Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hampton - at Downtown Hampton Public Piers at a dock

The docks here are very secure, tied to heavy pilings and anchored to the seawall
Looking at the weather we could see we had a window before 3:00 to reach Hampton before the thunderstorms developed. Grib predicted light winds out of the south of less than 10 kts so that was okay. Unfortunately, the current was against us all the way even though it was supposed to be with us according to the current prediction sites. We've found the tides to  be fairly accurate but not the currents so much. Still, we finally made Hampton by 3:00 pm, just ahead of a thunderstorm.

The Downtown Hampton Public Piers is one of our favorite marinas. It's not very big, only a dozen or so slips and the slips are only have 1/2 length fingers, a bear to dock at sometimes with the current running crosswise. However, the dockhands are accommodating, they have one washer and one dryer for transient use, free use of bicycles and it's located within walking distance of downtown. Also, there's an Enterprise car rental agency within 200 ft of the marina, very convenient.  But let's not forget the biggest attraction - I'm staying for four nights this week (to avoid the hurricane coming up the coast) and the total cost including tax is $103.50 including one 30 amp outlet. Now to get this rate you have to join their "cruising club" at a cost of $50 for a 40 foot boat. Now since I stop over here going both north and south I split the $50 cost so the total cost for four days comes to $25 + $103.50 = $128.50, still very hard to beat for modern concrete docks that are suitable to survive a hurricane.

Well, we're tied off. The dockmaster said it was okay to block the slip next to us with the line
Speaking of hurricanes, we are holed up here until Joaquin makes it up the coast and out to sea.We figure the weather will clear up by Monday for us to continue south. Meanwhile, we are watching the track of the hurricane and getting ready. We'll rent a car for the weekend from Enterprise at their $10/day weekend rate ($30 from Friday to Monday) to provision and get other supplies. The storm track could take Joaquin right over the top of us, or out to sea, who knows? The most likely track is projected to go over Cape May with 28 ft seas hitting their coast! The next few days could be interesting, stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Deltaville at Fishing Bay YC - at a free dock

One of our favorite yacht clubs, we're at the end of the dock on the right
I woke up this morning and we were moving early. It was calm at first and I read a lot about my book and some Calvin & Hobbles. Then it felt bad. I dazed for a while and fell asleep once and a while, but it felt horrible. It was also so hot and long I think we arrived at about three thirty. Then we were finally there and this time at a dock we been on anchors. This looked pretty welcoming and pretty. I helped Grandpa with the ropes and learned a knot. There fun to do when you get the hang of it. After we were all settled in and tied in we took Hoolie for a walk. It felt good to get off the boat after all of that rocking back and forth! Oh, it makes me feel bad thinking about it. Then we sat down and picked out some movies to watch tonight and checked the weather. Then it started raining a bit. Also Grandpa has the A/C down here so it feels so good. Also it looks so cool with drops of rain on the water current. Bad start, but happy ending, and at the end it turns out great, bye, Sarah.

We left this morning with high hopes of a smooth ride to Deltaville. We were encouraged by a good ride across the mouth of the Potomac which is usually where the rough water resides due to the current against wind that often happens here. But our ride was smooth and we thought we had seen the worse of the trip, boy were we wrong! The wind piped up to 14 kts from 10 and that might not sound much but the force of the wind increases as the square of the speed. So 14 kts is twice as forceful as 10 kts and the result showed in the wave action and in the response of the boat. We were suddenly on a broncoing horse in the shallow waters of the bay. The boat did fine, it's the crew that was uncomfortable. It was not unsafe in any way, just not a good ride. 

Sarah is learning all the duties of a crew member
Leaving at 7:30, we arrived at Fishing Bay YC at 3:30 and took their complimentary dock for visiting yacht club members. It comes with great hospitality and free electricity and water. We used it every year we've gone south, they expect us now. 

Looking at Wednesday, we don't want a repeat of today. It appears there's a window to go south with favorable winds starting around 11:00 am. It's a five hour passage to Hampton, Virginia where we'll hole up for the storm headed up the coast. I think we don't get out of there until Monday, depends on the weather.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Solomons - at anchor by Holiday Inn

Doing algebra with Sarah - keep both sides of the equation happy!
Sarah adds to her blog:
This morning we were headed to Solomons bright and early. We had cereal and grapefruit this morning. Today was my first school day on the boat and I did algebra. Nana learned along so we both happily did algebra together and I have to say it was a lot of fun. When we were out in the ocean it seemed never ending, all I saw was water. At least it felt like it, that might be a little dramatic. Then finally we saw land and we went to go refuel at the fuel dock, we also got water. This is the water to flush the  toilets, we drink, and take a shower in. After that we went to a nice peaceful spot to anchor. I read out of my book called Deep Blue, its a interesting tale about mermaids and empire. Then I read my favorite comic Calvin & Hobbles, what a big mind he has. I also played in the dink with Hoolie again and this time he thought he was getting walked, but instead we pushed out together he really wanted to get off. Now were going to have some chicken for diner, yum. Now I have to go, but we will talk again till tomorrow bye.

We got a late start, around 9:00 but it was only 42 miles to Solomons and we had the tide with us so we arrived shortly after 2:00. The anchorage at Rhode River is secure but the bottom is very thick mud, luckily I have a washdown pump but it still took awhile to get all the mud off the chain and anchor. The wind was less than 10 kts so we motored all the way. Along the way Ann did her first day of home schooling with Sarah. I don't know who learned more about algebra, Sarah or Ann. She learned that whatever you do to one side of the equation you must also do the other side - otherwise the equation will get pissed off and not give correct results (as related by the commentary she read on the lesson plan). Actually, it makes good sense, great way to learn. 

Peacefully at anchor
Solomons is where we always take on fuel, water and dispose of garbage at Harbor Island Marina. It's an easy in and out, they are to port as you enter Solomons, right past the entrance. We motored on to our usual anchorage by the Holiday Inn dinghy dock. It's a great deal for $2/day. You get shore access and a calm anchorage. A big WestMarine is store only 10 minutes south and a Food Lion supermarket is about a mile north via a convenient sidewalk. If we're in need of supplies, it's a great place to stop. 

On Tuesday it's on to Fishing Bay YC for a free dock (if you're from a recognized yacht club). If not, it's also a great anchorage just off the docks on the creek side with a town dinghy dock for shore access. It's very quiet tonight and we're headed south before the newly formed storm reaches the Chesapeake on Friday. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rhode River - at anchor

Nice, calm anchorage
Sarah starts her blog tonight:
Today I said good bye to my family and headed off to Rhode River. When we got there it was very peaceful with lots of trees, some green and yellow. I got  to coil the ropes that means wind the ropes up. It's harder then you think. You have to twist the rope with your fingers. I played in the dink with Hoolie. Just to let you know if you don't know that a dink is a small boat, so when you anchor or go on a mooring ball (an anchor attached to a ball you can hook on to) to go on land if you have to. Then Hoolie didn't want to get out of the boat so I pushed him off into the dink and he just sat there. Then I brought him in and the only reason he wouldn't come out was because one tiny life jacket was in the way. What a weird dog. When we came back from walking the dog I washed the dink because it was all sandy from walking the dog. after that um... well after that I am here writing about the start of my adventure! To be continued

Hoolie's favorite island but it's a small beach at high tide
Sarah is our oldest granddaughter. She's being home schooled this year before returning to public school to start her high school years. Last year she traveled with us from Titusville to Key West so this year she's with us from Annapolis to Titusville. We plan on exploring Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Savannah, St Augustine and Titusville on the way south, a great adventure. 

Philip and family departed around noon and we returned to the boat with Sarah and was off the mooring in 15 minutes headed for the Rhode River anchorage. The forecast was for small craft advisories with wind to 15 kits and gusts to 20 with 3 ft waves but it was much calmer than predicted. Last night at Annapolis on a mooring was a disaster. A strong east wind piped up and the boat rocked side to side and pitched enough to wake everybody us and put a few things on the floor with a thunk! It's typical conditions at Annapolis in the mooring field, you never know what to expect. It appears well protected but it's all a sham. The waves work their way into the harbor and rock all the boats, even the ones docked on Ego Alley. 

It a beautiful rising moon tonight
Tonight, however, we're in Rhode River and there are no such surprises here, nice and calm. There's no way for waves to get in, thankfully. We'll head for Solomons on Monday and our anchorage by the Holiday Inn dinghy dock. The weather looks good for making Hampton by Wednesday afternoon. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Annapolis - Small Craft advisories

This weekend as also the Wooden Boat Show with artisans showing their skills 
The moorings are anything but calm during an east wind at Annapolis. Even the ride into the dinghy dock is an event in getting wet. On the plus side, at least we're secure and without a current, we're always facing into the wind. With the high east winds come high water and minor flooding of the docks in Annapolis.

Hoolie has suffered over the last couple of days from dietary indiscretion. Luckily it hasn't resulted in rapid transit, only a couple of upchucks but one was on our bed cover. A trip to the laundromat fixed that but Hoolie was still under the weather until this afternoon when he gradually improved. He had us worried for awhile.

A rare view of main street with a gap in traffic
Today was exploring Annapolis for the crew. There was no sailing in these conditions. Even the harbor was not immune, a bouncy day at the mooring. The crew, except for Sarah leaves Sunday for home and we'll probably stay another day at the mooring unless the weather relents. Monday is still predicted to be better with a light north wind, we hope. If so, we'll head for Solomons and anchor.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Annapolis - New crew arrives

Nothing amuses kids as much as playing in a dinghy
The first task was to empty the aft cabin of all the stuff that it seems to accumulate when it's not being used by guests It's just amazing what collects back there. After that monumental task, we were ready. Sarah arrived with her family around 3:00 and after four trips with the dinghy (pack light?), everyone and everything was aboard.

The weather has turned cooler and there's a small craft advisory out for the bay on Saturday and rain in the forecast for Sunday. With that we're probably going to sit tight on Sunday and try to head some distance south on Monday, perhaps Rhode River or even Solomons if we can make it.

Time for dinner! Enjoyable, especially with automatic dishwashers (kids...)
Meanwhile, Hoolie is under the weather. He apparently found something on the sidewalk during one of our daily walks ashore and at the time found it good to eat. It came back up this morning when he was lying next to us on the bed, ugh. A trip to laundromat took care of that and Hoolie is none too peppy. Hopefully he'll feel better in the morning else we'll need a trip tot he nearest vet.

Saturday is "explore Annapolis day"  before Sarah's family leaves on Sunday. Sarah will be with us until we return in the fall for the holidays.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Annapolis - at a mooring

Really, why would you need a tender with five outboards!?
We had the rare confluence of wind behind us and current with us all day. With that happy combination, we made Annapolis in 6 hours. The moorings are higher than average for the area at $35/night but then you're in the middle of things at a great sailing town. There's lots to look at as boats pass by the mooring field, that's a big part of the attraction Annapolis.

The really big boats are docked at the marina right south of us. One such boat has a tender with five huge outboards! Why would anyone need a tender with five outboards!? I guess if you have nothing else to spend your money on, then such a tender makes sense?

There are two dinghy docks, the northern one is much less crowded
We are awaiting the arrival of our newest crew member, Sarah Sherer, who will accompany us to Titusville. She may not know it yet but she'll have her own blog to do every night, just like her brother Matt when he was with us (he's now attending Roger Williams University in Rhode Island for a degree in architecture). We're told that we have to stay healthy enough for three more grandkids' turns on the boat! It may be a stretch but we'll try.

Meanwhile, the weather appears good for going south but we'll be in Annapolis until Sunday morning when we plan on moving a short distance down to the Rhode River anchorage with Sarah on board. We'll have a full boat for the weekend!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Chesapeake City - at anchor

The view at Chesapeake City away from the anchorage towards the canal
I walked over to look at the bridge height board and found that we had 56.5 ft at low tide (0.9 ft plus low tide) which was plenty for our 55.3 ft mast so we left as we had planned at 9:00 am. Looking at the NOAA weather tide station by the ferries, they showed the water level to be 1.5 ft above normal due to all the east winds so actually the water level was 2.4 ft above MLLW datum when we left at 9:00 am and we still had 56.5 ft height clearance under the bridges.

I plotted an "inside" course up Delaware Bay that was far to the east of the main channel. I wanted to minimize the wave action coming off the eastern shore with the high winds. For the most part that succeeded. Since we left before low tide, the current was still against us when we exited the canal. Once we got close to the main channel as we headed north I noticed that my speed dropped to 6.6 kts! The current was still flowing south in the main channel. I moved back to the east of the channel and my speed increased to 8.3 kts! It pays to stay out of the channel when going north on a dying ebb tide in Delaware Bay.

View towards the anchorage - rather close from some but not for us
It was a long day for us, we left at 9:00 am and reached Chesapeake City at 6:00 pm, a 60 mile run. The anchorage had more boats in it then we expected, about 8 boats in all. We anchored behind them with plenty of room.

The weather Thursday has a northeast wind and a southern flowing current, perfect for getting to Annapolis. So we can't pass up that opportunity and we'll set out about 8:30 and expect to reach Annapolis by 3:30. We have our new crew member coming on board Friday, Sarah, our grandchild. Ann will be doing the home schooling as we head south. We're looking forward to it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cape May at Utsch's Marina - waiting for weather

Cap May is a great fishing harbor, many boats are available for catching dinner
It now looks like Wednesday will be a good day to continue our journey. The wind continues to howl out of the northeast at 15 to 20 kts but at least it's not 25 to 30 although that's due Friday and Saturday. If we can get out of here on Wednesday, then we can beat the high winds due later in the week.

The northeast winds have also raised the water level in the Cape May canal. With our 55 ft mast we need a low tide to get under the bridges but with the higher than normal water depths due to the winds, it makes the vertical clearance less than advertised. There's a NOAA station at the western entrance tot he canal that charts the predicted tide height vs actual and puts the results on the web at their site.  In short, the extra water means you have less clearance between your mast and the bridge than predicted by the tide tables, this week about 1.5 feet less! When trying to squeeze under the bridges with our 55 ft mast, that's a lot! We figure we have 9 inches to space at low tide, ouch!

The bridges are never far from our throughts
We met another couple this afternoon that sold their house and just started their adventure of living on their boat and going down the ICW to Key West. So we spent the afternoon discussing the hazards ahead of them and how to avoid going aground. It was great fun to share adventures.

We should be able to get under the bridges starting at 9:00 am. If so we'll start out and head up Delaware Bay and either anchor at Cohansey or solder on to Chesapeake City where we're due to take on crew, Sarah, our grandchild. Ann will do home schooling while she's with us on the leg to Titusville, FL. Then we'll return home for the holidays before continuing our trip south in January.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cape May - at Utsch's Marina at a dock

Cape May is famous for their gingerbread houses
The winds continue to blow. Looking at the buoy in the middle of Delaware Bay, the winds averaged 25 mph with gusts to 28 mph all day long. So with that weather, we're still sitting in the marina. We did rent a car today and explored the area. We were interested in looking at the bay in all this wind but it appeared to be much calms than we expected. Now, it is a northeast wind which blows across the bay and now up or down but it didn't appear to be producing the 2 to 3 ft waves predicted, at least not on this side of the bay. So now we have to decide to either trust to the NOAA weather predictions or follow what we see, at least close to shore.

With a normal 4 ft high tide, not exactly 55 ft clearance!
The other consideration is getting under the two 55 ft bridges in the Cape May canal on the way to Delaware Bay. They are listed with a clearance of 55 ft at high tide but the height boards on the side of the bridge do not agree with that listing. I took a photo of the height board on the eastern bridge with a 4.0 high tide, the boards show clearance of a little less than 53 ft! (see photo) Since I need 55.3 feet to clear, that's a no go for me! Now some of this could have been affected by the high winds so to be sure I'll check the height board on the eastern bridge before leaving (I can see the board from the marina).

Here's the eastern bridge at a 4 ft high tide
Now everything is up in the air again. Can we go Tuesday? Wednesday? Thursday no long looks good with winds predicted to 30 kts later in the day and Friday is out of the question. We'll decide in the morning, always exciting.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cape May at Utsch"s Marina - at a dock

Great floating docks!
If we wanted to reach Delaware Bay anytime in the next week, we had to get to Cape May Sunday morning. After that the seas were to rise to 5 to 7 feet for the next week. The window was in the morning  before the winds piped up so we once again got up early and left the dock around 6:30 am.

One of the pleasures of boating - wine with friends along the way
The weather behaved just as predicted with calm winds in the morning but increasing by 10:00 to 15 to 20 kts. At least the winds were out of the north so we had the push behind us. If it were on the nose it would not have been doable. We waved to our summer condo at Ocean City but it was a little foggy so we didn't see much.

Since we knew we were in for a wait, we decided to ride out the high winds (15 to 20 with gusts to 30) in a well protected marina, Utsch's Marina. We found it rather nice at the $2/ft price that included electrical hookup and cable at no added cost. If you stay 6 days, you get the 7th day free but we don't plan on being here that long. Thursday looks like a good day to escape to the Chesapeake.

We met two men who sailed nonstop from Block Island to Cape May in a sailboat smaller than ours, a lot of time on the water non-stop! They are having fun and we had a great time talking sailing.

On Monday we're renting a car to explore the area, we've never seen Cape May, ought to be fun.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Atlantic City - at The Golden Nugget Marina

Typical Megayacht at Atlantic City, mooring right in front of us
Up at 4:45 am, took Hoolie ashore and got off the anchor at 6:00 am. It was still dark and foggy, couldn't see anything and almost ran into shallows but recovered at the last moment and started out, whew! It didn't help that the windows were all fogged up so we just opened the forward window which worked but let in a lot of cold air.

Looking from our boat to the casino - loud music tonight
By the time we started moving, there was a faint glow in the eastern sky that gradually brightened but the dense fog remained. Onward we went, dodging numerous fishing boats (it was Saturday after all), making good use of our radar until the fog finally lifted around 11:00 am. At least the grib prediction was spot on as far as wind and waves, 5 to 10 mph and less than 1.5 ft waves.

Looking ahead, we have a 5 hour window to reach Cape May before the 20 kt winds and 4 to 6 ft waves start rolling in. The high wind and waves weather is due to last a week but by getting to Cape May on Sunday, we can go up Delaware Bay since the winds are out of the northeast which pushes across Delaware Bay, not down or up - which is not so bad as long as you time the passage so you don't get wind against the current.

We will probably stay in Cape May for several days to recover from our rapid transit down the coast. Aside from that, the alternator regulator is acting up. It charges but won't go into float mode which results in over charging, not good. Something else to look into later, there's always a list!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Atlantic Highlands - Staged for Atlantic City

Hook Mountain - our anchorage last night
For a change the anchorage at Hook Mountain was calm throughout the night. The anchorage is rather quirky. With the least bit of wind out of the east, it gets rolly but last night was okay. We only had 45 miles to go so we were in no hurry and finally got off the anchor by 8:15.

So you thought cancelling the Keystone Pipeline would keep shale oil in Canada - Wrong!
We passed under the construction for the new Tappen Zee bridge, lots of cranes and proceeded onward. New York harbor as full of traffic as usual. This is where AIS is a big help. I could see crossing traffic on the chartplotter (with AIS) before I could spot the ship. With a projected line from the ship ending in where the ship would be in 10 minutes if it maintained present speed and my own projected line in 10 minutes also on the chartplotter - I could tell if there was any danger of a collision  by how the lines crossed. At one time I had three ships bearing down on me but with the AIS I could see a safe evasive manoeuvre - which I took. The tugs do not change direction, you are expected to avoid them.

Always a pretty sight but rather smoggy today - not much wind
In due time we reached Atlantic Highlands and we dropped anchor among six other boats. As luck would have it, Hoolie was due for shore at low tide and in the first spot we had to wade ashore about 50 ft. On the second trip I went further west and found deep water up to shore. Hoolie was much happier.

The big event on Saturday is the trip down the coast. All the forecasts say it will be a calm passage with little wave action but they've been wrong before - I hope they are right this time.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hook Mountain Anchorage in Haverstraw Bay, NY - Peaceful

Looking north this morning, lazy fog

It was a perfect day for traveling down the Hudson River. The temperature was in the 80s with very little wind. In the morning, we had wisps of fog crossing the river in front of PYC but it warmed up fast and the day turned clear.

Looking south, very calm
I pumped up the dinghy and the repair appears to be holding. We shoved off around 10:00 am and with the good weather we decided to pass by the Croton Point anchorage and head into Hook Mountain.

Look at that dot by the power lines!
Along the way we saw a strange sight. A helicopter hovering between high tension power lines with a guy sitting on one side of the landing gear doing something to the power lines (maintenance?) You couldn't pay me enough to do that job! It would seem that the slightest gust would push the helicopter into the power lines with spectacular results!

here's a closeup of that dot!
Arriving at Hook Mountain I did the usual trips with Hoolie, once upon arriving and once more after 7:00 pm, his routine. There is a sandy beach for pet relief, convenient.

On Friday we're headed for the Atlantic Highlands anchorage, our staging area for Atlantic City on Saturday. The forecast still looks good but things could change.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Loaded up and ready to go on Thursday

Looking north towards the Catskills from PYC
 The list to go through to close up the house is monumental. It took about six hours but we finally got everything done by 3:30. We filled the minivan with everything we just couldn't do without but we are getting better at this after five years. The rule of thumb is you pack only twice as much as you ever use if you're really good. Judging from crew that we occasionally bring on board, first time sailors usually bring enough for a month for a three day cruise.

Peaceful night with a setting moon
The weather remains good for a Saturday run down the coast to Atlantic City and we even hope to make it to Cape May on Sunday, maybe. Saturday is high time at docks, the rates go down for Sunday so we may or may not take a dock. The plan is to anchor over at Haverstraw Bay, then anchor at Atlantic Highlands before moving on to Atlantic City.

The dinghy now has had two days to "cure" on the patch so it ought to be okay. We'll need the dinghy right away at our first stop in Haverstraw. So tonight it's calm and we'll start out around 10:00 or so after removing all the dock fenders which are screwed down. They will not "pop out" with a passing bow wave but they're more trouble to remove, I'll live with that for the added protection.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Still at Poughkeepsie YC

All polished an ready to go
 We haven't moved yet, waiting for a good weather window to go down the New Jersey coast. However, it's been a very busy summer. Lots of waxing and polishing for Fleetwing, new bottom paint, new zinc and two major projects.

The first one was publishing a book and ebook on Amazon on negotiating the ICW with charts on each hazard encountered and how to safely get through them. Amazon makes it easy to publish a book. All you have to do is compose your book on Microsoft Word, upload it and Amazon does the rest. Your book will appear on their site within 48 hours at no cost to you. My thought was to make the book available at a site for multiple formats in ebook and hardcopy form.

Enroute to the Hudson River
The second project is one I wish on no one. If you ever get the notion to replace the hoses on your head, sit back, relax and do something else! It can wait. There are few things more disgusting and frustrating than replacing head hoses! Several years ago I did replace hoses and swore I'd never do it again but after 9 months/year of usage over five years, the time had come. My last experience was in using Sealand Odorsafe hoses, a very good brand that guarantees these hoses for 5 years (no odor penetration)  but they are very stiff and almost impossible to install in cramped quarters with lots of bends. So I went with Raritan Santi/Flex, supposedly the most flexible - and I wanted flexibility! Unfortunately, I had to cut off the old hoses, they would not budge, a 1/2 hour procedure for each connection, being careful to not damage the nipple. A heat gun had no effect on Odorsafe (to loosen the grip). So after a week, I eventually got all the hoses installed, never again!

Water Chestnut seed
Just to make things interesting, I put bottom paint on the dinghy but in the process of turning it upside down for the painting, the dinghy encountered a water chestnut which has a devilish seed with four very sharp prongs arranged so three form a tripod with the fourth pointing straight up! Well, that fourth prong squarely impaled itself on my dinghy, ssssssss. So I spend a couple of hours yesterday repairing that adventure.

So now we're weather watchers and Saturday looks good for going down the coast. If that holds, then we're going on the boat tonight for a Thursday morning departure.