Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hadley Harbor and The Sucking Muck of Death

When last we left our intrepid travelers, they had just arrived in Hadley Harbor, about a mile and a half southwest of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. It consists of a small harbor surrounded by Naushon Island to the southwest, Nonamessett Island to the east, and Bull Island to the north.

There are people who live on both Naushon Island and Nonamessett Island and there is a something like a commercial dock on Naushon.

We arrived around 11am before the crowds and as I mentioned got moorings. Laura and Cory immediately set to go fishing and I kyacking. I circumnavigated Bull Island and went nearly out to the channel to Woods Hole.

On the way back, I was going down a channel to explore and I noticed two signs - "Cable Area - Do Not Anchor" and right smack in line with the two signs was, guess what?, a great big powerboat with it's anchor down. "Nice", I thought to myself. I wish I could be so oblivious.

It was a beautiful day! Incredible blue skies. Puffy white clouds. Colors so sharp and crisp. Like being in a different world.

Soon we all returned to our boats and decided to go clamming. The tide was ebbing and we left in the dinghy through the cut between Naushon Island and Uncatena Island towards a beach we knew of.

Cory decided to stop where we saw some shells indicating there may be clams. When we got out of the dinghy we sank up to our calves in mud. Very carefully we waded ashore, but in the meantime I had had to remove my sandals because they were getting sucked off in the mud. Just so you know, I hate mud. I really hate sinking in mud. Keep that in mind.

Anyway, I left my sandals in the dinghy and when I got ashore, I found that walking was difficult on shells barefooted. Cory and Laura went farther on to another beach and since they had already started looking for clams, I decided to go back and bring the dinghy around to them.

Mistake #1. Recovering the dinghy alone. If you're with people, they should know where you are - and what you're doing. Duh.

Mistake #2. When you're walking in snow, walk in someone else's footsteps. When you're walking in mud do not do that. Of course, that's what I did. Halfway to the dinghy I was up to my crotch in mud and every time I tried to get one leg out, the other would just sink farther. This caused great consternation because when your legs can't shift your balance is affected.

Now, I was crotch deep in mud, and worried about falling over because putting my hands out would not stop me as they would just stick in the mud, too. Even though the water was only about six inches deep, I was getting concerned about this - well, more than concerned. It would be a less than spectacular ending to a great vacation - this drowning in muck.

You're probably wondering how I got out. Well, sir, I didn't.

Just kidding. Here's how you get out of that amount of mud: very carefully. The key is to get one leg out by moving it slightly right and left and fore and back. Point toes down, and slowly draw that leg out. Move it to where no one stepped. Be careful because if you fall, getting up will be difficult. The biggest thing is: Don't Panic.

Eventually, I got out and got to the dinghy where I used its buoyancy to get the heck out.

So, I brought the dinghy around to where Laura and Cory were and washed off all the mud. Here the seabed was sand and it was much easier to get around. Off to the west was Buzzards Bay. It was stupifyingly beautiful. You just had to look there slack-jawed.

As it turns out, we couldn't find any clams. Apparently, someone had looked there and decided it wasn't a good spot. But Cory found mussels and oysters! Woohoo! We love them! So we picked a bucket full of both of them - leaving the small ones and the very large ones. Not that there was a dearth of either. But I never knew where to find them and now I do! What a lesson!

After a while we headed back to the boats where I volunteered to host the party, as I had a grill. So I set up, and we had a blast! Melted butter, grilled oysters, and steamed mussels. Then I made a mussels marinara with spaghetti. We ate like kings and queens and went through three bottles of wine! It was terrific. And messy. Very messy. But great fun. I learned how to get oysters open.

Man, that is living!

The next day, we hopped fooled around in Hadley and then headed for Onset, MA, only about an hour away. There was no wind. We had arranged for a slip at the Point Providence Yacht Club which is a great stopping point for anyone. They are very friendly, fairly priced, and they have Friday night fish fry dinners for like $15.00. Drinks are 2 or 3 bucks at the club bar. Man, oh man, we ate like there was no tomorrow.

But for lunch we had steamed mussels left over from Hadley Harbor - Cory towed them behind in a mesh bag. So, I guess I'll have to get one of those.

Cory and Laura's friends were going to meet us for the weekend, this being Friday, and sail around and meet people in Sandwich. Laura knows people everywhere. Amazing. I decided to ride my bike to the store to get some supplies. There is an easy way to get there and a hard, dangerous way. Guess which way I took. The way back was much less frightening.

Saturday morning, Laura's friends showed up and we left for New Bedford. As we were leaving the harbor I found out my autopilot wasn't working as whenever I put it on "Auto" the boat would go in circles. Not terribly helpful. So I had to hand steer downwind all the way in light winds.

When I finally got there 6 hours later and rafted up with Cassiopeia, I had only two things on my mind - peeing and eating in that order. Laura and crew went to tour the harbor and I had a bit of a nap. I was awakened by talking right near the boat - too near. I popped my head out and I met the owner of hull #1 of the 424s! We talked for a bit and then he was on his way. He had never met anyone with a hull number close to his. Mine's number 8.

We later had dinner aboard Cassiopeia, and while the guys watched "Borat" and drank, the women went to bed. They were the smart ones.

Next morning: Off to town for breakfast at a little hole in the wall that made really good food. I had eggs and linguica, pronounced linguisa. It's Portuguese sausage that tastes like Slim-Jim. Good. Mmmm.

After breakfast, we left to go through the Cape Cod Canal to Sandwich where we were meeting Laura's friends for a barbecue and no small amount of drinking. More on Sandwich in the next vacation installment.

Winter is coming and Pelican is safely ensconced in her winter slip at Avalon Marina, in Stamford, CT. What a lovely place! The managers are boaters and amazingly friendly people. They are the best! I may stay here in the summer so I can finish Pelican's upgrades. More on that later, too.

The potable water pump failed the other day and I replaced it with a Jabsco VSD pump. It's quiet, and varies it's speed according to the demand. It's really great and it's worth every penny. Here it is from Defender:|51|299222|121271|316442&id=121735 If you have to get a new pump, this is the puppy. If you've already have pressure tank, then just get a regular pump. But if you've been haunted by a cycling diaphragm pump, this is a good replacement.

Sadly, I probably won't be on the water for a while - so I'll see you on the dock!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Plug

I know you're all breathlessly awaiting the next vacation installment, but in the meantime I've been working on the boat doing various projects.

Power usage has always been a bugaboo for me. Since I live aboard and aboard in the summer is on a mooring, I'd prefer not to have to run a generator or the engine every night. So until I got some new lighting, I was being very cautious with my use of internal lighting.

The Pearson 424 has a number of standard overhead round lights, as well as some classic vintage '70's lights made out of what looks like small Clorox® bottles. They have Edison fittings (like you have with screw-in incandescent bulbs at home) and they draw about an amp and a half each. The overhead lights only a little bit less.

So to have a cheery interior you're looking at a current draw of nearly 10 amps! That is more than the autopilot, instruments, and radar all together draw!

I've mentioned Sailor Solutions before. They have lots of neat and useful stuff for boats that you can't find elsewhere. But their big product is their Sensibulb™ , a LED light engineered to provide very nearly identical light as an incandescent at much lower temperature and 1/10th or so the current draw - which means I can light the whole boat up like a Christmas tree for just about the same current draw as one of the old bulbs.

I now wallow in light. Read for hours. I love it. You can check out what I did with the normal white LEDs on Inertia on a previous post. As pleasant as that was, this is doubly so.

The only downside is the cost: They are about $40.00 each. However, if you take into account they're rated at 10,000 hours and the wear and tear on your generator or engine they save will be paid back. Also: you don't have to purchase new bulbs every couple of years.

They provide a warm, soft, yellow light that is nearly indistinguishable from normal lighting. The Sensibulb™ plugs into a normal halogen bulb socket. Sailor's Solutions provides socket adapters for all types of sockets at a reasonable price (although the Edison ones are becoming rare). They also provide full light fixtures with dimmers (yes! they can be dimmed!)

If you're thinking of updating your interior lighting, these are the bulbs. I can't recommend them enough. You'll be happy as a clam bathing in your low current light!

See you on the water!