Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rockland ME to Plymouth MA – We are heading due South…finally!

I am a creature of habit. Since we have started cruising full time, it is a little weird to change gears and to develop a new set of habits that work with the current circumstances. I no longer check my Aeroplan statement daily, and the compulsion to pull my Blackberry out of its holster and spin the magic thumbwheel has finally subsided. In the past my morning would revolve rigidly around a cup of coffee and a few minutes of peace and quiet with my newspaper. I have to confess that in the past month, I do not recall actually reading a newspaper, at least not on the day it was published. While the coffee ritual remains sacrosanct, I have substituted the Business section of the Toronto Star with a daily pre-departure perusal of the weather pages.

Pat and I have become aficionados of weather sources. Instead of putting our ear to the VHF and listening to the drone in both official languages of the forecasts and current conditions from what feels like half the planet, we log on to a few choice web sites and make our “where do we go today decision. Some of our favorites sources are the US Navy Forecast center and of course the pages of NOAA. They both have an experimental marine weather section that provides graphical representations of wind strength and wave heights. We have come to appreciate that for the US Navy, dark blue or black represents the “good stuff, whereas lighter shades of blue and other warmer colours meant varying degrees of the “go back to bed” On the NOAA site the opposite is true so its really important not to mix the two up.

Normally I make the coffee in the morning, but this past Saturday I was feeling lazy so Pat, was up first. Her exclamation of “ohmygod its only 6 degrees” shook me wide awake. In the time that it took for me to get from our cabin to the salon, the temperature actually dipped to 5.9 degrees. Naturally I headed for my computer to check the forecasts and sure enough we were in the grips of a pretty solid cold front. In addition to the cold front, the US Navy site was getting decidedly lighter and NOAA was getting much darker. The long and the short of it was that Pat and I did not have to make a “where do you want to go today” decision, but rather a “where do you want to get stuck for a couple of days decision.”

Originally we had planned to stay in Salem for a couple of days expecting the town to live up to its guide book descriptions and provide us with some interesting excursions. While the town itself is quite charming, it has, like many tourist destinations over done its franchise to the point of tackiness. Without a doubt there are more fetish shops, disguised as occult stores, per square meter in Salem, than there are anywhere else in the world. For a kinky weekend of velvet pointy hats, fishnet stockings and dungeons, Salem is just what the doctor ordered.If however your expectation is more in line with the true history of the Scarlett Letter, a weekend in the equally tasteful Niagara Falls, ON should provide an equivalent level of disappointment.

To put matters into perspective, we felt that 2-4 foot seas building to 3-6 and higher were a preferable alternative to another night in Salem. The barometer was dropping and we have had to face the cruel irony that despite the onset of a genuine Nor’easter in October, Pat and I have slowed our pace from 50-60 mile days down to 35-40 mile days. Perhaps the change in pace was due to the adrenalin of saying awake for 40 hours wearing off, or perhaps it was due to the terminal hangover from the mixing of post crossing celebratory champagne, with several red wines and several types of local beers. Or more plausibly it was because the geography and tidal ranges of the Atlantic coast require navigators to enter or leave most ports at high tide, or at slack tide. Places like Newburyport on the Merrimack River for example have a 4-5 knot tidal flow that makes Dalhousie with the sluice gates open seem like child’s play. Whatever the reason however, the fact is we have slowed down this week.

Today we are in Plymouth MA, where we will stay until Tuesday. Since arriving here from Salem yesterday afternoon, after rolling through several hours of 3-6 footers, we have not left the boat. At least most of the trip was on a heading of 180, a due south course finally. The weather is miserably cold, and the NE wind is howling. During the night my instruments recorded a peak of 31 knots and the average wind is still in the mid 20’s. Hopefully we will get a chance to visit the famed “Rock” but a part of me is dreading the onslaught of Pilgrim t-shirts, Puritan hats and fake blunderbuss rifles. Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised and the spirit of Miles Standish will in fact be preserved with some dignity, but I am not holding my breath. By next weekend, weather permitting, we will be in New York, so our goal of making the ICW by early November is still very much within reach.

Stay warm, and have a great week. I know I will….no matter what Mother Nature serves up.


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Maureen and Doug said...

Hello Pat and Addison, we just started following your adventures, they make great reading for those of us stuck in our same old routines. Glorious weather at PCYC this weekend (for a change) and we drank to your good health and fortune at the cruising banquet Saturday. Haulout is in full swing as we wrap things up for another year. For you, the adventure continues! Best wishes Maureen & Doug

Pat & Addison said...

Thanks maureen and Doug. Its good to hear that you have decent weather for haulout. We have been hunkered down in Plymouth MA, in the freezing cold, waiting for a weather window to open so we can bug out of here. Hopefully Tuesday will give us a chance to run for it before another Nor'easter hits.

Anonymous said...

Dear Pat & Addison: Your blog is such an interesting read, keep up the good work. Is Addison the primary author? You should think about publishing your memoirs when all is said and done (or propose a column to GAM or Canadian Yachting?)
As Doug & Moreen indicated, Roseanne mentioned at the cruising banquet last Saturday that she had talked to you and that the docks etc. were being pulled from the water near Boston. Slowly, boating is also coming to an end at PCYC with the travel lift vigorously conducting its business. We hauled out last Thursday as we are leaving for Paris for a week on Saturday (lucky us!).
Cruising banquet was a hoot! Every member of the cruise committee got up and told a funny story and awarded a prize to someone as they usually do. Martin did an outstanding job on the photo slide show, picking up where Addison left off. And of course, Jane composed another now infamous poem about the cruising season that was.
Thinking of you both as you embark on this wonderful journey and wishing you nothing but happiness and good health and no mishaps!
Carol & Helmut Trupke

Pat & Addison said...

Thanks Helmut and Carole. Enjoy Paris! Bon Voyage.