The adventure continues onboard my little boat. I tried to make for my furthest point south in building southerlies once again, and once again got my ass kicked before retreating north to a protected anchorage on North Hero Island. I passed three days there as the strengthening winds marched in tight formation from the exact direction I wanted to go.
But it wasn’t all bad there! I love the way my boat rides out a blow, and every one the we weather the more confident I am in her ground tackle. A wonderful French Canadian couple, Claire and Pierre, who I met in the marina and told my aspirations to journey the boat south, came and met me in the anchorage to bring me the complete set of charts from the bottom of the Hudson River to the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay.
I had a good send off from my friends on Grand Isle–drinking wine at anchor, spending the day at my friend’s workshop napping in the Cape Dory he’s restoring, and feverishly taking notes trying to keep track of all the good advice.
The winds finally calmed but thunder storms were imminent. I left early and the wind was still south but light. I tacked south and once I cleared the Point au Roche reef a huge thunderstorm came my way. It began as a rain storm and dying winds, but soon the New York side was covered in black clouds so I turned on the motor and ran from the middle of the lake towards Vermont. I dropped the hook in a cove just as the lightening began to fill the sky.
The storm passed quickly and the wind picked up so I hauled the anchor, reefed the main and headed back out. Unpredicted the wind shifted from the west and I had a ripping reach all the way to my destination, Valcour Island. It was my longest solo sail of 20 miles.
Valcour Island smells like the Pacific Northwest. Her terrain reminding me of the place I will always consider my home waters, and where I learned to sail. I spent two nights on Valcour feeding ducks that ate out of my hand, taking lake baths, and making lists of repairs and maintenance the boat needs.
On Friday my best mate from New York City, Jesse, drove up to meet me in Northern New York. I left early and sailed North in light southerlies. Just as I was entering the harbor the wind and waves picked up.By the time I met him the wind and waves were ripping and I had no desire to tack into the slop, so we motored five miles back to Valcour, the bow of the boat lifting and falling with every swell.
Just as my best mate was about to serve up a feast of scallops fit for the finest yacht I saw the sheer line of Vanupied, my friend Oliver’s Pearson Ariel. I hailed him on the VHF, a spot of fine whiskey that Jesse had brought as a boat warming present in my glass, and Olivier rafted up next to us.
We spent the evening singing sea shanties and drinking far too much rum! With Olivier on guitar, me on ukulelem, and Jesse on harmonica we coined ourselves “The Floating Dinghy Band,” and sat on the bow of my boat to serenade the anchorage.
The plan was to head south into Vermont the next day with west winds predicted, however a lake wind advisory was in effect with 25 knots predicted. I didn’t feel comfortable sailing with only a newbie for crew in those conditions. Olivier is a licensed captain with a trans-Atlantic and other blue water sailing on his resume. We decided we would anchor my boat in a neighboring cove and sail on his boat in a circumnavigation of Valcour Island, but then we couldn’t get my engine to start…