So we finally made it. Monday, 8th of November 2021 we were back in the US. It was definitely late… no floating dinghy docks in the water and a tide of 7 meters. So you better plan the tide right when you tie your dinghy on a pier otherwise it will be hanging there in the air when you are back (haha…) Almost happend to us… got a bit destracted in a football session with ARIA on land, but luckily we were just back right on time, before it was completely hanging.
The wind looked good to move on towards Portland the following morning. We left on a beautiful sunny day and arrived Thursday, 11th of November in Portland. We tried to slow down but arrived still a little bit too early, so we were drifting a few hours until daylight as we did not want to motor in the dark through the lobster pots. The sun rose and in the distance we could see Mount Washington with snow on top. If we stay a few weeks longer we can go skiiing…
First we wanted to go to a fuel dock in Portland because there was some nasty weather coming and we did not want to run out of diesel at the anchorage. Our diesel consumption had increased since the temperature had dropped. We needed the diesel mainly for our heating now. The fueling up was a bit of a challenge that late in the season…. the first marina we had tried would have been perfect, but they had a problem with the electricity so they could not operate the fuel dock. The second place – just around the corner – was just for commercial fishing boats, the third place was already closed for the season and in the fourth place we could only enter in high tide… so we anchored nearby and waited until the tide was right. Finally done we headed to Yarmouth. Stephen wrote us that there was one floating dock at Madeleine point in the water on Cousins Island at least until the following week… hurray! The public dinghy dock at his place was already gone.
The hospitality of Andrew’s siblings Stephen and Betsy was simply outstanding! We arrived at the anchorage of Cousins Island and received a warm welcome from Betsy and Joe. They had brought Stephen’s car with all the ordered spareparts and packages inside and it was parked right by the dinghy dock at our free disposal. On top of that we were invited for dinner at Stephen’s house. Both Stephen and Betsy offered us to stay in their houses in case we were too cold on the boat. But we were fine. With the heating on, it was nice and cosy. Just the dinghy rides to go on land got a bit chilly and uncomfortable, especially in rainy weather. In addition we prefered to be on the boat when the bad weather with the strong winds was coming. We had a wonderful evening with Stephen, David, Betsy and Joe. It was great to see them again. Jaël and Amina happily accepted Betsy’s offer to sleep in her guest room and had two sleep overs there. They felt like in heaven as they could have a bubble bath in a big bath tub with a beautiful view- Very cosy especially when it is raining outside. I could not resist to have a bath too when I was doing laundry there on Friday late afternoon. The weather was really nasty and the wind was picking up. The laundry was done but André could not pick me up with the dinghy as suddenly the anchor was dragging. Something that honestly only happened once right at the beginning of our trip during mistral in St. Jean Cap Ferrat, where the anchorage was too deep. Luckily André was on board but it took him a while until he had the situation under control to be able to pick me up. We reanchored again and finally the anchor was holding. The girls were having a lot of fun with Betsy, doing self crafted bath bombs and some Christmas decorations. Saturday evening we were invited for dinner at Kim and Sean’s place (the couple from the racing x-yacht PHOENIX). It was a wonderful evening and we enjoyed their company. Stephen and David had spent two days in Sugarloaf and were heading back Sunday afternoon. We were planning to have dinner together at Betsy’s place and I made lasagne for everyone. Oh how glad we were to have made it back to our friends in Portland. It was a short visit but filled with laughter and joy and beautiful friendships that we will cherish for lifetime.
We continued towards the Cape Cod Canal. Our next stop was Mattapoisett, where Ed and Alison with their kids Zoe, Nolan and Cabot live. We entered the canal around 8 o’clock and the timing could not have been better. We passed Sagamore bridge just before the boys school started. They welcomed us waving and running along the canal. What a welcome! Mattapoisett is a beautiful little town in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts with about 6300 inhabitants. Luckily there was still a floating dock in the water so we could get on land with dry feet. The dinghy ride was a bit long though. In summertime this would not bother us at all but middle of November it is a different story… Jaël and Amina were very happy to see their friends from Mount Desert Island again. We received a warm welcome and had pizza together at their house. Ed showed us the boat with which he circumnavigated alone before he had kids. It is stored safe and dry in a boatshed on their property. The kids did not want to stop playing, even though it was late already so we told them that they can see each other in the library the next day when Cabot and Nolan are back from school. Mattapoisett has a fantastic library with very friendly staff. Jaël was allowed to take a book home if she brings it again the following day (and she did and took another one home on Friday).
On the weekend we had planned a visit in Brewster, where Kristin and Ned lived with their kids Sophia and Sam. We had met them in Camden on our way North and the kids had connected so well, that we absolutely wanted to see them again. Jaël and Sophia had become penpals and had written letters to each other in the past 3 months (which we sent as a photo on whatsapp). Furthermore Ned was in contact with André as he wanted to buy a boat as well and had asked André’s opinion on some potential boats he was looking at. And last but not least we had got our new gennaker delivered to Ned’s address. So we were really looking forward to see them again. Jaël and Amina could sleep in Sam and Sophia’s room while Ned offered André and me to stay in a small cottage they normally rent in summer. It was a beautiful sunny day. We packed some sandwiches and made a nice picnic followed by a small hike around a lake. Afterwards Ned showed us some other beautiful spots in the area. Really not a bad place to live! In the evening we ate some pizza and later Ned showed us the cottage. Jaël and Amina shared the beds with and Sam and Sophia and were two very happy girls.
Ned invited us all to spend Thanksgiving on the 25th of November with them at his parents place. It was not sure yet if André could come too or if he would leave for Bermuda before. Me and the girls would come for sure as our flight to Switzerland was on Sunday the 28th of November. We drove back to Mattapoisett and moved to one of Ed’s buoys in Marion, to have more protection from the winds and a shorter dinghy ride to land. Ed had given us a ride so we could let the car in Marion and then move the boat. Afterwards we met up with Ed & his family for a late aftenoon stroll around the Cranberry Bogs.
André checked the weather again… the first part to Bermuda would be the challenging part. That late in the season it was impossible to avoid strong winds. There would be no perfect weather window, so it was just a question of how long and how strong the front would be… I was nervous about it too… since the beginning of our trip, André had never done a passage on his own and we have always been together on the boat while sailing. I would have been more relaxed if someone would have joined him for the passage but he insisted to do it by himself as a single handed passage was still on his bucket list.
The forecasts was not perfect but probably as good as it gets in late November. So André decided to leave Wednesday early morning. We had already done some provisioning on Monday but the rental car had to be returned, the rigg check to be done, the dinghy to be stored and a lift to shore and a place to sleep to be organised for me and the girls. Ed had already offered before to come and get us with the dinghy While André returned the car, we were packing our bags for Switzerland and cleaning up the boat to get it in sailing mode. With the last daylight André got up the mast for the rigg check and then we stored the dinghy on deck. Later Ed came to pick us up. It was very strange to leave André alone for the passage and I was almost as nervous as he was. But I also knew he was gonna be fine.
Ed and Alison offered us to sleep at their place Tuesday night. Wednesday late afternoon Ned would come and pick us up. Luckily Tuesday was the last day of school before Thanksgiving holiday. Traditionally Americans get their Christmas tree after Thanksgiving but Zoe, Nolan and Cabot wanted to share this special event with Amina and Jaël. So that was their plan of the day on Wednesday: get a Christmas tree and decorate it together. I woke up early and Ed was up too as he dad some work to be finished at the boatyard. We checked AIS and saw that André was just a few miles out, maybe just visible from the lighthouse. So Ed gave me a ride. It was a sunny and chilly morning… the billabongs were frozen… definitely time to move south! I spotted Mirabella and had a short talk with André on Whats App… it felt good to hear his voice… next time we will see eacht other in St. Martin… fair winds my Love.
Back at the house Alison was up and we went for a morning walk with their dog Toby. Later that day we drove to the place where they usually choose their christmas tree every year. It took us a while until everyone agreed on one… Ed put the chosen tree on the pickup and home we went to decorate. The kids had a great time to decorate and we felt very blessed to be part of this special moment. Time passed much too quickly and soon it was time to say goodbye.
Ned, Kristin and their kids had come to pick us up and we drove to Brewster. We agreed that the four kids would sleep together in one room as long as everything went well. If they would stay awake too long and not get enough sleep I would move to the cottage with them. But that was not necessary. It was great to see how well the kids got along with each other. There was not a single fight and they enjoyed each others company. We were invited to spend Thanksgiving with Ned’s parents and his brother. It was a beautiful day and I will never forget how we were welcomed with open arms. It was a warm and friendly atmosphere. André would have loved to meet these lovely people too. And the food was simply delicious. I cannot agree to all those complaints about dry turkey… three different stuffings were served separately and I loved each of them. After being able to share Thanksgiving with Ned’s family I had the idea of teaching Sam and Sophia some traditional Swiss Grittibänz baking and made some Swiss roesti one evening for dinner. These were wonderful days and once again we were very thankful that we finally had made it back to the US. Thank you to all our friends in Portland, Brewster and Mattapoisett. You made our North American loop so special and simply unforgettable. Hopefully we can catch up again one day!
Kristin drove us to Fairhaven on Sunday morning, where our bus for New York would leave from. It was a long bus ride as the traffic was getting more and more dense towards NYC. But finally, with about 1 hour delay we made it. On the way to the subway station we passed a Wagamama restaurant and stopped for some Edamame and fried noodles. After our early dinner we walked on 5th avenue and could catch a glimpse of the spectacular Christmas decorations. Jaël and Amina were blown away… We made it on time to the airport and everything went smooth. Bye bye North America! You have really made our journey complete. It was like coming home – similar clima, culture and nature – we had never felt that close to home before in the last 4 years.