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. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bye-bye Block

Fisherman's pal waiting while a prize catch weighs in at 40 lbs.  Some in our crew thought she was visually more interesting than the fish.

Leaving Block Island in the A.M.

When the morning comes it'll be time to press on, hard as it is to leave. We've felt that way at every stop since Oyster Bay and yet each new port has been better than the last. That said, I think I'm an island person. There's just something about being on a tiny piece of land out in the middle of the ocean that feels wonderfully weird. The main industry on Block Island, Martha's Vinyard and Nantucket is tourism, hands down. Ferries come in two and three at a time, unloading armies of T-shirt buyers on a day trip. The Block Island Harbor has over 90 public mooring balls for visiting pleasure craft in addition to marinas for transients.  If, however,  you have a chance to get to Vinalhaven, Maine, an island about an hour and a half ferry ride from Rockport,  you'll experience a real, working island home of a thriving lobster industry. Yeah, you can get fudge and T-shirts, but there's only one motel and not much else. Maybe a couple of restaurants. About as un-Nantucket as an island in the U.S. can get, me thinks.  

Ah, but I digress from our trip.

We did a little touring today, enough for me to grab a couple blog photos. The rest of the time we hung out on the boat reading and in Skipper G's case, doing a couple projects. There is ALWAYS a boat project to be done. ALWAYS.  AlWAYS. ALWAYS.

Here's Richard in the Block Island hardware store:

Leo Oxburger said he and his wife, Mona, read a book "Sailing Down the Moonbeam" by Mary Gottschalk while they were cruising. Thanks to a good wi-fi connection, I downloaded it onto my Kindle app on the iPad and started reading. Whoa! The author acknowledged a couple of Des Moines friends for encouraging her writing, including Mary Kay Shanley and Diane Glass. I searched and found the author on Facebook and we have since struck up a 'conversation'.  I can't wait to finish her book, read her blog and get to know her in real time if possible. Any woman who writes in her  bio that she makes her living writing and speaking on topics such as career planning, adjusting to aging and 'the amazing things that can happen when you accept the fact that control is an illusion' has got to be a kindred spirit. Her first novel is due in 2013. I'm 30% into the Moonbeam book and right in the thick of their cruising angst. Hope it has a happy ending. 

It's great fun to hear from our readers. George Pattee says reading the blog reminds him of the Jimmy Buffet song, "Lovely Cruise." As it is. 

Here are some shots and videos of our last day on Block Island (for awhile):  Kid getting filthy in the sand, oars decorating a restaurant called (can you guess?) The Oars,  me after returning from a long kayak journey exploring places motor boats can't get into, and Richard featuring a pasta he made with basil, lobster, pine nuts, garlic etc. etc. 

This video drove Richard crazy when he realized I shot it while driving a moped. Click here:  Moped View

Many more sunsets.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

This is no deserted island

Dinghy dock, New Harbor, Block Island

[Click inside the text to see the full blog post. Lots of pix today]

There are planners and there are the spontaneous. Try as we might, we are the latter.

Perhaps it comes from being sailors. At some point, you just have to give up planning anything because the winds are ultimately in control.

Cruisers are dependent on a dinghy to get to town and then dependent upon whatever mode of transportation is available once you arrive on land.  Often, one must rely on the compassion of fellow cruisers with a car, as was the case with Jack and June, the marina managers in Mystic.

In Block Island there are a number of transportation choices: bikes, mopeds, taxis and foot. Before starting our day inland we spent a good 15 minutes discussing how we would get the groceries, rent mopeds, where we'd have lunch etc. and we actually developed a plan.

View of New Harbor

It's a delightful stroll from New Harbor to the main activities along the Atlantic coast side of the island, and we were on course for a good 25 minutes.  Then - uh oh - we came upon a Farmers Market in a small park!

All plans were quickly changed.

Block Island Saturday Farmers Market in the park


Napkins and placemats
Just about everything was very expensive: $7 jam, $8 for napkins, $5 for a loaf of bread...
Hand-knit sweater with form of Block Island
....and then I stumbled upon a woman hand-knitting sweaters for $55 (about what a sweatshirt sells for downtown). The image woven into the sweater is of the island. 

Next, mopeds and an exploration of this amazing island. Polly, our cab driver, said there were 211 bicycle  or moped accidents  on the island just last year.  We certainly understand why. She also says tourism is down considerably (could have fooled us!).  I asked another cab driver about real estate values. He said the $4 to $6 million dollar homes are selling quickly but not the $1 million.

Who would have thought we'd live to see the day when $1 million was considered an entry-level afixer-upper.

Varoom, varoom

Southeast Lighthouse
Finns Seafood Restaurant
Stairway to the top of Southeast Lighthouse
Spring Hill Inn

For more information about Block Island:

Follow Bel Sito by Email