Sunday, September 5, 2010

8/29- MacDougall Pond to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland

Ann writes:

We left just before 8 am. It was clear and calm, another sunny day with only high cirrus clouds, but hurricane Earl is due to land in New England next Saturday.  A bald eagle was perched in an evergreen bidding us farewell as we passed through the narrow exit in the breakwater.

Beyond point North and Money Point, we had about 6kts TWS.  We saw 3 pilot whales then another off this coastline.  This time I saw their flukes as they dove upon our approach into 405ft. of water.  They resurfaced in our wake, but too far away for a photo.  By 10:45 we were abeam of St. Paul Island.

Shortly afterward, I saw a Northern Gannet dive and it seemed to set off an explosion in the water.  We later realized that this splashing and thrashing was caused by tuna when we saw a few go flying into the air.  We saw this happen several more times throughout the trip.  

During one of these sightings, I asked Jon to stop the motor entirely hoping to get closer.  The tuna didn't resurface, but Anomaly was moving along fairly easily in only 7 knots of wind.  Jon was reluctant to put all the work into raising the spinnaker because the last time he'd tried, he'd gotten it all rigged, but the wind changed.  This time, the wind stayed steady, and we had a wonderful sail all the way to Port aux Basques.  The only concern was some small tree limbs that whacked us; there were some really big deadheads and something that looked like a sheet of plywood going by that kept us on our toes, although I couldn't help dozing off as usual.
Channel Head Lighthouse

After some confusion as to whether recreational craft are supposed to call the Port aux Basques traffic authority (she said it was voluntary), we entered the harbor around 6:30.  It seemed later because it had darkened due to some low clouds.  We chose the lower, floating public dock and tied up on the end.  Some locals were watching curiously, and Jon checked with them to make sure we wouldn't be bothering anyone.  It was a lot easier dealing with this dock that the huge regular pier, where you have to climb up vertical ladders when the tide is out, an expected range of 6 feet or more. 

I guess we looked confused on land because one of the fellows insisted on driving us to the Harbour View restaurant.  I made the mistake of ordering (frozen) clam strips.  Jon had a nice pan-fried Cod and his partridgeberry pie was redder and tangier than my blueberry pie.  I didn't try to ask the ditzy waitress what Cod tongues are. 

There is a iittle building labeled Harbor authority that had washrooms with showers and also a laundry room.  There were coin-op. boxes in both washrooms, but it turned out Jon had to put in 2 quarters for his shower, but mine was free.  I think they just don't have it all hooked up in the Ladies yet. 

Jon writes:

We waited until 8 AM to leave MacDougall pond, when the tide was predicted to have risen to the same stage as when we entered. However it had not, and over the shoal that had been 7.9 feet the evening before we read 6.3 - should be touching the bottom! However we were assured it was soft mud and if we touched we could not tell. Exiting the channel, we motored towards St. Paul Island and Newfoundland beyond, with 5 knots of wind on the starboard quarter. Before lunch I mentioned to Ann that this should be ideal spinnaker conditions and she said "why don't you put it up then?" so I did. 
'Anomaly' on a spinnaker reach
Under the right conditions 'Anomaly' will sail faster than the wind. These were the right conditions! With main, mizzen, and spinnaker set (2200 square feet of sail area) we sailed northeast at 6.5 - 7.5 knots in just 5.5 - 6.5 knots of south wing. The true wind direction was 120 degrees off the starboard bow, but combined with the wind we are making by our forward motion, the wind felt on the boat was only at 64 degrees off the bow, and I set the autopilot to steer to that angle. For 5 hours we sailed that way, flat water, good boat speed, light wind, sun shining, autopilot steering; striking the spinnaker only to prepare for entering Port aux Basque harbor. A very nice afternoon of sailing.
Sailing faster than the wind
We have the ideal handicapped crew position about 'Anomaly'. Normally a spinnaker is trimmed by constantly watching the windward edge of the sail up towards the top. When you see it begin to curl, you trim in on the sheet (or the helmsman steers further downwind). On 'Anomaly', the 1000 sq ft spinnaker - a showcase of the sailmaker's art - is nearly entirely hidden by the 1000 sq ft mainsail and the spectacle can only be enjoyed by those off the boat. The part normally observed in order to trim is completely hidden from anyone in the cockpit. So the position of spinnaker trimmer on 'Anomaly' could as easily be done by a sightless person as anyone else. It must be trimmed by feel and sound. You can feel it shuddering and hear the report of it refilling, telling you it wants trimming.
View of the spinnaker from the helm - 'nada'!
In Port aux Basque we tied to the public dock, and I talked to two fisherman who watched us come it. I say "talked to", but we did not have a common language: they spoke Newfoundland dialect, the older of the two was almost incomprehensible to me. I found myself nodding and smiling when he said something, just as I would if he had spoken Greek. This would become a common occurrence in Newfoundland. The dialect is more obscure than any I have heard in Britain or Ireland. 

'Anomaly' is currently lying Harbor Breton, Newfoundland, Canada

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