We’re back in Annapolis, docked at Jabin’s Yacht Yard after a delightful passage south. We made good speed, and had excellent weather.

One of the trip’s highlights came south of Cape Cod, after we got into warmer water: We set out trolling lines as we motored along in a calm patch. We were about 100 miles off New York City on the edge of the continental shelf where the water drops from about 200 feet deep to over 3000.

Out here you have to watch for the floats that the long line fishermen set over their gear. Mostly they are fishing for tuna and swordfish very deep; 1000 feet, or even more. The lines are set at least overnight, and as long as several days, and when they say “long” lines, they mean it! There can be miles of hooks stretched between floats set every mile or so.

Long line float and radar reflector

These floats consist of a large fender, and a pole with a radar reflector attached. They are not lit, so at night the minimally effective radar reflector is the only way to see them–assuming you have your radar on and properly tuned!

Out here, in deep water, far from land, ANYTHING on the surface of the water attracts fish, and very quickly. In Hawaii there are buoys anchored in the deep water off the islands for the sole reason to attract and concentrate fish. They are locally called Fish Attracting Devices (FADs). Anything floating on the surface works as an FAD from a log to a patch of seaweed, and it does not need to be very big.

As our spread of trolling lures came up to the first of these long line floats, the idea of it possibly being an effective FAD was just beginning to form in my head… Zing! FISH ON!

A mahi-mahi who had been hanging out around a long line float.

We trolled past two floats in the next hour, and picked up a mahi-mahi off each of them. None of the fish were really large, but more than big enough to end up in our freezer.

Fresh off success around the long line floats, we made a small detour off of our straight line course to a permanently moored deep water weather buoy.

Anchored in 1600 feet of water, this large research buoy creates its own ecosystem.

We stopped next to the buoy, and I cast a jig up close, and quickly hooked another mahi-mahi. It is typical for the whole school of mahi-mahi to follow the hooked one right up to the boat, and in this case they did not disappoint. About a half dozen of the brilliently colored fish were swarming around their doomed cousin, but even more amazing, down as deep as we could see (in very clear water!) were hundreds and hundreds of large jacks. We could have caught jacks until our arms fell off. Lucky for them we do not consider them great table fare.

Other fun and exciting events on our passage were seeing an unusual “fog bow” in the dense fog off Nantucket.

Not as colorful as the regular rainbow, the “fogbow” is a bit rarer.

We frequently ran into groups of common dolphin who usually broke off whatever they were doing to ride along with Harmonie. On this trip we also saw a group of the much larger Risso dolphin, but they did not closely interact with the boat.

We’ll be in Annapolis at Burt Jabin’s Yacht Yard for several weeks while we do projects, go to boat shows, take some classes, and attend to other business. If you’re in the neighborhood, give a shout and stop by!

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Fast is Fun

21:00 local, 14 Sept 2019
Lat: 42° 13.4’ N
Lon: 67° 16.1’ W
Weather Clear, wind 16knots, SE
Water temperature 63°F/Air temperature 66°F
Course 253M
Distance from St Peters Canal Entrance: 344 NM
Distance from Delaware Bay Entrance: 409 NM

We just crossed the international border, and are back in the waters of the USA, and moved from Atlantic time back to Eastern time.

We are watching a great example proving that cliche of “the grass always being greener” has a lot of truth to it. Lined up fishing within yards of the Canadian side of the line are Canadian flagged fishing boats, while on the USA side, the American flagged boats are doing exactly the same thing. I am sure each captain is certain in his conviction that there are more fish on the other side!

After motoring last night the wind picked up this morning and we have had another beautiful sailing day running pretty steady at over 8 knots. We were visited by large schools of dolphin, and during one calm spell we stopped and in short order caught a cod and a haddock for the freezer.

The weather forecast continues to look great for the rest of our voyage.

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A fast and fun start!

20:00 local, 13 Sept 2019
Lat: 43 34.3’ N
Lon: 64 42.8’ W
Weather Clear, wind 2 knots, NE
Water temperature 60F/Air temperature 63F
Course 253M
Distance from St Peters Canal Entrance: 205 NM
Distance from Delaware Bay Entrance: 547 NM

Upon leaving the canal at St Peters we were treated to a delightful sail as brisk northwest winds pushed us along on a fast broad reach. For all of the afternoon and night, and much of today we blasted along at speeds from 7.5 to 9.5 knots. Of course all good things must come to an end, and the wind has died to a zephyr, but we made over 25% of our ocean passage in a fast 24 hours.

Our destination is Annapolis, via the Delaware Bay and C&D Canal, and our plan is to go straight on through until we get to the Chesapeake Bay. We are carefully watching the path of the depression that is forecast to become hurricane Humberto. Right now, it is forecast to stay well south of our track, but if that should change, we’ll have many places along the coast we can put in until it is out of the way.

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And we’re off!

Power back on, and we squeezed through the lock with three other boats. Once again, we are out in the ocean, and Harmonie gets to stretch her sea legs. We have a beautiful north northwest wind pushing us on a fast reach southeast to warmer climes!

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Hurry up and wait!

We got down to St Peters without problem, got our provisioning run complete, and have the boat set up and ready for offshore sailing. We are all ready to go… Unfortunately power is out in town again, so the lock is not functional, and the queue of southbound boats waiting to get through is starting to build.

We have enough of a weather window that waiting a day or two isn’t a problem, except it is getting COLD at night!

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On the Move Again.

After a hurricane passes over your boat there is one good result: Your boat is CLEAN. It basically gets a freshwater power wash for hours and hours. Yesterday we spent all day undoing all the things we did to prep the boat for the storm. This morning we pulled up our lines and anchors, and in less than an hour we took the boat from as clean as it has been in months to a filthy muddy mess as all the lines, chains and anchors did their best to move as much lake bottom to the topsides of Harmonie as possible.

A muddy mess!

Under sunny, clear, and chilly sky we sailed south on Bras d’Or Lake. On the shores of the lake we see the first hints of fall color showing in the maple trees. That can only mean one thing: It is time to turn further south before winter arrives.

Fall color starting on the hills.

We are anchored at the southern end of the lake, at the town of St Peters. We tried to do a grocery run today, but the storm still had power out in much of the town so the grocery store was closed. Tomorrow, it is supposed to be open for business again so we can stock up for our coming passage south.

Our weather forecasts suggest that we wait a day here before taking passage through the canal back into the Atlantic. Our plan is to reverse the route we took to get up here two months ago: Leaving from Nova Scotia, straight down the coast to the Delaware River, through the Delaware Chesapeake Canal, then down to Annapolis. A total trip time of about seven days.

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All is well

Other than the muddy water in the harbour and leaves scattered on the ground, there is little evidence of anything having happened. It is a cool, breezy, sunny morning. Harmonie is right where we left her. All is good!

Goodbye to Dorian, and good riddance!

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