Our first Atlantic Crossing - Halifax, NS to Westport, Ireland


Big seas, strong winds, bright skies. 


8/16/08

Subject: We made it to the other side!

Well, after several weeks of dancing around the North Atlantic Ocean with gales, storms and calms, we are finally within reach of Ireland. If you are receiving this message, then we have just come into communications range on our approach to Clew Bay. We'll anchor off Clare Island at the mouth of the Bay to straighten up a bit, hoist the Q flag, and make arrangements with customs and immigration. It will be about another 25 miles in the morning to get in to Westport.

After about six days of glorious sailing out of Halifax, when it looked like we might cross in record time, we ran into the notorious north Atlantic procession of lows. We sailed through the first gale with winds gusting to 45 knots comfortably on our starboard quarter. We skirted the second gale, double backing around it and losing two days of progress as it grew to a strong storm of 986 mb. We hove to for almost two days to let the third gale pass directly over us - we read, baked cookies, and otherwise tried to overcome the frustration and boredom of being stuck in a storm in relative comfort in mid-ocean travelling at the breakneck speed of two knots in the wrong direction.

We avoided a couple of other gales altogether by diverting SE into flat calms when we wanted to go NE where the gales trekked along... always heading east as the storms moved in parallel just north of our positions. Forget about any great circle route! Each time we lost precious days of rhumbline progress. One step forward, two steps back.

Then, just as it looked like we'd be able to run north, the second system (yes the one we danced around for a couple of days) stalled off Ireland and reformed into storm force (up to 55 knots) again and stood in our way.  It remained stationary for several days blocking a huge swath of ocean. Above 46N, heavy storm conditions prevailed, and the system was moving slower than we were. We needed to get to 53N. How frustrating. Just 500 miles from home and we could not get there. We tried to go around the back but hit VERY big seas and wind, which of course caused us to double back and heave to for another 36 hours waiting for the storm to step aside. There is no place to go and nothing to do but wait. Thank goodness for a well stocked library and plenty of beef jerky, oatmeal, soup, granola bars, Dinty Moore, Hormel, chocolate, tea, etc. - the staples of voyaging souls. (Believe it or not, we've both lost a fair bit of weight regardless!)

Finally, the storm moved off over Ireland and we got to push north for the first time since leaving Halifax three weeks before. And the weather gods smiled on us with reasonably good 'forecast' conditions.

Of course, it would not have been fitting for us to arrive on a gentle sea breeze as predicted. Instead, we first beat upwind against a moderate lo pressure in 20-25 knots. Then we beat upwind in 25-35 knots chased by yet another gale for another 15 hours and here we are approaching Clare Island as I write. We have to press on as a major storm is chasing us with 40+ knot winds so we have to make our anchorage before Sunday afternoon. But we are heading home. Yippee! We should be on our mooring by our house by noon tomorrow if all goes well with tides and winds.

I have come to think of sailing the North Atlantic as my purgatory. Six gales is more than enough of a test, don't you think? Will it ever end? At least now we have a good idea about how all that rain arrives in Ireland. It starts in maritime Canada, so we'll just call Gilly in Nova Scotia for our long term weather forecasts from now on.
A calm spot before the storms.
We are grateful to Southbound II's Herb Hilgenberg and his sound weather routing advice which kept us safe and moving wherever and whenever possible the entire way. It was especially comforting to check in with someone once a day.

Herb also called the coast guard in Ireland after being hailed by CG Nova Scotia who heard from CG Ireland that we were overdue (which we weren't yet but "someone" got worried and called them). He notified both CG CA and IRE of our position and ETA. It's a good system and Herb is an amazing good samaritan.

Our friends in the SSB network, including Matt* who is single-handing s/v Alt and who we picked up in Nova Scotia and sailed with us all the way to Ireland, made it ever more interesting. Matt sailed right through the middle of Cristobal because he couldn't stop in Nova Scotia - he did not have any Canadian charts! He was en route from Cape May to Ireland via Plymouth UK aboard a Pearson 32 that he rescued from hurricane salvage. Originally from Cleveland, he's been sailing since only 2003 and was most recently a sail maker in Annapolis. There is an interesting story here. We have a feeling we'll 'see him' again.

Actually, it's pretty amazing how many boats are out here going every which way at any point in time: criss crossing the Caribbean, passing to Bermuda and along coastal US, Europeans bound for the Azores, a couple making for Iceland, several to Scotland, Ireland and Britain. It's like highways out here, yet we never actually saw another sailing vessel. Only fishing and cargo transports nearer the coasts and fishing banks. But none across the middle. Not a soul.

We learned many things in this ordeal (oops, I meant adventure): patience, humility, endurance, and tackling large goals and small fears bits at a time (or was it small goals and large fears?) are essential. We fought off
boredom and frustration and learned how smart it was to stock a good library and plenty of healthy snacks for long watches.

There is no way to get off at the next stop when you don't like what's happening around you out here - so once you sign on, you are committed to seeing it all the way through. That  changes how you think about things. All the insignificant things go away - and attitude becomes number one. We got into a rhythm out here that all three of us (Onyx included) adopted equally well. Most important, we learned that we still really like each other!

We also learned that Aleria is all we expected of her and more. We trust her, yet we have to keep a close eye and help her when she needs it. Chafed halyards and sheets, loose shrouds, broken sail slides, lost shackles and bolts, a broken hatch lock and other repairs kept us busy between sail changes, course corrections, and trashy or historical novels (in alternating sequence). Luckily the gear worked reasonably well, especially our faithful crew, Jolly Mon (the Monitor wind vane) and Otto (the autopilot).

There were many small triumphs along the way: Dolphins visiting us almost every day, body surfing along the tops of 20 foot swells to get a better look at us inside our boat. Birds (not fish) chasing our choice fishing lures. Spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Mesmerizing swells, shooting stars, distant nebula, giant sundogs, silvery moon trails, whales, sharks, processions of evil-looking squalls avoided, gentle breezes and sun showers, swirling cauldrons of sea, eerie songs played on the rigging, and kazillions of small fish boiling at the surface in endless trails of chemiluminescence. And lots of birds, mid-ocean. Who would have thought?

Well, you can't see things if you are not out there looking, and we were way out there and watching.  By the way, Aleria caught a fish. We did not, although something very big ate our best lure. At least Onyx had some sushi en route.

We also had some sad moments, including burial at sea of a swallow that had lost his way in one of the storms and couldn't recover. At least he had a comfortable few final hours riding aboard Aleria, with Onyx keeping a very vigilant watch over her new friend. (And, no, we're pretty sure he didn't have avian influenza, but we sterilized anyway.)

So after more than 3800 miles and more than six weeks on board - three of which were spent mid-ocean, our adventure comes to the conclusion of chapter one. We'll let you know as soon as we are settled in our home. The container with our shipment is due to arrive on or about the 20th of August. Let's hope it didn't fall off the ship!

Now the unpacking begins! (What do you do with miles of paper-backed bubble wrap?)

We miss you all!

For more details of our adventure, please visit www.coastalboating.net. And please pass this on to friends we may have missed. Thanks.

Slainte! To your health!
Daria, Alex & Onyx
s/v Aleria

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Black cats are easy to photograph in fog. 


July 21, 2008

How thick can fog get?

Sounds like a trick question, but here in Nova Scotia it's a matter of meterological and social interest. If you can't see your neighbors, there must not be any!

We left our port of entry behind a couple of days ago to take advantage of a 15+ knot southerly breeze which could get us out a ways toward Halifax in a comfortable reach. We went as far as we could before sunset and dropped anchor behind a secluded headland in Bill's Cove on the Sable River. The Irish contingent will understand when we describe it as looking exactly like Inishoo. We were ready to grab our potatoes in a pot to boil in seawater for our picnic on the beach!

We awoke in the morning to intensely dense fog. How dense was it? It was flowing into the boat through the companionway like a genie out of a bottle. I was trying to lure it into the soup pot to make cream of broccoli. You could not see across the cockpit. The flag was not visible at all.

Onyx, brave sea kitty, went for a stroll along the deck just to make sure everything was still there and she disappeared into the mist. When she came back, her fur was puffed out wide for warmth and the tip of every hair was adorned with a droplet of mist. So pretty! We hope the pictures Alex took show it off well.

We motored all the way to Hubbard's Cove  near Halifax in flat calm and obliterating fog with me on radar the entire way and Alex on deck ready to take evasive action if necessary. Luckily, there weren't many boats out in these parts.

This is where our friends, the Foggs, live. Yes, Gilly and Larry Fogg picked us up and took us to their lovely home for dinner. Gilly's sister, Ally, and her husband, Turtle, were there with their baby girl and it was great to see them all again. We'd made it in time for a celebration. A smoked pit feast of chicken and ribs, baked potatoes and squash, together with great camaraderie, were most welcome.

Care package received from Rob "almost a sailor" the self-appointed official harbourmaster of Hubbard's Cove.

Today was our first "layday" of the trip. We slept in till 9:00 am mainly because it was rainy and dark but also because we didn't get back till 1:00 am the night before. It was the first rain of the trip and it gave us a chance to check the leaks we'd fixed. All okay except one new one. Oh well, its always something. The locals are thrilled as there has been a drought from Maine to Newfoundland this year.

Then the projects started. Alex had to change the oil and oil filter on our new Yanmar engine. First, he had to locate all the gear he'd stowed (of course, not being as efficient as others on this vessel, he didn't keep notes on what he stowed where, so we had total disarray again). Then he had to loosen bolts that muscle men had tightened. Expletives seemed to help a great deal. Finally, he had to get the gear to suck out the old oil and replenish the new. If it all worked the engine would start! Yahoo it did, but it sucked and drained the whole day away.

That's okay as we are sitting here waiting for two storm systems to pass before we embark on our crossing of the Atlantic. One low centered over Maine. The other TS Cristobal heading for Newport RI and then expected to head straight for Halifax. We conferred with Herb who agreed that we should wait it out until at least Wednesday.

It turns out that Halifax is the perfect departure point - below the latitude of icebergs and usually above the hurricane belt. So rather than heading further along the coast to Bras d'Or Lakes, we'll leave from here chasing the lows. Conditions should be perfect.

We're spending the next day or so doing laundry and reprovisioning. Basically getting ourselves physically and mentally prepared for about three weeks at sea. Our cousin Middie also called and invited us to breakfast as he is passing through Halifax tomorrow.  Large world getting smaller every day.

Until then,
Daria + Alex+ Onyx
s/v Aleria

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Now that's fog. 


Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2008 01:53:59

Subject: Our first foreign port of call...if only we could see it, eh!


The coast of Maine from Schoodic on is rather remote, dramatic and teacherous. Rocks at 5 feet surrounded by 200 feet of water. Waves breaking in the middle of the "ocean" are a real clue. Petit Manan Island, a tall lighthouse on a flat surface in the sea, has a huge colony of birds, including puffins but we didn't see any from where we were. No tourists in sight at all. Except us of course.

We spent a lovely night in Eastern Harbor in the "hamlet" of Addison, ME. It was the first real quiet we heard since starting our cruise. No saws, no hammers, no trains, no boats, no human sounds at all. The occasional cry of a bird. The occasional rise of a fish. The pounding roar of surf against rocks just outside the harbor. All the boats in the harbor were fishing or lobstering boats. There was one tiny sailboat on a mooring. There's only a very-well-used fish dock and fuel pump there. We bought 6 gallons of gas for the dinghy. "We don't sell much gas here," the owner said. "Can we please leave our garbage bag here?" "Nope, gotta truck it to the next town."  They let us post our mail from their box at the end of the driveway. There were real letters already in the box and the flag was up so we were all set. Ah-Yep.

We left yesterday at about 1100 h and arrived Shelburne, NS at about 1300 today (local Atlantic time 1400). Yep, 25 hours of fog. Dense fog. Can't-see-an-eighth-of-a-mile famous Canadian maritime fog. For you landlubbers, this is why sailors say it is safer to be out at sea. There are far fewer hazards to run into out there, especially when you can't see 'em! And there's no fog out in the middle of the ocean!

The first 12 hours were spent beating upwind under full sail in 18 knots and a rather confused sea. Ian's gift of Dinty Moore was very welcome and just the ticket. Then suddenly, someone just turned the wind off. One second 18, the next second 0. Seems Big Bertha sucked all the wind out of the Atlantic. People from the Azores to Bermuda to Newfoundland were complaining about the light air on the SSB net.

There was a lonely stretch across the Grand Manan Banks where we had not one contact on radar for 12 hours straight. Normally, that's good. Here in the fog and remote wilderness it was eerie. Very alone-in-the-universe feeling at 2 am on deck with no visibility and no contacts. Twilight Zone like.

We didn't know the cannons were a re-enactment. Aleria's masts just visible above the smoke. 

Then of course, just as we were to round Cape Sable, that infamous stretch where the tide rips make the Race look meek, the radar was loaded with contacts. Tugs and barges, freighters, fishing vessels (at least that was my imagination's take) and all in the way of the heading we wanted. Weaving this way and that, we got through the melee. At least the current was with us. And it was cold! Frigid wet condensating fog. The sails were weeping over it! Thank goodness for double backup chart plotters and radar.

Finally, in the morning gray light of the all-encompassing fog, we approached Shelburne by braille. We followed the chart plotter, picked up the land contour on radar, and confirmed with the bottom depth contour toward the harbor. We knew there were fish farms out here but we didn't know where. Magically, the fog lifted completely in one moment and the warm sun lit everything up so we could see the approach, the mussel and salmon farms, the town and the entire harbor (which we later learned is the third largest natural harbor in the world). I ran for the camera to get a dramatic shot of the umpteenth dramatic lighthouse of the trip. As I snapped, the fog wiped the lighthouse away again (most dramatic shots yet.) I am not making this up. I have pictures to prove it! Hence the 26th hour was not in fog.

So we finally got through to CANPASS to clear customs after calling for days. Our clearance was a little tricky. We are transporting our shotguns to Ireland. So they sent the nicest agents in the world on a three-hour road trip to pick them up. They'll bring them back to wherever whenever we decide to leave. Onyx also performed admirably, showing off her electronically implanted credentials and welcoming the agents uncharacteristically warmly, one of whom also has a black cat!

Most people who enter Canada just call in and never see an agent. These guys were really nice. They told us our gear was quite valuable. Bought long ago we had no clue. We got our clearance number, lowered the Q flag and raising the Canadian courtesy flag. Alas, the AYC burgee has now moved to a lesser position of prominence to allow for the recognition of our host country.

It happens to be the 225th anniversary of the town's settlement by Loyalists who fled the American Revolution and there are big celebrations under way. The militia did exercises on the wharf today. Privateers in period costume are out in longboats in the harbor right now staging an attack on the Loyalist outpost and there are cannons and muskets being fired into the harbor (uuhhhh, kind of just inside where we are anchored). Apparently, back then the population here was 10,000 and today it's 528. They were all out watching - all 528 of them. We're surprised they allowed us yankees in here today!

People are incredibly warm here. At the Shelburne Harbor Yacht Club, we were instantly welcomed by the manager, the self-proclaimed welcome committee, and various members, including a couple from Milford CT who also have a large ketch, a camper and a new house in Cape Bretton. The SHYC is pretty special. It was a movie set for the Scarlet Letter several years ago and the YC bought it for a song after the movie company completely redid it in period style. There's an AYC burgee flying front and center. The place has a good feel.

So tomorrow there's a low heading our way. First rain since we got Down East is predicted along with gale force winds. We'll see if we venture out or stay put. There are worse places to stay put for certain.

Cheers from Canada,
Daria + Alex + Onyx
s/v Aleria

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Following American Eagle through Fox Islands Thoroughfare

Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2008 18:47:13

Sorting, Frolicking & Easting

So much has happened in the past few days it's hard to know where to begin.

We had a lovely night in beautiful though crowded Pulpit Harbor, where one boat dragged anchor (Delta) clear across and almost rammed a lovely schooner doing an overnight. Another boat had no battery power by morning so they drove from boat to boat until they found a power pack. The usual.

We decided to head over to Deer Isle as the forecast was S 10-15 knots, perfect breeze. Two boats left ahead of us under full sail. We thought the breeze felt a bit fresh so we just put out jib and jigger and lay a course out to sea. Within a couple of minutes, the wind picked up to at least 25, and the boats with full sail were instantly in trouble. One ahead managed to reduce sail, the other had a problem with its furler and headed back into the harbor. Two boats behind us turned back and two stayed with us, one under power, the other under reefed main. It was a wild beat until we could turn the corner where we picked up the two masted topsail schooner American Eagle under full sail. We followed them through the Fox Islands Thoroughfare at 9.5 knots. We were going so fast we couldn't see the sights! And it was pretty, too. Oh, there goes the village! Quick, look at that lighthouse! Too late. Those of you who know Aleria know that she "sings" with her mizzen boom. Well, each gust raised her song several octaves...ooohhh!

We decided it was too exposed at Stonington so we headed up into Eggemoggin Reach. Here is where we were put to the test. The wind continued to build, and as we entered the Reach it hit a crescendo near the bridge. The gusts had to be approaching 50 knots. One slammed us sideways with a bang. Even boats coming downwind the other way were having difficulty.

But Aleria did great. It was then that she spoke to me. I was at the helm and felt her trying to remember how to do this because she'd done it a lot but some time ago. Then I felt her tell me, "Okay, got it now. You relax and I'll take care of you from here on." And sure enough, the moment I relaxed and stopped struggling against her, the easier and smoother our dance with the wind became. Lovely. I recognized something I had once read about the competent sailor being smart enough to simply let his boat do what she does best. That day, we learned a lot about each other. She's a great boat.

We anchored in the lee of Torrey Island, and the wind died down instantly. Listening to the weather forecast again, we thought we had imagined it all! Another little boat joined us in this secure spot and we enjoyed a lovely night.

We awoke to dense fog, which we really hadn't seen much of up to now. The world had disappeared overnight. Our neighbor left early but we decided to hop in the dinghy with handheld gps and visit the Wooden Boat School and Wooden Boat Magazine. We were quite disoriented in the fog so thank goodness for gps, but when we finally saw them, it was spectacularly beautiful. Wow! The harbor is full of wooden boats of every description, from tiny nutshells to massive schooners. There were classes ongoing everywhere...at the dock, in the boathouse, in the shed, and at the picnic grounds. Very impressive.

It was here we learned that they had clocked sustained winds of 30 and gusts close to 40 knots yesterday in the dockhouse at the harbor which is protected by two islands. We were not imagining things. It had been howling. Alex decided that the Maine forecast has a factor built in for Maine, just like ski areas do. A black diamond at Camelback in PA does not compare with a black diamond at Alta in UT. Similarly, 15 knots forecast doesn't mean the same in Maine as it did in Long Island Sound. It's all relative!

Photo by Captain Sharp
An old manor house serves as the magazine's HQ. They have an amazing library, with sailing and boat building magazine collections dating back to the 1800s. Every book on sailing ever written is here. We donated one of our anchoring books to the cause! One of the editors is coming to Clew Bay next summer to do a story about the Achill regatta, so she'll be visiting. How cool!  We bought a replica ship model in the store for our mantel in Ireland (just what we needed onboard).

As we returned to Aleria, the fog lifted and we made our way to Southwest Harbor on Mt Desert Island. One more lobster dinner at Peale's gave us reason for a skip through the "boring" harbor (every yacht is a gorgeous Hinckley with a couple of Morris' strewn about). Next day, we did a picnic lunch tour of Somes Sound (Hudson is more dramatic) and anchored for the night in its mouth. A proper mega-yacht picked up its mooring next to us for a peaceful night with a view. We all worked on projects well into the evening before turning in.

The morning was flat calm. A pod of small black dolphins frolicked all around us while seals warmed themselves on the rocks, eagles soared way up high, and an osprey made our masthead his scouting site from which to dive down on fish. The latter was a sign, and Alex went up the mast with his topclimber to install the wind vane and new anemometer. We now know precisely how much wind we have and the osprey poop machine won't have a comfortable roost.

While I spotted for Alex, I sorted through the evidence of our lives in Bergen County, New Jersey. The collection of business cards told our story, all past tense. Doctors and dentists - keep. House painter, car dealer, hair dresser, limousine service, pizza delivery - purge. Financial advisor, banker, business manager, accountant - keep. And so on. No house, no car, no job, no need.

We have been working our way slowly East the whole time. Today, we have started seriously heading East. The forecast for the next few days is beautiful - 10-15 knots, sunny, 75. The coastline here past Schoodic is very rugged and dramatic. We have a beautiful 10-foot ocean swell and we are heading for Eastern Harbor across Pleasant Bay. Nova Scotia here we come.

It will take a couple of days and a couple of hops to get there and we hope to make it no later than Sunday to hook up with friends who are visiting from England. This is remote country so we'll be out of range for a while. Life is good.

"Talk" to you soon.
Daria, Alex, Onyx

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Chandlery, fuel dock and lobster source.


Date: Sat, 12 Jul 2008 21:29:53

Subject: Slight change of plans, Lobstah and Cultchah

We had it all worked out. BoatUS insurance would take us through Maine, Pantaneus around the ROW (rest of world). Then there was a slight SNAFU. The underwriters won't carry US flagged vessels into Newfoundland from either direction. But Boat US will cover us as far as Nova Scotia and Pantaneus will cover us from 20 miles offshore anywhere outside of the Americas. Interesting, if we were an Irish flagged vessel, we could get coverage anywhere we wanted to go. Hmmmm. I guess they don't trust Americans around 20 foot tides.

So, although we planned to cruise Newfoundland, it looks like we'll be leaving from Nova Scotia instead. Oh well, reason to come back. Great reason to spend a few more days in Maine.

So far, amazing vistas, amazing food, amazing weather, amazing experience. We have already fallen into a different rhythm of life. We get up with the sun and go to sleep with the darkness. We eat when we are hungry, make smaller meals, and are both becoming fitter surprisingly quickly. There is a new kind of tiredness - a healthy exhaustion that makes for sound sleep in the rocking cradle of Aleria.

We started out in Tenants Harbor where we had the best lobstah, steamah and mussel dinnah evah. Cod End Restaurant, God loves yah!

Then a succession of Rockland, Rockport, and Camden.

In Rockland, we found lots of "cultchah" as Wednesday nights all the galleries and museums are open till 8 pm and are free after 5. Ohmygosh, the f word - free- is so important to a cruising budget. The Farnsworth Museum is an amazing gem with Wyeth collections plus soooo much more. This is not a minor holding! The Harbor Square Gallery across the street is even more amazing. Like nothing either of us have ever seen anywhere. So pleasing. Rooftop scupture garden a must see. We could have lived there gleefully except we couldn't afford to buy it out. Rockland's renaissance is quite successful. Friday saw a parade of tall ships - about a dozen or so - and the weekend blues festival was to be an event to behold by all accounts. We met up with AYC's Tango, who came up from NC but we left before the concerts on the waterfront happened! Not in the mood for crowds just yet.
Lovely scenery abounds...with lighthouses strewn about liberally.

In Rockport, we met another Bowman 57 owner who had read our article in CW. Way cool to compare notes on a boat so few people know. I also showed Alex around town as this is where I was about to move when I met him. He convinced me Ireland was the mirror image since they had been connected once, so I should go with him to balmy Ireland instead of frigid Maine. And here we are heading out to Ireland via Maine. Who would have thought the day would actually arrive?

Camden, though more touristy, is beautiful from atop the hill in the park looking down into the harbor. The light was so magnificent and the classic boats here, including the schooner fleet, made it most memorable. Met Julie who owns a gallery/shop in town and is married to a Tazmanian. They just sold their 16 acre property up the Camden hill for $3.5m. They're going sailing on their Cabo Rico 34 any day now. Our paths will cross again. Others were complaining about the economy and the area does appear to be suffering.

We stopped for ice cream in Gilkey Harbor but made no sightings of Travolta and friends. On our way to a quiet evening on the hook at Pulpit Harbor. Glorious sailing.

People are coming out of the wordwork just to be nice and human. It's a bit hard to get accustomed to, but we are trying. Everyone looks you in the eye and really talks to you here! Human beings not human doings. So far, sooooooo good.

Oh yeah, today's it's blue sky with puffy clouds, 15-20 kts, 75 degrees. No fog. Did God turn Maine into heaven for sailors?

Daria, Alex, Onyx
s/v Aleria

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Whales in Stellwagon Bank


Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2008 18:47:13

Whales, tons of them!

We had an amazing passage from P-Town to Maine. It took about 30 hours in light winds.

Near the Cape was the first sighting of whales. They were in pods just feeding off the abundant supplies of fish in the marine sanctuary. Whale watching boats were all over and, although they got their sightings, these whales seemed ambivant about showing off beyond the occasional blow hole geyser.

Several hours later on the legendary Stellwagon Bank, Alex spotted something on the water. It was a whale's head floating above the surface. A flock of birds was grooming it! Extraordinary. Suddenly, they were everywhere, as far as you could see, except dead ahead. Pods of whales. Two by two and more, getting their grooming done, swimming along and diving down, displaying their magnificent flukes. Scores of endangered Right Whales. We cheered gleefully and clapped, and jumped up and down like children.

Then we heard them singing. Loud and clear. All around us. Grunts, groans, roars, squeals, whistles, whines...it was like we were swimming with them. Don't know how we heard it so clearly but it was haunting and eerie. Alex said it sounded prehistoric. This went on for some time after we could no longer see the whales on the surface. Perhaps Aleria was transmitting the whales' song for us like a stethoscope.

It was then that we knew that the amazing adventure has really begun.

We'll be cruising Maine for a while and will send an update before heading out to Canada and across the Atlantic. It probably won't be for several days...maybe weeks.

We've been tuning into Herb Hilgenberg's South Bound II weather routing on SSB as practice. Almost everything is working well aboard. The new Northstar navigation system (M121) is pretty amazing. Many systems still need fine tuning so this shakedown is good. Otherwise, there, but for the grace of God, go we.

Daria, Alex, Onyx
s/v Aleria

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Passing through the Cape Cod Canal


Jul 7 

Blackwell adventure update

Hi all,

As most of you know, we sold the house, packed up the Mercedes, some furniture and personal effects in a container and shipped it to Ireland, loaded up the boat with lots of stuff and Onyx, and shoved off earlier this week. We have transited Long Island Sound, Block Island Sound, Buzzards' Bay and Cape Cod Bay (the latter two in grey mist and fog).  There's has been little wind this week so the inland passage made sense. We've been motoring far more than we'd like.

Yesterday we had fun on shore leave exploring Provincetown (not nearly as fun and interesting as I remember it years ago). Today, we sail across to Penobscot Bay in Maine.

"Talk" to you soon!

Daria Alex Onyx
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Our white seahorse spinnaker is up

July 6

Heading out

We stopped in Oyster Bay to sort ourselves out and rest after the mad dash of the last few days. Now en route to Maine. While we are still close enough to Cape Cod, I am sending a shot of Alex on deck just after we set our white sea horse spinnaker. Yes, he has stopped shaving!

On our way to Maine. Should arrive tomorrow morning if these light winds hold up. Hope to see whales. There were none yesterday in the Cape en route to P-town.

All the best,
D, A, O
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Where are we going to stow all this stuff?
July 2

We are finally off!

Well, it took a little longer than we would have liked but the house is sold and emptied, the furniture and my car are in a container on their way to Ireland, the boat is loaded with gear and the cat, and we are on our way.

It's a beautiful evening and the first of our adventure. It feels so good to finally cut loose. I can't even begin to tell you how much we've done in one month. It's mind boggling. We'll take it slow for a couple of days while we recuperate. We cast off on a short leg this evening and will head up to Maine over the next few days. We'll check in again when we get there.

Anyway, I miss you all! All the best to you.

Daria

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Aleria's last night at American Yacht Club.

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