Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

First off we want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

We have been taking it easy here in paradise, what else would you expect, but we have also been busy.  The weekend was windy so not much happened.  Sunday we made a trip into town and visited Vertram at his model ship shop.  We visited him last year and wanted to catch up on his latest work.  He builds wooden models of ships that were used, built or have a history here in the Bahamas. Here is some of his work:

Monday morning and again this morning we joined in with some of the locals and cruisers for a tradition here on Green Turtle Cay.  For two weeks leading up to Christmas they have a tradition of "welcoming the Christmas spirit'.  What they do, and we joined in, is they meet at 5:00 am and march through the town several times beating drums and singing Christmas carols.  There was one problem that I picked up on right away.  They hand out song booklets so everyone has the words but unless you are passing under a street light you cannot read them.  It is still dark.  It is a small town so several passes are made going up and down all of the streets.

After marching for about an hour they serve breakfast.  On Monday it was fish stew and grits and sausage and grits.  Christmas Eve there was a larger group and they served scrambled eggs, sausage and grits.

After that I took a nap and since it was low tide Cori headed out to Gilliam Beach to look for shells.

This is one of her favorite beaches since it is so easy to find the sand dollars if you know the technique.  Last year she didn't learn it until we came back on our way home.  So far she has spent several days collecting Here is an example of just a few she has collected:

It also would not be Christmas without a batch of caramels.  She brought the fixing with since there is no guarantee she could buy them here or if we could afford them.  So far she has only handed out a few, we still need to cut and wrap them.

All in all it doesn't feel like Christmas with everything so green and the temperatures in the high 70's but we are doing our best to get into the Christmas spirit.  We will be staying here at the dock through Christmas then we will go out to one of the islands to anchor and get away for a couple of days then come back for Junkanoo.

Again, we want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

In the Bahamas

We made it.  We are at Green Turtle Cay for the Holidays.

Monday was a long day, very long.  We pulled anchor again at sunrise and started motoring down the ICW with several others.  Our goal was to make it to Ft. Pierce and make the crossing from there.  The day went well, we arrived at Vero Beach around 1:00 pm.  Normally Vero Beach is the waiting spot for a weather window.  We already had our window scheduled so we only stopped to refuel and to fill water tanks.  We took on only 65 gallons of diesel, our first refueling since we left Morehead City in NC and we burned half of that motoring from St Augustine.  We made it to Ft Pierce about 4:30 pm and dropped anchor.  About that time we got one of our weather update emails from Chris Parker, our weather adviser and it was still positive for a crossing on Tuesday.  The wind had blown hard all day but it was dropping as predicted.  At 5:00 pm Chris does a weather update on the single-sideband radio and we asked about proceeding now rather then wait until morning.  His advise was it shouldn't be a problem.  After a quick dinner we pulled the anchor again and started out the inlet just as the sun set.  We were greeted with 4-6 foot waves as we got out of the inlet.  As we proceeded to get further offshore the waves lessened as the water got deeper.  We set course and started to our first waypoint.  The wind was out of the southeast and was just close enough on our nose that we could not sail, we were going to have to motor.  Throughout the night the waves dropped until we were only dealing with 1-2 footers and the wind continued to die.  By the time we crossed into the Sea of Abaco were dealing with 1 footers and about 10 knots of wind, still too close on the nose for sailing.

We continued following our route from waypoint to waypoint through the day.  A lovely day with light winds and a light chop in the water.  Last year we crossed during the day and traveled this area in the dark, this time is was nice to see the wide open expanse of the Sea of Abaco with it's light turquoise color and the ability to see all of the way to the bottom.  Evening came as we got closer to Green Turtle Cay and we arrived about 10:00 pm and dropped anchor.  We would wait until daylight and high tide to continue into Black Sound and tie up at Donny's Dock.

In the morning we called Donny to let him know we were coming in but he was not available.  While they were looking for him he pulled up alongside to welcome us and tell us where he was putting us.  We followed him in and got tied up to the dock.  We had talked to him previously letting him know when we were coming and he had also been following us on our Spot location reports.

Once settled in at the dock we proceeded to the Customs office to check in.  Another couple arrived at the office at the same time.  We were behind them at the fuel dock in Vero Beach and had anchored next to them in Ft. Pierce.  They waited until morning to leave and had just arrived.  We on the other hand were clean and rested having arrived the night before and were showered and rested.  We did learn one thing from them.  We learned about checking in as "co-captains".  If we sign in with both of our names listed as the captains we can eliminate problems if something happens to me (on the Immigration documents as sole captain) and Cori tries to take the boat out of the country by herself and only listed as crew.  Something we hope to never have to deal with.

Once checked in we are now "free to wander aimlessly about the Abaco" as Will on Anteries announces on the local radio net.  We are planning to stay in Green Turtle Cay through New Years and then start moving further south.

So far we have dinghied around the area, going up to White Sound to see who was there, into town for a bit of walking around and picking up some milk at the grocery store and relaxing.  Cori was able to get over to Gilliam Beach to start shelling. Not a lot of relaxing has happened yet.  Donny is adding to the docks and we gave him a hand with some of that,  He had planned to go fishing on Friday and taking Cori along but things got a bit busy with all of the boats coming in so we were giving him a hand moving boats around.  Friday evening was a highlight, Donny was going to be in his churches Christmas play and we went to watch.  He had two lines but he did great (There is no room here.  Go somewhere else.) and even got applause for it.  It was a typical small town, small church production with songs from the kids and two short plays about the real meanings of Christmas.  It brought back a lot of memories of the productions we would put on at Christmas when we were in grade school.  After the church production we walked around town looking at the lights and came on a birthday party.  Everyone was welcome, Cori got hit on by the birthday boy, they had an open bar for drinks and were serving big plates of beans and rice, mac and cheese, coleslaw, fried snapper and roasted pig.  It was a great celebration and typical of the Islanders friendliness.

Over night the predicted front came through and the temperature has dropped a bit but the winds are blowing 20-30 knots.  This is why everyone was in a hurry to get here and hunker down instead of waiting several more weeks in Florida before crossing.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

On the move again

We have left Palm Coast.  Our visit there lasted longer than we expected.  We ordered some stuff from Amazon and part of the order was delayed.  Delayed to the point we have not gotten it yet, they keep moving the arrival date out from the original.  Our friend Jim is willing to pick it up for us.  Jim has done a lot for us while we were there: loaning us a vehicle, including us in runs for shopping and to visit other friends passing through St. Augustine and providing airport pickup and delivery and much more.  Thanks Jim!

We decided to leave because our weather advisor stated in his Friday report that “you need to get where you want to be for Christmas by Wednesday.”  There is some nasty weather coming in later in the week.  We did not want to be in Palm Coast but would rather be in the Bahamas, more specifically Green Turtle Cay.  We made the decision Friday evening and were moving on the water Saturday by 8:00 am.  We had wanted to go back up to St Augustine and go out the inlet and sail or motor offshore to either Ft Pierce or West Palm Beach and then make the crossing.  Two things changed that plan.  The weather offshore for Sunday was going to be nasty.  Also there is a report of a barge losing 25 shipping containers somewhere around Cape Canaveral.  Hitting one of them will really ruin your day.  We know they are out there because stuff has been washing up on shore: coffee cans, pet food, boxes of wine and other assorted flotsam.

We made it to New Smyrna on Saturday and anchored for the night across from the yacht club.  We were treated to dolphins swimming around the boat in the dark and then the Christmas boat parade passed by.  We had a very eventful evening then a quiet night at anchor.

We were up before dawn on Sunday and had the anchor up by 7:00 as the sun came up.  We are on the ICW so it is a motorboat ride but we made the best of it by raising the mainsail and motorsailing for part of it.  Having the sail up while you motor will give some extra speed if the winds are right.  We are anchor down at Dragon Point near Melbourne FL.  We had a good day traveling 58.8 nautical miles which converts to 67.6 statute miles.  A long day on the water running ten hours at around 6 knots.

We plan another early and long day tomorrow in hopes of making the crossing on Tuesday or Wednesday.  Our next report should be from the Bahamas.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Back in Palm Coast

We are back from our Thanksgiving break in South Dakota.  All of Cori's siblings were home and she did not want to be left out.  The trip out was good, the only delay was the final flight from Minneapolis to Rapid City.  The return flight was a bit more problematic.  We had an hour layover in Minneapolis scheduled but the flight out of Rapid City was delayed an hour.  This put us on later flights and would mean we would arrive in Daytona Beach around midnight.  We lucked out in Minneapolis and cleared the standby list and got an earlier flight.  We were boarding the plane as the people whose seats we had taken showed up to find their seats had been given away.  We were then able to get back on our original flight out of Atlanta and arrived on time.  Thanks to our friend Jim for picking us up and getting us back to the boat.

Oh ya, it snowed several times while we were there.

Back on the boat we have to wait for some things we ordered from Amazon to be shipped but are finishing off some small projects.  I needed to replace a block on deck for the mainsheet and had to take out a ceiling panel and trim.  Cori used this as an excuse to re-varnish the trim.  While in SD we made a run to Deadwood to transfer the registration for the dinghy to SD.  We now do not have to worry about the Florida Wildlife stopping us when out for a ride.  Cori has her sewing machine out and is working some sewing projects.

We are antsy to get moving but need to wait for Amazon.  Fortunately the marina has a monthly rate instead of weekly rates so instead of renting a slip for just the days we were going to be gone we have it for a month.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Palm Coast FL

Saturday morning the winds were picking up from the northeast.  The anchorage we were in is not well protected from the NE so we decided to move.  First we had to catch a bridge opening.  Just past the bridge and at the other end of the mooring field is what is called the south anchorage.  We moved down there, picked a spot and anchored.  Looking at the depth and the tides told us we made a questionable decision.  We had four-plus feet below the keel but the tide table said there was a five foot tide variation.  We would be real close to being aground at low tide.  Looking at our options we decided it was maybe time to move on.  We had about 25 miles to get to Palm Coast but the charts showed an anchorage down by the Matanzas Inlet.  Off we went.  It turned out that the boat in front of us had the same idea and all we had to do is follow them.  Once they set their anchor we chose our spot and dropped anchor also.  There is a fair amount of current being this close to the inlet but our trusty Rocna anchor bit in and held.

This is a change from St. Augustine where we were anchored in the middle of town.  We can see some high rise apartments in the distance but we are in the middle of a National Monument with nature all around us.  In 1742 the Spanish built a small fort here and in 1924 it became a National Monument along with 300 acres surrounding it.  It is managed by the National Park Services.  It has been reconstructed and is open to tours with a free shuttle ride provided by the Park Service.

We settled in for the rest of the day keeping an eye on the tide and current changes to be sure we did not drag.  After a quiet night and a lazy morning we took the dinghy to the visitors center to learn about the fort and take the ride over for a tour.  The tour isn't much, they offer a short video and then a short commentary when you get off the shuttle boat and then you are off on your own.  It is a small outpost, usually manned by one officer, four infantrymen and two gunners so it doesn't take long to see everything.  There are even two of the original guns that were left there when the Spanish abandoned the fort in 1819.

After that we went back to the boat and attempted to watch the Nascar race, which if you are into Nascar you know was delayed by rain and not broadcast on television.

After another quiet night we needed to move on.  We had reserved a slip at the Palm Coast Marina starting on Monday.  A couple of hours later we pulled into the marina, tied up, plugged in and connected the free cable television.  We now have hundreds of station with nothing to watch just like everyone else.  While here we are working on a couple of projects and then on Friday we will leave for South Dakota for Thanksgiving with Cori's family.

There are more photos in the photo gallery.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hanging out in St. Augustine FL

We have been here a week now.  We have been doing a combination of tourist stuff and just hanging out.  So far we have done the trolley tour, toured the old fort, taken the cruisers shuttle for shopping and walked around the Old City.  We had a recommendation to eat at Mojo's BBQ so on Sunday we went there to celebrate Cori's birthday.  We found out Bill Wier from Red Canary was in town working on his boat so he joined us for dinner.  Fabulous food, we went back another evening for a light dinner is was so good.  We were told where we could go by dinghy to tie up and walk to Home Depot and others stores so we have made that trip several times along with a trip across the inlet to Vilano Beach and the Publix store for more provisions.  Cori is busy with sorting and organizing which gave me an opportunity to tour the fort.  A lot of history there and it was free with my National Park Senior pass..  We still haven't made it to the lighthouse yet, but that may happen this afternoon.

The photo is from our friends Al and Michelle on Kindred Spirit.  As they were coming into the harbor in the fog the first boat they saw was Hi Flite.  They anchored near us and invited us over happy hour.  We were also flagged down on one one of our trips to shore by Shay and Elizabeth on Escape.  They are from Morehead City and we have mutual friends Vic and Gigi.  They lead the way on the excursion to Vilano Beach.  We have plans to meet up with both boats again after we cross over to the Abacos.  We will stay here until Monday when we will move down to Palm Coast to tie Hi Flite to a dock and we head off for Thanksgiving in SD.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

St Augustine FL

We arrived in St Augustine FL Friday morning.  We left Matthews Point Marina at about 9:30 Tuesday morning.  It was rainy and cool but not as cold as last year.  We stopped at Morehead City Yacht Basin to top off fuel then motored out Beaufort Inlet and turned southwest and raised the sails.  We were greeted by some dolphins while at the Yacht Basin and we always take that as a sign of good luck.  The winds were out of the northeast so we were able to sail.  About 5:00 am the winds dropped and we had to start motoring.  We motored and sailed off and on during the rest of the trip.  The final count of motor hours showed that we were able to sail almost 50% of the time.  This saved us a lot of fuel and when we arrived in St Augustine we had only used half of an 80 gallon tank.  By Thursday the weather had cleared and we had partly cloudy to clear skied for the last days with the last night clear with the brightest stars I have seen in a long time.  Several times during the trip we were visited with dolphins coming to play in our bow wave.  Cori caught four fish but two were not a kind that are worth eating and the other two got off the hook before she could get them aboard.  Good thing we brought a lot of food.

Thursday morning we heard another boat hail us.  It was Joe on "Time in a Bottle" another Pearson 424.  We had met Joe several years ago in Oriental.  We didn't see any other boats or ships until we were south of Charleston and nothing ever came close to us.

We arrived at St Augustine just after sunrise and motored in the inlet and dropped anchor just off from the old fort.  We spent the rest of the day straightening out the boat, getting organised (Cori) and taking a nap (Dale).  Saturday morning we launched the dinghy and went to the marina to sign in and pay the fee for the use of the facilities.  After showers we spent the day sightseeing in the Old City.  Back at the boat now we are relaxing and getting caught up with emails and other computer related stuff since we are able to access the marinas WiFi.

Highlights of the trip: being out without having to worry about traffic and other boats.  The waves on Tuesday night glowing with phosphorescence as they broke around us.  Two nights of traveling under sail instead of motoring. Clear skies Thursday night with numerous shooting stars.  Catching and almost landing several Mahi Mahi.

We are planning to stay here for several days then move down to Palm Coast to leave the boat at a marina over Thanksgiving.  We will be joining Cori's family in Spearfish SD for Thanksgiving.  Once we are back we will continue south and wait for a weather window to cross over to the Bahamas.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Getting ready

It is "deja vu all over again".  A year ago we were going through the same steps getting ready for our first trip to the Bahamas.  This time we have a better idea of what we will need and not need but it is still a big project.  We have bought our provisions and got them stored away, sorted and taken off the cloths we will not need and are in the process of finding storage space for everything else.  The outboard motors and diesel engine have been serviced.  Now we are waiting for the weather to cooperate.  Today it is raining and and a cold front is moving through the area.  Depending on how fast the front moves we should be able to start our trip in the next couple of days.

Our plan is to make our way down the ICW to Beaufort Inlet and follow the coast to St. Augustine FL.  That may not be possible but there are a number of inlets where we can come in if things don't go as we wish.  We are hoping for good winds so we can sail but if we have to we can motor for most of the trip.

Wish us luck.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Almost finished with the maintenance

I (Dale) had to make an emergency trip back to Minnesota for a week.  When I got back it was time to bring Hi Flite to the boatyard.  We had an appointment to be hauled out earlier but the storm caused us to postpone that.  Once i got back we brought her to the boatyard and she was hauled out.  We had just had the bottom cleaned while we were in Annapolis and the diver told us that the paint was no longer working.  Once out the crew gave her a good scraping and power wash.  The paint looks good but the antifouling is no longer working allowing slime and barnacles to grow.  We also have a problem in that the bootstripe is in the water.  The bootstripe is the white painted surface just above the waterline.  When we got fully loaded for our trip south the bootstripe was partially underwater.  We had talked about how to raise the waterline but it is a little complicated when you are dealing with curved surfaces.  Once she was out of the water I came up with what I thought was the correct solution.  I marked along the stripe every foot and made a measurement of the width at these marks.  I then divided the measurement in half.  After two and a half days of sanding off most of the old stripe we remarked both sides measuring down from the top of the stripe with the new widths. After taping we applied four coats of barrier coating to keep the water out of the fiberglass and then primed and painted the new line.  Since the white that was on there was so hard to keep clean we decided to change the color to match the gold stripe just below the toerail.  After two coats of primer and two coats of Awlgrip epoxy paint the new line is finished.  Next was painting the bottom.  We applied two coats of VERY expensive bottom paint.  The final step is for Cori to buff the hull to remove waterspots and oxidation making the blue really stand out.

We have completed a few other projects while we are on the hard but these are the big ones.  We should be back in the water tomorrow and tied up to our old slip at Matthews Point Marina.  The next step is to shop ofr provisions and then we are off south again.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

No hurricane but...

Hurricane Joaquin took a more easterly route and did not make landfall but it was still ugly.  The storm that had devastated and flooded South Carolina was moving slowly up  the coast.  Eastern North Carolina had received several days of rain before we arrived and then the front really hit.  It was a classic Nor'easter with winds in the 30-40 knot range.  What happens next is the wind blows the water in Pamlico Sound south, building up in the creeks and rivers as all of the water from the rain is trying to make it's way to the ocean.  This causes the water in the creek to rise, and rise and rise.  By Sunday it was causing flooding in the low lying areas and rose above the docks.  There are several problems with the water over the docks: the lines are pulling up instead of laterally, the boat rises making it hard or impossible to get on and off and the electricity gets shut off.  If we had followed our first plan to anchor out for the storm it would not be such a problem.  At anchor the nose turns into the wind and rises and falls with the waves.  Tied to a dock she bounces like a hobby horse and heels left and right with the wind gusts, not a comfortable ride especially if it will last for several days.  We were having a hard enough time getting on and off before the water came over the docks and when we were told the electricity was being turned off we called our good friends Bill and Helen to see if we could stay at there house here at the creek.  We packed some clothes, the computers and a couple of days of food, shut most of the systems down and became dirt dwellers for a couple of days.  The winds continued until Monday evening when they slacked off and the water dropped to just below the docks.

Tuesday the water was still high but we were able to get back on board to continue putting things back together.  With the electricity off I wanted the solar panels mounted to keep the batteries up if the sun came out.  We spent another night ashore since the boat was still a mess with all of the laundry ready to be put away, one of the sails still off and the cushions below deck.

It is Wednesday and the sun is out, the electricity is back on and the water has dropped about a foot, still high but better.  We are in the process of straightening everything out, checking for locations that it may have leaked and gotten things wet and putting the last sail back on.  We were scheduled to be hauled out on Monday but with the weather that could not happen so we have rescheduled.  I am having to make a run back to Minnesota for a week so we will wait until I am back.  Cori is staying to take care of the boat and work some of the projects while I am gone.

Friday, October 2, 2015

We closed the circle

It is Wednesday, 9/23/2015, and the diver is late.  He had told us he would be over first thing in the morning.  I gave him a call around 10:00 and he said he was on his way.  Once he got there it didn't take him long to clean and inspect the hull.  We planned to leave as soon as he was done but agreed with him that it was a little late and the weather was not the best.  We stayed another night.  In the morning we dropped the mooring ball and headed out.  Once we were out into the bay we raised the sails and started sailing.  The wind was a little too much from behind us and the main sail was blocking the wind for the headsail causing it to flog as the boat rolled.  We dropped the main and used our spinnaker pole on the headsail to keep it from collapsing as the waves would make the boat roll.  Not the most comfortable sail but it sure beat motoring.  We arrived in the early evening at the Patuxent River with intentions of going into The Solomon's for the night.  We decided to skip that and picked out a spot on the river that was protected from the waves and anchored there for the night.

In the morning we caught the 7:30 weather forecast and headed out again. The wind had shifted from the northeast to east giving us a better angle to the wind and less rolling from the waves.  We were able to sail again instead of motoring.  Our one problem was that when I set a waypoint to go to I didn't notice that it went through a Navy target area.  Usually that is not a problem unless they are doing some target practice. As we approached the area we were hailed by the range boat asking us to alter course since they were "working on a project."  Not wanting to be shot out of the water we were happy to comply.  The wind and waves kept building all day until we were in 3-4 foot waves and 15-20+ knot winds.  We made it past the Potomac River and anchored in Mill Creek.  We had been there on our last trip to the Chesapeake and were familiar with how protected it was.  We spent the weekend there as inclement weather moved through.  There was a lot of wind and it rained off and on Saturday and Sunday.

On Monday the weather had cleared and we left our anchorage.  Once out in the Bay we set all sails and headed South. Teh winds died off for a little while so we had to motor for about an hour then the winds came back at about 10-15 knots pushing us along at between 5 to 8 knots.  8 knots is about as fast as this boat will sail so it was a good ride.  By evening we made it to Hampton Roads and dropped anchor just before sunset.  We spent the evening going over charts trying to decide how far we could make it the next day.  Our goal was Coinjock NC but that was assuming a good start, no delays and we would be pushing it to make it in one day.  The only option for us would be to just go as far as Chesapeake and stay at the Great Bridge again.

In the morning we listened in on the weather forecast for the east coast on our single side-band radio and got the news that tropical storm Joaquin was expected to form into a hurricane and possibly make landfall in North Carolina.  It was time to get moving.  We pulled anchor and made plans for Coinjock.  As we motored through Norfolk and approached our first bridges, two of them railroad bridges that are almost always open.  They were both closed causing us about 15 minute delays at each.  We were late for the Great Bridge locks and had to wait about 40 minutes to be locked down.  We had three more bridges to clear and made it on time for the openings at the first two but had to wait about 15 minutes for the last one.  Once done with the bridges we continued on to Coinjock arriving about 6:00 pm.  We stopped long enough to top off the fuel and fill the water tanks.  We chose to continue to an anchorage we knew about.  As it got dark it was harder to pick out the markers to follow the channel.  With a spotlight we were able to locate them but also attracted a lot of bugs.  Then it decided to rain.  We arrived at the anchorage and dropped the anchor under pouring rain and crashed for the night after traveling 62 nautical miles.

We were up early the next morning and continued on pushing at 7 knots.  We made it down the Alligator River and through the Pungo-Alligator canal and dropped anchor near the exit of the canal at sundown.  A 67 nautical mile run.

Thursday morning we were up at 6:30 to be ready to leave at first light.  The forecast for the day was rain so we decided to remove the mainsail and store it below deck so it wouldn't be wet when we had to store it.  Once underway we got a call from Kindred Spirit as they were leaving Belhaven.  We had met them while up in New London.  We pushed at 7 knots again and made good time arriving at Matthews Point Marina about 2:30 and got tied up in our old slip.

After saying hello to old friends we started getting the boat ready for a hurricane.  This involves removing the sails, the dodger and bimini canvas and the solar panels.  Anything that can catch the wind needs to be removed or tied down.  It din't help that it was raining and everything was wet.  We got the dinghy and motors off and stored onshore and called it quits.  Bill and Helen invited us over for a late supper and she had picked up a cheesecake for desert.  She knows how much I like cheesecake.  We were planning to finish in the morning and take Hi Flite out to anchor for the storm.

This morning, Friday, 10/2/2015 we checked the weather to see the proposed path of hurricane Joaquin and learned that it had shifted east and would no longer make landfall.  The marina was no longer making the boats anchor out so we were able to relax.  It has been raining off and on today and when it is not raining we have started putting things back together.  We are planning to be hauled out next week to take care of some problems and to paint the bottom.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Annapolis MD

We are in Annapolis MD getting ready to continue down the Chesapeake Bay.

We hung out in Atlantic Highlands doing exciting things like shopping at the farmers market.  We got some of the best fresh tomatoes and after a quick run to the store for bacon we have been eating a lot of BLT’s.  Cori had an opportunity to catch up with one of her co-workers and I got to do problem solving with the outboard.  After bringing Cori to shore I was on my way back to the boat when the outboard just quit, sort of like running out of gas.  It would restart then kill.  I knew I had at least a half tank of gas so that couldn’t be it.  I was lucky to get a tow back to the boat then started thinking it through.  For some reason if the tank was more than half full it would run.  We had a problem with the fuel pump last winter and had not replaced it since it was running fine.  I decided that it was a pump issue and started to look for a pump.  I finally got connected with Gateway Marine.  They had what they thought was the right pump but the part number was different.  Their top mechanic verified that the new part replaced the old one and it was the correct part.  Next problem was they were about 5 miles away and we had no transportation.  Richard Ketchow, the owner drove over to the marina to pick me up and bring me to the shop.  After verifying with the photo I took of the part on the outboard we had a match.  They also made sure that I had a replacement O ring and a replacement screw and washer in case one went overboard.  Then they gave me a ride back to the marina.  That is OUTSTANDING customer service and I greatly appreciate it.  If you are in the Atlantic Highlands area and need help with an outboard five them a call, 723-787-2212.  I am rethinking all of the nasty things I have said over the years about New Jersey.  We had a couple of days of intermittent rain while we were there waiting for a favorable window.  We had a group of boats traveling from Canada come in and anchor around us when unexpectedly a boat that had been there for several days started to drag it’s anchor.  I would like to say thing happened but it and one of the Canadian boats got together and caused some bent parts on both.  The marina was able to contact the owner and bring him out and he got his boat re-anchored securely.  That is one of the big worries, no matter how well you do your job you are under the mercy of other boats around you.  We have spent more time here then we had planned but traveling by boat is all about choosing your weather window.

Monday morning and two things happened: the forecast was favorable for a trip south and it was 56 degrees.  It was time to move south.  The winds were forecast to be 15-20 with winds out of the west to northwest with gusts to 25.  This put it on our beam or slightly behind us with the wind coming off the land and only building 2-3 foot waves.  We pulled anchor motored out of the bay and set sail.  We had several inlets that we could duck into but we were planning to go all of the way to Cape May, the mouth of the Delaware River, in one shot.  We had a great sail all day and during the night we fired up the motor when the winds dropped.  We continued to motorsail through the night and arrived at Cape May at sunrise.  As the sun came up we motored into the harbor, passed through and caught the Cape May Canal into the Delaware.  Going up the river the winds were light and on the nose so we motored up the river and anchored near the entrance to the D & C canal.  In the morning we slept late to catch up on sleep and to wait for a favorable current.  At noon we entered the canal and motored through into the Chesapeake Bay and anchored for the night in the Sassafras River riding a favorable current all of the way.  In the evening we got the charts for the Bay out and started planning the next couple of days.  We planned to stop another night before going into Annapolis but once we were underway we decided to continue on.  We need the boats bottom cleaned and we started making calls to dive services to find someone available.  We found one that could “maybe” get to us on Monday.  We planned to stay over the weekend so that was not a problem.  We arrived in Annapolis and motored up the river to Weems Creek.  We had heard that the cost of the moorings in Annapolis had gone up so we were looking for a place to anchor.  It turns out that the Navy has moorings in Weems Creek that they use for hurricanes and they are available for use.  We tied to one of their moorings and settled in.

Saturday morning we walked to Enterprise to pick up our rental car and as we walked by the stadium we discovered that they were playing ECU that afternoon.  Once we had the car we made a run to Bacon and Fawcett’s, two marine supply stores, Trader Joe's and then to Red Hot and Blues for ribs.

Sunday, the 20th, we planned to make a trip into Washington DC.  September 20 is the anniversary of my brother’s death while serving in Vietnam.  Being this close to Washington I wanted to make a trip to the Wall.  I have visited there many times when I am in the area but this was the first time to be there on the day.  It is always a moving experience.  We walked over to the WWII Memorial then back to the car and drove over to Georgetown for lunch then back to Annapolis.

Monday Cori took the rental car to Glenn Burnie to pick up a replacement solenoid for our starter.  The present one is causing a problem.  It is a hard part to find and we have found prices run from $50-300.  Obviously I am not going to pay that high of a price.  One shop we called looked it up and said there was no way they would sell it to me for that price.  An honest dealer, he knew that what his catalog showed him was far more then it was worth.  He did give me the name of a shop to call.  They have the part, just under $50 but they are not open on Saturdays.  The diver was going to try to make it later in the day and clean the bottom.  We didn’t hear from him until the end of the day and he will put us on the list for first thing Wednesday.  Cori got back at lunch time and after lunch I started on the starter problem.  I was able to get the solenoid loose from the starter but not off of it.  Next I tried removing the starter.  There are three bolts and one is just about impossible to reach.  By adding extensions onto the socket wrench I was able to get to the last bolt and remove it.  Now that the starter was off life was going to be better.  When I compared the two solenoids side by side there was a difference. One had three connections and the new one had four.  I called the dealer and he explained that that particular solenoid came in two versions, if my old one had three connections I just had to use those connections and didn’t need the fourth.  I decided to trust him and reinstalled everything and made the electrical hookups with only one bright flash when I shorted the battery cable.  We gave it a try and it all works.  The real test will be when we try starting with a less than full battery charge which is when we were having the problem.

Tuesday and it is overcast again with a threat of rain later in the day.  We took the dinghy to shore and walked up to the coffee shop to use their WiFi.  The forecast is better for traveling on Wednesday so we are planning to continue on once the diver has the bottom clean.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Atlantic Highlands NJ

We are in Atlantic Highlands NJ, just inside an area called Sandy Hook.  We are staged here to wait for a weather window to take us offshore to Cape May and the Delaware River.

We left the Thimble Islands on Wednesday 9/2/15 with plans to stop for the night at Port Jefferson on Long Island.  With the winds on the nose we decided to change our course and move further west to Huntington Harbor.  If we have to motor we might as well get as far each day as we can.  This is the payback for the leisurely downwind sails we had going east, now we need to go against the prevailing winds.  Last time we went all of the way into Huntington Harbor to anchor but this time we stayed at a nice pond off of the entrance with about 12 feet of water and protection from all directions.  We saved several hours by not going into the harbor and we had better protection.  In the morning we took our chances with the tide and motored out of the pond, with about 3-4 feet of water under the keel and headed back to Port Washington.

The trip to Port Washington was uneventful, no wind and flat calm water.  Once into the Bay we picked up one of the moorings and settled in.  Friday we were planning to take the train into NYC but just as we got ready to get into the dinghy it started to rain.  We called off the trip and spent the morning on the boat.  In the afternoon we went to town for groceries and then back to the boat to relax (nap).  I wasn’t too sure about going into the city on a holiday weekend but Saturday morning we decided to go anyway.  We caught the train in then took the subway to the South Side Seaport.  There is a ship there called The Peking which is rather famous.  It is one of the last of the steel hulled clipper ships.  We had seen a movie about the ship and took the opportunity to go aboard for a tour.  Once we finished there it was pass lunch time and I wanted to go back to Katz’s for another pastrami sandwich.  Instead of catching the subway we walked there.  This took us through Chinatown and the Bowery.  I really like walking around in Chinatown, everything they sell there is so interesting.  At Katz’s there was a long line but it moved quickly and we got to know a nice couple from Boston and had lunch with them.  From there we went to the 911 memorial and then down to Battery Park to see the new carousel.  We have seen a lot of carousels this trip since many towns have them but this was the firdt with fish instead of horses.  From there it was subway to Grand Central and a walk to Times Square to watch people.  From there we walked to Penn Station for our trip back to Port Washington.  A lot of walking but there is a lot to look at.

On Sunday morning I took the dinghy to a marina to buy some gas and get advice on where to anchor.  Port Washington offers free moorings for 48 hours and we were beyond that.  We needed to move off the ball or start paying.  This is a no-brainer for me, I am a cheap sailor.  We dropped the mooring and moved up the bay and anchored.  We had a lot of company, this being a holiday weekend, and a lot of locals take their boats to the area and anchor and raft up for the day and play in the water or just kick back on their water loungers.  The entertainment at the end of the day was watching a sailboat drag their anchor.  Normally this would not be funny but these guys deserved it and they didn’t cause any damage.  When they came in he chose the spot, told her to drop the anchor, backed up and at some point yelled for her to cleat it off.  I doubt very much that he actually knew how much rode he had out and what his final scope was  (how much anchor line in relation to the water depth).  Then three friends came out to tie up with him and spend the day.  Mid-afternoon the wind shifted 180 degrees and the tide came in, an additional 7 feet of water.  The wind shift meant that the pressure on the anchor was wrong and it would have to either hold as is or turn itself around and reset.  The extra weight from the boats rafted together and the extra depth from the incoming tide caused the anchor to come loose and could not reset.  Four boats tied together floating away.  It was quite the fire drill watching them scramble to get everything disconnected and the floating toys brought aboard.  Karma will probably get me for laughing but I’ll take the hit when it happens.

Monday was a quiet day, Cori took the Kayak to town and I chilled out on the boat.  We planned to leave on Tuesday but stayed another day to give us better currents while going through NYC.  We went to town to send off some mail, do a little shopping and have lunch.  Then it was back to the boat to get ready for the next day.

We got up early get started, we had a schedule to keep if we were going to make the trip down the East River.  The currents in the area called Hell Gate are severe, running over 4 knots at its highest and there are only a couple of times a day when you want to pass.  We made it through Hell Gate with only one problem, the autopilot locked up and would not let me steer when we had to make the dog-leg turn.  Quickly dropping down below to turn it off solved the problem.  What caught us by surprise was the current and sea-state after that.  The river splits when it gets to Roosevelt Island and with the wind on the nose we had 2-3 foot waves to beat through, not something I was expecting.  Going with the current pushing us an extra 1.5-2 knots it was a rough ride.  Once past the island things calmed down again and we had an uneventful passage down the harbor and across to Sandy Hook.  We proceeded down to Atlantic Highlands and dropped anchor behind the seawall.  Since we got such an early start we still had a lot of the day left so we took the dinghy to town.  After wandering around for a while and nothing else to do we stopped at a barbecue place for a couple of orders of ribs.  Once out of the restaurant we hurried back to the boat to get things closed up before the rain arrived.  It rained most of the evening and off and on during the night.

This afternoon we took the dinghy back to town for lunch at the bagel shop, bought some fresh roasted coffee from the coffee shop (fresh out of the roaster) and a trip to the grocery store for some eggs and a few other provisions.  It has been raining off and on during the afternoon and evening and is supposed to continue into the weekend.  We are staying here until we get a good forecast for the trip offshore to Cape May and the Delaware River.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

In the Thimble Islands

We stayed a couple of extra days in Greenport.  While at Shelter Island I found that the service station next to the docks would refill our propane tanks so on Monday I brought two over to be filled.  I got what I think is a real good deal in that they filled two for what I had been paying for on back in Havelock.  On Monday evening we went back into town for dinner and a free concert in the park.  The return trip to the boat in the dark was uneventful, even when the ferry was shining its light on us.  We decided to leave on Wednesday so on Tuesday we made another trip into town for some special provisions.  I had bought some fresh tomatoes at a farm stand in the town parking lot and we needed to go back for more and a trip to the grocery for bacon and lettuce.

On Wednesday we headed out.  The currents here are strong and I am getting a better handle on timing them so we had an option of leaving at 7:00 am or a little after noon.  We chose noon.  After our BLT’s we headed out to an area called Plum Gut.  If we timed it right with the current we would have an easy pass through, if we got there too early we would be fighting the current and the waves.  We hit it just about right and had an easy passage, then turned to New London.  We had a real nice sail across the sound and tied up to the yacht clubs mooring again.  Dan and Marcia and Sandy and Chuck were excellent hosts taking Cori to stores for provisions, including us in the Friday evening cookout and going walking.  We returned the cruising books we had borrowed and spent our three free days on the mooring.

On Sunday we dropped the mooing line early to take advantage of the currents and headed out again.  We made an attempt at sailing but the wind was not favorable.  We had to tack either out into the middle of the sound or towards shore, neither in the direction we wanted to go.  We ended up motoring most of the way but we were able to charge the batteries and make water along the way.  At the Thimble Islands we had to make a decision on where to anchor.  The cruising guides listed several, the first spot I wanted to check just looked too small for us to have adequate swing room, the second looked good until we hit a rock going in.  This caused some raised heartbeats.  We ended up going into the anchorage area that is reported to have a lot of moorings which makes it hard to anchor among since we swing different when the wind shifts or current switches.  We tried finding a spot at the far end of the anchorage but since it was low tide we went aground, fortunately moving very slowly.  The chart showed more water there then what we found.  As we backed off and started looking for another spot something did not sound right and we had a lot of vibration.  We moved back a little and dropped the anchor.  Things were running and sounding alright until we put it in gear, then it started again.  Something was wrong with the propeller.  It would have to wait until the next day, we had covered 38 nautical miles and it had been a long day.
Monday morning, and it was another beautiful day.  I put on my mask and fins and dove down to check the prop.  I have a buoyancy problem and have to work at diving below the surface instead of just floating.  This makes it hard for me to get under the boat and stay for any length of time.  What I found was a cable wrapped around the propeller and shaft.  We picked it up when we were aground.  I tried several times to dive down and cut it off but was not able to stay under very long and only got a couple of pieces and it was wrapped tight.  Plan B: hire a diver.  We made a number of calls, including one to a marina that told us then could take care of it if we came in.  Unfortunately that was not going to happen since we couldn’t use the engine until the cable was removed.  After several more calls we got the name of a diver and gave him a call.  We explained the situation and got his assurance that he could make it out to us later in the next day or the next.  When he showed up he explained that he had just broken two ribs over the weekend and was not supposed to be working.  He was able to cut all of the cable off, it turned out to be an underwater phone cable, and also cleaned the growth off of the propeller and shaft.  I will upload photos to the gallery later.  If you are in the Stony Creek and Branford CT area and need a diver give Edward Say a call.  We took the dinghy out for a tour of the island and then hung out for the rest of the day.

The Thimble Islands are granite outcroppings uncovered in the last ice age and all but one is privately owned with a variety of houses on them.  According to Ed there is a lady that owns a number of them and is building reproductions of Victorian homes on them.  Some of the housed are spectacular.  According to the Internet, and you know it has to be true if you find it there, Jane Pauley and her husband Gary Trudeau have a house here.  One of the islands has been given to the government and has been converted to a National Wildlife Refuge.

This morning, 9/1/15, we made a run to the refuge and walked the trails.  Now we are back on the boat running the generator, making water and defrosting the freezer.  We plan to leave in the morning when the currents are favorable.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Elizabeth Islands, Block Island and Eastern Long Island

When we last left you we were still in Hadleys Harbor.  We spent the day with Lee and Cheryl just relaxing, clamming and had a nice dinner on Shalaylee.  In the morning they left but we stayed since it was forecast for rain and for once they were right.  It was a quiet day with the high point being when we baked a cake.  It was nice to have a treat for several days.

Wednesday, the 12th dawned bright and clear, it is time to move on.  We raised anchor and left the harbor and headed into Buzzards Bay.  On the way we were passed by the three masted ship “Mystic”.  I would love to sail on one someday.  We motored down the bay to the Island of Cuttyhunk since everyone said we needed to visit there.  We stopped here on the way to Martha’s Vineyard but only anchored out not going ashore.  This time we moved into the inner harbor and anchored off to the side of the mooring field.  The first to hail us was Patrick who was next to us at Hadley Harbor.  We got the local information: where to get water, drop off trash, where the dinghy dock is and so on.  Several people had told us it was a nice stop but one day would be all it would take to see everything.  We stayed for four days.

We took a walk around the small village checking out the market and following Tower Hill Road to the top of the island to check out the view.  We made the mistake of not bringing cameras.  We came back the next day to take pictures.  The summit has a WW II bunker that has been turned into an observation platform.  There are trails leading to several other bunkers that were built during WW II as observation posts for subs and ships at the mouth of Long Island Sound and Buzzards Bay.  We also took the dinghy out of the harbor and went ashore along a sand spit that leads to the cut opening from Buzzards Bay to Vineyard Sound.  We didn’t find shells but a lot of variety of rocks.  On Saturday we took the hike down the island to the south end.  Here there is a pond used for raising shellfish and is also the location of the Gosnold Monument.  History has always interested me but there is so much that we are not told.  For example: Jamestown settlers landed on the James River in Virginia.  How did they know to go there and what was going to be there when they arrive?  It turns out that five years earlier Bartholomew Gosnold traveled the area, charted the islands, built a small fort and stayed on Cuttyhunk for about a month, traveled the coast extensively and was one of the captains that brought the settlers to Virginia.  Basically, historians need to pick a starting point to begin their records and gloss over what happened before.  From the monument we followed the shore back to town, climbing along a rocky shoreline to get back traveling about a third of the island in the process.  My poor knees, thank goodness Cori thought to pack us a lunch.

Sunday, 8/16/2015, it was time to move again.  We had received word from Dan and Marcia on Cutting Class that they were on their way to Block Island.  We made plans to meet up with them.  First we decided to make a stop at Newport again to provision and get cleaned up.  It was a motorboat ride until the wind came up and we could put out the headsail and motorsail.  We learned a lesson; don’t come into Newport Harbor on a Sunday afternoon unless you want to deal with traffic.  We dodged everything from small sailing dinghies to big sport fishers moving up, down and across the river.  Once anchored we were ready to launch the dinghy.  On our previous stay we had always gotten wet from the chop splashing into the dinghy.  We decided to stay dry this time and called for a launch to come pick us up.  At $3 each we thought it was a good deal.  They dropped us off at the Maritime Center; we stashed our stuff in a locker ($3) and walked up to the grocery store.  Once back from the store we hit the showers ($1.75).  Once we were all cleaned up we called for the launch to pick us up and return us to the boat.  For dinner we had the fish that Cori caught the day before while we were in Cuttyhunk.  That’s it, our entire stay in Newport; we left first thing in the morning.

We were off to Block Island.  Every sailor has heard of Block Island, it seems to be every east coast sailor’s destination.  There is a large natural harbor that is filled with boats and as we entered Dan came alongside in his dinghy to give us the lay of the land.  There are a lot of moorings here both private and public.  The public moorings were full (and expensive) so we moved to the anchorage area to choose our spot.  The anchorage gets as crowded as the mooring fields.  We found a spot we felt comfortable and dropped anchor, let out a lot of chain and set the anchor as hard as we could.  The bottom is not the best and boats are known to drag anchor and go for a walkabout.  The wind was kicking up and the harbor was getting rough so we chose to stay on the boat.  In the morning we launched the dinghy and headed to shore to check out the island.  From the marina that has the dinghy dock to town is about a mile walk.  Once ashore the breeze was not as noticeable and it was HOT.  We walked around town checking out the shops, watched people, and had lunch.  Block Island has been a vacation spot since Victorian times and it still is.  The ferries arrived regularly discharging their passengers heading to the beaches.  There are some very nice beaches but the town is very touristy.  We were back to the boat in the early afternoon then went to Cutting Class for a visit.  After drinks, snacks and advice we were back on-board for the evening.  We were planning to leave in the morning but by then the winds had died down and the harbor was not as rough.  Cori launched her kayak and paddled to shore to check out a beach.  I stayed on-board and took care of a couple of maintenance projects.  One of the features of Block Island is the coffee and pastry boat in the morning and then returning in the afternoon to sell fresh fish.  We had cinnamon rolls in the morning and bought some swordfish steaks for dinner.

Thursday 8/20/2015.  Time to move on, we pulled anchor to be surprised by a clam that had attached itself to one of the wire ties I use to mark the chain.  That was a first.  We headed out early since there was a forecast for rain but none of it materialized.  We tried sailing to Montauk on the east end of Long Island.  While crossing we were taking the waves on our side causing a lot of roll.  The wind died to less than 10 knots and everything was taking a bad beating so we fired up the engine and motored across.  The advantage of motoring is that I can also run the water-maker but we are burning fuel and not sailing.  Once in the lee of Long Island the swell decreased,  the wind came up 15-20 knots so it was back to sailing.  We bypassed Montauk Harbor and chose to anchor for the night in Old Fort Bay.  Next time we will have to go ashore but for now we just spent the night and moved on in the morning.  During the night we saw a bright yellow anchor light across the bay that looked unusual.  In the morning we saw that it was a Coast Guard cutter.  They are a little more armed with bigger guns then the smaller CG boats so we gave them a lot of space as we left.  We were on our way to Greenport.

We bypassed the Greenport harbor and its mooring field and marinas and dropped anchor in Pikes Cove.  Marinas and moorings are extremely expensive in this area so we choose to save our money and anchor out.

Saturday 8/22/2015.  We took the dinghy to town and hit the farmers market for some fresh vegetables and eggs then walked around to check out the business district.  Greenport is a very old town with a long history of shipbuilding, whaling and oyster harvesting.  Had we been here over the 4th of July we would have seen the tall ship rendezvous and the arrival of the Hermione, a replica of the ship Lafayette took to the Colonies to aid with the Revolutionary war.  As we were leaving the harbor we were flagged down by a small sailboat that could not get into the harbor.  It was powered by an electric motor and something was wrong.  We hooked a line and towed them to their dock.  Our good deed for the day.  After lunch we headed back to town to check it out some more, visiting more shops, a museum and Cori’s favorite, the local microbrewery tasting room.  Before leaving we made a run to the marina to buy gas for the outboards and the generator.  While there the attendant gave us the schedule for the Monday night concerts in the park so I guess we will be here for a few days.

It is Sunday 8/23/2015 and we are spending the morning with the generator running and the water-maker pumping out fresh water.  We are able to make about three gallons an hour.  What doesn’t sound like much but it is helping us avoid stopping at a marina.  We have not been to a marina to charge batteries and take on water since the beginning of July, our longest stretch yet.  Usually we try to stop about once a month to let the batteries get a good deep charge.  Since then we have been relying on solar, charging while we motor and the generator.  For water we are making our own, filling jugs when we go ashore or as we did in Edgartown, pull up to the water raft and fill the tanks.  We are staying as self-sufficient as we can.

We plan on staying here a few more days taking the dinghy on excursions to check out the area then head back to New London to return borrowed cruising books then continue back towards New York City and points South.  We still do not have good Wi-Fi service so pictures and map updates will have to wait.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Martha's Vineyard and Woods Hole update

It has been a while since our last post.  It is not because nothing has been going on but that we have not had a strong signal to get online to upload a post.

Final report on Newport:  We spent a morning walking the Cliff Trail.  This is a public trail that winds along the waterfront in front of some amazing mansions.  We get to share their view.  Parts of the trail are paved walkways and others are climbing over the rocks along the shore.  The problem is that once you walk to the end of the trail you still have to walk back.  It got to be a bit much but worth it.  The annual Newport Folk Festival was scheduled for the weekend.  The anchorage was filling up.  I tried going over to the fort to check that out but that is the venue for the festival and it was not the same with all of the tents, portable toilets and stages being set up so that I left and will come back another time.  Saturday we pulled anchor and headed out.  We raised the sails and sailed down the river and then turned east with our next destination the small island of Cuttyhunk.  Cuttyhunk is at the bottom of the Elizabeth Islands, a chain of islands that are owned by the Forbes Family and being held as a nature preserve.  We dropped anchor off the entrance to the harbor to spend the night.  In the morning we pulled anchor and set sail for Martha’s Vineyard.

On Sunday, the 26th, we dropped anchor in the designated anchorage outside the harbor.  The harbor is filled with mooring balls that are more expensive to use then I care to pay.  We had a short dinghy ride into the harbor and then followed it up to where our friend’s Lee and Cheryl keep their boats.  On returning from the Bahamas they started shopping for their next boat.  They are now the proud owners of a 55 foot Fleming.

I won’t bore everyone with a detailed breakdown of our activities, we spent eight days, but just know that we had a great time.  We spent a lot of time with Lee and Cheryl; they took us around town, introduced us to a number of their friends, and brought us along on their new boat “Shalaylee” for a ride to Falmouth for a provisioning run.  Cori also has relatives on Martha’s Vineyard, Pamela and Agatha, and we were able to get together with them.  They took us for a tour of the island and gave us a lot of background.  There is also a good public transit system so we were able to take the bus around the island to visit the towns.  We took the dinghy around exploring a lot of the protected waters and were able to ride up to and under the “Dike Bridge” made infamous by Ted Kennedy.  It has been rebuilt and has guard rails on it now.  The island is the location for the movie “Jaws” so we now need to watch the movie.

It wasn’t all sightseeing and being tourists, we also got some projects done.  We were running low on water so I decided it was time to fire up the watermaker.  I rebuilt it prior to the winter with all new seals and membranes but had never used it.  After several attempts to get it primed it started pumping water.  We now have our own supply of water although it is slow.  Cori spent a day at Lee and Cheryl’s with their granddaughters helping them make bracelets from some of the shells she collected in the Island, an Arts and Crafts day.  We were thinking of replacing our anchor chain while we were in New London but decided to wait until we passed through on the return trip.  After thinking it over I decided to switch ends since half of the chain remains in the locker unused except in unusual conditions.  I pulled all of the chain onto the deck and the next morning we pulled the anchor and went into the harbor to fill the water tanks.  They have a raft moored in the harbor with water plumbed to it for boats to pull up to take on water and get washed down.  While Cori filled the tanks I swapped ends of the chain and then we gave Hi Flite a good bath.  After that we went back out to anchor and get everything ready to move on.

On Wednesday, the 5th, we pulled anchor and motored with light winds to Woods Hole.  It is important time your transit through Woods Hole Channel due to the severe currents, some of the strongest in the world.  We arrived at slack tide, when there is the least current, and moved through to Hadleys Harbor.  We were advised to make a stop here since it is reported to be a beautiful stopover.  At the harbor we moved further into the lee of one of the islands to a very protected cove with about twenty moorings, free on a first come basis.  This is part of the Elizabeth Islands, but this one has houses on it that are available to family members through some sort of foundation.  I heard several conflicting stories.  The Islands have been owned by the Forbes Family for at least eight generations and with the exception of this one are a nature preserve.  We planned on staying one or two days but have been here five days so far.  We were lucky when we arrived to get a mooring since there has not been an empty one since.  As soon as one is free another boat picks it up.  We have checked out the area with both the dinghy and kayak.  Our neighbor, Patrick, told us that here are clams for the taking and he would loan me his hand tool and show me where to search.  Where I went I didn’t find clams, although Cori did the next day, but I found a colony, if that is what it is called, of mussels.  I picked mussels until I thought I had enough, it turned out to be just over a hundred.  After Googling how to clean and cook them we had them for dinner.  The next day we were back to show Patrick where the mussels were and he showed Cori how to find the clams.  We collected a bucket of clams that we have made two meals of and still have some left over.  While dinghying around we also found another area to collect mussels.  We also put the 9.9 motor on the dinghy and made a trip to Woods Hole.  It was slack tide when we went over but we had to fight the current coming back.  I had always heard about the currents here but now I have been able to experience them.

It is now Monday, the 10th and we are still here.  We planned to leave this morning and make a stopover at Cuttyhunk to go ashore but got a message from Lee and Cheryl that they were coming over for a day or two, so we decided to stay.  After the weekend the moorings started to clear out but to be sure we tied the kayak on one to hold it for them.  Good thing, because they are filling up again.

The beauty of this trip is we have no schedule and no itinerary.  We can go where we want and stay as long as we want.  We have been blessed with perfect weather, very few days of rain, usually overnight and the winds are fairly constant 10-15 knots from the Southwest so we are able to do a lot of sailing instead of motoring.  We have decided that Martha’s Vineyard will be the furthest north we go this year and will start back south stopping at some of the places we missed along the way.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Newport RI

Dan and Marcia on Cutting Class showed us on our charts some of the anchorages in the area they enjoy so we decided to stay in the area and check them out.

On Monday we dropped the mooring and headed out to move further down Long Island Sound.  As we moved into mouth of the river we made a pass by the lighthouse.  It is a granite building on a rock in the entrance.  It is pretty impressive.  We also were hearing warnings about a submarine in the area.  We could see it further out in the sound but were too far away to see much, even with binoculars.  It was about the same view of a sub that we had as we were approaching the river earlier in week.  We turned east and motored between Fishers Island and the mainland down to Stonington.  The harbor is well protected with two long break walls but is full of moorings, both private and for rent.  They do have a section marked off for anchoring so that is where we went.  We had only traveled about five miles so it was still early and we went ashore to look around.  There are a lot of old historical buildings dating back to the late 1700’s.

Tuesday we worked on a couple of projects, specifically charging the batteries and repairing the water heater.  This winter we started having a problem with the safety valve leaking when we would try to heat water when plugged in of with the generator.  While in New London we made a trip to Defender, a marine supply company we often order from, and bought a replacement valve.  Once the batteries were up to power I flipped the switch for the water heater and soon we had hot water without a leak.  Problem solved.  In the afternoon we decided to make a run to Watch Hill with the dinghy.  It is about a two and a half mile trip.  It is a very popular resort area with a lot of small shops, very nice beaches and old houses, Inns and hotels.  We took a short walk over to the East Beach and followed the path to the beach.   The path follows the fence that was built to keep the public from getting too close to Taylor Swifts house. 
It sits on the highest piece of land and has some impressive rock work all the way up the hill to protect from erosion and trespassers.  It also has a very impressive fence.  According to Google she paid $17.2 million for it, that’s hard to comprehend.  Cori did some beachcombing while the tide was out and collected some rocks for future projects.  Dark clouds were moving in so we decided to start back to the boat.  We were too late and were not even out of the harbor when it was obvious we would be soaked so we headed back and try again later.  We tied up just as it started to rain and headed into a bar/restaurant for a drink and snack while it rained.  Once it stopped raining we had a smooth ride back to the boat.

On Wednesday the forecast was for more rain but the morning dawned with thick fog.  By late morning it had burned off and we went back into town to look around again.  The guide books mentioned a fish market by the docks and we stopped by to check it out.   The fish all looked good but we opted for the scallops instead.  We had them for dinner and they were great.  In the evening it finally did rain but the area north of us got it a lot worse than us.

We decided to move again so in the late morning on Thursday we pulled anchor and moved back towards New London to an anchorage at Noank CT, a trip of about four miles.  Most of the anchorage area is filled with mooring balls but Dan had pointed out an area next to Ram Island so we dropped anchor there.  We hung out on the boat and watched boats come and go.  I am constantly impressed with the number of boats in the area.

Friday was our anniversary so we went into Noank to find a post office and have lunch.  We tried the lobster roll at Fords Lobster Shack on the waterfront.  From there we took the dinghy up the river about three miles to the town of Mystic.  We had been there about twenty years ago but not by boat.  The main attraction of Mystic is the Mystic Seaport.  It is a combination of 1800 seaport village and seaport.  They also do reconstructive work on old wooden ships.  They have a very impressive collection of wooden boats including the last whaling ship.  We didn’t stop but rode slowly through the harbor looking at the boats.  We tied up at the dinghy dock and did a short tour of the town, including a stop at the Drawbridge Ice Cream Shop.  The ride back got a little rough but was without incident.

Saturday was a big day.  We had been invited by Rob and Diane on Date Night to their annual clam bake.  We spent the afternoon visiting and learning how they steam their clams, potatoes, corn and lobsters in a fire pit.  We also got instructions on how to eat a freshly cooked lobster, messy but good.  Rob and Diane also being cruisers know what is important so Cori was told to bring the laundry along and she got that done while we were there.  Laundry is always a problem and priority.

The spot we were anchored in had a problem causing us to roll with current and wind so we decided we would leave Sunday.  The morning dawned with fog.  As the fog was burning off the locals were coming to the anchorage to swim and go ashore on the island.  Once the fog had cleared enough we pulled the anchor and maneuvered among the boats to head east again.  We had plans to try to make it to Newport RI but soon the fog moved in again.  Thick fog!  We turned on the radar to try to track the boats around us and we heard a lot of talk on the radio as people were moving about and reporting the conditions.  At times it would thin out and we could see the traffic around us, a combination of sailboats, fishing boats, powerboats and boats just sitting and fishing.  As the fog thickened again we decided to call it quits and go back into Stonington.  Our chart plotter marks a trail everywhere we go so we were able to follow out previous track into the anchorage.  We were not able to see the breakwalls or the boats in the harbor for the fog so it was good that we had been there before and that we had radar.  The fog thinned out a little and we were able to pick a spot to drop the anchor.  The fog cleared in the late afternoon and many of the boats around us left but we decided to stay for the night.

Monday morning I slept in and eventually we pulled the anchor and headed out for Newport RI.  The wind was light and from behind us so we decided to fly the spinnaker.  We would make better time if we motored but we were not in a hurry.  We were able to sail at 3-4 knots and just relaxed for the day.  Since we were not going to make it to Newport by evening we stopped off at Point Judith and dropped the anchor.  There was a lobster boat working in the area and Cori flagged him down to see if he had any to sell.  We bought three for $20 and cooked them up for dinner.  They couldn’t get any fresher.

Newport was just around the point and up the river so on Tuesday morning we pulled anchor and motored up the river.  When we arrived in Newport we called the harbormaster and got direction to the anchorage.  After anchoring we launched the dinghy and checked out the shore facilities.  We checked out the Mariners Center which has a dinghy dock, lounge, showers, laundry and Wi-Fi.  From there we walked around town for a awhile.  The number and size of the boats here is mind boggling.  There are very active sailing schools so there are a lot of small boats out learning to sail which is fun to watch. 
This is the former home of the Americas Cup so there are several of the Cup racers here and some of the largest sailboats and motor yachts I have ever seen.  The largest motor yacht is the Rock.It which according to Google is owned by one of the U2 band members.

Wednesday we went ashore again to get some provisions.  We also visited a nautical consignment store but didn’t need anything.  We had lunch at the White Horse Tavern which bills itself as the oldest Tavern in the county, operating since the 1600’s.  The wind was kicking up the water in the harbor so it was a wet ride back and we decided to spend the rest of the day on the boat.  One of the yacht clubs marks sundown by shooting off their cannon as they take down the flag.  Cori joins in by blowing her conch at sundown also and tonight it was a beautiful sunset.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

New London CT

Tuesday, the 7th, our time at the marina was up and we had to move on.  We left the marina and sailed out of the bay and turned up into Long Island Sound.  Our destination for the night was Huntington Bay and then into North Port Bay.  When we arrived we moved around looking for a spot to anchor and finally picked one at the east edge of the bay off from the public beach.  In the morning we left North Port Bay and once into Huntington Bay we tried to sail out.  The winds were light until we got into the sound.  From there we had several choices of locations for the night.  We decided to make the run across the Sound to the Connecticut side.  The wind was almost directly behind us so we put up the spinnaker and had a great ride across to Stratford CT.  We tucked behind Charles Island to anchor.  It was not as protected as I like but it turned out fine.  In the morning we got a swell from the Sound and started rolling.  We pulled anchor and headed out of the anchorage just as it started to rain.  It turned out to be just a short shower.  The winds were light and variable so it turned out to be a motor trip.  Again we had several anchorages to choose from depending on how long we wanted to motor.  We finally made the decision to continue to Old Saybrook.  It brought us closer to New London for the next days trip and we were able to use one of the free mooring balls at North Cove Yacht Club.  We arrived just at high tide so we were able to get into the cove without touching the bottom.  Once we were tied up and relaxing we got to watch the bait fish swarm.  All over the cove the water was being churned up as the bigger fish were feeding on the smaller fish.  In the morning we had an early start to take advantage of the high tide and stopped at the the closest marina for fuel.  We had last bought fuel at in Norfolk VA.

We only had about fifteen miles to go on Friday to arrive at New London CT.  With the current and trying to sail all of the way it was a little longer but we were able to sail again.  Once withing range of the harbor entrance we got our instructions to the mooring ball.  While in the Bahamas we met Dan and Marcia on Cutting Class.  They live in Mystic and their yacht club has two mooring balls that are free to use for three days.  As their guests we are able to use the facilities.  They picked us up and gave us a tour of the area, a stop at the grocery store and then to their house to do a load of laundry and go over charts to learn their favorite spots in the area.  In the evening we joined them for the yacht clubs Friday night barbecue.

This is the weekend for New London's Sailfest so we took the dinghy up the river to check it out.  There were a lot of vendors and a carnival but the best was being able to go aboard the Armistad.  The ship is a replica of the original slave ship Armistad  and was used in the movie of the same name.  In the evening we joined several others from the yacht club for the fireworks display.

Sunday morning we went into the marina to get together with Chuck and Sandy from the yacht club to go over their cruising guides for the area.  While there we got invited to join some of the others on the beach on the other side of island next to us.  It was a short dinghy ride around and felt good to just sit on a beach, visit and get out into a cooling breeze.  This will be our last night on the mooring ball and will be moving again tomorrow.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Enjoyed the 4th

We have had a very enjoyable Holiday weekend.

We arrived in Port Washington on Sunday an took a mooring ball.  We were told that there are a number of yellow mooring balls that are free for a two day stay.  We motored into the mooring field and picked out a ball.  After the current on the Hudson it was nice to have calm water.  When the guy that collects the money for the moorings came by he explained that we were not on one of the free balls.  We were planning to stay on the ball for three days so we paid the $25 for one night which included unlimited water taxi trips.  

On Monday we used the taxi to go to town and check it out and hit the grocery store.  In the after noon we moved to one of the free moorings and launched the dinghy.

On Tuesday we spent the morning on the boat watching the sailing school boats and the coming and goings of the other boats.  In the afternoon we took the train into the city to so some more sightseeing and to have dinner with our friend John who was in town from Houston.  We had a great dinner at Frankie and Johnie's Steakhouse and got caught up on what is happening with Michelle and Jet in Houston.  The train was nearly empty on the trip in but very full in the evening but it is a fun and relaxing way to get into and out of the city.

Wednesday we moved to the marina to plug in and wait for company.  Cori had caught a cold or something and has not been feeling well and spent the day napping, I spent the day reading as usual.

Thursday was a relaxing day with light winds so we took a dinghy tour of the bay.  Some great boats and amazing houses.  We watched the sailing schools for a while and then back to the boat.

Friday Cori's sister Heather and her friend Bobbie arrived.  One of the dock hands told us where to watch fireworks so we made a run for BBQ for dinner and hit the grocery store again and then went sailing.  We left the marina and motored out of the bay and set the sails for the town of Rye, sailing across and up the Sound.  We joined a number of other boats, dropped our anchor and waited for sundown.  We had a display from the yacht club and when that finished we had a display from the amusement park.  While these were going on we could see at least ten more displays going on all around us.  After the show we pulled anchor and motored back to the marina.  We made it through the mooring field in the dark and pulled into the marina.  Docking was a challenge.  Every time I got the bow into position the current would push the stern over and we would have to start over.  Fortunately there is a lot of space between the docks and there were a lot of empty slips so we were able to maneuver without worrying of hitting someone.  Cori finally got a stern and bow line to the dock and we were able to walk Hi Flite into her slip about 12:30 am.

Saturday, the 4th, we had plans to go into the city for dinner and fireworks.  Instead of the train, Bobbie drove us into Brooklyn and parked near the Brooklyn Bridge.  Instead of using the subway this time we took the opportunity to walk across the bridge.  Unfortunately it started to rain as we started across.  Once on the Manhattan side we took the subway up to Grand Central Station ans then walked to Times Square since it had stopped raining.  We had an early reservation for dinner at Carmines and then took the subway back to Brooklyn to wait for the fireworks.  We got there early and staked out our spot and waited for it to get dark.  The people watching was amazing.  The crowd grew until there was little space left over.  Security was everywhere and did a good job of monitoring and controlling the crowd.  We were not in a spot where we could see the light show an the Empire State Building but we had a great view of the bridge and the new Freedom Tower and where the fireworks were expected.  When the fireworks started we had a building blocking our view.   We shifted with the crowd and ended up with a great view of one of the best fireworks displays we have ever seen.  After that we worked our way back to the parking garage and headed out.  The traffic was not as bad as we had anticipated so we made good time getting back to the boat.

Sunday we got up and said good-bye to Heather and Bobbie.  Later Cori got into her kayak and gave the boot stripe a good cleaning.  The boot stripe is the white painted line just above the waterline.  It needs cleaning from time to time but now it was the dirtiest it has ever been.  While she was doing this I changed the oil and filter and adjusted belts.  We are ready to continue on with the trip but will hand here until Wednesday.  The best deal we could get at the marina was to stay for six days so we will hang out and relax.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Our week in NYC

Tuesday we took the dinghy to the marina and walked up to the Subway.  We rode down to Little Italy and Chinatown to wander around, look at the shops and watch the people.  We made a trip over to the tkts booth to get tickets to a couple of shows.  We rode up to Grand Central Station to wait out a rain shower and to take in the station.  It is a very impressive building.  From there we rode to Times Square and had dinner then went to the musical “Beautiful” at the Steven Sondheim Theatre.  I grew up listening to Carol King music without knowing it and when her Tapestry album came out I bought the 8 track and about wore it out.   Recently Cori bought the CD.  After the theater we made our way back to the boat.

Wednesday we made our way back downtown to the Stage Door Deli for the pastrami sandwich I have been craving.  The Deli has moved and is no longer the old style deli that I remember from when I would travel to the city for work but the food is still good.  From there we went up to 54th street to take in the play “An Act of God” featuring Jim Parsons of Big Bank fame at Studio 54.  It was very enjoyable.  After the play we happened to walk out the exit where the cars were waiting so we joined the group waiting to see Jim when he left the theater.  We were close enough to be able to get our Playbill and ticket autographed and a couple of photos.  From there we stopped at a bakery for a piece of cheesecake, I love New York style cheesecake.  We walked down to Rockefeller Center then up 5th avenue to Central Park.  We walked through a lot of the park finally exiting at the area designated Strawberry Fields in memory of John Lennon.  From there it was back to the boat to take some Ibuprofen for the aches and pains caused by all of that walking.

On Thursday we hung out on the boat most of the morning and then took the subway to the lower east side to have lunch at Katz’z deli.  Katz’s is the deli used in the movie “When Harry Met Sally” where they filmed the orgasm scene.  Just by luck we ended up sharing the famous table with a couple of nice ladies from Monterey CA that were on vacation.  The pastrami sandwich is expensive but well worth it.  It was the best pastrami sandwich I have ever had.  From there we walked to a bakery that according to our phone mapping programs specialized in cheesecake.  Unfortunately it was not the best but the walk wore off any calories it contained.  From there it was back uptown with a stop at Columbus Circle then back up to 79th street.  Walking up the street we came across a Barns and Nobles store so I went in to browse and Cori headed down the street to find a new pair of shoes.

Friday we spent the morning on the boat then went to the marina with the intent of getting a couple of loads of wash done.  While the machines were running we wondered around the neighborhood and picked up a couple of things at TJ Max and Michaels.  Cori made the run back to the marina to change out loads I hung out at a little bookstore we came across.  On the way back to the boat we stopped at Café Lalo for another try at cheesecake.  Café Lalo is where they filmed the scene in “You’ve Got Mail” where Tom and Meg meet for the first time.

Saturday was overcast and cool so it was another good day to walk around the city.  We took the subway to Greenwich Village then walked to SOHO stopping at a small bakery for a croissant and some coffee for Cori.  From there we walked down Canal Street to catch a subway to Union Park.  There is a very big farmers market there on Saturday and we were advised to check it out.  You could buy just about anything there including ostrich eggs.  From there we moved to midtown to check out the Empire State Building and Macy’s.  I had found out there is a West Marine store there and I needed some bolts for a project.  From there it was back to the lower east side for lunch at Katz’s again.  This time I wanted to try their Ruben sandwich.  It was good but we still prefer the pastrami.  At this point it was threatening to rain so we caught the subway back up to the marina with a last stop at Times Square.  It proceeded to rain the rest of the evening and into the night. 

We had arrived at the marina on Sunday and paid for a week so it was time to leave.  First I had to bail out the dinghy which had about 8 inches of water in it from the rain.  Just before we were ready to drop the mooing lines Homeland Security stopped by to check us out.  It was just a routine stop so we didn’t get boarded.  We dropped the lines and started down the river back to the Battery.  With the engine doing a low idle the current was pushing us at 7 knots.  We made a pass by the Statue of Liberty again then motored around waiting for the tide to change.  After about an hour of dodging other boats we started up the East River.  We needed to time the trip up the river to make use of the incoming tide and to be at the area called “Hell Gate” close to slack tide when the currents are the calmest.  We made the trip up the river without incident and headed for Manhasset Bay where we are planning to spend the next week.  It is a 45 minute train ride into the city so we will be back in a couple more times and to be there on Saturday for the fireworks.  This is big change with the calm waters of the bay compared to the current and wakes we had on the Hudson River.