Thursday, September 6, 2012

The End

Hamburg Cove, Connecticut River

It's time to say good-bye, for now.

Beth and Pat stay in touch with the office

After the skies cleared yesterday we left the dock in Essex and meandered a short way up the Connecticut River to Hamburg Cove, a lovely spot with plenty of mooring balls.

Richard and I have spent every night aboard Bel Sito since August 12 and it is now September 6. Turkey Point, MD; Cape May, Atlantic City and Sandy Hook,  New Jersey; Manhattan, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, New York; Mystic, Connecticut; Block Island, Rhode Island; Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, Massachusetts, then back down to Essex and finally, Mystic, Connecticut where Bel Sito will rest for several days before Andy brings her home.

We could go on. And on. And on.

Pat and I have been counting the hours until our arrival in Mystic because Richard promised to get us all the oysters we could eat during the Oyster Club Happy Hour. Captains' Treat.

Pat won, consuming five dozen. I was a close second with four.

We've witnessed a months worth of sunsets on the water and navigated a couple dozen new channels. We've had relatively calm seas and virtually no weather or boat dramas.

Bel Sito has traveled over 500 miles this trip and she's says she's just getting started.

We're listening.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Unexpected Surprise (guess that's redundant, huh?)

Essex, Connecticut

Cruising doesn't change you. It reveals you.*

The weather on this 25-day journey had been Chamber-of-Commerce perfect until we reached Essex. Fortunately, with radar at the touch of an iPhone, we had a good idea what to expect and that's why we picked this port. So the crew is having a couple of peaceful land days and Beth, in particular, made a huge discovery.

Traveling by boat  means the cruiser is dependent on foot once ashore.  The scope of the exploration territory is limited but one has a more in-depth view of things so you notice stuff you'd miss otherwise.

For example, the houses around downtown Essex have name plates naming the homes' first owner.

Friend and blog reader Marty Petty had encouraged us to stop in Essex, and we're grateful for the suggestion. She had been publisher of the Hartford Courant back in the day, and we've become pals since we first discovered we were Florida neighbors. Her husband, Mark Petty,  is a renowned photographer who shot a wedding on the Hepburn estate and the famous actress actually appeared straight from the garden.

Of Mice and Beth

But the happiest tourist to Essex in our group of four is Beth.

For years, she has been collecting mice. Not just any mice, but mice that cost more than an iPod Nano. She has so many of these things that her husband, Pat, built display cases that take up much of their second bedroom wall space.  We could retire on what these things are fetching on EBay these days.

As she walked down the main drag of Essex Beth spotted a faded circular sticker on the window of Gracie's Corner, a sprawling variety store with everything from magnetic bracelets to an entire section dedicated to pets.

And, drum roll, Wee Forest Folk, started by Annette Petersen in 1972  and now carried on by her sonWilly and daughter Donna Petersen (who know a good schtick when they see it).

Wee Forest Folk pieces are first created then the original is cast into white ware. There is a booklet describing the process, but for those of you hankering to know more about these collectables:

Turns out, Beth grew up in Concord, MA where founding mouse-maker Annette began the cottage industry. Beth was a high school classmate of Donna Petersen, Annette's daughter.

Beth has been collecting the Wee Forest Folk ever since she first discovered them in 1973.

I've not been much of a collector of small ceramic things or anything other than technology gadgets (so I have no room to talk about obsessive compulsive behavior) but I must admit, upon close examination of these little things, it is impressive to see the amount of detail in the little critters.

Photo from the company website

You know you're a cruiser....

You know you're a cruising woman when you have your hair cut so short you don't need a hairdryer.


* A tip of the visor to Michelle Obama for her line from her convention speech last night (The presidency doesn't change you; it reveals you). It's great to have XM radio on board and be able to listen to unfiltered audio of the proceedings on the POTUS station.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Change of Plans

The Connecticut River

As I said to a pal who has been following Bel Sito's progress on Marine Traffic  (an app that tracks vessels with AIS systems installed) in answer to his question as to what the heck we were doing in Essex, Ct:

Cruisers plan, but that's often all it ends up being. 

The plan for today was to go to Sag Harbor, until the 'committee' met to go over weather conditions etc. It was then decided we'd be better off sticking close to our ultimate destination (for this week anyway) which is our old marina in Mystic. That's where we will leave the boat for an indeterminate amount of time while we all go back into the real world for awhile. We'll come back toward the end of Sept. and bring her back down. Or have Andy bring her back down. All up in the air. 

The big excitement of the day was making it through 'the race', so called because the current races in and out of Long Island Sound whooshing back and forth in four-hour increments. It's a race.

Busted for going too fast in a 'no-wake' zone!


There's a phenomenon of the waterways that is the stuff of water-rage, something akin to road rage in a car. Only on the water, the boater who has been cut off or almost swamped by a bigger boat speeding by and coming close enough to create a big, rolling, wave aimed right at the broad side of the smaller vessel, is truly rage inducing. And  victims  often take to the VHF radio airwaves saying things they probably wouldn't say to the offender  face to face. 

Little Bel Sito gets her share of wakes, as she cruises between 7-10 kts and bigger boats often go roaring by. 

There seemed to be a bunch of these yo-yos today and so one of most gratifying shots of the day was of this guy getting busted. Hooray.

Essex, Connecticut

This is Katherine Hepburn's former estate. It's for sale. 

We're having a lovely time in old Essex, all nested into an actual slip with electricity and water. We read various restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor and ended up at a great old place called The Griswold (locals call it 'the Griz').

Richard, me, Beth and Pat

That's all for now. Might not blog tomorrow because we're going to PROBABLY be here another day. I'll do laundry. How boring is that?

You know you're a cruiser when you get excited about a nearby coin-operated laundry facility.

Here Come the Brides

Nantucket wedding

Here Come the Brides

Nantucket is a bucket list destination, a wedding destination and the ultimate destination for the worlds' elite. 

We were there for a destination wedding, and to the surprise of the bride and bride, apparently so did just about everyone they invited. We partied on the beach at sunset Thursday night, dined at one of Nantucket's finest restaurants Friday night, attended the wedding in  Nantucket's St. Paul's church and celebrated Melissa and Josie's  marriage at the most beautiful country club setting I have ever seen. Every detail was simply stunning. 

For those who God has joined together, let no man put asunder. 

I've attended commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples before but am thrilled to have lived to see the day when two people in love, committed to a life together, can be joined in holy matrimony if they so choose. 

Sitting in the pew, I thought about my grandfather and great grandfather, neither of whom I met. They were both Episcopal priests and my grandfather was rector of a church in Fitzburg, MA. He was on a committee that re-wrote the Common Book of Prayer and as family legend goes, it was my grandmother who insisted they remove the 'thou shalt obey' clause in the wedding ceremony. Surely, something so commonplace today  must have been quite radical at the time.

I would like to think they would be on the right side of this transformational time today, too.


The wedding and reception were the exclamation point of an incredible visit to Nantucket. We had time each day to explore the island and take in its personality. The downtown roads are still cobblestone and the homes and buildings ALL wear a gray-shingled uniform.  Even the local  pet hospital is a rambling, beautiful structure befitting animals of the extremely wealthy. As charming as Nantucket is, it is that very seaside character that draws extreme wealth. Do a Google search about Nantucket and you'll find stories upon stories of the monied names who summer here. If we lived here we'd be in the 1% on the bottom rung of the ladder. There was a 200' boat so big in the harbor that in addition to being tied to a dock it also had two huge anchors set ahead. Before the yacht moves, a diver is hired to go down and make sure the anchor chain doesn't get cross-wise or otherwise tangled.

There's much to appreciate about the island's charms, of course. The beaches, charming shops, dunes. I was also taken by the window boxes full of flowers and greenery on many of the downtown homes.

Nantucket Pet Hospital

Here we are at the wedding reception. That's the Atlantic Ocean off in the distance:

We were joined by our buddies Beth and Pat, who are now on board and great crew. There's an additional peace-of-mind that takes place when an extra couple sets of experienced hands are on board.

Weather is predicted to take a turn here by tomorrow so we got out of Nantucket early yesterday morning and made a long day run back to Block Island. We head to Sag Harbor this morning. Strike that. Guess we are heading to the Connecticut River.

The Surf Side Hotel, Block Island

I'm having a hard time getting a strong enough wireless signal to upload pictures...(takes over 10 minutes a photo!). When we get a faster one I'll upload some more pix. 

You know you're a cruiser when you don't know what day it is.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Nantucket Nuptials

Reflections will come tomorrow morning. This was one of the most deeply touching experiences of all time.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue Moon Over Nantucket

Don't suppose you can see this very well but it's the view of the  'blue moon' shinning down on Nantucket Island shot with my iPhone while waiting for the launch to take us back to the boat.

And oh, what an evening.

There are an average of 15 weddings a weekend in Nantucket so it makes sense that we got a 'save the date' notice for this one about a year ago because hotels and restaurants get booked far in advance.  Everything about this destination wedding weekend so far has been a once-in-a-blue moon kind of experience.  Tonight was the rehearsal dinner hosted by Melissa's sister.  All of the people we are meeting have been extraordinarily accomplished and interesting and our hosts and hostesses couldn't be more gracious.

Our friends Beth Newbold and her husband Pat Winkler joined us shortly after 1 p.m. today. They came in for the wedding and will be joining us for the next week aboard Bel Sito. Beth and Pat are very experienced boaters who not only own a 57' Tazwell sailboat which they've cruised from Maine to the Caribbean, but also joined the trawler world recently by buying a Menorquin 36'  which they've been cruising around Maine lately. I wondered how they'd feel about coming aboard yet another boat for yet another week, to which Pat said:

"Are you kidding? It's like asking if you can have too much garlic or cinnamon!"

Well said, Pat.

These two are great boat hands. Pat and Richard have already started playing around with the electronics, moved a table and discussed how to get the water flow meter working.

I'll get a better picture of Pat and Beth tomorrow

Ah, water.

So, last night I tried to turn on the water to wash dishes and nothing came out of the spigot.

No water. And no water in the heads, either. This could be really bad news.  Richard crawled down into the engine room area and checked the water pump. Visions of a Nantucket yard bill started dancing around in our heads.

But then we wondered: could we have run out of water?

It couldn't be that simple, could it?  That would be the equivalent of an I.T. person asking: 'Did you turn the power on?' when asked why the damnable machine isn't working.

Let's see. We filled the tanks in remember, we just got the boat in May and this is the longest cruise we've been on so we are learning as we go. Could we have gone through 190 gallons of water so soon? Nah. Could we? Maybe.

But nothing's really ever that simple, is it? We wouldn't know for sure until the next morning when we could move the boat to the water dock.

Richard obsessed about this all night long...he runs through all the options in his mind...and usually figures it must be a worst-case scenario (because it often is).

We got the boat to the dock, fingers crossed, and plunged the hose down into the tank and started filling. The minutes dragged on and on...and then, miracle of miracles, the water started streaming from the faucets.


So here begins an ongoing series I'm calling "You know you're a cruiser when___________"

For example, You know you're a cruiser when you get back to land and feel guilty for taking a long shower.

Or, you know you're a cruiser when someone uses the term 'head hunter' and your first thought is of the Nantucket Pump Out Boat.

Got the game? Cruisers, feel free to add your own.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nantucket. Oh Yeah!

Nantucket, oh yeah!

We have reached our destination...

Bel Sito's track from MV to Nantucket
Let the wedding festivities begin! The purpose of this cruise was to ultimately arrive in Nantucket for Labor Day weekend and the wedding of our friends Melissa and Josie. 
Josie Martin and Melissa Meyers

We made it.

Bel Sito left Oak Bluff Harbor in Martha's Vineyard  at 7:30 a.m. and we arrived in Nantucket Harbor by 10:50 a.m. A big current pushed us so our speed averaged about 10 kts. 

We've been living aboard this boat for 18 days and it seems like only yesterday we left our dock

in Annapolis. The boat 'lives well' with time as do we.

We've been to Nantucket just once before, coming over via ferry for one day, thus making us 'day trippers'. It was crowded and we weren't familiar with the island so didn't give this storied isle enough of a look see. We intend to remedy that this trip, starting with attending an amazing party on the Sconset beach complete with a raw bar, and other great appetizers.  There were seals fishing in the waters close to shore so we could see their heads bobbing in and out of the waves. I tried to shoot some video for you but you can't tell it's of a seal. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow.

Living in Annapolis, I've seen plenty of humongous yachts in the harbor but I have never seen so many packed in one place as there are here in Nantucket. Who owns these things?

Living aboard a 38' trawler like Bel Sito, I'll admit to having a bit of disdain for these multi-million dollar floating cities three and four times our size.

Imagine what these 'toys' cost their owners. And it's not the initial cost, which could be well over $40,000,000.  Think about the ongoing upkeep of paying a captain and crew, dockage...not to mention thousands to fill up the fuel tanks. Thousands. For a tank of gas!

This is also a mecca for old, classic wooden boats. We've already spotted a 70' Trumpy and an old Elco.  Great to watch, for sure, and I'm hoping to wend my way through the harbor in the kayak to get a closer look.

It's delightful to be able to be here to participate in one of the biggest days in a couples' life. We are honored to have been included and look forward to the festivities to come!

We're anchored off Brant Town Point and partied on the beach in' Sconset

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Community Sing in Oak Bluff

What did we do today? The pressure is really on with this blog-task.

Another lobster for lunch, putting clean laundry in drawers? Ack. How to make it interesting!?

Actually, the highlight for the day was meeting Chuck and Ginnie Hurley, owners of a Sabreline 36' and from Annapolis. We came real close to buying that make and model of trawler and if we hadn't found Bel Sito might very well be blogging right now from their sister ship. We still hope someone in our extended 'family' buys her. She's a real beauty:

Luck of the Irish

When we saw their boat pull in and take a mooring ball in Oak Bluff Harbor, we dinghyed over to say howdeedo. They've been on their boat since June so we had tons of questions, and much in common past and present.

They are full of information about cruising New England and beyond and we hope to duplicate some of their experiences.

Ah, what to do in Oak Bluff on a Wednesday night besides talk of anchorages and boat maintenance? Why go to the Methodist Tabernacle for the final all-camp sing of the season, of course! The Hurley's went with us and we all tried mightily to stand and sit and march our feet and salute and and and and, but we four novices were just not in sync with the regulars.

With the exception of 'Amazing Grace', 'Auld Lang Syne' and 'Good Night Irene', I didn't know any of the songs and it went on for over an hour.

Here's a video clip from the singathon:

I hope the link is live ( I'm filing this from the iPad blogger app, not the computer.

Anyway, that's all for now. All that singing has worn me out.

- Posted by Julie Gammack using BlogPress from my iPad

Martha's Vineyard and the GOP convention

This is the view from Gay Head, MA., uh wait, they changed the historic name to Aquinnah in 1998. The printed explanation for the name change is that the new name better reflects the American Indian population there.
Yeah, right.
Anyway, most locals still call it Gay Head, even though I couldn't find a souvenir coffee cup to prove it.

We arrived by tour bus, having eliminated the use of mopeds, bikes or a rental car. It is a big (100 sq mile) island, after all.
The trip was sold to us as a 2 1/2-hour guided tour which we concluded would be less stressful than our usual mode of touring plus, would be informative. Of course, once onboard the bus one is committed to that time block. Now, the tour guide's English is much, much better than my Russian and he should be applauded for learning the language so quickly, however we could only understand every fifth word or so.
I think he pointed out Atty. General Eric Holder's home, and said something about James Taylor and John Belushi, who is buried there. He used a pointer on a map at the front of the bus to show where we were.

I couldn't find T-shirts other than plain of Martha's Vineyard, but these signs might reflect the MV culture just as well.

I wish I knew more of my family history because I'm certain my uncle, Tom Gammack, roamed this island. At the time of his death (complications of the mumps) he was governor of the NY Stock Exchange and Joseph Kennedy's right-hand man. He was my fathers' oldest sibling and by all accounts the favorite son. I know very little otherwise, although friends published a book about him after he died and I've discovered some of his writings through Google Books searches. Oh the questions I would have of him today!

Ah, the cruisers life.

We made it back to Bel Sito in high winds, me drenched from sitting in front of the 8' dinghy, and settled in to catching what we could of the GOP convention via live stream on the iPad... The NYTimes ought to stick to what they do best: print (omg) but USA Today ran a decent stream. I am not supposed to make political commentary in this blog, but just let me say this:
I sure can't wait to see what Jon Stewart will do with clips of the Republicans 'dancing'!
Any political commentary that might creep into this blog is solely that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of the entire crew. But he can't dance either.

Off to Nantucket tomorrow!

- Posted by Julie Gammack using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, August 27, 2012

We're Island Hopping

Departing Block Island @7:30 a.m.

Our plan had been to leave Block Island at 8 a.m., but Richard took another look at the weather forecast and wanted to get a jump on the day. He was kind enough to say I could stay in bed and finish my first cup of coffee while he handled everything (he is THAT kinda guy) but team work is important so I jumped up and readied the mooring line for slipping as soon as he got to the upper helm (and I'm THAT kind of mate).  Yea us.

A successful cruising couple must be mutually supportive. Guess that's true on land, eh?

Here's what we monitor on Bel Sito's GPS see the dark icon with the red line going upward? That's Bel Sito and the course we are heading:

We were back in the rollers of the Atlantic Ocean. I love the motion at 1-2'...probably not much more, though. We kept a look out for whales and lobster pots. No whales, but lots of pots to dodge.

Here is a glorious site we came upon in the open water....a beautiful old schooner named Lynx. Richard gives his commentary describing what we are seeing in the video:

Click here to see a schooner underway by Martha's Vinyard

We made it into Oak Bluff Harbor of Martha's Vineyard, a 100 square mile island, and opted for a mooring ball instead of a slip (it's a bit quieter out here in the field). We ambled around this neck of the woods, scoping out a grocery store etc and revisiting the Methodist Camp Cottages, 

I'm usually curious about real estate when we visit places. Here's what $15,000,000 can buy you: 

$15m house on MV

Or, if the little gingerbread houses have any appeal, here's one for $320,000. 

Overview of Gingerbread House for sale

Six years ago we came to Martha's Vineyard over on the Edgartown side of the island aboard Alleluia, a 41.1' Bristol, with Eric and Shelley Rubin, then returned to Annapolis with Drew and Margaret Davis. We had to contend with storms and all kinds of problems associated with fog and not having operational radar, let alone AIS, on that voyage to and from Annapolis. 

Wonder how Martha's Vineyard got the name? Wonder what movies have been filmed here? Wonder what celebrities have lived here? All of this is answered and more in the Wikipedia entry for Martha's Vineyard. Interesting stuff:'s_Vineyard

Bel Sito in Oak Bluff Harbor, Martha's Vineyard. Many more sunsets. 

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