Prep Work

I’m relaxing in Ontario but have a flight booked back to NS Oct 25. Escapade will be hauled by then and we’ll get to work for a few days. I’m targeting Nov 1 for the splash date.

I’ve been thinking of heading straight across the Gulf for a landfall in Massachusetts. I’ve done that trip a number of times in sailboats. I could do it in 24-28 hours on Escapade, but being ten hours from the nearest shore gives me pause.

But regardless of whether I go that route, I’d like to say my boat is capable of doing it. That’s the immediate task at hand.

I bought a survival suit. I carry a small coastal life raft, but hypothermia is a real threat and the suit ups the odds of survival if I have to abandon ship.

Beyond the usual pre-voyage jitters, I need to remind myself that a December cruise through New England could be delightful. I’ve got a comfortable capable boat. I haven’t traveled the Maine coast. I think I’m more fearful of weather challenges than I should be. I don’t need to go far offshore if I don’t want to.

The prospect of being fully operational and back underway next month is exciting. Here’s to off season cruising!

Back to Plan – USA Bound

Route planning. Sort of.

For those that don’t closely follow my travels, I laid out my game plan for 2022 in an earlier post.

When I left Lunenburg I wasn’t sure when I’d be back. I was prepared to accept storing the boat on shore in NS and returning in the spring to resume travels.

As a subplan to this, I had originally thought that I’d enjoy living on Escapade over the winter on the south shore of NS. It remains a lovely idea, but I really wasn’t ready for that. I’m too hermitish, and most of my close family and support systems are in Ontario. And my insurance is OK with me living aboard during the winter, but requires daily checks in my absence. It felt like a bad plan to stay in the water there. Maybe another year.

Anyway, the major stop has been entry to the US by recreational boat. We now have credible reports indicating an opening in early November.

I’m slightly intimidated – mostly my fear is unpleasant sea conditions, and when you’re ten hours from nearest shore the safety and survival requirements change a bit. That’s generally not my thing and Escapade – let’s not forget – was not designed as an offshore passagemaker. But we’ll make it just fine. And I’m addressing a few boat prep issues, mostly securing equipment and storage for sea and reviewing/updating safety systems. Should have done this a long time ago.

But I’m not crossing oceans. Good weather forecasts are available. And chatting with Samantha about it I realize that in fact I’ve put Escapade through lots already and she’s passed with flying colours. No boat fears. Mostly I don’t want to be seasick for hours on end.

So off we go. Barring unforeseen events or circumstances, in a couple of weeks I’ll be back underway in Lunenburg, and heading for Florida. I’m busy looking at the route and making preparation notes.

At this point I’m viewing the trip as essentially a dash from SW Nova Scotia to Norfolk. There are no required stops. Weather windows will be critical. Once I’m in Norfolk I’ll relax.

If you’re reading this and you want to come along on this segment, reach out. I like having traveling companions, and could benefit from having a watch stander on the long bits.

Similarly, if you’re one of many who are heading that way on your boat when we’re allowed, pop me a note. I like the idea of a pack crossing the Gulf of Maine. Happy to have a buddy boat.

Thanksgiving

Lobster boats getting ready for season opening

I’m in Ontario for the last week or so. A blog post is long overdue. Sorry for the outage.

So, broadly speaking, a status update. Escapade is tied up in Lunenburg, winterized and queued up for hauling and some service work. I had noticed a bit of shudder at higher rpms. Not terrible, but pretty noticeable above about 1700 rpm. That’s well above my flat water cruise speed, but I had pledged to myself that I wouldn’t hesitate to use the 10 knot fast cruise capability if I wanted to. So I wanted a drivetrain inspection and service.

Added to that I whacked my prop on something hard in Gold River when I was there mid-August. My own stupidity. I realized on the trip back to Lunenburg that speed was down and fuel consumption way up. So I went into slow cruise mode, under 7 knots.

Anyway, there is a competent yard and machine shop there. They’ll fix it.

When the boat is ready to go, targeting early November, they’ll either store it for the winter ashore, or launch it for me.

I have to say, I’m completely charmed by Lunenburg. I basically hung out on my boat for a few weeks with frequent trips ashore. Dawdled around lots on Escapade. Had some lovely shore side visits. Not sure what comes next.

More to come.

Lunenburg, Again

Sorry for my silence.  I got a new cheap phone in August and ran out of memory.  Back in action now.

I’m back in Lunenburg today.  I like it here, and it’s been a home base for the last couple of weeks.

I’ve been traveling locally, visiting ashore a bit.  My uncle joined me for a few days.  Weather has been great.  I’ve been as far West as Port Mouton.

Lunenburg

I flew back to Halifax Monday, and Tuesday headed for Lunenburg. An easy straight run down the coast.

I’ve never been here before, by land or sea. It’s very picturesque. In the interest of exploring the area, I circled the peninsula before entering the front harbour.

My friends Layton and Tim have a home in Blue Rocks, so that was my vague destination when I came in at dusk on Tuesday. I anchored in a narrow channel called East Point Gut. Wednesday I circled north around and through the ledges and then through the islands to get to Lunenburg back harbour.

Layton and Tim picked me up for lunch, then Layton joined me for the trip back around the peninsula and in to Lunenburg front harbour. Lovely trip. These pics are his.

Thursday the remnants of Ida came through. Not a ton of rain but lots of wind. I was anchored here and was relatively unsheltered from the SE breeze. It blew up to 35+ knots for a while before shifting west.

In my usual slapdash fashion I tied up my dinghy with the light painter on Wednesday. I have a heavier one for towing, but don’t usually use it at anchor. When it blew up on Thursday by the time I thought to go secure the dinghy it was gone. The light painter had failed. So I spent the day and evening on the boat maintaining a storm watch. It had been blowing from the east when this happened so I knew the dinghy was somewhere up the harbour.

Later in the day I called the local chandlery, The Boat Locker, and immediately got Doug, who had my dinghy. As it turns out, the harbour Master had found the boat at the east end of the harbour and delivered it by truck to Doug. My instincts were good.

Today I took Escapade in to retrieve the dinghy, and resettled in at anchor. Had a nice day ashore and returned with a few groceries.

My plans are vague. The US remains closed to recreational boat entry. I had maintained some hope over the summer of being able to head south, but it’s faint hope at this point.

So I’m mulling over winter plans for me and the boat as I cruise the south shore. It’s all new territory for me from here down. I’ll try to remember to take pics.

Masters Sailing

Shade tree view of the racing

I’m in Ottawa, hanging out at Brittania YC for the weekend. They’re hosting the ILCA Masters Canadian championship. ILCA is the new name for the original Laser dinghy.

I’m registered for the regatta, and sailed yesterday. Today I sat out the racing.

The idea for racing here came about recently. I haven’t sailed a Laser more than a couple of times since I had my jaw surgery 5 years ago, but up until then had been racing pretty regularly. Getting back at it has been a goal for a while.

I have enormous admiration for a few of the old guys that continue to be active in this fleet. Joe Van Rossem is in his early 80s and Jack Pearce is 79. Both are inspirational. We have an age handicapping system that puts competitors into ten year age groups. When I started in this fleet the old guys – 65 and older – were in the Great Grand Master category. As the fleet aged they created a new category – Legend – for over 75.

Sarah has been sailing my boat in Guelph and offered to buy it, so I found a somewhat newer boat recently for sale in Toronto and bought a replacement with the intent of carrying it aboard Escapade. I had been trying to get it out to NS to sail in a regatta there this weekend, but when that fell through along with other plans for next weekend I decided to head back to Ontario for a visit. Fellow laser sailor and Guelph neighbor Harri Palm was coming to this regatta, and was able to bring my boat to Ottawa and offer me a drive home afterwards.

Yesterday was a bit of a bust. I had a flight booked from Halifax to Ottawa on Thursday on discount airline Flair, and they canceled it early Thursday morning. The alternative direct flights quickly sold out and prices spiked. I ended up getting a full priced direct flight early Friday morning on a full AC turboprop flight. Then taxi to the regatta where it was sweltering hot and sunny with very little wind. I had all my boat bits, but was missing my race timer, and had left my sun hat and sun glasses on Escapade.

When we got on the water I suffered, and got a couple of near last place finishes. Bad starts, bad boat speed, and relentlessly light and sunny. Not enough water. I was ready to come in when they called it after 2 races.

I had asked Euan and Gill if we could stay on their boat at nearby Nepean, and it seemed an ideal crash pad. But with no A/C and stifling hot humid weather I ended up staying outside late trying to cool off. It wasn’t fun. So with more of the same forecast for today I gave myself permission to sit it out. Sat in the shade, drank lots of water, had a nice lunch and a shower at the club. I’m starting to get over the shock of Ontario summer and feel fit and fine this evening.

They got three races in today, and by all accounts it was brutal several competitors came in early. I’ll go back out tomorrow if there is racing, but the forecast is for continued calm, so it may be called early.

Looking forward to seeing family this week.

Shore Leave

I’m back in Bedford, and am flying to Ontario for ten days.  Will be back aboard Escapade at the end of the month.

I had a lot of fun in the last week.  Weather has been fabulous, and I’ve caught up with a bunch of old friends. It was also nice to have the opportunity to noodle around Mahone Bay.  I’ve now explored the coast pretty thoroughly between here and Lunenburg.  Looking forward to heading further down the coast in September.

The last four pictures are courtesy of Janice Ptak, who was aboard the Viking 28 sailed by old friends Charlene and Liz. That’s the boat I’m towing in an earlier picture.  They were having motor troubles so I played tug for a few days.

This picture scooped off Facebook shows us coming into Halifax Harbour yesterday. I was happy to have company for the trip back, and we had a good day on the mother ship.

Exposed Rudder

I ran over a rope in one of the coves close to Tantallon on Monday.  We were traveling parallel to the shore maybe 400 feet out and I noticed a line of buoys outside of us, then at the last moment saw that the line went all the way to shore.  It was very tight, and some of the floats directly in front of us may have been submerged.  We went across it at 90 degrees.

I reflexively did what I would have done in Mazurka when I realized the situation.  Cut the throttle and go into neutral.  In Mazurka I could go over lines and debris that way with relative impunity.

Escapade has an exposed spade rudder, and it’s a real vulnerability.  I knew that when I got the boat.  But I was reminded of that when the rudder hooked the line and we came to a stop.

I was pretty quickly able to determine from the swim platform that the line was clear of the prop.  I tried without success to push it down with a boat hook to clear the rudder, but there was a lot of tension on the line and regularly spaced floats.

Fortunately it was calm and fair.  After several minutes of study, Greg suggested we try the thrusters, and after a couple of attempts we managed to rotate our way free using the bow and stern thrusters. Greg operated them while I directed from the swim platform.

It’s got me thinking more defensively about the next part or my trip.  A knife taped to a boat hook could have easily and quickly extricated us from this situation, and if it were rough I’d go there pretty quickly.  But the prop is somewhat exposed as well.  I think I’m just going to have to be super observant and diligent in avoiding pots and lines and cross my fingers. 

My other takeaway is not to go into glide mode.  Had I assertively acted to stop the boat when I realized we were going to cross the line I could have avoided going across it.  In hindsight that’s what I should have done.  I need to work on that.

I should also note that driving this boat into narrow dead end coves and turning around in a boat length is a blast.  I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. The thrusters are my get out of jail free card, but the boat is extremely maneuverable with that rudder and broad flat section aft of the keel, and I can easily do a 180 in less than two boat lengths without thrusters. As with many things, it’s a compromise.

Chester

I’m anchored here in front harbour. Lovely spot, lots of boat traffic and the Bluenose and HMCS Oriole near by. A few of the classic designs out doing practice maneuvers.

The fog never really lifted today. It all feels familiar.

I’m going to shadow the racing for a day or two. I was ashore earlier and it was very quiet. Not like the Race Weeks that I remember from my youth. The Bluenose class looks like fun. The boats and rig have changed, with blade jibs and no spinnaker. They have a fleet of something like 25 racing this week.