True North http://sett.com/truenorth Life on The Fringes en-us Tue, 20 Aug 2019 11:56:45 +0000 http://sett.com Sett RSS Generator Days 8-9-10: Cape Porpoise, ME - Biddeford - Linekin Bay, ME http://sett.com/truenorth/days-7-8-cape-porpoise-me-biddeford-linekin-bay Looking out of my hatch at 5:30am into the thick fog, I glanced over about a hundred yards away to see Jason doing the same thing. The next leg of the trip was a sizeable one, 56 nautical miles to Linekin Bay, on the eastern side of Boothbay Harbor. It would be a full 9 ]]>

Looking out of my hatch at 5:30am into the thick fog, I glanced over about a hundred yards away to see Jason doing the same thing. The next leg of the trip was a sizeable one, 56 nautical miles to Linekin Bay, on the eastern side of Boothbay Harbor. It would be a full 9 hour day at best, but not in this fog.

I went back and caught a few more hours of sleep, got up around 7:30 to make my usual bacon, eggs and coffee. I still needed to get into Kennebunkport one more time to try and get a working phone, I didn't want family and friends getting too worried. It looked like the visibility might improve later in the morning so there was a chance we could make a shorter run to the Biddeford Pool.

Off I went in the dinghy to the commercial dock and unloaded my Dahon Mariner folding bicycle for the 2 mile ride into Kennebunkport. I've got to say that this little folding bicycle from the 1980's is an amazing little piece of human ingenuity. Despite the small wheel size, I can keep up with, and many times pass a standard bicycle because of the way that Dahon engineered the gearing. It has racks which allow me to carry two Ortlieb panniers for grocery shopping, and it can carry a surprisingly heavy load. I've begun calling it "La Mula" (the mule). Everywhere I went on this trip people wanted to know about the bike, and little kids were constantly amazed when they would watch me fold or unfold it. Once I arrived in town, I ducked into the little coffee shop I was at the day before to see if the baristas might be able to help me find a phone store. The closest one was in Biddeford, exactly where I was headed. So back to the boat I went under clearing skies to make the quick sail to Biddeford Pool.

The sail to Biddeford Pool was a pleasant two hour trip, I anchored and loaded the bike back into the dinghy to motor in to the dock and head for town. The thing I did not realize however, is that town was 9 miles away! Off I went undeterred, and about an hour later I found myself in what seemed to be an alien environment. After 10 days of sailing the ocean, and spending my time in little quiet islands and coastal towns, I found myself in what James Howard Kunstler calls "The Geography of Nowhere". Strip malls. Big box stores. Two lane divided highways with large trucks and impatient drivers that were never meant to have someone riding a bicycle on them. All of it was a shock to my senses and I realized how much humans have become desensitized to all of it, how this type of living arrangement, at this moment, was an affront to my soul. I found my way to the store only to be told that I couldn't get a new phone then and there, they would have to mail one to me. Great. So back I went, to the comparative serenity of Biddeford Pool. It was time to rest up for the trip to Linekin Bay tomorrow morning.

After going north for so long, it was funny to see the rugged Maine coastline on the horizon turn east as I pulled out of the pool around 9:30am heading northeast. I put the sails up before even hauling the anchor and had a nice little 5 and a half knot run through the lobster pots out into open water. The batteries needed charging, so I left the motor running.

The forecast was for some unsettled weather in the afternoon, which I could hopefully avoid. The wind held up for a while off the starboard quarter as I motorsailed; this was a challenging point of sail to maintain with the shifty winds and took plenty of focus. As I approached Cape Small in the early afternoon I could see dark anvil-like storm clouds forming to the northeast. I turned on my VHF to get an updated forecast and altered my course a little bit more easterly; it was going to be close and for a while I thought I might be able to stay just outside the storm clouds in the bright blue skies that I had enjoyed all morning.

Quickly though, the storm veered to the southeast, and i knew I was in for it. I saw a lobster boat coming out to haul his pots, abruptly turn around and pin the throttle back to port. I was still about 40 minutes from my closest refuge option, Seguin Island, which was not a great option as it's a very rocky approach. As it would turn out through, I never had the chance.

I quickly took down the mainsail and shortened to a storm jib. As i secured the last sail tie the winds immediately built to 30-35kts and it began pouring. I held my course at 60 degrees and made some decent progress through the maelstrom. There were some big lightning strikes off to the southeast which I was extremely thankful to have missed, I found out later that 3 people were injured on the ground due to these same strikes. I continued on, past Seguin Island where there were half a dozen sailboats who had taken refuge from the storm in the small rocky harbor, and proceeded quickly into Linekin Bay as a second storm front was approaching from the same direction as the first, with more lightning strikes that looked like something out of "War of the Worlds". I rounded Squirrel Island and headed for the anchorage off of Cabbage Island..this time I got lucky and the weather missed me.

By this time, I was pretty tired after being at the helm for almost 9 hours, but a few porpoises and seals came up alongside which gave me a much needed shot of energy. A few minutes later I was anchored in an amazing little cove with tall cliff faces rising up all around. The entire cove smelled of the pine trees that sat in and on top of the cliffs. This is Maine.

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Linekin Bay at low tide.

Trying to get a shot of the storm, ended up with a selfie.

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Thu, 25 Sep 2014 19:06:19 +0000 http://sett.com/truenorth/days-7-8-cape-porpoise-me-biddeford-linekin-bay
Day 6: Annisquam River, MA - Cape Porpoise, ME http://sett.com/truenorth/day-6-annisquam-river-ma-cape-porpoise-me After the short run through the Annisquam, which amounted to mostly what was a rest day, we were back to it early the next morning with a 6:30am departure. Mug of coffee in hand, I sailed into Ipswitch Bay with the early morning breeze skipping along at over 5 kts. Ipswi]]>

After the short run through the Annisquam, which amounted to mostly what was a rest day, we were back to it early the next morning with a 6:30am departure. Mug of coffee in hand, I sailed into Ipswitch Bay with the early morning breeze skipping along at over 5 kts. Ipswitch Bay was a contrast to anywhere I had sailed before, with the marshy shores that lined the coast feeding countless tidal estuaries. I was hopeful to see some wildlife during the day. It was a quiet day on the water, the wind died a bit and I had to turn on the motor to keep up the 5 kt average on this long day. On short days, I'm happy to move along at 3.5 kts for a while, but when it's a 44 mile day, that average is an important number.

I travelled past the Portsmouth, NH shipping lanes, and then the Isles of Shoals, leaving Smuttynose Island on my port side. About 6 hours in I shut the motor down off of Boon Island, and it's lighthouse. I climbed into the cockpit locker and checked the oil, it had again burned through about a quart. Some might think this alarming, but I was relieved to find that the pattern of oil burning was consistent and I just had to check it every six hours of run time. Perhaps it would take a little more time for the Marvel oil to work its magic. Diesel engines on a boat work hard, much harder than an engine in a car. With your car you get on and off the pedal, sometimes you coast down hills, and other times you just idle in park. On a boat, the engine reaches a certain RPM, and then generally works at that RPM the entire time it's running. These heavy duty diesels are meant for this type of work, and actually like to run. If you don't get onto your boat as often as you like, you should start your engine every 10 days or so, and let it come up to operating temperature to lubricate all of the internal parts.

I had about 3 hours to go now, and the constant dodging of lobster traps signaled that I was nearing my destination of Cape Porpoise. The ocean was so clear in this stretch of water, and I spotted what I think was a large grouper just off the rail swimming by me. A little while later as if to welcome me in, a group of porpoises swam by rhythmically shooting sea water into the air.

I pulled into Cape Porpoise and through the many lobster boats that line this working harbor. I was pretty tired, but ecstatic that I had made it into Maine. I unloaded the dinghy and motored into the landing. The motor on the dingy had been running funny and I had to run it with the choke on to keep it from stalling. Hopefully it was just some bad fuel.

I cleared a little room on the packed dinghy dock and went in to grab some food at the clam shack on the wharf. I hadn't eaten since before 6am and I was ravenously hungry. I smiled at the lady behind the counter and said "could I get some chowder and clam cakes?" She smiled, and said "excuse me?" I again repeated in my quick southeastern New England way "could I get some chowder and clam cakes?" She said "Oh! C-h-o-w-d-e-r a-n-d c-l-a-m-c-a-k-e-s" in a slow Maine drawl. I laughed as I realized that I had managed after all these years to turn "chowder and clamcakes" into almost a single syllable. My mind was then completely blown when she asked "how many clamcakes do you want?" I didn't know they come as a single cake, the size of a small pancake.

After I ate I wandered around to the store up the street, picked up a few things, and then went back for a nap. The fog was beginning to roll in, and the drone of the horn and the waves crashing served as the perfect background noise. Tomorrow I would get up early to explore the town, and neighboring Kennebunkport.

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Goat Island Lighthouse, just after a shower.

The dinghy dock in Cape Popoise.

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Sat, 23 Aug 2014 15:36:13 +0000 http://sett.com/truenorth/day-6-annisquam-river-ma-cape-porpoise-me
Days 4-5: Scituate, MA - Gloucester, MA - Annisquam River http://sett.com/truenorth/days-4-5-scituate-ma-gloucester-ma-annisquam-river After a good nights rest in Scituate, the next leg would be a much shorter 20 mile run due north to the historic fishing port of Gloucester, MA. Getting to Gloucester, and then through the Annisquam River with it's current, tight turns and low bridges was always a sort o]]>

After a good nights rest in Scituate, the next leg would be a much shorter 20 mile run due north to the historic fishing port of Gloucester, MA. Getting to Gloucester, and then through the Annisquam River with it's current, tight turns and low bridges was always a sort of watershed goal that was present since we had left Warren. From here it would only be one more long run into Maine.

I left around noontime, to catch the fair tide into Gloucester Harbor, and finally it would seem that the wind REALLY came up! I pulled out of the harbor and pointed the bow 0 degrees true north, the fresh breeze putting me on a broad reach where I sped along in flat seas at 6+ knots touching 7.2- nicely making way. Just a few days later in these same waters off of Scituate I read that a ferry bound for Provincetown had been hit by a twenty foot rogue wave and got roughed up pretty good. Today fortunately was not that day, as we pushed north.

Now, you'll hear me use "we" quite a bit, and just to be clear even though it's just me on board, this boat and I are in it together, real thick like thieves. When things are going great like this and we are flying along I know she's having just as much fun as I am, and when things get rough I'll say things to her like "c'mon now, this is what you were made for!" and she always pulls through in fine style, knifing through swells like nobody's business.

Since this leg would largely be about 15 miles offshore in a couple of hundred feet of water, leaving nothing (hopefully) to run into, the main task of the day would be crossing the Boston shipping lanes, which are very busy. About 2 hours in, I spotted a large freighter making it's way to Boston from the east. I took a bearing and monitored it over the next 40 minutes. I concluded that it would be reasonably close but at the speed I was making we would pass safely. You don't want to play chicken with these boys, and since they are a working vessel it's up to me to stay out of the way. We passed through without incident, but close enough to get a good look at her massive size. I continued north, towards my target until I arrived just outside the breakwater. By this point in the late afternoon, there were some squalls rolling through which left some decent size rollers in the bay. This made dropping the mainsail quite challenging - you've always got to make sure you are holding on to something! For particularly snotty weather I also carry a safety harness that I can clip in for added security.

Once that task was complete, I motored proudly into Gloucester Harbor and in my haste, promptly anchored right in the mooring field in the inner harbor. The harbormaster kindly let me know this when he stopped by to say hello, but with the weather conditions continuing to deteriorate we both agreed that it would be better for me to stay put until it passed. I took the time to straighten up a bit, and make a nice hot beef and rice dinner, along with a little wine. After dinner I re-anchored in the proper anchorage just a bit to the south right next to a heavily built black steel boat from Newport, RI, the kind that looks like it's been some places. We chatted pleasantly for a while about the boats, and home and also agreed that we would keep an eye on the swing of the boats in this tight anchorage to see if we had enough room to pass. Well, we didn't and about an hour later we had another pleasant conversation, but this time while fending off our boats from each other! I'm no genius, but I'm smart enough to know that steel wins, every time.

At this point, I finally reached Jason on the radio and found that he had anchored well outside the inner harbor behind Ten Pound Island. I pulled up the anchor, again, and made my way around the island. In the summer of 1880, the American artist Winslow Homer isolated himself on the island in order to more intensely focus on his subject; men and women who live and work by the sea. He produced over 100 watercolors and drawings in this time and it set the stage for the subject he would focus on for the rest of his life. I anchored for the third and final time just off the beach and made my way over to visit Jason and Mary for the evening.

The next morning Jason and I dinghied into town to provision for the next leg. We needed oil, diesel fuel, ice and food. As it turns out none of these things was located in any logical or convenient order so we left the diesel jugs with the gas station attendants and walked about a mile to the nearest auto parts store. I picked up some Marvel Mystery Oil to add to the fuel and engine crankcase at the suggestion of my good friend from home Mike Dee. We chatted on the phone the night before and he suggested that it might help stem the amount of oil that I was burning, well let's give it a shot then, shall we? We grabbed the fuel, some food and then lugged the whole mess back to the landing. See, all those farmers walks do come in handy! Jason stayed to watch our cargo while I grabbed the ice which was about 10 minutes away. In that time, he managed to rescue a seagull covered in oil who was stranded on an embankment. It's always amazing to see someone in tune with all these creatures (Jason has worked in conservation), enough so to grab a gull and have him relax enough to know he was being helped. He managed to clean him up quite a bit and get him on solid ground to at least give the little guy a fighting chance.

After getting provisioned, we waited around a few hours until 3pm to make the tide for the short run through the Annisquam River. This was more of a transition day to place the boats on the doorstep of Ipswitch Bay and set us up for the morning run to Cape Porpoise, ME. There were 3 bridges to contend with; 1 fixed and passable which was a highway bridge that was sandwiched between two bascule bridges that we would need to radio ahead to have opened.

We idled outside the entrance, and the Blynman bridge for a few minutes while the bridge operator waited for an approaching boat coming from the other direction. This bridge reminded me a lot of the Pope's Island bridge in New Bedford. Once it opened we motored through the opening into a serene river, the waiting motorists looking at us with what was a mix of envy and annoyance that we had impeded their way for a few minutes. We continued through the twisty narrow river and under the fixed highway bridge and called for the final bridge to be opened, this one was an Amtrak bridge. This was a tight squeeze with an immediate left after getting through. Approach this at the wrong time and the current might wash your mast into the undersides of the span..not fun. On this day we made it through unscathed and entered into the last section of the river, just before the entrance to Ipswitch Bay.

Anchoring just off the grassy marshes, this place was quite a contrast to gritty Gloucester harbor. As a matter of fact it was just about one of the prettiest places I had seen so far. It was about 4:30pm and I opened up all the port lights and hatches to let the sweet smells fill the cabin until just about sunset when the nastiest little black flies descended on me, just as I was hoisting the dinghy onto the foredeck to get ready for tomorrow's 40 mile leg! As soon as it was secure I vaulted myself down the companionway steps and sealed her up tight. Later on, once the flies moved on to other victims, I took some time to enjoy the cool night air, but a 6:30 am departure didn't allow me to linger for too long, I wanted to be on my toes for tomorrow and ready to go.

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A floating house in the Annisquam River.

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Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:33:28 +0000 http://sett.com/truenorth/days-4-5-scituate-ma-gloucester-ma-annisquam-river
Day 3: Cuttyhunk, MA - Scituate, MA http://sett.com/truenorth/day-3-cuttyhunk-ma-scituate-ma **SETT%IMAGE**

4:00am came way too early. I did all of my usual engine checks: top off the fuel and check the oil and transmission fluids. I was down about a quart of oil; something that would need to be monitored. I calculated that I had run the motor for about 6 hours so far, and I'd just have to manage it.

I pulled out of the harbor guided by the many mastlights and my spotlight. Winding carefully through the sleeping boats I made my way out of the breakwater and set a course for the Cape Cod Canal about 20 miles away. This first crucial run would take about 4 hours.

The sky lightened as I headed east, the wind came up a bit, but not enough to shut the motor off. I motorsailed right up to the canal entrance, where you are required to drop all sail before entering. Now, it is of the utmost importance that you time your passage through the canal to coincide with the west flow, or the east ebb, depending on which way you are transiting- or else you could be in trouble. Especially in a single cylinder 12 horsepower auxiliary sloop! As I hit the canal entrance around 9am I found out why as my speed quickly increased to 10 knots!! To put this in perspective, Zennure usually cruises around 5 knots under motor and can hit 7 knots under sail, I was flying! About 45 minutes later I had completed the run and entered into expansive Massachusetts Bay.

Seeing that it was close to 6 hours since I had left Cuttyhunk, and I probably had another 5 or 6 to go, the oil would need to be checked. I made sure I was clear of land and any other boats, shut the motor down, cleaned out the starboard cockpit locker which is how you get access to the engine room, and climbed into the hole. Like I expected I was down and quart, so I added it back in, repacked the locker and in about 10 minutes I was on my way.

The rest of the afternoon was mostly motoring, but the wind did come up a few times and I was able to sail. I dodged fishtrap after fishtrap as I approached the entrance to Scituate harbor after 12 hours at the tiller. Zennure does not yet have an autopilot, but you just make what you have work. I hooked onto the first mooring that I found, the invertebrates spitting and hissing at me indicated that it had not been used in a long time. Anxious to get to shore, I quickly tidied up and took the dinghy over to the harbormaster's office where there was a nice hot shower waiting for me. Cleaned up, I ventured into town for some food and a cider- I felt I had earned it!

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My iPhone died in Scitutate, so here is a picture of the harbor courtesy of Scituate Harbor Marina

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Sun, 17 Aug 2014 16:54:59 +0000 http://sett.com/truenorth/day-3-cuttyhunk-ma-scituate-ma
Day 2: Newport, RI - Cuttyhunk Island, MA http://sett.com/truenorth/day-2-newport-ri-cuttyhunk-island-ma Cuttyhunk, which is home to the town of Gosnold is the last in the chain of the Elizabethan Islands that lie about 8 miles off the south coast of Massachusetts. I started out about 7:30am for the 3 hour ride. There was no wind to be had, so on went the diesel. The new cy]]>

Cuttyhunk, which is home to the town of Gosnold is the last in the chain of the Elizabethan Islands that lie about 8 miles off the south coast of Massachusetts. I started out about 7:30am for the 3 hour ride. There was no wind to be had, so on went the diesel. The new cylinder head I put on was holding up well, and the engine was running as well as she ever had. Buzzards Bay was flat and calm as I cruised by my hometown of Westport, MA and soon arrived at the breakwater entrance to Cuttyhunk Pond. The entrance stays almost fully concealed until you are on your final approach, and there isn't much room with boats coming and going!

I arrived to find a beautiful anchorage with crystal clear water and long elegant strands of eel grass gently moving with the current. I dropped the anchor and immediately prepared to go explore the island. I motored the dinghy under a brilliant blue sky to the town docks through a maze of boats. As I walked up the dock, past the fisherman shacks and onto one of the few small "roads" I noticed something strange- silence. There are maybe a handful of vehicles on the island that don't seem to get used all that often. The primary mode of transportation is either walking or golf cart. I made my way up a hill and stopped into the small general store for a snack, and some shade. As I continued on up the hill to an overlook of the south side of the island, I found stunning views of the sheer cliff faces on Martha's Vineyard and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. As I made my way back down the hill, exploring the many footpaths that wind all throughout the island I passed throngs of kids running amok with not a parent in site, it was easy to imagine what a thrill it must be to have this island as your playground, maybe this is what it was like all over in times past?

I continued on and wandered past the Cuttyhunk Historical Society and Museum of the Elizabeth Islands. They are only open a few hours a week, but I was in luck as they were set to open from 2-4pm today. I eagerly read about the fishing clubs that formed on the island in the early nineteen hundreds that attracted people like Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and John D. Archibald, president of Standard Oil. One particular photograph shows all the men standing on a lawn in front of an awning, laughing and cajoling. Only two years later Roosevelt's administration would begin bitter anti-trust proceedings against Standard Oil to break their monopoly on the oil market.

I retired back to the boat for a lazy nap, made some dinner and planned to go back to the island to hike to its highest point for sunset. After a beautiful walk, I was joined at the top by a dozen or so others with the same idea. Among them was David and his wife, who had anchored beside me in their exquisite Tayana 37, Isla Hope. They graciously invited me for a visit and tour of their boat. What a beauty she was indeed with tons of teak and spacious amounts of room below decks. We swapped stories and had some great conversation but before long it was time for bed- a 4:00am start awaited me to catch the flood tide through the Cape Cod Canal. This next leg would be a big test, 60nm through the canal and then up the coast to Scituate. Before I went to sleep I took a few minutes and stared at the sky, it's amazing to see it here with the absence of light.

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Sat, 09 Aug 2014 14:20:04 +0000 http://sett.com/truenorth/day-2-newport-ri-cuttyhunk-island-ma
Day 1: Warren, RI - Newport, RI http://sett.com/truenorth/day-1-warren-ri-newport-ri As the day of departure arrived, it was just as eventful as the days preceding this trip to Maine. Getting the boat prepared, and the man prepared, was as every bit as challenging of a task that I thought it would be. And then some. Jason was due to depart this same morn]]>

As the day of departure arrived, it was just as eventful as the days preceding this trip to Maine. Getting the boat prepared, and the man prepared, was as every bit as challenging of a task that I thought it would be. And then some.

Jason was due to depart this same morning in his Eastward Ho "Low Compression" which interestingly enough, he had found years ago in a field with a tree growing out of it after having sunk. Amazingly to his credit, he had managed to rebuild it into a go-anywhere boat. He had made this trip last year, and like me was scrambling to finish all of his projects before doing it again.

Now, Jason usually wakes up around 4:30-5:00am, so when 9:00 came and went on the morning of the trip, I knew something was up. Sure enough he was asked the night before to deliver a big Freedom yacht from Cove Haven in Barrington to the Warren River. This took a few hours and added to the pit surely growing in both of our stomachs. You see it was already July 29th, and since we had intended on leaving around the 10th; we were anxious to get going. Boat projects and delays had set us back and I think we both got a little tired of trying to answer the question "so when you leaving?"

Finally, about 11:30am the diesels grumbled to life, and we headed out of the Warren River, a place that had become home.

Conditions were less than ideal, with a stiff south wind in the very direction we were headed but we proceeded through Upper Narragansett Bay, around Bristol and Hog Island, passing under the Mt Hope bridge which runs between Bristol and Portsmouth. From there it was a sharp right into Sakonnet Passage. After motoring through the narrows and past Tiverton, the passage opened up enough to hoist the sails. Since Sakonnet Passage is open to Buzzards Bay you can get pretty sizable swells in it, which was the case today. After tacking back and forth through the passage for a while I eventually got close enough to the anchorage at Third Beach. This was a good first run, and placed us on the edge of Buzzards Bay for a quick hop to Cuttyhunk Island in the morning.

I dropped anchor, tidied up a little bit, made dinner and enjoyed it sitting in the cockpit looking out over all the early evening beach goers. I could hear the waves crashing over the dunes as I drifted off to sleep.

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Zennure, sitting at anchor in the Annisquam River.

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Thu, 07 Aug 2014 15:00:44 +0000 http://sett.com/truenorth/day-1-warren-ri-newport-ri
Back In Gear...Almost! http://sett.com/truenorth/back-in-gearalmost It's been a little while since my last post, I had to take some time away from this project because of some family medical issues. Everything turned out okay, so I am getting back on a regular schedule of Monday posts. Here on the boat, I am in the middle of a few projec]]>

It's been a little while since my last post, I had to take some time away from this project because of some family medical issues. Everything turned out okay, so I am getting back on a regular schedule of Monday posts.

Here on the boat, I am in the middle of a few projects. A new higher capacity bilge pump and float switch have been installed, and spring cleaning is in full swing. Next up is to pull the mast, inspect and replace rigging, paint and plop it back on. I have a port to replace (from 1975, bedded with 5200..some of you will know my pain) as well as a hatch to put in.

The biggest challenge that I am facing by far is with my diesel auxiliary engine.

The early Endeavour 32 models from 1975 - 1978 came with a standard Yanmar SVE12, a one cylinder 12hp engine. The Endeavour owners website calls it "fine for flat calms but not enough power to push to windward in any wind or sea". Many Endeavour owners have chosen to repower, which is an option at some point, but not this year. In the end though, they call it an auxiliary for a reason. These boats are meant to sail and that's what they do best. To put it in perspective, Chris Bray and Jess Taunton at YachtTeleport have managed the Northwest Passage with a hand-start 8HP Saab diesel, and Mickey Scotia, author of "Mama Junk's Great Adventure" got his Chinese junk from Rhode Island to Florida, mostly without an engine at all.

The problem with mine, is a cracked cylinder head. I had taken the head to Motor Tech in New Bedford, MA to have it redone, but the pressed fitting for the fuel injector port would not budge, and that had to come out before the head can be machined. When in doubt, it's a good idea to go see someone who has forgotten more about these engines than you will ever know. So I dropped in to see my uncle, Harry Tripp Jr. at FL Tripp & Sons in Westport, MA.

A day later, he let me know about the cracks he found in the cylinder head. I would need to find another option. The challenge however, is that you cannot just order these up with your Amazon Prime membership. There are still parts available for this engine, but not this part.

I was bumming. Now I had to seriously consider a repower, which was going to be a huge task. So I started asking around, scouring Craigslist from Rhode Island to Alaska and dropping into boatyards to see if I could find one stuffed in a corner on a pallet, or in an old sailboat whose better days had come and gone.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

A few days later I ran into my friend Chris at the coffee shop here in town. If you hang out with me long enough, you'll pick up on this pattern of most things of note in my life, somehow always involve the Coffee Depot. Chris is a fellow liveaboard sailor and author who is between Maine and Rhode Island regularly. I was glad to have caught him since we always have a good chat, and it had been a while since we had run into each other. We talked about the projects we had going on, and inevitably my engine came up. He said he would keep an eye out for me.

Literally, a day later I opened my email to find a note from Chris in my inbox, he had found a Yanmar SVE12 in Southwest Harbor, ME! I promptly got on the line and found that it was still available, turns over, runs and is in nice overall condition. So tomorrow I'll be taking the 6 hour drive to Southwest Harbor to pick it up and get it back home to Rhode Island. I guess you never know just how something is going to work out, but it sure can be an interesting ride.

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My son, heralding the return of spring.

At home, late in the day, Warren River.

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Thu, 24 Apr 2014 17:05:52 +0000 http://sett.com/truenorth/back-in-gearalmost
Choosing To Live In A Small Space http://sett.com/truenorth/choosing-to-live-in-a-small-space I can't say that I ever made a conscious decision to live in a small space. I did however, have a great desire to simplify life down to the things that mattered most to me, experiences and relationships; and also find a greater degree of freedom. Couple that with actuall]]>

I can't say that I ever made a conscious decision to live in a small space. I did however, have a great desire to simplify life down to the things that mattered most to me, experiences and relationships; and also find a greater degree of freedom. Couple that with actually digging myself out of a mountain of debt while chasing the american dream, well, as I often say: Experience is the best teacher.

One of the questions I had to ask was, "is it going to be a house or a boat? It certainly can't be both!" This is not the 1980's anymore folks. Or even the early 21st century, where credit was freely available and we were able to live way beyond our means to falsely convey a facade of "wealth". Let me digress for a moment. If you were a child of the 1980's, or even parts of the 90's, it's likely that your childhood was a lie. Yep, I said it.

Everywhere, small homes and cottages, were being razed for McMansions in horribly planned unsustainable communities all over the US. New financial instruments were being created to allow families to take 2nd or even 3rd mortgages out against their existing homes to finance vacations, pools, furniture, electronics, cars..etc. Life was good; we had become full-on consumers. None of it was real though. It was an orgy of easy credit gone wild. Eventually, reality has a funny way of slapping you right in the face, as a lot of people found out in 2007. It was common knowledge that home prices only went one way, up!? That is, until they didn't.

According to Mortgage Calculator: the rise of the United States mortgage market occurred between 1949 and the turn of the 21st century. In fact, the mortgage debt to income ratio rose from 20 to 73 percent during this time. In addition, mortgage debt to household assets ratio rose from 15 to 41 percent. I always wondered why my grandfather was able to live in a modest home and raise a family, all while working at a corrugated box factory. I can't imagine anyone being able to do this today.

So we took the long way around, but it was going to be a boat. It was always going to be a boat. The idea of owning my residence outright, without a 30 year mortgage really appealed to me. The fact that sailing a boat is a sport, an art, and a science all at the same time intrigued me. The chance to show my son and daughter that there are no set paths in life, and have them share in the experience, convinced me.

Owning a house could very well be in my future someday, but it probably won't be in a way that will take up 73% of my income. Housing is a market, like any other where supply and demand set the price you will pay for a particular piece of property. Want to live on the ocean? Lot's of people do, so the price for these properties is commensurate with the demand. The problem with today's market, is that it's not a free market anymore, it's grossly manipulated, so you and I are not paying what would historically be a fair price. The housing crash of 2007/2008 was driven by the banking sector's need for profit and growth to survive, which manifested itself in sub-prime loans - new sources of income. From it's peak, home prices in many metropolitan markets fell over 30% from it's pre-crash level.

In a response to this and other "headwinds" in the economy, the Federal Reserve began a policy called "Quantitative Easing". This policy of printing new money to add to the existing supply was intended to allow banks to have capital to loan to businesses and entrepreneurs, essentially jump starting the economy. That's not what happened though. Rather than the money going into real tangible goods and services, banks were more interested in short term return on investment, so they directed the money into things such as high yield bonds in emerging markets like Brazil, Argentina and South Africa, and you guessed it, cheap real estate that was at it's low after the crash.

So this latest housing "recovery" has not been main street America getting back on it's feet, despite what media would lead you to believe. It has been more like banks and investment companies using a gigantic leaf blower to re-inflate a housing balloon that had a few shoddy patches thrown over it after 2007/8. The structural problems still exist.

So given that off the cuff analysis, I would prefer to stay out of the hosing..ahem..housing market until such a time where it actually becomes a market again, based on real supply and demand, and not on the speculative interests of big banks. If such a time ever arrives.

Living small shouldn't be a negative thing. As a society, we are not used to viewing words like contract, downsize or scale back in a positive way. The economy is contracting, oh no! The company is downsizing, so we are letting your department go. In this case, applying these concepts elicits such positive things as:

  • lower rent/mortgage
  • lower energy bills
  • less clutter/material items
  • adventurous, engaged living
  • higher degree of mobility
  • reduced environmental impacts

If you choose to live in a liveable, walkable/bikeable community, the benefits are even greater. You want to be outside; enjoying the weather, being sociable, being active.

Maybe you really weren't into that job anymore anyways. You've always wanted to write a screenplay, or sail around the world. So do it. The less you have for obligations, the more options open up to do the things that you really want to do, the things that are important.

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A chance late winter photo of "Half Moon", with it's namesake.

The American Landscape, as described by James Howard Kunstler in "The Geography of Nowhere"

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Tue, 11 Mar 2014 23:38:27 +0000 http://sett.com/truenorth/choosing-to-live-in-a-small-space
Project Updates and Trip Announcement! http://sett.com/truenorth/work-to-be-done Things are slowly starting to come to life down at the wharf. I learned a valuable lesson last year to get an early start on projects that need to be completed, as you do not want to be sitting on the hard in the month of June. Things have started to settle down back at ]]>

Things are slowly starting to come to life down at the wharf. I learned a valuable lesson last year to get an early start on projects that need to be completed, as you do not want to be sitting on the hard in the month of June. Things have started to settle down back at work now so I will be spending most of my free time working on some major projects. First on the list is a rebuild of the cylinder head on the Yanmar SVE12 single cylinder diesel (the one lung-ah). Jason told me "you caught this just in time bro" with his usual early morning gusto. Being that he's a great mechanic, I'm going to agree with him. I brought the head to New Bedford to be machined, but the fuel injector housing seems to be permanently fused to the cylinder head; this needs to come off before the job can be done. Soaking with lubricant and applying heat with a torch are the preferred methods. Hopefully that can be sorted out by Monday so the head can be resurfaced and I can get my engine back together.

Mike and I started working on the bilge pump the other day, which needs to be upgraded to a much larger pumping capacity and then wired into my panel.

I think a good question to ask for anyone who spends time on the water is, if shit went wrong, what would you be cursing yourself for not fixing? Did you not replace that seacock? What about that chainplate..it looked a little janky, now it's blowing 30kts and you are praying it holds. If you started taking on water, could your bilge pump take it out as fast as it's coming in? So prioritizing your list is very important. Take care of the things that could kill you first is a general rule of mine.

This July I am planning to take Zennure up to Maine. Above is a very rough draft of the proposed route which includes Cuttyhunk Island, a passage through the Annisquam River, a stop in Portland, and points north if weather and time cooperate. Jason should already be up in Maine on "Low Compression" by this time, and maybe we can get Mike and new friends Becca and Josh who are up in Boston to come as well. An interesting fact is that the four of us all live on drastically different 32ft. sailboats, maybe coming up I'll discuss that a little more in depth.

Tomorrow I'm off to the US Watercraft Mid-Winter Rendezvous right here in Warren, RI. I'm continually impressed with the level of boatbuilding work being done right here in this village.

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Mike Dee making a new shelf for his long time owned and soon-to-be named Rhodes 32

Rough sketch of the proposed July route

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Fri, 07 Mar 2014 23:44:36 +0000 http://sett.com/truenorth/work-to-be-done
Waiting For Spring http://sett.com/truenorth/waiting-for-spring I think everyone around here has just about had it with this particular New England winter. Now, November was pleasant but then December dug it's icy claws in and never let go. With life so busy and weather so unpleasant it can be easy to get down. There are some really ]]>

I think everyone around here has just about had it with this particular New England winter. Now, November was pleasant but then December dug it's icy claws in and never let go. With life so busy and weather so unpleasant it can be easy to get down. There are some really cool days I've always noticed during the final days of February into March, just nice enough to lift your spirit a little. Today was one of those days. The wind was strong and steady out of the North, and there was brilliant sunshine that lit up the whole river, clear out to Prudence Island.

I've committed to getting on the bike more as well, almost my way of trying to physically will winter away at this point. I've noticed that my general level of happiness seems to tie in with how often I am able to fly around on one. It's cool to see a couple of nice steel bikes out and about, it's a sure sign of spring.

This week will see me hopefully working on the list of projects. I've begun to sand and will be getting varnish on some of the teak interior, which will need to be taken outside and sanded on pleasant days. I've got some electrical work to do with the bilge pump as well. The wider list includes:

  • inspect standing rigging, chainplates
  • replace running rigging
  • paint mast
  • install chartplotter
  • install raymarine tri-data
  • install tillerpilot

There's more on the list that will be covered later on. It's a fair amount of work to do, and I'm raring to get into it in March.

I've told a few people that have asked me about TrueNorth that as much as anything I'm trying to form a good writing habit. That's how you become better at anything after all right? Make it something you do everyday. That's how you craft a skill, an art, or anything really.

Later this week, I'll be talking about a big trip planned for this July.

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Looking South out over the Warren River on a brisk bright day

Back on bikes, watch out for that sand.

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Mon, 24 Feb 2014 22:54:05 +0000 http://sett.com/truenorth/waiting-for-spring