Monday, June 24, 2013

"The Harvey Show"

We got underway early after spending the night anchored off Vineyard Haven, Martha’s Vineyard on Monday morning, June 24. The plan was to get as far as we could toward Maine that first full day guests were onboard, but ended up staying off Martha’s Vineyard after a run in with the US Coast Guard.

We started first thing from our anchor off Goat Island, RI on Sunday, June 23. Finally, away from the dock where we've been attached for 2 weeks. The Captain and chef have been sitting on that dock since February! Up the sails went and we were cruising, headed for the Massachusetts Bay side of the Cape Cod Canal. Harvey, Islandia’s owner, had the mast shortened by 10 ft specially to fit under the bridge of the Cape Cod Canal, so by god, we were going that way. Harvey is 87 years young and still as sharp and spritely as ever. He’s a chemist by trade who invented the compound that goes on the backs of carpets. His company, Textile Rubber & Chemical, built the town where they live, Dalton, Georgia, and is technically where my paychecks come from, taxed and above board all the way. He has an incredibly sarcastic sense of humor and gives Captain Steve shit and Steve gives it right back to him; he’s a bullshitter for sure. Yet this time, his bullshitting got us caught up with the Coast Guard.
From one smart ass to another - Capt. Steve, left, and Owner, Harvey, playing chess. 
We were nearly 3-4 miles away from the canal when we got a radio call from the Cape Cod Canal Control Center. They asked if we planned on going through the canal and we indicated that we were. The Automatic Identification System (AIS) that most boats are equipped with as well as traffic controllers display all kinds of information including all the boat names that are out there and their size, height, tonnage, direction of travel, etc.  Some say it is the most important new navigation device to arrive on the boating scene since GPS.” According to It allows other boats nearby to communicate back and forth much easier in that you can directly address the boat by its name, among other benefits, eliminating a lot of confusion.

So the Canal Control indicated that there’s work being done to the bridge over the canal and that we wouldn’t be able to fit through. Well, this opened Pandora’s box. In hearing this news, Steve and Andy started tacking the boat to head back out of Buzzard’s bay toward Woods Hole, busying them away from the radio when more calls came through. While they were busy dealing with the boat in high winds and chop, Harvey was sat at the helm with the radio next to him. Then came the additional radio calls and questions…

Our route from Newport toward Cape Cod Canal. Orange dot indicates where the Coast Guard picked us up.

USCG: “Why didn’t you contact the Buzzard’s Bay Light Tower before you entered into the bay?... Had you done so as required by Federal law, you would’ve found out about the canal then…”

Harvey: “Oh well we didn’t know we were supposed to do that… It sure would’ve been nice if we knew about it about 4 or 5 hours ago! Haha!”

The smart remarks are what tripped the Coast Guard’s trigger, and within about 15 minutes we had a USCG boat on our trail. They followed us for another hour or so, communicating back and forth, allowing us to continue making way toward our anchorage destination off Martha’s Vineyard, but there was no way we were getting let off that easy. Although it wasn’t that big of a deal they were still totally going to board us if not simply to check out the boat and go through the motions with the young Coasties who couldn’t have been over the age of 22.

"Hey guys, lets check out this mega yacht!"
We reached the Vineyard Haven harbor finally, although we didn’t start anchoring before they boarded us. They were at least nice enough to let us continue on the short distance towards our anchorage. Their boat simply pulled up next to ours while we were still traveling at a fairly good speed. We slowed down a bit to let them on, but its not like either boats were standing still by any means. Three young good-looking Coasties hopped onboard all eager to do probably one of their first exercises like this. They had to check that everything in the engine room was safe, check if we had enough fire extinguishers and life jackets and look at identification for everyone onboard. They explained that we weren’t in any trouble, but that they still had to look over everything anyway. Then they got down to the bottom of it – “Why weren’t you answering our calls? You were supposed to check in with the Buzzards Bay Light Tower.” Luckily, our ignorance got us out of it with a slight hiccup to our itinerary and some wicked excitement for the day. It was all light hearted and laughs chatting with them and they were definitely impressed with our boat. “The Harvey Show,” as we like to call it, strikes again. There is truly never a dull moment with this guy. 

Getting boarded
The irony of it all is that I was born in Falmouth, MA, right next to Woods Hole, where my Dad was stationed in the Coast Guard as a pilot. I haven't been back to the area since I was 2 years old, and upon my first return back, we ran into the Coast Guard! Not that those guys would've been my Dad 23 years ago, its still kind of ironic, don't you think? ;) 

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