We fix our shit

Stonington, Connecticut, has a really shitty anchorage! Like in most of New England, all the good anchor spots are littered with moorings, most being empty this time of year. But Stonington is a special kind of shitty. The town is protected from a substantial Atlantic Ocean roller by three breakwaters. One is south of the town waterfront about a half a kilometer offshore. A second breakwater about the same size as the big one offshore is located west of town protecting the village from those big sou’easterlies that roar up Long Island Sound in the summer. The third one is much closer to town and protects the inner harbor and all the marine industry. The one place left for a traveling sailboat to anchor isn’t protected by any of the breakwaters. It’s wide open to both the aforementioned weather elements that used to make it a crappy place to live. With a dead engine and a fucked up self-steering system our choices were pretty limited. Fortunately for us, our friend Jimmy (the same guy who sailed up to Point Judith in the last post) was happy to help us out. We had two days of intense weather at anchor from all the directions left unprotected by Stonington’s fancy-schmance breakwaters, so we ordered a new (and a spare) fuel pick-up pump off the internet and had it sent to Jimmy’s place in Noank just a few clicks up the highway. The Monitor project came first, since it shouldn’t (please) require any parts. I (Dena) was worried we’d lose the circlip that had to be removed so that we could take the lower teflon bearing out. Once that bearing was out, we’d have full freedom to realign the gears. In preparation for the project, we pulled out the bag of Monitor spare[…]

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Sailing on…and on…

I (James) was really stoked about this next part of the adventure. Not only could I not wait to use the watermaker again, we were sailing to a place we’d never been before. I mean, yeah, we’ve anchored a lot in Buzzards Bay all over. We’ve even anchored off Naushon Island (on schooner Mystic Whaler on the Eastern side of the island) but this was me feeling things anew. For one thing, I wasn’t sick anymore and that felt great. But the best part was we were moving under sail once again relative to the rest of the multiverse and I was simply amazed to witness it all. The wind, the waves, the current were all with us and we bowled on to our evening’s anchorage with all the power we could muster. It took less than three and a half hours before we were anchored in the cool clear waters of Kettle Cove between the islands of Uncatena and Naushon in the Elizabeth chain. James wasn’t the only person happy to get to this new spot. Beluga ran around the deck like he does at night when he feels safest. James and I (Dena, in case there’s any confusion) are thrilled to enter a strange cove and find it empty, and Beluga might pick up on some of that. It was a lovely evening after a short, easy day. Shyte and Briney in the morning, we were underway on glass by 0700 pointing the boat at 268 degrees magnetic to Point Judith Harbor of Refuge. A place we know so well. Our friend Jimmy has more salt in his blood than any other man we know so when he tells us he’s sailing to Point Judith Harbor of Refuge to raft up and have some drinks that’s pretty much[…]

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About this making water thing

Water rocks. R/O desalinated, drinking-water-filtered water is the best, especially when the watermaker is powered by wind and solar. Water is also very dangerous. When it’s fouled by seeping cracks from the bilge, the real profanities settle into your body: salt and motor oil and slime and the bacteria that love them all. We made ourselves sick on Nomad, unaware that our weird physical reality was a set of symptoms. Everywhere we went, we put the local water into our tanks. Everywhere we went, we were befouled. And then we got our lovely Sailing Vessel and Sovereign Nation Cetacea, affectionately abbreviated S/V S.N. Cetacea. This boat came to us with a watermaker, a really good one, that had an opaque history. The P(revious) O(wner) had never touched it. The people before him? Who knows. What we knew was that we needed to make the system operational and we did. We cleaned it up, re-plumbed the whole mess and it worked! We were thrilled. This summer, we’ve run this motor over 50 hours. In that time, we’ve made about 250 gallons of “Clear, Clean”, water. For us, that’s enough for daily life and, for the Katadyn PowerSurvivor 80E (our watermaker), that’s more than the nominal yield. Over the Down East Maine part of our travels, we had a new and disturbing experience. The watermaker popped the circuit breaker. The next time, it popped on startup but was okay on a second attempt. Then we pickled it with biocide to protect the delicate R/O membrane from bacterial growth and let it sit for our entire Nova Scotia experience. The problem got progressively worse on the sail from Yarmouth to P-town, when it just up-n-quit. I (James) was trying to get some shut-eye on my down watch when I heard the issue actually[…]

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Yarmouth to P-Town

Ocean sailing is truly like a dream. We got up before the sun and made ready in short order. Cetacea had remained ship-shape for our entire Canadian sojourn so making ready was just a matter of weighing anchor. I (Dena) hauled that nasty chain, three weeks sunk into the stinking blood pudding that Yarmouth Harbor calls bottom mud. It took a long time because I kept trying to dislodge the mud by pumping the chain up and down. The anchor left the bottom at 0529. I (James) had the first watch in the dark without a working local chart on the chartplotter so navigating was a matter of following the former track-line (easy) and dodging the local fishing industry (not so easy). It was, let’s just say, interesting. With the mainsail up as we exited the Yarmouth River and the sun just rising, the mass of ocean before us was just a little too much for my (still James here) equilibrium to take and I was overwhelmed with sickness as soon as Dena took the helm for her watch. I retched over the side for a few horrible moments and then it was all over for the rest of the trip. Mental note: take the meclazine the evening before, not the morning of. It was an absolutely splendid sailing experience for the first 29 hours. With the wind just forward of the beam, we played all the sail options. First we had everything out, but I (Dena) pulled the first reef in the main before 10am. That eased the helm for the Monitor, then James rolled in some staysail when it got brisk. He pulled it back out before his hour was up in a 10-knot wind on the beam. In the lulls, the wind shifted forward and we stalled[…]

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System failures…

…are no doubt part of the game when it comes to offshore sailing. The offshore passage to Cape Cod from Nova Scotia had a system failure that took us both by surprise. The Monitor self-steering rudder broke. Cracked in two ten hours before we were hook down in P-Town. We were glass becalmed entering the Cape Cod tidal influence and making about six good knots over the ground. LoveBot 2.1 was driving Cetacea along just perfectly when I (James) left the helm after my last daytime watch. Shift kiss! I (Dena) monitored our course and kept a sharp eye out for sign of cetaceans. We weren’t that far from Stellwagen Bank. We started to back around too far south and I looked back at LoveBot. The swinging rudder was hard over to starboard, which steers us to port. I tried adjusting the tiller pilot portion, then the wheel adapter portion, but I couldn’t get it to straighten up. I pulled the cord that releases the rudder so it can be raised when not in use and a busy foamy froth erupted where it should have appeared. I called for James and he came to take the helm while I figured out WTF. We had the rudder set up to be retrieved by pulling on a length of seine twine. When I hauled on that, the pressure on that thin line cutting into my fingers. To my utter surprise, the entire rudder banged off LoveBot’s frame on its way up to me…completely unattached to the Monitor. Someone (Not Fucking Us) beat the hell out of this Monitor windvane. LoveBot has been through at least one bad accident. When we put her on Cetacea she was bent to hell so we knew we were going to have some surprises ahead. The frame[…]

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