July 2017 –
We would like to think that we are settling into our new lives as liveaboards quite nicely. Moments of panic on the boat are less frequent, or at least when issues present themselves, we are better (but still not great!) at separating what is cause for serious and immediate concern vs. another item on that large and growing deferred maintenance list. Slowly, routines are emerging that when put together, constitute our (happy) daily existence. We finally got our act together with respect to healthy diet, exercise and meditation practices – it was a sneaky process of bad habit appeasement, as we temporarily rationalized daily ice cream and credited the occasional crank on a winch as enough exercise, which warranted more ice cream! Now, we get up in the morning between 7-8AM (not exactly yogic, but at least it isn’t 10AM!), and take turns at Contigo’s bow doing whatever practice suits us, while the other cooks breakfast, which these days is a cup of coffee and a bowl of fresh fruit with walnuts, a dollop of honey and a sprinkle of olive oil and sea salt.
We last left off in central Connecticut, but would be remiss if we didn’t mention an impromptu visit (in the Greenwich Islands) by Karl’s former co-workers, who stopped by for a drink after work in late June. They fouled their prop on a rock enroute to see us, giving Contigo what we hope is her first and only brief encounter with SeaTow’s services. These are three respectable individuals, so please no comments on how they look somewhat refugee-like being towed away into a mid-summer sunset.
Stonington and Block Island
We next made for Stonington, Connecticut, which abuts Watch Hill on the Rhode Island border. We toured the sights, exploring the area’s colonial history, made especially poignant by Fourth of July weekend. Stonington Harbor Light housed a series of artifacts from the area’s nautical past that provided for some onsite learning – such as, did you know that old merchant ships used porcelain china as ballast on their return legs, given it wouldn’t damage in briny bilge airs, and could be readily sold at home port? And the top of the lighthouse provided a fine view of downtown Stonington.
We took a taxi over to nearby Mystic Seaport for the museum’s Independence Day Parade, saw the Charles Morgan (the last American Whaler in existence) and also attended the planetarium’s (lackluster) program on Mariner’s Celestial Navigation. We fear that if we ever lose GPS (including, worry not, many onboard backups) and need to rely on celestial sight fixes, we will have mostly a bag of astronomically bad puns at our disposal.
We left the mainland bound for Block Island, which was quite busy in the wake of the long weekend, and mostly served as an opportunity to swing perilously close to other boats on moorings: yes, we we were warned, the Great Salt Pond would be filled with boats anywhere and everywhere.
The small island of Cuttyhunk – at the Western end of the Elizabeth Islands that form the boundaries to Buzzard’s Bay (to the North) and Vineyard Sound (to the South) – is well known to sailors, and we now know for good reason.
There wasn’t a whole lot to the place, just a few seafood dockside eateries and a trail up to the top of the island. But there was a special vibration, a feeling of peace and quiet belied by the island’s close proximity to much larger Martha’s Vineyard and the mainland.
We reluctantly left beautiful Cuttyhunk, as we had an important (though relatively short!) journey ahead of us to get to Martha’s Vineyard on July 10th. Conner’s family and Karl’s parents flew in to spend the week at the Vineyard home of Conner’s family friends. The plan had been in the works for almost a year – long before we were salty enough to know that a fixed schedule is to be avoided like the plague when living on a boat. That said, the full pantheon of nautical spirits positively conspired, and we sailed into Vineyard Haven and picked up a mooring that afternoon with no problems! We spent a glorious evening on shore at Judi and Dick Williams’ house, indulging in hot showers, laundry facilities (Conner completed a record breaking six loads of laundry while sipping on Sauvignon Blanc), and a delicious home-cooked dinner prepared by Judi.
Later in the week, we hosted Karl’s parents aboard Contigo for breakfast. We all laughed and scrambled below deck when a rainstorm came upon us without warning: Karl’s parents received a quick initiation on living aboard!
On Friday July 14th, the group of ten took a quick flight to Nantucket (we would have loved to sail, but figured Cape Air was both faster and more suited to transporting the large group). Though the weather was not great, we enjoyed re-visiting a few of our favorite spots (this was our third time on the island of Nantucket) and discovering new ones. At Cable Car Cafe, we snacked on marinated olives and (conversation-haltingly good) warm medjool dates stuffed with honey and marcona almonds.
Those savory comforts were still with us as we walked to meet the rest of the group for lunch and it was then that we learned that Conner’s maternal grandfather (Russell Monroe Feaga, AKA Pappy to all the grandchildren) had just passed away. Though it was disconcerting to be away from home, this was not unexpected, and the family had said goodbyes prior to leaving for Martha’s Vineyard, just in case. In fact, it was unique that we were all together in one location and we were thankful to have each other close. The news was a gentle reminder of how fortunate we all were to arrive safely into Martha’s Vineyard to celebrate and spend time together. One of Conner’s favorite memories of Pappy is sitting in his den as he peeled apples for her. Note this was not just a simple procedure because she liked eating the skin separately, so he would put the skins in a separate bowl and the peeled apple slices in another. This care and attention to detail (all slices were somehow the same size) were constants in Pappy’s daily life, whether it was in his position as SVP at Fredericktown Bank and Trust, or as a father, husband, and friend. Pappy also loved being on the water and we hope he continues to look over us as we continue our journey on Contigo. We love you Pappy and miss you.
The day before everyone left, we played “charter company” and took everyone aboard Contigo in two groups. Group 1 included Conner’s parents and Judi and Dick, while Group 2 consisted of Karl’s parents and Conner’s brother and sister in law. Where Group 1 excelled in listening to directions and maintaining a noise level that only sometimes raised above a whisper, Group 2 appropriately brought up the energy level just in time for a near run-in with the MV Ferry as we were putting away sail. Mrs. Gerchow swiftly captured the moment on camera. We enjoyed hosting everyone aboard and hope to get more visitors soon!
Cape Cod, Enroute to Maine
After departing Vineyard Haven, we crossed Vineyard Sound and left Contigo in the hands of Falmouth’s MacDougal’s Boatyard, who tackled a few boat maintenance projects that required expert hands while we returned to Maryland to attend Pappy’s funeral service.
The work conducted was solid, so after some expected “Break Out Another Thousand” action upon our return to Contigo, we left Falmouth for the Cape Cod Canal (which bears a striking resemblance to parts of the C&D Canal that connects the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays). We then made for Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod, where we spent a few nights readying ourselves for our overnight trip to Monhegan, Maine. So as we write this, we have successfully crossed the Gulf of Maine, staying roughly 40 nautical miles offshore in fair winds and light (3-foot) seas. Maine will be the subject of our next post, but suffice it to say, so far it is jaw dropping in its beauty and a joy of a place to sail, fog notwithstanding.
Conner and Karl