As we have been adjusting to life back on land, I wanted to share some photos, funny moments and provide a general wrap-up of Rover’s first year of adventures. Let’s start at the beginning of 2020 with Rover in Fort Lauderdale. Rich lived abroad and did lots of work in getting our sailing home ready for our future trips. In January and February of 2020, Brian, Lisa, and I enjoyed several trips to Florida sailing from Fort Lauderdale to Miami and Key Biscayne. However, like everyone, Covid19 had some other plans for us. Fearing Rover and Rich may get stuck in Florida, which was very real as marinas were closed and we were hearing bridges would be shut to pleasure traffic, our “extraction” mission started with B, Lisa, and I driving nonstop in the night to Fort Lauderdale in a rental SUV with a cooler filled with food and supplies. Fearing that diesel would be cut off as well, Rover’s tanks were filled the day before the gas docks closed! Whew, luck was with us! We set sail from Florida nonstop back to Annapolis, what better way to start our quarantine than on a boat in the Atlantic Ocean? The creepiest part was all the dozens of ‘ghost’ cruise ships off the coast of Florida moving around in circles to power their systems, with no passengers aboard. Maybe foreshadowing of an impending viral pandemic, eh? We safely arrived in the Chesapeake Bay the day the Governor of Maryland shut everything down, after a fast 100-hour passage and sporty conditions off Cape Hatteras, gusting over 40 knots and big 10-12 foot seas. We made it to AYC, and Rover sat for the next couple months as we weren’t allowed aboard. Team Rover then quarantined at our respective homes. Once stores were opened and boating was allowed again in the late spring, Rover was prepped for the next part of our adventure, detailed in previous blog entries, and began in June 2020.
YouTube channels can be credited with generating excitement about sailing and bringing people into the sport, but those of us who have lived aboard cruising boats for extended spells know that they also paint an unrealistically rosy picture of what the cruising lifestyle is really about. We also know that in many cases YouTubers set bad examples – for example by choosing to cross the Atlantic in a cruising catamaran dangerously late in the season as a publicity stunt, or filming themselves offshore prancing around on deck on the ocean with no jacklines, let along tethers or PFDs. Continue reading Lessons From a YouTube Casualty→
Rover is hauled out for the winter here in Annapolis and I’ve spent essentially every free moment for the last two weeks getting her winterized. The process has been about what I expected, which is to say confirmation of why it’s easier to sail these boats 1,000 or more miles south to somewhere warm than to winterize them! Here’s a short list of the task list with some details on the methods I chose: Continue reading Winterizing The Hylas 54 Is a BEAR→
We know the seasons are changing as the leaves are turning red and orange in New England. The temperatures are cooler, the sun rises later and sets earlier, and the water temps are becoming chilly. The weather is at the center of this journey and as Fall takes hold, more and more “gales” and fronts have altered some of our travel plans. Originally, the plan was to sail from Provincetown to Nantucket along the outer Atlantic coast of Cape Cod and hopefully see some sharks and maybe more whales, but hurricane Teddy had other plans for us with big breeze and waves. Instead, we chose the inside route again through the Cape Cod Canal and stopped a few days in Onset, Ma. This town is at the southwest end of the canal. A lovely anchorage and mooring field with accessibility to a gas dock and water, etc. The yacht club like all the clubs along our summer route were closed to outside guests with no reciprocity due to Covid. It was a great SUP locale but the town was not too special…not even a coffee shop…what? We left after 2 days and timed the raging 4 knot current through Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven, Martha’s Vineyard, home of the original Black Dog. This was a quick 1.5 day stop en route to Nantucket. We will be back to MV just need to keep moving again due the weather. Brian and I were able to enjoy some time in Vineyard Haven. Coffee at Mocha Mott’s followed by a long bike ride on the west side of the island. Our Annapolis friends Peter and Margaret have a home in Vineyard Haven and kindly lent us their bikes for this adventure. We had a great lunch at Waterside Market on Main Street and a nice walk to the shops. We anchored in the harbor which is good, but has a lot of ferry traffic late at night and early morning, so definitely “rolly”.
After the gale passed yesterday, we found the breeze shifting to the west and easing somewhat, blowing around 20 with gusts to the upper 20s. With the right shift we found a terrible problem with swells bending around the northern corner of the island and coming to violently roll us on the beam. Some months ago Brian send me a link to a YouTube video showing how to rig a “swell bridle” for this situation. The technique involves tying a long line to the anchor chain with a rolling hitch, running it aft to the transom, and then easing out the chain enough that effectively you wind up a gigantic bridle that will hold the boat in the direction you choose (based on how much chain you let out from the bow). We decided to try it out, and it worked great! We were able to point the bow straight into the waves and be far more comfortable even though the waves coming off the Sound were so big they actually caused the boat to pound lightly on occasion! Check out the results in these videos:
We are currently on a slow cruise back from Maine to Annapolis via Long Island Sound, and after dropping anchor in Stonington, Connecticut this past Sunday (September 27) we checked the forecast and saw this rather ominous graphical representation of the winds for Tuesday (September 29) night / early Wednesday (September 30) morning:
The remnants of hurricane Laura “forced” us into Bar Harbor for 2 weeks! Certainly not a problem as there is much to do here. I find it interesting that we are in Maine and this is the 3rd tropical storm/hurricane or weather event we had to duck from or remain holed up. Hmm, bad luck, wrong place/wrong time, global warming? Who knows, anyway, we had more opportunities to trek through Acadia National Park which is awesome. To review, Mount Desert (pronounced like your after dinner treat, dessert) Island is home to SW Harbor, NE Harbor, Seal Harbor, Bar Harbor, Acadia, and many more lovely places. Mountainous and surrounded by water, what more can you ask for?
Time flies when you are having fun! This is my excuse for being behind in blogging as we have been in Maine since the first of August. Last I left you we were heading to Portland for refuge from Hurricane Isaias. We stayed at a slip in Dimilo’s Old Port Marina in downtown Portland. This proved to be a great spot not only for weather protection, but, also for the wonderful people we met. Susan and Barry, on their Sabre 42 powerboat, hail from Massachusetts. They were a wealth of knowledge on cruising New England. We enjoyed socially distanced happy hours with good conversation and exchange of helpful tips for baking and cooking in the convection oven (more on that later). Immediately next to us was a Sabre 54 powerboat with owners Angelia and Gene and their 2 dogs, Ginger and Carolina. They planned to head to Eastport Maine which is the furthest north and east in Maine before Canada. Unfortunately for them and us, Canada is not allowing Americans in due to Covid. We looked forward to Nova Scotia, especially Brian who wanted to go to Oak Island and find the treasure (for all “Curse of Oak Island” tv show fans you would understand). Oh, well, maybe next time!! Angie and Gene rented a truck to pick up bikes for their trip. They kindly offered their truck to us for grocery shopping. This is the last Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods in Maine and even though both stores are only 0.5 miles from the marina the truck was invaluable to stock up on food and alcohol for the next several weeks. Trader Joes’ 2 buck and 3 buck chuck (cheap wine that tastes good) are onboard! Continue reading Lobster traps, Lobsters, and Lighthouses→
It all started when the seals on our windlass decided to pack it in over the weekend, leaking gear oil over the decks and into the anchor locker. Wanting to avoid getting water in the gear oil and fearing we could damage the windlass further if the oil level got too low, we motored to Southwest Harbor to see if we could get a marine shop to take the windlass in for a rebuild. Monday morning I took on the huge job getting it taken apart and removed from the boat. Continue reading My August Week Off From Work Was S**tty. Plain S**tty.→
Our WordPress website data shows that over the last six years of blogging my yacht reviews are the most popular posts with our readers by a considerable margin. The data surprised me somewhat, since I am neither an industry nor sailing professional. No matter – I love writing them and people seem to love reading them so I’m going to keep them coming! Having covered thousands of miles aboard our own 2006 Hylas 54, Rover, and as crew aboard the 2015 Hylas 56 Odette, I thought it was high time I put my reflections on these yachts down on paper for the benefit of anyone who might be interested. Moving forward, I plan to segment my yacht reviews into the following sections:
Designer’s Intended Use (to put the review in context)