SUMMER CRUISING (NOT) 2023: Hurricanes and Other Complications


Sept. 26/2023:  Having failed to do as much sailing as I would have liked through July and August, I had big plans to get a bunch of cruising in during September and blocked off the middle two weeks as non-stop boat time. One big fly in that ointment was Hurricane Lee; the other was a continuing lack of wind during times when the Maine coast was not plagued by Lee.

For a while it was looking like Lee was going to hit the middle of the Maine coast bang on, and folks were scrambling about like the proverbial headless chickens prepping boats for the tempest. In the end, he came ashore in western Nova Scotia (see image up top), and Portland, where Lunacy is moored, did not suffer too badly.

Lunacy on her mooring, prepped with headsail off and boom bag strapped up, during the height of the blow, around noon on Saturday, September 16. The water is flat, as this is a very protected spot. I’d say it was blowing a steady 20-25 knots, with gusts over 30. My biggest concern were the two semi-derelict boats (either side of  Lunacy in the foreground), anchored nearby on light ground tackle. Both these boats are inhabited and have been anchored in these spots most of the summer. I was afraid the one on the left in particular, whose owner hadn’t even bothered to strip off or even fold up the cockpit canvas, would drag down on Lunacy. Fortunately, all boats seen here survived no problem!


Well before Lee came along, Lunacy spent time out of the water and some problems were addressed. The batteries were replaced (see previous post in the Lunacy Report), some fresh bottom paint went on, and some engine maintenance transpired. I also replaced the tiny vane on the masthead wind sensor that has been repeatedly raped by osprey.

This was all that was left of the last sensor vane after the osprey were done sitting on it. This is the third one they’ve destroyed. The stock NKE vanes are little bits of carbon fiber that are quite brittle and easily damaged when sat upon. They are also quite expensive!


This is Jay, the child formerly known as my daughter, getting ready to go up the mast to install the replacement vane. I fabricated the new vane from some plastic packaging. I used a mostly intact NKE vane as a template. This new homemade vane is fairly flexible, and osprey (I’m hoping) can sit on it without it breaking


Jay at the masthead, finishing the job


Jay also helped me bend the genoa back on after Lee had passed. This was done in a rising wind, and the sail was flogging quite a bit as it went up. Enough to tie this fine wind-knot in the sheet


As soon as we got the headsail back on, I bid Jay adieu and skedaddled up the bay under headsail alone before a breeze by then gusting to over 25 knots. This, sad to say, was the only decent sailing breeze I’ve seen all summer.

En route to the Goslings, I sailed right past Rising Sun, a modest 456-foot motoryacht that was anchored out north of Portland. She originally was built for Larry Ellison and now belongs to David Geffen. I waved, but no one waved back


I also spotted at a distance another Boreal, belonging to Michael Lambert, who was motoring against the wind down to Falmouth Foreside. He snapped this shot of me sailing north toward the Goslings and sent it to me soon afterward


Parked at the Goslings


In other summer news: I had a chance to get back aboard my old Golden Hind 31 Sophie! She’s been on a mooring in the Piscataqua River, not far from my house in Portsmouth, for the past two summers. I finally connected with her current owner, Jonathan Leonard, a carpenter who’s been working on a big renovation project down the street from me.

Jonathan and his partner Shelley Frost with their dog Ginger aboard Sophie in the river. I spent some time sharing what I remembered about the rig and showed them how to hoist and reef the mainsail


Later on Jonathan dried out the boat so he could scrub her bottom. First time in a long time, as I understand it. I did not witness this and have yet to debrief Jonathan on how it went. This photo is courtesy of my neighbor Steve Buczko


Now the summer is rapidly waning, and I’m hoping that wind at last will come to the Gulf of Maine so I can do a wee bit of cruising before taking the boat south for the winter.

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