Photo Album

I’ve started participating in a photographic challenge – submitting 7 photos each week (have to be taken that week)… I cheated the first week with some ‘recent’ photos – but now in week 2, I’m conforming! You can find them here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/130036240@N07/

Father Christmas brought me a new toy – an Olympus E-M1 camera – a ‘Micro Four Thirds’ format – a nice small package with some great capability…

 

Land Lubbers

So, we’re getting back into the swing of things – back as land lubbers.

We located an apartment on the East Side of Providence (trendy spot) – it’s super and our landlord/lady are dears – Jim and Linda. Linda’s something of a Yoga guru, Jim’s an ex magazine editor/owner. The apartment is a ground floor affair with a couple of bedrooms (so give us a call if you want to visit) – and it has a fireplace! Jim keeps filling our bucket with wood to burn to boot!

I’ve been back at work at Checon for nearly a month now, Laurie is back with Citizens and starts her second week on Monday. For my part, I’m settling into the role – basically to prop up sales and profit for Checon in any way possible. It’s a nicely open position to work from and looks like it’ll be an interesting challenge. As I write this I’m on my way to Europe again – to chat with customers that have operations in South America where we’re concentrating some efforts.

Toodle-oo! is in Portsmouth RI, at Pirate Cove Marina – the marina we left from in 2013. She’s in good shape but need some attention particularly within the electronics area. Next year we’ll move her to our old haunt of Mattapoisett – to gain easy access to the islands (Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Elizabeth Islands) – and enjoy the social opportunities at Mattapoisett Yacht Club.

We’re hoping to see some of our new friends we met in the last couple of years as they cruise the East Coast of America. Just to help things along we’ll be hosting an OCC rally in June/July – for a couple of weeks – to visit the islands off the south coast of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. If you’ve got a boat and can make it, please join us!!

Life is good – can’t wait for the summer sailing season to begin!

 

More later on winter projects for Toodle-oo!

Highs and Lows

Toodle-oo! and her crew are back where the voyage started 2 1/2 years ago – at Pirate Cove Marina in Portsmouth, RI… Having had a wonderful 2 years here are some of the highlights:

First some Voyage Statistics:

Year

2013 2014 Total
Miles Covered: 4,604 3,499 8,103
Days Voyaging: 142 145 187
Hours Motoring: 213 297 510
Fuel Consumed: 132 148 280
Approximate Miles per Gallon: 35 23 29
Number of Waypoints: 60 760 820
Number of nights spent at Anchor: 8 13 21
Number of countries visited: 5 8 13

 

The Best and Worst:

So, after a drink or three, Laurie and I sat in the cockpit one evening reviewing the highs and lows of the voyage…  Went something like this:

Favorite Destination:  Sao Jorge, Azores. Runners up: Dupjviken, Finland’s northern Fijord and Långskär, our first landfall in Sweden.   There are many other places that were favorites for other reasons – we really had some fantastic destinations throughout the voyage.

Favorite City: Gdansk, Poland

Crane Gate from Toodle-oo!

Crane Gate from Toodle-oo!

Most Stupid Event

  1. Hitting the rocks in Lagavulin
  2. Encouraging Bertie to tow us off the rocks in Lagavulin

Lagavulin - Not so good on the rocks! (Still a favorite.)

Lagavulin – Not so good on the rocks! (Still a favorite.)

Best sail: Mariehamn to Swedish Island Långskär (Closely followed by Kaslteholm to Mariehamn)

Favorite Anchorage: Enskär – the “Lost” Island

Dinner on the barbie

closely followed by Bergskär – First island in Finland (even if we did go aground!)

Most relaxing day:

Alone on the “Lost” Island – Enskär

Friendliest Nation: Scotland – hands down!

Nicest person/people we met:  Tough. We met so many really tremendous people all through this voyage. Tony and Rachell helped us into the ‘slip’ in Flores – and have become lifelong friends. Jenny and John of the OCC, John and Val on the Isle of Man who introduced us to the Green Flash. Tony at Adrfern who was always there, all the lock keepers along the Caledonian Canal, Leslie and Adrian aboard Lalize who will become lifelong friends, but the award goes to Gus and his team on Islay – who made a really nasty situation a really quite enjoyable event.

Gus, with Alec at the helm, towing Toodle-oo! up Loch Craignish

Gus, with Alec at the helm, towing Toodle-oo! up Loch Craignish

Lowest Point: For Laurie this was sitting in the cockpit in the car park at Ardfern, discussing the real possibility that we would not get to the Baltic.  For me: Our gybe between Fowey and Dartmouth – when I thought I’d ruined all chances of Laurie coming cruising with me because the whole event was so traumatic! (It’s not one of her high points either!)

Biggest Surprise: The long days and short, almost non-existent nights this year in the Baltic – which completely altered our cruising plans and enabled non-challenging overnight passages.

Biggest frustration:  Sevenstar Yacht Transport! However, in the end they came through and Toodle-oo! arrived safely in Newport – and on time.

Don't drop her please!

Don’t drop her please!

Best Harbormaster: Kastleholm in Finland, but Whilehills in Scotland gets a special mention as does Tony at Whitehaven who watched over Toodle-oo! last winter. Kastleholm won it though – by lending us the much needed Swedish Hook to allows us to secure to the Stern Mooring on our first attempt and by serving almost the best cinnamon buns in the morning. Which leads us to:

Best Cinnamon buns: Harlingen, Netherlands – special mention to Kastleholm!

Scariest Moments:

1. Out on deck in the middle of the night when running down wind in the Atlantic with poled out headsail, the boat started yawing side to side, threatening to bury the end of the pole in the water. We had to adjust the whole set-up on a pitching deck at night – and it was none too pleasant.

2. Day one on our passage from Boston to the Azores when sailing close hauled, we came upon a Fishing boat that we had real trouble making room for. Our mistake in not giving them room.

3. Mid North Sea Crossing (which we both thought was much easier than it turned out to be) had an interesting log entry: 15:00UTC on June 18th: Laurie’s comment in the log: “Flying and Scared Stiff” Sea height: “Big!”

Biggest Pain in the Butt: Getting laundry done

Worst general fear: Falling off the boat

Most enjoyable social event: Tony and Rachel’s OCC get-together in Dartmouth – small affair with current cruisers of great experience.     Runner up: Impromptu get together in Toodle-oo!’s cockpit in Dover with Dutch boats Bojangles and Wildeman – great fun!

Most expensive Harbor: Stockholm (Also had the worst harbor master!)

Best walks: Up Helvellyn in the UK’s Lake District

P1010702

and also Sao Jorge, a great downhill walk to meet Mike and Jane at an isolated restaurant.

P1000976

Least Expensive Harbor: Weymouth (given a freebee!)

Best Parallel Parking: Christianso, Denmark – coming alongside the harbor wall into a 48ft space – without hitting a thing!!

P1030142

Visby was actually just as tight – between two very expensive boats – but in fact one of them had to move a little to provide sufficient breathing space between it and our solar panels (which sit about 15 ft off the water – so you can tell how big the other boat was).

Best Cocktail:  Caipirinha in Sao Jorge – every bit as good as are found in Brazil!

Prettiest Sea:  Azores. Clear Blue – and full of Dolphins!

P1000804

Ugliest Sea: Irish Sea – grey and grows into a washing machine at the drop of a hat!

Worst Weather Encountered: Mid Atlantic we had the most dramatic – with 20ft following seas, however the Irish Sea was consistently the most uncomfortable sailing.

 

I’m sure there are many other highs and lows – but all in all, we’ve had a fantastic couple of years traipsing around at our own speed.

 

Not Quite Done…

The Hamble and the Royal Southern Yacht Club turned out to be an excellent stopover – and Tim (OCC Port Officer) was a tremendous help in securing a berth at a very good rate for us and ensuring we had everything we needed.

We cycled up to the Southampton Boat show and met the OCC crowd (John, Jenny, Rachel and Tony) once again and also visited various vendors – and spent a little too much!

What we really needed was confirmation from Sevenstar Yacht Transport of when Toodle-oo! was to be loaded and was she really going to Newport (as opposed to Baltimore as originally thought). Our answer came on Monday that we’d be loaded on Tuesday morning and would be sailing for Newport! – so we finished preparing her for shipment – removing sails, canvas and generally packing everything away.

We made it!

We made it!

On Tuesday morning we motored up to the ship and tied up alongside and watched a big power boat get lifted up. Our turn next – and it went as smooth as clockwork I’m pleased to report. Before saying goodbye to the ship and hello to a rental car, I confirmed with one of the crew that yes indeed the next port of call is Newport, with anticipated 12 day voyage…

 

Up Up and Away!

Up Up and Away!

Don't drop her please!

Don’t drop her please!

Quite a view from the stern!

Quite a view from the stern!

Now where? We have about 5 days before our flights out of the UK – me to India, Laurie back to the US to receive the boat. Hell, let’s go visit Stonehenge!

 

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Dorks at Stonehenge!

Dorks at Stonehenge!

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

OK, now where? Oh – let’s go and climb Snowdon – highest mountain in Wales. So we did!

 

It's that peak on the right? Ouch!

It’s that peak on the right? Ouch!

Placid lake

Placid lake

Our Route

Our Route

Another Summit!!

Another Summit!!

You mean we could have taken the Train???

You mean we could have taken the Train???

Take the money! Marker with coins...

Take the money! Marker with coins…

Ballerina Bill

Ballerina Bill

After Snowdon, we drove into Llanberis and found ourselves at a large old Hotel and were in the bar preparing for our dinner reservations when I got an email from Sevenstar. The ship is headed for Baltimore instead of Newport! This, 24 hours after she sailed out of Southampton!! Furious does not begin to cover how we feel – but we both know that the contract that we signed was so one sided that in reality they could drop her in Australia and we would have no comeback!

We started emailing around to locate a possible captain to meet Toodle-oo! and bring her to a suitable mooring – all rather difficult at short notice.

We headed north to Steve and Sue’s which we’d use as a base for the last couple of days in the UK – and from where we’d head to Leeds to meet sister Kate for lunch. Husband Dustin was recently diagnosed with Leukemia and has just undergone a massive chemo treatment. It was while waiting for Kate at the designated meeting spot that we got another email… The ship is going to Newport after Baltimore!!! Obviously this is great news – if we can really believe it – but it rather begs the question can Sevenstar plan their way out of a wet paper bag???

We’ve not heard any further information from Sevenstar – so today, our last full day, we’re headed off to see other sister – Ann – again for lunch! Yes, waistbands are once again expanding!!!

An interesting last week methinks!

 

And so we conclude…

We ended up staying in Yarmouth for over a week – a delightful town where we enjoyed some good entertainment – especially at Salty’s, a tiny little pub restaurant with a resident DJ who had the crowd dancing on the tables!! We cycled to Newport and Cowes and also over to the Needles – where surprisingly there’s an old rocket launching test site!!

Yarmouth's bustling downtown

Yarmouth’s bustling downtown

The Needles - From Land

The Needles – From Land

Laurie and I married in the Oldest pub in America (supposedly) - in Newport RI - so we had a couple at the Oldest pub in Newport, Isle of Wight...

Laurie and I married in the Oldest pub in America (supposedly) – in Newport RI – so we had a couple at the Oldest pub in Newport, Isle of Wight…

Tony and Rachel stopped into Yarmouth on their way out to Southampton for the boat show and then dragged us (very willingly) up the Solent to Newtown River – a bird sanctuary – where unfortunately all the moorings were taken and the anchorage was too tight. I did however try anchoring, but when I realized that at low tide we’d be high and dry, we upped anchor – unfortunately by hand since the bloody windlass gave up the ghost again!

We left Newtown and battled the current up to the Beaulieu river and gained a slip alongside Saltwhistle III for a couple of nights at Butler’s Hard, a few miles downstream from Beaulieu..

Beaulieu is a beautiful little village and we dingied up to tour around Lord Montague’s place – and the National Motor museum. Beaulieu is in the New Forest, where horses and donkeys range freely – buggering up traffic and scaring the visitors (well, Laurie at least!) – all good fun!

Pretty Beaulieu

Pretty Beaulieu

 

Typical house

Typical house

Lord Montague's Place

Lord Montague’s Place

 

Laurie and I married in the Oldest pub in America (supposedly) - in Newport RI - so we had a couple at the Oldest pub in Newport, Isle of Wight...

Laurie and I married in the Oldest pub in America (supposedly) – in Newport RI – so we had a couple at the Oldest pub in Newport, Isle of Wight…

Sweet!

Sweet!

Biters and Kickers!

Biters and Kickers!

Withies - navigation aids are painted twigs stuck in the river bank!

Withies – navigation aids are painted twigs stuck in the river bank!

The National Car Museum had a Top Gear section!

The National Car Museum had a Top Gear section!

Bloody Ponies

Bloody Ponies

Tomorrow we move to the Hamble River – having secured a berth for the next few nights at teh Royal Southern Yacht Club (don’t you know) courtesy of Tim Harrington, OCC Port Officer for the area – what a service!

In the Hamble, we’ll prepare Toodle-oo! for shipment by Yacht Transporter, back to Newport – where she will likely arrive before I return from a business trip to India.

 

We therefore conclude our cruise shortly – but look out for a list of the greats and not so greats of the cruise coming up!

 

Heading East

We dropped Steve and Sue off at the dock in Fowey where they had looming a rotten drive back to the Yorkshire Dales. Meanwhile we set plans to take advantage of the mild weather for a trip to Dartmouth – about 7 hours East of Fowey.

We came out of the Fowey harbor – into a grey day but very moderate seas and light winds on the beam. We were able to sail towards our destination – always a good thing! The winds were expected to die off considerably, so we were initially delighted that they stayed fresh for longer than expected. So much so that we arrived at the headland ‘Start Point’ 2 hours before the change in the tide – so we had adverse current against wind and therefore steepening seas, forcing us to go further offshore than planned. Then the winds got fresher – until we were fully reefed down and with reefed jib, in 33knots of wind and 6-8ft seas! It all rather got the better of us and we were forced to gybe in 30knots – a really scary prospect, and the execution was equally daunting, Laurie getting her hand bruised when it got trapped in a line. We finished the trip with just the reefed down main, doing 8.5knots – and arrived in Dartmouth as the evening closed in around us.

Dartmouth was in full swing for the annual regatta – and the harbor was packed. We took up a place on a raft of 5 other boats on the mid-stream buoys, lying alongside a 53ft Jeaneau, and licked our wounds. That had been the worst sail of the entire 2 year cruise!

 

Dartmouth was great! What a pretty town. In the morning we watched a tug of war between two row boats, in the afternoon we attended a really nice luncheon catered by OCC Port Officers Tony and Rachel and later watched some really good aeronautic displays, and then had the cat-bird seats for a fantastic firework display in the evening. The barge setting them off was just a couple of hundred feet from Toodle-oo!

 

Viewing Airshow from Dingy -  Toodle-oo! right behind the helicopter!

Viewing Airshow from Dingy – Toodle-oo! right behind the helicopter!

Picking up crew - RNLI fashion

Picking up crew – RNLI fashion

Raft-up - half of it!

Raft-up – half of it!

Dartmouth

Dartmouth

Dartmouth by dusk

Dartmouth by dusk

Paddle Steamer

Paddle Steamer

Leaving Dartmouth

Leaving Dartmouth

Pretty Town

Pretty Town

After Dartmouth, we headed further east towards the Solent, stopping at Weymouth for a night. Turned out to not be such an interesting town as the pilot led us to believe so in the morning we set off for Poole in Dorset. However, half way to Poole, I realized that by pure luck we had a fair tide that would carry us right into the Solent if we so choose – which indeed we did, passing by the Needles in the early afternoon with a 2 knot favorable current – and came into the delightful harbor of Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight – where we have remained for the last few days! It’s a very nice little harbor and town and we sit in the cockpit watching boats coming and going constantly.

Laurie wants to clean up the dirty lighthouse!!!

Laurie wants to clean up the dirty lighthouse!!!

The Needles - guarding the entrance to the Solent

The Needles – guarding the entrance to the Solent

English Channel

Sorry – it’s been a while… where were we?

Unlike the US, in Europe and the Baltic, the VHF radio is hardly used – so when on passage from Amsterdam I had spotted Bojangles’ AIS signal off our port side, and heading in our general direction, I had hailed them for a chat – to find out where they were going. Unfortunately the response was unintelligible due to interference from the large wind farms we were close to…

We had a memorable evening in Dover when Rob from Bojangles came to visit in the cockpit with his wife Baudine. They had been planning to sail on to the Isle of Wight, but had been turned back by the strong winds. Rob told us that he had thought we must be drug dealers or something and had warned Baudine to keep an eye on us during her watch! Then Coen and Harow came aboard from Wildeman – a boat we had met in Amsterdam while waiting for a lock – they were over ostensibly to talk tactics for heading west towards Falmouth – and the evening turned into a spontaneous drinking event – much fun for all!

The following day, all three boats waited till 6:00pm for a favorable tide to help us en route east. We came out of the harbor and the waves were still pretty steep from the previous day’s storm and we all set off close hauled, into the waves and had quite a time of it. Fortunately, the wind soon veered as forecast and we were able to make good progress east. The currents run pretty fast in the English Channel (2+ knots) and so we were going to enjoy them and hate them… On the morning of the second day, Laurie took her shift – at a time when we had an unfavorable current and the wind was from the west, so we were not able to make any headway towards our destination. I was awoken mid morning with the start of the engine – Laurie had had enough! In the 4+ hours she’d been at the helm she’d only made 9 miles good – so goddamit we were going to use the engine to make some progress!

Thanks to the non arrival of some strong westerlies (and use of aforementioned engine!), we arrived in Falmouth almost a day earlier than expected and after a brief attempt at anchoring in a stupidly constrained anchorage, we took a mooring for the night – alongside Rachel and Tony’s Saltwistle III, whom we’d last seen in the Azores!

We were in Falmouth for several good reasons – it’s the usual jumping off point for boats travelling across the Bay of Biscay – or to the Azores (our planned next passage). It was also where the OCC was having a celebratory dinner – and Steve and Sue were joining us for a week aboard.

Plans change and it was on our second day in Falmouth that I came to my senses and realized that it made much more sense to have Toodle-oo! shipped back to the US rather than take several months to sail her back in stages. She is our home – and having her available to us while we go back to work in the US this winter makes more sense… So we started investigating shipping companies…

 

The OCC event was at the Royal Cornish Yacht Club (don’t you know) – and was all rather laa-di-da – but it was great to catch up with Commodore John and his wife Jenny whom we’d missed in the Baltic.

Steve and Sue arrived with the rain – but it didn’t dampen our ability to enjoy the week and we took a double tandem ride around the coast and also utilized their transportation to visit Port Isaac – location of Port Wenn for any watchers of the British serial ‘Doc Martin.’

We sailed with Steve and Sue to Fowey (pronounced Foy!) in relatively light winds which forced us to motor about half the way but we enjoyed the very pretty little town for the remainder of Steve and Sue’s visit and also took a ride to the Eden Project – some bio-domes with rain forest and Mediterranean environments.

The Cornish towns are very picturesque – tucked along the shoreline with tiny winding streets and odd angled cottages stacked one on top of another – we had great fun exploring each of them.

By the end of the week, we had established a plan to ship Toodle-oo! home – so will now head back east(!) to Southampton when she’ll depart from.

 

Cornish Village

Cornish Village

Tiny bay - water is COLD!!!

Tiny bay – water is COLD!!!

Big Tides (16ft)

Big Tides (16ft)

Falmouth Harbor

Falmouth Harbor

Grey day in Falmouth

Grey day in Falmouth

Windy!

Windy!

Amsterdam

After Harlingen, we motored out into the Ocean into the first possible wind window – it would only be building to a little over 15 knots instead of the 25 knots it had been blowing – directly on the nose. I say Ocean with a little tongue in cheek – we had to go at high tide in order to be able to sail/motor the narrow course to the lock opening for the Ijsselmeer some couple of hours south. The wind made everything a little lumpy but we managed.

Once we locked through into the Ijsselmeer, we found ourselves sailing close hauled doing 7.5 – 8 knots in just 2.3 – 3.3 meters of water – all rather scary, but one gets surprisingly used to it! The weather was good so it ended up being a very enjoyable sail – and as we approached Amsterdam, the wind conveniently shifted to allow us to sail pretty much as far as we would have wanted to.

We then motored up the somewhat deeper canal to first a bridge – at which we had to wait, immediately followed by a lock – where we had to wait again. There were hordes of boats waiting to lock through – and in the end when they started letting everyone through, it was a mad dash to get in – but we didn’t!

Crush to get into the lock

Crush to get into the lock

We made the next lock however and made the biggest hash of it you can possibly imagine – failing to secure lines to the windward wall – despite the “help” of a lock steward (who was completely f&*%ing useless!) – we were immediately blown onto the tinniest little boat leeward of us and had no chance of making everything right – and the Steward apparently thought all was good – anyway, we held on for the 10 minutes or so (felt like hours) that it took for the lock to finally open and rushed through with tail twixt legs.

We were going to try to moor in the famous Sixthaven marina but took a quick look at the tight entrance and decided prudence dictated we should head for the “New” marina up the way. So new in fact that they show up on the chart as 4 meter deep clear water! Turned out to be the best marina we’d stayed in all year with fantastic facilities and a free water taxi ride into Amsterdam – and cheaper than most marinas we’d been in all year!

We only had one evening in Amsterdam – but we made the most of it. What a great city – but crowded like you cannot imagine. We wandered the canals and of course the Red Light zone (though Laurie wouldn’t let me go there after dark!) and after an OK meal we ended the night at a tiny little pub ‘Olofspoort’ where they were playing live jazz – reminiscent of what you’d hear in New Orleans. The place was dated as 1610, but apparently the cellar dates back to 1300! I enjoyed some Scotch while Laurie sampled the Dutch equivalent – all very entertaining! https://www.facebook.com/Olofspoort/photos_stream

Crowded Amsterdam

Crowded Amsterdam

Interesting Canals

Interesting Canals

And Architecture

And Architecture

Amsterdam3 Amsterdam4

Ahh - how sweet!

Ahh – how sweet!

Amsterdam5

 

They certainly like to commute on bicycles!

Multi-story bike park

Multi-story bike park

Enjoying Whisky of one sort or another at Olofspoort!

Enjoying Whisky of one sort or another at Olofspoort!

Unfortunately, once again our visit to an interesting spot was cut short due to weather considerations – a window was opening the following day for the trip to England – if we didn’t go now, we’d be stuck for more days than our GRIB files covered… So reluctantly we pushed off the following morning at 10am – after a quick sojourn to the city again for breakfast, some bread and the posting of Matthew’s postcard!

 

The passage to England was tiring. We had to negotiate the shipping lanes while sailing in pretty heavy weather (20 – 25 knots, 6 – 8 ft seas) with two reefs in the main and our small jib furled. As we passed Rotterdam we were in touch with their Pilot Control – who had us follow a specific course – and kept the big guys off our tail. I wasn’t too thrilled with their directions – but in the end they certainly proved correct. During the night we had to thread our way between two wind farms – which turned into three wind farms as we approached – we got waaay too close to the uncharted windmills of the third farm – scary stuff!

We crossed the busy shipping lanes in the early morning with not much fuss – with another sailboat ‘Bojangles’ close by. I managed to take a nap and when I got back up after a couple of hours, was delighted to find that Laurie had managed to keep Bojangles behind us!

White Cliffs of Dover

White Cliffs of Dover

Ok Honey! - it was a long night last night...

Ok Honey! – it was a long night last night…

Unfortunately we only made it as far as Dover, with heavy wind on the nose forecast, there wasn’t any reasonable chance of us making Southampton. We’re now in the Marina and will be here while a Force 8 gale blows through today. Hope to leave Monday evening for a 2 day trip west to Falmouth – into the wind the whole way, but hopefully able to sail a close-hauled route most of the 300+ miles.