Thursday, April 6, 2017

Our social life in the Abacos

On April 3, 2017, we anchored in Allens-Pensacola Cay, right next to Mike on his trawler Sheena II and Jeff on his 32 foot sailboat.  We went over to Mike's boat to share some fish that those two guys had caught, and we brought a squash and turnip dish.   And Jenny's guitar, and those three jammed up the night.  Jeff is a professional musician from Charleston, SC, and Mike is from Ottawa and very good, too.  Jeff left for his trip back to Florida the next morning.  

They are both friends of Bill and Betty Sue on a sport fishing boat Teamwork from Folly Beach, SC, also in the anchorage.  We first met Bill and Betty Sue the first time we came in here in early December, and Mike was here then, too.  They told us about Bill and Lesley on Manjack Cay, and invited us to the Christmas party there.  Of course we went, and met all kinds of interesting people at the party and during our several visits there.  The afternoon Christmas party was outrageous, and so were the jams on the beach and other events.

Ed and Elizabeth from Maine on their self-built boat
Bill and Lesley are fans of Scott and Helen Nearing (RIP) from Maine, so they built plenty of rock walls, and there is a lovely path for about a mile to the Atlantic Ocean side.  Organic gardens, all solar power, cisterns to catch water.  There are about 6 houses on the island.  Darned nice.  Jenny helped them with a feeding/ training issue with their goats.  Lots of interesting people, including guys who had built their own boats-- mostly steel.

We met Randall from Bath, Maine, sailing his Choey Lee ketch towards the Caribbean, with a varying complement of friends and crew; his girlfriend came down while he was in the Manjack area for a week or two.  A couple of days ago, he was in Luperon, DR, heading towards Samana Bay and Puerto Rico. Albert went spear fishing with him and didn't do so well, but we still got some fish to eat-- thank you, Randall.  He also gave us some fish later in Hope Town.

We met Theresa and Brian on their nice Krogen trawler.  They take it back to North Carolina in the early Spring and go to their 100 acre farm in western Virginia.  We plan to visit them in May.
We got to know Jeff in Green Turtle Cay.  He plays on some Wednesdays and Fridays with Kevin and the Gully Rosters band.  Kevin is the dockmaster at the Othet Shore Club/ Pineapples Resort, where we stayed a few times.  When our inflatable dinghy had serious bottom detachment issues and was essentially un-repairable in Marsh Harbor a few weeks ago, we heard that Kevin had a dinghy for sale.  We called him and got back to Green Turtle the next day to see it; we got a super good deal on an old but very sound hard bottom inflatable "RIB".  Any dinghy of this sort is very hard to find down here, so we are very fortunate.

We met plenty of others in Green Turtle, including Marion and Jonathan, Bill and Maureen, and Mark and Joelle.  We played Pickleball with the last two couples both at Green Turtle and Hope Town.  We went to several Friday night socials at Dave's, aka Plymouth Rock-- liquor store and restaurant; they have t-shirts with "I had breakfast at the liquor store."  We enjoyed conch fritters at seveal of the restaurants.  We attended the Women's March that was mostly the regular winter residents; some boaters, some locals.  We went between Manjack Cay and Green turtle quite a few times, and really liked this area.

Jenny did her first school event about behavior science with the dogs and her guitar on Green Turtle.  We then got involved with the school's gardening club, and helped with an environmental science program.  We did a similar program at the schools on Great Guana, Man-o-war, Hope Town, and the Every Child Counts school at Marsh Harbor.  These were primary schools except ECC.  We just went to the High School at Cooper's Town with just the dogs; it was too hot to lug the guitar.  See Jenny's website and Facebook posts.

We spent some time at Great Guana Cay at the Orchid Bay Resort because they had a super good deal at the dock before March 15.  Many of us would gather on the dock for drinks at sunset, including Jim and Louise from Cumberland, Maine.

In Hope Town, Jenny did a few jam music nights.  We met David Wright who plays guitar and sings, and he is in the process of restoring the William H. Albury schooner that was built many years ago at Man-o-war.  We saw him and other friends (and school kids) at the big school fund-raiser Flea Market event on Man-o-war.  While our friends Bill and Katie were visiting and staying at a cottage on Elbow Cay (Hope Town,) we had the good fortune to meet their landlord, Steve Dodge, Abaco historian and author of the best cruising guide for the area.  So many more interesting people and stories, but not enough time or words.

Now, we are working our way back to the west, getting ready to make a big jump to the good ole USA.  If we get a good weather window, we want to go all the way to Beaufort, NC in about 3.5 days of ocean sailing, taking advantage of the strong Gulf Stream.  It'll still be over a week before we leave, so it will be interesting to see who we run into as we travel.  We plan to go to Grand Cay for a few days to discover that out-of-the-way place, and leave from there.  And that will be the beginning of the rest of the voyage to Maine.  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Abacos, Bahamas

Until recently, Albert was feeling snobby about the Abacos.  They are the closest serious Bahamas cruising area from the US, so they would be crowded and touristy.  Most of the sailboat charter companies in the Bahamas run out of Marsh Harbor in the middle of the Sea of Abaco, as the bank is called, so that proves the point.  But after being here only a short few weeks, he and Jenny have been pleasantly surprised.

The entire Bahamas archipelago is big-- 500 nautical miles from the Abacos to Inagua at the southeast side of the island country.  Another 200 miles to the Turks and Caicos, with the same geology and Brittish history.  We had thought we'd go to the central part of the Bahamas-- George Town, Exumas; Long Island; and other islands around there.  Now, we're not motivated to travel that 250 miles-- each way.  Other cruisers we've been meeting up here say that the Exumas are more crowded than the Abacos, and it's harder to find protection when a front comes through.  Winter in the Bahamas is not continuously idyllic-- just often enough.

And the Abacos are classic Bahamas, with a 100 mile long barrier reef to the north and east of the cays on the ocean side of the Sea of Abaco, the snorkelling and abundance of sea-life is astounding and the surrounding water is crystal clear.  A quick mention about all of the plastic pollution washed up on the beaches and other shores; It gets picked up in the resort areas of course, but plenty of locations are not convenient to a disposal location.  Albert was here in the early 80's, and he agrees with everyone we asked about its, its gotten worse over the years.  if we didn't know about the micro-plastic pollution reality in the oceans, it would just be interesting flotsam and beach finds, but...  [We could also go on about the poor solid waste disposal pracices here, but an open burn landfill is the cheapest thing I'm sure, and I'll spare the photos.]

The people are laid-back and friendly.  At the restaurants and marinas, no one seems to care about geting paid until you make them give you an accounting.  It's always good to discuss the fees up front, of course.  Food and eveything is fairly expensive (like all of the Bahamas), but there are good marina deals.  There are also plenty of fancy places that want more than $2.00/ ft/ night, too, but we didn't go to those places in the US, either.  We're paying $11.00/ night for a
mooring in Black Sound on Green Turtle Cay, but we've anchored out a lot too.

The Abacos have some tourist infrastructure, with a range of accommodations and services for visitors, but no high-rises or crazy stuff.  Much of the "infrastructure" serves the locals as much as the tourists-- like the ferries, local stores, and marine services.  And the whole scene is very Bahamas--  the village on Green Turtle Cay is compact with narrow roads perfect for golf carts; neat landscaped yards; the restaurants have outside decks, some with roofs; the good ones have screens or maybe even clear plastic wind blockers.  The regular restaurants are basically inexpensive, considering the cost of food at the stores; no doubt the fancy places have fancy prices.  Other than very basic stuff, supplies are hard to get.  If it's not available in Marsh Harbor (which is not easy to reach from GTC,) you need to figure out a shipping system, and there's customs and fees and all that.  So, as close the Abacos are to the US, it feels like a world away.

As I write this, we've been just hanging out for a month in the vicinity of GTC.  This area is west of Whale Cay and the channel that must be taken into the ocean and back onto the bank to the east.  This passage is not safe in strong north to east winds, which are common this time of year.  We expect that it will be more crowded to the east of Whale Cay; the "Hub" of Abaco is the area around Marsh Harbor, Hope Town on Elbow Cay, and Man-o-war Cay.  But I'm sure all of the Abacos will have the same charm and beauty.  These are all places where people live year-round.  Sure, there are some tourist-oriented services and facilities, but the people here are friendly and happy to share their special place in the world.

PS-  We have read the book "Abaco- the History of an Out Island and its Cays" by Steve Dodge.  The book is also a basic history of all the Bahamas, and it includes stories of the same pirates that we read about in a great book picked up earlier, "St. Augustine Pirates and Privateers" (by Theodore Corbett.)  The early colonial times were hard, with plenty of shipwrecks and slow communication and other dangers.  None of the native Lucayan indians survived, of course, and the early settlers in the Bahamas lived a subsistence lifestyle, with no dependable commercial transportation.  There is still that element to life here, as noted above.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Arriving in West End, Bahamas

On the evening of December 6, 6:30 pm, we left from Lake Worth inlet at Palm Beach, destination West End.  It's only 55 miles or so east, but the Gulf Stream flows at about us 2.5 knots due north, so you need to travel 30%. or more off the direct course and that much farther, maybe a total of 72 miles. No biggie, just need to plan it in. The wind had been blowing hard, 25 knots, out of the south for a couple of days. It had lightened up to about 15, but the seas were still pretty big.
Just outside the inlet in the dark, big seas, a boat came up to us fast and close before we figured out it's a Coast Guard inflatable type patrol boat. They called us up on Channel 16, and as things go, our main VHF radio would not transmit at that moment. We eventually responded on the other VHF, and they asked us a bunch of basically friendly questions, like: Where are you from?  Where are you going?  How many on board?  Are they US citizens?  Just 2 U.S. citizens, and 2 US dogs. They finally said, well, remember if you ever need help from the US Coast Guard, just call us on Channel 16.   Thanks. Really.

We were able to sail at a pretty decent speed (5 to 6 knots) for the first part of the night, until midnight. Then the wind died to light out of the west and we motor-sailed. The sails took a beating because of the rolling from the seas, but they stabilized the rolling of the boat somewhat.
Early in the morning, Albert noticed that the boom connection to the mast had come apart, and it was putting excessive forces on the mainsail tack and the first couple of sail track slides.  He woke up Jenny, and went up to the mast hoping it was a loose bolt or something reasonable. But no, the whole fitting was stress cracked, and the 5/8" bolt/ pin had completely sheared off.  So, a line was tied from a remaining piece of the fitting to the mast, securely, so that the mainsail could hold some tension.
We only used this emergency repair for the next few hours until we entered the outer harbor at West End. We prefer to handle sails in a protected condition if it's possible, which it's not, of course.
One thing we noticed before entering the breakwater channel was a sailboat about1/4 mile north, apparently beyond the rocks south of Indian Cay, lying low in the water with her mainsail luffing and not moving. A little strange.

Later in the morning on the dock, Albert talked to a guy named Pat with red, sun-bleached hair in shorts and sandals, who said that's his boat, a 32' production catamaran.   Yesterday morning in the dark, he ran her onto the rocks trying to find them West End channel, and she sank and is now awash.  It was only a matter time before she broke up completely.  He would get the sail down today, and begin to move what he could off the boat.
His wife had just moved aboard with all of her important things, and he had all of his worldly possessions aboard, including carpenters tools, some from his father and grandfather.  Locals were helping them with a place to stay, and some logistics, hopefully. He said he had been living on sailboats for most of his adult life, they had raised their (now adult) children on a different boat. This whole situation would be a good article for Cruising World magazine, but we didnt have the time for that effort.  In a later conversatoin with a Customs official, he said that boats end up the rocks somewhat regularly, its a shame. Good luck, Pat and his wife!

Another thing is that the resort/ marina at West End, Bahama Bay something, was officially closed due to damage from Hurricane Mathew. The marina had reduced services, meaning no electric or water.  We got a low rate to stay there, so we did.  The clearing in was easy, too.  The navigation lights on the breakwaters were not working, of course. They did have fuel, using a generator.

Post script on the failed boom fitting, Albert improvised a jury rig replacement with a plain steel bolt and a shackle, but the original would need to be repaired, or replaced with something better.  A week later in Green Turtle Cay, we found a welder who fixed up the old hardware and we'll see how long that works.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The 2016 voyage south

First of all, I can see I'm not likely to be keeping up with this blog on any kind of reasonable time frame.  So, "Friend" us on Facebook, since we seem to be able to post to that from our phones.  While we're in the Bahamas, I don't think we will have a lot of data on a phone, so it will be harder to post in real time.  We should be able to find an occasional wi-fi connection, but I bet that will mostly be for FB posts.  And look at Jenny's blog, link on this page.

And hopefully, I will be able to post an occasional blog, too.  For this one, I'm going to be an engineer, and provide a summary of our travels going south this year.  Update: check out the story on the date of October 27.

Sept. 1, 2016- We moved onto Magus, expecting it to be for the next 9 months or so.  On September 3, we sailed to Portland for fuel and water at Dimillo's, and then stayed on our mooring on Peaks Island for a couple of days. We had a nice going-away dinner with Matt and Stephanie.

Sept. 6, 2016- Sailed to Cape Porpoise.  Hurricane Hermine had just gone by, and there were big swells in the ocean.  Just stayed on the anchor.

Sept. 7, 2016- Sailed to Isle of Shoals, stayed on anchor.

Sept. 8, 2016- Sailed to Gloucester, MA.  On a mooring the first night, then anchor.  Dinghied in to town quite a lot.  Nice visit.  A great restaurant is Passport.

Sept. 11 to 12, 2016- Sailed to Woods Hole.  7 pm to 10:40 the next morning, 78 n.m. in 16 hours. Rode the current through Cape Cod Canal early in the morning.  Stayed on a mooring at the Woods Hole Yacht Club, got to use their very Cape Cod style bathroom and shower, and walk all over the town.  The nearby public beach with fresh water shower was like the caribbean.  Jenny loved the trained seals at the Aquarium.

Sept. 15, 2016- Sailed to Block Island, 51 n.m.  Stayed on a mooring for a few days, then anchor for the last night.  Did a little touristing.  They were mostly closing for the season.

Sept. 21 to 22, 2016- Sailed to Cape May.  Left at 3:30 am in a thick fog, thankful to have radar; still a little hairy going out the channel from Great Salt Pond.  Arrived at 2:00 pm the next day-- 34.5 hours, 211 n.m. = 6.16 kts.  Some sailing, but mostly motor-sailing to get the speed.  Anchored by the Coast Guard station, just spent the night.

Sept. 23, 2016- Sailed to Chesapeake City on C&D Canal, at Shaefer's Canal House restaurant.

Sept. 24, 2016- Left early and sailed to Worton Creek, eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay.  Anchored, and caught a catfish.

Sept. 25, 2016- Sailed to Baltimore, just 26 miles across the Bay, mostly motoring.  Stayed at the Crescent Marina for three days; well actually left the boat there, and stayed with Echo.  Albert's brother Andrew and wife Sandy stopped by that first day for a visit and dinner out, with Echo and Chris.  Then, we did some provisioning and laundry and visited wtih Echo.

Sept. 27, 2016- Sailed to Magothy River, 22 miles.  Anchored out while a cold front went through.

Sept. 30, 2016- Sailed to South River, 22 miles.  Anchored in a cove right off of the house of Albert's good friend from UVA, Bill Ball and wife Katie.  They were great hosts, and we had dinner together several times.  One time Jenny did a live Facebook video that didn't work quite right.  More provisioning, and we saw then a couple of times later in the week, see below.

October 3, 2016 (Monday back to work for Bill)- Sailed to Annapolis, 14 miles.  Caught the 4:30 pm Spa Creek bridge opening, and anchored, twice, to make the Harbormaster happy. We still found a great spot between two City parks, and stayed busy for a full week.  Saw Bill and Katie, Echo and Chris, went to the Sailboat Show, lots of other stuff.

Oct. 12, 2016- Sailed to St. Michaels, eastern shore of Chesapeake, 26 miles.  Anchored in the harbor.  Jenny played some songs at Carpenter Street Saloon.  Met good people.  Went to the Tilghman Island Day celebration on Saturday.  Ate oysters and crabs, talked a little politics; this was Trump country.

Oct. 16, 2016- Sailed to LaTrappe Creek, Choptank River.  Hot day, used the SUP.  Lots of geese.

October 18, 2016- Sailed to Solomons Island, MD, used a mooring at Zanhazer's Marina.  Stayed several days with Ed and Karen Chambers, had a great time.

Oct. 23, 2016- Sailed to Deltaville, VA, 56 n.m.  Albert's friend Mac Ward got us a free slip at Stingray Point Marina, where we met some wonderful people, and had a love fest, of sorts.

Oct. 25, 2016- Sailed to Hampton Town Dock.  First night fee, then we paid for a night.  Enjoyed a great jazz band at the hotel bar with a great community of people.

Oct. 27, 2016- Sailed to Portmouth Town Dock-- free.  Jenny got her absentee ballot here, and Albert's was lost by the US Post Office.  A new one was requested to be sent to Deaton Marina in Oriental, NC.
Updated story: While at the dock, we met Bob on his boat, and we had dinner with him at a nice local restaurant.  He told me and Jenny a different version of the story in the following link. He said he never ran aground, was south of Ocean City when the USCG showed up, and he was persuaded to abandon. He said that his boat was boarded later by some sailors who saw her offshore and when they got back on shore, they looked him up and presented him with a few things from his beloved boat. They told him that she was filling with water and likely foundered, well offshore.  Jenny has a video of his story, but it's long and may not make it to the Internet. He did say that the whole sad story was his fault, that he should have changed his plans when the weather turned bad. He is now 81, living and traveling on a Gulfstar 37 named Valor.  LINK

Oct. 28, 2016- Sailed into the Intracoasal Waterway.  Left early to make the 9:30 am group through the Great Bridge lock and 10:00 am bridge opening.  Kept going to the North River, south of Coinjock, anchored off of Buck Island, stayed on Magus.  50 n.m., or about ICW statute mile 57?

Oct. 29, 2016- Sailed across Albemarle Sound, and up the Alligator River to Deep Point, anchored, stayed on Magus.  ICW mile 102.

Oct. 30, 2016- Motored to Belhaven, tied up to the Town Dock at 2:15.  Found out it would cost something and it was hot, so we anchored out.

Oct. 31, 2016- Sailed to Oriental, NC, stayed at the free Town Dock the first night, then we went over to Deaton's Marina.  We had them look at the engine, and found out that we needed to run it at higher rpm's, basically.  The smoke and smell is just the way this engine is, at this point in it's life...  she won't last forever.  We did laundry and provisioning, like usual.

Nov. 5, 2016- Sailed to Beaufort, NC- A little bit of sailing on the Neuse River, then motoring through a creek and canals.   Tied up to Finz Grill, went to a dog walk benefit event that was just starting at 6 pm, then had dinner at Finz.  The next morning we found out that the dock was managed by Beaufort Docks, and should have cost some real money at $2.50 per foot.  We negotiated a good bargain, so all was good.

Nov. 6, 2016- Sailed out to Lookout Bight, the southern end of the Outer Banks.  Stayed on Magus.

Nov. 7, 2016- Sailed to Masonboro Inlet, Wrightsville Beach.  Left at 7 am, had a good breeze, and anchored by about 4:30 pm.  Stayed on Magus.

Nov. 8, 2016- Motored to Southport, NC.  Got fuel on the way.  Stayed at a dock at the Provisions Company restaurant.  That made it easy.

Nov. 10, 2016- Sailed to Charleston, SC, actually a little past to the Charleston Crab House on Wapoo Creek, a free dock but very loud bridge.  133 n.m., 28.5 hours.

Nov. 12, 2016- Motored through the ICW to an anchorage on the Ashepoo River.  Very quiet, watched a few boats go by.

Nov. 14, 2016- Motored through the ICW to Beaufort, actually Lady's Island on Factory Creek, using the Lady's Island Marina, where everyone is great.

Nov. 17, 2016- Sailed to Jacksonville, FL, about 150 n.m., 10:30 am to the next morning.  Rode the current down the Beaufort River and  arrived a little early for a favorable current, but it wasn't bad.

Nov. 18, 2016- Kept going to St. Augustine.  Stayed there through Thanksgiving.  Great liveaboard community.

Nov. 25, 2016- Motored to Marineland, and stayed three days.  Got a tour of the dolphin and marine aquarium stuff.  Nice place.

Nov. 28 through Dec. 1- Ran down the ICW to New Smyrna, Melbourne Beach, etc. to Vero Beach.

Dec. 4 to Dec. 5- Vero Beach to Palm Beach/ Lake Worth inlet.  Got fuel and water, able to leave on Dec. 6 for West End, Bahamas.
Arriving at West End, early morning.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

2016 update

This is very late, so I want to make it short.  A lot happened with us in the past year.  We moved from Peaks Island to South Freeport in October, 2015.  That is a whole separate story, but a lot of work was done to the Freeport property in anticipation of our future there.

At the end of April, 2016, we moved Magus from DiMillos’s Marina (which we loved and where she had been since we brought her to Portland in 2012) to South Freeport harbor on the Harraseeket River.  That started with a couple of months at Brewers Marina on the hard, where a lot of work was done: Topsides painted, second water tank cleaned and painted, electrical things, new speed/ temp unit, replaced back stay, bottom paint, etc., and the big one: rebuild the two hydraulic cylinders at the rudder end of the steering system.   Many of these things were done to satisfy the marine survey that was performed for the first time.  Prior to this, we only had liability insurance, but now we have full boat insurance.  That’s supposed to be a good thing, but it could be debated.  Then, in July, Albert retired from his job as Town Engineer/ Public Works Director for Freeport.  All this was to prepare for going on a voyage somewhere for the winter of 2016-17.

You can find in an older post our thoughts on going to Nova Scotia, the Azores, maybe Europe, maybe to the other Atlantic islands, and down to the Caribbean.  Here’s the current reality.  We have two dogs we are taking with us.  We are not going to be ready to go anywhere until close to September.  Albert really wants to go somewhere warm this year.  We are both worried about the Zika virus that is serious in the real Caribbean.  It will probably be in the Bahamas this winter, but they aren’t so populated (except on New Providence island and Nassau,) so we are imagining that the mosquito risk will be manageable.  We have screens, and DEET, and protective clothing, so we are really going to try to not get stung.  We’ll let you know how it works out.

The Bahamas are relatively easy to get to, compared to the real Caribbean that is much further to windward, not to mention just farther.  So, the plan is to go the Bahamas in the vicinity of Georgetown, Exuma.  Visit the Exumas, maybe Eleuthera, Long Island, Cat Island, Rum Cay, San Salvador.  That’s a lot of territory, actually.  To start with, we have gone through the process to get the Animal Import Permits for Bee and Tigerlily, saying we would arrive in West End, Grand Bahama.  That means we will leave from somewhere in Florida, like West Palm Beach—Lake Worth Inlet.  That will mean a lot of travelling down the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW).  It would be considerably shorter and faster to go straight from Beaufort, NC to Marsh Harbor in the Abacos (northern Bahamas,) so that’s not completely ruled out.  Or, something in between.  At least, we’ll likely do some overnight passages between major ports to reduce some of the longer sections of “ditch” on the ICW.

But before that, we took a “shakedown” trip this summer to Rockland for the SSCA “Gam” in Penobscot Bay.  In previous years, it was held at Islesboro, so this was the first year at a new location— the south Rockland harbor, and the Sail Power and Steam Museum, started by Jim Sharp.  He was very gracious, and meeting the SSCA people was fun and interesting.  The event was organized by Keith and Nikki Davie on S/V Sionna.  They plan to go down the ICW this fall, so we will likely see them at some point.

While we were there, Sophi and Travis visited with the grandkids, Felix and Hazel, ending up spending the night.  That was a nice family adventure.  We also visited with Sophi's friends Colin and Ann on Mimi Rose.  This photo is from another summer sail in Freeport:

Next, we’ll update on how it’s actually going…

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Magus in 2015

We had some nice sails around Casco Bay early in the summer, including a couple of overnight trips with Sophi, Travis and their son Felix, both to Jewel Island.

Because the boat had not been out of the water for bottom paint since 2013, there was some noticeable growth.  We pulled up to the Army Pier on Peaks Island for a quick wash, and painted the waterline.  That was a big help, not that it lasted very long.  Next year, the full haul and  bottom job...

We had hoped to sail to Penobscot Bay for a couple of weeks, but circumstances conspired against us.  Jenny went out to visit her sister in Seattle at the end of the summer, planning to stay for awhile, so Albert decided to make a dash for Vinalhaven over the weekend of September 19 - 20, leaving Friday night at 5 pm and arriving in Carver's Harbor at 7:30 the next morning, just before it fogged for awhile. Overall, the weather was excellent, though.  

Albert was the consultant for designing and constructing the unique landfill cover system on Vinalhaven in 1997, and he wanted to see how it was holding up.  It was doing good, but a few trees were bigger than expected.  Everything needs to be maintained, and these should be removed.

On Sunday, the sail was beautiful along the west side of Vinalhaven and then across Pen Bay to Rockland.  Our friend Carter had a mooring that we could use, and he gave Albert a ride back home to Freeport.

I turned out that Jenny came back to Maine, so we will both go up to Rockland and sail back to Portland, soon.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Planning for 2016

Our next big trip will hopefully happen in 2016, when Albert plans to retire from his full-time job.  

PhotoVoyaging on the boat takes some planning.  Our initial plans have been a bit of a fantasy, but they are based on the real factors of wind, weather, schedules, boat and crew capabilities, etc.  Then as we started to look into the “social” realities and formalities of visiting various countries (with two dogs) things get tricky, and they will be more of a challenge that will greatly affect our plans.

So, the general idea has been this.  Get Magus all ready in May (2016) with new bottom paint, and a fresh survey so we can get insurance for anywhere.  Then we can leave Peaks in June and cruise along the coast of Maine, then to Nova Scotia for the summer.  A visit to St. Pierre and Miquelon (just a few miles south of Labrador, and which is a territory of France) would be interesting.   In September, we could sail to the Azores (about 1,200 miles from that area) and take it easy by spending the winter there.  The next spring, we could sail to Ireland (about 1,000 miles) and cruise around there, Scotland, England, and arrive in the Netherlands at the end of August.  Then, it would be possible to travel through the canals to Paris and across France to Marseilles on the Mediterranean-- leisurely in two or three months.  Then head south along the west coast of Italy, and spend the winter somewhere.  Because of VAT tax issues, we would need to stop in north Africa, like Tunisia for a few weeks or months within 18 months of first entering the EU, which would have been St. Pierre & Miquelon the previous year, so we’d have until January.  Then sail around the Med the next summer, visit Greece, get to Gibralter by October, then sail across the Atlantic to the Caribbean in November/ December for the winter.  We could then sail back to Maine the next summer, or even leave Magus somewhere and fly home for the summer, and go back to the Caribbean for more cruising.

From an article in Sail Magazine, Feb. 2013

But the above is not legally possible because of a thing called the Schengen Agreement relating to visas.  This rule says that a non-EU resident can only stay 90 days out of every 180 days in all of the Schengen countries, which is practically all of the EU not including the Brittish Isles.  This rule has been on the books since 1985 apparently, and has been routinely ignored.  There have only been rare cases of problems; but the problems are serious, like forfeiting the vessel and big fines to get out.  But now, there is more awareness of the rule, and we have two dogs that will add the the formalities, so we are not likely to ignore it.  There are all kinds of “work arounds” that we are researching, like one-year visas, but then you become a temporary resident and they get you for the VAT tax-- 20% of the value of the vessel as they determine.  There’s also the paperwork annoyance of getting an International Certificate of Competence for operating the vessel and a similar licence for the canals, but these can be resolved with time and money.  There is now supposedly a proposal to change the Schengen rules to allow US and some other nationals to stay for longer in those countries, but no one knows when this will happen.

Given all the above, we don’t really want the hassle, so we’re looking at options.  Not to mention that we don’t want to be so far away from our daughters and the grandchild(ren).  If we cruise to Nova Scotia and visit St. Pierre and Miquelon, it could still make sense to sail to the Azores and visit for a month or so in September/ October on the way to the Caribbean.  One could sail directly from there (about 2,500 miles,) or detour a little to the Canary Islands and Cape Verde Islands on the way (about 4,000 miles; the extra 1,500 miles is about two weeks of ocean sailing, not really that long). There’s still the Schengen rule for a maximum total stay of 90 days in the Azores (part of Portugal) and the Canaries (part of Spain), but that’s not hard, since its best to get to the Caribbean in January/ February. 

Or we could bail on the whole thing for the first year or two, and just head south along the East Coast.  There are plenty of places we haven’t seen in the Caribbean basin, and even Key West might be fun.  With the recent changes for visiting Cuba, it would be very interesting to visit there.  And Jamaica is basically on the way I’d want to go; from the north or east, not west around.  We’ll really need to get better with our Spanish; Puerto Rico didn’t help us much because everyone spoke English with us, right after we tried saying “Buenas Dias”.  

And we joined the Seven Seas Cruising Association (which is also on Facebook).  They seems like a great organization, with their Seven Traditions including Leave a Clean Wake.   They have “gams” of boat raft-up social parties in various places every year, and a regular one is in Isleboro Maine.  We plan to go to the one this summer from July 31 to August 1, 2015.  Members and friends invited.