Sept/03 to Dec/03... Cacouna, Que...Returning to PEI and then on to Halifax and Gloucester, Mass. Our present plan is to stop at Annapolis, Maryland before continuing on to the Bahamas for the winter. This will be slow going, as we will frequently be waiting for weather and making short runs and as the winter gale season sets in.
Dec 25, 2003...Christmas Message:
Hi everyone. At last, after nearly ten thousand miles, we've settled for awhile here in Gloucester Mass., USA of all places. Not by choice, of course, since we were on the way to the Bahamas.
We had to return back to BC by air for a couple of weeks in September, then Hurricane Juan ripped through Halifax and made its way as far as Summerside where, thankfully, Meriah safely rode it out. Unfortunately we were rammed amidships by a fishing vessel while at the dock in Ballantynes Cove, NS., resulting in some serious hull damage. Temporary repairs allowed us to continue, but challenging weather conditions continued to force us to take shelter for up to a week at a time along the coast of Nova Scotia and we had to wait two weeks through gales in Clark's Harbour before finally being able to cross the Gulf of Maine to Bar Harbour and then on to Gloucester.
The weather was just too crazy and by now it was already the beginning of December with the worst early snowstorm ever recorded in the region... 65 knot storm force winds with chill factor of -15°C, seas outside the harbour of up to 50 feet and up to three feet of snow (remember "The Perfect Storm)! That was when we decided to stay here for the winter.
Gloucester is one of the largest and most diverse fishing harbours in the US with a wonderful "Old Country" mix of Italian, Portuguese and American culture. The disappearing traditions of the Atlantic fishery are still alive here and the community is full of sailing people who are just as crazy as us. So we have lots of friends, and with the help of Mark Sheldon, Meriah is safely tucked in to a little marina he manages with some of the best resources on the east coast available here for maintenance and repairs. We're now house-sitting an apartment for the winter looking out over the harbour in "Little Italy" with car included! Finally a chance to slow down and relax with plenty of time now to catch up with all of you out there. Phone number here until the first of April is 978-283-8797 in case anyone wants to call.
As we reflect on the whole trip up to now, we see that it has been far too much at once and should ideally have evolved over at least a three year period. Now that we have made it back to Larry's spawning ground (Atlantic Salmon fortunately do not die), its time to slow down the pace and go with the flow. Its interesting, too, that some of the most wonderful experiences for us on the way back south in the fall have been opportunities to meet up with new friends while harbour-bound by stormy weather. Things might have been tough, but there have definitely been good times in this first stage of our voyage; Nicky and Victoria are still hanging in there.
One great little story has been from our recent arrival at Clark's Harbour where in 1977 I first met up with Dewey Nickerson, a retired fisherman and self appointed ambassador who would meet all new incoming vessels, welcoming their crew into the community and taking care of their needs. So, here we are in 2003, sailing once again into Clark's Harbour some 25 years later... I climb up the ladder of the wharf to be met by another retired fisherman looking out for newcomers. He asks if I know anyone in the community and I answer that the only person I knew was Dewey Nickerson, but that he was probably gone now. Turns out that the man in front of me is Dewey's son and we are both captivated by these wonderful circles which join the present and the past.
So a preview of our spring and summer plans for the new year after repairs to Meriah includes slowly making our way up the coast of Maine to Nova Scotia & Cape Breton, The Magdalen Islands, Prince Edward Island, the Gaspé and then the Lower St Lawrence. We will finally continue inland to Lake Champlain and the Hudson River waterway to New York and on south to the Bahamas for the winter of 2004/05. Hopefully our web site will be fully functional by then, so it should be easy for any of you to follow our progress.
Larry, Nicky & Victoria Christina
LATEST NEWS FROM MERIAH ... May/04
Well, here we are. Thanks to our good friend Mark Sheldon we've hauled out at a little private boatyard at the far inside end of Gloucester Harbour. Now waiting for our insurance company to authorize repairs to the damaged hull. It looks as if the RCMP (Police) have caught up with the fishing vessel that rammed us and are getting ready to compare paint samples for proof, as we were not aboard at the time. There was obvious damage to the fishing vessel which was spotted by a friend of ours in Ballantynes Cove shortly after we had left.
In the meantime, Nicky is scraping off all the white paint above the waterline as we prepare to refinish the hull. Larry has also prepared the damaged area for stripping back the broken planking and repairing the galley inside which was displaced about half an inch inwards by the impact. Through all of this we are still living aboard Meriah. an interesting challenge in itself. One great bonus for Victoria is the Municipal playground which is just across the parking lot... she is meeting lots of other kids.
Over the winter Victoria also enjoyed taking dancing classes with "Dancers Courageous" and swimming lessons with the YMCA. We have also been introducing Victoria to homeschooling after some extensive research by Nicky. We will soon also register for grade one with Saturna Island School in a great British Columbia Gulf Islands offshore education programme.
Yes, as of this spring with a brief visit back to British Columbia, we have moved Meriah's home base from Cowichan Bay to Saturna Island where we plan to set up a mooring and facilities in Boot Cove (click for map) in preparation for an eventual return after our voyage is completed.
GLOUCESTER UPDATE ... From June 6/04
At last, approval from the insurance company for Larry to do the repairs himself. We found some great western red cedar at a local lumber yard and with the generous offer of shop and table saw use from Barry who lives in a condo next to the boatyard and offer of an industrial router from Ed who lives nearby, we quickly got started. The ten damaged strip-planks were routed out and new scarfed lengths from three to six feet glued and screwed back into place with West System epoxy. This was all faired into the shape of the hull with planer and sander and then a six foot length of three inch by five inch oak through-bolted inside across several frames (ribs) for additional support to the damaged area. By July 6th all was completed, including a new paint job to the topsides and another coat of copper bottom paint to the hull below the waterline. We were now ready for launching on the high tide.
ON FRIDAY, JULY 16TH WE WERE READY TO DEPART GLOUCESTER FOR THE 260 MILE RUN TO SHELBURNE, NOVA SCOTIA. WE ARRIVED THERE AT 5:30 AM ON JULY 18TH AFTER CROSSING THE GULF OF MAINE.
We will soon be back on the air with the ham radio to update our APRS positions. (Installing a new tuner).
July 18th to 21st: Shelburne, Nova Scotia... A wonderful time docked at the new Shelburne Yacht Club. We visited all the local museums and managed to repair our alternator which had "fried" on the way across the Gulf of Maine. Not only did we meet new friends here, but also an old friend, Willa Magee, who recognized me walking down the sidewalk in town! She and her husband are doing exciting aquaculture work with a rare mutated species of seaweed which contains kainic acid and dihydrokainic acid. Along with other benefits, these have the potential for repairing nerve sheathing of the central nervous system.
July 21st & 22nd: Shelborne to Halifax... At sea for one day and one night (110 miles). Depart Wed 1pm ... Arrive Thurs 8am.
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