Since that first night out at Jewell Island, Amy and I have spent the majority of our time off on Orca. We might not have if some one had simply explained that she is too small for cruising. In fact she seems to be just the right size for two. Her simple layout down below allows for plenty of space, provided you keep the overnight guests to a minimum. It is possible to sleep four below but this can become difficult as the forward cabin has the head in the vee of the v-berth. Her simple galley consists of a small stainless sink, a two burner alcohol stove, and an icebox accessible from the cockpit. This simple arrangement has produced some of the most memorable meals. We cook everything from lobsters and steamers down below to the best grill foods imaginable on the removable charcoal grill shown on page one. Some people say that an alcohol stove is too slow to boil lobsters. To me it seems pretty clear that these same people are rushing their cocktail hour.
Our cruises have been somewhat minimalist but none the same very rewarding. For the past two years we have taken my summer vacation on board. With one week to burn and the infamous July fog hanging over our heads, we don't go any great distance. but the places we do visit are explored in detail. The list of favorite harbors and haunts includes, Sebasco Estates, Robinhood Cove, Boothbay Harbor, Damariscove Island, Burnt Island and Port Clyde. Outside of vacations, Orca has slipped into a sleepy summer routine of overnight trips from her mooring at Willard Beach, South Portland, to Robinhood Cove where we visit with my brother, often leaving her until the next weekend. This routine is rounded out with regular trips to Diamond Cove on Great Diamond Island where we usually find ourselves after short day sails, many of which include a lunch stop at Little Chebeauge Island where there is in my estimation one of the finest little beaches in the world, at least for those who like to swim in the cold Maine water
Sailors unfamiliar with the Ariel probably wonder how she sails. In a nut shell she's a very solid performer in most aspects. I came to the Ariel directly from an International 210, Ray Hunt's classic one design which is capable of speeds of 10 knots. I have to confess that learning to sail the Ariel which has roughly twice the displacement and a lot less waterline required an adjustment period. Once I got over the fact that a full keel, heavy displacement cruiser is harder to move in light winds, I could focus on her superior qualities. The first of which is comfort. The Ariel is a very comfortable boat. She is reasonably dry in a chop (more so with a Dodger), responsive and lively in gusts, but she really comes into her own with winds over 20 knots and reasonably well spaced seas of 4 to 6 feet.
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