Monday, September 29, 2014

Electric boogaloo

The electric engine is more of a challenge than I thought it would be. The boat is intended to be an offshore cruiser, and our intention of making short trips down the coast is inconvenient with this motor system. Obviously the simple answer to this is: change our expectations. That would be... inconvenient though, because there are friends and family along the east coast that we look forward to visiting. Perhaps some background is in order.

Daniel, the Previous Owner, appears to be an excellent sailor and has made several long passages (1,000+ miles) with this boat, at least one of them with the electric motor. We are amateur sailors, and intend to do coastal cruising for at least the next 6-12 months.

Daniel had a diesel engine in the boat. That engine was old, and needed major repairs, to the point where replacement was probably the better option. Since he was replacing the engine anyway, he looked at alternatives that would have less maintenance and chance of failure. An electric motor fit that to a T, and was even a little less expensive than a new engine. So the engine got yanked out, the diesel tanks removed and replaced with batteries, and the new system installed. About 2 years go by, and we buy the boat.

The engine compartment is now wide open, with plenty of space to access everything, even including a water tank and a big inverter. And we never go in there to work on the motor! The battery bank is 8 AGM 12 volt 100AH batteries, in series-parallel to make a bank of 48v 200AH. Each battery is about 60 pounds, so that's roughly 500 pounds of batteries. The propeller and shaft are the same as before. The motor is a 10kW model, so it can put out about 200 amps at 48v. Of course, taking that much power drains the batteries incredibly quickly, and heats them up dramatically, so we haven't gone up anywhere near that level.

The long and the short of this is that we can motor at 2 knots for 8 hours (ish), and at 4 knots for 1 hour (ish). Which means we can motor in and out of harbor, but that's about it. Not a problem if you're making an offshore passage to a main destination, but not convenient for sailing for the day and finding a new anchorage every night. Out at sea there isn't a problem with the currents when the wind dies, but near land there are rocks and corals and other scary things to bang into.

We aren't thrilled with the electric motor.

One option is to replace it with a diesel engine, but that is really expensive ($5,000 - $10,000 anyone?) and undoes all the work that has been done to get the current system in place. Another option is to install a bigger, more permanent, diesel generator (we have a small gasoline one now) that can run the motor directly as well as charge the batteries faster. Another option is to buy an outboard motor and mount it on the stern of the boat and use that for longer distance motoring. And, of course, one option is to not change anything except ourselves and our expectations.

We're not sure what we'll do yet, since everything except the as-is option is pretty expensive.

I would like to get the wind turbine set up as soon as possible, since that will charge the motor batteries. That is a whole different topic, which I have only barely begun thinking about. I'd really like to be able to just add the turbine, and not use any bigger, costlier generator than what we have now.

Good Times Had By All

Bradbury Mountain Summit
Greetings from Freeport, ME! In short, we've had a simply wonderful week sailing from Blue Hill to Freeport the past six days with our family and friend, Heretic. We picked a great weather window last week (9/22-9/28) to sail south since this week is forecasted to be windy and rainy.

We've had a variety of weather conditions, including 30+ gusts of wind, becalmed metallic waters, warm and cold nights, beautiful anchorages, and lovely downwind sails covering roughly 90 NM (give or take) to Freeport.

As we made our way through Casco Bay on Sat, Sept 27, our final push into Freeport, we chose to anchor in Mackerel Cove on Bailey Island. In the midst of our sail, a beautiful Monarch butterfly landed aboard Aletheia and I gasped with delight. It's migration season for these beauties, and as far as we're concerned, we're fluttering south too! Heretic caught up to us that afternoon after being postponed a day in Port Clyde working on their engine. Heretic skated passed us into Mackerel Cove to prep their anchor. At the same, serendipitous time, a lovely, well dressed gentleman, shouted through a megaphone on dock, "Incoming sailboat, would you like a mooring ball?!"

Heretic: "We would love a mooring ball! We have a second boat coming in. Can we use the same mooring?"

Gentleman: "It has strong holding. That will be fine." 

Dock neighbor: "Geez, I better put more beer in the cooler!"

As Aletheia sailed into the cove to raft up, we had already been invited to a cocktail hour at the gentleman's brightly colored summer cottage. What a charming and generous couple and what a great way to meet new people. As the lovely gentleman later said "Inviting sailors from the mooring ball is like fishing, you never know what you're going to catch!"

Score! This was a blessing for two reasons. 1) the ground was mostly rocky, not a great holding and nearly 50 ft deep. That's a lot of rode (chain+rope=rode) to let out of the anchor locker! 2) I've been craving social interaction so this was super timing for me being able to expose my extroverted self and meet new people!

Hopefully, our new friends enjoyed the day's catch! We had a lovely evening meeting interesting people, enjoying good food and drink, and being able to introduce our story. People were very enthralled, and although I don't like to talk about myself, it was great to have an exciting and unfolding story to share. Friendly neighbors and family seamlessly joined the party as nearly 15 of us sat seaside, enjoying the pink sunset against chilled white wine and scotch and sodas.

There is something about how things seem to fall into place when you least expect it. For us, it was this moment when we were given the opportunity to celebrate our accomplishment of sailing down the coast of Maine alongside an inspiring and loving couple, meeting generous strangers, spirit in hand, and being able to stop and acknowledge life in this beautiful, minuscule section of the world. 

After 6 days with no shower, we've finally cleaned ourselves up, sitting comfortably on land, coming up with our week's projects. Wyatt is grateful to be off leash roaming on grass and we're grateful for a big, soft bed, dinners around the table, laundry service and gracious hosts! Here are some picture from the week:

Seaside in Port Clyde, looking south
Marshall Point Lighthouse
All in a day's work. Leaving Port Clyde
Reeds Island anchorage with sundowners
Heretic caught up to us the following afternoon!
Sunset from summer cottage - I could stay here!
Mackerel Cove at cocktail party
Bonfire with new friends!
Downwind smiles
It's fun sailing wing-n-wing (downwind)
Flowers from new friends at Mackerel Cove
HYC in Freeport
Bradbury Mountain hike

Look Mom, we're eating our veggies!
Love to all,
Nate & Jenn

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Becoming Familiar

Marshall Point Lighthouse - Port Clyde, ME
Happy 9th Anniversary to my sissy Lyndsi & brother-in-law Keith - may you have many more years of beautiful sunsets together! 

Happy 1st Anniversary to John & Leanne - we love you guys too much!

L'Shana Tova to all our family and friends. May this new year bring you adventures of your own to strengthen your confidence, explore your limits, calm your mind and broaden your heart. STOP and take time to watch sunsets, stargaze, count each blessing and be present with yourself. Notice the people that continue to surround you, love you, and make you who you are and who you have yet to become. Happy New Year!

What a way to celebrate the Jewish New Year with an adventure of our own! We actually left Blue Hill, ME (9/22) after selling the remaining piece from our land life puzzle. Wow - what a feeling! Parting with our 2004 Honda Civic (bought on Craigslist back in 2009) brought nervous butterflies to both our bellies. The final tie was cut and we declared ourselves official cruisers since we now rely on our BoatWorks dinghy and feet to provision and explore new places. We celebrated the occasion with a bottle of red wine so that helped!

We're currently in Port Clyde, ME - a lovely little fishing town and tourism hotspot. We're taking a well deserved break today to explore, visit the Marshall Point Lighthouse and exercise our restricted bodies. We've been sailing the past three days, buddy boating with Heretic, the first boat Nate sailed on back in 2006-07. We've had a lovely time sailing through green waters, passing through beautiful islands, and anchoring in some of the most quaint locations known to the sailing community.

We've experienced a couple afternoons of stronger than expected winds, in which case, dictates where we end up anchoring for the day. Having a plan of where you'd like to sail is always a good idea, but not always the place you end up!  With these strong winds, we end up changing course or tucking in early to the nearest wind protected harbor. We've been grateful to have detailed charts, daily weather forecasts and, a weather service app that provides weather, tide, wind direction and wave height. Although accurate, weather reports and predictions don't always dictate what Mother Nature chooses. 

Excited to sail after arriving in Blue Hill, we dropped the mooring ball at KYC and made our way from Blue Hill to Buckle Harbor (9/22). We had strong, stiff winds b/w 15-25 knots with gusts of 30+ (weather forecast was for 10-15kts so this made for an exciting sail!), which led us into the beautiful and protected, Buckle Harbor, for the night. Amazing thing about protected harbors - you can hear the wind moving through the trees, and see the white caps crashing into the water, yet our boats were peaceful at anchor. Such a fine place to be! 

We left the following morning from Buckle Harbor with the intention of anchoring in VinalHaven, a beautiful island in the center of Penobscot Bay. Throughout the afternoon, the winds picked up considerably with gusts up to 25+ kts. On one of our tacks, we plunked the port rail (and my shoes) into the water which heeled the boat about 25 degrees, the farthest we've heeled Aletheia yet. The reason this happened is because we had too much sail up and wind pushing the sails over. To right the boat all we needed to do was ease the sails out and she magically righted herself to a comfortable position. Of the reading I've done on sailing, most women do not like heeling. I don't mind it much, but there is a fine line between just enough and too much! It's quite remarkable to be able to tip 14,000 lbs by way of wind pressure. At this point the winds were too strong to continue our sail and gratefully, we following Heretic into a tiny harbor, Laundry Cove on Isle au Haut (9/23). We hosted a dinner party for 4 and enjoyed chicken curry, salad and a complementary fire in The Hobbit. The following morning brought us out of Isle au Haut on a wonderful downwind ride towards Port Clyde, ME (9/24). We covered nearly 31NM with sunny skies and 5-10kts, a very different sail then the two prior days experiences.

All of our anchor locations have been peaceful with breathtaking views, arriving just in time to watch the sun set and prepare warm meals. Along our daily sails, we've been taking photos of Heretic and at the end of each day, rafting our boats each night. This means we tie our boats together with dock lines and fenders along side to prevent the boats from hitting one another when the sudden boat wake rolls by. Nate has done an amazing and professional job of steering Aletheia right up to Heretic's port side to raft up. It's a great way to climb across eachother's vessel for dinner and drinks!

This week has been thoroughly enjoyable with 3 days of sailing in different types of weather and surrounded at the end of the day with warm company having dinner & drinks with Dana & Gigi, who have been nothing but effortlessly generous and parent-like, making sure we have what we need (including full bellies). 

Like the wind as it shifts, each day gives us a new experience, challenge, enjoyment and level of patience that we need to accept. We remind ourselves daily for our gratitude aboard Aletheia and for this adventure we have chosen, learning more patience when the winds becalms us and accepting support when the winds are too strong. 

We hope to have a Google map up on the site soon to track our sailing route. Lastly, here are some pictures from this past week!
Sail from Blue Hill to Buckle Harbor - white caps suggest winds up from 10kts
Lighthouse - stiff winds near 35-40kts!
Heretic again - such a pretty boat!
Happy Fall! (boat decor)
Notice the water color change? This is the approaching and glorious protected harbor 
Rafted to Heretic
Sunset at Buckle Harbor
Mmmm Breakfast with Sunny & Nat's produce
Downwind race b/w Heretic & Too Elusive (a 75ft Ketch)
Prepping for our dinner party - Chicken & Trader Joe's Curry Sauce
Wyatt testing out another favorite spot
What a difference a day makes! Downwind ride with Heretic
Glamour Shot of Heretic
Approaching Port Clyde at sunset
Port Clyde fishing port
Along our walkabout - fall is in the air
A Moore summer residence!
At the Marshall Point Lighthouse
Lunch at the Dip Net
Didn't have these for lunch though
Love to all,
Jenn & Nate

The Heart of the Home

It seems the heart of any home, no matter how you define yours is...the Kitchen! Everyone congregates around the kitchen during parties (why is that?!). No party, family dinner or last minute bbq is complete without food. Food brings people together, and coming from a Jewish upbringing, it's all about combining food and family. 

We find ourselves wrapped warmly around the kitchen morning, noon and night, thinking about healthy and hearty dishes we get to conjure up for ourselves in our lovely little galley. It's an added challenge in such a small space, but works surprisingly well. During a portion of our 48 hour sail across the Gulf of Maine, we concocted a delicious dish in our minds that sounded both refreshing and easy to make with what we currently had stored in our settee pantry. Low and behold, the Aletheia Salad was born! We were grateful to offer this as a side dish for an Ingleside dinner party for seven. We also dream of homemade ketchup more often than we'd like to admit, so why not share the love!

Aletheia Salad
½ head cabbage (med-large)
Blend of mixed nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios, pecans)
¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette
¼ cup avocado oil
½ cup craisins
½ cucumber
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl to mix. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with additional nuts, craisins and/or Italian parsley.

Sunny's Homemade Ketchup
(disclaimer: I cannot take any credit for this recipe. My lovely mummy-in-law Sunny shared this recipe with me years ago). We love making it and it works great as a gift too!

2 cups tomato sauce
1 1/4 cups cider vinegar
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1/2 c. molasses
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp salt (celery salt if you have it)
1/2 c. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. allspice

Stir to blend, no cooking. I like to store in pretty, little glass jars I've collected from other items (jelly, sauces, etc.) Keep stored in fridge. 
Love to all,
Jenn & Nate

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Happy Fall!

It's officially Fall in Blue Hill, ME as the leaves begin to change and the small town starts to shut down for winter. It's raining on & off today as we sit on our mooring ball for our last day in Blue Hill at the Kollegewidgwok Yacht Club (KYC) before heading south towards Boston, MA. I'm cooking cornbread at the moment which fills the saloon with a sweet aroma. We also made homemade ketchup - I'll share this easy ketchup recipe as well as the Aletheia Salad in my next post! Today we are scrubbing grasses off the bottom, measuring cushions for new slip covers, practicing our docking skills, and restringing the foresail grommets to the boom - all good stuff for a Sunday afternoon!

Saturday night we attended a packed house at the local Congregational Church to celebrate, through musical talents, the minister who is retiring from the congregation after 28 years of service. It was a great concert full of local and varied talent, included the minster and his wife singing wonderful folk songs! One solo guitarist, particularly, sang a song about the “Last Day of Summer” when the small town shuts down for the frigid winter months, furniture covered up by worn white sheets, curtains cover the windows and residents wonder how the summers seem to pass by quicker each year until the spring thaw comes to dry this beautiful space. Mesmerized by these words, it reminded me about our time to head south is approaching, as we roll with the temperatures like migrating birds, following the warmth. I think fall surprised people this year and came quicker then expected. Anyone else notice the leaves changed overnight?!

Wyatt got fleas earlier this week so we've been trying to conquer those little buggers with medication, household cleaner, baths and cleaning the boat at all times! We hope they go away soon, because they are not welcome on this boat!

We continue to have a lovely visit with extended family these final days in Blue Hill. Ingleside is closing up for the winter as are other summer homes along the coast. We will sell our Honda Civic this afternoon to a local teacher – woohoo! We used Craigslist and overnight we had someone looking at the car and decided to purchase! This means we can leave on departure day, Monday, Sept 22. How is it late September already?! 

We plan to take a day sail to Merchant Row, about 30 miles southwest from Blue Hill. Our buddy boat, Heretic, owned by Dana and Gigi (father and mother of the bride) will also be there so we look forward to anchoring with them. It would be wonderful to sail with them too, but they sail more efficiently than Aletheia, but we're ok with that!

Here are some photos to share, including our anticipated portable fridge/freezer - a Whynter Portable Freezer - oh the milk, cheese and cold beer we take for granted!

Wet dog outside Ingleside porch
Another shot of the wedding car - so cool!
Ceremony Site at high tide
Our fridge with Long Trail beers!
Nice and snug next to the stove
Nothing like fresh, non-refrigerated eggs (Thanks Sunny & Nat!)
Daysail on Heretic - light winds
Nate built us our first fire in "The Hobbit" - it was COLD outside!
Dolly Fisher Benefit Concert at the Congo Church - great talent in this town!
Nate decorated my breakfast plate with peaches
Love to all!
Nate & Jenn

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lobster Pots Everywhere - Welcome to Maine!

I witnessed the seaweed taking possession around the propeller, sun shimmering between the keel and rudder on this windless evening. Boldness volunteered my hand to shear off two handfuls of weeds that stunted us from steering ahead. The safety line around my arm held me to Aletheia, the small knife around my wrist provided the tool to release Aletheia from her seaweed chain. I descended into Maine saltwater, warmer than expected, adrenaline keeping me afloat, and plunged twice at the prop to knife away the ocean's weeds. A moment of proving nothing but to myself. 

We've been having a wonderful, yet short-lived visit in Blue Hill, ME. Arriving last Thursday under rainy, squally conditions, we celebrated a 3rd generation wedding in Blue Hill this past weekend. Congrats again to Elissa & Doug!

It's hard to believe it's been one week since we landed back into US waters. Sailing by the weather, we departed Shelburne, NS on the eve of Monday, Sept 8th after docking (for the first time!) for the afternoon, cooking a few provisions that we could eat while under sail and napping as best we could knowing we had a big leap to make across international waters. 

We ninja'ed our way out from the Shelburne Yacht Club under the electric motor and began our journey hoping for the forecasted North-Northwest winds to push us downwind. We slowly inched our way out of Shelburne Harbor with a bit of disappointment. Nate took the first night watch and we bobbed for nearly his entire shift with very little wind. We felt a bit concerned due to the fact that we left Shelburne when we did to time the Bay of Fundy currents. We turned for a nearby anchorage and received a great upwind sail, so much so that we decided to turn back around to find the best downwind position on the sails we could manage. From that moment, Aletheia essentially sailed downwind the entire duration of the passage, roughly 120 miles, which saved us both time and a feeling of discouragement.

During part of our passage, we came across the Overfalls, a topographic area off the mainland of Nova Scotia, in which the water depth falls from nearly 40 ft to 160 ft causing waves in the middle of the ocean. We lost a few hours because as the waves were surfing us b/w 4-5 knots (~5mph), we were only sailing around 1kt (~1mph) so not going very fast.

We continued our way across the Gulf of Maine, took 3 hour shifts between 7PM-7AM for two days, eating 3 meals/day, snacking, listening to podcasts and music, monitoring any nearby cruise ships, surfing b/w 4.5-6.5kts all night, and watching the bright moon playing peek-a-boo behind the clouds. After the sun came up on Wednesday, Sept 10th, we regained a new spirit knowing we were with a 12-hour window of landing in Southwest Harbor, ME. Starting the morning off right, we continued to sail downwind b/w 4-5kts the entire way. As the sun warmed our spirits we came upon a whale watching area and just happened to see a whale spray water from its blowhole - it would have been much more exciting had we been closer and the huge whale-watching boat been farther away. We wondered if the charter company happened to track the whales via GPS to "guarantee" to see a whale. It's one theory anyway!

Nate spotted land (Mt. Desert Island) and we jumped for joy! Being seabound for nearly 40 hours, this was a wonderful and elated emotion. As the day wore, the sun warmed our souls, yet the wind disappeared which didn't make our arrival any faster, instead it delayed it considerably. The final 10 hours of our 48-hour passage was full of obstacles including an obscene amount of lobster pots, no wind, seaweed wrapped around our propeller which decreased our speed and steerage, a shipping lane complete with an oncoming cruise ship (while we had no speed or steerage), fog, nightfall and a minefield of more lobster pots. We barely managed to keep our wits about us as I became Nate's eyes to locate every lobster pot as we entered Southwest Harbor (our port to clear customs) in the dark. Maneuvering from port to starboard every 5 seconds with a spotlight in hand felt like a never ending battle. The pots began to thin out and we came upon the anchorage in which we quickly picked up a lovely mooring ball, rewarded ourselves with a big, fat kiss, called our parents and quickly went to bed feeling exhausted and relieved to the bone. After exactly 48 hours, we had done what I would have expressed as scary and overwhelming just one month ago.

The entire passage experience, although anxious at first, went better than expected despite its challenges, wishing the boat would stop for just a moment of relief, we worked well together, encouraged one another and got to our final destination in Blue Hill, ME. I am more than proud of us and completely trusting of Nate because of our recent experience together. 

We enjoyed having family aboard Aletheia over the past weekend. There was so much love added to her foundation. Thanks to Sunny & Nat for bringing a wonderful and selfless amount of homegrown produce (potatoes, garlic, onions, eggs, squash) as well as making some sewn bags for the head toilet paper, kitchen trashbag and firewood bags for The Hobbit! Sheree asked Sunny to deliver a bottle of champagne to toast this celebration and we plan to have a toast with Sunny, Nat and Sheree while visiting Boston in ~ 2 weeks. Such an endearing mother I have! 

And thanks to Malcolm for lugging our leftover packages of possessions we thought we would like to have aboard earlier this summer as we packed up. He also graciously drove us back to Halifax, NS this past Sunday to pick up our Honda which we are now in the process of selling. We hope to sell the vehicle within the next few days, otherwise, we'll donate to a local organization. 

Here are some recent photos from our week:
View from under the hard awesomeness dodger
Drying laundry
Land Oh! Mt. Desert Island behind those clouds!
A hawk friend taking a rest on the pulpit
Moored in Southwest Harbor, ME - a beautiful site
Sailing downwind - wing-n-wing
Trapped at the moment - not a favorite spot of Wyatt's
A landmark in Blue Hill, ME - scallop & lobster rolls! 
Dana made 12 boat racing centerpieces for the Friday night BBQ
Wedding at Ingleside
Parking Attendants
Classy Newlyweds Reception Car!

Love to all!
Jenn & Nate