Northeast by North, Isles of Shoals to Falmouth Foreside & Boothbay Harbor

We stayed two nights at the Isles of Shoals giving us time to have lobster rolls for lunch and to explore the island. Dan & Linda, friends from our first year in the Bahamas, were joining us for some cruising in Maine after which they planned on kayak camping on some of the islands in the Maine Island Trail. After leaving Isles of Shoals and prior to picking them up at Cook’s Lobster House on Bailey Island, we decided to spend the night at Handy Boat in Falmouth Foreside.
Dan & Linda, with more provisions than you could imagine (Linda does love to cook), came aboard and we went to Dolphin Marine in Harpswell for fuel, water and a mooring for the evening. There were no moorings available in Christmas Cove for the next evening so we diverted to Boothbay Harbor for the night. Dan recommended the Tugboat Inn for dinner and it was wonderful with our table overlooking the harbor.

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Burnt Island Lighthouse on the way into Boothbay Harbor

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Boothbay Harbor

Latitudes & Attitudes

If the Bahamas are the place to be in the winter…then Maine must be the place to be in the summer. We have had wonderful adventures on board Firecracker and this year has been the best. St Marys GA to the Bahamas, back to Fernandina Beach FL, up the east coast to Down East Maine then eventually we will get back to Connecticut.
On our last trip to Maine we sailed off shore from the Cape Cod Canal direct to Northeast Harbor on Mt Desert Island. This year Ginnie wanted to do day hops, stopping each night along the way, so we could see more of the coast. Starting in Mystic we spent our first night at our old mooring at Dutch Harbor Boat Yard in Jamestown, RI. We invited our friends Sam & Tess and Steve & Karen from Sol Mate (who we met in George Town, Exumas last winter) for drinks and hor’dovoures on board Firecracker, then on to dinner at the Oyster Bar in town. We had a great evening with wonderful friends.

The next morning we left for Onset, MA at the west end of the Cape Cod Canal.  As we were sailing up Buzzards Bay we were hailed on the VHF radio by Ron & Karen from Sea Dancer. They were cruising with friends aboard Southern Estate and were anchored in Onset. We met “Rocking Ron & Cool Karen” two years ago in George Town where for many, many years they have been DJ’s for some of the best dance parties in the Bahamas. Ron also was tireless in organizing volleyball tournaments on you guessed it, Volleyball Beach on Stocking Island. It was terrific meeting again on our way to Maine.
We left Onset early to catch the favorable current to get through the canal and on to the Boston Harbor Islands. We picked up a mooring off Georges Island for the night. Below are some photos in the canal and of the sunset over the Boston skyline.

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Also some shots from early morning when we continued north to the Isles of Shoals.

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Star Island, Isles of Shoals

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Firecracker anchored in Gosport Harbor, Isles of Shoals

The Adventure Continues….

We arrived in Beaufort and secured a slip at the Beaufort Docks. Our slip was adjacent to the main bulkhead and we had front row seats for the Friday night entertainment.

Great fun with the best seats in town… in Firecrackers’ cockpit.
The next morning we still had some nasty weather offshore so the decision was made to bypass rounding Cape Hatteras and continue up the ICW to Norfolk, VA. This would be a little more ICW than we had planned for but better than sailing in the conditions predicted for offshore.
After leaving Beaufort NC we crossed the Neuse River and Palmico Sound and entered the Pungo – Alligator Canal. We had no wind and the sights along the canal were breathtaking at sunrise. Below are a few photos taken just after sunrise.

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Morning OJ, Pungo River style.

In Norfolk we stayed at the Little Creek Marina for a few days waiting for weather once again but it was worth the wait. We had a great run from Norfolk to New York City where we sailed by the Statue of Liberty and transited the East River. One section of the East River is Hell’s Gate. It is essential to time your passage through Hell’s Gate to coincide with the current flowing in the direction you are traveling. The current at its peak can be in excess of 5 knots. If we were to try and travel against the current we would be hard pressed to reach a speed of 3 knots, making it a very long passage.
Seeing the New York skyline from the water is very special. Below are a few photos.

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We decided to bring the boat to Branford to haul out at the Brewer’s Yacht Yard as it is less than 10 minutes from home and they were gracious in allowing me to do all the maintenance needed on Firecracker. She needed some new bottom paint and I needed to buff the topsides and complete some other minor projects necessary after our two winters in the Bahamas.

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Cleaning the tannins that are in the waters of the ICW.

Dan and Ted’s Great Adventure, a trip not exactly planned for…

Dan, our friend from our last trip to the Bahamas, graciously (maybe with some excitement) accepted the invitation to crew for our return trip to Connecticut. Our plan was to go offshore from St Marys GA to Branford CT, weather permitting of course. Ginnie was driving the car that we had left in St Marys back to Connecticut. So this was Dan & Ted’s Great Adventure.
We departed St Marys with weather reports that were favorable to at least get us to Beaufort, NC. The forecast was for a possible isolated thunderstorm in the area of Frying Pan Shoals off Cape Fear, NC. “Possible” thunderstorms, well that didn’t happen. “Isolated” not even close! Shortly after midnight when we were about 30 miles south of Cape Fear the thunderstorms started to develop on the coast and move out to sea directly in our path. There were lightning strikes every few seconds. We felt it prudent to do a 180 turn and slowly head south at about 2 knots to keep away from the thunder storms. This way we could turn back north and still make Beaufort during daylight hours when the “isolated” storms moved offshore. Great plan but it didn’t work. The weather didn’t clear until 5AM and we could no longer make Beaufort during daylight hours. We were far enough south away from the storms that we never encountered winds higher than 20 knots and the seas were manageable. In the vicinity of the storms we could see winds as high as 40 to 50 knots on our Sirius satellite weather displayed on our chart plotter. We decided to put in at Cape Fear and made reservations at the Southport Marina for a little R&R since it had been a long night.
The forecast winds for the next few days were to be from the north east, the direction we were heading and the seas were forecast to be 8 to 10 feet. Not a good combination for trying to go back off shore to get around Frying Pan Shoals. So we headed up into the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to get to Beaufort, NC.

Fernandina Beach and a Side Trip to Cumberland Island

Having arrived back in the US a little early we were able to spend some time in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. This is a delightful community although somewhat touristy. The marina is very convenient and close to the downtown area. Before we went to St Marys to wait for our friend Dan from Spice to arrive to help me sail back to Connecticut we decided to take a side trip to Cumberland Island.
Cumberland Island is one of the Sea Islands of the southeastern United States and is the largest in terms of continuously exposed land. It is located on the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the U.S. state of Georgia and is part of Camden County, Georgia (30°51′N, 81°27′W). Cumberland Island constitutes the westernmost point of shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean in the United States. The island is 17.5 miles (28.2 km) long, with an area of 36,415 acres (147.37 km² or 56.25 square miles), including 16,850 acres (68.2 km2) of marsh, mudflats, and tidal creeks.
In the 1880s Thomas M. Carnegie, brother of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, and his wife Lucy bought land on Cumberland for a winter retreat. In 1884, they began building a mansion on the site of Dungeness, though Carnegie never lived to see its completion. Lucy and their nine children continued to live on the island, naming their mansion Dungeness. Dungeness was designed as a 59-room Scottish castle. They also built pools, a golf course, and 40 smaller buildings to house the 200 servants who worked at the mansion. The last time Dungeness was used was for the 1929 wedding of a Carnegie daughter. After the Crash and the Great Depression, the family left the island and kept the mansion vacant. It burned in a 1959 fire, believed to have been started by a poacher who had been shot in the leg by a caretaker weeks before. Today, the ruins of the mansion remain on the southern end of the island. The Carnegie family owned 90% of the island.

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One of the paths through the Maritime Forest to the beach.

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You guessed it…the beach.

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Does anyone know who this might be?

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Green Turtle Cay to Fernandina FL

We had an extended stay in Green Turtle last year so again we did not need to stay here and miss the weather window. We anchored overnight and the next morning we left for Fernandina Beach. The weather window was as predicted and we had a relatively benign crossing. Long ocean swells with little wind was a delight for Ginnie. Once again we had visitors come on board. A couple of sea birds thought our wind generator was something like an amusement park ride. The one in the video below that is perched on the radar was, I’m sure, just waiting to get a ride on the wind generator.

Me next, me next….come on it’s my turn!

We also had a flying fish land on deck during the night but he didn’t have as much fun as the birds. We found him on deck in the morning. The wing span on these guys is impressive; do you believe that’s Ginnie holding a dead flying fish? Yeah Ginnie!

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The passage between Green Turtle Cay and Fernandina Beach FL took us 54 hours this year. The weather window had caused us to arrive in Florida about a week earlier than planned but a delay would have kept us in the Abacos much longer than we wanted.

Next stop Guana Cay

All our weather info was telling us that a good window for crossing the Gulf Stream was upon us and the weather would be deteriorating within a few days.  We sailed to Guana Cay but staying at Guana Cay overnight would reduce our window of good weather. Last year we had toured Guana Cay so we did not feel we were missing any important scenes. We decided to have lunch, sail up through Whale Cut and on to Green Turtle Cay.  Before leaving Ginnie hoisted me to the top of the mast so I could get the photo below.  FYI, she did use the electric winch.

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Hope town to Man-O-War, a short but delightful passage.

We anchored off Man-O-War and dinghied into the harbor.  A required stop was to the Normand Albury Sail Makers where Ginnie purchased a very cool little bag.  It was just the right size for the required IPad and a few extra goodies.

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It was time to check the bottom for growth and the conditions of the shaft and prop zincs before heading back to the US.  I pulled out all the diving gear, wet suit, weights, mask/snorkel and fins, took off all the shiny stuff and entered the water.  I had a pleasant surprise. There was very little growth on the bottom and the zincs were in great shape.  So it was a short dive and it took longer to rinse everything down with fresh water and store it away than the dive took.  But the timing was good since vodka tonics were served shortly thereafter. Thanks Ginnie.

Still in Hope Town, a great place, but it’s time to think about heading north…

There are many, many turtles in Hope Town harbor, but try, just try, to get a picture of them.  They come to the surface to grab a breath of air then dive back down where so it is impossible to get a good photo.  I have sat on deck numerous times trying to get that “money” shot but to no avail.  Here is the best I could get…

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Ginnie returned from visiting the grand kids, Reese & Graeme, on the Albury ferry.  The boat has designated stops in Hope Town and seldom if ever stops at boats that are on moorings.  Well about an hour before I expected Ginnie to arrive back in Hope Town I heard someone calling “Firecracker”, I poked my head out the companionway to see the Albury ferry and Ginnie close alongside.  Rather than drop Ginnie off at one of the town docks the ferry was backing up to drop her off at Firecracker. What a surprise, so much of a surprise I didn’t have a chance to grab my camera, so no photos. Only Ginnie could manage that feat!

Before leaving Hope Town we once again connected with Keith & Jo aboard Dream Weaver, great folks that are thoroughly enjoying retirement and planning to stay in Hope Town through the summer.

Leaving Hope Town was sad, we met people that have been wintering there for as much as 56 years, and we can understand why.

Wine Down–Sip Sip & the Sip Sip Sots

OK, I’ve had some crazy post titles before but this one certainly needs explanation.  We were at the liquor store here in Hope Town and saw a sign that offered a 10% discount for SOT members.  What in the world is a SOT, how can we be one (little did we know that we already were, we just hadn’t paid our dues yet).  We were told to go to Wine Down–Sip Sip, a great little restaurant/wine/martini bar on the Back Road here in Hope Town on any Friday at around 5 PM to join.  Not to be left out of any revelry, we hopped into the dinghy and went ashore to become SOTS.   There we met Deanne and Sarah who relieved us of $5.00 and then took our photos for our official membership cards. 

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Deanne and Sarah

Welcome to the Sip Sip Sots!  FYI sip sip is the Bahamian equivalent to gossip.  Rather than my giving you the background to this esteemed organization our official welcome is below:

Greetings Sots,

In case you have no idea why you joined this illustrious yet somewhat dubious organization, then you are definitely Sip, Sip, Sot material, and you have found a home. If you are sober enough to read this newsletter, then now is the time for us to enlighten you about the organization’s history, origins, purpose, and goals.

History

In June of 2009, four friends got together for a few sips of their beverage of choice. While enjoying their drinks and the glow of companionship they had an idea. Why not found a group that had as its purpose nothing but chatting with friends over a flagon (or wine glass, or tumbler)?  A group without rules, directories, by-laws, meetings, committees, or fundraisers.  Our only goal would be to gather like minded souls for the camaraderie.  Because the four friends were besotted with the idea and were sitting at the Wine Down Sip Sip, they decided that the name of this august group of friends should be the Sip Sip Sots. This was not meant as a denigrating appellation but as a lilting bit of fanciful sibilance with just a touch of alliteration.

After a few more sips we had another idea. Perhaps some of the local island establishments that sell spirits might want to solicit the good will of such a jolly group of friends. If that were the case, then the proprietors of these businesses might make it worth our while to have our gatherings with them. We mused, “Might they add some time to their Happy Hour prices for us?”  “Might they provide us some goodies to be nibbled whilst we sip?”  Well, after some investigation, we found that The Abaco Inn, Sea Spray, and The Lodge were willing to entertain such an idea if enough of our members were in attendance. The Wine down Sip Sip also was willing to offer their establishment as a headquarters!

Goal

Our last job then, was to gather around us friends with like minds. When you joined, we asked that a fee of $5.00 be given to the founding members. This is for all their efforts, and to defray the cost of membership cards, newsletters, and rosters, and the major portion goes to Friends of Abaco Animals, a charity that provides for abandon, homeless and needy animals. This is a onetime assessment for a lifetime membership (your card expires when you do).

We thank you for your $5.00 and say: Welcome and enjoy your new membership in the Sip Sip Sots.

 

The Four Founders

 

P.S. Informal Sot gatherings are held every Friday at our Headquarters

Additional Perks:

10% off all liquors at Light House Liquors

10% off any breakfast lunch or dinner at Sea Spray

10% off food and drink at Cracker P’s

10 % off food and drink at Lubber’s Landing

10% off food at the Wine Down Sip Sip

All of these perks are only good if you present a Sip Sip Sot card for I.D.

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My card, ready for presentation.