Tropical Weather Forecasts in Text

As we make our passage to the Caribbean, our only long-range communications will be a Garmin InReach, which will provide text messaging capabilities (unless we get our SSB working, which seems unlikely given the time constraints). Without regular access to the internet and all the weather information that provides, I will be relying on Margaret to text me key weather information en route. In order to ensure that I get the information that I want and am familiar using, I am writing up some instructions for her and figured I would share them here. This first post is just about tropical weather forecast information that she will text me.

Though we are on the tail end of it, we are still in hurricane season at the moment. So I am particularly concerned about tropical weather and would like to keep an eye on it. Normally, I simply rely on the information provided by the National Hurricane Center. In particular, I regularly look at the 5-day tropical weather outlook, the tropical weather discussion, and the forecast discussion for any active tropical storms.
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Beauty to Beast: New London to Manhasset

Yesterday, from New London to Manhasset, started out lovely, but turned into a beast.

Right on schedule, we all raised our sails, dropped our moorings, and headed down the Thames into Long Island Sound. There was not much wind, but what there was of it had already shifted around to NNW. We – Bear, Jade, and Jabiroo II – all motor-sailed, kept in contact on the VHF, and fought the current on what was an exceptionally warm night, in the low 50s.

By 2am, with the genoa out and a double-reefed main, I finally turned off the engine. Over the next couple hours, our speed increased from the low 5s to the low 7s as the wind increased and the adverse current slacked. By 4am, I was starting to feel a little out of control and took the prudent measure of swapping the genoa for the staysail. That dropped my speed back into the mid-5s, but I felt a lot more comfortable, especially knowing that more breeze was on its way.
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New Episode Today! Exploring Cape Cod

We uploaded a new video today! Woohoo! In this episode, we explore Redbrook Harbor, transit the Cape Cod Canal, and go ashore in Provincetown!

Also, please check out our limited-time print sale.  We have several prints for sale and have added a donate button for our cruiser friends and others who are downsizing but still want to help us out.  Thank you for thinking of us!

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Newport to New London with a Northwest Wind

I am writing this from the Thames River in New London, Connecticut, on a mooring just a hundred yards or so from Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor rail line. I made it in from Newport a little before five yesterday afternoon after a wild ride over.

Amtrak train through a salt-encrusted cockpit enclosure

The Amtrak train going by in New London through the glass of our cockpit enclosure, salt-stained because of the rough trip over from Newport.


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Getting Marine Diesel Engine Re-Power Estimates

After the catastrophic failure of our marine diesel engine – a phrase that mechanics we talked to used with regularity – we had no idea whether we would be able to get a re-power in time to go south for Margaret’s sabbatical as we planned. Not only were we unsure of whether we could afford to replace the engine, we had no idea how long a re-power would take.

The destruction of our engine happened on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, so it was unlikely we were going to get answers until Tuesday, which was, at that point, three long days away. I did make some calls to friends in the area who gave us recommendations for mechanics and yards. Almost everyone in Rockland seemed to recommend Pat Ricci at Thomaston Boat Works, a Volvo dealer. On Sunday morning I gave him a call, just thinking I would be leaving a message. But Pat picked up and kindly spent fifteen minutes telling me what were going to be some of the obstacles in the installation – footprint, space, transmission and our prop, etc. – and priced out a new Volvo install for us. With some 17k for the engine, he thought the total would be around 21-22k. He also thought someone would be able to do the re-power in a matter of a few weeks, if we could just find someone who was not overly committed. But Pat was backed up with work until at least November. I was grateful for the information.

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Sitting in Newport Making Plans

For those of you who missed my Facebook post yesterday, I had a sporty sail down Narragansett Bay to Newport and am now on a mooring tucked behind Goat Island.

The forecast continues to be relentless strong winds with a west component. Tomorrow, the winds are forecast to be northwest, which is the only west direction that I can even think about doing something with, because it will not be directly in my face . Beyond that, Sunday and into early next week should provide a better opportunity to make some westing through the Long Island Sound with some north-northwest. But, of course, that is a long way out, which would mean sitting here and entertaining the possibility that the forecast may shift.
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Banged Up In Rhode Island Sound

Yesterday, while coming down Buzzards Bay, I spent some time looking at models for later in the week and over the weekend. It seemed like I could make a run down the Jersey coast if I could just get to the western part of the sound by Thursday. Knowing that really motivated me to put the miles in, because before that I had little reason to hurry west.

As I was checking the long-range weather, Buzzards Bay was a bit choppy with 12+ out of the west. With those sorts of conditions, I had been imagining that Rhode Island Sound would not be all that fun. But all I needed was a little incentive to get me to push through, and the possibility of getting to the Chesapeake by next weekend was more than enough.
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Trying to get to the Chesapeake

First off, I should say that I am writing this while underway on my cell phone using voice to text. So there may be some grammatical errors and things; hopefully you can just overlooked them.

I dropped Margaret off at the dock this morning. She is headed to an artist residency in Quebec, but is first driving down to Annapolis to pick up her car. It’s pretty ironic that she is going to be in Annapolis later this afternoon and that’s where I’ll be trying to get to for the next week to 10 days or more.

I am currently heading south in Buzzards Bay. There’s about 12 knots of wind out of the west northwest. And the sun is out warming the cockpit.
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How We Lost Our Yanmar 3JH4E Engine

Since folks have been asking about how we lost our Yanmar 3JH4E, what we replaced it, and how the process went, we thought we would detail some of our experiences in a series of blog posts. This is the first.

Margaret had left me at the laundromat a few hours before. She was heading off to an artist residency for two weeks in Georgia, and I was going to take Bear south from Rockland, Maine, to the Chesapeake. We figured we would next see each other in Solomons, where my folks were coming to meet us for a couple days.
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Engine Updates and Return to Seasons Print Sale

Heartbreaking.

This is the only word to describe the loss of our engine and, perhaps, the loss of our sabbatical cruising dream.

Bear’s Broken Engine

For the last 6 years, we been working toward spending Margaret’s 15-month sabbatical living aboard and cruising our sailboat.  We have put countless hours into rebuilding all major systems on the boat ourselves – everything from the raw water system to the standing rigging.  Since we bought the boat we have taken immaculate care of the engine – with regular oil and filter changes and other maintenance.  At our recent 1000-mile service, the mechanic told us that our engine would last forever – that it was in excellent condition – and would continue to provide us the power and safety that we would need as long as we continued to do what we were doing.

Well, “forever” came four weeks ago when our engine blew a rod and cracked the cylinder block.  Repair estimates came in between $20,000 and $30,000.

Though times are tough, we will get through this. We are very fortunate to have the support of many family, friends, and followers on our blog and YouTube channel. We deeply appreciate all of the phone calls, text messages, FB posts, and emails that you have sent to check on us and send well wishes.  Many of you have also reached out and asked what you can do to help.  Instead of starting a GoFundMe fundraiser, we have decided to create a print sale.

As you may know, Margaret is a fine art photographer, who has been making work about water for the past 5 years – inspired by her time living aboard Bear.  Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world and is in many private and public collections.  If you have always wanted to own a work by Margaret, and would like to help us continue our dream and rebuild our cruising kitty, we invite you to purchase one or more of three limited-edition photographs. This special collection of photographs, shot while cruising in Penobscot Bay, ME, Port Jefferson, NY, and Pine Island Sound, FL, capture some of the amazing sights we have enjoyed while sailing and that we try to share with you.

For more information on the print sale, check out the link below

Return to Seasons Print Sale

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