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May 2007

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Monday, May 21st

Our firat weekend out for the year

Itís Monday, a little early for me to update from the weekend but here goes.

It was forecast to be a beautiful weekend with the only disadvantage being a west wind on Sunday. A west wind means that we will have to tack back up the river to get home. Not a bad thing to do since that can often give you a fun ride. There were a couple of things I wanted to check on this weekend. I wanted to check the operation of the new windlass under actual use instead of just pulling chain off the dock. I am also trying out an anchor I got from the neighbor. It is a 45 pound Delta, just a little heavier then what we had. Our old one was showing itís age and wasnít the best to use anymore, not to mention a couple of bends that are not suppose to be there. The new one has a reputation for not setting and if it works for us it can be ours at no cost. Saturday afternoon we sailed down to South River to spend the night, our first night out for the year. We dropped the hook, let out a fair amount of chain and it set. It bit down and held fast on the first try, pretty impressive for an anchor that reputedly wouldnít set. We backed down on it a couple of times to see if it would release but it held fast. We settled in with a couple of cocktails, dinner and a quiet night at anchor.

Sunday morning was as laid back as possible, by mid-morning I was taking a nap. It felt good to get caught up on sleep. It was finally time to get moving after everyone else in the anchorage had left. This was going to be the chance to check the operation of the windlass. All we needed was to start the engine. The engine just barely turned over and there was not a chance that it was going to fire up. Of course that didnít stop me from running the battery down even more trying. I started trying to find the problem and it ended up that the batteries had enough power to run everything else but under load from the starter the voltage dropped too low to crank it. After going over our options we decided to pull anchor by hand, so much for testing the windlass, and sail off the anchorage. It took a bit of time to pull all the chain in and break the anchor loose but soon we were under way. We spent the rest of the afternoon tacking up the river and when we got close to our home creek we gave TowBoat US a call for either a tow or a jumpstart. I learned my lesson in Charleston and but unlimited towing coverage. Once we were close to the creek entrance we hove to and waited for the tow boat to arrive. Once he was alongside we jumped the battery and the engine fired right up. It was a short trip back to the marina and we were tied up with no more problems. The previous owner warned me that I only had one to two years left on the batteries and this is the start of year three so it should be no surprise that they are not holding their charge. With the three day weekend coming up I need to get them replaced before Friday. We havenít made plans for the weekend yet. It will depend on the weather where we go, but so far it is looking like a good forecast.

Dale on 05.21.07 @ 09:37 PM EDT [link]

Sunday, May 20th

A tough weekend - continued

We just picked up my new (to me) Miata in northern Minnesota on Saturday. We drove back to Duluth where my Mother turned right to go back home and we turned left to make a stop in Bayfield WI on our way home. But first it was noon and time for a stop at McDonalds. We made the detour to Bayfield to see friends at our old marina. This time of year we would be with them working on the boat and getting ready to go back into the water. As usual the regular group were there working on projects. After a short visit it was time to hit the road. It was 4:00 PM and we were in Ashland WI getting our first tank of gas and starting south. Everything went well until Madison WI where we gassed up again and had problems getting back on the freeway. After several side trips and circling around we were back on the interstate and heading to Chicago. I didnít mention that the only map we had was a ten year old map of Wisconsin. I left the maquest directions at home. We circled around Chicago at midnight and headed south on I65. Morning found us in Indianapolis where there is major road construction going on. After several detours we ended up on I70 going towards Dayton OH, not the right direction. It was a combination of a lot of coffee while Cori slept and poor signage by the highway department. At this point we stopped for more coffee, bought an atlas and Cori took over driving after sleeping all night. At Louisville KY we turned on to I64 and headed east.

The trip through the West Virginia Mountains was the best part with speeding up and down the hills and around the curves, just what this little car was made for. Once into Virginia we stopped for more caffeine and decided to take the top down and enjoy the ride. We had to stop at the Raleigh airport to pick up Coriís car that we had left on Friday. From there we circled around Raleigh and headed home. We got back to the marina around 9:00 PM Sunday. We had been driving for about 32 hours and had put on over 1600 miles. Of course, Monday I had to get out the bucket and hose to clean the bugs off after the trip.

My biggest concern was having a breakdown, but that never happened. The little car did an outstanding job and got around 30 miles to the gallon for the trip running 70 to 80 mph most of the way. My next concern was how comfortable it would be for a long trip. I didnít realize how comfortable the seats were. I half expected to feel like my butt was dead or being dragged down the road after several hours. The engineers did an outstanding job of designing a comfortable seat. Unfortunately with the design of the car it is not possible to recline the seat so sleeping is not very comfortable, but that is not what it was designed for.

Now it is fun to go to work in the morning and I look forward to dropping the top and heading home in the afternoon and even making up some errands I just ďhaveĒ to run. Watch for photos coming to the gallery pages.

Dale on 05.20.07 @ 10:07 PM EDT [link]

Thursday, May 17th

A tough weekend

It was a tough weekend. We are both getting over having colds. I got it first, this is one of the benefits of working in an elementary school, and then gave it to Cori. We were both hacking and stuffed up on Friday when we headed off to the airport. The only healthy one was Ben, our boat bear, who was going to make the trip with us. We had booked a 5:00 PM flight from Raleigh NC to Duluth MN, scheduled to arrive about 10:00 PM central. We made it on time to the airport without any problems, got our boarding passes and made it through security without any problems. We had to book First Class seats in order to get the connection to Duluth so it was a comfortable flight. Ben likes First Class better then Coach, but donít we all. When we checked for our connecting flight in Minneapolis we found that it had been canceled. There was another flight scheduled to leave around 10:00 so we headed off to that gate to get our new boarding passes. While getting the passes we got to watch a passenger that had been pulled off a flight get into real deep trouble. He had been pulled off his flight to Kansas City for being intoxicated. They were trying to book him to fly on Saturday when he would be in better condition to travel. He got upset about being taken off his flight and not being allowed to continue. He got louder, swore at them more and then peeled off his shirt inviting the agent to come out from behind the counter and get his ass kicked, all the while swearing and calling them every name in book. When the agent called the police he decided to get out of there. Unfortunately there are not many places to disappear at an airport and he was picked up shortly. When I talked to the agent about getting our seating straightened out he said that, yes, he had been arrested and would be spending the weekend in jail before seeing a judge on Monday. He also would also be banned from any Northwest flights from now on. If you are traveling through Minneapolis, Northwest is pretty much your only option. I am sure he had more problems in the morning then just a hangover.

Back to our travels. By being bumped to a different flight we lost our First Class seats, or at least the computer thought that way. It took a little time to convince it otherwise and we were back in First for the second leg of the trip. Ben behaved himself and got a set of wings from the Flight Attendant and when boarding the plane to Duluth he stopped in the cockpit to meet the pilots and got his picture taken wearing the Captains hat. Photos will be posted later. We arrived in Duluth and were met by my mother (Daleís) who had been expecting us on the earlier flight. No one had told her it had been canceled when she got to the airport. We were late and the only problem was that I had left all my papers on the boat and did not remember where we were staying. I took a guess but was wrong but used their computer to get the information.

Saturday we were up early, had breakfast and started the drive up to Lutzen MN in my motherís car. Lutzen is a very small town about 90 miles north of Duluth with several very nice resorts, an outstanding golf coarse and skiing in season. We were going there to pick up the car I had bought on eBay. Ever since they came out I had wanted a Mazda MX-5 Miata. After handing over a check and signing the papers I was now the proud owner of a Pearl White 1994 Mazda Miata.

To keep this from getting to long I will stop here and add another entry about the trip back.

Dale on 05.17.07 @ 03:48 PM EDT [link]

Thursday, May 10th

An interesting week

We just had an interesting week. Saturday was projects again. Our original plans were to head out for a sail on Saturday and spend the night at anchor. Checking the forecast we canceled those plans. Instead, I managed to finish installing the windlass. As I have mentioned before, our windlass stopped working last year and I was planning on replacing it this year. I got lucky and found an almost exact replacement on eBay. Modifying the mount I was able to install it and get it wired. I will be adding pictures and a description of the project to the Projects page later.

Sunday the wind began to blow. The forecast had called for a large high pressure cell situated north of us with a powerful low pressure cell offshore. This caused a north then a northeast wind and it was forecast to last for several days. When we get an extended northeast wind it develops a wind tide pushing the water in the sound south and back up the rivers and creeks. The winds were forecast to blow 30 Ė 40 knots with higher gusts until Tuesday afternoon. And blow it did. By late Sunday afternoon the water had risen to just below the dock and the waves were rocking the boats. By now it was hard to get on and off the boat. The water was expected to continue rising as the storm progressed. We opted to bail out and head into town rather then try to stay on board and have problems getting off the boat in the morning. The forecast proved correct, it didnít stop blowing until Tuesday. The water never did make it over the dock but it came close and the boats were rocked by the waves. One boat broke a dock line but the dock master was on it quickly with no damages. As for us, we relaxed at the Hampton Inn, never having to worry about getting bounced out of bed. Tuesday we moved back aboard as the water was dropping. Wednesday the rain moved in as the low started to move more to the south. At this point it was upgraded to a sub-topical storm and named Andrea, our first named storm and the season hasnít started yet. A sub-tropical storm is similar to a tropical storm except there are some temperature differences in the eye compared to a tropical.

Our plans for this weekend are to catch a flight to northern Minnesota on Friday and try to be back for work on Monday morning.

Dale on 05.10.07 @ 08:30 PM EDT [link]