Where in the world?

Where in the world are Mindy and Reinhart now?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A vacation from our vacation

Back in November, we sailed down to the BVIs with the Salty Dawg Rally.  Lots of boats left on time heading out in front of a strong weather system off the US, but we were part of a pack that stayed behind a few days and followed the storm out.  It was great going south with a rally - we spoke with folks every morning on the SSB radio, and having a weather router knocked 2 days off of our expected time.  We arrived in Virgin Gorda 9 days after we left Hampton, VA.

We spent a couple of weeks in the BVIs, mostly hanging out with the Salty Dawgs, and then we headed over to St. Thomas in the USVI to leave the boat in Red Hook while we went to Austria for the holidays.  Our friends Kristi and Will got us to the airport for our vacation away from our vacation.

We were with family and friends in Austria and Switzerland for 6 weeks this year.  It is a long time to be away from Rockhopper, but it is always so wonderful spending all of that time with Reinhart’s Mom.  It doesn’t matter how long you stay, though, because there are always folks you don’t manage to see.   I expect we’ll be back next year. 

Now we are back in the Virgins.  We left Red Hook and came around the corner to spend a few days in Secret Harbor which we enjoyed so much back in March.  And once again, Kristi and Will have been so generous with their time and home.  We are heading over to St. John tomorrow to stay for a few days, and then we’ll be back to St. Thomas next week to pick up Lori!

We’ve got a few folks coming to visit over the next few weeks in the Virgins, and then we’ll be heading over to St. Martin towards mid-March and trying to decide whether we are going much further south.  We’ll be going back to Bermuda sometime in May and heading up to Canada in June. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Virgin Bound

It has been ages since I updated the blog.  Honestly, we are so busy having fun, I can’t figure out when we ever had the time to work.  When we last wrote, we were debating about whether to leave Southwest Harbor in Maine.  We ended up staying another couple of weeks, doing more hiking, biking, museum-ing, and even getting to visit with friends Jeri and Marty who were up in Maine for training.  We stayed so long that we had to make one big 24-hour hop down to meet friends in the Portsmouth/Kittery area.  We got to spend more time with Christy (and Steve, and Sierra) which was lovely, and Karen came down from New Hampshire for a couple of days.  We took Karen on a miserable pounding motorsail over to Isle of Shoals, but had such a delightful anchorage, that all was forgotten.  We had a nice sail back to Kittery, which was over too fast, and we were ferrying Karen back to her car and saying tearful goodbyes. 

We always have to make a little time for Gloucester, so we stopped by for a couple of days before heading on down to Annapolis, MD.  We arrived in Woodsback Marina on September 27 after a 72-hour sail from Massachusetts.  We were excited to have friends visit from DC (Clair, Neal, and Cara) and to catch up with our cruising friends before the boat show took over.  The boat show still manages to kick our butts for 3 weeks, but we get a little more time off than we used to, so we don’t live in a state of complete exhaustion.  We certainly had time to spend lots of money, so we left Annapolis after having done our part for the US economy. 

We managed to get in a quick roadtrip to NC to see friends and family, but of course, we didn’t see everyone we hoped to.  Sooner or later, there will be enough time to see everyone!  We rushed back up to Annapolis to finish off a serious bit of maintenance, say goodbye to John and Woodsback, and set sail for Hampton, VA. 

Now we are in Hampton, VA with a group called the Salty Dawgs.  We are going to the Caribbean together, headed for the British Virgin Islands.  Our original speculative departure date was set for Wednesday, Nov 2.  Due to the weather, lots of boats left a day early, and about 25 boats decided to wait a few more days.  As of this writing, it looks like we’ll be leaving in a few hours, at 3am on Saturday, Nov 5.  It should take us 10-14 days to get to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.  The next time we write, Rockhopper will be in the Caribbean, and as usual, you are all invited (seriously)! 

Either enter “Rockhopper" under Name to track us, or enter “SDR” under Group to see the whole Salty Dawg Rally.  Update the dates (using a start date of Nov 1 should be fine), and hit View Map. 

Rockhopper Anchorages:
44°16.770N 068°18.549W; Southwest Harbor, ME; 18Aug-15Sep16
43°04.758N 070°42.356W; Pepperell Cove mooring; Kittery, ME; 16Sep16
42°58.730N 070°36.706W; Isle of Shoals mooring (NH/ME border); 17Sep16
43°04.764N 070°42.363W; Pepperell Cove mooring; Kittery, ME; 18-20Sep16
42°36.652N 070°39.362W; Gloucester (mooring), MA; 21-22Sep16
42°36.748N 070°39.048W; Brown’s Fuel Dock, Gloucester, MA; 23Sep16
37°57.989N 076°29.014W; Woodsback; Eastport, MD; 27Sep15-28Oct16
37°00.982N 076°20.477W; Bluewater Marina; Hampton, VA; 29Oct-05Nov16

Thursday, September 1, 2016


We’ve loved Mt. Desert Island since the first time we were here 10 years ago, and, like a decade ago,  we are spending weeks rather than days here.  We’ve been in the same anchorage for 2 weeks and we aren’t showing any signs of getting ready to head out.   Once we arrived we didn’t see any more of those pesky flies, we had remarkably nice weather, and our friends Jage and Bob aboard Beach House were here for company - all making it easier to stay!

We have been anchored in a calm and wildlife rich spot near the Claremont Hotel in Southwest Harbor.  A majority of the Acadia National Park is on Mt. Desert Island and there is so much to do here.  We can hike breathtaking coastland or magnificent woodlands, bike miles of pleasant carriage roads, and browse the museums and shops of the park and the quaint coastal towns.  We aren’t quite as connected up here as we were just a few miles south - we don’t have wifi or TV at anchor, and we don’t have predictable cell service at the boat or even in town.  So, at the moment we are sitting in Southwest Harbor’s charming library, where the wifi is free and plentiful. 

We aren’t quite sure what we’ll be doing with our next couple of weeks.   There are really only two choices, stay-put or move-on, and we haven’t quite decided.  We thought that if we came here we might be ending our chances of getting to Canada this year, and this is the case.  Our Canadian courtesy flag will just have to stand by for another year.

What we are sure of is that we are planning on meeting friends further south in mid September and then moving on down to Annapolis around September 23.  We’ll stay at Woodsback Marina again this year while we work the boat shows.  We are planning to drive down to NC at the end of October for a quick visit before sailing down to the Caribbean in November.  We’ll be leaving the boat for several weeks in December while we go to Austria for the holidays.  Rockhopper will be ready for Caribbean guests by mid-January. 

Rockhopper Anchorages:
44°16.770N 068°18.549W; Southwest Harbor, ME; 18Aug16…

It has been a long time since we’ve posted any photos, so here are a few: 

Our neighborhood seal

A foggy morning race

You are right Denise, once you start looking, owls ARE everywhere!

Echo Lake and Somes Sound behind it were formed by glaciers

A carriage road bridge 

We really appreciate the beautiful gardens.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Island Hopping in the Northeast

Once again, I am posting this via email in a place with marginal
Internet connection, and I am not able to upload any photos.

We are still recovering from our whirlwind July. We spent just a few
days surrounded by the luxury of Newport. We left reluctantly, but
promised ourselves we'd drop back by on our way south; however, we've
been saying that about almost everywhere we go, so it is becoming
clear that we'll run out of summer too early this season. On our way
up to Gloucester we picked up a mooring at Bassetts Island, MA. We
stopped here back in 2006 on our way north and we were happy to find
out there are still free yacht club moorings available to folks who
are waiting for a favorable current through the Cape Cod Canal. We
were off the mooring at 3am for that favorable current and arrived in
Gloucester later that day to hurriedly prepare Rockhopper for hauling
out and ourselves for a road trip to NC and CO.

The 3-week road trip gave us a lot of much needed quality time with
family and friends. I was thrilled that we managed to see so many
folks, but as usual there is never quite enough time for everyone.
Hopefully, some folks will get a chance to visit us on the water in
the next year. We certainly need to pay back the generosity and
hospitality so many have shown us! We had so much fun that we didn't
get a bit homesick for Rockhopper, but we were both happy to see her
when we pulled back in the parking lot at Brown's.

We spent another week back at Brown's, feeling like we were also
spending time with old friends. We did our part for the US economy
with all the work we had done while at Brown's, and it was becoming
clear that we needed to head out of there before doing any more damage
to the sailing kitty. We left Gloucester for a short sail up to
Rockport MA, and then made our way to the Isle of Shoals on the New
Hampshire/Maine border on Christy and Steve's advice. Upon entering
the harbor a nearby sailor told us to feel free to pick up a yacht
club mooring. There are nice hikes, awkwardly cute baby gulls, and
lots of activity going on with the summer-camp style conference
center. I can't believe we had never managed to visit before, and now
we have a new convenient stop for north or southbound travel.

I haven't been in the mood for a big multi-day passage, so we have
been hopping our way north and east up the coast. We stopped in
peaceful Seal Cove off Richmond Island for a couple of quiet days on
the boat. We were ready for a little city life, so we picked up a
mooring in Portland, ME for a couple of nights. It was a welcome
change to be back in a town after a few remote anchorages. We bought
fish from the waterfront market and found an excellent bakery (the
kind of bakery with actual bread instead of cakes and pastries). We
browsed the isles of a giant marine chandlery and purchased our
Canadian courtesy flag. We were excited to go to the Portland Science
Center, even though it turned out to be a highly priced Vegas-style
Titanic exhibition.

We sailed over to Jewell Island in the Casco Bay. We loved Jewell
Island back in 2006 and it is just as wonderful as we remembered. We
stayed for days and there were always a few boats in Cocktail Cove,
and a high turnover, as they came in for lunch stops or for an
overnight gathering. There were also lots of paddlers and campers.
The island is part of the Maine Island Trail, and it is a former WWII
fortification, which makes for a lot of unique hiking opportunities on
this tiny island. We met the park caretaker one day and he invited us
over to his cabin, which was a former homestead of the family who
owned and farmed Jewell before it was a park. He is only there
Thursday through Monday during the summer, and he has been restoring
the cabin and it's garden as well as taking care of all of the
campsites, trails, and former military installments on the islands.
It is such a calm anchorage and I'm sure we'll be back.

We sailed up to Tenants Harbor and anchored in nearby Long Cove. I
was hoping for a charming little town to wander around. It ended up
being a little more residential than we had anticipated, but there was
still an ice cream shop and a general store for some freshies. Long
Cove itself is a lovely anchorage, but the first night was interrupted
at 4:30am with a raucous lobsterman making sure the anchored pleasure
boats were up as early as he was. It was interesting though, watching
the dozens of lobster boats heading out before dawn. We left Tenants
Harbor and sailed through the islands of Penobscot Bay (and thousands
of lobster traps) to an archipelago south of Stonington, Me.

One thing I haven't mentioned is the weather and the flies. The
weather has been all over the place, sunny, rainy, hot, cool, clear,
and foggy. When we are closer to the mainland, it can be quite warm as
the highs have gotten up into the 90s in the Portland area. Even on
those days, if we are sailing to an outer island, it can be
dramatically cooler, especially in wind or fog. The 65-degree sea
temperatures really affect the air temperature when we are sailing.
We still haven't had much of a mosquito problem, but we did start
getting flies as soon as we hit Maine. We heard about the flies up
here when we were sailing 10 years ago, but we never really
experienced them. This year is different and we find ourselves
battling flies about every other day. Thank goodness for our window
screens and screen doors which keep us sane when the flies descend.

The flies and the temperatures aren't a problem today though. I am
typing away in a 72-degree boat, and we have a fly-free cockpit since
the wind is raging outside of our anchorage off Hell's Half Acre
(seriously, that's the name). Tomorrow we are headed for Mt. Desert
Island, and the perfect balance of quiet anchorages, long trails,
charming towns, stocked grocery stores, libraries with wifi, and a
great transportation system!

Rockhopper Anchorages:
41°28.775N 071°19.673W; Newport, RI Anchorage; 25-28Jun16
41°40.985N 070°38.244W; Bassett's Island mooring (Cape Cod Canal, MA); 29Jun16
42°36.747N 070°39.013W; Brown's Yacht Yard, Gloucester, MA; 30Jun-02Aug16
42°39.655N 070°37.152W; Rockport, MA; 03Aug16
42°58.716N 070°36.637W; Isle of Shoals mooring (NH/ME border); 04-05Aug16
43°32.981N 070°14.135W; Richmond Island (Seal Cove), ME; 06-07Aug16
43°39.706N 070°14.443W; Portland Yacht Services mooring, ME; 08-09Aug16
43°41.274N 070°05.459W; Jewell Island, ME; 10-13Aug16
43°58.264N 069°11.383W; Tenants Harbor (Long Cove), ME; 14-15Aug16
44°09.032N 068°37.473W; Camp Island and Hell's Half Acre, ME; 16-17Aug16

Monday, June 27, 2016

Thrash from the onion patch

My attempt to update the blog during the passage via single sideband radio failed, so I am updating you from beautiful Newport, RI instead.   We arrived at 1am Saturday morning and have been desalting the boat, catching up on our sleep, and enjoying this scenic yachty town.  Sorry about the lack of photos, but in the meantime, here is a photo we were surprised to find on marinetraffic.com, which must have been taken as we left St. Martin in May. 

Rockhopper in passage mode
Our passage from Bermuda was not exactly as expected.  We had a little bit of everything as far as wind conditions on the trip.  We had a couple of periods of great sailing, a couple of periods of such light conditions we needed to motor, and a big chunk in the middle where we had too much wind and sea for comfort.  It was a fast trip, which is good because this is not a good time to be lollygagging in the North Atlantic. The weather this spring has been unpredictable.  I mean that in the truest sense, two of our weather sources have commented on their struggles to predict what these weather systems will do.  Luckily, we were able to rely on getting daily weather updates via SSB, and the forecasts are fairly accurate within 24 hours.

We started off the trip motor-sailing in light winds for the first half day, and then had a lovely reach for the next day.  The winds were getting stronger and we started reefing the main and jib.  By the time we entered one of the weather systems we were expecting to encounter, we were sailing with a double-reefed main and our tiny staysail.  This system was correctly predicted with 25-30 knot sustained winds 12-15’ seas, but still more uncomfortable than I had expected.  We have certainly sailed in higher winds before, and I expect we’ve been in similar seas, but this felt like a true gale to me, and neither of us enjoyed it in the least.  [Now that we’ve spoken to some other boats that were in the same conditions, we probably had a few hours with gusts in the 40-45 knot range that our instruments were not picking up.]  We were taking so many waves, that we closed up our main hatch completely to keep the interior dry, and performed our watches electronically, barely bothering to stick our heads in the cockpit.  The rain, large waves, and erratic movement kept us from being able to see anything.  Don’t worry, we can monitor our radar, AIS, and all instruments at our interior navigation station.  Of course, we had our typical rough weather reactions:  Reinhart was seasick, and I had insomnia.  We experienced uncomfortable conditions for a little over 24 hours with 6 especially bad hours, but it felt like days.  We were lucky that the wind conditions were not on our nose, and that they stayed consistent during this time so we did not need to adjust the sails.  We were also lucky that we never had an opposing current, so the sea itself was speeding us along through the trough, and we made fantastic time. 

Once we were through the trough, lots of sail adjustment was necessary as we encountered fairer conditions and passed through the Gulf Stream.  We were pleased that the stream was not a monster this time around, though at 5 knots it still pushed us farther east than we had hoped.  Things were settling down:  Rockhopper had three full sails up, Reinhart could eat a cracker, and Mindy could take a 15-minute nap.  Winds slowly diminished north of the Gulf Stream and soon we were motor-sailing in light winds and glassy seas.  As we neared the coast, winds started picking up and we had a whispery broad reach for the last 12 hours of the trip.  I absolutely love it when it feels like we are sailing 3 knots, and I look up to see that we are flying along at 7 knots!  It made us forget our previous atrocious weather and had the trip ending on a high note.

The last 24 hours also brought a few welcome rain showers rinsing off the salt encrusted decks and sails.  We also noticed a temperature drop, and we are giddy about experiencing the sunny and cool northeast summer.  Once we got within 100 miles, I started noticing the floating mylar balloons, something I haven’t seen since we were sailing off the US east coast last summer.  Honestly, folks, we have to stop buying these things, or at least stop releasing them into the sky, because they end up in the ocean.  In the end, the 656 nm passage was 108 hours (45 of those motoring, 41%), with a 6.1 knot average.

We’ll only have a few days to enjoy Newport’s glorious weather before we need to hurry ourselves up to Gloucester, MA.  I look at the chart and see we’ll be passing up places we love like Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and see that we are still not getting to places in NY and CT that we always wanted to visit.  We only have 3 months to visit the northeast, and we have way too much to see and do.  We are almost regretting our decision to take a road trip to NC and CO and lose a few weeks of our northeast cruising time; however, that is far overpowered by our excitement to see friends and family and several new additions.  It is unfortunate that we’ll have to choose between places rather than visiting them all - the plight of the cruiser.  

We’ll be in NC July 2-5, and in DEN July 10-16.

Rockhopper Anchorages:
32°22.818N 064°40.369W; Convict Bay, St. George’s, Bermuda 15May – 11Jun
32°22.831N 064°40.575W; St. George’s Wharf, Bermuda, 12-19Jun16
41°28.775N 071°19.673W; Newport, RI Anchorage; 25Jun16…

Monday, June 20, 2016

On our way to the USA

How quickly can I type?  Please forgive any errors.  Our engine is already running and we are getting ready to leave St. George's soon headed for Newport, RI.  I just figured out that our wifi isn't strong enough to update the blog from the website, so I will be updating via email without any photos for links.  

We have been watching the weather closely since early June to make our trip to the northeast US, but it has been really hard to predict.  This past year has been much harder for us to get a weather window going anywhere than it was back in 2007, or maybe we were just lucky then.   It has given us time to do a lot of other things we hadn't had a chance for, like a very interesting visit to the folks up at Bermuda Radio, who are the Bermuda Coast Guard and port control for the island. 

We weren't quite ready to leave when a window popped up one morning about a week ago.  Lots of folks headed out that morning, and we decided to pull up into one of their spots at the dock, so we could more easily get the boat ready for passage and be ready to leave on a moment's notice.  We stayed in SSB radio contact with two of the vessels and were very glad we didn't leave with them.  The weather turned out to be horrible and they both had miserable trips.  We were glad we were waiting a couple of days, that turned into waiting 3 then 4 then 8 days.  Now there is a big group of us heading to the US, about half the group is going to the Chesapeake, and many of us are heading to Newport. 

We were only planning on spending 2 nights on the wharf, and now we've spent 8 nights.  That is a pretty luxurious splurge for us.  We didn't have power or water here, but being able to hop off the boat whenever you want is pretty nice.  We were also able to get wifi often and check all of the offshore weather support services available to us.  Not surprisingly, the weather directly in Bermuda has also been a little squally this past week, and if we had stayed on anchor we might have been stuck on the boat several of those days to avoid a wet bumpy dinghy ride.  

The other positive thing about being on the wharf was being able to greet and meet the sailors coming from the Chespeake in the Annapolis-Bermuda race.  It has been wonderful for us to socialize with other boats and we are meeting folks that we'll probably get to see again during the boat show.  We were all huddled around computers every morning in the dock master's office checking out the weather.  We might also be keeping in radio contact with them during the passage. 

Now the boats from the Newport-Bermuda race are just arriving, and we'll be passing some of them while we leave.  One of the boats, Comanche, broke the Newport-Bermuda speed record by completing their trip in under 35 hours.  The other boats will be taking at least 70 hours, and we will take ~120 hours.    

We'll have the spot tracker on as usual if you want to see where we are click the link in the sidebar.  If you want to check out the whole fleet of boats arriving and departing Bermuda today check out an AIS tracking website like Marine Traffic.  We should be showing up in Newport by Saturday evening.  Our weather window is good, but spirited, so we might even arrive a day early. 

I may run a test while we are at sea to see if I can update the blog from our super secret emergency email, which can send and recieve tiny email messages over our SSB radio.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I’d rather stay in Bermuda

More than 3 weeks have passed since we arrived in Bermuda, and I haven’t taken any time to write about it.  I’ll try to remember everything that has happened in the past month!   

Our sail north to Bermuda was a different experience every day.  We had fast days that were either uncomfortable or idyllic, we had downwind sails that were miserable or magical, and we had light winds that had us motoring.  We crossed a trough, which promised big winds, big seas, and big rain, but ended up causing us no problems at all.  We had a few problems with our autopilot and wind steering that we’ve had on passages before, and these are things that we’ll continue to troubleshoot. 

We did experience one new predicament – a fouled prop!   One night, the engine rpm suddenly dropped during Reinhart’s watch.  We were both up and about with headlamps trying to figure out what happened.  The engine was thoroughly investigated and then we decided it must be something caught around the propeller.  In the dark, however, there was no way to be sure.  Luckily, the wind was just picking up to something sailable and we set the spinnaker at midnight.

In the morning, we dropped sail so Reinhart could hop into the 16,000’ deep water and look at the prop.  He took all kinds of safety precautions, but I was still terrified.  There was a large green poly net caught around the prop.  Our line cutter on the shaft had done its job cutting all of the lines, so nothing would become hopelessly wrapped around the shaft, but the net managed to stay hooked onto the propeller.  Reinhart could easily pull it off and didn’t have to spend an hour trying to dive down and cut off a tangled mess.  Overall, it was a great first dive on the prop, and much better in the middle of the ocean than in the middle of the Chesapeake.

We arrived in Bermuda at sunset on Sunday May 15, checking in with the friendly and helpful customs and immigration folks in the town of St. George’s, before anchoring for the evening.  Overall, the trip was 878 nm in 151 hours (5.8 kt avg).  It was feast or famine with the winds, and we sailed pretty fast most of the time, but ended up having to motor for 40 hours when the winds died in the middle of the trip. 

We spent one full day on board, cleaning the boat and getting it back into port mode, but since then we’ve been heading into land every day, enjoying Beautiful Bermuda.  When we visited the tourist office we found out that we are famous!  During our trip in 2007, a photographer from Bermuda Tourism took some photos of us in a park with a model, and they are still using one of the pictures in the guidebook.  We were thrilled. 

We started visiting all of those sites that Bermuda is famous for – beaches, forts, churches, and cemeteries.  A few days later we met up with Gary and Chris, our Bermuda experts, and saw some unique beaches and cemeteries that we’d never heard of.  While they were here, Bermuda celebrated its big holiday, Bermuda Day, which acts as the summer kick-off.  The parade in Hamilton was so much fun and had us all feeling like a part of the community.  

A few days later Kevin arrived, and we spent more time visiting beaches, forts, churches, and cemeteries.  We had a great time with Kevin aboard.  The 3 of us visited the Blue Hole Park and Tom Moore’s Jungle.  This was a nice hiking wilderness we visited in 2007 and we thought it would be fun to go back with flashlights.  That decision paid off and we found our way into a large cave.  It was a treat, fumbling around in the slippery salt water cave, blinding each other with our headlamps, steadying ourselves on stalagmites and trying not to bump our heads on pointy stalactites. 

Once Kevin left, we decided to investigate a research vessel, the Atlantic Explorer, which was docked near the airport.  We found out that it is part of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), and once we called, we found out that they give a tour once a month, and that it was happening the next day.  The tour was so much more than we imagined, and we went to 5 different labs where a scientist gave us their background and a presentation on their current research.  It was all so familiar, with scientific posters of krill, tarapods, and urchins.  We ended with a tour of the Atlantic Explorer, which reminded me so much of the LMG and NBP (it even had an isotope van).  It reminded us so much of our time in the Antarctic program that I became downright homesick for Crary or Biolab. 

Since that highlight we’ve been running around seeing more sights, such as the aquarium and Natural History Museum.  We also attended the St. George’s annual Rubber Ducky Race.  It was a big family fair with lots of fun for kids, local crafts, and dance performances.  The Bermudians host such fun celebrations that make everyone feel like a local. 

Our original plan was to stay about 3 weeks, leaving soon after Kevin departed.  However, Tropical Storm Bonnie was making her way across the Atlantic and it wasn’t the right time to head west.  Now we’ve got TS Colin causing all sorts of commotion in the harbor, with gale force winds forecasted over the next 48 hours.  Once Colin has raced by, there are a couple of low-pressure systems coming off North America that are real humdingers.  It looks like we’ll be in Bermuda for another week or two while we wait for the weather to settle down.  We are in a lovely spot to be weathered-in, and will not be bored with Bermuda anytime soon.

"You can go to heaven if you want. I’d rather stay in Bermuda." - Mark Twain