May 07, 2020. Boston, MA.
We are back in Boston amid the peak of the pandemic, and comfortably living on our boat in a marina in Charlestown. The trip to Boston from Florida was, at times, challenging. Spring has been late this year and the winter weather are patterns still active in May. The southern storms around Cape Hatteras were not well timed with New England storms. Our challenge was to choose a weather window to sail north, to keep the boat speed up, and to stay ahead of bad weather coming behind us.
In mid-April we travelled from Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale to check into the USA, then proceeded to West Palm Beach Florida to wait for a weather window. Northeast winds had calmed somewhat when we left West Palm to ride the Gulf Stream north, but the waves were still large and it was a pretty bumpy ride. Winds that had been NE clocked south and as they turned SW the winds piped up to 20-25 knots, with gusts of 30 kts. After the first night at sea, we took a second reef, then a third reef by noon. The winds kept up and we made good speed. On the third morning after 2 days at sea with a red sun rising, we shook out one reef and turned toward Beaufort, North Carolina, just in time to avoid another storm.
Before arriving in Beaufort, the electronic control for the port engine went berserk and we were left with only one engine for docking. Pierre did an amazing job docking the boat with one engine, wind piping up, and current running the other way, all in a tight channel with lots of small boat traffic. In such situations Pierre has nerves of steel, while I nervously run around the boat with a fender in hand — just in case — but not needed.
On April 25 we left Beaufort to sailed to Boston between a storm ahead of us and another coming up the rear. The winds were calm when we left Beaufort, and we motor/sailed around Cape Hatteras. There was some lightening the first night, and winds started building from the SW. The waves kept getting larger because we were offshore to avoid a reverse current. We crossed past Delaware Bay the morning of April 27 as the winds moved NW, and we were now sailing upwind with 15-20 kts and gusts to 25 kts. Pierre worried that the downwind gennaker might unroll with a headwind, so we decided to take it down. We got our exercise on the foredeck (trampoline) because the gennaker started to unravel when we released the halyard, and the wind caught it, blowing it into an hourglass. When we got the sail on deck, we secured the billowing part of the sail that had unraveled with a rope. It was a bit of a fight because you cannot hold down a spinnaker-like sail by hand with the wind trying to take it airborne like a balloon. All this was done with cold sea spray pounding through the trampoline as we wrestled the sail into the locker under an overcast sky. Later, we succeeded in removing the hour glass and rolled the sail properly under light winds while approaching Boston.
With westerly winds continuing off-shore past Delaware Bay, it was really rough and we decided to hug the coast as we approached New York. We crossed Long Island sound at night, with lots of traffic, large waves, howling wind and more cold sea spray! The winds totally died later in the day. We stopped briefly in a deserted Montauk for fuel, and by the time we reached Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts, the sea was a mirror. We approached Buzzard’s Bay just after dark on April 28. We decided to get a night sleep anchored near Cutty Hunk because the next storm was not predicted for another 24 hours. We slept soundly to the song of a loon, a sound reminiscent of childhood summers on Canadian lakes. A feeling of home.
We left Cuttyhunk at 7 am to catch the outward current in the Cape Cod Canal. We arrived in Boston 4 pm April 29 to a city that is not same. Wearing facemasks is the norm, crossing to the other side of the street to avoid a fellow human is the norm, and, of course, a deserted city with no restaurants open. One good thing – there is no traffic. And clean air. We are comfortable on our boat in a marina as we wait for spring weather to arrive.
While the coronavirus pandemic has brought change, it is up to everyone to help make sure it is an opportunity to change the world for the better. Governments are struggling to decide how to stimulate the economy. Some countries are taking the opportunity to focus on transformative change. A year from now we will be able to look back and see which countries did it right. Which countries best stimulated economic recovery without putting health at risk. Will the countries that put stimulus money to work on innovative social distancing (eg Zoom) and clean energy come out the winners? Will new measures taken now mean that in the future the common cold will be a rare event? That we will be better prepared for the next pandemic? Perhaps one result of the pandemic might be social change that is progressive for our cities and for our planet.
Pierre and I are happy to be back in Boston where we will spend the summer. Some of our Youtube well-wishers have expressed sadness that our sailing adventures are ending. They are not ending! We will be sailing the northeast this summer. We also have a backlog of boat project videos that we will finish this summer. Please subscribe to our YouTube and give us a like to let us know the content you like best.
We have now sailed over 8000 nm since taking delivery of our boat in France. We look forward to a new normal so that we can again welcome family and friends on board. Best wishes to our family, friends and Youtube followers! Practice social distancing and stay safe!