Friday, May 27, 2016

Home at Poughkeepsie Yacht Club - at OUR dock - Blog will resume 9/15 2016

Always an impressive sight from the harbor
The night at Atlantic Highlands was calm until the ferry started running at 6:00 am. Still, it was a quiet night until then and even at that it settled down shortly thereafter. We hauled anchor at 7:30 and headed north. The wind was out of the south and the tide was due to turn in our favor around 9:30 am so we had hopes of riding all the way home to PYC, 89 Nm north. First of all, the favorable tide was late (it's never early!) and we didn't catch the tide until 1/3 of the way north. Still we were making good time, ran into a storm, which washed down the boat and then left us with a beautiful evening. We arrived at PYC 11 hours later.
The Hudson River is used by true ocean going ships

Reaching PYC the tide was still behind us with a 0.4 kt push which makes the entry into our face dock tricky since we share it with another boat right in front of us. As usual Ann handled the docking at the helm and I handled the lines. Luckily, we had two friends from the club who volunteered to help which made the docking easy.

We had a late dinner and we're set for the night. I think there may be a few people joining us in reading the blog for the first time due to the link published at To them I say Welcome. Unfortunately, you've signed in for the last blog of the season. The blog will restart 9/15/2016 for our seventh trip down the ICW to Key West and back. There may be a few random blogs during the interval as I work on the update to my book published last year - 2015 ICW Cruising Guide that can be found on The update will, imaginatively be called the 2016 ICW Cruising Guide! It will be an update on all the ICW hazards but many features will be added of interest to ICW cruisers such as additional details the Fernandina Shallows, Jekyll Island shoaling, Hell Gate (all with GPX files for waypoints) and how to plan to use the Cape May Canal with its 55 ft bridges along with tips, updates on how to prepare for the trip and much more. I'll detail the improvements and updates during the year as I do the update. I hope to have it completed by mid July.

Back home at PYC
Meanwhile, please look at the left on the blog under the heading "Cruising Tips". Topics of interest to cruisers are available there as permanent listings. For those who have already purchased the guide, I would eagerly ask for suggestions for improvements.Just send them to my email address: Lastly, I've learned that the most difficult project of all is getting reviews. A review, good or bad, is good information to the author and for other people to read, feel free to become a reviewer. 

Happy sailing during the summer as I slave over Fleetwing to get it ready for another trips down the ICW to Key West. The trip was fun and I hope you enjoyed coming along. Remember my motto, I make all the mistakes first so you don't have to!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Atlantic Highlands - at anchor

Lots of tug traffic but they slowed down when going by us
We left at 5:30 am and arrived at Atlantic Highlands at 4:30 pm, an 11 hour trip. The passage today was one of the calmest we've ever had. Winds and swells were out of the south so everything was at our backs. We traded off every 1/2 hour which made the time go quickly.

Hoolie's dock was in the second fairway past the fuel dock
Coming into New York Harbor there were several dredges in evidence. These were not the puny dredges we've seen down south on the ICW, these were huge, several times larger. They were dredging one of the two main channels into the city. As large as they were, they looked small compared to the size of the harbor they were dredging.

It's nice to see that we made our destination after 11 hours
On Friday we're going to attempt to get home to PYC. It about 86 Nm north but it's only possible if we catch the 1 to 2 kt current going north. According to the tide tables, we should be able to do just that but the currents are notoriously difficult to predict since they also depend upon the current state of rainfall and whether there's been an off shore wind or not. If we get what is predicted, we'll reach PYC, if not we'll either anchor at Haverstraw Bay or perhaps go a little farther and take a dock at the Marlboro YC. If we do the latter, we'll come into PYC by noon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Atlantic City - at the Golden Nugget Marina

Noise of bells, clanging, hubbub, mainly noise
Wednesday developed as promised with 10 kt winds out of the southwest and 2 ft swells out of the southeast. As long as the winds and waves are behind you, it's a nice ride. We left at 8:00 and arrived in Atlantic City at 1:15. The docks are owned by the state and they are showing their age, nothing I can tell has been put into the upkeep other than replacing broken boards. The Golden Nugget casino on the other hand has received a $300 million renovation via its new owner (not the state) and is not looking bad.

Biker Night! But just outside on the deck
Tonight was the first of their Memorial Day events, a biker gathering with a band for entertainment. All the attendees were being wanded before being allowed to enter. We even saw a policeman with a dog sniffing the trash containers, for explosives I guess. Nobody is taking chances anymore. We looked quite out of place, two senior citizens with a dog.  The bikes were lined up outside for two blocks.

The presentation matches the quality of the dinner
As is our tradition, I took Ann out to the Charthouse restaurant at the Golden Nugget. The meal was fantastic as usual. They do a great job in presentation of the plate and the appearance lives up to the taste! Thursday is our last leg on the ocean and it's the longest one, 81 Nm. It will take 11.5 hours so we plan on leaving at first light, about 5:30 am. We plan on anchoring at Atlantic Highlands for the night and leaving the next morning for the Poughkeepsie YC. If we can catch the tide right, we'll ride it all the way up to the yacht club.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cape May at Utsch's Marina - last day, we find a seafood market

A sea of trawlers, the popular boat style for doing the Loop
It is finally starting to warm up! It actually got above 70 today, a recent record. We're now ready to move on to Atlantic City. We took on water and ice and then I discovered a nearby seafood market at The Lobster House. I got some cod and Ann had a recipe and dinner was delicious.

You can see from the top photo the preponderance of trawlers, a witness of the popularity of doing the Loop. They all went up the Hudson River and around on the great lakes and then down the waterways to Mobile, Alabama. From there it's around Florida and back up the east coast. The weather has been so bad this year that everyone is bunched up, travelling whenever the weather permits. Utsch's has been full every night we've been here. We have reservations at Atlantic City but from there it's all anchorages.

Goodbye Cape May and their bridges
Looking ahead, we'll leave for Atlantic City Wednesday and then on to Atlantic Highlands on Thursday. We hope to make the journey to our home port, the Poughkeepsie YC, in one day given the tide is running as predicted but nothing seems to go as expected so we'll see.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Cape May at Utsch's Marine - We look at the bridges

Here's the bridge of interest, the east bridge on the Cape May canal
There was a small craft advisory out today for the trip up to Atlantic City. We just prefer not to be out in such conditions so we stayed over at the marina. Furthermore, we plan on staying over on Tuesday to let the Atlantic calm down some from all the winds. We like calm conditions for traveling on water.

Taken at high tide, about 53.5 ft, nowhere near 55 ft
I've received a number of questions about the two Cape May Canal bridges. They are listed at 55 ft of clearance at high tide on the nautical charts but they are not that high and could be much lower if the water level is running higher than normal. At the right and below are two photos, one at high tide and one at low tide on 5/23/2016. According to the height board on the bridge, you do not have 55 ft of clearance at high tide, in fact today there was a little less than 54 ft. Since every foot counts, how do you figure the clearance before entering the canal? There are two sources of water height variability, one from the tides of course and one from water level events such as a strong east wind that pushes water into the bay or heavy rains up river that raises the water level when the flow reaches Cape May.

Taken at low tide, about 57 ft plus a couple of inches
The tide part of the equation is easy, just look at tide tables. The second part is easily accessed although it's not generally known. NOAA maintains a water level monitor at the ferry terminal on the west end of the canal. So you combine the two sources of data for one reading giving the total water level including the tide and whatever influences come from wind or heavy rains.

For example, on 5/23/2016, high tide was at 9:47   EDT at 4.0 ft but the water level chart showed an additional 0.8 ft of water level due to all the heavy rains recently for a total of  4.8 ft above MLLW. At low tide a similar story is told. The low tide was at 3:24 pm at 0.4 ft but the water level was 0.7 above the predicted for a total of 1.1 ft above MLLW.. The missing number in all of this is the clearance under the bridge at low tide which I know from the experience of a dozen passages to be 58 ft at 0.0 MLLW when there's no adder due to wind or rain. You can also back into that 58 ft number by looking at the height boards and knowing the tide and water level per the NOAA station. Note in the above numbers I'm using the ferry terminal water levels for the adder to the tide but I'm using the Cape May harbor tide station for the predicted tides since it's much closer to the two bridges.

So how to figure? Take the tide table number, add in the water level above the predicted tide as shown on the NOAA site referenced above and subtract the the total from 58 ft, that will be the clearance under the  bridge. As an example, on 5/23/2016 the low tide was 0.4 ft at Cape May harbor and the water level delta per the NOAA station was +0.7 so the total above MLLW was 1.1 ft. Take the 58 ft number and subtract 1.1 ft for a total clearance of 56.9 ft. If your mast is less than 56.9 ft then you'll clear the bridge. During severe weather events (hurricanes, tropical depressions, etc.) the water level delta can be 2 to 3 ft! The NOAA water level station will tell you how much the delta is before you have to decide to go through.

Over the next few days I'll submit an article to in more detail since it seems to be a subject of interest to many. We'll still be in Cape May on Tuesday, perhaps I can get the article done then. The weather still looks good for Wednesday getting to Atlantic City and for Thursday in going on to Atlantic Highlands. There's a new tropical depression brewing in the Bahamas that may develop into a lot of wind and rain headed for the east coast. We hope to beat that weather system north, we hope, we hope.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Cape May at Utsch's Marina - at their dock

A sailor's friend, a dredge ready and waiting
We got off the anchor at 6:00 am, a new record for us. We had 63 Nm to go and we wanted to be sure to make the low tide passage under the two 55 ft bridges at 3:30 pm. Our mast is 55 ft 3 in and we wanted a safety margin. Not only did you have to look at the tide tables but you also had to consider the water level relative to the low water the tide tables are based upon. If the water is higher than that base value, then there's that much less clearance under the two bridges. The height of the water vs the reference level can be seen here. For today we had a low tide 1 ft higher than normal so the clearance under the bridges was 1 ft less than what was predicted by the tide tables. We did reach the bridges at 0.4 MLW per the tide tables and adding the 1 ft higher than normal tides, the total came to 1.4 ft above the datum the bridge height measurements are based upon. So instead of the height boards on the bridge reading 58 ft at 0.0 MLW, today they read 56.25 ft, still enough for my 55 ft 3 in mast.

Coming down the bay it was cold! The sun hid behind lots of clouds and it was raining on and off all day. We had chosen today due to the winds out of the north. We've learned the hard way that you do not travel on Delaware Bay with the wind in your face. With the speed of the tides (up to 2.5 kts) a very bad situation can develop with wind against the tide, life threatening even.

We are deep inside the marina, very secure
With the wind behind us, we made good time to Cape May, arriving by 2:30 pm at Utsch's Marina. It's completely protected on all sides. They employ at full time dredger but when they said they had 7 ft at low tide I was skeptical but in coming in a low tide, that's what I saw.

The weather is not good for getting up the Jersey shore until Wednesday, lots of north winds until then. Hopefully we can get to Atlantic City on Wednesday and then make the long leg to Atlantic Highlands on Thursday. We can hope.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Chesapeake City - at anchor, steady rain all day long

We're by the bridge, you ought to see how close to the bridge the big ships come!
The trip north continued the spell of terrible weather. It rained all day long, not good for being in the canal and trying to avoid debris. By the way, we hadn't seen much stuff in the water at all until we entered the canal. There wasn't a lot but the occasional log kept your eyes open and when you missed seeing something, the thunk on the hull reminded you that something got past your watch.

It's actually a pretty little town, some houses date to 1849
Well, the title says it all, just a lousy day. We ran the genset a lot today so we were nice and comfy with both A/C units in heat mode along with the ceramic heater turned up full on. It's a good thing we have a 6 kw genset because we're now using 4.830 kw of its capacity right now and we're not even heating the hot water yet.

Looking towards the canal, most of the Bed and Breakfasts had a no vacancy sign out
Sunday is our day to reach Cape May we hope. We'll start out with a favorable tide (current) then see a foul tide and then see a favorable tide again (the tides flow up the bay and we're going down the bay). The low tide at the two Cape May canal bridges is at 3:30 pm so we're heaving on Sunday at 6:00 am, a very early start for us! Unfortunately, that's at exactly low tide here in the anchorage and we'll have to plow through some mud to get out. We made it coming in so we think we can make it going out given it's the same tide height as when we came in. On top of that there's scattered showers predicted too, just to add a little spice to the trip, oh well.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Chesapeake City - at anchor

Magnificent trees along the shore
The bay was as calm as I've ever seen it, nice and smooth as we headed north. The only problem was the current, it was against us all the way. One phenomenon we're familiar with from living on the Hudson River in New York is the way tides flow. If you're coming up the river (away from the ocean) then a flood tide will travel with you, giving you a 1 to 2 kt boost all the way home. Conversely, if you happen to start your journey at New York City with an ebb tide, the same thing will happen, you'll have an ebb tide all the way to Poughkeepsie. That's what happened to us today. We slogged along against a 1 to 2 kt adverse current all the way to Chesapeake City.

Once we arrived, we had to contend with shoaling in the channel leading to the anchorage. You had to hug the east bulkhead within 10 ft to get in without grounding, 7 MLW by the bulkhead. Once past the  bulkhead you aimed for the flagpole of the marina in front of you and then had to make a 90 degree turn to port and hug the docks with the two ACOE boats docked. Once past the ACOE boats, you had 8 to 13 ft all throughout the anchorage. We anchored in 9 ft MLW.

You can just see the two masted boat stuck between us and the anchorage
A boat behind us with 6 ft of draft did not hug the bulkhead and got stuck for over an hour. The tide came in and they floated off and anchorage just past where they had grounded for the night. There's a shallow section of about 100 ft down to 4.5 MLW towards the two ACOE boats before it deepens to 8 to 13 ft in the rest of the anchorage. However, the bottom is very fine mud and offered no resistant to our keel, it's soupy, we just plowed through.

With that we're set for the night and we're the only boat in the anchorage and I can understand why. The famous free docks are unused since there's only 2  ft MLW there. We plan on staying here on Sunday with rain predicted all day long and high winds and leave at first light on Monday and see how far we can get down the Delaware, hopefully all the way to Cape May.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Annapolis - In the mooring field

Thomas Point lighthouse, the most famous lighthouse in the Chesapeake, just outside Annapolis
Today was  better than yesterday. We started out at about the same time but this time the mainsail worked fine, it had better with all the repairs lavished on the sail. As we motored on, the faint wind we had out of the north gradually faded to nothing. The Chesapeake was flat, unusual for our passages.

You know you're in Annapolis when you see a rigger up the mast while sailing
Being in Annapolis we had to have dinner at Pusser's. In our Caribbean chartering, Pussers were everywhere and we always sampled their famous Painkiller and so we did the same tonight. They are as good as ever. Their biggest plus is a great view of the harbor along with their Painkillers.

A cool day (high of 70) but a golden sunset
May has been a cold month in Annapolis too. They haven't yet reached 80 as a high for a day and if that holds, it will be the first time for the month of May that 80 hasn't been reached at least once since 1934. Nevertheless, the traveling weather is good for Friday to reach Chesapeake City but Saturday looks like rain all day long with high winds. It appears Saturday will be a layover day for us in Chesapeake City but Sunday looks favorable.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Solomons at Zahniser's YC - At a dock, the mainsail breaks

There goes our sail - how do they roll up the sail so neatly!
We weighed anchor in good time this morning and started out towards Annapolis in good cheer. We had 10 kts of wind on the nose but the seas were supposed to be less than 1 ft, not a bad day. Once out of the harbor, we raised the mainsail and I heard a "pop" but didn't thing anything of it at the time. So we're headed out around the point and I looked up and noticed the mainsail is not all the way to the top of the mast. It's positively sagging. Well this is not good. Getting a better look at it I could see that the main halyard had parted company with the mainsail. Now I had a non-functional mainsail. We turned around and headed back to Solomons where there were a number of places that might be available to give us aid.

Zahniser's YC is a very nice marina with the best WiFi we've ever encountered, 45 Mbps
The first place we thought of was Zahniser's Yacht Center, a popular working yard in the Solomons. In talking to the service manager I learned that they were backed up for the next three and half weeks! He referred me to Quantum Sail Design which was in the same marina as Zahniser's. They were fantastic! They immediately came out and took down the sail and said they could have it repaired within four hours and at the same time also fix the bottom and the clew of the sail which haven't been touched for 12 years, they were a little weather beaten.

Up the mast to retrieve the halyard, not me
The halyard had separated from the mainsail and was somewhere in the mast. When they came back with the repaired sail, one when up the mast and fished out the halyard, we were worried that it had dropped all the way down to the base of the mast, a big job to find if it did. The other guy did all the work hoisting him up the mast on a spare halyard I had while I played out the safety line.  All the wear points now look as good as new!

For the repair we had come into Zahniser's YC and could have left without being charged a dockage fee if we left before 5:00 but we decided to stay overnight anyway, enough excitement for one day. The delay has reset our plans so there's no certainty when we'll get back to PYC. We'll let the weather dictate that. Meanwhile, things could have turned out much worse. We could have lost the top halyard out in the Chesapeake or anywhere else with a big sea, yesterday for example. To have such a problem and to get it repaired so quickly is almost unheard of in boating. We are grateful for that.

For now we plan on Annapolis on Thursday, Chesapeake City on Friday and Saturday for a layover day since all day rain is predicted with 25 kts winds. You do not want to be out on the Delaware Bay in 25 kt winds!! Sunday looks fine for setting out down the bay.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Solomons - at anchor, Ann paints

There are very nice homes surrounding the anchorage
We're in an alternate reality where summer never comes. I can remember being hot on the way north this time of the year. The weather forecast is for temperatures in the 60's for the next 10 days, strange weather. Today the high was 60 with rain all day long. We saw it coming on the radar so we just stayed put, no fun traveling in rain for hours on end.

Ann's pastel, this afternoon's work
Thank goodness for the genset. We retired downstairs and Ann set up shop for pastels. She finished one painting today, the one shown in the blog and I did an article for Cruisernet. Meanwhile it rained and rained and rained, ugh. We never did find an opening to take Hoolie ashore so we had a wet dog in the afternoon. It finally stopped around 7:00 pm, at least to a drizzle, just a damp dog then.

I installed a new TV antenna, an omni-directional (UFO type) type from Shakespeare but TV is so poor around here that it's hard to test out. Solomons is famous for poor TV reception. We usually get 20 to 40 channels but here it's only 10 or so if at all.

Wednesday is supposed to be without rain but with a north wind of 5 to 10 kts, not my favorite wind direction for going north but anything less than 10 kts is usually no problem. The plan is to make Annapolis and then aim for Chesapeake City. Beyond that it's all up to the weather. We want a perfect day to go south on the Delaware Bay.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Solomons - at the Holiday Inn anchorage, two mistakes made

We're all alone in the anchorage next to the Holiday Inn and their dinghy dock
We had intended staying another day at Mill Creek since there was still a small craft advisory out for Monday which was better than the gale force warning for the day before but still with 3 to 4 ft waves and gusts to 20 kts. However, in the morning the wind was dead calm. Now this could have been the Chesapeake anchorage phenomenon where it may be calm in the anchorage but just wait until you travel the 3 to 5 miles out to the bay and suddenly you see the error of your ways. This morning was different. We could see the buoy reports and they were showing less than 10 kts and little wave action and yet the NOAA marine forecast for Chesapeake Bay where we were at was for a small craft advisory until 6:00 pm with gusts to 20 kts and 3 to 4 ft waves out of the northwest. We looked at grib and it showed the winds decreasing throughout the day so we decided to rule against the NOAA forecast and go with the grib prediction which matched the conditions in the bay at that time.

We left the anchorage and the winds stayed constant around 5 to 10 kts. We even crossed over the mouth of the Potomac River, a notorious source of bad wind and wave action but saw nothing over 12 kts, still okay. After moving beyond what we thought was the worst part of the trip north (the mouth of the Potomac) we congratulated ourselves on our weather smarts and continued on. The weather did not cooperate. The winds started to increase with gusts to 20 kt and the waves came directly on the bow which was exaggerated by having the tide with us, it steepened the waves and we got spray over the top of the bimini. It was not good. 

Hoolie has his eyes on that dinghy dock in the upper, right corner
I headed closer to shore to seek calmer water and it helped some but not much. We had a miserable time for the next two hours until we finally reached the turn into Solomons when the conditions improved, finally. Our lesson learned is that although the NOAA marine forecast can be overly pessimistic along the coast since it predicts weather up to 20 Nm out to sea, in the Chesapeake there is no such limitation - there's no 20 Nm out to sea here. Today was the second time we've seen the NOAA forecast for the bay to be more accurate than any of the other sources. One mistake down. 

Reaching Solomons we needed fuel and water and docked fine. I had to hunt down the attendant but once found we filled up okay. Getting off was another story. The wind was pushing us against the dock but that's usually not a problem, you just put a fender by the bow and tie a line from the boat's bow cleat to a cleat on the dock farther aft with Ann putting the boat in forward which swings the aft out away from the dock. Once out, I then would release the bow line and Ann would back out without a problem. Well, mistake number two was a bad setup on the bow. There was a piling right opposite the bow pulpit which would contact the boat (pulpit) before the fender since the pulpit leaned out over the edge of the boat. So when the boat was put in forward I released the bow line when the pulpit touched the piling - not good! Ann did not have enough swing out of the aft, she was not far enough away from the dock and there was a boat behind us interfering with her backing to top things off. When put in forward with the intention of turning away from the dock, we did not have enough leeway and hit the dock with fenders flying everywhere. We eventually made it out and are now anchored peacefully. What I should have done is move the boat forward first so the bow pulpit would not hit the piling when the aft was swung out. That would have enabled the usual 45 degree angle between the boat and the dock and Ann would have cleared the aft boat and backed out far enough so swinging back into the dock would not be a problem. Don't be in haste leaving a dock, think things through, I didn't do that today.

With two errors of judgment today (mistakes!) we still survived but things could have been easier. Tuesday is predicted to have light winds (good!) but rain all day (not good!) The rain starts at 9:00 am and ends at 8:00 pm, no window at all for going north, unless you don't mind motoring in rain all day. If the forecast stays the same, we'll spend another day at anchor in Solomons and wait for better weather on Wednesday. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Mill Creek - at anchor and a Jekyll Creek article for Cruisernet

At anchor at Mill Creek, nice cove
The winds gusted to 30 kts several times with a steady 20 to 25 kts most of the day. Chesapeake Bay had a gale warning out with gusts to over 35 with some higher. It's the first time we've seen a gale warning on the Chesapeake, such wind we've seen this trip north. The winds are due to "decrease" to only a small craft advisory on Monday but it's still out of an unfavorable direction so we'll probably sit out Monday and wait for better weather on Tuesday.

The remainder of the week is supposed to be better with winds only in the 5 to 10 kt range, good for going north. Meanwhile Ann took photos to gain an inspiration for painting and I worked on an article to be published on about the best route through the shallows of Jekyll Creek. I also added that information at the left in this blog under "Pages" where you can also download the GPX file containing the details of the waypoints that can be directly loaded into most navigation programs. The route will take you through Jekyll with a 5.7 MLW depth, plenty for my 4 ft 9 in draft.

The winds have finally abated, so far
The center of attention on Monday morning will be the weather forecast. If it changes favorably, we'll take off north, otherwise we'll stay another day. The genset is getting a good workout, plenty of electricity to the A/C reverse cycle (heat) and warming up the hot water tank as well as charging the batteries. All the comforts of home.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Mill Creek - at anchor

Sunset version one at Mill Creek
We had intended reaching Fishing Bay YC but the weather prediction was ideal for going north. Light winds in the morning and SW winds in the afternoon building to 15 kts with no storms until after 6:00 pm. With that we left at 7:15 am and headed out. For once the weather we encountered was what was predicted. Just like clockwork, the winds were light at first but then shifted around to out of the south to southwest and increased to 15 kts at the end of the day just as predicted. So we went past Fishing Bay and headed for the Mill Creek anchorage just south of the Potomac River, a 53 Nm run. We used PocketGrib for the predictions which we've found usually accurate and ahead of the NOAA marine forecasts.

The anchorage here is one of the prettiest on the Chesapeake. It's surround by homes with a lot of empty acreage. The banks are high with tall trees on top so there's good wind protection. It can be blowing 20 to 30 kts out on the bay and in here it will less than 10 kts. That's  both a positive and a negative. Sitting in the anchorage you might be tempted to ignore the small craft advisory thinking that the forecast was overly conservative but if you leave the anchorage you will notice the winds gradually increasing and eventually reaching the forecasted level at the end of the passage to the bay. We've experienced such a change ourselves in the past, we're a believer now.

Sunset version two at Mill Creek, after the storm front
The latest forecast is for a small craft advisory through Sunday evening with 15 to 20 kts and gusts to 30 kts. Add that forecast to the usual nasty crossing of the mouth of the Potomac and you have a prescription for staying in the anchorage another day. Even Monday does not look good so we'll probably be here until Tuesday morning when we plan on resuming our march north.

We can stay here fine. We have lots of ice, a genset for heat and charging and a place to take Hoolie. We're protected 360 so we'll wait for ideal weather to continue.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Hampton - last day, eats at the Taphouse

A neighborhood bar with 40 beers on tap and good food, what more to ask?
We looked carefully at the forecast this morning since we would rather go today versus Saturday but the outlook included thunderstorms all afternoon. So we looked at several weather sources and they all said mostly the same thing. With that info, we decided to stay another day. As it turned out, we saw very little rain, only for a few minutes and no thunderstorms. We could have gone anyway but we didn't know that at 7:00 am.

John's always cheerful and fun to be around
We invited John Kwak over in the evening for dinner at the Taphouse. It's famous in the area for all the beers on tap and all the locals gather there at night. The food is not bad either, I had corned  beef and cabbage which they serve 365 days of the year and it was better than I expected. We all sat around the table and traded experiences, part of the fun of being on a boat on the ICW. John just completed the Loop but wants to do it again next year - if he can find enough crew which is the biggest problem he faces (hint: if anyone wants to crew with John doing the Loop, let me know. It would be the experience of a lifetime).

Finally, Saturday looks like an ideal day to go north up the Chesapeake. We'll have a south wind all day long and we hope to reach Mill Creek just below the Potomac River. We will probably be there a couple of days for the winds to calm down again for the crossing of the Potomac going to Solomons, our next stop/ Eventually we'll get north but we want nice weather and we're willing to wait for it, part of the advantage of being retired.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hampton - waiting for weather at a dock

A carousel made in 1922 was restored and placed inside in Hampton.  Beautiful hand-carved horses 
A boat does not take care of itself. If you go cruising, be prepared to spend one to two hours a day on simple boat maintenance. Today it was time to refresh the teak toe rail and clean the cockpit along with doing a wash, typical day at a dock. The new VHF had a remote mic that had a cord that was too tightly wound (like old telephone cords used to be). There wasn't enough slack to bring it up to head level while standing at the helm. Searching the internet it seems that to relax the cord it needs heat. That brought on a pot of water on the stove heated to 150 F or so. I dipped the cord in the water for a few minutes and then hung the mic vertically and stretched it out to the length I wanted. It worked. I can now stand at the helm without tugging on the mic to talk.

Hampton has lots of roses everywhere
It was an overcast day with a high of near 70, still not May in my recollection. At least we can get out in the morning for our walk/runs but still no sun. We have another crappy day of weather due on Friday with rain and thunderstorms all day long. If we see a break via the weather station radar, we may make a break for it to Fishing Bay Bay YC for their free dock (if you're a member of a recognized yacht club). We'll decide on that in the morning.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hampton - Foggy day and dinner at Gordon's with John on the Loop

I can imagine what it's like on the bay if it's this bad here
There was a fog warning in the morning with a high in the 60's, the unusual weather continues. I noticed that my two layers of paste wax (Fleetwax) is finally wearing off after NY to Key West to Hampton, the bow now has a moustache. Out came the On/Off and the bow is now clean again. However, it was too awkward to apply any wax so the fix is short term.

Fantastic dinner tonight, salmon ala Gordon
For tonight Gordon and Eta Johnson invited us over to dinner along with two of their friends who are also considering doing the Loop. The entertainment for the night was John Kwak covering his experiences on the Loop which he just completed the a month ago. John had kept detailed records of costs and where he stayed. Everyone was interested in what he saw so the conversations continued into the night. We got back to the boat around 10:00, a really fun evening.

John had a Loop map, I had not realized all the different ways of making the Loop
We're still in rest mode and won't get leaving to go up the Chesapeake until probably Saturday unless the weather dramatically changes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hampton - Gordon Johnson for dinner, rather early

Well, there was more than just water shared , but we didn't have to drive...
We did the usual provisioning today. It's our last stop for stores until we reach home except for things you can pick up at 7/11 type stores. Meanwhile we had invited Gordon who used to own a 423 before getting a powerboat over for dinner but the date was for Wednesday, not today! Coming back to the boat from provisioning we ran into him standing on the dock - one day early. Okay, no harm done and we invited him for drinks and dinner, we had plenty.

Next door a brewery was going in, here's a brew tank
Visits between boaters invariably turn to things boating. We all agreed that the weather ever since January has been uniformly terrible along the ICW and not typical of what we've seen the last five years. So if there are any boaters on the ICW for the first time this year - this is NOT typical.

These condos were flooded in the Fall
On Wednesday Gordon and Eta will host all of us for dinner at their condo and we've also invited John Kwak, a fellow Poughkeepsie YC member, to come along and discuss his just completed Loop. Gordon and Eta are planning to do the Loop next year so they're looking forward to the latest scoop from John. I think we will just stick to the ICW, visiting along the way and staying in Key West for two months.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Hampton - at Downtown Hampton Public Piers at a dock

Kind of looks like an abstract painting, taken on the Dismal Swamp
It was a quiet night but rather chilly in the morning with temps in the mid 50's. We opt'ed for the 11:00 am opening of the north lock so we left around 7:45.  Once underway, Hoolie started to shake and shiver like we've never seen him do before. He wasn't comfortable in the cockpit and retired downstairs and holed up in the forward shower, all curled up, still shaking like mad. We looked up the possible causes of such behavior and there was a list of all bad things. He could have eaten something not good I suppose, he's very fast on the uptake when it comes to food.

The couple behind us in the Lock
In order to time our passage to the lock, I backed off on the boat speed to 5 kts. I noticed it had a different sound, something of a squeak was present too. When we dropped to idle just in front of the lock, Hoolie suddenly recovered and once underway on the other side of the lock at our usual 7.3 kts, he was fully recovered! I never imagined he would be so affected by that sound. He is not afraid of thunder, it doesn't faze him, same thing for fireworks. There must have been something about the motor sound at 5 kts that frightened him, strange. 

Notice that figure on the bow
In going through Norfolk the security appeared tighter than ever. Navy chase boats shadowed us as we passed by the Naval ships in drydock. We even saw a vessel with a guy on the bow manning a machine gun! I guess they are serious about keeping people away! 

Another shot of the same boat, no kidding with this guy
Eventually we made it to Hampton and took a dock at $0.75/ft with the fourth day free, a great bargain on the ICW. 30 amp electricity is only $3/day. Now, at last, they have decent WiFi professionally installed with antennas on the docks. 

Two aircraft carriers in for upgrades
We will be here for at least two days and probably more waiting for good weather to go up the Chesapeake. We're tired of cold, rainy days. I want sunny weather with temps in the 80's and no rain along with a south wind of 10 to 15 kts, I don't think that's unreasonable...(we may be here awhile)