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Mix a 35 foot Allied Seabreeze called "Whim", three Dartmouth alums - all Past Commodores - and a passage from Chesapeake Bay to Maine, and you get one terrific cruise. Mel Converse '60, signed up Rick Van Mell '63 and Steve Blecher '64 as crew for the trip, with hospitality along the way provided by Jay Evans '64 & Hasty at their home and mooring abeam the Cape Cod Canal (including daughter Posey '98), and a rousing welcome to Maine from Brian Klinger '62 & Lise.
The trip started Monday morning, July 10th from Galesville, MD, about 10 miles south of Annapolis. We powered up Chesapeake Bay in hazy sunshine, no wind, high heat and humidity, to the C&D canal where the crew spent the first night. An 0630 departure caught the tide and carried Whim into Delaware Bay with cooler northerly winds and a cloud cover all the way to Cape May. A late afternoon passage through the Cape May Canal punctuated with a fuel and water stop had the crew into the open Atlantic under blue skies, calm seas and a steak and salad dinner the first night offshore. Atlantic City shimmered under a moon-lit sky after a perfect sunset.
NOAA's computerized Old Salt kept forecasting nor'easterlies, and Wednesday morning they finally arrived. After a night of shifting winds, a cross sea piled up the chop and the yawl Whim doggedly beat her way onward in 15 knots of breeze. To improve VMG toward Block Island, still a hundred miles ahead, we cranked up the engine to point higher. Agitated by the bouncing sea, the fuel tank coughed up a hair ball and choked the engine to a halt at 0645. Mel performed an enema on the fuel line, replaced the fuel filter and by 0830 it was running again. Deciding not to provoke a repeat, we sailed all day until the wind shifted west, we reached up to course, and were once again pointed at our destination.
By late afternoon the breeze began to die and as the estimated-time-of-arrival on the GPS stretched into days, it was time again for the engine. It refused to start, so another purge was initiated with Mel blowing the line clear and before long we were rolling along for an easy night ride in the moonlight . We arrived off Montauk Point just after dawn Thursday, and enjoyed an omelet breakfast before picking up a mooring in the Great Salt Pond at Block Island at 0830. Steve jumped ship to board the ferry to New London, and Rick & Mel took showers, did laundry and settled in for a quiet dinner aboard.
Once again NOAA's Old Salt threatened mayhem in 25 knot winds and a frontal passage, so we decided against a planned Friday anchorage in the exposed Tarpaulin Cove, a little west of Woods Hole in the Elizabeth Island chain that makes up the southern boundary of Buzzards Bay. Instead we headed for Jay and Hasty's home and mooring on Scraggy Neck, between Cleveland Ledge Light and the entrance to Cape Cod Canal. It was a beautiful sail in 10 knot sou'westerlies with the mizzen staysail set under friendly cumulus against a deep blue, clear sky. So much for the gales. But NOAA continued its rantings until finally the front passed with heavy rain Saturday night - with Whim and her crew comfortably tied to the mooring. Sunday was a lazy day sail with Jay & Hasty, anticipating the forecasted even better weather for the next leg north on Monday.
Ha! Halyards rattling before first light, shrouded in 1/4 mile visibility fog, greeted our 0630 departure for the Canal and Salem, 60 miles to the north. With the engine and current Whim hit 11 knots over the bottom at mid-canal. After a quick fuel stop, we left the last channel buoy astern and disappeared into the fog of Cape Cod Bay.
Between the GPS's steady countdown and black blips on the radar screen, we threaded our way through southbound boats and ticked off the headland buoys one by one. By the time we were 20 miles east of Boston, the fog had retreated to about 3 miles, in good time to identify a massive radar echo as the aircraft carrier JFK returning from Sail 2000.
No Salem Witches this cruise, just a nice marina and a good night's sleep. Mel's wife Molly joined us on Tuesday, we toured the town, avoided an afternoon thunderstorm, and supped at In A Pigs Eye.
Wednesday morning we cast off and toured Marblehead Harbor, then headed east for Gloucester. We saw what the Andrea Gail did not - the lighthouse on Ten Pound Island marking the inner harbor, and tied up to a dockside restaurant for lunch. Completing our harbor tour, we spotted the beautiful green hull of the Hannah Boden, outfitted now for deep-water lobstering, but looking terrific in her Perfect Storm fresh coat of paint. Then through the Annisquam Canal through Cape Ann to pick up a mooring for a pastel perfect sunset.
Light head winds again thwarted Mel's desire to sail, and we powered the short distance to the Isles of Shoals and nestled onto a mooring that had Whim half in New Hampshire and half in Maine. These isles were inhabited by European fishermen in 1605 and pre-dated the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock.
Friday morning dawned soft, clear and quiet. Mel was determined to sail the final 5 miles into our destination, and trying to time the tide, we cast off at 0930. Drifting at times a less than a knot, the wind slowly worked aft and zeyphers hatched the water. First the jib was wung out to weather on the pole. The staysail was set. Two and a half knots! With much bravado, the aysemetrical chute was set to leeward of the jib, and at three knots we sailed a stately course into Portsmouth Harbor and it's northern shore, Kittery, Maine.
Click on images to enlarge, click "Back" to return. Photos by Rick Van Mell, Molly Converse, & Mel Converse.