Thursday
Jun202013

CYS Hosting J22 Racing w SailMaine and Centerboard Wednesday Nights

CYS is pumped to be hosting on the flagship J22 High Energy for the summer 2013 Centerboard Yacht Club Wednesday night racing series on Casco Bay! The J22 is owned by SailMaine, a community based sailing organization located right on the Portland waterfront.

This week's team was pulled together from Competitive Energy associates, wa wa wooo!

After a confused start, High Energy cruised through the course with long upwind legs and light and variable breeze. With some brand new sailors on board, the crew picked up the art of tacking quite well and gained some valuable experience over a lengthy course with easy breezy conditions.

It was a fantastic night to be on the water and confirmation that we are lucky to live in one of the most fabulous locations in the world. Cheers to that! Looking forward to next week...

Tuesday
Jun182013

When its good, its goooood - Sabre36 Delivery Portland - Marblehead

There is nothing better than a perfect sail delivery day popping up between several consecutive, rainy days in June. Sometimes, you just get lucky!

Charlie's Yacht Services (CYS), working with Maine Yacht Center (MYC) in Portland put together a short delivery of a newly outfitted Sabre36, Persuasion down to Marblehead for her new owners. While she was in town, MYC provided a full upgrade of the electronic systems including new Garmin chart plotter with radar and AIS, Garmin instruments, Raymarine auto pilot, and new VHF.

CYS was tasked with the short delivery of Persuasion, and stepped aboard with all systems vetted and ready to go. We saw NW in the forecast, clear weather, and we were pumped! The crew aka the tri-fecta got a good early start from Portland, 0400 Saturday and motored out of Casco bay with the sunrise and favorable tide.

After rounding Cape Elizabeth, the NW breeze came on and the sailing began. For someone without experience on the water, you should know these were ideal conditions! When transiting from Portland to Cape Ann, the course is one slightly west of due south. With a north west breeze, this puts the wind just aft of the beam/midship, the ideal aspect for comfort and cruising! Most know that the fetch, or distance the wind travels over the water before it arrives to the ship, has a large effect on wave/surface conditions. So, when traveling down the coast with a NW breeze, there is minimal fetch to allow the waves to build, and this provides flat, comfy, and speedy surface conditions. Like I said, ideal. Most of the crew didn't even wake up until 0900 as a result, very casual.

The day was certainly highlighted by our approach to Marblehead; views around Cape Ann, and realizing the high density of sailing action in Marblehead harbor. Love that! CYS was graciously treated to a departing cocktail on the deck of the Eastern Yacht Club by the new yacht owners, capping a fantastic trip!

Tuesday
May282013

Skirting Some Raw May Weather, and Ripping Through the Gulf of Maine en Route to Long Island

Coastal conditions were particularly windy and chilly over the past week for the end of May. It is always exciting to anticipate sunny warm weather for the Memorial Day holiday, the traditional opening of the summer season. But, that just did not happen for us.

We were facing a forecast for New England waters with sturdy southerlies, rain, and temps not much greater than the ~50 degree water temperature. Not ideal for a southbound delivery from Portland to Long Island. NOAA did however forecast an opportunity for us with winds shifting to the north in the afternoon on Friday, though remaining at a stiff 25 knots.

Some last minute work was being done throughout the day docked at Portland Yacht Services, including troubleshooting of the 12VDC refrigeration system, main bilge pump float switch, and replacement of a highly corroded grounding bus bar. The crew had assembled a night earlier planning a noonish departure, and was poised, hopeful the work would be completed and the ship would sail.

Unfortunately the reefer issue was not resolved, and issues with it compounded by the troubleshooting that was done. It was 5:00, the work week over, and we were ready to get moving at the owner's inclination.

Casco Bay had a 5-10 kt breeze from the north, light fog and overcast skies, and calm seas. As we left the bay, we encountered some remaining southerly swell heading past Portland Head light and around Cape Elizabeth. We set the genoa and took advantage of the following breeze. As the night wore on, the breeze continued to fill, and seas became favorable. This first night was quite a fast ride as the breeze blew in at 25-30 knots, and Helios locked in a solid speed over ground (SSOG) of 8-8.5 kts. Seas eventually built to 4-6 and we started some surfing, hitting 11 kts through the water on the fun meter!

By 0830 the next morning we hit the Cape Cod Canal entrance, covering the first 118 miles in 15 hours at an average of 7.8 kts! To celebrate this success Will prepared some delectable yogurt parfaits while spinning his modern dj magic from his exquisite cloud based curriculum. The best entertainment of the morning was most certainly a few retro styles rollerblading along the canal trails, very cool.

As we popped out in Buzzards Bay, the winds had diminished to a light 10-15 kts NW which is refreshing relative to the normal head-winds coming through this area. This continued most of the day until Rhode Island Sound introduced us to some threatening fronts, rain, and increasing winds. The afternoon became a wet beat, and the crew decision was made to check in to Block Island and end this rough day at a reasonable hour and get some shore time.

After some inquiries were made, we landed a very sweet and timely call to some friends of Will's who were out for the weekend, and we were greeted at the dock. We had a few beers in town, caught the closing periods of the Bruins/Rangers series (amazing), and then headed out to the MacGill's house for some great steak, locally harvested venison sausage, greens from the garden, and beans and rice (Jon's fav)! This was the most incredible location to stay for the night with views west to Montauk, 500 acres of adjacent nature preserve, grazing cattle, stone walls, all over dramatic bluffs dropping straight into the sea. Many thanks to the MacGills for their kindness, hospitality, and generosity!

We reluctantly decided to push onward the following day, rested, dried out, and fed. The mission had to be completed! Our final leg over to Sag Harbor was about a 30-mile stint, a beat into the current and wind. There was nothing to highlight from the first part of this leg. I find myself easily forgetting the slight misery for the more enjoyable portions of the trip! That came on the last 10 miles of the approach to Sag Harbor, north around Gardiner's Island where we did a big ease (aka let our hair down) and deep reached down Gardiner's Bay with 25 knots on the quarter and 1-2' seas, as the sun set to starboard. Veggie fajitas delicately set with fresh cilantro were served by chez Will.

We pulled in and moored in Sag Harbor, a simple approach met by a friendly harbor launch driver. Overall just a few guys sailing a superb yacht on a fantastic trip over memorial day weekend 2013!

 

Wednesday
May222013

Launch video - quick peek at "Helios" going in the water

Monday
May202013

Spring Sailing: the mean gulf of Maine

How mean, then nice, the ocean can be! A short piece on a delivery from Portland ME to Stamford CT

The start of this spring delivery consisted of a good butt-kicking in the gulf of Maine. Gryphon (Swan44) sailed from Casco Bay on a fine early May morning, clear blue skies, light breeze, a welcoming to the waters. The weather and conditions slowly digressed over the day to a less than ideal 40 knots of cold southerlies with 3-5 foot seas and eventually some hard driving rain. We had squeezed in a nice lunch-time barbeque which we were pumped about until that all came flying back, literally, later in the day.

 

Laying the Cape Cod Canal became impossible and with conditions as they were, an undesirable push for us. Checking the charts we saw Cape Ann as a good bailout point, and due to our reduced crew strength, a necessary stopping point. We cracked off the wind and began visualizing the comforts of food and rest for the night. Our cruising guides mysteriously covered about all of the New England coast EXCEPT Boston to Maine. We knew a normal harbor of refuge choice would have been Gloucester, but we put a call in to the Ipswich Harbormaster to try to gain some insight on anchorages in the area north of Cape Ann. Surprisingly we were able to reach the Ipswich Harbormaster by cell phone, him being at home at 2030 on a Wednesday eve. He was great and offered us plenty of local info, advised on the concern for sand bars in Ipswich bay and the more obvious choice of finding a mooring in Gloucester. We decided to poke in to Ipswich bay which was well protected from the hard blowing southerly and see if we could make that work. This would save us some time getting in and out on our way again. We chose an depth area of 16-18’ west of the channel outside Annisquam Harbor with a sand bottom. We dropped the hook ~65' of chain and got her set in not too long of order, and proceeded to set up our chartplotter to track our movement, and add alarms for both depth and movement outside a small anchor swing radius. This gave us some confidence in catching a snooze with several anchor checks planned throughout the night. Despite the winds, the anchor held solid, no alarms, and we woke to a beautiful morning all alone in Ipswich Bay.

This day the winds shifted from the south to NW and as we rounded Cape Ann heading south to the Canal, the breeze filled in and we had a beautiful 8 hours of close reach sailing through Stellwagen Bank and Cape Cod bay. This was very refreshing and kicked off a 30 hour stretch of smooth sailing all the way down to Stamford. The night watches were quiet, chilly, but tolerable, and the following day brought more NW breeze and some close hauled motor sailing down the Long Island Sound.

This was a great finish to a rough starting trip, arriving in Stamford at 1430 (elapsed ~52 hours), time to fuel, pack up, and put the good ship Gryphon to bed before a great weekend of partying for the commissioning of the Stamford Yacht Club, 2013!