Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Home at the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club - Where to begin?

Still in progress
With a favorable tide predicted for the trip north, we decided to make a run for PYC, using the favorable tide for added speed although it was 92 Nm north on the Hudson River. So we got started around 6:30 and made the trip in 11.5 hrs. The first part of the journey was through New York harbor and this is where AIS really comes in handy. Looking ahead, you could see a dozen very large ships in view. Which ones were moving and which ones were at anchor? If moving, which direction and speed? One could study the radar intensely and perhaps come up with answers while navigating to avoid other hazards (those water taxis!!) but it's easier and safer to just look at the AIS targets displayed on your chartplotter.

Yikes - they're all headed for me!
A line is drawn from the red triangle representing each AIS target in the direction of travel in proportion to the speed of the craft. Comparing that line and direction to your own line drawn by the chartplotter, one can easily determine if there's a collision possibility and if there is what evasive action to take. If a dozen targets on the screen, you need information in a hurry!

We negotiated the harbor without issue, after dodging a few of the larger vessels but then played dodgeball with the high speed ferries criss-crossing the river. Their favorite tactic was to aim their bow directly at yours (who flinches first?) Still, we made it through okay but then it started to rain for the next 6 hours!

However, we were not complaining, we were making 8.5 to 9.0 kts with the current behind us and the water was flat, very little wind. In fact, things were going fine when the first of two very sad incidents happened.

Ha, you missed me!
The first one happened when I was placing the iPad2 back onto the holder over the binnacle. I was off to one side since Ann was at the helm and did not have a good grip, apparently. The iPad cascaded down onto the floor, landed face down and broke the glass! Oh no! To add insult to injury, Ann tried to break the fall by putting her foot out and was rewarded with a large hit on the top of her foot, very painful - she suffered through the night with throbbing pain but it does seem to be better this morning. We thought this was bad enough but it was nothing compared to the next incident.

Missed me too
Now I was looking up repair facilities near Poughkeepsie New York and called several using the iPhone.  I had the charging cable plugged into the bottom of the iPhone and as I reached to pull it up out of its cradle, the charging cable caught on something and jerked the phone out of my hand. In an instant of time, it caromed off the side of the port locker and out the back of the boat in 50 ft of water!! Oh no! It happened so fast that neither one of us actually saw it disappear overboard. We hopefully search the boat, hoping against hope, that it had lodged out of view somewhere inside the boat - but it was not to be, it had gone overboard! Naturally, I did not buy the insurance when offered by Verizon - after all - I had no intention of losing it!

So after a suitable mourning period and with great gnashing of teeth - I am now trying to find a way to buy another iPhone without paying full retail - but it's not looking good. So the short of it is that the iPad and iPhone survived 2600 miles of ICW with alligators, groundings, snakes, assorted dogs, many dinghy trips to and from shore in remote locations - but could not survive a trip up the Hudson River! Groan...

So at the moment, we're in a funk, mostly me, now that Ann appears in recovery mode in trying to save the iPad2 with her foot. Eventually I'll get it replaced, it's too useful on an ICW trip - buy my foot is getting sore from kicking myself...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Atlantic Highlands - at anchor

Nothing but pilings left after hurricane Sandy - there used to be docks herer
We left at 5:35 am, at first light. Ann backed out of the slip while I handled the lines and put everything away. We finally started out the channel at 6:00 am and made it into the Atlantic Highlands anchorage by 5:00 pm. Today was the first day in the last seven that we had decent weather for going north and we were joined by a dozen boats doing the same route. We hoisted our mainsail and when the south winds picked up, we passed three trawlers as the winds added another 0.5 kts to our usual 7.3 kt cruising speed.

Even Hoolie was cold this morning, he was shivering until Ann wrapped him up!
It was a calm ride north in contrast to the weather up to then (small craft advisory, 35 kt gusts, 4 to 7 ft waves, etc.). We only had a 2 ft swell to contend with, nothing at all really. So we are pleased to at last be anchored in protected waters and we'll start out for PYC in the morning. We may try to make PYC in one day or we may decide to split the trip up into two days, don't know yet, depends on how we feel by Haverstraw.

End of a long day!
Atlantic Highlands, where we're at tonight, was devastated by hurricane Sandy. The pilings are still there but the docks were all washed away. Only a few moorings have been put in but that doesn't bother us since we anchor out anyway. It's got to take at least the entire summer to get all the docks back in. This was a big marina but it's a shadow of its former self now.

We'll get up at daybreak again and see how we doing on going north. It would be nice to make PYC but it depends on how we feel, it was a long day today. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Atlantic City - last day

Boardwalk today - looks in good shape
The time has come to move on, finally! The weather has turned warmer although still in the 60s so we took the jitney back over to the boardwalk to explore the area in more depth. We found that the boardwalk has been rewooded with Brazilian Ipe hardwood, a very dense and durable wood that will last 25 years or more. It's the same wood that was used in Key West to redo their docks. The boardwalk gets a lot of wear and tear so they needed something that would last, the pressure impregnated wood does not. Hurricane Sandy didn't tear up the boardwalk, at least not in the main section we were today. Everything looked in good shape.

Ever see $1,000,000 in one place!
Upon returning to the boat, I took a walk over to Harrah's, the casino "next door", about 1/2 mile away from the Golden Nugget. It is plusher and much bigger than where we're at. One thing that attracts attention is a large box with clear sides showing $1,000,000 in $100 dollar bills (see photo). Supposedly, they've given away 14 of those boxes so far. The odds of winning such a prize has to be beyond small - but then somebody does win.

Here's a closeup in case you missed the detail
As we sat on the back of our boat, we saw the owner of the Golden Nugget take his boat, Boardwalk (the one with the helicopter on the back) out for a spin. He was gone for about 2 hours before coming back, evidently to entertain his guests. Must be nice.

Meanwhile, I tried my hand at one of the blackjack tables. The last time I was here I placed bets at the 25 cent tables but when I looked for them this time, they were nowhere to be seen. The smallest bet table I could find was $15 per bet! That was a little rich for my blood but after awhile I screwed up my courage and bought $60 of chips so I could at least bet for four rounds. Due to absolutely pure luck (no skill involved at all) I wound up with $120 at the end, making a $60 profit. So, clutching my profits, I left the casino, another better who may have been able to roll the $60 to who knows how higher! Obviously, I am not a high roller. In the past I've played backjack and left after losing my initial buy in - this year was the first year that the result was different.

The weather is still looking good for a Monday run up the coast to the Atlantic Highlands anchorage. We'll leave at first light to give us plenty of time for the trip. The next day it's up the Hudson and on to PYC!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Atlantic City - PYC South meets at the Charthouse for Anchors Aweigh

The owner's yacht - with helicopter
We had intended making Anchors Aweigh at PYC on Saturday night but just couldn't get good enough weather for the trip up the coast. We lost an entire week waiting for weather at Atlantic City so we decided to make the best of it by having a PYC South party at the Charthouse with John Kwak, Michele, Mike Quick and Jessie. The Charthouse has a great view of the marina and the Atlantic City skyline and the best food in the city.

John and Michele at the Charthouse
John and Michele returned to Cape May and intend to set out the same day we will, Monday. We intend to reach PYC on Wednesday and I think John will make PYC on the same day since he doesn't intend to stop at Haverstraw on the way north. Mike Quick and Jessie left tonight for NYC so John will be without two of his crew up the coast. However, the weather is predicted to be  benign so it shouldn't be a problem We are still under gale warning at the present with huge waves but it's all due to settle down by Monday (we hope!)

Mike Quick and Jessie

In the morning the owner of the Golden Nugget casino dropped in to his yacht, literally - he landed on his yacht with a helicopter. In fact, the helicopter made at least four trips from somewhere back to the boat. It was almost like he was doing touch and goes, what a racket - but nobody complained... They looked like they were having quite a party!

Ann, it was all delicious 

We have tickets for another trip to the boardwalk, just to explore the area more and then prepare for an early morning start for Atlantic Highlands anchorage on Monday.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sunsshine, fair winds - NOT
Overcast, high winds, rain, just a wonderful day...  Atlantic City is empty. We rode the jitney to the boardwalk and when two jitneys stopped at a stop light side by side, one on they right commented, "Where are all the people??" It's the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend and the place is empty. Of course the weather might have something to do with that. The low for tonight is predicted to be 46 and the high tomorrow not much above 60! That's along with gale force winds (to keep the boaters away) of up to 35 kts and 5 to 7 ft waves.

Caesars - on the way in
So we decided to explore the boardwalk and have lunch at the enclosed pier. The third floor has the Piazza Di Giorgio Cafe with great sandwiches and side dishes for under $10! A great place for lunch! You can take your meal to the window area and look out over the Atlantic with your feet in the sand under the chairs for just such an event. After lunch you can enjoy the water light show with dancing waters every hour on top of the hour. We used the time the enjoy our meal and watch the huge waves coming into shore from the recent high winds. The pier is fully enclosed so you can just look out the windows (spotless) at the view. On good days they open the outdoor viewing area. You can get to the pier by leaving the jitney at Ceasar's and walking the skyway to the pier.

Be sure to see the water display at the Pier
The wind started to really pipe up and so we headed back to the boat. We use the jitney service which covers all of Atlantic City. It cost $2.25 per ride per person unless you buy the senior citizen tickets in advance at 75 cents each, which, of course, I had done earlier. Getting the senior citizen tickets is not easy, you have to appear in a less than desirable part of town that has a bullet proof window and locked entry door that can only be opened from inside remotely by an attendant, says something about the area I guess. I braved all that and have the discount tickets.

Observe the view of the ocean in full comfort!
Once back on the boat we heard this very, very loud sound, a helicopter making a landing on top of the casino! Now this was with 20 to 30 kts of gusting wind, who would want to do that! We later saw the helicopter on the back of the casino owner's boat, Boardwalk! It was evidently the casino owner coming to pay a visit.

You even have Atlantic City sand under your feet!
We're saddened that we can't make the PYC Anchors Aweigh Ball on Saturday night. As compensation, we're going to the Charthouse for dinner and perhaps we'll have company from Cape May in the form of John Kwak and his crew if they can make it up here in their rented car in time. It would be fun to trade sailing stories, they had an exciting time coming down Delaware Bay in high winds on Thursday and ducking under the Cape May Canal bridges, barely, in a rising tide!

We're under gale warnings here at Atlantic City but Monday still looks good for heading north again so that's our plan. If the weather holds, that would put us at PYC on Wednesday but nothing is certain.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Atlantic City - fog and high winds and waves

Fog all day long - and drizzle with high winds!

Not a good day for weather. The wind gusts topped out at 31 kts this afternoon with steady winds of 20 or so kts with fog all day long. It was certainly not a good day for going north so we stayed in harbor! There are a dozen or so boats like us also in harbor waiting for better weather. Monday still looks good for our departure. The wind starts to die down on Sunday but the Atlantic is still all worked up. We'll give it another day for the waves to die down some before venturing out. Unfortunately, it's now certain that we will miss Anchors Aweigh at PYC which is on Saturday night. With that we decided to celebrate Anchors Aweigh with a night out at The Charthouse at the Golden Nugget casino.

We may have company depending upon how far John Kwak gets on Friday. He's down in Cape May and may head north on Friday but we don't know for sure what his plans are. At any rate, we have reservations for 6:15 at the Charthouse, just for us or maybe more.

No sun today!
The weather here, in case your haven't heard yet, is just terrible. Nobody is having much fun in the Chesapeake either (Don and Liz Bunch have been complaining). They're getting much the same winds and rains as we are.

Eventually, the skies will clear, the warm breezes will arise and we'll gently head north, Right(!?) So we did a wash and the technician came by this morning with a new oil pressure sensor that he installed. Of course, when we first turned on the genset before putting in the new sensor, the readout was perfect!! It's like sailing, the wind is always on the nose - same thing for when you call the mechanic to fix the  _____ (substitute any piece of mechanical equipment), it always operates perfectly until the second he leaves. However, in this case he installed the new sensor anyway on the belief that it's the most likely cause of the problem, we'll see. The Admiral is not pleased.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Atlantic City - Resting Up

The redecorated Golden Nugget entrance
The winds they blow and then blow some more. We're seeing gusts to 20 here in the harbor and there must be higher gusts out on the ocean. The waves are 3 to 5 building to 4 to 7 ft over the next few days. We are just not in that big a rush to suffer through an up and down ride for 11 hours. So we're just going to wait it out. It doesn't look like better weather until Monday for us. Meanwhile, John Kwak and his crew are chugging along, making great headway north. We've been tracking them on Spot and tonight they reached the Reedy Island anchorage on Delaware Bay. At the rate they're going, they will overlap us possibly as early as Thursday and certainly by Friday. We'll wave as they go by. We will still wait for better weather, there are only two of us on  board.

Wanta play some slots?
I received a call from the tech who ordered the part for the genset that we think is bad, the oil pressure gauge. He's scheduled to replace the part on Thursday morning so we're looking forward to that. Hopefully, that's the only problem with this "ultra reliable" genset model...

One guy, three slots - not too busy
By having a slip at the marina, we are considered guests of the resort with access to all of the Golden Nugget features such as the exercise room and the pool up on the 6th floor. The pool has a great view of the harbor and a fun place to relax for the day. On Thursday afternoon, we plan on visiting the boardwalk and enjoying the view, perhaps we'll see John Kwak as he enters the channel into Atlantic City! If I do, I'll take a video of his entry! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Atlantic City - at the Golden Nugget Marina

Very protected marina - also has cable TV and guest access to hotel amenities 
We looked at the coastal weather report and grib and it looked like we had a window to reach Atlantic City in the morning. Higher winds and waves were expected in the afternoon so it had to be an early start. I got up at 5:15 am and we proceeded to get the boat ready which included Hoolie's morning trip to the nearby beach. We managed to get off the hook by 7:00 am and out we headed.

The rollers were still present from the day before so up and down we went as the rollers passed under us, mostly 3 to 5 ft with an occasional one higher. They weren't breaking waves so the boat was just like an elevator that couldn't make up its mind what floor to be on. For some reason we had the current with us so we averaged 8 kts going north. We entered the marina around 11:40 and refueled before heading to a slip. This time of year, before the high season, they have a special on where the slips are only $1.50/ft so we signed up with a variable end date depending on when the weather allowed us to go north again.

Over the next few days the winds are supposed to pipe up to 20 to 30 kts and the waves from 5 to 7 ft. Both are out of the south so, in theory, the boat is certainly capable and we could use the push to go north but the ride would not be comfortable for the 82 Nm trip for us. We'll pass. The window for a passage we deem acceptable looks like Sunday at the earliest and more probably Monday.

So with that we'll  be in Atlantic City for close to a week. We have a snug slip at a reasonable price and interesting things to see and do along the boardwalk. We'll take advantage of both until we can get out of here (comfortably).

Meanwhile, I have a problem with the brand new genset I just bought a little over a month ago. It turned itself off after a low oil pressure sensor alarmed. This problem is only after 22 hours of run time! So I called nearby dealers and they all agreed that this time of the year, they had much more work than they could handle and really weren't too interested in warranty work. The typical response was that they were full for the next three weeks! That didn't make me too happy so I talked on, being nice, and finally got one dealer to listen to the symptoms and he agreed to send a tech over tomorrow or the next day with a part for the suspected fail mode. He, at least, ordered the part and now he just has to find the time to install it. Needless to say, we are not too happy about all of this - the whole reason we bought the Kohler model was the claimed "reliability". Now we are not so sure it was a wise choice, but it's too late now.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cape May - at anchor

Only three boats in the anchorage! I've seen a dozen in the past.

Once we exited the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal and stopped at the Delaware City Marina, we wanted to make a run for Cape May instead of stopping halfway at the Cohansey anchorage. We had 54 miles to cover so it was a long day for us. I got up at 5:00 am and we were able to get off the dock by 6:00 am with the help of the dockmaster who typically comes in around 5:30 anyway, he's a great guy, very helpful, especially with the current that runs through there at 2 plus knots.

Getting to the  bay we discovered that the fog was pea soup thick. So on went the radar and close attention was paid to the chartplotter which also has AIS reception - so we knew where all the big tankers were located. We heard over the VHF that the C&D Canal was closed due to fog. The Coast Guard is very protective of the safety on the canal after a serious accident several years ago where mariners were killed due to poor visibility. 

You have a good view of the sunset from Cap May
So we headed down the bay while those in Chesapeake City were still bottled up by the fog! The forecast was for 10 kt winds and 1 to 2 ft waves but instead the water was perfectly flat - so much for the Morning Lies. We did get a few waves by the time we reached the end of the bay. We had wanted to take the Cap May Canal so we didn't have to go around the point where it's invariably rough. However, time ran out on us and the tide was rising for our 55 ft mast to get under a 55 ft bridge (at high tide). Weighing anxiety on the bridge verses the rough seas going around the point, the rough seas won out - although - it's another 30 minutes longer.

Eventually we made the Cape May anchorage by the Coast Guard station around 2:00 pm and settled down to a calm evening. We surely do like the calm nights and we'll probably never be ocean sailors, we like our anchorages at night too much.

We have a window to reach Atlantic City on Tuesday but then we'll be trapped there for awhile according to the latest forecasts. The Trump marina there is only $1.50/ft through May so we'll take advantage of that and rest up for whenever a window opens up for the trip north.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Delaware City Marina - at a dock

Can't come from the south, that bridge gets in the way

We had intended going to Chesapeake City in the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal but we reached there by 2:30 pm and we still had enough tide to average 9.0 kts! There was plenty of daylight left and so we set our sights further on and found the Delaware City Marina. It's located in the old canal that was later replaced by the new, much wider and deeper canal we took today.

Just one, long dock - very narrow canal
To reach the canal, you must exit the new canal and go north to the old, northern entrance. The southern entrance is no longer navigable. The marina consists of one long facedock. What makes it interesting is the 2 plus kts of current that runs through the marina as you try to dock. Furthermore, the canal is so narrow, that there's no room to turn around, especially with a 2 kt plus current running! So the boat handlers are adept at using the current and lines tied to your boat to reverse the direction the boat faces. You just stand and watch as your boat swings 180! It's important to face the direction you want to exit if you're leaving at first light before you might have help.

That brings us to Monday. Our goal is to make Cape May by 1:00 pm, some 50 miles away. To do so we'll leave as soon as we have daylight and hope for the best. The current will be against us early on but later in the morning, it will push us along at up to 2 kts. From there we have a small window, we think, to make Atlantic City the next day, unless the forecast changes once again. However, once in Atlantic City it looks like we'll be there awhile, the winds pick up to 15 to 20 kts and waves increase to 3 to 5 and even 4 to 6 ft thereafter. Eventually, they will subside and we'll head north again, we just don't know when.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Rock Hall, MD - at a slip

Escaping the storm!

We saw the forecast for this morning, Saturday, at 10 kts of wind and set out at 7:00 am. At 7:30 am, a small craft advisory was issued with winds of 10 to 15 with gusts to 25 and 3 to 4 ft waves. However, we had already left our anchorage and pressed on hoping that by the time we rounded the cape and headed north with the wind and waves behind us, the ride would improve. On the way out, it didn't look so good. We were slopping around 30 degrees or so with waves hitting us broadside and the gusts further pushing us over. However, when we finally were able to turn north, everything quieted down.

Norfolk Botanical Gardens aren't the only ones with beautiful roses! These were at the marina. 
We were tracking the storms on NOAA radar and saw that most of the reds and yellows were south of us and as we continued our northward march, the winds and waves gradually lessened. We were lucky to get out of the Solomons when we did. If we had heard the weather forecast before we left, we would still be in Solomons at anchor.

And, one more example
Having the favorable tide with us (we were doing 8 to 9 kts!) and with the lessening winds and waves, we decided to press on to Rock Hall and we're glad we did. The winds eventually dropped to less than 10 kts and now we're well positioned for the jump to Chesapeake City on Sunday. However, the weather for the trip up the coast does not look good. There's mostly 4 to 6 ft seas and lots of wind, not nice for a calm ride with only two aboard.

So we'll reach Chesapeake City on Sunday and then take stock of our chances for going outside for the trip up the coast. The longest leg is from Atlantic City to Atlantic Highlands, an 82 mile jaunt. That's long even for our 7.3 kt average speed. Even the leg from Chesapeake City to Cape May is 64.3 Nm! The timing on that leg is such that we would not be able to take the Cap May canal to the anchorage and would therefore have to go around the cape (we would hit the canal at high tide, not good for our 55 ft mast). So there's lots of things to consider which we'll do when we reach Chesapeake City. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Solomons - at anchor

Early morning departure
We covered 54 Nm today in absolutely perfect conditions. The wind was exactly on the nose (what else is new?) but it was only about 10 kts and the water was flat except for small 1 ft waves. So we got going about 7:00 am and motored all the way at 7.3 kts.

Bill Washburn of PYC must have relatives here?
The east side of the Chesapeake has several bombing ranges used by the navy and today they were planning to use one that we passed within two miles of. We heard a lot of activity over the VHF in setting the time and warning off boats. Overhead, jets were circling all the time and one was even the stealth jet! It has a very distinctive outline, strange looking. We got out of the area about two hours before the bombing runs were to start. The target of the runs was to be a derelict steel boat sunk in the shallows that still provided a silhouette for the jets. It's shown on the charts of the Chesapeake with a circle around it warning all boater to stay clear, we did!

It's spring time!
Onward, we reached the Solomons around 3:00 and refueled before heading for the anchorage by the Holiday Inn. For us it's very convenient since they offer a dinghy dock which we use for Hoolie relief at $2/day. The anchorage itself is protected 360 degrees, completely quiet. You could ride out a hurricane in here. We'll stay the night and then head out Saturday for Rock Hall. We had intended going to Annapolis but with such good weather (for a change!) we'll make the additional northing to Rock Hall.
End of a good day

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Onancock - at a dock under construction

Fixed docks, lots of construction around - better in the future I hope
Onancock is on the other side of the Chesapeake, on the eastern shore, due north almost from Cape Charles. By going to Onancock it's possible to avoid crossing the mouth of the Potomac River which always seems to be rough. Today we were traveling as fast as we could to beat the developing storms coming in from the west - and we succeeded. After arriving we had some high winds but the worst of the storms missed us.

The Onancock docks are undergoing reconstruction as the town is trying to improve their dockage area. Although the docks are very secure, the main reason for stopping here is Mallards, a great local restaurant. If you are ever anywhere close to Onancock, VA I would urge you to have a meal there, either lunch or dinner. The preparation is superb and everything is absolutely fresh.

We celebrate the good time we had visiting with the Bunches by having dinner at Mallards
Don and Liz Bunch leave us today as we head to Solomons Friday morning. They'll spend a few more days in the Chesapeake before turning back south. We all treated ourselves to a dinner at Mallards as celebration, just great food!

We are now officially on our homeward stretch and hope to be on the move everyday from here on out. The weather looks good for a change, at least until we reach Chesapeake City and then we'll take another assessment. The trip up the New Jersey coast is always uncertain.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cape Charles - last day

This is a major harbor for fishing boats

The winds increased Tuesday morning to 15 to 20 kts with 3 to 4 ft waves along with a small craft advisory. To make matters worse, the outgoing tide was opposing the 15 to 20 kts of wind and the associated waves. That would lead to short, square waves and not a very comfortable ride. One boat came in this morning with glass missing from a porthole after being hit with an on-coming wave. So under those conditions, we just stayed in port.

Whelks are also harvested
The forecast for Thursday is much better for going north. If the forecast holds, we will be able to move everyday and reach Chesapeake City by Sunday, May 19. Making Anchors Aweigh looks very doubtful, the weather would have to be perfect for the rest of the trip, not very likely.

Ann prepared pan-seared tuna for dinner and the four of us had a great dinner while waiting for weather. I replaced the water filter under the galley that filters the water we drink and the air filter for the A/C - there is always something to do on a boat! We'll get up early for the 43 mile trip to Onancock which is almost due north.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cape Charles - at a dock

We thought we would have to pass inbetween them but then realized they were all at anchor!
We left Hampton expecting dying winds and waves. The winds were only 10 to 15 kts but the waves were very confused. The shipping in and out of the mouth of the Chesapeake and the entrance to Norfolk created waves in all directions that travelled for miles. They combined in all possible combinations to produce a very bouncy ride. The wind wasn't right for the trip north to Deltaville so we headed for Cape Charles, a shorter ride of 25 Nm but it was across the width of the bay.

From the eastern shore we can see the sun set over water - except clouds came, foretelling high winds for Wednesday
We had never been to Cape Charles before and we found a new marina that was installed with state funding. Virginia is evidently investing in marinas to attract boaters for the local economy. At any rate, the docks are new and very sturdy with every modern convenience including a new bathhouse and an on-site restaurant, a first rate place. Don and Liz are still with us and we all went to the restaurant by the docks,The Shanty, for a light dinner, not bad.

Meanwhile, we saw the forecast for Wednesday change from 10 to 15 and 2 to 3 ft waves to a new forecast of 15 to 20 and 3 ft waves. After the confused seas from today's ride, I think we'll sit Wednesday out at the marina and plan on leaving Thursday when the winds moderate, at least that's when they're supposed to go down. One never knows about forecasts.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hampton - Doing battle with faucets and heads

One last photo of Norfolk Botanical Gardens 
Monday was a day off for exploring and more along the lines of repairing a few things on the boat for the rest of the trip. Nobody talks about heads (the bathroom on a boat) but they are a very necessary requirement for a boat and they must work correctly! I will not go into the details but if you ever own a boat, you will be faced with changing the joker valve (such fun!) and replacing various seals and other parts. Unfortunately, you will become an expert whether you want to or not.

Likewise for other routine chores such as changing oil and the oil filter and fuel filter on the main engine and if you have a genset, then you are lucky enough to be able to do all engine maintenance twice! And, there are odds and ends like repairing wearing items on the faucets and repairing various leaks that develop over time. You are never going to learn this stuff out of a book, not at least until you have to learn "on the job", it's just not exciting enough to spend any time in advance until you absolutely have to - although it would be more efficient to do so.

Hampton is still building! A brick and concrete building, nope - just a facade
Unfortunately, the same approach applies to some extent in running the ICW. For example, you do not follow the ICW line between Charleston and Georgetown, it's too far to the green side - the charts are wrong. Here you can in fact learn in advance by following postings on Active Captain submitted by other captains transiting the same area, usually only a few days ago. If you don't use Active Captain, you will run into trouble on the ICW!

So although there are courses on maintaining a boat and running the ICW, most people learn by doing. The first part is fine (maintaining a boat) that way but not running the ICW unless you enjoy running aground a lot.  Going off shore is another matter entirely, you had better know what you're doing there. So we mostly stick to the ICW where there are things to see and places to explore. We enjoy the trip as opposed to a view several miles off shore of the far away beach when making passages off shore.

As far as our plans, it looks like the winds may abate Tuesday afternoon and if they do, we'll be off for Cape Charles, a place we've never been to before. Don and Liz will travel with us too.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Hampton - we see Norfolk Botanical Gardens

One of many vistas in the gardens
Having to kill time waiting for weather doesn't have to be all bad. We had rain in the morning but the afternoon was predicted to be clear. With that expectation, we used the morning to do some minor provisioning with Don and Liz Bunch and then set out for the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in the afternoon. The gardens were started in 1938 and has expanded from there. It now covers 155 acres with 64,800 plantings by 12 miles of paved walkways. It's an enormous place and absolutely beautiful!

I had never seen multicolored roses before. They start out red and then turn yellow as the blossoms mature. This one is in between the color changes. 
Needless to say, we took lots and lots of photos and the flowers were stunning. Unfortunately, it's one of those places where you had to be there to appreciate the sights, photos just do not do the job. One thing you did not see were weeds, nowhere to be found! Also, there were no indications of damaging insects or plant diseases.

Another one of about 100 photos
We will endure the northern winds with the accompanied cool weather and hope for southern winds on Wednesday as predicted. Then we'll finally head north again, about time!
Always stunning

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Hampton - The Bunches arrive and we go to a block party

Just having a good time - typical of towns up and down the ICW
Thunderstorms were predicted for the afternoon so Don and Liz wanted to beat the storms with an early start. They arrived around noon and, as it turned, we never did get a thunderstorm - but they were all around us. We're in for a huge change in the weather with a 25 degree drop in the high temps for the next three days, especially Monday and Tuesday. The cool weather is ushered in by the strong, north winds until Wednesday until when the warm weather returns.

Every Saturday evening, the city hosts a block party with a band so we thought we would drop by on the way for dinner. Such events are typical of many of the towns we've been in on the ICW. They are trying hard to promote events for people to get together, to promote a sense of community - they seem to be succeeding too. They had one table set up where people went through an ID check to be sure they were of legal age for alcohol and they got a bright yellow wrist band so the individual vendors didn't have to check ID's over and over, they just looked for the wrist band. It was a carnival atmosphere.

Beers are available on tap, a wall of taps
Our routine includes monitoring the weather reports several times a day, more than what is useful but it matches the interest we have in the subject. There's a bunch of us here waiting for the north winds to abate. Meanwhile we're exploring the area, trying to make lemonade.