now enjoying the Mid-Atlantic after making our way south. With fall weather on our heels, we were
able to take advantage of Northerly winds on many days to escape Maine and New England. I’ll try
to capture some of the more memorable highlights of our last month.
After leaving Acadia national park, we made our way southwest along the Maine coast with stops.
We managed to enjoy one last night at McClathery Island where I dug clams clams and purchased lobster for dinner with
our friends Connie and John from “Mirabor”. The following day, strong northerly winds provided
a quick sail to Rockland via the Fox Island Thorofare. From Rockland we stopped at Harmon Harbor on the
Sheepscott River where we enjoyed the cross harbor rivalry of two neighbors. It seems that Mr. Kelly on
the west side of the harbor, and Mr. Darling on the east side compete to see who can give away their mooring to visiting sailboats.
During our last visit to this harbor, we stayed on Mr. Kelly’s mooring. With his mooring occupied,
we headed for anchor but were ushered by Mr. Darling to his mooring. Once secured, Mr. Darling rowed
over in his dinghy and delivered a bottle of Champagne and bag of cooked crab claws; amazing! The crab
claws made for a wonderful dinner and we’re still waiting to open the champagne. For some reason
Taft’s cruising guide gives this small harbor a bad rap and they don’t get too many visitors.
The next day we motored then sailed in southerly winds to Jewel Island where we explored the WWII towers and underground
barracks. With our fuel gage reading just below “1/4”, I decided to open the access plate and
see just what this correlated to in gallons. I was happy to find a clean, rust free fuel tank but, after
measuring and calculating the sump volume, surprised to determine we had only twenty gallons of diesel remaining.
With light winds forecast, we decided to stop in Portland to purchase 75 gallons; enough to motor all the way to Rhode
Island. Motoring through Portland’s outlying islands, we were impressed by their beauty and proximity
to this busy city. What a cool place to live and work.
After motoring all day in light easterly winds, we stopped for the night at Isle of Shoals, a group
of five islands lying ten miles southeast of Portsmouth, NH. Another very cool spot that we’d passed
by on our prior trips north and south. The following morning we beat into freshening southerly winds to
the Merrimac River and then motored our way up to Newburyport’s city docks for a three day visit my mother, Suzzane
Cox. Newburyport is a quintessential New England small city with a very picturesque downtown business district.
Alden enjoyed trips to the park, swimming in Grandma’s pool, Cider Hill farms, and renting Star Wars movies at
Blockbuster. We all enjoyed visiting with Suzanne and dinner with my sister Marg and her husband Chris
Murphy, and also friends Bob and Karen Hurley. As always it’s difficult to slip docklines after enjoyable
stops and this meant a late start and arriving after dark in Gloucester for the night. With strong northerly
winds forecast the following day, we got underway and headed for the Cape Cod Canal. Sure enough, winds
built quickly to twenty knots. “Charlotte” surged ahead with pole out genoa and full main.
With winds increasing and waves building, we furled in the mainsail (easily done with hydraulic in-mast furling), and
rolled in some genoa. Kirsten managed to set a speed record of 10.5 knots while surging done one wave in
steady thirty knots of winds. Entering the protection of the Cape Cod Canal four knots of fair current
quickly ushered us to Buzzards Bay where we anchored in Mattapoisett harbor for the night. September 20th
brought twenty knot northeasterly winds, sunny skies and a fast sail to Newport harbor where we anchored off the Ida Lewis
yacht club for three days. Newport is a very buys harbor with amazing yachts, large and small coming and
going, cruise ships visiting and all kinds of sailboat racing to watch. On the 26th, we motored
up Narragansett Bay to Warren River where we docked at Warren River Boatworks for three days. Last year
we had Paul Dennis work on “Charlotte” and he was kind enough to provide docks space while we visited with family
and friends including: Gerry, Joan, and Patrick McGonagle; Lou Fuchs; and Arlene and Frank McGonagle. Our
frequent crew, Dan Rumplik, was put to work trying out storm staysail and trysail, and sewing leather on the spreader tips.
The best thing about Warren: Dunkin Donuts within walking distance of the dock.
I was joined by my brother Mike and Dan Rumplik for the trip to Pt.
Judith. Kirsten and Alden wisely chose to drive Mike’s car down to Wakefield instead of sail on this
very rainy windy day. And what a sail it was. Easterly winds from twenty to thirty knots
made for a fast beam reach down Narragansett Bay’s west passage. Once clear of Jamestown Island’s
Beavertail we surged into a violent sea. With deeply reefed main and genoa, Mike certainly got a workout
keeping Charlotte on course towards Pt. Judith. As we cracked off around Pt. Judith and surfed
down one wave, I saw the knotmeter peak at 10.8 knots. With waves breaking on the east harbor of refuge
entrance, we sailed around to the more protected southwest entrance then sailed up to Galilee before rolling in our sails.
I had one of the most humbling and challenging docking experiences of my life at Pt. Judith Marina. A
tight slip, strong cross winds, and unexpected current on our stern found us pinned to some pilings precariously woven onto
the anchor platform of an adjacent sport fishing boat. We deployed the dinghy and Dan ran a long line to
an upcurrent dock. Using the anchor windlass capstan we warped the bow around and managed to get Charlotte
into the slip with amazingly minimal damage to the boat. I walked away from the docking with a renewed
respect for handling this heavy steel boat in tight situations. Having capable crew aboard allowed me to
salvage what could have been a disastrous situation: thanks Mike and Dan! Luckily Hurricane Kyle passed
well east of Rhode Island bringing only heavy rain while we visited with Mike’s family in Wakefield.
Our voyage from RI to Cape May will be remembered as the
“Attack of the Flies.” Before departing Pt. Judith, we stopped at Galilee fuel and took 225
gallons of diesel. As best I can determine, our fuel capacity is about 300 gallons. With
220nm ahead of us and a desire to reach Cape May habor before dark, we motored/motorsailed out to Montauk Pt. and set a direct
course of 242 degrees magnetic in the autopilot and settled in. Somewhere between Block Island and Montauk
Pt. a swarm of flying bugs descended on Charlotte. Thousands of small and large flies, moths,
and other strange bugs made their home on deck and below. There were simply too many to attempt removing
them. We would have to wait for them to die or fly away. We all put on long pants and
socks as we soon discovered that the flies like to bite. Kirsten did an amazing job of not letting the
flies totally wig her out; at least she was kept these feelings to herself. I managed to hood one small
bluefish from our trolling line which we released. At 2200 north winds built to twelve knots and allowed
us to beam reach at seven knots and shut off the engine. Kirsten did a nice job of keeping sails trimmed
while I got a few hours sleep with occaisional glances at the wind and boatspeed on the aft stateroom B&G sailing instrument.
We sailed until 0400 when the wind decreased and speed fell below five knots. Once again, the engine
was started and we motored along, making good progress. Alden slept well and even managed to watch a movie
down below as Charlotte rolled in a long eight foot swell on her beam. He’s blessed with
a good sea stomach. With the sun rising at 0630, Kirsten took over the watch and I struck below for a few
hours and managed to sleep until a fly tried to sneak into my right ear. We spent the rest of the morning
using the shop vac to suck up the ever weakening fly population. Four hours later our nuisance visitors
were sequestered to the shop vac canister. With Atlantic City in sight, we closed on the Jersey coast
while winds veered to the south southeast allowing us to sail the final two hours into Cape May harbor, successfully completing
our first overnight passage without crew.