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LABOR DAY WEEKEND CRUISE: Lasers and Dogs From Outer Space

Tue, 2014-09-02 17:47

As is traditional, our annual Labor Day excursion got off to a late start. But after we finally dropped Lunacy‘s mooring pennant in Portland harbor on Saturday afternoon, we instantly found ourselves embroiled in the Laser Atlantic Coast Championship Regatta (see photo up top), which was quite exciting. As far as I know we didn’t actually get in anyone’s way.

If you were there racing that day and have a different opinion, please feel free to correct me on that.

Due to lack of time we didn’t get too far after we extracted ourselves from the race fleet. I thought Cliff Island would be a good bet, given the strong southerly wind and our desire to get in a walk before sunset, so we pulled in there and dropped anchor on the west side of the bay on the island’s north side, away from the overly crowded mooring field on the east side.

Now is as good a time as any for me to offer a small amendment to my first very informative post on this destination: i.e., it can get a tad rolly in here when there’s a strong swell running in from the southeast, as there was throughout our weekend, thanks to the doings, I believe, of Hurricane Cristobal, which had just passed by many many miles offshore in that direction.

Cristobal in action the day before we headed out

Before we went ashore Lucy insisted on being hauled up the mast in the bosun’s chair, but didn’t want to go too far, due to the rolling motion of the boat. Which at least was one advantage to having anchored here.

On shore our walk was immediately interrupted by yet another climb, this one up a tree, which was not rolling.

We ended up hiking the entire length of the island’s eastern spur. We first walked down to the south point, which has a great view of neighboring Jewell Island. Then Lucy suddenly suffered an energy deficit and refused to walk anywhere but back to the dinghy, so Clare sat with her for a bit while I walked up to the north point on my own.

This was a fantastic trail, leading right along the edge of a low cliff facing east, and I was about halfway along it when suddenly a dog appeared. A highly energetic one, a German shorthair retriever, wearing a yellow lifejacket and a weird electronic device on its collar. It ran in circles around for me a moment, then shot off up the trail in the direction it had come from. I followed after it, thinking I would soon meet it and its owner at the end of the trail on the north point. But when I got there, where the trail dead-ended in a lovely grassy spot bordered by cliffs on all sides, there was no sign of the dog.

When I walked back to where Clare and Lucy were and reported I had met a strange dog from outer space that had disappeared into thin air and maybe they could help me find it again, Lucy suddenly became re-energized and was very willing to walk the trail. We didn’t find the dog, but I did snap a nice photo of Clare and Lucy standing on the north point facing west with the anchorage in the background. (See above, and please note the depth of field is skewed a bit. Those rocks to the right of the grass are actually at the foot of a 12-foot cliff.)

The next day, after another walk ashore, we sailed from Cliff Island up to the head of Quahog Bay, to the anchorage around Snow Island, where we planned to hook up with our friends David and Catherine, a pair of novice sailors who were out on their very first cruise together. They got there first and let us know by cellphone that they’d picked up a mooring with another empty mooring right behind it.

Our route from Cliff Island up to Snow Island. The wind was south-southwest, blowing between 20 and 5 knots, depending on our position and the apparent wind angle. We sailed the whole way and did the long DDW bit wing-and-wing without a pole

David and Catherine aboard their new (to them) Ericson

So we picked up that empty mooring, hopped in our dinghy, buzzed over to say a quick hey to David and Catherine, then dinghied all the way across the very large anchorage and up Orrs Cove to Great Island Boat Yard, where we hoped to visit the fabulous Wheelhouse Cafe so as to feed certain crew members who had been too seasick to eat lunch on the boat.

We were mortified to discover the cafe had gone out of business. But the boatyard, in spite of my warning that we weren’t on one of their moorings and that they were making exactly zero dollars off us, loaned us their enormous pickup truck so we could drive down the road to another spot. We were almost there when suddenly my cellphone rang. It was David, who had called to say the owner of the mooring we picked up had just appeared and wanted his mooring back.

Gack!

Long story short: we aborted the cafe run, returned the truck, dinghied all the way back to Lunacy, only to learn the rightful owners of the mooring were Will and Halcyon on Squombus, a Regina 38, who I had met 10 years earlier at the Newport boat show, right after they bought their boat and were representing Regina Yachts in North America.

Will on Squombus the following morning. Regina Yachts now is also out of business, but Squombus is for sale, in case you’re interested

This is about the best outcome you can hope for in a situation like this, and I had a very nice time catching up with the Squombites after I moved Lunacy to yet another empty mooring. We also had a fine meal aboard with David and Catherine that evening, but next morning woke to very dense fog.

We amused ourselves climbing the rig and what-not until finally it lifted and then we started out back to Portland.

Alas, we saw not a shred of wind the entire way, and some crew members got so sick of motoring they had to resort to playing cards on the liferaft to amuse themselves.

POSTSCRIPT: About that mysterious dog on Cliff Island–we did actually see it again, the following morning, on a trawler yacht in the anchorage. I reckon it must have jumped off that cliff and run back to its owner, who was waiting in a dinghy nearby.

Gizmo south: TFU, IBEX, NMEA, HSR & other self promotions

Tue, 2014-09-02 13:12

Written by Ben Ellison on Sep 2, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

I didn’t write the seminar title, but I do understand the value of a grabby headline and I’m excited about being part of the entirely revised TrawlerFest in Baltimore. Paul Comyns and I will make a valiant attempt to cover all the important electronics bases for the knowledge-hungry, long-range-cruisers-to-be that tend to take the all-day “TF University” courses. An interesting added challenge for the presenters is to provide money-saving tips. I’m already working on concepts like how GPS, AIS, and improved signal processing have made it possible to “make do” with a smaller radar, but please suggest other reasonable cost-cutting strategies. And TFU is just the beginning of my fall speaking engagements, one or more of which you might want to attend or at least kibbutz about…

On Friday morning, 9/26, I’ll present a TrawlerFest two-hour seminar titled “The Wonderful World of Onboard Wireless” while Gizmo will be on display along with other power cruisers new and used during the Thursday-through-Sunday “show” portion of TF. Sailors, by the way, are explicitly welcome. Schedules, exhibitors, and seminar info is all here, and everything takes place at the BMC HarborView Marina, which seemed like a very pleasant spot when I used Baltimore’s excellent Waterfront Promenade to walk there from another marina in September 2012.

Personally, I’ll have to leave TrawlerFest a bit early for a flight to Tampa where I’ll join a group of other BWI writers to look carefully at all the entrants to the 2014 IBEX Innovation Awards. The judging job wraps up just as IBEX itself gets underway on Monday the 29th, and then I’ll get to be a show/seminar attendee as well as a participant in two seminars I helped to organize with ABYC’s Ed Sherman. The first (seen above) is “How Boats Are Adapting to Smartphones, Tablets, and the Internet” and the second “Interfacing, Alarming, and Logging Engine Data.” In both cases I think we have an expert and diverse panel and we’re working together now to create cohesive presentations. The IBEX audience will be quite different than TrawlerFest’s, but there is overlap in that some technologies important to boaters should be more important to manufacturers and boat yards (and vice-versa). So feel free with your thoughts. IBEX exhibitors with particular expertise in these seminar subjects are also encouraged to be in touch (ben@panbo.com) as I’ll be compiling lists of suggested booth visits for the attendees.

Remember, too, the 2014 IBEX Connected Boat demo pavilion discussed here in May. I notice that it’s now sponsored by Simrad but remain optimistic that its spirit will be all inclusive. It’s also good to see that NMEA is delivering a three-hour super session entitled “NMEA 2000: Saving Time, Money and Resources with a Connected Boat From the Factory.” Rumors persist that eventually the annual NMEA Conference will take place in conjunction with IBEX, and isn’t that idea potentially excellent for lots of us working in many aspects of the trade?

This year, though, I’ll return to Gizmo in Baltimore for a few days before flying to Fort Meyers for the NMEA 2014 Conference & Expo. Fortunately, given the packed schedule seen above, I’ll be at NMEA without any presentation or judging responsibilities. Of course, I’ll be on the hunt for new and interesting products, but I also welcome invitations to chat about this or that. (Or go out on a boat demo, which is pleasantly possible at both NMEA and IBEX this year ;-)

Going to NMEA may mean missing both the Annapolis Sailboat and Powerboat Shows, though it would be fun to watch the changeover again. But stops are uncertain as Gizmo and I motor down Chesapeake Bay to the Hampton Snowbird Rendezvous. I’ve never been to this relatively new event but hear it’s low key, fun and populated with lots of experienced cruisers. Thus, my relatively short “Smartphones and Tablets Aboard” seminar on Saturday, 10/18, may have an audience somewhere between TrawlerFest and IBEX in terms of experience.

So, please speak up about any app or app/hardware integration that you think your fellow boaters should know about. Or that you think developers should be working on. Easy, inexpensive ways to improve Internet connectivity will also come up in some of these seminars; what’s working well for you?

Finally, I’ve got one last bit of self promotion that you might enjoy right now. MyBoatWorks is a web project that’s begun documenting the refit of a 1996 Grand Banks 42. I like the visual site design a lot and if you register and poke around you’ll find a Skype interview I had with Simrad’s Dennis Hogan about all the different ways NSS evo2 gear could be used at both helms. For me the June conversation was somewhat theoretical, but now that I have evo2 at both of Gizmo’s helms, plus tablets, I can attest to the system’s flexibility.

Click here to read comments about this Panbo entry, or add your own.

Podcast: John & Amanda Neal

Tue, 2014-09-02 02:29

*Rerun from Two Inspired Guys*
John and Amanda Neal from Mahina Expedtions have been sailing heros of Andy’s for a while now, and it was a real honor to have them on the show. Ryan was away for this one, but Ben Eriksen, creator of the One Simple Question movie (www.simplequestionmovie.com) joined Andy as a special guest co-host. They talked to John and Amanda about their sailing history, about Amanda’s participation in the Whitbread Round the World Race as crew on ‘Maiden’, about John’s passion for kayaking, and about running a triathlon in Svalbard in 2016 in Arctic Norway! Check out Mahina Expeditions online at www.mahina.com to sign up for one of John and Amanda’s sailing adventures. Thanks guys!

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