Marblehead, Boston, Cape Cod...

Posted Oct. 13, 2008 at 18:12

Marblehead, the yachting centre of New England (according to Marbleheaders), is a really beautiful, historic New England town.  Most of the original wood-siding houses from the 17th and 18th century are preserved and beautifully finished.  Nice restaurants and famous yacht clubs line the waterfront, countless gift shops on narrow, winding single-lane streets to get lost in.  And... there is a West Marine store!  Alas, they didn't have the hinge that broke on our anchor chain locker lid and it would take a week to get it in.  But we found the Waterway Guide for the Northern Atlantic, so now we have a guide, combined with the excellent Reeds 2008 nautical almanac and the official US Coast Pilots (which I downloaded as PDF files) we've got more than we can read in the amount of time left every day for navigation planning.

People are really nice around here.  Most are retired, not in a rush anywhere, almost everyone has some sort of boat. There are literally a thousand boats in the harbour, usually on moorings, but by now a lot have been hauled out.  So after chatting with the West Marine employee about electronic charting systems and Raymarine and Garmin and how certain common sense (and simple to implement) features are left out in order to increase or maintain profits, he offered the use of his mooring ball in Marblehead harbour, since his boat just got hauled out the previous day.

As we were returning to the town dock, we noticed a little marine store (Lynns Marine Supply) just steps from the docks that we missed on the way to WM.  So I ran in to check for the hinge and no she didn't have it; yes, she was able to order it and had it in next morning...  How's that for outdoing WM in service?  Too bad we weren't planning to stay for more days otherwise the order list would have grown much larger.

So Wind Whisper and us spent one more night rafted together in nice, calm, warm weather before they took off to push ahead further southwest as they will need to stop for a week or so to take care of business.  To celebrate, we barbecued and ate 8 lobsters (2/person) that night.  Next morning they left, we inflated our dingy and went back to Marblehead for more strolls and grocery shopping.

Motoring in to downtown Boston mid-day on a sunny, long weekend Saturday was quite a scene...  Literally dozens of pleasure boats all around and many more on the horizon zoom in random directions until a tug or a cargo ship sends everyone scattering...  People try to sail in light winds in the harbor entrance channels with confused waves created by countless wakes...  Fishing boats cast lures in the middle of the channels, around buoys; lobster traps kicking around in the middle of all this, airplanes landing and taking off with roaring noise over the water from Logan International Airport.  You get the picture.  We docked downtown at the Boston Waterboat Marina (the worst choice from facilities point of view, but best choice in convenient access to downtown, all this at the 'modest' cost of $3/foot + $10 for electricity (next door they charge $4/foot).  But at least it had showers and laundry). Withing two hours we've walked all around downtown, sat around at the Market, listened to some music on the square.  In the evening we were picked up by Eli, our son's ex room-mate while they studied at UofT together, who's doing PhD studies at a biomedical faculty of Harvard.  We got a nice evening tour of the Harvard campus and went out to dinner nearby.

With another tropical storm showing up, we decided not to linger around any more, but try to make way toward Long Island Sound where it should be easier to hide if a hurricane came this way...  Any suggestions for a good hurricane hole?

These days there is really very little time for updating websites...  So please forgive me if I slack off once in a while... ;-)
(On the subject of gear failures all this happened withing two days:
  • The nice 2.5hp Yamaha outboard that used to purr like a cat, developed a sore throat and is running a bit rough, stalling when idle.  I think it has to do with the small hose that is cracked between the crankcase and carburetor, but I have to get a replacement to verify (it seems that it does not get enough air while at idle)
  • the good salt washdown we got while transiting the Gulf of Maine seems to have scored a few more hits:  the switch for the transom swim platform  (or some wiring) is not working, but that should be an easy fix.
  • I was replacing the anchor locker hinge, I noticed that the Lewmar windlass (anchor rode winch) contactor relay is not working. I removed it, opened it and found seawater inside over the contact plates that became dark gunk...  so this evening was spent cleaning, greasing, reassembling and rechecking the windlass contactor relay.  In the process, I realized by looking at the casing design that my dealer's 'expert' installer installed it upside down (he probably never had a clue how it should go and never lost any sleep over it either) and hence the water found its way more easily into the relay casing.
  • While I was in the vicinity of the anchor locker, I noticed that the block leading the furling line through the front anchor locker bulkhead got jammed again.  This bulkhead (the one that always gets soaking wet, aft of the recessed furler unit) is made of *particle board* - not plywood or fibreglass!  (should ask Tim Jackett why, maybe there's a reason ;-)  This particleboard has been slowly rotting from day one, now it's going to have to go.  Fortunately, I have enough real marine plywood on board (the ten layer kind) to rebuild that (small) bulkhead and put in a stronger foot/cheek block instead of the always failing, weak trhu-deck block).  Just have to find the downtime to do it.
-- Z --