Delayed again :(

We were all set to head out this morning. Relatively calm inside and supposed to be pretty nice out on the ocean.

Unfortunately, I didn’t double check my blood pressure medications last week as part of the checks I was going though. On Saturday evening I got a text message from Walgreen’s saying my prescription was due. It was too late to go over on Saturday evening by then, and of course, I went in early Sunday.

They processed it yesterday and it is delayed because the prescription had “expired”. Basically, they have to contact the doctor to reauthorize my meds for 90 days (called a “vacation fill” I think).

They finally sent another text yesterday about noon or so saying it was “delayed” and awaiting the doctors. I waited until 7pm last night hoping the doctors would fix the problem by 5 pm Colorado time. That didn’t happen.

It is now 10AM in North Carolina – so 0800 in Colorado. Hopefully they will get it set here shortly, and we can either squeak out of the marina or just go tomorrow morning on high tide.

SeaWater Pro – Makin’ Water

Making fresh water from sea or brackish water is turning out to be kind of fun.

Our water tank is getting low, so I fired up the water maker. This is only the third time we’ve run it for a good length of time, and figured it was time to make sure things work well.

We’re on Shore Power at the moment because we’re in the marina. Tide has hit high tide at about 8:15 this morning, and flowing out now. I was trying to get this done at high tide to prevent pulling in mud or silt from the floor of the ICW. The water is brackish.

So about 9:25 we fired up the rig, I adjusted things so it is creating water and running at 21 gpm. The contaminate level is at 110 most of the time so far.

We’re running it for slightly less than three hours today to fill the tank and to ensure no problems are found.

No leaks. No problems thus far. It’s been going for just under two hours. Should take three to fill the tank to capacity.

The ICW is flowing out right now at around 2.5 knots of current and I really wanted flowing water going past us. Helps eliminate standing muddy water and stuff floating near by the intake. Keeping a constant flow of water is a good thing.

Checking the strainer shows the incoming water is clear, nothing of note in it, no critters I can see and no debris or dirt.

The main filters are clear, with a small amount of “dirt” showing in the first filter (20 micro filter).

My only issue is that I don’t know the quantity of water in the tank. We normally fill with a hose or using water cans, and when we reach ‘full’ the tank will make a popping sound. I don’t think that is going to happen this time.

I suspect I might have to install a gauge of some sort or a see-through tube to the tank to let me know my levels. I’ll ponder that another time. I know though, when we hit “full” the vent will begin to vent the extra water into the bilge so that will be my indicator for the time being.

My friend Kevin, when I told him about the installation walked over to the garden hose by his boat and picked it up saying, “I have a water maker too”. Kevin has been sailing his whole life, and I know he probably understands the difficulties of getting fresh water in some places. Others know that throwing money at a problem offers a temporary solution, like just purchasing the water.

I prefer self-sufficiency over total dependence on others. Sure, I still have to have electricity, and to get it I have to run a generator. But a gallon of gas will run the generator for ten hours or so, producing 210 gallons of water if I ran it the whole time.

Gas (here) is about 2.89 a gallon. Water is free.

In the islands, gas is more, and the water isn’t free. Unless you catch it from the rain. Which we can also do. Right now, gas is about 1.20 dollars a liter in the Bahamas (roughly). Water is running from 6-7 dollars a day to as much as $20 to fill your tank. Since the hurricane went through, I don’t know what they are charging at the moment.

Options….. we all want options.

A gallon of gas in Bahamas is about $4.80 so, still slightly cheaper to produce the water using the generator than to purchase it and haul it back back forth in the dink to me. Less work too. I HATE pulling into marinas and running the engine constantly. So… to me, it’s a convenience thing.

As I’m typing this, we’re right at two solid hours of running the system. The noise isn’t too bad and the unit is under the settee. I open it up for air (motor can get warm) so it’s a little louder that I like, but tolerable.

We should have produced 42 gallons of water at this point, and my vents aren’t yet venting water, so that’s good. The bilge doesn’t have any water in it at the moment either. So that’s good too. Contaminants are at 117 ppm. Still good.

Just as a refresher here, pure sea water should produce fresh water, at about 200 ppm. Less than pure salt water will produce water at lesser numbers. (We have seen it from 65 – 120). I think the difference is whether the tide is rising or falling.

If rising, then mostly we will see fresh river water coming back into the ICW from the Cape Fear. As it rolls out again, it will be more saline from having mixed with the incoming sea water from the tide.

If we ran clean water through (that might be high contaminates) it should run much less than the 85 number above. The FDA says about 600 ppm is ok for human consumption. A chart is provided below.

What is the acceptable TDS level of drinking water?

By the way, our drinking water goes through a Seagull Carbon Filtration system at our galley sink. Most of the time the water coming out of the regular faucet is fine, has no smells and tastes ok. We use the filter system for the fresh water, just in case.

Our tanks (now singular) are treated about about every three months with enough bleach to sterilize the tank internally and the hoses. In general, I’ll open the tank faucet to allow water flow, run the hose into the input (on the deck) and run it for awhile to ensure flushing the tank. Then add the chlorine, and flush again in a couple of days. I usually flush most of that water through the bilge to keep it clean as well after a couple of days. Most of the chlorine is dissipated by then.

The water maker needs to have the system flushed every few days as well with fresh water, which is also run through a carbon filter to remove chlorine (and typically, I just connect a garden hose straight from the shore power pedestal to clean the filters and the Reverse Osmosis (RO) filter.

At exactly 3 hours in (I knew the tank was almost empty) the system started blowing water into the bilge, indicating the tanks are full. I brought the system pressure down and turned off the main pump motor, allow the lift pump to continue for a few months, then powered it down. Now, I have the garden hose attached to the carbon input filter, and am flushing the RO out.

So, there you have it. Our first solid, real production of water from the ICW with our new water maker, filling the tanks, tasting, drinking it and using it. I’ll let you know if it kills me. HA!

The water, by the way, coming through the system is clear, sweet and has no smells or odd tastes. I consider this a success.

Canvas, Bimini, Monthly update

A few days ago, I ran into a man who does canvas work.  He also bends and cuts the steel. Had a chat with him about things, and decided to make some changes.

We’ve not been terribly happy with my “makeshift” solar panel mounts because they were made partially of aluminum, on stainless steel (not a good combo in a salt air atmosphere, but it was what I had at the time).  Also, the ancient bimini wasn’t in the best spot, and I ended up putting holes in it first with a soldering iron (to melt the threads together) and washers and screws through it, to hold the solar panels above the bimini.

Another thing that has bugged me since day one on the boat was the fact the main boom was so high up.  In looking at other vessels of my type, with similar in-mast furling, I noted most are lower than mine (significantly) and I can’t find a reason for the boom to be so high other than missing the bimini.

As it turns out, the height on the steel was close to 7.5 above the sole of the cockpit.  About 2.5 feet above my head.  Also, mounting the panels there put them in danger of the boom sweeping them off, so sailing on  run was something I was extremely cautious of doing, ever.  An unexpected Jibe would have ripped the panels off, perhaps the bimini and bent the steel.

After consulting with JoAnne, and Dave (the man who runs Custom Canvas, out of New Bern) we decided to go ahead and hire him to assist.

The changes will be as follows:

  1. Lower the boom (in a good way! ha ha) several inches, actually almost 18″ to be exact.
  2. Lower the bimini top to a few inches over MY head (I’m 5’9″).
  3. Rebuild the dodger and bimini
  4. Add stiffeners to the dodger, bimini
  5. Add grab rails to the bimini which will double as a holder for two new bows over the top
  6. The bows will give me a mounting point 2-3″ above the bimini (no more holes in bimini)
  7. The dodger will cover the hatch correctly
  8. Bimini will have a window (had one before but was unusable due to age)
  9. Stiffener will be at Mizzen mast
  10. Dodger will cover the lower part of the cockpit, with an Esenglas panel to cover the upper part to bimini

Lowering the boom will give me a bit better sail shape than I was able to get.  However, I will have to definitely add a preventer and consider using the topping lift to prevent a sideways SMACK across the bimini.

Solar panels can be moved around now more forward or back as needed.  My alternate/backup small panel will remain movable from side to side of the ship hanging from the mizzen rig to keep it on the sun-side most of the time.

We’ll finally have some new canvas on the boat.

Over the past few months, I’ve done little things here and there. JoAnne and I have gone through most of the “Junk” we have and pulled some off the boat and placed in storage, and pulled things from storage and put on the boat.  We still have “too much stuff”.  We get to do a very good going-through of the boat in the next couple of weeks to empty anything we simply don’t need or can’t use, place in storage and ensure we absolutely have parts we CAN use on the boat for repairs and emergencies.  I am down to one tool bag (and a small one for small tools for electronics stuff).

JoAnne has pared down the other things like cooking utensils and so on.

But we have shade and a water-maker.  I want to have the forward cabin usable for a guest or two – though we don’t foresee that any time soon.

Other items:

Someone went by and it appears they have punctured the dingy (one of the tubes).  Why?  Not sure, but it’s kind of impolite to do such things.  And expensive.  So, one of the things I had to do was locate the repair kit for this dink (I have a couple of repair kits, one for rubber dinks and one for the hypalon dink we currently own) and I’ll need to hoist the boat, soapy-water-the-hell out of it to find the hole and clean and repair it.

Transmission is an on-going pain in the rump.  Borg-Warner, Velvet Drive.  Moving the boat before Hurricane Dorian, I discovered (too late) that the transmission wasn’t quite right and I think the fluid has gone where ever it goes, again.  Had a devil of a time trying to get the boat into the slip, ended up pulling in forward, and not backing like I wanted to do.  Going to dig into that tomorrow morning and see if it’s simply a fluid issue.  Friend Kevin says his does exactly the same thing; leave it sit without running for a few weeks and you have to re-add fluid.

This one didn’t USED to do this.  But it does now.  /sigh

Today is Friday the 13th of September 2019.  I get my first “Social Security Check” next month on the 9th of October.  (I thought it would start this month, but they apparently don’t think they should, so whatever).  When that check starts, we will have our “income” doubled. haha  JoAnne gets to apply for February.

Where are we going?

We don’t know honestly.  Marsh Harbor was on our “sail to” list, but due to a Cat 5 Dorian – not now.  We aren’t setting plans, destinations or schedules.

We’re going to provision for a month and a week or so of perishables.

Our plans are to go somewhere, cruise like we were before, head south(ish) and head for some islands somewhere.  We do have places like BVI, USVI, Turks and Caicos in our sights.  Whether we get there or not, remains to be seen.

The challenge has been thrown to us to go.  So, we meet the challenge!

Let the Winds of Time blow over our heads

December 7th, 2018

Today is also Pearl Harbor Day.  I suppose it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything.  At least here.

I’ve posted on other blogs, facebook, and our FB groups, but not here.

So, here’s December’s post.

Tonight, we go see our Granddaughter, Cassie, in a play, Death of a Salesman (I think).  High School rendition, so should be interesting.

JoAnne has been through two chemotherapy sessions.  A portion of each of those two were cancelled due, mainly, to low blood cell counts.  The first session was about six hours long. The second part of that session was supposed to last an hour, and was a week after the first infusion.  Unfortunately, she was suffering suddenly from a tooth ache, which turned also into an infection… likely due to lowered white blood cell numbers.

The second session last week on a Thursday went well.  But her blood work on this Wednesday (5 December) showed her white, red blood cells and the building blocks for those things (along with other chemicals I’m not as familiar with) were at a very low level.  Thus, they cancelled the second infusion (which should have been yesterday).

They want to give her a drug, called Newlasta, which will help to regenerate white blood cells, but it takes 14 days to function, and they need to give it after the second infusion.  So, that’s become a problem.  Now, she gets one more blood draw in a week or so (next Thursday), and then a doctor’s visit on the following Monday at which time we will be asking some questions, and hopefully there will be a “new plan” to get this accomplished correctly.

The next infusion will be after the doctor’s visit.  The GOOD news in all this, is the CA-125 blood test (Cancer Antigen test) is showing a drastic reduction in count.  It went from just over 70 to 50.  Her last tests over the course of time have been, June 2017 the CA-125 was 21, and a year later, this past June was 50.  This caused concern with us and the doctors.  In August it shot up to the mid-60s, and therefore the PET scan was ordered.

The PET scan showed not one, but TWO areas of concern.  An area somewhere between her liver and kidneys and a node on her left lung.

The next CA-125 tests were 68 and then 71 in September and October respectively.  (I might be off on the dates, exactly, but you get the gist of it).

In between all of this (September to Present), we’ve made three trips across country, back and forth, ran from a hurricane, visited Florida and came back to Colorado, where the chemo has commenced.

Two sessions are through, with some complications, but still plugging along.  We’re still very much alive, and still “Adventuring” when we can.

20 December should be our “half way point” on Chemo.  Meaning she is starting the third session.  Whether or not we get some stuff tacked on at the end, we’re not sure yet, but we’re going to be checking on that when the doctor’s visit comes to pass.  That will, if things go well, give us 3 more sessions or nine more weeks with chemo in those nine weeks, healing and doctor’s visits, blood work and dozens of miles on the car back and forth to the hospitals.

In the mean time, we miss our ship, Adventure, very much and find ourselves wishing for the house to rock us to sleep at night.  Instead, we have cold, snow on occasion, next door neighbors who can be loud (in the middle of the night for some reason….) hundreds of people everywhere, and us trying to avoid germs. HA!

Tonight, as I mentioned, we’re going to a HS play, where we will likely be exposed to a lot of germs again, because people always cough, sneeze and aren’t the cleanest of creatures.  JoAnne will bring a mask just in case, but hopefully won’t have to use it.  Not, that we honest believe that a mask is going to actually STOP germs from getting into your system anyway.  Doesn’t seem to help at hospitals where there are super bugs…

In the mean time, she’s been crocheting, reading and helping run the various Sailing and Cruising forums she is Admin on, and I’ve been re-learning Morse Code (I’m very rusty at it), and have built two radios to work on Ham Radio frequencies (20 and 40 meters) but haven’t an antenna to connect, and I’ve also been writing a complete role play game campaign for “Stars Without Number” ( a role playing game, set in the milled of the year 3200, in space for some friends in the Southport area).  All of this to “keep busy”.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really have room, nor the time, to grab my charts and sit down and work out courses for the Bahamas and beyond, but I figure it’s likely better to do that just before we go.  At this point, we’ve decided that if we can get back in late March, we will plan a trip down to Bahamas for the Spring, and head back before Hurricane Season hits… and we have a couple of friends who want to go along, who are both sailors.  It will help immensely to get us all there safely, and through that big hurdle of “several days of sailing”, so we can head home on our own when the time comes.

Last thing, I’m personally working on is my Celestial Navigation again.  I really want to grasp that stuff.  I think I’ve mostly got it, but now, I really need to practice it.

That is all for now, friends.  Until next time, Fair Winds!

 

 

September/October/November

I have already related to you the mess we had with insurance over medical problems.

We came back to Colorado, and then after getting that straightened out, we saw JoAnne’s oncologist, and dates were scheduled.

As luck, or perhaps fine tuning, would have it, we had a three week hiatus in which to make another trip across country.  We wound up traveling back from Colorado to Southport.  We stopped (as usual) to visit our friends, Mike and Cindy, as Cindy is preparing for her starring role in “A Bad Year for Tomatoes” in November.  (As of this writing, she did opening night and the second night’s play.  This Friday night and Saturday should be their final curtain.)

We stopped around Tennessee and we wound up at Southport late on the evening of our arrival.

The boat was pretty much a mess.  Books and other things not nailed down flew around during the hurricane.  A solar panel pulled loose from the top and fell to the deck, ripping wires from the connectors.  Fortunately, it wasn’t much of a mess, the books were cleaned up, the batteries checked, and we stayed with our friend at her apartment for a couple of night until I could clean the interior of the boat up.

We spend the next week doing minor repairs, and prepping the boat for the winter, dumping our water tanks and removing any remaining food stuffs to the car, to return that with us to Colorado.  Why not use it there?

I repaired and tested the solar charging system.  We had a major water gusher under the sink where our Seagull Water filter system resided, and had worked itself loose, releasing pressure when turning on the pressure water system.  We move a few things to storage, removed a few winter clothes and after about a week on the ground there, set out again for Colorado.

This time, we took a few extra days, as there was no rush.  We stopped again with Mike and Cindy and spent a full day assisting in the set build for the play at the local VFW Hall in Richmond, MO.  I helped Cindy with her lines and we had a good time hanging out with them.  The day we left, we both had colds, and were kind of miserable.

So, we stopped in Kansas for the night instead of making the long, eleven hour run from Richmond back to Colorado Springs.  We spent the night got up late, traveled and arrived back here.

Over the course of the last week, we’ve been to multiple doctor’s appointments, been in and out of two hospitals and visited most of our kids.

A couple of days ago, our fourteenth grand child was born.  His name is Lincoln Alan Dale Donaldson, and he was 5lbs & 15oz.  He’s have a few breathing issues apparently though, and is still in the hospital until they can get him breathing correctly, even perhaps giving him some  red blood cells to help as he seemed slightly anemic.  Otherwise, he seemed healthy.  His mom and dad (Lana and Patrick) are quite proud!

Baby Lincoln

 

Yesterday was the beginning of JoAnne’s chemo.  She has six sessions.  They are 21 days long (scheduling, not that many days in a row!.)

The first day is a lot of chemicals, drugs to prevent nausea. etc.  The second set in the first session, will be 7 days out from the first day, and will be a short session to give her another dose of one of the chemicals.  Then it starts over again on Day 21.  This will go on for six total sessions, or about 18 weeks, interspersed with doctor’s appointments, blood work and other tests as needed.

We are hoping this particular chemotherapy doesn’t make her lose her hair like the first one did, but we’re prepared that it will, just in case.  She has some hats and scarves, like last time.  The chemicals are somewhat different this time as well, and her doctor said that people do not lose their hair “as much” with this type.

JoAnne is a tough cookie.  She fought this last time and managed to beat it back for four full years, she never really even got ill as some do, through chemo, and she worked the whole time last time.  This time, we’re completely retired and have nothing to keep us from fighting this all the way through.  She’s going to get plenty of rest in spite of herself! ha!

JoAnne, the First Mate of the Sailing Ketch, Adventure!

 

We both want to tell you folks, those who are already out there and follow us, and those thinking about it, as well as our friends who are comfortable in their homes, snuggled up by the fireplaces, drinking their hot chocolates, or martinis by the fire:

Stop living life the easy way.  Don’t pass the opportunities that come your way.  Don’t live day-to-day and Check-to-Check.

Do NOT let life pass you by while you’re “waiting for retirement”.  Don’t sit on your butts, thinking about all the things you’re going to do “When I don’t have to work again”.  Do NOT wait for “enough money” (because you will NEVER HAVE ENOUGH MONEY!) to do the “RV Thing”, “buy a boat”, “go horse back riding”, “Mountain Climbing”, “Paragliding or skydiving”.

Just don’t wait.  Do it.  Sit down and make that list of things you want to do, and then check them off, one at a time.  Save some money, go do one, pick a date, do another.

Life isn’t lived while you’re “waiting on it to catch you”.  Life is lived when you grab that bull by the horns and wrestle his big ass down into the mud and hog tie him, then jump up and win that trophy.

The day JoAnne gets her walking papers from chemo, we’re headed back to Southport without meager belongings, and we’re going to empty out the Vee Berth, put everything we don’t need in storage (winter clothing, parts, junk pieces, extra crap that we “might need one day” and all the stuff that weigh us down, collect a couple of friends as crew and we’re setting sail for the Bahamas.  Yes, it will be near the beginning of Hurricane Season.  Yes, it might be the BEST sailing time.  Yes, it will be relatively spur of the moment, pretty much “unplanned” and absolutely not the “right season”, but you know what?  It’s well past time to do it.

We made a decision awhile back that we were going to live our lives, and do the “medical stuff” around life, not live our lives around the “medical stuff”.  I’ll keep JoAnne safe, and healthy, and make sure she sees the doctors when it’t time, but we’re not sitting on our asses waiting for a “day, date, season or proper time” any longer.

To our friends Kevin and Debi – skippers of their own ships, be prepared, we’re coming for you, we need a crew! (Don’t be surprised if you get shanghaied!!!!!!!!!

 

 

Boat Repairs (again) and thoughts on others’ misfortunes

A few weeks ago we experienced first (on a Monday) being told we’d have to move out of our nice slip to somewhere else, second, (on a Tuesday) a fire (in the inverter/charging system), and third, (on a Wednesday) a runaway engine.

Over the course of the last few weeks with the help of a local mechanic, we figured out the engine issue – a crack in a gasket which sucked in some oil and cause the engine to go nuts and speed up.  Also the fuel pump required (after that) a rebuild of the thing, replacing an diaphragm.

I removed and rewired the boat so I had AC applied back to the systems where I needed it, and have installed a new charger for the system.  It is not yet “permatized”.  I need to mount it to the bulkhead, and hardwire it into the system through a breaker.  Right now it’s plugged into a wall socket on a temporary basis.

The slip issue was something we couldn’t fix.  The slip was privately owned and the owner decided, without notice to sell it, requiring us to move.  The problem is, now I’m in a supposedly 50′ slip and sticking out into the fairway.  Not cool.

We’re also riding in the mud again.  Again, not cool.

So this has prompted me to request that the marina find us another long-dock slip and get us into ASAP.  That is moving slowly.  Or perhaps not at all.  I don’t know.

Now, I am rethinking remaining here.  We are in a tenuous position on this dock, having had to back into it to even be able to get off the boat safely… the finger pier is only 25′ long and bow sprit-to-gangway is 33′.  Thus, we can’t get off the boat safely if we pull into the dock.  Backing in has placed our cabin against the dock, where people walk past all evening, make noises and so on.

I have been calling around in the south to locate a marina that might be a little better for us, but they are all vastly more expensive, sometimes double and triple the cost of this one.  Many don’t allow people to live aboard their boats either.  Some do for an excessive fee.  Others don’t care one way or the other (and it is dependent upon the state, county and local rules).

I have several good places and we will examine them individually soon.  The marina manager doesn’t want to lose me as an employee though.  Perhaps something will be worked out soon.

In the mean time we’re examining our options to just go to a mooring ball, live on the hook awhile, or find another marina to “call home”.  We want to be further south anyway, and be able to access the ocean so, it’s going to cost a bit more no matter what we do I think.

We have a storage locker with a few things in it, which will have to come to the boat, a boat box on the dock (for things we move in and out of the boat) that I’ll need to get rid of, a car, which might have to go into storage for a time until we find a place to bring it.   We need the car to get back and forth across country (flying is not for me any more and is significantly more expensive than travel by car; renting a car is out of the question for long trips, also too expensive).  Everyone wants your money, don’t they?

Over the course of the past few weeks, we went south to Charleston (Twice now) taking our friend Kevin down to retrieve his truck after he brought a boat back up from there and delivered it here.  We went this past weekend to hang out with our friends Alison and Daniel aboard Equus, for a couple of evenings.  We had a good time talking and hearing about their trip to the Bahamas.

I went sailing with Norm from the marina when he took his 94 year old Grandfather out and helped out on the boat.  His grandpa has been sailing since he was about 4 or 5 years old.  He took the tiller and had a grand time.  I stuck to running the jib sheets while Norm handled the main.  We might go out this Friday for awhile too (Norm, myself and one other).

This brings me to the last thing I want to write about here… the Couple from Colorado, who hit something in the water a few months back, lost their keel and sank their boat.

(See: http://www.tampabay.com/news/Couple-whose-dream-boat-sank-finally-set-sail-on-new-adventure-_168471537)

(See also: http://www.tampabay.com/sold-everything-to-sail-the-world-boat-sank-next-day)

The Facebook groups and forums are all over these people.  Some folks in the groups are so judgmental of the couple over this accident.  Yes, it was an accident.  Yes, people have accidents all the time.  People make mistakes, all the time.  Sailors are prone to accidents – though we all strive not to be the cause of one, they still happen.

Articles written about these folks cast them in a bad light, give others a chance to say how “stupid” they are, or “inexperienced” or just nasty things.

What I have come to learn about most of these forums is that 90% or better of the people in the groups have very little “cruising” experience.  A few do, sure, but most are day time, fair weather sailors who spend the majority of their time polishing the gelcoat on their boats.  Some of them brag about having had to “spend time paying their dues” on boats as crew, or under the tutelage of “masters”, and yet, still put down the people who are simply trying to live their dreams.

Granted, not everyone jumps in feet first without knowing how to swim, but a few do.  And they WILL learn the hard way how to do things.  We took sailing courses and spent a few years gaining experience before moving aboard our cruising vessel, Adventure.  And neither of us had crossed “oceans” before – nor have we yet.  We’ve spent extensive time in the Chesapeake, and in the Atlantic coming down the coast, sailing offshore near Cape Fear and a lot of time motoring the ICW in this boat.  Every day, you learn something new. Every time you make a mistake, you learn NOT to do that again, or what to watch for next time.

Life is a journey, not a destination.  Cruising too, is a journey, not a destination.  We don’t expect to set a schedule any more.  We don’t try to beat the weather now, or the night, we deal with it.  No one should be dissuaded about pursuing their dreams because a few nay-sayers are angry over circumstances beyond the control of the dreamers.  No one could have predicted their keel would fall off, they’d hit something, or lose all their property.

On the other hand, Common Sense says one must be prepared for every contingency.  Like, not sailing with a fin keel that is bolted to your boat.  Or taking all your cash with you.  Or any one of a dozen other little things that happened to that couple.  Common Sense, however, isn’t common  I suppose and  I can only hope that this couple learned from their mistakes, and they do not make them again.

We wish them well on their journey, fair winds and following seas–and hope they accomplish what they’ve set out to do.

And I sincerely hope that Facebook Groups begin weeding out the negative ninnies and nay-sayers that “know it all”, because of all the unhelpful things and people out there, they are the worst of the worst.

Failure, Disappointment and Frustration…. or was it?

We were set to pull out of the marina as the tide was falling.  I had 15 minutes to play with before the water would be too thin for us.  We waited for one of the crew’s family to come and say good bye and to meet us.  We had cut it pretty close, but we were getting out.

The morning was chilly, but nice.  The wind was clocking around though in the afternoon and I wanted the last of the north winds to take us down the coast as rapidly as possible under sail.  I knew if we waited until the afternoon we would be tacking a LOT to go to the Southwest.

At 0905 I put the engine in reverse and some friends tossed the lines to Nick, our new crew member.  He put the lines away and I began backing out and hit a bump.  Mud, and the water was thinning.

“Crap,” I thought.  Then there was a horn behind me where there had not been a boat a few moments before, and a shout from one of the marina guys, Norm, asking me to pull back in the slip.  I yelled back, “Trying to get out before I can’t!”

He said, “Pull in, they are going for a pumpout!”

Katy B, a large power vessel wasn’t stopping, so I pulled back in.  In a parking lot, the guy going behind you has the right of way.  So, I treated it like a parking lot and pulled forward, knowing full well we weren’t getting out now.

They cleared us, and I began backing and slammed into the mud.  Too shallow now.  Cut it too close.  Darn.

A quick check with the crew, JoAnne and Nick, told me we were going to try again.  But as tide was coming back in around 1300.  That didn’t set well with me because, honestly, I knew the winds were going to clock.  They really wanted to get going on our journey.  So, we ate some lunch, and waiting for Nick’s family to return once again this time to see us off the docks, and bring a friend who had come to visit them.

At 1315, we backed out on a rising tide.  I still hit the “bump” behind our slip and after a moment of hesitation, I brought the bow around and we motored smartly out of the marina with people waving to us, yelling “Fair Winds” and “Good Luck!”

The ICW was quiet, the winds were beginning to drop, but I hoisted the main as we got a little ways out of the marina to use what there was, about 7-9 knots to help propel us down the water way, along with the engine chugging along.  Engine was just fine.  No overheating issues now.

A couple of miles later we rounded a bend and headed into the Western Bar Cut.  I’ve done it a few times now in both my boat and Jay’s “Knot Working” so have learned it better.

Before we go on…. let me tell you another short story.

One week before, on a Friday (bad luck they say) we departed and wound up with overheated engine, rainy morning, crappy weather, and made it to the lighthouse when the engine overheated badly.  I called for a tow, from SeaTow who brought us home to our slip.

So, we’re not really unfamiliar with bad luck.

Back to the story.  This is the third or fourth attempt to get out of here and head south.  Each time, something odd has happened.

On this day, things were going great.  We were in the channel headed out, but now, by the time we hit the Western Bar and were under main sail and engine, the winds were turning against us.  We needed to go directly Southwest.

We sailed on, passing our friends Jay and Kevin who went out earlier in the morning when we pulled back into the slip.  They waved, took pictures and wished us luck.  We kept going.  After 30 minutes we were almost to the light house, to the place we’d had to turn around last time.  Winds were now fully in our faces on the bow.

I can’t change the winds, so I did what any sailor would do, I tacked and adjusted the sails and we took off at almost five knots.  I pulled out all sail, and managed almost 6 knots.  Good, faster than I though.  Course looked good, but we would be going right towards the shipping channel entrance, so I worked out a tack in the other direction and tried to gain as much SW direction as I could.  Not going well.

When we got to the buoy out there, we tacked back and headed toward shore. At the end of the tack we’d gained roughly 1/2 nautical mile.  Winds were picking up too.  Tacking back in another 30 minutes gained us another half mile.  On the third tack I realized while we were sailing well, it was not going to get us very far.   I started considering going back in.  Or going down the ICW.

Neither one sounded appealing.  And everyone voted to go on.  I restarted the engine and aimed south, figuring our computer applications told us winds would finish clocking back out of the north soon (by about 1600).  Motor sailing against the wind is not really my favorite thing to do, but I’ve gotten pretty good at it.  Except today.

We were making 2 knots most of the time.  So I started “tacking off the wind” and trying to use the sail, doing shorter tacks so we didn’t head into shipping lanes or too close to shore.  We watched a gorgeous sunset and the Southwest wind had a long fetch before us.  After another hour, we were pounding into and out of waves, as they built first to 3, then 4 feet.

JoAnne began to get ill.  I’d sent her down to rest (she’d taken medication that was making her sleepy, so she was laying down).  Nick had gone down to sleep for a couple of hours so he could join me in the cockpit at 2100 or so that night.

I put the boat on autopilot, looked around and seeing nothing went below to double check on the engine.  Oil smoke was burning off the engine and filling the cabin.

At that point I decided it was time to turn around.  So about 2000 hours local time I awakened them and told them my decision.  I suspect they were both disappointed, but neither let on.  I brought the boat back around and Nick joined me in the cockpit to help me watch for traffic.

We slogged against currents coming out, and falling tides (again), into a bright, moon-lit night, looking for markers.  At the last moment I decided against attempting the Western Bar in the dark and headed for the secondary shipping channel, giving me plenty of water, but adding 3-4 miles on our trip in against the currents.

I contacted Jay and he and Kevin would meet us at the transient dock (after they determined there was a slot open).  We arrived about 2340 and tied off on the T-dock for the night, hoping to move in the morning.  Nick decided to go home, called his parents who picked him us, I connected electricity and we still had SW winds.  They never switched to come from the North.

The temperature was beginning to drop, but wasn’t uncomfortable yet.  About 0145 Sunday morning something awakened me.  It was the wind.  It had finally clocked around out of the north and was blowing hard.

It was the wind I was hoping would be there about 1400 the day before to propel us south.  I’d have taken us in at Little River or on to Charleston, SC.  Alas, that didn’t happen.

The next day early on, one of the other boats was coming back in under tow, the marina was a bit mad at me for taking up the only slot, but I couldn’t get in at low tide (and I was NOT going to get up at 0500 to try to bring the boat in after what I’d just been through, exhausted, bringing the boat back in the ICW in the dark).

Fortunately, we came up with a solution and put him on the inside against the bulkhead.  Apparently, they didn’t want to try getting him into his slip.  Though, a week before, SeaTow put me in MY slip….

So… there are some lessons here.  But, I’m not going into them all right now.  Suffice it to say, I’ll make my own decisions from now on about moving the boat, no one tells me.  We go when *I* know it is ready.  Not before, not after.  I’ll wait for a good weather window, not an “OK” weather window.  I won’t start off again without having the right tides in the right places… and so many other seamanship things I already KNOW I should do, and discounted some of them.

Never again.

Today, it’s 18 degrees here.  We’d have been near Charleston, SC, with no heat (very little, propane heater, wood stove are insufficient at sea).  We have electric heating on the boat right now, but requires AC power.  Only have that running generator or shore power.

After all was said and done, I made the correct decision to come back in because had I not, three of us would have been exhausted, tired and freezing, and perhaps a danger to ourselves and others.

Apparently, some delays are simply meant to be.

Fire Delay

During our safety checks we discovered all of our fire fighting gear was under recall.  How nice.

We’re trying to decide if we want to go with possibly bad, definitely recalled fire extinguishers.

Kidde has recalled more than 130 models of their fire extinguishers.  All six of ours, of various models are on the list.

According to Kidde, they may function, or they may not.  They are recalling them (8-9 million of them apparently) due to the fact they COULD fail.  Having worked with Quality Control in the past I imagine they did some destructive testing to determine they have that many models, based on the plastic handles, and they have indeed had at least one death associated with one of the models.

That means they are attempting to mitigate other dangers to the public from their equipment.  The cost must be enormous.

So, do we stay another possible 20 days and then go south, or do we run south with the herd and try to get to Bahamas in the right windows?

I understand Kevin (a friend on the dock) has a $1.00 bet we will be here for Thanksgiving.  Not sure I want to see him win that bet. 🙂

I have more extinguishers than are required (I believe I’m required three for my size boat) and we have two for the engine, one for each cabin, one for the galley and a spare (I keep two in our cabin).

So, the chances of ALL of them failing in an emergency are pretty low.  But, I don’t want to ship out and leave a huge box of a half dozen extinguishers sitting behind, and I need to ship back the other six.

What would you do?

Edit: By the way, here is a link for you to go check your own equipment!

https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2017/kidde-recalls-fire-extinguishers-with-plastic-handles-due-to-failure-to-discharge-and

 

Bahamas Bound

We’re watching the weather now, looking for a window.  However, the boat isn’t quite ready.  We’re decluttering our cabins, removing extra things that won’t be required for a trip.  We want to lighten our load of junk (How in the HELL do you collect junk on a boat??? I think most of the stuff I’ve taken off isn’t really necessary for the boat, just conveniences we use day to day.)

A trip to Colorado last month was to visit my doctor and renew my Blood Pressure prescriptions.  After the heart attack and open heart surgery a couple of years ago, no more chances.  We also got to visit our new, baby Great Grand Daughter!  She is beautiful and her parents are good kids. I hope they do well in life and raise that baby well.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, eyeglasses

Two proud Great Grandmothers meeting Chloe

Back at the boat we started the work to reverse all we did for the hurricane watches, putting sails back up, untying all the things we tied down, strapping down things that we don’t want moving about, and removing a few other things from the boat like some of our winter clothing we won’t be needing much in the south.

I hope to have all the little chores done by Wednesday or Thursday this week, and JoAnne will be doing some grocery shopping while I finish up engine work (cleaning, tightening, checking fluid levels etc) and make sure all the rigging is good.  So far, so good.

The primary plan is to head for Marsh Harbor, Abacos and range in and out of that area to see things.  We may take some time to go down the coast too though, and we’re planning at least one “shake down” cruise before we set out into the ocean again.

That’s all for now.  More to follow later.

Travel Planning

We’re planning our first major trip right now.

I’m a world traveler, and always have had to do trip planning, logistics, coordination with others, set up hotels, rental cars, quantities of equipment and many other things for entire teams of personnel traveling to other cities, states and countries.

Somehow it seems that the devil is in the details though when it comes to boats.

Safety is the very first, most important, and critical priority so most things have to be considered there first.  But there are so many other things to take into account for a trip involving multiple days at sea – something we’ve not yet done – that I’m getting lost in the planning. (Not really, but it is certainly different when you’re doing all the planning and a lot of the physical labor involved too.)

We are still working on the interior of the boat, to include removing all the extraneous things we THOUGHT we needed, but haven’t used in a year (or two, in some cases).  I never wanted to have to be able to store anything in a storage locker and yet, we rented one for a full year a few days ago.

I’m starting to move things over to it (a car load of larger items that have absolutely no use on the boat under way were moved yesterday).  Today, I’ll be removing everything from the V-berth and beginning a paint job inside.  I want to clean and paint the forward cabin for visitors who may come to stay with us along the trip in the Bahamas.  It will also afford me the opportunity to put my hands on each and every item in the forward cabin and call out “Yep, nope, throw it out”.  lol – to myself anyway.

I do need to go through the through-hulls again, look each one over, and ensure they are good to go, no danger of anything breaking, sticking or being no use when you need it most.  I’ll start in the front.  The paint is to make things “cleaner” and easy to wipe down inside.  Some areas have never had a coat of paint, and some have only a simple primer coat.  Some have nothing (down inside the bow for instance).  Not sure how well I can paint in there, but we shall see.

I have one more fan to install in the forward cabin if I can.  It only takes a few moments, but, it’s a pain with all the stuff in there right now, so it’s not been done.

Once the area is painted and dried, I can move the cushions back, and we can store a few things in there like our extra beer and soda we’re going to provision, paper products (paper towels, toilet paper) and a few small items (a tool bag).

JoAnne hopes to pare down our clothing to necessities and a few nice things, a couple of items for cold weather (*we hope to be leaving before it gets horribly cold in January!) and she’s going to be collecting and going through our clothing, removing unserviceable items and we’re replace as required.  There are two lockers in the middle cabin that bug me.  I have some electronic parts in them which I probably don’t need on the boat for the trip but do not wish to throw out or give away.  I’ll be collecting things together and storing them ashore.  That SHOULD give me a couple of places to store more food for this trip. (Canned food for veggies and things that spoil easily).

I have already looked at our trip and planned a course or two for Abacos.  We have a couple of contingency plans, so that if something goes wrong, we can turn and head back to the States and get into a bay someplace to do repairs or whatever.  But, basically, this should be a pretty straight shot right to the Bahamas from Cape Fear.  About 415 nm from here, straight line distance of course, without tacking much.  If the weather window is right, we ought to be on a pretty good tack anyway all the way down.  I’m still trying to work out the weather patterns for October though.

We are starting to make sure all our required paperwork is in order, I have to renew my insurance about October time frame, I need to make sure we have no outstanding bills, our slip is taken care of for us, and our car is ok to be left alone for a few months.

This is, if all works out, a six month trip to the Bahamas and perhaps the Florida Keys and then back here.  This will be our first major multiday trip.  Neither of us have done it before, but we think we’re mostly ready.  Time will tell.

 

 

On a Happier Note

Last entry I talked about Renata.  I did that because it occurred very recently and more recently than this week.

This week, we took a week off for birthday and anniversary celebration.

I turned 60 this past week, and JoAnne and I have been married now for 40 years.  As I said before, I am not sure how she has put up with me this long, but I’m very happy she has, and proud to be her husband.  I did a quick Facebook post honoring her, posting images and a statement.  I would try to recapture it here, but it will simply repost on FB and I’m sure a lot of people are tired of seeing it now. haha.

We did a little road trip, traveling to Georgia to see Stone Mountain, something JoAnne has wanted to do for some time now.  We spent a couple of days in a very nice hotel there.  We also visited a local restaurant here on Oak Island, called Swain’s to try their sea food.  It was ok, not the best I’ve had, but not the worst.

We found a nice brewery near Atlanta and tested several beers.  All of the beers were very good.  I tried five tasters and wound up with my “standard go-to beer”, an Irish Red Ale, which was so smooth, it made Killians (not my most favorite, but one that most will know) taste like cheap crap.  (Which, I suppose, technically it is after so many craft brews under the bridge.)

The only thing of note on the trip (other than a good time) we had was a massive amount of rain yesterday.  Torrential downpours throughout the day made traveling difficult and cost us about an hour or so of time in going so slowly at times.  At one point, we couldn’t even see ten feet in front of us and were doing 25 mph behind a large truck so I could see his lights and keep an eye on the road lines.  Going off the road would have been very dangerous and probably we’d still be stuck, as there was water flooding the sides of the roads and median.

Eventually, we made it back here, and surprisingly, we had very little leaking going on in the hard rains.  I had placed a large tarp up to reflect the sun off the decks a few days back, when it was choking us with heat and humidity, which actually helped reduce the heat, and apparently the leaks.  So I now know most of them are coming from the top of the main cabin somewhere.  I’ll continue looking for them.

Turning 60 sounds awful to some.  Especially you younger folks, right?  I’m sure many can’t even imagine being this old.  I certainly couldn’t when I was 30 and in the military.  I figured I’d never make it out alive anyway.  But, I did.  And I have made it past several dangerous things in my life, including a nearly “heart stopping” heart attack.  We’ve both had our share of dumb and awful things happen to us over the years.  An accident once in Colorado nearly got us both killed.  A guy ran a red light.  My “quick thinking” and previous “training” I’d had years before kicked in and I managed to put more car between me and him, than had been between him and JoAnne split seconds before.

The car was destroyed, as was his own vehicle.  JoAnne was injured but not anywhere nearly as severe as it would have been had I not acted.  We’ve had two “butt kickings” out “there”, neither of which was really all that bad, but it did give us a deeper respect for the ocean, and the weather.  Mother Nature will surprise you when you are not watching closely.  A boat is as good as it’s master.  Sometimes though, a boat is better than the Master’s skills and the skipper can do almost anything stupid and survive.  Except if they don’t care for the boat correctly (as in the last blog entry).  Eventually, doing nothing at all, can kill you.

Cancer tried to get her.  My heart tried to kill me.  Together, we’re stronger than ever before, but also, we’re more wary, we’ve slowed down, and realize that while we want to go-go-go, we can’t-can’t-can’t hurry.  Taking our time and eking out as much from life as we can takes not only courage, but perseverance, and thinking, reasoning and time.  You can’t always just rush in and get it done.  Sometimes, you seriously need to step back and evaluate what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and how you’re going to do it.

Setting sail is easy to do.  But, when you live aboard, it’s more difficult, because you become comfortable leaving things laying about, sometimes you don’t take all the precautions you would in a seaway, like wearing your flotation device or keeping your radio on all day/night.  You don’t have your wind equipment turned on constantly and tend to guess the wind speeds from experience.  You don’t always remember to close certain hatches at a dock… until it rains hard and you were away from the boat, and your bed gets wet.

You sometimes get bugs in the boat, even though you try hard not to introduce themselves, or you take precautions against them.  But, you learn, you cope, and you deal with everything.  From an emergency, to simple day-to-day things.  And sometimes, you watch as someone else’s dream sinks beneath the waves, helpless to help them.  And yet, you go on.

As to the boat, and the ants…. they seem to have fled or died finally.  We have tried two different kinds of ant traps, both of them seem to be attracting those left and both having different sorts of poison in them, they have pretty much left.  I have seen no sign of any of them since our return yesterday evening.

Our plan at this point seems to be – because we do not set hard dates now for anything – to try to get a good weather window sometime in October, to depart for the Bahamas.  The plan is to head south, outside the Gulf Stream, and sail directly to Marsh Harbor.  We will probably use that as our hub to explore as much as we can see in three-six months time there, and return to our “home” here by not later than April, to try to catch decent winds and weather.

All of that depends on the boat, the crew, the skipper here, and our ability to accomplish it.  I am extremely confident of our ability to accomplish it.  I’ve seen “Lesser Humans” come through here who’ve accomplished more.  No, I’m not insulting them, I’m stating the obvious.  Younger people with much less experience than we have now, having accomplished wondrous things that we have not. We can, and we will do them though.

At 60 life has become shortened.  Time on this planet is meted out in moments and memories and we intend to make the best of them.  We don’t want to wind up stuck in a dock for the rest of our lives, living like the crew of Renata, watching as our home sinks beneath the waves due to lack of hope, caring or whatever finally took it’s toll on Renata.

While time is slowing ticking away, we are still learning, as are all people, every day.  Each event is a learning event.  Each day is a time to reflect on your skills (or lack thereof) and move forward.  Tomorrow is a new day, with new learning events.

A sailor never becomes a complete expert in everything they do, but they surely have skills that most can only dream about.  Sailors KNOW what they know, and know there is much they do not know.  Sailors are not afraid to test the waters, sail the tides or do without things they would like to have, but do not.  Sailors learn as they go, and they pass on to others as they can.  This sailor never stops reading, never stops learning, and will never give up.

 

S/V Adventure Video Tour

I think I posted this before, but because it’s one of Kurt’s most watched videos, I’m going to post it again… with comments.


This video was shot by Kurt A. Seastead of s/v Lo-Kee.  He is currently doing a refit of his boat.

Adventure was purchased in January of 2015 by Rick and JoAnne Donaldson (that’s us) for a long term cruise and travel.  The boat had a few things wrong with it, but over all, she floated.  The equipment was old (and mostly still is), but it all worked.

Some of the comments on the Youtube video included comments about how “sloppy” I am. 🙂  Another comment was about how dangerous in mast furling is (or perhaps could be?) and that the person writing the comment would NEVER use it.

I’ll make a few of my own comments.

I’m currently working part time in a marina.  I’m handling boats coming through from the Caribbean and Bahamas headed north.  I count the number of in-mast furling rigs I see daily.  I see no less than 5-6 out of 7-10 sail boats.  I find it interesting that there are so many who’ve traveled oceans with these rigs so far.  I have traveled IN the ocean but not crossed it yet.  But so far, the only issues I’ve had with the rigging was having to replace all the halyards and make sure the proper maintenance was performed on the rig.

The boat came with the rigging installed.  I’m not going to undo everything just to make a couple of people happy so they can assume they are right.  The truth is, if the rig gets jammed, the sail can be lowered and treated like any other main sail.

I wonder how many people who make claims about how “bad” something is, have actually used those pieces of equipment.  I venture to say “Almost ZERO”.

As to my “sloppiness”… We had not cruised before we bought the boat, except on bare boat charters and a smaller boat in lakes using our trailer to get there.  Out of necessity we packed lightly, moved the boat and sailed, but generally for 2-3 days at a time.  We couldn’t get enough stuff on the boat to support us.  That included food and water (rather important items).

We also LIVE on this boat, full time.  We don’t have a house, don’t want to waste money on “storage units” we will never visit.  Have no place close by to store things with friends and honestly, don’t want to do so.  There is certainly only so much room on a boat.  We have spare parts for a lot of things.  We have tools to do repairs (and tools take up a lot of space, but without them, we’d be lost).  Tools also can keep me working when necessary to earn some money, because, I know how to do a LOT of jobs.

So one person’s sloppy, is another person’s “organized chaos”.

Also note that we had been on the boat LESS than three months when that video was shot.  We’d owned the boat less than a year and moved aboard in August 2015.  We were still learning how and where to store things.  It was somewhat haphazard at the beginning.

Truth is, we have gotten rid of a lot of things, BUT, we still have clutter and things we can’t yet part with, and until we can find smaller, like items to replace things we use we won’t be doing that just yet.  We have significantly reduced the weight of several items though and we now have a car at our “new marina home port” so we use it to store extra tools I won’t need when cruising.

There are things on this boat a lot of people wouldn’t want.  I’ll give you a little idea.  Composting toilet (a lot of people HATE them, but have never used one.  A lot of people swear by them. I’m still in the middle on this).  OLD electronics.  I have very old radio, doesn’t do AIS.  Broken radar, I’m not paying 2 grand for a new one.  Old, but functional chart plotter (old…. is 1990s, updated firmware for 2009 and no more support).  But it has brand new charts (days old now).   We have no microwave.  We have no freezer.  We DO have a working refrigeration unit (I repaired the ancient one and it works fine).  We have a gas generator (Honda 2000eu version) which people hate because it uses gasoline.  (A lot of people have a gas motor for their dink…../shrug).  We have a propane engine for the dinghy (hard to get propane I hear…. so far, so good, no problem with that).  We have a NEW stove and oven (ok a year or so old now) but my wife loves it.

And so on.  I’m absolutely CERTAIN that if you’ve ever been on and sailed a sailboat something in that list will make you cringe.  And some of you will think “Cool, I use one of those!”

Here’s my point, and the point of re-posting the video once more.

Everyone has their way of doing things.  We each have an idea of what we like, don’t like, and how we would do it, and how we would NOT do it.  You, me, him, her, doesn’t matter.  There are people who wouldn’t GO in a sailboat, because they are power boaters.  We have some who pick at us calling us “Blow Boaters”.  I take it as a compliment, and point out the price of fuel, and the wind is free….

We’re on this journey because my wife wanted to travel.  We think it is a neat way to see things.  We love meeting people.

We’re not on this journey to please ANYONE other than ourselves.  Perhaps that’s selfish, but after 60 years on this planet, doing everything for everyone else, I’m a little peeved at armchair sailors and snobs who nit pick everything anyone else does “because it’s not how *I* would do it”.

A few years ago, I stopped visiting Cruisers Forums, and Sail Net (and I HELPED form sail net!) because of the armchair sailors who would denigrate others for what they considered “dumb questions”.  There is a large group of people out there that are at work every day, getting up, going to work, going home, and logging into the computer – and on weekends they go out to their marina where they store their boat, they climb aboard and drink “sundowners” and wake up with hangovers.  On Monday they go back to work.  During the week they call some company to go polish their boat or wash it, and pay through the nose for the privilege of sitting on the dock on weekends drinking their Bud Lites – but during the week, they bitch and complain about all of us who actually live on the boat, go places, and make due with significantly less space than they have, no or low income, squeeze Lincoln until he screams and buy our cheap beer at the grocery store, and our liquor from the local markets.

They do this because they feel as if they are better than the rest of the cruisers out there.

I’ve yet to meet a long distance cruiser who has a perfectly clean, perfectly cared for boat, that isn’t somewhat cluttered, full of extra “stuff” they “need” (hoses, extra lines, pieces of “small stuff” – that’s bits of twine and line for those of you who might not know that), tools, the odd “silver tea service” or plastic wine goblets.

You know why?  Because they are out there doing their thing, being happy and not complaining about how the other half lives.

Kurt and I are discussing a remake at some point.  A follow up video to this one.  It will address some of the questions you all have, assuming we find the time and can connect somewhere to do it.  But, it will also be real, personal and it shows the truth.

The fact is, I write this blog on the same basis.  I tell it like it is.  Not how you want it to be.  There’s no such thing as a perfect boat, day, trip, travel, or location.  There’s rarely a perfect day of sailing (it happens, but it’s not often).  Extended cruisers sometimes pick up jobs.  They sometimes have to stop and work for a living.  Sometimes they travel and are out of contact for weeks at a time.  Sometimes they even catch fish.  Sometimes they get hurt.  Sometimes, unfortunately, they can die.

I write about everything.  Good. Bad. Ugly. Fun.  Doesn’t matter.  I enjoy writing about our Adventure(s) and what we go through.  I was beat up by a once-friend on Facebook because she disagreed about how I presented my store about a marina.  We had a ROUGH time there.  We had a lot of things go wrong.  Most of them happened when we were not even at the boat.  And yet somehow having these bad things happen and writing about them upset this lady to the point she de-friended me.  I was, in her eyes “putting down her marina”. /Shrug

As I said, I’m not here to please anyone else.

Kurt wanted to do the interview above.  It was impromptu, we had not really cleaned up the boat after having been traveling for a few weeks. The wife was off doing laundry.  I was going Kurt the tour.

So, sometimes, sloppiness is a perceived thing (mostly to OCD people who have a penchant for correcting where someone sits their coffee cup) and equipment issues are almost ALWAYS, ALWAYS based on 3rd hand, biased reporting by people who have zero personal experience with them.  I’m sure that a lack of spit and polish on the bronze pisses people off to no end. 🙂

When it all comes out in the end…. If we have a good time doing what we’re doing, why would anyone be upset?  Except for the people in Florida that don’t want over night anchoring because, well, they are armchair sailors and boaters and honestly don’t know anything about how the other half lives.  They just don’t want to see us in the waterways.

If we all had to please everyone around us, all the time the task would be to ensure everyone is happy.  And you’re not.

That is not the way to live your life, friends.

Go out and be happy.  If you’re going to sail a boat, do it.  Don’t complain about how others do it, how they live, that their equipment isn’t like yours…. be happy we’re different.

 

 

 

Life is a Journey, Not a Destination

Extended Cruisers… that’s what we tell people now when they ask us where we live.  We get questions on where our house is (the boat).  Where do we live?  How do you cook? Where do you go to the bathroom?  Where do you shower? What do you do when you get tired of being on the boat?  One person asked us “Do you use sleeping bags every night?” Another asked us about doing laundry.  Everyone asks “Where are you going?”  Even other cruisers ask that question, including me.  We’re all curious about how everyone else deals with life I suppose.

I think all of us in the cruising world have these questions asked at one time or another and very likely as we were entering into the world of cruising, we all might have asked the same questions of others, or of ourselves.  At first, it’s fun explaining it all to people.  Eventually though, it can be tiring.  Not in a bad way, but in a way that shows you’ve answered the question a thousand times and you get the point you try to reword it more efficiently, using less words, or just simply shrugging your shoulders when you haven’t the energy to respond again.

It isn’t that the questions are stupid, inane or silly.  They want to know, and you have to tell them. So you do.

One day perhaps, I’ll write a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Cruisers to pass out to anyone asking them questions.  Or maybe not.  Because everyone is different.

Speaking of “different”.  JoAnne and I started this “journey” almost 10 years ago – actually, I don’t remember the exact date or year any more.  A lot of water has gone under the keel since we started.  For the past two years we’ve cruised “Differently” than others.

Most people pick a destination and go.  They get there as fast as possible, barring difficulties, and they stay long enough to enjoy the scenery, a pub, a beach bar, a beach, fishing, or simply meeting new people.

For two years we’ve “cruised” down the coast, running into trouble – we might call it “Adventure” but most call it trouble.

From broken engine parts, to broken engine, broken halyards, dead and dying batteries, leaks, busted hoses, pipes and lines, getting hit more than once by other boats (one time being rigging and bow being severely damaged), to getting beat by the Chesapeake Bay and Cape Fear River Inlet we’ve persevered.  We’ve gotten up each time and kept going, albeit, slowly.

Plodding along at a snails pace from New York to Norfolk, Norfolk back to the Potomac River and then Potomac River as far as North Carolina.

We’ve been here in Southport for about eight weeks now.  On 6 February 2017, it will be just over eight weeks.  Throughout the time on the boat, we’ve also been off the boat traveling around the country.  We’ve made trips (several) back to Colorado.  We traveled from Colorado to Missouri, Tennessee, Florida down one coast and back up the other.  We’ve traveled around the DC area, throughout Virginia, back and forth and up and down.  I am guessing because I haven’t figured out the distances yet, but, we’ve put on 25,000-30,000 statute miles traveling by car and boat so far.

We loved the Northern Neck of Virginia – but it was remote.  We made good friends there.

Southport has been different though.  Not just the people.  Not just the place.  A combination of everything.

We have fallen in love with the place.  That doesn’t mean we want to live her forever.  But in the two months we’ve been here, we’ve made a lot of friends, met a lot of cruisers passing through, including some friends we’ve met elsewhere.

For the past few days we’ve been debating moving on.  We are here late enough in the season that if we depart now, we can still get to the Bahamas for the Spring.  Do we stay or do we go?

Yesterday, I went through Active Captain, sent emails, made phone calls and wrote up a budget based on our cruising kitty’s contents.

We can move on and still have enough money, assuming nothing goes wrong from now until we locate a place to go.  But every marina we contacted gave us “No room at the inn” or were willing to ask us for more than normal to hold a slip for us to use.  One of my fall back plans was mooring balls.  I found some, very inexpensive places. No living aboard allowed though.

The cost of staying at a slip here versus Florida is a shock.  Double in almost all cases.  Except certain places on the West Coast of Florida. But, there are a lot of places we won’t “fit”.  Can’t get in.  Canals too shallow, fixed docks to climb out of the boat at low tide (JoAnne simply can’t do that now).

Last night we talked about staying for awhile, enjoying Southport, and perhaps even working a bit to regain some missing cash from the Kitty.

I had three job offers yesterday in the space of an hour, without even asking.

Yesterday afternoon, the dock master told me he “found me a slip if I wanted it”, and told me if I was interested, he was looking for another dock hand.

This morning we made the decision.

We are going to hang out here a while longer.  Enjoy the beer over at Check Six Brewing Company, our friend’s company and probably try to throw a few bucks back into the bank.  The health insurance is (pardon the pun) bleeding us dry at this point and working to offset it even a little will keep us floating (another pun?) for awhile.

This is not truly what I wanted to do, but it seems to make sense.

For everyone wondering about it… no we’re not staying forever.  I told the Dock Master that October we would leave, or November.  But we might come BACK as well the following season.  He thought that was a good plan.

So, not technically “swallowing the hook” yet.  Just going to test the air and see how it smells for awhile.

Anyway, my son, Nick reminded me this morning – Life is not a destination, it’s a journey.  He’s right.

We’re Free People.  We do not have anyone to tell us what to do, when to do it, where to go, or how to accomplish what we do.  We CAN come and go as we please, when we please and where we want.  Complications are something that life throws at you constantly (case in point, running north to get my car from Virginia, going all the way to Detroit to see my brother in the hospital, even if he couldn’t see me).  That along with our own personal medical histories, we have to be sure we’ve got insurance for a bit longer.  Boat and car insurance.  Money to eat…. yeah, life’s complications.

To all our followers (I think there are three of you now) no worries.  I’ll still write here, I’ll still keep you all up to date.  And let me say something about why I actually do this blog.  Please follow along a few more minutes.

Why do I write this blog?

For all the years prior to actually doing this I read everyone’s blog.  I sat sometimes awaiting a new entry on a few of them.  I read EVERY book I could get my hands on, either buying, borrowing or shopping them online on Kindle.  I read grand tales of Blue Waters, great fishing stories, scary weather stories, and I read every thing in Cruisers Forums, Sail net (I helped start Sailnet, did you all know that?  Then got kicked off of it because some people didn’t like my political views, haha).

Through out it all, I found very, very few stories of what REALLY happens to people or the gory details of daily life on a boat, hanging upside down in the bilge with a finger blocking a hole while trying to reach back up to get a mallet to pound in a wooden plug.

What I DID encounter on the forums was a smattering of good, quality information interspersed inside of a lot of hollow knowitallness from many armchair sailors.  Oh, I am sure they weren’t all arm chairing it.  Many did live on boats in marinas and I found most RARELY ventured from the docks.  They polished their boats daily, cleaned the stainless steel, painted the bilges, and plumed the depths of their Sundowners in the evenings.

I look around at my ship – and ship she is, big, beautiful and ungainly in a marina, but wonderfully agile and quick upon the sea under sail – and look at the dents, dings, weird, dirty spots I can’t seem to clean off, a few gel coat spots that probably need redoing and see the Dock Queens in this place (most of the boats haven’t left in months or years) and wonder what I am doing wrong.

I’m on the boat working on this or that ALL the time.  JoAnne broke her back on a dock, slipped and fell on another and lost a pair of glasses.  I’ve cracked my head on things and drawn so much blood, my long bones and marrow are having troubles keeping up the replacement blood cells.  No one else writes about these things.

No one tells it “like it is”.

I find that both appalling and fascinating.  Over these last few years of doing all the reading, I rarely came across a story or blog, book or tale of all the terrible things that happen to people.  When I chose at one point to tell about the things that happened in one certain marina, I lost friends over it.  They misread into my words that I was complaining and believed I was denigrating the marina and not telling the story.

I’ve had a difficult time putting some things into words since then because, frankly, I don’t like upsetting people and especially not real, true cruisers.  But, telling this story is my way of leaving something for my kids to read and think about long after we’re all gone and dust (or fish food).

I write because I have a passion for writing.  I don’t do it for money (ok, I have one published book.  Makes me about 3.75 a month….) and I have other books waiting in the wings for publication, but it’s not about money.  Never has been.

I don’t advertise on the blog like so many do.  I don’t think it’s fair.  Advertising permeates everything. Our phones, our Facebook accounts, email, television, radio, in-your-face in the stores, malls, on the sides of the roads and for cruisers to plaster their pages with “ads” to “Buy our book!” irritate me I guess.

I write because I like to, I like to tell the story.  I want people to know, beyond any doubt that anyone can cruise.  Anyone can become a sailor, and a good one.  But you have to work at it, and it is NOT easy.  It’s NOT going to come to you like magic.  And no destination is as pristine as made out by many books and articles.  There are problems ANY where you go.

Human beings are simply put, pigs sometimes.  They throw crap everywhere.  The water is full of plastic and junk and I daily pull things out around the marina.  But, humans can be kind, considerate, helpful and just all-around, wonderful.  They don’t have to throw junk in the water and pollute, but they do.

Because cruising today is NOT what it was twenty years ago, we are not on the “cutting edge” of visiting places.  Boats aren’t any longer seen as “strange, new visitors from a far away place”.  Boats are, unfortunately, considered a “Cash Cow” and the inhabitants are considered “wealthy”.  Except those on derelicts.  Who are considered by everyone to be “scum of the earth”.  This is a wrong assumption, but sometimes it’s true.

The truth about cruising is there are good and light things, and deep, dark secrets.  Some places we’ve seen have people doing drugs, drunks everywhere (I suspect those are the cruisers actually haha) and dirty, sinking boats. Other places have beautiful, spotless Dock Queens who never move.  Wonder why they look so nice?

Then there is us, and Adventure.  And almost EVERY OTHER extended cruiser we’ve met.  All of our boats aren’t the best, well kept.  They are sometimes messy inside.  They are sometime dirty outside.  We have too much crap.  Too much in the lockers, too much in the forward cabin.  Too much on the deck.  Lines everywhere.  Old lines. Not new, pretty braided stuff.  Junky “look what I found in the trash” lines sometimes.

This is the stuff I write about.  I do it because… honestly, I want people to see what it is like.

I don’t always tell the whole story either.  There are no words for some things that would not offend a lot of people (try talking about composting heads in mixed company and you will grasp what I mean!)

I hope that folks enjoy what I write, and I’ve had a few tell me they love it.  I’ve had a small number that hate on me.  That’s ok.  Everyone has an opinion.  Some are just wrong, that’s all 🙂

I will let you all know in a few days how it’s going and whether or not we can “hang” at this for awhile in Southport.  If you get here, let me know.  We’ll meet you on the dock and greet you!

Fair Winds

Rick

 

Cape Fear

In 1962 a movie was made about Cape Fear.  Saw it as a kid.  Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen, Telly Savalas were in the movie.  It was a thriller type movie.  Criminal, murder, stuff like that.

Yesterday we could have starred in our own thriller movie.  Or horror movie.  Or just a documentary about puking.

We left the docks at 0900 on the way out the Cape Fear inlet.  We were supposed to leave at 0700 and JoAnne listened to the NOAA weather, and said “Not going out in 9 foot seas” and she was right.  Completely, totally right to trust her instincts on departure.  After discussing it with Judy and Stephen for a few minutes, we all agree a couple more hours sleep might be prudent.

We pulled out on time, at 0900, and headed back to the inlet.  Tide was just starting to come back in and we slogged a bit through it in places.  Bentana had little trouble with a newly repowered boat, brand new engine.  We, on the other hand couldn’t make more than about 4 knots maximum most of the time and that was pushing the engine.  I almost turned back and said “Nope”.  But I didn’t.

We got out to the channel and dodged a ship.  He called me and asked if I’d be polite enough to step out side the markers for him, to which I replied that he could have the entire ocean should he desire it.  We moved outside the channel in 40′ of water and his bow bulb was as big as my whole boat.  After he passed, I called him and “thanked him for the slow pass” and I think I made his day, he laughed and said “Good travels”.

No more incidents for a bit.  Then the shoals came into view.  And the water turned into a rocking wash tub.  I almost turned back…. but I didn’t.

We called Bentana who was now gaining ground and moving at a quick pace out to sea.  Judy said that they were going past marker 6 I think it was and then turning to 180 degrees to catch the wind, get out to sea and then would tack back later.  I followed her lead.

We didn’t make it to the mark she turned out at.  We were taking a pounding by then and the wind was wrong, and so were the waves.  Making a decision to stop taking a pounding, I checked depths, and objects in front of me and turned to 180, raised sail and steadied the boat considerably.  I consulted with JoAnne about turning around.  She said “I want to go to Charleston.  We’re already out here.”  She had a point. I could have turned around… but I didn’t.

We sailing relatively well at that point going up and down the waves, and not getting slammed now, things somewhat smoothed out.  But JoAnne kept getting sick.  At some point I had to go below to check on something.  What it was, I don’t even remember now.  That’s when I started getting sick.  First time ever being “seasick”.  When we took a steep wave and most of the ocean washed over the foredeck and back to the cockpit coaming, it was at that point I thought “We should turn back…”.  But I didn’t.

I called Bentana to check in at 1230 as we’d planned.  They were “doing ok” and we all exchanged encouraging words.

By 1300, JoAnne was doing all she could to keep from throwing up, and I wasn’t.  It was my turn.  I got so sick I threw up for five solid minutes.  I think I nearly passed out from it.  I had heart surgery last year in May.  I still have pain in my ribs and back from where they cracked open my chest.  All my ribs crack like knuckles.  I think they all popped yesterday.  It was right about that moment in time I realized just how stupid this was.  I stopped and considered the situation carefully.  We could go on and we didn’t know the sea state would settle for sure, or we could go back, reverse course back through the washing machine, tides, current and winds all from different directions, we could heave too (we were about 8 miles out perhaps by then) and hope things settled.

At that moment, I made the “prudent” decision to turn around.  Finally.  All DAY I had not listened to my inner voice telling me “Today is not the day!”  Please note I called it a “Purdent Decision”.  It truly wasn’t a prudent decision.  It was a mistake to go out when I had thought it wasn’t a good day.  And to be clear I DO know weather conditions pretty well, and I wasn’t sure I was comfortable, but we were tired of being here, ready to go, ready to roll, get going, go somewhere else.  All the way around “prudence” was jumping up and down trying to be noticed and I was ignoring “her”.

I called Bentana and told JoAnne, Judy and Stephen at the same time we were headed back in.  I can’t bear to see JoAnne sick like that, and if something had happened to me she’d have been helpless at that point to do anything about it other than call for evacuation.  That wasn’t going to happen.

We rode the waves back in, partially under sail, trying to keep the winds right and give us some speed.  We made 4-5 knots back in, until the channel, where the waves were crossing us, and hitting the side of the boat.  Not that we had a LOT of choice in which way to go.  Shoals were coming up and waves were big, ships were headed out, and winds were still only 20 knots maybe.  Not enough to bother the boat.  It was the wave action that was sucking bad.

We passed three more, outgoing ships, I gave them wide berth and even used their wash to get into smoother waters for a bit.  That helped.  I had long since stopped being sick.  Nothing left.  JoAnne was settling down too I think by then.  I occupied her with helping watch for markers and ships.  (Hard to miss a ship, though, you really want to miss them….)

We hit the junction of Cape Fear River out going current, the incoming tide, let a giant cargo ship pass, and a tug pulling a barge, and I made it to the ICW cut headed back in with little difficultly.

The engine was still running so that was a good thing.

After we docked with help from Norm from the Marina, who was kind enough to stay on the dock until we arrived, Jay from Knot Working and the folks from the power yacht Chrysalis, I discovered the water pump running down below.  I killed the breaker assuming the worst.  A bit later, I discovered all the water in our main tank was pumped out (probably to sea) and the pump was running for awhile I guess.  I’m surprised it didn’t burn out.

This morning I heard Judy and Stephen got beat up pretty badly as well, Judy was also, apparently ill as well.  They made it as far as Georgetown.  Far short of Charleston.  I believe they said (JoAnne reported) they are on anchor now and resting, well and safe.

I have work to do on the water tank.  I’m going to extend our visit here at least a week.  I have work to do on the ship, repairs to make and I’m going to have a little chat with a few local business establishments around here…. because I came back to a message about my credit card being compromised (AGAIN) and five transactions for 17-28 bucks occurred yesterday in Raleigh, a good distance from here… but there are three suspects who could have used my number (having all three taken my card out of my sight to take a payment, or getting the number some other way).  The rest of the places I used it, the card was never out of my sight and they swiped it into a machine so they couldn’t have easily gained the information from the card).  I’m NOT happy about that happening either and if I discover for a fact who did it, there’s going to be consequences.  I HATE thieves and I won’t hesitate to take whatever action is required to prevent them from stealing again  (legal or otherwise given the right circumstances).

Today, JoAnne gets to relax her back and rest, I’m tearing things apart, making coffee and preparing for the cold weather coming.  We are discussing giving up and quitting, selling the boat, getting an RV, going back to Colorado defeated, going on down the ICW, or choosing better sailing days on the outside.

Stay tuned.  We will let you know what’s next.

Fair Winds!

Rick

Setting Sail

This weekend coming up appears to have SNOW in the forecast.

For all you snow people, that’s good. For sailors, that’s not so good.

JoAnne and I and the good ship Adventure set sail tomorrow in the best 48 hour weather window we’ve seen in some time to head as far south as the winds will take us.

We’re aiming for Charleston, SC (with emergency stopping in Winyah Bay if required) and if weather continues to permit, and the waves/wind and boat cooperate, Savannah, GA perhaps.  Fifty hours roughly from setting sail is Savannah, which Charleston is about 24.

JoAnne is still not “sure” if she can handle a shift, let alone several, but I’m confident we can do it.  We will test it over the next 24 hours and see how we do.

We should have good winds (starting off all wrong at first tomorrow morning) and then turning to give us some Northerlies which ought to take us pretty far south.  The speed and movement of the boat will depend on my skills as a sailor and of course the wind and waves.  But at this point I’m confident I can do it.

Traveling near by us, on their own ship, Bentana, are Judy and Stephen.  We met them about two years ago in New York.  They are long time cruisers (about 7 years now) and they are going to Florida as well.  They came into the docks here yesterday morning to meet up with us.  I don’t really think they intended to travel with us, but it appears since we’re all going the same way, we’re all going at the same time.  That’s cool because we can chat on the radio and keep in contact.

I think we will probably decide once we hit the area of Charleston to go on or stop based on how our boat is doing rather than the other boat.  We really WANT to go on, and try to get more than a single day of sailing in, but by nature no one is really a “sailor”.  You have to learn the skills, you have to learn to live on the water, you have to learn to live on a small vessel going some place perhaps unpredictible and in conditions unknown to you for more than a few hours… and yet, it’s done.

People have sailed for months and months to go around the world, to get to the “New World” and did it with nothing more than a compass and an innate sense of well being (because, you can’t stay on a boat more than a few days at seas, without some kind of “well being” now, can you?) lol

JoAnne doesn’t think she is ready and I know she is, but I also know I AM, but am not ready to do it alone.  So, therein lies the problem.  If she can’t handle a shift for 2-4 hours, I might as well be alone.  But, I can’t do a 24 hour shift without stopping at some point, and I can’t sleep for 15 minutes at a time either. So, it’s complicated.

For all you folks that see your dreams on a boat, and think you can do it – think again.  For all of you that have your dreams on a boat, and think you CAN’T do it — think again.

You CAN do it it.  All you need is careful planning, careful and critical thinking, knowing your weather, knowing how long you can actually sleep for and knowing your boat.

In all honesty, I’m JUST to the point I’ve gotten to know the boat well enough to do the right things with the sails.  I know the weather well, and know what it’s going to be like for 5 hours in the future.  I also know my body’s limitations.  But, I also have a crew, my sweetheart, whom I worry obsessively over, and care for, and don’t want her injured again, so anything I do (as Captain) makes me rethink five or six times what is right and that is a good thing.

Until it isn’t.  In the military, we said “Make a decision or die”. In real life that doesn’t happen to many, but it does happen to those who go to sea.  But decisions MUST be tempered with common sense, good judgement and training.

I hope I have all three of those.  The next 48 hours will determine the truth.

All my best to everyone for a fantastic New Year.  May all your Dreams come True – but, remember, you must plan for them to come true 🙂

Fair Winds all!

Christmas 2016

Hi everyone.  Thought I’d try to get in one more blog post before the end of the year.

It’s been a long, challenging year for us. In fact, two challenging years.  (I already posted a message for Christmas on Facebook, and will probably restate a few things here so if you think you’ve read it before, you might have).

In 2009 we decided to learn to sail, and eventually to become cruisers.  JoAnne and I have read literally a couple of hundred books over the course of time since that day we made the decision.  While all of them were helpful, some were stories, fiction, true adventure, and books about storms.  All of them helped prepare us for everything we have encountered and a few things we’ve yet to (and don’t want to) encounter.

Last Christmas we were sitting in Colorado with our kids and Grandkids after JoAnne’s back injury.  We thought more than once we wouldn’t get back to the boat and would have to sell her.  But, things didn’t turn out like that.

We’ve traveled back and forth across the country about five times since July 2015, for medical appointments, visiting and due to injuries.

This season we moved the boat to Cole’s Point Marina, where we worked on the boat.  We added solar panels, repaired the refrigeration, I had already added a new stove, refurbished the sails, repaired many little things, added a composting toilet, removed a broken electric toilet and replaced it with a Jabsco pump toilet.  I’ve added strip LED lighting to the main cabin area (and will add some to the forward cabin in time, along with some new wiring I’ll pull in when I have an opportunity).  We’ve eliminated a few things (not enough).  We’ve picked up an inline water filter to remove the bad tastes and to take water aboard.  I’ve made a water catchment device to collect rainwater, picked up a propane heater for the cabin, as well as an electric heater.  We’ve worked out how to make the wood stove work properly.  I’ve rewired the nav station, radio gear (neatened it all up and added a special power strip for DC radio gear.  Eventually all the radio gear will be tied there).  Oh, and I varnished about 80% of the woodwork aboard Adventure.  I have been testing some varnish.

I certainly am missing a few jobs we did.  I’m sure I’ve forgotten something.

A few weeks ago we ran into some more alternator problems (which I documented) and had that repaired and discovered a LOT of other issues on the engine which we also had taken care of.  During the work, I had the mechanic teach me a few things since I was paying and arm and a leg (I know why pirates have hooks and peg legs now…).

We paid up our bill here through 6th January and decided to stick out Christmas here.  One of the folks sailing down from Canada we’re friends with (Rosemary and Joe, aboard “Winds of Change” were coming down and so JoAnne invited them to dinner.  Turned out other boats were traveling with them.  We thought two, then it was actually four boats total.

So the dinner turned into a pot luck.  Then more cruisers and liveaboards near by joined into the dinner.  All told, on Christmas Eve we had about 15-18 people (I never counted them up), and one boat’s couple left to visit relatives so they missed the dinner.  Others joined in and everyone brought food, drink and stories.

Over all, a grand success.  JoAnne was worried about putting something like that together.  I’m not sure why.  She has always fed an army (usually doing ALL the cooking herself, raising five children, usually having boarders in the house, and random neighbor children who ALWAYS were there for dinner almost every night).  So, whatever trepidation she had vanished as she turned on her “Chef Skills” and made a giant pot of stew which likely would have fed everyone in the marina that day with a side of rice.  Fortunately, there was plenty more food than we could ALL eat.  Everyone brought something, from sloppy joes to stew, to small “sub sandwiches” to enchiladas and bottles of wine and rum.  I was shocked at the amount and quantities.  I tried a little bit of everything and had two full bowls of stew.

“Winds of Change” happens to have been the name of our first boat, our Macgregor Venture.  So when we saw the name on the group, we had friended them on Facebook immediately.  After all, we share a connection.  The boat name, and now the Leaky Teaky boats, ours the Transworld 41 and them the Formosa 41.   It was wonderful to get to meet them in person finally!

I have to say that I still like our center cockpit a bit better, though I think sailing from the aft of a sailboat this big might have a few advantages over the CC.  I can’t tell you though, what those might be.

All in all, this year traveling from the Potomac in late October to here has been relatively uneventful compared to last year.  Although, we have gone aground a few times, we’ve bumped some pilings, and I have some small damage on the port side where I caught a pole in the water, the engine conking out…. we haven’t really had major issues.

Yes, it was stressful coming down the ICW.  I was at ease going outside and motorsailing at night, but I always worry about all the things that can “go wrong” out there.  I worry for JoAnne’s safety much more than mine (because, quite honestly, I’d done some really dangerous things in my life and while the majority of them I wouldn’t want to repeat, I understood what I was doing, and knew I could die).  Sailing in the ocean is one of those things.

You understand it.  You know you can die.  But you also, always, concentrate on the moment in time, staying alive, staying safe, staying on course, going there you’re going and knowing you have options to handle almost anything.  Even, right down to closing down the hatches and doors after taking down sails and putting out a sea anchor, then hoping the boat will ride out whatever you hit.  In almost all cases, a boat will do fine.  It’s generally the crew who can’t handle it.

We have one issue on our boat.  JoAnne isn’t really able to run the boat alone.  I’m worried she will injure her back again and she has been prone to falling in the past so I won’t put her in danger.  That means I tend to do everything on deck, though I have been letting her toss lines out, and put out fenders to get used to doing it again.  So running a “shift” isn’t too easy, unless I set things up and let her stand watch, let the autopilot take care of things until the wind changes or we have to tack.  Then she can wake me if I’m sleeping and I can do the work.

This basically means for us, sailing straight to Florida isn’t going to be easy.  From here at five knots it would take us about 65 hours (give or take where we pull in).  And just two of us doing it.  Then we have to count on the engine from time to time to charge batteries if the sun isn’t out (solar, remember?)

Therefore we’ve come up with muliple plans to get south now.  From here we are planning to sail straight down to Jacksonville area.  And as we go we’ll make changes to our thinking based on the conditions we encounter and how tired we get.  We’re going to try it in pieces as well.  So, we’ve picked a half dozen distant spots to pull into if need be to anchor and rest.  We’ve also planned part of the route inside as well.

We have many options from here, but the main goal, to “get south and to warm” is the priority.  That and using the engine the least amount necessary, anchoring when we need to, and staying warm.

So as the year closes on us, we are shooting to be in Florida not later than about 3 weeks from now, whether we can move more quickly, or slowly will depend on a lot of factors including the weather and my ability to take us long distances on the boat.

To this day, I am not ready to lie down and sleep with the boat moving.  So, I’m probably going to have to learn that skill next 🙂

I want to wish everyone a “belated Merry Christmas” as I’m posting this the day after.

And I want to give everyone something to consider for the New Year.

Many people make “resolutions” to accomplish or do something important in the New Year.

I made a resolution never to make resolutions a long time ago, so I don’t do that.  But I do make plans, I do set goals, even if they are in my head and not written down.

For the cruisers, the dreamers and the wanna-be cruisers who’ve not quite gotten here yet, I’m going to give you a secret.

The secret to success is “perseverance”.

That is the secret ingredient to “success”.

If you have a dream to move aboard a boat and go cruising, you will have to work at it.  You will have to plan.  You will have to make decisions, some easy, some difficult.  You will have to write your notes down.  You have to learn to sail if you don’t know how.  You have to work your ass off.  You have to practice.  You have to learn new skills.  You have to travel a bit, you have to stay home a lot, you have to spend some money, and you have to save money.

With out laying out a map for you, I’ll tell you this:

  1. Make a plan (Do you want to cruise full time, or part time? Do you want to just travel the Chesapeake?)
  2. Get your skill set together as you go, every day work on it (Can you sail? Learn! Wood work? Plumbing?)
  3. Study hard, study sailing
  4. Save your money.  Spend it wisely on learning, important books you need (Use the LIBRARY, it’s FREE!)
  5. Pay your bills.  ALL Of them.  Eliminate them.  If you use a credit card, PAY it off EVERY MONTH.
  6. Have your goals written down and check them off as you go.  Once you get one, check it off. (Then go back and pat yourself on the back!)
  7. PERSEVERE!  Do NOT give up.  Do it.

Adversity has a way of weighing people down, depressing them, making them believe they can never get up again and sometimes adversity will literally break your back, bones, make you sick and leave you in pain.

Pain is the one thing that tells us we’re still alive and we should be doing something else.  Find a different route.

If you want to sail, do it.  Start small if you have too (I didn’t, I am glad I didn’t.  I started on a 30′ boat and went SMALLER to a 25′ boat for practice, and the 25;’ boat was like a part of my arm when I stepped aboard).  Getting on to a bigger boat like this ketch at first will be daunting and probably stop one from sailing without a very good instructor.

I’ve been teaching myself how to sail this boat.  She handles differently that a fin keel, from a sloop and from a dinghy.  She handles much differently that my little Venture did.  She has a mind of her own and I’ve had to learn to tame her, and make he go where I want her to go.  It’s difficult to do with no books on the subject and only the meager knowledge I gained from an instructor and sailing my own sloop.

The point, though, is don’t give up.  Continue.  Persevere.

That, folks, is the secret to success.  You just take that and apply it to your set of circumstances.  YOU are the one to make it happen.

All our best for a Happy New Year – and I mean the whole of 2017.

We’ll see you in the Warm.

Rick and JoAnne

(PS I will add images into this a bit later, so check back when you have time)

 

 

ICW: Southport, NC

Wrightsville Beach: We left out of Wrightsville Beach on a bright, sunny morning with temperatures in the 50s and a light breeze blowing.  We were headed for Southport are of North Carolina.  We’d spoken to several marinas because we wanted to be on a dock with wifi access for a couple of days before heading on to Charleston.

The trip out of the anchorage to the ICW was uneventful.  Engine was running well, systems all functional.  We came down the Cape Fear River from Snow’s Cut, making very good time, the current was with us, and the tide was leaving so we were making 5 to 6.5 knots most of the time.  A catamaran named Necessity, a delivery crew en route to Florida.  We had a short conversation VHF and bid one another adieu.

They were moving along at a decent clip and managed to get to Southport long before us, got fuel and were passing us heading for the ocean when we rounded into the channel.  The skipper hollered over saying, “We’re going outside, Fair Winds!”  I waved back and headed into the channel.

The current coming out grabbed the front of the bow and shoved us to starboard, a lot harder than I would have expected.  Our speed dropped from 5.5 knots to 2 suddenly.  I gave the engine some throttle and brought the bow back around.  A weird vibration started that I’d not heard before.  Once I got into the channel I backed down the throttle again and the engine settled.

I tapped the button for the bow thrusters and found them no longer working… again.  Similar issue as I had a few weeks ago.  Just didn’t fire up for some reason.  Still isn’t today and am not sure why.  I suspect the controller though at this point, but it’s possible the works up in the front of the boat has some issue.

Now, I’m sure I can get into the dock though, with no issues, so I call the marina, notify them I’m a couple miles out and have the bridge in sight.  I advise I will need a dock hand to assist with the tie off because I don’t want JoAnne trying to get off the boat in this current.  “No problem, I’ll be there” says the dockmaster.

We come in and I line up and “land” gently next to the dock and hold her steady while JoAnne hands off the two lines he’s asked for and once he has one secured, I jump off and grab the stern line.  After moving the lines where he wants us to sit for our visit, I finish tying it all off.  A/C Power is connected and we’re all good.

Nothing out of the ordinary and no problems.

So I think.

Engine Issues: Of course, the weather was good for two days and we’re staying three nights.  No problem.  Then the weather reports start coming in about rain, thunderstorms and high winds off shore.  We’re supposed to leave on Sunday morning but the weather was going to be crappy, and we don’t want to deal with it going off shore or sitting in a new anchorage for a few days and decide to extend our stay here on the docks.

It rained cats and dogs, and assorted other critters for almost a full 24 hours.  I watched thundershowers roll through on the radar to our south, missing us by about 20 miles… but slamming the anchorage are where we’d have been.  Ok, good call on that I guess.

Today is Wednesday, 7 December 2016 – Pearl Harbor Day – and we were supposed to pull out this morning.  That didn’t happen.

Now, this IS a sail boat, and in general, you like to use the SAILS to move the boat, and the truth is I CAN do that.  But short tacking down the ICW to get back out to the ocean isn’t precisely my idea of “smooth sailing” or fun, especially not sailing it alone.  With JoAnne’s back injury last year, she’s not going to be shifting rapidly to move lines or for that matter, drive much.  If we had an extra crew or two aboard to assist, it would probably be easy enough to do with a bit of practice with a new crew.  But, this is a pretty large boat — a ship really — a heavy, slow, ponderous, if you will, “beast” that does what she wishes sometimes when you don’t wish it, and usually when least expected.

Thus, being a sailboat with an auxiliary engine means… well, we want the engine functional at all times.  When you don’t need it, but especially when you do.

So last evening (late afternoon actually), as is my usual course of action before heading out the next day, I started doing system and engine checks hoping to leave this morning.  Bow thrusters, still not working and not sure why.  Fuse is good… but I can do without bow thrusters and really need the engine working.  I check the engine oil, coolant levels, belts, look for anything out of the ordinary like leaks and strange things that weren’t there before.  Added a bit of oil (as we have a constant drip under the engine which appears to be a gasket that the mechanic said was notorious for leaking anyway) and looked at coolant.  I checked the alternator belt and something caught my eye.

A tiny crack.  There is a a bracket that is mounted to the starboard side of the engine, through which a bolt holding the alternator runs, and there are two places it runs.  This piece was “half ass” welded to the bigger piece.  After examining it carefully, this appears to have been a makeshift repair at some point in the past, and not an actual factory job.  Anyway, this piece broke.  So, the alternator is holding on by one side and not the other.  The crack is fresh.  The steel shattered.

I let the marina know who got me in touch with Snyder Marine, down the street.  Jason, the technician was here in 15 minutes or so.  He looked over the engine and said something about the oil leak and then removed the bracket.  We looked closely and sure enough, the bracket had a flaw in it, and quite possibly was already “rebuilt” once or re-welded.  There had been an old crack at the weld, and there was rust there.  The rest of the crack extended from the old, weakened spot and the vibration I’d heard coming in at the entrance to the channel was quite likely the alternator breaking right at the point I put extra pressure on the engine.  We started the engine.

Jason, then found another problem.  Our exhaust manifold is leaking, a gasket has failed there as well.  So, he’s working on getting us the right parts and will, with luck have us under way sometime in the next day or so.  The oil leak is coming from the air intake area, and a second one elsewhere.  I’ll get the details later when he returns.

The Tech is trying to get a new part for us, and had to come in this morning to locate the serial number.  I never found it, but he finally did.  Back of the engine, in a difficult location to see.  Figures.  Wrote it down though in the log book!

We have had some pretty sun sets here, and have seen some beautiful boats.  Here are a few of those images.

Majestic Dream on the dock

Majestic Dream

Down the docks from us is a Vagabond 47, pictured above.  Skip and Louise are the owners, and like us, are headed south.  They are due to pull out today at noon and head off shore for Charleston, SC.  They are supposed to drop us a note saying they arrived safely.  A boat just like this one was in Norfolk with us last year.  Apparently, I’ve either deleted the pictures or put them “someplace safe” and forgotten where I put them.

Sunset at the South Harbour Village Marina across the ICW

Different Sunset, Different Day, ICW North Carolina

Amateur Radio: Side note on Ham Radio.  Got in contact with my old friend Rick Hendricks, KE0GB from Colorado Springs and we’ve been chatting a bit about trying to make radio contact, which so far hasn’t happened.  The bands haven’t really been opened to Colorado Springs lately.  We’ve tried packet, and psk31 digital modes but nothing yet.  Have to get the right conditions.

I’ve also tried getting Winlink2000 (RMSExpress) working under Linux, and though it “sort of works” it doesn’t work well, or properly.  I just don’t have the time to fiddle with Linux and figure out why things aren’t working right, but I’m sure it’s because it’s a windows program running under WINE.  I’d be better off drinking wine and washing our windows I suppose rather than wrack my brain on operating systems. /shrug

Departure: We’re planning our departure here as soon as the engine is repaired again and we’re talking about making the trip to Little River and anchor.  It’s a short day trip, 35 miles perhaps with the in/out of the channels and then go on the next day for Charleston.  At this point, I’m strongly considering, with a good window, to make for Florida and spend the 2-3 days sailing day and night.

JoAnne doesn’t seem to be ready to spend time standing a watch though, but if she can stand a 2-4 hour watch, just making sure we’re not getting run down and mostly on course, not over running shoals or getting whale-whacked mostly in the day time, I can handle an all-night watch and nap through it for a few days.  I’ve done this sort of thing in the military where I got very little sleep for days on end.  But, I’m getting older now.

One more temporary crew member to assist me with watches would be best.  But, we can do this. We’ll debate it more as we go.

Until later…

Fair Winds!

Edit:  Just received a call from Jason about the part.  Apparently this particular piece is obsolete.  They are going to have to make one for me.  Oh… goodie.  I will wait and see I guess how it looks.

Edit, Bow Thrusters: Having a beautiful, sunny afternoon here on the dock, I did some rearranging in the fore cabin, added beer and soda to the fridge making a little room.  I removed some boxes that were no longer holding things and I tore apart the navigation pod (which was no mean feat, not having the proper tools – they have special security screws, but fortunately I happened to have a couple of those special bits and found the right one.  I’ll be replacing the screws with something I can put in and out easier next time!)

In any case, the controller is what I thought was “acting up” – or more accurately, not acting at all.  I was still getting power at the device because if you press the power button, a tiny beep-beep-beep sound would happen, with the beeps being about 8 seconds apart.  That’s not normal.  Normal operation when you press the button is a fast beeping sound, and you have about 10 seconds to press the button a second time.  The device then sends a Morse code lettter (R) for “received” I guess.   When you turn it off it usually sends “SK” – with is di di dit da di dah – again Morse code for “End of transmission”.

Anyway, inside is a circuit board with a handful of parts, all surface mount chip technology, a couple of transistors and a microprocessor.  I cleaned the circuit board with alcohol because there was a bit of some kind of mold or something.  I assume it might be conductive.  Also cleaned the connectors, a large, four-pin, specially keyed connector so you can’t plug it back in incorrectly.

That fixed the issue.  The controller fires right up now, and the bow thrusters are fully functional again! Yay!

Coinjock to Belhaven

Here are some notes I wrote the other day to put into the blog.  I’m just too lazy today to rewrite everything into a different set of notes.  But, it gives you an idea of my thinking a couple of days ago versus today.

Traveling

We departed early yesterday (Election Day, 8 November 2016) morning from Coinjock, at Midway Marina.

We dropped anchor at Tuckahoe Point, directly in front of the Alligator River-Pungo Canal entrance about 1525. JoAnne wrote “Anchor Down” at that time. We found 7-9 feet of water moving out of the channel to that particular spot. We spent the night on a quite anchor, occasionally hearing engines coming through the canal (I believe for the most part they were barges being push by tugs.

This morning (9 November 2016) we up anchored at about 0700. We went back down to the spot I’d entered the anchorage and we turned into the channel right after a barge went through past us in the channel.

Through out the trip we saw birds and occasional fish jumping. Did not run aground (that’s a good thing!) and managed to remain mostly in the center of the channel.

We were passed by mostly power boats, the majority of whom did not call us and ask, just usually blew past us leaving a large wake shaking us up pretty hard and usually before I get get the bow into the wake. A few called us. Every sailboat that passed (three I think) called us and requested permission, and asked which side to pass. A couple of power boats did the same thing, but generally the power vessels ignored us like we weren’t there.

One guy, who passed me as we entered into the very large area just out of the canal had been calling sailboat behind us all day, requesting permission to pass, and was polite all the way through. His boat name was “Trixie”. When he passed us, we had a very wide area and he didn’t need to call me, but I called him and told him to pass, and I’d slow for him. He thanked me and went on around with no wake. He was the largest boat we’d seen in the canal moving.

At Coinjock Marina the morning we pulled out, there was a very HUGE cruise ship sitting there I think called Independence. It was taking up 50% of the docks and honestly, I have no idea how they got in there or where they came from!

I have been checking the engine carefully either the night of the stop or morning before we pull out, and adding a tint bit of oil to keep it at the right level, and checking the belt, the bolt on the alternator, coolant levels and the fuel.

Tonight, we’re at about a 1/2 tank of fuel on one tank. Full on the other. We have good coolant. I’ll probably have to add a tad bit of oil in the morning.

I put up the enclosure tonight, cleaned the deck (mud from anchor), added gas to the generator and fired it up a bit ago so I can run the shortwave, and do this blog. We have no internet or phone service at all here, therefore I’m writing this “ahead” of being posted. I’ll post it as soon as I have service again.

Tomorrow, we will be doing a very short day and stopping in a small creek or river across the Neuse River (away from the “magenta line” and away from the crowd for the most part. A lot of people are heading south and the marinas and anchorages are getting filled quickly (the standard and well known anchorages). We’ve been looking for things slightly off the beaten path because then we don’t deal with dragging anchors and loud noises haha.

Tomorrow, we’re looking at two places. Either a very short run of about 25 statute miles or a 40-something run. I did not find a good anchorage at shorter distances.

I’ll write more later.

Now, is later…. so.

With plans to be out of here this morning I woke up early, and made coffee, JoAnne was putting things away and I went outside to take the trash and visit the head.  And then got to thinking.

Tonight it is supposed to rain.  And tomorrow, it’s supposed to rain all day where we will be on anchor.  And it’s pretty chilly and JoAnne is getting cold and can’t stay warm.  So, debating about getting 25 miles south of here to an anchorage where we sit all night and all day tomorrow in the rain with no internet connection, versus sitting on the dock an extra two days with electricity, wifi, access to showers, head, town (and I need to replace a propane tank) caused a quick discussion, and a go-over of the weather reports.

The final decision?  We didn’t leave.  We will wait out the chill and rain here on a dock until Tuesday.

Tuesday through Friday should be 60s (warmer than the frost last night for sure), no rain, plenty of sun, light winds (for crossing the next two large bodies of water) and we will have North West Winds on Tuesday for the Neuse River which should be pretty ok, since we will be motoring anyway.  The winds will be too light for us to sail starting today for the next week anyway.

So – comfort has been a major determining factor for us.  If it’s kicking up and good sailing weather, we’re ok with that, as long as it’s kicking up in the right directions.  Why go out and get our asses kicked trying to hold a course under sail when there are channels to worry about?

A friend asked me the other day, “In a do-over, would you chose a different boat?”

I believe at this point the answer is a resounding “YES”.

To travel the ICW in a full keel, deep draft sailboat isn’t fun or easy, and nothing about it has been simple.  I’ve had more white knuckle moments than sitting in a Jungle in Central America getting shot at caused me.  I could at least shoot back.  I can only adjust the sails in changing winds – which is great if you’re not constrained by the channel….

I’m certain that, somewhere down the line we will wind up sitting on an anchorage, in the wind, rain and hail or something and waiting out another weather condition.  So, why bother putting yourself in that situation?  When it comes right down to it, we’re honestly not in a huge hurry to go anywhere in particular.  We just want to eventually get someplace warm.

What is funny is, when I ask “Where are you headed?” to the other cruisers, all have the exact same response, “Someplace warm… south….”

We have met some very nice people so far along this part of the trip.  All of them save one or two are like us, first timers.  Many have only been at cruising for two or three months.  One person has been sailing forty years, but this is his first trip down the ICW.  Another retired a few weeks ago and started down.

In general, ALL of them have had almost the exact same thinking processes as we have.  Make a plan, get the plan in motion, move the boat south – and every one of them have had the same thoughts of “quitting”, going back home, the boat was wrong for the journey, and a host of other tid bits about this trip.

In other words, all of the people who’ve gone before us who had no issues probably had the same issues and they didn’t consider them to be “issues”, or just problems to be solved.  I think that is perhaps the best attitude.  Everything is a problem to be solved, and solving it is what comes to the forefront when dealing with moving the boat.

Whether it is plumbing, engine issues, alternator issues (as in our case), fuel problems, electronics malfunctions or simple failures, we all have the same problems with which to deal.  In my case, it seems like there are more problems to solve at once probably because I let them get to me and worry about them too much.

One problem we had was the charts we have.  For some reason, I don’t even recall why now, I picked up ALL the charts for the east coast.  And yet, did NOT pick up all the charts for the east coast.  I was missing a rather important set.  Florida and the Keys.  How I did that, I’m not sure.  Perhaps because I took one of the chart titles at it’s word and didn’t actually open it up and look inside until much later.

That chart (Maptech) says “Norfolk to Florida”.  I made a dumb assumption I suppose and thought it contained Florida charts.  Nope.  It should really have said “Norfolk to Florida: Not inclusive of Florida” haha.  Anway, I mentioned this and Judy Long and Stephen who were in Washinton offered to come and bring the chart.  When I said I didn’t want them to make a special trip, they said they were coming anyway.

Turns out, and I had not quite put the puzzle pieces together yet, Bentana, their boat is sitting nearby!  So they were coming to deal with some problems too, on their ship.  So we had a get together on our boat, with some wine and nibbles.  And they brought the missing chart for me.

I still need the one for the West Coast of Florida, but apparently Maptech is phasing them out now.  Everything is going digital.  Mark my words, that’s a BAD idea…. but that’s another discussion for another time.

Alright, time to get going to get some propane.  The hardware store opens at 1300 today.  I’ll take a golf cart into town (it’s four blocks, long ones, but I don’t want to carry that tank back all the way)!

Lastly, I’ve uploaded some images of things along the way.  Hope you enjoy the image dump!

Here’s some pictures of places along the way:

Sunset over Cole’s Point Marina before departure

ICW Canal

Norfolk Naval Station

Two very large ships… Aircraft Carriers (Don’t know which ones)

The same A/C carriers in the above picture, from Willoboughy Bay.  Adventure in the foreground.  We were aboard the s/v Acadia visiting and going over charts with Marcia and Jon

Behind us somewhere a couple of days ago

The Sailing Ketch Adventure in the back, Sailing Schooner Adventure in the front

Sailing Schooner Adventure

(Our neighbors one night)

The Great Bridge Lock

Great Bridge Lock, looking back

Taylor, from Atlantic Yacht Basin, Great Bridge

(Thanks for everything, Taylor!)

Me, JoAnne and the USS Sequoia – Presidential Yacht, Fishing Bay Marina

Some Right Piraty Looking Rigging

A visit to the Reedville area, and we discovered this ketch waiting for Kurt to come and get her in the water 🙂

Lo-Kee

Lo-Kee

ICW – Willoboughy Bay, VA to Coinjock, NC

When last you tuned in, our intrepid band of Adventurers found themselves in Willoboughy Bay.

We hoisted anchor and headed out intent on making it to the Great Bridge.

We were all nervous about the bridges and lock. Both the boat crews, Adventure and Acadia are pretty new to this stuff and we were buddy boating together for moral support I suppose. And I wanted some assurance of the depth so I let them go first to call out depths if it got to shallow. We saw no stuck boats along the way, so obviously it wasn’t too bad. I’m SURE there were boats with deeper drafts than ours passing through before us.

We motored the entire distance from Willoboughy Bay to the various bridges. The first one was easy. The next one was fixed. Norfolk and Western was open. Gillmerton was one we had to wait for, no problems, except we had to wait for 30 minutes because we arrived too soon I guess.

Then we got to the lock. We had to wait at the lock. A long time. Anyway, the lock turned out to be NO problems at all. We got to the Great Bridge, everyone waited, they opened it, and we pulled over at the Atlantic Yacht Basin for the night. Acadia got fuel, we docked. The next morning I pulled the boat around and fueled up and then we left after both boats were ready to pull out.

Again, Acadia led. When we arrived at the Centerville Turnpike Swing Bridge I remained behind Acadia a few dozen yards. Our boat takes awhile to get up to speed, and it takes awhile to stop. If the wind isn’t on the nose (and even if it is) inertia on her is tremendous. Takes sometimes 5 or 6 boat lengths to come to a stop. There was no wind. And it takes a few minutes even at full throttle from a dead stop to get up any speed.

We all started through (after being admonished to “GET CLOSER” by the bridge master) – a large power boat, Acadia, then us. Then as I’m coming up on the bridge the guy on the radio starts yelling at me for being “slow” and tells me, while yelling into his radio, “I should CLOSE this bridge on YOU NOW”.

He didn’t… and to my own credit I didn’t tell him what I thought of him. I “thanked him” politely and went on and let it roll off my back.

I know these guys are government workers. And I know that some can be assholes. This guy was an asshole, and a jerk to boot. I hope someone reads this and says something to him, but probably not. (And I’m sure someone else will say I was in the wrong, even though they weren’t there, lol). To prove I was not wrong, here’s the regulation: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/33/499

I understand there are cars, I understand it “holds people up”. But, I ALSO know the history of bridges, and boats DO have right of way. We were within 100 yards of the bridge (It was a swing bridge and swings to the north). We were behind another sailboat, neither known for their maneuverability in close quarters with full keels – us, and them with a full keel and a board that was up). We moved as SOON as the bridge opened, and it took time to get up to speed, and NOT make a wake because we’d been admonished NOT to do that either….. Finally, the bridge was opened for less than 4 minutes from the time the first boat shot through, to the time I plodded through. And it was well within the normal opening time (about 10:30, and in fact, 3-4 minutes late).

Here’s the rub though. Federal law (33 U.S. Code – Regulations for drawbridges) mandates boats have right of way at bridge crossings. Yeah, several states have adopted rules on busy bridges and won’t open at all during certain times, and only open maybe on the hour or half hour during daylight hours. Or they open on signals from the boats passing them. So, why is a bridge tender screaming at a slow moving sailboat whose top speed is rarely more than 6 knots under engine power (with the wind behind it mind you)? Good question.

But, oh well. That was the beginning of my day yesterday. The first day out of Willoboughy Bay went fine. Even passing giant ships, cargo vessels, aircraft carriers, and two ships coming out about the same time as we were passing, we negotiated things fine.

When we got to the first sound, it was hairy. Wind was blowing pretty hard and apparently causing a current, which I didn’t realize would happen. I expected long fetch to generate waves… but not necessarily current. I manage to get pushed out of the channel 2 or 3 times towards the end of the run, to the point I was seeing 7 foot depths and at 6 feet, I was going to hit the ground, probably hard. The wind was either on the nose sometimes or just off the starboard bow and helping kind of push us sideways as well.

It was nerve racking knowing that hitting the ground there was going to stop us cold and we’d likely have to get towed out of it.

When I arrived last night I was short tempered with everyone and upset at myself because it wasn’t going smoothly, I’d been yelled at for no real reason by some “authority” who really shouldn’t be doing that anyway. I was hungry, tired and literally exhausted. I made the decision to stop here at Midway in Coinjock (JoAnne had called and gotten a reservation for us) and the Acadia – who thought they had a reservation at Coinjock across the way, didn’t have one and moved on to an anchorage.

So, Jon and Marcia went on ahead and we said good bye over telephone (because we had 4G and 5 bars, how cool is that for the first time to be able to actually communicate using a phone in damned near a year?) and hope we cross paths again.
They are pulling out someplace near Raleigh-Durham to visit grand kids I think. We’re headed as south as we can get in the next couple of weeks.

Last night I decided we’d remain on the docks here for a couple of days. There’s a good blow coming tomorrow, 16-20 knots I saw on one report, maybe rain later tonight and perhaps tomorrow. Saturday MIGHT be a good day. I’ll look over my GRIB files in the morning and decide if we will leave Saturday or Sunday morning. Since we’re motoring, NO wind would be the best thing I can hope for.

But, I took the time to pull the aft compartment apart, open up the batteries, check everything, and run an equalization on them, which seems to have helped them a bit. I’m hoping to get the batteries to go back to float again on the meter, but not sure if they are damaged or not. My hydrometer is hokey and I’ll have to get a decent one (I have two, one is really old and it doesn’t seem to work either.)

At this point I think I have the batteries, and the charging system “synced” finally. I still don’t think the main system batteries are holding a charge right though. I’ll check things once more in the morning.

The other issue that boat Acadia and Adventure had seems a little odd for fiberglass boats. Rust spots. Millions of them. They appeared out of nowhere and we discovered them a day or so after we were in Fishing Bay. At this point we suspect the lift (we were both lifted, we were cleaned and they were worked on for battery replacement, and a serious leak at the rudder post). We considered the cleaning might have done it, but they weren’t cleaned I don’t believe. Just hoisted up and worked on. So I think that the steel cables (which were rusty) or the engine (diesel, with a large flapping exhaust pipe) might be the culprit.

It is most likely the engine was blowing exhaust out, along with water, and rusty from the old lift engine and splattered both our boats.

I knew that if I could get some oxalyic acid I could likely get the stuff off. JoAnne found a solution, she handed me a can of stuff that looks like “Ajax” in a can, but is called “Bartender’s Friend” which is used in bars and restaurants to clean stainless steel, apparently. She had purchased some so I could use it on the old stainless grill we have. Which I did and it worked, and I’d forgotten all about it. It also worked on the stains too. I didn’t get them all off but I did get the worst of it gone.

The boat top is in dire need of paint. One day, I’ll paint it. Mean time I have to keep washing her down.

Now to the not so good part. Pulling up to the dock I lost all steerage. I knew that I needed to come in slow, as there was a boat in front of me, and one behind. I slowed too much. I managed to not get the boat turned in time and though we were moving at fractions of a knot, I caught the bow pulpit against a dock post. The post remained undamaged, but the pulpit steel bent a bit. I tried today to engineer a fix, and succeeded in pulling it back a small amount. But the starboard side is push back an inch or two. I’ll fix it.

So, batteries seem to be doing ok. Got the little rusty spots off the plastic (haha). Got through the first stretch of the ICW. Got some sleep last night, and planning to sleep well tonight.

Oh… best part of today. We are the sailing Ketch Adventure. I was told by the owner here that it was funny, another boat named adventure was coming in. Sure enough, today, right in front of us, the sailing schooner Adventure shows up. A large, steel ketch, complete with ratlines up the rigging, shorter masts than we have, but a wider behind. The cockpit is huge and she’s over all a beautiful boat. But, of all the lookie-loos today, most of them stopped here to look at us, and not at the other boat.

I was proud 🙂

(then again, they could have been staring at the horrible paint, my bent steel, the dirt on my hands and feet and knees from cleaning, and sniffing the smell of sulfur as the batteries cooked below… who knows?)

Willoboughy Bay – Elizabeth River, Virginia

We spent the night of 30 October 2016 in a little river called the Poquoson River. Last year on the 17th of October, we were up that same area, but in a different creek. The next morning we had prepared to wait out some chilly weather and some stonger winds when the marina I’d planned to go to for some assistance on the rigging finally called back with the words, “IF you can get here TONIGHT (it was a Sunday), then we can look at your boat tomorrow.”

Against my better judgement, we pulled anchor and made for that marina. We didn’t really have a choice (we did, but we were led to believe if we didn’t hurry we were going to be delayed) and we did it anyway.

Yesterday, we looked at the weather and headed down the bay. It was nice, cool, but nice. Crossed into the Elizabeth River and made it a short hop to Willoboughy Bay, just past the bridge Tunnel on the Elizbeth River. We anchored out last night, and today was supposed to bring winds. And about 2-3 AM this morning, the weather reports came to fruition.

A Nor’easter like last year, slammed the Bay. Listening to weather reports there were 4-5 foot waves, and gusts at 30 knots from the NE all today. The warnings are in place until this evening. Several sailboats, including one traveling with us, wisely remained on anchor this morning. In checking my GPS settings, it appears we’ve not moved at all, no dragging last night or today.

Thankfully, the winds have somewhat simmered down and the waves have stopped slapping us. We’re still rocking and rolling a bit, but I have the mizzen sail out a bit to help point us into the wind. Works pretty well. Winds are currently out of the NNE at about 15. Gusts are about 19 now, instead of the almost 30 knots they were earlier this morning.

Our companion boat, “Acadia” with Marcia and Jon were ready to head for a staging at Hospital Point this afternoon. I pointed out that though I haven’t been there, it appears unprotected from the north and in the river, so besides currents there are wakes from passing vessels. Everyone opted to stay put here. Since this is the first time for all of us to traverse this area, we all felt it prudent to wait a little longer. We’re all “novices” at something. I’m not a sailor novice any more, but I’m a “cruiser novice” and I’m still pretty timid about driving this monster. She’s got a full keel, doesn’t turn rapidly unless we’re moving quickly. The rudder and keel combination just doesn’t bite quickly at slower speeds.

Our next destination is somewhere around the Gillerton Bridge and/or the locks. Or something. I’m unclear at this point on what our decision was yesterday because mostly it was the ladies looking over the charts and telling us where to go… which is typical I suppose. 🙂 Honestly, that’s not the case, it’s a joke; we all know where we’re headed, we’re just not SURE where our destination will be due to the large number of cruisers passing through.

We tried the Atlantic Yacht Basin south in the channel near (past) the locks and they “couldn’t guarantee” anything for us, except they MIGHT have docks with no water or power… of course they cost the same as those with water and power…. ok. I guess we will play it by ear at this point.

While a nicer day might have more boats headed south with us, I think that’s ok. I also think I really need the “practice” in busy areas. I was white knuckling it through the river at the bridge tunnel before I figured out everyone wanted to go fast, faster than me and I mostly let them, except for the barge whom I cleared almost 2 miles in front of him and he was only doing about 4.5 knots anyway. I was going faster.

One sailboater was coming from my starboard side while I was traveling a channel under power (now I’m a power boat, and he’s obviously a sail boat perhaps under power, perhaps not, so I gave him benefit of doubt) on a crossing path. Cool. But he maintained course and speed. According to the rules he was wrong on two counts. Yes, he was a sailboat, I was under power. But a sailboat approaching from a “behind position” which he was doing, gives way to the motorboat – and I was in a channel (shallow I might add, and we were in an area where had I gone out, I could have gone aground with my draft). However, I gave way as a “power boat” because he did not appear to be doing anything and I couldn’t go any faster. Going slower was rather difficult too in the location based on the winds on the nose as it would have slowed me significantly. Which it did.

And being a sailboater, I gave way anyway to avoid a collison. Now, I’m sure there are some out there that might argue that I should have given way as I was motoring, and I’ll point out now, you weren’t there. I was. He was approaching from the rear (off the starboard quarter) at a pretty good clip and COULD have passed easily behind me, but CHOSE to pass me and cut in front of my bow. I honesty would never have tried that with anyone, or any boat unless traveling at a significant speed faster than the boat being approached and even then would have passed him father forward, changed course to parallel the other boat or passed behind.

Am I complaining? Not at all. Pointing out what we saw. The boat behind us thought we should have kept going instead of coming almost to a dead stop. I didn’t want to risk a collision (which was becoming rapidly apparent at that point). I will point out that the other boat was sailing with two sails up on a starboard tack, and we were driving into 24 knot winds at the time. I couldn’t have sailed there to save my life due to the depth challenges in that area. Oh well.

Today it is chilly. In the mid 50s. I ran the generator for a couple of hours to ensure charging of the batteries, and shut it down a bit ago, leaving the solar panels working and the refigeration turned on to chill things back down.

I’m about to go sit at the table and go over the charts carefully, so I know the charts, the course, what I can expect and where the bridges are located. We already know there are two railroad bridges we should be able to traverse easily. We’ll need tides/times tomorrow, and to know the exact bridges/lock, times for those and approximately how quickly we will get there and can traverse the area, and finally where to stop tomorrow night.

We all have our own ideas, and as long as those ideas somewhat jive and don’t put anyone in danger, a handfull of Noobs should be able to accomplish what thousands of others have done routinely. (That’s the best part about books, and knowledge from others, you aren’t doing it FIRST, just the first time for you.)

Engine:  The engine in this boat is a Perkins 4-108.  Nice engine.  Leaks though.  Found it’s dripping oil (finally).  Can’t find the location though.  Had the alternator bolt loosen yet again.  Tightened it up.  Checked new belt, it’s fine.  Added a little over a pint of oil this morning.  Need to watch this thing carefully from here on out.

My friend Jeff Ryan (@K0RM –  Former ARRL section Manager) in Colorado has a mechanic/boater friend down range from here.  Gave me his name, over in Washington, NC I think he said.  Supposed to send me information to contact him.  He’s a master mechanic, and a boater, lives aboard.  Probably understands what we’re going through too.  I’ll give him a call passing through just to say hi if nothing else from Jeff.   Either way, babying the engine will likely turn into a full time job for me.  It’s another reason I chose to remain at anchor today instead of pushing the limits through waves I didn’t want to deal with (and currents, and wind, all of which were in opposition this morning).

Man, I’m learning some of this the hard way (by reading about it, then experiencing it first hand) lol

I will add to this, or edit it later. Right now, I only have a hot spot to access the Internet and have to turn it on and off as necessary to prevent wasting the data. I can’t type this on my telephone, the tablet or hand write it to the Internet.. so that’s the way it is for now. LOL

Safe At Fishing Bay – Part Two

I sort of ended on a half thought out “thought” yesterday.

When we headed into the bay here yesterday, the wind was almost dead on the nose.  Once we cleared Windmill Point it slackened a bit, but not much.

Haul out:  Today… we got our haul out and clean.  The bottom was covered in barnacles and stuff.  Not too much slime as I think we peeled it off on the run down the Potomac River a couple days ago.  We managed almost, but not quite 7 knots under sail alone for most of that trip.  I was pretty impressed with the boat, even as dirty as her bottom turned out to be.  I think some of our speed issue yesterday was the prop being covered in barnacles as well.

They cleaned it, removed the wildlife, and some of the paint in the process.  Replaced a zinc on the prop (which was simply GONE. No idea when it came off, or where it might have gone to).  Rudder and prop looked good.  I checked all the through hulls for any damages, problems or barnacles in them, all were ok.

I was able to easily bring the boat from the dock we were on, diagonally across the channel to the lift slip, the guys grabbed the bow and held her while the wind shove the stern around, and they pulled me in backward.  Killed the engine climbed off and watch the lift, and even took pictures.

I just wish we were going to have paint put on before we leave but, not happening.  I’ll be doing the next cleaning myself when I dive the boat in the Bahamas I hope.

Tomorrow our mail should arrive, we’ll hit “town” once (I need a couple of things from West Marine and we need to hit the grocery store for small things), mail in our ballots, I’ll prep the boat for depature tomorrow afternoon after we do our running around, and we’ll back out of this slip early, round the bay, raise the sails and try to look competent for once. lol  (Can’t get stuck here except in two places, and I KNOW where they are.  I’ll avoid those at all costs).

Engine:  Had an electrical guy come in to help me trouble shoot what I thought was a problem.  The Alternator.

There was no problem with the Alternator.  My batteries… not so sure of them, but we’re going to watch them closely and see how they do.  They appeared properly charged, the alternator appeared to be sending voltage properly.

Alternator Belt:  Not so good. Over heated somehow.  Neither the mechanic, me, or the guy at NAPA could figure it out.  Probably too loose was the diagnosis.  I replaced the belt, bought a spare to replace the one I used (I’ve got three spares right now, might get a couple more though).  I did buy extra bolts to replace the one.  I need someone with a laser checker to determine of that stuff is out of kilter, but no one seems to have one, or know what I’m talking about.
Cleaned up the deck, coiled some lines I’d left hanging from the dinghy davits (I was in a hurry to escape from Reedville and didn’t take the time to mess with it, and fortunately, it wasn’t in my way, and I ignored it, otherwise we’d have missed the time yesterday to get in here before the place closed shop for the evening).

Cruising and Pretending to Be Cruisers:  I have begun to suspect the other cruisers out there.  So many talk about minor issues, going from place to place like they are teleporting down from the USS Enterprise on an Away Mission, and going back to the ship with no problems.  Rarely do I see real “problems”.  Although, a few do write up their problems, I’ve also noted a distinct and at times ridiculous ability of others to put down those actually “doing it”.

Basically, the reason I write this blog is to document (for our family) the trials and tribulations we go through just to move the boat from one place to the next.  I’ve figured out that EVERYTHING is difficult, and sometimes impossible to do – but we’re here to do the “impossible”.  My wife and I have performed the impossible in our jobs, our lives, our daily existence and we’ll continue, I suppose to do so until we can’t any more.

But I guess what I don’t like in the cruising community isn’t the cruisers.  It’s not the boats.  It’s not the travel.  It’s not the places we go, people we meet, or the stuff we get to do. Instead it’s the online Forums.  I used to frequent several of them as we were learning.  I thought in my naivety that people were helpful (and indeed PEOPLE are helpful, outside, in person, on other boats, in marinas, walking by, standing on docks).  The people who are unhelpful are those who also frequent those same forums I was frequenting.

I have yet to meet ONE of the people (who sometimes came off as obnoxious assholes on the forum) in person.  I wonder then where these “cruisers” are?  At home?  In a nice warm home, sitting by the fireplace with their tablets talking down to the people who are actually out there?  Probably.

Now, a few months ago I wrote up our problems in a marina in Norfolk.  I even clearly stated I didn’t have any problems with the PEOPLE there, and they were wonderful, but the problems we encountered were inside that marina, most all of them were the result of others’ actions.  With the except of my wife falling off a dock (which they had placed a boat on we were going to visit, the dock being partially disassembled and probably too dangerous anyway, but we CHOSE to walk there… but I digress).  Asking them to do things, expecting a good job and then paying for the services performed is normal in ALL walks of life and a marina is NO different.

I made a couple of enemies over that blog post and it’s still bugging me a bit.  The REASON it bugs me is the one lady is a cruiser, an accomplished cruiser, smart lady but she took my blog post as an attack.

I’m making it clear here and today, my blog, my posts, my words are mine.  This blog is about what happens to JoAnne and I and our boat, Adventure.  It’s NOT about anyone else’s experiences.  It’s NOT about putting down or ridiculing others.  It’s about making SURE that anyone that reads this blog can see what experience WE had.

Take it as you wish, a story, a warning, or simply a blog post.  But, I don’t accept rude comments in the comment section, and I’ll block you on Facebook if you attack me in that mode over something I’ve posted here.  I tell the truth about what we have had happen to us.  Period.

Don’t like it, don’t read it.

The header says “Cruisers and Pretending to be Cruisers” for a reason.  There are people who I know sit at home and post insulting messages all the time on some of the more “popular forums” online.  That is the reason I walked away from them.  I still check from time to time for information, but even on Facebook now, I’ve stopped offering help.  I’m a radio guy.  Electronics tech and later engineer.  My expertise is in building, maintaining and repairing systems – complex systems.  And yet, one guy told me how “stupid” I was about radio antennas. I just laughed and moved on (I’ve designed and built a dozen different antennas, I’m an Amateur Extra Class ham operator, I held a Third, Second and First Class Radio Telephone license over the years, I spent eight years as a Senior Radio Tech for the White House.  I know my stuff, I don’t tolerate people calling me stupid when it comes to radio and electronic theory).  But that incident occurred not ONCE, but three or four times over the years on similar subjects because people are NOT educated in electronics and claim they are.  But they continue to pass on “Myths” as truths.

Therefore, I no longer assist people when they spout this kind of stuff.  If they want to listen to “Free Advice” from the local yokel on the forum who is spouting nonsense or the “Free Advice” from a profession (I’m not asking anyone to pay for the information I provide), so be it.  Good luck not getting electrocuted, or RF burns.

A lot of the issues we run into daily are things no one really mentioned (some cruisers write books and I do see where we ALL go through the same learning curves).  But there are a LOT of people who go out on weekends, travel down the Bay, turn around and go home and that is certainly “cruising”.  But, they go back home to their home, their job, the rat race and sit down at their computer and pooh pooh things some of us have to ask about.  It’s insulting for them to do it.

Lately, Facebook and some of the forums there have degenerated to the same degree.  I’m sincerely saddened by the people who feel it more fun to attack others for “being stupid”, insult them by calling them names, tell them how dumb they were to “do this or that”, and never give an honest opinion of what THEY did to get around similar problems.

Ok… I guess that’s enough for my rant.   I guess I needed to vent.  Now, WHY did I write all that?

An insulting comment I deleted without even reading the whole thing.  It started, “Smart people wouldn’t have gotten stuck…” and went on from there about my blog post yesterday.

All I can say is some people are assholes and really, honestly, need to get a life.

Presidential Yacht:  As I mentioned, I spent eight years at the White House doing communications for President Reagan and George H.W. Bush.  During that time I flew on Marine One, Air Force One, Air Force Two and was even on a couple of boats in Kennebunkport, ME with Bush Sr. doing my job.  In all that time I never saw the Presidential Yacht.  As it turns out, I saw it last year when we passed through here and didn’t realize it.

Yesterday I happened to look again, and thought I was looking at a house being built.  Turns out, it’s the USS Sequoia, sitting on a rail ramp and she’s been sitting here for a couple of years.  JoAnne spent some time looking up the boat and found out some fascinating information about the boat.  Hoover bought it, Kennedy and other Presidents rode on it, met heads of states, and Carter sold it.  A lot of other Presidents have been on it since it was sold.  It’s currently the object of a lawsuit and fight over ownership.  It’s also a National Monument.  Hope they get it worked out someday.

This is a plaque on the starboard side on a door.  It was too high up for me to read it.

The stern, you can see she is made from wood, and is dire need of work.

Name plate on the stern

The smoke stack on the top, Presidential Seal, name (USS Sequoia).  Sorry for the poor image quality, but that’s my phone.  My real camera is on the blink.

Here’s a shot of the starboard side.  She’s 105′ long according to the research we did today.  The US Navy used to station sailors on this ship to run her.  Carter sold her off under some “saving money” pretense apparently.  It appears that never happened with the government. 🙂

Fishing Bay Marina:  This is a WONDERFUL marina.  It is unlike any we’ve been in so far, with the possible exception of the Kona Kai on Shelter Island, San Diego.  The people are helpful, FAST, accurate, do what they say, and it’s not horribly expensive.  And we don’t have a lot of experience getting things fixed at Kona Kai. lol

They were prompt and efficient here, answered all my questions, sent a mechanic and electrician immediately this morning, pulled my boat, cleaned it and put her back with no issues.  I’ll HIGHLY recommend this place.  However, be aware coming in, it’s quite a distance in from Chesapeake Bay, and there’s a rather circuitous route to get here.

Fishing Bay is large and you can put a large number of boats at anchor.  There were at least seven or eight out there today, some as large as us.  One catamaran was considerably larger than us in all directions.  The fuel dock is easy to access, and is a long, fixed dock so you can roll right up and tie off.  All the posts and pilings have plastic built-in fenders.  In fact putting out fenders just gets in the way here.  All of the docks I’ve seen are fixed.

The bathrooms are large, clean and have showers (3 in women’s, 2 in men’s). Ladies get a hair dryer, most of the guys seem bald that I’ve met lately…haha.  There’s a “Captain’s Lounge” with radio, TV, CD player, books and games, Laundry (one dryer, one washer), Pool (closed now), grill (propane), covered patio.  Next door is the boat yard.  Courtesy bicycles and car.  The BEST part are the people.  The owner (I think) is Jon Farinholt, the folks in the office, were awesome, helpful and nice.  The boat yard is run by Jon’s brother, Lee.  The mechanic was great, the electrician was named Rick and was helpful. (Side note, in the space of thirty minutes today, I met no less than FIVE “Ricks” around the place, and heard at least one other guy from a boat called “Rick” besides me.  RICK is a pretty cool name, if I say so myself).

So – there’s my answer to “Cobb’s Marina” in Norfolk.  It wasn’t a BAD place, but the showers sucked, it’s a working yard, dirty, noisy and if you like that sort of thing, great.  No pool, the folks were ok, but they rarely had a smile for you, didn’t really want to talk to you and I stand by my original report of the place.

By the way…. if you’ve not run aground while cruising… either you’re really new at it, you’ve gotten lucky, or you’re lying.  Even very smart people do it.  It happens.  Especially when you look at the charts and it’s not marked as shallow.  Good luck

Hurricanes and Boats

Simply put, hurricanes and boats don’t mix well.

Matthew is proving to be a pain in the ass for a lot of folks right now.  People in Haiti, soon Cuba and then the Bahamas.  After that, according to the models (which I want so desperately to disbelieve) Florida, and most of the East coast of the United States will be in for a bit of roughhousing as well.

Latest Tracks for Matthew

I’m far enough north that it should break up and just be a tropical storm by the time it gets to us, especially if it hangs over land for any length of time.

But for whatever reason (I can’t see the reasons) the models have pushed over to the west and it’s promising to be a beast.  I see a front coming through, and pushing out, and now there’s a dry, low pressure system in the middle of the US which may reach the coast about the same time, and that might be pulling the hurricane in somewhat.

On the other hand, there’s a mess of rain and another front west of that high.  It usually takes 3-4 days to cross the states with weather systems.  Hmmm.  MAYBE it will get to the coast in time to push some more.  I don’t know.  I’m not a forecaster, just a storm chaser that looks at the data and predicts local mesoscale conditions.  Hurricanes are big, bad, Red-Spot-on-Jupiter things to me and are as distant as that planet is from Earth for me.

I’ve been in two.  One hit DC a long time ago and water levels came up 8 feet up the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.  The second was in Jamaica in the 2ooo, when it missed us by about 90 miles on the north coast of Jamaica. But… it RAINED like the ocean was pouring over us.  I’ve never seen so much rain for so long in my life.

The plan today is pretty simple.  Down comes the headsail and sheets.  I’ll remove everything off the deck and bring it below today and tomorrow.  And we will bring our tarps (we use as tents topside) below to cover things down here inside the boat.  JoAnne will pack and we will be ready to bug out sometime on Saturday morning most likely, because the predictions are showing it coming up this way Saturday night and Sunday morning.

The last of the preps will involve moving the boat out, adding lines and hoping for the best.  We’re not going to stay aboard the boat if the hurricane approaches us.  We’ll head inland and stay out of the path as much as we can.  I’m planning to take most of our clothes, our foulies, food, water, electronics, important papers, car and our mortal bodies away from here.  We went through a Nor’easter in the Bay… and that was not good, with the shallow Bay, short chop, poor JoAnne getting sick.  Staying in a Marina is not going to be much better.  And there’s little here to keep us safe, and in fact, it might be pretty unsafe to remain here.

I maybe take one of the ham rigs too, just in case.  We have terrible luck with the phones, so a ham radio might come in handy.

So, all my hoping and my “estimating” isn’t coming true.  All I can say is that the hurricane tarried a bit too long in the Southern Caribbean Sea and the weather that would have push him off is long gone now….

This sort of thing is, by the way, why I have been a “prepper” most of my life and even wrote a book about it.  I sure hope it all works right this time. 🙂

I guess that’s it for now.

If y’all believe in prayers… better get busy.  The entire coast of the US, Bahamas, Haiti and other poor people in between are all in danger’s path.

To See, or Not to See….

With apologies to Bill Shakespeare…

To see or not to see, that is the question.

Cataracts are nothing to sneeze at, though, you can sneeze with them and I’m not sure about sneezing after eye surgery.  I’m afraid I’ll blow the new lens out of my left eye now.  Of course, I was pretty certain that’s what was happening after my open heart surgery last year when I sneezed too.  In fact, that STILL hurts when I sneeze.

My chest, not my eye.

Yesterday afternoon, I underwent surgery on my left eye to remove the bad lens that ha cataracts in it.  I was pretty terrified. But my left eye was pretty bad.  Worse than I even knew.  I couldn’t even get it corrected to 20:50.  It was more like 20:100.

This morning for the test, I was at 20:25.  That’s as GOOD as my right eye, corrected with glasses and my right eye is my “shooting eye”.  I can still hit targets at 100 yards in the center of mass (that’s all that’s required at that distance, I’m no sniper, lol) and mostly read.

Today, however, I can see 1000% better than I could yesterday with the left eye.  And just as bad as before with my right.

The “terrified” part was due to a severe phobia I have about my eyes, and things, people, fingers, knives, needles, sharp things being around them.  Most of us have that issue with our eyes, except those who stick things in their eyes, like contact lenses.  Nope, NOT ME.  I don’t even put eye drops in.

Until a few days ago.

Now I can, and do.  It took me a few days of putting drops in pre-operative to be able to do it without flinching.  And yesterday, before the surgery, they put in about a dozen drops into my eye, and the last few were this gel gunk.  Gross.  Gross. Gross.

Fortunately, they gave me some kind of drugs that let me get through without killing any one.  That was cool.  I did get yelled at perhaps three times by the Doctor.  Not supposed to lift my feet, or move, or pee on myself, or something.  Not sure I remember it all, but he looked a little sheepish when I mentioned it this morning. haha

So, why the title?

Because of fear of surgery.  Fear of anesthesia.  Because fear of needles in my eyes.  Because I am, or was, mostly blind yesterday and was more than willing to stay that way because of the previous things.

Today, with my left eye opened and my right eye covered, I looked into JoAnne’s eyes (with my one good one) and could accurately see the color of her eyes again.  Beautiful, deep and green.  I was moved to tears.

I know I’ve missed seeing a lot of things over the last few years, and my work was becoming increasingly difficult to do, color codes on wires, close work soldering, and a few weeks ago I completely failed my grandson on attempting a repair on his tablet (that he’d broken the charging connector on) when I could have easily repaired it in earlier years.

I couldn’t see well enough to do the soldering.  My work at my job was increasingly difficult and stressful, not because I couldn’t do it, but rather I KNEW I couldn’t see it well enough to do it right.  So, it took me twice as long to do things.  My partner couldn’t do most of the physical stuff either due to his injury.  When we hired someone to take my place, we chose someone young because we knew he could keep up.  The rest would come to him in time.  I know he will eventually do the things I was doing (and if he doesn’t well, this IS a throw away society, isn’t it?  They will simply replace those things that those guys can’t repair because they can’t or don’t know how…. such is life in the 21st Century).

What this will do for me now though is allow me to see charts (using glasses on the close up stuff) and at a distance through slightly less than 20:20 vision to see numbers on buoys, names on ships, lights at night so I can night sail now again, and actually ENJOY what’s left of my life, to see those things I was missing before.

What I will have next Wednesday night, after the second surgery, is good eye sight in both eyes.  I’ll still need glasses for close work.  But, I’ll really be able to wear sun glasses without any special lenses in them.

And I’ll be able to see only one moon now, instead of seven or eight of them.  And no halos, glare or just nothing at all.

And… I will be able to see the stars at night again.

But above all, I can gaze into my wife’s beautiful eyes again.

 

Books, Charts and Radio

Our old VHF radio works fine.  It is an ICOM M502.  The previous owner I guess installed it or had it installed with the remote microphone connection in the cockpit.  The microphone, however, was well sun-dried, rather like a raisin.

The cable and case which appear to have once been white were that dull yellow color the sun cooks plastic to when the stuff sits in the sun too long.  The cord, which was once the cool, curley-Q design was stretched out and pieces of the cover were disintegrating.

Pieces of it liter the sole of the boat and the cockpit floor every time I connect it.  It was well past due for replacement.

I had counted the pins on the mic connector before I departed the boat for Colorado last month and stopped in the local ham shop and found a cable I could attach by using the old connector and mic body.  Picked the surplus cable up for a couple of dollars.

Unfortunately, I’m really having issues with my close in vision for doing soldering and stuff like that, so I considered perhaps I could get a replacement mic already to go.  Sure enough, I did some searching and found a black one, a white one and a few extra items I don’t need, so I ordered it.  Cost 100 dollars, free shipping.  Not bad I guess.

It will be here next Tuesday.  I can use that now.  I’ve packed the old microphone and new cable into a plastic bag and stowed it under the nav station seat for after my eye surgery so I’ll have a spare again if needed.

Our plan is starting to flesh out.  We are going, at this point, down the ICW a ways.  We will decide about whether we will sail out and back in to the Bahamas, or go all the way to Florida on the ICW later.  We, as usual, will have several plans and back up plans in case something goes wrong.

With all that in mind, today I ordered the rest of the Explorer charts for the Bahamas.  We already have the last edition for the Near Bahamas, including Marsh Harbor and Abacos.  So, I ordered 2 more chart books, a full chart of the Bahamas for planning and a copy of the chart for Abacos Sea, which I promptly found a copy thereof after ordering.  Oh well, spare.

We’re looking over some cruiser guides as well, but I placed an order for the Waterway Guide for the Bahamas.  Might not get any others, but at least we will have that one.  We will decide on other books if necessary once that one arrives.  We have most of the Waterway guides already, and they have been decent for the ICW, helpful.  There are things lacking occasionally which I find in other books.

The biggest issue with books is we have no real room in which to store them.  I’ve got to empty out a couple of lockers under the seats, consolidate things, and make some more room for stuff we truly need to keep.  At this point I have SOME room in the forward head, which doesn’t work.  I’m about to rip out the toilet in there and put in a working, manual pumping head without the holding tank.  I hate the way the system is here on the boat, without a way to empty the tanks overboard in the ocean without climbing into a rather precarious position on the fore-deck.  That tank has to go.  It takes up a lot of space anyway, a place I can store… say books. Or Food.  Or chain.  Or an anchor.  Anything but poop.

So, new books, new charts, new microphone, and in a few days, new lenses for my eyes.

Then I can actually read the charts and books.

And the microphone display.

And see the little ants better.

(We have little tiny ants aboard.  I’m hunting for them now, I think I know where they are coming from, so I will find them. And kill them. And their mommy too….)

Stuck in the Mud

This was written approximately six months ago.  Today I am publishing it, because on the day I wrote this I was pretty pissed about things.  Read the first part, then read my notes and “afterthoughts” – because we all know hind sight is 20-20.

Begin Old Post:

 

Not literally, but figuratively.

We’ve been stuck in Cobb’s Marina now for over 6 weeks.  Though a combination of mishaps, an accident and just plain old “mañana, mon” attitude.

While I can appreciate such an attitude in the hot, humid Caribbean, not so much in Norfolk Virginia.  At a highly recommended marina where people are coming and going rather rapidly, we’ve been put off, stuck here, ignored and plainly, clearly been the subject of “non-caring”.

For instance just last week, the Marina closed down for four days for the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Very nice for them and their families, I’m sure.  But, what about my wife and I?  I asked about getting our mast put back on the day after repairs were completed on the mast, so Tuesday afternoon the last of the work was accomplished.

The mast was supposed to go on Wednesday before the long weekend.

Nope, it did not, in fact, they stated they “didn’t have time”.  Really?  They had time to move the crane out of position and pull up docks.  They had time to haul out 4-5 boats that had just come in.  They had time to re-splash another boat that had been repaired, but no time to reinstall my mast.

I suspect they were concerned we might “skip out” on the bill or something.  This is not something I would have done and would gladly have taken care of it just to get out in the good weather to head south.

That’s ONE of many delays we’ve experienced here.  Other things have included “We’ll send you the bill” and they did, mailing it to the Florida address, meaning I had to then await it coming back to me here in the marina when they could have just as easily handed it to me.  What’s up with that?

So, today is the 2nd of December.  We’ve been since the 18th of October.  On the 23rd of October a guy in an out of control power boat hit us severely damaging the bow of our boat.  We’ve been arguing with the man’s insurance company since then.  They have basically refused to help, pay or otherwise alleviate the problem caused by their client.

A few days ago I hired a lawyer.  I’ll leave it at that for now.  But, suffice it to say I didn’t want to do that, but now I plan to get my money one way or another.

I will say that the marina is just an “ok” place to be.  But, there are hidden costs as well.  Electricity apparently used to be included in the docking fees. In fact, they were very careful not to even mention electricity to us as part of the bill and we only discovered accidentally in conversation with a marina employee and another sailor here (who was also caught by surprise) about the extra fees if you’re on the docks.

The new docks (we’re actually in the “Pit” on a newer floating dock) are nice.  The old docks are dilapidated so are coming out this winter for new docks to be installed.  The workers are almost all family members, Cobbs, Duvals, etc.  And the marina has been here a long time, surrounded by 3 others who are apparently owned by the competition, and have caused a lot of issues for this marina.

All in all, we’ve not had a horrible stay here, except to say, we had to STAY here.  We wanted to be in Florida by Thanksgiving, not sitting confined to a dock here in Norfolk, Virginia.  We’ve been up against every brick wall you can imagine until today.

Today I finally convinced them that the mast needed to go on, TODAY.  Yesterday they wouldn’t do it due to rain  (Ok, that could be a safety issue, but they were still hauling out boats yesterday….).

In speaking to contractors around here, apparently the speed with which things gets accomplished depends on who is paying, how they are paying, and how well the marina knows them.  Several boats have come and gone under “emergency conditions” (Not that us getting here wasn’t an emergency condition, it started out alright, but rapidly turned INTO an emergency).  And they were in and out in hours or a day, as opposed to weeks.

After our boat was struck, things slowed like molasses in January, I suspect because they believe the insurance company is paying up.  Well, since they insurance company has told me to pound sand, it’s all on my now.  Thousands of dollars in damages, paid for by me, and thousands more for other fees….. I’m not very happy about any of this.

Nor am I happy about the way the Insurance Company has treated us, and definitely NOT how the marina has approached customer relations with us.  I am writing this as a draft to be published once my mast is in place, the bill is paid and we can leave when ever we want.  So…. I’ll leave it at that.

Just know that there will an entry in Active Captain about this marina and unless you have a damned good reason for coming here, I wouldn’t do it.  Go somewhere else.

End Old Post and start my new notes from today:

That evening, after the mast went up, JoAnne fell off the fixed, dilapidated dock onto another boat we had been invited to visit, and where they had chosen to place the boat to load tons of lead into the bilge.

Were it not for the fact we were stuck in that marina for so long, from 18 October 2015 through 20 May 2016, a full seven months and two days, through NO fault of ours, JoAnne would not have fallen.  Had they taken care of the issues we came in for in the first place on the day they promised (that following Monday after the dockmaster called us and said “If you get here today, we’ll look at your boat tomorrow”) we would not have been hit the following Friday.

Had the marina moved us to a safer spot out of the pit where they were constantly dopping and retrieving boats, we’d not have been hit.  Had they dock folks placed the boat properly, without a boat behind us, allowing our pulpit and bowsprit to be back from overhanging the dock, we’d not have been hit.

Had we not been hit, we’d not have had to hire a lawyer.  The boat owner whom we ended up taking to court eventually settled out of court and did pay the full amount of damages and for our stay from the day of the accident to the date of final repairs.  So, that all turned out good.  We even met the owners later, shook hands and said “no hard feelings”, at least on my part, not so sure about their parts.  But still, he came through like a champ, paid for the repairs.

What we never received was a break on the price of the stay (except the standard “If you’re here longer than a couple of weeks, we’ll do a monthly rate”).   What we also never received from anyone on the site was an apology for the crap we went through there.

I will say that the dock master even allowed my batteries to boil out over the winter, instead of checking them every couple of weeks.  They didn’t retie a line to the power cable and it fell into the water while we were away from the boat (after they changed things without telling me).  A fender exploded.. and was changed out for one of my other fenders by the dockmaster, so they did catch some things.

We did meet several wonderful people there, Rhonda and Mike, Rob and Holly, Marc and Nicola, Vince Debbi, and Jeanie and Bart to name a few.  The marina people were helpful most of the time, said hello, but at times went out of their way to avoid contact with us.

The marina is a working marina, thus, dirty, noisy and loud.  We knew that.  We expect that.  But we also expect marina personnel to take care with our babies, our homes, the thing we supply a significant amount of passion towards – our boats.  We don’t expect a lackadaisical attitude, we don’t expect to be pushed to a corner and ignored when we have specifically stated we have a schedule to keep, a weather window to catch and require assistance in accomplishing our tasks, especially when paying a lot of money, per day, for the “privilege” of staying there as a “transient” instead of a normal “slip holder” (which was never once offered to us).

I’m sure some will frown on this post, and I’m certain that most folks wouldn’t post something like this, figuring that “some day, I might have to use them again”.  This is true of me as well.  Some DAY, I might have to stop at Cobb’s Marina.  But then again, if I do, and they have improved their work processes, I might do so.

I don’t hold anyone at fault for what happened to us.  It was general circumstances and perhaps a bit of bad luck, something I sincerely DO NOT believe in.  Luck is what you make of it (except games of chance, cards, dice, roulette and Lotto).  You do NOT leave to chance things on a boat.  You do your due diligence and you attempt to mitigate anything imaginable and sometimes you miss your shot.  That isn’t luck, that’s simple statistics.

Cobb’s Marina is a decent place other than what we went through and in other circumstances, I’d never have written any of the original post or this.  But I do what I do to inform people.  Always have.

If you’re going to Cobb’s Marina… be aware of your contract.  Be aware of your ability to say yes or no.  And be aware that if you’re on those docks, multiple accidents have occurred there over the past two years, including one that happened just before we left (having nothing to do with the marina exactly, but with a sailboat driver who didn’t take care going out, hooked his rigging on someone sport fisher outriggers, that boat was a mess when I looked at it).

Nothing here is meant to discourage anyone from going there rather to inform you that it matters not WHICH marina in which you enter, you need to take care of those around you as well as yourself.  Obviously no one can remain with their boat 100% of the time, and as cruisers we have to leave to get groceries, parts, get work done, see things and in general try to not stay on the boat when we are someplace trying to SEE things.

That’s why we trust the marinas to help us.

Honestly though, our ship has remained safer on an anchor and mooring ball than sitting in a slip anywhere we’ve been.

 

Water, Water everywhere, but not a drop to drink

Interesting day.

Today is Saturday, Day Two of the Memorial Day Siege of the Boaters, Drunks, and half-nekked people.  Woke up this morning to a relatively quiet marina… with no water.

Yup. Showers are down.  Toilets don’t flush.  And bowls are… umm… full.

I hiked up.  And hiked over to the office and ran into the manager.  He was not only aware, he was pretty frazzled this morning.

It appears that for the last three days they were filling the pool.

From two garden hoses.

Attached to the water system.

Which goes to a well.

If you understand how a well works, you might find this kind of funny by now.

If not, I’ll explain it a bit.

Wells are deep holes in the ground.  They are drilled or sometimes dug by hand.  In any case they go down to where the underground water table lives.  Usually there is rock, sand and clay down there and the water in the water table filters through that stuff to the bottom of the well, and then the water that collects is pumped out to the top, into the plumbing system where us normal humans can more easily gather and use it.

Now, when you pump a LOT of water out, the local water table tends to fade away while the distant water further filters through the dirt and sand to eventually get into the well.  There is a slight time delay in this of course.  So if you empty the well (the well runs dry) and when the well runs dry, the pumps can’t pump water.  In fact, water pumps using impellers (as most sailors who have a boat with an engine know) start to destroy themselves shortly after the water stops flowing.

This is when we military guys say “The excrement has hit the impeller device”.  Toilets with no water over flow… with… ummm… excrement.  Sinks no worky.  Kitchens fail to function.  Bars don’t open (sometimes).  And people stink because they get no showers.  And most of us don’t go to the bathroom in places where the bowls are already “full”.

In other words, no water means broken pump, which means no water pressure or any other kind of pressure.

Except the kind placed up on a poor, new manager of a marina on Day Two of the Memorial Day Siege of the Boaters, Drunks, and half-nekked people.  I felt sorry for him, as he appeared tired.

But, as a real life former military hero he stepped up to the plate got portapotties in place, a company working on the pumps and lo and behold in a few hours the water is back online!

Hallelujah, toilets flush, shower water flows, and boats with empty tanks (because they all took showers aboard this morning, except for JoAnne and I who refuse to waste precious DRINKING water on the boat to take a shower… lol)  can refill their empty tanks.  The whining and bitching stopped and it appears 90% of the current crowd is sitting over in the bar drinking and yelling as normal.

In the mean time, JoAnne and I took a trip to town… a 40+ mile round trip and found an absolutely wonderful, hidden diner called “Almost There” sitting on Route 360 near Tappahannock.  Fortunately, they also had a bathroom which I was happy to see for perhaps not-so-obvious reasons).

I ordered a “Western Omelette” which included some kind of very sweat jalapenos. Not spicy, but sweet.  And the omelette weight about two pounds.  It was HUGE.  And delicious. The biscuits and home fries were the best I’ve ever had in a restaurant (they can’t touch JoAnne’s cooking, but they were up there with hers).

I pondered the reasoning for the name of the place.  After looking around the place inside, I noted a lot of Bible quotes on the wall.  Ah.  I think I had it.  I surmise that “Almost There” means “Almost Heaven” at least from a yummy-in-my-tummy food feeling!

Honestly, I am not sure why they called it that, but that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Lastly, we went to the Lowes and ran into our friend Kurt there, buying plumbing stuff.  (Kurt Seastead is the page owner for the Transworld 41, the ship we own, which is how we met Kurt).

We bought some LED lights for the boat. More on the lights in a bit. Kurt and I knew each other were going to the Lowes so it wasn’t necessary a happenstance thing, but that we happened to run into one another was.  I mean we stopped and ate breakfast and Kurt had messaged me this morning offering to pick me up for a trip there.  I told him we might meet him or something.  Well, we did.

It appears Kurt and Sally might come to see the boat tomorrow.  So, I spend part of this afternoon sweating and cleaning.  Because, you know, we can’t be too cluttered on a boat we live on, now, can we?

I CAN walk into the Vee Berth now.  I can’t, however sleep in it (thank goodness and careful planning on my part so JoAnne doesn’t kick me out of bed…).

Tonight…. we have all the fans running.  Probably going to regret the electric bill later, but it has been HOT today.  JoAnne told me there’s a chance of rain tonight, and tomorrow and I’ll double check the weather because I want the enclosure back in place if it rains.  We still have leaks that I believe come from the cockpit area and want to minimize any more wood damage in the aft cabin.  Eventually, I’ll find them all and repair them, but in the mean time if I can’t fix it, mitigation is key.

I want to finish moving some stuff around tomorrow so as not to have clutter everywhere.

And we get to test those LED lights this evening.  They run on AC and not DC.  I checked the plug-in piece and it merely rectify the 120vac to 120vdc to run the LEDs.  So, I can’t plug it into 12vdc (which was my original hope).  So, tomorrow, I’ll be looking over some stuff I saw on Amazon, and working out costs for doing LED strip lights in side the cabins.  The lights we have pretty much suck for reading.

Even the lamps I’ve switched for LEDs just do not cut it for reading.  I’ll be working that out.

And that is all for the evening.  Tune in tomorrow to see if the lights work….correctly.

 

Fishing Bay, VA

We arrived here on Friday, one day.  Long trip. Had engine problems, lots of wind, no wind, wind in the wrong places….

Anyway, we’ve been sitting in Fishing Bay, Va, through the deluges of rain.  It’s actually raining again, but only drizzle.

We are planning to leave in the morning and try to make it as far as we can, but had “Sandy Point” as one route (it’s about 29nm) and some places up along the Coan River and… somewhere else I’m not remembering at the moment.  Anyway, it’s all written down and I can check the book we use to plan our locations.

Weather is looking ok tomorrow  Cloudy tonight. T-storms tonight, 54F.  Tomorrow sunshine and 80s.  But almost not winds. So motor sailing I guess.  Fortunately I filled the tanks today. Winds have all but died down.  They were pretty strong last night, but my anchor held well.

Dinner tonight was salmon and salad. And a couple of Guinness!  Wonderful!  I hope that one day soon it will be salmon I caught.  I’m getting the hang of things, I think.  Except the sitting and patience part.  That’s gonna take a lot longer.

The marina apparently left some parts off.  Nuts, lock washers, washers… on the bow.  The bow platform is damaged again because of it too.  The anchor roller came lose trying to bring up the anchor.  I found no screws in it (ok, ONE, but no washers to speak of on either one).  I spent an hour putting washers, lock wasters and new nuts on some of the screws.  Unfortunately, when the anchor came up it slammed into the platform and punched a nice hole in it.  I’m considering ripping that thing off and putting in a solid platform instead of that “fancy thing”.  I want something sturdy and useful, not “cute and expensive looking”. I’m trying of crap breaking because it’s built like willowy lace and not solid oak.

We have two leaks.  Kurt thinks one might be from the port hole. I’ll tear it out when I get a minute and check, and seal it.

The other one is the butterfly hatch.  That needs to be sanded, sealed and varnished (or as some say, oiled).  The consensus on varnishing teak, versus oiling, versus leaving it to go gray just isn’t there.  I’ve gotten twenty different opinions, all different. hahaha

On the boat top, deck and topsides, I’m leaving it alone for now and keeping it clean.  It looks great that way.  One suggestion is, if I use oil, to use tung oil, because it tends to form a hard surface.  I might do that.  Or at least put it in a couple places to test it.

Anyway… I’m tired, we’re leaving early tomorrow and I need to sleep.  So… until next time, this is the sailing ketch Adventure signing off!

 

Slight delays

I mentioned the other day that we couldn’t get out of here because the Enterprise Car rental fibbed to me about having a car, and then when I called to confirm the reservation they said “Oh, we’re closed on the weekends”.  Anyway, that put us out until Monday for a car.

So, yesterday we drove up to the new marina, dropped our car, checked in with the marina folks and told them we’d be back when we got back.  They were happy to see us and ok with us leaving the car.

When we got back we started looking over the weather and found that it was going to rain north of us pretty heavily, and we’d be getting rain here in Norfolk sometime this afternoon.  Yuk.  Winds are pretty light though, about 10 knots aloft right now.

I spoke to David, the Dockmaster and asked about moving the boat to a different spot, to get us out of the Pit, around the corner from other boats and make it easier for me to depart when the time comes.

JoAnne did some more checking and it looks like our best day (for the sailing we want) will be Friday morning for a few hours.  In double checking it looks like winds from the north starting in a few hours and going through until late on Thursday.  Friday about 0000 UTC the winds die down a bit but become variable and switch rapidly from north, to east, to west  then finally out of the SW as the High pressure bubble moves through.  From that time through at least Saturday it looks like mostly SW winds ranging from 5kts to as much as 22kts.  Looks like Sunday on, the winds shift to NE.  Right down the Potomac… so  if we get out of here on Friday we are going to find an anchorage and sit there a few days.

Anyway, we’re not taking a risk of getting beat up on the Bay again.  We’ll take this slowly and surely, not jump in unless we’re ready to do it.

So a few days on the docks here without a car, but we’ve got food, water, and the grocery store is hiking distance for me.  Captain Groovy’s isn’t too far either (you know, just in case… beer).

 

New Home

We got up early this morning (about 0800, that’s retired-people-early) and got ready to go, and drove 2.5 hours north of Norfolk to a marina that Kurt Seastead sent up too.  Kurt is a good friend whom we made after he invited us to the Transworld 41 Facebook Page.

He recommended this marina for a lot of reasons, but mostly because he’d kept a boat there, it’s close to his “family vacation home” in the area and it will handle our keel and mast height.

The marina was a long damned drive from here in Norfolk.  Two and a half hours by car.  One hundred twenty-one miles by car.  It’s about an eighteen hour sail, but I’ve not measure it on the charts yet… something for me to do tomorrow.

Anyway, they had nice bathrooms, a pool, they have camping and cabins.  The owner and I have a LOT in common.  He and I are both ex-Air Force.  He and I both worked for the Missile Defense Agency.  Two of the guys he introduced me to are former Navy Chiefs, guys for whom I have a lot of respect anyway.  So all of us are former military.  All of us are sailors to boot.  How cool is that?

The marina is half the cost of the place we’re currently located.

So…. JoAnne and I have to work out the details.  We have to get a car, bicycle and a boat up there for the summer.  So, likely we will rent a car in the area where the new marina is located, take it and our car and my bike over there, then drop them, drive back to Norfolk…. turn in the rental, have them drop us at our old marina, and then drive the boat up.

We will take between 3-5 days to move the boat in the day time.  JoAnne’s back still isn’t up to doing night shifts, and sleeping two or three hours between shifts.  Thought, God knows, that lady can sleep if there’s a nuclear war going on around here, and I CAN NOT.  Which is the problem. I’d rather stay awake and do the job and sleep when the zombies are dead than try to sleep when bombs and shot guns are going off around me.

I haven’t been right since certain incidents have happened to me.  Long ago, I could sleep anywhere, standing up.  Now, I can’t sleep if a cat sneezes six blocks away.  Oh well.

What remains is setting a date that includes decent sailing weather for sailing northward up the Chesapeake Bay and into the Potomac River.  Probably some time next week.

 

Update for March

I know that I’ve not written much of late, but we’re not really doing much.

JoAnne continues her doctor’s appointments, and physical therapy for her back and she’s healing well.  We are ready to go back to the boat now, but she isn’t finished with her appointments.

A big one is coming up at the end of March, where she sees both the back doctor and the oncologist.  She’s having her chemo port removed at the end of the month and we’re planning to be leaving sometime in the beginning of April.

With luck everything will go well and her last checkup left us smiling.  No sign of cancer, her blood work came back good and she’s feeling great.  Except the back.  Which is significantly better than the day she fell.

We have located, thanks to our friend Kurt Seastead (S/V LoKee) a marina along the Potomac River up about 8 NM from the mouth of the river/Chesapeake Bay where we will bring the boat in late April to accomplish some major refit we need done.

Included will be replacement of at least one of the electric heads with a composting toilet.  We will install a wind generator.  We will repair or replace the refrigeration unit as necessary and I’ll put in at least one small solar panel (and hope to get our permanent panels put in though).  One other small job I need to do is to get the bow thruster working again.  It would be really nice to have it working before I head up to the marina from Norfolk because it appears tight in the slips and it would help significantly to back the boat into the slip.  The full keel and prop walks makes it very difficult to back in a straight line anyway.

Our trip from here will start in Fountain Colorado and we’ll make stops along the way back, detouring to various places.  We have a grandson we want to visit in Missouri as well as our friends Mike and Cindy, JoAnne’s brother Paul who lives in the Tampa Bay area, and JoAnne wants to swing through New Orleans as well.  Plus there are a few friends in the Ft. Meyers area who we’re looking forward to seeing one afternoon as well.

I have one marina to visit in Florida to check out – though at this point we’re considering NOT using Florida as a home base any more due to the recent laws of “no anchoring”.  How in the world a state that is surrounded by waters thinks that this is a good idea to run off the thousands of cruisers who spend several million dollars in a year, I have no idea.

I won’t wax politically on this blog but suffice it to say that government is getting too big for it’s britches and I don’t care which side of the equation on which you find yourself, it’s BAD for us all.  And these decisions by the Florida state legislature are going to kill the tourist industry until they reverse this law.  Except for the small group I have seen in Florida who actually live in the state who somehow believe this won’t affect them, almost every cruiser I’ve spoken too in the past few months have decided to cross Florida off their list of places to visit now.

Today in Colorado it is supposed to be in the 70s, and my son-in-law Carlos is throwing a BBQ and the smoking of the meats has begun.  I’m headed off to the store for some bread and beer….

 

Good Bye Winter – Hello Spring

Winter can’t go away quickly enough for us.

We’re ready to go back to the boat, but it’s still chilly here and back in Norfolk.  Apparently they haven’t suffered from much cold as it’s rarely gotten below freezing according the marina where the boat is waiting for us to return.

Talked to someone on Facebook yesterday and they told me they got about an inch of snow which rapidly turned to rain and all of the snow is gone.  So, that’s a good thing.

I’m going to tell you all a story here.  Over the course of the past 7-8 years JoAnne and I have gone through a lot in getting ready to move aboard a boat.  In the past few weeks people ask us about it and we tell them some of the things that have happened.  Most are aghast or in awe of what we’ve accomplished.

I don’t think either JoAnne or I consider anything we’ve done or gone through too “heroic”.  Except JoAnne.  Cancer is nothing to sneeze about.  She went through a lot in the last two years and I want to point out to folks who have normal, every day problems like ants in the kitchen, painting needed in a room, grass cutting, snow blowing or shoveling, that there are times – and people – that try the patience of saints.

In January of 2014 JoAnne wasn’t feeling well.  We were I believe staying with my daughter at the time because our house had been up for sale.  The whole market thing wasn’t working for us, or the house.  She called off of work one day and went home four times early over the course of about a two week period.  This was not only unusual for JoAnne, it was unheard of.  My wife rarely gets sick, she almost never took a day off work, and she’s a pretty strong lady all in all.

On the fourth time I walked into the house after work and made an off handed comment, “So, what time is your doctor’s appointment tomorrow?”

To my surprise and astonishment (because she hates going to doctors) she gave me a time.  I don’t remember now if it was the very next day or a day or so later, but she’d set one up.

Our family doctor, Kendra Robison, gave JoAnne an xray and told her that there was a “mass” down low.  She ordered up a C-T scan for a couple of days later.   On the 29th of January a bunch of us family members met at Rock Bottom (our normal hang out) to have a beer and celebrate my youngest son’s birthday.  That’s when Doctor Robison called JoAnne.  We both went outside to take the call.

I could tell by JoAnne’s face that things weren’t good,  After the call she had our kids who were with us at the time come out, left spouses and grandkids inside and she told us all what was up.

She had a very large tumor, about graprefruit size, maybe larger.  They believed without a doubt it was cancerous.  A few days later she underwent surgery.  A few weeks after that she started chemo.  Lost her hair.  Went through some shots to help her immune system but put her in severe pain.  We had moved back into the house so she had a place to recover – because neither of us ever doubted she’d recover.   There was crying, praying, more crying, plenty of support from our children (all adults).

In late August 2015 we learned that she was “cancer free” at that point.  Her chemo had ended and she went home and started looking at boats – because our “five year plan” never went away.  It was suspended and we both continued to work as we could.  She went to work all the way through chemo.  She worked fewer hours, and I tried to make sure she got plenty of rest.  We still visited Rock Bottom from time to time and had  a beer, but there were times when she couldn’t go to work right away because of the immunity issues.

I took off as many days from my job as I could to help her, take her to doctors appointments and be with her.

In November 2014 JoAnne found three boats that not only met our specifications, but our budget (we’d actually increased our budget by then).  The house was nearly paid off anyway and we figured we could do this.

In December 2014 I flew to New York to look at a boat called “Duna”, a Transworld Formosa 41.  Exactly the boat we both had dreams (and occasional nightmares) about.  Beautiful lines, full keeled ketch, with most things working.  The boat really needed a lot more than a few repairs, but all-in-all the boat was intact and with a little bit of work could be put in the water and sail right away.

The issues on the boat though, we considered minor compared to our goal, and JoAnne’s recent battles.

In January 2015, one year and one day from JoAnne’s diagnoses of cancer, we closed on the boat.  In March of 2015 we put the house back on the market.  The first day we had five showings.  Over the week, we had about 25 showings.  On Sunday, seven days from the day we went on the market, we closed on our house.  We sold it to a young man in his 30s, single dad with two children.

We moved back in with our daughter again and began our final transition from working, to moving to our boat and becoming cruisers.

In May we were ready to leave.  We both put in our resignations.  Mine went in on Monday the 11th of May.  JoAnne’s last day of work was supposed to be that week on Friday.

On Wednesday I was driving home and felt ill.  Long story short, I’d had a heart attack but didn’t know it.  We went to the doctor that evening, they sent us to the hospital, the hospital admitted me to the cardiac care ward and refused to let me move around or walk without someone being with me.

My aortic valve was damaged, and was malformed.  A “bicuspid” instead of a normal three leaf tricuspid valve.  I had to have a new hear valve put in.  On Monday morning the following week, I was wheeled into surgery and given anaesthesia, and surgery was performed.  I honestly thought that our whole life together was over.

JoAnne’s strength and fortitude was the only thing making me strong.  I was terrified of someone “touching my heart” – and not in good ways.  Being cut open, having your heart literally stopped and being placed on a heart-lung machine and having electrical equipment doing that work for you is very scary.  I’ve always considered myself a strong, nearly fearless person.

Not that day.  As I was to sign the release forms, I nearly chickened out.  But I knew JoAnne was counting on me and I knew I’d counted on her being there.  It was the least I could do.  I signed.  They operated and I’m writing this today.

Now – there’s plenty more to this story, but I’m not going to write it all. That’s for a book someday.

Jump forward to October 18, 2015.  We’re in our boat.  We’ve travelled from the Hudson River all the way down to Pocquoson River on the East Coast and we’re anchored out up a creek there.  The phone rings.  It’s a marina we’ve left messages for, as they were recommended to do some work.  Our backstays aren’t as they should be and it’s causing some issues with the sails.  They call me at 10Am and say “If you can get here this evening, we can look at your boat tomorrow.”

Against our better judgement and without knowing exactly what the weather was going to be, we left.  And we were caught in 19knot winds without being able to raise sails, in short chop caused by constant winds, with no place to run but south under engine power.  The rest of that story has already been written on the blog. Read it here:  (Norfolk, the Hard Way)

We didn’t “get seen” the next day.  In fact, Friday that week we were hit by a power boat.  Almost $12,000.

On the day the mast was going back up in December 2015, JoAnne fell from a fixed dock onto a boat she was trying to board after we were invited over for a drink.  She fractured two vertebrae.  We’re in Colorado as most of you know, while she heals.

She’s supposed to be out of her back brace in a few days.  One more appointment before we head back to the boat at the end of March to have her chemo port removed (we hope) and then back to Adventure.

Summer is coming.  We want to be back on the boat this spring to find a place to land for a few months of summer while we do needed repairs and refit, and then next fall, we’re off for the Bahamas – finally.

So you see folks, adversity happens.  But one must pick up their marbles, collect them all, along with their thoughts and persevere if one is to make it anywhere.  Whether you’re time to make it down the Island Chain of the Caribbean, the East Coast of the US, or you’re just trying to get through day-to-day at work until your time to go sailing comes up, you can never, EVER give up.

You can’t let life, naysayers or negativity get you down.  You have to keep plugging along.

This is the way we live life.  NOTHING is handed to you on a silver platter and if it is you’re the one who is missing out on life.  If you don’t step up, grab that brass ring on the Merry Go Round you will never, ever accomplish anything more than letting life run past you.

Life is not something you get through.  Life is something you must live to the fullest no matter what stands in your way, no matter the adversity, no matter the bumps and bruises you suffer along the way.

Grab life and give it a whirl!

 

 

Happy New Year – 2016; Year of Success

send2tqLast year for us was “Year of Adventure”.  And such an adventure it was, from purchasing our new home, s/v Adventure to moving aboard and sailing the boat south.

We had a lot of fun, and a lot of problems.  We had engine issues, we got stuck a couple of times, but mostly we were caught by surprise by some of the weird problems we didn’t expect.  They say to expect the unexpected and while we worked diligently to do just that, we still found a lot of issues that needed repairing, replacement or just tweaking.

As many of you know, JoAnne took a fall on December 2nd (or maybe it was the first) while stepping from the fixed dock to a large trawler we were invited aboard, onto the trawler’s deck.  She managed to fracture two vertebrae in her spine, the T11 and T12 and it took weeks to verify the fractures.  We knew within a few days about the T12 fracture and I made the decision to remove her from the boat for safety reasons.

I moved her to a local hotel in Norfolk for a few days while prepping the boat to sail;  we thought we’d be leaving by the 12th or so.  When we confirmed the first fracture I made the decision to bring her back to Colorado to get rested and heal up.

Because she couldn’t fly (running through the airport with a broken back is not a good idea) we rented a car, winterized the vessel and packed a few things including our electronics and some clothing, coats and the food that would spoil.  The boat was secured, put into a slip and we crossed the country in about five days.

Since then, we’ve been staying with our daughter and son-in-law and the grand kids.  JoAnne has seen a couple of doctors now, including our personal doctor who told us about the second fracture.  We still didn’t know about the T11.  Last week on Wednesday the 30th, she saw Dr. Bee, a bone doc.  She has been in a brace that was prescribed by our doctor and he told her she’s likely be in it another 12 weeks or so.

She’s still in pain on and off, but on the mend.

At this point we’ve got about five or six various plans on getting back to the boat, when to go, where to go, how to go, and where to end up.  I’m not going to detail them, but suffice it to say we always have a lot of different ideas on how to do things and if one goal falls through, another one is in place to aim for.

The main plan is to head back in April and move the boat down the ICW to arrive in Florida in May time frame, find a “home” (marina with a slip that isn’t too expensive) and then travel to the Bahamas and further south.  When Hurricane Season hits – late June, probably heading down the chain to visit further south and get out of the path of hurricanes.

Failing that, we’ll head for the Keys.  Failing that, Tampa Bay.  Failing that, we’ll find something further north (and given all the nonsense about anchoring in Florida, we’re rethinking our whole idea of even ending up in Florida, though we do hear the west coast of Florida is more welcoming, hence the idea of going to the Tampa area).  Anyway, that’s the nutshell.

JoAnne is doing ok.  Slight pain on and off.  She can’t work on the boat, so we’ll be here until she’s healed enough to travel back and live on the boat.

If anyone wishes to reach us, you can do so by going to the contact page at the top of the blog and copying the email address for our boat.  We check that daily.

Happy New Year to all our cruising friends, our family and our non-cruising friends alike.  May 2016 be all you hoped for and more.

 

Bad Luck?

I’m the most not-superstitious person ever to live on the planet.  I don’t believe in Black Cats being bad luck, and in fact think Black Cats are pretty cool cats.

I’ve walked under ladders.  I’ve broken mirrors, and even cut them (doing glass cutting).  I’ve spilled salt and the only time I ever had bad luck was when I took the salt shaker and tossed some over my left shoulder like you’re supposed to do, and the lid of the salt shaker came off pouring an entire shaker full of salt down this biker guy’s neck behind me.  He laughed about it, when I explained, just before he was about to kill me dead…. But… bad luck? No, it’s BS.

Or is it?

JoAnne and I have been having a run of bad luck.  We’ve had engine troubles, gotten beat up in the Bay, lost our engine, had sail and rigging issues, toilet problems, stove problems, heat problems, cold problems, electrical problems.

A logical, non-superstitious person would say its par for the course.  Until Tuesday night, 4 days ago.

On Tuesday evening, the boat’s mast went back up.  We had met Pierre and his wife Anne-Marie from France and because the mast was going up, they invited us over to had a drink and celebrate the boat being put back together.  That evening, we walked over with some cake to meet them and go aboard their boat, MiHiwad  (An acronym for “My Home is where anchor drops”) .

Unfortunately, it was not going to be a great evening for JoAnne.  When we got to the dock, it was the old, rickety dock that is being replaced.  The tide was out.  The difference between the dock and the boat deck was between 18 inches and 24 inches.  No problem for me, but JoAnne wasn’t happy with it.

My job as Captain is to help people.  To improvise.  To adjust.  To give a way to accomplish a job, mission or objective.  To make things work when they can’t work.  To give people encouragement.

I gave JoAnne encouragement, I said said, “You’ve got this…” and stepped aboard to show her how easy it was.  I took her hand, handed off the cake and watched as she stepped forward, lost her footing and fell.  Both Pierre and I tried to catch her and failed.  I kept her from falling harder, but I didn’t stop her from falling so hard she pulled muscles in her back.
She stepped with one foot and her other foot (the one on the dock) slipped causing her to fall forward.  I feel terrible.

At this point, there is little we can do now.  She’s not really capable of doing anything on the boat, not even standing around and cooking, let along pulling lines, or driving for any length of time.  She can’t stand for very long and she can’t really lift anything.

Xrays say no broken bones.  According to the ER doc.  However, this morning they called her and told her that a technician (or perhaps a radiologist) said there is a good possibility of a hairline fracture and they now want an MRI.  Might happen Monday, or maybe not.

Either way, I refuse to put her at risk.  As of this minute she’s no longer travelling with the boat without other crew members to assist me.  I can send her back to Colorado to rest and recuperate there rather than subject her to chilly nights, windy days, bouncy waves and shaky cockpits.  We’re going to wait until Monday to see if they call us to do the MRI. If not, I think she’s going back to Colorado.

I’m going to remain with the boat and move it south alone, or find a crew member to assist me.  At this point our destination has changed to Marathon Key or Tampa Bay. If neither of those, then at least Green Cove Springs.  (I have a friend near that that is recommending the Green Cove Springs Marina, and I’ll determine the location based on phone calls later).

So… good luck, bad luck or no luck at all.  I’m not sure, but JoAnne’s life and health are the number one priority for me.  I know she wants to be someplace south and in the warm, but it’s probably not going to happen for another few weeks, if not months.

I’m open to suggestions for locations, ideas on how best to move the boat, and/or medical information.  MRI will come soon enough.

 

 

 

Rock Hall, MD

Rock Hall, MD

We pulled into the bay at about 6:45. Less than 15 minutes until sundown. My eyesight isn’t what it used to be and like an idiot, I decided to cut a corner. Gosh, what’s that green buoy doing on my right side, I wondered. Then I found out. 5 feet of water and one foot in the mud. Not my foot mind you, the keel, one foot deep in the mud.

Again. This was not the first time in the past three weeks and likely it won’t be the last in the next month or so.

I called TowBoatUS and had them on the phone when they put me on hold. The guy was being a jerk and wouldn’t listen to me and I was probably being a jerk because I was frustrated with myself, the keel and the damned mud.

I handed the phone to JoAnne to deal with and said, “Screw this, I’m not getting towed again.” A few minutes later, I had the boat free and backing up. I backed all the way into the channel and turned the boat into the middle of the channel markers and came inside at about .8 knots. JUST enough to give me steerage, but not enough to destroy anything in front of me that was hapless enough to stand still.

What seemed to be 30 or 40 minutes later we came into slight contact with the public “Wall”. The “dock” such as it is, was full of boats already. There was one spot and a guy asked me, “Do you need help?”

Who am I to turn down anything free?

“Yeah, I’m still trying to remember how to do all this,” I shouted back. He chuckled and said, “Me too.”

He rushed over and took a line JoAnne threw him and within minutes we were tied up, tied off and relieved we’d come in without wreaking anything again.

JoAnne reminded me to call back the TwoBoatUS folks to cancel the tow (Which she had already done with the tow boat operator anyway, but they wanted me to call them myself, so I did).

When I looked at the clock on the phone and the phone call, a grand total of six minutes had elapsed.

We both looked at each other and exclaimed “Six MINUTES” – it seemed like hours.

Truthfully, it seemed like a LONG time had passed from our entrance into the bay (after getting unstuck) to the time we tied off.

The sign says “15 Days”. I’m not sure if they mean the parking lot, the dock, the grassy area nearby or what, but, we’re here for a few days and I’m not planning on dropping lines and heading out into the Bay until I am sure the weather isn’t going to kick up a stink for us. I’d like to sail out of here to our next stop instead of using the engine all the time.

It was very late when we got everything ship shape and hiked over to the pub we could see from the dock area. I had a taco salad, she had soup. We had a pitcher of margaritas with more ice in it than rita. No salt. I don’t think there was any tequila either. The taco salad wasn’t as good as my own, and it wasn’t even as good as Jose Muldoon’s in Colorado (which sucks).

We walked back (walked, not stumbled, as most people do after 2-3 margaritas) and got back on the boat without falling into the water – there’s a gap of 18″ to 2′ and JoAnne was afraid to step over it. Me, I’m pretty nimble and only tripped 9 or 10 times.

This morning we got up pretty early (about 8) and decided we were going to do shopping. She had already scoped out a place for us. A small grocery store about a mile or so away. I called in my medications I needed to refill at the Walgreens in town as well.

We found the grocery with no problems, bought some eggs, a couple of ears of corn, oranges, greeeeeeeeeeen bananas, some cookies, canned foods and a few other things, then started for the Walgreen’s. On the way, they called me to tell me they couldn’t fill my prescription because I needed to get in touch with the insurance company. I don’t have insurance. I lost that when I quit my job. Duh. I called them and said, “Just fill it and and I’ll pay cash”.

They replied, “Ok, no problem, that will be $999.99.”

What the hell? Its some god damned pills. Turns out the BP medication is only $55 bucks. I told them to fill it. I’ll take an aspirin instead of the other crap the docs have me on. Screw that, if I die, tough shit. 1000 bucks for stupid pills. WTF do they think retired people are made of, money?

So, I did collect the BP meds, which I probably needed after the price check. And probably didn’t need before I heard the price check.

Anyway, stopped in West Marine (yes, there is one in this little place) and bought two sending units to the tune of 100 bucks for the set. (Rolling my eyes at the cost of a couple of pieces of stainless steel and a bloody little potentiometer, GOD!)

So, we got some shopping done, got a couple parts, found out I am going to die from lack of medication sooner rather than later, got some oranges and I got a Pepsi. I’ve been sipping at it since then and it’s almost 5 PM. Decided we weren’t leaving today and watching a storm moving up the Bay towards us. Supposed to blow like stink tomorrow, white caps and rain. I’m technically still a “Day Sailor” so – not quite ready for shitty weather.

I’ll suck it up enough, soon enough, right now, I’m trying to figure out how 900 bucks a month in insurance fees saves me for 999 dollars a quarter on heart medication.,

You know, screw the government regulations, screw the US medical system and screw the AMA. (Am I speaking with my outside voice again?)

I’m really unhappy about this stupid medical nonsense. Seriously, how can anyone justify the cost of simple medicines that help keep people alive?

Screw it, I’m going sailing in a couple of days and to hell with all that.

Rock Hall is a quaint little town. I’d move here, if it weren’t cold in the winter. Or in Maryland.

Or close to New York.

Seriously, this is a cool little town, nice little houses, nice people. There’s a Bait and Tackle store “right there” out of my boat. 40 steps away. But nothing I can really use, yet anyway. They did, however, have a case of Corona Extra for 23 bucks. Plus tax. That’s alittle over a buck a bottle so not too shabby. I bought a case. Going back tomorrow to get a back up (you need spares of everything aboard a boat I’m finding out).

The place we ate lunch was called Waterman’s Crab House. I think. To be honest I didn’t look at the name. It was good, albeit, expensive, like every other place on the East Coast we’ve been in. $30 plus dollars for lunch. Yep, that’s right. Oh, well. We’ll be going back to Colorado to work soon enough if our money runs out. Before my retirement pay kicks in. Sheesh.

Day after tomorrow, Sunday, I think we’re bailing out of here and heading for Annapolis or somewhere. I need to talk to some friends and find out where they are so I can set a course in their direction. I need to get close to my friend Phil, so he can help deliver my equipment and after that, well, we’re heading for Norfolk, then pass inside past Cape Hatteras, outside at Beaufort NC and on to Florida. Mostly then, I hope, by sail. Instead of engine.

JoAnne is tired today from our walk. She carried a backpack full of stuff from the store, but to be fair I carried the bulk of it.

In fact, I took 90% of the weight.

Who the hell needs heart medications?

C&D Canal – Almost there

I know that most other people who cruise and blog don’t put down most of the stuff they are doing, rarely write much or they put in a vast amount of pictures. Pictures are on Facebook with friends and family right now, and I don’t have the bandwidth or time right now to upload everything to the storage site and post them.

We left Atlantic Highlands the other day and did a 24 hour run overnight and made it as far as Atlantic City, NJ/ Turns out my tach is hosed on the engine so we were running at what we thought was 2500 rpm and it wasn’t even close. I’ve been testing the engine by ear and have had it up to 6+ knots now.

We arrived at AC at 9 in the morning (we’d left at 9 the previous day). We spend the whole day and then one night there and left the next morning for Cape May.

We arrived in Cape May and came into the channel – and a few minutes after I turned the corner, grounded the boat in the mud. After talking to some locals found out the mud bank hasn’t been dredged this year and so it’s further into the channel than the charts and markers show. Go me…

We left Cape May this morning after we deliberated about the channel out on the Delaware Bay side. As it turns out, I measured the mast and came up with 54 feet from deck to top, add in the wind gear and you get 55, add in the deck top to water line and you get 58. Doh! No bridges. My measurements might be off but I doubt it. I was not going to risk our lives or the boat going under a bridge at low water and hoping it would clear by two inches. Nope. We went back out the way we came in, through the Atlantic Ocean side. Did just fine going out.

I set a course on the autohelm and following my charts around to the far side, passed the channel exit and then headed for the C&D canal.

We had NO wind except in the early morning pretty much all day. In the evening we started having engine issues again (this time the prop shaft, I think it’s not getting enough dripping going on down there….) anyway, backed off the engine speed, raised the sails and was flying at almost 6 knots without the engine (it was in neutral and idling). When we go close to where I wanted to anchor the wind was at 12 knots right from our backs.

I had a hell of a time bringing the boat around to the wind and getting the main down! It’s mast furling, not sure I like it all that well.

Maybe I don’t know what I am doing too – that could be it.

We ended up anchoring 3 miles from a nuclear power plant and two miles from the C&D entrance.

Dropped anchor in 20 feet of water. We’re holding very well, and not having any issues.

Yesterday and interesting thing happened. We got a call from a legal authority in Colorado asking about our old Dodge Shasta. It seems that the asshole I sold it too never bothered re-register it, he kept my plates (which I promptly had canceled when he didn’t return them) and it appears SOMETHING like a crime may have happened.

She wouldn’t give details and hinted that they weren’t sure a crime HAD been committed.

But let me say this, the guy was a Serbian, Russian accent, so was the wife, they had two kids and they were sketchy from the get-go. I just wanted to sell the van, he gave me what I asked for it, I signed it over and he vanished into thin air.

I’m wondering now if there was a terrorist group involved or something because I didn’t like him to begin with. They were cagey over names, places, what they were going to do and they were very quick to offer me exactly what we were asking.

Anyway, I don’t know what happened.

Tomorrow, the weather will be ok, but windy on our nose, and it’s not going to be easy to navigate through the Canal. I’m pretty anxious over this. It was bad enough grounding in Cape May…. wish me luck.

Good Night all

Sandy Hook and Atlantic Highlands

JoAnne and I came in, under tow to this area last Saturday. We were at Coney Island and the engine shredded the belt. We didn’t get the engine repaired until Tuesday, late. The Mechanic was Bill Lloyd of Lloyd’s Repair. He does “house calls”, as a mobile mechanic.

Bill was helpful, showed me a lot of things, gave us some advice and did the repairs – finding the correct parts. The adjustment bracket had broken before. Was the wrong size. The belt shredded, it was too long. The pulley on the alternator was too small. The engine stop was broken as well because was previously repaired by a couple of guys with duct tape…. no more comments there.

Anyway, Bill helped to repair all of that for us. His rates were very reasonable and he was very helpful. I STRONGLY recommend him if you’re in the area and need help.

The moorings here are $50.00 a night and there are showers, a launch to pick you up and drop you off.

The launch drivers are all very nice, helpful and give you directions and advice if you need it.

We have spent the time here moving stuff around, rearranging things to be more logical and I cleaned some of the deck finally. We added more water, I’ve rowed in and out a few times to collect water and gas for the generator. I needed the upper body exercise too. Speaking of which, they were really “worried” about me at the cardiac care and rehab place. Wanted me to stay on a “few weeks”. I laughed and said I’d be getting more exercise than just walking. While I am not getting as much cardio as I’d like, I’m damned sure getting plenty of exercise now. More than I could have hoped for.

I’ve not put on a lot of weight, but I’ve put on muscles. I’m almost back to 100% of where I was prior to the heart attack. By the way, I feel good – except the aches and pains from cracking my skull, shins, elbows, knees, chin, nose, back, front, bottom and top…. lol

Last night it rained pretty good. We had left the boat opened up and went up for a beer and met with Judy and Ron of Spartina, a pretty little trimaran, sitting in the harbor here. They are leaving tomorrow morning as well and heading south. We took their advice and waited through today because of the wind shifts. It did shift out of the north last evening though and is either North or North East right now (so it’s shifting still).

We’re hoping for a good run down the coast and hope to make 5-6 knots under sail… we’ll see. Wish us luck. This will probably be my last entry for a few days until we get back in close enough for cell coverage or Wifi someplace.

For those asking… Yes we’re hams. I’m N0NJY and JoAnne is KB0IRW. We do NOT have either VHF/UHF or HF up at the moment, those were not high priorities which prepping to get the boat out of Stony Point and right now it’s not too high of a priority (though it is coming up the list of things to do pretty rapidly) so we won’t have it up unless we get into trouble, then I’ll slap something together fast (it is what I used to do for a living, emergency communications and military tactical stuff….) so not to worried at the moment.

Sometime in the very near future though, both HF will be online as will the 2meter and 440 rig.

Atlantic City is our stop in point if we can’t make Cape May. Cape May is our current destination. Delaware Bay and the C&D canal is out tentative destination on the way to Chesapeake Bay. Once in Chessie we’ll look for a place we can anchor and explore a bit. We have to get in touch with our friend Phil and get him to meet us someplace.

Also, we’ll try to meet up with Bill, the broker to helped us purchase the boat (and sell for the former owner). Hopefully we can do all of this without any more giant issues. Then, from that point on, we’re aiming for Florida to go see JoAnne’s Brother, Paul. He lives in Tampa area and whether we drive across by boat in the ICW, or by car, or have them come get us is currently up in the air.

If we have to go across by car, we’ll look for a place to store the boat for a few days and maybe get some minor work accomplished. Otherwise, we’ll try to cross the ICW through Okeechobee – which we’ve had opinions about from several people, all of which are divergent… some saying ” no problems” and others saying “don’t do it”…..

Update: 2 September 2015


JoAnne and I arrived here on the 27th intending to spend a couple of days.  Those couple of days turned into almost a week now. 

However, we enjoyed our time here and meeting new friends.  Judy and her husband Stephen of S/V Bentaña were our hosts and we met with them several times.  Stephen went way, way out of his way to help me when we arrived to get the alternator repaired and a part welded, driving me all over New Jersey to find places that might have parts. 

On our way out of the docks at Stony Point, the boat proved just how slow to respond she is and I nearly bashed into the sea wall while trying to turn.  I gave us a little too much power and the boat didn’t move at first then picked up momentum.  Slowing her down wasn’t easy either.  Lots of back thrust of course.  Missed the wall, as Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 would say, “By THAT much”.

We set a course for the channel and made that in good time, though some of the markers we were looking for we never actually located. We traveled in the middle of the channel at first then moved to one side to make sure we weren’t in the way of anything. A barge passed us, then what appeared to be a crane. As we got closer I suddenly realized it was a light marker, not a crane and it was marking a huge rock formation. I was driving us on the wrote side. Doh!

After checking the chart I realized my mistake and figured out we were further along than I’d thought.

The chart plotter isn’t working and I can’t get it working as it is too old and too broke I guess.

About two miles out of Nyack, we decided to come in and pick up a mooring. The day before we’d visited there and a couple of the guys sitting there told us that we didn’t need to call in to just pick up the mooring. We did that. We knew there was a $20 per night fee and have no problem paying it, but apparently some were concerned we wouldn’t 🙂 We did later in the week.

Today is Tuesday the 2nd and we were going to leave about an hour before high tide today to head across the river to get fuel, water and a pump out of the holding tank. About 5 minutes after I started the engine, I began checking the boat and found we were over riding the mooring for some reason. I backed the engine slowly to pull us off the mooring and something didn’t sound right.

Alternator, again. This time nothing was broken but it isn’t, or wasn’t installed correctly to begin with and when I put it back in, I put it in the same way it came out. Wrong. I took it BACK out, about 30 times, and had to add washers, a longer bolt and a few new nuts and stuff to make it line up correctly. Now I know why it broke in the first place.

Of course we were about 5 minutes from high tide and it will take us 20 minutes to cross the river, and probably an hour to get water, fuel and pump out putting us on the down side of the time. Not bad except that it gets shallow over there at low tide.

Most likely we’ll try again in the morning. High tide tomorrow is later, around 1 PM so we should try to get out of here early enough to motor across, give us time to get in, out and look for engine issues.

We haven’t sailed a boat this large in almost 10 years, even though it doesn’t seem so long ago. The last time we sailed anything was four years ago, so you can imagine the concern we have. This isn’t an ocean where we won’t hit anything, or a lake we know like the backs of our hands. It’s a busy river with a lot of traffic, some rather large vessels along with a lot of speeding boats who love to leave big wakes behind themselves. We are 1.2 miles from the Tapanzee Bridge where there is massive construction, a lot of construction barges and general construction traffic taking place. We have to pass there after getting fuel. So – we’re both a bit scared to do this.

But, the truth is we know we can do it. We just have to put one foot in front of the other…. or, water beneath our keel, or something.

We have enough little issues in the boat, piddly things mostly, to keep us busy for awhile. That said, I know we invited a lot of people to visit us and we still expect visitors, but give us some time to get used to the boat, get down stream, get south, avoid hurricane season and finish cleaning up and figuring out storage problems.

Right now our vee berth has become the go-to for storage. I currently have the shore power cables, solar panels, extra sails, loose items, extra lines, ropes, buckets, clothing, extra PFDs, tools and a few other things stored in there. The forward head has become my parts locker, or at least one of them.

So…. tomorrow we will do our best to head over across the river, get some fuel and make for either the 79th Street Boat Basin, or alternatively, find our way to Gravesend to drop anchor and figure out how to sail around New Jersey to Chesapeake Bay. If I am right, the Autohelm is working (I’ll test it tomorrow anyway to be sure) then we can do an over night if we need too. The moon is still pretty full.

That’s all for now friends. Hope you’re all doing well. As always, JoAnne and I look forward to hearing from you. Write us at Adventure.Rick.JoAnne@gmail.com

Fair Winds to all!

D-Day Approaches

Folks, I first apologize for not updating this blog sooner, but the truth is I have been working steadily since the last entry on various jobs and honestly haven’t had the time, nor energy left at the end of the day to sit down and write. Plus the tablet is a royal pain in the ass to use.

Yesterday our “unlimited data” became “limited” in speed. They FAILED to tell us that after so many gigs of data they reduce the SPEED. Bastards.

But, tomorrow is Thursday, the 27th. High tide here will be at about 8:53 in the morning. I’ve prepped everything to get out of the docks in the morning. I need to top off water, disconnect the hose, electrical system and undo a few of the dock lines.

Normally, I’d have three lines, but because of the weight of the boat, the flimsy dock fingers, the fact we’re sitting at low tide in 3 feet of water, I’ve decided that the wear and tear on the lines isn’t justified so I added extra lines. We bounce pretty good when a tug or a freighter goes by a thousand yards out, and the wake comes through the sea wall…. so I’ve been worried about ripping things apart since we go in this slip.

I’ll remove the lines, all but the last couple in the morning, and I’ll set them up to slip off so JoAnne or I can do it easily and we’ll be ready to go.

Our first trip will be a relatively short trip, down river to Nyack. It’s about 15 miles or so, perhaps 3 hours away. Not far as distances or time goes, but we want to make sure we can still sail, the systems function under sail, the engine runs well, the sheets, lines, sails and all the other items work correctly,

And that we float out, not sink in the middle of the marina.

And we can still remember how to sail.

Also, there’s a hurricane that will likely, by Saturday hit the southern US. We want to not go TOO far in case we need to run back up the river and find a hidey hole for a day or two.

Sounds like Erika might head for Chesapeake…. which is precisely where we want to go. We’re not ready to try to run south and beat a hurricane coming nothing. Not yet.

Prudence….

Anyway, that’s where we stand tonight.

I’m exhausted and need rest, and so does JoAnne.

For the past few days we spent a lot of money on other things, including provisioning the boat. As long as we have water we have enough food to last about a month. Without refrigeration. Which doesn’t work.

We do have water, we have toilets, sort of and need to go do a pump out. But we have at least once bad valve in one head, which is closed off for use now until we can repair it.

We made a lot of mistakes of stuff we kept and sent home too. More on that another time.

We sent home about 50% of our belongings.

But we DID, eventually, find a spot for almost everything. I’m still messy on some things but it will work itself out.

We have NOT set up the HF rig yet.

Haven’t been able to use our printer.

Etc.

But we’re getting where the major projects are becoming smaller things now.

Soon…. we can get a few more things done.

But, one mystery to solve at a time, and each little adventure at a time.

Today, we turned in our rental car at 3pm and they brought me back to the marina. My friend, Mark showed up to visit and we had a good chat. He took some good pictures, and I’ll get him to email then so they can be posted later.

And that friends is that for the night. I’m done, tired and have to get up pretty early.

All of our best to everyone.

Rick’s Thoughts on Pirates

This is not about the sailor that hoists the Jolly Roger at the local raftup, or the Parrot Head Pirate.  This is about real, modern-day pirates.

A sailor I know (cruiser and actual “Sailor”, former Navy SEAL) posted a link to Facebook a couple of days ago and I just got around to reading about it.  The article was about a pirate attack.  Not off the coast of Aden, not East Africa, not by Somalian Pirates; but by pirates of the Caribbean.

Andy Wasinger and Loretta Reinholdt relax on the beach at Jeanette Kawas National Park shortly after being rescued from the jungle following an attack by pirates in Honduras.

Andy Wasinger and Loretta Reinholdt relax on the beach at Jeanette Kawas National Park shortly after being rescued from the jungle following an attack by pirates in Honduras. (Ciro Vladimir Navarro Umana)

A couple from Canada recently were learning to sail with a hired skipper off the coast of Honduras.  Two weeks ago, retired nurse Loretta Reinholdt, 54, and former computer programmer Andy Wasinger, 46, set off in a 17-metre hired boat with a captain, heading from Belize to the Honduran island of Roatan.  Their purpose for being there was to learn to sail.  Instead they wound up being attacked by four armed men who boarded the boat and took them hostage, threatening to kill them for money.

https://i2.wp.com/travel.state.gov/content/dam/tsg-global/country-maps/ho-map.gif

“They were yelling,” said Reinholdt. “They were demanding more money. They didn’t believe we only had that amount. And the more angry they got, the more scary it was.”

“And,” she stated, “they actually had me, pulling my hair and a knife on my throat, demanding more money from the captain.”

Wasinger added: “I knew we had to comply with the pirates and not be heroes.”

The pirates then rammed the stolen boat into the shoreline of a remote beach in Jeanette Kawas National Park.

They cut the line to the main sail and tore out the engine wiring. They took the gasoline, the radio and the drinking water, leaving Reinholdt, Wasinger and the captain stranded in the jungle.

map of pirate ordeal

A map showing where the pirates grounded the couple’s sailboat in the Escondido Bay, and where the victims left SOS signals while they hid from the pirates in the jungle. (Google Earth )

The Canadian Government has put out substantial warnings about visiting Honduras.  The United States Department of State has at least one warning listed I could locate on the site:  http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/honduras-travel-warning.html

In 2014 a Canadian from Calgary was killed for his iPhone during a night on the town, bar hopping with a couple of local women.   While this did not happen on the water, the murderers are still “pirates” after a fashion.  Every country, including the US and Canada has it’s pirates.  Pirates are real.  They have no remorse or compunction about taking something from someone else, especially if they have this “perception” the victim is weaker, has money, is Rich, is Norte Americano.  Honduras, indeed many small countries in Central America, and islands in the Caribbean do not have vast sums of money to go around, and iPhones are like gold.  Many of these countries count on tourism and believe me, many of us have spent large sums on vacations in the region in the past.

Canadian Tim Vallee was shot and killed while on vacation in Honduras, October 2014.

The last time I was personally in Honduras, I was getting shot at from bad guys across the border of Nicaragua.  I seriously have no intention of revisiting that sort of environment in my life time – at least not with any deliberate consideration of doing so.  My thinking is that Americans, Canadians – and really anyone who ventures out on a sailboat into areas which have issued warnings about them are taking their lives into the hands.

The other thinking that many cruisers have is that “The world be damned, I’ll go where I wish….” and I can respect that.  I tend to think along similar lines.  But, when there are stories of “pirates” who actually attack people, your best bet is to be forewarned.  Praemonitus, praemunitus. Forewarned is forearmed.  Knowledge of the preexistence of danger in an area gives one the ability to logically determine if they wish to place themselves into a dangerous situation.

In general, most sailors I’ve met are relatively cautious individuals.  Absolutely so, the cruisers I’ve met.  They study the weather, fix broken things, watch the skies, the tides, reef before they should and so forth.  But many pooh pooh the dangers of the human animal believing that human beings are, at the heart all good people.

In my travels, not sailing, but flying from place to place, I’ve visited 50 countries.  I’ve encountered good, bad, evil and angelic people throughout the world.  No country in particular has any more of it’s bad share of people than any other.  There are concerns for places in the Middle East these days; and though I have been there in the past I won’t visit in the future.  The Caribbean has a long, storied history of Pirates.  Some countries, in particular those of a third world nature tend at having desperate people who take desperate measures, whether to feed themselves, or their children is irrelevant to me.   But, desperation at times drives good people to do bad things.

Cruisers should be wary.  They should not advertise “wealth”.  They should not wear expensive rings, and jewelry and in fact don’t even bring it to the boat with you if you can avoid it.  Leave it to your children if you’re traveling for extended periods of time, or leave it home if you’re going back soon.  Don’t flash your phone.  Wear cheap sunglasses.  Dress down, unless visiting the Port Captain of course….  separate your money.  Keep a small amount of spending cash in a pocket, anything extra hidden or plan better and don’t bring extra at all on the islands or into town.

Do common sense things; avoid people who look like they are trying to scope you out.

Finally, if you hear of, or know of attacks inform the local authorities if you can and warn other cruisers away if you can. However, don’t pass rumors, only get the facts, dates, times and exactly what you know or saw, or experienced.  Don’t repeat others’ stories as “sea stories” because they get blown out of proportion, the truth gets lost and eventually people discount what was told because it sounds just too outlandish.

For those who absolutely believe in the good in humans I wish you luck and hope and pray your beliefs hold true.

For the rest of us, there are other measures to fend off “pirates”.

Whether we have to use those methods… or die trying, is obviously, ultimately up to each of us to decide.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-couple-survives-pirate-attack-on-sailing-trip-in-honduras-1.3027545

http://www.cruiselawnews.com/2015/04/articles/crime/canadian-couple-attacked-sailing-to-roatan/

http://bc.ctvnews.ca/b-c-man-killed-in-honduras-over-iphone-1.1003267

Update:

There was one other blog entry on this subject on 6 April 2014.  This does not only affect people who are cruising sailboats, a crew member from a large cruise ship was also killed, for his iPhone as well.

http://www.cruiselawnews.com/2014/04/articles/crime/ncl-crew-member-shot-killed-in-roatan-honduras/

Last things to do….

Somewhere along the way I got a chance to breathe and evaluate where we’re at.

Yesterday wasn’t that day though. I was finishing the kitchen counters, repainting a wall and preparing the house for going on the market.  A few days ago though, I was able to, through wheezing and coughing from a horrible cold, to examine where we’ve come in six years.

Remember we had a Five Year Plan.  In that plan there were certain things to accomplish and we did them all well before the five years was up.  That included saving money, fixing up the house, selling things (including our sailboat, dinghy, my Jeep… I hate that I sold my Jeep so soon… but oh well, it’s just “stuff”).  The plan included getting out from under debt (we did that), paid off and essentially stopped using credit cards.  We moved all our accounts to a new, investment bank, and I was able to replace our hot tub (with CASH), paid off the house (ok, I still owe a few bucks, but it’s done too soon) and set up a Home Equity Line of Credit, like a revolving charge account against the house.

We used that to get some work done.

We also used it to buy our new boat.

As of a week ago, we have our Ship’s Radio License (Call sign: WDH8090), the boat is now properly registered in Delaware, the USCG paperwork was completed and we should see that soon, we have a notarized “bill of sale” until the official paperwork arrives.

So I have only one more important thing to do.  Sell the house.  It will be going on the market late this week or early next week.  JoAnne had her 6 months check up since Chemo and she’s doing well.  I’ve got a full physical scheduled for April.  The boat storage is paid through the end of April at the marina.

I’ll be contacting the marina manager to arrange for a bottom paint job next week (to be accomplished when the weather is better there) and to have the name and hailing port repainted,,, then when we splash we’ll do a traditional renaming ceremony (no, I’m not superstitious, but you know, it can’t hurt right? :))

So, ladies and gentlemen, this is the home stretch for us. Or more accurately the “Selling the Home” stretch.

And before I close out, I just spoke to JoAnne.  She is fine with getting the house on the market by the weekend, so I’ll shoot for next Monday to give the family members a heads up (we have a son,  grand-daughterand a room-mate staying with us currently) so as not to shock them too badly, we’ll let them know tonight.  I’ll contact the broker today and get him going, give him a date and see if he wants to come back by the house and look things over or not and go for it.

…Deep Breath…. JUMP IN!

 

Chasing Arabella

Some of you know the Arabella.  At least have seen ads for her, or perhaps have even seen her riding to anchor.

In 2010 my wife and I and the crew tried racing her.  We were headed to Anegada from Leverick Bay.  She was headed elsewhere, but had to take the same course as we did for a time.

I’d say we won, but that wouldn’t be true.  But we did get compliments! 🙂

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Best part we got a lot of shots of that ship in various places throughout the islands over the time we were there!

Final Closing Statement

I have in my hands the final closing statement on the boat.

The Transworld Formosa 41 formerly called “Duna”, now being called Adventure (and will be officially renamed in a traditional ceremony) officially belongs to JoAnne and I as of today. We’re awaiting word that the former owner has had his money transmitted to him from the broker, but at this point it’s out of our hands and in the escrow account.

USCG Documentation is being done.

I’ll be sending the paperwork to Delaware to register as soon as the title arrives (tomorrow probably).

I have one more form to send back to the broker tonight (for Maryland tax peeps, cuz, you know everyone wants all their pennies).

Other than that…. We now own a boat.

Next stop, the doctor’s office on 29th for JoAnne to have a check up and we’ll be insisting on a CT scan. After that we’ll put the house on the market and cross our fingers. We figure March to April time frame (maybe sooner, as we have people interested, we have a broker and everyone is just waiting for us to pull the trigger).

The plan after that is to go across country, visit friends, get to the boat, do some of the maintenance we need to do, paint the bottom, splash the boat and find something a few hours travel away to get to and go. Oh, and maybe sell our truck…or something. Hell, I might give it to someone. lol

Of course, it’s a couple months’ of groceries worth I suppose.

That’s where we’re at today.

Fair Winds Friends!

What do you think?

Alright – I know we don’t have many followers because quite frankly we’re not actually out there sailing yet.  At least not cruising anyway.

But for those who do read here, or see this message, I’d like to ask your advice.  Before I ask the question, let me give you some back ground.

 

We have been diligently looking for the “right boat for the right voyage”, a phrase used by our instructor years ago.  He would tell us that we needed to find the right boat for the voyage we intended to make and obviously this is good advice.  We bought our first two boats in Colorado for lake sailing – one was a dinghy and the other was our Macgregor Venture 25 with a swing keel.  Both were perfect for what we wanted to do.  Both have been sold since we thought we’d have been out of here by now.

When we found the boat we believe is the right one for our next voyage – through the Caribbean, we looked for a blue water capable boat that would be safe, comfortable, allow the two of us to sail the boat without extra crew and yet, allow us to take on 2-3 more crew for extended trips (and vacations for some of them, we were obviously thinking of our children and some friends to fill those slots).

So the boat had to be able to cross oceans and still go to the Caribbean, eventually to the Mediterranean and points north (England, Ireland, Scotland, France and Spain to name a few).  We found the boat in New York state.  Not precisely where I wanted to look (I was sticking to the Gulf Coast and Florida, my wife found THE boat in New York).

Her almost immediate suggestion was, “Since the boat is in New York, it’s common sense to consider sailing to Ireland…”

My first thought was “Yeah, that’s true.”  My second thought was “Oh, we’re not ready for that”.  I am not confident enough to attempt such a thing right off.  Not without plenty of experience on the boat.  While I am confident we CAN do it safely, it’s still going to be quite a learning curve to jump off the face of the world and into the Deep Blue North Atlantic, dodging icebergs, whales and the Roaring Forties.

A friend (and an author) Matt Bracken suggested the ICW to me.  I’ve been reading up on it, but it wasn’t precisely my idea of setting sail to the Caribbean either.

However, in looking at this I am beginning to think that this would be “smooth sailing” for us to both break in the two of us to the boat, and do our shake down cruise doing short Atlantic stints instead of trying to do it all at once.

So – the question, or request for advice is simple.

If you have already “done” the ICW, what are your thoughts of going North to South along the course and what do you think about this idea?

Thanks in advance if you comment.

Rick

Survey on the boat

Last night we received the soft copy for the survey of the vessel we are considering.  As I mentioned before, I flew out last Wednesday and then spent Thursday with the surveyor going over the boat in detail.  He’d already spent a good deal of time (I’d hired him as a consultant to act as my “eyes on site” before I decided to make an offer. He reported the boat in good shape with apparently minor issues and suggested I probably would like to pursue the purchase.  He also suggested a “full survey” with me present.

As it turns out, he did almost the entire survey without me, charged me a couple of hours of his time and didn’t write the actual report.  What he really did was spend more than two hours and had all his notes and showed me everything wrong he’d found.  The survey reflects his work on both days and is thorough in detail.  Being there in person is a highly recommended experience for any potential boat purchase – in particular larger vessels like this one.  I personally can recommend being present.  You can ask questions and they will explain things to you.  The surveyor’s purpose is to evaluate the vessel and then place an appraisal on said boat.

So – as expected the images of the problems were in the report.  A basic explanation of “adequate” or “outstanding” or “critical” by each item found is there to help the boat purchaser to make their final decision.

Needless to say, my wife and I had questions of each other mostly.  None of the surveyor.  All said, there is little in the boat that needs repair, and that which does is something *I* can do easily with a few hours of work.  My time isn’t cheap at the moment, but will be soon enough.

We signed the acceptance agreement last night about 9pm EST and sent it on to the broker.

We go to close on 7 January 2015.

Anyone interested in a 5 bedroom, 2 bathroom home in Colorado Springs?  Let me know.  We’ll be going on the market in late January to early February.

 

Fixin’ to begin to commence to start….

My mother used to berate my Dad sometimes with the phrase “Imagonna” when she wanted to remind him of something he said he would do, and had not gotten around to doing it just yet.  She’d be upset with him and would be the one to remind him that he wasn’t doing whatever it was with this caustic remark of “Imagonna”.

But Mom had a way of telling us kids she was going to do something, eventually, if we asked her. She used “I’m fixing to begin to commence to start…” meaning to us, she’d get around to it when she was damned good and ready.

On Wednesday last week I spent the better part of eight or night hours actually sitting on an aircraft to head to the location of the boat I’m looking at.  On Thursday morning I sat at breakfast with the surveyor and discussed our attack plan.

By Thursday evening, I was convinced.

It was cold, negative 10 degrees below zero when I arrived and looked at the boat for the first time in person.  I’d “driven around the area” using Google Street view, but couldn’t quite see the boat from the location the Google car had turned around.  So, no sneak previews for me.  Only the images the seller had sent to me via the broker, and those on the various ads I could find.

There was ice on the deck.  The deck covered with tarps.  Did I mention it was cold?  Colder than Colorado, that’s for sure.

I had a “Wow!” moment when I first saw the boat.  It was just as beautiful, if not more-so than the images told me.  In fact, Confucius had it wrong when he said “One picture is worth a thousand words”.  The images tell a lot, but when you’re in person and all you can say is “Wow” I guess that says something too.  A lot.

My second “WOW” moment was on deck.

My last one was when I climbed down the ladder to the cabin.  That was more of a “Triple Wow!”

Basically, the survey went well, everything we checked out was good.  There was some “bad” too though, but mostly things I can deal with without having to resort to professionals.

The most important part was coming away from the survey having watched a professional examine the boat, taking notes and taking pictures and knowing his evaluation would give me the confidence to go forward.

We stand awaiting the survey report and in a short time we’ll “be fixin’ to begin to commence to start” our trip to the Islands.

More to follow….

Buying a Boat

We just were notified that the Seller of the boat we’re interest in has accepted our offer.

<faint>

Ok. I’m better now.  Time for a survey.  Surveyor is notified, will get back to me shortly with possible dates.  I’ll get back with probably flight and hotel information.

 

With luck weather won’t be horrible.  We’ll likely waive a sea trial.  Too late in the season.  Speaking to both insurance companies and the surveyor, they can do the best job on the hard anyway.  Short of ensuring the boat doesn’t sink, or masts don’t fall off in waves.  Anyway, at this point, I’ll take it. Spoke to a mechanic at the marina who worked on the boat when the boat was hauled.  Said he took care of tightening bolts, checking some hoses and clamps and then winterizing the engine and it starts and runs fine.  He was not sure of the oil changes or any of that.

I’ll personally check that stuff out.  No responses on any maintenance logs, and I doubt I will find any.

On the good side, I’ve spoken to several people who have been on this boat, seen it and even know the owner.  He gets high marks for being picky about the boat and caring for it at this point.  But thus far, I’ve seen only pictures and pictures might be worth a thousand words in the mind of Confucius, but I prefer seeing something in real life, living color.

Stay Tuned.

Decisions, decisions

A boat… any boat would be fine in a pinch.  Something to keep you above the water, dry from the wind and rain, and with a sail and rudder to let you direct your course.

In the past six years of getting ready, we’ve sailed several boats though and have come to the following conclusions:

 

1) We aren’t racers, don’t care about PHRF ratings, don’t expect to be rounding any orange buoys in an attempt to beat the bigger boat in a fleet and know, for an absolute FACT we can’t outrun a storm coming at us at 25 MPH ground speed in a boat that moves at 9 knots.

2) We love being comfortable when we sleep.  The bed has to be “just firm” and not too hard, not too soft and not saggy.

3) We like our showers.  We love our hot tub, but there’s no place on a sailboat for one.

So – those details among millions of other small details have brought us almost six years forward from the day we said, “Hey, let’s retire to a sailboat!” and then set forth on that road.

In a few days we will be making our first trip to Florida to visit her brother – and look at boats.  We’ve got a long list of boats, but the basic requirements  parameters come out this way:

 

A) Full/Modified Keel

B) Ketch rigged

C) 40ish foot in length (38-42 seems reasonable to us)

D) Two “real cabins”.  An Aft cabin and a Vee berth “cabin”.

E) Mast ought to have steps on it, or me, the ability to place steps on it….(I don’t trust me, or anyone else to handle a winch to hoist my ass up 50′ in the air, sorry!)

F) Engine should work, but it’s not the primary means of motivation for a sailboat.

G) There needs to be solar panels, a wind generator and a diesel/gas generator for extra power

H) There will be a water maker.

I) We’re both ham radio operators and I like to operate on HF bands

J) The galley will need to be workable for the “cook”/”admiral”/”First Mate” entity that will be ensuring we eat good meals

 

Yep – those first three things helped us figure that out.  We want comfy beds, and I believe that an aft cabin will be best for us.  We will have visitors who will travel with us from time to time, and they will generally be couples, thus the forward berth for them (and the ability for single individuals to have the pilot berth or something).

We need power.  Good batteries (and I’ll replace what needs replacement) and ways to charge them are in order to keep the water maker, HF radios, computers and showers.

We need a full or modified keel to keep us stable and slow bouncing in rolling anchorages – which we will try not to be in usually.  We’re not in any sort of a rush to get anywhere and just won’t go if the weather is going to be bad.  Yep, fair weather sailors when we can be – and we’ll brave the storms when we must.  Truth be told we will be watching weather windows carefully and go when we have a decent chance to have good weather, rather than risk a bad passage on a dark night in near-gale and gale conditions.  Higher than that… we’ll be snuggled up in a hurricane hole someplace… umm… snuggling….

Water makers aren’t necessary, they aren’t required, they aren’t even cheap.  You can catch rainwater, pay for it at docks and produce it from water makers.  We will put a water maker aboard the boat.  Even if it produces only small quantities of water in an hour because we want to have clean clothing and we drink a lot of water, we like showers and as long as we can generate the power required to run one, then we’ll have one. Again, they ain’t cheap (example: http://www.electromaax.com/products/watermakers/).  Then of course you HAVE to depend on power from somewhere, the engine, a generator, wind generator, solar/battery combinations etc.

So in a few days the next leg of this voyage begins with searching for the boat to suit us, to take us where we want to go, to keep us safe and to give us the freedom we want to see the things we want to see.

Until next time… Fair Winds to all….

 

Cancer

I’ve been very lax about writing here, for a lot of good reasons.  Mostly, this is our cruising blog and simply put, we’ve not been cruising.

Last week I posted why I had not put anything up in a year.  It was busy, hectic and we were pretty frazzled all the time.  Then January came around with the bad news.

On Tuesday, 12 August 2014, seven days after our anniversary she walked into the doctor’s office and saw the physician’s assistant, Candice.  Candice was happy to inform us that there are no visible signs of cancer left in her body.  The CT scan can detect no remaining tumor.  Obviously, it can’t see at the microscopic level but as far as they can tell at this time she is “cancer free”.  We both know and understand the ramifications of this; and that it can return, and if it’s going to might happen within a two year period.  The longer we get away from this time without recurrence, the better chances it won’t.

We also understand that time in this world is limited and we’re given an opportunity to see and do things inside of one lifetime.  For many that lifetime is cut short when they are young.  We’ve made it over a half century.  We plan to hang around as long as possible.

She told me moments after we were all wiping the tears of joy from our eyes, “I can go sailing!”

And you know what?  She is going.  We’re leaving to look at currently available boats in Florida in a few days, as well as visit her brother who lives in the Largo area.  We’ll let you know how things turn out.

One more appointment in October for her, then one every three months thereafter.  We’ll locate doctors on the East Coast where we can go and have her tests done, and examines performed.  After that October appointment, if all goes well, the news is still good news, we will put the house back on the market and sell it as soon as humanly possible and get ourselves to our boat.

Throughout this whole thing JoAnne has been the bravest, strongest person I have ever known.  She’s still been Mom to the kids and Grandma to the little ones, and remained my “Sweetheart” through it all.  If anyone can sail around the world and has the tenacity and fortitude to do so, it’s her.  But we’ll leave that trip for another time.  For now, the first part of our voyage through life has ended, and the second leg of the trip has finally begun.  We’re both better prepared for adversity than before I think – I hope.

Until next time….

Recreational Vehicle

The RV…. a machine that takes you from your house to a campsite, to a lake for fishing, hauls your boat or All Terrain Vehicles behind so you can tramp through the wilderness, fish or hunt.

Downsizing from a 5 bedroom home with two people to a 40′ sailboat has to have a transition, right? Or not.  Some people go right to a boat.  Some already have a boat and are set up in two households.  Some of us have had to give up our boat(s) and jeeps and other things just to downsize and collect cash to be able to GET our sailing vessel (and don’t even have it yet!)

In our case, our plan included going across country to get to the East Coast from Colorado.  We haven’t left yet.  But we did some math and figured out that it was going to cost a lot to stay in hotels, eat out a lot and visit friends.  Some friends will “put us up” for a day or two, but we can’t really “put them out”.  We don’t want to get in the way of peoples’ lives while we’re traveling and visiting on our way across the country.

So the math worked out that we should buy an older, small RV we could load our remaining belongings (clothing, radio gear, JoAnne’s special cooking tools, tools to do repairs and a few other important-to-us things, like books) instead of staying in hotels and eating out every night.  So we went on a search and found an old, 1978 Dodge Shasta with a 440 engine, some dents, dings and assorted minor hail damage, but no apparent leaks.

This week it has rained like hell, so I’ve been checking everything on the RV and sure enough… no leaks.

I’ve done some repairs like changing out one of the valve cover gaskets, repaired some damage on the house in the rear of the vehicle and have tested a few things.  Last night I dropped the vehicle off at Pikes Peak Traveland, a local RV sales and service place for a “Check the House” inspection.  They will check the entire house systems out for me (I don’t have time to do it right now, and I have no way to check for propane leaks etc).  I told them IF the house checks good to install new lights on the rear (Brakes, taillights etc) and look for a broken window (one of the side panel windows is shattered, but still in place) as well as to examine the vehicle’s tow system to see if it is sufficient to haul JoAnne’s Wrangler behind us.

We figured it would be good to have a dinghy, you know?

Our belongings have been pared down from 36 years of stuff we’ve collected, saved and stored (in some cases without even knowing what was in the boxes!) to about 12 storage tubs, one military footlocker full of books and 4 tool bags.  The next challenge after the RV is repaired and made sea—er roadworthy is to figure out how to pack all that stuff in there.

So, downsizing from a 5 bedroom house to a 22 ft RV should be quite an interesting process.  Since we’ve already downsized as much as we have we think we can do it.  But, if not, we will go through all of this stuff yet again, tub by tub and eliminate things we don’t need, or duplicates of some items.  We decided to keep most of the Amateur Radio equipment, since it works, it has certain jobs and most of it is small (except the HF rig).  The HF rig can be used on the boat, on the road, in the RV, at a camp ground or a friend’s house.    We can remain in contact with our family through HF using “Airmail” and the Winlink 2000 system of radios across the country.

Dishes have been cut down.  I think she has what she needs, but any replacements or items she wants we’ll get.  We gave all our beautiful flatware away to our daughter.  She had a few pieces.  She threw them out before we could get them for the RV.  Oh well, you cruise, you lose.  I guess we’ll hit Walmart and pick up a small, cheap set for the RV which will do double duty for the boat later.

Tools… were a problem.  I have five sets of tools.  Electronic tools (I’m an electronics technician, so this is a kind of lifeline for me, and can earn me money).    Mechanic’s tools.  Need them to work on the RV going across country, and eventually the engine of a yacht.  Metal and woodworking tools.  I can “make things”, maybe things I can sell or things I can use.  Power tools.  They are battery operated (Li-ion batteries) and aren’t quite as bulky as A/C operated power tools, but these include a drill, a Sawzall, a skill saw (small rotary blade) and an LED light.  I also have an A/C powered sander, a charger for the batteries and a dremmel tool.  Lastly we have a bag of rigging tools.  This bag has things like string, lines, ropes, shackles, a couple of sailors knives I made, some marlingspikes, bees wax and various other things.

Thus far I can’t figure out how to eliminate any of these.  Eventually, I suppose we can pare those down when we find our boat and figure out we need three wrenches, a hammer, an axe and a pocket knife to do everything.  I doubt seriously THAT day will come. haha

So in a few days when I get the RV back I’ll have the task of figuring out how badly I suck at Tetris in trying to fit all that stuff into the RV, out of the way, and in a location that keeps it over the centerline and nothing heavy over our heads….

On the bright side, we won’t have to “down size” to a 40 foot boat either.

All done… now what?

We passed a rather large milestone yesterday with the house.  The last room was painted yesterday.  My wife painted the “Great Room”, really a family room in the basement while I was putting in the last of the trim in her old office.

Basically, all I have left of the major projects to do on the house is to put in the trim in that room this evening (and I have to do some cut in on the ceiling where she missed painting it).

Other than that, we have no major projects left.  I have a few hours of work left to do on some electrical boxes, re-installation of a handrail on the stairwell, and one on the front porch.  The deck needs a coat of paint ( a couple hours perhaps) and we have to empty the rest of the “crap” we’ve not gotten rid of.  We missed our 1 May date to finish, and 1 June date.  But we likely won’t miss the 1 July date.

Last week we purchased our “Land Yacht”, a smallish Class C Shasta RV.  It’s older, kind of like us, in decent shape for it’s age and not too many miles.  It should serve our purpose; that is to keep us out of hotels along the road trip Eastward, and get us to the far side of the country in a snail-like fashion.  We expect it to cost some cash in gasoline, but we will be just fine.

Tonight I plan to finish the trim, the paint and start moving junk out of the house to the garage we can put in a garage sale.  With luck, this weekend coming up and next we ought to be able to get together a small yard sale and get rid of stuff.  We plan to get the home on the market pretty quick after that and with luck have it sold within three months.  Maybe less.  The market is doing well at the moment, and we will see.

Now, there is BAD news from our neck of the woods.  Last Monday on the way home from work I could see a small fire on the mountain in the Air Force Academy grounds from my work.  I work roughly 41 miles from the Academy.  Fortunately the fire was contained and put out rather quickly, within I think a couple hours.  It was only about 100X100 feet in diameter as I understand it.  However, it was dry, windy and no rain was forecast for Tuesday – and conditions were optimum for a forest fire to take hold.  And it did.

On Tuesday afternoon at 1435 leaving work I saw smoke to the NW, perhaps 15-20 miles away.  That fire had apparently just started, and it mushroomed very quickly. By the time I arrive home, 30 minutes later, the smoke plume was up to 25,000 feet in height and stretching 35 miles to the ENE.  Radar was showing it was growing quickly.  I could see the smoke from my home (about 8 miles south of the actual fire) and it was being reported as “dangerous”.  They were rapidly evacuating people from the area and the fire grew rapidly.

The fire is now known as “the Black Forest Fire” and has sadly claimed two lives.  483 homes, 14,200 acres have been destroyed.  Numerous outbuildings are not counted in that count but for every home there was likely at least one outbuilding in that area, whether sheds, barns or garages.  Thousands of people have been displaced, hundreds of domesticated animals including goats, horses, dogs and cats had to be saved.  Currently the Sheriff says there is no obvious evidence of foul play, but the incident IS being investigated as a crime scene (probably because two persons were killed, over run by a fire storm it appears at this point) and they are leaving no stone unturned to find the cause.  The last I heard for certain was neither the Air Force Academy fire OR the Black Forest Fire were caused by lightning (confirmed by the National Weather Service, no lightning within 72 hours of the Black Forest fire’s start, which happens to encompass the AFA fire’s time line.)

This fire came just about two weeks short of one year from the Waldo Canyon Fire on the slope to my west.  This fire was north of me.  Both fires were with 8 miles distance of my own house (neither moved in the direction of my house though, my family was not in danger either time and most of my children were safe at their homes as well).

The Waldo Canyon fire was started by a human.  At this point it appears that so was the Black Forest Fire.  No suspects or persons of interest have been found yet.

At this point though, I think it is time to get my home on the market.  I need to sell it, and I’m sure someone probably needs a house to live in.

It’s a sad world we live in if those fires were started on purpose.