30 June 2010

Cambridge MA: Wed 30 Jun - Sunny and Comfortable

Once again taking advantage of Boston's superb public transport network, we caught an early commuter train from Quincy Center into Cambridge and Harvard Square. This venue was not originally high on my list, but I soon found I'd underestimated the possibilities.

First off was a Harvard campus tour with senior Matt, a Philadelphia area native who gave the experience a personal and intimate feeling. The tour itself did not delve deeply into University history and Harvard's many famous graduates, but it seemed at least to us to provide a broad overview of customs, methods, and mores of Harvard University life.

After this slice of Harvardiana we next endured a slice of pepperoni pizza that passed for lunch and aimed in the direction of MIT. I'd originally thought we could hoof it but soon realized that MIT's campus was quite far from Harvard's. Enter "Billy," an instructor for the transport system who, after hearing my somewhat embellished tale of woe, arranged a free bus ride for the two of us down Mass Avenue all the way to MIT. It was beginning to seem that we would not manage a financial contribution to Boston's bus network no matter what.

Sonia was underwhelmed by the MIT campus after the relative pizazz of Harvard, but there was a certain directness and precision to the architecture that I found pleasing. We managed an impromptu tour on our own and headed back up to Harvard Square, this time finally putting real money into the collection box.

The day ended with dinner with friends who live locally and whose commentary as we walked along personalized many Boston landmarks including Beacon Hill, Copley Square, Boston Common, Boston Garden, and of course Newberry Street. Finally, after a car ride back to Hull and a long dark dinghy ride back to the boat, we called it a night.

28 June 2010

Boston MA: Mon 28 Jun - The Freedom Trail

We took an early commuter ferry from Hull into Boston, arriving at 0730. The plan was to walk the Freedom Trail that marks many historically important places and events related to the birth of the USA (Bunker Hill Monument at left). This is a fascinating and informative experience that really brings history alive, but as often happens, that's only half the story.

On the ride over Sonia and I discovered we'd left her camera on the boat. Not good news since we expected to see and do many things worth photographing. I reluctantly resolved to purchase a second camera but was unsure where, how, and especially what. So we started walking and looking and asking. By the time we reached Old North Church I was getting photographically desperate. I wandered into a small gift shop near the church and told the proprietor about my problem. She immediately suggested Bromfield Camera on Bromfield Street at the other end of town. When I asked for directions she pointed to a small cafe nearby and said: "See that man over there? That's Sonnie. He's the one you want to ask." So we did.

Sonnie owns a small cafe in Boston's North End where many residents are of Italian heritage. When I explained what I was trying to do, he immediately made a call to Steven, the owner of Bromfield Camera, and in no uncertain terms told him that he was sending over his friends, Sonia and Armond, that they needed a good deal on a nice camera, and that Steven should "take care of this." And that's exactly what happened one short taxi ride later. After Steven graciously treated us as family, we headed back to the North End, caught up with Sonnie who was having lunch at nearby Theo's, and profusely thanked him for his unbelievable hospitality. I guess you could say it was, so far at least, a pretty good morning.

Later we completed the entire Freedom Trail (Paul Revere Tomb at left), photographing madly along the way, and basking in the kind of immediate friendship and warm hospitality we'd come to expect in Boston.

26 June 2010

Hull YC MA: Sat 26 Jun – Sunny, Slightly Cloudy, Light NW

The Birthday Girl is on holiday! Sonia arrived at Hull about 1030, having left NJ in the dark at 0400. She's happy, slightly exhausted, and ready for Vacation Frolics.

25 June 2010

Sailing Lessons: Fri 25 Jun - Sunny, Light SE, Small Seas

A new friend, Neil, arrived at the Hull YC from his home in Brookline MA and joined me for a daysail among the Boston Harbor Islands. Although I have sailed past the entrance to Boston Harbor many times, I have never before stopped in to explore. I now wonder why it took so long to realize what I'd been missing.

Neil is a local sailor with a comprehensive knowledge of the Harbor Islands. He's also owned a sistership to Kerry Deare for 15 years, so stepping aboard my boat required no orientation. The weather really cooperated and we were able to complete a splendid 22 NM tour of the Boston Harbor Islands, ending the trip by picking up our mooring under sail in Hull Bay.

Along the way Neil and I combined our highly developed sailing abilities and massive accumulation of sailing experience to demonstrate the superiority of the Cape Dory 28 over any other yacht. Of course we hardly needed a reminder that this is the case.

Hull YC MA: Fri 25 Jun – Sunny Clear Light NW

It’s evidently not yet time for “worse.” This morning as I was fussing on deck at 0530 the lobster boat Windermere came by slowly and chatted us up. Captain Peter Mahoney and mate Eric were bound for a day of fishing but before heading on out, Peter generously offered me his truck on shore if needed, and also asked if Sonia and I might like to ride out on Windermere next weekend to watch the Fourth of July fireworks. You should be able to predict our response.

Last eve Ralph, a friend who is sponsoring our visit to Hull YC, showed up and we tested the yacht club bar. Also present for the tests was a contingent of "Rhodes 19" sailors who'd been sidelined by a fast moving squall line that forced the cancellation of their regular Thursday evening series. You guessed it: the lost sailors who were rained out hid their disappointment well, all the while crying into their beer at the bar. Final Hull Yacht Club Bar exam grade: "E for Excellent."

Sonia arrives tomorrow, and that also is "E for Excellent."

24 June 2010

Hull YC MA: Thur 24 Jun – Clear and Windy, Punchy Skies, SW 15 – 18

Awake at 0430 trying to determine how to employ my time until 0800 when the launch runs and we go ashore for showers, an online fix, and human contact. Before we can determine these imponderables, it’s 0915 and another 4.75 hours have vanished into the “Do More Silly Boat Stuff” cavern. This happens every morning except Sundays during Lent.

John is working the early launch shift. He just turned 73, tells me he feels 15, and proudly mentions that his son is running his own fishing boat (Mass lobster, not Maine!). Since I am 67 going on 12 and clearly the junior crew member, I do not argue with his suggestions. John grew up in Compton RI and his father once cut ice in winter for shipment to the Big Cities. He was familiar with the area near Westerly where my father’s friend Jake lived and where I spent many a summer day getting addicted to and instructed by, the water.

After what seems a long time I am released from laptop prison and return to the boat and the wind. Things could be, and likely soon will be, worse.

23 June 2010

Hull YC MA: Wed 23 Jun - Clouds and Sun; Calms and Wind

Today we took early departure from Scituate in the direction of Hull MA and the Hull Yacht Club, our host for the next week or so. The ride covers a bit less than 17 NM and started out in a cloudy and lumpy fashion. After an hour we approached Minot’s Light, the famous “1-4-3” sentinel that guards approaches to Boston Harbor (photo left). Legend has it that each evening one of the first lighthouse keepers would flash “1-4-3” to his wife ashore to signify “I (1) - Love (4) - You (3).” Eventually the light characteristic itself was changed to reflect this and to this day many local folks have “1-4-3” engraved on their wedding rings and keepsakes.

Next up on the “tour” was Boston Light (below right), the oldest lighthouse in the United States and a very pretty sight, especially as the weather cleared and the sun broke through on our approach. Every time I’m told that Boston Light is the oldest lighthouse in the USA, I want to ask “which is the youngest?” and “why does age matter in the first place?”

Eventually we entered Hull Bay from Nantasket Roads, leaving to port the huge windmill on Windmill Point and then winding through the buoys to the Hull Yacht club float. Along the way

are views of the many fine seaside homes overlooking Hull Bay. The yacht club ( is a charming low key facility with cordial members and staff. After only a few minutes we can conclude that we are already very glad to be here. Also we can safely say that Phase One of Kerry Deare’s “30th Anniversary Cruise” has been successfully accomplished.

22 June 2010

Scituate MA: Tues 22 Jun - Sunny, Light Winds, Slight Seas

We got moving from Onset Bay at 0445 and caught the ebb up the Cape Cod Canal, exiting the east end of the Canal almost exactly 1 ½ hours later. The early morning light as we headed east in the Canal was something to remember (photo left). I quite enjoy this motor boat ride, watching the impressive currents seize the boat’s long keel and push her from side to side. I’ve never attempted to run the Canal against the tide, nor do I plan to.

We then faced the 28.5 NM “slog” up to Scituate MA for the evening. Actually “slog” is too strong a description, since we had only light head winds and very small seas on this leg. With little or no traffic and the boat doing all the work, there was time for another “locker re-arranging” session and also time for ticking off a few small items on the chores list. Did I mention the private sun bathing session?

Scituate is an ideal stop on this route and I was welcomed by Rollie, the launch driver from EZ Rider. He’s a student and lacrosse player at Tabor Academy, and was getting practical experience “at sea” in the harbor. Very helpful chap. The remainder of the day was devoted to recovering from the too early start to the day.

21 June 2010

Onset MA: Mon 21 Jun - Sonia’s Birthday and A Diesel Lesson

Started the day off with an early telephone birthday wish to my best friend and wife, Sonia. I am not overjoyed at being away from home on her birthday, but sailing is a tough mistress. Besides, someone has to hold down a real job to support my lavish pleasures (yes, that just may be overdoing it). In fact Sonia will be joining me shortly here for a Boston holiday if all goes as planned.

Meanwhile the “diesel doctor” did make his rounds at Brewers and the diagnosis was close to what we suspected all along. It seems likely that I’ve been over-filling the diesel coolant overflow tank so that even the slightest expansion or pressure increase caused the coolant to flow through the tank pressure release fitting. Solution: drain a little coolant and maintain a lower level. That seems to have worked at least this afternoon because I left Brewers for Onset MA (right photo), a short 8 mile hop, and there was no coolant in the drip pan under the engine when I set the anchor. The price of this lesson: a mere 2 ½ hours of expensive yard labor at something like $95.00 per hour. Ouch, of course, but probably worth the peace of mind.

Brian, the mechanic, also helped with a few other Volvo details. Since the engine was new in 1993, I’d been trying to determine how to change the cooling system zinc. My main mechanic in Annapolis, Richard Vosbury, insisted there actually was no zinc in the system on this particular Volvo model. However all my manuals point out that is not the case and show a large bolt where the zinc is supposedly located. When Brian removed that bolt at my request, there was indeed no zinc. He also inadvertently located a weak electrical lug connection to the starter and replaced it before it shut us down at sea. I would say the Brewer service, while expensive, was of much value.

After some provisioning we headed over to Onset to wait on the tides at the Cape Cod Canal next morning.

20 June 2010

North Falmouth MA: Sun 20 Jun - Clouds, Gusty SW Winds, Rolling Seas

Departed Cuttyhunk Pond 0715 aiming for Onset MA just below the Cape Cod Canal, a distance of 24 NM. Buzzards Bay was making up early while we motorsailed along, initially with the main but later with only the Number 3 Genoa (photo at left). The Volvo was just kicking over and not working hard, and the short seas were coming up from behind with a menacing grin. We had a flood tide up Buzzards, so wind and seas were going in the right direction, as were we.

Unfortunately even with light use the coolant leak was still present and while not a deal-breaker, I decided to once again call in the “experts.” Any move in the direction of Newfoundland would depend heavily on a completely reliable power plant. I remembered that my friend Albert from Nova Scotia had good things to say about the Brewer Yard near Falmouth during his 2008 cruise southbound ( So I “hung a right” for Fiddler’s Cove and here we are in luxury’s comfortable lap (photo of clubhouse at right) awaiting the Monday morning arrival of the “diesel doctor” who will, I hope, diagnose and cure what ails her.

Meanwhile, hot showers.

19 June 2010

Cuttyhunk MA: Sat 19 Jun - Sunshine, Light SW Winds, Slight Seas

Departed New Harbor 0500 trying for an early arrival at Cuttyhunk Island MA (photo left). Summer weekends at Cuttyhunk mean crowds and tight anchoring and I was determined to get in early. Motorsailed the entire way (about 38 NM) but alas, even our 1230 arrival made us late to the party so I anchored temporarily in the shallows on a rising tide until I could move to deeper water later in the afternoon. It seemed that every yacht in Padanaram also had the same idea, but considering they came only 12 NM, they won. Quite a colorful day for us boat watchers, with the binoculars getting much use.

On the ride from Block Island I was able to do the first of what will surely become many “re-sorting exercises” of gear and equipment aboard ship. I went through all the lockers below trying to organize the mass of stores and personal gear, plus yacht-related equipment, that had been loaded over the previous 2 ½ months. This is inevitable and boring but unless it is done there is no way to find important gear on the ship.

At Cuttyhunk I made another stab at locating a coolant leak on the Volvo diesel, an annoyance since last summer. Last fall I replaced several coolant hoses and all the rubber gaskets and I thought the issue resolved. We’d seen no leakage since April with about 17 hours on the engine prior to departure. However the leak showed up again motoring into Block Island. At Cuttyhunk I detected one leak in the coolant overflow tank and made adjustments. However this was not sufficient.

18 June 2010

To Block Island RI:Thur 17 and Fri 18 Jun - Plenty of Sunshine, Big NW Winds, Big Short Seas, Light NW Winds, Slight Seas

Next morning I entered the south end of the Point Pleasant Canal at 0630 heading for Manasquan Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean. I always find this chore unnerving due to the nature of the currents in the Canal itself and at the two bridges. All that is required for a major disaster is one little slip up with the diesel. However we made it without a problem this time and set out at 0730 upon a rather lumpy ocean, with the wind filling in with authority at NW 15 to 18 knots with gusts. There was an uncomfortable aspect to the motion with rather short seas from the NW and a slight SW swell. I set the Number 3 Genoa and two reefs in the new main and we were off and running up the coast.

Once I got set up with the wind vane doing all the work, there was not much to do but hold on, since reading and cooking would have to wait until we enjoyed more civilized conditions. That I did about 30 hours later at Block Island RI (map at left). We had heavy winds and unkind seas until about 0200 the following morning when things lightened up and the boat settled down slightly. Eventually the wind went light and this leg became a motor boat ride (photo above) for 8 or so hours until we anchored in New Harbor on Block Island.

I was happy to get the rest. Each trip starts out with trying to remember where I left my sea legs the last time I used them. I haven’t found them entirely yet, but we are headed in the right direction (East).

16 June 2010

Bay Head NJ: Wed 16 Jun - Clouds and Light SW

Departed deRouville’s Boat Shop on the Toms River at 1245 16 Jun 2010 bound up to Bay Head. This is a 3 hour motor boat ride through the shallows of northern Barnegat Bay passing, along the way, Mantoloking, one bascule bridge, and some very pretty coastal scenery and real estate (photo at left).

We arrived at Bay Head, a rather posh NJ shore town inhabited by folks from Princeton and a few CCA members, at 1545. To my knowledge there are few if any SCA members in residence, yet I was able to anchor securely near the Bay Head Yacht Club without causing too much fuss. This time the Posh Patrol did not try to enforce the local Italian quota. Good thing, too, since even though I was the representative of that group in town, that’s one above the limit.

11 June 2010

Sailing ... Finally!

Two months and eight days later, we go sailing! Having launched on 02 April 2010, yesterday we finally did what we're supposed to do and put wind in the sails. Nature cooperated with a light westerly that gently ruffled the waters on the Toms River and Barnegat Bay, and I was able to check out the new mainsail under sail. It looked fine and performed well in light air conditions, thanks to the efforts of Judy and Skip at Moorhouse Sails ( Other systems also performed well and this first sail of the season was encouraging. Yet, boats being boats, this is hardly the time to lower one's guard.

When I step back and click on "pause" it becomes clear that even a simple daysail on local waters is a small miracle that only happens when many different people contribute to the effort. The list of individuals who gently nudged Kerry Deare along yesterday includes local boatyards, the sailmaker, many suppliers, the "Feds" (charts come from somewhere), and many friends and family members. I may be sailing solo but they're always on board.

Photo by Sherri deRouville of deRouville's Boat Shop (

05 June 2010

Schmoozing Club of America

Many are familiar with The Cruising Club of America (CCA burgee at right). This club consists of elderly white men who decide the right thing to do on the water. In fact walking on the water is an important requirement for membership. While it is true that some CCA members have made praiseworthy passages in small boats*, the majority spend most of their time congratulating other members on their membership. What time is left is devoted to casting excoriating glances upon those who sink during initiation.

Many Americans, quite a few Canadians, and exactly 13 Brits don't fancy behavior like this even though these same folks would love to participate in it. Sadly I am one of these, having spent the first 65 or so years of my life waiting for that sacred phone call or letter admitting me to candidacy. I'm still waiting but 2 years ago I decided to take things into my own hands and established The Schmoozing Club of America (SCA burgee at left). Membership is tightly controlled with the single current member performing all the administrative tasks that keep the club going. It's a lot of responsibility, but worth all the hard work.

If you can't join 'em, lick 'em.
* "Small boat" in CCA-speak means 60 to 90 feet LOA.

01 June 2010

Cruise Preparation (Well, Sort Of)

There's The List, of course. This year's version was 8 single-spaced pages, and that on top of the 15 page list for a 2008 Bermuda cruise. Then there's The Other List.

I no longer cruise full time having done so for about 8 years in the 1990's. Yet from time to time I'm away from home sailing for extended periods. That will happen shortly if our cruise to the Maritimes works out, and this means The House List needs tending. The current version included exterior work (set up for summer fun, clean and stain the deck, break out the outdoor furniture, prune the trees and shrubs, set up the hoses and irrigation devices, rake away last winter's remains, and more), interior work (touch up the paint, do spring cleaning, arrange finances so Sonia won't fret the details, stock up on provisions for home and afloat, and more), and so on down the line. If one isn't careful, this sort of silliness can cut into sailing time.

Next there are those special projects, and that's what today is about. I'm just now awaiting the arrival of the insulation technicians who will add enough insulation in the attic spaces to double the "R" value to approximately R60. This is the last year that improvements like this will qualify for a federal tax credit, an incentive of much interest to us. The job is also an admission that some home repairs are best left to the professionals. I thought about blowing insulation into the attic spaces myself using rented equipment, but eventually I came to the same realization I'd had concerning the light at the top of the sailboat mast: that's why they call them "experts."