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Grenada Again... 2008
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Back to the Windwards - December 2007
Venezuela 2007
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Gosport to the Caribbean 2006
Photo Gallery 2009
Photo Gallery 2008
Photo Gallery 2007
Photo Gallery 2006

Our passage started off with nice winds although we did have a few boisterous waves leaping into the cockpit.

We were passing all our old haunts and, whilst it would have been nice to stop and enjoy a few of the Islands, we wanted to get up to the USA before the hurricane season started. We passed Montserrat on day 2 and were only 22 miles from Antigua.... so near, yet so far !!

The Soufriere Hills Volcano on Montserrat

Once we left the Caribbean Sea behind, the seas became a little smoother and less choppy much to the crew's delight. Unfortunately, we were still encountering tons of the Saragasso Weed that had buggered up our Aquagen on the trip to Grenada and it was still being a pain.

This was a real shame as the new stainless steel blades we'd had made in South Africa were working a treat. Additionally, due to Oscar's ineptitude with fitting the new fridge, it was using 5amps per hour so our batteries were struggling to keep up and we were having to run the engine to provide a decent charge once a day.

On top of all this, our Alternator decided to play games and Roger had to complete yet another “Blue Peter bodge” to get the battery charger to work – this one involving some cable and a couple of light bulbs. It's probably best not to ask....

Mr. Cool...

After a week, the winds had decreased significantly and we were expecting fickle winds until at least 37' N. We were progressing slowly but surely and the rainstorms were providing us with nice showers although Monty & Basil were still running down below to hide every time it rained... We were about 500 miles from Bermuda but it was still our intention to go straight to Newport.

We finally had a good run on the 18th after 4 days of virtually no wind and moving along at only 2 knots. The forecast now showed some 50+ knot winds due in the Cape Hatteras latitude. The decision was to go slow to stay behind it – As the Skipper said “It shouldn't be too difficult with our progress to date” !!

We had a quiet couple of nights and then the wind picked up. Bermuda was now only 150 miles away and getting VERY tempting... The night was very wet and windy when we finally crossed the Gulfstream but we were nearly there. We were all looking forward to relaxing in the US.

Finally, we reached Newport, Rhode Island, USA on 26th June after a very slow 19 days and 1,845 miles.

Trying to check in with Customs was a bit arduous and far more difficult than we had expected. We had contacted CBP (Customs & Border Patrol) by e-mail to let them know that we were arriving. Unfortunately, their “Centre of Operations” is some 500 miles away and they couldn't comprehend that we didn't have a contact telephone number so we hung around on the Fuel Pontoon at the Newport Yachting Centre Marina waiting for the Customs Chap to turn up. The Marina guys were really nice (especially as we weren't buying any fuel) when we were still sitting there waiting 4 1/2 hours later... That having been said, the Customs Chap couldn't have been nicer when he finally arrived and he made us feel really welcome.

At last......... After 161 nights at sea since we had left Nelson last May, we could relax. The Skipper promised that we would have no more night passages for the rest of the season –  Yo !!!

Bearing in mind, we do not drink any alcohol when we are on passage, our livers must have been feeling mighty fine...

Newport was a great little place – really buzzy and lots of yachts around. We found a nice little spot to anchor and just chilled.

The OCC “Southern New England Rally” arrived in Newport a few days after we got there. It was great to meet Bill Balme and his fellow cruisers and we had a very nice Dinner out with them all. We were feeling just too lazy to join the rally so we stayed and chilled some more when they left for their next port of call...

4th July Fireworks

We had noticed during our last passage that Monty had been having a bit of difficulty with his back legs. We knew that he had luxating patellas (dodgy knees) which is why he often used to skip rather than run but they seemed to have got worse. We booked him in to have surgery but, sadly, he had a severe adverse reaction to the anaesthetic and did not pull through.

We had lost our darling little circumnavigator and were totally devastated. We had spent the last 6 years catering to his every whim with our lives totally revolving around the little chap and the boat seemed so very empty. Poor old Basil didn't know what to do with himself.

Monty hard at work back in 2009

After a few days of being totally miserable and not really knowing what to do with ourselves, we decided that the only way forward was to get another buddy for Basil – a real knee jerk reaction. Vicki spent 2 days contacting Havanese Breeders to try and find an available puppy. Surprisingly, a couple of the Breeders remembered us from when we got Basil back in 2011. Following numerous telephone calls, we finally found a really nice lady in New Jersey who had two litters born in May and 6 little boys. So, off we tootled to hire a car. We drove through 5 States and the round trip from Newport was just over 500 miles but it was worth it....

Having seen Mum (who was the spitting image of Monty) and Dad, we knew we had found the newest member of the Mortimer Family.

Mum & Puppies


In fact, he had found us – there was no doubt which Puppy was meant for us even though we had originally gone with a different pup in mind.

We returned home to the boat with a little ball of fluff – Archie - who was rapidly licking us all into shape in typical Monty style.... Whilst he can never replace Monty, he managed to bring the Boat back to life and was pulling, pushing and stretching Basil all over the place...

Making himself at home...

After all that driving and the stress that went with it, Roger had a quiet Birthday enjoying his new present who was determined to test his baby teeth on everything that moved and a lot of stuff that didn't !!!

Birthday Boy...

We finally left Newport on 14th July and for the first time in years we decided to sail with the Wind rather than bash to go where we had planned. We had a great 15 mile sail around to Dutch Harbour and the newest member of the crew seemed to quite enjoy having the wind in his hair....

We lingered in Dutch Harbour for 6 days and did not even bother launching the dinghy !! Basil was getting enough exercise being chased all around the deck by the little fluffball and we were quite happy just to watch...

We stopped off at Cutty Hunk for one night en route to Martha's Vineyard where we anchored in Vineyard Haven for a few days.

It was nice and relaxing and we did launch the dinghy if only to get a Supermarket fix... It was a very pretty little place but, unfortunately, you could not buy a Beer in the only Pub unless you had a meal – very disappointing.

Basil and Archie were now playing “chase” properly although poor old Basil's ears were getting a bit of a battering.

Once we left Martha's Vineyard, we headed up through the Cape Cod Canal to Provincetown for a few days (extortionate 'Pub Grub' prices) and then on to Boston.

We had booked a Mooring Buoy at the Sailing Club but, having watched 2 collisions between boats that were clearly too big for the moorings, Vicki called the Boston Waterfront Marina (which Roger had previously been told was full) using her best “Queen” voice and a buoy was immediately made available !!

We only stopped for the weekend but it was certainly a fun place. We did the “Duck Tour” which is a sightseeing tour of the City on a World War II amphibious landing vehicle (very touristy and an absolute scream) followed by the requisite visit to the “Cheers” Bar – for those of you who remember Sam Malone from the 80's sitcom, it was very nostalgic and just had to be done...

Faneuil Hall was also a great place to visit - It has been a Market and Meeting Place since 1743 and was the site of many speeches made by Samuel Adams and others encouraging independence from Britain. Nowadays, it is an 'eatery' with hundreds of different food options available.

We also found time to stop at the obligatory Irish pub to check out the Guinness and Vicki even managed to get some Laundry done.

Then it was time to leave before we got too comfortable. We had a cracking Spinnaker run up to Rockport where we found a lovely big anchorage which, unfortunately, was crammed with hundreds of Lobster pots.

We managed to find a nice gap and then watched a Windjammer {a large yacht built to carry cargo on long voyages in the 19th and early 20th century} arrive and anchor right in the middle of the pots. So now we knew that's what you should do which will certainly make life a lot easier in the future...

Our friends, Roger and Amy (S/v Shango) live in Newburyport. We met them in Durban and they also finished their circumnavigation this year. They had moved back into their home and were enjoying being “proper” Pensioners.

We had arranged to leave El Vagabond here for the Winter so we thought that we would pop in to see the layout. Just outside the 'not too simple' entrance to the Merrimac River we seemed to be playing “chicken” with a fishing boat. Roger thought he was winning but the idiot came on and on towards us until, just before we were about to do our dramatic 90' turn, the Fisherman Driver appeared on deck and turned instead – clearly, we were playing with a driverless boat !!

Furthermore, the complicated approach combined with the 4 knot current shoving us into the River was not helped by some absolute Ar*e on a ferry sized 'fishing tourboat' sitting rather unhelpfully bang in front of the crucial Port marker we were looking for. Aargh...

Anyway, we managed to deal with the channel, dipped under the Bridge and arrived safely on the Mooring Buoy. It was great to see Amy and Roger enjoying their retirement and not really missing the cruising - this could be us next year...

The plan was to stay for a couple of days which turned into six – no surprise there. We reluctantly left as we were getting too comfortable especially once we found that we could dinghy up to the Town...

From Newburyport, we sailed North to Pepperell Cove in Portsmouth Harbour which was really cold, wet and windy... 

On 12th August we received our first taste of the Maine Fog that we had been warned about. We were just approaching York Harbour when it descended really quickly and our visibility was reduced to about 200 yards. We slowly shuffled our way into the harbour and picked up a vacant mooring buoy waiting for the fog to clear which it did within about an hour.

We had a good look around York as this was where we had booked our Cottage for the Winter. It looked like a nice area and the local Pub, the York Harbour Inn, seemed very friendly and served a good pint (Happy Hour = $4).
We only stopped for a couple of days before we were off again...

After a brief overnight stop in the New Meadow River, we arrived in Boothbay Harbour which was a quaint and friendly little Holiday Town with a lovely and well protected huge bay. Archie was still not allowed to go on land as he needed one more Vaccination at 16 weeks so Roger explored the local area with Basil.

There were some great little shops and numerous Restaurants and we enjoyed the 4 days spent here even though Roger had his head stuck in the Engine Room for one whole day fixing the cracked Alternator arm which was making everything else wobble.

We met another English couple on board their yacht “Seventh Heaven” who had just come South from Halifax and who kindly invited us over for Sundowners and to chat about sailing adventures (as all Cruisers like to do). We swapped a bottle of our South African wine for one of their charts as we were still hopeful of getting up to Canada later this Summer.

Having thought we had experienced Maine Fog a few days earlier when approaching York, we soon realised that was not the case.... This was our first real taste.... 6 miles out from the Harbour, the very thick fog descended very rapidly and our visibilty was suddenly reduced to 50 yards or less. We picked our way very, very slowly through the Lobster pots, kept a close ear on the VHF, a close eye on MaxSea {Electronic Chart} and avoided the yacht who suddenly loomed out of nowhere. After a difficult couple of hours we dropped our anchor and breathed huge sighs of relief. Ugh !!! We ended up staying there for 3 days waiting for the fog to lift...

Once the sky was clear again, we set off for Rockland and then Stonington. By now, Archie's sealegs were going from strength to strength as was Basil's patience with the little Monster. We were also learning rapidly how to avoid those darn Lobster pots.

Just a quick nap...

Yet again, the fog descended – this time just as we were about to enter a narrow channel between Islands known as the Fox Island Thorofare.

Luckily for us, a local tourist-carrying Windjammer was just ahead of us so we followed his Stern through the channel past North Haven and Stonington until the fog lifted and we then found a very pretty anchorage between Bold & Camp Islands. It reminded us a little of Chile except, of course, there were other boats around and millions of Lobster pots !!!!

The morning after our arrival, we awoke looking forward to exploring the little uninhabited Islands surrounding us but, alas, the fog had returned and we had to wait another 3 days before it lifted.

We had a nice sail up to South West Harbour marred only by catching a Lobster pot on our Propeller. Well, three actually and after half an hour in the cold water, Roger finally managed to cut them all off.
Once we had anchored, we dinghied into the Village, found a nice Pub and caught up on our Internet in the Library.

Lobster fishing is the main occupation...

We stayed for a couple of days and then sailed across to Little Cranberry Island (size : approx 200 acres) which was a pretty little place with a lovely Lobster Restaurant on the Dockside. Roger has now had his first “Maine Lobster” (no doubt, many more will follow as we will be in Maine until next May).

We also had a bit of luck as the “Dockside Vet Service” was tied to the Village dock as we arrived and a very nice lady Vet gave Archie his last Puppy shots and Rabies Vaccination so he could now run around on Land and go for walks with Basil. Not sure how pleased Basil was feeling about the whole thing as he now had no respite from the constant ear and tail pulling !!!

Apparently, Margaret (who is George Bush senior's Vet) and her husband cruise Maine in their MotorBoat for 3 months every Summer and she provides a Vet service for the smaller Islands. She was only at the Dock for 3 hours so we were very lucky to have arrived at the same time.

The following morning Archie went for his first walk on land which was actually a 90% carry!!

We then sailed back to South West Harbour and after dropping our anchor a local chap dinghied over and kindly offered to let us use his guest mooring buoy for free. This was in a nice calm part of the anchorage which was great.

In addition, we were entertained by the local OCC Port Officer – Suzie - who, not only took Roger to her Golf Club to play in a “Scramble” competition, but also drove us all around the Arcadia National Park to get a feel for the Island.

We had a great week but felt we may be overstaying our welcome on the buoy so, reluctantly, we moved on to Bar Harbour which was a much busier little place and which seemed to have Cruise Ships visiting almost every day….

Having said that, there were lots of Bars & Restaurants and we were enjoying the Happy Hour $3 pints together with the dog walking opportunities. Much to the entertainment of the visiting Cruise Ship guests, Archie was still pulling Basil’s ears whenever we went out….

It was very difficult to drag ourselves away from Mount Desert island but, on the basis that we would stop there again on the way back down, we finally left and sailed up to Grand Manan Island – our first time in Canadian waters.

This Island was a bit like a “One Horse Town” when the Horse was on holiday !! We had fun & games with Customs when we tried to check in as they were a 'drive and a ferry ride' away... They agreed to log our arrival pending completion of the paperwork when we arrived in St. Andrews. What nice people.

Lobster season closed for now...

It was starting to get a lot colder now so we were very glad that Monty's clothes seemed to fit the little Monster...

The next day saw us sailing to St. Andrews in Passamaquoddy Bay. We had timed the tides perfectly and had a really good sail.

We anchored on the edge of the mooring field even though the Harbourmaster offered us a free Mooring Buoy. The Customs chaps duly turned up and stamped our Passports and we enjoyed the Canadian hospitality for 5 days. People couldn't have been nicer even offering to drive us to the Petrol Station so we could pick up fuel.

Trying to control Archie in the Botannical Gardens

We left St Andrews for Campobello Island and braved “Old Sow” which, luckily and to Vicki's great relief, was like a millpond.

{NB Old Sow is the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere, located off the southwestern shore of Deer Island, New Brunswick in Canada and the northeast shore of Moose Island, the principal island of Eastport, Maine in the USA.

According to mythical etymology the name "Old Sow" is derived from "pig-like" noises the whirlpool makes when churning; however, a more likely origin is the word "sough" (pronounced "suff"), defined as a "drain", or a "sucking sound". Tremendous water turbulence occurs locally in the greater Old Sow area and craft are warned to avoid these waters when the tide is running.

Besides Old Sow and its numerous "piglets" (small and medium whirlpools surrounding Old Sow), other area phenomena include standing waves, upwellings (that on rare occasion may even spout several feet into the air), and 10 to 17 foot deep or more, circular and trench-shaped depressions in the water}.

Campobello Island is only small – about 15 square miles but is famous as being Franklin D. Roosevelt's Summer home. He owned a 34-room "cottage" on the island which he used as a summer retreat until 1939. He also designed his own 9 hole Golf Course on the Island which is now a public course being part of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park.

It was at Campobello in August 1921 that the future president fell ill and was diagnosed with polio which resulted in his total and permanent paralysis from the waist down. Roosevelt never again stood or walked unassisted.

Of course, it would have been rude not to play a round of Golf and Roger was not disappointed. It was a stunning course and only cost $10. The club even gave us a lift back to the dinghy dock – what fantastic service.

That ended our brief foray into Canada as time was slipping away and we had to get back to Newburyport to leave El Vagabond for the Winter.

We reluctantly left Campobello on 24th September for the joys of the Maine Lobster pots. We romped along with the current at 7.5 knots and anchored in a pretty little secluded place that we had missed on the way up called “Mistake Island Harbour” on Great Wass Island.  

We only stopped for one night before making our way South to Mount Desert Island to check back in with USA Customs (CBP) who kindly gave us another 6 months' entry despite having a very strange conversation about Canada not being a foreign Country...

Checking out the charts...

We left SW Harbour early on 26th September to get some miles under our belts but proceeded to get caught by a Lobster pot which we were happily towing along at 2 knots... We launched the baby dinghy so that Roger could get nearer to the water to cut the line. It was very lumpy with 20 knots of wind against the tide and he took great satisfaction in cutting it free.

However, it was obviously not our day for pots as, only a little while later, we had “caught” another one. Despite all our attempts to get it free, it was just too deep. A couple of fishermen came over to help but, in the end, Roger had to don his wetsuit and dive under the boat with a knife. By this time, the boat was dancing about all over the place in the wind and Vicki was very worried that Roger would crack his skull on the hull.

One of the fishing boats kindly hung around to make sure that all was ok and told us not to worry but to just “cut the bloody thing off”. It was over 2 metres under the water but on the second attempt Roger managed to get it – El Vag 2, Lobster Pots 0...

It all seemed so unfair as we do keep a really good lookout for the little buggers. Unfortunately, because of the ripping currents in the area, these pots have two lines to their buoys – sometimes 5 yards apart so it is very easy to catch the joining line under the hull or around the propeller.

We were now 'all systems go' to get to the anchorage before dark but, whilst we were checking the chart, we picked up yet another one.... aargh.... This time, we turned the dinghy anchor into a Lobster line killer and were quick enough to pull the rope out of our wake to enable us to cut it.

All was good until we heard the bash-bash of another pot on our hull. We managed to make it into the anchorage, drop our hook and then Roger went back in the freezing cold water yet again and found another one caught around our Prop. We have no idea how the propeller still managed to turn but he cut this one off and we have held it hostage...

Final Score El Vagabond 4, Lobster Pots 0.

It was such a shame as we were cruising in a really scenic area and should have been enjoying the delights of a lovely little archipelago called Merchants Row. There were over 30 islands with super names such as “Sprout”, “Potato”, “Enchanted” and “Grog”. Unfortunately, the beauty of the Cruising area was completely ruined by the thousands (and I mean thousands) of Lobster pots littering the Sea.

What a day !!!

We would have liked to stay on McGlathery Island for longer as it looked so pretty but there was a dodgy forecast in 3 days and we didn't want to get stuck so we motor sailed down to Tenants Harbour. There was only one Pot incident and this just rolled under the hull without getting stuck – phew.

Without fog, Tenants Harbour looked totally different and quite pretty. One more day saw us back in Boothbay Harbour where we stopped for 10 days waiting to see what would happen to Hurricane Joaquin. Luckily, it stayed further South and didn't get anywhere near us but it was a good excuse to linger in Boothbay...

And to find time for another Lobster dinner

It was now getting pretty cold and wet and we were really looking forward to getting into our little Cottage for the Winter.

We had managed to get Wifi on board in the Harbour so had caught up on our e-mails and also established that we could get the 'Old Girl' out of the water in Portsmouth Harbour for the Winter which was a lot closer to York than Newburyport.

We booked her into the Great Cove Boat Club in Eliot, Maine and arrived there on 9th October to pick up a Mooring buoy. 

Our Cottage was booked from 11th October and, after a couple of days sorting out a few things on board and buying an old Ford Explorer, we moved in on the 12th.

We had covered 801 miles since arriving in Newport, all of which had been done by day sailing – Despite the Fog and the Lobster Pots, we had had a great time... 

El Vagabond was hauled out of the water on 27th October and it was the easiest haul-out we have ever experienced.

Butch, the Boat Club Manager, picked us up from the Mooring Buoy with his launch and towed us over to the slip where the lorry literally picked us up on it's hydraulic trailer and popped us back down again on the hard - no lines to worry about, no having to reverse into a narrow space, no having to remove our forestay and NO angst.. Bliss...

Unfortunately, it looked as though we had half the Atlantic attached to our hull... Nice job for Roger...