Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Leaving the Spanish Virgin Islands

We are getting really to leave the Spanish Virgin Islands and head over to the US Virgin Islands.  I really don't know what the difference is.  We left Fajerdo on Wednesday, the 14th around 1:00 and motored about five miles to Isle Palamino and picked up a mooring.  We could have waited another day but we're getting eager to get out of the marina.  It is too easy to get used to the comfort of a marina, it was time to move.  We had stayed more days then we had planned but it took longer to get everything ready then we had thought.  The repair shop that was working on the generator was having problems.  Honda does not make a marine version of their generator and corrosion is evidently a problem.  It took them a day to just get the screws to release so they could disassemble it.  Several times when I talked to them they were thinking they were not going to get it disassembled.  They promised it on Monday but when I called them they said it was apart and they had the parts but it would take longer.  On Tuesday morning our new friend Cato gave me a ride in and they promised it by late afternoon.  In the afternoon we made another trip in and they had it running and powering a fan to test it.  They had it running for three hours without a problem.  Evidently the problem was that some of the wiring got corroded and lost it's ground and thought it was low on oil.  They gave me the invoice and I ended up paying them a whopping $76.10.  I didn't have any change so I got away with only paying them $76.00.  I had expected it to cost me a lot more.  We brought it back to the boat and continued to get ready to go.  The winds were supposed to moderate a little on Thursday but we left early and staged at a near by island to make the run to Culebra.  We spent the evening relaxing in the cockpit watching the full moon rise over the island.

Thursday morning we dropped the mooring and motored against the wind.  The winds had dropped a little and was only blowing in the 15-20 knot range.  It had been blowing in the 20's all week.  We worked our way around the island and pulled into the harbor and dropped anchor.  We launched the dinghy, it had been riding on the bow since we left NC and mounted the 3.3 outboard and went exploring.  We tied up on the dinghy dock and walked into town.  We must have looked lost and a lady stopped to enquire if we were looking for anything in particular.  It turned out she was from Steamboat Springs Colorado and theyspend their winters in Culebra.  She pointed out several places to check out and told us of a school musical performance that evening.  After dinner on the boat we made our way to the school for the concert.  They were also selling deserts.  The students had a project where they studied a different country and reported on a desert specific to that country.  They, with their parents, made deserts and were selling them before and after the performance.  We expected to not be able to understand the songs since we do not know Spanish but it turned out they performed in several languages dependent on where the song was from.  They did a real good version of Silent Night in three languages.  This was our introduction to Culebra.

On Friday we swapped out the 3.3 outboard for the 15 horse and went exploring.  We had been told that the snorkeling near Tamarindo Beach was supposed to be good and we headed over there.  We tied the dinghy to a mooring and I dropped into the water to swim over to the reef.  I turned around for some reason and returned to the dinghy and Cori told me that the workers on the beach said we needed to leave.  We are not sure why but we moved further up the shore and dropped the anchor and I went snorkeling again while Cori swam to shore to look for shells and glass.  I had my new underwater camera but when I switched it to the underwater setting it gave a message I couldn't understand so I left it on the boat and continued.  The reef was great with a large variety of fish and coral.  At one time I had a ray swim under me and I followed it around for a while.  I wish I had the camera.  Finally we called it quits and headed back to the boat.  Instead of stopping at the boat we continued on and took a tour of the harbor.

On Saturday we were making a run into town when we stopped at a boat with a home port of St. Paul MN.  It turned out they were from Minnetonka and Maple Grove, true Minnesotans.  It rained off and on all day but we headed back to the west side of the island and I snorkels on the reef while Cori walked the beach looking for more shells and glass.  This time I brought the camera and shot over two hundred pictures and videos.  I will get them sorted and uploaded when I have good wifi signal.  When the camera battery died we made our way back to the boat.  We also did a good deed when we went by a group of kayakers and towed the last kayak to shore.  They were tired and one of them was not feeling well due to the motion of the ocean.

Sunday we woke up hearing some disturbance outside.  We looked out to see one of our neighbors had dragged down on another boat and they were trying to get their anchors untangled.  Once they were free the boat went to anther part of the harbor to reanchor.  The winds were blowing over 20 knots again so we spent the day on board until evening when we thought the winds had died a little and we made a run into town.  We were planning to move on Monday and needed to get rid of our garbage. We dropped it off at the collection bins at the dinghy dock and then when to a nearby restaurant for dinner.  When we were through we found that my wallet had been left on the boat.  By now the wind had picked up again and by the time I made the run to the boat, back to the restaurant and back to the boat we were wet from the splashing waves.  The very thing we wanted to avoid by staying on the boat all day.

Monday we left the harbor to check out one of the small islands nearby.  We motored out into 20+ knot winds and worked our way to Isla Cullebrita.  There is a very pretty harbor on the northwest side of the island but to get there we had to go around and out into the big seas.  The waves were running about six foot when we went around the island and worked our way into the anchorage.  We picked up a mooring and went to shore.  On shore we met another cruiser who pointed out the different things to find on the island  The first thing we wanted to see was the area called the "jacuzzi".  It is an opening in the rocks that let the waves come in and flood a shallow area.  This day the sea was running too high and the water flooding in was a bit too violent.  We opted to just take pictures and head back to the boat.  There was a swell from the waves working it's way into the harbor and was causing a lot of uncomfortable rolling.  We decided to leave.  While getting back into the dinghy after pushing off from shore the lanyard on Cori's inflatable life jacket caught and all of a sudden her jacket inflated.  A big surprise and it didn't help getting into the dinghy any easier.  At least we know it works but now we need to get another re-arm kit for it.  We had more waves breaking and splashing into the cockpit until we got around the island and then moved to a protected anchorage for the night.  it was interesting to feel the wind blowing 20 knots and watch the waves break on the reef but we were sitting in perfectly calm water.  Once again we had rain showers overnight to wash the salt off the boat.

Tuesday morning we went back to the island, this time staying on the calm side and went ashore.  There is an old lighthouse on the top of the hill and we wanted to check it out.  There are trails leading to other beaches and up to the lighthouse.  We climbed up the hill checking out the plant life, lots of flowering plants, the little and not so little lizards that hurried out of our way, the hermit crabs slowly climbing along and finally got to see some of the goats that live on the island.  They are shy of people so we only got momentary sightings as we climbed.  We heard them in the brush more then saw them.  Once to the top of the hill we were not disappointed in the lighthouse.  We shot a lot of pictures and will post them in our album when we get a better connection.  Once to the lighthouse we found the rest of the goat herd.  I walked around a corner and came face to face with two goats.  I am not sure who was more surprised.  As we checked out the facility we saw the rest of the herd hanging out at the old helicopter pad.  More then a dozen were there and they were not to happy to see us.  As long as we kept our distance they put up with us and then decided to leave.  As we were looking out at the surrounding area we could see small groups of goats on the hillsides.  On our way back down we came across several more with their young.  They would stare at us for a bit then decide to make a run for it into the brush.  Once back to the boat we headed back to the harbor at Culebra for the night and to get ready to make the jump to St. John.  We are going to bypass St. Thomas for now and will visit there when we need supplies.  The winds are supposed to moderate a bit and since it is an upwind motor trip we will try to take advantage of it.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Ready to move on.

We have been here at Puerto Del Ray Marina for over a week.  We planned to stay for a week but we are waiting for our generator.  The week started out with cleaning and repairs.  After our time offshore we had salt everywhere.  Just moving from the cockpit to below deck spreads the salt, not to mention the salt water that found it's way in.  Cori spent two days doing thirteen loads of laundry.  Everything got washed: bedding, cushion covers, towels, clothes and more.  By "everything" we mean everything.  Ben and Bruiser even got a ride in the washer.  They were not impressed and do not want to go on that amusement ride again.

Everything below also had to be wiped down.  The zippers on the dodger were replaced after a wind gust ripped one out so the sewing machine came out, there were a couple of repairs to the sails and all round boat stuff to be taken care of.  I got replacement bolts to fix the auto pilot mechanism properly so that should not be an issue again.  For some reason the fresh water pressure pump decided to stop working.  We carry a spare, actually two spares, but that is another story.  While replacing the pump I redid the plumbing under the galley sink to make it a bit more user friendly but it took all day.  We found that my mp3 player is truly dead and we were not able to get our SeriusXM radio to work.  After talking to customer service we found that they do not transmit into the Caribbean.  Since we are going to be here for a while we canceled the service and packaged it all up and put it into storage.  We are going to miss it.  We listened to it most evenings not having television and it supplied a soundtrack during the day.  We will really miss it when Nascar starts up again.

Water got into one of the navigation lights and shorted it out and after spending a lot of time trying to get it working again we decided it needed to be replaced.  We met a couple on the dock and they offered us a ride to West Marine.  West did not have the one we needed but the store in San Juan had one.  Due to it being inventory time they could not ship it to the local store.  We told them to put it on hold and we would come and pick it up.  We decided we had done enough work and needed a day off.  We reserved a rental car for Friday and made the run to San Juan.  After we picked up the part we headed over to the old town to act like tourists.  We spent the afternoon at Castillo San Cristobal, a fort built by the Spanish to protect the city.  Over a 150 year period the fort grew and a wall was built around the city.  The fort and it's companion Castillo San Felipe del Morrow are now a part of our National Park system.  I love going to a national park and showing them my senior pass and getting in free.  If you are over 62 you need to get one of these.

On the way back we stopped in Luquillo at the kiosks.  Think of a strip mall with small open air bars, restaurants and shops with the beach behind.  It was late so most of the shops were closed but we were looking for dinner.  We decided on kiosk 22 with a name I cannot pronounce or spell.  We were seated on the roof with a view of the beach until it got dark and had our dinner.  I ordered the skin-on pork chop and Cori ordered the fish with mofongo as her side. Mofongo is a Puerto Rican dish made with mashed plantains and takes the place of potatoes with many dishes.  The pork chop was one of the biggest I had ever had.  The outer skin of the pig is left on and is scored before frying.  What they do not mention is the half inch of fat between the skin and meat is also left on.  It is cooked so that the skin is crispy.  I never did figure out how to cut a piece with a combination of all three, I mostly had a bite of skin and fat and then a bite of meat.  I have to admit it was good.

We have just about everything done but are waiting on the generator.  We carry a portable Honda 2000i generator to help with keeping the batteries charged.  It will not run so we needed to find a repair shop.  One of the workers at the marina knew of a repair shop but not the name of it.  He was able to give us directions so we stopped to check if they could work on it when we made the run to West Marine.  We made a quick run back to the boat to get it and dropped it off on Wednesday.  They/we misunderstood the urgency and they did not get started on it until Friday.  We notified the marina we will be staying a couple more days.  What we know is that the low oil sensor is reporting low oil and this prevents it from starting or running.  We are waiting to hear back from them, they said they would be able to have it back to us around mid-day Monday.  They even offered to deliver it to the marina.

Once the generator is back we will be ready to head out.  We won't be going far, we will be checking out some of the islands close by before moving on to the Virgin Islands and beyond.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

We are now officially in Caribbean waters.

We are now officially in Caribbean waters.

On Monday, 11/21/2016, after checking with our weather guy we made the decision to go.  We left the marina.  We made our way to the ICW and motored down to Morehead City to top off the fuel at the Yacht Basin.  We were debating whether to continue on or wait for morning.  We opted to go on and since it was now 5:00 pm it was time to talk to Chris Parker again.  He has a set schedule on the single side band radio that we monitor.  We asked his opinion on leaving or waiting until morning and he said it wouldn’t make much difference.  As we were going out the inlet we met a Coast Guard cutter and they called us to tell us to turn on our navigation lights, it was just at sunset.  Once out of the inlet we raised the sails and started to our first way-point.  We expected to reach the Gulf Stream by morning and cross it in the daylight when the winds had dropped a bit.  We were doing 8-9 knots and reached it much sooner.  As we crossed the stream we saw speeds of 10-11 knots, about top speed for us.  There is an old rule that you stay out of the stream whenever there is wind from anywhere north.  The combination of the wind blowing against the stream builds some high and rough seas.  We had a northwest wind blowing 20-30 knots.  We ended up crossing the stream during the night with a very fast but rough ride.  In the morning when we checked in with Chris Parker for weather updates he reported that we were out of the stream and ready to continue on to our next way-point.  He helps with navigation by directing you to favorable winds and currents.  During the morning the winds dropped as he had forecast and we ended up sailing at about 4-5 knots for the rest of the day.  Had we waited we would have had a little better ride through the stream but it would have taken longer.  We were now out in the Atlantic Ocean and starting to make some distance east.  We needed to go east before going south to avoid beating into the east trade winds at the end of the trip.  We were on our way!

By evening on Tuesday the wind had died almost completely and the sail was just flogging.  We had taken down the mainsail and polled out the headsail to keep sailing, but after nightfall we were barely moving.  We knew that the forecast was for some wind to catch up with us on Wednesday but for now we were going almost nowhere.  We decided during the night to just roll in the sail, turn off the autopilot and just drift until morning.  Since we had not seen a ship since leaving the stream we just went to bed and got some sleep.  In the morning our chart plotter showed that we had drifted about 2 miles.  The forecast wind shift came during the night and we now had winds form the SW and as the day went on they grew to about 10 knots, perfect for sailing our southeast course.  Since it was Thanksgiving we celebrated with a batch of caramel rolls for breakfast and chicken and dressing for dinner.  The oven is too small for a turkey.  The winds held for the rest of the day and Friday but there was a wind shift coming.

By Saturday morning the winds shifted around from the west and climbed to 20-25 knots.  This gave us waves hitting us on the side and made for a rolling and pounding ride.  We had stuff rearranging itself down below, with most of it landing on the floor.  Overnight the winds dropped but it stayed rough.  The front north of us was getting closer and the winds shifted to the northwest then moving north with some rain squalls moving in.  Fortunately the squalls only gave us some rain to wash the salt off of everything and no burst of wind.  Now it was a rough and wet ride.  The waves had shifted from the southwest to hitting us from the northeast, still hitting on the beam and occasionally breaking over the deck.  These conditions continued through Wednesday with the wind shifting slightly from the east, causing us to occasionally change course more to the south to try to smooth out the ride.  To say it was uncomfortable is putting it mildly but we were making good time running 7 knots for days but not getting far enough east.

Thursday, 12/2/2016, the winds started to drop a little but the waves did not let up.  By this time we were traveling southwest instead of south east and were actually getting further from our destination of St. Thomas.  It was time to fire up the motor and turn into the wind.  Once under power the angle of the waves changed and it made the ride a lot smoother, calming down the tendency to roll.

By this time we had encountered a serious problem, on Tuesday, the 29th, the refrigeration quit.  We needed to make a decision of where to find a repairman.  We could continue on to St. Thomas or divert to Puerto Rico and make repairs.  We opted for Puerto Rico since it was a little closer and we only needed to divert a little to the south.

Friday evening we could see the lights on shore and continued on until we reached the east end of the island taking the passage between the main island and a smaller island coming into Rada Fajardo Bay.  I have always been a strong advocated of never entering a strange harbor in the dark but our other option was to stand off the shore for the night.  The chart plotter and the charts on the iPad all agreed with what we were seeing as far as lights and buoys and it is a very wide passage so we continued in.  Once in, we moved alongside one of the small islands and dropped anchor in about 15 feet of water.  We had finally stopped moving.  It was only about 9:00 pm but we were beat.  After showers, the water was hot since we had been running the engine, we dropped off to sleep.

In the morning we woke up to a tropical paradise.  There was land in almost all directions with palm trees, beaches, hills high enough that the tops were in the clouds and the sun was shining.  After breakfast we pulled the anchor and continued on to the marina we had chosen, about an hour away.  On the way a cloud bank moved in and we got a light rain that helped to wash off some of the salt.  By the time we reached the marina the sun was shining again and with the help of a couple of dockhands we were tied up.  Once were checked in we started the process of cleaning.  Everything was covered with a coating of salt and needed to be rinsed and scrubbed off.  Makes me wonder why we worked so hard to get everything clean before we left.  We had to take a break from cleaning and get ourselves cleaned us and ready for a cocktail party the marina was hosting.  We met a number of new people with a number of surprise connections.  One had just sold his Pearson 424 formerly known as “Mikey Likes It”.  We knew Mike from Oriental.  When we were on Lake Superior our cruising bible was “The Superior Way” by Bonnie and Ron Dahl.  When I mentioned having sailed on Lake Superior one of the couples stated that they had been sailing out of Bayfield back before the marina was even built and had sold their boat to the Dahl’s.  It is truly a small world.

Trip completed…almost!  We had traveled 1360 nautical miles, or 1565 statute miles, almost half way from New York to London.  From here we will head out for the US and British Virgin Island in about a week.

What went right?  1) It was not as cold as we expected.  The coldest part was the ride from Matthews Point to Morehead City on the ICW.  2) We changed shift schedules and seemed to not be as tired all of the time like in the past.  3) We were not out there by ourselves.  We had twice a day communications with Chris Parker for weather updates.  In the morning we would check-in with the Cruiseheimers Radio Net and in the evening with the Doo-Dah Radio Net.  The Doo-Dah Net overlapped with our evening weather update and if we were late Dick would stay online waiting for us.  As he said one evening “one of our boats is out there and I need to make sure they check-in and are all right.”  At one point Valkyrie was relaying tips on troubleshooting the refrigerator from Rick on Sea Language.  We were not out there alone.  4) We saw only a few ships, most just showed up on our AIS and were too far off to see.  5) My biggest worry was the amount of fuel it may take for the trip.  We can motor for just short of four days if needed but would be out much longer.  Fortunately we had good winds most of the trip.  When the winds were light we were warned that there was no wind ahead of us and if we tried motoring we would run into the calms and end up with calm winds for even longer.  We just needed to be patient and let the winds catch up to us.  In the end we motored for about 34 hours using about a quarter of our fuel.

What went wrong? 1) The biggest is that the compressor for the refrigeration quit.  2) All of the podcasts that Cori was listening to somehow got deleted.  3) My mp3 player got wet and quit working.  4) One of the bolts connecting the auto pilot to the steering worked loose and after tightening it once it came loose again and dropped out to disappear into the bilge.  We rigged it with another bolt but not the right size or type.  5) We found that a wave coming across the deck sideways will get under the forward companionway hatch and cascade in.  This happened several times for several days.  6) We found leaks in a variety of places that had not shown up before.  7) First we were between two weather ridges with little wind then the front moved down and shifted our wind from the NE before we were able to get as east as we needed before turning south.  Eventually we had to motor against the east wind to make our destination.

All in all it was a good trip.  When you take into consideration what could go wrong very little actually happened.  We were hoping for a boring and quiet trip and we came close to that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

We tried but it is a no-go

We tried leaving this morning but it didn't work out.  We had everything aboard, the power cord disconnected and stored and the engine running.  Unfortunately the engine didn't stay running, it bogged down and quit and would not restart.  I exhausted my knowledge of diesel engines and still couldn't get it going.  Two calls to our friend that works on most of the boats here helped and by the afternoon it was running again but very rough and would kill after a few minutes.  In the afternoon I didn't know what else to do so I just took a nap waiting for a call back.  Cori woke me up with a suggestion that I call Al.  Al is the mechanic that worked on the engine last spring when we were in Florida.  After describing the symptoms he gave me a couple of things to check and he was spot on with the first idea.  Air was getting into the system at the fuel filter.  I had changed the nut that sealed it with a new one that had a new vacuum gauge on it,  It either is not sealing properly or I messed up the gaskets when I changed it out.  I replaced the gaskets and o-rings from another filter and put the old nut and gauge on.  It started right up and ran smoothly.  Now I need to check if it is the new parts or if it was the gaskets.  It should be an easy test.

The bad news is that we have missed our weather window and just leaving one day latter will put us in much rougher conditions.  Our weather forecaster gave us an option to leave on Friday but conditions would not be that much better and we would be right ahead of a cold front on Sunday.  We have chosen to wait a week and head out after the front has gone by.  We will see, the forecast can change a lot in a week.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The New Adventure Begins

We are ready to start our next adventure.  We have been working on the boat getting things ready and are about done.  We have been talking with our weather expert and he says that tomorrow should be a good day to start.

Where are we going?

We have decided it is time to make the jump to the Caribbean.  There are a number of ways to get there and we have decided to take the offshore passage.  The plan is to move down to Morehead City, out Beaufort Inlet, turn southeast to go around Cape Lookout, then continue southeast until we reach the Virgin Islands.  It is a trip of about 1200 miles as the bird flies but we never go in a straight line.  We expect it to take us nine to twelve days.

Once we arrive we plan to spend some time in the US and British Virgin Islands and then start down the chain of islands eventually ending up in Granada or somewhere close to there for the summer.  Our plan at that point is to leave the boat and come back to the States for the summer.  In the fall we will go back to the boat and start working our way back up the islands eventually ending up back in the US.  As we say as we are traveling "plans are written in the sand at low tide," meaning that they are subject to change at any moment,  We decided to make it a two year trip since there is so much to see and there is no reason to rush back.  Friends that are there tell us that the summer months are hot and uncomfortable so we are opting to come back for those months.  We made a change in our insurance to keep us covered as long as we are not in what they call the "hurricane box" during the season.  Granada is south of the box and should be okay, time will tell.

It has taken a lot of work getting ready for a trip of this length and has taken a while to wrap our heads around everything we need to do and plan for.  We think we are ready.

On the other hand we have really enjoyed our time here at the marina seeing old friends and making some new ones.  We have had several friends we have met cruising stop by on their way south and it was good to see them since we will not be going to the Bahamas to meet up with them.

The next post you see should be from the Islands if everything goes well.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

We closed the circle

We are back at Matthews Point Marina in Havelock NC, where we lived for the past 10+ years.  We arrived Friday, the 14th, after a hard push south.

The last update had us in Summit North Marina in Bear DE to be hauled out to remove a line wrapped on our prop.  In the morning the marina staff towed us to the lift and hauled us out.  Sure enough, we had a line wrapped with two of its buoys still attached.  It turns out we were the third customers in a week to be hauled out because of wrapped lines.  The line was wrapped so tight that it took them about an hour to cut it out.  In the meantime Cori got out a scrub pad and started to clean the bottom.  We asked about a power wash but decided that it was too expensive.  Once the bottom was clean we were dropped back into the water and tied up at the dock to wait the tide change for a favorable current through the rest of the canal.  Once out of the canal we motored down to the Sassafras River to anchor for the night.  That evenings weather report was that hurricane Matthew was expected to shift its course and we should not be affected this far north.  Since it was Wednesday and we were one day out of Annapolis we decided to stop there for the weekend and take in the boat show.  If you are into sailing the Annapolis boat show is like going to sailing heaven.  We had been to the show twice before and we enjoy it.

Thursday morning we pulled the anchor early and headed down the Bay.  The wind was light and from behind us so we decided to play with our other sails.  We hoisted the spinnaker and then decided to add our mizzen staysail, our two light wind sails.  The wind shifted around a little and continued to build and eventually we were making six knots, not too shabby for light wind sails.  As we approached the Bay Bridge we dropped the sails and motored up the river, bypassing the harbor to check out the creek we stayed in last year.  The boat show is very popular and there are a lot of people that attend by boat.  The moorings and most of the anchorage area was filled so we went back to the harbor and anchored off of the Naval Academy.  Once we settled in we got a short concert by the Academy band that was practicing nearby.  We settled in for the night and in the morning we called a water taxi to pick us up so we could attend the show.  We had a list of things we needed to pick up and vendors to see.  As usual the first purchase we made was not on the list.  We spent the day checking out the booths and seminars and at closing we hit a couple of parties that the vendors were hosting.  The forecast was for a front to come through on Sunday with a lot of wind so Saturday morning we opted to move to a mooring that came available.  Saturday was forecast to rain and it started just as the show opened.  We had not planned to attend a second day but there were a couple of things we decided to go back for.  I hit the show and Cori took a big load of laundry to the laundromat.  Sunday we spent on the boat and installed some of the things we had bought at the show.  I needed to be in New Bern NC the next Saturday and we tried working out the routes to get there.  Every scenario showed us getting there on Saturday, too late for my appointment.

Monday morning we dropped the mooring ball at sunrise and started down the Bay.  The wind was out of the North blowing 20-25 knots with four foot waves.  We put out the headsail and had a fast ride.  By mid-morning the wind and waves dropped a little.  We were planning to stop in the Solomons for the night but since we were making such good time we continued on.  We pulled into a protected bay for the night and dropped anchor.  We started out the next morning as the sun came up.  The winds were light and we set the mainsail and motor-sailed with plans to stop at Deltaville.  Again we made good time and continued on to Mobjack Bay and anchored for the night.

Wednesday morning we watched the sun rise as we left the anchorage.  We motor-sailed again, arriving in Norfolk just after noon.  We continued through Norfolk and spent the night at the free dock at the Great Bridge in Chesapeake.  The next morning we had to hold up leaving because we had a bridge that was not scheduled to open until 8:30.  There was thick fog but we started out anyway.  We made the next two bridges with a group of boats and once we got into the North Landing River the fog cleared.  We continued through Coinjock without stopping for my prime rib and when the other boats pulled off for the night we continued on.  We motor-sailed across the Albemarle Sound and entered the Alligator river a couple of hours before sunset.  We decided to continue up the river since the channel was well marked with lighted marks and anchored about 9:00 pm at the mouth of the Alligator/Pungo canal.  We set an alarm for an early start and watched the sun rise as we entered the canal.  The water in the canal was calm and we were able to travel through it running at 7.5 knots.  We use a bit more fuel at this speed but we were on a mission.  Once out of the canal (20 miles) we continued up and down the various rivers and creeks until we finally turned to go up the Neuse River, almost home.  We were able to maintain the 7 knot speed so we were ahead of our planned schedule.  We had estimated arriving at the marina after dark but arrived about 6:30.  We got tied up, plugged in, hit the showers and settled in for the night.  We were home a day early!

We were up Saturday morning and had made arrangements to borrow our friend Louise’s car for our trip to New Bern.  The big rush to get here was because I had committed to taking my ham radio general license test.  If I didn’t take it today I would have to wait several months or find another location, not easy when you don’t have a car.  The good news is that I passed and am now legally able to take advantage of all of the capabilities of our single side band radio.  From there it was a trip to Walmart to start provisioning for our next adventure.  We filled two carts and after dropping that at the boat we made a run into Havelock to drop off and pick up some items from our storage unit.

Now the projects will begin.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Back in the Chesapeake, almost.

We are back in the Chesapeake, almost.

We were in Hadley Harbor in the Elizabeth Island chain in Massachusetts and the weather was forecast to get worse before it would get better.  We decided that we needed to move since there was a possible two day window to travel offshore along the Jersey coast getting us south.  Wednesday morning we started out planning to put some miles behind us.  There was a nor’easter coming but we felt we could handle the conditions before it arrived.  We started down Buzzards Bay with just the headsail and the mizzen in 20-25 knot winds, we were making good time.  We planned to stop for the night at Stonington but continued on to New London.  We figured to pick up a mooring in the harbor or maybe stay on a guest mooring we had used last summer, but when Cori called our friends on Kindred Spirit they told us to use their mooring.  We checked and rechecked the weather that night and decided to continue on the next day since the conditions would be about the same.  We thought it would take twelve hours to get to Port Washington and we are now getting a little less daylight than that each day.  We would have to push it.  We fired up the motor at sunrise and were ready to go but the readings from the alternator were off.  After two hours of troubleshooting it was working again, don’t know what was wrong.  The storm was forecast to arrive on Friday so we needed to move or would have to stay through the weekend.  About 8:30 we dropped the mooring and headed out again.  This time we motor-sailed through the day.  The new auto pilot was doing an alright job of steering us but as the waves grew it started having a hard time keeping our course.  The winds and waves were from behind us and as the bigger ones (six foot) would hit us they would push us off course and the pilot took a long time to get us back and by then another wave would hit us, a very zig-zag course.  We were trying to stay on the north side of Long Island Sound to block some of the winds but eventually we had to shift further south and cross to the other side.  Since we got a late start we were still a couple of hours short when it got dark.  Before the sun set we were passed by a tug pushing a barge and we homed in on his lights and followed him.  By this time the auto pilot could not hold a course and I was hand steering.  We followed the barge until we got to the entrance to Manhasset Bay.  Once we turned into the bay and got some protection from the wind we were able to drop the sail.  We had been motor-sailing with the mainsail up all day and it was too windy and rough to try to drop it earlier.  Once the sail was down we needed to find a mooring.  Port Washington has twenty public moorings that are free for the first two days you are there and we planned to pick up one of them.  By now it was after 8:30 pm and it was dark.  We tried maneuvering through the harbor but chose instead to pick up the first mooring we could find and deal with the owner in the morning.  We found several that no longer had lines on them then found one that still had them.  After some difficulty we were finally tied up to something semi-solid.  We had traveled 87 miles and were tired.  In the morning Vic, from the yacht club came out to let us know it was their mooring but we were welcome to use it without charge and that it was more the big enough to hold us during the storm.

Friday the nor’easter passed through with rain and winds in the high 20’s and low 30’s.  We were glad to be in a protected harbor.  While we were struggling with the auto pilot Cori had been making calls to see if we could find a network cable that would finish the installation and maybe solve our problems.  West Marine in Port Washington did not have one but said they would have it in their Friday delivery.  We called the water taxi for a ride to shore and after lunch we went to the store to see if it had arrived.  Their story was now that it would be in their 3:00 delivery and they would call us.  I made a trip back to the boat to pick up an empty propane tank with intentions of exchanging it for a full one.  These are special tanks and we carry four of them.  Two have been upgraded to the new valves and we had never found someone to upgrade the others.  The hardware store had the same tank with the new valve as an exchange.  At the hardware store Cori caught up with me to tell me that the cable had not been shipped.  We got our tank and headed back to the boat, we would just have to live with the way the auto pilot was working until we got back to North Carolina.

Saturday the weather was supposed to be much better and they were right.  We stopped at the fuel dock to top off the fuel and water and then headed out.  We were going to go through New York City on the East River again.  This time we caught favorable currents at the infamous Hell Gate and had a nice ride down the river.  Once into New York Harbor we set the headsail and sailed past the Statue of Liberty and out of the harbor and across the bay to Sandy Hook NJ to anchor for the night.  Another boat we were familiar with but had not met yet, Jay and Tanya on Minx, was making the same trip and had heard we were trying to get a part.  They asked if we had gotten it and when told we had not they asked what it was we needed.  We explained it and they thought they might have one onboard.  They arrived at the anchorage after us and called to say they had found one.  Cori launched the kayak and paddled over to pick it up.  Once we had it I was able to connect what is called the “control head” and programmed it.  It seemed to work just sitting at anchor so we would see what would happen when we left in the morning.

We had been pushing to get to this point in order to take advantage of the calm after the storm.  We had a two day window of calm weather in order to make the jump down the coast to Cape May.  We would need 24 hours.  We pulled anchor about 8:30 am and started out.  Test showed that the auto pilot was working so off we went.  We tried sailing but the winds were too light so we spent the day and night motor-sailing again.  We got about three miles offshore and followed the coast south.  I usually like to be at least five miles off but that is where the barge traffic was so we stayed in a bit closer.  As the day and night progressed the winds died out and it was just another motorboat ride.  We had figured on twenty-four hours to get to Cape May but we made better time and arrived too early to go into the harbor.  It was 4:30 and sunrise was two hours away.  The advantage of going into the harbor is that you then have access to the Cape May Canal and can cut across the peninsula rather than having to go around, cutting a couple of hours off the trip.  We had the option of killing two hours motoring around and then go in or just continue on and turn up the Delaware River entrance.  We chose to continue on.

We were planning to continue up the river to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal entrance and spend the night there and travel the canal in the morning.  By this time Minx had caught up with us and suggested an alternate anchorage that would be better protected for the night and we would still catch the current through the canal the next day.  That made sense so we pulled off at the Cohansey River and dropped anchor.

Tuesday morning we pulled the anchor and were off again.  This time we had a favorable wind so we raised the sails and sailed up the river until we got close to the canal.  During the sail we had crossed an area with a lot of crab pots but we thought we managed to get through without mishap.  As we got closer to the canal we dropped the sails and started the engine.  When we put it in gear there was an unusual vibration.  Checking the engine and shafts everything seemed ok.  To check the prop I had Cori put it into reverse.  Everything got worse and she quickly shut it down.  We had evidently fouled the prop going through the crab pots but once we started the engine whatever was there wrapped itself on the prop and shaft.  We put out some sail and maneuvered over to some shallow water and set the anchor.  I thought I would go overboard to check what was wrong and quickly found out that was a bad idea.  Once I hit the water I found two things: the water was too murky to see very far and I had underestimated the current.  I was able to grab the float we had put over the side for me to hang onto and as I tried to get to the ladder the current pulled my weight belt off.  I thought the buckle was cinched tight but it had gotten loose and the current pulled it off.  I had just bought it in Nassau and had only used it twice.  After climbing back onboard and rinsing off we called Towboat US for either a tow or a diver.  They favored towing us into the nearest marina since they were not sure a diver would be able to get us loose from whatever was attached to the prop.  We had several hours to wait and when they showed up we were towed to the Summit North Marina, about half way through the canal.  We are scheduled for what is called a “quick pull” in the morning.  They will haul us out of the water, clear whatever is there and check for any damage and put us back in the water.  That is why I mentioned we were “almost” in the Chesapeake.

While all this was going on with us, hurricane Matthew had formed up in the Caribbean and has been moving north.  We don’t know very well where it is going once it hits the Bahamas but they are saying all of the east coast will be affected.  We are going to spend a little more time in this area until things calm down.  This weekend is the Annapolis Boat Show and we were thinking of going to that since we are so close. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Saying Good Bye to Maine

We are leaving Maine behind.  Our time there has run out and we are on our way back south.  We have had a lot of days with little or no access to Wi-Fi and we ran out of data in our phone plan so there has not been a lot of communication.  So here is what has been happening:

On Monday, 9/5/16, we planned to leave Rockland and go across and up Penobscot Bay to Pulpit Harbor.  After a quick run into town we dropped the mooring ball and were on our way.  That is what was supposed to happen.  What really happened is that when dropping a mooring ball I usually motor forward a bit to let off the strain and Cori drops the mooring line and then I back away until I will be sure of clearing the mooring and it’s lines.  This time, for no apparent reason, I thought we were clear of the mooring and motored ahead planning on leaving it behind.  The reason to back away is to keep the lines away from the prop.  Cori started franticly trying to telling me that I was going to overrun the mooring.  Before I can shift to neutral the line catches the prop and winds itself on it pulling the mooring ball until it stops us.  We are now sitting with a mess and not going anywhere.  I tried turning the prop shaft to see if it would release with no luck.  We called the marina to tell them of the situation but there was nothing they would be able to do for us except give us the name of a diver to call.  Cori called the diver but when there was no answer we realized that it was Labor Day, a holiday with almost everyone off for the day and any help would be expensive.  At this point it was decided that I would have to go in and try to free it up myself.  I am an oka snorkeler but seem to have too much flotation to stay down for very long.  The water was not too cold, similar to swimming in Lake Superior.  My first dive showed that the small line had wrapped itself and pulled the larger line around the prop and the eye had hooked on a prop blade.  The next dive got the eye free and by pulling on the line was able to get both lines to unwrap.  We were now free of the mooring but I was still in the water.  A quick and unsightly climb into the dinghy and then I was aboard again.  Cori quickly started the engine and proceeded to motor out of the mooring field while I rinsed off with fresh water to avoid getting salt on everything.  Not a good start to the day but it didn’t cost anything other than my dignity.  Once out in the bay we took several long tacks up to Pulpit Harbor and picked up another mooring ball.

Our first project in the morning was to replace the pressure valve on the water heater.  Now that I had the engine heating the water the pressure valve would not seal.  We have had this problem before and we carry a spare valve.  Problem solved, for now.  We then dinghied to shore and walked up the road to a small store to pick up some fruit and vegetables.  We stopped to check out an old cemetery along the way.  Once back to the dinghy we rode around taking a tour of the harbor and checking out an osprey nest on some rocks that the cruisers guide says has been in use for over 150 years.  Everything is old up here.  On Wednesday Cori took her kayak out to explore some of the areas we were not able to get into with the dinghy.  On her way back she stopped to visit with several other cruisers.  We were invited for drinks and stories on “Sugar Sugar” a boat visiting from South Portland.  Also aboard was Laura off of “Annie Laurie” who has been cruising single handed for some time.

The next morning it was foggy but was burning off so about 10:00 am we decided to continue on.  We started down the bay but soon the fog closed in again.  At times we could see one or the other shore.  We turned on the radar and using that and the chartplotter we were able to continue, keeping a sharp lookout for lobster pots that would suddenly appear out of the fog, most times in front of us.  We debated several places to stop and get out of the fog but decided to continue to our planned destination at Bunrt Island.  The radar showed us where the island was as we approached it and found the mooring field.  Once we were tied to the mooring the fog cleared a little showing us how close we were to breaking waves on a rocky shore.  The next morning, at low tide Cori went off exploring again in her kayak.  Mid-morning we dropped the mooring and headed out with Boothbay Harbor as our destination.  Along the way we diverted to Eastern Egg Island to see if we could spot some Puffins.  The Puffin has been reintroduced to the area and the Egg Islands are a prime nesting area.  It was too late in the season and they were all off to sea.  Once we reached Boothbay Harbor we checked out the anchorage and decided to rent a mooring instead of anchoring.  This also gave us a short dinghy ride to get into town.  We picked up a mooring in front of the Tugboat Marina and paid for a two day visit.  We took a walk around the downtown area, grabbed a drink and an order of wings and started back to the boat.  We had passed a coffee shop that had a sign for live music 5:00-7:00.  Since it was just after 5:00 we stopped in.  A VERY good decision!  There was a duet performing a variety of songs and during their break we got an opportunity to talk to the guitarist/singer.  His name is Bobby Sweet from western Massachusetts and was just back from another eighteen month tour with Arlo Guthrie.  The singer was a local from Boothbay Harbor.  We stayed for the entire show, bought two of his cd’s and after saying good bye we were back to the boat for dinner and listening to music.  Sunday morning we went ashore, took advantage of hot showers and wandered aimlessly about the town checking out the shops and galleries.  One of the galleries invited us for a reception with one of the artists later in the afternoon.  With nothing else pressing we went back for the reception and met Jim St. Clair, an artist from New York that paints scenes along the small waterways around New York City.  It turns out that he has a boat in the 79th street marina and invited us to look him up next time we are in the city of staying at the marina.  We talked a lot about boating rather than art and he wants to be a liveaboard like us.

Sunday dawned foggy, rainy, and chilly.  We decided to stay for another day.  We did more wandering around, stopped for some chowder at the Chowder House and just killed time.  We both had been commenting how much the town reminded us of a slightly larger version of Bayfield Wisconsin where we had our 29’ Ericson, “Carina”.  Monday morning we dropped the mooring in time to make the 10:00 opening at the bridge and motored up the Sheepscot River to Wiscasset.  Upon arrival we tied up at the town dock, notified the harbormaster that we were there and planned to stay for a couple of days.  There is supposed to be a charge for staying at the dock overnight but he never came to collect.

When we first arrived in the Abaco’s in our first season one of the first couples we met were Sam and Kayda on “Solstice”.  We have stayed in touch with them and they were the first to tell us that we needed to come up to Maine.  Cori had let them know we were coming.  Tuesday afternoon Sam picked us up, gave us a short tour and then to their home for dinner.  Also visiting them was Tom and Bella, another coupe they had met while in the Bahamas.  After dinner and many stories we were back to the boat for the night.  The next morning, Wednesday, Sam picked us up and brought us to the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Just down the road from the Bath Iron Works where they are building ships for the Navy.  Sam and Kayda both volunteer at the museum and it was their day to work.  After a quick tour by Sam we were set free to visit the museum.  If you are ever in the area we highly recommend this stop.  The area has a lot of shipbuilding history and fortunately much of it has been saved, including the site and buildings where they built the largest wooden schooners ever built.  They also gave us their car so we were able to make a quick run for provisions.  Back at their house they loaded us up with fresh vegetables from their garden.   In the evening we talked about theirs and our cruising and discussed what our next move should be.

Among the “must see” areas on our way south they strongly suggested Jewel Island.  On Thursday, 9/15/16, we waited for high tide to catch on outgoing current and we left Wiscasset.  Once out the mouth of the river we were able to sail again and made our way to Jewel arriving about 6:00 pm.  There were several boats in the anchorage so we picked a spot and anchored.  In the morning all of the other boats left so we pulled the anchor and moved further into the anchorage.  Jewel has a long history of supposed hidden treasure and being used as lookout outpost both in WWI and WWII.  We paddled the dinghy ashore, tied off to a rock and hiked across the island and then followed the trails past the ruins of old barracks to the two towers.  We bypassed the tall one and checked out the shorter WWI tower and then hiked to the south end of the island for a beach lunch.  After hiking back we found the dinghy high and dry, as we expected, and dragged it back into the water.  The area has ten foot tides so no matter where you leave the dinghy it will either be floating away from the shore or up high and dry on it.  Without the motor it was an easy job getting it back in the water.  Saturday we went ashore about mid-tide and hiked back to the ruins.  This time we climbed the WWII tower, eight stories tall, and having brought flashlights explored the underground bunker and the gun placement sites.  We hiked several more trails finding more ruins of buildings and back to the harbor. With the tide out we walked across the spit of land that is normally underwater and walked the beach of the small island looking for shells and sea glass.

It rained overnight and most of Sunday morning and when it cleared Cori took the kayak back to the little island to look for more shells and sea glass.  It was a big day onboard with being able to listen to the Nascar race and the evening Vikings-Packers game on the XM radio.  Monday morning we planned to make the run to Portland.  We need new batteries and I had found a good source there.  Unfortunately it was rainy and foggy and it never cleared enough to try making the run.  Tuesday morning was foggy also.  We kept watching for a break and eventually it looked like it was getting better.  We pulled the anchor and as we started out of the harbor it filled in making it hard to see the boat right next to us.  Hoping it would get better we turned on the radar and continued.  Again it was a day of trying to avoid lobster pots that would pop out of the fog right in front of us.  We have had several instances when the auto pilot would act up or quit, and today was one of them.  The auto pilot refused to work so it was hours of standing behind the wheel steering.   Once we arrived at the mouth of Portland Harbor the fog cleared.  We motored up the harbor then into the river to find a place to stay.  The guides listed the possibilities and we chose to try staying at the Centerboard Yacht Club moorings with the hope of being allowed to come to the dock to swap out batteries.  Once we explained our problem the dockmaster told us to come in to the dock for the night and he would only charge us the regular mooring fee.  The club had a number of amenities we were able to use including free Wi-Fi, showers and laundry.  Cori started a load of laundry and I ran an extension cord into the boat since they did not have the usual 30 amp service on the dock to power up the computers and such.

Wednesday morning started early with me pulling the six house batteries out and moving them up to the parking lot.  At 9:00 am Pam from “Sugar Sugar” picked us up and brought us to Ed’s Batteries with a side stop at a great bakery for breakfast treats.  Once we had exchanged batteries we got a tour of Portland and then back to the boat and Pam went back to work.  We meet such good people when we are out cruising.  Once the batteries were in and everything connected we moved out to a mooring ball but at a discount “since it is after the high season”.  People in Maine are really nice.  We spent the rest of the afternoon in the clubhouse using their Wi-Fi and getting six loads of laundry done.  I took care of some business and was ready to start an update to the blog when we were invited to the outside tables for drinks that ran into dinner with several couples.

Thursday morning we went back to shore to finish the laundry and take care of some phone calls then we got ready to head out.  Before leaving I checked the auto pilot.  It still would not work.  We can travel without it but it is a lot more work to always have someone at the wheel.  Several years ago we upgraded all of our electronics except the auto pilot and it was looking like it was time.  We started making calls to find if anyone in the area had what we needed.  We eventually tracked down a system at the Braintree MA West Marine store.  We had made plans to stop in Portsmouth NH to see friends and made arrangements to have it shipped to the West Marine store there.  Once that was finalized we dropped the mooring and headed out.  We stopped for the night at Bitterford Pool and in the morning proceeded to Portsmouth.  We had met Elizabeth and Morgan on their boat “Ithaca” while in the Bahamas and they were another couple that kept telling us we had to see Maine.  She was able to let us use her mother’s dock and gave us her car to use while we were there.  We made a run to West Marine and picked up the auto pilot and received a pleasant surprise: New Hampshire does not have a sales tax, saving us over a hundred dollars.  We had dinner that night with Elizabeth since Morgan was out of town and then in the morning started the install.  Once I got into it I found that I was going to be short one networking cable.  The local West Marine checked several locations and found the one we would need at a store down by Boston.  While I kept installing Cori made the run to get it.  Once she was back I finished and then started testing.  We were using parts of the old and the new pilot and were not sure if it would work.  After going through all of the commissioning steps the only thig to do was give it a sea trial.  We opted not to do that because we weren’t sure we could get back to the dock with the strong current running.

Sunday morning, 9/25/16, we debated our plan once again and decided to head out for an overnight stop at Gloucester.  A front had come through Saturday and the wind was forecast out of the north for the next couple of days.  We had been motoring into south winds all this time and would have a chance to sail again.  Once out and sailing downwind we changed the plan and decided to bypass Gloucester and make for Plymouth.  We were able to sail all of the way at 4-6 knots but with the added distance we were going to be out after dark.  Out in the dark is not a big issue until you take into consideration the number of lobster pots what we normally have to avoid.  In the dark we would not see them.  We were lucky and only picked one up in the afternoon and when we turned the boat into the wind and spun the prop shaft by hand it dropped off.  We arrived outside Plymouth Harbor and dropped anchor at 10:00 pm, well after dark.  We chose to anchor outside the harbor so we could get an early start but found that that was a mistake.  The swell had us rolling side to side all night, making it almost impossible to sleep.  In the morning after checking the weather forecast we pulled anchor and motored to the Cape Cod Canal.  The north winds were blowing themselves out and they were too light to sail.  We arrived at the canal with an incoming current and picked up an additional 2.5 knots.  About an hour and a half later when we exited the canal we made way to Woods Hole for the night.  We had made plans to stop at one of the closer harbors but decided to go the extra five miles and pick up a mooring in Hadley Harbor again.  We like it here in Hadley Harbor.  The rain forecast for overnight arrived and we are spending the day relaxing and obviously writing this blog.  The weather is unsettled so we do not know how long we will be here but are in a hurry to get further south, it is chilly up here and the trees are changing color.  It’s time to move south!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Rockland Maine

It is Labor Day Weekend and we labored today.  We are on a mooring in Rockland Maine.  Today was the day for engine maintenance, so the oil, oil filter and fuel filter got changed.  We have been having problems with our water heater, no hot water, so I decided to tackle that again.  When I was done we had hot water, now to see how long it continues to work.

We have been moving around from one harbor to another and each has it's own appeal.  While we were at Holbrook Island we checked out most of the trails, met a number of other people cruising the area.

We also made a trip across the harbor to the village of Castine.  We walked around, hit the bakery and walked to a market that specializes in fresh hydroponic vegetables.  While there we also bought several lobsters from the seafood truck.  Lobster for dinner the next two evenings, delicious!

Sunday morning we decided to leave since we were tired of hearing the boats around us running their generators.  We motored out into Penobscot Bay and down to North Haven.  There was no wind the entire trip.  We motored through North Haven harbor to Vinylhaven Island and picked up a mooring ball in Perry Creek.  In the morning we took the dinghy up the creek to the trail head and hiked some of the trails.  The area around Perry Creek is set aside as a nature preserve so there are no houses and a lot of trails.

Once back to the dinghy we found the disadvantage of going hiking at high tide.  The dinghy was high and dry about four feet above the water.  It could have been worse, there is a nine foot tide here.  We muscled the dinghy back into the water and we were off for more exploring.

Tuesday morning we made a quick run with the dinghy to North Haven to try to get better cell service and see the town.  They have a very nice Watermans Center with free wifi, coffee shop and lounge.  We were scheduled for a conference call with our financial adviser so we needed the cell service.  Most of the islands we have visited have some cell service but very slow data service.  We can get and make calls, texts and emails but cannot get internet access.  Once back to the boat we dropped the mooring and motored to Isle au Haut.  We were not able to get a mooring in the harbor but got one of the guest mooring just outside the harbor entrance.  Just a little further to dinghy to shore.  We went ashore and checked out the gift shop and grocery store, both very small since not many people live here.  Most of the island is part of Acadia National Park so we walked up to the ranger station to find out about the hiking trails.  Most are on the far end of the island.  The next morning we took care of some boat stuff and went ashore in the afternoon.  The ranger told us that the lighthouse was a short walk away.  Off we went.  When we got to the light we found that the light was open allowing us to go up into the tower.  The old lightkeepers house had been made into an Inn and since no one was there at the moment we got to tour that also.

As we were leaving to go back to the boat we stopped at one of the lobster boats to see if they had any to sell.  We offered them $14 since that was all we had on us at the moment.  We bought two small and one large lobster.  All three were cooked up for dinner.

We had heard that Burnt Coat Harbor on Swan Island was interesting to we dropped the mooring in the morning and wound our way through the lobster pots to check it out.  It turned out to be a very nice location, protected from almost all sides and the lobster boats cut their speed to reduce their wakes when they approach the mooring field.  We do not usually use mooring, choosing to anchor instead, but the anchorages are all deeper then I care to anchor in.  We dinghied around the harbor taking it all in and then retired to the boat.  For dinner we had the mussels Cori collected when she was kayaking in Perry Creek. When we picked up the mooring and shut off the engine I heard the water pump running, we were out of water.  We carry an extra five gallons in a jerry jug so we were not technically out.  We carry 120 gallons of water and we last filled up in Gloucester.

Since we were low on fuel and short on water we decided to make the trip to Rockland for the weekend.  Once out of the harbor we were able to sail with just the headsail and mizzen almost all the way.  We had to wind around many islands and dodge lobster pots but I had the idea that without the propeller turning we shouldn't have to worry about picking up  a pot.  At one point they were so thick that I couldn't maneuver around them and suddenly our speed dropped to almost nothing.  We had hooked a pot.  I went down and tried turning the prop by hand with success.  As I turned it the pot came loose and we were free. After a great sail we arrived at Rockland and called a marina to take on fuel, water and rented a mooring for the weekend.  We ended up on a mooring next to a boat from Oriental NC, just across the river from our old home and a boat that we were familiar with from listening and checking in with the single sideband radio.  Saturday morning we went to town and walked the streets checking out the shops and viewing the harbor.  On the way back to the boat we did a dinghy tour of the harbor and got a close up look at several schooners.  Those are some beautiful old boats.

Since we have good wifi service I have taken the opportunity to upload the Google map that shows our stops using our Spot locator and pictures.  I found that Picasa had been replaced by Google Photos so I am making some changes to accommodate that instead.  So far it seems to be working.

Friday, August 26, 2016

We make it to Maine

We have been in Maine for a week now and this is the first time we have had a good enough internet connection to do an update.

We left Gloucester Thursday morning and headed out for points north.  We had two options: go around Cape Anne or take a canal that cuts through the cape.  We didn’t like the looks of the canal and the currents so we opted for the trip around the Cape.  Winds were again too light to sail so we motored all day to our next destination: Isle of Shoals.  Not a very appealing name but a nice group of islands.  We picked up a mooring and settled in for the night.  The moorings are privately owned or belong to several yacht clubs but are available if the owners are not there.  We watched several boats having to move when the owners showed up but there were enough for everyone.  We dropped the mooring early the next morning and headed off for our next stop.  Four hours into the trip, once again motoring, we made the decision to skip this stop and push on overnight for Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park.  Everything was going fine until the evening when the auto pilot decided to stop working.  It would not hold its course and had a heading locked into it and wanted to go that direction, the completely wrong direction.  Once again we had to spend the night hand steering, trying to hold a course with no points of reference other than the line on the chart plotter.  In the morning, Saturday, with Mt Desert in sight the pilot decided to work again.  We made the decision to pull into Southwest Harbor and pick up a mooring.  There are several anchorages in the area but all involve a long dinghy ride to shore and are deeper then I care to anchor, not to mention a 9-11 foot tide.

One of the advantages of being in the area is its public transportation.  They run a fleet of propane powered buses sponsored by LL Bean and rides are free.  We started out by dingying to the town dock and checking out the village of Southwest Harbor.  After a tour of the town and harbor we were back on the boat for the night.  We planned to see Bar Harbor and take an island tour on Sunday.  The morning dawned with everything deep in a fog bank.  We dinghied to the marina we were renting the mooring from for showers and then caught a bus to Bar Harbor.  It was still a little foggy but we decided to do the tour anyway.  The fog cleared as we moved inland but was thick over the water.  We only saw about half the tour and the top of Cadillac Mountain was completely fogged in.  It was still a good time because what scenery we saw was spectacular.  We also figured we didn’t miss much since we saw the offshore islands as we came in.

Monday morning dawned with rain showers until mid-morning.  Cori found a new leak on her side of the boat so we went to work dealing with it.  One of the handrails was leaking so we removed that part of the headliner, removed several screws, caulked the holes and reinstalled the handrail and headliner.  It hasn’t rained since so we are not sure if it is fixed or not.  Some people describe cruising as “repairing boats in exotic locations”.  Not sure if Maine counts as an exotic location but that was how we spent the morning.  In the afternoon we went ashore again and caught the #7 bus, going the wrong way so that we could see the entire route and the small communities it goes through.  After it deposited us in Bar Harbor we caught the #5 and rode it to Northeast Harbor to check out that harbor and back again to Bar Harbor.  We made it back just in time to catch the #3 which makes a loop along the coast then through the forest as it returns to Bar Harbor.  By now it was time to catch the #7 back to Southwest Harbor and out to the boat.  A fun day of sightseeing at no cost, every sailors dream.  (Sailors have a reputation for being cheap).

Tuesday morning it was time to drop the mooring and move on.  We wanted to check out Somes Sound.  This is classified as the only fiord on the North American coast and cuts almost all of the way through Mt Desert Island.  Of course the “experts” can’t leave anything alone and it has been downgraded to a fjard, sort of a mini fiord, similar to what they did to Pluto.  We chose to travel part of the way up the fiord to an anchorage and then take the dinghy to explore the rest.  It is beautiful with the granite cliffs rising from the water and everything covered in deep green pine trees.  We got several pictures of Hi Flite at anchor with the cliffs rising up behind her.  I will post them when I get a better Internet connection.

Wednesday we left the Sound and headed off to our next harbor, we had decided to go to a spot next to Opechee Island where the guide book says we would see harbor seals and bald eagles.  Every time we tried sailing the wind would die and we were back to motoring.  I haven’t mentioned the lobster pots yet but believe me they are everywhere.  I almost feel like a slalom skier working my way around them.  There was a small misunderstanding about what bay we were going to and we went well past the planned stop.  Time for plan B, we went up to Herrick Bay and dropped anchor between several lobster pots.  In the morning we were rocked by the wakes from the lobster boats checking their pots.  We took the dinghy around the other side of the island, about 5 miles, to the headquarters of “Wooden Boat” magazine.  We checked out their store and then walked over to their school and workshops to see several wooden boats under construction and repair.  There are a lot of their boats in the harbor, all fine examples of traditional wooden boats.  After another five mile trip we were back to the boat to relax.

In the morning we woke up when the lobstermen checked their pots again and after checking the weather we pulled the anchor and moved on.  We again tried to sail but again the winds would die as soon as we raised the sails.  After several attemts we resigned ourselves to motoring again.  This leg brought us up Eggemoggin Reach, which is beautiful; we turned into Penobscot Bay and moved up to Holbrook Island near Castine Harbor.  Holbrook Island and the area around it are part of a Nature preserve and reminds us of our time traveling around Lake Superior.  We picked up a mooring and dinghied over to the island to check out the trails.  After hiking several trails we were back the boat to relax again.

Tomorrow we plan to make a trip into town and then back out to check out more of the trails.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Gloucester Massachusetts

We have made it to Gloucester MA and are stopping for a couple of days to let a front go by.

We left Coinjock early Tuesday morning. We have four bridges and one lock to deal with between Coinjock and Norfolk and hitting them on time for openings is a problem. More of a problem this year then previous. The last bridge in Norfolk is having problems and instead of opening on demand they are opening only at 9:00 am, 12:00 noon, 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm. If you miss one opening you have to wait for the next. We wanted to make the 3:00 opening and that meant we had to hustle. Problems started at the first bridge. We were about ten minutes early and called to be clear for the next opening. This bridge opens on the hour and the half hour. We were on the hour. For some reason he didn't open on time, he was five minutes late. The next bridge down the line also opens on the hour and the half hour. Unfortunately, because we were held up at the first we missed the half hour opening. We had to sit in place and wait for the next opening. The next problem was at Great Bridge, the third in the chain. This bridge only opens on the hour. We were on schedule to be there on the hour until we got held up on the others. We had to sit and wait for the next opening. What should have taken an hour took two, making me nervous about making the 3:00 bridge. The good news: we still made the opening and were in Norfolk. We continued through Norfolk and made the turn into the Bay and motored out the Bay entrance turning north to Block Island just before nightfall.

We were out in the Atlantic and on our way. The wind and waves were behind us and we set sails, shut down the motor and continued through the night. Morning found more of the same, following winds and seas. During the night Thursday, the wind shifted to the SW from the SE. This caused problems with the sails switching from one side of the boat to another, a very dangerous event. We chose to drop the sails and start the engine. Two days and nights of sailing offshore, one of our best runs. We arrived at Block Island about noon on Friday. One week of travel and everything worked out perfectly.

We spent the night at anchor and left Saturday morning for the Elizabeth Islands, aiming for Cuttyhunk the first night. Since we had an early start and we were making good time motoring we continued on to Hadley Harbor. Hadley Harbor is one of our favorite stops. Our friends Lee and Cheryl from Martha's Vinyard called and said they would join us for the evening. We arrived, launched the dinghy and ran over to their boat for dinner and stories. In the morning we went back for coffee, bagels and more stories. Soon they had to leave and we spent the rest of day exploring the harbor in our dinghy and doing a bit of clamming and harvesting mussels. Fresh clams for dinner, nothing better. Sunday is a very busy day with the locals but by evening most were gone and it was another peaceful night. Another high point was meeting another couple on their Pearson 424. They are the original owners and it was great to see one of our boats that was still in almost original condition instead heavily modified by several owners.

Monday morning we took care of a few things waiting for noon to come so we could pull anchor and move on. We needed to wait until noon to leave so that the tide would be right when we got to the Cape Cod Canal. If you try to fight the tide instead of riding with it you can have a miserable trip. Riding with the tide we picked up an additional three knots of speed. We exited the canal around 4:00 pm and turned towards Gloucester. We had planned to just continue up to Maine but our weather service was warning about high winds Tuesday night and Wednesday. Thus our decision to stop at Gloucester. The winds were too light to sail so we motored, however this time we needed to go as slow as possible. We had 50 miles to go and could do that in about ten hours. This would put us into Gloucester about midnight. We do not enter strange harbors at night, therefore we needed to travel as slow as possible and arrive at sunrise. It got to be a long night with a bit of excitement when we ran over a lobster pot line and got it caught on our propeller. We were fortunate that it came off without having to go into the water to clear it. As we got closer the harbor it was obvious we were still too early and since there was no wind or waves we just stopped and floated for a couple of hours. In the morning Cori watched a great sunrise as the lobster boats headed out to check their pots. We then fired up the motor and in a couple of hours were inside the harbor and maneuvering into the inner harbor to pick up a mooring. But first we circled and photographed an outstanding example of a square rigged tall ship that was anchored in the outer harbor. Once tied up we launched the dinghy and went to town to pay for the mooring and check out the town. After lunch and aimlessly wandering up and down the streets we went back to the boat with a stop at Ginger Nut, one of the cruisers we met last winter in the Bahamas that is here also. We plan to see a little more of the town tomorrow, pick up some fresh fruit, milk and vegetables and continue North on Thursday.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The next adventure has begun!

After two months of being tied to a dock we are off again. The time was well spent. We completed some projects and did some traveling. Cori spent a month with her parents and family in South Dakota and I arrived later to spend a couple of weeks. We both were able to attend our family reunions and it was great to get reconnected with extended family.

We have been talking about traveling up to Maine this summer but are now at least a month behind but are going to try anyway. We got back to the boat last Tuesday (8/2/16), we kept checking the weather, made a couple of last minute provision runs, swapped out stuff from the storage unit and decided it was time. Saturday morning we untied the lines, maneuvered to the fuel dock to top off the fuel and headed out. We had plans to stop downriver for the night with friends before continuing on but with the weather they opted out so we decided to continue. All was well until the storm caught us. It was short-lived but intense: 30 knot plus winds, pouring rain and lightning all around. After it passed we changed to dry cloths and continued on until anchoring just before sunset. We were up first thing in the morning to make as much progress as we could and continued on. We are motoring since there is little chance of sailing while traveling the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW). We missed several storms but finally got hit after dropping the anchor. We planned on stopping at Coinjock NC for a night so we got a later start in the morning and quit when we arrived at the marina making it a short day. We need to stop at Coinjock for several reasons. There are no good places to anchor between Coinjock and Norfolk so we need to start early to make that leg in one jump. They also have the best prime rib in their restaurant I have ever had. I order the large serving and have enough left over for several more meals.

We also need to rush to Norfolk because the weather window will not be open for very long and we want to jump out and make it to Block Island in one leg. The weather is forecast to be favorable for the rest of the week and we want to take advantage of it. Therefore as soon as we got tied up in Coinjock we started getting the boat ready for an offshore trip. We are hoping to get to Norfolk early enough to just continue out of the Bay and shoot straight across. If that doesn't happen we have several places along the route that we can duck into.

The next report should be from somewhere in New England.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Hanging out in North Carolina

We have been hanging out at our old marina here in North Carolina getting projects taken care of and making plans.  The thing about plans is they are always changing.  More on that later.

Cori has been working hard, Dale not so much.  She has touched up the non-skid deck paint, waxed and polished the smooth deck surfaces and the hull, made new sail covers, chaps for the new dinghy and has made many more bags.  The biggest project was the chaps for the dinghy.  The sun is brutal on the dinghy, even more so as we move south.  The chaps cover the tubes and protect them from UV damage.

She has been making many more bags and they seem to be popular.  They are made from old sails and from some banners that were going to be thrown out.

We spent a Saturday morning at the Oriental Farmers Market with a table selling some bags.  She had a pretty good day.  Oriental is a small town across the river, not a place where they sell Oriental Farmers in case you were confused (a small attempt at humor).  Thanks Dan for the use of your car.

I have checked off several things that need to be completed but still have more to do.  The biggest is to seal the portholes from leaks.  They are showing their age and are developing leaks.  I have several done and am using them as a learning experience to find the best technique and materials.  As long as it doesn't rain it is not a high priority, when it rains it moves up the list until the rain stops and then it drops down the list again.

Now about plans.  We kept working over different scenarios of where we are going and when we are leaving.  We both have family reunions the last half of July and are planning to attend.  The problem is deciding where to be with the boat so that it can be secured while we are gone, and makeing our travel plans.  Cori came up with the idea this week that we just stay where we are and start our trip north when we get back in August.  It may mean we don't get as far north as we have planed but it made better sense.  The boat is secure, the dockmaster and others keep an eye out for things that may go wrong and travel is easy flying out of New Bern.  Small airports are easier to deal with then the big ones, the lines are shorter.  The latest plan is for Cori to fly out early (next Tuesday) to spend time with her family and then for me to fly out mid-month.  We have a list of things that need to be taken care of since that is our legal residence so we need to have time for that.  Then we will drive to Minnesota for my family reunion and spend some time with family before traveling back to South Dakota.  Once back In South Dakota we will join Cori's family at their reunion in Colorado.  Then it is back to Hi Flite and hope for good weather to start our trip north.

Check back in August to see how all of this has worked out.

And just for entertainment here is a picture of a butterfly: