Capt. Rob Welling is a professional yachtdelivery captain delivering power and sailing vessels throughout the US and Eastern and Western Caribbean. In addition to boating, photography and design are his passions. He and his wife, Shannon, own a small boutique design and creative services shop together called Bluescape Creative. The name was derived from an evening photo he took while crossing the Gulf Stream from the Bahamas…
…Out there, there is no landscape, only bluescape.
“As a yacht delivery captain, destinations are something I tend to see a lot of. Some incredible, some not so remarkable and some simply unavoidable due to weather or mechanical issues. Generally speaking though, I see them for reasons different than those who have cut the ties to their home port to enjoy the cruising lifestyle. Often, as soon as I reach my final destination, it’s time to hop a plane, boat or car and head out of there, without so much as a “Hi, how are ya? Welcome to…” Occasionally though, I’ll have the good fortune to spend a little time here and there, and recently, I spent a little time in Bar Harbor, Maine at the end of a nice long haul up the East coast.
The trip began in Sarasota, FL, and with approximately 1800 nautical miles to cover. The vessel was a 110′ private yacht, built at the Freeport Shipyard in the panhandle of Florida. We were well-staffed with a crew of seven: 6 watchkeepers, and Cass the chef, whose sole responsibility was to keep the rest of us fat and happy. I only hope we did as good a job as he did. We chose our weather window and headed out on a balmy, calm Tuesday afternoon. Our local nemesis, the shallow waters of “Big Pass” had been cooperating with mother nature over the past couple years. Once safely outside, the watch schedules started almost immediately. Teams of two, standing 4 hour watches – 2 watches per 24 hours.
About 2 days in we had rounded the Keys and watched our heading dwindle to nearly due North, enjoying a free 2.5 knot push from the Gulf Stream, fishing along the way. We landed a nice, nearly 60lb Wahoo, which Cass made fast and delicious work of.
Eventually we made it up to Winyah Bay to Georgetown, SC. And with a less than stellar forecast on the horizon, we decided to make our way up the ICW for the next couple days. We departed at sun-up and witnessed something that had us all scratching our heads. We later learned that what we were watching were the aerial acrobatics of river sturgeon. These things were HUGE! And leaping like circus animals out of the water, everywhere. Quite a sight to see.
Next, a stop in Southport, NC at the Southport Marina was a treat as we walked our way around the waterfront over to Fishy Fish and American Fish restaurants to enjoy a little live music and a cold drink or two. The waterfront row of bars and restaurants was so much fun we didn’t make it back to the boat in time for Cass’ 5-star clam linguine.
We then headed north from Southport, we passed a few small towns – mostly quaint, one-horse stops that make you long for a quieter life if you live a busy one. People boating, families at their homes, fishermen working their way to and from the inlets. It’s a busy stretch here and there, interspersed with stretches of nothing but grass and occasional stands of trees… not something you see much of in today’s coastal world, especially here in Florida. To some it’s tedious, to some it’s pure heaven. Like many things in this world, it’s all in how you choose to look at it.
Our last stop on the AICW was Morehead City, at which it was time to head offshore again and around the cape. We cleared the inlet at Beaufort, and headed out around Cape Lookout, and it felt good to be “on our way” again. It was a relief to be able to travel 24/7 and make some good headway. Crossing the Hudson Canyon approximately 100 miles offshore of New Jersey (the largest submarine canyon on the East coast, and one of the largest in the world), our radar lit up like a Christmas tree from all the swordfish longliners and their fishing gear. That kept us on our toes for a couple hours negotiating the gauntlet above a 4,000′ deep canyon that rises up to about 400′ in at its edges. Quite the fishing grounds, to be sure.
After a couple days, we found ourselves at the mouth of the Cape Cod Canal, the world’s widest sea level canal, facing a strong ebb tide against a stiff southwest breeze. This made for short, steep 4-5′ seas for about ¾ of a mile or so where the 4knot current directly battled the 20 knot wind with no apparent winner.
Once exiting the canal, we made our way to Boston, for a welcome rest and a night “on the town.” Pulling into Boston Yacht Haven, where a shoehorn would have been handy to help get into our slip, we enjoyed being docked firmly in the heart of Beantown, and enjoyed a good part of what it had to offer that evening. A walk through town, and a visit to the oldest bar in America, The Bell in Hand Tavern (dating back to 1795), should be on the docket for sure if you take a visit. The cobblestone streets have been there for literally hundreds of years, with the likes of Paul Revere, and John Hancock gracing them with their presence. If you stop, close your eyes and pay attention, you can almost feel the history surrounding you.
Then, after making our own little dent in Boston’s history, it was off again. Next stop Bar Harbor. Along the way, 90 miles off Plymouth we were welcomed to Maine by a large Right whale headed south as we headed north. Then, upon finally making it to the mouth of Bar Harbor on Mt. Desert Island – we were welcomed by the most beautiful sunrise over the water I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot of them.)
It was a real treat – and I was happy to be able to snap off a few shots as we entered the harbor and secured the lines at our final destination, the Harborside Hotel and Marina. The downtown area is a quaint few blocks by a few blocks, entirely walkable, and lined with numerous restaurants, bars, shops, art galleries and the like. Even a local brewery if the mood hits you. Of course, everyplace and their neighbor has lobster specials, and well, “When in Rome” as they say… you just kind of have to do it. We chose the 2lb lobster dinner at the Harborside Hotel, and it was indeed a treat.
Acadia National Park is also on Mt. Desert Island, with Cadillac Mountain being its most notable feature from a distance. Acadia is a big draw to the area for it’s camping, hiking and such, and Cadillac’s claim to fame is that it is the first place in the US to see the sunrise every day.
My journey had come to an end and as always, it was time to move on. There was another destination on the horizon. A very familiar Island just 170 nautical miles south of my home port – so close it’s nearly a second home by now. A little piece of coral and limestone called Key West.
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