Thursday, August 9, 2018

Typical Sherer Family Vacation

We’re almost through our Ocean City, NJ vacation and the tribe is getting restless. With Four grandkids, four parents and us, a fight broke out! Caroline seemed unconcerned but Mike is holding off the attackers!




Wednesday, August 1, 2018

2018 ICW Cruising Guide by Bob423 Facebook Group

I just started a Facebook group for easier give and take on the 2018 ICW Cruising Guide. It has the creative name of 2018 ICW Cruising Guide by Bob423. Sorry about that, I'll think of something better later, maybe. It will also address questions on the use of Aqua Map as well as any and all questions about the use of the Guide. This is experimental, we'll see how it goes and if there's a demand or not.

I've been down this path a couple of times. I started and own the Beneteau 423 Yahoo Group that now has 1000 members worldwide and found that I had to make it private - meaning that new members had to be approved by me. Whenever I left it open for anyone to join, we would invariably get someone coming in, joining and then posting a dozen ads for various forms of "enhancements." With that background, that's why I have to approve new members. Furthermore, they have to answer a question on why they want to join, again to judge whether they are bots or just want to post ads.

After that preamble, it could be a fun group and a place to ask questions and exchange ideas. We'll see if it works. It's now open for business at 2018 ICW Cruising Guide by Bob423.

By the way, thanks for buying the book, it's doing well.

On an unrelated topic, I completed compiling the links that are in the book and they can be accessed in the ICW Tips section of this blog. They are arranged by book page number for easy reference. Of course, if you bought the book, you can always download the eBook for free. The list of links is a backup to that.

Monday, July 30, 2018

2018 ICW Cruising Guide now available on Amazon.com


Click on picture for link

Four years ago I saw a need for a guidebook that addressed how to best navigate the ever-changing shallows of the ICW. There was plenty of coverage of marinas, anchorages and such by books like the Waterway Guide series but very little to address the details of how to navigate the always changing shallows of the ICW. Over the years I accumulated routes for deeper water and wrote my first book in 2015.

Every year the book has grown and the 2018 edition is a major rewrite. The major topics that are new include:
  • Safe passage routes change every year through the shallows of the ICW. The guide provides a full-page chart for each hazard in color with my route in the spring of 2018 shown as a red dotted line. You will know my exact path in finding the depths I report in my guide.
  • All charts have been redone using Aqua Map’s excellent charting database available through either their iPad or Android app. Their charts are updated four times a year, a must on the ICW.
  • Bridge clearances have been tabulated and shown in graphical format. On my 2018 spring trip northward, I took a photo of the height boards on every fixed bridge. I noted the day and time I passed under each bridge which I used to compute the clearance at high tide and also at 0.0 tide. The results surprised me on how many bridges had less than 65 ft of clearance, even at low tide!
  • The list of best navigation apps has changed dramatically from 2017. The new player on the block, Aqua Map, has leaped over competitors in many features (but I still use Navionics too). A complete comparison of can be found at 14 iPad Navigation Apps Evaluated
  • More GPX routes have been added for downloading. With Aqua Map, the download of a GPX route could not be simpler from a link provided on the Waterway Guide Alert icon for a shallow area or from the list of GPX Routes on this blog site. GPX downloading instructions can be found at GPX File Use.
  • I Joined Waterway Guide as an On-The-Water Editor, I’ve updated many Waterway Guide Alert icons for current information as referenced in the guide and will be maintaining them through the year to reflect current conditions at an Alert location.  
  • All sections have been updated. Products evolve and what was best last year may not be best this year. However, not everything changes and much of the “getting ready” steps for setting out remain familiar from last year.
  • The eBook is free when you purchase the paper version of the guide. Amazon will recognize if you bought the paper version and will allow the eBook to be downloaded at no charge. All the links you see underlined in blue are active links in the eBook. It’s a great time saver in looking up my recommendations on apps, marinas, restaurants, and electronics.  
The compilation of bridge clearances was a major new effort consuming many hours. Here's an excerpt from the book:


Bridge Heights

 All fixed bridges on the ICW are supposed to give 65 ft of clearance at high tide except for the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami at 56 ft. Unfortunately, “supposed to” does not conform to reality on the ICW. In the spring of 2018, I took photos of every fixed height bridge from Ft Lauderdale to Hampton, VA. I noted the date and time of the photo and arranged them in a spreadsheet. I then looked up the tide at the time and computed the bridge clearance at the highest tide of the day per the nearest tide station and for a 0.0 tide. Unfortunately, there were 15 bridges that did not have height boards. Obviously, they were not included.


As an example of one with height boards, let’s look at the International Speedway Blvd in Daytona at MM 830.1. I came through the bridge on 4/25/2018 at 7:29:21 EDT and took this photo of the height board. I figured the clearance to be 62.8 ft. I then found the nearest tide station, Ormond Beach in the Halifax River which is 4.6 Nm north. The nearest tide station to the south is Ponce Inlet on the Halifax River at 9.2 Nm away. I chose to use the closest tide station, 4.6 Nm north.








Using Aqua Map’s excellent tide charts, I changed the date to 4/25/2018 and moved the slider to 7:30 am and found the predicted tide to be 0.6 ft. I also noted the high tide of the day to be 0.7 ft from the text below the graph. Now I had enough data to compute the clearance at low tide and the clearance at high tide:

Clearance at Low Tide = 62.8 ft + 0.6 ft = 63.4 ft
Clearance at High Tide = 63.4 ft - 0.7 ft = 62.7 ft

There are many examples in the book with a tabulation of all such bridges and a graph showing heights for each bridge at low and high tides. 

Compiling this data was rather exciting while going under bridges at all hours and always being ready to snap a photo. Aqua Map has the handy feature of giving a popup of date and time at a point on a track just by tapping that location. I can tap the track by a bridge and compare that date and time to the time stamp from my camera to double check that I have the right photo matched to the right bridge. I thought all this data might be useful to some cruisers along the ICW.

So there you have it, a labor of love over the past two months. I hope you enjoy the book and if you find it useful, please leave a review at Amazon.com. Links:


Monday, July 16, 2018

Home at the Poughkeepsie YC - at our dock

We were in the East River and saw this sight!
By Natalie Sherer
Today was our last day on the one and it was a long one. We went through New York City and all the way down the Hudson River. The day started with Sarah and I heading to the V-berth since the engine was turned on at 6:00 in the morning! We chilled there for a while then had breakfast, which for me was a bagel with cream cheese. We went all the way around Manhattan and it was pretty rocky with all of the waves from the ferries and water taxies. Not only was it a long day, but it was also hot! We had to either by up in the cockpit with no wind or down below with no A/C! It was hard and at one point Sarah took an ice cube and rubbed it on Finn and I. Well, it has been fun for the past two weeks sailing with Nana and Grandpa, swimming with Finn, Sarah, and Rowan, and spending time with the family. I will be sad to go (like always) but it’s time for all of us to go home. ‘Till our next adventure, Au Revoir!     


He flew right by our port side. There was a take off about every 10 minutes. A tourist flight I guess over Manhattan. 
It's 90 miles from Manhasset to the Poughkeepsie YC. That is usually too far for our 7.3 kt boat but if the tides are just right and you can catch the flood tide going up the Hudson River, then you can ride it all the way home. This technique does not work in the opposite direction since the tides move northward only. We caught the flood tide around the George Washington bridge and still had a flood tide at PYC. 


We always seem to catch the flood tide at the George Washington Bridge, it's enough to reach PYC, usually.
The big downside was the heat! We had a south wind all day, about 7 kts which was the same speed we were making northward. The net result was no wind at all in the cockpit. The sun was beating down and even though we had a bimini, it was very hot, in the 90's. Finally, I started the genset which allowed us to turn on the A/C down below. We don't usually run the genset when we're motoring but we made an exception this time. It was a good choice. Everyone but the captain disappeared down below but Ann came up every 30 minutes to give me a spell. 

It was all hands on deck as we docked at PYC all by ourselves. By now we have an experienced crew and everybody knew what to do. Ann came in perfectly and we docked without a problem. We went out to the Everyready Diner for dinner to give the cook a break and to enjoy air-conditioned comfort for the meal. Tuesday will be a very busy day to unload Fleetwing and take the crew home to Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Their parents will no longer be "kid free." 

This ends the current interlude for the blog. The adventure with four kids on board has come to an end. The blog will restart 9/15 as we start our 9th trip down the ICW to Key West, tune in then!


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Manhasset Bay - at a mooring

The sunset crowd has gathered for the show
Well. It has been an exciting 2 weeks that went by like The Flash on steroids.  Anyways we had an amazing breakfast of French toast and a boatload of syrup (pun intended) so it started raining around 2:00 in the morning which instantly woke me up because I felt like someone was dripping stuff on me. Woke up 5 hours later and it is still raining. So everyone walked the dog in the rain (gloat voice) while I stayed in and enjoyed my well-deserved sleep. I then was woken up by the smell of FRENCH TOAST. I scorned down my food and helped with the lines. After we got to Manhasset bay we swam off the back of the boat. I took Hoolie to shore. Well, that’s all I did, bonsoir.      

Today was not a good day for a long run up the Hudson what with all the thunderstorms forecasted. So we had a late start from Sand City and motored over to Manhasset Bay. From here, we're about 1.5 hours from Hell Gate so by leaving at 6:00 am, we should hit Hell Gate at slack tide. If all goes according to plan, by the time we reach the Hudson River, the tide ought to be running north and we'll have tide with us all the way to PYC to arrive sometime around 6:00 pm. It will be a long day but with good weather predicted, it shouldn't be a problem. Meanwhile, the antibiotics seemed to have taken effect and my jaw no longer feels like a hot poker is nearby. Hopefully, it was stay that way. 


The main attraction tonight
The crew has been rotating all chores with a duty roster as a guide. They are learning to work together in getting the boat on and off the dock. Everybody has a job to do and they've been learning well on this trip. We were tucked in tight at the fuel dock here with a pretty good wind pushing us into the dock. So I put a fender at the bow, a line from the bow to an aft cleat on the dock and had Ann power the boat forward. That pushed the bow into the dock, protected by the fender, and the aft section swung out. When it reached about 45 degrees, Ann put the boat in reverse and we backed out without a problem. It's a handy maneuver to learn if you don't already know it. 

By Monday night, we should be at the Poughkeepsie YC in Hyde Park, NY. We'll spend the night on the boat and head home the next day. It's been an adventure. 

TIP: If you think having 12 USB outlets is enough to recharge the electronics for four kids, think again...

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Northport at Sand City - at anchor

We weren't the only ones out enjoying the day
Hi, it's Sarah again reporting from Northport also known as Sand City.  This morning I woke up to the smell of delicious bacon and pancakes. Shortly after our rather big breakfast, we left Port Jeff. The water had a pleasant calmness to it even though it was a beautiful day with everybody out on the water. I sat on the rim of the boat as we passed by countless numbers of land formations and different kinds of boats. There was one section of water where it seemed like every single fishing boat was in the area was fishing. There was one big fishing boat that had about forty people that were fishing on it.

As we passed by various things I slowly daydreamed into sleep, taking a short little nap until we got to Northport. We didn’t have much trouble anchoring and found the perfect spot. There were so many small boats near the shore. So once in a while, the boat has gotten rocked pretty well and let me tell you it’s surprising. I then made lunch for all the kids and we continued are so-called ongoing chess championship. First, it was Finn and Natalie, I helped by literally moving the pieces for Natalie. In the end, I had Finn trapped (After I took over the side of the board Natalie had) and he then lost. For the last couple of days, I have been unbeatable, unlike my last Blog where I kept on losing. Later we put on our bathing suits and rode the dink into shore to go swimming. The water was cold, but it was that good kind of cold where it was surprising and pleasant at the same time. I walked Hoolie up the shore before going into the water and I saw a bunch of horseshoe crab shells all surrounded each other. My first thought was that somebody found a bunch along the shore then put them near each other, but thinking now what if it was a whole group that just shredded their shell.

The great chess tournament resumes. That's Finn opposite Natalie. Rowan is in the background.
In the water, it was the Sherers against the Mcnaughton’s in a splashing water war. It was unclear who the winner was, but it was still a great time. After a good hour and a half Finn, Natalie, Grandpa, and I lifted up the dink to bring it back into the water. That was no problem, the problem was Natalie and Finn weren’t in the boat for our descent. They had to flop over barely making it on and as someone who was already on the boat, it was hilarious to watch. On the boat, we rinsed off and I went on deck to read my book until I  remembered I had to do the Blog. I don’t know why I always forget and it springs up on me. For dinner, we're having sweet and sour chicken and tonight were finishing a beloved movie here on the Fleetwing that is “Captain Ron”. Bye


Well, I guess Sarah had a lot to write about today. We are on our way back to PYC and stopped over at Sand City near Northport. Sunday is predicted to be a day of thunderstorms so we thought we would layover at Manhasset and leave for PYC on Monday morning. The tides are right for a ride up the Hudson with the current in our favor all the way home. The only hitch is that we have to leave Manhasset at 6:00 am or earlier to make slack tide at Hell Gate.

Sand City on a Saturday in July
Meanwhile, we still have no wind. We haven't been able to sail the entire trip! Sunday and Monday are predicted to be no better, light winds. My toothache seems to have settled down with the antibiotic treatments.

Even without the wind, the kids have been in the water every day and that's a big plus. At Sand City, there were almost a hundred boats enjoying the hot weather. It was a little rocky with all the boats going by but not too bad. On to Manhasset Sunday.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Port Jefferson - at anchor with toothache

 

A classic boat in front of Hoolie's beach
Hi! It's Rowan reporting from port Jeff .Today we got a new alternator. That’s the good news. The bad news is grandpa got a toothache. Good news again! He got better. While walking over to the park, we saw the Samuel lake explorer. A sub designed to go on the bottom of the lake and retrieve items there. That’s all.Bye.   
More boats here than last time
Rowan was rather brief but he spent the better part of an hour on that short piece, pretty good for an 8-year-old. I think he said he had "writer's block." The excitement today was that I came down with a toothache this morning. Ann got hold of Monique who was only an hour away and she came and got me for a visit to her dentist. They closed today at noon but we just made it in time at 11:30. Yep, it was related to where an incomplete root canal was done years ago. Therefore, I need a new one, oh joy. 


Calm winds are forecast for later tonight. Plenty of room.
Monique's dentist prescribed antibiotics and a painkiller to tied me over until the root canal could be done, about 1.5 weeks away. I don't know if I can last that long but we'll see. We're back at Port Jefferson for the night and then we're headed back home so I can be close to my dentist. Manhasset is on the itinerary for Saturday and then it's up the Hudson River. If it wasn't for my problems, we would have turned around at Block Island. This trip has been without wind the entire way, we mostly motored. 

However, the new alternator arrived today at 10:00 am from Amp Tech in Texas and it fit perfectly and fixed the charging problem off the engine. We now have a fully functioning boat now, minus the capain - who marking time until he's fixed up too. Wish me luck. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Milford - Still here with an alternator problem

What is this thing?
We are in Milford
Yes, I know what your thinking, but I’ve decided to tell you the ending at the beginning. This morning we all woke up and fought over who got the cocoa crispy cereal (it was Sarah and me) but before that Rowan, Grandpa, and I went out to walk Hoolie. We went pretty far around the dock, over the bridge, through the city,  past some stores, by the train station, and back to the Milford Landing. Everything was normal, us kids played on our devices for a while then, “Alright kids put your shoes on, all hands on deck!” said Nana. We untied the lines and the nice man helps us with that, then we were off! Sarah and I sat on the edge of the boat talking as we passed the other marinas. We get out past the rocks and everything was fine until I said, “I smell a campfire.” You're not supposed to smell a campfire on a boat. Grandpa was checking the engine when it started sparking! So Nana slowed down and turned around the boat. Nana called into the docks again and got permission to come in, “#8 port side”. I heard the man over the radio say. Finn, Sarah, and I moved all the fenders on to port side and got ready with the lines. We threw the nice man the lines (again) and nearly had our bow completely over the dock! But we actually weren’t as close as earlier assumed so everything was fine. Sarah and I tightened the lines then coiled them up. We had some lunch then went on a dink adventure and played on the playground! No sooner then we came back did Grandpa and all of us kids head out to get Subway sandwiches for dinner, yum! We have finished dinner and are heading off the boat to get Scooby Doo’s ice cream so I really must go. But wait, I almost forgot…. We are in Milford!
                                             By the way, it’s Natalie and so long!   


The middle of July and the place is empty!
I had installed the new brushes in the alternator last night and everything appeared in order so we started out in good cheer this morning for Port Jefferson. The first thing I noticed was a burning smell coming from the engine, that couldn't be good! When I rev'ed the engine to cruising rpm, I actually saw sparks come out from the alternator. That was pretty exciting. I told Ann to turn around and head back to Milford at idle speed. When I measured the temperature of the alternator with my Fluke IR meter, it was 240F and the armature was actually running about 400F! We made it back to the dock at Milford with the crew up on deck and me down below monitoring the engine while running a chat session with Matt in Texas where AmpTech was located. The company is very responsive, especially Matt. It's nice to get a human on the other end. I sent photos of the problem and finally wound up ordered an exact replacement to be shipped overnight to my marina. Once you figure in the cost of daily dockage, the charge for overnight vs several days later is clearly the best deal.

If I believe the tracking information, the new alternator is due to arrive by 10:30 am on Friday (it was shipped 3:00 pm Thursday from Texas). If so, I just have one additional day of dockage instead of two.

Ice cream is always a hit
With that bit of excitement over, we took the kids on a dinghy ride to see the waterfall in town and out towards the entrance to see all the boats. Everyone likes to drive the dinghy so they all had to take turns. We took them out to Subway for sandwiches and the ice cream shop again for dessert which is always a big hit. Hopefully, the alternator will arrive on time and we'll be able to leave Friday morning for the Port Jefferson anchorage. Boating is never dull.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Milford - at Milford Landing Marina

Milford is empty! There are usually a dozen boats here, we are one of only two tonight
Hi, it is Finn again with another Blog entry. Today was amazing mostly because we took an actual shower which felt amazing. We also played monopoly together there was no winner because nana needed the table for dinner. Tonight for dinner we are having pork stir fry and tonight we are having ice cream from Scooby does ice cream shop. Tomorrow we are going back to port Jeff. I don’t know why but I do know we can swim there. Speaking of swimming I just noted that we haven’t swum today. We have swum everywhere but here. Well that just about wraps it up in a gourmet bun today Byyyyyy           
Oh what choices at Scoopy Doo's
Once again the winds were less than 10 kts and even then they were directly on the nose. So we motored north from Port Jefferson to Milford. It was mostly smooth but it got choppy at one point and one by one the occupants down below started to pop up out of the hatchway for a seat in the cockpit. Everyone, that is, except "Iron Stomach" Rowan, our youngest member at 8 years old. He stayed below playing a video game while everyone else was on top. 

Note that Hoolie is hoping for a treat - please, please.....
There was no swimming today but there are compensations. The main attraction is one of the best ice cream stores on the east coast, Scoopy Doo's Ice Cream, It's worth a side trip if you're in the area just to experience the largest ice cream selection anywhere - and good too. 

My brushes for the alternator arrived today and I spent most of the afternoon installing them. I haven't tested yet whether they fixed the problem, I'll find out Thursday when we head south for PJ again. I bought the brushes from a company in Texas, Amp Tech, which I highly recommend. They make a wide range of products, one being a high output alternator which is entirely made in the US and at half the price of a Bosch alternator and it has better specs too. My last one from Amp Tech lasted 15 years and hopefully only needs new brushes. I'll find out tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Port Jefferson - at anchor

Hoolie tracked the swan like it was on radar. He kept it off the boat!
Hi, guys, it is Sarah here with another Blog. It was a short ride from Mattituck to Port Jeff. I finished two books already, and I’m starting Catcher in the Rye. After we arrived, a swan greeted us. In real life, they aren’t that nice and hiss. We were trying to get in the water to swim ashore, but the swan was harassing us. So Grandpa took the hose on board and sprayed him with the water. He did it and then stopped, but the swan was drifting back towards the boat, so grandpa sprayed him a second time and by then he got the message. So we were able to jump in the water to shore, last time we left Nana realized we could go a bit closer to shore since there was a lower depth than expected. I got to shore first and I have to say it felt good to swim really fast for a long distance. It reminded me of when I use to swim in our local YMCA. After we enjoyed some time near the beach we went back to the boat. I arrived first again but then realized that I had left my shoes back on the shore. This meant I had to swim all the way back then to the boat again. Let me tell you, I was out of breath. I wobbled back onto the boat and took a relaxing shower after. Then I sunbathed on deck for a while and nearly fell asleep until I was reminded it was my turn for the Blog tonight. Tomorrow we are headed to Milford and I am excited for their famous (well to us not really the rest of the world) ice cream. Also I will finally take a real shower #BoatLife. We'll talk to you guys to whenever it is my turn next. Byeeeeeeeee!


The great swim race! Rowan, in yellow, finished second. Sarah, also in yellow, won. 
It was an easy day from Mattituck to Port Jefferson. There was no wind (again) so we just motored in flat seas. The sun was out all day and the temperatures hovered around 90F. There was no breeze at first but then one finally kicked up out of the south later in the day. Eventually, we gave up and ran the genset with AC to cool down the boat.

Port Jefferson is one of our favorite anchorages in Long Island Sound. 
The kids had no trouble cooling off by going in the water (again!) and even had a contest for swimming to shore from the boat (with life vests). Naturally, Sarah came in first with her training at the YMCA swim club but the surprise was Rowan, the youngest at 8 who finished second both times. His windmill stroke really makes progress going forward.

So it was another day on the Sound and on Wednesday, we're headed to Milford. The brushes I need to repair the alternator is on their way from Texas, due to arrive at Milford also on Wednesday. Now I just hope that the new brushes fix the problem!


Monday, July 9, 2018

Mattituck - at anchor

A rather unique boat anchored next to us. It has its own garden aboard
It’s Rowan again. Today we went from Branford to Mattituck. Still no sailing. We went swimming again. Finn usually pushed me into the freezing cold salt water. For dinner, we had, surprisingly, cheeseburgers. Sorry for this short Blog. Bye.  

Here's Natalie by the leftover dinghy dock. The dock is functional but better at high tide so you don't have to climb the ladder. 
Freezing cold water? The water temperature in the anchorage is 75F! Once again we had no wind. However, the sunshine was glorious and the temperature hit a high of 83 with low humidity so there were compensations. On top of that, the kids were in the water for over two hours. 

There are only three boats in the anchorage tonight. The town dock is gone, just the pier remains. They did salvage one dock and tied it to the bulkhead beside a ladder so there is a way to get to shore. You can also use one of the two concrete boat ramps too which we did for Hoolie relief. There is also a marina here that seems to have a very high opinion of itself. They charge $4.75/ft for docking! What a laugh. Who would pay for that when there's a perfectly good anchorage 50 ft away. In fact, we saw only one boat that might be a transient, the rest of the docks were empty. They were just bought out by a chain that offers other marinas in much more posh settings like Sag Harbor. Some people are unaware of the basic economics of supply and demand.
Time for a sunset!
We plan on moving over to Port Jefferson Tuesday. It's a dependable area for swimming for the kids and allows time for my repair package for the alternator (new brushes) to arrive at Milford on Wednesday. Hopefully, that will fix the engine charging problem. 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Branford - Swimming and then dinner at Lenny's


Ann's teaching Rowan to swim. It's a tradition for Nana to teach all the grandkids.
Hi, it’s me, Natalie, again and I’m here chill'in at Branford after coming from Port Jeff, swimming at the pool, and eating some seafood at Lenny’s. The sky is pink and so am I! I’ve decided to stay with the crew for another week and I couldn’t be happier! I will be sad to say goodbye to my mom and dad again but I have had so much fun motoring down Long Island, swimming off the back of the boat, and driving the dink! Tomorrow we are headed for more adventure down Long Island and a great week. Til’ next time, Au Revoir!  

We had thought Natalie was going to leave us at the halfway point but she decided to continue on with the rest of the crew. We are very happy to have her with us. She is an early riser and that's handy when I take Hoolie into shore in the morning.

Every plate is tacked to the brim with seafood at Lenny's
One thing that we didn't plan right on is the amount of food required for growing boys and girls. Our two-week food plan lasted one week! Boy, do they have appetites. Monique, Sarah's mom, came to the rescue with more provisions that ought to last us until we reach PYC. Tonight we went to Lenny's for seafood, what an experience! If you're ever in the area, you've got to eat there.

On Monday we're headed for Mattituck for their free anchorage but we'l probably have to motor the entire way given the prediction for light winds.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Port Jefferson - a little sail, mostly motoring

Sarah spent some time at the wheel today
Well, I am back and I promised a longer Blog so let's see what happens. This morning we had a breakfast of eggs and ham #delicious #is annoying. Moving on there was a squabble about the last biscuit I thought we could split it into 4ths but we would have gotten crumbs so we saved it I mean let's have a little pity. This poor biscuit just saw its family eaten in front of him. We went under sail and my little brother is SLEEPING. I got seasick so I laid down for a while. After that, we swam off the back of the boat and sunbathed. Now Nattily is making dinner for everyone. Well, that is all we did today. Good night.    

Add caption
Just to set the record straight, Natalie cooked the macaroni and cheese, Nana did everything else. I asked Finn where his second and third pages for the blog were at but I guess that's all we have. The trip over from Northport consisted of a sail until we reached the Sound and then the wind was exactly on the nose so we motored the rest of the way to Port Jefferson. The weather has changed for the better, much cooler now, no AC needed.

Finally, a nice sunset
When we come into Port Jefferson, we take a turn to starboard and anchor behind the sandbar so we are protected from a north wind and pet relief is nearby. Something new this year is "Harbor Courier Service" run by one person in an open skiff. You can order ice, get rid of trash, obtain deliveries from town - just like boat boys in the Caribbean. We ordered a 16 lb bag of ice cubes for $6.50 delivered. It seemed fair for the personal service.

On Sunday, we headed for Branford and will meet up with Sarah's and Natalie's family. It will be another day of water but this time it will be the pool at Branford, a very nice area in the marina. That will be followed by our usual outing at Lenny's, the best place for fried, full-bellied clams on the east coast. Natalie will be leaving us but the rest of the crew will be remaining.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Northport - Chess!

Deep into a chess match
Hello there, it’s Sarah reporting from the Fleetwing on this cold night. Today we had to hunker down due to bad weather and crazy winds. We were occupied by an ongoing chess championship that has yet been declared a winner. Today I did not come in victorious and actually lost three games in a row. Along with this challenge we were further educated by the art of opening a chess match. I think my weakness to the game is that I overthink moves too much and focus on specific parts of the board too much that I allow myself to lose too many important pieces. Along with many games to play, I also modeled some clay into a cupcake. Tonight we are having pork and hopefully, tomorrow will be off! Bye. 


Water, always water...
I would hardly think that 80 could be classified as "cold." Nevertheless, it was a lot cooler than the last few days where temps were in the 90's. We had intended to sail over to Port Jefferson today but the weather would not cooperate. The storms started in the morning and didn't let up. It was lots of rain but at least no lightening. We just sat it out and figured we would wait until Saturday to move over to PJ and from there to Branford on Sunday.

Hoolie's ride back from shore.
Meanwhile, I worked on two marine heads, oh joy. My engine charging system stopped working and so the rest of the day was spent debugging that. It's the system associated with the main engine so we're charging the batteries off the genset instead for now. I have the Balmar regulator and the one great thing about Balmar is that they have excellent customer support. I called for technical help and got a person right away! After debugging, it appears that the 15-year-old alternator may be the culprit. Balmar recommends checking the brushes every 1000 to 1500 engine hours and I have 5400! I guess it's about time for a check up on the alternator.

End of the day, for Finn
Today was mostly in the boat time for the kids, given all the rain. They played chess all day and I gave an instructional course at 11:00 on openings that seemed to change their plan later that day. I used to play a lot of chess but not recently.

On Saturday, we plan on reaching Port Jefferson by the afternoon when the winds die down somewhat. I'm sure the kids will go in swimming again and we will be ready for a Sunday run to Barnford.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Northport - at anchor next to Sand City

Finn is helping me walk Hoolie at Sand City
Hi! I am Rowan. Today we motored from port Washington to north port. I still wonder when we are ACTUALLY going to sail. We have been using the motor so much, we ran out of fuel and water in TWO days. We went to a fuel dockand got gas and went. That is all I remember for today. Bye!                                                                                                                                                      
Rowan is 8, the youngest member of our crew. What we needed today was water, not fuel but while we were there, we filled up anyway. Four kids and two adults taking showers on the boat (the kids, after swimming in salt water) uses up water in a hurry. We carry 150 gallons and were into the second tank today so we took on 90 gallons to refill our forward tank. 


Here's a view north, not crowded at all. 
After cleaning a second blocked head, we took off for Northport. Naturally, there was no wind and there's no much wind forecast for Friday either. However, on Saturday, when we wanted to sail to Branford, lots of wind is predicted but right on the nose with gusts to 20 kts. We'll sit it out at Port Jefferson and go to Branford on Sunday. 

At least the kids are having fun in the water every day. They go off the back of the boat and seem to have a grand time. We will have more of that at Port Jefferson. 

 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Manhasset - A Ride through the East River

Salute!
Hello, fellow sailors, I am Natalie. Today we sailed the seas of the east river and the long island sound. Through New York City we went quickly as can be while the waves of sailboats, water taxies, and ferries went by. It was rocky and tough with the water flowing by, but alas up ahead I see it. Lady Liberty, a symbol of freedom, bravery, and hope. For we the crew of the Fleetwing saluted the Lady, with the wind in our flag of the red, white, and blue. And how lucky we were to see the symbol of liberty and freedom on the day we got it ourselves.


We all enjoyed the ride up the East River, what a sight!
It was rock and roll through New York Harbor on the 4th of July! We had to beat the closing of the East River due to fireworks but we made it through in plenty of time. As it turned out, we had the current with us down the Hudson and also through Hell Gate, a swift ride. 

We took advantage of the free moorings (green) and picked one up as we arrived. After that, the kids went in swimming, a time honored way of entertaining kids, especially on a hot day. They each had temporary tattoos honoring the 4th and we put up a string of flags to decorate Fleetwing.

On Thursday, it's off to Northport and Sand City for a beach and more time in the water. It's supposed to be cooler too.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Haverstraw Cove for the night

Big Ships on the Hudson River!
Rise RISE my fellow companions as we journey on this glorious river that can only be put as the Hudson River. I am Finn and you will join me and other crewmates on our journey to Long Island. Not one not 2 but 3 weeks of horrible puns and bogging. This entry was short BUT I PROMISE the next one will be bigger.     

Our Cove for the night
Well, that was Finn McNaughton, one of four grandkids on our second annual Cruise to Long Island Sound! It's just Ann and I and four kids who like to be on a boat - or rather - away from their parents who would better guide them in the proper behavior for young ones. The main lesson for today is how to properly flush a marine toilet. There's is nothing they like better than talking of bodily functions (need I go into the typical sounds...) Nevertheless, the captain is called upon to perform certain clearing actions of said toilets now and then. Oh, the joys of sailing.

Us
We started our adventure this morning from PYC with a forecast of scattered thunderstorms. We didn't intend traveling all day so we thought we could find a good anchorage before the storms hit. We almost did. Heading towards Haverstraw Bay, there is only one anchorage protected 360 from wind and waves. Unfortunately, it's not surveyed on any chart. Fortunately, I knew the way in. I found it one day several years ago when we were anchored north of Croton doing the usual bouncing around since it is open to wakes and any north wind. I saw this boat approach, headed right for me. I called Ann, "You better come up here", are we being attacked by pirates? It turned out to be a long time resident of the area and said, "Follow me", which I did. He led the way, I looked at my chart, it was blank, no depth readings, nothing. He said, "Stay close to shore, there's a wall of bricks just under the water by the north shore." Also, "Avoid the middle just beyond the entrance, there's another pile of bricks there. Other than that, the cove is clear." Well, he was right about one thing, the cove is protected 360 and from 15 to 25 feet deep everywhere, except where noted. When the wind is howling and the waves rocking outside, it's nice and calm inside. You're surrounded by hills so you don't get much wind action either. However, with the intimidating entrance, it's little used. 

Peaceful evening
I took note of my route in and published a GPX route for others to use. Once inside, there are no further obstacles - I sounded the entire cove and the route in can be downloaded at BHavCove. It sure makes for a clam night. There's pet relief too, by a pile of bricks just south of the entrance. 

The natives are watching TV tonight (Big Trouble in Little China with Kurt Russell, a crowd favorite)  and it has cooled down somewhat due to the cloud cover from the rains. We will leave for Manhasset early Wednesday which happens to be the 4th of July. Gee, I hope the harbor is calm...  We need to get through before the East River is closed due to fireworks barges;. Hopefully, we'll make it through. We're also hoping for less heat and fewer thunderstorms and, while we're at it, some winds for sailing - and not the usual Long Island Sound winds that average 15 kts - which means in Long Island Sound speak, either 0 or 30 kts for an average of 15. 

Sail along with us, the kids will be doing a rotating blog lead-in so Finn knows he's four days away from having to expound on his rather short start today. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Aqua Map Tips - Make the Charts Look the Way You Want

Aqua Map Marine was the first app with support for the new Garmin Active Captain API and many are switching over. It can function as a full-time chartplotter but some have asked for help on personalizing the map display so I thought I would write a short guide. The app is available for both Apple and Android products with the Apple products fully supporting Active Captain and the Android version not far behind (June). This article will focus on getting the charts to look the way you want.

When Aqua Map is first loaded, you have the choice of either Colorful or Standard map style. In Colorful, the colors are very saturated but in Standard, the colors are not as bright. Most in the US prefer the Standard display but you can choose either. I've also included screenshots of Garmin Bluechart Mobile since it was a favorite of many cruisers for the chart display. The charts are based on NOAA ENC digital charts and are updated every three months at no further charge for the US at a one-time payment of $20 (lifetime updates).

Let's compare the map styles. First up is Aqua Map with the map set at "Colorful." It's popular in Europe I hear but it's a little too bright for me.


Next up is the "Standard" setting, more along the lines of what I'm used to.


Finally, the "Standard" setting with 11 ft "Safety Depth". If you stay in the white, you'll have at least 11 ft of depth. This is Ann's favorite setting. She likes the clear display of where we spend most of our time traveling, in waters deeper than 11 ft. Note the display of tides and currents on the chart.


Let's compare the last Aqua Map style selection with a popular format from Garmin Bluechart Mobile.


They have a similar look when the Aqua Map selection is on "Standard" with 11 ft safety depth. They both use the same Active Captain symbols but the buoy numbers on Aqua Map are easier to read and you'll notice that the tide and current symbols are not shown at this magnification.

We will now take a higher detail look at the exit from Charleston Harbor to Isle of Palms. First up, "Colorful" from Aqua Map.


Next up is the Standard version of the map display. There is a different shade of blue for every 6 ft of depth.


Finally, the Aqua Map display with the safety depth set at 11 ft. This looks very similar the Garmin Bluechart Mobile display of the same area. At this higher zoom level, the tide icons show the tide level and whether it's increasing or decreasing. The current icon shows the speed of the current, the direction and whether it's increasing or decreasing. Tapping on one of the icons brings up more information and the ability to vary the time.


Here's the Garmin Bluechart Mobile display.


I've sent the last 1200 miles using Aqua Map at the helm of Fleetwing. I like the change of blue tint for every 6 ft of depth but Ann likes the safety depth set at 11 ft (the last of the three Aqua Map examples in each group of charts). So most of the time, the safety depth is set at 11 ft and as long as you stay in the "white" of the charts, you have no worries about depth (except of course at famous shallow areas where the depths change from day to day). Here's a screenshot of the settings page for the 11 ft safety depth.


While we're at it, let's cover the other settings. You can download a satellite image overlay if you have internet access with a slider control on the transparency of the overlay. First, set the "Online satellite images" to On.


Here's the first overlap with the satellite image confined to just land. The area in the graphic is the exit from Charleston Harbor to the Isle of Palms.


The transparency is set to 1/2. Some satellite detail can be seen on the water. It's an easy setting to see both the chart and the satellite image so you can correlate the two.


Here's the satellite overlay with no transparency. It's useful in seeing the layout of a marina and moorings. Note how the slider was used to vary the transparency to your liking.


You can vary the safety depth to your tastes to get the chart to look the way you want. In future articles, I cover:
- Getting the most out of the advanced tides and currents capabilities of Aqua Map. You can vary the time for a group of tides and current stations with one slider which is great for seeing the ebb and flow of tides up Delaware Bay.
- Enter the rate of fuel usage and Aqua Map will tell you how much fuel a route will consume.
- How to easily download GPX routes and export them too. This is very handy for downloading GPX routes from my blog site for shallow areas.
- How to create and edit a route with just finger touches on Aqua Map. I plan my next day's route in about 5 minutes using the routing tool in Aqua Map.

Stay tuned, Aqua Map is going to add some exciting enhancements over the next few months.