Monday, June 27, 2022

Bodies in Motion, Maine edition

Recommissioning after the long winter took longer than planned, but in the end we got it done. All the 12v power was restored and we ended up installing a new freshwater pump, a new saltwater pump, and fortunately were able to recover the water heater and refrigerator. We rebuilt the 12v panel with modern switches and swapped out some suspicious wiring in the area of the circuit breaker panel. We put away all the tools, tidied up the boat, loaded some groceries, and considered the chart and weather.

It was about here I started having sweat-inducing nightmares about potential boat drama. Things that might pop up, things that we might not know how to deal with, just crazy worries that didn't make any sense in the glare of the morning sun. Upon reflection in the morning over coffee, I believe it to be anxiety related to once again stepping off into the unknown. A body at rest tends to stay at rest, a body in motion... well, we need to get our bodies in motion. Weird how the brain can play tricks to keep you in your comfort zone.

Tradition called for a crew party after a long work season. In celebration of Minerva's splash and pending departure, we hosted a pizza lunch party. It was good to have the yard crew in one place and hear their stories of their own adventures with Minerva over the winter. They also had suggestions for their own favorite sailing spots in Maine, we made note of them all. 

We were set to leave the yard on Sunday, which greeted us with gray skies of steady 20 knots with gusts to 25 knot winds and intermittent rain. We needed fuel before heading out, and there's some low tide shallow spots between Minerva's slip and the fuel dock which meant we needed to time our departure carefully. Our tide window opened at noon and every time we went to remove the lines another strong gust of wind would try to blast us into our downwind neighbor. We played this game with the slip lines for a while until we finally got the tide and gust window right, escaped and motored down to the fuel dock. And then the skies truly opened up and fat raindrops starting dumping.

The next morning's carnage from dumping rain, everything still hanging out to dry

All the training we did with spring lines came in handy. Our exit from the slip was not graceful but it was effective, our approach and exit from the fuel dock was much more elegant thanks to a solid spring line strategy. We tied the outside stern line of Minerva back across her backside to the dock, and Lance powered forward and bow-thrusted out and away while I paid out, pulled in, paid out and released the line. With these tricks we smoothly turned Minerva around in a space that was not much wider than her length. In a driving rain. We didn't care. We were going anyways.

Cliff Island - we had this side of the island nearly to ourselves 

Captain Fatty Goodlander's policy prior to a big journey is to go "just over there" and anchor, hang out just out of reach of land life and get settled into the new sail life rhythm while settling the boat for a journey. We decided that was good enough for us, so we motored in the cold driving rain and strong North gusts "just over there" to a quiet anchorage just North of Falmouth with protection from the winds, made some hot tea and snuggled under a blanket. It didn't matter where we were that first night - we were finally free to roam. Floating on our anchor that first night, despite the howling winds, I slept nightmare-free.

Seguin Island Lighthouse

Looking through the Fresnel lens, shot by Carol the lightkeeper

We're trying a new philosophy this year. Rather than try to fit our sailing life into a schedule, we're going to go wherever the wind is going on the day we need to leave, OR hang out and leave on a day with a favorable wind for our next intended destination. Ultimately we hope that by focusing more on the wind and less on an agenda we will sail more and motor less.

Beautiful fancy work done by a Coastie who was stationed here in the 60's

So we put our new plan in motion, and ended up sailing on a loose schedule from lonely anchorage to lonely anchorage, and on to the Seguin Lighthouse (pronounced Sah-GWEN).

Chloe waited impatiently for us to finish the narrow stairs portion of the lighthouse tour without her

Seguin Island Lighthouse was originally commissioned by George Washington himself, to protect the business interests of the Kennebec River. The lighthouse that stands today is the third one on the same piece of property, and boasts a first order Fresnel lens with a 40-mile reach. When the Coast Guard planned to decommission the lighthouse, public outcry resulted in the formation of a non-profit group who call themselves the FOSILS (Friends of Seguin Island Lighthouse), who felt strongly that the lens remain exactly in place, and to that end they became involved in arranging annual lightkeeper caretakers as well attending to the property's needs. This year's caretakers were a couple from Massachusetts by the names of Carol and Steve. They graciously showed us around the property and made us feel right at home.

If you're interested in learning more about the lighthouse, here's a link to the FOSIL page. The caretakers were connected to this seasonal opportunity through a service called, and it's not their first caretaking gig. Who knew interesting projects like this exist!

The anchorage on Seguin Island has 4 mooring balls that line the perimeter of the North Cove. None of them will allow a boat of Minerva's size to swing safely on the shifting tide, and there are signs posted not to anchor because of underwater cables. We were rightfully concerned about swinging onto the rocks, and considered our options carefully, late in the afternoon we ended up making the rather piggy decision of snagging a second mooring ball for our stern anchor. We decided if anybody came out they could raft up to us but nobody else showed so we enjoyed the cove all to ourselves, and slept soundly knowing that we wouldn't swing onto the rocks in the night.

Beautiful architecture in Boothbay Harbor, check out this mint green spiral staircase to the full-roof widow's walk

The next morning we headed off into a windless sky to the closest place we could motor, Boothbay Harbor, which turned out to be an expensive tourist trap but at least we enjoyed a free concert from our cockpit, with the live music from the nearby patio bar reaching out us in the harbor. Just one night there set us up for a downwind run into Rockland.

Owls Head lighthouse

The wind in Rockland always seems to howl just before the final approach into town, and so we took the sails down just before the Owls Head light and motored around the corner, carefully picking our way through the lobster pots and landed on the town dock for a couple nights of catching up with a friend, groceries and a round of laundry.

Everywhere we go in Rockland people love on Chloe. A common phrase we hear from Mainers is "she's wicked gah-juss". And so she is. This life suits her, too.

This smiling dog is getting lots of beach time

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Road Trip America, Home Sweet Floating Incomplete Home

Lance showed up to pick up our rental car and they rolled this beast of an Explorer out. They told him it was the only car they had for us, despite the reservations we made weeks ago for a small SUV. Fuel mileage @19 MPG during a fuel crisis. Sigh, it's gonna be an expensive crossing. On the upside, all that stressing I did about the size and weight of the parts and other items we've been stockpiling over the last 8 months was moot. Packing was easy, and visibility was 100% out of every window.

By the way, Ford, WTF? Our RV got 10mpg, and it weighed 22,000+ lbs, it was old when we bought it, and it was also a HOUSE. Ford couldn't do better on the mpg for a large SUV in the interim 25 years since the RV was built? No wonder gas is so expensive if new vehicles coming out have fuel demands like this.

But I digress. We loaded up the giant SUV and rolled out.

Highway 50, the loneliest highway

Eureka, Nevada
Austin, Nevada

We took the advice of family and friends and crossed Nevada on Highway 50. It was a beautiful drive full of old mining towns, breathtaking valleys and a national park called The Great Basin, which we flew past this time but will come back and explore some other day. For our first midday break we took a walk through some petroglyphs, and ultimately landed in Salina Utah, our longest drive day ever at 657 miles.

Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area

Bright and early the next morning we rolled out for the Denver suburbs, eager to make in time for a birthday party date with Victoria, who turned 7. After that we were able to slow our roll quite a bit.

Victoria's birthday party was a smashing success

West Kansas had some crazy winds, like it usually does this time of year. We fought the wind and landed in time for BBQ at Arthur Bryant's, as recommended by our friend Ceri, a Kansas City native. We stuffed our faces with great BBQ and passed out in a hotel not long afterwards. Of all the driving we do, fighting the wind takes the most out of us.

Get to Artur Bryant's early if you want their renowned brisket, sometimes they run out and you'll end up with pulled pork like I did. The baked beans are undoubtedly the best I've ever had and were just as good cold the next day. 

From there we continued North and East on to see friends in the farmlands of Michigan close to Port Huron. They put us up in their swanky 5th wheel and took us out to see the beautiful town of Port Huron, from which the Mackinac Race departs annually in July.

Bluewater Bridge at Port Huron

Chloe discovered her first skunk in Michigan

Then we got a picture from the yard. Minerva had splashed early. The rest of our journey was rearranged to route us directly to the boat. Our new direct path took us right through Canada, entering at Port Huron and exiting into the North East corner of Vermont.

Vermont in the Spring

Vermont is always beautiful, and somehow we always are rushing across it. Someday I will come back and explore it more slowly.

We arrived to Portland Maine on a Saturday, four days ahead of our projected arrival date. Total miles 3600. Minerva was completely torn apart still, and mastless.

The contents of the topside locker spewed in the salon

The boat is a mess. There's no water, no water heater, the 12v isn't working consistently so there's no fridge, no interior lights, and no control panels. Everything that normally lives in the topside lockers alongside the engine compartment is stacked in the salon, so there's no access to the galley and nowhere to sit. The only space that wasn't torn up or piled high and deep was the master cabin. That's one space I can control, so I started there. Out came the bedding I had washed and sealed in watertight bags before leaving, I made the bed and settled our shoes, clothing and laundry. We pulled out our solar lights and an ipad and settled in to bed for an early night with some YouTube and snacks in lieu of dinner.

The electrical compartment under the mainmast

The yard tells us they are short-handed. They've got two out on Covid and a third stepped on a nail last week and is home recovering. So it'll take them a while to re-commission us.

By day 4 I had a little meltdown because of the general cluttered mess. There was nowhere to sit down and so I'd been carrying my laptop to the clubhouse to work, which is a rather social place and therefore not conducive to focus on the client work that was stacking up. The next morning we rearranged the pile so there was seating to work in the salon and access to the stove and sink. This meant that I could work on the boat and we could prepare simple meals until the pump access was no longer an issue and the stuff could be moved to its proper place and out of the salon. The yard crew never showed up to re-commission us, so we started working through the systems one at a time on our own. Total things discovered so far as non-functional, victims of the winter and/or shop projects:

  • Fresh water pump. Lance replaced it last summer with one a friend had gifted us. It was older too, so time for a new one.
  • Saltwater pump. It always leaked and there was never sufficient pressure for a timely anchor rinse anyways. Time for a fresh one.
  • Water heater. This is a new problem and perhaps it just needs a reset, we hope this is just part of the re-commissioning we don't understand yet.
  • 12v intermittent, affecting refrigerator and chartplotter among other things. This is a new problem, and likely related to the electrical work done in the new engine compartment. Lance will need to go through this carefully as there are now all kinds of discarded electrical from the old engine to be removed too. We expected this to be completed fully as part of the engine replacement and are really disappointed to be dealing with such a huge electrical mess, yet again.

Once the first three items are resolved we can put all the stuff back in the locker and return our salon to an orderly state, so those top three are taking precedence. After the salon is sorted we can do a big provisioning run and fully engage the rest of our galley. Between now and then it will be simple meals since we can't access all our food compartments, and because the refrigerator behavior is inconsistent (it runs on 12v).

Lance replacing the saltwater washdown pump, item #2 on our checklist

On Thursday the riggers fetched Minerva and put her mast on. It was really something to see, it's all been documented here. The repair we ordered last September to the main halyard has not been completed, and so we can't mount our sails yet, that will have to wait. We are also hoping the shop comes out to finish their electrical work in the engine compartment so that Lance doesn't have to jump into the middle of their project, but we'll do it if we must after the first three items are resolved. After all, there are puffins to see.

On Friday we returned the rental car. Without access to the lockers, the remaining gear schlepped out from California ended up in the vee berth on top of the sails for sorting later.

The vee berth will be the last thing we sort

It's funny to us, when we visit non-sailors they ask what we do all day. Well... this. This is what we do. Fix, sort and clean. Home sweet floating home.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Long, Long Winter

Shortly before the yard crew went home for the Christmas holiday, Minerva wriggled her way into the shop alongside the box containing her shiny new Beta 62T engine, putting her first in line for attention after the yard staff returned. The snow piled up in the yard while she patiently waited her turn, cozy and dry.

When the staff came back from holiday, they brought Covid with them and it swept through the yard crew, introducing delays while they battled the illness.

Eventually the old Perkins was removed and the Beta put in place. Although we had the mounts made at Beta to match the custom width of the old engine bed, the new engine still refused to settle into place without additional customization to raise the engine up off the hull so some space could be created beneath it and to better align the shaft.

The risers are made from sticks of non-compressible fiberglass which should give us years of trouble-free life supporting a heavy, hot engine vibrating under workload

This is what 40 years of prop wear on a bronze shaft looks like. Not bad, considering.

The prop shaft was condemned by the machine shop; 40 years of wear had worn a waist where the bar should have been straight, weakening it right at the point where it passed through the hull. Since a new shaft was being made for us anyways, we decided to make it a smidge longer and add a line cutter. This will give us some peace of mind while moving through the plentiful lobster pots and crab traps all up and down the East Coast, because although we try with all our might to miss them, it's probably only a matter of time before we snarl one.

Shaft Shark line cutter

We were originally planning to do a basic bottom job ourselves upon our return, but realized this would delay our splash by a month or more, since getting bottom paint to properly adhere requires a minimal daily temperature fluctuation not usually achievable in a Maine yard until late June, so we asked the shop to remove the old paint (what little there was left), and lay down fresh bottom paint while she was in the cozy shop where they could control the temperature. What they found when they started working were several previous bad repair decisions, and it took a significant amount of labor to get her bottom up to snuff. Without a doubt Minerva's previous owner knew about this and hid it from us - looking back with this new knowledge, some of his weirder eccentricities that we encountered during the purchase process come closer to making sense. Well, now Minerva has a shiny, smooth new bottom, it's been done properly and we shouldn't have to do anything more than a gentle scrubdown for quite some time, putting us in prime position to sail unencumbered for a couple of years before our next haulout. It cost a small fortune but now that it's been done properly we can proceed with confidence that she will remain strong, dry and upright for many years to come.

Lots of fiberglass repairs, two coats of epoxy barrier coat, one coat of primer, and four coats of bottom paint. She's back out in the yard and ready to splash.

The shop will start splashing boats on May 15th, and the weather should be pleasant by Memorial Day. Once Minerva is in the water they'll run some tests to ensure the new engine, new shaft, and old prop all play well together, then they'll reassemble the masts and rigging. We booked the one-way rental car for our ride back out and intend to arrive somewhere in the last half of May and will likely jump in somewhere during the rigging process. The hope is that we make it in time to see puffins doing their annual mating dance, but even if we miss them we'll still enjoy sailing Maine for the summer and will follow the weather back down the coast pausing to leaf-peep from the Hudson River in the Fall.

The new engine rests happily in its new bed with its accompanying higher-capacity fuel filtration system, water intake and exhaust systems, enlarged muffler, and a super-powered alternator to make quicker work of recharging the batteries. Minerva's new engine takes up less space, is more powerful and far more efficient. Our fuel range just increased significantly.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Aliens Adrift in a Landlubber World

To say we're suffering from culture shock is putting it mildly.

Our drive across the country was quick. From Maine to my sister's house in Northern California Gold Country was 3166 miles; we could have done it in 5 hard driving days, we booked the rental car for 10 so we could pause here and there if something caught our attention, and to get some laptop work done as needed.

We ate so much garbage on the way. Fast food. Drive through. Mmmmm how we've missed it. At first it was a treat, something we rarely access as sailors, but so very convenient from the highway for our whirlwind drive.

Chicago Style Deep Dish, in Chicago

By day 4 we'd had our fill of junk and were craving some good fresh fish and vegetables so we hit the pause button in Laramie WY, settled into a decent hotel to explore the area for a few days, catch up on some laptop work and get in some salads and sushi. We've found there's always affordable healthy food in college towns, and downtown Laramie is home of the University of Wyoming. Right across the street from the football field was some excellent sushi, and fresh salads and tasty tacos could be found anywhere in town.

The University of Wyoming football bleachers, as seen from the main drag

Our rental car came with all the bells and whistles. Seat heaters meant we wrestled less over the dash temperature controls, adaptive cruise control was most helpful on the lonely highway, bluetooth connectivity meant books on tape and unlimited Amazon music. We were well rested, warm and dry. Culture shock.

We gobbled up the miles and arrived to my sister's in comfort, a day early, with a milkshake in the cupholder and french fry rubble on the floor.

Bonneville Flats, Utah

My sister was heading out to the grocery store and asked what she should add to the list. I'd noticed the bagels and the toaster (yes... toast!) but no cream cheese so asked her to bring some home. Here's what she bought. The picture doesn't really do it justice, it's a huge tub of cream cheese - 48 ounces.

Now, keep in mind that the groceries are my responsibility to stow on the boat and it's a perpetual challenge to eat everything we bring aboard before it goes bad. Not only does it require additional strategy to retrieve groceries without a car, but there's a process to storing them too, particularly for refrigerated items like cream cheese. Her casual point was this: she was at Costco already, this giant tub costs $7, and a little bar at the grocery store would be $3.50, so this was way more cost effective. She didn't need to mention there was plenty of space to store it in her cavernous refrigerator, or that with two teenagers in the house who also enjoy toast the five of us were likely to eat it all long before it started to grow fuzzy. She is right, her way makes sense. Even knowing these things I couldn't stop my hands from sweating at the sight of it. Culture shock.

In no time we were surrounded by family and friends. We jumped right into planned activities: Halloween, Thanksgiving, birthday parties, house projects, visits with long-time friends. All good stuff. One day I realized a whole week had gone by without us witnessing a single sunset, that I hadn't checked the weather app for days and in fact hadn't even set foot outside the house in two days, food had been delivered and my nose had been stuck in my laptop, catching up on work postponed during our whirlwind drive. What was going on outside? No idea. Culture shock.

Malfatti, a Napa locals tradition, cannot be found in restaurants. You have to pick it up from the local liquor store.

Lance commented he felt like we were in an alien world, but after a month or so we realize we're the aliens. We don't fit. All around us people are going about their normal, everyday lives and we're just not used to doing it the same way. We're the freaks.

Here are a few of the things I'm appreciating anew, and by which I am quickly becoming spoiled:

Every morning I start my day with toast. And coffee. I can prepare them both at the SAME time.

After every meal I rinse the dishes and put them in the dishwasher. No dish drainer required. I do not worry about the quantity of water used for this process (well, maybe a little bit, we are in California after all).

My sister loaned us her spare car, which is awesome. With it we fetch massive amounts of groceries. We don't worry about how many we can physically carry because neither of us has to wear them on their back. No Uber or other public transportation is involved in the grocery process at all.

Chloe testing out the powder near Donner Summit

Laundry... we carry it down the hall, wash it and put it away at our convenience. No quarters and no laundry carts are required, it fits right into the normal day around everything else and the process does not require onsite monitoring.

Internet is constant and fast. It does not require cursing, moving the house, or going elsewhere to access for the workday.

Amazon is not wearing a new path to the door, they were already coming here today anyways and it's fairly predictable what time they'll be arriving.

Food delivery is easy - at no point does our discussion with the delivery driver sound anything like "turn left when you see the boats on stands, we'll meet you at the top of Ramp E" or anything along those lines. A simple address is all that is required. I don't have to monitor their progress, they'll ring the doorbell when they arrive.

Wind? Rain? Dark early? Who knows. We drew the blinds three days ago when getting dressed and forgot to open them back up.

We are definitely the aliens adrift here. When we are reunited with Minerva we'll have some adjusting to do for sure. In the meantime, we're getting fat and lazy living the landlubber life.

Yes that's really the name of this little gas station convenience store chain located throughout the MidWest. Makes me laugh every time.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

A new motor, a cold winter, and another epic road trip

Low tide at the MYC exposes the old dock legs, which remind me of chess pieces

The new motor is on its way. They are building it as quickly as they can. I can't magic it here any faster.

Once it gets here, the mechanics will work on it when they can. We can't jump over other people who have had appointments for months. I can't control how easily the swap goes. It might be smooth as butter, but more than likely it will require additional parts and problem-solving. Rushing any of that isn't wise.

The winter weather is coming. I can't do anything about that.

Foggy morning view 

Our plan was to get the new motor in and high-tail it South in November, catch up with friends and sail to the Bahamas for the winter. The soonest the shop could commit to releasing us is Thanksgiving. So... LATE November. Mmmmm OK... Possibly Sketchy between Maine and Virginia.

Every local who heard my plan made the same face. Eyebrows way up, chin tucked, lips pursed or in an o-shape. So maybe high-tailing it outta here in late November isn't a good idea.

After seeing this face on yet another local for the umpteenth time, I realized that my desire to stick with the plan, to be in the Bahamas for the winter, was potentially putting Minerva and us in danger. Oh. The PLAN again. Once again I've somehow become attached to a PLAN. Haven't we learned this lesson yet?

Lance and I must have both gone to bed thinking on it and we both independently woke up with the same solution. The smart, safe thing is to leave Minerva in Maine on the hard, and let the shop do the work at their leisure. When we reunite with her in May we'll get the added benefit of sailing Maine for the Summer of 2022. We can break in the new engine properly and slowly, no pressure attached. We'll get to sail the summer with Al. We'll be close to the shop that did the engine work, in case the relationship between the new engine and the old prop needs tweaking.

So we reluctantly signed the winter storage contract, gave away all our canned food (apparently cans explode in a hard freeze), and picked up a one-way rental car for California. Cross-country road trip here we come.

Minerva on her way to winter storage

As it turns out, it's possible to feel everything at the same time. Mad because the motor failed us - we were expecting another couple of years of service on the rebuilt engine and wanted to schedule the replacement at our leisure with our favorite mechanic in NC. Happy because our friends will sail on to warm water snorkeling adventures this winter. Sad because we won't be with them and we miss them already. Excited to see our West Coast peeps.

Starting to get excited about the road trip itself but haven't had the bandwidth to give that any energy yet.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Hard Decisions

In Portland Maine we booked a marina which happened to be attached to a shop. The folks were friendly. One evening we struck up a conversation with Bryan and Polly who were having extensive work done on their 1979 C&C. They had only great things to say about the work quality at the marina. It's so rare to hear good things about shops nowadays, we filed it away and went on about our sightseeing. I logged Bryan and Polly's information in my phone and wished them well on their journey - when their boat splashes they'll be sailing to Bermuda.

Portland has a farmers market, bicycle paths, and some interesting food: hot honey which they put on pizza and waffles, and donuts made from potatoes.

Weird fruit we picked up at the farmers market, similar to lychees

There are a lot of lighthouses, and an antique train runs along the waterfront across from the marina a few times a day. I love that old train horn. The train swing bridge behind the marina has been abandoned in the open position for some time, evidence that once upon a time this old track used to connect to the cities in the North.

Train swing bridge in Portland, our quiet neighbor

It's been so long since we were connected bow-in to a solid marina dock, the anchor is right over the dock and there's plenty of elbow room to move about, so... seemed like the perfect time and place to put new markings on the anchor rode. The yellow paint we applied in Oriental didn't stick well, and there's been a few times I've questioned whether I had 25 or 50 feet out and had to either pull it up and start over or just err on the side of caution and put out potentially extra scope. That's less convenient when trying to fit in between lobster trap floats. As usual a simple task such as painting the rode became complicated by "project before the project"-itis, and we ended up doing a deep clean on the anchor locker to relieve it of some old mud that had been accumulating.

Chain rode in need of repainting

On departure day Lance was doing the usual engine check and noticed a little sludge in the coolant overflow. Otherwise all was running smoothly, so he cleaned it out, topped off the coolant, watched it for a little while, all appeared OK and off we went.

Adorable home on Harpswell Sound with a matching mailbox

For the first time in recent memory we sailed all day, through the lobster pots to our destination. We swung on the hook near Harpswell Sound for the Labor Day holiday, and then island-hopped to Rockland Maine.

Rockland Maine

We were very excited about finally arriving in Rockland because it meant we could finally catch up with our friend Al who we met in Oriental and had been sailing Maine for the summer. We've been chasing Al for 11 states. Unfortunately, we only got one evening with him as FEMA called him in to work that same week. The day we arrived was the day he'd just put his boat on the hard, retrieved a rental car, and started his journey South.

Shiny new heat exchanger alongside old one

Lance had been monitoring the coolant situation and noticed it bubbling out the overflow tank, even when cold. We called our trusted mechanic in North Carolina, and his belief was the same as Lance's - a failed heat exchanger. Somehow Lance found one in the little berg of Rockland, and so we spent the day swapping it out. Our pockets were $850 lighter for the new parts and we spent a whole day doing the swap; the problem was still not solved.

Swapping out the heat exchanger

So this means head gasket, cracked block or cracked head. All major repairs.

Minerva's engine is a Perkins 4.154 and it has 8196 hours on it. I looked through copious notes from the previous owner and found that this was among other issues he fought, and likely the reason for the engine rebuild he'd had conducted at 7100 hours. My suspicion is that the mechanic that did this service is likely the same one that "serviced" our transmission, the same transmission we spent last year fighting and ultimately replacing. That mechanic tended to forget small but important details. Throwing more money at this engine doesn't make sense; she's served faithfully but is 40 years old, and with our doubts about her prior care, we decided a smarter investment would be to just replace the engine.

Adorable architecture in Rockland

We seriously considered sailing directly to our favorite mechanic in North Carolina, Foster's Marine, where we know the prices are fair and the work is done properly. Then we imagined the actual logistics of that... we still have no autopilot so that means we are hand-steering all the way - making an outside passage difficult without time for sufficient rest. Harbor hopping down the coast means passing through the Cape Cod Canal, Hells Gate, and a whole lot of swing and lift bridges on the ICW which sometimes require Minerva to dance in place against the wind and the current while waiting for an opening. Any of these scenarios becomes quickly deadly without a reliable motor. Other people may be brave enough to try it. We are not.

Lobster, lobster everywhere. Even in the hotel parking lot.

It's September in Maine. The full-time sailors are already heading South. Those that live here are hauling out their boats and winterizing. They've been pushing their boats hard all summer and have reservations at their favorite yard for a winter of storage and repairs. All the shops are running as fast as they can to keep up.

There was that yard in Portland... the one that folks brag about...

They said "leave her with us for the winter, we'll do the work over the winter, you can have her back in the Spring". Around here that means after Memorial Day - EIGHT months away. We tried to get an appointment for an engine swap at other shops near Rockland but they either wouldn't return our calls or offered the same winter storage plan. In a smaller town like Rockland services like rental cars, Uber, hotels or a winter apartment for us just didn't seem likely. Without a car our lives quickly become difficult when the snow arrives.

We decided to top off the coolant, cross our fingers and motor back to Portland where Minerva could get the attention she needed and we were likely to find housing and transportation. Winds were expected in the afternoon, so our plan was to motor as long as we could, sail it in if possible, and call for a tow if we must. By leaving at first light and arriving as sundown we were able to make one long day out of it, where it had taken us three days to island hop there we were able to pick our way through the lobster pots and make it all in one day. Thankfully the motor held it together all the way and we landed safely at the shop in Portland. Communicating with Todd & Lorri, good friends in Florida who monitored our progress by satellite and were ready to lend a hand, greatly relieved anxiety.

We crossed paths with this beauty on our way to Portland

The night we arrived we were talking with another boat owner and he suggested a bigger shop in town that might be able to get it done faster, and get us on our way before the hard winter sets in. They came out to look over Minerva, and they think it might be possible. So the engine is on its way, and if we can get it in time there's an outside chance we might be able to get it swapped and get moving South ahead of the winter weather.

That's where we are. Nothing for us to do now but sit tight and wait for the engine to arrive, worry and wait.

We arrived in time to witness the recommissioning of Bryan & Polly's C&C. They had to bring in a special crane to reattach the 96' mast. They'll be splashing today and heading for Bermuda soon.