Rise and shine, that was our call bright and early on the morning of the August 16th. A quick check outside the window, followed by a quiet halleluiah – no fog, no rain, just a few fluffy clouds! That sure was good news!
At least one of us in the duo (hmmm, possibly me?) was a little apprehensive about our forthcoming journey. Apprehensive because it was a “new to us” boat and although the survey hadn’t found any major issues, there was no way to be absolutely sure everything would perform perfectly. Apprehensive because it had been a very long time since we had done any extensive cruising in a boat, the last time being in our sailboat, Symbiont, in the early 1990’s (we were much younger then) when we spent over a week cruising around Long Island Sound. And as always, apprehensive because we would be traversing the open Atlantic and this was New England where Mother Nature can become a little testy and cantankerous, possibly pushing a hurricane or two up the coast. We’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed that everything goes swimmingly!
Of course, as luck would have it, the one thing we hadn’t had a problem with during our stay at the Arundel Yacht Club was the electrical service, no problem for two nights. But suddenly on the morning of our departure, we lost power. Jeesh! Not a big deal as long as it was due to an issue with the club and not with our boat. Rob tried plugging into another utility post and trying the 30A outlets, but it kept blowing breakers, so he contacted the club and they sent someone down to check it out. But no luck figuring out the problem before we left, it was something to do with the club.
In the meantime, Jack (the owner) had heard about the electrical issue and had driven to the club to see if he could help, but by the time he arrived, we had already left the dock. When he saw us leave the yacht club, he quickly drove down to the Kennebunk River Breakwater where he waved to us as we cruised by! Darn, no chance to thank him in person for making our purchase experience a very positive one and to say goodbye! Hopefully we’ll continue to stay in touch with him in the future.
Below are a few photos that Jack took of our departure which he very graciously sent to us. Yes, we know, we forgot to pull up the bumpers!
Our plan was to follow the same route that Jack had taken on his return trip from his Great Loop adventure in the Spring. Prior to our departure, we had made a Dockwa reservation for four nights at our first port of call in Gloucester, MA on the coast of Cape Ann, a rocky peninsula in northeastern Massachusetts, located about 30 miles northeast of Boston and 60 miles by sea from Kennebunkport. Besides Gloucester, the towns of Essex, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Rockport are part of Cape Ann.
Having grown up on the south shore of Massachusetts, I had been to Cape Ann numerous times, visiting the Gloucester and Rockport areas many times by car. Over the years, Rob and I had visited there together as well. How exciting that we would now get to see it from the water! That is always a significantly different experience.
But anyway, back to our voyage. Thankfully it was relatively smooth sailing….well, let me rephrase that, the waters were fairly calm, long swells probably about 3 feet. But OMG, the lobster pots!!! Fellow boaters who have cruised in Maine waters before had warned us, but full appreciation for the situation only comes with the real experience! We probably initially thought, yeah, so why does everyone make such a big deal about the pots? Well, now we know – they are a big deal – they are everywhere! Being a planing hull, the props on Her Idea aren’t protected by a keel, but had cutters installed that theoretically would cut any snagged lines. But that wasn’t something we really wanted to test out at this time. In calm seas, pots are generally easy to spot (unless they are painted dark colors), but in rough waters (as we would later experience), or even a moderate swell, like we had on this day, not so much! I think I ended up with black rings around my eyes from keeping binoculars glued to my eyeballs! Tough for me but especially more difficult for the Cap’n – he would set the autopilot on a course, travel a little bit, then quickly had to disengage it to steer away from a mass of pots directly in our path! Under these types of circumstances, unlike a vehicle, boats don’t react as quickly as one would like! Needless to say, we had a few close calls!
BTW, while Her Idea is capable of 25mph, to save fuel we ran her like a trawler. About 1500 RPM on both engines would push us to about 10mph, give or take for wind and current. At this speed the fuel consumption was about 5 gallons/hour or about 2 miles per gallon, which is quite good for a large 30,000 pound high windage powerboat. In contrast, the motorhome gets about 8 miles per gallon at 65mph, with a weight of 44,000 pounds or 49,000 pounds including our tow vehicle.
Since Gloucester was on the southern side of Cape Ann, we would cruise by Rockport, MA, another very famous, tourist destination we had visited many times. During our four day stay in Gloucester, we would have an opportunity to visit Rockport, but more about that later.
Along our course, off in the distance, we could see twin lighthouses which we later learned is now known as Cape Ann Light Station. As the only surviving multiple lights on the coasts of the United States, this station is nationally significant because it is the last light station to be established under British rule, and it was the first station in the United States to mark a navigational hazard rather than a harbor entrance. The original 45-foot towers were constructed and lit in 1771 or 1789, making them among the oldest of America’s lighthouses. The stout 124-foot granite towers seen today replaced the original lights in 1861.
No surprise that more lighthouses were to come! New England boasts 6,000 miles of coastline with 200 lighthouses, 50 of which are in Massachusetts! As we neared Gloucester Harbor, we passed by the Eastern Point Light House which has a fascinating history. The current brick tower was built in 1890 and is 36 feet tall. Besides the light, there is a large lighthouse station, which serves as housing for the U.S. Coast Guard.
Although it doesn’t look like the typical lighthouse, there was another one at the entrance to the harbor, Dog Bar Breakwater Lighthouse. Even after the Eastern Point Lighthouse was lit in 1832, ships continued to run aground on dangerous Dog Bar Reef. To resolve the issue, the decision was made to build a 2,250-foot breakwater on top of the ledge. It was built by the Army Corps of Engineers (COE) with the aid of the Rockport Granite Company between 1894 – 1905. According to the Lighthouse Friends website, “the substructure of the breakwater is a rubble mound covered with 231,756 tons of Cape Ann granite blocks, each one weighing 12-13 tons. The breakwater was constructed for $300,000 and is 7½ feet above mean high water and ten feet wide.” The breakwater is now part of a 53-acre nature preserve owned by the Massachusetts Audubon Society.
Past the breakwater, on our starboard side at the end of Rocky Neck, was what looked to be an interesting building. With a little research, we determined it was the Tarr and Wonson’s Copper Paint Factory at the end of Rocky Neck. Here is a short YouTube video about its history.
The City of Gloucester, through the harbormaster’s office, rents 30 transient / visitor moorings for vessels up to 60 feet. They are located in the following three areas:
-The Inner Harbor, where the day-to-day hustle and bustle of a working waterfront can be enjoyed, and is in close proximity to downtown shops and restaurants.
-The Southeast Harbor offers views of the mansions of Eastern Point, sunsets over the Western Harbor and the Boston skyline in the distance.
-The Western Harbor, off of Stage Head, is where the original settlers landed and dried fish. The harbor offers a beautiful view of downtown church steeples and the City Hall tower.
When we contacted the Harbormaster via radio, we were told that our assignment was mooring ball #11 and he described its approximate location in the Inner Harbor. At $60/night, the cost for our four night stay (launch service included) on the mooring was $240. Although we’ve always known boating was expensive, now we were quickly learning that coastal cruising in the 21st century isn’t like our former sailing days!
Established in 1623 and known as America’s oldest seaport, Gloucester has been serving the world for centuries as a harvester of quality seafood. But in addition to its huge fishing industry, visitors can experience everything else that Gloucester has to offer – gorgeous beaches, a Harbor Walk, a rich maritime history, fascinating historic sites, whale watching and fishing tours, schooners and boating, shopping, interesting art galleries and so much more.
Over the years, it has been a popular filming location for both the movie and TV industry. Probably best known, the Eastern Point Lighthouse mentioned above, as well as various locations in the town of Gloucester, were featured in the 2000 movie The Perfect Storm which tells the true story of the Andrea Gail, a swordfishing boat which was lost at sea with six fishermen on board. And that wasn’t the only movie filmed here, Gloucester was also the setting for Captains Courageous (1937), Manchester By The Sea (2016) and the award winning film Coda (2021).
Known as the bluefin capital of the world, Gloucester was selected as the homeport for the TV reality show, Wicked Tuna, which first aired in 2012. This popular hit show follows the adventures of a group of salty fisherman on six or more boats as they compete to see who can earn the most money catching lucrative blue fin tuna. Each season they also educate the public about the intricacies and difficulties of the commercial fishing industry.
As we entered the Inner Harbor, we were greeted by the mix of pleasure boats, a cruise line, charter/tour boats, and commercial fishing boats. There was even a thatched roofed Friki Tiki Cruise Boat! On land, the waterfront was dotted with hotels, inns, restaurants, and shops mixed in with a few marinas, a variety of commercial fishing boats, cold storage warehouses, seafood processing plants, marine supply stores, a Coast Guard Station and other facilities.
Once we found mooring #11, it didn’t take long for us to settle in. No surprise since we were pretty tired – it had been a very intense, long, exhausting six hour trip! Time for us to kick our feet up and relax!
On the second night of our stay, we were running the generator to charge the batteries, when it suddenly stopped. Oh crap! Luckily, the generator controls had a diagnostic function that indicated the error by flashing an LED a specific number of times. 6 flashes = no cooling water. Hmmm, time to check the sea strainer. The generator has a small 3 cylinder diesel engine that is fresh water cooled internally. However, the fresh water cooling, unlike a car which is cooled by air through a radiator, on a marine engine is cooled via seawater passed through a heat exchanger.
The seawater comes thru a seacock (a valve that can be opened or closed) that feeds a sea strainer, which is basically a bronze housing with an internal basket to catch any crud that gets sucked in. Well, the strainer was jam packed with weeds! Rob removed all the weeds from the strainer, but still no water! The hose connecting the seacock to the strainer was also jam packed with weeds! He had to remove the hose and pull out all the weeds with pliers. This happened again the next day!
Coming up, out and about on sightseeing excursions!