Passage Home

We left Harpswell for a fabulous overnight sail to Scituate.  From Scituate we bucked 30 knot winds on the nose and lots of lobster pots on a long day to Onset, just west of the Cape Cod Canal on the eastern end of Buzzards Bay.  We waited out the winds and then took off on Saturday.


Sid Asea


Saturday, August 27, 2016

We were up at 0700 and underway by 0730. the strong soutwesterlies had died in the night and the day was clear, bright and calm as we motored down the channel out of Onset, into the strong, favorable westward current of the west end of the Cape Cod Canal and east end of Buzzards Bay with 267 miles to the Delaware Bay entrance at a course of 230 True. Dovka moved westward ho at 8 knts. Saturday morning recreational fishermen dotted the bay. Soon a sailboat appeared here and there.

Coffee and banana bread to begin our moveable feast. Then the mainsail and jib went up with hopes of building airs. Noticing a strong signal on the summer Verizon flip phone, about to die penniless, we called whomever we could. Noah told us yesterday was his fifth day of kindergarten and he still liked it.

Some large motor yachts were now awake and crossing our path. And it was now time for real breakfast: fresh fruit and granola and more coffee. Then time to clean up. By then we had been underway for 3 hrs, still hurdling down BB. I watch, Sid rests below. He watches, I read below. We are not into the rhythm-yet. Waiting to get out into the ocean, away from the chatter on 16, waiting for the wind.

While I watch and wait, a tug and barge pass close by, and a man calls the USCG because his 4 yr old daughter has cut off the tip of her thumb. They are outside Cuttyhunk Hbr. The USCG asks his lat/ long, can’t accept his verbal, very specific location, and wants the description of his vessel. Someone butts in to recommend ice and cloth to stem bleeding. Someone ( possibly CG, but I doubt it)says Fairhaven ( New Bedford, -just across Buzzards Bay from Cuttyhunk), Harbormaster has been called and will come to assistance. They call shortly and say they are en route with two paramedics. I try to follow conversations. Finally Fairhaven Harbor Master vessel, having picked up little girl, races across BB, siren screaming and calling on radio over and over, “Emergency, everyone out of my way…” Someone finally says”quit yelling and drive the boat.”

Sid makes a log entry at noon. We have 240 mi to go at 231. By this time the flip phone is kaput and Sid is hungry for lunch. Leftover blue cheese and spinach pasta is delicious cold.

Catspaws appear on the water. Wind coming up? We put out the jib again and shut down the engine. The batteries are full and the quiet is lovely: gentle rustling water, soft creaks. Sid takes the time to stem a small oil leak that appeared this morning. Wind dies and we start the engine again. Leak appears fixed by the genius mechanic. The day before yesterday the propane gas solenoid went out after a day of pounding seas and water over the bow onto the gas bottle, stupidly placed in the anchor well at the bow. Genius fixed that so I could make our dinner.

Yesterday, on a mooring in Onset, waiting to let those SW winds die out, I did something I have never done before. I cooked a large pot of chicken curry, enough for two meals with rice (yet to be cooked) and a large pot of Greek Veggies to be served with feta chunks, also enough for two meals for the two of us. I usually cook underway, but figured, after our early morning run for fuel, water and showers at the marina, I had the time the rest of the day aboard, as we were waiting for our weather window, and I might as well make it easier for myself when we were underway.

By 1600: we were passing between Block Island and the yet to be operational offshore wind turbines south of Block. Amazed to learn they will be the first offshore wind generators in the U.S. Mileage now 217 at 230T. Teatime with cookies as we sail along with now south winds a gentle 8 knots, 45 degrees off our bow. We are making about 4 knots ahead. So much for the predicted NE winds of 15 knots.

The afternoon fades into a soft pink evening. We are motoring with 7 kts of wind on the nose. The swell is minimal and waves almost nonexistent. We have a steady little roll. We eat our Greek Veggies on deck as the sun sets. We visit and agree on a new watch routine for us: two hrs on, two off. We did this for the first time coming out of Maine to Scituate and liked it. Sid takes 8-10, I take 10-12 etc. I clean up from dinner, make coffee and then retire, but Sid calls: someone is having a fireworks display in the Hamptons. Quite a show, if far off. No sound, of course, also, fabulous stars already.

2200: My first watch. Saturn and Mars are low in the southwest in the middle of Scorpio. Cygnus, the swan, is flying overhead in the middle of a very milky way. The sky is spectacular, even with the loom of lights from Long Island. Sid said the fireworks show went on for 45 minutes with no sound, except after the grand finale went dark he then heard thumps and thunders, delayed sounds by distance.

The AIS ( automatic information system) on our VHF radio just signaled a warning of a ship passing us. It is set for anything within 15 miles. In 2 minutes, a ship will pass us, closest point of approach (CPA) 6.5 miles. AIS makes night watches much easier, but does not do away with the need for a lookout and sharp eyes and ears. I have three twinkling, on and off again, white lights on the eastern horizon; presume they are fishing boats, which often do not have AIS broadcasting their position, course and speed. May they continue to stay in the horizon. Another ship just passed 5 miles away to the east.

We won’t be in the shipping lanes for New York harbor for 15 more miles: Sid’s watch, I hope. Meanwhile, I can no longer see Montauk Pt light on the end of L.I. but still see red and green and white along the south coast and the loom of NY to the east. It is balmy, but I am wearing warm slippers, a sweatshirt and fleece and jeans.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

0200: and my watch again: just coming across the Ambrose to Nantucket Separation Zone lanes which lead into New York Harbor. But only traffic is 10 miles away going away from us. Been sailing since 0030, with 9 knots of wind, gently rolling along at 4 knots. Moon not up yet, so stars are still spectacular. Pleiades, Orion, Taurus are behind to the north of us. Mars and Saturn have set.

A deep golden crescent hangs low in the northeastern sky, color among the black and white. And now my watch is almost over. I am ready for a nap. The wind has just picked up from 13 to 15. Still a beam reach.

0600: A good sleep in the lee berth in the main cabin and I awaken in time to relieve Sid, to a blue-grey glow which foretells the sun in 14 minutes. It rises fiery pink-orange, large and welcoming. The sky lightens quickly and we have another lovely day. The boat is slushing rhythmically along through slightly undulating seas, with 13-14 knots of wind, slightly forward of the port beam. 135 miles to go at 230 True and we are making 6 1/2 to 7 knots.

1200: 102 miles to go at 231 degrees. With the sunrise, the wind weakened and we are motoring again. The jib is furled, but the main gives us some stability when it isn’t slatting as we roll with the swells. I slept soundly from 8-10 and then took our stale baguette and made french toast with applesauce and syrup. By the time we were finished with our coffee and breakfast, the morning was gone. Sid goes to rest, while I revel in a 360 degree horizon. The sparkling, slightly rippled, dark grey plate of water is covered by a blue dome with a few faint high wisps of cloud, and we are the only inhabitants of this world. It is a lovely feeling.

Oops, humanity has just intruded in the form of a mylar balloon floating on the surface of the sea. We saw too many on the way up, this is our first this trip down.

1600: 77 mi at 230. It is hot. We took the main down before lunch to stop it from slatting back and forth as we roll with the swells. There is not enough wind to counteract the swells. I would be surprised if we have any more wind today, pleased, but surprised. The sea is calm, but not glassy, so in the shade it is pleasant. But the wind anemometer is reading 03 knots. We surge along under power and then a rogue swell comes along and we roll 20 degrees to starboard and then to port, before we steady again. We finished a nice loaf of seeded rye for sandwiches for lunch, but still have a fresh loaf of whole grain, so we are good for several more days. A bulk carrier to port and a huge container ship to starboard, but they are miles away.

The wind freshened enough for us to turn the engine off about 1930 and we watched the sunset in the silence of sail noises rather than engine, with much relief. The motion is rolly, but more regular under sail (only jib). We are racing along slowly at about 4.5 knots. We should reach Cape May after dawn and have a bit of current with us as we start up the Delaware. It is balmier tonight as we head back to hot weather, but we are still chasing Saturn and Mars low in the sky.

2200: 42.1 miles to the entrance to Delaware Bay. And eight miles on our starboard we have rising from the black horizon: red, white, orange and blue flashing lights, searchlights arching across the sky outlining tall structures shouting, Atlantic City. We are not alone at sea anymore.

Monday, August 29, 2016

And just to make sure all the above paints too pretty a picture, here is a description of the last 24 hours:

The seas built and the early morning ride by Cape May and into the Delaware Bay was very bumpy, making sleep difficult. I awoke at daylight. to find us motoring along in the Bay with less swell and slight fog. Sid was frustrated that the current in the Bay was really slowing our speed. We revved the engine but never made more than 4 knots. It did not make sense with the 1 kt or so current called for on the chart, but we plowed along and it got hotter and hotter with no wind and lots of sun.

We were overtaken by our friends on CHINOOK, who we thought were way ahead of us. But they had stopped overnight in Cape May, so now we were on the same schedule, although they moved on ahead of us by about 5 miles and kept that distance. We decided we would follow Brian and Danuta into Still Pond in the upper Chesapeake Bay for the night. CHINOOK lives at a dock not far from DOVKA and since we did not leave a car at our dock and they did, they offered us a ride home .
2300: 356 miles in 64 hours and 13 minutes from Onset, MA to Still Pond, MD.

We chugged on through the C&D Canal as evening fell and navigated the well marked ship channel in the dark, coming into Still Pond, just south of the Sassafras River entrance, in the northernmost part of the Chesapeake Bay, at the very end of Monday.

Suddenly, as I eased my way into  the darkness of Still Pond for Sid to drop the anchor, we were not moving. We were not aground. So we figured something actually had gotten caught on the rudder, causing us the slow speed.  We dropped the anchor right there and the boat never turned into the wind. When we looked off the stern, we saw a flag, stick and float stuck to us.  We were now anchored bow and stern. We looked at each other and said, ” for tomorrow morning.”

We had made our landfall.

August 30, 2016

By 0730 Sid was about to get in the water when a crab boat came by. It was his float and he maneuvered next to us, put a young man on our stern ladder and got the float and line using a boat hook and knife. Voila. Now we were free. But it was too easy.

As we started motoring out of Still Pond, I still could get no speed. So, we killed the engine and Sid took his mask and knife and went into the water. He found TWO floats attached. Finally freed them and their line and then saw a THIRD actually stuck to the rudder skeg! We turned around and rafted to CHINOOK. Brian produced a fabulous, lethal, 15 inch long knife with a sharp hook, made for just this purpose, and Sid speared a foam float!
Now we were free, just gun-shy of lobster or crab pot floats!

By 0845: we were underway making very good speed with a very light following breeze and favorable current and a day dawning hot and hotter. We did leave Maine too soon!

1430: and we are at the dock in Crab Creek, Annapolis. I cleaned up the head and galley, Sid stowed the jacklines and safety gear while we were underway. We packed up our essentials, our toilet articles and electronic gear. Once at the dock with lines properly replaced and tied, I put all the refrigerated food in a canvas bag, Brian and Dani drove over and we fled into an air conditioned car and came home.

From Onset to Still Pond we covered 356 miles in 64 hours. We sailed 21% of the time. It was a good passage. Our total mileage this season was 1600. And, hopefully, we will log a few more miles this autumn on the Chesapeake Bay.


This is our last entry for this season on DOVKA.  As we have said before, we write the blog as a diary for ourselves, but hope others enjoy reading it.

Our next adventure is sailing in Greenland on the  168 ft schooner Rembrandt van Rijn.


This may warrant some entries, so check back mid October!

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Starting South Early!

We had planned to stay in Maine until, at least, after Labor Day. Sid’s line was “we stay up here til it cools off down there.” BUT, we are, at the last minute, able to join a Greenland photographic expedition and now have to be home earlier, so we can prepare to leave on Sept 21st.

It is all exciting, but it once again puts us in the position we said we would not allow ourselves to be in on this return trip: pushing to make as many miles south as we can every day, which is very tiring. The prevailing winds are strong southwesterlies, which is the direction we wish to sail and so we will plow on through or wait for weather as we go.


Eatons, Castine, ME

We have had a whirlwind of a time these past two weeks. We left the family reunion in Castine to hightail it to Camden for the Ocean Cruising Club festivities. We reconnected with lots of friends, had a great Rally at the Camden Yacht Club and then a fun cruise around the Penobscot Bay.


M/V ANCIENT MARINERS crew Ruth and Herb with OCC Regional Rear Commodore, NE Pam MacBrayne

The cruise ended with an excellent presentation on a six year circumnavigation, provided by friends of ours. We met them in the Bahamas before they had decided to sail around the world and like to think we were two of the folks who helped convince them they should, at least, go through the canal into the Pacific. It turns out there are still islands one can visit that have not been invaded by package sailing tours. They had fabulous photos, stories and experiences.


Rebecca, Anne Hammick, Sid, and John Van S -who crewed for us crossing from the Azores to Portugal: Aboard John and Heather’s sloop MORNING WATCH

We had the honor of hosting the new Commodore of the Ocean Cruising Club, Anne Hammick, during the Maine cruise. The first day out, we sailed up the west side of Islesboro, tacking back and forth, all three of us enjoying the flat seas and strong winds.

Unfortunately, when I went down to make lunch, I found the carpet by the galley was soaking wet and the cupboard under the stove filled with seawater. The hinges on the galley port had given way. Our ports are in the hull. They take a tremendous load and the hinges are their weak link. This is the third port we have lost.


DOVKA at Castine Town Dock

But, we put in to the Castine town dock, and Sid had the storm board up in place of the port window within minutes and I had the mess in the galley cleaned up within an hour.

We bopped across to Smith Cove where the OCC Cruisers were gathering for cocktails, on a huge Catamaran, and we partied well then and for the rest of the cruise as we moved about and stopped at magnificent  quintessential Maine anchorages with rocks and pines and spectacular sunsets.


ARAMINGO In Reflection

Yesterday, we left the OCCers in North Haven in the Penobscot Bay, and are now back on the New Meadows River, rafted to ARAMINGO. Laundry, showers, a supermarket run and time to relax and visit, and then we are off again pushing south!

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August, Already?

August 12, 2016

For the past few weeks, we have been busy socializing and then retreating to an isolated anchorage to recoup, then socializing and then retreating. We pull into an anchorage to rejuvenate and then find a boat we know, with whom we must reconnect. And so it goes. Good fun to meet folks we first met anchored in an unused canal in Venice or on whose boat we had dinner up here in Maine, before they then sailed to South Georgia in the Antarctic.

Pulpit Harbor, North Haven, morning fog

Pulpit Harbor, North Haven Morning Fog

Weather has continued to be mostly good, with a few lovely fog shrouded mornings thrown in and one heavy foggy evening when Sid almost did not make it back to DOVKA in the dinghy.

We had a wonderful week with dear friends,Bunny and Marshall,


H.Marshall and Sid at Rest After a Hard Day’s Sail!

exploring Penobscot Bay and sailing up the only Fjord on the east coast, Somes Sound, into Acadia National Park.


Somesville, ME, Acadia National Park

The week culminated with the 27th annual Sweet Charity Music Festival on Swans Island, just south of Mt Desert. A great, eclectic music festival on an island only accessible by boaters, as there are no hotels or inns on the island.


Sea Shanties, Swans Is. Sweet Charity Music Festival

A family reunion in Castine to celebrate our great niece Syra’s Bat Mitzvah was fantastic and kept us busy last weekend from Thursday thru Tuesday.


Ready for Syra Gutow’s Big Weekend!

Our son Jonathan and his wife Kate joined us aboard DOVKA for the festivities, with 5 yr old Noah and 2 1/2 yr old Nat sleeping aboard for the first time.


Bedtime Aboard DOVKA


They were great crew!


Nathaniel and Sid on Castine Town Dock


Noah with Seaweed on Castine Town Dock

The culminating beach party complete with bonfire and marshmallows was fun for all.


Bonfire at Sunset at Syra’s Party


Noah and his Roasted S’More

Now we are in Camden to begin the week of Ocean Cruising Club activities and again reuniting with our crew from the Azores to Lisbon, friends upon whose boat we have sailed, and many others.


Beck Resting at an Anchorage


Sid Resting at an Anchorage

We love being surrounded by nature at an anchorage and then love coming to civilization where we can do laundry, shower and shop, in preparation for the next adventure: the OCC Cruise this coming week. And find a library where we can struggle to put this blog together.


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July 25th, 2016

Whales, porpoises and seals have enlivened our travels. Ben spotted our first whale in Massachusetts Bay, and then saw six more in rapid succession: flipping tails and diving. Our first porpoises and seals were in the Gulf of Maine.


A Whale of a Tail, Photo by Ben

One late afternoon, we dropped our anchor between two islands, at the northern end of Penobscot Bay, not far from a rocky ledge covered with basking seals, just at the water line. As the tide rose to cover the ledge, they disappeared. But the next morning at low tide, I counted 36 ( another boat counted 42) sleeping high and dry. It was wonderful to study. them: every now and. then one would awake and awkwardly move to another spot on the rocks. one or two were swimming leisurely. At nine a.m. we suddenly heard a loud splash as ALL of the seals, simultaneously, from some mysterious signal, dove into the water to feed. There were seal heads spread out all around us for a bit, and then they all disappeared again.

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Seals Basking on Rocks, Holbrook Island

We have been sailing in company with ARAMINGO and meeting up with other friends on boats as we go along, peaceful partying!


Bob and Wendy: dinner on DOVKA

Porpoises hold a special mystique and we cannot help but think spotting porpoises gracefully arching through the water is a good omen. Today as we motored out of Belfast Harbor, having left DOVKA there over the weekend, we saw several pairs of porpoises, black skin glinting in the sunlight.

They seemed significant to us as we had just returned from a quick and sad trip to Philadelphia to celebrate the life and mourn the death of Ken Bookman, our niece’s partner of 30 years and an important person in our Shaw family.

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Somehow all this animal life puts our place in the world into some kind of perspective.We are now, once again, on a mooring off Warren Island State Park off Isleboro in the middle of the Penobscot Bay. Three other boats we know are here. The sky is clear blue. We have had the usual summer pattern of morning calm followed by building afternoon southwest breeze.


Afternoon at Anchor

It is delightfully comfortable lying in the cockpit with the sunshade in place: viewing the boats, the islands of evergreen, and the gentle activity surrounding us.

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Sunday, July 17th 2016

Today is my father’s birthday. He would be 106, so I guess I cannot really mourn that he is not here. I can still miss his joie de vie and lively personality. But, I think he would appreciate where we are and what we are doing.

I have just had a lovely swim from our boat to the boat with whom we are sailing in company, the Alden schooner, ARAMINGO, with our friends, Wendy and Bob aboard. DOVKA (and ARAMINGO) are on Warren Island State Park moorings, off Isleboro in the middle of the Penobscot Bay, on the coast of Maine. There is good hiking ashore and this will be our third night. We were to leave this morning, but the rains came last night and lasted until 1400 this afternoon. So after our oatmeal and coffee, we curled up and read.



This afternoon is sunny and delicious. Spruce topped granite islands surround us and the sun sparkles like diamonds off the catspaw ripples on top of the dark water. We have been aboard for 3 weeks and 3 days. But until we left Camden Harbor this past Friday, we have been on a tight schedule.

Now we will go where the wind, weather and our whims take us…until our next set of commitments in two weeks.

We made the always startling transition from land life down to the boat at her dock in Annapolis Thursday, June 23rd; Early Friday morning we took our lines and fenders off the dock and motor sailed up the Chesapeake Bay, anchoring in the Chesapeake City basin off the beginning of the C&D canal.

We had a friend of Sid’s from the Alexandria Seaport Foundation with us, Rob and he was a delightful addition. A third person makes the sleep allotments on night watches, much longer! We really did not depart on a Friday (it is bad luck to start a voyage on a Friday). Our voyage began once we left the Chesapeake Bay on Saturday and with especially unusually delightful weather and wind down the usually dismal Delaware Bay.

Dovka undersail

DOVKA Under Sail

While in the Delaware Bay, we made radio contact with friends from the Fishing Bay Yacht Club who were leading a group of boats to join the Ocean Cruising Club Southern New England Rally. It was nice to talk to friends, get their take on the weather, but confirmed for us, our desire to sail on our own when we go offshore, not in a group.

I think we did fool the gods, because we had a surprisingly lovely sail from the mouth of the Delaware Bay and into the Atlantic. We passed Block Island in the middle of the second night and just kept going into Buzzards Bay and through the Cape Cod Canal and on up to Plymouth, MA in Massachusetts Bay. Fifty three hours of the best sailing we have ever had for that passage and it was much appreciated.

We connected with cousins and friends along the way, ending up in Salem, MA for the 4th of July and for our son Benjamin to join us for 6 days to sail with us to Maine. We connected with our friends on ANCIENT MARINERS, Ruth and Herb (sailors until a few years ago. Ruth convinced Herb when he turned 95 they should move to a motor yacht – they are now 90 and 97 and going stronger than many much, much younger) and we were pleased Ben could get to know them.

Ben at the Helm

Ben at the Helm

While Ben slept in the morning of the 4th, we joined Ruth and Herb and their friends from Blue Water Cruising Association for a tour of Baker’s Island Light opposite Gloucester. A non profit purchased the lighthouse when it was ‘deacquistioned’ by the Coast Guard, in order to preserve it and make it available to the public. The kind people who own homes on Baker Island fought this for years and now that they have lost, refuse permission to allow the summer lighthouse ‘keeper’ and family to use their dock, store or attend their church services on Sunday. In fact they forbid absolutely anyone from going off the lighthouse grounds onto their property!

Fort Baker Light

Fort Baker Light

We had ringside seats for a great  sunset and fireworks in Salem with idyllic New England summer Fourth of July weather.

Sunset in Salem, 4th of July


The 5th dawned in deep fog and Ben came from San Francisco to New England and Maine to endure similar weather.

Ghost Ship in the Fog, Salem, MA

Ghost Ship in the Fog, Salem, MA

We had a great visit anyway and he got a little sailing in en route from Portland, ME to Harpswell, ME on the New Meadows River, where we stayed with our friends Wendy and Bob.

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Captains Sid and Bob

There we rafted to ARAMINGO on her mooring in front of Wendy and Bob’s home to wait out the foul weather.



Ben left us and then we left with sunshine, in company with ARAMINGO and worked our way to Camden to meet with friends we rarely see, who were visiting Maine from Portland, Oregon.  I had explained to my friend that our mantra in planning to rendezvous is “we can give a time or a place, but not both.” On this occasion, both time and place worked out for our long planned dinner.

Camden is one of our favorite stops. It is a charming town and there are moorings, launch service, showers, wifi and a loaner car. The town is very walkable. In fact, traffic on Route 1 through Camden is so bad in the summer, walking is faster than driving. We ran into several of our Ocean Cruising Club friends in town and heard others on the VHF radio and it began to feel as if the summer fun had begun.



The interesting thing is that after a few days on a mooring in ‘civilization’ and we were ready to leave and come to an isolated anchorage and surround ourselves with the beauty of the Penobscot Bay.


Wendy and Bob wending their way home from a visit to DOVKA

Then when we need supplies or wifi, we head to ‘town’ again. Tomorrow we will go into Belfast which has a great Co-op market, good bread, cheese and a great breakfast restaurant. From there, back to an island cove somewhere.

Lest you think we are really isolated, the Penobscot Bay has a number of schooners which run as charters and take people out for days at a time. Several anchored here off Warren Island Saturday night and one just came in with a bride and bridegroom and guests aboard. The 4 or 5 other boats on moorings and we got out our fog horns and serenaded them as they went by!


Charter Schooners at Anchor

Now the ripples are little waves, as the late afternoon wind picks up and the air is clear and dry. It will be another night of good sleeping under a down comforter.


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Monday, September 23rd, 2013

This is the last posting on our summer 2013 sailing blog.

The boat continues to serve us well; we continue to work well as a team; and our bodies have not given out yet. We were aboard for two months and sailed about 1500 miles.  Now we hope for some good autumnal sailing on the Bay, before we put DOVKA to bed for the winter and focus on life ashore.

We kept this blog for our own memories, and to share our adventures with our family and friends.  We hope you have enjoyed it.


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Friday, September 13-Thursday, September 19th, 2013

My older son suggested I share details of daily life aboard DOVKA.  Below is a log of our trip home from the 13-19th of September: 

1330 The grey skies and rain are slowly being pushed out by sun and patches of blue. We are motoring out of Mattapoisett Harbor after taking on fuel, water and  ice.  Dovka is ship shape: no garbage, full tanks, clean galley and head, and everything properly stored for rolly seas. Two days before, we had a lovely sail out of Scituate, down the coast of Massachusetts to the Cape Cod Canal, timed it just right and whizzed through.

 Then we spent two hours going 5 miles into 25 knot winds blowing all the way up Buzzards Bay with a very strong current against the wind coming out of the Canal, causing a huge, uncomfortable chop. We were very happy to enter snug Marion Harbor.  

 We spent two nights on a friend’s mooring in Marion, waiting out unfavorable weather. We were not sure their mooring was free, but knew there was also a CCA guest mooring in the harbor that we could use.  As we picked up our friend’s pennant, we noticed that the CCA mooring was right next door and was already occupied, so we were glad our friend’s was available in this lovely, but very crowded harbor.

 Shortly, we heard a dinghy engine and a knock on the hull. “You must be Rebecca.” Surprised look from me…”I looked you up in the CCA Members’ Handbook.” Lovely couple just finishing a 14 year circumnavigation. So, we had company for our spaghetti dinner.  And a lovely evening: once again, highlighting the ease with which one connects with people and more often than not, good and interesting people, in this cruising lifestyle.

 The lore is never start a voyage on a Friday, but Sid says we started last Sunday and this is a continuation. I can buy that, but not quite sure of Friday the 13th AND that tonight is Kol Nidre, the start of the holiest day in the Jewish calendar: Yom Kippur. I shall play a CD of the haunting and powerful Kol Nidre chant tonight, but our prayers of repentance shall be meditations while standing watch as we sail into the Atlantic from Buzzards Bay towards Cape May. This is the first time I can remember not attending services for the holidays. Right now as we head down Buzzards Bay, we revel in the dry sunshine and await the arrival of the northwesterly winds.

 1800 The late low afternoon sun is shining, but the winds are still southwest and on the nose. We are out of Buzzards Bay, leaving Rhode Island Sound, pounding into the open sea. We fell off 40 degrees and put out some jib. It has helped our speed, but we are still hobby horsing along. All weather forecasts still calling for northwest winds.  We await them.

 2045 The wind has very slowly come around and we are finally sailing with 15 to 18 knots just forward of the starboard beam!. Dovka is rolling along respectably.  We had a nice dinner in the cockpit. Afterwards, we listened to the I-Pod as Jacqueline Dupres played the Kol Nidre with piano accompaniment. It was very moving as we sat in the cockpit across from each other, each of us immersed in his/her own thoughts, as we listened to this magnificent rendition of the ancient prayer melody.

 I am on watch until midnight. I feel a bit selfish, because I get the moon.  We are southeast of Block Island, the lights of which I can just see 45 degrees to starboard on the horizon. Otherwise, we are alone right now. As I sit under the dodger, the wind that reflects is surprisingly warm and gentle. The whoosh of the water on the hull as we push through is soft and deep, a comforting sound.

 2215 The business of a night watch is to keep an eye on everything on the boat, to make sure everything is in order, and to keep an eye out on everything on the sea, specifically, for ships. The advent of the automated information system, AIS, on all commercial and many private vessels (for some reason, not fishing or ferry boats) is a godsend.

  Previously, one watched, took bearings continuously, tried to make out the running lights (often very difficult among all the extraneous lights aboard, especially on cruise ships) to determine the direction etc. Now, the AIS display tells all: distance, bearing, speed over the ground, course over ground, closest point of approach, time at CPA, and takes a lot of the worry out.

 But I just watched a large ship for about a half hour, not fully secure that the info I was getting meshed with my eyeballs. Fortunately, I was just over cautious and the AIS was right!   The closest point of approach was 4 miles, but at night that actually seems very close. Now I have something 7.7 miles on my bow. At 4 knots, it may be a sailboat, or a tug and barge. It shall be revealed.

 2330 We are 12 miles south of Block Is and 15 mikes southeast of Montauk Point on the southern tip of Long Island. Two fishing boats have kept me busy trying to figure out where they were going. They use phenomenally bright lights for fishing, which make it impossible to see any red or green running lights and they change course continuously. They do usually go slowly, at least.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Ah well, perhaps we should not have left on a Friday. A few minutes after I wrote the above, one of the fishing boats changed course. In an attempt to get away from him, I started the engine and fell way off the wind, but the engine died. Sid came up to help. We stayed off the wind, called the fishing boat and asked if we were a problem for him. He said “no” and then graciously changed course away from us.

Sid checked out the engine and is quite concerned. Enough so, that we have turned around and are heading for Montauk, about 25 miles away, rather than continue to Cape May. We are harder on the wind and it is even bouncier, but manageable, so far. We will give up hard earned miles…but it seems the wisest thing to do.

We are on a mooring in Block island, relaxing so we can go to sleep. It was a busy night. We beat our way back towards Montauk from 0300. I was very happy to see dawn and clear, sunny skies. At about 7:30, we called the Coast Guard for information on TowBoatUS. We were concerned that there was little likelihood of diesel service for our engine in Montauk and spent a lot of time studying the charts to weigh our options. After all, we are a sailboat and we were sailing just fine. Sid ‘s concern was that we needed a tow into whatever harbor we finally reached because of narrow entrances and strong currents, but the question was “where to?”

We decided to try the cut between Montauk and Block, even though we were arriving at the height of a strong adverse current, sailing close hauled on jib alone. Then we could go west to Long Island Sound or east to Point Judith in Rhode Island, north of Block. Dovka pointed well and sailed nicely thru the cut. Somewhere along the way, Sid spent some more time with the engine and very hopefully came to the conclusion that he may have been over reacting with his concern that there was something really wrong. His fear that if we ran the engine and it actually kept running, we might do irreparable harm, was slightly allayed. In the light of day, with slightly lesser seas, the engine looked fine! We now think the problem is dirty fuel that stirs up the crud on the bottom of the diesel tank when we get bounced around.

We came through the passage between Montauk Point and Block Island easily and sailed up to the entrance to Great Salt Pond on Block Island, turned on the engine and successfully motored to a town mooring. It is a beautiful day. We will spend it napping. Looks like we resume our voyage early tomorrow morn.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

We left Block at 0600, motoring into light winds from the WNW. We are about 1.5 miles off Long Island, motoring west sightseeing the Hamptons. We are close enough to see a few folks on the beautiful beaches and get a good look, though the binoculars, at some of the huge summer “cottages.”. We just had a lovely french toast breakfast with all the trimmings: maple syrup, applesauce, cinnamon and sugar. And now suddenly a little wind has come up as well. So, life is on an even keel again, although we are heeled 18 degrees to port right now.

My watch again with the same hobby horsing as the other night, only this time the wind is on the nose, exactly the direction we want to go. We lost our weather window…so we are motorsailing on a pleasant night, heading much further west than our course, to get some speed, but still pounding through the seas, which have built as the wind has picked up to 20 knots apparent.

Our hope is the forecast will be accurate and it will lessen after midnight. This is getting old. Or I am. But the engine seems fine, for now. We had a nice Thai peanut noodle dinner and blue cheese salad and it is not cold ( must be the southwest wind), so I cannot complain. And the New York shipping lanes should keep me alert.

I just killed a rattle. Stuffed a piece of paper in the glass right inside the companionway where we keep a boat knife at the ready, as well as nail file, and chapstick, also urgent emergency accessories. I am pleased that my stowage system is in good order and there are no extraneous rattles and bangs as we bounce along. On a boat it really is true: “There must be a place for everything and everything must be in its place.” That and good handholds make life on a moving boat much nicer.

Monday, September 16, 2013

So, we are now on a mooring overlooking the New York skyline from the Atlantic Highlands, Sandy Hook, New Jersey: a wonderful harbor of refuge. When I came on deck for my 3-6 am watch, Sid said we were now heading west for Sandy Hook, rather than continuing to beat our way southwest to Cape May, into 27 knot winds and big seas. I concurred it was a great idea! We were rewarded for this diversion, by a wonderful sight. As we came into the NY channel just after dawn, we passed a large freighter going out. Sid said he had just seen a strange thing: like an underwater explosion between us and the ship. Then he realized it was a whale blowing and we watched him breach, tail slap and blow for several minutes.

We arrived about 11 am in dreary rain, but the sun came out in the afternoon and dried up all our wet gear. We slept, showered in the marina, had a nice dinner and will have a good night’s sleep and be ready to try again tomorrow.

Tuesday and Wednesday, September 17, 18th 2013

Tuesday Morning

We had a good night’s sleep. The front came in with strong northwesterlies during the night. They are calming now and we hope to take off shortly before noon.

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Dovka is rolling down the Atlantic coast of New Jersey. The elusive Cape May, our destination last Sunday, is only 15 miles on our rhumb line. I still have the almost full moon shining a path for us. We have had the jib in and out numerous times, but the engine has always been on and right now we have no wind at all. The very lumpy seas of this afternoon have laid down and most rolls are gentle now. We had another sailboat just behind us, but we think he ducked into Atlantic City.

The coast of NJ is flat and farther north, mostly barrier islands with beautiful beaches and few lights. Then suddenly, in the distance, Atlantic City rises out of the dark sea. It looks like an imaginary, Disney cartoon movie of old, of a magical kingdom, seen from afar. It glows with colored lights and I notice one large building has moving lights. With the binoculars I can read, from 7 miles away: ” Four Ways to Win!” And then “PLAY.” Now the magic kingdom is behind me and its brightly colored lights are fading as the light of dawn arrives.

We passed Cape May early morning and kept on going up the Delaware Bay. A catamaran , Tiger Lily, fighting the same current as we are plowimg up the Delaware Bay, on a beautiful, dry sunny windless day, just called on the radio to commiserate. Brit chap, delivery crew. The full moon causes the adverse current to be at its strongest, but we will arrive at the C and D Canal in time for a favorable current. We, both, are tired, after three overnights in 5 days. Short overnight passages are much more fatiguing than a long passage, where we get into a pattern and our bodies adjust to the short sleep cycles.

Our course is just along the edge of the ship channel. There is a steady stream of freighters, tugs and barges, tankers, north and south. I don’t mind passing them close by in this controlled daylight situation. Doing so at night is a different matter. Even a half mile seems too close in the dark.

Thursday, September 18, 2013

Last night, just before midnight, we anchored in a little anchorage basin about 3 miles short of the western end of the canal and fell into bed, after a good, uneventful 35 hour run from New York Harbor. The only real ‘event’ was that Sid changed the propane solenoid, which failed, kindly, just after I had heated lunch. He did his usual problem solving and found the switch in the galley was fine, so he had to go to the anchor well at the bow, where the propane tank is installed, and work, very carefully, in very rolly, but not wet, seas. But, as usual, he was able to fix it! I had already figured how we might make do with meals and no fire for the next two days: not a bad drill, anyway. I did bake a cake to celebrate though.

And now we are on our last leg home, rolling down the broad, beautiful tree lined expanse of the upper Chesapeake Bay. I have cleaned the head and galley and started to organize what will come off the boat with us tonight. I have rationed well and we have few perishables left. We just had milk and chocolate cake as a mid morn snack. Need to finish both…

DOVKA slid into her slip on Crab Creek in the South River at 1600 Thursday evening. Our friend Dave was waiting on the dock to take our lines. Within a half hour we were in our kind friend’s car heading back to Falls Church and our land home. We are tired, but pleased with another successful sailing summer.

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