(Above) Capt. Eric Forsyth and the Fiona
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On the way to Boothbay, a rhythmic vibration announced we had picked-up something on the propeller. The next day, I examined the prop from the dinghy, using a facemask. There was a mess of rope hanging off it. I was able to find a young diver, Brad, who went down and cleared the mess. Also, the 6-hp Japanese outboard engine died; it has never been reliable. Despite my best effort, I could not get it to run, so I dug out the Seagull, which is nearly 50 years-old, and hasn't been used for a year. At the moment it is running but reluctantly; hopefully some TLC will bring it back to full life. Next stop is an anchorage in Ebenecook Bay; there is a high swell offshore caused by a passing hurricane.
Fiona sailed to Port Clyde on the 18th, arriving at lunchtime, during which Louise consumed a lobstah. In the afternoon we made the traditional walk to Marshall Point, with the lighthouse and museum. There were a few monarch butterflies around, presumably preparing for their incredible journey to Mexico. On the 19th, we took the ferry to Monhegan Island. There was no wind, so a trip with Fiona would have been a waste of fuel and take too long. There were more Monarchs on the island. We walked through the forest, to Whitehead cliff. Saturday, the wind blew strongly from the southwest, but we butted-through to Boothbay. We will stay the nights of September 20 and 21 at the Tugboat Marina.
We arrived at Rockland on the 15th on a rainy day. Unfortunately, Knights Marina, where I had always stayed in the past, had no moorings for transients. So we moved over to the Rockland public landing. On the 16th, I was surprised by the arrival of two friends, who contacted me via my cell phone: Gary and his wife Cynthia, and Kieron with his wife karen. Gary was an old friend who was a colleague at Brookhaven National Laboratory and since retirement has lived in northern Maine. I had not seen him for many years. Kieron crewed in April of this year and was unfortunate enough to have the top of his finger cut-off when he caught it between the jib sheet and the winch. Fortunately, after surgery on the boat (which consisted of gluing the part back with crazy glue) the doctors in Canada were able to save it, apart from losing a little bone and the nail was deformed. We had a drink together before he and Karen headed back to Ogunquit, where they were vacationing. Later in the day, Louise arrived by bus to become the third crew member for the rest of the cruise.On the 17th, I repaired a leak in the floor of the inflatable and went ashore to visit the wonderful Farnsworth Art Museum. Grace was particularly delighted to find the museum was running a show of Shaker furniture and clothing--one of her assignments to be completed before she gets back was an essay on "earthly Utopias."
We spent two nights in Belfast; we met some fellow cruisers at the dock on a beautifully-made wooden schooner. It took the captain, David, 18 years to construct. It was too nice to get wet! A new shop had appeared selling marine books and memorabilia; I indulged and bought a ship model. We leave for Camden today and will arrive Rockland tomorrow. Weather is clear, windless and chilly (43 F in the cockpit this morning).
Friday, we left Stonington early and sailed to Butter Island, one of my favourite lunch stops. Unfortunately, a brisk northerly wind made the beach a lee shore, so we bypassed it and sailed directly to Castine. Tomorrow, we will head for Belfast, another favourite.
Today, Wednesday, we sailed to Harbor Island, in Merchants Row. It was sunny and windless, with occasional banks of fog after lunch. We sailed via the Casco Passage. We arrived in time to put the inflatable on the rocky shore; Grace went for a one-hour exploration. Tomorrow, we will sail to Stonington, which isn't far away. Stronger winds are forecast for the afternoon. This is the perfect Maine anchorage: a pastoral scene, no other boats.
Things are happening in Bar Harbor: Rob's business couldn't manage without him and he flew home. I was sorry to see Rob sign-off. Grace and I will sail to Rockland, where we will pick up Louise next week. We had difficulty when we launched the dinghy; I discovered the staysail halyard block on the mast had disintegrated. Grace twice winched me up the mast, using the main halyard so that I could rig a new block. We plan to leave Wednesday for Merchants Row and a night at anchor. Weather is very nice, but a little chilly in the early morning.
Fiona picked up a mooring at Bar Harbor at 7:30 am on Monday. Passage was a mix of heavy weather as the front passed; some nice sailing both before and after and then mostly light winds. So far, we have sailed 408 nm from Patchogue. It was chilly when we arrived--56 F with a brisk wind--but now it is sunny and warming-up. We plan to stay two nights
Fiona left Provincetown at 1pm Saturday. We had good winds until a front came through, with squalls and lightning. After the squalls came fickle winds. We are now close-hauled on port tack beating against a NE wind; Bar Harbor is 90 nm away.
Fiona transited the Cape Cod Canal and arrived at Province Town at sunset. Departure time depends of exact timing of NE winds forecasted for the weekend. Watch this space.
Fiona left Weeks Yachtyard at 1:15 pm Tuesday and arrived Great Salt Pond, Block Island, at 9:15 am Wednesday. We powered to Fire Island Inlet and traversed it near low water without trouble. We then had a wonderful sail until about midnight, when rising wind and dire Coast Guard warnings of an approaching cold front persuaded me to douse the sails. We powered to Montauk Point and then enjoyed a great sail to Block Island.
Friday was a busy day: Grace and I removed 250 feet of rusty anchor chain and replaced it with 300 feet of new chain. I discovered the drainage from the chain locker (called the limber hole) was completely blocked by hardened mud and rust chips. It took a lot of work to clear, but now the new chain will not be lying in a pool of seawater.
Grace signed the crew roster on Wednesday; she is planning on sailing the whole to Maine, and back. Peter, the refrigeration expert, evacuated the freezer and then filled it with R134A. We had to lose the gas when we moved the refrigerator/freezer to get to the main water tank. We are concentrating upon dealing with minor problems and cleaning the interior and topsides. On Thursday, we loaded bedding; next will be food.
On Sunday, Walter and his seven-year-old son, Walter Jr., came to the boat for a couple of hours. Walter circumnavigated aboard Fiona in 1995-1997. We bent on the jib and mainsail; later I bent on the staysail which is a one-man job. Thus, Fiona is almost ready for sea. Monday, I discovered the main boom topping lift was not working properly due to years of chafe of the line that run inside the boom. Eventually, I replaced the Dacron line with a stainless-steel wire.
Captain Forsyth's account of the disastrous storm that overtook Fiona in November, 2013, has been published in the September, 2014, issue of Ocean Navigator magazine. Today, a professional exterminator fumigated the boat to remove a few pests that got on board in Cape Town. The first of the Maine crew, Grace, is expected to sign-on next Tuesday.
Fiona was launched Wednesday, on schedulde; no problems. On Monday, I decided to start the engine I preparation for the splash--lots of smoke from the starter motor. Tuesday, I removed it and within a few hours L&L Autoelectric had it completely overhauled--one advantage of living on Long Island, as technical help is never far away. Now the boat is in the water, I can deal with a few problems, like getting the freezer refilled with 134A Freon. I hope to leave on the Maine cruise on 2 September.
It has been a week of tidying up on the boat, prior to a launch in the coming week. Also, a case of one step forward and two back--I accidently knocked-over a can with old paintbrushes and turpentine in it. I didn't notice until the next day, the stain when the mess had hardened on the new cabin sole. It took me half a day to clean it off and re-varnish.
Rob came over for a few hours to help get Fiona ready for the splash next week. He is going to crew for some of the cruise in Maine. The sole is finished; the teak and ash were supplied by Weeks Yard. Now there are innumerable small jobs to clear-up and a good deal of elbow grease needed to get the boat clean and tidy.
A sad week in some ways: I sold the '28 Bentley to a buyer in England, so it is going home. I had owned it for 37 years. On the bright side, the carpentry to replace the cabin sole is finished; I have got two coats of varnish down. I also replaced the cabin stereo/CD player. The one I installed in Cape Town was okay, but it didn't like the frequencies used for FM in the USA.
I placed the last piece of teak on the new cabin sole, so the devastation caused by removing the leaking water tank is largely repaired. It still has to be sanded and varnished. The boat should be ready for the traditional Fall cruise in Maine, which is planned to start Labor Day weekend. In a complete change of pace, I went flying with Christina, seen here piloting from the left-hand seat. We flew to Montauk from Brookhaven and back: a two hour trip in Cessna 152.
Since Colin came up for a few weeks, we have made good progress: The water tank is installed and doesn't leak! Bob finished machining the steering components and we installed them. The basic system is working; autopilot drive is yet to be connected. Other tasks we completed include installing a new exhaust hose on the heater, repairing a leak in the inflatable dinghy, and installing a new mast-step on the Rhodes 19.
The tank was welded by Dan the Welder, and leak-checked using pressurized air. When we got the tank back to the yard we filled it with water--overnight the level did not change. We drained it and put it back in the well in the main cabin using the mainsail halyard to swing it on board. We are now fabricating cleats to securely hold the tank in place.
The tank is out--three days hard-labor to remove it. We filled it with water and the leak was immediately obvious: a welded seam on the edge. Next stop--a good welder.
This is the week we hope to remove the leaking water tank. It apparently cracked during the storm Fiona experienced south of the Falklands in late November, 2013. Monday, we got most of the cabin sole above the tank removed. Tuesday, we shifted the refrigerator/freezer which lies over corner of the tanks. Both these activities took hours of effort. Wednesday we hope to lift the tank out.
The major activity with Fiona in the past few days has been to install a new 'MultiData' readout.This is a fancy name for a single-panel meter that shows depth, speed, water temp, log distance, etc. The old one became very erratic. The new unit is a Raymarine type ST60. It took me several hours to remove the old transducers as the caulking had set like cement. The new unit seems to be working (not so easy to test out of the water) except it won't talk electronically to the Raymarine Radar GPS and Chart plotter. Peg, an old Fiona crew member, and myself took the Rhodes for quiet sail on Bellport Bay. I got an e-mail from Kieron to say the surgeon had discharged him--his finger is going to be fine. I wrote a shortened version of the storm we encountered in Nov/Dec 2013 which has been accepted by Ocean Navigator for publication in a few months.
The major activity in the past week has been to organize rebuilding the steering system. I got a new sprocket, roller chain and links from the Edson Company because the original supplier of the system is out of business. All the parts need modification to match what is there; Bob Berg is the machinist in charge of that.
The Rhodes took her first sail yesterday with Christina, a visiting scientist from Germany, as crew. The steering system on Fiona is now disassembled. New chain and wheel sprocket are on order. I found another broken link in the old chain, it did not actually fracture. This must have occurred on the way from Cape Town.
With Fiona out, the Rhodes 19 splashed-in at Carmens River. I used an old Seagull engine to get the boat from Tookers yard to the slip on the river. This is the only time I use an engine with the Rhodes. It had not been used for two years and goodness knows how old the gas is. It started on the second pull. Back at Weeks Yard, I could not get the shore power to work because the GFI breaker kept tripping. It turned out an outlet in the forward head was leaking to ground. Probably a legacy of the soaking we got in the Southern Ocean. With that fixed, I started to strip the steering system. The steering wheel shaft in the pedestal had not been out and took a little persuasion. (Read a large hammer).
Fiona was finally hauled out on June 11. The bottom and zincs looked good after one year. There did not appear to be any damage to the rudder an the rudder post bushings. My first priority will be to change the steering chain and maybe the pedestal sprocket.
Fiona is still in the water at Weeks Yachtyard. Most of the gear has been removed such as sails, food, bedding, clothing, books, etc. She will probably be hauled within a few days to a week. In the meanwhile, Captain Forsyth took the cover off his 50-year-old Rhodes 19 in preparation for a summer's sailing on Great South Bay.
More photos have been added to Capt. Forsyth's recent Newsletter, here.
Captain Forsyth is now in Bar Harbor, Maine. Not as usual aboard Fiona but instead piloting his 1928 Bentley with daughter Brenda as co-driver. The forecast today for the ride from Rockland was rain with possible hail. As he drives the car with the top down thee xperience was not unlike sailing in the Southern Ocean.
Capt. Forsyth's latest Newsletter has been posted here.
Here are the vital statistics of Fiona's journey: