Friday Column: Trans-Atlantic Journal: Canadian Maritimes

11 Juli 2011 – Day 7


Seven knots over the ground! Thanks to a north setting current, we’re now just off the northern limit of Georges Bank, again sailing through heavy fog. This morning after my 0200-0500 watch, my hair was wet enough so it appeared I’d just taken a shower…The boat is really starting to come together now. I put my tools away at noon today (the power tools anyway…). Yesterday was a big work day – at the dock in Newport I went aloft to install the mast tangs John Franta sent me for the runners. Mommom + Pappap stood by on the dock taking photos. Once offshore I spliced up the rest of the runners – dyneema @ the mast spliced to a VPC tail to take to the winch. The rest of the afternoon was spent stowing odds and ends, lashing the dinghy, making preventers, and on and on. This morning I got the AIS going, finally. Turns out it’s the blue wire, not the brown one. Had a fright when the GPS antenna that I cut in half wouldn’t go after splicing it back together. Turned out there was a good reason Dad brought two connections along [there is also a reason that Rodney calls me ‘Ready-Fire-Aim Andy’].

Later in the afternoon I finished work on the drogue bridle, while at dawn Mia and I took two hours to tune and tighten the rigging. By the end of it I had gloves on and could just about sweat the last of the tension before my hands started bleeding. We won’t leave Halifax without turnbuckles on the rig, whatever it costs.

Looks like a good forecast for the week. It was calm enough this evening for Mia to whip up two pizzas in the oven and a nice cabbage salad. Fog has since moved in again, but we’re making 6-7 knots in the right direction and it hardly feels like we’re moving down below.


Just came off watch. We’re roaring along @ upwards of 8 knots at times, thanks again to a favorable current. Still north of Georges Bank but not by much – and ‘Sune the Driver’ keeps wanting to go East. Contemplated having a rum drink, but decided against it.

The moon is out off the starboard quarter, and it glows in the fog. It’s shape is ill-defined, but the diffused light seems to brighten that area of the night more than it really is thanks to the fog. Ironic to be reading Vinland Voyage about their ordeal – 6 days fogbound – as they approached Halifax from the other direction – and only about 3 weeks earlier in the year. Does not bode well for our hopes of clearing. Just hope the other boats have RADAR – and are watching it.


12 Juli 0900

The rigging is whistling. Big change in the weather from yesterday. I had a fitful sleep in the forepeak last night, waking every time the jib sheet hauled taught thinking we’d hit something. Dreamed that the thru-hull under the sink was leaking, and heard Dad a few times on the radio giving ‘securite’ calls in the fog. Fog does not help one sleep well.


Crawled out of bed and began what is already (and too soon) a long process of dressing. Still in my shorts (of the quick-dry adventure variety, of course), under my foulie pants, which are nearly useless by now – they’re wetter inside than out. Longsleeve tight top, fleece, jacket and Turtlefur hat (though I was a bit warm this morning).

Relieved Dad @ 0500 to a building sea and freshening breeze. Didn’t take long to decide to furl the mizzen – Sune the Driver was having a tough time holding course. Managed okay on my own, but called up for help 30 min. later to take in the genoa. Dad came up in jacket and swim trunks to hand steer while I began the first of what looks to be many acrobatic feats on the foredeck (though I’m counting on Clint to be the foredeck monkey most of the time). Going slowly and methodically, the big sail came down w/out much fuss – though I need to install a downhaul in Lunenburg. Am also contemplating removing the big genny altogether in favor of the 100% heavy jib that Ben gave us – Micah warned me to bring it, which at the moment seems like a great idea.

Since about 0600 now we’ve been trucking along at 6-7 knots under double-reefed main alone (thankfully Mia and I installed the reef lines last night in the calmer weather).

Arcturus seems to be coping quite well, and just a moment ago took the first major soaking of the voyage, as a wave tried to climb up the starboard…


1000: Okay, interrupted there by some more action. We’re running under staysail alone now @ 6-7 knots. The sun came out and with it came more wind. The seas have evened out a bit. Mia was on watch when the rudder on the vane popped off a second time today. Good thing for that safety line. Apparently the boat doesn’t like running under mainsail alone.

Mia went fwd. to drop the remainder of the mainsail when she let the halyard get away. The shackle swung right round the spreaders and the forestay and lodged itself in the stb. lower spreaders. I climbed onto a halyard winch and was able to free it w/ a boathook to Mia’s delight.

Dad steered under bare poles while Mia and I lashed the mainsail down, set the runners and hoisted the staysail. She handles infinitely better now. We re-attached the rudder and put the heavy air vane in place, and Sune the Driver is much happier now, on course ENE and enjoying the sunshine. On the next leg, I see Mia and Clint teaming up for most of the work, as I won’t at first trust Clint to hand-steer. Time for some food.


13 Juli 2011 – Day 9

Calm! I meant to write last night after my 2300-0200 watch, but was too sleepy. I spent several minutes (no idea really how long) staring at the moon from the afterdeck. First time in a few days that it shone clear w/out a shroud of fog blurring it.

Absolutely beautiful watch last night despite hardly waking for it. I was on another planet when Dad woke me before 2300, and never made it up until 2315 after falling back to sleep. Made two cups of instant coffee and finished reading Vinland Voyage. Perused Jimmy Cornell’s Cruising Routes and feel better than ever about our plan. Seems like we’re timing it right anyway. Also re-read Don Street’s Cruising World article – it’d no coincidence, I’m convinced, that we’ve connected with him independent of that article. He owes us a beer when we land in Glandore.

Today we’re taking advantage of the calm after an incredibly exhausting day yesterday. Good practice on the foredeck though. Mia is baking bread, we have potatoes in the oven for lunch and I finished wiring the instruments so we have a depth sounder for the unfamiliar approach to Lunenburg (now less than 100 miles distant). With luck, we’ll actually beat Clint to the hostel, which is miraculous. I shouldn’t speak too soon, b/c @ the moment we’re only making 1.5 knots. The wind has finally shifted to the WNW and we jibed to the port tack this morning and are making a beeline for Lunenburg.


16 Juli – Day 12

Funny that last line in the log – ‘making a beeline for Lunenburg.’ I went to bed that night tired and a little sauced from the 3 Mt. Gay and lemon juice drinks my Dad and I enjoyed (no scurvy on this voyage!). We were motoring at the time, Mia on watch, and the engine noise put me right out. Not for long. Mia had a strange (read annoying) feeling and kept waking me up. We set full sail when the fickle NE breeze filled in, only to drop the main, then the genoa w/in five minutes. The breeze built and we set the staysail and mizzen, which was not enough to get us going to windward. Dad and I tuned in the WX on the VHF and did not like what we heard, so turned tail and ran to the nearest downwind harbor, eventually making 5-6 knots under staysail and mizzen once the NE wind really filled in for good.

Shelburne Harbor as it turned out was a great stop. Dad and I were up most of the night – my turn @ the tiller came near the entrance to the large bay – the lights on shore had disappeared just as the dawn arrived. The sunrise was actually quite brilliant – around 0330 the sky to the northeast became a pale yellow, gradually increasing it’s intensity until the horizon was on fire under a greay, low sky. By the time the sun actually came up it was already gone behind the clouds, but the prelude to the dawn was incredible.

The lights ashore, I soon discovered, had gone dim behind an enormous rain squall, which we sailed through for a few hours into Shelburne Harbor. Dad piloted from the companionway while I remained @ the tiller, my fingers frozen around the grip. It was light by then, around 0500, but less vis. than the middle of the night. We anchored off the YC around 0930 after Mia came up to furl the sails and take the helm. She almost fainted when her fingertips got cold (?).

I rang customs, and two official came by the fuel dock after an hour or so. It was the friendliest interaction I’d ever had w/any sort of officialdom. The men spoke highly of the mackerel, and regretted not bringing Mia and I a wedding present.

Shelburne was tiny, and though exhausted, we rallied for bread and hard-boiled eggs for brekky w/ a few pots of coffee and explored town. Mia and I got laundry done and we had an early dinner @ the Sea Dog pub, a stone’s throw from our berth @ the club. Mom, Dad and I slept from 4pm-9am the next morning, Mia and I sharing only one side of the veeberth (we only have 3 bunks set up). Yesterday was mellow, with some boat work (re-rigged the mizzen sheet, ran up the USA flag, removed the genoa + installed the heater), followed by a few drinks @ the bar (while I got a YE article submitted, and on time!). In the evening we met Bob Scott and his crew on Falcon, a NY32 that seemed to have won all the prizes in the Halifax race. We went aboard for bourbon. Bob knew me from an Ocean Nav. article and seemed very interested in my rig. He came by this morning before we set off, and wants to re-do Falcon. I’m more than eager to help.


It’s nearly 2300 and close to the end of my shift. Lunenburg really seems w/in reach now, only 25 miles or so off to port. We’ve been running all day w/ the big genoa (I strengthened the anchor roller) and mainsail @ b/w 4-6 knots. I think we’ll jibe when Mia comes up as the wind has slowly been veering to the W. There is lots of lightening behind us, though it seems very far distant. A big ugly spider is walking under the cockpit grate. The genoa on the pole is very stable. Time to get Mia up.