NORTHBOUND LUNACY 2020: Pandemic Delivery to Maine, Phase 2


June 1/2020: I am sure you all remember Adam “Cuddles” Cort, my colleague from SAIL (above), who helped sail Lunacy north from Bermuda to New England last year. Fortunately for me, Adam had agreed to join the boat in the Cape May for part two of this year’s northbound trek from Georgia. Fortunately for him, because I decided to leave the boat in Cape May for a while, I was able to swoop into Somerville, MA, in the car I borrowed from my brother, to pick him up and personally drive him down to New Jersey to join the boat.

My brother dropped us off at the Trump-flag-infested South Jersey Marina late in the afternoon on Wednesday, May 27, and we dropped lines and headed out at 0950 the following morning. In terms of wind, we had a great WX window in front of us, and this, thankfully, played out as expected. In terms of fog, we got a lot more than our fair share, but given the fair wind we were not inclined to complain about it.

For the first eight hours, as forecast, we had a light northeasterly breeze that we just motorsailed into while wreathed in semi-thick fog. After dinner that first evening the wind finally had veered into the southeast, and also increased a bit, so we were able to shut down the engine and sail a rhumbline course toward Block Island on a moderately paced close reach.

And the fog dissipated too!


The orgasm of silence… achieved

By midnight, however, the fog had returned and stayed with us through the rest of that night.

We found ourselves cruising in company with two other sailing vessels. One of these, Saudade, a 49-footer, we had in sight close aboard for a while during our first evening. The other, Skalliwag, was a Pacific Seacraft 37 with a singlehander aboard that we only saw once or twice from a distance. We were within a few miles of both boats all through Thursday, until we reached the east end of Long Island, where they finally broke off to sail north of Block Island toward Newport. Meanwhile, we carried on south of Block toward the mouth of Buzzards Bay.

Saudade on our starboard quarter. I do recognize the logo on the sail, but can’t remember what brand of boat it denotes. One thing for sure, this boat has plenty of windows! I don’t why they had their pole rigged out to windward. It was like this the whole time we had them in sight

Adam was disappointed to learn I didn’t have a current copy of Eldridge’s onboard, but was perfectly happy studying the 2017 edition he found on my bookshelf

By Thursday night the wind had picked up a good bit, blowing about 24 knots true far enough south that our apparent angle was now a bit behind the beam. We tucked a reef in the main and made fast progress across Block Island Sound in light fog and rain.

We crept in behind Cuttyhunk Island, unable to see anything, and dropped anchor there at 0304 in the windy dark of early Friday morning. We copped some Z’s, enjoyed a lazy breakfast, then took off again at 0940, still in a thick of fog. It was the second time, Adam noted, that he’d visited Cuttyhunk with me without ever seeing the island.

Now the wind was southwest, blowing a firm 25 knots true, so we didn’t even bother raising the main. We just unrolled the genoa and swished up Buzzard’s Bay, reaching the Cape Cod Canal around noon. The fog clung to us as we motored through the canal, then disappeared on the other side. For a while anyway. Visibility dialed up and down through the rest of that afternoon and on through the night. The wind meanwhile stayed right on our butt and also stayed strong, with sustained gusts sometimes to 27 and 28 knots true. Just once it briefly touched 29. Again, the genoa was all we needed to make good progress.

The skipper, explaining to the boat which way to go

Sunset on Friday evening as we crossed Massachusetts Bay east of Boston

What? Stir-fry for dinner again?

By sunrise on Saturday we were again well buried in fog, the thickest we’d seen, with visibility not more than a tenth of a mile. Slowly, however, as we passed Cape Elizabeth and the sun climbed a bit higher, it dissipated a bit.

The sun emerges

Finally, shortly after 0900, I went below to use the head. I stayed a while, as I’d just had coffee and my bowels were loose. When I emerged again I found the fog had entirely disappeared and a bright sunny day was fully underway.

What a relief!

Voyage complete! Passing Portland Head as we head into Portland Harbor to Lunacy’s mooring

Pandemic Notes: I had originally thought I would keep Lunacy at Portsmouth for a while before taking her on to Portland, so I could complete a few jobs on the boat close to home. But the harbormaster who manages the mooring field just across the river in Kittery had announced anyone arriving there from out of state would have to quarantine aboard for 14 days before coming ashore. The Wentworth Marina in New Castle, my other local parking option, has no quarantine requirement, but they are expensive, and I realized it might be a while before I could take the boat on to Portland.

Fortunately, my home base at the Maine Yacht Center in Portland was also not enforcing a quarantine, so in the end I decided to go straight there, particularly as I had such a nice southwest breeze to take advantage of.

Of course Adam and I took all appropriate precautions during the brief time we were in New Jersey.

Current Events: OMG. During the three days we spent sailing from NJ to ME it seems the nation has come unhinged. Every time we came close enough to shore to get cell service we found the news reports increasingly disturbing. First the ridiculous encounter between the dog-walker and bird-watcher in Central Park. And then the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis and all the protests and rioting that has provoked around the country. And then the president, throwing fuel on the fire, with comments cribbed from George Wallace that Twitter, formerly his enabler, thoughtfully flagged as incendiary.

You’ll recall also that this little adventure started in Brunswick, Georgia, where my brother and I just missed a demonstration protesting the murder there of Ahmaud Arbery.

All this, and a global pandemic too.

I could editorialize at some length on what transpired while I was sailing, but will restrict myself to this: Black Lives Do Matter

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