank. I used a long gaff made from a golf club shaft to drag the bottom to see if any of the dark spots were debris and they were not, then stirred the fuel near the pick-ups to see if any debris was stirred up. There wasn’t the first grain of anything that moved so that tank is as spotless as it can be. Then we transferred the fuel from the stbd tank thru the Racor circulation filter to the port tank and after the transfer, the stbd tank was just as clean so we didn’t bother with the electric pump to wash the tanks and pick up the little remaining fuel. So that says a lot about the quality of fuel these days and the lack of fiberglass tanks to produce water or algae by heating and cooling like some metal tanks. It is a very good feeling to know that basically the only thing to stop a modern passagemaker with a well designed fuel system is dirty fuel and Egret’s fuel and delivery system has always been clean. We proved it by example, not dockside chatter.
Incidentally, when checking the tanks it is best to use a powerful flashlight to spot illuminate the area of the tank you are checking instead of a broad cast of light. Egret’s tanks are quite deep and on a larger boat they would be very deep. It is super important to clear and clean the entire area around the inspection plate before the plate is removed. Even being super careful it is surprising how you may hit an inspection plate nut or whatever stored in the compartment and knock it into the tank. I move the inspection plate nuts out of the reach of my hands AND feet after they are removed. Another tip is to mark the plate with a magic marker and continue theline to the top of the tank so when you replace the inspection plate it goes back exactly as it came off.
Lunenburg has a very distinguished resident that has resided on the waterfront in various re-incarnations for nearly a century. She is the fishing schooner Bluenose. I’ve written about her extensively before but in a thumbnail look, during the 20’s an America’s Cup was held on the East Coast of the U.S. A contestant’s boat broke in half in 18 knots of wind. The largest two fishing ports on the east coast of North America at the time were Gloucester, Massachusetts and Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The hard core fishermen giggled at the girl sailors who couldn’t even sail in more than 18 knots of wind when it took 25 knots to get their heavy boats moving well. So they started their own competition. USA won the first year because Bluenose lost a topmast in her first qualification race in NS. Every meeting since, Bluenose won against America’s challenger. Well, sort of. The last race was 25 years or more than the first meeting and Bluenose was worn out from 25+ years of heavy fishing in rough northern waters. Incidentally, the boats were fished in between meetings. These weren’t race boats but work boats racing. Bluenose crossed the line first but a US judge said she missed a mark. However when it came time to hand out the trophy the US team stayed seated. They knew she didn’t miss a mark and they were true American fishermen/sportsmen, unlike the America’s Cup today when the races are settled in court. The Bluenose in this photograph is the second replica, with a few original pieces, built true to the original Bluenose with the exception of twin engines buried in the fish hold for promotional tours. You can see two fishing dorys rafted alongside in the photograph. During her fishing years the decks would be stacked with dorys. She is the pride of all Nova Scotians and she even appeared on a Canadian coin.
Mary and I have been privileged to watch her construction from the keelson laid, to the framing, planking and two years ago the project manager gave us a personal below decks tour as she was nearing completion.
In between playing we have been playing. So we have been walking around town on various missions and snapping a few photos. The homes near the waterfront almost without exception are in great shape even though many were built in the mid-1800’s. Here’s a couple brightly painted examples. The yellow house on the left is a residence and to the right is a pizza joint. The Lunenburg waterfront is a palate of primary colors with red being the dominant color. The fishing company sheds on the waterfront were painted red to show thru the fog. The red sheds shown in the picture are those of the Knight and Knickle fishing company who today maintain a small fleet of scallop boats. A K&K company building to the right of the sheds and the next street up are where we buy the world’s best scallops. This year we bought 10lbs in 1lb packs. Keep going up the hill on the same street is Bailey Fuel where we have gotten fuel in the past including today. Today we got 300 liters to double the fuel reserve in case we get caught in serious opposing currents from the Bay of Fundy on the crossing to Maine. Bailey delivered the fuel to the fisherman’s wharf where we met the truck mid afternoon.
If you remember a few postings ago, I talked about spotlights and how if they reflect on deck you loose your ability to see beyond the bow. Here is a good example of a light shield on a commercial fishing boat. Nova Scotia and Newfoundland fishing boats have a unique design we have only seen in the Canadian Maritimes. The boats have a very high bow and a very low pilothouse. They are wider than a usual fishing boat and very low profile. The design has been perfected for these waters over the years and they work. The boats have a very deep keel, triangular shaped from front to back. The boats typically haul their lines over the side and drift sideways to the waves. So the low profile and extra width gives them quite a bit of initial stability, plus the keel acts like a giant underwater trim tab.
Mary and Dickiedoo went for a long walk around town and shopping for last minute items while I stayed aboard and polished the gel coat. Here is Captain Mary returning with D Doo and the groceries.
Egret is for sale. http://youtu.be/AAR5wK-sWRs
August 14th, 2014
Position: 44 22.34N 64 18.51W Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, on anchor.
Egret has traveled 2006nm since leaving Iceland at an average speed of 6.8 knots. A second GPS recorded a 7.1 knot average speed from Iceland to Labrador that has now dropped to 6.8 knots because of head wind, current and seas for most of the daylight hours along the Labrador coast.
Hello mis amigos, eh. The Egret crew slept in then made the intrepid 6nm voyage from Baddeck to Maskell’s Harbour. Before we departed we received an e-mail from Dev, an American who with others have properties surrounding the harbour. So we wrote back before leaving and invited Dev and anyone else at the farm to Egret at 1800 for rum night.
Maskell’s is one of those special places. Once inside the harbour there is a long narrow spit of land enclosing a perfect anchorage. So we tucked in Our Spot and puttered for a bit before heading over to Dev’s farm on the hill across the way. We met and Dev took us into the barn/bunkhouse to get out of the bugs and have a chat. There has been a steady parade of house guests this summer and the last left a couple days before.
The bunkhouse is every guy’s dream. It began life as a real barn, in fact when they bought the property in the middle 80’s they didn’t know what was inside because it was full of hay. Today it is still very much a barn with 2 bunk rooms on either end with an overhead passage down both sides. The galley and head is down below with a few more rooms and bunks with a screen porch outside. The appliances run off propane and there is solar and a back-up generator. So its sorta like a boat on land.
Later Dev came out to Egret for a touch of spirits and we caught up with the rest of the news.
Most of you will never reach Maskell’s Harbour, though you should. Nova Scotia is great cruising and just a single overnighter from Maine with day-hops all the way up the coast of Nova Scotia to the Fjord Coast of South Newfoundland. The summer weather is benign and you are never far from a protected harbor and Nova Scotians are some of the friendliest people you will meet anywhere.
The paragraphs I wrote about Maskell’s Harbour is about new friends you meet along the way. Long term boating is the catalyst. There are thousands of accomplished long-term boaters around the world that are more than willing to give a hand and accept you into their circle of friends simply because of a common bond. Dev did us a huge favor a couple years ago (we won’t go in to) and another long-term boating friend picked up on Dev’s favor and did the heavy lifting. It meant a lot to us. How many times have we said, it’s about the people?
Today is Sunday. This morning Dick and I cleaned the balance of the winter fat – literally – from around the waterline. First we began with a heavy slug of cleaner that didn’t do much good. Next was dinghy fuel on a rag. Yea, I know, don’t go there. Anyhow, it did the deal and after a couple times up and down the hull with a combination of boy scout juice, cleaner and light rubbing compound the hull is back to one color except for the tannin stain from Bras d’ Or Lake’s tannin rich water. Tannin stain is easily removed by using a boating product, Mary Kate – On n’ Off, or by using Snow Bowl gel toilet bowl cleaner and a soft brush. The brush doesn’t work by scrubbing, it just delivers the goods. We’ll get rid of the stain in Maine and we’ll have to do it again after being Intracoastal weenies on the way south.
After the clean-fest off she went chugging along at 1300 rpm making 6.8 knots riding a little surface current from the breeze. Soon after we called the Bara Strait Bridge on VHF16 and asked for an opening. The bridge tender had the timing down perfect and we didn’t have to slow. Next up was St Peter’s Lock, the exit to Bras d’ Or Lake. This time I was a bit slow calling the lock and we had to circle before they could open a small swing bridge then ready the lock. The lock tenders came out in the rain and took the lines then shut the lock behind us and opened the one in front. The drop is around 3’+ so it doesn’t take long.
It has been super calm all day with rain showers on and off. Currently she is about 8nm from tonight’s anchorage in Port Howe. This will be our 3d time in Port Howe. Its one of those secret places that is super isolated. The anchorage is between two small islets inside the bay. The bay has 2 resident giant bald eagles, the largest by far we’ve seen in our travels. They look like condors they are so massive. Hopefully we’ll see them this evening. Small harbor seals are also around to keep company along with a few ducks and kingfishers. We won’t stay in the morning because we need, actually we don’t need – we want to, cut the trip to Halifax in half with an early start.
This photo of the C-Map charting and the course into Port Howe shows the extent of gunkholing spots along the Nova Scotia coast. Obviously this is a small portion of the coast. During Egret’s four previous trips up and down the coast of NS, she visited much of what you see and many more. Looking at the chart you may notice Mary just turned to waypoint 6 to shortcut waypoint 5 a bit and gain time before sunset. TK will be down in an hour. Another whole roast chicken is going in the oven. Ho hum, life is good. Eh?
The last few miles in the falling light went as expected and Mary fired TK down in 42’ along with 175’ of chain plus the snubber. The chain whirring thru the chain wheel was the undoing of our eagle watching. Dick saw the pair exit their waterside perch and fly east over the top of the trees. It was a beautiful night. There were a few clouds and the full moon rose over the fir trees on the small islands across the way.
Egret departed this morning in the early morning light at 0525. It was an easy run to the safety of the offshore marks and the first waypoint where she ran on autopilot. While still among the islands we snapped a few photographs of something you don’t see often. This is not a sunset photograph, but an after sunrise shot of the sun illuminating the pink morning clouds and the full moon in the distance. It was much prettier in person than the photograph. Pretty cool, eh?
It is now 1045. Since leaving the anchorage she has been flying, riding the moon tide at speeds up to 8.4 knots at 1500 rpm. Of course eventually the hammer will fall and she will plow into the opposing tide but we’ll take what we can get when we can.
I will say, one reason for the extra speed the past week or so is the little lady is light on fuel because we ran hard from Iceland all the way to Labrador except for the time within Greenland. The port tank has 35 USG and the stbd tank is down to 145 USG. (The 2 tanks are 500 USG each) I can’t remember the last time she was so light on fuel. The bottom paint is 3” or so above the waterline. Halifax is tomorrow and within a couple days we’ll be in Lunenburg. Before taking on fuel in Lunenburg for the crossing to Maine we’ll clean the tanks. The fuel filter element is the original since leaving Iceland. Other than the usual increase in vacuum from the lack of fuel head pressure on the day tank, my guess would be the element would not need changing before Florida. Last year she ran from Florida to Iceland on a single filter. That’s how clean the tanks are and the fuel is on delivery. And that’s why we LOVE her insulated fiberglass fuel tanks. No water, no nothing. EVER.
I suppose we should mention the cruising guides we have been using. All three are from CCA – Cruising Club of America. Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador. The guides aren’t professionally researched and written like most guides but instead are a collection of cruising notes going back as far as the 50’s. For example, last night’s anchorage was first reported in 1971 and revised in 2004. It used to be Nova Scotia and particularly Newfoundland and Labrador were considered exotic destinations because of the near-shore rocks, fog and weather. Today the very good Canadian electronic charts most cartographers use in electronic charting, better weather forecasting, radar and more capable boats, these destinations are very doable, particularly Nova Scotia. In fact, Nova Scotia is easier cruising in July and August than Maine because there are no lobster pots and less tide. It’s just that the overnight hop from Maine to Nova Scotia intimidates most folks and that’s a shame.
Last night on the way to the anchorage we spotted a crescent shaped anchorage off to port appropriately named Sandy Bay. There was a small day-sailor tucked in tight so we wandered in to see if there was room for Egret to anchor. We laid quite a way off the sailboat and dropped TK, backed him in but after shutting down the surge was more than we wanted to fool with so up came TK and we moved to the original destination. It would have been nice to launch the dink and explore the sandy beach. The Passage Island anchorage within Ship Harbour is a U shaped small island giving protection from the prevailing sea breeze and it is far enough inland there was zero surge. There was a noisy seal feeding behind the boat coming to the surface every now again snorting loudly before heading back down. We could hear eagles chirping now and again and there were a few terns diving. The sunset was pretty special as well going down across the small island.
Last night Mary fixed 3 giant steaks. Giant across but very thin like most European beef. These steaks came from either Iceland or Greenland, I can’t remember which. When we shop in hyper expensive places like these two our method of shopping is to get what we need, leave off the frills and don’t look at the bill. It is what it is and if we gotta have it we get it. Someone else pays our bills so I suppose ignorance is bliss and bliss makes us happy. And like much European beef good ideas at the time, the meat was tough and full of bone and gristle so the critters living on the bottom got something to snack on.
This morning (Tuesday) was clear with no fog. TK and the chain came up clean. Mary secured the snubber and the little lady was under way at 0540. The exit to the ocean was straight forward with no hazards but we made it straight forward by exaggerating the turns adding a little distance to the course just to be sure. Currently it is 0647. She is running just offshore of the coastal marks making 7.2 knots at 1500 rpm. There is 9.0 knots of wind from the WNW with a 1’ chop and a slight swell. The Naiad’s are at their lowest setting barely moving off center. Flocks of gannets are making their way offshore for breakfast. Downtown Halifax is around 35nm west and a little north. More to follow.
I imagine you noticed we are including more C-Map charting with each posting. I thought it would be more informative to put a photo of the chart than just describing this segment in words. Looking at the charts with the course set is another learning tool, just like noting the anchoring depth and the anchor chain deployed. No particular anchorage means much to you but overall the chain to depth ratio and our rationale for doing what will become second nature when it’s Your Time. We’re adding charting and courses to the mix.
OK, so we have time to spare so let’s describe the process of laying out a course coastal cruising as we are now. This is assuming the charts are relatively accurate. In some parts of the world charts are NOT accurate but for this exercise we’ll assume they are. Some days you won’t move, other days you will move 15nm, more or less but let’s just say you want to move along a coast as we are now. We aren’t killing ourselves but wanted to divide the daily runs into a comfortable distance and not make any landfalls anywhere close to dark. The key as always is safety.
Before we begin there are a couple things we do automatically you may not realize. When we run along a coast we always have the depth finder on with a shallow water alarm set. In this case it is set at 25’ when working inshore. This gives us a chance if the alarm goes off to slow or turn. A good bottom machine that marks the bottom is infinitely better than a digital only machine. Digital doesn’t read the bottom like a bottom machine that sees trends. Twenty four feet on a sandy bottom with little transition is very different than a pile of rocks rising from 40’ to 25’. Three feet of rocks could be just ahead whereas a sand or mud bottom transition is usually slight. Anyhow, it’s best to run a bottom machine full time with an alarm set for added safety near shore.
Using Max Sea software and C-Map charting as we do, the process of laying out a course is a few clicks of the mouse. Simply see where you want to go on a large scale, left click your way along and connect the dots. Once the rough course is laid out, next you zoom down and fine tune the course. There are icons that allow you to delete waypoints or move waypoints. Zooming down is super important. Obstacles that don’t show up on larger scale, many times show on small scale. When fine tuning it is best to scroll along the course line and double check there aren’t any hazards.
A great example of this in ocean work was on the crossing from Tonga to North Island, New Zealand. I plotted a turning mark off Western Reef off the west coast of Nukualofa, the southern Tongan island, and put the arrival mark 10nm off the head-pin at the arrival town of Opua, New Zealand, 1100nm away. I did a quick check and there was nothing but open water along the route. Mary double-checked the route by zooming down and guess what? The red course line ran directly over an island. Oh my!!! So we left the course as it was and off we went. Sure enough, at daylight one morning up popped this island on radar. We kept to the course until we were a couple miles away. Ada Island is a volcanic rock rising straight out of the Pacific with no beach within sight. We put the glasses on it expecting to see very skinny sailboaters frantically waving their arms to be rescued. (Most sailboaters don’t run their radar often on an ocean passage because radar’s burn lots of amps and other than solar there isn’t any way to replace those amps while under sail.) What is very scary is there isn’t a single cruiser we met anywhere that has heard of Ada Island including any well traveled Kiwi sailors. We told the story many times with blank looks from those we told. I wonder how many boats over the years hit that giant rock in the middle of nowhere?
The run into Halifax was super calm with a light breeze and puffy clouds. It was a great day. Approaching the harbour we called Halifax Traffic on VHF12 and asked permission to enter the harbour. Permission was granted and there was no shipping except a tanker that left as we arrived. Once docked at the downtown docks we called CBSA – Canadian Border Services Agency – to begin the clearing process. It’s a long story but we received a temporary clearance after landing in Red Bay, Labrador and in the end two officers arrived in Halifax and stamped Dick’s passport (Americans don’t get stamped – at least we didn’t this time) then got our cruising permit number to post on the pilothouse glass. After lunch we moved around the corner into Halifax’s Northwest Arm and anchored in Our Spot.
Actually it was close to our spot. Two years ago we were here when the remnants of a hurricane was forecast to blow thru. We anchored in the best spot available and set two anchors. After going thru setting the second anchor a homeowner came out and Loudly told us we couldn’t anchor here. Of course he doesn’t own the bottom and we weren’t anywhere near his home or his mooring. So we ignored him and left him to wallow in his importance and later another neighbor came out and told us it was perfectly fine to anchor where we were. So this afternoon we anchored in the forbidden spot just in case the ^%##& idiot still owns the home so he will have to look at the little lady until dark. And stew and gnash his teeth and wring his pasty little hands and worry and give his wife a hard time who hopefully takes him to task and gives him something to think about like I get half and you better figure that out Idiot Boy before you get in even more trouble than you are now because I’m calling my mother and she will come down and live with us for a few months and straighten you out. Unfortunately we leave in the morning for Lunenburg before Idiot Boy (IB) gets up and faces his worst nightmare. Momma.
OK, so the naughty little lady left at 0600 and hopefully IB spent a sleepless night on the couch worrying about Momma. At the western entrance to the harbuor are the remnants of WWII bunkers. The harbour has been fortified in various places since the cannon. The WWII pill boxes extended down the coast.
The run into Lunenburg was another perfect powerboat day. The wind never exceeded 5 knots and the waves were somewhere else. The Naiad’s were centered for the entire trip. Lunenburg has an easy entrance, even in the dark or fog. The charting is spot on and there is only one shallow bank surrounded by markers. No problem. Mary fired TK down in 19’ at high tide and we sent out 100’ of chain including the snubber. TK dragged about 1mm before he was set. As soon as she was shut down off we went to Zwicker’s Wharf’s dinghy dock. The first stop was at an ATM, the second was at the Maritime Museum for a bowl of the world’s best seafood chowder then off to the library for an internet fix to check mail. Then off to the local marine store to buy compound for more buffing, its on order, then to the grocery store a half block away for a few goodies then back to the little lady for a tot of spirits. So that was the day. There are no American or foreign cruising boats in the harbour. What a shame. All the cruising boats are Canadian including a way cool wood trawler that came in and anchored behind Egret. They seem to be real cruisers and anchored. All the rest are mooring weenies.
This evening before dark when the sea breeze was puffing just a bit, a bunch of local racers in traditional wood boats were sailing in the bay. These two were locked in battle and talking serious trash back and forth between boats. Of course they were having a great time, even if they did have to sail.
The last cheap shot was for sailing friends with about a zillion miles and many of those in high latitudes. Have you noticed? No one escapes without scars.
So I suppose we should tell you about our sailing days. Yea, we sorta sailed but the days were numbered. Mary and I had a 12’ monohull sailing catamaran. This was during the early race car years. In off weekends we would take the silly sailboat to a friend’s lake that had the same boat and we would sail. Actually, if you get two car racers together in boats, they don’t sail, they race. We would aim at each other’s rudder, pull ourselves by on their shrouds, anything to win. So OK, we took the boats to salt water one weekend and launched off the beach. Mary and I did fine downwind for a couple miles then tried to return. Wasn’t gonna happen. We got in irons which means we wuz stuck on a lee shore and I thought we would have to walk the ^*+&^$##* sailing boat barefoot back in shallow water over who knows what coral rocks, broken bottles, sea urchins, sting rays, sharks, barracuda, sea snakes, evil critters and all that. Anyhow we managed in the end to sail the stupid boat back to the beach and it was sold soon after. So we don’t look back at sailing with fond memories and remember the good times because there weren’t many.
So when we throw folks under the bus, remember we too have been mooring weenies, Intracoastal weenies, coastal cruiser weenies, dock weenies living on the BFYC – Big Fat Yellow Cord - and, and………….gasp……… sailors. Can you imagine?
Lunenburg is beautiful as always. The waterfront is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Egret has been in Lunenburg 7 different times since 2003. 2003 and 2012 were up and down visits and 2011, 13 and now 2014 were one way visits so we feel at home here. The part-timer in the marine store todaydidn’t know about the Thursday market. Of course the Thursday market has a vendor with the world’s best bacon. He didn’t even know That. He didn’t even know that Knight and Kinckle has the world’s best scallops straight from the boat down the street from the marine store. I even wonder if he knows about the local beer made with 25,000 year old iceberg ice. Can you imagine? If you have read VofE for any length of time of course you know this. So anyhow today is a Big Day for the Egret crew.
Egret is for sale. http://youtu.be/AAR5wK-sWRs
August 8th, 2014
Position: 46 05.81N 60 44.89W Baddeck, Nova Scotia – Bras D’ Or Lake, Cape Breton Island
Hello mis amigos, eh. There was no internet in Red Bay so we sent the previous posting from Baddeck, Nova Scotia after arrival. In the meantime we’ve began this posting after leaving Red Bay to send soon after.
Egret departed Red Bay at 0445 local for a projected 2 day and 6 hour run to Baddeck. We departed Red Bay after only one full day because there is serious weather pushing up from the south forecast to arrive on Thursday. We wanted to reach the safety of Bras d’ Or Lake before the weather arrived and not get trapped farther north. Unfortunately we had to give up a chance to make an OCC – Ocean Cruising Club – gathering in Maine. It was a stretch to make the group but between a 5-day weather delay in Greenland and wanting to see more than just water in the interim, we decided to slow down and enjoy the remaining time in Canada.
I will say it will be nice to leave Labrador’s flying teeth behind. Last night, Mary and I walked to the Town Center to try and get wifi to send the last posting and got absolutely eaten alive leaving big welts for the effort. And then there was no wifi. Bummer. Places in Newfoundland have the same evil critters but this time we won’t stop in Newfoundland on the way south. Another sad fact of leaving Red Bay after such a short time was we are nearly out of berg ice for cocktails and didn’t have the time to scout around for more. However, we didn’t see any ice in the bay so I suppose what’s in the freezer is the last. This tranquil evening photograph taken from Egret’s dock in Nanortalik makes us wish we had taken the time our last evening in Greenland to fill the freezer with iceberg ice. What a bummer to resort to boring cube ice like dirtdwellercommonus.
Egret departed Red Bay at the first hint of light. Fortunately it was clear with no fog. Before long the sky turned pink and it was quite a sight motoring along in slick calm water with seals popping up everywhere as we passed and gannets flying in long rows just over the water. As I write this, Egret is almost out of the Strait of Belle Isle separating Labrador from Newfoundland. In 9.36nm she will make the turn to cross the shipping lanes and parallel the west coast of Newfoundland. This is the narrowest part of the strait and she is trapped by the tide only making 5.1 knots at 1550 rpm. More to follow.
Let’s take a look at Egret’s course. From Red Bay she paralleled the Labrador coast, crossed the shipping lanes to run down the NNE peninsula of Newfoundland, next she will hit a slight turning mark off an offshore island, then a straight shot to the entrance to Bras d’ Or Lake within Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.
The narrow channel between Labrador and Newfoundland is named Belle Isle Strait for Belle Isle Island just north of the Newfoundland peninsula. The large body of water to the west of Newfoundland is the Gulf of St Lawrence that leads to the St Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes. The passage above the large northern island in the Gulf is Jacques Cartier Passage. Farther south, the strait between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia is Cabot Strait and the large island immediately west of Cape Breton Island is Prince Edward Island (PEI to locals). Halifax is the capitol of Nova Scotia and it’s located around half way down the main body of land with Lunenburg less than a day south of Halifax. Egret’s 3 upcoming stops not including overnight anchorages are Baddeck, the commercial center in Bras d’ Or Lake, Halifax to clear Customs and Lunenburg to pick up some of the world’s best scallops direct from the seafood company. Plus we’ll play a little in all three stops. So now you know.
It is near dark on Monday. It has been super calm all day with a slight swell and no waves. It has been a BEAUTIFUL day. The tides haven’t been particularly kind so she has been averaging best guess 6.2-4 knots at 1550 rpm. There have been a few logs in the water and we managed to hit a small one. Fortunately it was rotten and the bow snapped it in two and the pieces were pushed away from the hull by the bow wave. So what will tonight bring? Hopefully no surprises. More to follow.
Next day. It remained calm thru the night with no fog and no surprises. Dawn came with a splash of color and a number of sea birds, a couple small minke whales and a pod of dolphins. It remained calm thru the day and now toward sunset the wind is still quite light but tight waves of 1m or so are arriving from south of Newfoundland and directly on the bow. Speed thru the day has been disappointing with an estimated 6.3-4 knot average but at times she was doing 6.8-7 knots and Mary just said we are back to 6.8 knots at 1550 rpm. Hopefully the tide is with us for a while until she passes the western tip of Newfoundland and into Cabot Strait. Mary is busy cranking out another great meal. Roast whole chicken this time with All The Stuff. Dickiedoo is getting spoiled as usual.
Later before dark. A pod of 3 humpbacks passed in front of Egret lazing along puffing tall clouds of exhaust spray. It was another colorful sunset.
It is 0502 in the morning. It’s still dark. A monster ship is going to pass in front of Egret in a few minutes with a CPA – closest point of approach - of 1.90nm. AIS – Automatic Identification System tells the tale. This photograph has all the details of the ship, m/v BAO MAY. The single most important detail of AIS is CPA. CPA is the bottom line, the rest is useful and interesting but your major concern are we gonna get sent down to the Dark Place or not. In this case the ship is passing nearly two nm in front so there is no reason to change course or slow, just pay attention and make sure there are no changes.
Starting at the top of the screen is CPA and TCPA-Time to CPA. Below is COG – Course Over Ground and SOG – Speed Over Ground. Below that are the vessel’s call sign and other numbers, its length, draft and beam, as well as it’s destination.
Because of Egret’s somewhat unusual destinations after leaving the Mediterranean in 2006, AIS wasn’t a big deal. I don’t believe we saw 6 ships total between the Canary Islands all the way to New Zealand. Things changed once we left New Zealand and particularly nearing Gibraltar on our way back into the Mediterranean.
Here’s a real life story how AIS very possibly saved getting mushed and fired down to the Dark Place. Egret was running non stop from Gibraltar to an anchorage we named Anthrax – for Andriax – on the south side of the island of Mallorca, the largest Balearic Island off the Mediterranean coast of Spain. She was passing east of the small Balearic Island of Ibiza. It was 0200 and Mary was on watch. Mary called me up and said there was a ship she couldn’t make out the lights and AIS was confusing. (At the time the AIS only had a range of 5nm or so at the time because of a faulty antenna.) To make a scary story short, it was a ferry out of Ibiza traveling at 22 knots lit up to the point the running and steaming lights were overpowered by the bright deck lights. AIS kept changing and ultimately said the CPA was 0.0nm. I called at 2nm and told the captain to turn to port NOW, we are on a collision course and I will also turn to port NOW!!! He said, “Captain, I am already turning”. The AIS told the tale. His course did not change a degree on AIS. That scum bag was talking to a recorder in case we collided. I had to make a decision so I turned hard to port and ran the engine up to 2000rpm. When the rpm jumps quickly on a heavy boat like Egret, there is a lot of engine noise but not much happening because it takes a while to get 30+ tons under way. Obviously we missed each other. I gave the ferry captain a piece of my mind in short words on VHF16 for everyone to hear but I’ll tell you it wasn’t much fun. AIS saved the day.
It is 0604, it is getting light quickly and the northern peninsula of Cape Breton Island is to stbd - west. Egret is now south of the shipping lanes so that will be the end of shipping until the approach to Halifax. The short chop has diminished to less than 2’ with a slight up and down motion. The past few hours she has been flying up to 8.1 knots riding the tide. In fact, she has been going so fast we may have to wait for the tide to swing to incoming to pass thru the narrows into Bras D’ Or Lake. Other than the narrow pass at the top of the Lake, the only other entrance/exit to the Lake is a lock on the south end. For this reason, Bd’OL is mostly fresh water and brackish on the northern end. The Lake is shallow with a mud bottom surrounded by low, rolling green hills. The Lake area has it’s own microclimate because it is much warmer than the cold water areas to the Atlantic east side and the west bay side. These days the lake doesn’t freeze even though years ago mail was delivered by truck across the lake ice.
OK, so she was so fast during the final miles, the tide was still ripping out. Sorta Big Time. So what did we do? I ran the HLL (Happy Little Lugger) up to 1650 rpm and later when she slowed to 3.6 knots, to 1700 rpm steering with our fingertips. Once she cleared the narrows, when the speed increased to 5.6 knots and we reduced the rpm back to 1550 and kept heading north to Baddeck. Once thru the narrows we moved to the flybridge for the final 20nm. It was wonderful to be warm again. So the extra clothes got shed, shorts replaced jeans, sandals replaced shoes and so on. Mary left the flybridge after lunch and caught a few rays on the foredeck. In case you’re wondering, the short coil of yellow hose on the foredeck is the salt water washdown hose for washing the anchor chain. The other hose bib is fresh water.
After a great cruise up the glacier scooped channel to Baddeck, we fired TK down for the first time since leaving Labrador the year before. TK was so happy he ripped into the first mud he could find and the chain pulled straight and stretched the snubber tight. After shutting down it was QUIET for the first time in days. There was no motion. It was great.
Looking at the C-Map chart of the Baddeck area, you can see Egret tucked in behind the barrier island that protects Baddeck Harbour. The peninsula to the east is named Beinn Bhreagh where Thomas Edison maintained a large summer estate. Canada’s first manned flight took place on his property. The pilot was a fellow named McCurdy. At the CCA – Cruising Club of America - Bras d’ Or Lake cruise 2 years ago the hostess was a McCurdy. Small world, eh? CCA was founded by TE’s son in law, a chap named Grosvenor*, with five other cruising boats in Maskell’s Harbour, 6nm from Baddeck. Egret will visit Maskell’s Harbour to pay our respects when she leaves Baddeck. Looking at the chart, Maskell’s Harbour is to the left of bottom center.
*Grosvenor was the also the founder of National Geographic Magazine. Small world, eh?
However it wasn’t time to play just yet. Coming up the channel we raised the boom and came tight to the dinghy and removed the 3 ratchet straps that hold it in place. We wuz ready. Down went the dink and off to the library just up the hill from the town dock. It was nightmare city. I couldn’t get the Mac to access the library wifi so we could send the last posting. If that weren’t bad enough, using the library computers we couldn’t access our e-mail without running the gauntlet of a phising expedition.
We spend a fair amount of time on VofE and we try to post things quickly as they happen to give the readers a better sense of what it is like to cruise in real time with as little delay as possible. With no internet since leaving Greenland, I was pretty bummed. However, after a night to think about we left this morning with two computers, a pin drive full of photographs, blah blah, and finally got real internet at a bakery/café. No problem.
After sorting e-mails since Greenland and making the rounds of my favorite sites, off we went to shop for a shower fitting for the forward stateroom. If you remember, the forward mixer valve froze in Iceland and it can’t be repaired. We found a replacement at the local hardware store and Dick is in the anchor locker putting it together while I’m playing with this VofE.
(Later the next morning. We never keep learning. After a LOT of effort, head scratching, resorting to reading the silly instructions and so on the new mixer valve doesn’t play. No water. No matter what. How difficult could it be? Hot in, cold in and combined out to the showerhead. Simple, right? Nope. By now it was dinner time and the boys were bummed. Dick figured it out after dinner. Hidden under the local hardware store’s label was a line saying the fitting is high pressure and needs 45lbs minimum to work. Egret’s water pressure system comes on at 25lbs of pressure and shuts off at 40lbs. So now we are going to try to repair the un-repairable LOW PRESSURE valve. We’ll see.)
It is the busiest week of the summer in Baddeck. It’s Sail Week. The young kids are racing Optimist prams, the older kids are racing small one designs and the big kids are racing what they brung. As soon as the sea breeze begins the racing starts and shortly after the finish line cannon fires as every racer crosses the line. The town is packed with normal tourists in addition to the racers. Today the family-run restaurant where we had lunch had everyone working from grandpa down to pre-teens waiting and bussing tables. Today the town was full of Mini Coopers so I suppose it was a MC club on a rally of some type. It’s a Happening. Great fun.
This photograph shows the central portion of Baddeck Harbour. The town dock is at the far right.
So the easy putzing south begins. It’s all day trips until the 2 day run from Lunenburg to Bar Harbor, Maine to clear Customs and get a cruising permit for the coming year.
We’ll fire this VofE into space tomorrow. PAE web guru Doug Harlow is in China working for a few days but he still does the deal and get’s things posted from the far side of the world.
Egret is for sale.
August 7th, 2014
Position: 51 43.91N 55 25.84W Government Dock, Red Bay, Labrador
Average speed for the trip from Greenland to Red Bay, Labrador: 7.0 knots (down from 7.1 knots until we hit steep headseas before arrival.)
Overall average speed from Iceland to Labrador: 6.8 knots.
Distance traveled from Iceland to Labrador: 1392nm
Hello mis amigos, eh. The Egret crew has reached Labrador making landfall on Saturday, August 2d. However the first sentence is a bit premature, I’m writing this with 175nm to go before the first waypoint along the Labrador coast with an additional 31nm to go to Red Bay. Friday morning before we fired the last VofE into space the ocean slicked off. She has been running with the stabilizers centered since and it’s currently 1507 in the afternoon. From the stabilizers dialed way back to the center position she picked up an additional .1 knot so we’ll roll just a little for the touch of speed.
Earlier I spotted a large iceberg off the stbd bow at an estimated distance of 10nm. The berg is at least a couple/few hundred feet high and 4 times as long. Now the berg is 2 3/4nm distant and it is just barely showing on radar. Why is this? Its because the surface slopes steeply down to the water and there is no reflective surface. Last year we passed a large container size berg a few hundred feet away and it didn’t mark on either radar. No reflective surface. If it were choppy, the faint dot on the 12nm radar would be lost in clutter. So anyhow, if you ever reach Big Ice it’s something to think about.
(Later. The berg is now marking well because as we passed the down-angle changed to a vertical surface.)
We came across a pod of perhaps 10 pilot whales feeding. Pilot whales are jet black with a smooth rounded face and they are around 20’ long with a short curved dorsal fin. We actually (radar) marked a cloud of sea birds following the whales before we saw them. They didn’t pay much attention to their fellow seafarer and continued feeding in a circle. Of course we fed earlier on grilled ham and cheese, sliced apple and canned fruit instead of raw fish.
The anemometer shows 5.1 knots of wind and Egret is generating most of that. It is bright but overcast and for the past minutes, the sea has couple inch ripples covering the oily sea. The speed since it slicked out has averaged well over 7 knots and now the GPS is reading 8.0 knots. At 8 knots she is getting 3.47nm/U.S.G. and at 7 knots, 3.04. So that’s pretty good considering we are hauling our home and stuff across the ocean.
I mentioned an iceberg shedding a large chunk of ice as we headed offshore in the last VofE and I also mentioned we snapped 4 photographs over the course of 7 minutes. Here they are in sequence.
The first was a hurried shot thru the pilothouse glass as the splash was receding. Keep in mind the iceberg you see is the height of a 15 story building lying on its side. Also keep in mind; only 1/9th of the berg is above water so letsjust say this is a serious ice cube.
The second shot was as Egret passed close by and the ice was radiating away in a semi-circle. The larger pieces are the size of a delivery van.
The third shot is a wide angle view back toward the sunrise and the coastal mountains with the iceberg greatly reduced in size.
And the last was taken at a distance as Egret tracked around the iceberg showing a different angle.
And while we’re showing the last photographs of Greenland, here’s two Mary snapped off the entrance to Nanortalik with a sailboat following in our wake. Later as the sun rose the scene morphed into this beautiful mosaic of color.
The ocean is always give and take when it comes to weather. The closer to the equator, the more predictable the weather with a longer season of good weather. Conversely, the farther from the equator, the more changeable the weather and the shorter time of reasonable weather. This doesn’t take into account an afternoon sea breeze or localized winds. Many places the afternoon breeze puffs up to 25 knots but it is short lived and dies with the sun. This trip is no different than others but I will say we were surprised by the totally un-forecast weather toward the end of the trip from Iceland to Greenland. The past 3 days the weather is exactly as forecast or perhaps even a bit better. From here south, there is no reason to be in uncomfortable seas simply because we don’t have a schedule. Coastal cruising anywhere including high latitudes IF there are places to hide, it is the same. Move when things are right. Tuck in when they are not. Simple.
As Egret closes with the Labrador coast the number of sea birds has risen with the diminished miles from shore. From mainly fulmars, now there is a shearwater type bird that dives and swoops over the waves when there is wind. There are also large flocks of small diving birds appearing along with a few pairs of puffins. We don’t have a bird book so I don’t know what’s whatbut they are pretty to see on the water. Here’s a shot of the shearwater type bird we mentioned in it’s I’m outtahere mode. Diving sea birds have webbed feet so to take to the air they use their wings and run along the surface until lift off. Its pretty cool how the camera catches the falling splashes from their busy feet as they get airborne.
0130, Saturday, August 2d, arrival day. An hour ago all hands were on deck. I got up for my watch a little before midnight and saw MS was gone and not in the head. She was in the pilothouse with Dick. Dick had turned 40 degrees to stbd to miss some ice. Both radars were zoomed down, one to 3nm and the other to 1.5nm. It was obvious by looking at the radar what was whipping. There were two large bergs to the east that were trailing around 5 large pieces that flowed west for a mile or so. Dick said the icebergs didn’t show any small pieces until Egret was within 3nm. Fortunately it is calm with a slight swell so the smaller pieces (the size of a van) marked well. I took the wheel, Mary relayed information back and forth to Dick standing on the bow with a very powerful LED flashlight that is brighter than any spotlight we ever owned. I fell off another 15 degrees to put the last piece of ice 1/4nm on the port side. It lit up white when Dick put the light on it. In the meantime we had reduced rpm to 1200 and were still making 5 ½ knots but without much inertia. Still, I wouldn’t want to hit ice at 5 ½ knots but it’s sure better than 7.8 knots she was doing earlier with a lot of momentum. Anyhow, after a mile of no radar return up to 24nm ahead, off we went back on course and returned to 1650 rpm. This is our first experience with problematic ice at night. Fortunately it is calm so things are as good as they get.
So let’s talk a minute about spotlights. It’s been my experience most lights don’t work. They shine into a hole and there isn’t any return. Some years ago in the Bahamas we were leaving an anchorage at midnight to make a night crossing back to Ft Lauderdale. We had to steer around a peninsula we could SEE by its dark profile, put a powerful light on it and there was zero return. So that’s one example of a problem. The second and most common problem is the spotlight being in a position to reflect on the foredeck. Big problem. Once even a small piece of the foredeck or rail is turned white by a powerful light, you loose any possibility of seeing anything. The Greenlandic coastal freighters have large AC voltage lights with a 3’ tray under the light to deflect the beam high enough not to reflect on the forward part of the boat. The best light, although too small for ice work is the spotlights mounted on the bow rail of coastal runabouts. They shine forward and there is zero deck illumination.
So what would we do different? For the one night in nearly 13 years we needed a spotlight for ice, I would have rigged a holder for the big flashlight to shine forward when we marked ice on the radar. No problem. Here’s a photo of a serious flashlight. It has a single LED, it’s rechargeable, 12 ½” long and it will turn a building white at a quarter mile. Olight – SR95S – Intimidator.
The balance of the darkness went without incident. At 0920 this morning (Sat) the coastal fog lifted long enough to reveal the Labrador coast. The sea breeze picked up to 10 knots on the nose but nevertheless she has been running in the 7.3 to 7.8 knot range. Currently Egret is 16nm from the closest point of land, closing on a shallow angle. We are still far enough offshore not to be able to see the lines of grounded icebergs that line the coast. There have been scattered large bergs throughout last night and into today but none were closer than 4nm.
Yesterday afternoon it was super calm so I went out and hand compounded around the inner transom fittings and later used the buffer to bring it back to her usual sparkle. Slowly but surely we have been working to restore her gel coat* to her arrival condition in Iceland before the Icelandic winter stripped her wax.
*Early during our boatbuilding years we had a number of problems with gel coat. At the time there were two large gel coat manufacturers in the U.S. Both gave us fits costing the company time and money, plus there was zero warranty. My composite guru business partner found a small specialty gel coat manufacturer in North Carolina; H.K. Research. H.K. manufactures a high quality acrylic gel coat, though costing nearly double solved the gel coat problems without a single failure on 200+ boats over the next 7 years. H.K. provided 5 color samples of what we wanted for our fishing boats. The parameters were; not so creamy to look dirty but not so white to reflect from the deck. We chose a color between their sample number 4 and 5 and it became known in-house as Egret White gel coat. PAE flew drums of H.K. Egret White to Taiwan for the manufacture of Egret. It was expensive but the cost has paid for itself in personal satisfaction during the years since. When she is buffed and waxed, she appears as she did on delivery in 2001.
I will say that during the years following, gel coat quality has risen considerably and the issues of the mid-late 90’s and early 2000’s are in the past.
There was a little wind forecast just south of Red Bay during Egret’s estimated arrival time with nothing more than 17 knots. The last 75nm or so arriving from the northeast were forecast to be calm. So much for that fairy tale. Hummmm, let’s see; wind gusting to 42.8 knots with low to mid 30’s sustained. Sprinkle in a little fog, add a dash of outgoing tide and wind on the nose and what do you get? Tall tight headseas and an adverse current. The bottom line is saltshaker city and the speed dropping from a 7.1 knot average for the crossing to 4.4 to 5.3 knots. So both radar’s were set at a range of 1.5 and 3nm. 3nm kept a watch on the shore to stbd. And so it went for 7 hours until the sun dropped and the reinforced sea breeze combined with the forecast breeze dropped to less than 20 knots and the seas laid down to something more reasonable. Bummer.
So you wanna know what it looks like to shake a bit of salt? How Egret takes no lip from Ms Ocean? This is what the camera sees from the pilothouse. This isn’t spray, it’s solid water being thrown back where it came from. Also check out how little water there is on deck. Pretty cool, eh?
Now let’s spend some time on the salt-shaker photograph and fill in a few details. First you can see TK snugged into the anchor chute with a short, at-sea snubber attached to the chain with a forged stainless chain hook making sure TK stays put in head seas. Egret’s typical anchor snubber is 25’ long with a 5’ section of fire hose as a chafe guard. She carries 4 of these snubbers. At times in Patagonia we had all 4 snubbers on with a slight bit of slack between each for a progressive line pull. Yes, it was That windy. There is a cover over the windlass to keep sea water from the capstan and entering the chain pipe. Behind the windlass is a Freeman commercial hatch allowing access to climb into the chain locker and storage area. On the port side there is a black sun shield over a 15’ length of 1 ¼” Spectra attached to a heavy bow eye just above the waterline. The other end of the Spectra is connected to a 600’ length of ¾” – 19mm nylon attached to an 18’ Para Tech parachute anchor. You can see the parachute anchor line led outside the stanchions being held in place by ty wraps. In the event we need to deploy the parachute anchor (stored behind the Portuguese bridge), all we have to do is throw it overboard from behind the Portuguese bridge and the ty wraps will break. Also you see the Spectra is held tight by a length of 8mm nylon to a cleat to keep it super tight. Hopefully that will break with the drag of the parachute anchor and no one will have to go forward to cut the 8mm line. The parachute anchor and gear is rigged for ocean work and when not in use it is stored in the chain locker. We furnished the cleats and their fasteners to accommodate multiple heavy dock lines. They are tall 15” yacht cleats with strut bolts and backing plates, not the traditional 12” low profile cleats. The top of the bollard is in the photo. We had the bollard made in Turkey to use when we use a third dock line per side. Also on the aft port side you can see the end of the ice pole to keep overly friendly ice away while docked or on anchor. And last there is a stainless steel forestay (wire cable) connecting the top of the mast to the bow rail. This is a belt and suspenders safety precaution to reduce mast strain from the paravanes (we have never used except for testing or at anchor). So you can see there is more to the image than spray and bright light with an explanation of why things are where and for what reason.
Egret arrived in Red Bay around midnight. We have been here before so we thought we knew what was where. I steered from the flybridge with Mary and Dick on deck readying the dock lines and fenders. So we wandered here and there and nothing looked familiar in the dark. Eventually we figured out what was different. The government dock had a covered shed last year and this year it is gone. So we docked behind a locally built powerboat we found out later is being used as a summer camp by an archeologist from the Smithsonian.
This is a C Map chart of Red Bay. Next is a shoreline shot of Red Bay taken from the road above the government wharf. Saddle Island in the background was in use as a whaling station from the early 1500’s until relatively recently. The foundations for the try pots are still in place. Red Bay received UNESCO World Heritage status last year because of a 1500’s Basque whaling ship was found in perfect condition preserved in the mud off Saddle Island as well as the remnants of the whaling station ashore. The town has a number of different museum buildings with interesting displays of the era as well as the later cod fishing era.
As soon as we shut down and were secure to the dock, I called Canada Border Services Agency (001 905 679-2073 East Coast number – West Coast 001 250 363-0222) to advise them of Egret’s arrival. Labrador only has a single official port of entry and that is Goose Bay, an airport well inland. It took a while to sort things and get to a bottom line compromise. Here’s the resolution and how it came to be. This is the 4th year in a row Egret has visited Canada. The first was arrival from the Azores; the next two were from the U.S. and this time from Greenland. We had officials aboard for the Azores arrival, cleared by phone in Lunenburg (Nova Scotia) the next two times but because we arrived from ‘foreign’, we need to be visited by an official. Except there aren’t any officials anywhere near. Here’s the resolution. Egret’s arrival has been officially noted but she and we haven’t been cleared. We have the officers badge number and a name to present to the boarding officers. The compromise was to call when we reach Halifax, an official port of entry, and the officers will clear Egret and stamp our passports. Thru all of this the CBSA officials couldn’t have been nicer and more accommodating.
Here’s an interesting tidbit. While the CBSA official called around to figure out what to do with us, she googled our names to check on us which apparently lead to the VofE site. When I called back, the young CBSA lady told us we circumnavigated and she also read the most recent postings and knew exactly what we told her was true. So the bottom line is, when it’s Your Time, write your own blog to help those coming along in your wake and you never know how it will make your life a little easier.
Of course after clearing it was rum n’ a splash of coke with Glacier Ice time and then it was crash city after we unanimously passed on dinner.
Today is laundry day Sunday. It is high tide so we be washin’ n’ makin’ water.
Egret is for sale. http://youtu.be/AAR5wK-sWRs
Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.