BoatTalk 6/09/09

Published on June 9, 2009 by in Boattalk

Producers/Hosts: Alan Sprague & Mike Joyce Guest: Giffy Full What’s boatbuilding future look like? What’s the BoatTalk cruise about? Call in show

Continue Reading

First Delivery of the Season

Published on June 8, 2009 by in Talk


The way things worked out we could have slept for a couple of more hours.  We stayed on the boat Sunday night, ready to leave at first light- just as soon as we could see to dodge the lobster pots.  The first lobster boat went by at 4:10 AM.  Jay was snoring away louder than a minimally muffled fisherman.  I launched out of the bunk and realized it wasn’t morning yet.  By 5 AM though I got things fired up, the boatyard’s inflatable tied off on the mooring, and we were headed out of Bass Harbor bound for Greenwich Conneticut in a very sweet Morris M42.

We could have slept in because the next morning we were tied to the fuel dock at the Cape Cod Canal an hour before they were open for business.  And the morning after that we entered Greenwich Harbor in the dark and tied up in front of a hotel in sound and sight of I-95 at ten to 5 AM.  Bass Harbor, Maine to Greenwich, Conneticut, approximately 300 nautical miles, in 48 hours.  Hard to have a better trip.

Through the winters I think about delivering boats and wonder that it is one of my happy places.  That gets quickly reconfirmed.  Boat delivery is a sometimes strange but often wonderfull job.  Nice work if you can get it we say.  And of course sometimes it can suck.  There can be lots of different reasons.

A few years ago we were bringing a 40 footer back to Bass Harbor from Newport, Rhode Island and things were sucking particularly badly when I had a break through moment.  On that trip there was a chance the owner was coming with us and we were assured his wife had provisioned the boat.  Beef cup-a-soup and granola bars was about it.  I don’t eat beef soup and I forgot the honey for my tea.  And the weather wasn’t very good, it was wet and strongly wrong winded.  In Buzzards Bay we had an unexpected jibe which snapped an old preventer line which made the traveller, and so the mainsail, unusable.

So on a Sunday morning we were crossing the Gulf of Maine cold, wet and underfed, motorsailing with just the jib in 10-12 foot confused seas.  Greg, the captain, was unusually sick and I was on watch waiting for the sun to rise and feeling somewhat sorry for myself .  Along came a gull to check us out, first flying by but then circling back to swoop down the cushion of air on the jib.  Very gracefully pirouetting, the bird landed in front of the charging boat and just before being run down jumped up and did it again.  And again- swoop land fly- and again, maybe a dozen times.  This bird was  clearly playing while I was miserable.  The sun rose and I started to notice that as unpleasant as the sea was, it was also wild and beautiful.  Remembering that attitude makes the difference between an ordeal and an adventure, it came to me that miserable or not there was nowhere I would rather be, even when it sucks.  Since that Sunday morning the Gulf of Maine has also been known for me as church. It makes me want to sing.

Oh people look amoung you

It’s there your hope must lie

There’s a seabird above you

Gliding in one place

Like Jesus in the sky

-from “Rock Me On the Water” by Jackson Browne

Whale ho!  Not even wondering if Jay was asleep I made the traditional call.  At about 3 in the afternoon we were motorsailing tight to the wind with just the mainsail up.  On a rhumb line course from Frenchboro to the tip of Cape Cod we were about 40 nuatical miles outside Muscongus Bay.  On watch, checking the horizon and reading some Huckleberry Finn, I was quite startled to glance up and see something big and close.  Where’d that boat come from?! was my first thought with a good dose of shock to imagine how it had snuck up on me.

It was a humpback whale, three quarters out of the water, flying through the air off our port aft quarter.  Twisting and splashing down, the show was repeated more than a dozen times as we pulled away from each other, and ended with a series of short hops.  I had never seen one that close and it seemed not just spectacular but also joyfull.  Whales like to play too.  Why not?  Very few animals repeat behavior that serves no purpose and there are multiple reasons for breaching whales.  No matter the reason it seems that leaping and twisting and splashing, like any gracefull motion , must have some of its own reward.  It sure was joyfull for me and like seeing an eagle we always consider it a good sign for the day.  The next morning we went through a school of whales in Cape Cod Bay, blowing and showing their dorsal fins.  Cape Cod Bay is often a whale soup.  Whales always make me wonder about other things- there but unseen.

Last fall Captain Andy and I were bringing the same boat downeast.  Again we thought we had the whole Gulf of Maine to ourselves when a Navy P-3 Orion, a propeller driven submarine hunting plane, showed up just before noon.  It spent the next three or four hours flying search patterns out and back around us.  What could be the reason ror that behavior?  All we could figure was that they were looking for a submarine which was somehow playing with us, maybe even listening to our conversation.  At the end of the exercise the big plane made two low flybys right up our wake.  Remember- just because you don’t see it, don’t mean it ain’t going on, and maybe also- just because you think so don’t make it true.

The first delivery of the season was a good one.  The first of May is early for yachting season, but it wasn’t that cold and the boat had a heater.  It rained some and was foggy, but it wasn’t bad foggy.  The M42 was so nice- very sexy- according to Captain Jay, and goes quickly.  Without planning too hard we hit the flushing tide in the Cape Cod Canal, Buzzards Bay, and the Race.  We got 10 knots over the ground in the canal and 8 and 9 knots of boatspeed other places.  We joked about making a drogue from docklines and fenders to slow us down.  The wind started on the nose, finished behind us and never blew more than the high teens with light seas.  The motion of the boat was always sweet, most especially when the wind was aft and we surfed over the waves and mushed through the troughs running down Long Island Sound through the night.  We had too much good stuff to eat.

The first delivery of the season was the kind where the end of your watch could be a bad thing, and we messed up the routine by staying on just because it was so nice.  My last watch I thought I would give Jay some  rest before arrival and get us by Stafford Shoal and Crown and Anchor Reef.  I ended up doing five hours but time flew by, even in downpour rain.  It’s nice work and a great office, even when it sucks.  I would like to think of it as a reward for decent living, good seamanship, and proper repect for the church.  Why not?  It could be.  They are all good trips.  The first delivery of the season was a very good one.

Rock me on the water

Sister will you soothe my fevered brow

Oh rock me on the water

And I’ll get down to the sea somehow

Rock me on the water

The wind is with me now

So rock me on the water

And maybe I’ll remember, maybe I’ll remember how.

-Jackson Browne

Mike Joyce / May 2009

Continue Reading