Saturday, August 1, 2020


We are underway across Bigelow Bight in the Atlantic Ocean, with Ipswich Bay behind us. We had a lovely five-night stay in Gloucester Massachusetts, and today we have near-perfect conditions for the 30-mile run to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Vector in Gloucester Harbor.

We had managed to snag the perfect spot in the anchorage, which, with 35' depths at the top of the 10' tide swing, can fit at most three boats.  One boat was already anchored, and a boat which we overtook on our way into the harbor arrived right behind us and had to settle for a much tighter spot.

We had planned to spend only two or three full days in town, but my cousins in New Hampshire are busy this weekend, taking my aunt and uncle on holiday for their 50th. Considering there is basically no place to anchor in Portsmouth, and we'd be paying either for a mooring or a dock the whole time, we decided instead not to arrive until today.

City Hall. The clocks, one on each side, can be seen anywhere in the harbor, and are correct.

We briefly considered leaving Gloucester yesterday or even sooner, and perhaps picking up a mooring at Gosport Harbor in the Isles of Shoals. But that's a dicey proposition -- you have to leave the mooring if a club member wants it -- and everything there is shuttered due to the pandemic, with no landing ashore allowed.

How many towns have a "shellfish constable"?

Since we had a good spot, and nice weather, and a half dozen or more decent outdoor dining venues in walking distance, we opted to just stay in "Glosta" for the duration. We did do some walking around town and dining out, but mostly stayed on the boat, where I got a few projects done. There is a very nice hardware store right next to the dinghy dock.

For our many UU readers: the oldest UU church in the country.

We did have a bit of excitement when a line of thunderstorms passed through Thursday evening, cancelling our dinner plans ashore. It was short-lived and we barely got wet, but the unoccupied sailboat next to us, which had been there since our arrival, dragged anchor a couple of boatlengths, nearly into the mooring field.

The other excitement that transpired on the radio was a fishing vessel assisting a pleasure boat in the outer harbor taking on water. We recognized the name as one of the Wicked Tuna cast,, a name which the Coast Guard had to ask them to repeat three times. All was well in the end, but we could see none of it from where we were.

Another view of Vector in the harbor, from Solomon Jacobs Park.

While I did get a few other minor projects done around the boat, including tightening up the lacing on the new soft top, and wiring the satellite compass to the autopilot, most of my time went down the sinkhole of the lithium battery project. Even so-called "drop-in" replacement batteries never just "drop in," and I spent hours engineering the installation.

Principally I needed to line up all the ancillary parts I would need, so I could get them ordered while we have a good address in Portsmouth. That included 30' of 2/0 Diesel Locomotive cable to run to the new battery compartment in the saloon, lugs to terminate the cables, copper bar to interconnect the batteries, shrink tubing, a circuit breaker, and a small 12-volt lithium-compatible charger to "top up" each battery individually before installation, as recommended by the manufacturer, since we did not have a single 12v charger on the boat.

Sunset over Gloucester from our deck.

The batteries arrived yesterday at my cousins' house, and not a moment too soon, as our six Lifelines have fallen off the cliff. I charge them up before I go to bed, and six hours later, after running only the fridge, the anchor light, a few instruments, and a small fan, they are nearly at cut-out. The charger then runs only about a half hour before it's basically done. I would estimate the batteries are now down to about a third of their original capacity.

At under two years old and in excellent physical condition, these batteries can likely be recovered, to perhaps 90% or maybe even more of their capacity. But that needs to be done one battery at a time, with a charger with the proper settings (or better yet, a pulse desulfator) in a well-ventilated area. Ideally, using cheap utility power, or perhaps even solar. All of that is beyond our abilities on the boat, so I will hope to sell them to someone who wants to try.

The iconic "Man at the Wheel" memorial to fallen fishermen, snapped as we waited for the Blynman Bridge.

We enjoyed outside dining, in some cases in newly-created space in what formerly was on-street parking, at Oliver's Harbor, Topside Grille, Franklin Cafe Cape Ann, and Jalapeno's. I wrote here last time we ate at Jalapeno's that Gloucester is a long way from Mexico, and that is still true. I grilled a nice steak on deck the evening of the storm.

With just the right combination of tide and current, this morning we took a new route, through the Blynman Canal with its lift bridge and into the Anisquam River, coming out in Ipswich Bay and cutting off three miles or so to go around Cape Ann. On a gorgeous Saturday the harbor, canal, and river were jam-packed with boats.

This popular day anchorage and beach at the mouth of the Anisquam was packed with unmasked partiers rafted together. Massachusetts is already surging.

As I finish typing, Isles of Shoals is off our starboard bow, and we are just an hour from the mouth of the Piscataqua. We have a reservation for a mooring on a 5,000+ pound block at the Portsmouth Yacht Club. We'll be riding out Isaias on that mooring when he arrives, so our fingers are crossed that the club maintains the tackle in good order.


  1. I learned something: Isiais is a “he”. Who knew?

  2. You are anchored just off my childhood home ~ Biddeford Pool. The Wood Island Lighthouse is being beautifully restored and is usually open for tours, but not this year. That light flashes every 10 seconds from the second oldest lighthouse in Maine. A perfect spot on a Maine evening.


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!