PE

Wednesday morning at school was PE. I remember being irritated by other members of the class who took ages getting changed, thus shortening the length of the lesson. Some of us, aka ME, thought PE or Games were the best lessons of the week. Stop fussing and get changed.

This Wednesday morning off Provincetown, Cape Cod was PE for the aquatic and bird life. The ocean was thrashing. We saw loads of dolphins leaping, birds diving and blows from whales. Certainly more active than the majority of the girls in the Wednesday morning PE class at Haydon Bridge. Motivated by a substantial breakfast, there must have been a feast of food down there to create all the activity.

We’d seen a Right Whale about 100 feet off the boat coming in in the rain and fog the previous evening. Don’t know how big it was, but we thought what we saw above the water line was about 10m so maybe it was 13m to 14m in total. As long as the boat. Don’t want to hit one of these babies. Not good for us or the whale.

It was a great welcome to the USA, after our long wait to escape Shelburne, Canada now behind us across the Gulf of Maine. It had been quite a wait. A blow of 50 knots had came through. The sea were ugly. We hid in the commercial harbour tied to a fishing boat then the following day, four boats nudged out to turn right for the two day passage to the US. The nights were long, dark and chilly.

A warm welcome from a super friendly Borders Officer in Onset, Massachusetts helped us quickly forget the passage and the rollercoaster ride down the Cape Cod Canal with standing waves and cross currents.

We had an amusing conversation with the border official comparing similarities of ‘The Donald’, Doctor Seuss and Monty Python. Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans and spam, Sam-I-am, Sam-I-am, Sam-I-am Green eggs and ham, and Bad, Bad, Bad, Mad, Mad, Mad people. Doctor Seuss and Monty Python delivering more credibility and sensibleness than the US president….some would say! 😀

So to today. Newcastle have just beaten Bournemouth. Well done Rafa’s boys. Little run of two victories. It’s blowing a steady force 6 to 7 here in Port Washington, near New York. Hope the anchor holds firm. We’re not quite on constant anchor watch but we are pretty vigilant as to what’s going on. The forecast suggests another 4 hours of strong winds before they ease. Our friends on Muktuk, another cruising boat, have dragged so they’ve headed off to find somewhere more sheltered to anchor. It’s never straightforward being boat based.

In the meantime as we can’t get off the boat, my socks will have to be recycled as a laundrette trip is out of the question. Sure Dave won’t be too offended. Baking is tricky as we are out of eggs and it seems everything I wish to cook requires eggs. Dave is spannering.

I did suggest going into a marina then we could get off the boat and crack on with the chores….laundry, gas refill, food shopping, phone card, revisiting civilisation etc. It wasn’t the money that seemed to bother Dave. It was loosing credibility amongst others who liveaboard. Marinas are places to be avoided. We’re still here at anchor.

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…..my 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.

A little bit of France 🇫🇷

Anxiously waiting for our go at jousting!!

So we went to France. I kid you not. And competed in the annual Jeux Nautiques in Saint Pierre. We came 8th! The other international team, a bunch of well prepared, motivated 25 year old Spanish lads, who have been working in the construction industry in Saint Pierre for a number of years came first. No matter. We fought well and kept up our end .

The rules for each game seemed mightily complex. And my French doesn’t stretch to complexities such as “the priest and the mayor bring the bride and the unicorn back with the signed contract and champagne”. Let me put a bit more context on that phrase…In one of the games, Dave and I got married again, an inflatable unicorn playing a significant role. That’s all you need to know.

Thankfully we had Amelie and Agathe in our team who did the translating of the rules. Plus Hans who was a star at diving for gold coins. I was rubbish at this being a natural floater rather than a sinker.

Our team was formed from the small gaggle of cruising boats in Saint Pierre. Our paths have crossed on more than one occasion as it seems we are the boats plus maybe 5 others who seem to make up the cruising contingent of south Newfoundland this summer.  Oh, and the two French islands, Miquelon and Saint Pierre. Mustn’t forget those as they provide the focus of this little report.

We are now sat at anchor in St Peters at the southern end of the Bra D’Or Lakes having made the overnight crossing back to Nova Scotia. All officially checked back into Canada with a shiny new Canpass number and no access to cheap French wine. It’s maybe 150 miles back to Halifax and ‘ta da”, we will have wind with some north in it for the next few days which is fine news for us sailing folk. The engine had a hearty workout coming back across the Cabot Straight and now deserves a long and well deserved rest.

Dave has woken up with a sore throat and an irritating cough. Both for him and me. (Perhaps wife should be more understanding and supportive?) I mused if it was a reaction to the thought of doing some work in a couple of weeks time. Unfair I know.

A few sailing decisions still to make….do we sail to Halifax in one hit or break the journey up which will give us time to see a bit more of the Nova Scotia Coast? Jury is still out. It may depend on how Dave feels. I will look after him, honestly. 😀

And yes, I guess I should tell you this too. There were 8 teams in the Jeux Nautiques.

 

La Hune Bay

We found what we came to look for in Newfoundland. No U2 ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’ for Dave and H. La Hune Bay is a truly stunning place. The understated Mr Savage has spent the last three days saying ‘wow, this places is just amazing. I’m blown away by it’. For those of you know Dave well, that’s praise indeed. It’ll be tough to top this place for grandeur, scale and pure beauty. Plus we saw an otter.

We availed ourselves of a little rock climbing expedition one day. With no guide book, it was ‘make it up as you go’. Dave was route finder general. It was impossible to have a good gauge on how high this particular cliff actually is or how difficult it was all about to get. In the end, the rain came and stopped play and we sensibly backed off. We were 5 pitches up with the climbing being relatively easy but the position was quite committing. We abseiled off in 3 rope lengths with a bit of scrambling and hand lining at the bottom. Drinks deserved that evening.

Now we are in France. I kid you not. Miquelon and Saint Pierre are two French islands off the Newfoundland coast. We have been visited by customs, dug out the euros to buy bread and been filmed by French television who were collecting footage and stories for a piece on visiting boats. It all feels a bit bonkers but the French atmosphere pervades and St Pierre, where we will head to tomorrow, is apparently a tourist destination with restaurants and gift shops. That’ll be a contrast to uninhabited fjords you can only access by boat.

 

 

 

 

Walking with mosquitos

Newfoundland seems to be all about scale, be it big or small. Massive granite cliffs power from sea level up to 1,000 feet. Fjords with hidden entrances open up to reveal sedate rivers and sheltered waterfalls. The humpbacks are big, the mosquitos are small. One being more irritating than the other. Dave was resting his eyes yesterday afternoon so I headed off for a stroll around Francois, (pronounced Franz-way by the locals). It’s a place only accessible by boat. I wondered if there is a David Attenborough tv series to be made….walking with mosquitos. Perhaps I’ll pitch that one to a tv producer.

It’s a stunning coastline. Newfoundland is spectacular but more than that, an example of how events at an international level impact on local communities. The small towns, they are barely villages in our sense of the word, that occupy the sides of the deep fjords relied totally on fishing. They were expensive to keep up and the government here provided financial incentives to move away to larger less remote places. Then the cod fishery collapsed, and Canada having a longer term vision than most, instigated a moratorium on cod fishing. Overnight whole communities had no work.

We were in Grand Bruit a few nights ago. There are about 50 houses there. 6 people were in residence the night we stayed. Maybe 20 is the maximum over the summer as families visit their old homesteads. The pattern suggest such places will eventually die completely and these fjords and villages will become totally quiet.

We met three of the six residents, friendly folk who come to chat. Gerry and Joe we called the ‘Cod Men’. They gave us 4 massive cod fillets, caught maybe an hour beforehand. We had cod for breakfast and cod for dinner. Thanks boys.

Isle aux Morts is an island which has a similar story to the Northumbrian tale of its local heroine Grace Darling. A link to our boat no less! Ann Harvey was 17 when she assisted her father and brother in rescuing 163 people from the shipwrecked vessel Dispatch. There’s a tiny museum on the island which we visited. I was able to impress the two local ladies who worked there with my knowledge of Grace Darling as she is mentioned in their dispatches. A few brownie points for me there. History in action. I got an E for O level and a B for A level in history from the auspicious Hayden Bridge High School. Work that one out if you can.

Today the fog has returned. Tomorrow it’s supposed to bugger off again. Let’s hope so. La Hune is next for us. More granite and the bag of rope and bits of metalwork may well see an airing if the rock is dry. Dave may have a sleepless night like a kid waiting for Christmas.

Crab and viper

 

 

One day we bask in close cloying humid heat, maybe 34 degrees centigrade. The next I’m cooking porridge for breakfast like a dreich Tuesday in late November. Goodbye Nova Scotia, hello Newfoundland.

Newfoundland is delivering well on the fog quotient. We have been here in Port aux Basques one night and today was a public holiday. Imagine a typical british bank holiday but with a layer of wet dense fog cloaking the view. There you have it. We, of course, went for a 2 hour hikette along part of the coast. It was quite gloomy. 😀

Rather than being anchored as normal, we are on the public dock. It’s about £6 a night. A load of laundry is 60p. The WiFi is strong and we can pick it up on the boat. We like this kind of pricing. When the fog lifts and the sun shines, it’ll be a very different place. Fingers crossed.

Our last destination in Nova Scotia was Ingonish. We met a lovely local couple on the dock who took us under their wing and ferried us about generously so we could walk a couple of trails. They also treated us a snow crab cookout at their cabin. I’m now a whizz at dispatching, cleaning and cooking said crustaceans. Boy do they taste good and sweet. Allan also has a Dodge Viper, an 8 litre, 10 cylinder muscle car and he took me out for a little spin. In return, we took Allan and Corein out for a sail on Grace. He’s in the market for a sail boat and hopefully we were able to increase his knowledge a modicum. Our time in Ingonish was special.

As I write, the kerosene heater is getting a work out. Dave has an Ikea blanket across his knees as he finishes his book. We’ve watched a couple of episodes of a series recommended to us on Netflix called Longmire which looks promising. There you have it. A summer evening in Newfoundland.