SEA GEM JOURNEY 2009

BOUND FOR NOVA SCOTIA


CLICK ON DATE FOR LOG ENTRY
JUNE
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30
JULY
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31
AUGUST
1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31
SEPTEMBER
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30

June 18, 2009

Somewhere in the annals of ancient sea lore there must be an omen attached to leaving port in a heavy fog. We had originally planned to leave May 1,
and had delayed our departure so long for various reasons that we decided to GO anyway. We cast off in pea soup fog at 0700 on June 18th.
Knowing the route, conditions calm, and radar on, we cruised out of Titusville Municipal Marina, provisioned to the hilt, and headed north on the ICW.
The fog burned off and the cruise was pleasant and uneventful. Weather predictions made the ICW the chosen route.
Severe weather hit the heart of the state but bypassed our route on June 18th. As the day wound down I went below and discovered we were out of fresh water.
We had a full tank when we left Titusville so somehow the whole tank had drained without our knowledge. Usually the bilge pump can be heard.
Having no water took away the option of anchoring out for the night so we pulled into Palm Bay Marina. The marina gave us the names of two mechanics
and Al from Al's Mobile Marine Service came aboard.
The water drained through the hot water tank high pressure valve. With that fixed we arrange with Al to come back the next morning to do a little of the routine
maintenance and keep the captain out of the engine room.
No grand drama, just usual boat stuff; travel a way, fix something.
Until later, from Sea Gem …


June 19, 2009

We left Palm Coast Marina after Al had come back aboard and done some routine maintenance. We felt in good shape as we motored to Saint Augustine.
We left the inlet with the idea in mind that if the weather held we would go directly to Norfolk. When we were about two and a half hours out the same problem
started again, the water flowing from the hot water heater into the bilge, quickly draining our supply of fresh water.
The good new is - the water tank gauge we had worked on in Titusville seems to be working now.
We reversed course, headed back to St. Augustine and decided to use our satellite phone since we were out of cell range.
Well, we were glad we did before a real emergency occurred because we were locked out and required a phone to get reconnected.
Al agreed to come to the Conch House Marina early the next morning (his birthday) and get the problem sorted out.
He removed the old pop-off valve to find a replacement and when installed we again headed out the inlet.
We were running both engines, no wind and the day was incredibly hot, the kind that causes you to almost want to scream.
The problem valve problem seemed to have been resolved, and we motored on in smooth water with following light winds.



Here is a look at "then" and "now" that we saw inthe inlet at St. Augustine

Click image to see larger version

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June 21, 2009

With following seas, and sails set, we progressed.


Captain Charlie presides over the
"body count" of the pesky invaders.



The captain was dragging some lines and about 14:20 and hooked a big fish.
I took the port engine out of gear but when you are sailing, deep sea fishing is a real-reel sport.
The fisherman brings in the catch with the boat continuing on course.
Charlie horsed the fish closer and I went into the aft cockpit to get the gaff and help bring in the catch.

We did not boat this one, it was a sailfish!
While Charlie worked him close I got out the pliers to cut the leader while standing on our swim platform.
Just as I got the cutters on, he shook free and it was a winning day for us all.
The thrill of the catch and knowing he will swim free to give someone else a thrill another day.

I went back to the cockpit and put the port engine in gear and increased the RPM to about 2200.
The alarm went off, the idiot light went on, and I shut the engine down.
Charlie immediately went to see what the problem was and said, "We have a big problem, the engine room is covered in oil."
The bilge was soaked in oil and it was so hot down there.

Charlie took the "boat diapers" down and started the "great mop up."
I tried keeping the boat on course as the fickle winds and confused seas rocked us around.

We are besieged by FLIES. They buzz, they bite, and they are multiplying.
We search everywhere to find where they are coming from. We are offshore, way offshore.
Normally all insect problems: mosquitoes, flies, gnats, etc. go away when you are offshore.
Mainly they bite Charlie, which doesn't say much for my attractiveness.
We kill hundreds with fly swatters, we put up fly tape.
The fly tape is only marginally effective because these are blood suckers and they want our blood.
We cannot find any source. The mystery is confounding.

The next decision was which destination. With an engine down, and little wind, Charlie chose Charleston.
We have always planned to visit Charleston, why not now?

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June 22, 2009

A beautiful dawn after the second long night at sea, the entry to Charleston just hours away.
We started motor sailing to the outer marker. Believe me, it is a long entry.
The weather has cooled and it is very pleasant. We enter Charleston Harbor on an outgoing tide, passing historic Fort Sumter.
Fighting the tide, the route to City Marina of Charleston is a long slow trip.
It is clear if you know where you are going-otherwise pretty confusing to those of us without local knowledge.
We arrived, had good dock help with the docking in a stiff breeze, on one engine. Charlie put her in just right.
We secured the boat and started preparing to get our problem sorted out.
Coming in, Charlie had made arrangements to have a mechanic meet us.

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June 23, 2009

A young man from the local Yanmar Dealer came aboard, discovered the good news, only a blown seal on our oil filter.
Now we continue the clean up, repair, and breathe a sigh of relief.
We will relax, do the usual: explore, provision, do laundry and eat out.
The eating out sounds really good in one of the gourmet capitals of the South.
Until later from Sea Gem in Historic Charleston, South Carolina…

Saundra,the First Mate, enjoys a few minutes rest after working through the day.


Some impressions of Charleston. The architecture, immense crepe myrtles,
shaded streets, and the Tall Ships make for a lot of great sight seeing


Click image to see larger version

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June 24 - 26, 2009

Charleston City Marina, Charleston, South Carolina
We pulled in here to get the oil leak fixed. Little did we know we would find a vacation destination.
The City of Charleston is an elegant, aging Southern Belle.
She holds her age as an asset of sophistication, emphasizing her charm and minimizing her shortcomings.
Her grand old homes are lovingly cared for, gardens manicured, front walks immaculately swept.
Front doors beckoning, allowing eager tourists to glimpse into a life of charm and grace unknown in most of the country.
She is a special city, best seen slowly and savored for the pastel architecture, charming glimpses of gardens.
The streets arelined with homes that are both museums of the past and residences of the present.
Our practice in visiting a new place is first to “take a tour.”
We have been riding our bicycles all over the city, looking at lots of sights but by taking a tour and listening to a guide,
we get a quick reference of what we are seeing. Charleston has a beautiful Visitors Center.
We left our bikes, got on the small bus and had a native Charlestonian tell us about the city he obviously loves.
Looking at the material the marina gave us we have eaten in two of the best restaurants in a city known for wonderful food.
Hank’s and Hyman’s, both are seafood specialists and I would have no trouble recommending either.
The City Marina provides transportation each hour, on the hour, and picks up at the end of the dock and drops off to various locations around the city.
Charlie has made a trip to West Marine and the driver took us to the grocery store where we bought everything on our list in ten minutes.
That takes speed and determination in a new store that is not Publix.
Today we toured the Calhoun House. We were riding by; saw the docent in the doorway, looking very much the welcoming hostess.
The tour started momentarily so we went right in.
The house was built before the great earthquake of 1886 (estimated to be 7.5 on the Richter scale) but was not seriously damaged.
Many of the old homes have “earthquake bolts” which run all the way through the homes.
The ornamental nuts are visible on the outside walls and the support the entire structures.
The Calhoun House is owned and lived in by lawyer who is an international litigator.
He has spent millions restoring the home as well as filling it with an eclectic collection of art, furniture and antiques of all types from around the globe.
The house is a museum for tourists and a backdrop for entertaining for the owner.
We went to see the Tall Ships today. What good fortune to be here for this major annual Harbor Festival.
Charleston is one of the few places where the Tall Ships will all be together.
It is impressive to see the beautiful old sailing ships festooned with flags and manned by the young and enthusiastic young crews.
Tomorrow is the air show. We will ride to the field early before the heat gets so oppressive.
Luck was with us coming to Charleston; a beautiful marina, good services and a festival to boot.
Until later from Sea Gem, still in Charleston…


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June 26 - 28, 2009

We are getting ready to leave Charleston. We got a “free day” at the marina so we have been sitting in our “parking spot” waiting for the meter to run out.
It is certainly pleasant to be plugged in to get in the air-conditioning and out of the terrific heat.
We rode our bikes back into the city yesterday to attend the air show and pirate show.
A good crowd again trouped in to see the action and the tall ships.
Today Charlie folded the bikes and stowed them for travel.
They are a great form of transportation and we ride carefully, watching for unexpected cars to launch out of hidden driveways.
Charlie had to do some fancy dodging yesterday.
We will “sail with the tide” tomorrow morning because it runs fast and hard. We have a couple of destinations in mind, depending on weather.
The first will Beaufort, S.C. a 200 mile run, or about 33 hours, for an overnight anchorage.
The next jump will be 315 miles, two overnights to Cape Henlopen, Harbor of Refuge, in Delaware.
We have been there before and it is a nice protected anchorage.
Something I neglected to do in an earlier log was to enter the name and phone number of the excellent mechanic we had in Palm Coast.
It is Al’s Mobile Marine Service, and his phone number is: 386-871-3886.
As his business states, he is mobile and will travel to where you are, if you need mechanical help.
We didn’t call him here in Charleston because they have their own people here at this marina, also very competent.
We will sleep well tonight, preparing for a least one overnight.
Until the next e-mail connection, from Sea Gem on the way north….Peace.


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June 29 - July 1, 2009

Departure was early (0605 on June 29th) on an outgoing tide. We prepared to leave the dock with no help because of the early hour.
A nice young man on the Mega Yacht opposite us offered, but by that time we were gliding smoothly and almost silently away.
Even at this early hour the temperature was high with the humidity a match.
As we motored out our exit was so different from our entrance, we had two engines running and were going with the tide.
We were not out long when the flies struck again.
We are exhausting all theories: Are we breeding them aboard? Are they coming from the air? Why us?
We do know they are blood hungry; food is not a temptation but a downed comrade is game for cannibalism.
We have sprayed, applied insect repellant (which they use as a condiment) and swatted. Every well appointed boat needs at least one, if not more, fly swatters.
They are such a distraction that coupled with the heat we are thankful we do not have guests aboard.
It is one thing to ask friends to accompany you on a sail, another to ask friends to endure torture.
We put out the spinnaker pole to prepare to launch the MPS sail but later the captain decided we would just pole out the jenny.
The deck was a bit rolly and with just the two of us aboard it is a bit risky handling the big sail.
At least now we have the pole ready. Mostly this trip has been motoring.
By 16:30 it was still so hot we cranked the generator and started the air conditioning and took turns napping in the cool.
As a cold front moved through we rode it with winds up to 30 knots, but mostly around 20, with following seas that were not too big.
We were able to cut the engines and sail for awhile but then had to go back to motor sailing.

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June 30, 2009

The day dawned clear with fluky winds, the Captain moved the jenny to the starboard side since the winds were from the shore rather than sea.
At 08:30 the captain brought in a nice Mahi-Mahi, boated it and cleaned it.
After he had finished cleaning up the aft cockpit another fish hit the hand line and he brought in a nice mackerel.
He repeated the whole process, then brought in the lines and went below to shower.
I was at the helm when I saw what appeared to be a capsized boat dead ahead about 200 feet away.
I slowed the engines, just as the two WHALES submerged and swam away.
For the last three hours there has been a lot of excitement from the sea.
The night of June 30th we changed destination from the overnight rest anchorage, Harbor of Refuge, to Newport, R.I, adding another 250 miles.
This will mean a couple more days at sea but the weather is good and as we rounded Cape Fear, the treacherous area of storms, the flies thankfully left us.
On night watch I had the company of a pod of dolphins that played on first one side of the boat and then the other.
I think they liked the flashlight I shined into the clear water to see their antics.
They have to be the ambassadors of the oceans of the world, begging us to “take care.”

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July 1, 2009

Over the radio this morning we got notice of live gunnery practice in our area from a U.S. warship, then a fly-by jet surveillance.
I hope they keep tabs on where we are and who we are, a “Mom & Pop” crew just cruising up the coast.
The warning was to stay five miles out of range. Do they know how long it takes for a sailboat to move?
Later in the day we heard the big guns, a rather unnerving experience.
Also on the radio we heard a navy ship DIW (dead in the water) making engine repairs and warning others to stay out of the way.
I guess no matter what the size, if it floats things can happen.
Often we are not thankful for what we have-or haven’t. Right now we are so thankful to be comparatively fly free.
All the way up the coast from St. Augustine to Cape Hatteras we have been besieged; now the pests have disappeared as mysteriously as they came.
The temperature is cooling, the water temperature has dropped into the seventies out of the eighties, letting us know we are leaving “The Stream” behind.
She gives a great ride, one of the constant marvels of our beautiful world.

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July 2, 2009

02:30 Charlie is on watch when I am awakened by a drop of rain on my foot. That isn’t right.
It was clear and calm when I went to bed. I closed the aft companionway hatch and hurried around to see what was going on.
The wind was whipping everything around and the captain was securing the enclosures to keep out the rain.
The winds were gusting to forty knots but because of the rapid onset of the squall the oceans had not had a chance to build.
Radar is a help always, but a true blessing when you are in a squall.
There was a boat out there and besides securing Sea Gem in an orderly way, the real priority is not to get to close to any other solid object.
Charlie is calm during these episodes. I tend to worry, which is counter productive.
After securing everything he put on dry clothes and rain gear and went back to the cockpit. This has been our worst weather of the trip, which suits me fine.
I like calm seas, gentle winds and balmy temperatures.
This is our fourth night at sea. We have gotten into a routine of sleeping during the day when we can so that the night watches are not stressful.
If the weather is bad or there is a lot of traffic Charlie has to be on watch a whole lot more than his share of time.
Last night I called the coast guard because we saw a big ship on radar, but it had no lights. It may be military operations they are running in this area.
Still we hear they are having “live gunnery practice” on the VHF which is un-nerving to me.
We rock along, running both engines, toward our destination of Newport, R.I.
Hopefully there will be a mooring just for us in good view of the fireworks display on July 4th. Until later from Sea Gem underway …

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July 3, 2009

The water and air temperature have both cooled but still no winds and we motor on in calm seas.
At 04:10 dark begins to melt into first light as we pass Block Island.
At about 04:30 I woke Charlie from a very short sleep because we were getting into traffic.
A short time after that, pea soup fog set in and until almost our destination of Newport we relied heavily on our radar and our electronic charts.
We round the old fort and into the harbor at Newport, the friendly voice of the Harbor Master directed us to mooring 17.
Charlie expertly maneuvered into position for me to pick up the mooring line. My pick up was less than perfect, but we are moored.
This is our second visit to Newport and we are still impressed by the beauty and vitality of this historic American resort area and sailing mecca.
Guess what? We have the best spot in the harbor from which to watch the fireworks! How is that for serendipity?
Now we will nap, read, catch up on e-mail and kick back.
After traveling for over 700 miles, non-stop, in four days, we are ready for some sleep, all night, not in snitches.
May you enjoy your celebration of Independence Day. We are mindful of the many blessings we share as Americans.
Until later, Peace, from Sea Gem…

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July 4 - 7, 2009

Our first priority upon arriving in Newport was to get much needed rest.
July 3rd was spent doing that and sitting down in the salon for a nice meal without balancing the dish while eating.
We picked up a mooring and crashed.

We have decided not to inflate the dingy; rather we’ll use the launch service.
Call channel 68 and a launch comes to the boat and delivers you into town, with garbage, if necessary, for a $3.00 per person per trip.
A great service, dryer in rough weather and you don’t have to worry about your dingy.

Our first trip into town awakened memories of our visit here in 2004. Newport is, and always has been, a vacation destination as well as a sailing capital.

Many good restaurants line the streets and we again visit “The Black Pearl” which has “the best clam chowder in Newport.”
I agree, the chowder is delicious and we were lucky to sit next to a nice couple, Steve and Joan.
We connected with them through an old Gator classmate in the same business.
It is a small world and one of the best things about travel is the people you meet.

The fireworks display in Newport was one of the best we have ever seen. It went on, and on, and on. Our mooring vantage point was superb!

On Sunday we went shopping to pick up supplies. One item, we replaced the ice chest we lost overboard during the squall we passed through.
We filled this with provisions, making it a challenge, in rough water, to hoist from the launch onto Sea Gem.
It worked and we are ready to go into Newport Shipyard Monday morning to get minor but necessary repairs made.

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July 6 - 7, 2009

Newport Shipyard is a full service yard filled with mega yachts and very nice facilities. One of the things always welcome is a good laundry facility.
I shared the room with an Aussie and a Kiwi both doing typical “male style” laundry: put everything in the machine, drop the money in and hope for the best.
The nice thing about this laundry room is the computer facility right next door.

When the stove does not swing on its gimbal, it presents problems in rocky seas. What looked like a minor problem turned into a complicated repair.
One good thing, when taking out the oven/microwave, we found that the plug had overheated which could have caused a fire.
Now the gimbal is repaired and the oven/microwave has new heavy duty plugs. It is good to find problems before they happen.

This part of the world is foggy, really foggy.
Despite the weather today we will return to the Black Pearl for more clam chowder and the lobster salad our friends said was so good.
This afternoon we will fuel up with diesel and prepare to leave tomorrow, weather permitting. Until later, from Sea Gem in Newport…

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July 7 - 11, 2009

The Newport Shipyard has fantastic facilities and just hanging around you meet interesting people.
When I was in the computer room I found that the Aussie I talked with was the builder of the beautiful mega yacht up on the hard.
It was built in New Zealand and is owned by a German.
We spoke of cruising and that he wants to take time off and sail with his wife in a couple of years.
I gave the standard advice, "Do it, you never know what will happen later."

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July 8,2009

we were fueled by a barge. A little diesel splashed out when Charlie started filling the tank and the barge operator reacted as if we had an "Exxon Valdez incident."
He didn't want to fill the tank completely; afraid another bit would splash out. I came back about that time and Charlie sent me over to talk to him.
We made friends and I convinced him that we understood his concern. The dock master had already come over and called him on the slight oil slick on the water.
He went ahead and topped off the tank with us watching very carefully. They are really serious about pollution, but the good part is that the harbors are really clean.
You see little trash, and there are multiple pump out stations for sanitation as well as receptacles for garbage collection and recycling containers easily accessible.
By 13:00 we were away and bound for New Bedford. Large beautiful estates bid us goodbye as we left Newport.
On our way a storm started brewing and we decided to go into Apponagansett Bay and anchor for the night.
We had the anchor down after being told there were no moorings available, but Charlie was not too satisfied with the holding ground.
About that time the New Bedford Yacht Club called us on the radio and said they had found a mooring if we were interested
The mooring fee of $50 included use of the club and launch service. That sounded good so we took them up on it.
We attached ourselves to the mooring which we later found out belongs to the plumber on "This Old House" which is filmed and produced in Boston.
We could not have been treated any nicer at the New Bedford Yacht Club.
The launch operators were friendly and we did not run across any person there that was not cordial and helpful.
They directed us to "The Black Bass Restaurant" because the club dining room was catering to racers that evening with hot dogs and hamburgers.
The Black Bass was excellent, another friendly place just a modest walk through the rain.


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July 9, 2009

From the New Bedford Yacht Club in Dartmouth we took a cab over to New Bedford and toured the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
It is an excellent museum with a lot of early history of our country as well as the whaling industry.
The scrimshaw art of the sailors, models of ships, and giant whale skeletons all make this multi-story museum a must see for those traveling in this part of the country.
An industry that made fortunes for a few, and livelihoods for many, became extinct just before they destroyed a magnificent species. Are we getting smarter; I hope.
The native peoples who hunted the whale for survival stand in stark contrast to the factory ships that harvested them for oil alone and wasted the rest of the carcass.
It is a lesson we need to heed today if we are to have a sustainable world. What is the whale oil of today?
What are we using without being mindful of generations following us?
After returning from our museum tour and a delicious lunch at the Candle Factory, a lovely restaurant in another historic building, we loosed our mooring lines.
We headed over to an anchorage in Phinneys Harbor to stage our passage through the Cape Cod Canal.
You should definitely go "with the tide" and the anchorage Charlie picked was one of the best we have ever had.
It was quiet, still and surrounded by beautiful Cape Cod homes.
Boating is very big here and boats are moored everywhere.
We have seen multiple sailing classes, especially of little kids, being towed to their sailing area like little ducks following Momma Duck.
We left our lovely anchorage and entered Cape Cod Canal at 09:00. We transited by 09:50, a distance of over eight miles, going with the tide.
The canal is really quite pretty with lots of activity on both banks.
There are skaters, walkers, bikers and lots of people pushing baby carriages. The morning was lovely, cool, bright and sunny.
The trip to Provincetown was smooth, motoring all the way wind on our nose, arriving at 13:30.
We called in, picked up a mooring at Flyers Boat Shop, cleaned up and went in for a pleasant eclectic surprise-- Key West times ten.
Characters abound, and as the tour guide said, everyone in Provincetown is treated with dignity and respect.
The masses are friendly, polite, and there is no end of people-watching possibilities.
Street performers rotate and drag queens ride bicycles advertising evening shows. It is almost like being transported to an Oz-like fantasy with good restaurants.
[Our friend Phil Dunbar, our webmaster, shared his heritage with us. It is indeed an interconnected world and the more we become aware the better off we will be.
---- Philip Dunbar wrote:
> By the way, you were in the heart of my family heritage in New Bedford.
My great grandfather was one of the founders of the seaman's bethel across the street from the whaling museum on Johnnycake Hill.
It is also the church that was used to film the Gregory Peck version of Moby Dick.
My great grandfather on another side of the family (Jenney) was a boatman.
He brought the whaling ships coming into port safely to their moorings or wharfside.
I have his sailor's manual that has been passed down. The manual was given to the sailors at the bethel and provides moral guidance for them.
His son-in-law, Edward Weldon Dunbar, went to the Civil War in a New York regiment and returned to New Bedford..
There were quite a few items the family donated to the museum and bethel. I am glad you got to go there and visit.
It was an era that I am glad does not exist any longer, but I have to remember that they were of a different frame of reference from what we know now.
I appreciate their, and your, willingness to join with the sea in a tradition that celebrates the human spirit.]


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July 11, 2009

- We will go back into Provincetown this morning to enjoy this unique place, from here we will sail overnight to Portland, Maine. Until later from Sea Gem
Admiral coiling line Big Estate Party The Captain at the Yacht Club
Canal traffic Cape Cod Canal RR Bridge Cape Cod Whale Watchers
New Bedford YC Sailing Club New Zealand Built -- German Owned Provincetown Granite Tower
Lunch at Betsy's -- Provincetown Provincetown Street Provincetown Street Entertainment

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July 12, 2009

Provincetown is a hard place to leave because it is so pleasant. We walked the breezy, chilly pier on Saturday.
In visiting the artist’s studios we talked with a photographer who specializes in whale photos.
She urged us to go on one of the whale watching excursions and we agreed.
Saturday night a storm blew through and Sunday morning dawned grey and overcast. I called to see if the trips were still on and they said “yes.”
We boarded our launch and because of an extremely low tide the launch driver had to take us to the big pier where the whale watching fleet departed.
No long walk this morning.
The customers were sparse because of the weather but as we started out to the Stellwagen Bank the sky began clearing and it turned into a beautiful day.
The Stellwagen Bank is the premier feeding ground for the great whales.
The currents, irregular sea floor, temperature and composition of the water combine to make an area rich in plankton, zooplankton, small fish, squid and larger fish.
To this marine web of life the great whales return year after year to restore themselves, coming from the warm tropical waters where they breed and calve.
The females lose a tremendous portion of their body weight in the nutrient deficient tropics.
When they return to the northern waters, nursing their calf, they have to regain weight and also teach the young one how to eat.
The whale watching boats maneuver carefully to give passengers a good view, without disturbing the feeding whales.
We were fortunate to see many whales, including a mother and her calf.
The Dolphin Fleet of Provincetown is a quality operation.
They have a competent crew, first class boats and an interesting and informative biologist giving the lecture.
Whales continue to provide a source of income for New England, this time one that will encourage their increase instead of their decimation.

Whale Watchers Momma and Baby Show my Hump
Ready to GO GOODBYE! Spouting Off

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As we returned to the docks we passed portraits of Provincetown’s early matriarchs mounted dramatically on a large waterfront structure.
It is a tribute and celebration of the past and strong women who maintained the town while the men were at sea.
After our excursion we walked toward the boat stopping for lunch at Boubalas for fish and chips, then for the third time at Bayside Betty’s for clam chowder “to go.”
Bayside Betty’s has “the best” clam chowder we have tasted. The broth is rich and creamy, the clams generous and tender.
Our cousin, Peggy Pemble, comments that we always talk about food; I guess we do, for that is part of the great adventure of travel.

A Fierce Pirate Boston Ferry Sea Gem at Provincetown
>
Provincetown Matriarchs The Admiral Build your house on Rock

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Before 1600 we loosed our mooring line and set off from Provincetown for Portland, Maine, a 100 mile overnight trip again crossing the Stellwagen Bank.
Charlie set the spinnaker pole out to port for the Genoa, and the main he put out to starboard so we were flying wing on wing in a following wind.
We sailed along in a nice breeze until the wind gave out and we again had to rely on the “iron jenny”.
We saw only one “blow” as we crossed the whale area, but there is a rich sea odor and you almost feel the vigor of the water beneath.
The night passage to Portland was uneventful.

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July 13, 2009

Morning light comes early; first light about 04:00, and sunrise at 05:12. The days are long. We arrived at our destination at 8 AM, our ETA.
The entry into Portland is beautiful with the historic lighthouse and majestic homes lining the shore.
We checked into Portland Yacht Services, took on water and arranged for a mooring.

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July 14, 2009

After securing Sea Gem in Portland, we flew home for several days. Something I seldom mention is that Charlie has a “mobile Gray-Robinson Law Office” aboard.
He is never totally “away” from the office as long as there is cell phone contact, internet availability.
Now that we have a satellite phone, no place on earth is “away.”
I complained about this at one time only to be reminded that he can either work while we are away or he can be in the office.
Easy decision, I have never again complained about office matters interfering. Charlie often replies to people who ask, “Why aren’t you retired?”
His stock answer is: “I own a boat.” That is only part of the answer, he loves what he does, and loves to be involved in the things going on.
I see no front porch rocking chairs looming in our future, only doing the things we enjoy as long as health and Karma are in our favor.

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July 21, 2009

We flew back to Portland, Maine in time to meet our son, Lee, at the Portland airport and catch a cab to the Marina.
Personnel at Portland Yacht Service had been so gracious when we left.
They were busy storing our frozen food, putting our half finished laundry back aboard and generally helping us vanish on short notice.
Now we arrive back and reverse the drill:
We retrieve the frozen food, pick up our condiments which they had saved in their break room refrigerator and restock the boat.
We made a trip to Whole Foods to replenish fresh fruits and vegetables, and settled in for a good visit with our son Lee who resides in Montana.

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July 23, 2009

We left for Acadia National Park planning our sail to include a couple of overnight stops.
The first stop was the beautiful harbor at Boothbay. We radioed in for a mooring assignment at Carousel Marina and were assigned a nice mooring.
We nestled in among the lobster traps, other sailboats, fishing boats and settled down for a pleasant evening.
When the fellow came out to pick up the mooring fee, I asked about launch service and found they don’t have it.
I asked what was going on in town and he just commented that they were getting ready for the big storm rolling in.
We turned on the satellite weather program and watched as the colors intensified and moved slowly in our direction.
The skies were leaden and heavy with threat of rain so we decided to stay aboard and cook some steaks before it turned bad.
We had dinner aboard with Charlie cooking the steaks on the grill and watched the movie, “Seven Pounds.”
We went to bed with the intention of dropping the mooring in the morning and continuing on our way to Southwest Harbor and Acadia National Park.
Plans are only made to be altered as Mother Nature has the final say.
We spent another day in Boothbay Harbor, watching the rain and wind and enjoying good conversation and music.
Looking at our time frame we then decided we could make it to Acadia National Park by boat.
It would be a race and any more bad weather we would not return in time for Lee to fly out on July 28th.
We reversed course and headed back to Portland Yacht Service to pick up a mooring. It is beginning to feel like home there.
We decided to rent a car and drive up to Acadia National Park.
We started shopping for rental cars and thanks to Lee’s diligence finally found one that we felt like we were renting instead of buying.
Maine has a short summer and they have to make hay while the sun shines. We ended up with a bright red Toyota Yaris which we drove mega miles on little gas.
I use the term “sightseeing” loosely as much of the time all we saw was the center line of the highway due to the dense fog and rain.
The park was only about 100 miles by water but by land about 175. We enjoyed all the pretty little towns we drove through.
The day we got the car we drove down toward Saco as I called an old friend and cattle buyer of our purebred Santa Gertrudis cattle.
She was occupied but we are going to try to get together while we are here in Maine.
We drove over to Orchard Beach. The weather was clear enough for the crowds to be huge in that resort area.
People lined the beach in weather I found chilly while standing bone dry and dressed in long sleeves.
Orchard Beach has condos, homes, beach houses and hotels.
A full scale mid-way operated full tilt as we crept slowly along streets clogged with the standard assortment of tourists of all shapes and sizes.
We always look for festivals and special attractions and two were going on in the Portland area.
The first we ruled out because it was 90 miles away, but I am slightly disappointed because I have never been to a Brown Egg Festival. Well maybe next time.
The other was a multi cultural Festival of Nations in Deering Oak Park in downtown Portland.
We found representatives of many nations all serving native food, vendors were selling jewelry, and various booths offering information.
I chose to try out the meditation lesson; Charlie and Lee walked away, sampling more tasty treats.
The meditation guide urged me to, “Let them go, come take care of yourself.”
She led me through some relaxation exercises and we chatted and I found out she was a retired oral surgeon.
The park has a shallow pool where kids play, huge shade trees, walking paths and lots of grassy areas to play and run.
Portland is heavy into running, biking and walking, and lots of people have dogs.
When we drove to Acadia National Park we decided to throw a toothbrush into our backpacks in case we wanted to stay overnight.
We did and found a delightful bed and breakfast through Lee’s “concierge service” with AAA.
Traveling light is delightful and no one is talking about us since we wore the same clothes two days in a row.
I would certainly recommend The Castlemaine Inn in Bar Harbor run by Dede and Dan Daigle.
We rented their last two rooms and were very comfortable with the accommodations and their large assortment of videos and DVD’s available to guests.
We insisted on taking Lee to the Pond House at Jordan’s Pond in the park for their famous lobster stew and popovers.
It was as good as I remembered from 2004. Our last visit we sat on the lawn and viewed the pond, this visit we sat inside and watched the rain and mist.
The popovers and lobster are good no matter where you sit.;
On our way back to Portland we stopped to visit Al and Nancy Burnett at their beautiful summer home in Rockport.
They took us to lunch in Rockland at one of their favorite places.
Al and Nancy have been friends for years.
Their generosity to the University of Central Florida has had impact that will be the most positive economic stimulus to Central Florida in our history.
Medical City was enabled because of UCF College of Medicine that was enabled because of Burnett College of Biomedical Science.
These developments will have lasting, positive effects far beyond what we can now imagine.
After the car trip up the coast we headed back to Portland, went to one of the local fish markets and bought 4 live lobster.
We took them back to the boat and feasted in the cockpit on lobster, chips and dip.
Lee cooked the lobster and the meal was made even more sensational by a sunset like you rarely see.
The colors went on and on, melting into a finally clear sky over the city of Portland.

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July 28, 2009

0400 - We rose early for Lee’s morning flight. The sky was clear, the breeze light and the day beautiful.
As we drove to the airport in daylight at 0500, we basked in the lovely visit we had with Lee.
Day after tomorrow we will again fly to Orlando for business and pleasure.
We will take part in the “White Coat Ceremony.”
This is special occasion for those individuals and businesses that have provided scholarships for the inaugural class of the UCF College of Medicine.
The firm, partners, many employees, and Charlie and I have been a part of this great undertaking.
Many did not think Dean German could pull it off, but all forty of the class have scholarships.
This puts UCF in the position to be able to select from the best of the best of medical school applicants.
Until later from Sea Gem, now in Portland, on a mooring…
Portland lighthouse Big tide at Portland Booth Bay Harbor
Booth Bay church cockpit in the rain
great sunset international festival
Lee joins us lobsterman lobster feast
Orchid Bay Beach

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August 4th -10th, 2009

Resuming the Journey
We returned to Portland, Maine on August 4th after participating in the historic White Coat Ceremony for the inaugural class of UCF Medical School.

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I cannot go on without commenting that this was one of the most impressive and awe inspiring events we have attended.
The new “Medical City” inspired by UCF, The Burnett School of Biomedical Science, was the vision of President John Hitt, and a team of visionaries.
It will change the face of our state.
The selection of Deborah German as Dean was another inspired decision and she will chart a course for excellence for UCF College of Medicine.
While we were back in Orlando, Joann and Jim Alton stayed aboard Sea Gem doing the maintenance necessary to make our sailing so pleasant.
Jim and Jo, as well as their company, Alton Enterprises, are great friends being one of the entities that can trouble-shoot problems and solutions for complex boats.
Sea Gem has all the “bells and whistles” that make for great cruising but those B’s & W’s all require upkeep, just like your home.
Except everything on a boat is subject to the stress of motion and corrosion of salt water.

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August 7, 2009

– Back to Sea Again - We dropped our mooring line at 06:48 and headed out of the harbor.
The morning was clear, calm and we were on a slack tide. Huge ferries that ply the harbor sped by us.
Predictions were for fair weather and light winds. At 14:45 ominous clouds began building behind us and we battened all hatches and put up all the enclosures.
As the day wore on the seas built and during the night it was rough and hard to catch any sleep.
We passed three sets of weather balloons in the water, which do show up on radar, thank goodness.
There was little traffic on the passage and even the VHF was silent.
While I was on watch in the early morning hours we passed a large patch of confused waters.
It must be where the currents converge both from direction and in temperature.
We watched the temperature drop into the sixty’s and then the 50’s. There is cold water up here folks.
Overnight the highest winds Charlie saw were 30 knots but that is enough to stir up the ocean.
04:15 was first light and the sun came up at 05:25 in a clear sky.
Our plan had been to go to Lunenburg to check in, but the winds pushed us so fast we would have to slow down in order to arrive after daylight of the following day.
Another alternative was to go in to Shelburne, which was within reach without spending another night underway.
We both agreed that would be a good solution; check in, get a good nights sleep, and then proceed to Mahone Bay the following day.
Check in was over the telephone at Shelburne Yacht Club while we were refueling and taking on water.
Few questions were asked and in every way we felt, “Welcome to Canada.”
Christine, the young woman at the yacht club, her dad and her boy friend all helped us.
We took on fuel, water and moved Sea Gem to the dock where we would spend the night.
We did not realize at the time that they had waited on us to arrive and were late for Christine’s boy friend’s parent’s 25th anniversary celebration.
They are nice people and a nice introduction to the beautiful land of Nova Scotia.

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August 9, 2009

06:00 - We left the dock in total calm to make our way down the very long harbor and proceed to Mahone Bay.
The weather was clear, cool, and we motored along enjoying the fact that we can motor as well as sail.
There was very little wind and until we caught a slight smell of something burning our day was tranquil.
Nothing like that burning smell to get your attention. I went to the engine room and saw smoke billowing.
Charlie shut down the engines and after trouble shooting determined that one of the alternators on the starboard engine was the culprit.
It had frozen up and burned the belt. He started the port engine and prepared to put the jenny out because we now were getting a little wind.
When he started pulling the jenny out with the electric wench, nothing happened, so we thought the wench was out also.
He switched the jenny line to the electric winch on the other side and we put the jenny out and motor sailed toward our destination.
I don’t want you to think we have too many problems.
Much of our day is spent reading or doing mundane things to keep life running: eating, cooking, cleaning or in Charlie’s case, working.
The cell phone and internet connections everywhere (including NS) with our Verizon air card it turns into a real mobile office.
Late in the afternoon we enter Mahone Bay and motor toward our destination.
As we progress up the harbor we look at all the beautiful homes built along the shore.
The harbor is full of boats with lots of people aboard since it is a Sunday afternoon in the summertime.
I have a feeling people here take every advantage of warm sunny days.
Jim and Joann are on the dock ready to take our lines.
Their cottage is close by and it was their encouragement that we have come to visit Nova Scotia

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August 10, 2009

Jim has already removed the faulty alternator and determined that the winch was just a glitch and no real problem, we are on our way to being back in business.
Today it has been rainy and overcast so a good time to catch up on the logs.
Last night we ate out at a great place that stayed late to feed us. Tonight we will eat aboard.
After dinner Jim and Charlie set out to fly Jim’s remote control planes at a gym facility built for the employees of the Michelin Tire Company.
Joann and I joined them after we had put away dinner material and cleaned up the galley.
What fun and how humbling it is to try to fly the various planes the Alton’s have.
When “adults” like us attempt to use those fine motor skills so cultivated by our grand-children’s generation we realize how lacking we are.
Charlie is improving rapidly, I better get with it or I may be permanently “grounded”.
We are both going to try to learn on this great flight simulator Charlie brought and operates on the computer.
It gives the opportunity to learn where we are not constantly crashing and breaking propellers or worse.

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August 11, 2009

Today I will catch up on housecleaning duties. Everything you do at home you do on a boat, just with additional challenges.
I am preparing to climb a ladder carrying the laundry from the dock to the parking lot. If I am smart I will stop here and go while the tide is in.
Tomorrow we will set out by car to tour the Cabot Trail and see the sights we cannot see by boat.
A good time to tour since the next 2 days call for northwest winds on our nose but after that southeast on our course
Until later from Sea Gem here in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia…

The Admiral (off watch) BBQ Chicken Portland Yacht Services
Schooner at Portland YC Sunset during the crossing to N.S. Fun with the planes
Flying the Vapor Helicopter Expert.
(I jiggled the camera trying to get
out of the way.)
Jim the expert
Joanne and the bi-plane Mahone Bay Lighthouse Arriving at Mahone Bay
Homes at Mahone Bay Sea Gem at Mahone Bay Marina To the laundry at Mahone Bay

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A different kind of flying.
We joined Joann and Jim at a RC (remote control) field to watch them fly some of their bigger planes and meet two other aficionados of RC flying.
Just traveling out to the field and seeing the dedication of people to their hobbies is a treat.
Charlie flew a couple of times; he is gaining experience and expertise but still has a way to go.

The Flying Team:
Jim, Joann & the Grays
A FewAerobatics A Great Landing
Expert and Understudy Under Control Smooth Technique

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August 12, 2009

Touring the Cabot Trail
We left Sea Gem at dockside in Mahone Harbor.
Joann and James Alton gave us a cook’s tour of countryside they have come to love over the year they have lived here.
There is a lot to see: beautiful, natural and rugged country interspersed with villages and parks.
Our first big stop was at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.
The museum is part of the parks system of Canada.
It is a modern and well appointed tribute to the dedicated inventor that gave much of his life to educating the deaf.
He and his wife, who was deaf, fell in love with Nova Scotia.
It was a place where he could be free to pursue his passions, from communication to a world speed record on the water with a hydrofoil.
It was also a place where his daughters could “wear trousers and be free of the constraints of proper society of that time.”
We drove, photographed and commented on so much natural beauty and so few people.
Nova Scotia is being “discovered” and I predict that it will become more and more popular as time goes by.
Alexander G. Bell Museum Bell's Record Setting Hydrofoil Helen Keller & Alexander G. Bell

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We traversed the Cabot Trail which wraps around Cape Breton Island the eastern end of Nova Scotia.
We saw some of the Bras D’or Lake, which we will see from the water when we sail there.
While out touring we stayed overnight in a nice B & B in Baddeck. [E-mail: enquires@auldfarminn.ca or www.auldfarminn.ca].
Nice B & B s are sprinkled throughout the area and Auld Inn is certainly a nice place to overnight.
Off the road and back aboard Sea Gem we prepared to set out for Halifax and then the Bras D’Or Lakes.
Bed & Breakfast on the Cabot Trail
Charles and Saundra
at the Auld Inn on the Cabot Trail
The Cabot Trail
Jim and Joann on the Cabot Trail
Taking a conference call
on the Cabot Trail

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August 14, 2009

We left Mahone Bay at noon and sailed and motored to Halifax.
We passed by an organized yacht race with many beautiful boats. The assorted colors and sails supplied tempting photo opportunities.
This was part of the Chester Race Week festivities.
We arrived at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron Marina in time to have a delightful late dinner at their very fine old club.
The RNSYS is not only the oldest established yacht club in North America but the second oldest of only seven Royal Squadrons in the world.
I don’t know exactly what this means; I just know they are very proud of that fact.
The club manager brought membership applications to us and we felt very welcome in their well appointed dining room.
Out from Mahone Bay Race Committee Boat Around the Buoy...
Rounding the Buoy... It's Neck and Neck!

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August 15, 2009

We spent the night at the dock and left at 08:00 to time our arrival at the lock entrance to St. Peters and the Bras D’Or Lake after daylight the following day.
With four people aboard it is a lot easier to overnight. It was especially easy on me, I slept through.
We arrived before the locks opened and we tied up to the wall and napped. The lock keeper and his assistants were polite, friendly and unrushed.
After transiting the lock we turned the corner and motored right to St. Peters Lion’s Club Marina, a nice clean and very friendly place with good facilities.
They have a laundry room, showers, kitchen and a living room with TV soft leather sofas and computers available.
Leaving Halifax Underway to Bras D'Or Lakes Along the Way
Light winds A Great Sunrise St. Peter's Lock into Bras D'Or Lakes
St. Peter's Canal Swing Bridge St. Peter's Welcome St. Peter's Marina on Bras D'Or Lake
Jim in Clear 73 degree
Bras D'Or Lake water

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August 16, 2009

-- Catch up days, laundry, provisions, log updating and walking through the town.
Until later from Sea Gem in the Bras D’Or Lakes (translation-arms of gold)…

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August 17 - 20th, 2009

We left the comfortable marina at St. Peter’s at 17:40, late in the day to be setting out but we wanted a change of scene.
With the long days we knew there would be time to make St. George’s Harbor before sunset.
It was a delightful sail with light winds, part of the time ghosting along with just whispers of wind pushing us through the still water.
St. George’s is a long harbor with woods on both sides. Jim and Joann are looking at a home on St. George’s and wanted us to see the layout.
The water is deep way up into the harbor and this is well protected on all sides in case of bad storms.
Bras D’Or Lakes are part fresh and part salt but parts do freeze solid during the winter. The water is clear and surprisingly warm to be this far north.
We went swimming for the first time in St. George’s Harbor.
The water was registering 73 degrees on the thermometer in the boat, but that reading is taken about three feet down.
Joann and I scrubbed the sides of the boat which had become very dirty over the three months we have been gone.
Charlie and Jim worked on the barnacles that have started to build up on the props and the bottom. She looks so good now, all cared for and shining.
Barnacle Remover Cleaning the Sea Gem's Bottom
Can you believe
this Nova Scotia Water?
Preparing to launch the dinghy Lowering away

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August 18,2009

This is our anniversary and this year we celebrate 54 years. What a great way to do it: a beautiful place, doing what we love to do and joined by friends we enjoy.
Joann and Jim took all the chores for the day and we had a fish dinner and Charlie fried the fish. We are still eating the fish he caught on the way up here.
A Great Beach Day Servicing the windlass

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August 19, 2009

– We weighed anchor and traveled from St. George’s Harbor and went with the wind, just under sail doing 7 knots in almost totally calm water.
The winds are good and the Lake so protected by the surrounding mountains it makes excellent sailing, especially for those that do not like rough water.
We rode the wind to Marble Mountain and anchored in Clark’s Cove.
There was another sailboat here when we arrived, but he soon left and a group of small boats picnicking and playing on a sand spit at the entrance to the harbor.
Kids were playing in the water and someone towed them, over and over, on a big tube. I must comment on the quiet here. This whole place is quiet.
Even when there is activity it seems quieter than normal. We all went swimming in water that was even warmer than St. George’s. It is hard to believe that this is Canada.
The weather has been lovely, warm days, cool nights and lots of sunshine. There is little fog in Bras D’Or Lakes unlike Maine or the Atlantic on the outside.
As I said the sailing is ideal from all angles. If you don’t have a specific destination in mind you can plan your day by the way the wind blows.
Where ever you decide to stop there will be a calm anchorage just waiting to be explored. We spent the night at Marble Mountain.
Joann & Jim Joann & Saundra Pirates ready to jump aboard
Jumping Pirate
Past Swing bridge
into the lock canal
Canal to the lock
Close maneuvering Ready to leave the lock Leaving the lock

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August 20, 2009

We decided to go into St. Peter’s Marina to log on to the internet and see where Hurricane Bill is headed.
Can you believe we are worried about a hurricane here in Nova Scotia? It seems that Bill is headed our way and will be a problem by Sunday night.
The good news is we could get weathered in at Bras D’Or Lakes, which has many great hurricane holes.
But the bad news is that we would be unable to make our flight from Halifax to Orlando early the 26th. Ah, the decisions.
We will play it safe and not try to follow a hurricane to Halifax. We need to get to Orlando.
The current predictions are that Hurricane Bill a category 3 storm will hit Nova Scotia. Waves at the eye of the storm are over 25 feet high.
It is a big storm although it is predicted to settle to a Category 1 by the time it reaches us at Halifax Harbor. Now our concern is to get Sea Gem to a safe location.
We started calling various marinas and found that the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron in Halifax will take us and put us in a protected place.
Looking at the storm, it all depends on how the storm hits and where it comes ashore.
It is a twenty-four hour run from St. Peter’s to Halifax and we leave promptly, with adequate fuel and full of water.
The seas do not look rough but we are beating into them head on, so it makes sleeping in the forward cabin challenging.
As the surfer’s program “Magic Seaweed” predicts the sea settles during the night and as we proceed into the morning into flat calm.
We are proceeding into Halifax and should get there in plenty of time to prepare for Hurricane Bill…
Until later from Sea Gem
Conferencing Again Underway for St. Peter's Marine "Come Back!"

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August 21,22,2009

We left St. Peter’s Canal and headed for Halifax, knowing the track of Hurricane Bill puts Nova Scotia in the target area.
We have the storm up on our Works on Water Weather Program which has been functioning well throughout our trip until the far east end of Nova Scotia.
Now we are back in business and watching the storm in “real time” on the computer.
Checking different marinas in the area we find few places with facilities to take a fifty four foot boat.
We need either a dockside or on a mooring heavy enough to hold her during a blow.
The Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron has offered to find a place for her and we take them up on the offer.
Actually one of the members vacated his slip and moved shoreward to give us space.
We will be barely behind the breakwater on the outside end of floating docks.
The pilings have been raised due to the experience during the 2003 Hurricane Juan which left devastating destruction in this marina and in Halifax.
Before checking into the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron Marina we did a quick tour around the main Halifax Harbor.
We had some time to view the buildings, skyline and interesting boats including the harbor mascot, Theodore, the tug dressed in full face and hat.
Halifax Harbor Entrance One of the largest natural harbors
in the world
Halifax Skyline
Waterfront scene More along the waterfront Canadian Naval ships
Metro Transit "Theodore Too"

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At the berth in marina the boat on our starboard side is a British boat.
They were 200 miles toward England when they turned around and came back due to the hurricane.
The marina is not a “hurricane hole” like we would like, but it is our “port in a storm.”
The dock master and marina manager, Wayne, is an able fellow and most helpful.
We made one run to a marine store and purchased four more fenders. Also we dove into one of the aft lockers and resurrected four Italian fenders.
We had purchased them at a boat show years ago and never used them. Amazingly enough they, and the 12volt pump to blow them up, were in pristine condition.
That means we have twelve fenders deployed.
Tim, the owner of the British yacht, devised a way to tie the fenders, run a line under the boat to the other side.
This will hold the fenders in position as the boat bashes against the low lying floating dock. We have doubled and tripled lined the boat with Sea Gem.
Now she is looking like she was caught in a huge aggressive spider web.
Everything had to be removed and placed below deck: cushions, survival gear, side curtains, the Genoa sail on the forestay and anything that might be blown away.
Around the marina all the sailboats were stowing their sails and the dock master was calling all the owners who had not adequately prepared their boats.
Flying debris is one of the things to guard against. Working hard to prepare Sea Gem for Hurricane Bill’s visit…Until later from Halifax Nova Scotia.
Almost ready for Bill Magic Seaweed
Internet weather program
Tying our sterns together before
dropping Sea Gem's large sea anchor
to hold us both
Bill on our satellite
Weather Works program
Breakwater protection If the docks break up --
some additional protection
If the surge tops this...! Hope they don't drag,
and our storm anchor holds
High docking wall --
now only 12 inches
Sea Gem securely tied off Bill beginning to come ashore Bill coming ashore

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August 23, 2009

Hurricane Bill – Landfall-Nova Scotia
When a monster is bearing down on you, all defensive systems go into hyper mode.
We have done the preparation and now we wait. We know the storm is headed our way and the forward speed has increased.
We try to determine whether the storm will arrive at high or low tide.
That will make all the difference, since the surge can lift the floating docks over the pilings causing chaos.
Originally it was predicted to come in at night on a high tide, the worst case scenario.
Actually it arrived much earlier, at a time of lower tide and during daylight hours.
We experienced the eye; wind howling from one direction, then calm, then cranking back up from the opposite direction.
We are very grateful that it did not pack the punch that it could have.
The ocean waves were huge but we were protected by the inlet, the outgoing tide and the speed with which the storm moved through.
The winds howled but as far as we know there was minimum damage in Halifax. We will find out more when we go into town.

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August 24, 2009

Today we put things away and get back to normal. Fenders must be deflated, lines coiled and stowed, and the boat put back into shape.
We faced “Bill” and we came out ok. We have much for which to be grateful. Until later, from Sea Gem.

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THE VOYAGE BACK

September 5, 2009

I met Wylie Hill at Orlando International Airport at 11 o’clock a.m. to fly to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Wylie is a longtime sailing friend and has sailed with us across several oceans.
At Halifax International, we rented a car and drove 50 miles to Gold River Marina on Mahone Bay
where we met Jim and Joann Alton at 11:30 p.m.

Wylie Hill -- Great sailing crew

They were still working to finish up some last minute items on Sea Gem.
Joann brought a case of homemade strawberry, blackberry, peach and rhubarb jam to add to the previous case
she had given Saundra and me. Boy is that jam good!
I was happy to get a good night's' sleep aboard my old friend, Sea Gem.

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September 6, 2009

  Wylie and I provisioned at Costco (great steaks and hamburger patties).
We also shopped at Superstore for those items that we need in smaller quantities.
The rental car was turned in at the airport and we took Jim and Jo’s car back to Gold River Marina.
A couple more things had to be checked out so we sailed to Mahone Bay Municipal Marina where we met Jim and Joann,
cleared up those few matters and set off for Portland, Maine.

We had a great sail across Mahone Bay but when we turned west we encountered 15 - 20 knot head winds producing 6 - 8 foot seas.
Under power at 6 knots plunging through the waves, we were sending spray over the top of the boat.
Rough water like this displaces everything below not tied down and is the kind of weather Saundra, my wife, dislikes.
She is at home during this journey accompanying our daughter to some medical consultations and chauffeuring our grandchildren, which she enjoys.  

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September 7 - 8, 2009

  With moderating seas the next morning, we were making 7+ knots against 10 - 15 knot winds and we were reasonably cmfortable.
At 4 AM the second day, we held offshore 15 miles from Portland until daylight so we could see to dodge the lobster pots.

Sunrise from the cockpit

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Our arrival was earlier than anticipated. I should have figured we would average 7 or better knots instead of 6.
The lobstermen are an economically and politically important group in Maine.
If we ever have a maritime war in which we must lay mines, I would like to recommend that we enlist the lobstermen.
They know how to mine an area, a channel or an entrance to harbor with lobster pots so that you almost cannot get through.
Dodging lobster pots is the one thing about Maine that severely detracts from a wonderful sailing area. Viva la Nova Scotia.
NS has the best lobster situation. Great lobsters and they have no lobster pots out during the prime sailing seasons.
We slowed to a crawl waiting for dawn before we entered the combat zone.
We didn’t hit the first lobster pot even though we came in on full tide when many of them are submerged an inch or two and almost impossible to see.

I had telephoned our friends at the Portland Yacht Services the day before about dockage;
they agreed to put Sea Gem along a dock where the big blue sail boat was located when Saundra and I were there on our way to Nova Scotia.
I remembered the dock and Wylie and I were able to dock Sea Gem with no dockside help in a pretty good wind, a little before 7:30 a.m.
The marina opens at 8 a.m. They were glad to see us and we them.

Wylie did the laundry.
As usual, our friend Joanna, at the marina again came to our aid and gave us laundry detergent which we had failed to buy while provisioning
(although it was on the list Saundra made for me).

An old friend and client, Doug McKeown, who lives in Portland, happened by and saw Sea Gem.
He went to the marina and hailed us from the dock.
Doug is CEO of Woodard & Curran, which operates and manages the Orange County and City of Orlando joint project, Conserve II Wastewater Treatment Facilities.
When I was county attorney in the 80’s I was heavily involved in the creation and financing of that innovative project,
which pioneered citrus irrigation with highly treated wastewater effluent and brought the city and the county into being “green” before it was the style.
Doug insisted that he take us to dinner that evening and what a dinner it was.
He took us to the Portland Sea Grill for a great lobster dinner plus my favorite dessert, strawberry shortcake.

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September 10, 2009

  Our next land fall will be Newport , Rhode Island , a distance of about 186 miles.
We plan to arrive at the Cape Cod Canal in time to take advantage of the tide.
I am consulting our charts and plan to arrive at the tail-end of high tide at 6 a.m. on the 11th which will put us in Newport late that afternoon.  
We left Portland Yacht Services and motored over to DiMillo’s Marina to fuel.
We left Nova Scotia with half a tank and we were down to 1/8 of a tank when we arrived in Portland.
We radioed DiMillo’s for permission to dock at their fuel dock
We had a very stiff breeze and I expected a little help docking but when we arrived we found that it was totally self service.
We took on 250 gallons of fuel and at 10:15 a.m. we left Portland on an outgoing tide against strong winds which produce large waves.  
After motoring into big waves for over half an hour (again rearranging below deck)
we took a turn south for Cape Cod Canal and were able to sail on a port tack.
Our course of 200° will not change until we reach the Cape Cod Canal at about 6 a.m. tomorrow morning.
Until later, this is Sea Gem signing off….

Red sky at night, sailors' delight...

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September 11, 2009

135 miles on a port tack from Portland Maine to the Cape Cod Canal sailing at 7-9 knots all the way
—until we realized we would be several hours early to enter the canal at first light as planned.
We had counted backwards from the tide time of a favorable 3.5 knot current through the canal.
But we had used my frequently used long distance average speed of 6 knots. This was not long distance.
At 1 am we shortened sail to a 3.5 knot crawl and still had to wait a little while for dawn. The calm of the canal was a welcome respite.
What a beautiful area. Too bad we flew through motoring at a low rpm.
Weather across Buzzard’s Bay, known to be trouble in bad weather, was not predicted to be good.
However there was only rain and not fog or strong winds.
No moorings were available in Newport Bay but at 12:30 pm we were able to tie up to a 2 boat floating dock,
moored at Brenton Cove, a distance from downtown but served by Zoom Launch Service each hour.
Much easier than unpacking , inflating and lowering the 15 horse Mercury outboard onto our 11 foot Avon dingy.
The owner remembered Sea Gem from 2004, when Saundra and I docked on maybe the same floating dock.
This time however, we had to wash down the deposits of what may have been hundreds of anhingas.
After a nap we took the launch to the town dock, which is next to the Moorings restaurant, in cold windy rain.
We were in shorts and light clothes. We elected to dine at Moorings. Surprise! Great meal. Went straight back to the boat—still cold rain.

Wylie Hill in Newport Wylie and me in Newport

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September 12, 2009

Still drizzling, not as cold, but a dreary day.
Lunch at the Black Pearl- great clam chowder and lobster salad (that’s what I had to come back to Newport for).
On launch to town and again on the launch back to Sea Gem
we met Nicole and Dan with their two lovely daughters and the cutest Wheaton Terrier.
It would be a great boat dog—doesn’t shed hair.

Nicole, Dan, Daughters and Wheaton Terrier pup

Watching great reception for the Michigan State vs. Central Michigan game.
Killing time before setting sail this evening for Norfolk, Va. (358 nm) so we arrive after dawn the 15th.
This time used 7 knots average for 51 hours. We’ll see if we timed it right.
I changed oil in starboard engine. Ready to go.
Before we left Newport I felt sorry for port engine. Wasn’t quite time for an oil change but starboard got one
so I changed oil in port engine just to even things up.
Weather prediction “no wind” so wanted both engines to feel good since we have 360 nm to Norfolk.
6 pm, 12th, we left Newport in calm, misty conditions.
Until later….
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Sept 13-14.2009

September 13,2009

By 12:30 pm it was clear that we have found the fabled counter current (as we did in 04) and my predicted eta would again be long.
Even cutting the engines back from usual 2200 to 1800 rpm we were still doing over 7 kits SOG (speed over Ground)
while doing 6 or less kits through the water.
We have another day to slow down but it was clear that we would again arrive much too soon and in the dark after marinas close.
Sailing miles from shore as we do nature finds you.
A whale spouts and you think how close we are to these intelligent animals and will we ever learn to communicate.

Two small birds light and go about inspecting every nook and cranny on Sea Gem:


We pass a pod of dolphins feeding.

And paradise is infringed by a return of the blood hungry little black flies (but not nearly as bad as our trip up).

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September 14, 2009

Some ask why I like sailing. The following is the best I can do:

Sailing--
A Time for Introspection At night on watch alone in the cockpit, sometimes listening to my favorite music,
there is time to think back over a lifetime of friends, family, events, accomplishments, regrets, and to reset goals
keeping in mind what is really important in life.

I think of those friends and family who are gone and I hope they knew how important they were to me.
I think of those still with us, some of whom are not well, and hope I can visit with them more often.
I reminisce about all the good times and some of the trying times we’ve had together
and hope that they know I think of them often.

I think of my relation with God and wonder at the many miracles I’ve been permitted to witness, and question,
were they simply incredible coincidences, or an effort to get through to my hard head?

Then I think of the future and how I can spend more time with my children and grandchildren
to maybe guide and help them through life’s ups and downs, to give encouragement
and provide a backstop during trying times.

I think how lucky I am to have such a wonderful and loving life mate of 54 years.
Saundra never ceases to amaze me with her interpersonal skills, perception and common sense,
as well as ability to guide me usually without my realizing it.
She has been critical to any success I have had in life.

I think of my professional goals and how I can work to instill in our new lawyers at Gray Robinson
the sense and importance of strong professional ethics
and of giving back to our communities of our time and talent;
to continue a strong dedication to excellence in legal work for the benefit of our clients;
to be involved in politics for the betterment of our communities,
state and federal governments as well as to better serve our clients.
I think how proud I am of my partners who have provided leadership in building a great statewide law firm.
I want the lawyers and staff to know that they are an integral part of something greater than just a place to work.
They are a great team made up of smaller teams working to accomplish our clients’ goals,
provide an enjoyable work environment, and help make our communities a better place.

Sailing gives me time to review and relive life’s great enjoyments
and most important to refresh and recharge me for the next chapter
—time I would not otherwise take from this busy life.


Night watch is almost over.

We selected Hampton Flats (Mill Creek), a quiet, small anchorage just inside the Chesapeake
and right on our way to Blue Water Yacht Services where on the 15th we are to meet up with David Hendrix, my law partner in our Tampa office.
We dropped anchor at 7:45 pm, I cooked burgers on the grill, and we dined in the cockpit in a quiet now breezy anchorage and hit the sack
since we have a big day tomorrow.

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September15, 2009

We woke at 1:30 am to begin a bizarre “Charlie Project”.
We raised anchor for a little known “Tangier Island” located up the Chesapeake 52 nm from Norfolk.
It is home to a small crabbing community where just about everyone is related,;
where houses, though not mansions, are well maintained and people are friendly and helpful.
Tangier island is so linear,
it is hard to photograph
Well-kept homes on Tangier

One of their products is soft shell crabs for which they use moulting runways.
They have mountains
of crab traps
Crab moulting runways


Saundra and I visited here in 2004 when we spent over a month cruising the Chesapeake
and just happened upon a crab bisque at the Fisherman’s Corner restaurant.
I have been trying ever since to have some of their crab bisque frozen and sent to me at home to no avail.
They would like to but just don’t have the facilities.
I promised myself that the next time I am near the Chesapeake I will have Sea Gem’s freezer as empty as possible
and fill it up with frozen crab bisque. This is it.
Fisherman's Corner Restaurant
They get rave reviews

Fortunately my friend and crew, Wylie Hill was willing to accommodate my outlandish whim.
Sailing in the dark among freighters and other monsters in this busy port can be unnerving
especially when you realize that they can’t stop or even have time to change course if you get in their way.
We had an exciting moment but we arrived safely at Tangier Island and tied up at Captain Park’s dock
inside the long shallow water passage that divides the Island.
Captain Park, a 79 year old salty, friendly, experienced boatman guided us through an intricate docking maneuver
among old broken and weathered pilings in shallow water. His face dock where we normally dock was taken.
Intricate manuvering
for shallow water docking
Captain Park, Wylie and Charlie

We renewed our friendship of 5 years ago and he offered his truck to bring the booty to Sea Gem. I thanked him but we have a hand truck.
Later I wished that I had taken him up on his offer.
I had called the Fisherman’s’ Corner restaurant a week before and ordered 48 quarts of frozen crab bisque.
They didn’t ask for a credit card but when we arrived they had it ready.
Getting the heavy load to the boat, even with a fold up hand cart and a 94 quart ice chest was a chore particularly along a deep gravel road.
Wylie and I finally got it aboard and set it prominently in the main saloon.

Loading the Bisque

Finally, the Booty is aboard!
Help -- I need some
pavement!
At least make
it look easy!

We cast off at 11:30 am and negotiated Sea Gem from Cap’n Park’s dock heading to the Blue Water Yachting Service at Hampton
where we met David Hendrix, my law partner who flew in from Tampa to sail with us.
Captain Park is sorry to see us go
David Hendrix

On the way to the marina he picked up 20 pounds of dry ice which will keep the treasure frozen till we get home.
We docked at Blue Water, fueled and shortly David arrived. We dry iced the bisque and had a great dinner at the marina restaurant.
Back at the boat we agreed that I am outside the norm (that puts it kindly) to sail over a 100 miles out of my way for some crab bisque.
Then we planned our route with stops on the way home to Titusville. Until later…

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September 16, 2009

Breakfast at 5:00AM, released all dock lines and left the dock at Blue Water Yachting Service at 6AM bound for Charleston.
Norfolk is a busy seaport with both commercial and military large vessels even this early so we were busy dodging them.
As far as who has the right of way we have a rule on Sea Gem we call “the rule of gross tonnage.

At 8:30AM we passed over the Norfolk- Cape Charles Tunnel and were out of the Chesapeake with no wind and under power.
For dinner I grilled 4 large steaks, Wylie baked 3 potatoes and made a good salad. We were not hurting.

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September 17, 2009

A clear day under sail at 5.5kts with 12- 14kts of wind and a following sea there was time for lots of good conversation and that evening we broke out the Booty.
Each had a cup of the greatest Crab Bisque. Life is good.

Wylie tests the bisque

David adds his personal approval

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September 18, 2009

. Overcast and winds picked up a bit so trying to keep boat speed down for a 5AM entrance to Charleston Harbor.
Tides run over 3kts so timing is important to enter the long run with the tide.

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September 19, 2009

We entered Charleston Harbor at 5AM and proceeded slowly waiting for first light.
At 7AM docked Sea Gem in short space between two boats on still heavy incoming tide
and got kudos and a relieved look from the owner of the boat on my stern.
Although we didn’t need it we took on 57 gallons of diesel (we hold 350 gallons so we had plenty to get home) to access their Mega Dock for a few hours.
Showered, dressed and had a great breakfast at the marina restaurant. We needed the very long walk down the dock of MEGA YACHTS.
They were nice and didn’t look down their noses at our 54 feet.

Near noon we caught the Charleston City Marina shuttle to a favorite restaurant of Wylie’s—Hominy Grill, where we had their specials and it was excellent.
Their she- crab soup gave me pause whether I really had to sail that 100 miles. Close but no cigar.

At 2PM we left the dock on a strong outgoing tide and with a crack crew we again missed hitting our close neighbors. ”
As we passed Fort Sumter David took pictures and recalled that that the first shots were fired in the beginning of the civil war
by the confederates at Federal vessels, (whereupon the fort was surrounded by union forces
and allowed the union to effectively blockade Charleston from Confederate assistance. )

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September 20, 2009

Wiley and David make good sailing buddies, everyone standing watch and handling cooking, dishwashing and other duties as a team.
Today, other than the sudden squall with high winds causing us to drop all sails to prevent a possible knock down,
we read, listened to music and adjusted our speed to allow entering Ponce Inlet in daylight around 7AM tomorrow.
After that it will take about four hours to sail the inter coastal, through Mosquito Lagoon and the bridge at Haulover Canal
to arrive at our great home slip waiting for us at Titusville Municipal Marina. Upon arrival, Sea Gem will have sailed over 3,000 miles
since Saundra and I left Titusville, June 18. A travelling condo and office fully connected that we can move anywhere.
We had another bowl of crab bisque this afternoon preparatory to my cooking more steaks on our gas grill located in the aft cockpit.
I retired the old gas grill which would blow out in a gentle breeze. This new Magma grill stays lit in a hurricane
so I have no trouble cooking steaks in a blow, except for staying upright while the boat is rolling.
Wylie will cook the baked potatoes in the convection/ microwave oven and we will have another fine dinner in the cockpit.

Today we were visited by a pod of dolphins playing along our bow for some time.
David took some pictures but knowing when they will surface makes snapping them guesswork.


Dolphins come along side

A quick salute to Admiral and Crew


Well, time for me to put the steaks on after which we take turns on and off watch till 7AM.
Our wives will meet us at the dock at noon tomorrow and then home.

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Sea Gem post trip Log

When in Maine, Doug McKeowen asked about a photograph Saundra and I chanced upon
at Peter’s Café Sport in Horta on the Island of Fial, Azores, in 1992.
It was an unusual photograph taken by Peter’s son during the biggest storm of the century in the Azores,
which had winds of 250 km/hr, waves 60 feet high and spray 180 feet high.
At the moment he took the picture he captured Neptune overseeing his handywork.
I told Doug that I would put this on our website so here it is.


The display label explaining
the photo at right

The photo:
"Neptuno in Horta"

(Click image to see larger version)



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Dear God, be good to me.
The sea is so wide and my boat is so small.
 
                                    Unknown



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