Slower than a hedgehog

Our experience log book has another entry. Trying to motor sail to windward in 30 knots with an uncooperative tide and big seas is a pointless uncomfortable escapade. I’m not sure exactly why we thought this would be possible. We wanted to make an ‘out and in’ 18 mile journey along the coast, of which about 5 miles was directly to windward. Forget that for a game of soldiers. We were making 0.8 knots so that 5 mile section was going to take over 6 hours. That’s almost measuring time in eons. A hedgehog in short bursts can do 4 mph. The space shuttle does over 1 mile per second during take off. We were much slower than both of these diverse examples.

Our slow escape from Nova Scotia continues. We’re in Shelburne. Not quite semi-permanent locals but I have bought a temporary gym pass in anticipation of being here a few days. Dave’s diving efforts, auditioning for the October entry in the Nova Scotia 2019 ‘Men in Rubber’ calendar were superseded today by a chap called John.

We made a speculative phone call to John, a commercial diver about the barnacles on our prop. Not kidding. 25 minutes later this bloke lumbers down the pontoon dressed in his full commercial dive gear, flippers, mask, weights, the whole caboodle. Dave spoke to him and explained our barnacle predicament. John said nothing. He nodded, walked to the end of the pontoon and jumped in. I burst out laughing. It was the modern day equivalent of a John Wayne film. Few words. Big actions.

By the time I got back from the bank, a trip to get cash to pay our very own quiet man, John was out of the water and walking round in jeans and a sweatshirt. I’d wanted to get a photo of him suited and booted but all the action happened when I was away.

It’s Halloween today. Some kids came round trick or treating but they were collecting donations for the local food bank. Nice idea I thought though. Rather than hassling for 4lbs of Haribo crap.

History repeats itself….

I do remember Dave and I having a conversation in late autumn 2017 about getting south quickly from Massachusetts to avoid the onset of winter. We lingered, didn’t get south and subsequently felt the cold.

Well it seems like history is repeating itself. We are not quick learners. Halifax, Nova Scotia had its first snow flurries last Thursday and this morning in Lunenburg was decidedly frosty.  Beautiful but chilly.

We motored 30 odd miles along the coast to Liverpool on the river Mersey. No, we didn’t sing the song about ferries, thank you very much. Similar to last year, docks are being dismantled around us. Our thermals are out. Weather watching has become a full time occupation as forecasts seem to change too regularly for our liking.

Furthermore, the pitch of our prop seems to be little squiffy. How do we know….motoring speed is slower than normal. With the cold, we want to motor quickly. You get my drift.

We thought initially we just had a dirty bottom. No one with a boat (or without for that matter) wants a dirty bottom. Dave suspects there is some underwater growth which is stopping the prop from feathering. A rogue barnacle or a collection of sea squirts maybe.

Options….find somewhere to dry out, wait for low water and investigate when the water has recceeded. Option two, get the boat hauled out and sit in some slings long enough for us to clean the prop. Or option three. Perhaps the least attractive but also the most straightforward. Put a wetsuit on, pretend to be a child having a good time swimming in the North Sea in early June (with no central nervous system) and take the plunge.

Writing about the cold then contemplating diving on the boat don’t really reconcile themselves. No definitive way forward as yet.  Dave is having another ‘Dark and Stormy’ while he ruminates.  I’m certainly not going in!

The Quickening… interpretation

Porto....2 year’s ago today

Two years ago today we were in Porto. The Portuguese coast has just been hit by the remnants of Hurricane Leslie. Glad we’re not there.

The quickening is coming here in Halifax. If you don’t know what the quickening is, you’ve never watched Highlander.

Highlander was a film we often watched on returning from the Copper Beech Pub in Abercrave when I worked at the Outdoor Centre in South Wales, my first job after college. There wasn’t much choice on the vhs front. Maybe 6 tapes, all of diminishing quality and spooling capacity. (Nice word….spooling)

Highlander and The Blues Brothers were the most watched. I much prefer the Blues Brothers as a film, less angst and outright ridiculous fantasy that Highlander. 😀 However, back to the story, the quickening, as I understood it, was something coming to a head. Time for moves to be made.

Actually I’ve just looked up The Quickening on Mrs Google and my recollection of what it means is actually completetly wrong. In the movie its actually associated with energy release and swords and loosing ones head, literally. Goes to prove, fantasy is not a genre of film that holds my attention. The whole plot was lost on me.

At least 5 boats here in Halifax are waiting for our quickening, a time for moves to be made. The winds sorting themselves out so we can depart west then south. We are in esteemed company as we wait. One boat has been through the North West passage 3 times. Mum, Dad and young son. They were the first to turn round this year apparently when they realised the ice was not going to break up sufficiently for them to pass. Having been there before they recognised the pattern. They are genuinely trend setters.

Another boat operates as a charter boat for scientists, expeditions and adventurers. They take people to remote corners for research projects or adventurous jaunts. Previous destinations have included Antarctica, Greenland and remote parts of the Pacific. I particularly liked a story of cross country skiing while penguins slide on their bellies alongside, occasionally glancing up to smile at the inadequacies of the skier.

While we wait, our sails are back on, the bimini / solar panel arrangement has been improved and our Taylor’s Heater has had a work out. Plus the freezer has been restocked, meals have been made so we are good to go when the winds do relent. Dave had a quick trip up the mast this morning and everything looks okay.

We’ve had a whole heap of social stuff this week too….dinner at a friends, several walks, a trip to the Maritime Museum, an arts festival in town with acrobatic fire eaters and a trip round the governor’s house.

But we’re both ready for my version of the quickening now.
However, just checked the weather again. We’re not going anywhere. Bugger.
Tonight and Tuesday.
Gale warning in effect.
Wind southwest 15 knots increasing to southwest 25 early this evening and to south 35 to 45 late this evening. Wind veering to west 40 early Tuesday morning then diminishing to west 30 Tuesday afternoon.

Spanner Man

Our UK, “work – family – friends’ triangle is complete. When I say complete, I mean it’s over and resides in the history books as we’re now back in Canada. It was manic and lovely. Time, four week’s in fact, passed at an alarming rate and we always seemed to be playing catch up.

Maybe it was because we missed our flight from Boston to Heathrow as the Air Canada connecting flight from Halifax to Boston was delayed. Seeing a man with a spanner and the cowl of the engine removed is a bit of a give away as you get onto the plane, only to be be told to get off again. We were told it would take 45 minutes. I knew instantly this would not be so.

My interpretation of how long a job will take is to double the time and add 30. It’s a bit like a rough calculation of Celsius to Fahrenheit. Any man with a spanner saying 45 minutes actually means 2 hours. I will allow myself to be smug here. Please forgive me. I was bang on.

My experience of the length of spannering time comes from living on a boat. I’m going to leave it at that. Dave will read this!

We were first off the aircraft when it landed and started legging it from terminal x to terminal y. I don’t recall the exact detail but I do know they seemed to be the two furthest away points in the airport. The Virgin Atlantic check in desk was in a tucked away corner of terminal y and had closed about 5 minutes before we materialised in our dishevelled panting and sweating state. Oh, how lucky our seat neighbours would have been if we had actually got on the flight.

It wasn’t to be. Even after persuading a friendly American passport officer to go and chat to the Virgin Atlantic representatives as the gate, we were left standing flightless in Boston airport without a boarding pass at 10.30 at night.

The ramifications of missing that flight were mostly financial but getting into the UK 24 hours after we had planned to, we never seemed to catch up that lost time. Although I have been to Reykjavik (airport) now.

Grace was in really good shape after a month in solitude on a mooring in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The trees are just starting to turn here and show their full red glory…..third week in October a local told us.

We plan to be around for at least a week. Sails come back from a service today. We are meeting a friend of friend, who I last saw in Namibia many moons ago, for a catch up tonight. Then dinner with some local Nova Scotia sailors at their house on Thursday. So boatlife eases back into becoming the norm and heading south will our focus.