13 – 17 Sep 2013: Richmond Island to Gloucester – 42 36N 70 39W
With such an ominous date we weren’t too surprised to awaken to more gloomy weather. Tropical Depression Gabrielle was still hovering but forecasts showed for an afternoon improvement so we readied ourselves for departure: the great southern migration was about to begin. The fog cleared at 2.30pm and we lifted anchor in company with Serafina and headed south down Harpswell Sound.
By 3pm the fog had returned, along with rain, this was not in the plan. There was no wind so we were motoring through pea soup, relying on radar and electronic charts for navigation; good luck for not snaring a lobster pot; and layers of thermals, fleeces and Southern Ocean wet weather jackets for warmth! Admiral was NOT impressed. We moved 18 miles south to Richmond Island, the wind picked up on arrival making the anchorage a lee shore and a slight swell had us rolling more than we had in a long time, meanwhile we listened to waves crashing on the nearby rocky shoreline, not one of our better days and anchorages.
We executed a 6am departure (no mean feat onboard Balvenie) hoping for steady winds to push us south nearly 70 miles to Gloucester. We farewelled Serafina as we both pulled out of the anchorage, unaware that we would go our separate ways. We made quite slow time in the light winds, once again we couldn’t match their huge light wind sail and they left us in their wake. We made the call to break the journey at the Isles of Shoals, a 40 mile run. We had planned to stop here on the way north but wind conditions made it a lee shore so we had carried on, this time conditions were favourable so we pulled in and were lucky to find an empty courtesy mooring buoy for the night, Serafina had carried on further south.
We settled in to listen to the America's Cup Racing live from San Francisco, the joys of modern technology being able to receive internet coverage in remote places. Team New Zealand were way in front but Oracle managed a win in the one race of the day. Hopes were still high of a return of the Cup to New Zealand.
Just on sunset, as the softening light made the harsh rocky landscape ashore glow, the wind appeared from nowhere, and wouldn’t you know it, it came in at 20 knots from the northwest. Another lee shore and very bumpy night. The smaller boats around us were bouncing up and down, burying their bows in the choppy swell, we faired much better but it was another uncomfortable night, our last two anchorages in Maine were our worst.
Bye Bye Maine, Back to Massachusetts
We had planned to explore this rocky outcrop in the morning but the weather was dreary and cool so we said our final farewell to Maine and sailed south. Winds were again light so progress was slow until a 20 knot sea breeze kicked in from the south, right on the nose and scuppering plans for an overnight stop in Gloucester.
Good ole Plan B was devised and we headed instead for the nearby tiny village of Rockport, Massachusetts which had excellent protection from the south. Anchor was down and internet connected for another afternoon of Americas Cup Racing, one win each today, not such a good result but we are still leading – plenty of time yet.
Next morning we were ashore to explore by 9.30am, possibly a record for us. We realise now why we never go out that early, nothing is open!!!! We wandered the quaint little lanes of this tiny village nestled around the compact harbour (too small for us, we were anchored off a sandy adjacent beach). I imagine on a hot summers weekend it heaves with daytrippers from Boston but on this drizzly autumn weekday morning we had the place to ourselves.
Back onboard we continued our journey south with a short hop just 12 miles around the headland to Gloucester. Light winds in front of the beam and flattish seas meant for a comfortable sail and a timely arrival to listen again to Americas Cup Racing –racing cancelled, the agony is prolonged!!!
The early end to racing meant we had time to whizz ashore for a much needed grocery run. Fresh produce was at rationing levels, time to top up and we figured it would be easier here than in Boston. Gloucester is very much a normal but pleasant functioning port town, not too much pandering to the tourist market here. A large fishing boat fleet lines the shore and although there is an excellent harbour walk around the front it surely has that working town feel and smell to it. Gloucester was also the home port of the fishing boat lost at sea on which the movie The Perfect Storm was based. A monument in town remembers those that were lost on that and countless other occasions.
We had an early dinner, easy to do in the USA as the restaurant kitchens seem to never close. We caught the last of the afternoon sun which finally appeared mid afternoon, whilst sitting overlooking the harbour at The Cape Ann Brewing Company, a small local micro brewery. We thought it interesting the only alcohol they served was beer, obviously due to the type of licence they have, but it was something we had never come across anywhere before. Mark decided to leave both the Cucumber and Strawberry with Rhubarb ales for another day and went for the much safer option of a Fisherman’s Ale to accompany his Portuguese Fish Stew.
With sunny skies and a northerly wind forecast of 10 – 20 knots it was time to do the final leg of 26 miles to Boston. We left at 9am as we had our new regular daily fixture of the Americas Cup Racing at 4.15pm to consider, we wanted to get there in plenty of time to see if we could find somewhere ashore showing the live coverage so we could actually watch it on television for a change.
Our downwind sail was the coldest we have ever been at sea on Balvenie, we both had so many layers of clothes on we could barely bend, even the sun seemed to have forgotten to turn its heater on. We later found out that it had been recorded as the coldest September 17 ever in Boston's history, 44 Fahrenheit or 6.66 Celsius, crickey - timed that well, didn’t we!!
We made our way into the sheltered waters of Boston harbour early afternoon, Boston International Airport boarders the harbour so we had fun plane spotting as we were overflown by several jets.
We tied to our pre booked mooring, dropped the dinghy, headed ashore, found a nearby bar with helpful staff who found the racing for us and settled down for the action – racing cancelled, too much wind!!! Oh well we got to watch two earlier races so finally got to see these magnificent craft in action without worrying who would win, much better for the stress levels!!!
Will Team New Zealand Win The 34th Americas Cup???