Changing Seasons

There’s no doubt that fall has arrived, all the signs are here. The air is cooler, leaves are changing color, and the kids have picked apples and pumpkins. Shorts are packed and sweatshirts are daily wear. Halloween costumes are under construction.

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Marina life has its own signs of fall.

The small boats departed the marina, the dock layouts changed, and the liveaboards are moving from farthest out to closest in. Owen and Kinsley love walking past their friends on the way to and from our boat each day.

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During the summer, marina staff dashed around, helping catch and cast off boats, shepherding dock carts of supplies, greeting and cleaning. As fall closes in, the staff shrinks significantly. They settle onto the docks with larger projects, running winter water lines, replacing boards, and checking power.

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The parking lot always has spaces free, even on the weekends. Returning to the marina in the middle of the weekend lacks the parking lottery stress of summer.

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On Goblin the sails, solar panels, and dodger are down and packed off to storage. Oddly, prepping for shrinkwrap makes the boat feel so much larger. You step right into the cockpit without needing to duck around the boom or dodger. Sunlight floods the salon when we open the companionway. Unfortunately, no more dodger also means no more rain protection. Hopefully we’ll be framed and wrapped before too much more rain falls.

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The heaters are in place, comforters are on the beds, and we’re prepared to snuggle down and enjoy the fall.

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School Work

Ahh school. We didn’t pick an official starting day for this school year but then, we didn’t formally end last year either. Learning occurs all the time, more authentically when we are less formal about it.

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Owen has focused his energy into programming this fall. He loved creating Scratch games last year and this fall he has expanded into html. If you’d like to see play of the games Owen’s been working on, the webpage he’s designing is HERE.

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On our goal list this year is visiting all the branch libraries in the Boston Public Library system. Both Owen and Kinsley have record keeping cards, to rank various aspects of the libraries. They review the children’s section, picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, toys, ease of getting there, and bathroom quality before giving the library an overall ranking. Owen has plans to take the final data and present it in graph form.

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Kinsley, inspired by our reading of Ramona the Pest, has insisted on having seatwork of her own. She tucks herself into a corner and cheerfully works through her own schoolwork. She knows all her letters and many of their sounds. Pesky b and d still mix her up from time to time but she’s determined. She has also decided that she wants to learn to read so that she can play more of Owen’s games. She has such ferocity when she decides on what she wants, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she teaches herself.

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The rest of our days? We read piles and piles of books on every topic that catches our attention. We play games over and over, tweaking the rules to see if Owen’s ideas are better balanced than the game designers.

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Owen tracks hurricanes, Kinsley colors stacks of pictures. Both kids build with legos for hours. We wander the city, Owen leads the way on subway expeditions, Kinsley starts conversations with seatmates on the subway.

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We cook, we clean, work on the boat, we live our lives at our own pace, and we keep learning.

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These Two

I looked through my pictures the other day and noticed something lovely, these two kids.

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One of my very favorite evolutions since moving onto Goblin has been the relationship between Owen and Kinsley.

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Had we continued along as we had been, Owen would be in fourth grade and Kinsley in preschool. They would have seen each other at breakfast and during drop off, maybe an hour total. Then, they would have been together for at most three hours between pick-up and bed. Throw in homework, errands, and other life complications and they wouldn’t have seen much of each other during the week.

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Boat life? These two are within 30 feet of each other while we’re at home and often, not much farther than that while we’re out. They play together, read together, build together, argue together, and make up.

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Out and about, they stick together. A whole park to explore? They’re rolling on the grass together like puppies. New playground? They climb the slides together. Visiting a friend’s house? They’re within arm’s reach of one another.

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Sure, they can annoy one another at times, living 24/7 with anyone can get tiring. Seeing them watch out for each other, check in with one another, and enjoy being around one another is even better than we could have hoped for.

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Still no regrets.

Local Wanderings, Maine, Squirrel Island

This was Alex and my fourth trip to the Squirrel Island, Owen’s third, and Kinsely’s first. Our first, adults only trip, was for the whole day. We ranged along the whole island, following the paths and boardwalks, filling the pockets of my cargo pants to overflowing with sea glass. It only took one trip for both of us to fall in love with this small, private island.

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In following years, little ones in tow, we stayed close to the ferry harbor, leaping waves and hunting for treasures. I’m counting the time until little legs are long enough for a longer explore.

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This year, with four kids and three adults, we braved the wind for our favorite adventure, sea glass hunting.

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The first beach was blown clean by the wind and the few pieces we found were more hunt than collection.

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From there our party headed inland and then across to a second beach, success! The beach felt like equal parts stone and glass. Ziplock bags came out, giggles and screeches filled the air, and treasures were scooped. After an initial burst of grab everything in reach, the kids, and adults, settled into a more discerning style. Everyone had priorities. Owen looked for larger pieces and tumbled bricks. Clara and Kinsley needed to find the prettiest, I looked for pottery and interesting colors or shapes.

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Tired and sandy, ferry paranoia set in, and we headed back early enough to be absolutely sure of catching the last boat home.

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Squirrel Island is home to private residences and some island resident community buildings. In exchange for having power run out to the island, visitors are allowed. You catch the Novelty ferry in Boothbay, allowing you to ride a roundtrip tour of the harbor or to disembark at Squirrel. I strongly recommend catching a morning ride out and packing a lunch. Bathrooms are available at the ferry dock. There are no motorized vehicles on the island which makes it a great place to let kids run. As long as they don’t take the ferry off island, you know they can’t be far.

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Shakedown, What Went Right

A big part of this trip was to find out what worked well for our family. We’ve been collecting advice for years, sorting through it for thoughts that matched our kids and situation, and building a list of ideas to try. Two weeks away from the dock, we now have a better sense of how we like to travel and of what works well for our family.

Short Slow Days
We had a mix of short and long days on this trip and by far, our family greatly prefered making less progress each day in exchange for the chance to see more along the way. Our eleven hour day to Edgecomb worked, we got where we were going, but it wasn’t nearly as much fun as our five hour days with plenty of time to explore.

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Snack Basket
Each night, I filled a plastic basket with our cockpit snacks for the next day. I had thought I was only doing this for the first day, to smooth things along, but it turned out to be perfect. Owen and Kinsley knew they could grab whatever they wanted from it, whenever they wanted, no need to ask or wait for parents. We tended highly towards the dry and crunchy and my goal before our next longer trip is come up with some more variety to include.

Bending to the Whim of the Weather
We spent an extra day in Boothbay, even though it complicated our planned return and involved changing all of our mooring reservations. Absolutely the right decision. Kins and Owen are new to boat travel, we’re still working out the kinks of how Goblin sails, we’re going to tend towards the extra safe and comfortable for a while. If we’d had more time and flexibility, sailing with the wind rather than against it would have been lovely.

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Catching Moorings
After picking up the mooring in Boothbay despite miscommunications (he said “we’re fast” and I heard “go fast” oops), Alex and I sat down to talk through catching mooring balls. Even with the windscreen of the dodger open, it’s hard to hear one another with Alex at the bowsprit and myself at the wheel. We talked through how we prefer to set up, when I need to change the speed of the boat, and a limited set of words to use. After that, our pick-ups went from fine to quite nice and no stress. I love communication.

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Dramamine and Sea Bands
Some of our crew, not mentioning names, still gets a little seasick, and sometimes more than a little, depending on the seas. I’m thrilled to say that no one actually threw up, but there were green moments. Taking Dramamine before starting for the day, rather than waiting until underway, was a great help. We happened to have a pair of Sea Bands in the cabinet and those also made a noticeable difference. Add in some favorite ginger cookies and we all coped pretty well. I’ll be experimenting with cookie recipes often in the months to come, trying to find a homemade version that meets with approval from all aboard.

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Heading Ashore
Both Owen and Kinsley were amazing well behaved and contained while we were underway. They kept themselves entertained both with us and on their own. Lots of reading, sea glass sorting, studying charts, and watching for wildlife. That said, once we were stopped for the day, those two needed and deserved the chance to burn off their energy. Boat jobs were put off until later in the evening in favor of catching a ride to somewhere suitable for shenanigans. Leaping off the back of the boat for a swim was high on the list of acceptable energetic activities but will primarily be saved for water that doesn’t result in blue lipped children after a single leap.

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What went wrong? A couple of things.

Provisioning Improvements
The trip north had a distinct shortage of both ginger cookies and cucumbers. Lunches also need improvement as we tended to be very repetitious. The day I surprised the kids with mac and cheese mid sail was a big hit.

More Cockpit Entertainment
Since it can’t be said too many times, the kids were fantastic on this trip. That said, there’s only so many times I can sing Larry the Polar Bear to Kinsley before I need a break (it’s still stuck in my head, days later). Navigating, animal watching, and 20 questions were all popular activities, but there are times when the parental brains and hands are busy and I need to know that Owen and Kinsley will be busy for a while. Kinsley and her love of tiny pieces played well on the cockpit floor with her toy collection or with seaglass. Owen, book boy, mostly kept to himself. I’d like to have a stash of items or ideas for when the desperate need for distraction hits. Maybe tucked away with my own stash of emergency chocolate…

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Wren is the Wrong Dingy
It was known, before this trip, that Wren won’t be coming with us to points south. This trip reinforced for us that she’s a lovely sailing and rowing boat but not the right day to day dingy. We need something that’s easier to get in and out of when the water is rough, as well as something with a motor to make life easier when the wind and current are against us.

Not a bad list for us to work from. I like it when what went well greatly outweighs what went wrong.

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Shakedown, Where We Went

Finally, finally, Goblin left the dock for more than a day’s adventure.

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Day 1: Boston to… Boston

The plan was to head to Gloucester but we all know what happens to sailors who make plans. We left about 10 in the morning, beautiful day but almost no wind close to land so the plan was to motor out of the harbor and then sail to Gloucester as the wind picked up. The reality was having the engine die out near Deer Island. We were a little closer to the shore that I wanted to be when we lost the engine but got up the sails and there was just enough of a breeze to maintain steering, barely, so we could ghost back and forth in the channel while we figured out what to do. Alex guessed the problem was air in the fuel lines and bled the engine, but it still wouldn’t start. Concerned that the problem might be bad fuel, rather than take anything apart while we were drifting around in the main shipping channel, we called for a tow back home. We had a lovely lunch while waiting for TowBoat to come and bring us back to Boston. Back at the dock, we confirmed that the problem was air in the fuel lines and figured out the trick to getting the engine bled, after which she started up just fine. Turns out that while she really likes to be off to bleed the injector pump, she needs to be cranking over to bleed the injector pipes themselves. Little did we know how good we were going to get at bleeding the engine on this trip.

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Day 1, Take 2: Boston to Gloucester

We headed out around 10, feeling more prepared to deal with potential engine issues. Alex kept the necessary wrenches just outside the engine room. Good thing too because the engine stalled five times. We had sails up for a couple of hours but motored for the rest of the day in super calm waters. Along the way we discovered ginger cookies for the win! Super thin, melt in your mouth, Anna’s ginger cookies saved the queasy stomaches aboard. The gingersnaps we found for the trip back didn’t go over nearly as well with the under four foot crew members. The autopiliot worked well for the couple of hours we had it on. I discovered that I really love to be at the wheel so we didn’t run it much. We came into Gloucester and picked up the mooring with little to no difficulty, celebrated, and then called the launch to head ashore. Turns out the local ice cream shop has the very same ice cream that we can get three minutes from out marina, including Owen’s very favorite flavor. For the kid who was promised ice cream and libraries no matter where we visit, this was perfection.

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Day 2: Gloucester to the Isles of Shoals

Absolutely no wind was the theme of the day. There were times when the water was glassy around us as we motored north. Early in the morning we spotted the Roseway in the distance, all sails up and hardly moving. Slowly over the day we pulled away from her, losing her from sight about an hour out of the Isles of Shoals. We turned on the autopiliot mid morning and enjoyed a laugh while Goblin drove herself in circles. Unfortunately, she couldn’t manage to find a course and was declared the first casualty of the shakedown cruise.

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We were joined for a couple of hours by a hitchhiker, a yellow warbler. Oddly enough, he joined us for a few hours from the Isles of Shoals to Edgecomb as well. Watching him flit from lifeline to stay was wonderfully entertaining.

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We hadn’t read our guidebook quite well enough before heading into the mooring field at the Isles of Shoals. There were both blue and white mooring balls and we mistakenly picked up a white, rather than blue. The line was much thicker than expected and we wondered if perhaps this wasn’t the mooring we were supposed to be on. We headed ashore to try and find out at the same time that Star Island’s mail ship, Perseverance, was unloading mail and supplies to the island. We talked to her captain who said that yes, we had managed to pick up the one mooring in the field that we couldn’t possibly stay on, since it was the only one strong enough to hold Perseverance. He offered us use of one of the other moorings belonging to Star Island, since it’s regular occupant wasn’t around that night. But as we started towards our dingy he stopped us and told us to just stay where we were, there was no wind forecast that night and he’d grab the other mooring until we left in the morning. Everyone we encountered on the island was sweet and friendly.

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Star Island was absolutely delightful. We happened to be there while they were running an all ages summer camp. Tie dye, rainsticks, book groups, yoga, they had it all. We spent a few hours on the island and wished we had another full day. Owen and Kinsley adored the playground. We went looking for one of the three geocaches but didn’t find it. Just means we’ll have to head back. The only problem was the flies, many and varied, that found us on land. Window screens kept them off the boat, fortunately. To top off the night, the Roseway came in around dinnertime and dropped anchor in the harbor as well, so beautiful.

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Day 3: Isles of Shoals to Edgecomb

We planned a long day and so got an early start, heading out around 7:30. The weather forecast called for almost no wind once again, followed by strong winds overnight so we were highly motivated to reach Edgecomb as early as possible. The day was long for the kids. Kinsley rediscovered audiobooks which saved my sanity. Naps were had by the under four foot crew, little did I know how grateful I would be for their extra sleep.

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Ten hours into the trip we were starting into the Sheepscott River and the fog started to roll in. Not so much that we couldn’t see our landmarks but enough to make me nervous about navigating. Fog and lobster pots, I know Maine is known for both but they really aren’t to my taste when combined. Alex turned on the chart plotter for the first time in the trip. The fog was joined by rain and the kids headed below, despite their excitement about our nearing arrival. This portion of the trip proved to me what a strong team Alex and I make. He began very detailed navigating, using both paper charts and the chart plotter to talk me through my expected landmarks and bouys while I held silent and non-so-silent arguments with Goblin about her tendency to follow the current rather than my steering. The stress was just starting to fade when the engine cut out.

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Alex flew below to bleed the engine, the solution which had worked many times a day over the past three days, but still Goblin wouldn’t start. We put up sail to catch what tiny bit of wind there was, just enough to regain steering enough to stay in the channel. I called Joanne at our destination to let her know that we were stopped. The fog rolled in, we drifted very, very slowly, more with the current than with the wind, and planned. More than 100 feet of water, right in the middle of the channel, some steerage, more rain, not an emergency. Alex went back below to the engine room while I steered us, so slowly, through the growing fog. And then, suddenly, I heard a burst of air. In panic, I spun around to see not a disaster but a pair of dolphins, maybe ten feet off the back of the boat, coming up to breathe. They stayed for maybe thirty seconds before moving on. No great loss without some gain.

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After a few more minutes in the engine room, we made the decision to call TowBoat once again. Forty-five minutes later we were attaching a tow rope and starting the last leg of our trip up the Sheepscott. So close! Alex stayed in the rain at the wheel while I went below and made dinner for everyone, got the kids into pajamas, brushed teeth, and read bedtime stories.

Joanne, our hero, headed out to our mooring and lit it up so we could find it in the dark. The rain had tapered off, the fog faded, and we caught the mooring which would be our home for the next week. Everyone slept hard that night.

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Vacation!

We spent a fantastic week enjoying our beautiful location and a variety of family fun. Also, ordering parts, refueling, and getting the engine up and running again.

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Return trip, Day 1: Edgecomb to Boothbay

Necessity sent us for a brief trip out of the way before heading home. We needed pump out services before heading home and Boothbay was the closest option. We’ve enjoyed playing tourist there and looked forward to one last dinner with Joanne and Henry.

The trip itself was short and simple, though motoring all the way. No wind for the day though it started kicking up right after we picked up our mooring ball. Mooring wasn’t stressful at all at this point, we’ve started to get pretty good! To fulfill the second half our our travel promise to Owen we wandered to the library for a couple of hours and could have happily stayed for a couple more. A lovely dinner on the patio of the marina rounded out the day and put a bright finish on the northern end of our trip.

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Day 2: Waiting for the weather

Winds and seas were predicted to be high all day and into the night so we planned an extra night in Boothbay. As we rocked and bounced through the night and the next day we congratulated ourself on a smart decision.

A lazy breakfast was enjoyed by all before rowing Wren to the marina dock. We spend the morning in town. The kids and I went to the library while Alex ran a couple of errands in town. For a small town, I was extremely impressed with the library. Owen and I both found many of our favorites on the shelves and added a handful of titles to our request list for once we reached home. After a very tasty lunch of pizza, we fought the wind to row back to Goblin and settled in for a quiet, if bouncy, afternoon.

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Day 3: Boothbay to Potts Harbor, Harpswell

Heading out on the morning of the third day wasn’t a stupid decision, but it wasn’t fun. We really should have waited around in Boothbay an extra day before heading south but timetables were starting to exert their pressure. We headed out into 3-5 foot seas with the wind dead against us and the sea on the beam, which made for an uncomfortable ride. We sailed, and bounced, and motored, and bounced. Both kids curled up on my bed and slept for nearly three hours, lucky kids. I stayed at the wheel, as long as I was there and fighting to keep Goblin out of the worst of the swell, I was ok. Alex tucked himself into the corner of the cockpit with the chart and did his best to provide me with a course that balanced between the direction we wanted to go and the direction we had to point to avoid being nastily rocked for the whole trip. 270 degrees, despite being the shortest trip, was just not going to happen. Five an a half hours later my leg muscles were killing me, but we were approaching Potts Harbor.

Potts Harbor Entry

Fortunately for all involved, as we turned to head into the harbor the winds and seas calmed, the sun came out, and suddenly everyone was glad that we had sailed. With very careful navigating, Alex directed me along a crazy S-shaped route. Red right returning, red right returning. Sailing isn’t usually a time during which I expect my directions to include turning, rapidly, 90 degrees to the right, but hey, we made it.

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The kids celebrated by suiting up in wetsuits, plus a lifejacket for Kinsley, and leaping off the back of the boat. Unfortunately for me, this meant I needed to be in the water as well for at least the first jump for each of them. Maine water is no joke! I earned my hot shower. The kids rejoiced at the feel of still land under them, after the days wild water.

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Dolphin Marina was just perfect for our needs. The staff was friendly and helpful, the launch service quick, the scenery beautiful. I wish we’d had longer to stay and borrow their kayaks to explore some of the nearby islands.

Day 4: Harpswell to Portsmouth

A short sailing day that turned out to be even shorter than expected. One again the small bit of wind was coming straight at us, the reoccuring theme for this trip. Motoring again. Everyone settled in and we got underway early. Owen alternated between reading in the cockpit and reading on my bed. Kinsley switched between lookout and navigator, as well as requesting many games of twenty questions. Today drove home for me just how amazing my kids are at adapting. Owen wanted to know when we would moor but wasn’t impatient once he knew our expected arrival. Kinsley was cheerful and sincerely interested in helping. Both kids continue to be wonderfully self-entertaining. The highlight for everyone were the porpoises off Cape Porpoise. We made great time and got to Portsmouth around 2:00.

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We aimed for a Portsmouth Yacht Club mooring, chatted with the fishermen on the one we were directed to, picked up a different one, then casually switched to our assigned mooring once the fishermen left and called for the launch, eager to explore one of the two visible forts. Unfortunately, the launch landing was on the other side of the river from everything. We wandered around a residential neighborhood for a bit, romped on the lawn of the historical society, and headed back to the yatch club. Fortunately, the afternoon was saved by the kindest employee at the yacht club, who found Klondike bars for all. Ice cream soothed the disappointment of no forts to explore.

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Day 5: Portsmouth to Gloucester

This was our first opportunity to return to a harbor other than Boston. We had a smooth, short trip and pulled in to familiar sights. Ice cream in town and grass to play on, a touch of the familiar was appreciated by all.

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Day 6: Gloucester to Boston

Pulling out of Gloucester we could see Boston’s skyline on the horizon. Distances are deceiving, just because we could see Boston didn’t mean we would be there quickly. About five hours lay between us and home. The day’s trip had a similar sensation to the end of a long car trip. We started seeing landmarks we knew well, places we’ve been before. Owen pointed out Spectacle Island, one of his favorites. Kinsley kept lookout for bouys and ferries, and we put away the charts and switched to navigating by familiar sights and bouys.

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The closer we came to the harbor, the stronger the wind and waves became, with whitecaps everywhere on a day that was forecast to have barely enough wind to sail in. Guess which way it was blowing? Yup, straight at us, as always. The only excitement for the day was encountering a car carrier along President’s Road, the main channel into Boston. Watching the giant approach caused me more anxiety than lobster pots, even knowing that there was plenty of space for us both in the channel. At least when it passed by it blocked the wind for a while.

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After the lobster bouys, winding path into Potts Harbor, and strong winds and currents, docking at our marina wasn’t even particularly stressful. We came in smoothly, tied up, and celebrated a successful trip.

The boat is unfamiliarly still here at the dock. We’re already talking about weekends away while the weather remains nice. This time though, we’ll head with the wind, not against it.

Our route north

Our route north

Our route south

Our route south

One Year Aboard

One year ago we packed up the cats, said goodbye to our house, and moved aboard Goblin full time. A year on the water. A year with no yard but with a whole city to explore. A year of small, close living. A year of learning.

Thanks www.argonsailing.com for the great picture

Thanks www.argonsailing.com for the great picture

Big lesson #1 This life takes a little more work.

There are steps everywhere. Big steps up onto the boat itself, careful steps along the deck to enter the cockpit, ladder steps up and down from cockpit to cabin over and over throughout the day. One step down into the hallway, one step up,every time I head to the bathroom or follow Kinsley there. Five hundred steps along the dock to get to the boat, five hundred steps to leave, three thousand steps for each load of laundry (thank you Fitbit for keeping track). Add to that moving groceries and kids in dock carts and I have my upper body workout covered.

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Cooking requires gymnastics to gather the ingredients, taking apart the couch multiple times a day, clearing counter tops to open the fridge or freezer, and getting on my hands and knees to pull out pots and pans. It took 11 months to have a working refrigerator and freezer. Monitoring propane is part of life, to avoid running out of fuel halfway through baking biscuits for guests (only happened once!) Dishes are washed by hand, heating water in the tea kettle or just washed cold, watching the volume of water I use along the way.

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My to-do list is never ending. Once project leads to three more. I will always have woodwork that needs scraping or sanding or refinishing or epoxy work. I keep the tools and supplies close at hand and do a little work each day that the weather cooperates. Right now there are more than a dozen pending projects, everything from replacing portlight gaskets to making decisions about solar and wind power. Our completed maintenance list is more than ten pages long, I look back to that on the days I’m feeling discouraged.

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Big lesson #2 This life is a little easier.

Our family doesn’t have to rush anymore. Days used to be filled with deadlines, my leaving for work, kids dressed and ready for school and daycare, Alex dropping them off, gymnastics in the afternoon, daycare pickup. Now, we wake up when we’re ready and slowly move through breakfast. If Kinsley wants to settle into play for hours while still wearing her pajamas, that’s fine. If Owen decides he wants to read or code all day while Kinsley and I head out, that’s fine too. Alex still works five days a week but can start when he’s ready, pause to lend a hand on a boat project, and return to work without a commute or daycare pickup hanging over him.

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Our life is simpler. I have just enough clothing to go from washing day to washing day without fearing that I will run out. The kids are the same. Mornings don’t involve decision making, we each grab whatever’s on top. Both Owen and Kinsely have only a handful of toys and possessions. There are some favorite stuffed animals, some beloved books, a few open ended toys, and a heap of art supplies. Both willingly go through their possessions regularly and tell us what to send to storage, give away, or throw away. Clean up never takes long.

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We’re together as a family. I’m with my kids all day, every day, and I know what they are doing. I don’t spend dinner asking questions to find out what they did all day, I was there. I don’t miss out on milestones. I don’t miss out on moments of revelation. I’m there when things are frustrating and I watch them overcome frustration. Alex works tucked into the nav station and overhears parts of our day. He knows when we head out, he sees everyone’s mood as we return home. Owen and Kinsley are friends, close friends. They play together, take care of each other, compromise automatically, and (mostly) give each other the space they need.

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More than anything, we have dreams and plans. Liveaboard has been lovely, but our thoughts are moving towards cruising. Leaving the dock, waving goodbye to familiar trees and land, and seeing where the wind will take us. There’s much to do before we can leave but we’re crossing items off the list all the time. We’ll get there.

she can fly

she can fly

Big lesson #3 Still no regrets.

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Off the Dock

Last year it took us until the fifth of July to sail. I guess that means June 17th is a big improvement. It took my almost a month to write about it though, I’m not sure what that says about me.

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Our first sail, just like last year, lacked any actual sails. Our luck with wind leaves something to be desired. Never the less, we were out there. The wind forecast predicted perfect sailing wind starting about half an hour after we left dock, turns out it was more like three hours after we left dock. Isn’t that the way of things.

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Alex and I got up early to prep the boat. Fortunately, after all our false starts during the week of engine troubles, the boat was in pretty good shape as far as stowing all our loose parts. We left the dock around 7:45 and headed into the harbor. No big plan, just a quick out and back to make sure our gasket replacement solved our engine issues. There was still a little steam in the engine room but it seems to be clearing off the old moisture rather than active leaking now. Just one more thing to keep an eye on.

2016-06-17 08.03.14 HDR

As usual, Peter was immediately sick down below. I’m not sure yet if its actual seasickness, a reaction to the engine smell, or just nerves but this poor cat isn’t convinced about mobility. He seems to recover quickly though so for now I’ll just keep an eye on him.

Owen and Kinsley continue to be easygoing about boat movement. Owen brought up his spyglass and Kins insisted on binoculars. I’m not sure if either one can see much through them but they had a great time. They chatted happily about all the sights they can identify in the harbor and about the ships going by. They are both very go with the flow which surprises me over and over, I’m so grateful for that.

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We enjoyed the sights of the morning ferries hurrying everyone to work, and then had to acknowledge that Alex needed to start work as well.

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There was only a little excitement docking this time, hydraulic steering isn’t my best friend yet but we are certainly working our way towards a truce.

As for why we haven’t been out more? Here’s the maintenance/project log for May, June, and July.

May 2016
Jib and main halyards replaced.
Rebuilt head.
Raritan CP dispenser connection to head raw water feed broke when rebuilding head; decided it is too fragile to have on a below the waterline hose and removed it. Replaced with a squeeze bottle of diluted CP, which seems adequate for odor control.
Flare expiration dates checked.
Diver cleaned bottom, checked zinc, cleaned thruhulls. Reports zinc at 10% used, paint working well, doesn’t recommend hauling and painting this year.
Mounted brackets for boat hook and net on the forward stanchions.
Sealed old screw holes in fridge and freezer, fiberglassed & painted freezer interior.
Fridge evaporation plates installed.
Macerator pump blew a gasket and started leaking. There was no y valve; relied on closing seacock and removing handle to make legal. Suspect repeated vacuum pressure from pump out damaged pump. Pump removed, both hoses to it plugged with soft wood plugs.
Bilge scrubbed and freshwater cleaned.
Stripped and revarnished (TB wood finish) aft cabin trunk trim and grab rails, 4 coats.
Kayaks reinstalled.
Main engine:

  • Installed external expansion tank.
  • Replaced fresh water side hose on starboard side of built in expansion tank.
  • Removed old 24 volt alternator from Grunert system.
  • Drain, flush, and replace fresh water coolant (70/30 NAPA Green ethylene glycol based antifreeze).
  • Change oil and oil filter.
  • Change injector pump oil.
  • Replace heat exchanger zinc.
  • Sample sump oil.
  • On test run, saw steam? (didn’t smell like exhaust) coming from back of manifold.
  • Pressure tested the freshwater cooling system, held 15 psi for 10 minutes with no loss.
  • Exposed exhaust riser and we appear to have a small leak aft of the exhaust flange gasket.
  • Exhaust flange separated from manifold, gasket expired, but flange and manifold appear intact.

Stays’l rigged.
Mizzen sheet replaced with 3/8 regatta braid and new blocks.
Mizzen outhaul replaced with 3/8 VPC.
Stripped and revarnished (TB wood finish) aft hatch cover, 4 coats.
Freezer evaporation plates installed.
Dodger waterproofed.
June 2016
Stripped and revarnished (TB wood finish) starboard cockpit wing, 4 coats.
New main sheet – 3/8 stayset 6:1 purchase.
Rig tuned – main cap shrouds tightened 2 turns.
Wind machine wire replaced and wind machine mounted.
Cabin fans in v-berth and aft cabin replaced.
USB outlets installed in v-berth and aft cabin.
Hung anchor.
Mizzen halyard replaced with 3/8 VPC.
Mizzen topping lift lower line replaced with 3/8 VPC.
Mizzen outhaul replaced with 3/8 VPC.
Main sail, mizzen, and Genoa rigged.
Anchor replaced with 65# mantus on an S2 swivel.
Main engine:
Replaced manifold rear gasket.
Recovered exhaust riser.
Fridge & freezer compressors mounted.
Shroud cleats added for main and mizzen flute stopper halyards.
Laptop storage added.
Fire alarm installed over engine room doors.
Broken distance log removed — reading 9760.8 at the time.
USB / 12v panel installed at nav station.
Sealed holes in fridge control panel.
Installed new fridge controls.
Replaced propane control panel with gas leak sensor.
Mizzen sheet legs replaced with 1/4” amsteel.
Added stainless rub rails on cockpit wings.
Mounted wifi antenna on shroud hoist.
Stripped and revarnished (TB wood finish) 2 sections of toe rail, 4 coats.
July 2016
Stripped and revarnished (TB wood finish) port cockpit wing, 4 coats.
Stripped and revarnished (TB wood finish) forward coach roof trim and grab rails, 4 coats.
Aft bilge sump scrubbed.
Installed Y valve.
Ran fridge and freezer tubing between plates and compressors.
Mounted fridge breaker panel.
Pitch clinometer installed.
Replaced broken cabinet hinges.
Smartgauge battery monitor installed.
Head pump arm started slipping on pump housing; converted to manual for the moment.
Wash down pump replumbed for better passing clearance and rewired.
Conduit installed under engine room door to protect wire run there.
Wired fridge and freezer.
Main and gene start battery charging switched to echo chargers.
Charging buss added to take power from battery charger and alternator, and feed echo chargers.
Main engine battery/starter moved to its own switch.
Hung galley fire blanket.
House battery bank replaced with 4 260 amp hour Trojan T-145+ batteries.
House intra-bank cabling replaced with 2/0 wire.

Local Wanderings, Charles River

When the weather won’t cooperate to sail, what’s a family to do? Get out on the water anyway. This past weekend the water was mirror still and although that’s beautiful, it’s not especially conducive to sailing. Rather than fill another day with boat work we decided to head out onto the water.

2016-06-26 10.21.52

Alex and Kinsley set out rowing in Wren, the sailing dinghy Alex built as a first foray into wooden boat building. Owen hopped atop his kayak and prepared to get wet while I set off in Alex’s second wooden boat, my kayak. We’ve paddled and rowed around the marina before before but wanted a bigger adventure this time.

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Off we paddled to the Charlestown locks. The kids and I walk over the locks a few times each week on our way to North Station or to the North End. It’s fun to watch the boats passing below you while the locks operators raise and lower the water level to move from ocean to river level and back again. The walkways swing open to let the boats pass through, a bit like moving walkways in the Harry Potter movies. Today it was our turn to wave to the pedestrians above while the water swirled into the locks, raising us from low tide to river level.

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We paddled under the train bridges that lead into North Station. More than a little nerve wracking, the siren went off and the bridge lowered while we were waiting. I wouldn’t want to be underneath when a train went by, those bridges are low.

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From there we kept company with Duck Boat Tours while paddling in the fresh water of the river.

2016-06-26 10.50.00

Owen did his best to join a flock of Canadian geese but they weren’t convinced it was a good idea.

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After a while Owen pleaded sore arms and Alex towed him back to the locks before setting him loose to paddle home again.

2016-06-26 10.59.40 HDR

We were out for nearly an hour and came back feeling refreshed and ready for more adventures. There will certainly be more paddling adventures in our future.

2016-06-26 11.05.53

Brightwork

Brightwork, the varnished woodwork on a boat. All the beautiful teak was one part of what attracted Alex and I to Goblin in the first place. No teak decking which requires so much work to maintain, but just enough in the rubrails, grabrails, and companionway to make her glow in the sun. We bought her knowing that we had a lot of refinishing in the near future to keep the wood healthy. A summer on the water followed by winter under shrinkwrap put a lot of UV into the already aged finish. As the wrap came off this spring it was clear that the someday of refinishing was now.

2016-06-15 13.01.29

First priority went to the two areas with wood damage, the companionway hatch leading to the back cabin and the cockpit wing boards which hold many of the winches and cleats. Both were showing signs of water intrusion which needed to stop right away. From there I’ve moved onto the toerail around the boat. Quick math problem, it took me an hour to scrape 6 feet of rail. Goblin is 42 feet long, on each side, plus the stern. How long will it take before I throw the scraper overboard?

2016-06-15 13.01.19

I’m working one section at a time. The scraping and sanding takes time and my wrists are only so strong. I’d love to be able to prep more at a time but once the old varnish is off, the new finish needs to be applied quickly so the untreated wood does’t crack in the dry or swell in the wet. Also, working on the rail means shifting our docklines around so they don’t ruin my work in progress and there are only so many lines I can shift at once without leaving Goblin unsecured.

2016-06-26 14.08.32

Fortunately, applying the finish is quick, maybe ten minutes each section, one coat every day for four days if the weather cooperates. And in the end, watching the water bead up on the refinished surface is so very, very satisfying.

2016-06-28 07.27.18

It will take me most of the summer, a little bit at a time. That seems to be my project speed though. I’ll just keep plugging away and one day, all of Goblin will shine again.

2016-06-21 20.24.51