Ahoy from Florence Harbor Marina! Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
You may notice a different look to the post today. The skipper has decided to embark on a strange mission to conclude a three year hobby of his, Forest Fenn (ff) treasure hunting. So skipper, take it away. I will return once the skipper gets this out of his system.
Eric the Red
So, for those who might not know of Forrest Fenn and his treasure hunt; probably, your first question is “Who is Forest Fenn, and what is this nonsense about treasure hunting”? Those questions will be answered as you read on, but basically he hid a treasure chest full of gold somewhere in the Rocky Mountains back in 2010. Then wrote a book, The Thrill of the Chase, which contained a poem with directions to the chest. Well, if you could understand the directions in the poem.
I believe I solved the poem in November 2019. So while waiting for the snow to melt to begin my Search & Rescue mission, I began thinking about the next phase of The Chase. Stephen Covey, of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, taught me that we should begin with the end in mind. So I developed a plan, The Chase Re-Imagined, to implement once I safely had the chest in hand. My plan was simple, but thought it would help keep the Chase alive even though the chest would no longer be alone in the wild frontier.
Unfortunately, someone else found the treasure chest the week before I was going Boots On The Ground (BOTG) to recover the chest. I have been wrestling with what to do with my plan ever since because the guy who recovered the chest has announced he wishes to remain anonymous and will not release the solve of the poem. With that in mind, I finally have settled on a plan of action. Hopefully, others will catch the vision and we can work together to achieve…………
Obviously, some things will have to change. But I would like to think some form of what I originally planned could be salvaged, reworked, and made to work. I would much prefer a more positive outcome to The Chase, rather than the chaos that ensued over the last few weeks with the announcement that the chest had been recovered. What follows was my original idea:
Which finally leads me to the purpose of this post.
Since Mr Anonymous (the chest finder who says he will not divulge the hidden location) does not even want to be a fly on the wall, I have decided to go ahead and release my eight modules. The modules will shine a light on the poem and illuminate a path so that anyone who cares to try can actually figure out the poem and complete the solve. Which will, prove my point, that once you see the secrets hidden in the poem that you too can follow the trail thru the poem and discover the one and only verifiable, confirmed, surefire solve of the poem. I will show that the poem is actually a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the blueprint hidden in the poem. And as with any SOP, the method will achieve a repeatable, consistent outcome that anyone can find. In other words, if you learn to see and hear the words of the poem, the words actually only lead to one secret where. And you will follow the trail on your own, and find the answer on your own, I’ll just provide hints and show the way.
These eight PowerPoint presentations will lead searchers thru the poem and to the solve. I will start releasing them on this blog site (and a few ff fb pages) starting July 5th. METHOD TO THE MADNESS will be first. Then on July 6th, I will release A WORD THAT IS KEY. Then on the 6th of each month I will release the next module. So August 6th, Decoding the Blaze will be released. This will allow time for searchers to solve each Stanza of the poem at their own pace. When we are done, the poem will have released her secrets and all searchers can know the ‘secret where’ the chest was found, discovered by their own hard work, and some gentle nudging from me.
Here is hoping that you will join the adventure and work out the solve to the ff poem.
In April 2017, we were having the wheels replaced on Still Waters II, props changed, shafts straightened, stuffing box repacked, and cutlass bearings replaced. The boat was hauled ashore for the work and the crew moved ashore to a hotel.
While chilling at the hotel, reading Dead Man’s Chest, a sequel to Treasure Island, to pass the time, my thoughts of pirate treasures and Long John Silver were interrupted by a ring tone on my phone. A quick glance at the phone showed somebody else was also treasure hunting. The male heir’s name and number appeared. I reluctantly reached for the phone to see what he might need now.
Well, to my surprise, he was looking for help but not the kind I was expecting. He announced that he had come across a poem while doing some unrelated internet search on the Treasure Coast of Florida. Supposedly, some guy named Forrest Fenn (ff) had hid a treasure chest with more than a million dollars worth of gold, coins, and jewels back in the 2010 timeframe. Then ff released a poem in October 2010 that contained nine clues that were thought to be a map to the treasure chest.
The male heir now clearly was speaking my love language. A hidden treasure, a puzzle to solve, and an eventual Search & Rescue Mission into the Rocky Mountains. It just doesn’t get much better than that. The male heir had been working on the poem for several months and had derived a theory that the first clue would be found in West Yellowstone. He asked if I would help him find the answer to the first clue, Begin it where warm waters halt. He believed that the warm waters were a steam engine, and the halt would be an old train station that no longer existed. He was asking my help to find the long forgotten train station.
I gladly accepted the challenge. I needed something better to do than read a Treasure Island sequel. I asked him if he could send me a copy of the poem, and within moments of hanging up, my phone gave that familiar ding of a text message. I opened the text and read the poem for the first time.
So I wrote a poem containing nine clues that if followed precisely, will lead to the end of my rainbow and the treasure:
As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasure bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.
Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.
From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.
So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know,
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.
So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.
My first impressions after reading thru the poem several times was that the descriptions were extremely vague and there were no obvious distances to travel along the described path. I had hiked and hunted more than a few times in the Rocky Mountains, and something sure seemed a miss with the poem.
I had promised the male heir help, so I turned my attention from the poem and towards West Yellowstone. About the time I had burned the last drop of midnight oil, I had solved the ‘halt’ question at hand. Unbeknownst to me, a halt was actually a water tower stop where steam engines would take on water for the steam engine. From Chicago to West Yellowstone (a distance of just over 1,400 miles) there was a halt about every 7-10 miles, with the last halt actually in West Yellowstone, just past the train station where passengers were exchanged. This meant there were numerous (more like hundreds maybe even thousands of warm waters halts in the Rocky Mountains) possibilities to answer the first clue, Where warm waters halt.
My brain was working overtime as I tried to fall asleep, trying to figure out what that uneasy feeling deep in my gut was trying to tell me. Then like a front end loader dropping a load of sand, it hit me. Guessing at geographical locations to solve the poem just could not be a winning strategy. This ff fellow most have done something unique in the words of the poem to provide the specificity needed to find a treasure hidden in the Rocky Mountains. There are just way too many variables to ever precisely follow the poem as written, match up the descriptions to a guessed geographical location, and connect the guesses to the end of the ff rainbow and the chest. With that resolved, I drifted off to sleep.
The next day I called the male heir and passed on the information he had asked for. Then I broke the news to him that he was on a wild goose chase that would never end with a successful solve. I gave him this little example that he could relate to because he was familiar with the area in Colorado. We had been there numerous times on summer vacation.
Thought Experiment: let’s assume (or guess) for a moment that warm waters halt is somewhere along the flow of water out of the Mt Princeton Hot Springs. The poem does not define warm, so we will have to guess where hot becomes warm along the creek headed down the canyon. Then we have the vague: Not far, but too far to walk line. So let’s hop in the car and drive down the canyon road towards the Arkansas River. We will need to put in below the home of Brown though. Well, from where we are sitting there at the Arkansas River, there are at least four (guesses) homes of Brown off the top of my head: Brown Canyon which people raft thru, trout fishery where the state raises trout, a home of Brown of unsinkable Molly Brown in Leadville, and her home in Denver. We will have to guess which one of these might be correct. As you can see, none of this is very precise, and way too many variables if you expand the possibilities into the four state search zone of New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana.
I explained to him that I did not know how to solve the poem, but guessing at geographical locations, and travel distances just was not going to cut the mustard. I also informed him of my first strategy to attack the poem. Because I was surprised about the word ‘halt’, I had decided to look up the definition of every word in the poem. I was curious what other secrets the poem might cough up if I studied the words thru the microscopic lens of a dictionary.
This first step turned out to be a winning strategy that firmly planted my feet on the trail that eventually led to solving the poem. The dictionary uncovered several nuances in the poem, which in turn led me to discover a ‘Word that is Key’ in solving the poem. The word literally unlocked the secrets hidden in the poem. (Module 2 will give the details.) (Then you can apply the Word, solve Stanza 2 & 3 on your own, and find the blaze.)
With the Word that is Key, I was able to decipher Stanzas 2 & 3 fairly quickly. The blaze also made an appearance with two confirmations at the end of Stanza 3. This cemented my belief that I was on the right trail. ( Module 3 will give the details.)
When I started into Stanza 4, I was able to use what I had learned in Stanza 2 & 3 to again make quick hay of the words, but the directions made me sit up and take notice. I was not yet prepared to actually do what the poem said so I mulled it over in my mind for several months, and moved onto Stanza 5. (Module 4 will give the details.)
During the summer cruising season of 2017, we headed to Maine. When the geese decided to head south in the fall, we followed them south all the way to the Bahamas in February 2018. All the while, thinking about that nagging little issue in Stanza 4, and the brick wall I ran into with Stanza 5. However, in the spring of 2018 we stopped in historic St Augustine as we headed north along the Atlantic ICW. It turned out to be an historic stop. While touring town, I found the gem I had been searching for. The gem turned out to be the key that helped me unlock Stanza 5. ( Module 5 will give the details.)
Now on to the final Stanza. In 2018, we had decided to cruise America’s Great Loop for a second time. In my spare time, I continued my final assault of Stanza 6 and the poem. I thought I had a good plan of action, but once again I found a wall. After trudging so many miles I could not decipher Stanza 6. I decided to spend the summer reading The Thrill of the Chase and look for hints to unearth the good map. (Module 6 describes the initial thoughts on Stanza 6)
I managed to find the good map, which once again put me firmly on track for solving the poem. (Module 7 describes the discovery of the good map, and with the knowledge of what the good map turns out to be, you should be able to complete the solve of the poem.)
In 2019, we decided to cruise the Down East Loop, up to Quebec City, out the St Lawrence Seaway, down to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and then Nova Scotia. Because this was unfamiliar waters, I spent most of my time focused on the immediate adventure taking place just in front of the bow of the boat. However, on our way south we stopped in Brunswick, Georgia. I spent three days dedicated in November working out the final solution, and like a good detective, eliminating all other suspects. However, I was still stumped on how the last line of the poem confirmed the solve. We needed to travel back to Texas, so we rented a car and headed west. Somewhere between Mobile and Baton Rogue I finally saw the ninth clue solved, and the poem confirm in my minds eye. (Module 8 pulls it all together and unveils the final solve of the poem.)
At that point, I began to monitor the snow conditions in my search area. With early snowfall in 2019, I decided it best to time the Search & Rescue Mission with the spring thaw. By the first of December, the chest was already insulated with more than four feet of snow.
I began to monitor snow conditions at the calculated spot, and it looked like the spring thaw would be early so a Rescue Mission was commissioned for April. Then the big surprise of 2020 hit and COVID-19 yanked the rug out from under my Rescue Mission. Montana put a 14 day self quarantine in place for out of state arrivals. I also am in the high risk group, so I decided life is better than treasure and decided to wait and see how the nation wide lockdown would play out.
By the end of May, things began to look promising for a Rescue Mission, Montana announced that the out of state self quarantine would end June 1st. Yes, things are starting to fall in place and the expectations began to rise. I arranged for a rental car on Monday, June 8th to drive precisely to the treasure chest. Our motto, reminiscent of the gold rush days of old was: Treasure Chest or Bust.
And bust is exactly what happened.
It took about 30 minutes of starring at the announcement that the treasure had been found before I recovered from the knock out blow. As I slowly began to regain consciousness, I decided to go for a walk. I went into the captain’s quarters to get some socks. I accidentally woke the Admiral up, and as she squinted thru her partially opened eyes, I must of looked like a pale ghost rider. She asked what was wrong. It took a minute, but I finally was able to muster the words: ‘ff has announced that the treasure has been found.’ It actually sounded worse hearing it come out of my own mouth than it did starring at the announcement. I mentioned I was going for a walk, grabbed some socks, turned and left.
(Over the next few days a series of God moments occurred that let me know that The Chase was for me to solve, not to retrieve. What follows are just a few of these encounters.)
Amazingly though, I barely got a half-mile from the boat when I heard God clearly speak to my spirit: ‘Your treasure is in heaven.’ Then a quiet warm peace fell over me and I knew everything would be alright.
Sunday night I prayed that God would answer the why question, Why was the chest not for me to retrieve? At dark thirty in the night I woke to what I thought was someone boarding our boat. While I was tuning my ear to listen for footsteps, I heard God say, ‘It’s for your safety!’ It took me a minute to figure out he was talking about my physical protection from the Chase Crazies, not an unwanted visitor onboard the boat.
There are a few more stories but I will save them for another day. However, after reflecting on what has happened over the last several weeks and months, it is obvious to me I got the better deal. I am still living the good life on my boat, carefree, and worry free. While that sly fox that beat me to the treasure now has several problems to deal with. For starters, the IRS has their handout looking for their fair share of the treasure. I am sure they will track him down, one way or the other. Looks like six lawsuits have been filed making various stupid claims against the guy. And because the guy wants to remain anonymous and never reveal his solve, he has several hundred thousand people up in arms and mad at him for ending the Chase.
We first met the crew of Long Story at Heritage Harbor Marina on the Illinois River back in 2018. Thought their boat name was appropriate to announce the long story that will unfold over the next few months as we explore the ff poem and head out on the trail of the solve. Hope you take the time to join this new adventure.
The crew will return their granddaughter to her rightful owner, so another road trip to Texas is on the books. They will return to Florence and begin planning their next move on the Tennessee River.
Be looking for the first module, Method to the Madness, to be released next Sunday, July 5th.
The crew remained at Florence Harbor Marina and conducted shore excursions to explore the surrounding area in northwest Alabama.
The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:
Looking down River where the shoals used to be.
By the 1830’s, people began to explore ways to cut a canal around the shoals to make the Tennessee River navigable from north to south. The first Canal had 17 locks over a distance of 14.5 miles. However, Alabama did not have the financial resources to maintain the locks, so the Canal closed just two years after it opened.
This section of shoals dropped 137 feet over about a 37 mile distance. Following the Civil War, a second Canal project was completed and managed to operate until 1918. Today, the Tennessee River is controlled by a series of Locks and Dams managed by Tennessee Valley Authority.
Lieutenant George W. Goethals was assigned to the second Canal project to expedite the completion of the Canal. His work here earned him promotions and assignment to one of the most famous canals in the world down in Panama. Major General Goethal was the chief engineer over the Panama Canal starting in 1907.
Looking upstream towards the TVA Wilson Lock and Dam.
June 18, 2015 marks the day that the crew moved aboard Still Waters II to start this incredible adventure and boating lifestyle. To celebrate the anniversary of this date, the crew went out to a restaurant and reminisced about all the water that has flowed under their keel in the last five years. What a ride it has been.
The start of this adventure actually predates 2015 by several years though. In what the crew likes to call a pre-ordained God appointment. The skipper had taken a new assignment at work as the Emergency Preparedness Manager in 2008. As part of his on-boarding and training for this new role, the skipper’s boss (Danny Wilder – thank you Danny) signed the skipper up as a peer reviewer on an INPO Emergency Preparedness Review Visit. The skipper was assigned to a team, and the nuclear power plant the team would review was Clinton Power Station located in Clinton, Illinois.
Upon arrival at the Station in 2009, the skipper met the Clinton Emergency Preparedness Manager, Al Darelius. Al seemed rather distracted with some new purchase he had just made and was busy showing everybody he came in contact with a picture of his purchase. (Imagine a brand new grandmother showing pictures of her brand new grand baby.) You get the picture of the enthusiasm Al was displaying.
When the skipper inquired to take a peek at the photo, Al gladly handed the photo over. The photo was a picture of a rather large boat, Al called it a trawler. He claimed he bought it so once he retired, he could cruise America’s Great Loop. (What inspired over the next week was a canny game of cat and mouse as Al continued to distract the skipper with tales of America’s Great Loop, and how he and his wife would cruise this Loop once they retired.) The skipper immediately was intrigued and became a double agent. By day, the skipper was trying to complete the assigned task of reviewing the Clinton Power Station Emergency Program and making recommendations for improvements. At night, he was also sleuthing around the internet trying to learn all he could about ‘The Loop’ so he could ask his new found mentor questions. The skipper got very little sleep that week.
Upon arrival back home, the skipper began to share with the Admiral what he had learned at Clinton. ( The ‘Great Loop’, not the gifts of recommendations for improvements he had left Al at Clinton.) They decided it sounded like an interesting endeavor to pursue during retirement, and the idea of navigating America’s Great Loop was added to the Bucket List.
In an interesting twist, the skipper accepted a job offer to actually work at INPO in 2011, so the crew moved to Atlanta. In addition to the in-house employees (like the skipper) INPO also has a ‘loanee program’ where workers from the different utilities are temporarily assigned to INPO for 18-24 months. Soon after the skipper arrived in Atlanta, he learned that Al had been assigned as a ‘loanee’ to the Emergency Preparedness Division. So they got to work together for just under two years.
In another interesting twist of fate, the skipper managed to retire before Al. This resulted in the mentee (skipper) earning the Gold Burgee before his mentor and teacher (Al Darelius). Al eventually retired and has since completed the Loop and earned the Gold Burgee.
And in our last interesting twist of fate, Al and Ruth now keep their boat berthed at the Florence Harbor Marina, where the crew just happens to be on this fifth anniversary. You just can’t make this stuff up!
Thanks Al for acting like a grandmother and showing off your ‘new to you’ boat and introducing us to America’s Great Loop. It has turned out to be a wonderful retirement plan.
The crew will continue to hang out in Florence. They do have a grandkid scheduled for arrival on Tuesday. That should make for a fun week.
Where the road ends, The water begins.
The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.
The crew spent the winter hanging out along the west coast of Florida. They did manage to drop down to the Keys for a short while, but most of the time was spent at Marina Doyle. Thanks to David and Barbara for hosting the crew.
Once the COVID-19 fear mongering started, the crew decided it best to leave Florida before hurricane season arrived. The skipper’s goal was to avoid the following headline: Texan Dies from Hurricane While Sheltered in Place Due to COVID-19. The skipper also said it was a service to the medical examiner because now the ME would not be forced to claim the cause of death was COVID-19, when it would be obvious the death was caused from hurricane inflicted injuries. The skipper, always thinking about others.
The crew decided to cross the Gulf, and run up the Tenn-Tom Waterway. They waited out the COVID-19 restrictions at the Columbus Marina. With limited cruising options in 2020, the crew has decided to run the Tennessee River this summer, and pretty much take a bit of a break from full time cruising. They had already made that plan earlier, but COVID-19 just cemented the thinking. The Illinois River Locks are scheduled for maintenance, July – October. The Erie Canal Locks are not scheduled to open till mid August. And who has a clue when the US/Canadian Border will be opened back up for boaters. So it appears the Tennessee River Plan was a good decision.
The crew made four jumps to arrive in Florence, Alabama early last week. The first night, they anchored in the Canal Cutoff. The second day, they made a 50 mile jump to Bay Springs. The third night, they stopped at Aqua Yacht Harbor. On June 4th, the crew arrived in Florence Harbor Marina.
The crew took a short 4 hour, 32-mile cruise up the Tenn-Tom Waterway. The Aberdeen Lock did not present much of a challenge as the operator flung the gates wide open and Still Waters II glided into her position midway up the lock. The gates slammed shut and a few minutes later, the liquid elevator ride 29 feet up was underway. When the water level in the lock chamber matched that on the other side of the gates, the operator opened the gates and Still Waters II was back underway up the Tenn-Tom.
The anchor spot in the Canal Cutoff was found void of any other boats, so the crew spent a secluded night on the hook serenaded by nature.
Today’s menu option started with an appetizer of three locks over 25 miles. The first three nibbles turned out to be so tasty, and it was not even noon, so the crew decided to add three more locks as a main course and travel an additional 25 miles. Unfortunately, these entrees were bitter herbs. If you are a long time virtual crew member, you know of the skipper’s love of vegetables. It took a long 6.5 hours to choke down those three herbs, and the crew finally landed at the Bay Springs Marina about 1830.
Luckily, there were no more locks to chock down, so today was more like a dessert menu filled with root beer floats, ice cream, whip cream, and cherries on top. And speaking of a cherry on top, the crew managed to get a $99 credit returned from the marina upon arrival. The crew went to celebrate the end of the Tenn-Tom Waterway by having a dine-in experience of fresh fried Mississippi mud cats at the Hotel Catfish near Shiloh. Now that beats bitter herbs any day.
The happy parade did not last long as the crew woke to thunder and showers. The skipper reviewed the weather radar, and decided that they might get a little wet, but the main body of the storms would remain to the north as they skirted along the edge of the weather.
An invisible umbrella was raised over Still Waters II as she began her easterly run along the Tennessee River. To the north of her were dark black skies, while to the south were sunny blue skies. That umbrella kept the crew dry for most of the day with only a few drops of rain penetrating the shield and actually falling to barely dampen the crew’s spirit.
The crew got the last long term slip available in Florence Harbor Marina. They will stay in Florence for the next month and head towards Chattanooga after the July 4th weekend.
The crew plans to stay in Florence until after the July 4th weekend. Then they will continue east towards Chattanooga where they will spend a week social distancing with some of their Softball Family.
The crew departed NYC back on May 23 to launch their Down East Circle Loop. With their arrival back in NYC on Friday the 13th they bring the adventure to a close. Thanks to all who joined along the way to make this trip special. For those who are thinking of making this trip, the crew encourages you to throw off the lines and experience the fun for yourself. You will not regret the decision, in fact, the trip will probably exceed all your expectations. It did for our crew. If you have any questions about the trip, please contact the crew, they would love to pass on what they have learned.
The crew spent the week making way down the Long Island Sound from Portsmouth to New York City. Along the way, they made stops at Groton, Port Jefferson, and Port Washington.
Click on the Still Waters II Travel Map to see detailed Voyage Logs.
To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.
The crew shoved off from their hurricane hole at Pirate Cove Marina and started their final run towards New York City to complete the Down East Circle Loop. The weather was great and the waves were calm as the crew returned to the big open water made up by the Rhode Island Sound.
Some of the 400 miles of Rhode Island coastline
The waters might be big, but Rhode Island holds the claim to the smallest state. The colony got its start from Roger Williams when he was banished from the Massachusetts Colony in 1636 for pushing his views on religious freedoms.
A Few Fun Facts:
The crew stopped and took a mooring ball at the end of the day with this view.
Not much later, the crew was rewarded with this beautiful sunset
The run from Groton, Connecticut to Port Jefferson, New York was smooth and relaxing as the crew crossed the Long Island Sound. The crew dropped anchor across from Setauket Harbor. This Harbor was anything but calm between the years 1778-1783 though.
Setauket Harbor where the Culper Spy Ring operated from
The Harbor was ground zero for the Patriot’s first spy ring. George Washington had to evacuate New York City and moved his army to New Jersey. He desperately needed to know what the British were up to, so he had the Culper Spy Ring created. The spies had an elaborate method to pass on information to George Washington as depicted below.
Anna Strong’s laundry signal was ingenious. She would hang a black petticoat on her laundry line to send a message to Caleb Brewster that there was information to be picked up. Then she would hang white handkerchiefs beside the black petticoat to indicate which slew that Woodhull would meet the whale boat and pass on the message. They had six potential coves that they could rendezvous in, so the number of white handkerchiefs determined the particular cove for the exchange.
The spy ring has been credited for discovering that Benedict Arnold was switching sides in the war to become America’s first traitor. They also identified John Andre as Benedict’s handler, which led to his hanging when the Patriot’s caught him in Tarrytown.
The crew continued their treck down the Long Island Sound and pulled into Port Washington where they took a mooring ball for a few days. With the New York skyline on the horizon, it was a grim reminder of the events that took place here 18 years ago.
The skipper was at work at a Nuclear Power Plant that day. He was in the Emergency Preparedness Department, at the time. Turned out to be a crazy day at work to say the least. You may not know it, but there is a ten mile No Fly Zone around the plants. Shortly after the first tower was hit, the Feds put out an increased heightened awareness bulletin to the 56 nuclear sites, as well as grounding all air craft.
Just as things began to settle down a bit in the afternoon, a pilot took off in a private plane from a local airport just outside the plants 10 mile No Fly Zone. Fearing the worst and a direct attack on the plant, the Department of Defense scrambled a few jets into the air from Carswell Air Force Base and forced the private plane to the ground. That was a few exciting moments in life wondering what was about to happen. Turns out the private pilot claimed he was unaware of the grounding of all aircraft.
So the private pilot probably can easily recall where he was on 9/11. How about you, where were you on that day?
Jersey City 9/11 Memorial
One of the best presidential speeches ever delivered took place on this date in Houston, Texas in 1962. Kennedy outlined his plan to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade and officially launched the space race.
Most people from that era are very familiar with the speech. But there was a last minute addition to the speech that is not in the recorded original. Kennedy called an audible and made a one line blue pen and ink change just before he delivered the speech that day in Houston. From the speech….
“But why, some say, the moon? Why choose as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic?
Why does Rice play Texas?
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
That audible has turned out to be a bit prophetic. Since the speech, Texas is 30-1 against the Rice Owls. Begging the question, Why does Rice play Texas?
Hopefully Texas extends the record to 31-1 on Saturday and recovers from that gut wrenching loss to LSU last weekend. Go Horns!
Today was the day that the crew brought the Down East Circle Loop to a close. They left Port Washington and made way to New York City. The skies were clear and the crew could easily see the skyline some 6 miles away.
After rounding Rickers Island, they turned south and saw some of the iconic buildings in Manhattan.
Just south of the UN Building, the crew watched as a plane came under the Williamsburg Bridge and landed in the water. That was pretty exciting to watch.
After rounding the tip of Manhattan, the crew could see two more iconic New York landmarks. Lady Liberty and the orange Staten Island Ferry.
After crossing the Hudson River towards Lady Liberty, the crew officially crossed their wake and completed the Down East Circle Loop. They travelled 2,752 miles on this adventure and had the time of their lives.
The crew took the Liberty Landing Ferry from Jersey City to Manhattan. While waiting for the ferry, the crew started a conversation with a man named Steve. He is a commercial diver and plans to retire in two years and buy a boat. It was a pleasure to get to spend some time talking with him. Hope to see you on the water in the future Steve.
After the crew landed in Manhattan, they spent the day roaming around a lower Manhattan park and taking in the sights.
The crew then took the subway to Uptown to find the Halal guys for a late lunch.
With their stomachs full, the crew then took the subway back to lower Manhattan to visit St Paul Chapel. The Church has a long and distinguished history. For starters, it was built from 1764 and 1766. At the time, the Church was the tallest building in the city.
Following George Washington’s inauguration on April 30, 1789, the new president and congress held a special service at the Church and prayed for the future of the new country. The Church was picked because it was the largest public building that survived the Great New York Fire of 1776, and was also where the President attended worship services while in New York.
The Church happens to also be the home of the first monument commissioned by congress. The monument honors Richard Montgomery, a patriot from the revolutionary war. The monument was commissioned January 25, 1776.
Most recently, the church survived the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11 even though the church was just two blocks from the tragedy.
May you and yours be like this church. Facing a little adversity from time to time, but always surviving the close calls and rising to new heights.
This week the boat name is in tribute to the skipper’s ole fishing buddy Bill Nix. This was one of his favorite words.
The crew will start their south bound journey towards the warm waters of Florida. They hope to find fair winds and following seas which will allow them to make it down the New Jersey Coast and then up the Delaware Bay by the end of the week.
However, with the crew completing the Down East Loop, and re-cruising grounds they have been through several times, they will suspend the weekly blog updates.
If you would like to continue to follow them south though, then add the following link to your home screen and check the progress of their Voyage south.
The crew set off from the Isle of Shoals on Monday, but could find no place to stay in Gloucester. Consequently, they moved on and dropped anchor in Boston. Tuesday, they moved down to the Cape Cod Canal and found a mooring ball for Tuesday night. Then it was on to Newport where they spent Wednesday and Thursday nights on a mooring ball. With Hurricane Dorian looming on the horizon, the crew went about 15 miles further north to Portsmouth for the weekend, and to allow Dorian to pass.
Click on the Still Waters II Travel Map to see detailed Voyage Logs.
To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.
The crew had a crazy cruise today. Their destination was Gloucester; however, the Labor Day weekend coincided with a large Schooner Festival in town so there was no room in the inn. The marinas were full, the mooring balls were full, and the anchorages were full. The crew decided to push on to Boston.
They did decide to cruise through the canal north of Gloucester and check out all of the activity though. That might have been a mistake with the number of people out on the water. The canal was full of boats moored and anchored in the channel with boat traffic moving both north and south.
Once they had navigated their way through the maze of boats, they arrived at an open narrow only wide enough for one boat to pass at a time Railroad Bridge. There was a steady stream of north bound boaters coming through the bridge. The problem was that the skipper was the first of many south bound boats wanting to go through the bridge. But there was a 90 degree turn to make and he could not see if the way was clear. He finally made a Securitee message call over the radio announcing he was headed through the bridge when there seemed to be a gap in the north bound boats. The northbound boater’s called back and said to wait, there were four more of them coming and then it would be safe for the south bounders. When the fourth boat came out from the bridge it signaled all clear and all was good to go. The skipper then made the right turn and passed through the bridge.
Almost immediately the crew came up on a TowBoat who was towing a broke down boat. The TowBoat was trying to maneuver over to a nearby dock, but there were so many recreational vessels in the way, the TowBoat could not move. After a few minutes of waiting, the traffic jam cleared and the crew found themselves waiting in another line of boaters at a highway bridge.
The current was running about 3 knots under the narrow bridge towards the waiting line of boats. Once the bridge opened it was total chaos as the boats all speed up to make the bridge. The wave action was horrendous, and a crowd of folks had gathered on the other side of the bridge to watch the action. I think they were hoping to see and hear some fiberglass crunching.
The crew was glad to get in the harbor, but found it full of boats as well. They looked for a place to drop the anchor, but eventually decided to just keep going to Boston. As they headed out of the harbor, they came across over a hundred sailboats and schooners out enjoying a sail.
It took nearly an hour for the skipper to work his way through all the sailboats and make a heading towards Boston. As they were entering the channel to Boston they saw a fully loaded container ship slipping up behind them. The skipper moved to the edge of the channel to make sure the container ship would be able to keep visual contact with Still Waters II. As the crew continued to keep an eye on the container ship, they witnessed three different boats cross the channel directly in front of the big ship. One sailboat was so close that the container ship started blowing his horn five times, which is the DANGER signal.
The crew eventually got into a good spot out of the wind and dropped the anchor. There were seven or eight small boats up near shore with their crews on land enjoying the day. Well all except one guy that is. The other boaters all left before the tide started to go out. But one boat was still there, with nobody in sight. In less than an hour, the boat was high and dry.
When the owner finally showed back up, he had a rude awakening. He began to dump water around the lower unit of the motor and dug it out. He then began to collect drift wood and started a fire to keep himself warm. The skipper checked the tide tables and learned the guy was going nowhere until a little after midnight when the tide would finally float the boat.
And this my friends is why some boaters say to stay off the water on three day weekends so you avoid the madness and weekend warriors. What a crazy day on the water.
The crew was hoping they would not have a repeat of the nonsense they encountered yesterday. They weighed anchor and headed south towards the Cape Cod Canal. The wind was a bit blustery out of the west, so the skipper stayed as close to shore as safely possible.
The wind must have kept the weekend warriors at bay because there were not as many boaters out on the water today. There was also not much excitement, which was a good thing. The crew did pass the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant, just south of Plymouth.
Obviously, the Plant was named for the Pilgrims who landed in Plymouth Bay in November 1620. Their land grant was for the New England territory; however, their initial landing and colony was supposed to be at the mouth of the Hudson River. They sighted land (the hook of Cape Cod) and tried to sail around the Cape. But because of the shoaling between Cape Cod and the island of Nantucket they could not find safe passage. Because cold weather was starting to set in, they decided to abandon the plan for the Hudson, turned around, and landed in the Bay and made a rock famous.
Two of the 102 passengers were brothers Edward and Samual Fuller. Edward also had his wife (possibly named Ann) and son, Samual with him as well, for a total of four Fullers on the Mayflower. Both Edward and his wife both died in early 1621, joining the half of the folks who did not make the one year anniversary of landing at Plymouth Rock. There was a birth of an Alice Fuller on January 11, 1621 which would make her the first Fuller born in the New World. Ann Fuller’s death is listed as, after January 11, 1621, with no cause of death. Makes you wonder if it was complications due to delivery.
You might think that Alice just might be the first baby born in America to the Pilgrims. However that honor actually goes to Peregrine White. His mother gave birth to him on the Mayflower while anchored off the shore at Plymouth, which makes him a passenger. Later that same day, the passengers made their landing and went ashore. Peregrine, which means traveler, lived a long life before passing away in July 1704 at the age of 83. Which also makes him the last surviving passenger of the Mayflower.
Uncle Samual Fuller took in nephew Samual Fuller (12 years old) and niece Alice (new born) and raised them. Junior would later marry and have nine children, three sons who reached adulthood and also married. Junior’s older brother, Mathew, eventually came to Plymouth and raised his family here also. So the Fuller’s can trace their lineage back to Edward Fuller, a signer of the Mayflower compact.
The crew timed their arrival at the Cap Cod Canal just about perfect and got a couple knot current push as they transited the Canal. The skipper had noticed that Confetti had left an Active Captain review about some mooring balls on the west end of the Canal. The balls do not have any line attached so you have to attach your own line to the ball. Confetti explained how they were successful, so our crew replicated the method. It took three tries to grab the ball because of the wind, but once the crew had the ball they were able to thread the needle and get the ball secured to the bow of the boat.
Once secured, the crew had a good view to observe other boats transit the Canal. After dark, a large cruise ship went by lit up like a Christmas tree.
The crew dropped the mooring ball and made the cruise to Newport. The mooring field at Newport is first come first serve. With the three day weekend over, the skipper was hoping that boaters would have left and the crew would find a mooring ball. What the skipper did not know was that the Newport International Boat Show was scheduled for next week and the harbor was a buzz getting ready for the event.
When the crew arrived in the harbor, they hailed the harbor master on the radio and asked for a mooring. It took a few minutes, but the harbor master found a mooring the crew could take. Because of the Boat Show preps, the mooring was good for one night only. The harbor master would let the crew know tomorrow if they could have the ball for another night before noon tomorrow. The boat brokers use the mooring balls during the boat show as offices and have dibs on the balls. The harbor master does not know when the brokers will actually show up, so they keep a few balls open everyday for the arriving boat brokers.
Looking around the harbor from mooring ball #13
The crew learned they could stay another night around 1000, so they hailed the launch service to get a ride to shore. They then took the trolley to one of the Gilded Age Mansions, The Elms.
The Elms was the summer cottage for coal magnate Edward Berwind and his wife, Herminie. She was the daughter of the US Consul to Italy, so she was raised overseas and had a taste for Venetian art which shows through in The Elms.
Edward Berwind made his fortune in the coal business, but before he launched his civilian career he was a Naval Academy graduate. Back in those days the Academy just happened to be in Newport. After resigning his commission at the age of 27, he started his coal business by acquiring mines in Pennsylvania. He managed to get a contract supplying coal to the Navy. He went on to land contracts with Cornelius Vanderbilt supplying coal to both the growing shipping industry and railroads.
The Berwind’s opened their summer cottage in 1901.
One interesting backstory about the cottage was the duties of the head house maid. She was tasked with making sure none of the linens/satin napkins did not disappear. This was no easy task when you realize that at one ball they would serve at least 200 guests in a 16 course French dinner. She had to count the linens when they came out of the closet, when they went to the washing area, when they went to be dried, and lastly when put back in the linen closet. Why all the security over a napkin you ask? One of those gold lined satin napkins was worth more than the servants made in the two month season in Newport.
After exploring The Elms, the crew walked down to Rosecliff to tour the ‘Party House.’
Rosecliff opened in 1902 as a summer retreat and the stage for Theresa Oelrichs to throw some of the greatest parties of the Gilded Age. Theresa’s fortune was made as the heiress of Silver Mines in Nevada. It was common for her to throw a party at the cottage with a $500,000 budget. The Ball Room was the largest room in any of the Newport Cottages and was specifically designed to hold large number of guests for Theresa’s outrageous parties. These days, the house is a favorite for weddings and other functions.
The most interesting backstory at Rosecliff was the sell price in the 1940’s. The original cost of the ‘Party House’ was 2.5 million. The house was passed down to the original owners son. By the 1940’s, the house became too expensive to maintain so the son auctioned the mansion and contents for $21,000.
The task for today was to figure out the best strategy to weather the winds that will arrive in the area on Saturday due to Hurricane Dorian.
Based on the current predictions of the storm track, it appears that the crew would see winds in the low 20’s with gusts near 40 at Newport. With that info, the crew decided to move north about 15 miles to a marina in Portsmouth. The winds are only expected to be 15-20 in Portsmouth, with gusts to 30. After arrival, the skipper spent a little extra time to secure Still Waters II to the dock. The winds are supposed to arrive Friday late afternoon and peak early Saturday morning. Time will tell what actually happens.
Tucked inside hurricane hole at Pirate’s Cove Marina
So far so good for the crew. The winds have only been up to 15 mph here in Pirate Cove Marina, and very little rain during the day. Winds are predicted to get to 25 overnight so looks like all will be well here in Rhode Island.
Overnight the winds stayed below 25 mph, and the well protected marina was surprisingly calm. Dorian has moved off from Cape Cod and has tracked towards Nova Scotia. It will be interesting to see how much damage the ICW has encountered once the crew heads south from Norfolk in a few weeks. But it does appear that the initial storm damage reports from Florida to New England are better than expected with little loss of life.
One interesting story about post hurricane damage assessment comes from Cumberland Island in Georgia. It seems a woman had some of her ashes put in a bottle with a note and thrown in the Atlantic Ocean off the Island. Some folks found the bottle on Cumberland Island. The note request that if you find the bottle, take a picture, write and send pic to the email, and throw the bottle back in the water. The woman wants to travel the world. Well, she is off to a slow start.
To end the week on a brighter note though with someone who actually has cruised the world, the crew met a couple on the docks who have a connection back to McKinney, Texas. The Admiral has a niece who still lives near McKinney. But more interesting, the couple spent 7 years cruising the Mediterranean. Their stories were definitely more interesting than cruising Cumberland Island in a bottle.
With Dorian in the rear view mirror, the crew will focus on cruising the Long Island Sound and arriving in New York City on Saturday, to cross their wake and complete the Down East Loop.
The crew has seen many lighthouses this past week, but their favorite one is the Portland Head Lighthouse.
The crew left Rockland on Monday and headed west, dropping anchor in the Bay of Linekin (1) for the evening. On Tuesday, they took the back way to Bath (2) and took a mooring ball next to the Maine Maritime Museum. They cruised down the Kennebec River on Wednesday, and took another mooring ball at Cliff Island (3). On Thursday, they made way to Portland (4) where they also took a weather delay day on Friday. Saturday was a tolerable cruising day so the crew made way to the Isle of Shoals (5), about three miles offshore from Portsmouth, NH to end the week.
Click on the Still Waters II Travel Map to see detailed Voyage Logs.
To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.
The U.S. National Parks celebrated their 103 birthday on Sunday.
Back in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson and Congress created the agency under the National Park Service Organic Act. Today, there are over 400 national parks and monuments under the agency’s care. From Acadia- to – Zion, there is a Park for everyone.
To celebrate the big event, August 25 was a fee-free day, when all national parks opened to visitors free of charge. In addition to the birthday celebration, there are two other upcoming national park fee-free days in 2019: September 28, 2019 (National Public Lands Day) and November 11, 2019 (Veterans Day).
Head to the parks and enjoy America’s best idea for free. Oh by the way, What is your favorite National Park?
Prior to shoving off the dock, the skipper met a group of twenty teenagers who were about to board a boat for Hurricane Island. While waiting to board, the skipper noticed not a one had their nose buried in their cell phone like this kid back at Acadia National Park. What a shame, a beautiful Park to explore and he was tethered to the electric outlet.
But I digress, these twenty are going cell phone free, no internet, no social media, no contact with outside world for three days. The skipper wished them well.
However, our crew will continue to use these advances in technology to make their way to Boothbay Harbor. On the way they passed another sunfish basking on the surface. This time when the skipper tried to approach for a good photo, the sunfish disappeared down under the water.
The crew did manage to get a few more lighthouse photos though.
The crew dropped anchor off a small island with a wind blown tree. Pretty obvious which way the prevailing winds blow here.
Today was a leisurely cruise day. The crew waited till about lunch time to weigh anchor and head to Burnt Island. As they approached the Island they got a good view of the Lighthouse from the water.
They then rounded the Island and took one of the two mooring balls. As the skipper launched the dinghy, the Admiral prepared a picnic lunch.
The crew landed on the dinghy dock and walked up to the Lighthouse. The crew picked a picnic table in the shade of a tree and enjoyed lunch. They then explored the Island some more and eventually headed back to he mother ship to continue the Voyage.
After getting back onboard Still Waters II, the crew timed their arrival at the Southport Bridge a mile up river to make the 1330 opening.
After clearing the Bridge, the crew took the back way winding around Islands and narrow passages to arrive at Bath. In one of those narrow passages named Upper Hell Gate, the head current was so strong that the boat was only making 1.5 mph speed over ground. Good thing the passage was not very long through the Gate.
After a couple of hours, the crew arrived in Bath and took a mooring ball off the shore of the Maine Maritime Museum. The museum was very good when the crew visited back in 2017, but the crew has decided to just chill on the boat for the evening and forego the museum this trip.
The crew timed their departure so they could take advantage of the outgoing tide and ride the current downriver back to the Gulf of Maine. Along the way down river, they passed several more lighthouses.
After making way back to the Gulf, the crew made a course to go to Eagle Island where the home of Admiral Peary sits overlooking Casco Bay. However, as they approached the Bay the skipper could see a large tower atop an Island. He navigated towards Little Mark Island to investigate the tower. The tower was built from rocks quarried on the Island. Back in the day, the tower had a cache of supplies inside to aid any ship wreck victims in the area. The tower was built in 1827, and was a functional replica of a similar structure built in 1811 at Cape Elizabeth, and in 1823 off Biddeford.
Just past Little Mark Island was Eagle Island so the skipper swung over and got a few pics of the Admiral Peary home. In 2017, the crew went ashore and toured the house, but it was closed today when they arrived.
The Guinness Book of World Records might surprise you as to the claim of who was first to the North Pole. The question has raged for years. Frederick Cook, claimed he had made the pole on 21 April 1908. He spent the next year trying to get back to civilization and finally encountered Robert Peary returning from his quest of the pole on 6 April, 1909.
Peary agreed to give Cook a ride back to America on his ship, but refused to take any records confirming Cook’s claim of achieving the pole the year before. Cook cached his records, but they have never been found and are lost to history, making his claim unverifiable. In 1989, an investigation into Peary’s claim proved he was still 5 miles from the pole, nullifying his claim to be first. So, the first person to reach the North Pole – on foot, with dogs- was Sir Wally Herbert (UK), on 6 April 1969.
After the photo op was complete, the crew completed the day’s cruise by taking a mooring ball at Cliff Island, just west of Eagle Island.
The crew was less than 10 miles from the marina at Portland where they planned to stop and re-provision. Consequently, they dropped the mooring ball late morning and headed towards the Portland Head Lighthouse. After getting a few pictures, the crew headed for the marina.
After getting settled at the marina, the crew used the courtesy car to go make a Walmart run. But before that important task, the crew finally had a ‘Welcome Back to the US’ celebratory lunch at the skipper’s favorite burger joint. The last time the skipper had one of these burgers was at Burlington, Vermont. He had a near miss in Halifax. The grand opening was two days after the crew left Halifax. But today, well today was the day.
The wind and waves have combined today to take the pleasure out of pleasure boating. Consequently, the crew decided to stay in Portland one more day to allow the weather to pass. Tomorrow is predicted to be a much better day.
The delay in departure allowed the skipper to do a little research on Fort Popham that sits on Hunnewell Point at the mouth of the Kennebec River from Bath that they cruised by the other day.
The skipper was wondering who the Fort was named after, as well as the Beach carrying the Popham name also. The Fort was used during both the Civil War and WWI, but has never seen any action. However, during the research, the skipper found an interesting story about the Lost Colony of Popham.
Way back in 1606, King James I granted the Virginia Company a land grant to establish two settlements in the New World. The Virginia Company created two competing entities, the Plymouth Company and the London Company.
The London Company got the southern area, while the Plymouth Company got the northern area. Part of the competition was for the land in the middle. Whichever company was most successful would be given the middle ground. The London Company landed in the New World in May 1607 and formed Jamestown. The Plymouth Company landed on Popham Beach and constructed a star shaped fortified village they named Fort Saint George.
Once the cabins, chapel, and store house were completed, the 120 colonists began work on the Virginia of Sagadahoc, the first ship built by the British in the New World. The colonists were apparently good builders, but lacked negotiating skills to trade with the native population. Consequently, food shortages were already wearing the new colonists down. So when a supply ship arrived in December, half the colonists returned to England, while the other half suffered through the harsh winter.
In February 1608, the leader, George Popham died. The new leader was Popham’s second in command, Raleigh Gilbert. In May, the storehouse accidentally was burned down. But a supply ship also arrived in May to bring much needed food, so the colonists soldiered on. In September, another supply ship arrived at about the same time as cooler weather was setting in. The supply ship also brought some interesting news from home.
Turns out their leader was now sole heir to the family riches. He decided to return to England and claim his nobility title and inheritance. The remaining colonists joined him and all returned to England and abandoned Fort Saint George.
The Fort fell into ruins and would probably have been lost to history except for the discovery of a drawing of the Fort that was discovered in 1888 in the Spanish National archives. The story of how it got there was very interesting also, bit that is a story for another day. The drawing was made by one of the original colonists named John Hunt on October 8, 1607
In 1994, Jeffery Brain had ‘found’ the drawing and was able to match it with the land along the Kennebec River. By 1997, excavations confirmed he had found the Lost Colony of Popham. A rock now sits on the site commemorating the Colony and their historic building of the first ship.
The crew left Portland and made way towards the Isle of Shoals, 55 miles south. The wind was relatively calm, 5-10 mph, but the waves were still churned up from the blow all day Friday. The ride was a bit rocky, but tolerable.
The last look at the Portland Head Lighthouse.
When the crew arrived at the Islands, they got a quick reminder that it was Labor Day weekend. The mooring field was full of boats, with many of the mooring balls with three or four boats attached. The skipper looked around and there was no room in the cove to anchor. He decided to go around to the other side of the Island and anchor on the south side out of the wind. Turned out they were the only ones here for the night which was nice.
The view from the crew’s anchor spot
Seen on a Catamaran: A Cool Cat
The crew hopes to make it to Newport, RI early next week and spend a few days. After that, they are not sure what their next move will be. They will be keeping one eye on the weather and the other eye on Hurricane Dorian.
The crew left Yarmouth in the fog and crossed the Gulf of Maine to Mistake Island on Monday where they anchored in the fog. They weighed anchor Tuesday, and made way to Mount Desert Island where they stayed at Northeast Harbor Marina and explored Acadia National Park. Friday, the crew headed to Kent Cove where they anchored for the night. Then ended the week at the Journey’s End Marina in Rockland.
Click on the Still Waters II Travel Map to see detailed Voyage Logs.
This week’s video shows Still Waters II take in the sights of the Park Loop Road. Enjoy!
The skipper has mapped out two different courses to cross the Gulf of Maine and return to the U.S.A. One course takes four small jumps of 40 miles each to reach Mount Desert Island. While the second course takes a long day of 90 miles to go straight across to the shortest distance to Maine, and then a shorter 40 mile day to arrive at the Northeast Harbor Marina on Mount Desert Island.
The weather forecast will be the driving factor behind the decision. The weather for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday looks favorable. However, the Thursday weather is questionable, so the crew will decide tomorrow morning which way to go.
Well look out the window and what do you see? Absolutely nothing but fog. A check of the weather still shows Thursday to be a bad day to travel with winds 20-25 mph, and that would not be much fun to hang on the hook either, so the crew opted for the two day route.
The weather was cooperative until about noon, halfway across the Gulf of Maine. Then the skipper noticed a wind shift out of the south with increased intensity at 15-20 mph. The resulting 3 foot waves crashing on the beam of the boat made it impossible to maintain course, so the skipper altered course about 30 degrees to 340 on the compass. Maybe the crew will head to Grand Manan Island after all.
After 2 hours, the wind fell back down to around 10 mph. As the waves grew smaller, the skipper was able to slowly adjust course until he was finally pointed back towards Mistake Island. The crew continued on and arrived at Mistake Island around 1830, still enveloped by the fog.
They found three sailboats already anchored in the cove, but their was plenty of room for Still Waters II to drop the anchor and call it a day.
Well look out the window and what do you see? Blue skies, sunrise, and that rugged rocky coast of Maine. That was a welcome sight. And that sailboat the crew anchored by last night, looks a whole lot better in the light.
A few pics of the Mistake Island anchorage
The crew weighed anchor and followed that blue sailboat out of the cove.
Once back out in open waters, the skipper set a course for Green Island. The Puffins use the Island to raise their young, but they have completed that for the season and headed back out into the Atlantic Ocean where they will bob around in the water till next spring.
Green Island Lighthouse
Just before arrival at Green Island, the skipper noticed a strange fin in the water. At first he thought it was a large dead fish just drifting on the surface. When the crew went by the fish, they could tell it was still alive. They turned around to see if they could get a picture.
Turns out that the big fish was a sunfish. The basking behavior the crew witnessed, where the sunfish lays on its side near the surface, is thought to warm the fish back up after deep diving for food.
A few sunfish fun facts:
The rugged rocky coastline of Maine
The lobster fisherman were out in force today. They were busy pulling up their traps and harvesting their lobster catch.
About 1400, the lobster boats started showing up on the commercial dock at Northeast Harbor. They pulled up to the dock, used an overheard crane to unload the containers full of lobster, then got new containers from the pier. The lobsters were loaded directly into a truck ready for market.
The crew booked the Oli’s Trolley Tour so they could explore Acadia National Park. The trolley ride was 2.5 hours along the Park Loop Road, with stops at Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole, and Jordan’s Pond.
To catch the Trolley, the crew took the free shuttle service that runs around the Island. The ride from Northeast Harbor to Bar Harbor was about 45 minutes. Then a 15 minute walk to the ticket office to get their boarding passes.
The Tour started with a trip up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain where the views of Frenchman Bay and the Porcupine Island’s were outstanding. The Bay gets its name from the Frenchman, Samuel de Champlain, who is credited as the first European to explore the area and claim the land as New France. His expedition landed on the Island September 5, 1604. He is also credited for the name of the Island based on a journal entry: the mountain summits are all bare and rocky……..I name it Isles des Monts Deserts. A few fun facts about Cadillac Mountain:
The mountain’s namesake was quite the character. He was born in France on March 5, 1658 with the given name of Antoine Laumet. His family was from modest means, but his father did manage to study law and became a lawyer.
It is reported that Antoine Laumet departed for the New World at age 25, in 1683. However, no documentation has ever been found on how he crossed because his name never appears on any passenger list. He reappears in Quebec in 1687 where his new identity has been found on a marriage certificate as Antoine de la Mothe, ecuyer, sieur de Cadillac. This new name/title suggests noble origin. Ecuyer means squire, and was the title for the rank of the second son. He also created his own titles of nobility along with a new family Coat of Arms.
The King of France gave him some of the land on Mount Desert Island, hence the mountain carrying his name. He also went on to found the city of Detroit after his stay at Mount Desert Island. And that Coat of Arms he created, you have probably seen this ‘Family Crest’ as the symbol of the Cadillac Automobile. He was a questionable historic figure at best, with many a shady deal. But in the words of writer-historian, Annick Hivert-Carthew:
Enveloped in a cloak of assumed identity and past… Cadillac emerges victorious. He has accomplished what many of his distractions have not: a lasting masterpiece — the city of Detroit. He has achieved immortality.
From the heights of Cadillac Mountain, the tour descended along the coast of Frenchman Bay where the tour stopped at Thunder Hole. This is a rock formation where the waves come up and crash into the rock making a loud noise. The seas were calm and at high tide so the rock formation was barely above water level and the wave action was not making any sounds. That did not stop hundreds of people from working their way down to the rocks though.
The third leg of the journey was through the interior of the Island with views of forest and fresh water lakes. The stop on this leg was at Jordan’s Pond. The water quality is so good that you can see objects 45 feet below the surface of the water.
In the background of the pic above are the Bubble Mountains. In the pic below can you find Bubble Rock?
The crew took the free shuttle bus to the Hull Visitor Center near the north end of the Park. From there, they launched a 12 mile bike ride on the Carriage Roads that run through the Park. The 51 miles of Carriage Roads were the concept of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. He started the project in 1913 and worked for another 27 years to build the roads and 17 bridges. He eventually donated the Carriage Road System and the land to the National Park System. Interesting though, George B. Dorr is known as the ‘Father of Acadia’ and founder of the first National Park east of the Mississippi River in 1916.
After spending three nights on Mount Desert Island, it was time for the crew to move on. They made a short run west and anchored in Kent Cove for the night. Good thing it was a short run because the skipper was tired of playing dodge-a-float with all the lobster trap floats in the water. Seems to be more floats in the water than back in 2017, the last time they were here.
Many boats on the move today. Looks like the snowbird migration south has started
Also passed several Lighthouses today
The crew made a two hour run to Rockland after they weighed anchor. The marina carries the name Journeys End Marina. In 2017, this was where the crew ended their Maine journey, and turned around looking for warmer weather at the end of September. This year, the temperatures have already begun to drop and the locals are talking about the end of boating season.
That has been filtered by the skipper to mean that the crew needs to keep moving towards New York City and complete the Down East Loop.
Doreen, friend and virtual crew member, had posted this pic on social media. The skipper thought it might be paying homage to Stevie Ray Vaughn and his band, Double Trouble. Doreen wrote back and explained it was named for the owners twin daughters.
The crew will spend a few more days cruising Maine, and then make way to Gloucester, MA where they will spend the Labor Day weekend.
The weather was finally favorable to leave Halifax on Wednesday. The crew shoved off the dock and cruised to the small village of Lunenburg. They left the next morning and found sea conditions to be about perfect. Rather than stop at the anchorage they had planned, they put another 40 miles under the keel and anchored at Cape Negro Island. On Friday, they motored to Yarmouth.
Click on the Still Waters II Travel Map to see detailed Voyage Logs.
This week’s video shows Still Waters II watching a boat load of dudes landing sharks off the coast of Nova Scotia. Enjoy!
The dock that the crew had been moored to since arrival in Halifax was exposed to the ocean swells and boat wakes, which made for an uncomfortable stay on the boat. The skipper talked with the marina and got permission to move over behind a wall that would block the wave action. Once they got settled, they climbed up on top of the radar arch to take their seats behind the V.I.P. Tent for the air show.
A large crowd began to form, both on the water and along the waterfront for the show.
The air show started with fly overs by various types of helicopters and planes. Because the crew was directly behind the V.I.P. Tent, they could here the MC talk about each craft as it flew by.
After the fly overs, it was time to watch the Red Arrows perform.
The crew has continued to explore Halifax while they waited for favorable weather conditions to continue the voyage south along the south shore of Nova Scotia. To expand their exploration away from the waterfront, they took a Hop on Hop off tour bus. The double decker bus made the round trip past thirteen historic sights and museums.
While headed out to the Fairview Lawn Cemetery (Titanic Cemetery), the Tour Guide also talked about a memorial/cemetery on Deadman’s Island where 195 American POW’s are buried. During the War of 1812, the British had a prisoner of war camp on Melville Island which sits adjacent to Deadman’s Island. The British held as many as 8,000 US soldiers and sailors at Melville during the war. As prisoners died they were put in unmarked graves on Deadman’s Island and forgotten to history.
Over the years, due to rain and wave erosion, some skeletal remains would become unearthed. So in the 1990’s, when a developer tried to get permits to develop the Island, local residents protested and claimed the area was an ancient burial ground. The authorities performed a review and found that the Island contained 400 remains from French, Spanish, and American soldiers and sailors. Rather than develop the Island, the Canadian’s turned it into a Park.
An interpretive plaque in the park contains the following anonymous poem:
Go view the graves which prisoners fill
Go count them on the rising hill
No monumental marble shows
Whose silent dust does there repose.
In a strange twist of fate, two sister ships (USS Chesapeake and the USS Constitution) share a bond at the Deadman’s Cemetery.
The USS Chesapeake was defeated in battle by the HMS Shannon in 1813. The British brought the Chesapeake to Halifax, repaired the vessel in the Halifax shipyards, and recommissioned her as the HMS Chesapeake. The American sailors were detained at the Melville POW camp.
On May 30, 2005, the USS Constitution was present when the US government dedicated a memorial tablet with the names of the 195 Americans buried at Deadman’s Island. Several of which were from her sister ship, the USS Chesapeake.
In another interesting twist, the skipper found a relative, James Fuller, among the names on the memorial tablet. James was a member of the US Army 23rd regiment, and died of dysentery while in prisoned at Melville.
Back at the Halifax Maritime Museum, they had a display about the pirates of Nova Scotia. With place names such as Murder Island, Spook Island, and Jolly Roger’s Bay, this should be of no surprise. This region of the south shore was sparsely populated and had many good coves to hide out, making it perfect for would be pirates. But the problem with being a pirate back in the day of sailing ships was that once you started your pirating ways, your life expectancy dropped to just a few years.
And as everybody knows, those pirates hid their booty on these remote islands, or so the folklore says. One of the more popular pirates was Captain Kidd. He was known to sail these waters and it has been rumored that he hid his treasure on Oak Island. And after the Captain’s demise at the gallows in London on May 23, 1701, people have been searching Oak Island for the mysterious treasure, mostly at a place called the ‘Money Pit.’ There is even a TV series about folks trying to recover the treasure, titled The Curse of Oak Island.
The crew bypassed Mahone Bay and did not take time to search for the treasure on Oak Island. They did make way to Lunenburg though and dropped anchor just north of the mooring field.
Island Office was in the mooring field and captured this shot of Still Waters II in the moonlight.
The crew left in the fog at daybreak. The fog hovered over the waters until 1130. This gave the skipper plenty of time to daydream about another buried treasure. This trove of $200,000 in gold has been rumored to be under a cleft in the rock at Star Island. Edward Baker supposedly buried the cache in a cave marked by the cleft.
The fog seemed to come and go most of the day. The skipper was able to snap a few pics along the way though. These houses were on a point as the fog lightened long enough to get a view.
The crew decided to keep motoring at noon because the sea conditions were just about as good as you could get. They decided to make another forty miles as long as the conditions remained favorable.
About 1630, the crew pulled into a Cove off Cape Negro Island that was well protected from the wind and waves. Just on the other side of a narrow piece of land, the crew could here the waves crashing the shore. Then the skipper heard what sounded like sheep. He grabbed his binoculars and began to eye the Island, and yes there they were, one ewe and a lamb. He kept looking and found three more sheep. Makes you wonder who takes care of them way out here, especially in winter.
The view from the sun deck while at anchor.
This would mark the third day in a row that the crew left in the fog early in the morning. Consequently they did not see much until late morning. The skipper did manage to get a few pics as they left the anchorage. He was surprised that there were a few houses on Negro Island.
With all this fog and treasure talk, the skipper decided to turn his attention back to Forest Fenn and his hidden treasure. For those who do not know, Forest hid about 2 million worth of gold and artifacts somewhere in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe back around 2010.
The treasure trove before Forrest hid it in the mountains
Forrest then wrote a poem, that if you can solve the mystery of said poem will lead you to the treasure trove.
The skipper spent two years studying the poem starting in 2016, and believes he solved the mystery of where the treasure trove has been hidden in the Rocky Mountains. So today, he was reviewing his solve looking for any cracks in his logic that might shed some new light on the mystery. With the Admiral wanting to do some land time, 2020 might just be the year that the skipper takes some time to do a ‘Boots on the Ground’ adventure and goes and gets the treasure. But enough of this real life treasure hunt, it looks like the fog is lifting.
When the crew rounded Cape Sable Island, the most southern point of Nova Scotia, the fog was so thick that they could not see the land or the lighthouse. The fog lifted before they arrived at the Tusket Islands though, so the skipper weaved thru the islands to check them out.
After another 20 miles, the crew arrived at the Yarmouth Sound and made way up the river to dock at Killam Brother’s Marina where they docked for the weekend.
Yarmouth has a long Maritime history starting back with John Sollow who launched the first vessel in 1764. Because of the abundant forrests and well protected harbor, the area was excellent for ship building. The marina where the crew is moored was named for a family of sea merchants in the day of sail. The brothers ran an empire of 160 ships that traded around the world from their hometown of Yarmouth.
However, with all the success of the shipping industry, there was also a stark reminder of the hazards of the seas. Over 600 ships from Yarmouth have been lost at sea over the years. 1879 seemed to be an exceedingly harsh year for the residents of Yarmouth, 31 ships were lost that year alone resulting in 106 deaths. These losses produced 26 widows and 99 fatherless children.
The citizens of Yarmouth have created a memorial for all the sailors and family members who have been lost at sea. Currently there are over 2,400 names on the memorial.
Two big events were in town today. First was the Farmer’s Market where there was a band singing Elvis Presley songs. The skipper scored some brownies for the Admiral and chocolate chip cookies for himself.
At noon it was time to drift over to the next wharf and watch the weigh in for the Yarmouth Shark Scramble. This was the 21st Blue Shark Tournament. There were 15 boats registered who had 5-7 people onboard who were fishing for shark. Each boat could weigh in three sharks.
There were three sharks over three hundred pounds, 303, 315, and 321. Most of the sharks were in the 240-280 range. One 13 year old girl landed a 280 pounder, all by her self.
There were many volunteers making the shark weigh in a success. There were the folks actually weighing and measuring the sharks. Science organizations who were taking samples of the sharks for future studies. People carving the sharks up, others putting the cut pieces in big vats, and others shoveling ice to keep the meat cool.
Most of the Blue Sharks that were brought in were male. The skipper only recalls one female that was weighed in. Other interesting things about Blue Sharks:
The crew will end there time in Canada and head back to the good ole USA. They will enter into Maine. The only question will be when and where. The first window may be Monday, but it is too early to tell if the weather window will stay open. Once in Maine, the crew will make way to Arcadia National Park.
This week the crew left St Peter’s and made way to Halifax. On the way, they had some interesting experiences. Starting with getting fuel delivered by a fuel truck at the St Peter’s Lock. Later that night they moved from Dover Cove to Raspberry Cove because the anchor would not set. On the way to Liscomb on Tuesday, they assisted a fellow boater by towing them to Liscomb Lodge. Wednesday they arrived at Jeddore River where they again had problems anchoring. Then made Halifax on Thursday to find power and water available after they were told there was none.
Click on the Still Waters II Travel Map to see detailed Voyage Logs.
This week’s video shows Still Waters II as she dreams of cruising and exploring Sable Island. Notice she only dreamed of going, that is just too far to go in the open ocean for her and the crew. Enjoy!
The Grand Finale of the week long Deny’s Festival was the 6th Annual Swim The Canal event. The crew walked down to the canal to watch the show. Some 350 swimmers paid to swim the icy 72 degree waters, for the length of the canal.
The swimmers start on the lake side of the canal where the water was reported to be a bit warmer and swim towards the Atlantic Ocean side of the Canal where the water is much cooler.
There was no obvious advantage to being fast because once you reach the lock, you have to wait for the last swimmer to arrive so the lockmaster can shut the gate. Therefore you may be treading water for about 45 minutes waiting on the casual swimmers.
Once all swimmers are in the Lock, the gates on the lake side are closed and the water level adjusted in the lock to match the Atlantic Ocean side. While draining, a chant developed: “Open that Gate, Open that Gate!”
Once the gates cracked open, it was a sprint for the finish line for some, and a leisurely crawl for others. Hey, they only get to swim the canal once a year and some try to stretch it out as long as possible.
The skipper’s plan to take on fuel and pump out the holding tanks came to an abrupt halt this morning. A 132 foot yacht landed on the fuel dock, overhanging both the bow and stern from the dock. Because the yacht was so large, she effectively blocked any other boats access to the fuel dock for their two night stay.
The dockmaster was not happy, but not much he could do. He did arrange for a fuel truck to meet Still Waters II on the Atlantic Ocean side of the St Peter’s Lock. So the crew shoved off and passed back through the lock. Once on the Ocean side, they tied off along the wall and waited for the truck to arrive. This would be the first fuel truck delivery for the crew.
Once the fuel transfer was complete, the dockmaster arranged for the payments and the crew was finally off on their first day cruising the Atlantic Ocean this season.
The run went well until it was time to anchor. The cruising guide said that Dover Island was a good Anchorage. But the crew could not find an adequate hole to drop the hook. After three unsuccessful tries to set the anchor, they decided to move five miles further west and try in the next Cove.
Upon arrival in Raspberry Cove, the crew found a good spot to anchor and finally called it a day.
Well if yesterday was a strange day with fueling and anchoring, this day would prove to be a strange one also. The crew set off for the Liscomb River.
Late last week, the docks at the Liscomb Lodge broke and they can only accept two boats until the docks are repaired. The dock was already reserved so the crew was just going to anchor in the river and skip the Lodge.
When the crew approached the Liscomb Island at the mouth of the River, the Coast Guard announced a boat in distress not far from Still Waters II. The crew decided to try and see if there was anything they could do to help. The skipper talked with the Coast Guard and got the vessels name (Red Tail), GPS position, and asked the Coast Guard to pass on their telephone number.
Captain Kevin called a few minutes later, and the skipper was able to figure out that Red Tail was anchored on the north side of Liscomb Island. The two agreed that Still Waters II would approach the starboard side of Red Tail and raft up together.
Once the two boats were secured together, they decided that Still Waters II would try and pull Red Tail the five miles up River to the Liscomb Lodge. Once both boats were satisfied that the lines were secure enough to tow, Red Tail raised anchor and Still Waters II was able to safely maneuver the two boats tied together.
The last challenge would be landing on the dock. The skipper approached the dock slowly, and the Red Tail crew were able to get a few lines across to the dock help. Kevin, the Captain of Red Tail, then began giving the skipper instructions on how to move to bring the boat along side the dock. Between Red Tail’s bow thruster, and Still Water II’s twin engines, they were able to get Red Tail secure with no drama and no damage to the dock or boat.
After docking, the crew walked up to the water fall along the river and sat down to watch the water go by and relax.
They then joined Kevin and Caroline for some great conversation and dinner. The crew quizzed them on their purchase of Red Tail on the west coast of California, bringing her south down the west coast and through the Panama Canal. Sounds like something our crew would like to do someday.
Well, after the last two days of excitement, today was just the normal run of the mill day. The crew left early to try to get in some extra miles today so tomorrow would be a shorter run.
The wind was less than ten mph on the stern for a nice push, but the ocean swells were 3-4 feet at normally 12 seconds apart. This made for an ok ride except when the time between waves would shorten which would cause the boat to to roll heavy to starboard. Then rock back and forth a few times before settling back down.
The skipper tried to weave inside the islands as much as possible, but getting out in the ocean and being rolled by the swells seemed to be the norm for the day. The crew had put in 70 miles by 1500, so they found a place in Jerrode Harbor to drop the hook for the night.
An afternoon storm was predicted to roll into Halifax around 1500. Armed with that info the crew left at first light and headed towards Halifax. When the crew got to the open Atlantic Ocean they found 3-5 foot swells at 8-10 seconds apart.
The rule of thumb for a smooth ride on the Ocean swells is a wave period double the wave heights. So if you have 5 foot swells, you want at least 10 seconds between each crest so that the boat just gently glides up and down the face of the swell. Today, it seemed as though the time between swells was closer to 8 seconds than 10 so it made for a more roly ride than hoped for. The good news was that it was less than two hours out on the open water which minimized the frolicking good time.
Upon arrival in Halifax, the first order of business was to find a facility with an operational pump out system to drain the holding tanks. The fourth marina the crew contacted had a working system, so the crew cruised up to Dartmouth and drained their tanks.
On the way to Dartmouth, they passed the location of a large explosion that took place back in 1917. A French War ship carrying ordinance for WWI collided with another ship in the most narrow point of the harbor. People heard the collision and saw the fire burning out of control on the French vessel. People rushed to the waterfront to observe the two vessels. Twenty minutes later the French ship exploded sending shrapnel over a two mile radius from the ship. The pressure wave flattened the town of Richmond as well as the structures within a half mile of the ships. All those people who rushed to the scene became part of the 2,000 deaths and 9,000 injured. The Halifax Explosion held the record for the largest man made explosion until the end of WWII when America dropped a couple of atomic bombs on Japan.
The crew visited the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. The museum told the story of Halifax and its contribution to maritime interest from sailing vessels, to steam ships, to modern vessels.
The customary parrot and pirates in the sailing section of museum.
Captain Joshua Slocum, born in Nova Scotia, was featured as the first man to sail solo around the world. The Captain left Boston in April 1895 in a sloop named Spray, and returned to Newport, Rhode Island On June 27, 1898.
Captain Slocum aboard Spray
Also of interest was the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic,’ or Sable Island. The Island is located 190 miles southeast of Halifax. In the era of navigation by sextant rather than modern radar and GPS, the Island was responsible for an estimated 500 sunken ships. A few other fun facts about Sable Island:
After a fun filled day at the museum, the crew met a pod of other boater’s for Happy Hour and dinner.
The skipper bought a book about the Halifax Explosion at the Maritime Museum yesterday. He completed the book and confirmed his suspicions that the authorities deflected blame from the event to the Pilot who was on the French vessel and tried to make him the scapegoat.
Anytime there is a disaster of the magnitude of the Halifax Explosion there are at least 3-5 precursor events which have aligned which then allow for the disaster to strike. Some call it the Swiss Cheese Model, where a hole in 5 pieces of cheese all align to allow a straight though hole and no barrier for prevention. And so it was for this senseless loss of life also.
The area called Richmond that was flattened by the explosion
For instance, here are but a few of the precursor events, that if had not of happened, could have prevented the accident:
By all accounts, the Imo was clearly at fault. When the Admiral Board of Inquiry met though, they had a problem. Neither the Captain nor the Pilot of the Imo survived. By a quirk in British Law called British Fair Play, because the men were dead and could not defend themselves, no blame could be attached to them. Well, that just left the Pilot of the Mont Blonc to pin the blame on and that is just what they did. Kinda hard to see ‘fair play’ in that but charge him with manslaughter was what they did.
The Imo blown ashore at Dartmouth from the explosion
Along with the Imo, the government also should share the blame in the disaster. Supervision, training, and procedures are all good barriers to accident prevention. By all accounts the Pilot’s were well trained and experienced. However, the supervision (government Port Authority) and procedures were lacking. As the port authority, they should have been making sure communications were making it to all the key stake holders and the Pilot’s knew what ships were moving in the harbor. Also, the procedures should have never let a war ship carrying that much munitions that close to civilian populations. The Port Authority should have kept Mont Blonc at anchor southeast of town. But as the skipper is fond of saying, “To err is human, to blame the other guy is more human.” In this case, the government failed the people by allowing munitions to be brought through the Narrows, and then deflected blame to the Pilot.
Interesting enough, when you do not actually identify the actual causes of an accident, but focus on blame, you do not fix the problems, and are doomed to repeat the folley. So it should not surprise anyone that during WWII the Port Authority once again allowed munitions past Halifax and into the Bedford Basin. And once again their was a huge explosion in July 1945.
The crew hopes to make Yarmouth on the west coast of Nova Scotia by next weekend. The weather will probably cause delays leaving Halifax until Wednesday, then the crew will need 4 travel days to make it to Yarmouth. We will see if they make it or not.
On Monday, the crew left St Peter’s and crossed over the lake to anchor in Little Harbor (1). Tuesday, they weighed anchor went further north up the lake and anchored near Baddeck (2). On Wednesday, they took a taxi to Englishtown (3) to catch the Donelda Puffin Tour to Bird Island (4). Thursday, they took the Cabot Trail Discovery Tour (5) and returned to Baddeck. Friday brought an end to the fun in Baddeck (6) as the crew returned to St Peter’s for the weekend.
Click on the Still Waters II Travel Map to see detailed Voyage Logs.
This week’s video shows Still Waters II ride around the Cabot Trail. Enjoy!
The crew hung out at the St Peter’s Marina most of the day which allowed the skipper to explore the history of the Village that sits on this thin slice of land called an isthmus. Wondering what an isthmus is, are you?
Isthmus is Ancient Greek for the word neck. Today we use the term to describe a narrow piece of land that connects two larger pieces of land, that are separated by water. One of the more famous isthmuses in the world would be Panama, connecting North and South America, and separating the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
In the case of the isthmus at St Peter’s, the land mass is the Island of Cape Breton, and the waters are the Atlantic Ocean to the south, and Bras d’Or Lake to the north. This isthmus was originally used by the Mi’kmaq Indians as their canoe portage into the Lake.
In 1650, Nicolas Denys arrived on the scene and built a trading post on the eastern side of the isthmus. The entrepreneur then figured out a way to haul his ships over the isthmus on skids pulled by ox. This both shortened the distance to ports to the north and made it safer than sailing out in the Atlantic Ocean.
The area changed hands several times between the French and British, with the British eventually winning out for control in 1763. A little over a hundred years later, after 15 years of construction, a Canal was opened in 1869 to replace the haulover road. This year marks the 150th year of Canal operations. The crew were the 424th boat to transit the canal this year and received a Certificate of Appreciation to commemorate the transit.
The crew plans to make several small runs this week to explore the Bras d’Or Lake. Their first run would be 20 miles to anchor in a well protected cove, on the north shore, of the main body of the Lake. On the way across the main body of water, the crew could hear thunder every few minutes. This was strange because the skies were blue with very few puffy clouds.
When they were halfway across the lake, the sky began to turn dark as the thunderstorm began to build. Then they witnessed three lightening strikes. The skipper decided to turn off all the electronics and lower the VHF antenna. Within minutes the rain fell on them and visibility dropped to about a mile. Thankfully, the crew was just on the edge of the storm. Within ten minutes, the storm had blown by and the crew were back in blue skies.
The skipper fired up all the electronics and headed for the narrow opening into the Cove. The crew found three sailboats already anchored, so they poked around to find a spot near the south shore in the Cove.
The crew weighed anchor and headed to Baddeck. There is an Alexander Graham Bell Museum in town that the skipper wanted to visit. The short run was excellent as the wind and waves combined for following seas. On the way to Baddeck they met Confetti on the water and followed her through a set of bridges.
Upon arrival near the Baddeck marinas, the crew dropped anchor, and then took the dinghy to go visit the museum.
You may recall when the crew visited the Helen Keller Birthplace Museum, that Helen Keller’s father travelled to Boston to meet with Mr Bell, and Mr Bell’s advice changed the course and trajectory of Helen Keller’s life. This museum told the backstory of how Mr Bell came to be in Boston in the first place.
Alexander Graham Bell was the son of Alexander Melville Bell. You probably had never heard of Melville Bell before, but he is famous as the creator of visible speech. The young Bell continued the work of his father and became a teacher of his father’s methods in Boston. His work with the deaf was heavily influenced by his mother and wife who were both deaf.
His study of the ear, basic understanding of both electricity and sound waves all came together to help him invent the first telephone. He then went on to start Bell Telephone System which eventually became American Telephone and Telegraph. And as they say, the rest is history. But did you know that Alex gave all but 10 shares of his new company to Mabel as a wedding present.
What do you think of when you see a Switchboard, such as the one below?
Well our crew thinks of the Lily Tomlin character, Ernestine, the switchboard operator who made the lines “one ringy dingy… two ringy dingy”, and, “is this the party to whom I am speaking?” famous.
The first patent for the telephone eventually made Bell independently wealthy, and allowed him to tinker and invent a plethora of other items. The museum spent some time on these other items, but mainly focused on two projects in his later years, aeronautics and hydrofoils.
The skipper found one of those other items to be most interesting though. Bell invented an early model of the metal detector in 1881 for the sole purpose of locating a bullet after the 20th President of the United States was shot in the summer of 1881. The metal detector was used to help locate the bullet lodged in Garfield’s body. Depending on what you read, the metal detector worked flawlessly or not well at all. Bell said that the metal springs in the bed where the test was conducted altered the results, as well as the depth of the bullet, to make the results inconclusive.
Following the Wright Brothers success at Kitty Hawk, Alexander Graham Bell decided to get into the aeronautics business. His wife, Mabel, created the Aerial Experimental Association (AEA) in 1907, with the purpose of constructing a practical flying machine. The group included two young engineers, an American motorcycle engine designer (Curtis), and an American aviator (Thomas Selfridge).
The AEA first used Bell’s work conducted with tetrahedral kites to fly unmanned and manned kites. The group then applied their learnings to gliders. Their first success was with a plane named Red Wing in March 1908. The White Wing and then the June Bug were built and successfully flown. Their fourth flying machine, Silver Dart, made the first controlled powered flight in Canada on February 23, 1909. The Silver Dart took off from the ice just off the Baddeck shoreline allowing Baddeck to lay claim to the Birthplace of Aviation in Canada.
The AEA Charter had a sunset clause, so the group was disbanded in March 1909. Bell had began experiments though on hydrofoils as a means to assist a plane from taking off in the water. By 1911, these experiments resulted in the development of the first hydrodrome, HD-1. They were able to make 50 mph in HD-1 before she broke apart on a test run.
Thru the long winter, Bell built HD-2, but once again she broke up during testing. Then the HD-3 was built and failed. With WWI in progress, Bell received money to build a submarine chaser. His design (HD-4) was a long cigar looking machine with hydrofoils. HD-4 set a world record for marine speed of 70.86 mph on September 9, 1919. After successful testing though, the hydrofoils were never put into any practical commercial applications.
The original HD-4 hull
Full scale replica of HD-4
Sitting on the lawn, contemplating the lives of Mabel and Alex Graham.
Back in 2017 while cruising along the coast of Maine, the Admiral learned about a little bird called a Puffin. Every since, she has wanted to see a Puffin. Problem with Puffin viewing though is that they live their life floating in the Atlantic Ocean far away from shore, a place our Admiral has no desire to visit.
However, there is a Bird Island just north of Cape Brenton that has Puffins nesting during July and August. And there are two companies which offer Puffin Tours. So today is the day for the Admiral to satisfy her goal to see a Puffin. The skipper liked the company quarantee, your money back from the tour if you do not see a Puffin.
The crew learned some interesting things about the tour operators. In addition to the tour, they also have a Lobster Permit to fish 265 traps. Lobster season here is mid May thru mid July, so they check those 265 traps six days a week. Once Lobster Season ends, they turn their attention to the tour business.
The Captain is the Grand Nephew of Giant MacAskill, a local legend in these parts. He is in the Guinness Book of World Records (1981) for being the tallest non-pathological giant in recorded history. He stood 7 feet 9 inches, weighed 425 lbs, and had a chest measurement of 80 inches. He was buried just down from the gift shop in 1863.
However, on the other end of the scale, Donelda explaining the small size of Puffins, the stuffed Puffin is actual size
The Puffin Tour was a great success. The tour lasted a little over three hours and the crew saw Puffins, so they would not be getting their money back. But it was amazing just how small those Puffins happen to be. Most of the ones sited were floating in the water, and they would dive under the water as soon as the boat approached.
Edited pic for a closeup, they are still small
However, the highlight of the trip might just have been the Bald Eagles. On the way out to Bird Island, on two different occasions, a Bald Eagle approached the boat. Donelda, the tour guide, would toss out a large dead fish and the Eagle would swoop down to grab the fish. It was an amazing spectacle to see so close to the boat. While traveling around the Bird Island, the tour saw over 60 Bald Eagles.
The other highlight of the trip were the seals. The Grey Seals were out sunbathing on the rocks as the tour glided by. The seals numbered in the hundreds.
One of the best known things to do on Cape Breton Island is to drive the scenic Cabot Trail. A 185 mile breathtaking road trip that takes visitors on a loop trip around the northern areas of the Island.
The Cabot Trail is named after John Cabot, an Italian explorer who reached the Island back in 1497. He is credited as the European discoverer of North America for the English. He has been lost to history though because it would be another 100 years before this area was settled. Kinda the same fate of my son, Leif Eriksson, who sailed these waters 500 years before Cabot, and gets little to no credit either.
The first surprise of the day was when the crew learned that they were the only ones on the tour today. That actually worked out great as they got to swap many stories with the Tour Guide.
Misty told a few stories about her 13 year old son. She referred to him as ‘The Little Capitalist.’ The stories reminded the skipper of himself when he was a youngster trying to earn a little money.
Again, from the skipper’s sister’s blog:
Did you ever want a pony? Unlike many of my friends, I can honestly say it never dawned on me to ask for a pony for Christmas. However, the Fuller kids were the only kids at C.C. Duff Elementary who had a real live Shetland Pony who lived in their backyard. He was a Christmas present who arrived on Thanksgiving night. His name was Buck and, when he got it in his mind to be tacky, which was often, boy could he buck. Already the family financial guy at age 8, David came up with a plan to charge our friends 25 cents a ride and we would split the profit 3 ways. He would get the extra penny since it was his idea. Did I mention he was in 2nd grade at the time? After one too many squabbles about that extra penny Mama gave us the option of handing over our money to her to be redistributed after every third paying customer or shutting down the pony rides. David lost his extra penny per ride since the vote didn’t go his way (majority rules, doncha know?) and we all got a nice shiny quarter each time we convinced 3 friends they wanted a ride. Which as I recall was about 1 time. We didn’t have many kids in our neighborhood and weren’t old enough to have friends who could walk or ride bikes over to our house from outside the neighborhood. It was an idea ahead of it’s time and probably why Mama was so easily persuaded to agree to let us do it. She knew we wouldn’t have many customers.
I was probably 13 the November my brothers got busted for an unauthorized zoo. Daddy had taken David and Danny to the deer lease for the weekend and Mama and I were “batching it” at home. That meant tuna casserole (Daddy hated it), Reese’s peanut butter cups and lots of reading and not much else. Our revelry was interrupted by a knock on the back door. I answered the knock to find a boy about the age of my brothers who was looking for them. He was very disappointed to hear they were not at home. I assured him they would be home the next day and he would see them at school on Monday but my words didn’t seem to help. He eventually explained the source of his disappointment was not in missing my brothers but in missing his tour of their zoo. He said he had saved up the dollar required to pay admission to see their zoo and he didn’t know if he would be able to come back until the following weekend. A whole week was just So Long when he’d already been waiting for a couple of weeks while he saved up the entrance fee.
The second he said zoo, Mama’s Mom-antennae were up and into listening mode. He turned to leave but she told me to ask him inside. She quizzed him about the zoo and he spilled the beans on their sweet little set up. He explained that The Boys had been showing off what they called the Fuller Zoo for several weeks. And charging a dollar a person for admission. And here we thought they were just popular and had lots of friends coming around to play. Mama was somewhere between ticked off and amused. I don’t think she was so much upset about charging people to see our pets as irritated that they had kept it a secret. She had me show the boy our zoo – even turning down his dollar when it was offered. I spent a full 30 minutes introducing him to Frisky and her pups, my cat and Mama’s cat, Mama’s poodle, the fish and turtles, Snowball’s children and grandchildren, Wiley and Pepper and ever other little creature I could think of to make his trip to the zoo a memorable occasion. He was the Fuller Boys’ Zoo’s last official visitor. Much to the frustration of my brothers, Mama shut down the operation over the lack of permit for the Fuller Family Ordinance which stated one much get permission before making a profit on the backs of one’s friends.
The crew left from Baddeck and went thru the Margaree River area which is famous for Salmon and Rainbow Trout fishing. The trail then proceeded north thru the Cheticamp area, one of two Acadian towns on the route.
From Cheticamp, the trail continues north to Pleasant Bay where the crew managed to view a pod of whales and took lunch at the Rusty Anchor Restaurant. After lunch the route weaved into and out of the Cape Breton National Park along the northern border of the Park.
The Trail was then south thru the Village of Ingonish and St Ann’s Bay to return the crew back to Baddeck. The crew had great weather through the day to make their tour adventure a true success.
Words do not adequately express the rugged beauty of the areas visited, and the pictures also seem to come up short of capturing the wonder of it all, but here are some of the crew’s favorite sights around the Island.
The crew spent an exhausting three days in Baddeck, so they headed back over to St Peter’s to regroup and prepare for the trip along the south shore of Nova Scotia. The run back was made in calm seas, but once docked the wind picked up to make for a windy afternoon.
Son of a Preacher Man
The crew will leave St Peter’s on Monday and try to make Halifax for the weekend. They should make 4-5 runs to arrive in Halifax depending on the weather.