When we left Florida it was 86 degrees.....
As the clouds parted and we could see the ground, I noticed numerous patches of white on the ground. It's been many years since I lived in Maine, but the stuff on the ground looked suspiciously like snow. The closer we got to the ground, the more apparent it became. We were landing in a late-season snow storm. Thirty-five years in the Sunshine State hadn't erased the memory of what it was like. Whenever I open the freezer to get some ice for the blender, I remember. I stick my head inside and breathe in the cold, crisp air........ahhh, it's refreshing.....for about five seconds. I am amazed that people actually live in these conditions (and even worse) for months at a time.
We were in New England to pick up a new (1999) Maine Cat 30 and sail it back to Florida. I have been sailing catamarans for almost 30 years, but this will be the first time sailing in brutally cold conditions. To me, sailing has always been associated with warm Florida winters and scorching hot summers. Several trips up the east coast as far north as Lake Champlain had all taken place in the summer months. The idea of sailing in layer upon layer of sweaters and heavy coats, hats, and ear muffs was totally alien.
Owner Sid Zipperman and crew attempted to bring the boat south as soon as it was launched in early November of 1999, but a combination of horrible weather, bad luck and the "Captain from Hell", dictated the need for a new plan. After many days of sitting out the weather at the dock, they decided to abort the fall attempt, winterize the boat in Gloucester, and try again in the spring with a new Captain................Enter CapmWoody.
things really make CapmWoody nervous,
It took two full days to get the boat ready to sail. Working on the boat in the cold turned out to be invigorating, although Theresa didn't like it that much. We immediately put up the clear vinyl windshield and curtains which turned out to be a life-saver. Not only did they keep us completely out of the wind, they let the sun shine in to warm us. The entire cockpit was turned into a solarium.
With all the work that needed to be done to get the boat ready for the trip, we didn't have time to see much of Gloucester, but what we did see, we enjoyed very much. We walked the streets for a couple of hours and had paella at a Portuguese restaurant. It was delicious, and there was enough left over for another meal. When the boat was ready to go, we stocked the galley with various soups, and sandwich fixin's. A quick trip to Ipswich for a couple of gallons of fresh Ipswich Ale in half gallon jugs, and we were ready to go. With daytime temperatures in the 40s and dropping to near freezing at night, there would be no need to worry about refrigeration.
It was with more than a little apprehension that we finally left Gloucester and motored into a cold haze. The sea was flat and there was just a hint of a breeze. So far, so good, but taking no chances, we motor at full throttle. We were out of sight of land, it was very cold (just above freezing) and I didn't feel comfortable with the boat yet. I don't mind rough sailing, but not in an unfamiliar boat and certainly not while I'm freezing my butt off. By the time we'd had all the hot coffee we could stand, the sun started warming the enclosed cockpit. We were off to a good start. As the day progressed, the wind remained light and we become more and more relaxed. By early afternoon it was clear that we would make it to the Cape Cod Canal before the late afternoon blow.
We exit the canal, find an anchorage in Buzzards Bay and can finally relax. The most critical part of the trip was over. We still had unfamiliar waters ahead, but there was protection from bad weather within reach.
The next morning we motored the length of Buzzards Bay. By the time we entered Rhode Island Sound, the wind started to pick up and we were able to sail all the way to the western end of Long Island Sound.
By late afternoon the wind was up to 18 knots and we were beating right
into it. With all the spray flying, the vinyl screens kept us surprisingly
dry, warm and comfortable, but we were tired of being bounced around and
decided to pull in at the next inlet. As luck would have it, we found
ourselves in Stonington, Connecticut for the evening.
We spent the night at
a (temporarily) free dock, took on fuel and had a wonderful hot meal
at "The Boom".