Monthly Archives: September 2016

Abrupt End!

We had a long boring “sail” back west from Shelburne – left with a short weather window that had us pounding into big seas with not much wind, followed by slightly lower seas and a little wind. The swell is up because of a hurricane burning itself out just south of New England. If we didn’t take the window as presented, it looked like there’d be strong westerly winds for the next 7 days straight – keeping us in Shelburne…

3 days later, with another 65 hours on the engine, we were through the Cape Cod Canal and anchoring for an evening stop in Cuttyhunk.

The following morning, we weighed anchor at about 9:00am and set off for Newport. The wind was in our face at 15 knots or so, but we decided to sail rather than bash into it with the engine – and lo and behold a C&C 40 came out of Cutty at the same time under full sail. It was a race!

The C&C is something of a performance boat so despite being slightly smaller, we were nicely matched… She pointed higher than us, but speed was similar. As we headed on our first tack towards land, the winds began to drop a little so I decided to tack out to sea – the C&C kept going. We stayed on this tack for 8 – 10 miles and then the wind began to slacken so once again we tacked. I’d lost sight of the C&C in the haze, but sure enough, an hour or so later, there she was tacking towards us. We had not lost ground to her and were within a quarter mile. As we again tacked towards open water, the swell was right on our nose – and Toodle-oo! managed the swells rather better, so that by the time the wind died again and we’d decided to make another tack, we’d pretty much drawn level with her – though she was to windward of us still. Shortly after tacking, the C&C also tacked – we’re side by side, separated by maybe 1000 yards.

Then we got lucky!  We got an enormous lift – such that whereas I thought we were going to have to make another pair of tacks to make it into Newport, we were now heading directly for the entrance buoy at Bretton Reef. Then we got luckier still with another lift, which allowed us to ease sails just a little bit and we started to pull away from the C&C. Race won!

We arrived in Newport and tied up at Fort Adams where a Border Patrol guy came and checked us in, then we headed to the anchorage and as soon as it was set, the dinghy was launched and we were on our way for cocktails at 41 North!

Saturday morning, we headed to Bristol where we planned to anchor and then go to “Seniors Day” at Neal’s house. However, as we’re motoring in the flat calms, Laurie decided to pull up a floorboard to get some cleaning supplies and discovers that we’re leaking – fast! The seal around the propshaft has failed and we’re letting in lots of water whenever the prop is turning. We immediately called NEB (where we were planning to haul out next week anyway) and arranged to be hauled immediately. One hour after discovering the leak, we had loaded dinghy aboard, lowered both headsails, reversed into the travel lift and were now on the hard, no longer sinking! We made it to Senior Day just an hour or so later than planned. Amazing to think that just 8 days ago we were in St. Pierre!

Strange end to a wonderful summer voyage!

We’ll be living at the top of steps for a few days, getting the leak repaired and various other boat projects done and then we’ll begin our trip south – current plan: New York – Annapolis – Bermuda – Bahamas – Cuba and then on south through the Panama Canal and maybe all the way to Patagonia…



Sleigh Ride

We left St. Pierre on a dreary Thursday afternoon headed towards Shelburne on the southern tip of Nova Scotia some 350 miles distant with a weather forecast that predicted very light winds for 12 hours from the south, becoming stronger which on Friday night was to turn to 20 – 25 knots from the north. After that the winds would diminish and become sort of easterly. With the exception of the start, it looked like a reasonable weather forecast and our plan was to head west with the light wind and then south west along the coast of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia…

Initially there was indeed no wind and we motored for 9 hours until we were able to sail and with the wind coming from the north (somewhat unexpectedly). It was quite a boring ride and the swells were significant, so not very comfortable.

On Friday we decided that since our forecast tools were not the best, we ought to be cautious so Laurie suggested that we at least prepare the storm sail. We have a dedicated (movable) stay for the storm sail which we have never used (and I suspect the previous owners didn’t either). So we rigged the stay and prepared to hank on the sail – we’ve never hanked on a sail either – but have seen countless boats with sails hanked on and bagged at the bottom of the stay, ready for deployment – so we figured we’d have a go. It’s a good thing we started early – as it took us a while to figure everything out – including re-bagging the sail into a larger bag – for easier deployment should the need arise. By the time we’d finished, the wind was up and the swells were getting uncomfortable. Working on the foredeck in these conditions is not my cup of tea.

Shortly afterwards, we reefed the main, quickly followed by changing from Genoa to Jib, followed by second reef in main, followed by third reef in main (never deployed that either!), followed by raising the storm jib, followed by complete dousing of the main! Wow! We turned the boat due south to run with the wind which was now a constant 38 – 40 knots, gusts to 45+. We’d done pretty much all we could and so went below and shut the doors!

For 9 hours the winds maintained 38 – 42 knots, finally dropping to an easy 32 knots as morning arrived. The waves had built to 4 – 5 meters and we were running with them. The boat was maintain 8 – 10 knots – fast but in control – though at times we’d take a wave on the beam with a massive crash and lurch to port which was unnerving to say the least. And we’re planning to head to Patagonia????

The storm took us well south of our intended route, so on Saturday we had to come west, but fortunately the seas had calmed completely (we find this amazing!) and the sun was out and we had a reasonable sail in until the wind died again and the engine was once again called for.

We made it to Shelburne in one piece on Sunday afternoon, took a mooring and started drinking heavily!!!


Plan is to leave Shelburne today (Tuesday) with a forecast of light winds and big seas, headed for Newport. It’ll be an uncomfortable sail, but hopefully not too scary!




(The previous post should have come after this one!)

Francois (pronounced – and even spelled – Fransway by the locals), has been our favorite spot in Newfoundland so far.

We left Ramea at 6:30am and headed east. There was no wind and we ended up motoring the entire way – nearly 30 miles. The pretty sunrise quickly gave way to grey skies so it turned cold – but as the morning wore on, the cloud dissipated and by the time we arrived close to Francois, we were being treated to marvelous views of the dramatic rocky coastline with glacial valleys tumbling out to the sea. The arrival is dramatic – a narrow entrance with lighthouse overlooking, which from the sea gives you just a glimpse of the Outport within. Steep sides plunge down into the sea but after just a mile or so, there you are in a basin with the little Francois community clinging to its sides.

Entrance to Francois

Entrance to Francois

Rugged Coastline

Rugged Coastline

A visiting yacht dock is well placed and we were able to easily tie up on the starboard side with an Aluminum boat ‘Malekula’ already resting on the port side. Janice from Malekula’ was there to greet us and hand our lines – hardly necessary in the well protected bay, but appreciated nonetheless.

What stunning views! The massive rock face (The Friar) at the head of the bay, towering over Toodle-oo!, a waterfall burbling in the center of the village supplied by the lake on top which represents their drinking water supply.

We quickly secured the boat and went exploring – taking advantage of the beautiful day.

Francois is completely isolated, with the only access via boat and a ferry provides a daily service to Burgeo and Grey River. The town feels similar to LaPoile, but the people are younger and more outgoing. We were stopped by Eric and Sharon as we passed their house, who enquired about the likely outcome of the US election! We chatted with them for a while, learning that

Lying under the Friar

Lying under the Friar

there’s a boardwalk up in the hills which takes you to a lookout point high above the fjord. So, after walking around town a little, we made our way up to the top – following the very steep boardwalk past the cemetery (tough to get coffins up there!) and out onto the tundra. A large pond at the top is fed by a large cascading waterfall which in turn tumbles down a cascade towards the village.



More Boardwalk

More Boardwalk

The boardwalk to the top was easily visible, so up we went – what a magnificent view at the top!

If the weather holds tomorrow, we’re going to attempt to get to the top of The Friar but the described path is difficult to pick out in the overgrown vegetation.

We spent an enjoyable evening with our neighbors Janice and Jim – the first sailboat we’ve had contact with since arriving in Newfoundland. Managed to convince them to join the OCC – so done my part there!

The following day was wet. We used it to do some boat chores and Laurie is still battling to get us some medical insurance – all made rather difficult with the weakest internet signal imaginable…and requiring one to sit outside the Francois Museum (not open as far as we could tell)!

Day three was rather better so we made an attempt to get to the top of the Friar. We followed the boardwalk up to the pond and scanned for a viable path. In the end we decided to make our own route – which ended up with us clambering up granite rocks and boulders and really getting more into mountaineering than hiking! All rather scary as there was a definite possibility of stepping on something and breaking through between rocks and breaking a leg! However, we managed to scramble to the top of the first bluff only to realize that our path to the Friar now required a descent and re-ascent through thick undergrowth! We opted to go the other way and ended up going over to the top lake and watching the marvelous cascade down to the lower lake. Fortunately, there was an overgrown path to follow down, so our trip back was easier.

Top Lake and Cascade

Top Lake and Cascade

Tiny Francois

Tiny Francois

We had a new neighbor now – a 40ft trawler owned by a local that maintains a house in Francois, but flies helicopters. He was quite interesting as he not only flies transmission lines, he’s also flown President George Bush Snr. Up to Francois a couple of times and has flown for the Extreme Sports Cable network! Interesting fellow!

We left Francois in glorious sunshine – a really picture perfect location – at least during the summer months – and headed towards Hare Bay/Morgans Arm – supposedly another magical spot with large waterfalls and uninhabited. It was a good job that Hare Bay is close, as the wind did not come up and it was a nasty ride with a big swell. However, as we doused the main (which had been up just to limit the rocking action), the wind came up and we ended up motoring up Hare Bay with 25 knots gusting to 35 right on the nose!  This is not what we were hoping for. We managed to get to the head of the bay and anchored in 20ft and 25knots – fortunately, our set was rock solid, we never budged an inch.

We were indeed in a pretty bay with 3 large waterfalls, but because of the weather, we weren’t really able to enjoy it all properly. We left the following morning quite early – headed for France! Actually a couple of French Islands just 70 miles south – St. Pierre and Miquelon… We had a fantastic sailing day the entire way!

As you will have read, St. Pierre can be windy too!