The Voyage of the Yankee Lady|
Circumnavigating New England on a Sailboat
Tate Publishing & Enterprises LLC, 2013, 380pp, $26.99 hc
This book is unusual fare for this column. It's not diary or an "account" or even "the story" of a voyage. It is virtually a day by day, in some cases hour by hour recording of landmarks and conditions outside the boat, the condition and behavior of the boat...and the reaction of the people on the boat to all of that. It is, in fact, a very detailed log of the voyage combined with spare descriptions of activities of the sailors as they explored the various recreational offerings of the lands they visited as they sailed through and by.
A cautionary note: in spite of the meticulous detail of the navigation process, as well as recreational activities, this book is not an adequate guide. What is described in such detail is most likely no longer there or has changed beyond recognition (except the rocks). This voyage took place in 2002. Furthermore, while technical details are provided this is essentially personal observation s of a great adventure.
Three sailboats (no less), Misty, a thirty-foot Pearson Wanderer, 2nd Wind, a thirty foot Catalina, and the author's Yankee Lady, a Pearson 28 (which she bought new in 1986) left the Connecticut River on June 14 and passed the Old Saybrook outer lighthouse and wouldn't see it again for two years. Each boat had "nine hundred dollars worth of U.S. and Canadian charts and as many cruising guides as we could find...radar, GPS receivers, VHF radios and compasses...(but) did not have the luxury of chart plotters or computer programs." They passed Thimble Islands, Stony Creek, Stamford Harbor...headed for New York City, Hell Gate, East River and the Hudson...lots of locks. (They had to dismast to get under low bridges approaching Albany.) So far, it looks to the reader that a motor vessel would have been far more practical...just hassle after hassle. (But there is a lot of open water to come.)
In all, the three retired couples (an educator, a mechanic, a salesman, a housewife, an engineer and an artist) sail just under three thousand miles "in modest sailboats on modest budgets". A hand drawn map traces the route...from the Hudson to Lake Champlain, to the Richelieu, to the St Lawrence, to the Gaspe. Descriptions of boat conditions, meals aboard and on land, the natives, dock and mooring charges and the weather, flora, boat conditions and breakdowns as all that relates to the cruisers are meticulously described...(there was a lot of ice cream eating at night) but specific dates are spotty.
Upon reaching the Gulf of St Lawrence and exploring, they put up their boats for the winter at a Shediac Harbor, New Brunswick storage yard, planning to spend the nest sailing season exploring the Gaspe, Nova Scotia and the Maine Coast, the Cape Cod Canal and home to Connecticut...just under three thousand miles...and lots of ups and downs.