Having barely completed sea trials a year ago in New Zealand, FPB 78-1 Cochise has just surpassed the 14,000NM mark.
We are just beginning to learn how to use the new cruising options she brings to us. We have never been known for schedules or rigidity in choosing where to go, we prefer to let weather and serendipity be key determinants. So far this summer has brought us the pleasure of watching the first world J-class championship, followed by a week in Gloucester soaking up the atmosphere and making new friends. Plan C (versions A and B having already become defunct) was to head to Maine from here. But the promise of a S to SW fresh breeze and a bit of surfing put us on a course for Nova Scotia. We were not disappointed. The breeze was in the 12-20 knot range, seas 5-12 feet, conditions similar to what we will find on a “normal” trade wind passage. Averaging 10.75 knots, we burned 8.4 US gallons per hour or .78 gallons per nautical mile.
We have sailed together as a couple now for the better part of five decades. It seems like yesterday that we thought nothing of pushing ourselves and our boat – 300 NM/day was the norm. One of our main goals in starting the FPB 78 project – it is safe to say we are at a point in our lives where we want to wind down a bit – was to have the ability to continue cruising as we mature, if not by ourselves, then at least accompanied by good friends. Towards that end we are presently a crew of four aboard Cochise. The two of us are accompanied by circumnavigators Michael and Nancy Morrell, longtime friends from Tucson, Arizona. This allows us a much easier watch system, as well as companionship. Right now, as Michael and Nancy get used to Cochise, Michael, Nancy, and Linda stand watches of three hours on six hours off, while Steve is a “floater”, always near the watch, where he is instantly available and can lend a hand when required. Those of you who have cruised with three or fours hours on/off will recognize the luxury of sleep that those extra hours between watches bring. Even the “dog watch”, those hard-to-stay-alert hours between late evening and sunrise, is now relatively easy on the crew. Keeping watch and writing up the log for three extremely comfortable hours is no hardship. All of this has added to our ability to change our minds when the wind and the whim dictate.
Currently Cochise sits in the Bras, D’or lakes of Canada’s Cape Breton region.
Negotiating St Peter’s locks is easy, but there is certainly no room to spare!
Food has always been a big part of our cruising routine, and now, with three talented chefs aboard, culinary standards have reached new heights. Take Sunday’s brunch: blueberry pancakes, with bacon and eggs, are much yummier than this poor attempt at food photography would indicate. Nancy and Steve find they have something in common in the way they like their pancakes–quickly toasted in a hot pan with a gooey interior.
This late in the year we have the anchorages to ourselves. Today is Sunday and we do a couple of chores aboard, then explore the coastline, settle into a new anchorage and watch a couple of movies – it is Sunday after all.
“Mama Mia” is followed by dinner…
…a delicious pasta recipe courtesy of Karen Neri in Newport, and then we are entertained by “A Murder of Crows” followed by the Talking Heads concert film “Stop Making Sense”. Remember, we are cruising now.
We are very late in the season to be heading this way. Every yacht we meet is heading south, towards warm weather. Cochise allows us a wider ranges of destination options. In this part of the world things are relatively close together. The longest “passage” can be completed within a day and one or two nights at sea.
On the other hand, while we love cruising with ice, where the ice comes in the form of bergs, we do not like it when it accumulates on deck.
Last night we met up with longtime cruising friends and high latitude experts John and Phyllis Harries. They have been our go-to gurus for many years. And although we talk or text often, it has been way too long since we shared an anchorage. After a preliminary catchup we got down to business and picked up some pointers from John and Phillis on how to use the two months or so between now and when we want to have Cochise stored for the winter.
Above, John (right) and Phyllis (middle), give Michael anchorage pointers, while Nancy and Linda (unseen in this photo) take notes.
We are cruising now in a part of the world that demands caution, preparation, and the ability to deal with sub-optimal weather. We always want to have a “bolt hole” programmed in, somewhere that gives us good protection when the inevitable equinoctial gales begin to blow. Given the active hurricane season, it is prudent to assume that when the tropical storms transition to extratropical structure and head our way, the blows will be noteworthy.
Presently there is a cut off upper level low sitting over us, and the light and scenery are flat, almost unattractive. We will watch the weather closely. We are not anxious to discover what happens when tropical moisture mixes with that cut off low. Cochise is keeping us warm and dry. We are comfortable beyond reason. When we realize that a month has passed since the Morrells joined us, and we are still enjoying each other’s company, we know that Cochise is working as intended.
If we grow tired of the weather, and desire something a bit warmer, we need only wait for a northeast breeze, and then surf towards the Gulf Stream.