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Ahoy from Manchester by the Sea, Massachusetts!
We definitely knew that we were close to home when we rounded Cape Anne and could see the Boston skyline. It was also pretty apparent when we were in Portsmouth and could watch the Boston TV channels. It feels good to be getting close to being home. The days are definitely getting shorter and the nights are getting colder, but it's a lot warmer here than it was in Canada!
We had a nice sail yesterday from Portsmouth to the tip of Cape Anne, which is where Gloucester and Rockport are located. I didn't think that we were going to have enough winds to sail, but the winds worked their way from calm to 10-15 kts on the beam, and we coasted along just beautifully. Along the way we passed mile after mile of huge homes along the shore.
The trip wasn't without it's troubles. As I was raising the sails, a line got caught and when it released, I think that the electric winch generated a voltage surge which caused the auto pilot to fail. I had to pull the lines out of the lazarette and crawl into it to debug the problem. I found that a fuse that powers the SeaTalk bus that all of the instruments use to communicate had blown. That was a quick fix.
We were also having troubles with one of my least favorite systems to have problems with...the head. For some reason the head wouldn't pump into the tank or overboard. What confounded me was that the macerator, which allows you to dump the holding tank when you're more than 3 miles off shore, wouldn't pump either. I couldn't figure out how these two items could fail at the same time, or at least what the common failure point was. I kept trying to debug the issue and at one point I removed the cap from the pump-out connector and moved the selector valve from macerator to pump-out. Normally this is a benign issue, but based upon the squishing noise that I heard when I started to move it and the screams from the cockpit, I assumed that the worst had occurred. It appears that we had a sewage geyser appear, which made quite a mess. If you've ever seen Robin Williams in "RV", you get the picture. It wasn't pretty...
I then understood what had happened. When the head pumps into the holding tank, there's a vent line that releases the pressure. That had become plugged and when we were pumping into the tank, we were pressurizing it. When I opened that valve, it depressurized, taking the contents from the bottom of the tank...Next, I suspect that we have some critters who have made their home in the thru-hull for the overboard sewage discharge and that this is blocked, not allowing either the hear or the macerator to pump through it. That'll have to wait until the boat gets hauled. To solve the immediate problem we pulled into a dock and had them pump the tank.
We decided to go to Manchester by the Sea, which is about 5 miles SW of Gloucester. I had never been in here with the boat and was amazed at how tight the mooring field is. They have the entire harbor packed with the maximum number of balls possible with no excess room between balls. You really hope that all of the boats swing the same way at the same time. We were also amazed to find that a mooring ball was $50/night! However, the person who had help fuel and pump the boat agreed that the rate was outrageous and let us have it for free! Wow, that was unexpected!
Today we're headed out and we're headed to Salem, MA and into Boston where we've been offered the use of Paul Duval's mooring ball. There's a strong low moving our way and we want to be somewhere secure for it.
-- Geoff & Sue
For the cruiser: You can anchor in the cove on Great Misery Island given the right wind/wave conditions. Personally I wouldn't come in here again as there's not a lot to see or do. There is good grocery store and pharmacy near the public dock which you're allowed to tie up to for 1 hour maximum, but you need to come in at mid-tide plus. I would suggest going to either Salem or Marblehead.