Finally the mast!

After searching for over three months to find a shipyard that could and would pull our mast, we were almost desperate and getting turned down was starting to get infuriating. Of course we tried all the locals when we were in the City-O-Sin but no one wanted to interrupt the mad rush to launch boats to do that finicky work. We tried again in Onset and they just kind of blankly stared and said something along the lines of …do what? So it was time get serious about finding a place that could do the job and then sailing there forthwith! While still at anchor in East Greenwich Bay we rented a car and went on the hunt. We’d mapped out a set of five marinas worth trying in person (none had responded to emails) but hoped that we’d be able to avoid driving to (and then boating to) Connecticut. Much to our relief the answer presented itself just a few miles down the road in Wickford, Rhode Island, at the Wickford Shipyard. The old guy in the office listened to us with a weird look on his face and his silence increased the feeling that we were making a pitch: please do what it says on the sign and be a shipyard! The conversation went so strangely that we really didn’t know what we’d be in for once we arrived at their marina Monday morning. The rest of the rental car period was devoted to fetching the bicycles and grocery shopping. After dropping the bikes off at Wickford Shipyard, we returned to Cetacea that evening in a heavily weighted dinghy. We sailed from Greenwich Bay to Wickford, a short trip but nice enough, and then began pulling our boat apart right there at anchor in front of the town’s[…]

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Sprung ’21

The entire year before we sailed away from the west coast of the U.S. in 2006 was spent on the three essentials of sailing beyond the curvature of the Earth. The perfect balance of Mind, Body and Boat. You absolutely have to get your head in the right place to sail off into the sunset, or rather, you have to lose your mind before you can let go of the addictive chains of society and just sail away. I’m not saying you have to be insane but conversely I’m not saying you gotta be sane either. But what you absolutely have to have is a healthy body and a ship shape boat. Finally, we got a weekend that was calm enough (in the morning at least) to allow us to go aloft in the mooring field. Between the powerful springtime winds and the near constant work boat traffic we’ve been a bit put off. We needed to deal with some “roller fouling” issues and bend the headsails to the foils before we could do any sailing! The staysail went up so fast and the new furling line and fair-leads made the staysail rig glide into place. But the yankee headsail would pose some issues. Just the fact that Dena’s been riding in excess of 60 miles a week and works at moving thousands of pounds a day and I’ve been on a rigid workout routine for months now made it so much easier for us to muscle each other up the mast. We’re both feeling very strong and healthy now-a-days which is good for hoisting human bodies. The whole reason I brought up the Hawaii trip above was to talk about the roller furling system aboard S/V S.N. Sapien. That was the boat we sailed to Hawaii from San Fransisco.[…]

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…like falling

I (James) didn’t just trip and stumble into being a marine industry specialist. I live here, this environment is my home and I know it and its related industries better than anything else in my life. So when I interviewed for the position of Facilities Manager of a brand new marina in Boston, I knew this was my new job 2 minutes into the interview. All of this is not only well within my comfort zone. It’s ultimately my center of focus. The U.S. marina industry has only just now (in history) decided to clean up after itself. For decades our public waterways have been devoured by an industry run amuck, one based on short-sighted greed applied to long term degradation of basic marine infrastructure. Meaning when shit starts to break down the industry cuts and runs, leaving a hazard to navigation in their wake. A broken marina that is fucked back together by under-qualified, under-paid and under-motivated workers that could give a shit about a job well done will never stop failing. We’ve seen it too often. The mom-and-pop operation inherited by careless kids who hire a management company that either pockets or fumbles the money that should have gone into upkeep. The corporate behemoth that treats paint and signage as the important part while the piers rot. This marina does not appear to be doing that, and so we sailed to Boston. We sailed away from Portland yet again after some time of thinking we’d probably winter there. The friends we made last time are still close enough for visiting, so there’s no real sadness to it. We wanted to do an overnight to Provincetown and then make our way back using the coming south winds, but the good breeze turned into 30 knots and we resigned ourselves[…]

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A Mass Bay

Back in truly familiar waters, the sail from Onset to Plymouth totally rocked. With the usual on-again-off-again sailing through the Bay we blazed in under main alone, you know, like we do. Starting the ride on a screaming fair current, the Cape Cod Canal spit us east into the bay with the same name only an hour and a half later. I (James) had almost forgotten how slick it is to max out the days at 6 hours. I mean, sailing in the world’s ocean on long offshore overnight adventures is cool and all but a true gunkhole-cruiser has coffee in the morning, waits out the foul current, adventures for a few hours, makes their two hour approach, puts the hook down and pours the rum. We have done quite a bit of both kinds of sailing this year and I have to admit, I like a short day. Coastal cruising can be a lot of fun because you get to see so many estuaries, river bars and anchorages along the way but it can also be kind of a drag for the same reasons. Dedicating four hours to going into and coming back out of a place like Plymouth, Mass, can be a long and arduous task if all you want to do is get from point-A to point-B, like say New York to Boston. Gunkholing a run like that takes patience and abilities that you don’t exercise going offshore. The next day we sailed out early until the winds completely died so we motored on into Hull, Mass, for another weekend hideout in the middle of everything! A “special anchorage” is a designated area where you don’t have to show an anchor light or dayshape. They are primarily filled with moorings at this point in history, so we[…]

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Pointing to Holaga Snood

Harness Creek was kind and gentle on everything but the dinghy. When we felt the bottom of the dink, it was furry and tenacious like a lime-green shag carpet, cir. 1974! Time to weigh-up and move on. We sailed down the South River to Galesville to get eyes on a cool little marina Dena applied to run a while back and of course bite into some local seaside vittles. We only stayed the night, it was awesome. Very shallow, lightly trafficked. If you don’t need anything ashore, the little bay off Hartge Yacht Harbor is cool. The next day we decided to take the favorable winds across the Bay to the Eastern Shore, up the Miles River to the little town of St Michaels. The sailing was spectacular on all points of sail and the new solar system performed like we built it to: silent and strong. We spent two hours more than the best estimate getting up the river because, well, we could. Why rush when you can sail? It was the kind of beating that never was much fun on Nomad, but which Cetacea takes to happily. Upon our approach to the deep water anchorage just outside of the town mooring field, we made the shocking discovery that our #1 Jib, the “Yankee”, was stuck. It wouldn’t roll in more than a little. When I (James) went to pull the sail down, I discovered that it wasn’t just suck in the open position…it was stuck in the up position as well. Not only an annoyance but extremely dangerous. Just imagine sailing in the ocean and the winds suddenly kicked up like they are prone to do, then you discover the sail is stuck open and full with no way to get it down! That’s kind of like heading[…]

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Somnium

In the dream, the feelings, sensations and levels of stimulus on a sailing adventure that starts at 4 am in Long Island and ends one day and seventeen hours later in a hurricane-hole 209 nautical miles away in Chesapeake City, is real. But in reality, “…this is how WE do it, baby!” We left Manhasset Bay with excitement. It’s a good staging spot and all, but we’d been there too long. Our anchor was caked with the thick mud of the southern end of the bay and even the anchor snubber showed signs of having dragged around in the muck. The dinghy stowed surprisingly well on deck. Even pushed forward far enough to sit as low as possible, it was easy enough to move around behind the sampson post. The two sides hugged the dorade boxes in an as-though-made-for-this kind of way, and the lack of motion in a pounding (foreshadowing, anyone?) was gratifying. The entire trip down the East River to the Verrazano Narrows in a little under 4 hours. That’s around Rikers Island, through Queens, The Bronx, East Harlem, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island…all of New York City before lunchtime and we still hadn’t reached the Atlantic Ocean. Our top speed for the entire trip was entering the East River at Hell Gate doing 10 knots on glass water but we never got under 7 knots all the way through the City. We were doing a respectable 4-5 knots as we were disgorged by New York Harbor. All sails aloft, a broad reach off the Jersey shore took us into the maw of the Atlantic Ocean. From Sandy Hook on a freshening ocean easterly, we watched the local star burn the beach inhabitants two miles west of us for most of the day. The ocean swell was from[…]

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Jump

When the weather says ‘Jump’! We woke up, looked at the weather, weighed anchor and were underway, just like that, after three weeks of feeding the fire and foraging in Covid-New England. Sailing south down the Narragansett with the wind and the tide was a brisk New England sleigh ride but the temperatures rose along with the wind all day long, making anchoring in Point Judith Harbor of Refuge more like a nice gentle trip down memory lane than a sailing adventure. You’re not getting any complaints from us! With a 48 hour weather window going our way, we jumped all right and our timing couldn’t have been better! Day two was an easy start on rolling glass with the fair current but as the ripples rose so did the dacron and sailing did ensue. By the time we got to The Race heading west into Long Island Sound we were doing 7.1 knots on the regs and S/V S.N. Cetacea was in her element. She was dug down deep in the washing machine chop throwing a growling hiss off her waterline with nary a heel to lee. We hugged the shoals to north passing the Thames and Niantic but soon the twins at the mouth of the Connecticut rose from the direction of our next descending squall. The current angled as we entered the river’s flooding pull and the winds got fluky, like they do, so we rolled in the headsails and started the diesel. Fuck-n-A! No cooling water coming out of the motherfucking exhaust pipe! Shut her down before the engine overheats!!! “All technology fails!”* James was at the helm so I (Dena) rolled the yankee back out. The staysail is too easily blanketed by the main when we’re running, and it looked like we would have to[…]

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