The year of 2011 is at an end

December 26, 2011

What a year this was!! We followed our Loop path by truck, we got to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry, we got to Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam, we had boaters that were doing the Down East Loop visit this summer, we had friends that we met on the Loop in 08 – 09 come for a visit.

Our book is now available on the ipad!! So cool and waaayyyy cheaper, still get it from Blurb (link on side of page).

Mary Beth hosted a radio program with AGLCA about doing the Loop from a womans point of view, and we got a new truck. WOW, we had an incredible year.

On a sadder note, we lost Mary Beth’s father but will have wonderful memories.

Mary Beth has learned to cook on the truck, and does a grand job of it, check the photo.

Hennepin, the Statue, the bridge, Benton Harbor and the rest brought back some memories, remember the blog (it still there on the sidebar)

Charlie and Bonnie Burke did the downeast Loop this year, and stopped in for a visit and some fresh Lobster. It so happened we were having a family reunion at the time, so a lot of fun was had by all!! Ever seen a clam’s tongue, wow, was it ever big. We learned how to draw it out.

Took a truck trip to Vegas, visited the casino (no one told me no pictures!!), tried my luck at craps, visited the Hoover Dam, went for a helicopter ride, drove through Colorado and some incredible mountains. Picked up a reload in Los Angeles. Was amazed by the brochures of “White Water Rafting on the Colorado”, turns out it was little more than a creek where we saw them doing this, but I’m sure it was fun enough!!

Linda Redman (remember Ron and Linda from St. Augusting and Skull Creek? If not, you need to read the Loop postings again 😉 came for a visit. We stayed with her and visited when we went to South Carolina, and she came to visit us on PEI this summer. MBA and Linda did the tourist thing here, and had a lot of fun, then mussels and lobster for dinner, and of course, Anne of Green Gables and a show at the College of Piping.

Colin and Pat (Lady Margaret) came for a visit, and we had a great time!! Learned about the French Naval Ensign, it’s a white flag. Can you imagine running around in a warship with a pure white flag flying in times of trouble?? Go figure.

We stop in and see Colin and Pat when we go through Hamilton, so it was a real treat to see them here. They are finished cruising, and have sold ‘Lady Margaret’ to someone on the East Coast, perhaps we’ll hail her one day while sailing.

We arrived in Dallas Texas for a trip this year, we saw a beautiful rainbow (reminded us of our “Pot ‘O’ Gold”, and we got a new truck, so we are committed to running the roads for a few more years.

When we met with the owner of the company we drive for last July to discuss our new truck, I overheard him coming up the stairs explaining to someone he had come over to meet with “Mary Beth and whatshisface”.

That’s why there is the picture of MBA and Ted Fleming (the owner) with the new truck. I’m sure if it was just me I would still be in a fleet truck!

One sidenote, while MBA was home playing ‘grandma’, I stopped to visit my nieces and family in Chatham and somehow got coerced into a tree climbing contest with my 15 year old niece. I WON!! See how I got to the top?? Of course, I cracked two ribs and bloodied my legs coming down. No alcohol involved that day!!!

The last picture is our first blizzard of 2011, winter is starting, which brings us closer to next summer.

Hope everyone has a wonderful 2012, stay safe, think of us when you see a big truck, and for goodness sakes, LEARN HOW TO MERGE if you don’t already know.

Love Joe & Mary Beth Amelia
S/V “Pot ‘O’ Gold”

Trip Completed

June 19, 2009

At 12:15 on June 17, 2009, N46 07.86’ W063 06.43’ the S/V “Pot ‘O’ Gold” crossed her own wake in Hillsborough Bay, at Charlottetown, PEI, and both Mary Beth and Joe Amelia were still aboard.

After plugging into a heater at Port Hawksbury for a couple days, it was a gentle sail back to PEI, Georges Bay and the Northumberland Strait were unusually quiet, with a 10 knot S wind, making for a fabulous sail, and ending to our trip.  We anchored for the night at Woods Island, beside the Holiday Island Ferry, then another sail to Charlottetown, where we are tied up at a dock to unload the boat, I will then sail one more trip to Souris where the sturdy old “Pot ‘o’ Gold” will go on the hard and over the next few years will make her ready for another voyage to ?????????????????

This trip has taught us a lot about people, a lot about our family, and a lot about ourselves.

Jim Angel (“Blue Angel”) says it best, “Life’s journey is not to arrive safely at the grave in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting “holy cow……..what a ride!”

We completed approximately 130 locks, including this last, last one in Nova Scotia.  We went under something like 600 bridges.  We did 7 overnight sails including one double overnighter, all in the open Ocean.

We anchored on the Mississippi River in a 5 knot current.

We travelled 6,354.3 Nautical Miles (that’s 7312.3 Statute Miles for you landlubbers) in 1479 hours.

We spend 87 nights on mooring balls, 38 nights at free docks, 92 nights at anchor, 15 nights  tied up at locks, 113 nights in marinas, 28 nights in Drummond Island in our tree house, and 7 nights sailing.

There were too many highlights to list them all, and with each action that we do for the next year or so, a memory will come back of our trip.  When we pick up a magazine and read an article, a memory comes back.  And each conversation we have brings back a story.  Each and every memory and story involves a person we met on the Loop, with all but one being a wondrous event that we will remember always.

To everyone we met on the Loop (and extra to those special folks to us, you know who you are), THANK YOU!!  The trip would not have been the same without you.

To the AGLCA, without whom we would not have been kept updated of all the events and issues on the Loop (and who certified us official “River Rats” due to Ike), THANK YOU.

To the Canadian Power Squadron, where both MB and I completed our Boating Course over a winter, and I completed the Piloting Course, VHF operators certificate, and weather course, then printed two articles in their national magazine, “the Porthole”, which makes me an author, THANK YOU!

To my SPOT watchers, Karen Harding, Mike Amelia, Peg Gallant, and Jim Thompson, which gave us a degree of comfort, especially on overnight sails, knowing we were being watched, THANK YOU!

To all those who followed and read each blog posting, and made the blog fun to write and keep up, THANK YOU!

To Colin and Pat Hay (“Lady Margaret”), you are special folks to us, and we hope to stay in touch forever,  THANK YOU!

To all those who said I was going to die at sea, or be boarded and marooned by Pirates, or sink to a rocky death, I say BALDERDASH!  I’m still alive, and will remain so.

This trip will provide us memories and stories for a lifetime, and we will read our blog with fondness forever.

Still yet to come:  MB’s daily journal.  MB kept a daily journal, much more detailed than my “Captain’s Log”, and she will be typing it out, funny, when I read her journal; the stories don’t always match my own.

For now, the land doesn’t sway right, everywhere I look there are people, neighbors and dogs.  The grass needs cutting, there are way too many rooms in this house, and there is no wind generator to hum me to sleep.

Joe & Mary Beth Amelia
S/V “Pot ‘O’ Gold”

More Experiences

June 15, 2009

We stayed in Shelburne for a day while it rained; we got showers, filled our tanks, and slept.  After leaving fairly early in the morning, the fog set in.  Thick, murky fog where you can see nothing.  Out comes the radar, and hopefully, the experience we have using it on slightly foggy days will pay off.  It did, the radar worked great and we could see buoys, land,  and boats on the radar, we could see our course on the chartplotter, so we were running blind, but on electronics, very cool.

It was still cold, 40’s and low 50’s we had four layers of clothes on, then after it started to rain (of course), the fifth waterproof layer went on.  At least mine did, that’s when MB declared she was going to stay inside, all warm and toasty.

Due to the fog, we decided it would be just as simple to run all night as try and work our way in to settle for the night, we decided to continue on.  We stuck to our 3 hour shifts as we have prior, and had an uneventful night.  Friday we found a port in Jeddore, NS that the cruising guide said had a government wharf that we could tie up to.  We both wanted to get off the boat, go for a walk even though it was still raining, and thick fog.  We worked our way in, the only wharf we could find was full of shrimp boats that were too huge for us to raft with, so we anchored.  It took a few tries for the anchor to set, seemed like a very rocky bottom, so I put out all 100 feet of chain.

In the morning, the fog lifted hallelujah!!  It was still cold, with a dark sky, but we could see.  When we left early, we saw the rocks we had worked our way around.  They were huge, and some unmarked with buoys or lights.  We had a good track loaded in the plotter.

We have seen a lot of crab pots on this trip, but very few on the Nova Scotia Coast, we have stayed out in deep water where they don’t go.  About two hours out, for the first time ever, I snagged a crab pot.  I realized I did because the boat slowed from 5.5 knots to 3 all of a sudden.  I was able to get the line out of the water and cut it, which released the pot, but the line and buoy was tangled in my prop.  I quickly tried putting in reverse, to release it, but no luck, it was fouled.

Friends of ours (Pat and Colin ‘Lady Margaret’) tangled with a pot in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pat went for a swim and cut the line off the prop, I remember she sent me pictures (of  course, the water in the Gulf was in the seventies).  They have many, many more years experience with these things than I do, so if they had to swim to cut it loose, that would be my only solution, I decided.

I went through my Red Cross books to see safe water temperatures to swim in for any length of time, and couldn’t find anything).  After donning my swimsuit and putting my foot in the water (temp was 49.9 degrees, this is the North Atlantic), I decided I better find out for sure.  I radioed the Canada Coast Guard and put the question to them.  They agreed it was not possible without a wet suit (which I didn’t have, but was going to buy one in the Key’s, but it was a cute little one with no legs or arms, so would have been useless anyway), and offered to send a Coast Guard Cutter with a diver to cut the lines.  Wonderful to be back in Canada!

Another sailor, ‘MS B HAVEN’ heard the conversation and was fairly close to us, and offered me the use of their wet suit.  Too cold for me to go in, but you’re welcome to the use of the suit.  I accepted it, and in I went.  I managed to cut the line, had to cut it in three places, it was really wrapped, but off it was.  I cannot possibly believe how cold that water was.  My hands and face were not covered, and felt like they were frozen solid.  With the wet suit, my body stayed comfortable (not warm), but kept the body warm and safe.  I am not sure how long this would last, but they for sure work.

I notified the CCG that the line was removed, and the Diver would not be necessary.  He was happy for us, we were happy for us, we returned the wet suit, and continued on our way.  Another experience.

Since we never went ashore at Jeddore, I did not have enough fuel to get us to Port Hawksbury, our next intended Port.  Tonight we had good (variable) winds to 25 knots, but from the right direction, so we decided to sail for the night again.  MB would not take her duty roster when the time came, not unless I turned on the motor, so I had a long night, but sail we did.  Later in the morning, the wind died, I was now comfortable with the gas, so I got some rest.

The sun came out (no, it’s not warm, still in the 50’s, but we saw the sun), the fog was gone, and it was a nice sail.  In Chedebucto Bay, on our way to the marina, the fog came back, hard.  Out came the radar again, although it’s not as much help in a canal, it did provide assistance.  I called for other boats in the canal on the VHF, and with no response, I figured there was no one there.  Once we got inland a couple miles, the fog let up, and we could see again.
We passed the Port Hawksbury Paper Mill, I go here in my truck to load when driving, and this is the view from the water! 

We next went to the Port Hawksbury Yacht Club, a favorite stop for cruisers from PEI to the Bras D’Or Lakes or Halifax.  They are under severe construction right now.  No laundry, no fuel, no Wi-Fi, no electricity (the whole reason we came in, for the heater) and no building.  I doubt it will be re-constructed this year.

The folks there attempted to be very helpful, and drove us to fill our jerry cans.  They offered to drive MB to a laundry and grocery store, but when she tried to take them up on it, there was nothing available.  We walked.  They ran long extension cords so we could plug in the heater.  They use a “borrowed” building, a short walk away that has a washroom and a shower, so facilities can be found, so they go out of their way to be helpful, it’s just inconvenient.  Hopefully, they will arrive at a better solution before the rest of the cruiser’s come through.  It would be a shame to lose this stop.

This ends our Nova Scotia Leg of the journey; we are about two sailing days from home with good weather.

Hopefully, weather will warm up soon.  We heard they are calling for warm, sunny weather today, I hope so.  We are going for a walk, see the town, and will leave tomorrow to do our last, last, lock (this must be close to 150, I lost count).

Love to everyone,
Joe & MB  S/V “Pot ‘O’ Gold”

It’s COLD in Canada

June 10, 2009

We left Cape Cod (Onset) at 05:00 to travel the Canal with the current, and made good time through   the Canal and across Cape Cod Bay, then headed out into the Ocean.  Lots of fishermen in the Canal, not sure I would eat the fish they caught, but apparently they did.

Before leaving, we double and triple checked our weather for the next 48 hours, we filed our sail plan with the Canadian Coast Guard, and we notified each member of our SPOT team over the phone that we were leaving.  The longest MB and I have ever gone is overnight, and we are always exhausted after an overnight trip; this leg requires two nights, and two and a half days.  We spoke at length with cruisers who have travelled 13 days and nights in a boat our size, and after combining all the stories, the best solution for us would be 3 hour shifts, with radar and plotter left turned on, and the person on duty could go below and rest for a maximum of 10 minutes with an egg timer held in hand.  (Thanks ‘Solution’ for that suggestion).

When MB was on duty, she sat at the helm with eyes wide open, staring at the electronics, compass, and water.  When I was on duty, I would get up every 10 minutes, look around, then crawl back under my blankey and hold my egg timer.

In Cape Cod Bay, there were hundreds of boats whale watching, when a whale stuck his head up, a hundred boats would roar over to that spot, and the whale disappeared.  We saw some, but they didn’t stay up.  One hundred miles off the coast of Provincetown, about six Right Whales came up and gave me a private show, absolutely fascinating.  They are like Dolphins, hard to get a picture of but amazing to watch.  I did manage to get a video of part of the show, check out the sidebar under “videos”.

We’ve all heard the saying “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight…………etc”, well, look at this night sky offshore.

A hundred miles offshore, there were also birds.  One large one, looked like some type of eagle, flew by the boat, turned around and came back and flew around the top of the mast, looked like he wanted to land and rest, but when he saw the windicator spinning and the anmeter whirring, decided to turn around and resume course.  There were seagulls, and lots of small birds, MB thought they were ‘Sooty Terns’ but I can’t verify that.  They are a long way from shore.  Remember from the Dry Tortugas, the young Sooty Tern flies 5,000 miles and never touches ground.

We had a full moon with cloud cover both nights, but when it came out, the sight was fabulous.  Wind was light, and although the sails were out, we needed the engine running to get the 5 knots we required.

As we approached the Canadian line, the sky changed from the New England cloud and rain, and was clear, sunny, and still yet colder.

We arrived at Shelburne just as the wind was becoming nasty, we docked, called and cleared customs (had to wait while they drove 2 ½ hours to arrive), they were very courteous, professional, thorough, and unlike US Coast Guard boarding’s, they were friendly.  So friendly that my first mate broke my rule of “offer nothing unless they ask” and when they appeared finished without going over our list of goods, MB said “here is a list of goods we have on board”.  They smiled at her and said they liked her, and then both flashed me a dirty look.  We had a good time, and removed our yellow quarantine flag.

Now we sit in Shelburne and wait for the winds to die, and get the North out of the forecast, and we will probably do an overnighter past Halifax and head straight to the Canso Causeway, then home.

WOW, can you believe all this?  Not sure I do yet.

Love to everyone,

Joe & Mary Beth Amelia
S/V “Pot ‘O’ Gold”

Take what you can, give nothing back

June 5, 2009

I saw that in a Pirate movie, the saying had to come from New England marinas.

After leaving New York we entered a part of the country that has no relation in dollars to the rest of North America.  We thought it would be nice to stay at a marina in Long Island Sound, so MB phoned for pricing, and it was more expensive to stay in a slip for one night here than for a month in St. Petersburg, FL.  When we said we would anchor and bring our dingy in, they said it would be a $10 charge, when we agreed, they said that was PER HOUR.

We belong to a group called the American Great Loop Cruisers Association, so that makes us Loopers (not Loopy), and I sent an email to the group asking for suggestions.  We were overwhelmed with help. 

We stopped in Port Washington and anchored, then took a dingy into the (free) town dock.  We stocked up on provisions and fuel, had a great Mediterranean lunch, then went to Port Jefferson where the marina said we could take our dingy for $12 per hour, no showers or facilities (go to the bathroom before  coming ashore, says he), MB called the town docks and they wanted more!  She sweet talked them into letting us dock for free, and they even threw in showers!

We met up with Bob, Ginny, and George, from “Time Out” (remember them from Beaufort, SC), they gave us a tour around Port Jefferson, and took us to dinner, what a grand time we had, thanks guys!

When we sent our letter out requesting reasonable spots in New England, a couple from New London responded, they are Loopers, their boat is currently under repair and their dock was unused, so they offered it to us for a day or two, we accepted, met them, they gave us a tour, saw the submarine wall of honor, and had a great time.  Phil and Vicki (‘Mid Life Madness’) were absolutely incredible folks who we were proud to meet.  Vicki made a mean lasagna, we missed her birthday party by a day, I hope they had a great time, thanks so much!

Then Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Buzzard’s Bay, Cape Cod, WOW, the history, the fishermen, the boats, you can feel the excitement in the air.  We are early, so the mooring fields are empty, the touristy stuff hasn’t started yet, and it’s cool in the air.

Again boarded by the Coast Guard, here they are more interested in Customs and Homeland Security than safety, they never did check our safety equipment, just our entrance decals and our passports.  Once again, they were professional,pleasant, and thorough.

We are in Onset, at a mooring field, one that is actually affordable and provides facilities, waiting for our weather window to head out for a 48 hour sail to Nova Scotia, and that won’t be for a couple days, so we’ll be sightseeing, visiting antique shops, restaurants, and meeting folks.

I phoned the trucking company I worked for today, and apparently I still have a job when I get back, so that’s good news (or sad, depending on your point of view)!  MB called and made doctors and dentist appointments today as well, so it looks like we are truly almost home, and our adventure is coming to a close.  However, it’s not over yet, we still have a couple weeks of sailing, adventure, and apparently there are lots of Right Whales in Cape Cod Bay, so there will be more photos yet.

MB no longer blows her conch at night, Michael McLeod and Jimmy Buffet just doesn’t sound the same when the temperature goes into the 50’s at night, hopefully summer will actually get here!

Love to everyone, and a special thanks to Loopers for making Long Island Sound to Cape Cod enjoyable for us!

Joe & Mary Beth Amelia
S/V “Pot ‘O’ Gold”