The "Live-Anywhere" Boat - The Trip South, 2011, Part I, Chebeague to New Haven
Updated November 30, 2011
Of course the day did come when the preparations were finally over and we could leave when the weather suited. But first I have to back up and tell a story that comes from our return from Rockland in August. It was a foggy day but not really thick and shortly after we passed Pemaquid Point we began to hear some familiar names on the VHF, and some not so familiar: Sumurun, Scheherazade, Whisper, Whitehawk, Virago, Isobel. Soon we saw them, these enormous yachts evidently in a race, sliding out of Boothbay Haarbor toward the end of Damariscove Island.
Loading the Boat - Tucked in Between the Ferry and a Lobster Catcher

The Chebeague Foreside Just Below Capps' Point

We held up at the Sheepscot River buoy so as to be out of the way of Sumurun as she rounded the mark. Quite a sight!

Back on Chebeague Barbara made a last trip to Cambridge to take notes at Harvard while I took the boat into Portland for bunkers. Wwe moved aboard on the 9th and continued the work of loading the boat and packing up the house. This was a bigger job this year than usual because we are having work done this winter, and some books had to be packed away so the work could proceed.

Schooners at the Gloucester Marine Railway

We had the first fire in our new woodstove and didscovered it made the boat nice and warm (surprise!). It looks rusty in the pictures, but that is a function of the light - it really isn't.

Finally the storms offshore went away, the swell diminished, and early in the morning of the 16th we dropped the mooring and slipped down the coast of Chebeague for the last time until Spring. Our plan was to spend the first night in Gloucester, then see what the weather had in store for us, and a secondary plan was to go further by way of Marblehead, where we would have someone from Hansen Marine take a look at our generator, which was still not acting quite right.
We called Fred Knowles at Hansen and he agreed to look at our set around noon the next day, so we anchored in Gloucester after dark and set out the next forenoon for the 2-hour run to Marblehead. Fred came aboard almost instantly after we were tied up, spent about an hour with us, replaced a couple parts, and gave me some very welcome hints about operation and maintenance. The genset has performed beautifully ever since.

We stayed in Marblehead that night, then set out in a generally southerly direction. The Buzzard's Bay forecast for the next few days was southwesterly winds at 25-30 knots, and from experience I knew that the Bay would be quite lumpy with that wind, so we decided to stop over in Plymouth, where Barbara had never been, until the weather looked better.

Barbara's New Stove

Barbara in Plymouth

Plymouth Street Scene

The way into Plymouth is a long winding channel and we wondered how the Pilgrims ever made it up into Plymouth, but maybe some questions are better left unasked. We made it safely and found a berth just across a cove from the Mayflower II. I enjoyed seeing her, largely because I had read Alan Villiers' story about sailing her across the Atlantic. As we checked into the marina, Janet, the lovely office manager, told us the next day (Saturday) was to be the annual Thanksgiving celebration and parade, and indeed it was.
Plymouth - Nice Belfry

The parade must have had 40 marching bands, drum-and-bugle corps, etc, several teams of draft horses pulling wagons, floats, everything one could want. It went on for hours. There was also a fly-over by a gigantic Air Force C5A from near-by Westover airbase, and several volleys from a battery of three 105 mm. howitzers from a local Army Reserve unit.

These guns caused us some consternation - when I looked out the window while drinking my morning coffee I saw them set up on a point of land just across a small cove from our berth. They appeared to be aimed directly at us! My first thought was: "We didn't mean it! And it probably wasn't even us!"

The 105mm Howitzers Arrayed Against Us

Happily the gunners eventually swung the pieces around so they pointed out past us.

We watched the parade, or at least most of it, and later wandered through a "historic village" set up in a park. There were men and women in colonial costume, an encampment of Union troops (from the Civil War), a World War I Coast Artillery machine gun nest, and a blacksmith with a portable forge. Some of the re-enacters were more hard-core than others and slept in their pup tents and ate food cooked over an open fire.

There was also by the shore, in addition to the modern howitzers, a small Revolutionary-era field gun, tended by men in smart blue uniforms, that fired frequent salutes.

Mayflower II Just Across From Barbara's Berth

There were also tents with food, tents with games for children, and tents with yet more music. It was, in short, a Very Big Deal, and the annual planning must take up the time of a LOT of people.

We were very glad to have arrived at just this moment, and we stayed one more day to rest and wait until the wind swung around to the northeast, so it was a gray Monday morning when we found our way back out the channel and set out for the eastern end of the Cape Cod Canal. We hit the Canal with the tide still with us and made good time through it (since the tide in the canal can run up to 3 knots it's no fun going against it).

Revolutionary War Artillery and Young Gunners

The Rhode Island - Connecticut coast is not very well provided with harbors that we can fit into, so even though it was only just after 1:00 when we reached the mouth of Buzzard's Bay, we decided to put into a little cove where we have anchored before, in the lee of Mishaum Point, instead of going on to Pt. Judith.

The next day we thought the ebb from Long Island Sound would hold us back, but instead we received a lift from the Buzzard's Bay tide, so we were in a good frame of mind as we slogged along the featureless Massachusetts and Rhode Island coasts. We left our anchorage at 7:15, and by 2:10 were anchored in the outer harbor at Stonington, Connecticut.

The Village Blacksmith (BNP Photo)

We were in a little quandary, because the later we left Stonington, the better our tide situation in Long Island Sound would be, but we did not want to arrive in tiny Guilford harbor in the dark, so we compromised and left at 9:30, but the gods were not finished with us. We have stayed several years running in Guilford, Connecticut, at Brown's Boatyard, where I once kept a sailboat in my much younger days. This is a very sheltered spot within easy walking distance of my sister's house, so it is very convenient.

This day, however, Dave from the boatyard finally returned my several calls, with bad news: all his docks were full and there was no room for us! Well, this was not good, because Barbara had hoped to spend at least a week at the Yale Library, and we were looking forward to spending time with my sister and her husband.

Seasoned Union Troops and New Recruits (BNP Photo)

I did try other places, most notably Brewer's Bruce and Johnson marina in Branford, the next town, but the woman who answered the phone could not be bothered to look out the window or walk down the dock to see if there was space for us.

So the afternoon before Thanksgiving Day we decided to go on into New Haven Harbor, where I knew we could anchor in Morris Cove and find shelter, even in the dark, and we would figure out a way to get Barbara to the library. We did this, then found an unguarded internet connection which gave me a chance to look at a site called "Active Captain" that is like a waterway guide but kept up to date by users.

One of Many Fife and Drum Corps (BNP Photo)

Lucy Reinauer With Oil For New England

There I found a reference to the "Amistad Dock" which turned out to be what was known as "Long Wharf" when I was a boy, probably because it is over 200 yards long. We pulled in there and settled in. They were closed for the season, but we made an arrangement with the Dockmaster, which was easier to do because we do not need services like electricity or water. New Haven has foolishly cut itself off from its waterfront with highways, but there are numerous underpasses and pretty good busses, so the wharf is a good berth for us.
Just Off Wooster Square in New Haven

It is a very short walk from our berth to Wooster Square (named for a Revolutionary general), the heart of New Haven's "Little Italy." We went to Sally's, a temple of pizza, one night, and generally enjoyed walking around the neighborhood. We also enjoyed seeing the maneuverings of the tugs and big ships in this busy commercial harbor.
Ocean Morning Working Her Way Into a Berth Behind Us

Sunset Under Our New Haven Wharf

Tug/barge combinations have almost entirely replaced the small tankers that used to carry fuel along the coast, principally because the manning requirements are much lower. The daily procession of these huge units, each carrying 100,000 to 150,000 barrels of oil, is a testimony to the New England thirst for heating oil and gasoline, and the need for jet fuel at Bradley Field and Westover Airbase. Greenland Sea, Lucy Reinauer, Gulf Service, the list goes on and on.

On good days our wharf is much frequented by fishermen and others just looking to get close to the water.

Photoshoot on the Foredeck

One fine Saturday afternoon we noticed a model and photographer on the wharf, and within a few minutes the Art Director, a sprightly young woman, asked if they could take some shots on the boat. We had no objection (they were pleasant young people), so for about a half-hour Barbara's foredeck was the location of a photo shoot. A few days later it was the turn of a group of young men who wanted to shoot a cameo video. Such is the yachting life!

Once through (actually under) the barrier imposed by I-95 and its tributaries, this corner of New Haven is becoming much more lively and interesting than I remember it as being. There are restaurants of almost every persuasion, for example, and an old firehouse converted into a jazz club. We are enjoying exploring the area, although Barbara is spending most of her time at Yale, a couple miles away in the center of town.

St. Michael's in Wooster Square, New Haven

Industrial Archaeology - An Old Powerplant

Video Cameo on the Foredeck

Part II

To see our track in Google Earth click:
here for Chebeague to Gloucester
here for Gloucester to New Haven