We have come full circle

After a nice meal and perfect sail into the sunset along the Cape Cod coast, we were able to sail close-hauled to Nahant (Immigrations agreed to meet us there instead of Marblehead or Gloucester).
Finishing our two year loop around the Northern Atlantic couldn’t have been a nicer sail: lots and lots of stars, beautiful sunrise, blue skies, calm sees and a perfect breeze brought it all together nicely.

Foulies and hats were replaced by t-shirts and shorts, Boston’s skyline rose behind the horizon long before we could see Nahant, the drone came out for a last spin over the ocean and familiar sites, like Graves Lighthouse (now sandblasted and looking slightly different), Egg Rock or East Point, came into sight.
We tied up on our mooring, packed, cleaned the boat, had breakfast and then headed to the dock to meet families and friends as well as the friendly Immigrations office that checked us into the US.
Of course Peter Koslowski had not forgotten about us and we enjoyed his donuts (that he could not deliver on the ocean because of equipment failure).
We were proud to have completed this adventure and large team effort.
After unloading a few tons of spare parts, tools, food, sails, scubz gear and clothes, Tioga’s waterline appeared above the water again.
We all went home, unpacked, had a shower and then got together at the Nahant Dory Club to round off the day.

A big thanks to all the spouse that let us sail this and all the previous legs!!

The Pilgrim Monument

Our final full day aboard Tioga. We woke to a misty morning with brisk winds, spits of rain and overcast sky’s. An early visit by a pod of dolphins got Josh to the bow to welcome them with whoops of joy. His theory is if you don’t show appreciation, they wont stay long. This pod did hang with us for about 15 minutes. The temps were on the cool side and the Tioga crew were in full foulies to keep out the cold. We had a few more visits from dolphins and late in the day we felt as if we were on a whale watch. Breaching whales and many plumes from their blow holes kept the crew busy. We learned that one particular whale must suffer from Halitosis from the smell of its plume. We saw the coast of Cape Cod around 6pm letting us know our journey will soon come to an end. Almost 2 years ago the last visible beacon of coastal US was the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown Massachusetts, we now await seeing this beacon light up the night sky for Tioga’s return. The crew has mixed emotions on the final leg of this great adventure covering more then 12,000 miles at sea. The sadness of our great adventure coming to an end and the joy of a mission completed and current crew being reunited with their loved ones. A great many thanks to Captain Philip for providing us with this amazing opportunity and we can’t wait to join him on his next great voyage.

The crew on its way back to the US

The crew on its way back to the US

Welcome to the Dark Side

Another day aboard the good ship Tioga! As the crew speeds north towards home, we increased our speed in finishing the excess in food we have on board. Bacon, egg, and cheese on bagels to start the day right. We had to motor due to lack of wind, which gave a few on board a chance to take a swim in the middle of the Atlantic. Another bucket list item checked off. Lunch consisted of chili and rib eye steak washed down with a few cold beers. The afternoon was spent hanging out in the cockpit telling stories and laughing the afternoon away. The Captain, in an unusual move, requested a late afternoon dark and stormy and no one on the crew dared question his authority – he claims he’s just trying to clear inventory! Next up – chicken korma and rice for dinner. Breaking bread together at sea is a special time for the crew and a long standing Tioga tradition – food for your body and your soul. Did we mention we ate a lot today. The wind freshened and we are under full sail as we ra
ce towards the sunset. The seas are relatively flat and from behind – fair winds and following seas! We were visited by 2 pods of dolphins and a few giant sunfish – all in all a good day!
For us there is no darkness in the Dark Side just the dark waters north of the Gulf Steam. These are our home waters – we know we’re headed home.

Blister Pops

The morning started a bit noisily with the sounds of luffing sails and splashing water. Topsides Dave and John had watched two downpours connect and blast the boat with torrential rain, confused seas, and lots of wind. Quickly the mainsail was doused and reasonable order restored. The skies were still cloudy by the time the sun rose but soon the clouds burned off and another lovely days was upon us.
The wind was moderate and from a friendly direction and we steamed towards the Gulf Stream 12 hours away. First we shook out the mainsail reefs and eventually put up the gennaker (AKA blister)to make good speed. The winds gradually increased and just before we decided it was too much wind for the gennaker, the sail decided for us and ripped right up the middle. Procrastination never pays.
The genny was soon out and we continued on on this beautiful day. As we entered the Gulf Stream the wind was brisk and seas fairly flat. Sunset was spectacular and greeted by our cameras. As Dan served up his Amish meatloaf a pod of dolphins paid us a brief visit. Now we are pulling in the fishing gear, knowing all the fish are still safe, and heading into the darkness towards the cooler waters on the other side of the Stream.

We are not on autopilot

A beautiful sunrise followed the amazing star gazing night and we continued our way up north under gennaker. Like yesterday it quickly became hot and we rigged the sunshade again.
A pod of dolphins visited us briefly and we were still surprised to see so many Portuguese Men of War all around us. We again resisted the temptation to catch one of the very poisonous buggars.
Anyways, we needed another distraction and started to play with the Aries windvane. Step one was to get the rudder in the water, which at 6kn speed is a quite interesting undertaking. Josh put his harness on and climbed over the rail onto the windvane and under the solar panel. Quite a move in itself. It became more interesting when he slipped and fell in the water. You can read if he made back on board in tomorrow’s post…..

Just kidding, of course he was able to climb back onto the windvane after we had slowed Tioga down and we moved on from there. Unfortunately, the two hours that Josh and John invested did not result in much success as we are still hand steering the boat.

In the afternoon the wind picked up as expected. We dropped the gennaker, unfurled the genoa and finally found the eddy that pushed us north with about 1kn of current.
Another perfect sailing day went buy and we are now enjoying the strong phosphoresence (the sparks of the ocean-going rocketship) and more stars. With 7-8kn speed over ground we expect to get to Gulf stream tomorrow afternoon.

Day 1 – the formal way to check out of country

We had a few items to do in the morning, checking out of customs, breakfast, last minute shopping, and retrieving the genoa from the sail repair shop. When we stopped to get breakfast the place was pretty crowded and we were seated with a local cricket legend, Leroy “Tubby” Richardson. Mr. Richardson will soon celebrate his 96th birthday. He filled us in on all the people in his small pocket photo album. When we mentioned how we are sailing back to the US, Mr. Richardson just said, “I’m a land rover”. Our errands complete we left the safe confines of St George’s Harbor around 11:30am to clear skys and gentle winds. The crew and boat are well prepared. We set the gennker and main and sailed lazily along. The sun became pretty hot and we set the fly to keep us our of the sun. Some of the crew took naps to get prepared for the upcoming night watches. An afternoon rain shower didn’t do much to cool us down. Dan prepared a delicious meal of salmon and steak with rice and salad
. We opened a nice bottle of Riojas to wash it down. The sun is setting, lifejackets are on, watch schedule has been reviewed and the Tioga crew is set for the first of the overnight sails. The sky is clear and we anticipate a carpet of stars to keep the crew busy looking for constellations and possible satellites.
As for our title, during our first sail to Bermuda in 2008 we were greeted by 2 young friendly customs agents. That added with a little rum set Dave to ask a simple request to have the official stamp “Entrance by Sea”stamped on his bald head. So to formally check out today, no rum needed, Dave once again stuck his head through the hole in the glass at the customs office and had his head stamped “Departure By Sea”!

The Majestic J-Class boats and a peculiar smell

Today half the crew went ashore early to get some actual work done. The remaining grew became concerned with a smell in the aft cabin. Was it hydrogen sulfide, plain old hydrogen, or hygiene. We were concerned that the batteries was giving off some gases that could mean we have faulty batteries. There was also a smell from the bilde pump out – were the two associated or just coincidence? A call to Don and Wally (McMackin Engineering’s finest) and the Balmar company put on the right track. After some testing and calibration we were satisfied we corrected any issues. Our new scent was more on
the lines of mountain fresh!
We left the comfortable confines of Grotto Bay and sailed out to catch the majestic J Boat races. The classics raced outside the harbor, but inside the reef. The classics are every bit as beautiful as when the robber barons and captains of industry raced them in the 1930s. This is thought to be the first time that 7 J class boats raced together. We sailed along the course and were able to see them round a mark and set their colorful spinnackers for the down wind leg. After the race we sailed for St. Georges Harbor where will make final preparations for the sail north to Nahant. Coral heads and shallows made for an interesting beat up the narrow channel.
We settled in for a few cold drinks and a swim then headed into town for a last great meal on terra firma. The wait for a table was long but was well worth the wait as we indulged in Wahoo and black grouper. We discuss our plans for the following morning with separate teams collecting the genoa at the sail repair shop, final groceries, and checking out at the customs office. The weather window looks promising and the crew is eager to cast off tomorrow.