Finally – after 9 months…

Finally we get to sail Toodle-oo! again this weekend. Memorial Day weekend!

Just heading down to Newport to rendezvous with the Tiverton Crowd – Mike and Jane on Jamin, Peter and Diane on Elixir

The Tiverton Crowd!

The Tiverton Crowd!

Ron and Ineke Heyselaar on Lily will also join us – will be interesting to see if they can keep up!

Ron and Ineke

Ron and Ineke

We’ll also have the Ship’s Cat with us – Bella.

Ship's Cat - Bella

Ship’s Cat – Bella

Yes a new addition this year, Bella is one smart pussy and we’re hoping that the past 2 months of potty training won’t desert us… Yes, Bella has been trained to use the toilet – no more litter – however, the boat’s toilet is somewhat smaller than the house toilet, so it’ll be interesting… Check out the link below – for some reason it’s rotated 90 degrees, but you’ll get the jist…


Retirement Looms! :-)

Toodle-oo! is nearly ready for the off – following the extensive repairs required following the lightning strike – which have been going on throughout the winter and are just finishing up now with various sea trials remaining to hone all the details.

Can’t say enough about Markel Insurance – represented by Al Golden at IMIS – they’ve been very supportive throughout and provided interim payments to (almost) keep up with the outflows of cash – which is amounting to over $125,000…

All the electronics have been replaced with new Raymarine equipment, the electrical gear – chargers, inverters, lights, etc., have been replaced and the standing rigging which seemed to bear the brunt of the strike has also been replaced.

There are just a few more items for NEB to sort out – an Espar heater that’s pumping CO gas into the salon(!), a generator that needs a new riser and a fix to the wind generator that doesn’t seem to be contributing any power despite turning like crazy and generally looking very busy.

The whole repair program has gone very smoothly thanks to Ian Mackechnie at NEB who has managed the whole thing beautifully. Jim Van der Hey at Cay Electronics has also been great and Phip Hallowell at Rig-Pro has been solid too. Couldn’t have asked for better folks than these to put her back together.

Teak GrateMeanwhile Laurie has re-varnished the floors, the companionway doors and the galley fiddles and we have loaded the bulk of the stuff back aboard – it’s getting real now! We even have a new teak grate for the head!


But even though she’s been in the water for a month now, we still haven’t sailed her! That gets remedied on Thursday with a sea trial with Cay (to do the electronics) and possibly Rig-Pro (to check the rigging). All just in time as we’re hoping to get off the dock and out of NEB’s billing range by the end of this weekend!

We’re headed up to Bristol to either hang off a mooring or possibly our own anchor for a few weeks… Never parked a boat on an anchor for that long…

2 weeks to go…



Plans Afoot!

Still a Working Stiff

Still a Working Stiff

It’s been rather difficult to keep this blog going – we’re still working stiffs and we know that some folk at the companies occasionally (no doubt mistakenly) stumble across the blog and well, there are certain things that it just wouldn’t be right to share prematurely… but now we can… :-)

We have given notice of our intention to retire!    Laurie and I are cutting our respective chords – just when we’re making decent money(!) – in order to pursue a life of layabout cruising gypsies! Scary times, but we can’t wait!

Transitioning to CRUISERS!

Transitioning to CRUISERS!

Our last day at work will be June 3rd – so we’ve given tons of notice, so that the companies can plan accordingly (in my case, the celebration party that they’ve finally gotten rid of me!) – and which also gives us some time to make final preparations without having to hide the details… It all works out with our landlord too – who announced to Laurie just a couple of weeks ago, that they intend to sell – so timing couldn’t be better :-)



So, where to from here?

First plan is the OCC’s Southern New England Cruise which we are organizing again. 2016 SNE


The Cruise starts on June 24th in Newport and takes us through some favorite anchorages up to Boston for the July 4th celebrations and ends in Gloucester on July 9th.

This handily poises us ready for a trip down east (feels north!) to Nova Scotia where we will join the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron’s cruise up to the Bras d’Or lakes and then go on to Newfoundland where we plan to spend August exploring the Outports on the southern coast – as well as the two little French (as in France) islands just off the Newfoundland coast, Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

Summer Voyage

Summer Voyage

The summer cruise should be a great shakedown cruise for us – not too far away, but full time living aboard – plus it’ll give us some opportunities to practice some of the more unusual cruising methods (like using shore ties) which we will need for the next leg of our trip. Unfortunately it’ll probably allow us to practice our use of radar too – since it’s quite likely we’ll encounter significant fog up in Newfoundland.

In October we’ll head south down to New York City and Washington and then cross to Bermuda and on to the Bahamas for Christmas/New Year. We then plan to visit Cuba before heading Patagoniaacross the Caribbean Sea to Costa Rica and to Panama, passing through the Canal in February or March. We’re then heading south along the South American coast, stopping in Columbia, Ecuador and Peru on the way to southern Chile and the Patagonian Channels. With any luck we’ll make a day-sail rounding of Cape Horn in January of 2018 if weather permits.


It’s a stupid route – bucking both wind and current – but I would really like to see the Incan remains in Peru again (have been dying to show them to Laurie) and both of us have been itching to get to Patagonia.

From there…?  Who knows!



Sailing Season Planning

The season is nearly upon us – time to cast thoughts of broken boats aside and think about sailing…

Around this time of year, a group of us get together to sort out sailing plans for the season. This year was no exception so Mike, Jane, Peter and Diane got together for a really enjoyable evening at Peg’s house (construction site!) and ended with some dates to ponder – at least for the beginning of the season…

Anyone interested in joining us, the more the merrier!

  • May 14                                               Newport with the Squash Team
  • May 28 – 30 (Memorial Day)           Padanaram
  • June 4/5                                              Potter’s Cove
  • June 11/12                                          Open
  • June 18 – 20                                       Essex, CT: SSCA GAM
  • June 24 – July 9                 OCC Cruise
  •                        June 24:               Newport
  •                        June 28:               Oak Bluffs
  •                        June 29th:            Marion
  •                        July 2:                   Provincetown
  •                        July 4:                   Boston
  •                        July 6:                   Marblehead
  •                        July 9:                   Gloucester

That at least gets the season going – nice and early in light of the weather we’ve been having!




Repairs to Toodle-oo! have been continuing – as evidenced by new invoices arriving on a weekly basis!

All the eleIMG_1270ctronics appear to be in place, wired up beautifully. The electrical gear – chargers, inverters, and various controllers are also installed. A new wind generator is in place, along with new fancy control and monitoring system.

The Propeller and propshaft were removed and found to be OK – reinstallation turned out a little tricky – they couldn’t get the coupling to line up right so had to remove it – but in order to remove it meant taking the gearbox off – but to do that they needed to lift the engine off its mountings! Neat thing is, I got to replace the engine mountings as a consequence! All is back together now… Windlass

The windlass took quite a hit and was sent off to Lighthouse to be refurbished – it came back looking virtually new!

The mast has been painted and we took the opportunity to replace the mainsail ‘Strongtrack’ system and the mast boot (which seals the hole between the boat’s deck and the mast itself – hopefully no leaks…). New mast lights are being put on and the whole mast re-wired. Next week the mast will be dressed with its new standing rigging and furlers, ready for re-stepping.

The sails have been repairs – and washed – though we understand that some of the burn marks were not removable.

While this haImpeller piecess all been going on we have serviced all the winches and through hull seacocks, I’ve started fixing up the generator (taking all sorts of old impeller bits out of the heat exchanger!)  and back home we’ve been working on a new inventorying system as well as doing some sewing: New anchor drogue, a massive patch to cover the hull in case we get holed somehow, new lee cloth for the port side and various hold-down straps and jacklines. Laurie has also started to re-varnish the floors…

What next? Launch! Ian Mackechnie at New England Boatworks has been coordinating all this activity and has decided he wants to launch Toodle-oo! in the next couple of weeks! So there’ll be some mad activity for the next few days with bottom paint, polishing, and general finishing of the project to make that happen – followed by further evaluation of systems that can only be done in the water – both electrical and electronics related… Will be nice to have her in and with any luck take advantage of some of the early Spring good weather days to test her out.

We’ve also been working on our future cruising plans – all very exciting and I’ll fill in some detail in the next week or two…


Lightning Strike Remedy

So it’s been a while – thought I should update the blog a little…

As you might imagine, we’ve been working to get Toodle-oo! repaired for next season and beyond, and overall the journey so far has been good…

My insurance is through IMIS – Marcel’s Jackline policy – not the cheapest, but I’m pretty satisfied! They appointed a surveyor to come and evaluate the boat once I’d moved her to New England Boatworks in Portsmouth, RI. The evaluation was pretty quick –  including a discussion with the NEB Service Coordinator there, Ian Mackechnie. We concluded that I would coordinate activities with NEB (commissioning, wiring and mechanical), Cay Electronics (electronics) and Rig-Pro (mast and rigging). This was good as it allowed me to really direct activities to the areas of concern.

Initially, NEB set-to decommissioning the boat, they removed the mast and lifted her out and parked her right next to the Ship’s store – how very convenient. Toodle-oo! then had visits from Cay Electronics and Rig-Pro

Cay Electronics came aboard and gave me a quote for replacement of ALL electronics – 2 chartplotters, 2 GPS, instruments, autopilot, AIS, SSB, Internet booster, VHF, handheld VHF, Stereo… Since my units were obsolete (2007 vintage Raymarine e series) they quoted the latest



  e-series stuff. The surveyor OK’d the lot! Cay pulled everything out just a couple of weeks ago and have now started replacing everything. With our long term cruising plans in mind, this could not have worked out better – not only do we get all the latest toys, perhaps most importantly, the one gripe I’ve had about the boat since we bought her is that the wiring behind all the electronics is a REALLY scary birds nest affair – now we get to have professionally installed wiring – and oh boy, what a great job they are doing of it!



After decommissioning and winterizing the boat, NEB have taken on the wiring and have been great – going through everything and have so far replaced: 110V inverter charger, 220V charger, alternator regulator, solar regulator, propane sensor, Espar Heater controls, battery monitors, battery switches, numerous bulbs. The windlass is off being repaired (took a severe hit), the wind generator is going to be replaced and the propshaft is out for replacement of cutlass bearing and shaft seal. They are also preparing the mast for painting (at the top). Once we’re back in the water they will make sure all systems are go – especially regarding generator and engine. Laurie and I feel like the engine is making more noise than it used to – particularly when in gear – so we need to make sure there’s nothing wrong with the drive-train – something that can only really be assessed while in the water…

Rig Pro provided a full appraisal before quoting the repairs and the rigging was the only difficult part with insurance – the surveyor was skeptical that it suffered, but that was an easy argument for me… the backstay insulators (for the SSB antenna) clearly had been damaged as announced in Rig-Pro’s appraisal, plus the windlass had been damaged and the foresails had black marks at each intersection of the furler extrusions – indicating that significant power had traveled down the stays. In the end he agreed to replace all standing rigging including both furlers! He baulked at replacing the mast tube itself!

Oh, and I get the sails washed!

While the damage was significant, the benefits are certainly there – new (professionally installed) electronics, new standing rigging, opportunities to fix little things that have been bugging… all before the next major voyage…

Very happy so far – the insurance while expensive has paid off with lack of hassle – but we still have to get it all back together in the water…

On the downside, the boat is a mess! I hope that with all these folk traipsing through we don’t end up with dents and dings all over the place – but they look like they’re trying to be careful at least…

Meanwhile, Laurie and I emptied the boat of pretty much everything and have started compiling a full inventory listing – it’s amazing how much stuff there is aboard!

Winter is upon us now, so once Cay have finished, I don’t expect much will happen until we launch, probably in early March once the snow has melted – here’s hoping we don’t have a winter like last year!


Last Sail

We took advantage of a lull in business, to add a day to our three day ‘Labor Day’ weekend to enjoy our last sail of the season. Granted, this would be a little different in that we’d be doing it the old fashioned way – without electronics to show us the way. On the other hand, it’s a familiar route from Mattapoisett to Newport – and the power of iPhones these days is such that we weren’t truly without electronics…

The forecast for the Friday was for breezy conditions from the North East, giving us a nice downwind sail, pretty much all the way. Nice, since we didn’t want to run the engine much – in case there had been damage from the lightning strike. We initially sailed on main alone, and then unfurled the Genoa – and saw that the lightning strike must have tracked down the forestay… The furling system on the headstay is made up of a series of about 4 – 6ft aluminum extrusions bolted together along its length and the luff of the sail sits in a groove in that extrusion… Well, at every joint, the genoa displayed a burn mark – where apparently the lightning had sparked over the joints in the extrusion! Later in the day when we unfurled the inner jib, we saw the same thing!

The good thing about not having electronics is that there’s no wind speed indicator – so we just kept sailing along, faster and faster as the wind grew! It appears it must have been blowing about 25 knots, because as soon as we reached the last buoy and turned left to head up the east passage to Newport, we had to pull in the genoa and set the small jib and a reefed mainsail! We rocked our way into Newport and set the anchor down just 5¼ hours after leaving Mattapoisett on our expected 8 hour trip!

Jane and Mike on Jamin followed us in about an hour later, having taken just as long to cruise around from the Sakonnet – no doubt slowed by their dingy which they towed with the engine still attached…

We had a lovely weekend, in company with Paul and Marg aboard Paradise (an impressive 47ft Vagabond) and Ron and Ineke from Lily – both boats had participated on the OCC cruise we’d organized during the summer. Good to see these friends again.

Fishing Lines on the Commercial Wharf

Fishing Lines on the Commercial Wharf

Newport Harbor

Newport Harbor

We got to watch some old wooden boats attempting to race around Connanicut Island – though it turned out to be more of boat parking lot under Newport Bridge!

Wooden Boat Race

Wooden Boat Race

We sampled offerings from Newport’s Elks lodge and had a splendid dinner at a Mama Luisa’s (excellent!) – and the following evening Peter and Diane (Elixir) joined us for another memorable dinner at Sardellas.

On Labor Day Monday, after ‘Super Billy’ rescued(!) 2 boats from their anchor traps (Jamin’s evil swivel and Paradise’s cable fouled anchor), we sailed up the Narragansett bay to New England Boatworks – site of repairs and over wintering. We sailed dead downwind ‘up’ the bay, with genoa poled to one side and jib flown on the other. The sea was flat calm and the sun was out, giving us a lovely peaceful last sail of the season.

We entered the NEB basin and headed for the fuel dock where we pumped out the holding tank and topped up with diesel for the winter. Then we had to turn around… not good. Very embarrassing as I failed miserably to get the boat turned around in a ridiculously narrow spot with wind coming from the wrong direction! Fortunately we missed all the massive boats surrounding us so it was only my ego that got bruised – but it took 3 attempts and 4 hefty people to get Toodle-oo! turned around and facing the right direction!


It’s now a couple of weeks later and Toodle-oo! is in the hands of NEB for repairs. The insurance surveyor estimates damages to be in the neighborhood of $100,000 – half of that in electronics, the rest in rigging and ancillary electrical stuff – chargers, wind generators, lights, etc…

She’s out of the water now – but we’ve not seen her yet – will be interesting to see if there’s an obvious exit location from the lighting pulse… more to come…


Finished Already

This weekend we were looking forward to having various guests aboard…

I arrived at the boat on Friday morning with Brian Gardener from work… as I loaded our weekend luggage I noticed something lying on the cockpit seat… When I moved inside I noticed the cover of an electronic control lying on the couch… When I tried to turn on the fridge to cool our beers, it wouldn’t go on. Alarm bells ringing!

The thing on the bench outside was examined – it was the fascia of the spreader lights – checking them out showed them to have been blown to smithereens. We’d suffered a lightning strike :-( .

Spreader Lights

Somewhat numbed, we decided to have a beer and sort through what works and what doesn’t – finding that nearly everything electronic was fried. Unfortunately, it also appears that quite a lot of electrical stuff also took a hit – switches for some lights, for the windlass, etc.

Brian winched me up the mast (without an electric motor to assist!) where I found we’d had a direct hit. The masthead is blackened, the brand new VHF antenna was vaporized and the masthead light destroyed! What’s worrying is the possibility that the shrouds that keep the mast up might also have been compromised.


I’m back on the boat today to evaluate more – and to see if I can get a charging system to run to keep batteries topped up.

Plan then is to sail/motor the boat back to New England Boatworks in Portsmouth (about 45 miles away) next weekend and start the real assessment and repair process.

Sailing’s done for this year! :-(

Nantucket Bound!

A week off!!! Always a good thing!

Our plans for this week were to sail alongside Mike and Jane aboard Jamin, up to Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod and then go the outside route around the Cape and south to Nantucket…  The red track on the map below…  Best laid plans and all that…

The weather was not forecast to assist. It was forecast to be nice and sunny and with good wind – but the wind for the day we were to head south to Nantucket was predicted to be strong from the South South West – right on our nose (big yellow arrow) – so our course would have taken us offshore towards the east – and then at about the time we’d tack back towards the west, the wind would shift again – keeping us offshore! So, we re-planned…



We headed (green route) first to Hadley Harbor – a first for Jane and Mike. It was a hot day so we were fearful that the very protected harbor would be a furnace, but in fact it turned out to be really quite manageable and we had a very enjoyable afternoon swimming (Hadley has quote a current in it – so swimming was quite an effort at times!) and we followed up with a boozy evening as always!

The following day we had a relaxed start, awaiting suitable tide through Woods Hole – Jamin’s first transit, which proved to be a non-event. Once through, we sailed all the way to Edgartown and anchored out in the bight north of the main harbor, parked next to a large trawler type affair. Jamin arrived about 30 minutes after us and decided to anchor ahead of the trawler, closer to land – but as they dropped, the Trawler captain stood at the bow of his boat staring them down and then yelled that they were on his anchor and should move. Jamin was AT LEAST 500 feet forward of the trawler, so he either had an inordinate amount of rode out – or an over inflated ego! To prevent any scenes, Jamin moved and re-anchored. We then suffered listening to the Trawler’s generator – for hours on end – so in the morning we relocated ourselves out of earshot, leaving Captain Mud to his own devices.

We got the tandem out and bicycled our way up to Oak Bluffs for a very enjoyable – if short – lunch with Laurie’s sister Cynthia and Arthur and then pedaled back again and enjoyed a cocktail with Jane and Mike at one of the bars in Edgartown.

Nantucket beckoned, so on Tuesday morning after a lazy start, avoiding a couple of downpours (same storm system that wiped out half of Rhode Island!), we set sail in not very much wind at all, but gybed our way out of the harbor using our reaching sail. As we cleared the headland, the wind dropped further, so we furled the reacher and brought out the spinnaker, but after about an hour of that, the wind died almost completely so we reluctantly brought it down and started the iron genoa. 5 minutes later, the wind came up, we doused the iron maiden and set the Genoa and started making excellent progress towards Nantucket. Slowly the winds built so we reefed the main. Then we reefed again. As we turned into the final straight for Nantucket Harbor, we pulled in the Genoa and set the smaller jib – so by now we’d used every sail in the inventory! We arrived in Nantucket with the wind at about 22knots, gusting to 28 and happily took up our mooring just a few spots away from Jamin.

Nantucket House

Nantucket House

Chatting on the Streets

Chatting on the Streets

Julian and Lynn aboard Domini (whom we’d met on the OCC cruise) had expressed an interest in joining us in Nantucket, but were unable to secure a mooring reservation. Nantucket’s policy (since they were theoretically sold out) is that without a previously arranged mooring, you must call on the day of arrival to see if there are any no shows and therefore availability – not easy for Domini since they were in Newport – a long day’s sail from Nantucket. However, I learned that they allow raft-ups, so if a mooring was not available, they’d be able to pull alongside Toodle-oo! – with this back up plan in hand, Domini was able to join us the following day – and in the end managed to secure their own mooring.

No Smiling Laurie!

No Smiling Laurie!

Still Smiling Laurie

Still Smiling Laurie

Smiling Laurie

Smiling Laurie

Mike and Jane

Mike and Jane

Laurie and I took a tandem ride out to the western extremity of the island to spy out a possible anchorage there – it’s a bit bleak. Otherwise we all strolled the very neat cobbled streets of Nantucket or sat around the beach sunning ourselves – the weather was really fantastic for us all week.

Western 'Bleak' Anchorage (well beyond the power boats)

Western ‘Bleak’ Anchorage (well beyond the power boats)

Feed Us!

Feed Us!

We had planned three nights in Nantucket, but unfortunately, the founder of the company I work for had passed and so we had to make arrangements to stay a fourth night – so that I could fly back to attend. I took the first flight of the day out to New Bedford and managed to secure the co-pilot’s seat in the 10 seater plane. What a great view! Able to see all the difficult shoals around Nantucket and get a real feel for the geography so familiar from water level. I arrived back that afternoon, earlier than expected, so we headed to the fishmonger and secured all the necessary for a clam boil which we shared with Mike, Jane, Justin and Lynn – great night!

The following morning it was time to go – but the wind was howling in the harbor. We’d worked out that a 6am departure would get us favorable current most of the way and Domini had decided to come too. Jamin had already bagged it as too windy – besides which, there was to be a Boston Pops concert on the beach along with fireworks. In the end Domini bailed too in favor of the Pops, so Toodle-oo! was on her own.

We finally set off about 6:45 with 25knots blowing in the harbor, rather leary of what we might encounter ‘outside’ the safe haven. In the end, we were in good shape as the wind never strengthened, remaining at that level pretty constantly. The day was a glorious one – beautiful sunshine, low humidity and once we’d rounded the first leg marker and turned westward, the strong wind was abaft the beam, making for some really nice progress towards our target destination, Tarpaulin Cove on the south side of the Elizabeth Island chain. We made it there in just four and a half hours having planned for 8! It always helps when you’ve got the current with you – and as we approached Woods Hole, we were showing a speed over ground of between 10 and 11 knots – constantly!

We set anchor at about 11:00am and decided that since we got up so early, we could have an early beer to mark our arrival! There’s nothing here. It’s a private island though they let you use the beach and wander up to the diminutive lighthouse. Other than that, it’s relax time!

Tarpaulin Light

Tarpaulin Light

Tarpaulin Cove

Tarpaulin Cove

In the afternoon, the cove became somewhat inundated with power boats – in for the beach – and some sailboats joined us. By sunset, all the small power boats (save one) had left us, but we’d been joined by a mega yacht, a coast guard cutter and 12 other sailboats, variously anchored around the cove.

Our final day of holiday dawned ugly – drizzle and fog and not much wind – though apparently back in Nantucket the wind was up because both Jamin and Domini had bailed again and were staying yet another night – the true benefit of cruising without a schedule! We had to get back and so, to take advantage of the currents, we left at 7:30am with the tail end of the fair current up to Woods Hole – though unfortunately the wind was on the nose. Never-the-less, we sailed right up to Woods Hole. When we got through, the wind piped up and we scooted across Buzzards Bay like we were a power boat. The wind kept building and in the end we had both reefs in the main and the small job was reefed down too!

10 minutes after hooking our mooring the wind dropped and the sun came out – so we celebrated with another late morning beer! We also got to take Toodle-oo! to the dock and give her a good washdown and loose all the salt build up.

It was a great vacation – great destinations, great company, the weather really cooperated and we hardly used the motor at all! Doesn’t get any better!

Red Brook Harbor

July 18

We had visitors aboard for a day! Nancy Tripp, who we’d bumped into at Cuttyhunk the previous weekend was joined by Laurie’s workmate, Nancy Henry, along with colleague Steve Carter and his wife Simi.

With a brisk south wind forecast for the day and possible rain showers, we decided to head for Red Brook Harbor on the west coast of Cape Cod. If the rain comes, we’d have a short bailout of the Beverly Yacht Club in Marion. Fortunately, the rain held off and with Steve mostly at the helm and with reefed main and small jib, we made great speed – 7 – 8 knots – and great time to Red Brook where we were able to hang on a mooring for lunch.

Nancy T had brought along a fruit basket, Simi some cheese and my favorite (Mc Vitties) buiscuits and Nancy H brought the brownies! How could we go wrong with that lot coupled to beer and wine!

The ride back was a little bumpier heading into the wind, but with only a couple of tacks we made it back in good time to enjoy another beverage (or a cup of tea)!

Nancy T., Simi, Bill, Nancy H., Laurie and Steve

Nancy T., Simi, Bill, Nancy H., Laurie and Steve

On Sunday, there was no wind! It was hot and very humid, so after a couple of boat chores, we bailed and headed for the apartment – at least it would be a little less damp there!