Saturday, August 24, 2013

Summer in New England

It has been a busy summer. Sarah and I arrived home with the Mary Joan III the first week of May. We are building a garage/workshop. The garage will be a place to store the Mary Joan and TV during the summer with a metals studio for Sarah and a woodworking shop for me on the second floor. There will also be a lean to on the western side that will house our newly purchased Ranger Tug for the winter months. We had hoped to have the building weather tight by now, but unforeseen circumstances have caused delays such that the foundation has just now been completed. 
Ready to pour

Since we believed the demands of the construction could tie us too tightly to the project, Sarah came up with the great idea to secure a camping site for the summer season at Fort Getty Park in Jamestown, Rhode Island. On Conanicut Island in the middle of Narragansett Bay, Jamestown is a beautiful village of 5,000 people. The campground overlooks Dutch Harbor where we used to keep Orinoco, our 38' Shannon Ketch. This turned out to be a great decision. We could escape the yard work or the days of oppressive heat with a short drive to Rhode Island. There is always a breeze on the island. 
Evening sky Conanicut Island

While the delays in construction were disappointing, they allowed us to accept sailing invitations. The first was in early June to help deliver a sailboat from Tortola to Connecticut with my friend, Captain Jim. The boat was a beautiful Hallberg Rassy. 

Later in the month I was asked to crew on a J80 in the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta and the Block Island Race Week Storm Trisail Club races. I had never been on a racing boat before and welcomed the experience. I had forgotten how quickly things happen on a small boat. But, Captain Pete was patient with this "newbie" and we all had a great time. 

Block Island Race Week

Then in July, Jim asked Sarah and I to help bring the Hallberg Rassy from Newport, RI to Camden, ME. We were happy to spend a week on this classic boat and spend some time in a beautiful harbor. As an added bonus, we were asked to help sail a 90' Catana catamaran back to Massachusetts from Boothbay Harbor. The two boats could not have been more different. The Hallberg Rassy is a tried and true design with a strong pedigree. The Catana was a first of its kind, never before attempted one off. The H/R is a traditional deep keel, center cockpit sailboat. The Catana is an ultra modern high tech boat with expansive staterooms in addition to complicated and sophisticated sail handling equipment. 
Hallberg Rassy

Curtis Island Light, Camden, Maine

Camden, Maine

Rockport, Maine
The sailing each way across the Gulf of Maine was comfortable and uneventful except for the return trip whereupon we encountered numerous pods of whales. It was late afternoon as we neared Race Point off the tip of Cape Cod that we began to see whales. Over the course of two hours we must have seen fifty or more whales, both fin back and northern right whales. One fin back whale came within twenty feet of the bow of our boat. We left the whales and found anchorage behind the curved arm of the cape for the night at Provincetown. The next morning, after checking tides and currents for the Cape Cod canal, we departed Provincetown for our destination of Fairhaven on Buzzards Bay. Both the captain and I checked and double checked that the mast of this boat, at 127' plus antennae would fit under the bridges and power lines before committing to transiting the canal. However, as we approached the the Bourne bridge, I noticed that there was a scaffolding suspended from beneath the bridge from which workers were doing repair work. The captain quickly stopped the boat and called the canal authorities to check on the clearance. Stopping a 90' boat in the Cape Cod canal with a 3-4 knot current pushing you toward the bridge is no small feat. Meanwhile, I checked the tide chart and saw that we were 3 feet below high tide. The canal authorities told us we had five feet to spare which agreed with the tide charts. We proceeded through very slowly as the workers on the staging gathered, watched and finally gave a thumbs up as we went under the bridge. 

Time spent on these boats allowed me to assess my desires to be on the water and have my own boat once again. I concluded that we no longer needed a boat capable of crossing oceans and that we would probably spend less than two weeks at any one time living on board. I also didn't want to have to keep her in marina or on a mooring, so a trailerable boat was appealing. The Ranger Tug 27' came to the top of the list. We could tow her with the truck we use for the Mary Joan. That will allow us to bring her to Maine over the road rather than bringing her on her own bottom, saving time and money. We also realized that even though our previous boat was a sailboat, we had to use the motor more than 25% of the time to get to where we wanted to go. After much searching on the internet, we found a 2012 Ranger Tug 27' that had been used as a show model at the boat shows. Even though it is a 2012, it is considered "new" and comes with complete warranty. We made the deposit on the day of the blue moon, sometimes also called the "red moon" at harvest time. So, we named the boat Luna Rossa. She has about the same amount of space as the Mary Joan, so those familiar with an Airstream can appreciate how comfortable we will be. 
Luna Rossa

Stay tuned.