Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mid water transfer

We arrived in St. Peters, Cape Breton on Friday last week and have been enjoying a week visiting with family, sailing and working.  We took a mooring at the St. Peters Marina and spent Saturday and Sunday taking day sails into the Bras D'Or Lakes. Monday was a work day. On Tuesday we sailed up to Baddeck and have been here since, working and enjoying Baddeck.

When we are in Cape Breton, it is always fun to take family out on the boat for a day sail. Anchoring in a sheltered cove, barbequing something for lunch and then swimming off the boat is a favourite activity. Last Sunday we set out for such a day trip with Nancy and Gerry, my in-laws. The wind was favourable, so we slipped off the mooring under sail and headed into the Lakes, towing our dinghy, Ducky, behind.  The wind was light, but we were in no hurry, so we were sailing along under jib alone, at about 2.5 to 3 knots. This was probably a good thing because we had forgotten to lift Ducky's outboard engine up out of the water.

Although I called to Jay, who was still coiling our mooring line on the bow, to pull in Ducky and lift the engine, I was too late. I watched helplessly as Ducky's engine snagged the really long float line on the pennant of a nearby mooring. Before Jay could move the length of the boat, the line snapped and the float, wrapped around Ducky's engine, floated out behind us. Jay pulled Ducky in and, even though we were still moving, he jumped into Ducky and lifted the engine.  It took him only a few seconds to unwrap the float and rotting piece of line from around Dcky's engine. So there was Jay sitting in Ducky, being towed along, holding onto the now rescued float. "We should reattach it," I called to Jay. He agreed and suggested that if I untied the dinghy he would motor back and reattach the float, then catch up to us. After all, with only the jib out and in light winds it should be easy to catch up.

There was a small wrinkle in this plan as he had jumped into Ducky without the red cord that is needed to start the engine, and now he was trailing 30 feet behind us, the dinghy having floated out as soon as he had jumped inside. I told him to hold on, as I readjusted the foresail to compensate for a wind shift and I grabbed the red cord. By pulling on the line tethering Ducky to the boat, he pulled close enough so I could hand him the red cord. I then untied Ducky and set Jay and our little inflatable dinghy free.

Jay's mother seemed to handle with aplomb the fact that I had just set her son adrift in the dinghy behind us and we were beginning to rapidly sail away from him as the breeze freshened. Jay did get the engine started and motored back to the mooring ball to fish the long pendant out of the water and reattach the float. Noticing how much distance we were putting between us, I decided to tack around and start sailing back towards Jay, not sure he would be able to easily catch up otherwise, as we have never tried mid water transfers under sail before.

I, for one, was thankful that we were under jib alone, making the sails easier to singlehand. Jay finished tying the float on to the mooring pennant and started motoring back toward us. Now the trick was to get Ducky reattached and Jay back aboard while under sail. Luckily Jay was thinking more clearly than I was as he suggested I heave to. I did so, backwinding the foresail and keeping the rudder hard over so that the force of the wind and the rudder effectively stopped the boat, keeping it in one place. Jay motored up, handed me Ducky's towline and climbed aboard.  Within minutes Ducky was secured, with the engine lifted this time, and we released the sail and resumed sailing. Two mid-water transfers completed, with one of them under sail!

The rest of the day was perfect. We sailed leisurely to Cape George Harbour where we anchored, grilled lunch, played cards, swan and lazed in the sun. What a beautiful day!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Water, Water Everywhere

Water inside a sailboat is not a good thing. Yesterday we had lots inside My Obsession, and it was all over the floor.

We left Bouctouche at 6am, after skillfully (we are getting better at handling the boat!) manouevering the boat out of the berth, and were headed east. The sky was overcast but there was not very much wind. We motored out the staked channel. It was low tide so I was keeping a close eye on the deph, but there was at minimum 4 feet under our 4-and-a-half foot keel all the way out the channel. Once in the Strait there were lobster buoys to contend with and a small chop.

Now, it was not really that rough, we had been in much bigger seas, but the waves were hitting the boat in just the right way to create a bit of a roll. Every so often a wave slightly larger than the rest would hit and we would really rock side to side. It must have been one of these waves that set up just the right harmonics for the 4 litre, unopened, water jug that was sitting on the counter to take flight across the cabin. Upon hitting the floor, the jug burst and 4 litres of water went everywhere!

Now we have travelled over 1200 NM in this boat this summer and we always leave a water jug on the counter. It has never taken flight before, even when we have been in 6 to 8 foot waves. I went below and tried my best to wipe up the mess. Much of the water had completely soaked the small area rug at the foot of the stairs. I took the dripping rug and put it in the head, figuring I could run the shower sump if necessary to remove excess water from that floor. I mopped the rest of the floor as best I could. I knew that much of it had likely gone through the cracks in the floorboard and into the bilge, but there was no way I was pulling up floor boards on a rolling boat. Besides, that is what the bilge pump is for. The rest would have to wait until we stopped for the night.

The rest of the day was relatively uneventful. We read, napped, listened to music and chatted. We motorsailed for awhile, but the wind was never strong. We caught enough of the current heading to Confederation Bridge that we surfed along at 8 knots. On the east side of the Bridge the seas calmed. With the sun on our stern I took the still dripping rug and laid it out to dry in Ducky, who was hanging from the davits on the stern. Talk about a fancy dinghy, with wall to wall carpeting! By 8pm we arrived at the warf at Pictou Island, having travelled 100 NM exactly that day.

Jay made a yummy chicken and rice dish and we chatted about Pictou Island with the wharfinger when she arrived to collect the $10 for tying up for the night. What an interesting place. A handful of people live on the Island. There are no services and no stores.

Finally, at 9:30pm it was time to check out the bilge. My Obsession has a series of bilge compartments that drain from one to the other. First we pulled up the one at the base of the compaionway stairs where the the water had spilled. We use this area to store pop and water. Sure enough there was water sloshing around. We pulled out all of the stored drinks and started bailing. Soon we realized we weren't making any progress.

Five minutes later we had all the floor boards up and discovered there was more than 4 litres of water in the bilge, spread through all the bilge compartments, but not enough water to activate the float valve and start the bilge pump. A small investigation led us to a loose connection at the water pump and small leak that had likely been the reason the water pump had seemed to be running more than normal the past few days. In two minutes Jay had the loose hose reattached securely and the leak eliminated. Now to clean out the bilge.

An hour later we had bailed, sponged and wiped out all the bilge areas and confirmed the bilge pump worked fine. We wiped off all the pop cans and water bottles and restored them. I once again have a dry bilge. A check this morning confirmed the leak was eliminated and that all was as should be.

This morning I moved the water jug off the counter and into the sink.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Buoys, Navigating, and Randy Bachmann

This morning we left Bouchtouche at 6am, destined for the Charlottetown area. This is a somewhat ambitious day, around 80NM or so. At our cruising speed of about 7 kts, this is about a 12 hour day.

Part of our consideration this morning was timing for crossing under the bridge. Throught the Strait, the strongest currents occur at the narrowest area, which of course is right around where the bridge crosses. Now, they aren't super strong currents, only up to about 2 kts, but it's still much better to have that on your stern helping you along rather than on your bow. Unfortunately the timing doesn't work well for us this morning, and the best we can hope for is a slack current through the area, which happens at around 1 pm. If we had left any later, we would be fighting the current.

This morning's passage has a bit of a challenge in that it is still fishing season in this end of the Strait. The water is a little choppy, making it tough to see the buoys until we are quite close. At times this means a quick course change, so navigating this morning requires some concentration. Then, to make it even more challenging, our course was taking us straight into the sun, causing even more complications in trying to see the buoys.

The sun has now gone behind the clouds, so I'm able to type three or four words between scans and buoy avoidance manoeuvers.

Since we had to get up early this morning, Michelle has gone down below to take a nap. In the meantime, I'm navigating and listening to podcasts of Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap - one of my favourite things to do when I'm alone on the helm. For anyone who likes the music of the 60's through 90's in particular, I highly recommend these shows - they are fabulous.

The sun is starting to peek out again and the buoys are getting challenging to see again. I love times like this.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Bouctouche has been our home for the past three days - one day longer than planned because of the weather. However, when we are caught someplace, we try to turn it into a work day, which we have done for the past two days.

We only had one complication in working here, and that is the demise of Bad Boy. As you may recall from earlier posts, Bad Boy is our wireless amplification system, allowing us to pick up wireless signals and connect from on the boat. While we were in Summerside over the weekend, Bad Boy stopped working. On Monday, I called the company and told them about the problem. They had me run a couple of tests, and narrowed down the component causing the problem. They immediately replaced it at no charge. The new part is being shipped to us in Cape Breton, so in a few days it will be up and running again. A big thumbs up to Bad Boy and their service.

In the meantime, this marina has a wonderful and very comfortable building which has made a great spot to sit down and do some work.

Yesterday, we took a walk through town here, and discovered that it was National Acadian Day. Bouctouche, of course, is a strong Acadian community, and they were celebrating. As we walked through town, the parade was just about to start. This wasn't a parade with floats - this was a Tintamarre. Hundreds of people walked through town, making as much noise as possible. Noisemakers, thunder sticks, pots and pans and yelling people were complimented by horns, sirens, and even the ringing of the huge bells over the church made it quite the scene.

Tomorrow morning we're off to the Charlottetown area, where we're planning on anchoring for the night before making a run to St George's Bay and Cape Breton.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Kindness of Fellow Sailors

The Summerside Yacht Club is one of our favourite stops along the western part of the Northumberland Strait. The Marina has nice showers and laundry facilities and is downtown, close to a grocery store, Spinnakers Landing and other amenities. Marina staff are friendly and helpful. The other sailors and boaters are also very warm and welcoming.

In fact, it was in Sumemrside last year that we met Chick and Cheryl of Great Habit, a CS 40.  We struck up a friendship and have kept in touch all year. They have been wonderful sounding boards as we were looking for our new boat, and have always been very willing to share their knowledge and experience with us.

Chick and Cheryl were among the first people we saw when we arrived in Summerside and it was wonderful to see them again. We joined them and Dave and Halle from Shamul, a Whitby 42 from Ontario,  for the Thursday night BBQ at the Yacht Club. The next day, Glen and Kendra arrived to take us to breakfast and then they ferried me around Summerside while I took care of a few errands and Jay worked.  Upon returning to the marina, we struck up conversations with several other sailors and debated the merits of different types of boats - one of my favourite passtimes!  I had the pleasure of going aboard a Mirage 30 and an Aloha 27, both beautiful boats.  

We had intended on Saturday to go to the Summerside Farmer's Market and then to head out by mid-morning. However, at the Market we ran into friends and ended up having a wonderful 2 hour visit. By the time we returned to the Maina, it was noon. We decided to stay another day. Chick came by and offered to lend us his buffer and with some oxidization remover we were able to clean the yellow beard that had formed on My Obsession's bow after almost 1200NM of sailing.

Later that day J.P. Hawsingham, a Nor'Sea 27 from New Jersey, arrived and we met Pat and Janis. They spend several months aboard every summer and cruise. Wherever they are in the fall, they haul the boat and then launch her again in the spring and continue their trip.They had just come down the St. Lawrence River, a trip we are planning for next year.  Pat was full of advice and information on sailing the St. Lawrence and very generously gave us his charts for the area. How excited we were to get the charts!

Later that night we shared a drink with Chick and Cheryl and once again, we learned alot from both of them abut passagemaking.

Sunday morning dawned sunny and beautiful. With help from our some of our friends at the marina, we slipped My Obsession free of the dock and moved around to the fuel dock. After filling the diesel and settling the marina bill, Chick again offered some very useful advice as he showed us a technique for springing the bow out when it is being pushed on dock by the wind or current. We threw off the bow line and spring lines. We moved a fender to the stern quarter and looped the stern line to a cleat on the dock just aft of midships. While I held the stern line, Jay reversed into the dock, the fender keeping the boat off, but the bow swinging out. It worked perfectly! Waving goodbye to our friends on the dock, we set sail for Bouctouche NB, feeling grateful for the friedship, fellowship, kindness and generosity of fellow sailors.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Brudenell to Summerside

After anchoring in Brudenell overnight on Tuesday, we sailed to John's Bay in Amet Sound on the Nova Scotia side to anchor for the night. As it has been so often this summer, it was raining, though not too heavily and was a bit foggy. The passage was a m ixture of sailing and motoring. The wind was on our nose leaving Cardigan Bay, so it wasn't until after we rounded Panmure Island that we were able to sail. We did have to perform an overboard rescue for our friend Glen's favourite hat as we neared Panmure Island. It was a great chance to practice manoverboard skills under power.

It was a nice close-hauled sail along the south eastern coast of PEI, with winds between 15-20 knots. We did have a surprise when the bowline came undone on the jib sheet. But it wasn't difficult to fix. We rounded into the wind and shortened the sail enough that Jay wouldn't be swept off the deck as he went forward and retied it. It had been tied by the previous owners as the boat was commissioned in May and now after 1100NM it had just come undone. Within minutes we were under way again.

Unfortunately, about an hour after we rounded Cape Bear, the wind, now on our stern, weakend to the point we needed to motorsail. We motorsailed for most of the rest of the day, under gray skies, mist and rain. We entered Amet Sound and anchored.

The following day, Wednesday, we crossed the Strait again, and passed under the Confederation Bridge on our way to Summerside. The forecasted 10-15 knots of wind never materialized and with 4 knots of wind on our stern we motored all the way. Again, the weather was overcast, misting rain and just plain wet. The seas were fairly calm and Jay and I played cribbage at the cockpit table as Glen took the helm. (I won.) Being on the helm required even more vigilance than ususal as the lobster buoys were plentiful as we neared the Bridge.

We arrived in Summerside late afternoon. We tied up and headed for the showers. Although the weather had not been the greatest, Glen insisted he had a great time. Hopefully we will see sunshine the next time he sails with us.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cruising Guides and the Beginning of a New Adventure

Well, we have finally pulled ourselves away from our land-based resposibilities in order to take some more time on My Obsession. Despite the fog patches and mist, we left Souris around 1pm today and headed for Brudenell. Our friend, Glen, is aboard with us for a few days.

The wind was light, so we poked along under sail for two hours, then turned on the engine and motorsailed. The sea was fairly calm and we easily spotted seveal seals as we left Souris. As we left so late in the day, we decided to anchor off the resort in Brudenell.

Before we left this morning, Jay had to make a small repair to a valve in the head. Maintenance is never done on a boat. While Jay effected the repair, I chatted with sailors who had cruised up from Maine. While discussing cruising guides, he informed me of an older book, now out of print, by Peter Loveridge titled, A Cruising Guide to Nova Scotia. After we anchored off Brudenell this evening I went online to search Amazon for a used copy, I stumbled on Peter Loveridge's blog and the news that he has published a revised version of the Guide on DVD.  I wish we had had this Guide on our recent trip up the Nova Scotia coast.  I will be ordering a copy of the revised guide.

As for cruising in Prince Edward Island, the best cruising guide is Harbours and Marinas of Prince Edward Island by Sam Cioran. Sam keeps his boat in Souris and has amazing knowledge of cruising grounds in PEI. We have found the small blue covered book, the Cruising Guide to Cape Breton, which is also out of print, to be the best cruising guide for Cape Breton. Anyone know of a good cruising guide for New Brunswick?

We have the Down East Circle Route Cruising Guide by Cheryl Barr and the Cruising Guide to the Canadian Maritimes also by Cheryl Barr, but we find them lacking in detail. Maybe someday we will have to write our own cruising guide. Can you imagine having a job that required you to sail? Sign me up!