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June 2010

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Wednesday, June 30th

More from Annapolis

Tuesday June 29th:
Naval Museum part 2. We made another trip to the Naval Museum so I could finish the first floor and see the second floor. Second floor is the models. There is no way to describe them. They date from the 1600 and 1700's when they would make a model of a ship as it was being built and present it to someone of importance. Sort of old style lobbying for more ship building business. The Museum has one of the best collection and it shows the changes in ship design and building over several centuries. After that we went to an English Pub that one of the locals suggested and had a late lunch of fish and chips. This place used actual Atlantic Cod instead of the other fish varieties that I have seen in some other establishments. If you are going to eat fish and chips you need to be eating the real thing. After that we headed back to the boat and just took it easy the rest of the day. The weather has changed, the breeze is more from the north and it cooled into the upper 60's last night. I actually had to get up and add a blanket during the night.

Wednesday June 30:
This morning we had no plans, the weather was pleasant so we decided it was time to take care of a couple of projects. Cori had to log in to work for a while also. We had decided it was time to launch the dinghy. We brought it all this way, we might as well use it. I found that one person can raise it over the lifelines and into the water if they are methodical. Then it was time to mount the outboard. I had done this by myself once before and it worked as well this time also. I am still convinced one of these times I will drop it overboard, but I have a line attached to it so we should be able to recover it. Once the dinghy was ready I used it to replace the stern light that had burned out on the way here. Just a small thing but important. It was time to go ashore. We packed up shower stuff, empty water jugs and the laundry and motored in. One of the features of the dinghy dock is that ducks like to hang out there because people feed them and think it is cute that they climb on the dinghy's. They don't notice what they leave behind. Once everything was done we stopped at a deli that the Harbor Master suggested and then brought our stuff back to the boat and went for a dinghy ride. We traveled as far up Spa Creek as we could looking at boats then went around the point to Back Creek. I thought there were a lot of boats in Spa Creek, there are about three times as many in Back Creek. After the ride I was sitting in the cockpit reading when we noticed a 40 foot sailboat sailing through the mooring field. When we got back to the boat I had noticed some of the race boats going out for their Wednesday evening race. Well it seems that the harbor including the mooring field is just up from the finish line. We had over a hundred boats from 15' to 40' sailing and tacking through the moorings and harbor traffic. Cori took a lot of pictures. I couldn't believe no-one ran into anything or anybody.

I contacted Enterprise to rent a car tomorrow. I had hoped that there would be a train that we could take for the day but there is nothing unless we want to take a bus to Baltimore airport first. Tomorrow is a trip to DC. Last time we were there one of the museums I wanted to go to was closed. Cori checked the schedule and tomorrow is one of the days they will be open late. Maybe I will be done before closing this time.
Dale on 06.30.10 @ 09:28 PM EDT [link]

Monday, June 28th

Naval Academy Day

Monday June 28th:
I managed to run out of time in another museum today. We were up this morning with plans to go to the Naval Academy when it opened for visitors at 9:00. Since the forecast was for rain in the afternoon we have not taken the dinghy off the deck yet, planning on using it as rain shield with an open hatch under it, We called the water taxi to find out they do not start running until 9:30. The driver showed up a little early and we were dropped off on shore with the first stop at Starbucks. Cori has been going through caffeine withdrawal on this trip. We went to the Academy information center and joined the 10:00 guided tour. Very interesting. The Academy is a very impressive place. At the end of the hour and a half tour we had lunch and then headed to the Naval Museum. There are two floors, the first is the history of the Navy and the second is supposed to be one of the most impressive displays of ship models in the world. I say “supposed to be” since I never made it up there. After a wrong turn that took me from WWII to the space program I found the Korean War time-frame when they announced it was 5:00 and they were closing. Maybe I'll be back tomorrow.

After leaving the Academy we walked over to the State House. This is the oldest State Capital Building still in use. At one time it served as the Capital for the newly formed United States. Of course it was closed but the neighborhood is very old and interesting. Something I would like to be some day. :o) We stopped for ice cream and walked back to the harbor for our taxi ride out. The driver told up about the storm we missed. A lot of rain and wind in a short time. We had closed up the boat except for the open hatch under the dinghy which is raised up by a halyard to let air under it like a wind scoop. There was enough wind that it drove some rain in but just the floor got a little wet. This shows that we can learn from our mistakes. We spent the evening in the cockpit reading and enjoying the sunset and watching boat traffic.
That's it for today.
Dale on 06.28.10 @ 09:23 PM EDT [link]

Sunday, June 27th

Arrival in Annapolis

Saturday June 26th:
Spent the day in the Solomon's Island area. Cori's folks picked us up in the morning and after breakfast they ran us around on a few errands and then spent part of the afternoon at the museum. As usual I got kicked out before I got to see everything. This time because they were closing early for a concert on the grounds in the evening. After that we went with her folks to check into their hotel and get on the wireless to try to solve some computer and phone problems. I still cannot get my new Droid Incredible to work as a modem (tethered). Cori's works fine, mine is just a little different. While there her Brother Steve called and since he was only about 90 minutes away was coming to join us. So we got to spend the day with her family. She is not sure when she will be back to South Dakota so this was a nice visit. In the evening we had to get the boat ready for the next jump. We had to store stuff that had been taken out and hoist the dinghy on deck and get it tied down again. Then we needed to plan out the day, how early to start, how far to go, where to stop, etc. Then it was time to try to sleep. Remember, we are on a mooring and don't have air conditioning. It is still in the 90's out here.

Sunday June 27th.
Up at 6:30 to finish getting ready and we were off and running by 7:30. The forecast was again for 5-10 from the southwest but we hoped to be able to sail today. Cori pulled out the spinnaker and the mizzen stay-sail in case they were right. We headed up the Bay with almost no wind. It was so hot the sweat just poured off us. It looked like another motoring day. Again we were motoring the same speed as the wind so there was no cooling breeze. Just after we did our noon spot report the wind started to build from the south. When we added our speed and the apparent wind and it got close to 10 knots it looked like we maybe could sail. At least we had a cooling breeze. We put out the spinnaker and were managing 3.5 knots so at least we were moving. We added the mizzen stay-sail to help out a little. The wind kept building until we were sailing 4-6 knots and showing 8-9 knots apparent. Not too shabby. We continued on and as we got closer to Annapolis we were meeting up with a lot of others out sailing, just not that many going downwind. We finally made it to Annapolis and had to drop the sails to head in. The stay-sail comes down easy but the spinnaker is not as easy. Once down it was time to try to navigate our way in. With a lot of confusion about the markers and a lot of boats going every-which way, some sailing others motoring and some at anchor we made it into the harbor. You have to respect the old-time sailors that did it all without a motor. We had decided to tie to a mooring again since I hope for some day trips and don't want to have to worry about the boat while at anchor while we are away. This also gives us access to shore facilities again. I do like a nice long shower, something you can't do on a boat. Of source we left the boat open to cool off while we went to shore to clean up and eat. What are the chances it will cloud up and rain before we get back? It turns out the chances were real good. As we left the restaurant it started to rain. We haven't unloaded the dinghy yet and rode the water taxi in so we hurried to the taxi dock. No taxi. We called and they said it would be 5-10 minutes. It was raining harder. When the taxi arrived we headed back right away, just as it stopped raining. Turns out is was a short shower related to another storm that was passing north of us. Luckily nothing important got wet. Unfortunately the boys, Ben and Bruiser (our bears) were left out under the dodger. Luckily they only got a little wet since they were partially covered. Other wise the boat would smell like wet bear. :o)

Tomorrow we will start our sightseeing with a trip to the Naval Academy, and finding out the best ways to get to Washington DC and Baltimore. We are planning on being here until the 5th. We want to see the fireworks. They tell us the display in the harbor is real nice but I may try to go to DC to see them there. We will decide later.

So now it is time to connect Cori's phone to the computer and upload this. Eventually I will get mine figured out before I get mad and throw it overboard.
Dale on 06.27.10 @ 09:55 PM EDT [link]

Friday, June 25th

Thursday and Friday

Thursday June 24th:
We took on fuel and left Deltaville. The weather had not improved, it was still forecast to be in the upper 90's, actually hotter then it was on Wednesday, but it felt better out on the water. We didn't have as far to go this day so we did a lot more sailing rather then worry about when we would get there and feel rushed. The last thing you need on a sailboat is to feel rushed. Usually only problems happen fast on a sailboat. Like going aground when leaving a strange harbor. Believe it or not I was thankful for that power boat that sent me that big wake since it was the little extra bounce that got me off the sandbar and back into the deeper water of the channel. Everything else takes time, sometimes lot's of time. The wind was still from the southwest so instead of trying to sail down wind we chose to make a couple of long tacks. Long they were, there is a lot of open water in this section of the Bay. We sailed east for about six miles and then tacked to the northwest taking up in one long tack to the entrance of the Great Wiccomico River. They have strange names for things around here. Our destination was Reedville but talking with some locals and reading up and studying the chart we chose instead to anchor for the night in Mill Creek, just south of Reedville. The biggest thing happening in Reedville is the Menhaden processing plant. Menhaden is an oily fish used for protein in feed products and fish oil. The process is very odoriferous (smells bad) and if the wind is right it makes for an unpleasant night. We opted for Mill Creek and it was the right choice. It was a nice secluded anchorage with a few homes along the bank but mostly trees blocking your view of some farmland. Very quiet and restful. The temperatures dropped a bit when a major storm passed through the area but all we got was about five minutes of unexpected wind and a light show from the lightning as the storm passed up by. I guess it caused problems in a big area north and east of us as it passed through. As the sun set we treated ourselves to another shower on deck then sat out enjoying the breeze and watched the moon rise.

Friday June 25th:
We got up early, for me. And readied the boat to make our next stop, the Solomon Islands. I know the Solomons are somewhere in the Pacific, therefor we needed to get an early start. Actually the Solomon's Island is a small town with lots of boats and lots of marinas just north of where the Potomac River feeds into the Bay. Due to the front that went through the area the night before the temperature dropped into the middle 80's and was actually pleasant. The wind cause a problem due to the direction it was coming from and the velocity. The forecast (best guess) was for 5-10 knots from the northwest or the north. We decided we would do like we did the previous day and make some long tacks to work our way up the bay. Instead of being from the northwest it was from the northeast, still workable, and the velocity was 15-20 knots. Not a comfortable ride beating into it all day. We started out with a full head-sail, one reef in the main and a full mizzen and were riding it well enough with the rail close to the water. We should have set two reef in the main making it even smaller. We sailed on an eastern tack well across the Bay at a screaming 6.5 knots but when we had to tack back we could not get a good angle on the wind or build up any speed. We were just going to be tacking back and forth all day not getting anywhere. We decided to bite the bullet and since we had a nice full tank of diesel we would motor sail until the wind dropped or it shifted directions. In the late morning it dropped down to around 12 knots or less but the only shift was to move right on the nose. So much for a fun sail up the bay but motoring will let you go in a straight line. We planned to anchor for the next two nights and studied the charts and the guides to give us a chance at a good spot to drop the anchor, we do not want to travel from marina to marina. That is far too expensive and you miss some of the prettiest anchorages.. When we arrived we started looking it all over and everything was closer and smaller then I am used to. I am used to having a lot of room between boats. Something I am going to have to work on. The guide mentioned that one marina had a small mooring field and as I looked at how close everyone was anchored being hooked to a mooring ball looked real good. We may be close but I know I wont be bumping into anyone during the night. Sometimes it is worth it to get a good nights sleep. For the price of the mooring we get the use of the dinghy dock to go ashore, the swimming pool, the showers, and free use of their bicycles, and the dinghy dock is so close we don't need the outboard. We used the bikes to check out the town and go to West Marine to check on a part we ordered to have delivered here. Then it was back to the boat for a change of clothes and go ashore for showers, real ones with hot water and lots of it. The reason for the clean up is that Cori's Mom and Dad are in the area and are going visit while we are here so we met up with them for dinner then back to the boat for a good nights rest since the temperature is in the mid 70's for the night. One disadvantage of not being in a marina is no air conditioning.
Dale on 06.25.10 @ 11:53 PM EDT [link]

Wednesday, June 23rd

Easy Day in Deltaville VA

Took it easy today and stayed put in the marina. The temps were forecast to reach 100 and tomorrow is going to be the same. It really only reach around 96, so they were off a little. We got up this morning and after coffee and donuts in the Captains Lounge it was time to get some work done. I scrubbed the deck and got all of the dirt and salt off while Cori jumped into the water and cleaned the boot stripe. Why anyone would build a boat with a six inch white line just above the water line is beyond me. It looks pretty, until it is in the water for a while and starts to get dirty and stuff grows on it. It looks much better now but every once in a while she has to get in and scrub it clean. Today was one of those days. Did I mention there are jellyfish in the water. Jellyfish sting, so I am told :o)

We borrowed the courtesy car and with another couple headed into town for lunch and to check things out. In one cutesy shop, I would never go into, we found a consignment room with a variety of boating stuff. I looked at an alternator, then when we got to West Marine I looked it up in their catalog. A Balmar high output alternator goes for over $600 new. We called the shop and the owner agreed on $150. Score a spare alternator in a fancy boutique. Who would have thought?

We spent the rest of the afternoon planning our nest two days of sailing. We are planning on sailing, if the winds cooperate, up the Bay and stopping in the Reedville area. We are planning on anchoring out so I don't expect to post an update but watch for the spot report.

For the evening Cori fixed one of the fish we caught, a nice Mahi-Mahi with pasta in a homemade pesto sauce. Ah, the trials of living on a boat.

While at West Marine Cori ran into one of their salesmen and got to talk shop for a while. Maybe we can write this off as a business trip?
Dale on 06.23.10 @ 09:48 PM EDT [link]

Phase One - Havelock NC to Deltaville VA

Summer is here and our long awaited sailing trip has begun. We started planning last winter when we put together an eight week plan going up to Maine and back. Those plans had to be dropped. Oh well, it doesn't hurt to dream. We decided on a return trip to the Chesapeake since our last trip here was only two weeks and we got a delayed start with some repairs, after being towed back to port. But that is old history. Time to try again. Last time we only got to see a little of the east shore of the bay and want to see more of the west shore.

Sunday arrived and we headed out, this year we realized we did not have to start so early in the day since we needed to co-ordinate our arrival in the Bay during daylight hours. We did the standard motor down the ICW to Morehead City and raised the sails as we approached Beaufort Inlet. The forecast was for 15-20 knot winds from the SW and that is what we got, along with the 3-4 foot seas we had to beat into. We made real good time getting to what is called the “Knuckle” but is was a rough and wild ride. Next time I am going to remember to rig the jack lines while still in calm water. Jack lines are the two straps that run the length of the boat on each side that we tether onto when we leave the cockpit when at sea. This way if you fall overboard you are still attached to the boat. We have a rule on the boat that at night you have to wear a life jacket and tether on even if you are just sitting in the cockpit. The rest of the time we are a little more lax, depending on the condition of the sea. Anyway, after crawling to the bow twice to rig the lines I was completely soaked. Not how I planned on starting out.

Once around the “Knuckle”, which is the point we know we are safely around Cape Lookout Shoals and we turn NW. It is odd that we have to go so far south to start going north but the shallow area runs a long way out. Unfortunate if you are going NE with a wind from the SW it will be directly on your stern. We tried to continue sailing but finally had to give up when the wind died a little and we couldn't keep the sails from flapping hard as the waves were washing under us rocking the boat like a hobby horse and collapsing the sails. At this point we started motoring and motored through the night.

Monday morning dawned and with it a slight wind shift that got us sailing again. This lasted into the afternoon when it dropped almost completely and it was back to motoring. Cori did catch a few fish this time but we never saw any dolphins, a highlight of the last trip. By early evening it had calmed so much that we went up to the bow and used the wash down hose to take a shower and cool off. The rest of Monday and Tuesday morning the wind picked up a little but still from the S-SW which put it right behind us, the slowest point of sail. Sailing downwind cancels out half of the windspeed, like when you ride a bike with the wind and it feels calm when you match it's speed, and if you are only dealing with 5-10 knots it becomes a slow and hot sail, so we chose to continue to motor.

Entering into Chesapeake Bay is interesting with all of the shipping traffic and a variety of boats going every which way, all coming together at the two channels over the tunnels. If you have never been there to see and drive it, they have built a bridge across the entrance to the Bay, but in two locations they drop underwater into tunnels to allow shipping traffic to pass overhead. A real marvel of engineering. Upon entering the Bay we encountered an out-bound container ship. I chose to change course and let him pass before continuing but he had a better plan and called me to tell me to cross his bow and continue on up the Bay. Nice of him, but I prefer not to be in front of a big steel ship. Basic rules of the road: steel beats fiberglass every time. I was continuing to my next way point when Harbor Control called me and wanted to make a couple of suggestions to keep me out of trouble: mainly to stay out of the main channel and give everyone a wide berth. I reassured him that was my plan, I would just follow the markers but stay out of the main channel until I got to the tunnel. This way the big ships that travel faster then me can continue on their way without worrying what I am going to do. Remember: steel wins over fiberglass every time.

Since it was still early, only around 9:00 AM on Tuesday, we chose to continue up the Bay and set Deltaville VA as our first stopping point. We decided to stay at a marina instead of anchoring out since it would give us a chance to clean up, straighten out the boat, rinse off some of the salt that was deposited everywhere and make plans for the next phase of the trip.

More later.

Oh, you are probably wondering why we went outside instead of taking the ICW route. Mostly because we can. We have a boat that is capable of blue water sailing and we enjoy the challenge of going offshore. The ICW is alright, but it is a long motorboat ride with no travel after dark. Depending on the conditions, we have more opportunity to sail when going outside then riding the “ditch.” It is also a good learning experience. As we travel with our boat we will be spending time in open water and this gives us an opportunity to learn. Also there is nothing like sailing out of sight of land and feeling the motion of the boat in harmony with the waves and wind, then throw in a moonlit night and it is an awesome way to travel.
Dale on 06.23.10 @ 11:22 AM EDT [link]

Tuesday, June 22nd

Vacation Updates

Tomorrow I will be adding some updates on our trip to the Chesapeake. I'll try to update as often as I get internet access.
Dale on 06.22.10 @ 09:20 PM EDT [link]