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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