September 2017 –
We are back in Essex, CT – how time has flown since we were last here in early July! After our third overnight from Portland, ME to Provincetown, MA, we had another spirited sail across the Cape Cod Bay, stopped in Marion, MA for a home-cooked meal (thank you Sharon & Robert!), and revisited one of our favorite spots, Cuttyhunk. Newport, RI was the next stop, where we had a marathon of a day at the 2017 boat show. We would have liked to spend more time exploring Contigo’s “home,” (where she is registered) but with Hurricane Jose continuing to lurk around (in circles) and threatening landfall earlier this week, we decided to duck into the relative safety of the Connecticut River.
Shown below are two weather applications we have been using of late, Windy shown on the left and PredictWind, a paid service, on the right. While we are far from meteorologists, we are slowly getting better at reading forecasts, understanding high & low pressure systems, and taking advantage of wind patterns.
To ride out the storms – pending what Maria decides to do – we have opted to moor Contigo in a river where the fetch (distance wind travels across open water – the greater the distance, the larger the waves) will be lower, took down our headsail, tied down our mainsail to the boom a bit more firmly than normal, and lassoed our own heavy duty bridle harness onto the mooring chain, which we’ve been informed by the harbormaster is anchored to the river floor by a 1,500 lb railroad wheel! So here we wait, posting this message from the comfort of the Essex Public Library, while the wind howls outside at 30–40 knots.
First Overnight Guests
While in Maine, our friends Andres and Rachel from New York City came to visit us. They heroically drove nine hours to Boothbay Harbor, where we started a small tour of Muscongus Bay (the next bay over from Penobscot), beginning with a trip back to Monhegan for more amazing lobster by the shore. We zoomed to the island on a gentle broad reach and flat seas, demonstrating that it possible to break out the wine and cheese while doing 6–7 knots. We rounded out the weekend with a stay in Round Pond, where we engaged in a lobster crawl which involved finally trying hardshell lobsters in Maine… softshell won the votes of this group. Thanks for the visit guys!
We loved our stay in Maine’s largest city, getting a kick out of how large and busy it all seemed after a month of cruising Maine’s rural waterways. The Portland Museum of Art was a highlight we’d recommend to anyone visiting the city. As expected, Winslow Homer was featured prominently: “Taking an Observation, 1884” sure would look nice on Contigo’s bulkhead. The museum’s caption found it odd that Winslow would choose to paint such a dark scene of a mariner “shooting the sun” with his sextant, but to us it just looked like he was depicting a celestial sight of the moon!
Walking around town, we saw the sights and had some great food – we’ll spare you the food photography, but rest assured, our meal at Eventide Oyster Co. was delectable (ok, indulgent).
Back in the harbor, Karl was able to stream coverage of the latest round of Concacaf World Cup Qualifying games “on the big screen.” He is seen here enjoying Costa Rica’s 0–2 win against the USA, though the picture was taken at 0–1 and going into the final minutes of the game, hence the tense moment for this Costa Rican!
We left Portland for Stage Island, just off Cape Porpoise (near Kennebunkport), where we awaited favorable winds to take us down to Provincetown. The following day, we departed Stage Island under power in light winds as the sun set, waiting for the forecasted winds out of the West-Northwest that would allow us to raise sail and carry us on a starboard tack for the majority of our overnight trip to P-town.
Two days later (after anchoring overnight in Provincetown to catch some rest), the trip across the Cape Cod Canal was uneventful, other than getting passed by a barge under tow.
Newport, RI (and Boat Installs)
As we are now officially heading south for the Bahamas, we are outfitting Contigo with a few additional (safety-focused!) features that we had put off earlier this year “for the Fall” – well, here we are! A stop at the Newport Boat Show was therefore convenient, where we picked a new halyard (raises the sail) for our mainsail, an offshore life raft (which we hope to never see deployed), and a new set of sails for Contigo to better accommodate our cruising plans (this set will allow for a more conservative sail plan given a 3rd reef point and smaller genoa/headsail). Buying our Lanex halyard from monsieur JP at the Sensible Yacht Cordage booth was très amusant.
Returning to the small town of Essex on the Connecticut River has been fun – other than watching these hurricanes wreak havoc on the Caribbean and present at least some threat farther up here. This time in Essex, we got to bear witness to an annual Fall season phenomenon whereby thousands of tree swallows stationed on the marshes of Goose Island (on the banks of the river), begin to swirl in a large coordinated ballet just before sunset that ends in a crazy vortex dive down to their roost in the reeds for the night. It all happens in a matter of 10-15 minutes!
What’s next? We are bound for the Chesapeake (route still TBD) to enjoy an early fall cruise before hopping on the Intracoastal Waterway that will take us down to Florida.
Until next time, love,
Conner & Karl