When you’re living on board you should always plan ahead a little, it can make your life much easier. For example, I always purchase a couple of extra bulbs of garlic at the grocery store when we are getting provisions. I’ve gotten into the habit, when I turn on the oven for an extended period I chop the top of the bulb, drizzle it in olive oil, and wrap it in foil, roasting it to perfection. Now I have roasted garlic for pizza, or I can fold into bread I bake, or for pasta etc. Its a big taste for a small investment but a little preparation can make life very easy sometimes!
Our next destination was Portland. We’d visited about 4 years ago while searching for out 3rd boat, which turned out to be our first Tartan. We’d spent several days touring the city and we both fell in love with it. It was voted the food capital of the US in Bon Appetite magazine 3 years ago and it is justly deserved. It’s also a huge micro brewery spot, which in my books makes it a pretty damn good reason to visit.
We’d left Booth Harbour in the fog once again and this time it was close with about a 1/4 of a nautical mile of visibiilty. The lobster buoys were everywhere and were becoming a bit wearisome to say the least. We motor sailed for most of the day and finally came out of the fog around 1:30 pm. Portland was a short hour away and we were both pretty excited to have a couple of days to explore. There was a lot of traffic around, as Portland is a major port and every kind of boat passed us from fast ferries to tankers, and luxury cruisers to sailboats of all kinds. As we entered the channel, we were keenly aware of what was around us, taking our time and taking care.
And then we stalled. And what we’d been trying to avoid for so many days was now our reality. One of the lobster buoys we had thought we’d steered clear of was now entangled in our prop. We thought we’d given it sufficient clearance but unfortunately this one had a floating line on the water, which is illegal but that was a moot point now.
Unfortunately we had not purchased tow insurance yet so we set about thinking how we could fix our problem. Tow insurance allows you to call for towing almost anywhere in the US and they’ll show up in 30 minutes. Without the insurance a tow can be very expensive. Al tried pulling on the line and it was useless. He cut the buoy and rope but it seemed to make no difference. Then we decided to put the dinghy in the water and were going to attempt to tow Ingomar out of the busy channel to a small island nearby. Out of traffic, Al could dive and hopefully cut the lines from our prop. As we were trying this a couple passed by in a sailboat and offered to tow us in. We managed to get a line to their boat but when they tried to tow us we realized that all the lines to the lobster pots below were still caught in our prop, making it impossible to tow us anywhere. We noticed a lobster boat close by and called them on the VHF for assistance. They came back to say they’d be over shortly once they tended to their pots. So we sat and waited. Shortly after a pilot boat came steaming out the channel and let us know that a mega-tanker was coming in and we would have to get out of the way.
The lobster fishers made their way over and thats when we realized they were holding a line that was attached to our boat. We had gotten caught in their lines. A lobster buoy on top of the water is attached to many pots on one end, which also has another buoy attached at the other end; the whole assembly is called a fleet. Obviously we were still engaged with the fleet. They cut the line from their end and told us we were free to go but when Al put the throttle down the boat was still shaking, thereby indicating our prop was still not disengaged from the tangle below.
Thats when one of the lobster men stripped down to his skivvies and dove under the boat, twice, to see if he could cut the ropes. Obviously this guy was as comfortable in the water as out of it. I half expected him to go under with a knife firmly clamped between his teeth. When he came up he said there was nothing there and we should be fine. They seemed reluctant to do more and at this point the sailboat too had grown tired of our issue and said they had to head in. So there we were floating in a busy channel with a handicapped boat. The pilot boat called the lobster fishers over and they had a discussion. The result seemed to infer that it was their responsibility to tow us in as it was their lines we were caught in. Finally they obliged and towed us into the port. They were decent about it and gave us a wave as they left. I have a video of the guy diving in but cannot for some reason get it to download. 🙁
We put the anchor down and Al dove to find a generous amount of rope on the prop. He cut it off and came up to test the prop hoping nothing had been damaged. We have a sail drive on our boat and any pressure on the leg where the rope was wrapped could be a serious issue. However, all seemed to be fine and so we were once again back in business. We called into a club to determine if we could grab a mooring but sadly, the place was full. However, a couple of minutes later one of the members called us on our VHF to offer us his morning as he was not using it. We proceeded to the Centreboard Yacht club and picked up a mooring ball for the night. Whew, we were done! It was about 7 pm by this time and a trip to bed was more appealing than a trip into the city.
The next day we ventured into the club and found a very welcoming and friendly group who were eager to supply whatever info they could. They also had a courtesy boat that would take us anywhere we needed to go so we got a ride to the downtown area. The first time I ever ventured into a WholeFoods store was in Portland, 4 years ago and that’s where I wanted to go to replenish our supplies. They have everything and more that you’ll ever need. There is a very funny article on Wholefoods and the culture that surrounds it thats worth a read. We also found an AT&T store and I finally managed to get a SIM card for my phone. The data package was excellent and makes surfing or blogging so much easier. We’ve had reception almost everywhere, except when we’re further offshore but thats to be expected.
We walked around that morning exploring. After you’ve been on a boat for an extended period of time, any opportunity to get out and walk seems like such a luxury. Our visit to Portland however was short this time and we planned on leaving the next day, finally hoping to escape the lobster buoys. We left early morning and found that halfway through the day the buoys were finally thinning out. I loved Maine but would recommend driving as opposed to coming by boat if you plan to visit.
The weather was gorgeous as we headed out the next morning with a painters sky and many boats in the water. We made it as far as Gloucester, Massachusetts that day. Gloucester is a pretty town with interesting shops and loads of restaurants and hikes. As we were sailing into the harbour I spied another sailboat with a Canadian flag and were surprised to see that it had St. John’s, NL on the stern. Al called out as we sailed past and the owner came up to indeed confirm they were from the capital of Newfoundland.
The next day we met up with Jill and Mike from Mojo I and had lunch at a microbrewery that served an excellent fish sandwich. They too are cruising and living aboard and we had a great chat with them about life onboard, and of course Newfoundland. We had happy hour on board Ingomar with them as well just to compare and see how many people we mutually knew. If you’re from Newfoundland you will understand this. Gloucester was cool with loads of used book stores, galleries, and local artisans that made jewelry or chocolate.
The next morning we got up early again and headed for Provincetown, MA for a couple of days to just hang out. Its supposed to be a lovely spot and we’re looking forward to beach life for a change!
So back to my garlic. Lesson learned; if we had purchased tow insurance before the lobster buoy SNAFU we could have avoided a lot of grief and the situation would have gone off smoother. Needless to say we now have tow insurance and hope we never have to use it! Preparation – it can save you a bunch of time, and grief.
BTW, we added up our mileage so far and we’ve covered about 1,419 NM since we left. We’re not salty dogs yet but we’re getting there!