2 October 2015

Two men in a boat!

Alan and Brec first met in Tahiti in 1999, as each was on their circumnavigation. There after they kept bumping into one another, until they met again on the island of Rebak in Malaysia in 2001 when they attempted to sail across the Indian Ocean in company. It took them 9 days to get as far as the Nicobar Islands as the winds were contrary. When they heard that the Monsoon had changed, they turned back and took only 3 days to return to Rebak, where there was a small marina. Here they remained until 2002 when they successfully sailed in company to Sri Lanka. They finally parted company in Gibraltar where Brec sailed west across the Atlantic to get back to the USA and Alan North to get back to Germany. Thus their friendship was forged for life. Now in 2015 they were going to sail together! We bears did wonder how two solo circumnavigators would get on in one small boat!!!
Brec has a lovely 27ft Pacific Seacraft, which he sailed round the world on, called OTTER.

The weather for this venture could not have been better, sunshine galore and winds from the west to blow us up Long Island Sound as far as Martha's Vineyard. Once there the wind turned to come from the NE and so gently blow us back again.


We soon found our place on board from where we could observe the antics of the humans. Brec had a friendly little dog called Pugsly with whom we quickly became friends.

On day one the humans went shopping to victual the boat and so set off late morning for the Thimble Islands. It was indeed a lovely sail with balmy winds. Once the wind vane steering had been set, the humans just relaxed and enjoyed the sail and each other's company. Neither of them likes to steer much, which is an odd quirk for single handers. Brec made sandwiches for lunch and it has to be said he is the world's best sandwich maker. So much so that Alan refused to make any and left it all to Brec! As the sun set we picked up a mooring amongst the Thimble islands.



Alan then cooked the first evening meal on board, which they washed down with a beer or two. We bears have to say that we have seldom seen two men get on so well together. They laughed a great deal, about themselves or about the stories they told each other. The next day they set off early and sailed to the mouth of the Connecticut River and stopped in Saybrook Point Marina. At 100$ a night for just 27ft, we have to say it was not cheap, but the facilities there were excellant.


It being the 15th September Brec now surprised Alan by getting Sandy to come to the restaurant where they were going to eat! The two Morgans further surprised him by turning it into a pre birthday party and sang a song as the dessert was brought out with a candle! You could not wish for better friends than these two, and a better "two for one deal" has never been made. A good time was had by all, yet poor Sandy had to drive back to Milford after the event, while the two men could just crash out on board.




The men were up at dawn and set off for Block Island in more beautiful weather, but sadly little wind so it was a motor sail most of the way. Here we picked up a mooring and launched the dinghy to get ashore. Alan loved this for it gave him back the feeling of being a live aboard again, just like the circumnavigation.
Brec now showed Alan the place from where he had set off for his circumnavigation and it was the place to which he returned, four and a half years later. Brec's family and friends gave him both a farewell party and a welcome home party at this spot.



It being now Alan's birthday the men went to a nice restaurant overlooking the harbour for another celebratory meal.
The next day in no wind, but hot sunshine we went to another island called Cuttyhunk where we picked up another mooring before going for a walk ashore.
Here Brec went for a swim and to check on his anode on the prop.



The summer season was over and so there were very few yachties and tourists about when the humans went ashore for a walk. There is a school for just two children we understand who live on the island all year.

The end of the day was rewarded with a beautiful sunset. The next morning, however, was foggy!
We set off quickly in the hope we could avoid the worst of the fog. It was not to be, as we made a mistake in navigation and ended up on the rocks off a tiny island called Gull Island!!! We were firmly on the rocks and so Brec rowed out the bower anchor and Alan pulled us off by the time he was back on board to stear us away from danger. Without further incident we motored on to Martha's Vineyard.




We anchored close inshore and motored in the dinghy ashore. The harbour was full of interesting sail boats and one beautiful schooner even picked up its mooring in the harbour under full sail! A great sight to see. We stayed here an extra day and the humans went ashore and hired bicycles to tour round. The day was really hot and poor Alan even suffered a bit of prickly heat. However, this did not stop him having a lot of fun. In Oak Bluffs there was a fair and the USA's oldest continuously operated carousel. If you catch and find a brass ring as you go round you get a free ride.







The houses on Martha' Vineyard are lovely and many are near the water's edge and have their own jetty. Alan jokingly remarked that what he know wanted to find was a woman with a house, jetty and boat in lovely Connecticut.  Brec said he should put an advert in the papers saying as much, but adding, "send pictures, of boat house and jetty!" This joke kept the pair of them amused for days. And they say bears have small minds!!!!!!

Our next destination was Newport. Here Brec had a friend, called Nannette who had arranged for us to get a berth at the Newport Yacht Club.



The annual Newport Boat Show was on its last day and still in full swing when we arrived. Nannette took us to a great yacht club restaurant on Goat Island for dinner where we saw Steven Spielberg's yacht, but not the man himself.

Brec and Nannette had a discussion about who was taller and so they had to have their pictures taken to see! Then it was off to her house for showers and sundowners.

We stayed another day here to view the sights. Alan got up early and bought some Bagels for breakfast. A first for him as he had never had them before.

The men went by water taxi to view a fort.
 And here Alan found some bottles which reminded him of Pat and Dan's song "100 bottles of beer on the wall."

Brec was suddenly desperate as he had got down to his last roll of paper towels which was a jumbo one. He uses at least one normal roll a day for cleaning and things and by the time the trip had ended he had Alan doing the same! So more had to be bought before we could set sail again!

We set off for Stonington and the Wadawanuk Yacht Club with Christine, another of Brec' friends and a good time was had by all. Mind you on arrival she had a couple of her girl friends come on board and the boys felt a bit like monkeys at a zoo being looked at!!! These two women then went off to a party.
Brec, Alan and Christine first had a drink at a bar and restaurant called the "Salty Dog" where a lovely young barmaid wore a t-shirt which said "good dog"!! Then it was off to another pub for a meal. It was here that Christine's friends came to pick her up. They were well tanked up from their party and voices got a bit loud during a political discussion. Which just goes to prove the rule that officers and gentlemen should not discuss money or politics in the "Mess"! 
The next day was a short one, but with interesting navigation as we motored round to Mystic Seaport. Christine had arranged a berth for us at the Mystic Downtown Yacht Club.







A good time was now had by all of us as we also toured the Mystic Seaport museum.

The following morning another of Brec's friends came by and took us to a diner for breakfast. 

She also took us shopping for more paper towels and other less important things like victuals! Then we set off for a place we shall call Brec's beach. 
 On the way out of the Mystic River we saw that Americans need golf carts to get to their boats on the jetty. Boy are they idle!!!! But it really is a pretty place to live.

When we got to Brec's beach we anchored and rowed ashore to go and visit his brother.


How cool is that????
After this nice visit we set off for Fisher's Island where we picked up a mooring for the night.
It was a very early start in the dark to sail to Port Jeferson on Long Island, where we picked up another mooring amongst some sand dunes, where we had lunch. After which we motored into the port for fuel. The tide was out as you can see.
Having got fuel we motored round to the town wharf where we made up for a run ashore.
Here it was Alan who'd ought the boat alongside and Brec who went ashore with the lines, one of the rungs on the ladder gave way as he leapt ashore and he scratched his arm. Dr Alan administered first aid, but his plasters were so old they had no stick and so Brec got out some green tape. He wore this green badge of courage with pride for the rest of the voyage.

Back on the mooring by the sand dunes we had anchor beers as the sun set. 
In the morning we were back at the port were we made up on a jetty next to some tugs and the ferry terminal to await Sandy who was sailing back to Bridgeport with us.

A full American breakfast with eggs sunny side up, bacon and pancakes with maple syrup was called for, Alan said. There were so many pancakes Brec had to help him eat them!
When Sandy arrived we set off without further ado for home in a stiff breeze.

 It was a cracking last sail of a superb voyage of two weeks. During it,  the men talked and talked, laughed every single day, sometimes so much, it hurt, Alan said! The men learnt from each other and Brec was kind enough to let Alan bring the boat alongside, or to a mooring, most of the time which is proof enough he trusted him with the second love of his life and one that had carried him round the world. Someone did call them, "the odd couple" which perhaps sums up their relationship, for not once did either of them tire of being together! In fact they will admit that the two weeks together on OTTER were better than either of them had dared hope for, before it began!!!!!