The "Live-Anywhere" Boat - The Trip South, 2012-13, Part I, Chebeague to Bermuda
Updated January 18, 2013

Sunset the Night We Moved Aboard
One nice day in November we drove Barbara into Portland to fill our fuel tanks at Vessel Services. From then on our days were taken up with work in the shop, installation on the boat, and trips to the Stone Wharf (ferry landing) where we loaded stuff that was too heavy or bulky to be transferred conveniently by dinghy: cases of wine, the panels for the guest cabin overhead, prefabricated units eiether in kit form or ready to install.
Fort Gorges in Portland Harbor

The days were getting colder, but Barbara really wanted to sing in the Whalers' winter concert, so we hung on, taking comfort in the fact that the water temperature was still 44 (F). One day it snowed; the snow did not last, but it was a sign.

Finally the concert was over and we could start in earnest loading food and clothing. Clothes are actually a problem because we need warm clothes for the north (we still needed to be in Connecticut for Christmas) and cooler clothes for the hot weather in the Caribbean.


Loading the Truck -- A Bit Like Okies

On the 11th we moved aboard the boat so that we could shut up the house and, turn off the water. We winterized her mooring and anchored off the Stone Wharf for the night so as not to have to bother with the stony beach every time we went ashore. We loaded two more truckloads, did last minute chores, and on the 12th we weighed anchor and left so as to make the start of the ebb tide at the Cape Cod Canal.
Anchored Off the Stone Wharf

Sometimes this first stage of the trip has been quite rough, but this time it was very pleasant. What sea there was was quartering, so we had an easy ride. Just south of the Boston shipping lanes we met a large school of porpoises, large and small, who played around the boat, riding the bow pressure wave, for almost ten minutes. We took this as a good omen.
The Entrance to the Cape Cod Canal


Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge

We arrived at the entrance to the canal just after daylight, and just as the favoring ebb was beginning.

The railroad bridge was open as usual, but we remembered the time we heard a warning from the Canal Control that it was about to close (for an excursion train, we think). On our appeal the Control Officer said he would hold it open for us, so we steamed through as fast as we could, in front of a locomotive stopped only inches (it seemed) from the end of the tracks.

We went on down Buzzard's Bay and stopped in a little cove we have used before that is beautifully sheltered from the north and had a very quiet night.


Storm in Guilford

In the morning we got underway and had an uneventful trip to Stonington, where we anchored inside the breakwater. The next day was forecast to be windy, with a a gale warning, so we decided to stay put. We saw 25-30 knot winds and lots of rain, so we were pleased we waited. The next day (by now Dec. 17th) we started early and ran to Guilford, Connecticut, arriving as the tide was quite high but still rising, a timing I thought prudent given the nature of Guilford's West River.
A Pair of Swans Cruising Through the Flooded Landscape


The Morning We Left Guilford

Just before Christmas we had a southeast gale. We saw 45-knot gusts and the whole area was flooded for a long time before and after high tide. But we were quite safe and comfortable. There was a similar scenario a couple of days after Christmas; the road out was well covered, so we had to consider the tide whenever we left the boat.
A Tanker Helped by Tugs in New Haven

We were delighted that our daughter Anne had some extra time at Christmas and was able to come and stay with us on the boat.

We stayed until Anne had to leave, which was a good idea, as the weather was not really very good. Long Island Sound, shallow as it is, can develop a nasty chop if the wind and tide do not cooperate. We left Guilford on the 30th, after a snowstorm and just as the river was beginning to freeze.

There was still a good sea running, so we decided to pull into New Haven to wait it out. We had intended to spend at least part of our Connecticut time in New Haven, but the city's charge for the use of its dock is so out of line that we declined.


Industrial Geometry in New Haven Harbor

The next day, New Year's Eve, was much better, so we ran up the Sound and anchored between City Island and Hart Island, as we have before. We were entertained by the constant procession of tug/barge units carrying heating oil and gasoline to New Haven and the rest of New England. We decided to lay over a day again in New Haven so as to have better weather for the run down the New Jersey coast.
Franklin Reinauer Passing Us Near Execution Rocks

So we spent new Year's Day on the hook in New Haven Harbor, doing chores on the boat and finishing the last web update. The next day we ran down through New York Harbor, passing under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge at 15:09, and by 8:00 in the morning we were at the Cape May sea buoy. I tried to take a picture of the pilothouse at night, but with limited success.

I was a little concerned that the Cape May Canal might have suffered from Sandy, but we saw no damage there and it certainly does cut off some distance. We had a nice peaceful run up Delaware Bay to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.


Pilothouse at Night at Sea

This is where the tug/barges come to get their oil, and we passed several, empty ones going north or anchored waiting for a berth, and full ones coming south, heading for New England. There is a good deal of ship traffic, as well; all the traffic from Europe bound for Baltimore comes this way, just as we did.
Ship John Shoal Light

In the C & D Canal we had a moment of anxiety, as we heard the radio conversation between the canal control and the tanker Sychem Hawk entering the canal from the other end. The canal is wide enough for us to pass, but I was not looking forward to it. I spoke to the pilot and we had a plan worked out, but in the event we made it to the Corps of Engineers basin at Chesapeake City just before the tanker passed.
Tug With a Loaded Oil Barge in Front of the Salem Nuclear Plant

At Chesapeake City we were met by our friend Buddy Shepard, the Dockmaster, who had heard our conversation with the tanker and came to take our lines and visit. As always, he made us feel very welcome. Unlike New Haven, Chesapeake City has a free dock for visitors.
Sychem Hawk Passing Our Berth in Chesapeake City

Shortly after we arrived we also saw the huge car-carrier Curitiba pass the mouth of the basin. Later we were to see her again in Baltimore Harbor.

We had dinner in the bar of the Chesapeake Inn, where it was happy hour and oysters were half-price, so Barbara had oysters and I had a burger, and we watched a little football and talked to the other people, who were mostly local.


The Car Carrier Curitiba Passing

In the morning we got underway for Baltimore, arriving at Harbor East Marina about 16:30. The next day my brother and his wife came for drinks on the boat and dinner in a local Irish pub. They also brought us our forwarded mail, so we dealt with bills and such.
Baltimore Harbor

We had to wait for a new fan for my computer, so we walked around Baltimore a little, did some shopping, and spent more time with family.

Baltimore has done a very good job of making the Inner Harbor, which is no longer commercially viable, into an attractive area that is used constantly by many many people.


The Cutter Taney

There are restaurants, stores, tourist attractions like the National Aquarium, dinner cruisers, marinas, and a path all the way around right next to the water. The path is much used by walkers, joggers, or simply as a shortcut from here to there.
Baltimore's Inner Harbor is a Vibrant Place

We made an excursion to a nearby commercial center to visti a hardware store we knew of, and we took advantage of its proximity to go to the Cross Street Market for lunch, where Barbara again had oysters at Nick's.

Our way took us by one of the earliest attractions of the harbor, its collection of historic ships. Constellation is a veteran of the War of 1812, Chesapeake is the lightship that used to mark the shoals off the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, Torsk is a WW II submarine, and Taney, a retired high-endurance Coast Guard cutter, is said to be the last survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack.


Constellation, A Veteran of the War of 1812

The harbor is also home to a former power plant, a great building with some of the piping and boilers still intact inside it, that now houses a Barnes and Noble and a Hard Rock Cafe.
Lightship

Tuesday morning, January 8th, dawned sunny and cold. Window-pane ice had made overnight and it was comical to see the seagulls land on it and skid for a while before they stopped. They stood around on the ice as though they did not know what to make of it, and one stood first on one leg, then on the other, tucking the unused leg up into his feathers for warmth.
Dragon Pedal Boats


Seagulls Standing on the Ice

Our package had arrived on the Monday, and Tuesday morning, my brother brought the part down to the boat. Five minutes later we were taking in lines. The ice crunched under Barbara's stern as we backed away from the float, but we got ourselves turned around and headed back down the Patapsco River toward Chesapeake Bay and the sea.
Sparrow's Point Steel Mill - Soon to be Razed

We ran all night down the bay, staying out of the way of the ship traffic bound up for Baltimore, and at dawn we were off the "CH" sea buoy at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. The weather was beautiful, the sea calm, but as we headed out for the Gulf Stream we heard a navy patrol plane talking to Amethyst Ace, a few miles ahead of us. The navy controller said they were running right into a live-fire missile exercise, and required them to run due south for 20 miles before proceeding.
Barbara on Watch

Of course we thought we were next, but when we got to Amethyst Ace's position we didn't get a call, so either the exercise was over or we were too small to worry about. In any case we went on our way unconcerned and unbothered. There was quite a lot of ship traffic, and we sometimes altered course a little to increase the distance between ourselves and another ship.
The High-Tech Reefer Ship Luzon Strait

Once offshore we had good radio contact with our old friend Herb Hilgenberg, who confirmed what we thought, that the weather would be good all the way to Bermuda except for one front, that would produce a wind shift but would not otherwise bother us. We had a long easy swell that spoke of some far away or long-gone storm, and a little wind chop on top of it. Sometimes a resonance would bring a couple of steeper seas in a row and we would do two or three deep snap rolls, then back to our normal easy motion.
The Post Office, St. George's

On Friday the 11th we turned off the diesel heater, and on Saturday night at 20:00 we were alongside for customs in St. George's Harbor. After the formalities we moved along the Ordnance Island quay until we were next to the bridge, secured the boat and stopped the engine for the first time since leaving Baltimore.
Barbara In Her Accustomed Spot Just Ahead of the Pilot Boat

It is always nice after a trip that we can both sleep at the same time.

We heard Bermuda Radio talking to the famous training ship Christian Radich and Monday morning she arrived in the harbor and berthed at Penno's Wharf, about where we were berthed last spring. She is quite a sight to see. Her young crew bustled about the main deck getting lines out and attending to fenders while her cruise passengers were confined to an upper deck and out of the way.


Christian Radich Entering the Harbor

Monday night our friends Steve and Suzanne Hollis joined us for drinks on the boat, and the next night we went to their new house for dinner in celebration of the re-activation of their oven. It is always good to see them, and we always seem to have a lot to talk about. The talk and wine went on into the evening and even into the early morning, and I have to admit I didn't get up very early the next day.

We had heard that our usual berth was ready for us in Dockyard, and the next day we took in our lines about 13:00 and headed west to the other end of the country.


Alongside at Penno's Wharf


Gateway in St. George's




To see our track in Google Earth click:
here for Chebeague to Guilford
here for Guilford to Baltimore
here for Baltimore to Bermuda


Part II

Home