Revisiting Boston.

We have been staying once again in the middle of the city.  As some of you know, I went to school here in Boston many, many moons ago.  The transformation of the waterfront between then and now is dramatic.  Some of the changes are good. Some… well… less so.

The big catalyst for changes here was the project known as the “Big Dig”.  The old elevated highway called the “Southeast Expressway” was buried under ground at an incredible cost ($24 BILLION dollars–the most expensive highway project in US history).

The removal of the elevated highway opened up the waterfront to development and tourism in ways that were never possible before. The character of the neighborhoods has significantly gentrified. The old North End, which was in my memory an Italian immigrant enclave, is now home only to very expensive condos.  Some of the old flavor is retained in restaurants, but it is really is not the same.  More Disneyland, less “real”.

It used to be I would come down to Haymarket on Friday for a real farmer’s market.  The same market is here, but it is now just a craft and trinket sale. Tourism is now the central business of the waterfront.  Ferries, whale watching boats, and daysailing schooners dominate the harbor.

We have been here getting some travel and logistical projects complete, and we will continue our migration south in a few days.  In the mean time, here are some views of Boston from the water:

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A Run South.

We checked out of Bar Harbor and sailed to Gloucester.  The sail south was really delightful.  We did do some motor sailing in light winds, but most of the way the wind was perfect and the water flat.   It was about a 36 hour trip all told, including the time we stopped to catch some fish–have to keep the freezer full!

We haven’t had much luck with seeing whales up here.  In fact other than a quick glimpse of one through the binoculars while looking at other things, we have come up empty on the big creatures.  Other critters haven’t been so shy and retiring however!

Here is our Wildlife Count for the day and a half trip:

  • Marine Mammals
    • Gray Seals
    • Harbor Seals
    • Harbor Porpoise
    • Another (unidentified) kind of dolphin
  • Fish Seen:
    • Ocean Sunfish (8 or 10)
    • Unidentified Sharks (2)
  • Fish Caught:
    • Haddock (3)
    • Pollack (3)
    • Mackerel (1) (Who ever catches ONE  mackerel????)
  • Birds:
    • Guillemots
    • Northern Gannets
    • Storm petrols
    • Assorted Shearwaters
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Efficiently catching fish.

We stopped at Jeffrey’s Ledge, the same place we did well a few weeks ago.  After three drifts across the best looking spot around, and I had nothing to show. A few nibbles but no fish in the boat.  What was I doing wrong? Well, it turns out: nothing.  Not the wrong place, or the wrong technique, just the wrong time.  We started our final drift just as the tide changed, and quite suddenly it was a different world.  Suddenly I was bringing fish up two at a time.

Oddly, one of the fish I caught was a mackerel.  Odd not because they are rare, they are the most common fish here.  Odd because I caught ONE.  They usually travel in schools of thousands, and if you catch one, you catch a cooler full.  All the same, it was our dinner.  Mackerel makes great sushi, especially when that fresh.  At the Sushi Bar it is called “Saba”.

One of our other catches was more unusual…  while trolling lures for tuna a large young seagull thought the purple plastic squid in our trolling spread was just the thing for dinner.  Seagulls are mean, and nasty at the best of times.  Dealing with them on deck when they are hurt and scared is a challenge.

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Shark!  No…. Not this time!  The fin of an Ocean Sunfish, the largest bony fish in the ocean.

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You know you are approaching Gloucester when you spot the first of the old gaff-rigged fishing schooners.

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And you know you have arrived when you see Gloucester Light at the harbor entrance.

 

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Summer People in Maine.

Yes, that’s what we have been!  What the locals call “Summer People.”

Bar Harbor has been just a beautiful place to spend several weeks in August.  The weather has been delightful.  Highs in the high 60’s and low 70’s.  Beautiful scenery.  Just gorgeous.  The downtown is a bit touristy in a very small scale way, but you don’t have to walk far before a very local flavor takes hold.

It is an easy  place to take on provisions.  Although it is a serious working fishing port, all the boat repair and supply services are located in other towns nearby. There are moorings right off downtown that are reasonably priced ($35/day), and the harbor staff is eager to please and go out of their way to help.

When you are this far north flower gardens can be delightful  EVERYTHING blooms at once because the season is so short.  Hollyhocks, petunias, marigolds, dahlias… a good well planted garden is a riot of color in August.

And we continue to believe that Maine has a Boat Police Force whose only job is to keep ugly boats south of the state’s waters.  It really seems every boat here is prettier than the last.  That even goes for the motorboats.  And to get me to admit that a motorboat is pretty is tough!

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Jumping north…

We jumped from Gloucester all the way to Mount Desert Island in Maine.  It was about a 24 hour trip, and we are now on a mooring at the Williams Shipyard in the Some Sound.  The Some Sound has the distinction of being the only fjord in the United States.  If you are wondering exactly what that means, a fjord is officially a valley that was carved by a freshwater glacier, and is now flooded with saltwater.

It is beautiful country.  Easy to understand why people come here for the summer.  It is a balmy 75 degrees during the heat of the day.  As the sun sets, the eerie calls of the loons echo across the sound.   Of course that coincides the rising buzz of the mosquitos…

We went into “town” today.  Town consists of a post office, a gas station, and…  well… that’s it.  The main road has a lot of traffic as the summer people drive hither and yon, but not much is happening.

We found a friend of ours from OCSC in California is now working as a ranger at the national park here on the island.  Hopefully we’ll get a chance to connect before we have to move on.

We’ll be here for a few days, and then move around the island to the “big” city of Bar Harbor for some provisioning and exploring.

I also promised myself that after the earlier post about the number of lobster pots I would never complain about them again.  It is a hard promise to keep!

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Run Away! Run Away!

A few days ago we were anchored on the north side of Cape Ann just outside of the town of Rockport. Where the “X” is on the chart below.  A quick look at the chart, and you can see that in the normal prevailing winds from the southwest where we were anchored is very well protected.  In fact it is very well protected from every direction except the Northeast.Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 17.29.06

The little harbor that was directly in front of us built themselves a little seawall to protect the boats from the famous Nor’easters that rage along the coast here.  In fact, I have never seen a seawall quite like this one:

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This isn’t a breakwater, or even a seawall this is a fortification.  That’s a three story building just poking above it.  Obviously the locals take the Nor’easters very seriously.

So… when the weather forecast had several days of winds to 30 knots from the northeast in the forecast, we decided that discretion was far and away the great part of valor, and we ran back south to Gloucester harbor where we anchored for the duration of the weather.

The weather is now breaking, and our plan is to run back north tomorrow morning.  If things go exactly according to plan (Ha!) we will run north for about 24 hours all the way to Mt Desert Island in Maine.  From there we will begin to work our way back south, exploring as we go.

Gloucester is a town in transition.  It is still very much a working fishing town.  For example, there really is a Gorton’s of Gloucester, and they really are based here. Commercial fishing boats of all sizes and shapes dominate the harbor. Gloucester also has a significant chunk of town dedicated to vacuuming money out of tourists wallets.

We did stop in the local fishing outfitter, and asked about fishing on our way north.  He said there were two likely fish we might encounter trolling offshore.  Bluefin tuna, “but you won’t land one of those on your tackle” or a mako shark.  Hmmm….

Photos from around Gloucester and Cape Ann:

 

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The Answer is: A Bizillion.

The question is…

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How many lobster pots are there in New England?  They are EVERYWHERE.  Other places we have been where buoyed fishing gear was common had rules, either formal or informal, that fishing gear was not placed in marked channels.  Here in Massachusetts no such arrangement exists. Pots are as likely in the middle of shipping channels as anywhere else.  We can sail through the pots without worrying about catching them, but we have pretty much decided that we will not be doing ANY motoring at night when we could wrap a line around the propeller.

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My first cod…

Today’s excitement was to get out fishing in some of the most productive fishing grounds in the world.  I picked a spot where a pile of rocks rose 100 feet above a gravel bottom at 200 feet.  In half a dozen drifts across  this very “fishy” looking feature, I caught a half dozen haddock, a 7 pound pollack, and a 10 pound cod.  Bouncing a pound of weight 100 feet under the boat, and pulling fish up from that depth left me pretty beat by the end of the day but our freezer is now full!

It was a perfect day for fishing.  There was enough wind to sail the 25 miles or so in the morning. As I approach my chosen spot the wind died to almost nothing making fishing easy.  Then just as I was ready to call it a day, the wind picked back up and we had a delightful sail back to Rockport.

Tonight we are back at anchor just outside the harbor of Rockport, Mass.  Tomorrow we will be in the harbor and taking a chance to explore a very picturesque place.

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Out, and In!

In very short order we had the boat out of the water, and back in again thanks to the staff at Beverly Port Marina.  We learned that the smallest Travelift that an Amel Super Maramu will fit in is a 35BFM.  It was a very tight fit but it worked.

Our primary reason for taking the boat out of the water was to get a new transducer installed for our sonar.  The existing one worked well for navigation purposes, but as a fishing tool it was very limiting.  So the new one is in place, wired up and working.  Hopefully giving us the additional information we need to target more fish!  Another reason for getting Harmonie out of the water was to scrub off the heavy accumulation of harbor scum we picked up during our time in Boston.  She was looking seriously unkempt–but all better now!

The marina was a little late getting started in the morning, and hence missed the tide height we needed to get in to the lift bay, and then had to wait until the afternoon tide. As a result, we didn’t get out of the water until 3:30 in the afternoon.  In the category of “stranger than fiction”, I told the marina staff that we would need four hours to complete what we needed to do on the boat.  They dropped us on the hard at 3:30, and we finished at 7:25.  I was impressed!  After spending the night on the boat sitting on land, we are floating again, so all is right with the world!

Tomorrow we will be working our way north again. It is supposed to be a calm couple of days that will make some good fishing on the offshore banks.  Hopefully an overnight trip and we can find some tuna, cod, pollack, etc.

We did load up with fuel while we were here, taking on 113 gallons.  That should last us most of the rest of the summer.

Our next scheduled port of call is Rockport, Massachusetts.

 

 

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